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Lenni Reviews: “Barren” by Peter V. Brett

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*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.

*This review is cross-posted to Otakus and Geeks.

In this novella set in a world where demons come out at night, Selia, a 69-year-old Speaker in her village, is instrumental in protecting everyone by leading the charge to keep the demons at bay. With every kill, Selia is imbued with some of their magic and she is gifted with youth and vitality. As jealousy and anger come to a head in Tibbet’s Brook, it appears the demons are devising a new play which may wipe their town and everyone in it off the map.

There may be some things I’m not getting since this is a novella set in a five book series’ universe, but I felt there was enough here for me to chew on. Selia is a badass and her need to just do right by her neighbors without having to hide who she is comes off as noble and real, not pandering at all. It’s been awhile since I read some good high fantasy and this fast-paced, well-written novella absolutely fits the bill. Since I feel as if I would have gotten more out of this with the rest of the series in mind, I give this a 4.7 out of 5 and I will check out the rest of the series when I get a chance.

This novella will be released 9/25/2018.

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Lenni Reviews: “Sinless” by Sarah Tarkoff

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*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.

*This review is cross-posted to Otakus and Geeks.

Grace lives in a world where your sins are physically manifest on your body. Pretty people are good and bad people have been punished with physical deformities and are ostracised from society until they earn forgiveness. When she encounters a boy seemingly immune to Punishment, it starts a chain of events forcing her to face some rather ugly truths about the world she lives it.

While an awesome concept, it feels immature in execution. About halfway through the book, Grace comes off to me as stumbling over the line between “flawed character” and “spoiled brat” so I found her hard to relate to; even as a YA novel. As things go on, (spoiler maybe??) she turns into the Queen of Being Kidnapped as this happens WAY too often in order to get her to the next plot point.

It’s a good thing this is essentially told by an older character because I am way more interested in adult Grace than teenage Grace. I almost want to read the next one with that want in mind. Despite not being thrilled with the protagonist, I still wanted to know what happened next enough to read through to the end. 2.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “To Your Eternity” Vol. 5 by Yoshitoki Oima

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Trapped on Jarada Island with outcasts and criminals, Fushi befriends Tonari as he fights in the island’s deadly tournaments. When an old enemy resurfaces, Fushi may have to compromise his vow to refrain from killing.

Watching Fushi use his various forms in battle is a thing of beauty. It’s bittersweet to see him use and gain new forms when you know he gains them when someone dies but it’s still amazing to watch. It’s also awesome to see how Fushi’s character is growing and changing. as the series progresses. I look forward to seeing how he will change from here.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Mystery of the Curiosities” by C.S. Poe

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*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

In this sequel to Mystery of Nevermore; Snow and Winter are back!

Sebastian Snow is enjoying a peaceful life running his antique store and spending his free time with his boyfriend; detective Calvin Winter. But it all too soon turns back into an irresistible mystery when a cryptic message smashes through the window of Sebastian’s store. But when bricks with notes become dead bodies with notes, Snow and Winter must unravel the identity of the killer and why the suspect is connected to P.T. Barnum’s lost museum.

What a fun and wicked sexy ride! I got to geek out over an old-timey mystery, thrilled by the action, and moved by the romance. Calvin and Sebastian are cute without being annoying and they are a blast to follow through the book. Like spiked dark chocolate, this is a sweet romance with a kick. If I had a complaint, I would want more backstory on the villain. It had this very “That’s the one! Okay, BYE!” sort of feel. But this wasn’t a deal breaker for me. 3.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Semblance” by Chris E. Saros

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*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

Drake is on a single-minded quest for revenge against the cartel that killed his family; going so far as to open a shady nightclub; called Semblance, in order to get their attention. Walking a crooked moral line, he cannot afford any distractions. Unfortunately, one is working for him in the form of the flirty, clever, and handsome bartender; Scotty. Drake is forced to protect Scotty from the vicious cartel yet still complete his mission to take them down.

I love how this story plays out. Not only is it a decent romance with realistically flawed characters, it is also a decent crime drama.

Now, when I say ‘decent,’ it’s not to bring this book down. As such a prolific reader, it is easy for me to predict plot points just because it’s how things go. Anyone familiar with Chekhov’s gun principle would be able to see the coming twists and turns but I still enjoyed reading this compelling story. 3.8 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “That Blue Sky Feeling” Vol. 1 by Okura and Coma Hashii

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*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.

*This review is cross-posted to Otakus and Geeks.

High school student, Noshiro, is the outgoing type determined to get along with everyone. When he notices his classmate, Sanada, all by himself, Noshiro immediately tries to fix that; much to the stoic Sanada’s dismay. But rumors of Sanada being gay have Noshiro’s classmates telling him to stay away from Sanada. Undaunted, Noshiro makes it his mission to befriend Sanada, get their classmates to come around, understand his sexual preference, and possibly learn a little more about himself.

This manga is too damn cute. Despite the fact if you’ve read any manga ever you can see what’s coming in the plot a mile away, Noshiro is so lovable and Sanada is so relatable, it’s not so bad traveling down this road again and I can’t wait for more. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Scorpio Hates Virgo” by Anyta Sunday

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+.

*This review is cross-posted to Otakus and Geeks.

After his aunt passes away, Percy Friedman moves into her home. Even though she left it to him, Percy is intent on selling it not only because it makes him miss his aunt so much, but it is also located in the same cul-de-sac as his childhood nemesis, Callagahan Glover. But, As Percy settles back into the tight-knit community and gets to know Callagahan all over again, he wonders if running away is the best plan.

I enjoyed this “enemies” to lovers story. There is no real malice between Percy and Cal so when their relationship forms, it feels real and relatable. Their sarcastic barbs are funny, the main leads are charming, and even the side characters have plenty of personality without derailing the main focus. It’s a nearly perfect bit of fluff but since there’s no closure regarding Percy’s relative, Frank, I felt as if that bit was incomplete. Other than that, a great sweet and sexy romance. 3.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Three Player Game” by Jaime Samms

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*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

Vince and Pete are in a relationship and are considering adding a third. Enter Lee, a surly grump who is staying with the couple while he heals from a back injury. Both Vince and Pete want Lee but past heartbreak and betrayal have left Lee with little trust and faith to be spared.

This book is number 20 in the Bluewater Bay series and boy, do you ever sense that if you haven’t read the others you are missing chunks of relevant information. I think I would have liked this book more if either the past was made more clear within this book or more focus was spent on the present story.

Overall, it’s not bad! A bit confusing but not bad. Our trip has particular needs and they all balance themselves out well and, despite an overall lack of connection to them for me (possibly because of needing to read the previous books in the series), I did get invested enough to want to see how it all shook out. And it’s good to see healthy depictions of BDSM. A decent story of three men coming together; 3.2 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Thousand Year Beach” by Tobi Hirotaka – Translated by Matt Treyvaud

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and it suggested for mature readers.

*This review is cross-posted to Otakus and Geeks.

When mysterious spiders attack their small beach town, the remaining surviving AI’s must battle to save what little that remains.

If I were to sum this up, I would describe this as if the minds behind Black Mirror re-wrote the ending to Wreck it Ralph.  The book has you thinking about the nature of what an AI really is and what they are forced to do at the hands of human users.

The characters may be just in-game characters, but they have all the personality and depth, I got sucked into the world right away. I had so much fun reading this and I would highly recommend this to anyone who likes original cyberpunk stories. The action starts right up and doesn’t let up very often; making this book hard to put down. Beautifully written and tense, this was a great read. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Be Prepared” by Vera Brosgol

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In this semi-autobiographical graphic novel, we follow nine-year-old Vera through a summer at a Russian sleepaway camp. She hopes she will have more luck finding friends in a place with more Russian kids like her. While things don’t go exactly how she planned, Vera does learn some important lessons about what friendship means.

Man, I do NOT miss being nine years old. Kids are jerks. Hell, my kid can be a jerk and she comes home with stories from school and camp to verify my unchanged opinion from nine-year-old me. What Vera goes through resonates with me because around her age, I was the ‘poor kid’ going to school with the rich kids.

Poor is in quotes because ‘not rich’ meant ‘poor’ to those kids.

I felt real empathy for Vera and really enjoyed reading her story. I love the fact she isn’t a perfect little angel, falling for some of the classic kid missteps we all take. The art is expressive and cute, but it ends on a damn cliffhanger! I hope Vera plans to continue this because it’s awesome. 4 out of 5.

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