Lenni Reviews: “Jealousy” Vol. 1 by Scarlet Beriko

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

Rogi is a yakuza head and after Hachi throws himself in front of his car, Rogi decides to take him in. This book also tells the story of how Akitora meets Uichi Rogi when coming to collect a debt, finding Uichi bound to the debtor’s bed. There is an instant connection and Uichi sets his mind on joining the yakuza to be with Akitora.

This story has me hooked and mostly because of how insane Rogi is in going about becoming a yakuza. I am so shocked he lived through the volume! He reminds me of Queen Zazau where I’m facepalming at the questionable decisions in dealing with very dangerous people. I’m excited to see what happens but at the same time, he frustrates me. 3.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Breaks” Volume One by Emma Vieceli & Malin Rydén

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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: “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 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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Lenni Reviews: “Nothing To Forgive” by Lee Brazil

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

Vic comes back from vacation to find his older boyfriend, Marc, with a much younger man. Fuming, he storms out without a word until Marc reaches out to him with hopes to explain.

This is an ok quick, steamy short story. I was left feeling like it would be a side story to a bigger novel or series rather than something that feels complete on its own. Our main characters do have chemistry but I don’t feel like I had enough information about them to get attached. The writing is good though! 3.5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Seven Days: Monday–Sunday” by Venio Tachibana & Rihito Takarai

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

On a whim, high school third-year Yuzuru Shino asks out first-year Toji Seryo, who is notorious for only dating girls for one week then breaking up with them. But as the end of their deal draws near, they realize seven days may not be enough.

I like this manga. Simple, straightforward, happy ending, nice art, and not too graphic. Perfect if you’re in the mood for something slightly predictable (if you know anything about the genre,  you know what’s going to happen) but sweet nonetheless. Maybe a little more development with the boys would have helped understand them on a deeper level so you get more emotionally invested. But, I still enjoyed it. 3.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Firebird and Other Stories” (Being(s) in Love #5) by R. Cooper

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

This book is a collection of short stories set in the same universe as the other Beings in Love books.

The first one is “The Firebird” set in France in 1934, where a firebird, Kazimir, becomes enamored with a writer named Jacob. Kazimir is used to being the center of attention and having admirers begging to be inspired by him. But Jacob sees Kazimir as more than just an object. It’s a sweet story about finding someone who really values you.

Next is “The Warrior’s Sacrifice” set in Mexico in 1947. Mateo is a “muxe” a person assigned one gender at birth but behaves associated with the opposite gender and he gets beat up for this and left as an offering to the jaguar who protects the town; named Carmelo. Carmelo is home from WWII and keeps Mateo safe, revealing he has been watching Mateo for some time. This is a really touching story with low angst.

Next is “Hyacinth on the Air” featuring a fairy named Hyacinth, who loves to push the boundaries of what he’s allowed to say on air. Seeing as this is set in 1961, there are some pretty strict standards so he causes no end of trouble for Walter, a human who’s in charge of cleaning up after the messes Hyacinth makes. Being a fairy, Hyacinth doesn’t understand why humans are so uptight and why Walter would resist their obvious attraction. This one’s cute but out of all of them this one I found the least impactful.

The next story is “A Giant Among Men.” Set in 1982, Vietnam veteran, former police officer, and troll, Tank, is determined to make sure his friend Simon, an elf, gets home safe after the bar where Simon works is vandalized by people who hate Beings. Simon resists the help because he doesn’t want to be seen as weak but comes to realize Tank sees him as much more than a pretty elf bartender. Pretty enjoyable for what it is.

Next up is “The Imp for Mr. Sunshine.” Set in 2005, Rennet – an imp – has a crush on John, the deputy mayor. Since things tend to go wrong when an imp is present, Rennet believes this bad reputation will keep him from this crush developing into anything more. Little does he know that John has been protecting him for more than just friendly reasons. The parts where Rennet is dealing with his nature and what that means to the people around him are the best in this story.

Next, we have “A Wolf in the Garden.” Miki is a human who loves to work with exotic pants so his job in a greenhouse that’s also in a magic shop is where he’s most comfortable. One day a werewolf named Diego comes into the shop and Miki is smitten, but he knows Diego had a mate, and she tragically died of cancer. Miki does see Diego wants him but believes a wolf only gets one mate in their lives and that a man like him who’s been abandoned by his family and has strange hobbies. These two make an adorable couple and I really enjoyed this story and it was cool to see previous characters like Kazimir reappear. It makes the world feel so much bigger.

Lastly, “The Dragon’s Egg” featuring Arthur and Bertie from “A Boy and his Dragon”. Here Bertie discovers an egg that is their child and Arthur goes into full nesting mode.

This is a pretty decent collection but I have to say “A Wolf in the Garden” and “The Warriors Sacrifice” are my favorite. The others just didn’t grab me as much and made the book feel SO much longer. To get the full experience, you really have to make sure you read the previous four books so don’t just hop into this one. 3 out of 5.

 

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Lenni Reviews: “Little Wolf” (Being(s) in Love #4) by R. Cooper

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

Tim Dirus is on the run from his werewolf family and has taken up what he thinks of as temporary residence in Wolf’s Paw sanctuary, where the town’s tourism centers around a festival where their hunk of a sheriff, Nathaniel Neri. Everybody wants Nathaniel but he has his sights on Tim, who is ready to bolt at any moment if anyone from the Dirus family shows up to lock him away again.

As this is part of the Beings in Love series, you see some of the characters from the previous books make an appearance; making the world-building feel more expansive and detailed. Watching Tim slowly work his way toward understanding what he is and how he fits in is VERY well done and grounded. You can tell his family did a number on him and he’s trying to heal. And don’t let the title fool you. I expected Tim to be some shy thing but Tim’s got some sass in him! He takes crap from no one and I like it.

So far, this is my favorite of the series because the stakes are higher. Tim has some dangerous people after him and this book doesn’t shy away from that. It made this the most thrilling book in the series to me. 4 out of 5.

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