Lenni Reviews: “Arpeggio of Blue Steel” Vol. 1 by Ark Performance

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This was one of the manga I got from a Loot Anime crate that I finally cracked open.

After the sea level rises, a fleet of ships dubbed the Fleet of Fog took control over the seas, keeping humanity from traveling between continents or islands. A weapon has been developed to fight them and the crew of the sub I-401 is tasked with getting the prototype from Japan to America but the route takes them right through the Fleet of Fog.

So, there’s this motley crew, secret weapon, and of course the ships have a humanoid avatar that’s a cute girl. I had to trudge through this because it felt like a diluted Outlaw Star/Blue Sub Six mashup that made me wish I was watching those instead. I can’t even give it a proper rating because I didn’t finish it. I won’t be reading any more of this series and I gave away the volume I had.

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Lenni Reviews: “Ajin: Demi-Human” vol 6 by Gamon Sakurai

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Kei and Ko are now training with Izumi, Dr. Ogura, and Tosagi so they can get ready to battle Sato. We learn some back story on Izumi and finally find out what happened to Kaito – the boy who helped Kei escape several volumes ago. Turns out Kaito got sent to jail for his good deed and has an arrangement  (you can’t say friendship) with fellow inmate and demi-human, Kotobuki.

Despite Kei’s completely understandable lack of faith in anyone, it was refreshing to not only see Kaito again, but see him care about others. He’s not posturing about it or long winded speeches; in fact, if someone says that attitude pisses them off, Kaito just says “Yup.” and moves on. He is how he is and that’s it. I hope this dark and demented world doesn’t kill that feeling. I don’t care if they prove him right or wrong – I hope they don’t and retain moral ambiguity – I just don’t want Kaito’s positive attitude broken.

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Lenni Reviews: “Yona of the Dawn” volume 1 by Mizuho Kusanagi

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*I received this book as a fun little bonus but I’m reviewing it anyway. YAY!

As princess, Yona has lived a charmed life. After the tragic passing of her mother, her father – King Il – spoiled her. After a lavish party for her 16th birthday, her father is murdered in an act of betrayal, Yona is forced to leave the palace – the only home she has ever known. On the run from enemy forces, Yona must find a way to survive and for the first time face terrible adversity and uncertainty.

Yona is your typical fiery redhead princess. She’s a little quirky, a little spoiled, but at the same time, she’s not one of those princesses that kicks and screams like a brat about what’s happened. She’s grieving for her loss but not being unreasonable about it. Yona is crying, dazed, but moving forward; a real reaction that makes me empathize with her more. A lot of characters will flip out unreasonably hysterically so they are almost annoying. Yona isn’t like that so far.

As a first volume, it ends in the perfect place to want the next one but not give you that cut short cliffhanger. As for the art, it’s typical shoujo style; idealized, pretty, and flowing. I think I could get into this series. 3.5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Dark Knight in Disguise, the Prequel (Earthbound Angels .5)” by Sandra Ross

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**I purchased this book for free from Barnes and Noble.

Erick Angell wakes up with no memories of he came to be alone in a room with a stranger who gives him this new name. After disobeying God, his wings are clipped and he’s now human. His punishment is meant to teach him compassion and learn his ‘special calling.’

Something is very basic about this. It’s like a fanfic romance. God banishes Erick Angell (with two l’s; GET IT!!!??) with all the perfect documents and enough money to buy a castle? Hire a decorator? Buy fancy furniture?

Aside for being human, how is this a punishment?

The writing and general story are so generic and boring I have zero interest in what happens to this guy. He gives me some serious Edward Cullen vibes: some rich, perfectly chiseled empty vessel for someone to drape themselves over. I’d hate his personality, but he didn’t have one. I really struggled to find a number for this tiny bit of fluffy nonsense (gods, I sound like a pretentious bitch) but I guess I’ll have to say a 2. Absolutely forgettable and uninspired.

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Lenni Reviews: “Elixir: A Changeling P.I. Novel” by Ruth Vincent

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

Mabily Jones is an intern for a private eye after being tricked into human form by the Fairy Queen. Obadiah Savage sells bootleg Elixir to humans looking to get high. Thrown together when they are accused of a crime they didn’t commit, the pair must travel to the Fairy realm to clear their names.

This book was pretty fun. Mab is as capable as she can be as a human with no powers against fairies. The romance between her and Obadiah is predicable but the way the story plays out between Mabily and the Fairy Queen was creative and unexpected. Mabily is a relatable character and while I enjoyed her, the while book seemed very light and simple. If you’re looking for fantasy with fairies that doesn’t get too dark, this is a good example of it. This felt more like a YA novel; teasing at the darkness but playing it safe. As I’m used to darker fantasy, it left me wanting but the story is fun and interesting; leaving me wanting to know what could happen next. 3.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Stealing His Heart” by Ella Jade

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**I purchased this book from All Romance Ebooks.**

Good girl Sophia Ball is three years out of a terrible relationship; choosing instead to focus on becoming a teacher. Now a music teacher at a local private school, her friend suggests she get back in the game. When she’s out for a jog before work one day, she bumps into Paxton Hughes; a pitcher for the local baseball team: The Kingston Crushers. The pair meet again at a party and hit it off very well. But Paxton has a reputation as a playboy. Can this smitten bad boy settle down and will Sophie take the chance?

So, I’m reading this book and it’s enjoyable enough. The characters are interesting and seem happy once they’re together but by this time I was only 40% or so through the book. The rest is mostly the pair just dealing with Pax being on the road so much before the inevitable misunderstanding comes into play; which is that Sohpia’s car breaks down and she misses a game. I gotta say, it pissed me off SO bad when everybody just piles on Sophia for her car breaking down. They all – INCLUDING PAXTON – treat her like she missed the game on purpose and she’s instantly on the outs. I know the story needed conflict but, yikes. They really vilify her.

Overall, this story is sappy but not bad. I get these types of stories are supposed to be sappy but this overdid it for me. A decently written 3.5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Shapeshifters Anonymous” by J.A. Konrath

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**I purchased this book for free from Amazon**

Robert Weston has been blacking out, waking up in odd places, and finding odd items in his poop (I hadda read it, you get to read it in the review). Turns out he’s a shifter. Luckily there’s a support group for people dealing with this particular condition and while the gathering may be private, Robert can’t shake the feeling he’s being followed. Someone is after the shifters and now they’re all in danger.

First off, the members of this support group are too fucking chill with the fact some of them – Robert included – have killed and eaten people. I know this story isn’t taking itself seriously, but I expect more than a wince or gasp from a character  when they discover they ate their neighbor. And no cops involved? Not even a knock on the apartment door about a missing person? Ok then…

Eh, this book is fairly harmless. I smirked a bit at some of the jokes but its forgettable over all; like candy. 2.5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Mannies Incorporated” by Sean Michael

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**I purchased this book from All Romance Ebooks and it is rated 18+**

Slayde works as a nanny to Mindy’s three kids. A widow who ends up deployed once again, Slayde manages very well until Mindy’s brother, Drake, drops by saying he’s there to help; completely messing with Slayde’s flow. Not only is Drake a hard-assed cop and unfamiliar with the kids, Slayde is attracted to him. But Drake is straight, right?

This is a cute opposites attract story with some steamy smexy times. In my own opinion, there was a bit much of the kids and the story can be over saccharine sometimes. I found myself skimming over the fluff to get back to the relationship between Drake and Slayde. But by the end, I had a stupid grin on my face because I was happy for them. It’s an upbeat story without too much angst. If that’s what you’re looking for, I give this a solid 3.5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Puella Magi Madoka Magica” vol 2 by Magica Quartet and Hanokage

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*Spoilery review

Nadoka’s friend, Sayaka, enters into a contract with Kyubey in order to have a wish granted: for the hands of a boy she likes to be healed. On Sayaka’s first outing as a magical girl, another girl shows up named Kyouko, who has been killing familiars for a long time. Kyouko reveals not only is it the task of a magical girl to hunt and kill witches and their familiars, the girls eat the witches. After killing a witch, a grief seed is left behind. The girls supposedly use the seed to clean their soul gems and get their magic back but in reality, the grief seed is being consumed. Not only that, those cute little soul gems aren’t just a talisman, they are the girl’s actual souls! Their bodies are just empty shells; effectively, they’re DEAD.

What the ever-loving fuck…

While Sayaka works on getting the hang of the killing familiars thing, Homura is desperately trying to keep Madoka from getting involved. Turns out Homura’s special ability is time manipulation and she knows exactly what Kyubey is and what it’s planning. Then the guy Sayaka essentially died for hooks up with someone else and loses her fucking mind.

There are only three volumes of this and there seems to be a lot getting thrown out at the reader. I haven’t seen the anime (I plan to) and I won’t watch it until I finish the books, but I shudder to think how this will wrap up. So far, it’s compelling, screwed up, and a bit disturbing.

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Lenni Reviews: “Puella Magi Madoka Magica” vol 1 by Magica Quartet and Hanokage

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I heard this series was fucked up and right in the first volume, it lives up to it’s infamous reputation.

But I get ahead of myself…

We start our story with Madoka Kaname starting a typical day at school A new transfer student joins her class and its the same girl Madoka dreamed of the night before! Sure enough, the dream is prophetic as a little creature named Kyubey offers to make Madoka a magical girl. All Madoka has to do is make a contract with Kyubey and she will have one wish granted in return. But the new girl; Homura Akemi, tries to warn her against it and Madoka soon learns wishes come at a price and being a magical girl isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

I think the shock of this manga comes in the marketing. You look at the cover with the bright colors and smiling girls, you read the blurb on the back and it’s pretty standard for a magical girl book; but then you read it and some girl gets her head bitten off. If this book was marketed as a horror, I don’t think people would be as shocked. It’s nice to see a different take on the magical girl genre, though. The tone reminds me of Titans: Sissors, Paper, Stone; which I read a million years ago (and probably have a copy somewhere…); as it’s a commentary on the glorification of superheroes. It’s all fun and games until shit gets real. Seeing as how Puella starts off dark pretty quick, I doubt things will get any better for the characters.

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