Lenni Reviews: “Sovereign” by April Daniels

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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.

In this sequel to Dreadnought, Danielle is working hard as the new hero in town but between kicking butt and maintaining her reputation with the press; and without even being fully licensed due to her age, she is feeling the strain. But Dreadnought is needed now more than ever as a worldwide threat lingers on the horizon.

I can’t quite put my foot on what it is but this is not as enjoyable as the first book. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a well-written superhero story with high stakes and plenty of thrilling action; by no means a bad book. A teenager dealing with the harsh realities of being a superhero AND transgender AND some topical threats to humanity deserves this darker tone. But in comparison to the first, the darkness is unpleasant instead of intriguing or compelling. I want to like this more than I do. If you ware interested in following Dreadnought’s next steps as she develops as a hero, this entry is just ok. 3.5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Ashes to Fire” by Emily B. Martin

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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.

In an attempt to bring peace, Queen Mona agrees to meet with the man who cost her her kingdom and many of her friends, King Celeno. But instead of diplomacy, Queen Mona ends up on the run after her ship is blown up and she is kidnapped along with Celeno’s wife, Queen Gemma.

Despite being the second book in a series, enough details are filled in so you understand why things are the way they are and Martin includes these details well, without getting bogged down in clunky exposition. The cast of varied personalities all play off each other and the plot twists and turns like spinning poi (a reference you will understand when you read the book, which you should) making this a page-turning adventure. I can’t speak to how well this fits in with the first book in the series but I can say I am absolutely looking forward to the next one! 3.8 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “It” by Stephen King

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“Hey, Lenni? You’ve been kinda quiet with the reviews lately. What’s the deal?”

I PUT EVERYTHING ON HOLD TO READ THIS SO I COULD FINALLY WATCH THE MOVIE.

As I was reading this over 1000 page epic, I was almost tempted to do a read-along like I did with Battle Royale but by the time I thought of doing that, I was WAAAYYY too far into the book to pull that off without seeming fake as hell. I do try to avoid BS in this blog. My gut reactions would seem forced and too knowing as I would have been way ahead by the time I wrote up a review.

And who wants spoilers anyway!

What can I say about King? I’ve been reading his books since middle school (I was about 14-15 when I finally outgrew R. L. Stine and Christopher Pike) and Ma was always cool with me reading whatever I thought I could handle (and I wasn’t shy about passing up something I felt I couldn’t handle at that age). I’ve been a fan for over 20 years, I’m still working through his EXTENSIVE biography and he is a man I greatly respect as a person and as a writer. As a comparative novice (who am I even kidding with that statement…) it hardly seems as if I’m in a place to remark on anything he writes. This author is on a short list of people who I would read the phone book if they wrote it simply because they are THAT awesome.

That being said? I have some gripes.

  • Ben is fat. I get it. We don’t need to know every time his stomach, ass, chins or whatever bubble over everything. I have enough body issues and I was a fat teen (and fat adult). I don’t need reminders of how shitty my ass would look on a bicycle seat.
  • I haven’t seen Django Unchained or Hateful Eight and I understand the time period but jeepers, the flagrant use of the N-Word. Context, yes. I totally get it. But having been the target of that word, it’s rage inducing; which takes me out of the narrative until I calm down. It’s so heavy with meaning and emotion it takes me out of the story for a minute before I dive back in, which brings me to:
  • I want to kick the shit out of these bullies and I hate them. On second thought, if the writing is strong enough to elicit an emotional response, I withdraw that criticism.

Note: Anyone want me to do a read-along of any other books? I’d gladly do another King book of you guys are game.

In the meantime, I have so… SO many review copies I owe that are WAAAYY overdue. And for that, I can only apologize and overtly blame Stephen King. Tell him to write shittier books. That way I can blast through them faster and write long, funny, rage-filled reviews for you guys.

Or tell him to write even longer books so I shut up for a few weeks. Either way, I’ll be moving on a faster clip from now on.

Maybe I’ll talk about the movie in a post too.

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Lenni Reviews: “Neverwhere” by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Chris Riddell

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I’ll be completely honest here, I’ve already read Neverwhere. I’ve seen the TV miniseries and I’ve read the graphic novel. If Gaiman wrote a phone book, I’d read it. But when offered the chance to review an illustrated edition of the book? Sign. Me. UP!

The story isn’t much changed (according to the forward, Gaiman made a few changes but I didn’t see anything major) so I’m gonna spent my time talking about the art. If you’ve ever seen an explorers notebook with sketches of the new plants, animals, and peoples he or she is encountering, that is how this book is illustrated. Some of the sketches are full page, some are half, and some weave through the margins. Since this story is about a man who stumbles into a new world, I think that format is perfect if you want an illustrated edition of the story.

If you are or know a fan of Neil Gaiman (whether they’ve read this book or not), you will love this edition. It would make a great gift because I know I loved recieving it.

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Lenni Reviews: “Dirty Deeds” by HelenKay Dimon

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

Alec Drummond, a hard-assed billionaire, catches Gaige Owens trying to hack into his computers. After it is revealed Gaige is working for the government as it is suspected someone working for Alec may be tampering with the seed vault Alec meticulously runs. Rightfully suspicious of government monitoring, Alec agrees to let Gaige stay undercover for free access to investigate the tampering but Gaige will be under Alec’s consistent watch the entire time. And it doesn’t help that Gaige is exactly Alec’s type.

Gaige and Alec make an enjoyable couple and, like in Pathogen, they are smart, logical characters. Given the premise, it was nice to see such competency in a genre where it would be very easy to fluff your way to getting the pair in bed. Despite this, there are several places where more description was necessary and more subtlety was needed. I was able to guess who the villain was the second they were introduced and thus it made the rest of the book less suspenseful for me. All I ended up really caring about is how Alec and Gaige were going to work out their mistrust and get together. Their relationship is hot and sweet, the sex scenes are blush-worthy and don’t linger too long, but in the end, I can’t say this will leave much of an impact on me. I had fun reading it, though. 3 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Pathogen” by Jessica L. Webb

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

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

In this second entry into the Kate Morrison Mystery Series, Dr. Morrison is tapped to solve a mystery surrounding a deadly viral outbreak in a rich little town called Hidden Valley. Working with her girlfriend; Sargent Andy Wyles, Kate scrambles to simultaneously treat her patients, find out how to stop the virus, deal with demanding rich people, and navigate her new relationship with Andy.

This is not the type of book I usually pick up as medical thrillers just aren’t my thing but this time I wanted to step out of my comfort zone. I found the collection of smart, capable people to be a relief. There are ill meaning characters and a pretty annoying bully but nobody working to solve this problem is grossly incompetent. Sometimes a stupid character will be used for plot purposes but not here.

Andy and Kate are a true power couple; quick thinking, intuitive, and well-developed but I do feel I would have needed to read the first book to get the full impact of what happens between them. This is especially evident in the ending (which I will not spoil) where the combined events and stresses of both books impact the ending. And as this is an LGBT novel, there is a little smut but the soul of this book is the medical mystery. It may not be my usual fare but I enjoyed it nonetheless. 3.5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Rainbow Gap” by Lee Lynch

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

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

This sweeping novel follows Jaudon Vicker and Berry Garland’s relationship over the course of 15 years. Set in Florida during the 1950’s and 1960’s, the book starts from their childhood when the classically girly girl Berry protects the boyish Jaudon from bullying classmates. We are along on their journey through college, Vietnam, even the budding LGBT community all while they stay bonded in a deep and powerful relationship.

You can feel in every word how much love was put into this book. The setting is real enough that you feel transported back in time and the level of detail becomes hypnotic. However, this book also gets bogged down in those details and the actual story slows to a crawl. When the plot moves, dear gods this book is beautiful. Otherwise, you feel every inch of those 342 pages. It’s worth it though to get the full impact of Jaudon and Berry’s journey. 3.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “More Things in Heaven and Earth” by Paul Comeau

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

*This review is crossposted to Otakus and Geeks.

Danny Crawford’s religious father decided to stop him from being gay by dumping the boy into conversion therapy. Desperate to escape the abuse in his home at the hands of his homophobic father, Danny is willing to die. While in the hospital recovering from his botched suicide attempt, his plight moves Damien; a vampire pretending to be a priest in order to feed on terminal patients. Damien decides to take the boy in but Danny’s father is determined to fix the ’embarrassment’ that is his son.

I had such high hopes for this given the premise but my overall impression is that of reading a textbook. The POV will switch, the prose seems to talk AT you, and the whole thing comes off as a methodical checklist of what a gay paranormal romance is supposed to contain without the heart other stories have. Damien switches back and forth between contemporary vampire and old world vampire in his language and that knocked me right out of the book. I couldn’t get fully immersed.

This book feels like a missed opportunity. It could have been a really touching, beautiful story that brought up the very real horrors of conversion therapy but I feel like I got a particularly detailed wiki entry. It isn’t even very smutty as the sex scenes are all fade to black. I have to give this a 2 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Crossing in Time” by D.L. Orton and Micah McDonald

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

*This review is cross-posted to Otakus and Geeks

Geneticist Isabel is given a once in a lifetime chance; to go back in time and get a second chance with her lover, Diego. But this is for much more than just love as their relationship may hold the key to saving humanity from mass extinction.

Now, I know one would think that knowing me and my other reviews; a “time travel, dystopian romance” would not only have my eyes rolling out of my head but send me into Serena’s Plight levels of anger. Neither of these happened. I LOVED this book.

Isabel and Diego are both whip-smart, strong brave characters and there were precious few moments in the plot where I doubted they were anything else. And while their relationship takes center stage, supporting characters like Matt are quick witted, kind, and funny. All of them have such chemistry I didn’t want to leave them (and I will be getting the next books in the series).

The time travel bits can get confusing and part of me doesn’t want to believe anyone could accidentally set off a nuke (but with how things are with a president who tweets unintelligible typos, it seems sadly likely) but overall, this story had even a cynic like me believing that one relationship could mean saving the world. 4.7 out of 5.

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