Lenni Reviews: “The Black God’s Drums” by P. Djèlí Clark

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

Living with a goddess inside her, Creeper happens upon some valuable information about a scientist and his powerful but dangerous invention. A streetwise kid like her decides to sell this information to become a crewmember for Captain Ann-Marie of the “Midnight Robber.” But the weapon in question could kill thousands and reignite the Civil War.

Other than the casual use of racial epithets typical of the South around the time of the Civil War, this was a cool take on a steampunk-like world set in an alternate universe. It’s a shame it’s just a novella but enough entertainment is packed into its short length, great characters, and fun action. Not enough books are written about the African Orishas and this is a highly creative and enjoyable take on that mythos. 4.5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Guild Conspiracy” by Brooke Johnson

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

In the six months since Petra Wade destroyed one of her dangerous inventions, her life has been picked apart by a twisted man named Jullian who is determined to coerce her into building an even deadlier machine. With her life on the line under accusations of treason, Petra is in a race against time to delay a war in which her own inventions would be used to destroy human lives.

I love the protagonist’s enthusiasm. Even though Petra faces some dire consequences for her actions and, like Sinless – we are again treated to the “capture – freedom – capture” cycle; as if the character can’t get anywhere without someone picking her up and dropping her there. But Petra is smart, determined, and naive in a way that doesn’t seem annoying. She is genuinely trying to save lives and have her intelligence taken seriously instead of being used as a tool or sidelined because she’s a woman. A great lead with some awesome steampunk elements? I’m absolutely sold. 4.9 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: “Monstress” vol 1 by Marjorie M. Liu and Sana Takeda

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Maika Halfwolf is looking for answers. Obsessed with her search, she will even allow herself to be captured by a sadistic woman who performs experiments on Arcanics like Maika. But it is all worth the risk for Maika to learn the secrets behind the brand on her chest and her magical powers.

The setting here is a heavily stylized steampunk and high fantasy mashup colored in a dark palate to reflect the danger and twisted nature of this world. The art deco style is beautifully detailed and is lucky to be backed by great characters and a well written story. It’s not a happy story at all. This is a dark fantasy where magic users with no ethics will dissect children for their power, ruthless public executions take place for purposes of propaganda, and our main hero is more than willing to step over your corpse to get what she wants. But it’s gorgeous, compelling and I can’t wait to read the next one. 4.5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Lady Mechanika” vol 1-3 by Joe Benitez, M. M. Chen

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From the back alleys of Mechanika City to the Sahara Desert, these collected volumes follow Lady Mechanika on her adventures to right wrongs and attempt to discover the secrets of her past.

After reading the Day of the Dead special, I went back to read the first three collections of this series. Other than the art; which has the sad tendency to forget human women have internal organs, these are some pretty cool adventures. So far, the core cast is Lady Mechanika herself, her drunken friend Mr. Lewis, and a genius kid, Winifred. They all do hold their own weight without dragging the story down or getting annoying. The side characters are bad-ass and cool as well.

These are just fun reads and (aside for missing waists) beautiful to look at. Everything is vibrant and detailed and details are important in a steampunk setting because the art needs to show how all the gears and machinery work and that they can believably function within their universe.

Colelctively, this series kept me reading and wanting more. I look forward to the next one. 3.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Lady Mechanika: La Dama de la Muerte” by Joe Benitez and M. M. Chen

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

In this steampunk world, Lady Mechanika travels to a village called Santa Catrina and happens to arrive just in time for the Dia de Los Muertos festival. But when the Demon Riders come to the village demanding their tithe, Mechnika mounds up to stop them.

This story is my first experience with Lady Mechanika and despite it being super dark (there’s a high body count) Mechanika is an awesome character. The cynic in me says this entire side story is just an excuse to put the character in Day of the Dead makeup, however, I am totally ok with it because the art is fucking amazing! Spectacular line and color work, dynamic layouts; dear gods half the panels could be posters!

The story itself is pretty standard: a small village with robbers and such but it is so damn gorgeous, you don’t mind seeing it all again. A near perfect read, I give this a 4 out of 5 because there are some plot points dropped here that require reading the main series.

The release date for this book is currently September 26th, 2017.

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Lenni Reviews: “Wolves of the Northern Rift (Magic & Machinery #1)” by Jon Messenger

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**I purchased this book for free from Barnes and Noble.

Simon Whitlock and Luthor Strong work together to investigate reports of magical creatures so they can be eliminated. King Goodwin has outlawed magic and uses Royal Inquisitors like Simon to destroy them. So far, Simon and Luthor (an apothecary not an Inquisitor) have only encountered fakes. But all that changes when they are sent on a report of werewolves in a town called Haversham.

Simon and Luthor are absolutely riffing off Holmes and Watson in their dynamic with Simon as the insufferable smart-ass and Luthor the put upon straight-man. Having the investigators use science and reason much like a mundane mystery in a world of magic was inter sting but the pomp and posturing grated at times. There are times where you want to snap at the characters to get to the point already. But when the “my good mans” and “pardon mes” take a back seat to the werewolves, this book takes hold of it’s footing and keeps going strong.

The characters are written well over all, the action is sharp and exciting, and even if steampunk isn’t your thing,  you can still enjoy the fantasy elements of magic, wolves, and demons. A 4 out of 5 and I’m curious as to what the next book in this series will hold.

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Lenni Reviews: “No Dogs in Philly: A Lovecraftian Cyberpunk Noir” by Andy Futuro

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I purchased this book for free on Amazon.

Saru Solan, a private detective, is tasked with finding a blue eyed girl by the interdimensional beings called Gaespora. The fate of the world rests with this mysterious girl who is also being hunted by the elizi, who have been killing every blue eyed girl they find. With a creature that can eat their universe threatens, Saru has to find and protect this girl at any cost.

When I saw this titled as a “Lovecraftian, cyberpunk, noir” I bought it immediately and I was not disappointed. If you’ve ever read Jeff Somers’ Avery Cates series, this book has a similarly dark and rough feel. The world isn’t pretty, people get very dead very quickly, and life in general doesn’t seem worth all that much.

The blend of magic and tech is handled very well and Saru is a kick ass main character. The dystopian world she lives in is the same balls out, straight forward, cutthroat tone as the character herself. The writing is nearly perfect and I was hooked from start to finish. A solid 4.5 out of 5 and I can’t wait to read the next one.

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Art Practice!

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This image is from the Steampunk Coloring Book, which I picked up so I can practice with my colored pencils. There’s all sorts of advanced techniques for colored pencils and since that’s my chosen media for color, I thought using coloring books would give me a chance to try these techniques without having to first sketch my own art, then possibly ruin it because I screwed up applying the solvent or something.

With this picture I was experimenting with different color effects for folds in clothing and hair, and blending. It cakes some getting used to. It’s not just mashing the color down like I did when I was a child. It’s fun, though! And you can gt some really cool effects without using any solvents or computer coloring.

Of course this is my first outing with this and there are some imperfections. It will be a long time to get me near the level of the amazing art I’ve seen people create on YouTube. But, ya gotta start somewhere and for a n00b, this isn’t bad!

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Lenni Reviews: “Hopebreaker: A Steampunk Dystopian Fantasy” by Dean F. Wilson

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I purchased this book for free from Amazon.

Jacob is a smuggler who ends up imprisoned when a job goes bad. Once there, is meets a man called Whistler who is a member of the Resistance. In his world, The Regime controls everything, right down to women’s wombs. Humans can no longer give birth to humans, only demons and they are slowly taking over the population. Guilt prompts Jacob to stay and help fight, taking on a mission to destroy one of the factories where the demons manufacture the drug Hope with the aptly named experimental landship; Hopebreaker.

The mission to destroy the factory is an interesting story and written well, but I could have used a bit more world-building. I didn’t get a real sense of the demons other than they’re bad and trying to overtake the human population. Overall, this is a pretty cool story. I got just invested enough to want to know what will happen at the end. Jacob is a typical bad boy turned rebel and provides an entertaining read in his perspective. A little snarky with his teasing sometimes but once he gets to business, he’s fun and determined. The steampunk elements are technical enough to be believable but don’t bog down the story or interrupt the narrative. The spy and espionage elements hit all the right notes and of course the story ends in a way to lead right to the sequel. And I certainly wouldn’t mind reading it. Solid 3.5.

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The Plan? One Step at a Time.

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It’s funny because it’s true! Also, it’s not funny because it’s true. I tend to have so many different projects going at once, I seem to never make any progress at anything because my attention is divided too many ways

So, here’s what I’m gonna do.

Winter Boot will be the first thing I finish. I’m sure there was just a chorus of groans from people who wish to hang me up by my thumbs if I don’t get the next First Brood book out yesterday but I would like to continue my Fiction Fridays and I can’t do that till Winter Boot is done. After that, I have two short stories; “Fylgia” and “Old Soldier” that will need to be finished and posted for sale. Then I will move on to the editing for Greenhouse and the writing of my Go Away Girls steampunk lesbian novel. I can’t keep jumping from project to project (a lot of the time within the same DAY) and expect to get ANY work out for you guys to enjoy

Wish me luck because I am crap at focusing. It’s also why I have three knitting and crochet projects in the works as well…

But that’s for another entry. XD

In life news, I will be getting my car back in about 4 weeks and I’m back to working out with only the slightest twinge of soreness in my back. Between the treadmill and the elevator still broken at work, my le muscles re very confused. But I feel so much better now that I’m able to move around. I DESPISE being immobile. >_<

So, there you have it, folks! Lenni is healed up and has a plan to get as much writing into your greedy hands as possible! 😀 Are you excited? I sure am. 😉