Lenni Reviews: “Given” Vol 2 & 3 by Natsuki Kizu

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Yup, this is a two for one. Because for some reason, volume one and four were available as ARC copies, but not two and three. Makes sense… I had to read them in order so things make sense.

In these volumes, the band is prepping for their first live performance and finally picks a name: Given. We get more story time with Haruki and Akihiko; who have a bunch of drama aside for Uenoyama clearly having a crush on Mafuyu.

Uenoyama coming to terms with his feelings for Mafuyu and their interactions are adorable and the dynamic between Haruki and Akihiko is rife with angst and plot potential. I get great vibes off our four main leads and the way this is all written, you really want to see them succeed. 3.9 out of 5 for being interesting but bordering on overly dramatic.

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Lenni Reviews: ” Koimonogatari: Love Stories” Vol. 1 Tohru Tagura

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

When Yamato comes out to a friend that he has a crush on a male classmate, Yuji overhears. When they end up in a study group with some other kids who flake out and they end up alone, Yuji lets Yamato know that he knows he’s gay and wants to be supportive.

This was… Okay. The whole volume felt like a set up for things to come later so it moves slow. However, Yuji’s clumsy way of being a friend and learning about the LGBT community is kind of adorable since it’s coming from a place of a genuine desire to learn about what he doesn’t understand. He seems to really care and that’s great! I am waiting for the fallout of him borrowing his mother’s computer to look up information, though.

I’ll give this a 3.5 because of the nice art and how much I liked Yuji. I’ll reserve broader opinions once I get my hands on the second one.

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Lenni Reviews: “Patience & Esther: An Edwardian Romance” by SW Searle

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

In order to earn money for her family, Patience gets a job as a housemaid for Mrs. Sweet. To learn the ropes, she’s paired with Esther, the head housemaid, and now Patience’s roommate. As they get to know one another, their feelings deepen, and a passionate relationship blooms.

Not only is this a lesbian romance set in Edwardian times, but it’s also body-positive and interracial. As to that last point, I expected a LOT more overt racism but I’m not sad it’s left out. There’s enough of that in real life these days. And the sexy scenes are tastefully done. But to put the romantics out there at ease, this is a happily ever after that I found very sweet. And the side story at the end with them set in modern-day was really cute. 4.9 out of 5

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Lenni Reviews: “Breaks” Volume One by Emma Vieceli & Malin RydĂ©n

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Cortland Hunt is an outcast and that’s the way he likes it. When the popular joker Ian Tanner refuses to take the hint to leave him alone; dead set on befriending the brooding loner, Cortland begrudgingly opens up to the idea. But Ian’s feelings grow to more than just friendship and Cortland isn’t sure how to handle it.

I like the way Cortland and Ian’s relationship progresses from friendship to possibly something ore and Ian is the perfect bubbly, silly counterpoint to Cortland’s sullen and aggressive nature. But I have some concerns about how this story will go considering Ian has a girlfriend that he’s been with for some time. I’m sure there’s a way to work this out in a way that’s not problematic but I’ll have to wait for the second volume to see it. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Aliens, Smith And Jones” by Blaine D. Arden

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

Set in the UK, Agent Connor Smith works for an organization that deal with aliens and alien artifacts. When he starts feeling paralyzed randomly, it is revealed that Noah, an alien, is making contact with him because he believes Connor is his soulmate. There is also an underground crime syndicate selling artifacts and aliens on the black market.

Despite the interesting premise, this book is sadly disjointed, unfocused, and stilted. I just didn’t feel much emotion from the writing and that made it hard to care once the plot really got going. I wanted to like this so badly but it just felt so dry. There’s some real untapped potential here but I didn’t enjoy this as much as I’d hoped. 2.9 out of 5.

Lenni Revews: “Infected: Throwaways” by Andrea Speed

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

Holden Krause, a former rent boy turned private investigator/vigilante, is asked by a friend to find her missing husband and also asked by the police to look into the murder of a known local drug dealer. With the help of his partner, Chai, Holden uses all the skills at his disposal to suss out the killer and find the missing man.

This book feels really unfocused a lot of the time; simultaneously trying to work in the back story of the infected, some sort of feline shifter-like condition, despite Holden himself not being one. It’s heavy on the pop culture references and class, gender, and race politics. It’s important to include these things in your work but overuse can make your reader cringe no matter what side of the aisle you’re on and I did just that.

Overall, this reminds me of “Pushback” where the plot you’re expecting from the synopsis is secondary to other random details. The reader may be expecting more emphasis on the werecat virus and have it factor more into the plot other than a dramatic rescue, it really didn’t. It’s an ok book because Holden and Chai are fun characters to follow. 3 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “An Unkindness of Ghosts” by Rivers Solomon

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

Aster, a surgeon, is assistant to Theo, the Surgeon General on board the spaceship Matilda. The ship is heavily segregated with darker-skinned poor people consigned to the lower decks and forced to toil in the service of the upper decks. It is only Aster’s medical talent and connection to Theo that allows her a level of freedom to grow her own plants and discover the mystery behind her mother’s disappearance when she was a baby via a journal she left behind.

While highly creative and interesting, I think this is another book that would have benefitted from being only in the third person to give me more of the world around our characters. Don’t get me wrong, the world-building is great but I found myself getting confused too often in this book.

However, I did enjoy this book. We have some great realistic characters, a dystopian future starship, an intriguing mystery to solve, and great integration of LGBTQI characters. It’s like Titan A.E. only with even more social commentary. I came to enjoy Aster’s attitude but I really wondered as to the fate of the Matilda. Mostly Theo since I enjoyed him as well. Maybe there will be more in this universe in the future? I sure hope so. 4.6 out of 5.

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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: “Our Dreams at Dusk: Shimanami Tasogare” Vol. 4 by Yuhki Kamatani

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In this volume, we get some back story about Tchaiko and his life before coming to work with Someone-san; who also gets a bit of back story here. Also, Daichi and Saki make their wedding plans despite not being out to her parents yet and their relationship is still a secret.

I will admit I got a little misty-eyed but this was a great note to end the series on. Tchaiko gets some closure, we learn enough about Someone-san that you’re not left with that plot thread dangling into nothingness, and things are looking good for Tasuku’s future. I just wish Tasuku got a proper apology from Misora for what he pulled in the previous volume. I guess I can accept that Tasuku let it go… Kinda… Not really. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Artist and the Soldier” by Angelle Petta

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

In this sprawling tale, we have Max Amsel and Bastian Fisher who meet as teens in Camp Seigfried then again as adults in the thick of World War II.

First off, I dunno if I was taught this in school and forgot or just wasn’t taught this but I was SHOCKED that the Nazi Camp Siegfried was a real place in NY! I honestly didn’t realize such camps existed and kudos to this book for teaching me that.

This book is almost perfect. It focuses more on the war itself and how it’s affecting everyone, not just our main characters. A great deal of the plot is plucked straight from history. The writing is compelling, the action is well done, and the romance did tug at my heart. If you like historical fiction with a bit of angst, I recommend this despite the ending being a bit of a drop-off. But you can tell a lot of love went into this book. 4.7 out of 5.

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