Lenni Reviews: “Jealousy” Vol. 3, by Scarlet Beriko

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

Uichi is still plotting his way into the yakuza to be with Akitora but this time, he has a pretty good plan to make some money without actively committing violent crime. But Akitora’s bodyguard, Asoda, still doesn’t trust Uichi and thinks he’s a threat to his boss.

I know this is a prequel and they’re eventually going to work all this stuff out somehow but I am really curious as to what will happen between Asoda and Uichi. I understand Asoda’s point because Uichi’s lackadaisical attitude and utter carelessness with his own life being very worrying, but I can tell all Asoda’s meddling will do is piss off his boss. Akitora is chill but he won’t be if he finds out Asoda is not obeying orders. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Caste Heaven” by Chise Ogawa

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

My usual disclaimer is only partly correct since it only applies to the one galley I got. I ended up blowing right passed it to review the whole series.

The premise of this is these kids in high school have a caste system enforced by the students themselves. The ranking is determined by playing cards; a King, Queen, Jack, etc. You can’t just refuse to participate without becoming a target to everyone else. So, of course this system is rife for abuse with students using their rank to exploit those below them. As this is rated 18+ and yaoi, there’s tons of sexual exploitation.

The plot tries to save itself with “Well, deep down, they have feelings” but it doesn’t take away from how non-consensual a lot of these encounters are – making it doubly uncomfortable for me considering these are high school kids. I do enjoy the couples that form and try to use the system to their advantage but this overall comes off as a bleak read. It feels wrong to say I enjoyed reading it, more like I was compelled to move forward. If you can take how rapey this is and you’re craving some dramatic yaoi, give it a shot. 2.7 out of 5

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Lenni Reviews: “Don’t Call Me Daddy” by Gorou Kanbe

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

Ryuuji is raising his son Shouji as a single father and seeing he needed help, his friend Hanao steps up to help him. But their feelings for each other and the pressure to stay in the closet becomes too much for Hanao and leaves. Twenty years later, they encounter each other again. Will Hanao take this second chance?

You don’t get many yaoi stories with older couples. I think the world needs more of this because I liked this book. They didn’t take the chance on showing a full on sex scene with the older men, having it take place off panel but the story was really sweet.

There was something funky with my digital arc copy making the reading experience a chore but I may check this out when I get my hands on a print copy. 3 out of 5.

 

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Lenni Reviews: “Birds of Shangri-La” Vol 1 by Ranmaru Zariya

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

As you can see from the terribly subtle cover, this is a yaoi manga.

Apollo is a straight man who is in dire need of funds so he takes a job at an elite gay brothel as a “teaser,” which is essentially a fluffer. He’s assigned to Phi to learn the ropes of the place and there are three main rules:  no orgasms, no penetration, no falling in love.

Throwing in a trigger warning for off panel sexual assault of a minor.

This is a good start to what can possibly be a great m/m love story. I like how all the prostitutes in the brothel are well taken care off and happy. Phi is a welcome dose of wild personality in contrast to Apollo’s dry nature and we’re getting to know them as they discover each other I like how Phi isn’t just some typical carefree guy; there’s a depth and darkness to him. It’s going to be interesting to see how the rules factor in later. Also, it’s worth noting that the sex scenes and naughty bits tend to be creatively obscured. 3.7 out of 5.

 

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Lenni Reviews: “Given” Vol. 4 Natsuki Kizu

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

As the band tries to rind it’s footing, past loves return and Haruki in particular is struggling with knowing his place, as he as feelings for Akihiko.

This is a drama-filled volume with a pace that ramps things up in a way that makes the characters seem like real people. It’s messy, doesn’t make a lot of sense but the people make it work.  And I like that we spent some time on Akihiko and Haryuki. They have an intriguing dynamic; especially in contrast to Uenoyama and Mafuyu. It’s also worth mentioning that most of the sex is either off panel or just heavily implied. So, if you’re looking for some boy love that’s a bit more tame, this isn’t bad! 3.7 out of 5.

 

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Lenni Reviews: “Jealousy” Vol. 2 by Scarlet Beriko

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

In this volume, more of Akitora doing crazy things to try and be with Rogi and join the yakuza. Their relationship is further complicated by Akitora meeting Rogi’s wife.

While Akitora and Rogi are all hot and play off each other well, the highlights for me in this volume are the bodyguard Asoda and Asami; Rogi’s wife. Asoda is funny and Asami is just a badass. I like how she sees Rogi’s attachment to Akitora but retains her place as a yakuza wife.

Also, trigger warning for a gang rape scene.

Overall, this was a strange, meandering sort of volume. I was interested in the drama but at the same time, I could have lived without the gang rape and I feel like the story with Hachi living with the older Rogi isn’t getting the attention it deserves. Akitora’s tale is good but I’d like to see them both interwoven more. 3 out of 5.

 

 

Lenni Reviews: “Jealousy” Vol. 1 by Scarlet Beriko

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

Rogi is a yakuza head and after Hachi throws himself in front of his car, Rogi decides to take him in. This book also tells the story of how Akitora meets Uichi Rogi when coming to collect a debt, finding Uichi bound to the debtor’s bed. There is an instant connection and Uichi sets his mind on joining the yakuza to be with Akitora.

This story has me hooked and mostly because of how insane Rogi is in going about becoming a yakuza. I am so shocked he lived through the volume! He reminds me of Queen Zazau where I’m facepalming at the questionable decisions in dealing with very dangerous people. I’m excited to see what happens but at the same time, he frustrates me. 3.9 out of 5.

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New Stuff!

Ah, it has been a while but I have been mentally drained from slowly going back to working in the library some days and some days from home. It’s anxiety-inducing to not be just doing one or the other and also dealing with how differently we have to run things without letting the public into the building.

I have some reviews pending and I’ve been doing more cleaning out. I unearthed a bunch of old books that I’ve decided to put up on eBay. I’ve also been encouraging my daughter to clean out, so there are a couple kids books up for sale. It’s all free shipping and I make sure to ship things within 48 hours on business days. As I clean more, I’ll be adding more stuff so keep an eye out.

Lenni Reviews: “Fourth Generation Head: Tatsuyuki Oyamato” by Scarlet Beriko

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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.

Tatsuyuki Oyamato may be 4th generation heir to a yakuza family but all he cares about is partying and getting girls. Until he finds himself attracted to a man. After a drunken hookup, he wakes up with someone who proves to be more than just a random dude as he knows Oyamato and his infamous family.

Hooooo boy, this is a dark one. The guy Oyamato sleeps with – mild spoilers – turns out to be Nozomi Koga; the son of a man who once owed money to the yakuza. When Koga was a kid, the yakuza came to collect and found his father had been sexually abusing him. Oyamato was also a child and thought Koga was a girl because of his long hair and the creepy way his dad dressed him.

This book is rife with sexual assault; which is offputting (of course) when it attempts to combine it with the romance forming between Koga and Oyamato. I don’t want to spoil too much but yeah, major rape trigger warnings here. It feels almost wrong to say I like it. The art is well done and I adore the main pair. They make the hardest parts of this book worth it for me. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Coyote” Vol. 2 by Ranmaru Zariya

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

Though madly in love, both Coyote and Marleen’s secrets are forced to the surface and it is uncertain if not only with their feelings survive but if they will lose their lives as well.

I have to admire how the secrets came right out without dancing around and dragging it all our for several volumes. This story is tightly contained and highly dramatic with plenty of angst and smutty action to keep you entertained. What remains to see is how this will all shake out and if that conclusion will be satisfying. 3.7 out of 5.

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