Lenni Reviews: “Komi Can’t Communicate” : Vol. 2 by Tomohito Oda

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Hitohito Tadano continues to help Shoko Komi with her awkwardness and inadvertently, this earns Komi a rival, Makeru Yadano; who wants to defeat Komi in the health exams. Komi also manages to pick up another friend, Ren Yamai, who has an obvious crush on her. Well, obvious to everyone but Komi.

Remember in the first review when I talked about the horrible dark turn? Well, I thought Yamai was going to be it but although she comes off as a fucking creepy-ass stalker, the manga does keep things light and folds her into the growing group of Komi’s friends. Tadano still seems to be the one who knows her best out of the bunch though. Still loving this series. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Hark” by Sam Lipsyte

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

Fraz Penzig is just meandering through life with little ambition and not much excitement in raising his twins with his wife, Tovah. He runs into a man named Hark who expounds on the teachings of Mental Archery. Fanz gets caught up in the movement Hanz accidentally starts and what once was some self-help jargon turns into an unhealthy cult.

From that premise, one would expect some amazing dark comedy, right? NOPE. Written like a cheap self-help book,  you are presented with too many words; leaving your mind desperate to find meaning in the flouncy actions and dialogue. So, your brain grasps at any sort of footing as you wait for something magical to happen.

And I think that may have been the whole point.

That does NOT mean I enjoyed this. Every word feels like work and I frequently just put down my kindle and held my forehead in exasperation. In the end, everybody sucks, everybody dies, and self-help won’t get you around those two immutable facts. An absolutely miserable read. 2 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Orbit” by Leigh Hellman

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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.

Committed troublemaker Ciaan Gennet runs afoul of the law one too many times and ends up sentenced to probation at a spaceship port facility. He blonde hair makes her a target for bullies so she hopes to keep her head down and serve her time without incident. But when a captain with obviously suspicious cargo docks his ship, Ciaan gets caught up in a multiplanet conspiracy that puts her life in great danger.

Perhaps a little slow going until Ciaan ends up on the spacecraft but it’s still interesting. Great characters, awesome worldbuilding, and a great spin on some dystopian concepts. We have a smart woman of color as our main lead and I love reading about a motley crew of space rebels. Very cool book. 4.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Sea of Rust” by C. Robert Cargill

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

Humanity is gone. Robots are also going extinct. Two remaining AIs are readying to go to war to claim the remaining freebots to add to their collective consciousness. While out scavaging for parts, former caregiver bot, Brittle, gets swept up in an insane gamble to save the last freebots on Earth.

If you like movies like 9, this is the book for you. The plots are similar in that the machines win a war against humans and the world is in ruins; minus any definitive heroes. Every character is flawed and out for myself, making this book ooze the very essence of a bleak, dystopian world. And I loved the adventure.

One nitpick I would have is the robots are almost too human but reading about a bunch of bland, personality drained dolls bashing up against one another would be boring. So, I’m all for it. 4.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Irena Book One: Wartime Ghetto” by Jean-David Morvan, Séverine Tréfouël & David Evrard

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

This graphic novel tells the story of Irena Sendlerowa, a social worker in the Warsaw ghetto in the early 1940’s who helped smuggle 2500 Jewish children out of the ghetto before getting captured and tortured by the Nazis.

While of course, this is not easy to read, it is an important story and I am glad to see it told. I’m not sure I would give this to a young person as it doesn’t flinch much from the horrors of the ghettos and Nazi torture but it’s still a great book. If I had a nitpick, it would be the ending. Spoilery but it shows her walking off into the light as if she died when she didn’t. She lived into her 90’s. 4.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “In the Midnight Room” by Laura McBride

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

*This review has been cross-posted to Otakus and Geeks.

Book-ended with the life of June Stein, this novel dives into Las Vegas in the 1950’s and a casino called ‘The Midnight Room.’

This book feels a lot like the times where I went into a real casino in Vegas and Atlantic City; glitz, glamour, sadness, and desperation. Including June, the lives of four very different women collide together over the course of a lifetime in this book and we follow some hauntingly poetic stories. I’m not really one for historical fiction and this book managed to suck me in and I had trouble putting the book down.

I do have to say some of the point of view changes had me confused but the story managed to sort itself out in a few paragraphs; particularly in the end when it’s suddenly all from June’s perspective but as it’s her life that frames the entire narrative, it’s forgivable. An excellent period piece and I recommend. 3.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Manfried Saves the Day” by Caitlin Major & Kelly Bastow

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Steve’s life has really turned around since the first book. He makes a living off his cartoons, he has a great girlfriend, and he’s finally happy. But when his girlfriend’s man shelter is in danger of being bought out, Steve may be stretching himself too thin trying to keep up with his deadlines and help Manfried compete in a man show to win prize money to save the man shelter.

Much like the first, this book is just too cute. You get the classic “raise money to save the *insert thing here*” plot but it’s refreshed by having tiny men as pets instead of cats. It may be a predictable plot but the adorable art makes this a worthwhile read. I absolutely enjoyed it. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Manfried the Man” by Caitlin Major & Kelly Bastow

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Steve works at a tech support call center and has very few friends as close as his pet man, Manfried. He wants to be a cartoonist but he hates his job and he’s one of the last single cats his age. But when he ends up fired and loses Manfried, he unintentionally goes viral in his search for his best friend.

I enjoyed this little switcharro where the cats are in the human’s position and visa versa. The idea of people as pets, without being dystopian horror, was a nice funny diversion. Unless you are particularly prudish and don’t wanna see a lot of cartoony naked men, this is an adorable little story. 3.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Our Dreams at Dusk: Shimanami Tasogare” vol. 1 by Yuhki Kamatan

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Tasuku Kaname ends up outed at school and the homophobia he faces makes him desperate enough to want to end it all. But a mysterious woman leaps from a window and in his search for her, Kaname discovers a Drop in Center; built for people to just come in and talk about their problems. Here, he meets people in similar situations.

Although this felt too short, it is genuinely heartwarming. In my experience, I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by understanding people and it’s too easy to forget some people are still homophobic twats and kids are at a real risk. Kaname found his little tribe and it’s very sweet. I look forward to seeing how his story progresses from here. 5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “My Solo Exchange Diary Vol. 2” by Kabi Nagata

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Nagata is still struggling to live on her own and make the connections she desperately wants so she doesn’t feel like such a failure. I empathize so much with Nagata’s struggles; especially when dealing with the fact she really does have people who care about her. Depression and anxiety can and does lie to you about who is really there for you. It’s a struggle to remember you have people who love you no matter how broken you feel.

If I had a complaint, I’d say the art can be too simplistic at times. I felt more detail would give the story more impact. 4.7 out of 5.

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