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: “Take it All” by Quinn and Perin

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

Featuring three short stories, Quinn & Perin offer a selection of hot, but ultimately not long lasting gay erotica stories. While not leaving much of an impact once they were over, while reading them you are dropped into the scene all of which are steamy as all get out. This is absolute smut with no pretense and in that, it succeeds. 3 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Dreams of the Boardwalk” by Matthew Keville

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

Life hasn’t exactly gone as planned for Sarah Brannigan. Divorce, loss of home, loss of her good job… Now in a cramped apartment with roommates working two crappy jobs to barely make her bills, Sarah has only one respite; her dreams. At night she escapes to Coney Island in its heyday with her dream man. But too much time in her dreams has them leaking out into the real world.

This is an interesting story about living too much in your “what if’s” can take away from your “now.” Sarah is a great character, a smart woman just in a rough patch but not willing to give up. And the ending is not what you would expect.

There are some pretty dark and sexy scenes and the connection to Coney Island is vivid and real, like you could reach out and touch it. Very enjoyable! 3.8 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Same Love” by Tony Correia

 

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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.

Upon finding out their son is gay, Adam’s parents ship him off to a Christian camp and warn him they won’t tolerate having a gay son. But while there, he falls for Paul and both teens must reconcile their faith with love in order to find happiness.

First off I gotta say, I’m Pagan and even I wish there were nicer Christians in this. From the parents to Randall, they’re almost cartoonishly evil. Boys can’t go shopping together? That means they’re gay? How do you get clothes then?

Anyway, this is a quick story; which makes sense considering it takes place over a short period of time. It has the innocence and charm of a summer camp story without it feeling too much like a typical coming of age plot. I empathize with Paul’s struggle and it’s portrayed in a realistic way that doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. Despite being brief, the story does feel complete instead of rushed like some short stories can be. I can see a teen reading this and liking it and for me, it’s a nice change from the quickie smut. 3 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Contemporary Draconic Hoarding Practices” by Dae Richards

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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.

While Clayton splits his time between his graduate thesis and being a teaching assistant, he meets dragon and magical teacher Syralis; who is in possession of manuscripts crucial to Clayton’s work. Syralis is intrigued by the magic surrounding Clayton and agrees to teach him how to control his abilities. But there is an obvious attraction between Syralis and Clayton and when a dragon wants you, they want to keep you like any other pretty bauble they possess and Clayton doesn’t want to be a prisoner for the rest of his life.

This story does have a good plot and introduced the reader to an interesting world of magic and magical creatures but the length doesn’t allow the reader to enjoy much of it. This is another short story where I feel the world and characters could use a longer narrative. This is a fun little romp though and is good for readers who may want the titillation of lust but no actual boning. 3.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Paint a Story on Your Skin” by L.J. Hamlin

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*I was given this book in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

Mike, a gallery owner in his forties, puts out a call for local artists to be in his next show. His first candidate is the much younger Tommy, who is not only talented but attractive. Mike believes himself far too old for a twenty-one-year-old but Tommy isn’t about to let that stop him.

We got another one that’s too short for its own good, folks. It took me a minute to get used to the third person present tense point of view but I felt like I could have gotten more story and the age difference could have been a more important plot point – aside for Mike’s personal insecurities. The story sorta drops in, does what it wants, then ends. A pity, really, since there were some interesting elements that deserved more exploration. Gotta give it a 3 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Scars of Jocasta Lacroix” by Jack Harvey

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

In this short story, Jocasta reveals the story of one of her scars to her wife, Katie. In the past, Jocasta spent some times as a hired bodyguard for a noble targeted by an assassin. As the reason behind the killer’s mission is revealed, Jocasta is caught in the middle of a messy web of betrayal and lies.

While this story is written well, every word of it feels like one of those prequel or 1.5 stories authors have in their series. There is an established modern world where Jocasta drives a car but her mission took place in horse and buggy times. And she’s part elf but no mention of her background? These inconsistencies had me scratching my head more often than not and the fairly by-the-book sex scenes didn’t make the book stand out any more. Not BAD but feels incomplete. 2.7 out of 5.

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Writing Update and Recovery Update

Obviously, since I’m in recovery, I’ve been “blessed” with ample time to write. I have a short story that’s been giving me WAY more trouble than it should be and editing on Lost Brother to do. Other than trying to keep as active as I can (as the advice on this site said to do), there is no excuse not to do it.

I really am grateful for that recovery link because I was NOT informed to leave the steri-strips on my stitches until they come off on their own. Of course, I haven’t touched them but I did wonder what the heck I was supposed to do about them. Other than keeping the wounds dry and clean, I have not been messing with them.

It’s also good to know that there will still be some residual pain in my left shoulder as the air that’s left behind moves around and eventually goes away. For a second there, I was freaked out there was another hole and I’d have to go back.

I’m a week out from the surgery now and I’m back to some solid food. Ice cream and really soft pasta stayed down without any problems and I’m able to walk decent distances before I feel like my stitches are pulling.

To me, that’s the worst part of this; the helplessness. I’m so used to doing everything myself and being laid up and unable to walk at more than a snail’s pace, is KILLING ME.

And the itching. Gods, do the healing wounds ever itch.

Why am I posting about this? Well, there was a lot of information I had to dig out of forums and medical sites that I didn’t learn directly from the doctor or nurses. Of course recovering from surgeries like this is very individualistic but the things I find out may benefit someone else.

I will try not to be too gross about what I find out.

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Lenni Reviews: “City of Dreams” by Sydney Blackburn

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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.

Marcus Allegro travels to the City of Dreams to study art under Sebastian Moreaux; a master painter and well known to bed any willing student he comes across, shunning any sort of commitment. When he sets his sights on Marcus, Sebastian is baffled when the young man absolutely refuses to add his name to Sebastian’s long list of forgotten conquests. This makes Sebastian want him even more but Marcus is looking for true love, which Sebastian takes great pains to avoid.

I feel if given more space to grow, this story would have more of an impact. I would have had a better understanding of how magic fits in this world, how artists have The Eye, how Sebastian came to be so guarded, how Marcus came to be such a romantic, and gotten to know them both more; I would be more invested in their romance and in their world. Coming in at a scant 59 pages as it is, this story is more like a sweet breeze; enjoyable but gone too fast. 3 out of 5.

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