Lenni Reviews: “The Scarlet Gospels”(Hellraiser #2) by Clive Barker

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After reading Hellbound Heart, I made sure to get my hands on the sequel. This stars Detective Harry D’Amour, who has devoted himself to the supernatural after an encounter that killed his partner. As Pinhead makes some major moves leaving a trail of death, Harry and other mystically inclined friends move to stop him.

Okay… I kinda liked this book. It functions really well on it’s own. My problem with it is that it’s a sequel to a book that barely featured Pinhead. I’m left with a feeling that the movie’s popularity impacted this story; because the main Cenobite in the first was female and there’s hardly a mention of her here. 

In viewing this book as a better sequel to the movies (anything after Hellraiser 2 is not worth watching, in my opinion), it’s a worthy addition to the universe. It’s really dark, the stakes are high, and it’s just brutal – as to be expected of anything Hellraiser.  It was just strange reading these back to back and not feeling the connection from one to the next. I liked it but this is clearly riding on Pinhead’s popularity. 3.4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Testaments” by Margaret Atwood

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In this sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, we continue our journey through Gilead through a protester of the totalitarian regime in Canada, the daughter of a Commander, and Aunt Lydia, a Gilead enforcer.

I have to say, this is a lot less subtle than the first book and perhaps that’s a good thing. Some parts ramble a bit but it’s overall very harrowing and sad. One quote stuck out to me:

“Stupid, stupid, stupid: I’d believed alll that claptrap about life, liberty, democracy, and the rights of the individual I’d soaked up in law school. Those were eternal verities and we would always defend them. I’d depended on that, as if a magic charm.”

I read this months ago and this is sadly relevant still. It’s absolutely a pageturner and the writing is of course amazing. 4.5 out of 5. 

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Lenni Reviews: “How To Save The World” by Lexie Dunne

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

Gail Goodwin is known as ‘Hostage Girl’ due to her propensity for being captured. All she wants is a normal life with her boyfriend, her job, and to be done with superheroes and all the drama. But fate of course has other plans, she ends up with powers of her own and stumbles into a conspiracy to depower anyone with abilities with an invention by a scientist known to be dead.

While it got off to a slow start, it ramped up real quick! It was jarring but once the book got going, it was very entertaining. If you like different takes on superheroes that’s not as dark as something like “The Boys” it’s worth checking out! 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Sleeping Beauties” by Stephen King and Owen King

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When women fall asleep, they are covered in a cocoon like a catapillar. If anyone tries to wake them, they lash out with terrible violence. At the same time, a mysterious woman calling her self Evie appears, cryptically knowing what happened to all the women and how to cure them.

I read this right after I re-read The Stand and I found it funny the people start forming these committees. It just made me laugh.

Also, co-reading Drifting Classroom at the same time is a mistake I will not repeat…

But back to the point, Eveie’s plan confuses me. If the point was to make men value women more, she let a LOT of women get killed in the process (this isn’t spoilers if you are familiar with King’s work at all). And while I totally understand how it all relates to women having unique trauma and a critique of “traditional” male and female gender roles bit – and this is a bit of a spoiler – it really, REALLY bothered me that Lila in particular just sort of dismissed her husband’s unique trauma; which if you read the book he’s had a rough life. But she doesn’t even fake lip service to it. What a bitch…

Anyway, I liked this book. It was harrowing and really sad but if you like King, you will like this book. 4 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: “The Farm” by Joanne Ramos

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

Told through different perspectives, this book takes you to Golden Oaks, where women carry surrogate babies for wealthy clients. Every aspect of their lives are controlled to produce the most viable offspring. In desperation, one of the hosts, Jane, as volunteered as a surrogate in order to make the money she needs to give her daughter a better life.

I like how each chapter comes from a different woman’s perspective. You get to hear their exact story and learn about their lives. There is still a disturbing edge to the very idea of the wealthy taking advantage of desperate poor women; particularly immigrants. Despite the inevitable dystopian leanings of such a practice, I did find myself immersed in these stories. Very well done. 4 out of 5.

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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: “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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