Lenni Reviews: “The Last Ballad” by Wiley Cash

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

Set in North Carolina in 1929, Ella works in a textile mill trying desperately to work enough hours to feed her children. Suffering with terrible hours and even worse pay, Ella is curious about the current rise in unions for textile workers but afraid of losing her job or worse.

This is a very poignant and powerful book. Sitting in my privileged 2020 mindset, it still shocks me to know there was a time where you risked your life for even associating with someone thinking about a union. My grandmother was a garment worker union member who frequently attended rallies like in the book; and she was African American working with Jewish colleagues at this time (a man even came to interview her for this book). It’s part of why I was so excited to read this.

This book jumps around in time and I think I would have enjoyed it more if it had a more linear narrative.  But it’s still amazing regardless. 4.7 out of 5.

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BookCon 2019!

Yeah, just the one day for this one. I have some overtime hours tomorrow. Which will pay for what I snagged today.

I got some awesome signed books from people. I really enjoy grabbing smaller author’s books so I can review them.

I also managed to win this!

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It’s a charger that I got! I was lucky and picked an ace from their deck. You got the chance to pick a card for signing up for their site and I got this even though the Javitz connection was wonky. Rest assured, I did make sure I signed up when I got home so I didn’t cheat!

Overall? I’m exhausted. I see a long rest in the future.

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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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BookExpo 2019 Day 1

Here’s the swag I got! 😀

And to cap it off, I got to see George Takei talk about his upcoming graphic memoir!

I’m telling you, it was a complete coincidence I wore one of my Star Trek shirts today.

Considering I deliberately left my rolling suitcase at home, I think I was quite restrained! But let me tell you when the floor opened, one would think someone would get stampeded. People had to be yelled at to just get in a line! It was crazy.

Never get in between book lovers and their free arcs, let me tell you. You may lose a finger!

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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: “Capsicum Head” by L.J. LaBarthe

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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.

This book follows the efforts of Pete and his lover Jon as they try to make their band Capsicum Head a success. Since their first gig was a failure, they are hesitant to try again.

And… That’s pretty much all the conflict here. There’s no battle of the bands type thing, no rangling owners to give them a chance just the two gigs and Pete and Jon being together. This is very much a slice of life story but a little too much; meaning it all comes off as too mundane. Jon and Pete are likable enough and obviously are hot for each other, the premise of a multi-racial gay couple is very interesting but it all came off as humdrum. I felt I was consistently waiting for something big to happen. Sadly left me unsatisfied despite the decent writing. 2.7 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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