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Lenni Reviews: “Midnight Radio” by Iolanda Zanfardino

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

A mysterious late-night broadcast interrupts regular radio broadcasting; impacting the lives of four very different people.

I honestly don’t want to spoil too much of this because it’s gorgeous to read this book. Each of the different characters and stories have a different color palate. This was an absolute delight to read. It features people of color, LGBT, and an aging rocker with out seeming pandering or ticking off marks on a checklist. It may start off slow but it sets itself up for a satisfying conclusion and sticking to theme of being true to yourself and living your dreams. I finished this book genuinely touched; even if it was a little too much of a happy ending. I’m too cynical I guess. 4.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Being Fitz” by J.D. Walker

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

Lysander “Fitz” Fitzgibbon is a bus driver living a fairly uneventful life. In between work and television his sometimes bed partner, Jerry, pops by for a quickie; usually leaving Fitz feeling unsatisfied and used. So when Jerry falls in love with his neighbor, Henry, Fitz finds himself alone. One day on a walk in the park, Fitz comes across a body dumped in the bushes. While being questioned by the cops, he meets Detective Holland Simms; who seems intent on visiting Fitz as much as possible even when off the clock.

It would have been nice if Fitz and Simms had more time to build their chemistry other than Fitz getting annoyed with Simms’ brash attitude and punching him (which would have turned into a VERY different story if Fitz was African-American and not Simms). “Hey, I think you’re hot!” isn’t quite enough for me to get as invested as I thought I should have been.  The back matter of the book says Walker likes to keep things short but I feel it was to this story’s detriment. It’s so short, the whole thing is over before you can get to know the characters. This could have been on the level of C. S. Poe’s gay mystery novels if given time to grow. As it stands its around a 2.7 or 3 out of 5. I’m torn between the two.

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Lenni Reviews: “Art Medium: The Complete Collection” by E.J. Russell

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

This collection contains two books; The Artist’s Touch and Tested in Fire. I’ll split the two so it’s not confusing.

The Artist’s Touch: Stephen Cobbe is a painter riddled with debts and homeless after the death of his lover. But when a new patron offers him room and board in exchange for his paintings, Stephen jumps at the change. The catch is he blacks out while he paints and awakens to completely dry canvases and no memory of creating them. As these paintings gain attention, Luke Morganstern is sent to investigate where they are coming from as the art is exactly like a painter who died many years ago. But when he sees the possible forger is his ex-boyfriend, Stephen, he can’t believe Stephen’s claims until they become too real to deny.

While this is a cute paranormal second chance romance, Stephen and Luke’s romance comes off as too rushed to really get invested in since they go from some pretty deep mistrust to “ok, we’re in love now” too quickly to form a real connection with them. However, their personalities are clearly written and real enough to empathize with them as they uncover some pretty serious ghost activity. The supernatural elements don’t feel tacked on as a frame to bring our main characters together and held it all together to make the story as a whole pretty cool. There are some sexy scenes but they don’t makeup very much of the book. 3.7 out of 5.

Tested in Fire: Having rekindled their relationship; Stephen and Luke are now rising stars in the art world. But Stephen’s debts still haunt him and he is determined to pay them off without Luke’s help. He wants to be independent and debt free so Luke will never see him as a burden. But after one argument, Luke seems to be acting very strange and the elderly stroke victim in the same building as Stephen is suddenly convinced he desperately needs Stephen’s help.

Here’s where the paranormal elements really start to take center stage. We have an awesome badass former cop turned psychic named Peg and villains who are body snatchers. The stakes from the first book are substantially higher and more detailed, even giving our characters some actual abilities. I would love to see the series continue and see how they handle various supernatural threats while also trying to live a somewhat normal life (particularly since Luke will absolutely have some major real-life consequences because of events in the book that I won’t spoil). 4 out of 5.

Overall, I’m glad I read these back to back as they compliment each other perfectly.  The second, in my opinion, tops the first book in general so I’ll average the two as a 3.9 out of 5. If you like paranormal romance, these are pretty good!

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Lenni Reviews: “The Black God’s Drums” by P. Djèlí Clark

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

Living with a goddess inside her, Creeper happens upon some valuable information about a scientist and his powerful but dangerous invention. A streetwise kid like her decides to sell this information to become a crewmember for Captain Ann-Marie of the “Midnight Robber.” But the weapon in question could kill thousands and reignite the Civil War.

Other than the casual use of racial epithets typical of the South around the time of the Civil War, this was a cool take on a steampunk-like world set in an alternate universe. It’s a shame it’s just a novella but enough entertainment is packed into its short length, great characters, and fun action. Not enough books are written about the African Orishas and this is a highly creative and enjoyable take on that mythos. 4.5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Saving Hannah” by J.P. Barnaby

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

Thomas Aberthol has been searching desperately for a job after serving time in jail for hacking. His daughter, Hannah, is struggling with leukemia and Thomas is running out of time and options to save her. After making a public crowdfunding plea, his old college roommate Aleksander Sanna tracks Thomas down and offers him a deal: Marry him for the health insurance for Hannah in exchange for using his hacking skills to uncover the secrets behind Aleksander’s father’s murder.

This book went places I did not expect for one of those “fake marriage” books. I almost wish the thriller elements kept going beyond the end of the book; which I won’t spoil, but I can see why it ended the way it did.

Why I couldn’t quite give it 4 stars is because Thomas and Aleksander’s relationship jumps from hesitant to “I love you” way too fast. Practically within the turn of a page. It didn’t let me get invested in their relationship so I found my focus staying on the hacking plot which I enjoyed very much. 3.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Bones and Bourbon” by Dorian Graves

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

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

Retz is tasked with bringing some escaped exhibits for Lady Delight, a lamia who runs a menagerie of captured supernatural creatures. Lady Delight is a former acquaintance of Nalem, an entity who shares Retz’s body and mind so he agrees to the mission not knowing his Retz’s brother, Jarrod, has been hired by the escaped funaribi to protect them from Lady Delight. Retz and Jarrod have been estranged for 10 years and their reunion occurs under the pall of their conflicting missions as well as a horde of homicidal unicorns.

With all the stuff going on, this book is difficult to pin down. I get some Supernatural vibes (I haven’t watched more than a couple episodes of that but even I could see the similarities) but it is a superficial connection that didn’t take away from the story as a whole.

The characters are lively, well written, and have some great chemistry; particularly Retz and Nalem. The dynamics of having to share a body with some ageless entity of dubious morals is conveyed very well. Jarrod and his boyfriend Ferris have a great relationship and Jarrod is a great character who happens to be transgender instead of being transgender being the entire focus of this existence; as it should be. And with a relentless army of killer unicorns in the mix, this is a cool dark urban fantasy. I really enjoyed it. 3.9 out of 5.

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Overdue March Writing Update

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Being home with a sick kid and all has left me with some time on my hands. So, I’ve been working pretty heavily on Emma’s book the last couple of days. I will likely have a rough draft of that ready before the summer and I’ll be posting little snippets over on my Patreon! 😀

I also have a bunch of reviews headed for the blog soon so look forward to those.

This is mostly just to remind my followers that I’m still alive and working on things. More upcoming later this week!

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Runner 5 down! Sorta…

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Other than that shot being super awkward… I finally had that lipoma removed from my shoulder and the doctor was very damn clear that there will be no running for at least 2 weeks.

I won’t go into super detail about how fucking strange it is to have someone digging out a fat glob from your flesh but you don’t feel it but I did ask about my desk bike and as long as I don’t over do it, the bike should be fine.

I also have this nifty tiny peddler under my work desk.

One good side effect is I will have more time to write and do needlework. I’m off running for at least 2 weeks and I have no desire to completely lose the progress I’ve made. But, as long as I don’t go flailing my arms around, I should be able to churn out more content and sale items.

I’ll be careful and heal up properly. I did sign up for the Zombies Run! Spring virtual race but I should be healed up by then!

Too bad I didn’t get to keep my lipoma. I would have kept it in formaldehyde and named it Gregori…

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This week’s best run!

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I managed to finish day 1 of week 12 on the first try! Here’s the mile by mile breakdown:

  • Mile 1 – 14:40
  • Mile 2 – 29:26
  • Mile 3 – 44:28
  • Mile 4 – 58:49

I wanted to make sure to get this week started because I have some very minor surgery next week that will keep me from running for at least a week. I have my stationary bike to keep in shape but since this is to remove a lipoma from my shoulder and you need shoulders to run, my dermatologist said no running until it’s healed.

Not to mention the stupid, annoying, uncomfortable lipoma is right on my shoulder where my bra strap sits. There’s no way I’ll be able to bear the thick, heavy sports bra strap until it’s healed.

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Today’s Run: Week 11 Completed!

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I haven’t posted a run in a while mostly because I’ve been annoyed with myself for not finishing C210K. So, I got out of my own way and finished day three! Here’s the breakdown:

  • Mile 1 – 14:56
  • Mile 2 – 29:49
  • Mile 3 – 44:47
  • Mile 4 – 59:20

I am still shocked by my ability to make it to 4 miles at all despite all the training I’ve been doing. I still usually crap out in the third interval but man, I powered through and finished it!

I have started using my old P90X DVDs as a cross training tool. I read blogs from other runners stating they’ve done the program and it did improve their overall running performance but I am not willing to stop running in order to do the full P90X program. I’m just replacing their cardio and yoga days with C210K.

Time will tell if that’s worth it.

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