Lenni Reviews: “Beastars” Vol. 7 by Paru Itagaki

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

In this volume we get to meet the Council of Living Beings; where the adult representatives talk about how every school has to present a Beastar every year but Cherryton hasn’t presented one in five years. All of the Beastars are supposed to compete to become the next “Valiant Beastar.” Cherryton is usually the one to present this and win by popular demand but Principal Gon has been hesitant to put a kid in this position. The Council overrules him; deciding which ever Cherryton student solves the murder (the one from WAAAAAAYYY bak in the first volume) will be declared Beastar.

I think we need a slow clap for Principle Gon for being the only one to finally remember that these are a bunch of teenagers who probably shouldn’t be saddled with what an adult would have trouble dealing with. Finally, a sensible adult. So, of course he’s overruled…

We also have Legoshi dealing with some issues and needing Gohin to help him out. There are a couple new students, a badass security guard snake named Six Eyes, and finally getting back to the inciting incident of this series. I was wondering when they were going to get back to that because it’s barely been addressed since volume one. I mean, did this kid not have parents what may wanna know? Or are any police involved? Not that I’m not invested in Legoshi and Louis and all that drama but; yeah. There’s a murderer out there. Might wanna get on that. 4.5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Smokin’ Parade” Vol. 6 by Jinsei Kataoka & Kazuma Kondou

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With the frequent losses the Northern Jackalopes face, Captain Kukuri launches a full-on hunt of the massive spider they have named Lord.

Spoilers but I like how Kukuri and Youkou go to gather data on Lord and have no idea exactly how to get it or what the data means. We see these types of “gather intel” scenes all the time and the characters magically know how all the tech works and what part of what they find is important. It was nice to see that trope played with.

This volume is paced better than previous ones with a fair balance of action and backstory. It’s dark, touching on the implications of gear technology and the advances and consequences of playing with such things. Got some twisted stuff in here, too, so if that’s not your thing, I’d avoid it if I were you. 3.7 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: “The Dreaming Vol. 2: Empty Shells” by Simon Spurrier, Bilquis Evely, Abigail Larson, & Tiffany Turrill

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This volume centers around Rose, whose mother is in the hospital and she finds Lucien washed up on a beach. As she ponders how her love came entwined with Dream’s, the remaining inhabitants of The Dreaming struggle to keep it together.

If I were to sum up this volume in one word, it would be sad. Loss, yearning, and death sink you down into this story and don’t leave you with much in the way of hope. I wonder what sort of Dream we’ll get by the end of this story if we even ger him at all.

The stand out in this volume for me is the artificial intelligence currently in charge of The Dreaming. In a cast of highly unique characters, the AI is the one that really stuck with me. I look forward to seeing how it all goes from here. 4.5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Stranger Things: Six” by Jody Houser

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This graphic novel tells the tale of another kid trapped in the same lab at Eleven. We meet Francine who was taken into the lab in 1978 and runs into her boyfriend, Ricky.

This is an interesting story. I like that we get to learn more about Dr. Brenner and his testes as well as the various powers of the other kids. I would have liked to learn more about the test subjects. I guess after reading The Institute, I was in the mindset to get much more information but a novel has a lot more pages to play with than a quick graphic novel. In a strange way, I was left both satisfied and unsatisfied. I liked it, the art is good, but I wish there was more. 3.9 out of 5.

 

Lenni Reviews: “Heathen” Vol. 2 by Natasha Alterici

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*This book is recommended for mature readers.

Aydis charters a pirate ship to take her to the land of the gods but Odin has taken notice of her and is hunting her down.

And that’s about all I can say about this without spoiling some delicious plot points that I think you should enjoy for yourselves. There is some fantastic character development in this volume! We get pirate women and some mermaids here and it’s all amazing. Also, I am LOVING how Freyja is depicted in this story. Very confident in her own skin and unflinchingly honest about who she is without being hyper-sexualized as she does it.

And not to spoil too much but holy shit is Odin a dick! I mean, even I want to hunt him down… But this series is awesome! I do have to knock off some points for the borderline cruel cliffhanger. 4.5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Heathen” Vol. 1 by Natasha Alterici

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*This book is recommended for mature readers.

Aydis is cast out from her clan after getting caught for kissing another woman. Undaunted, she embarks on a quest to free an imprisoned valkyrie, Brynhild. What she thought would be just one great quest turns out to be an epic adventure filled with gods, spirits, and monsters.

I cannot get enough of this book. This is just an awesome fantasy comic. I love the mythology, the art, all the characters have personalities that bounce realistically off each other, there’s some fantastic representation across race, sexuality, and gender, the adventure is thrilling; it’s just freaking perfect. If you like your fantasy with a kick-ass main heroine, this is the book that serves this up beautifully. Absolutely check this one out! 5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Lucifer Vol. 1: The Infernal Comedy” by Dan Watters, Max Fiumara, Sebastian Fiumara

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With the Dreaming broken and the Dream King missing, the son of Lucifer begins some dastardly plans. Lucifer himself is now a blind old man who must hunt down his own son to save the world. Meanwhile, a police officer John Decker finds something strange is going on in his recovery group.

I want to say this one is as cool as the first two I’ve read but I found this one to be the most confusing so far. The story has to jump between Lucifer trying to track down the mother of his son to whatever the heck Decker is going through with the demons haunting his friends. I liked it but not as much of the others. 3.8 out of 5.

 

Lenni Reviews: “The Dreaming Vol. 1: Pathways and Emanations” by Simon Spurrier, Bilquis Evely, Neil Gaiman

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Taking full advantage of having different storylines in different books take place in the same universe, this volume starts with the same intro as all the other volume 1’s then branches off into its own story; this time within the crumbling Dreaming itself. Desperate to hold the world together in the Dream King’s absence, Lucien the librarian releases the Judge to keep order but he goes way too far.

This is a really cool story that doesn’t go the way you would expect. The main star is really Dora, a resident of the dreaming who is struggling with her identity. I honestly kept waiting for Dream to sweep in and fix everything but that would be way too easy. the art here is on point here again and the story also gets confusing here as well but I think this is because there’s a chunk of backstory here that I’m missing. These are the type of books you read more than once to catch the little details and I’m down for that. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “House of Whispers” vol 1 by Nalo Hopkinson, John Rauch, Sean Murray, Dominike Stanton & Maika Sozo

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The Dream King is missing and the Dreaming is falling apart. The consequences spill out into the waking world when Maggie and her girlfriend Latoya find a strange book and the spells inside put Latoya in a coma.

As is typical of something in Gaiman’s universe, there is a LOT going on and trying to explain it all would result in spoiling some of the more interesting bits. So, I will have to cop out and say the art is beautiful, and I love the use of Voodoo lore in the story. There are some parts that are confusing and I’m hoping the next book will clear things up. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Tea Dragon Festival” by Katie O’Neill

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

In a sort of prequel to Tea Dragon Society, this book follows Rin, an aspiring cook and excellent forager in the village of Silverleaf. While out searching for ingredients, she happens upon Aedhan, a dragon who has been asleep for the last 80 years.

Much like its predecessor, this comic’s story is as warm and rich as the beautiful color palate. We sit back and enjoy Aedhan slipping back into his role as protector of the village. Hesekiel and Erik are the connecting thread from the first book and they’re here to work out what kept Aedhan asleep for so long.

You can just curl up with these books and you get the feeling of wandering barefoot through a lush forest. They’re so calming and beautiful and not a bit boring despite not being chock full of sword-swinging or magical battles. A joy to read multiple times. 5 out of 5.

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