Lenni Reviews: “The Stand: The Complete and Uncut Edition” by Stephen King

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In what appears to be a short term history of poor reading decisions, I started off this year deciding I should catch up on some Stephen King; spurred on by the fact this book is due for a remake. When I was a teenager, I tried to read the expanded edition. I even had a bet going with a camp friend at the time that I could finish the book in 1 week.

I lost that bet but she never cashed in so ah well…

Now, having finished the book and rewatched the tv mini-series that for all its camp, holds a special place in my heart (but Storm of the Century is my favorite); I have to say I can see why the original may have been cut down – likely not very much – since to get the gist of the story, not all those words are necessary. You may have noticed in some of my reviews where I have said that a book could have benefitted from a ruthless editor to cut it down. And although my eyes may have glazed over for some pages, I still enjoyed this book.

I finished this back in February (the 11th if you want to get specific and follow me on Goodreads) and I hesitated for a long time whether or not I should bother to post a review.

Then I started Sleeping Beauties right after that to continue my habit of poor reading decisions. A review of that will be coming.

I am a fan of King but like Gaiman, I’m not going to say every single work is perfect. It’s really, REALLY long; the kind of book an e-reader is made for since it’s cumbersome to read in print form and again, I will freely tell you a flipped through some points to get back to the main thread. I think seeing the show before reading the book was to my detriment because I already knew the major plot points and knew what to skim. However, I have to say some of the changes they made from book to ’90’s show are interesting but I do hope they stick closer to the book in the new one. There’s some great character conflict and development that’s VERY simplified in the show. There is more moral ambiguity in the book. But I gotta say, if I had to WATCH all this stuff, it’d be boring as fuck. It’s easier to read and good fucking luck to the stalwart souls adapting this again. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Last Ballad” by Wiley Cash

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

Set in North Carolina in 1929, Ella works in a textile mill trying desperately to work enough hours to feed her children. Suffering with terrible hours and even worse pay, Ella is curious about the current rise in unions for textile workers but afraid of losing her job or worse.

This is a very poignant and powerful book. Sitting in my privileged 2020 mindset, it still shocks me to know there was a time where you risked your life for even associating with someone thinking about a union. My grandmother was a garment worker union member who frequently attended rallies like in the book; and she was African American working with Jewish colleagues at this time (a man even came to interview her for this book). It’s part of why I was so excited to read this.

This book jumps around in time and I think I would have enjoyed it more if it had a more linear narrative.  But it’s still amazing regardless. 4.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “In the Midnight Room” by Laura McBride

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

*This review has been cross-posted to Otakus and Geeks.

Book-ended with the life of June Stein, this novel dives into Las Vegas in the 1950’s and a casino called ‘The Midnight Room.’

This book feels a lot like the times where I went into a real casino in Vegas and Atlantic City; glitz, glamour, sadness, and desperation. Including June, the lives of four very different women collide together over the course of a lifetime in this book and we follow some hauntingly poetic stories. I’m not really one for historical fiction and this book managed to suck me in and I had trouble putting the book down.

I do have to say some of the point of view changes had me confused but the story managed to sort itself out in a few paragraphs; particularly in the end when it’s suddenly all from June’s perspective but as it’s her life that frames the entire narrative, it’s forgivable. An excellent period piece and I recommend. 3.9 out of 5.

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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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Lenni Reviews: “Cat Zero” by Jennifer L. Rohn

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

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

Artemis “Artie” Marshall is a genius scientist studying feline viruses in a stuffy university. As she struggles to be taken seriously by many of her peers, a mysterious and virulent new virus surfaces; a virus so strong, it kills both cats and humans in a matter of days. It’s a race against time to find a treatment or cure even if it risks her own life in the face of a deeper conspiracy.

The best parts of this book are when Artemis and her team are actively working on the disease. Outside of her intellectual pursuits, Artemis comes off as too perfect. She’s just the prettiest, everyone wants to be her friend, no man can resist her charms, blah, blah, blah… Those scenes made me want there to be more dire circumstances around the virus so there would be no time for the side stories. I thought this would be a Contagion-like medical thriller but it all just fizzled out. More attention was paid to Artie’s anxiety about being alone – good character development, yes, but it didn’t play into the medical parts of the plot enough for me to feel like my time reading about it was invested wisely. In the end, I felt cheated despite how compelling the blurb and the premise are. 3 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Broken Mirror” by Cody Sisco

 

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

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

After the death of his grandfather, Victor is convinced he was murdered. But nobody believes him due to his diagnosis of mirror resonance syndrome, which causes blackouts, nightmares, hallucinations, and a lack of control over strong emotions. Determined to discover the truth, Victor no longer knows who to trust as not only his condition worsens but a dangerous conspiracy involving a possible cure and a plot to lock up any broken mirror whether they’re a threat or not.

This is a great cyberpunk thriller. Set in a dystopian, 1990’s, you get this futuristic feel and the stakes make it tense but there are moments that drag as the next twist is set up. I really felt for Victor and I think you’ll find yourself rooting for him the entire book, as I did. The world around him is built perfectly within the narrative making the entire story engrossing and engaging. An awesome novel worth checking out. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Escape Velocity” Jason M. Hough

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

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

After the destruction of their ships, Captains Skyler Luiken and Gloria Tsandi with their crews are stranded within enemy compounds, scattered and separated with no escape and surrounded by the Scipio; having survived a huge attack, and now must find a way to find their comrades, defeat an armada, and get out alive.

Despite the flurry of characters, this is an interesting space opera with some high handed concepts that feel bigger than they really are. Other than my personal curiosity about the previous books in this series, this one stands alone just fine. It’s enjoyable, the characters and writing kept me interested but not enough to get truly lost in it and I found myself easily distracted instead of engaged. It comes in, does its thing, then it leaves fulfilling its task. Not bad, though. 3 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Blood Borne” by Archer Kay Leah

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

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

Ress is cornered between two opposing factions while all he wants is a quiet life with his family. Arden is trapped by duty to the Shar-denn and the orders to hunt down Ress for betraying them yet Arden finds the growing feelings for Ress may outweigh the task.

Setting aside how fucking confusing the pronouns for a nonbinary/gender queer character (Arden) are without knowing them before you start this book and think they are typos, it is the characters that make this book. The writing makes them come alive but the rest? I sadly found it tiresome. Boring isn’t quite the word because I made it through the book without my mind fogging and my eyes glazing over but if what made the impact is the new pronouns making me feel like an out of touch old geezer, then something is missing. Not bad, took a chance with a character like Arden which needs to happen more, but ultimately a 3.5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Witch Creek” by Laura Bickle

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

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

Petra’s husband, Gabriel, has gone missing and despite her body being currently ravaged by chemotherapy and cancer, she devotes her remaining days to finding him by any means necessary, even going so far as to adventure into the underworld.

There is a lot going on in this book. Aside for Petra, there’s a coverup about Gabriel’s disappearance, wolf clans, a mermaid seeking revenge for her imprisonment, a long lost son, a whole bunch of stuff. But it is cool stuff. We have a diverse cast of characters who meet up by chance, fun action, and interesting magic. I had a good time reading this but it didn’t leave much of an impact after it was done. 3.8 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Thorns of the Past” by Gun Brooke

 

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

Former police detective turned private investigator and security guard Darch Flynn is hired to protect Sabrina Hawk, an accountant who has a starker demanding information from her and threatening her. A past assault has left Sabrina with a poor opinion of law enforcement and Darcy has to hide the fact she left the force in disgrace all while Sabrina’s stalkers close in on them.

This book wasn’t bad. The romance between Darcy and Sabrina is good but it is SUPER sappy and had me cringing at the dialogue sometimes. I did enjoy how a relationship of necessity became something more as the story went on. I did, however, have the ‘mystery’ pegged pretty early on so I was sat there waiting for the characters to catch up. It’s all written well enough that I wasn’t annoyed or bored on the way to the climax but overall this book is just ok. 3.7 out of 5.

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