BookExpo 2019 Day 3!

 

Alright, I’ve hit exhaustion. The last two days, I’ve passed out before I could even pull the covers over myself and today, I sacked out on the couch for an hour before making dinner.

Loving these little reminders that I’m 38 and not 28…

Anyways, tomorrow I hit up BookCon and see what I can get my hands on and that’s all for me before I head back to the library. I signed up to work this Sunday so I’ll be missing that day. But I plan to make the most of Saturday! The kiddo will be with me.

Her young legs and back can help this old lady out.

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Lenni Reviews: “No Way Out” by Julie Lynn Hayes

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

While house-sitting for a friend of his mentor, Wyatt Findley sees Shylor Lind washing a car across the street and is immediately attracted. The problem is Shylor is a slave to Randy Grant; an abusive dom who keeps Shy as a broken prisoner to his every twisted whim and has done so since Shylor was a child. In the sparse moments they meet, Shy comes to care for Wyatt but does he possess the strength to defy his awful master?

This is another book I’ve read lately that comes with a smattering of trigger warnings; although most of the really icky non-consensual elements are done “off screen.” You’re still dealing with a damaged man who is not willingly consenting to his dom.

Mild spoilers but while I may have enjoyed Shylor’s story arch and his relationship with Wyatt, it was odd for me to have such a dark story culminate in a such a neat and tidy ending. I expected Randy to exact terrible revenge but nope! He storms off never to be seen again. Shylor and Wyatt’s chemistry makes up for it though. 3.5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Ashes to Fire” by Emily B. Martin

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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 an attempt to bring peace, Queen Mona agrees to meet with the man who cost her her kingdom and many of her friends, King Celeno. But instead of diplomacy, Queen Mona ends up on the run after her ship is blown up and she is kidnapped along with Celeno’s wife, Queen Gemma.

Despite being the second book in a series, enough details are filled in so you understand why things are the way they are and Martin includes these details well, without getting bogged down in clunky exposition. The cast of varied personalities all play off each other and the plot twists and turns like spinning poi (a reference you will understand when you read the book, which you should) making this a page-turning adventure. I can’t speak to how well this fits in with the first book in the series but I can say I am absolutely looking forward to the next one! 3.8 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Steel and Promise” by Alexa Black

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

I debated posting this review at all considering I honestly hope people don’t read this and think of buying it because of my reaction. But given enough thought, I decided people needed to be warned about this THING. I have been sitting on this review since October of last year because every time I started it, I would get so LIVID, I’d have to put it down. I was going to do sketches for this one too, but again, blind rage kept me from accomplishing this.

First off, just so you all know the level I am dealing with here? I apologize to Serena’s Plight. If you have not read that review? Go read that first. Then be VERY afraid.

Also, this review will be full of spoilers and I just don’t freaking care.

Cailyn Derys is a high-class courtesan who takes an interest in reclusive noblewoman Teran Nivrai, who is known for her darker tastes. While Cailyn can see there is a depth to the fearsome woman hidden from everyone else, there is still a very real danger in being involved with Teran.

First off this book is boring. Very, tearjerkingly, hair pullingly boring. Between the repetitive word choices and Lesbain Sex For Dummies 101 clinical and dry writing, it was a true struggle to get through this book I almost quit the book at 17% because the image of this alien woman in a pool of water was described in the blandest way possible. If I am tempted to stop reading your book because I thought of 5 different ways to rewrite your scene to make it more interesting, ya dun fucked up. I have ripped apart The Beauty Books and even there, I can at least say the prose was beautiful.

As to how “dark and disturbing” this is? No, sorry. It really isn’t. Teran’s darker tastes can be found in your average adult leaning vampire novel; bloodplay, cutting, and such. Not to mention how the tension between Cailyn and Teran is undercut by how familiar Cailyn is with Teran right from the start and their intimacy seems unearned. Out of nowhere this alien woman feared by all just opens up about her former lovers like Cailyn is a trusted confidant? Sorry, not buying it.

One point I will give this book is Cailyn is her own person. If a client or anyone steps over the line, she’s not afraid to call them on it and put her foot down. And that trait does carry through to the rest of the book. She never becomes a doormat.

So, after all that, all the build-up to how dark this book is and how I found it to be as dry as a bag of sand in the Sahara, what about this book made me want to rage out? At 80%, Teran gets mad for whatever fucking reason because it honestly doesn’t matter and we are treated to an overly detailed rape scene between her and Cailyn. As if I wasn’t annoyed or indifferent up to that point because of the rest of the boring sex in this book, now I’m pissed off and disgusted. Tossing this pointless shit in there doesn’t make this “dark erotica” it makes it exploitive schlock of the worse common denominator. Teran is now irredeemable and I don’t want to follow this character for the remainder of this book because all of that effort to make her seem less of the monster her reputation says she is has been destroyed. She IS a monster and this book can suck it for trying to make me see her as anything else.

I don’t know how I made it through this… Cailyn starts the book as an accomplished courtesan with autonomy and freedom and ends it as a slave owned by her rapist. If you want BDSM, Story of O did it better. If you want dark erotica, Killing Stalking is a great example of something taboo, disturbing, yet also compelling. Other reviews had people quitting around the 70% mark saying it was too dark but no, it was boring and dumb. I have never outright hated a book this much and I refuse to give it any stars at all.

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Book Expo/Book Con Swag

I know everyone was just DYING to know what I got from these events so, here’s a list of every book I picked up:

  1. The Invasion of Heaven by Michael B. Koep
  2. Leaves of Fire by Michael B. Koep
  3. The Bone of the Earth by Rachael Dunne
  4. The Curse of the Werck Family: The Battle Between Love and Hate by Valéria Lopes
  5. If the Creek Don’t Rise by Leah Weiss
  6. Wicked Bugs: The Meanest, Deadliest, Grossest Bugs on Earth by Amy Stewart and Briony Morrow-Cribbs
  7. Why the Rich are Getting Richer by Robert T. Kiyosaki
  8. L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 33 by Robert J. Sawyer and Anne McCaffrey
  9. Battlefield Earth 21st Century Edition by L. Ron Hubbard
  10. Summer on Sunset Ridge by Sharlene MacLaren
  11. Sleep like a Baby by Charlaine Harris
  12. The Heavens May Fall by Allen Eskens
  13. Zero Repeat Forever (The Nahx Invasions Book 1) by G. S. Prendergast
  14. Miles Morales: Spider-Man by Jason Reynolds
  15. Surpassing Uncertainty: What My Twenties Taught Me by Janet Mock
  16. A Choice to Yield by Laurence Cook
  17. Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield
  18. A Cyber Affair: The Online Search for Mr. Right by Lonz Cook
  19. The Eternity Elixir (Potion Masters) by Frank L. Cole
  20. The Notations of Cooper Cameron by Jane O’Reilly
  21. The Town of Jasper by James Gianetti
  22. Timeless: Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic by Armand Baltazar
  23. Under a Pole Star by Stef Penney
  24. The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo and Sara Kipin
  25. The Deep Dark Descending by Allen Eskens
  26. The Extra Woman: How Marjorie Hillis Led a Generation of Women to Live Alone and Like It by Joanna Scutts
  27. Saturdays with Hitchcock by Ellen Wittlinger
  28. Idyll Threats by Stephanie Gayle
  29. Falcon Wild by Terry Lynn Johnson
  30. The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
  31. Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak
  32. Writer, The Shaping of Popular Fiction: L. Ron Hubbard Series, Writer (The L. Ron Hubbard Series, The Complete Biographical Encyclopedia) by Based on the Works of L. Ron Hubbard
  33. M.F.K Book One by Nilah Magruder

Why are none of these linked? Because not all of them have something to link to so, fuck it. It’s just a big ass list.

I have mysteries, historical romance, contemporary romance, non-fiction, YA, science fiction; you name it. I basically took every free book they waved in front of my face and worried about what kind of book it was later. I’m not sure I’ll review ALL of them but I sure will review most of them.

But you can see why my shoulders were KILLING me by the fourth day of gathering these.

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Lenni Reviews: “Drakon Book I: The Sieve” by C.A. Caskabel

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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.

Da-Ren appears on the doorstep of Castel Monastery demanding the monks redeem the lives of his wife and daughter. Despite being a barbarian, a pagan, and infidel in their eyes, the monks let him on the island where they are tasked with transcribing the warrior’s story.

This book is the story of Da-Ren’s first trials of training in a gauntlet his tribe calls The Sieve; a series of grueling life or death tests that had me legit wondering if this tribe just runs out of kids at some point. But my stupid jokes aside, this is the type of dark fantasy that’s depressing but written in such a visceral and lyrical manner that it’s almost hypnotic. It’s written in the style of most sweeping epics, so it’s not dumbed down or flinch from the gore. You can’t help but get invested in Da-Ren and his world and though the book only covers the first part of his training and you know more is to home, the cliffhanger doesn’t feel jarring enough to not seek out the next installment; which I will definitely be doing. If you like dark fantasy, this is a fantastic installment.A welcome 4.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Bonfire” (Hours of the Night #1.5) by Irene Preston and Liv Rancourt

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

Thaddeus – a vampire – and his assistant/boyfriend, Sarasija live together in the bayou. While Thaddeus begrudgingly indulges Sarasija’s enthusiasm for Chirstmas decorations, strange lights are seen in the darkness which lure people away. To avoid being scapegoated as the cause Thaddeus goes to investigate while trying to keep Sarasija safe.

I found it very difficult to get into this and the blame can be squarely put on the fact I haven’t read any other books in this series. Bonfire is one of those in-between books that’s more of a side story for fans. You get the most from it if you are already familiar with the characters and the world they live in. As a result, how Thaddeus and Sarasija spend their holidays means nothing to me.

That being said, the mystery of the swamp lights did keep me reading to the end. The POV shifts from time to time, Thaddeus can be overly guilt-ridden to the point of being tiresome, and without the books I had trouble feeling the connection to the couple of the towns people around them. Still an interesting enough diversion. 3 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Higurashi: When They Cry” vol 2 by Ryukishi07 and Karin Suzuragi

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With the help of detective Oishi Kurado, Keiichi continues to delve into the creepy happenings in Hinamizawa. Knowing he can trust no one, Keiichi now fears the Oyashiro-sama’s curse will lead to his friends killing him and is determined to avoid that fate.

I gotta give it to Keiichi for doing the sensible thing; arming himself and telling the demon girls to stay the hell away from him. It doesn’t work, of course, and we’re left wondering if the town is crazy or just Keiichi is crazy. I’m leaning towards the town but there’s definitely something bigger than just a couple of crazy girls with sharp objects. The only way to find out is to keep going. 3.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Dreadnought” (Nemesis – Book One) by April Daniels

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*I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

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

Danny is out secretly buying nail polish and ends up thrust into the middle of a superhero battle. Defeated, Dreadnought transfers his powers to Danny, giving him super human abilities but the female body this transgender teen has always wanted. But not only does Danny have to deal with coming out as the new Dreadnought, she also must come out to her strict parents, the Legion of other heroes, and content with Utopia, the cyborg villain who killed Danny’s predecessor.

After reading “Black Angel” I was a little nervous about another LGBTQ YA novel. However, this book is much like “Rebel Genius” in that I was hooked and entertained for most of this despite being a sorry old lady outside the target demographic.

This novel touches on the good and bad about being a trans teen with the added flight of fancy that if anyone bullies you for being trans, you can pummel them into the ground. Danny is such a great kid, you can’t help but root for her and just outright DESPISE what she’s put through. And, as a comic book geek, this also makes for an awesome superhero story. There is genuine peril Danny has to deal with as a budding super-heroine and despite the world ending consequences; the story doesn’t feel like it gets bogged down when dealing with the issues surrounding a transgendered individual. Some reactions are almost TOO evil but I think that’s just the part of me that is desperately holding on to a shred of hope in humanity. It doesn’t pander, it doesn’t preach; “Dreadnought” is a well-written, wild ride, and if it’s the start to a series; I look forward to more. 4.7 out of 5.

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