Lenni Reviews: “Beastars” vol 2 by Paru Itagaki

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

When the onstage conflict during the school play becomes too real, Legoshi struggles with his carnivore instincts as Bill, a tiger, tempts him to slip.

This volume goes back and forth as to how serious it is, which I actually like! Given the set up of predator and prey trying to coexist in peace could be all about the angst and pain but it’s just dark enough to be intriguing and provide consequences for actions but enough levity to keep it enjoyable. I give this series a lot of credit for succeeding in this balancing act so far. Highly creative and compelling even though some of the sketchy art can be a little confusing sometimes. 4.5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: Whenever Our Eyes Meet…: A Women’s Love Anthology” by ASCII Media Works

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This is a collection of fourteen short stories about women in live in different types of relationships from an artist with a crush on her subject to a high school puppy love getting a second chance when they’re grown up.

While well done overall with pretty art, all the stories are SUPER short. But that’s to be expected when you get 180 pages to tell fourteen different stories. Gotta make you point quick then move on to the next one.

My favorite of them would be “Everyone’s Missing Out.” by Irua. Not many romance stories – much less LGBT ones – have characters over 30-40 years old. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of those.

Not a bad collection if you’re looking for some relatively clean, short, yuri to read. 3.7 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: “No Ivy League” by Hazel Newlevant

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

Sheltered homeschooler Hazel Newlevant takes a summer job clearing ivy from the forests in Portland, Oregon. At first, she’s just looking to make some quick cash for a concert but she finds her small world opened when interacting with more diverse kids.

I like this book because the main character isn’t a racist who comes around. Hazel has legitimately not interacted with anything other than other white, affluent, homeschooled kids and comes to realize there’s a bigger world out there. She has been given advantages others may not have and instead of being some White Savior or being riddled with White Guilt, she just makes friends and starts dancing. I respect that.

I do feel more needed to be done with her parents and their reasons for homeschooling Hazel. The mother does go into her backstory a bit but if systemic racism and white privilege are being addressed, more was needed with Hazel’s realization about why her mother chose this rather than a couple of panels and one trip to the library. But that’s just me. Overall, I enjoyed it. 3.7 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: “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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Lenni Reviews: “Honor Girl: A Graphic Memoir” by Maggie Thrash

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In this memoir, fifteen year old Maggie recounts a summer at Camp Bellflower for Girls where she develops feelings for Erin; who is not only older than her, but a counselor.

While touching, this book really shines because it has so many more likable characters than what I normally see in a graphic memoir. Maggie has decent friends despite being in a pretty religious camp. Sure, there is still some homophobia but on the whole, she manages to have a good summer without getting picked on for being a lesbian.

If you can tell from the cover, the art is VERY simple. Everything is soft and simple to contrast the pretty complicated feelings going on. If I had a complaint, it would be it seems almost TOO soft. The book flutters by without much lasting impact.

Or maybe I’m just reading too many of these things, I dunno. 3.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “NewsPrints” by Ru Xu

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Masquerading as a boy, Blue loves her job as a newsboy delivering papers so people can be informed in a time of war. The paper she works for is the only one that tells the truth so her job can be perilous. While on the run from boys from a rival paper, she happens upon an eccentric scientist and then a young boy named Crow with strange secrets of their own.

This is a cute little book in a steampunk sort of world with odd gadgets and scientists with goggles. While overall entertaining and gorgeous to look at, this is a familiar story; plucky girl, quirky scientist, enigmatic boy with a secret, and government secrets. If you’ve never read something like this before, you may enjoy this more than I did. Not to say I didn’t like it or have fun reading it but I have seen this all before. 3.6 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Shiver” By Junji Ito

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

In yet another collection, Junji Ito continues to simultaneously impress me all while wondering why I keep chomping at the bit to read his work. Some of these stories feel a tad clipped but when you’re trying to keep things short, it can’t be helped. Ito really is a master of what he does even if I have to read happy things for awhile whenever I pick up a book of his. 4.9 out of 5.

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