Lenni Reviews: “The Prey of Gods” by Nicky Drayden

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

Set in a futuristic South Africa where everyone has a personal robot and designer drugs are a frequent past time; we have a seemingly unconnected cast of characters slowly drawn into what could be a cataclysmic series of events.

I really can’t say too much more about the plot without spoiling the experience of how a young man named Muzi, his layabout friend, Elkin, a nail technician named Sydney, a superstar singer named Riya, a politician named Sydney, and a young girl named Nomvula are all connected to the end of the human race. You just need to read this. It’s ruthlessly creative, character-driven, thrilling, and almost perfect except for some aspects of the ending I didn’t like; which I won’t spoil. I loved it and highly recommend it if you’d like some futuristic sci-fi in a unique setting. 5 out of 5 and I hope there is more to come.

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Lenni Reviews: “How To Save The World” by Lexie Dunne

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

Gail Goodwin is known as ‘Hostage Girl’ due to her propensity for being captured. All she wants is a normal life with her boyfriend, her job, and to be done with superheroes and all the drama. But fate of course has other plans, she ends up with powers of her own and stumbles into a conspiracy to depower anyone with abilities with an invention by a scientist known to be dead.

While it got off to a slow start, it ramped up real quick! It was jarring but once the book got going, it was very entertaining. If you like different takes on superheroes that’s not as dark as something like “The Boys” it’s worth checking out! 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Grand Dark” by Richard Kadrey

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

Largo Moorden works as a bike courier and lives a life of sex, drugs, and indulgence with his actor girlfriend Remy. But when people start disappearing and there is talk of war, Largo finds himself mixed up in a strange and twisted conspiracy.

After I finished this book, I had to look at what other people were saying to see if my feelings that the slow-moving pace of this book is borderline unbearable. I did find many people simply gave up and I can see why. Things don’t really start ramping up in action until the 58% mark. Relevant details and world-building do happen but it’s peppered with Largo’s day to day life and his drug addiction, theatre friends, and job. It’s written well; you get the feeling of this decadent behavior in a city very segregated by wealth but it takes so long to get to the meat of the matter. If you’re willing to put in the work, the payoff is pretty good. If not, you’ll end up quitting. 2.9 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: “Defiant Revival” by L. Rockwood

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

Prince Michah is dead but the kingdom doesn’t know it. But Billiam, who has been in love with the prince for years, devises a plan to resurrect him and retake the kingdom from a power-mad despot.

Hooooo boy is this book filled with some exposition dumps! We get the tale from Leeke, a warrior who is somehow able to recount events she wasn’t there for in exacting detail. And as the narrative goes on we get so many characters and they tread the line between flawed and unlikable in a way that I don’t want to deal with them anymore and this book has the absolute gall to end on a cliffhanger! Even though this is a dark fantasy, one of my favorite genres, and the fight scenes are well written and interesting, it just was not enjoyable. It felt like work. And that stinks because the premise is amazing and when it’s on topic, the writing is good! 2.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Deep” by Rivers Solomon

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Yetu is the historian for her people, the wajinru. For this mermaid-like species, historian means she holds all the memories of her people right from the very first of them so the other’s don’t have to deal with the pain of the past. But the memories frequently overwhelm Yetu, leaving her sickly and tired so when the time comes to share the memories with her people in a grand ceremony, she takes the chance to flee so she can finally be alone in her own mind. But in the throws of their history, the wajinru create a terrible storm that threatens to destroy land and sea.

This is a great concept and it’s written beautifully. There is a lag in the middle where it just sort of meanders about until Yetu finally makes her decision but I like how the book turned out. It’s an interesting take on memory, history, and shared pain. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Queen of Zazzau” by J.S. Emuakpor

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

Princess Amina is heir to the throne of Zazzau and desperate to prove her worthiness to be queen. But a prophecy concerning her and the God of War combined fierce enemies hounding her country thrust Amina into a whirlwind of intrigue in which the fiercely independent Amina grapples for control of her destiny.

Ok, so lemmie start off by saying this is a fictionalized tale of a real Amina of Zazzau and the writing is fucking amazing. The battle scenes are edge of your seat tense and graphic, and you really get a sense of the world these fantastically detailed characters live in. But the main character made me wanna facepalm so many freaking times. Some mild spoilers here but aside from being a diplomatic nightmare, she comes off as kind of a thoughtless brat too often for my taste. Sometimes she’s so impetuous and irresponsible, leading to people getting hurt, and it was hard to read. But then I put it in the context of Greek and Norse mythology; where your heroes are not perfect and can also be complete jerks while the tale is still epic, and I can accept Amina for what she is. But dear gods, she made me mad! 3.8 out of 5 for the fantastic writing and story but infuriating main character.

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Lenni Reviews: “A Treason of Truths” by Ada Harper

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

Empress Sabine is invited on a diplomatic mission with some other leaders to a place called The Vault; a technological marvel self sustained by nanotechnology and an archive of an unfathomable amount of human knowledge. But what seems to be an olive branch quickly becomes a deathtrap and Sabine’s former bodyguard, Lyre, must face the secrets she’s been keeping not only from her queen but the woman she loves.

Although I didn’t read the first book, A Conspiracy¬†of Whispers, this story stands well on it’s own. The world building gives the story weight and doesn’t get bogged down in the previous book’s events while still making them understood in relevance to what happens in this book. The action is well paced and tense, making this a fun page turner.

This also doesn’t disappoint in the romance department. Even without too many explicit love scenes, Sabine and Lyre’s relationship is touching and sweet and it’s great to see a lesbian relationship with women of color. As a romance and a science fiction novel, it succeeds on nearly every level except for a lack of development with the main villain and the societal mess behind his motivations, which I won’t spoil. I felt he needed more time to get to know all the details. 4.5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Bones and Bourbon” by Dorian Graves

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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.

Retz is tasked with bringing some escaped exhibits for Lady Delight, a lamia who runs a menagerie of captured supernatural creatures. Lady Delight is a former acquaintance of Nalem, an entity who shares Retz’s body and mind so he agrees to the mission not knowing his Retz’s brother, Jarrod, has been hired by the escaped funaribi to protect them from Lady Delight. Retz and Jarrod have been estranged for 10 years and their reunion occurs under the pall of their conflicting missions as well as a horde of homicidal unicorns.

With all the stuff going on, this book is difficult to pin down. I get some¬†Supernatural vibes (I haven’t watched more than a couple episodes of that but even I could see the similarities) but it is a superficial connection that didn’t take away from the story as a whole.

The characters are lively, well written, and have some great chemistry; particularly Retz and Nalem. The dynamics of having to share a body with some ageless entity of dubious morals is conveyed very well. Jarrod and his boyfriend Ferris have a great relationship and Jarrod is a great character who happens to be transgender instead of being transgender being the entire focus of this existence; as it should be. And with a relentless army of killer unicorns in the mix, this is a cool dark urban fantasy. I really enjoyed it. 3.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Storm Lords” by Ravon Silvius

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

Rowen lives in scorched and lonely life in a village ravaged by heat storms. After losing her parents and his voice, the final straw is his fellow villagers leaving him exposed in the sun for a crime he didn’t commit. Before the heat can claim him, Rowen is rescued by Kristoff, a Storm Lord who came to break the heat storm with his powers and sensed Rowen has some abilities as well. Jumping at the chance to prevent the same sort of heat storms that claimed his parents, Rowen throws himself into his training but when his abilities flummox his mentor, Kristoff doubts he can be the man Rowen needs in every sense of the word.

Even without the romance, this would be a cool fantasy novel. The best parts are the world building and the magic, as well as Rowen himself as a sympathetic and determined character. From there this book wanders into mediocre territory where not much development is given to other characters, even Kristoff. Overall this balances out to a 3 out of 5 for me; good but not great.

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Lenni Reviews: “The World Weavers” (Desert Rising 3) by Kelley Grant

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

The gods, now determined to regain their lost power, wage war in order to find the Obsidian Temple. Kadar gathers fighters while his twin, Sulis, works with her Masters to remerge the gods and their sealed powers back into The One. Bust at the armies of the greedy gods ravage the land, time may run out before the Chosen can fulfill the prophecy of the gods becoming one again.

Loving the cultural representation and the battle scenes are awesome but the training and marching and preparing made the middle part of this book drag terribly. But when the story got down to business, it was amazing with a satisfying conclusion. If you like sprawling fantasies, this trilogy is well worth your time. 3.7 out of 5.

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