Lenni Reviews: “A Tropical Fish Yearns for Snow” Vol. 1, by Makoto Hagino

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

Konatsu Amano has just relocated from Tokyo to a small town with her aunt because her father’s job has taken him overseas. Concerned about making friends in high school, Amano meets a girl named Koyuki, the sole member of the Aquarium Club. Koyuki is excited to have another member and they become friends as they work in the aquarium connected to the school.

This manga is really sweet. I like that Konatsu slowly becomes more confident and has an adorable relationship with Koyuki. If you want some light and fluffy reading, this will fit the bill. It is, however, very ‘slice of life’ so if that bores you, there are parts you will want to bail in this volume. But I liked it. 3.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Koimonogatari: Love Stories” Vol. 2 by Tohru Tagura

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

As Yoshinaga and Hasegawa become better friends, we get some more insight into what other LGBT kids go through in Japan when we meet Sakura, who got outed by his cousin; who continues to bully him and in this humble reviewer’s opinion, needs his throat punched for what he puts Sakura through.

This volume is an emotional rollercoaster. We have fake boyfriends, fake girlfriends, bullies, love confessions, and my main takeaway from it is that high school sucks ass and I don’t miss it one bit. I got called a dyke then being bi (and still now by guys who are salty I won’t mess with them) and it sucks to deal with when you barely know who you are and don’t have many friends.

It also sucks that Yoshinaga has to lie to protect himself but I give this book props for giving him a bunch of people who love and support him. That’s a relief. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Blue Flag” Vol. 1 KAITO

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

In this manga we have a love quadrangle between outsider Taichi Ichinose, clumsy and shy girl Futaba Kuze, popular jock Toma Mita, and Kiza’s friend Masumi.

It’s interesting so far and I really enjoy how Ichinose and Kuza interact. You can see how feelings formed there on either side. If they end up together, it would be adorable but I have a feeling that things are going to get super complicated and messy. But I’m here for it; I want to know what happens next. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Our Dreams at Dusk: Shimanami Tasogare” Vol. 2 by Yuhki Kamatani

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

Tasuku meets Shuji, a younger boy who wears girl’s clothing and is unsure of his gender identity. Tasuku tries to make him feel comfortable with himself and attempts to befriend Shuji.

The tail end of his volume is a sour note indeed. Without spoiling too much, I feel Shuji was an absolute jerk. Just WAY over the line. I’m going to have a lot of trouble tolerating him later on.

Other than that, I love how the message in this book is simply to treat LGBTQ people as PEOPLE; not a display, sideshow, or a pity party. A crazy idea I know (so much sarcasm here) but it’s something people unknowingly do when faced with someone different from them. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “That Blue Sky Feeling” Vol. 3 by Okura & Coma Hashii

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

Noshiro, Ayumi, and Sanada are all coming to terms with their feelings in this final volume of the series. Noshiro attempts dating while Sanada finally comes out to his friend.

I like that this didn’t turn into a huge romantic story. Noshiro remains his lovable accepting self and wants to be with Sanada whether it be romantic or friendship. It’s left up in the air as to which it will be and I think that’s the best ending if we’re stopping the series at three volumes – despite it being a little frustrating because obviously the reader would love to know what will happen. Overall, this series was adorable. 4.5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “No Ivy League” by Hazel Newlevant

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

Sheltered homeschooler Hazel Newlevant takes a summer job clearing ivy from the forests in Portland, Oregon. At first, she’s just looking to make some quick cash for a concert but she finds her small world opened when interacting with more diverse kids.

I like this book because the main character isn’t a racist who comes around. Hazel has legitimately not interacted with anything other than other white, affluent, homeschooled kids and comes to realize there’s a bigger world out there. She has been given advantages others may not have and instead of being some White Savior or being riddled with White Guilt, she just makes friends and starts dancing. I respect that.

I do feel more needed to be done with her parents and their reasons for homeschooling Hazel. The mother does go into her backstory a bit but if systemic racism and white privilege are being addressed, more was needed with Hazel’s realization about why her mother chose this rather than a couple of panels and one trip to the library. But that’s just me. Overall, I enjoyed it. 3.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Honor Girl: A Graphic Memoir” by Maggie Thrash

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In this memoir, fifteen year old Maggie recounts a summer at Camp Bellflower for Girls where she develops feelings for Erin; who is not only older than her, but a counselor.

While touching, this book really shines because it has so many more likable characters than what I normally see in a graphic memoir. Maggie has decent friends despite being in a pretty religious camp. Sure, there is still some homophobia but on the whole, she manages to have a good summer without getting picked on for being a lesbian.

If you can tell from the cover, the art is VERY simple. Everything is soft and simple to contrast the pretty complicated feelings going on. If I had a complaint, it would be it seems almost TOO soft. The book flutters by without much lasting impact.

Or maybe I’m just reading too many of these things, I dunno. 3.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “NewsPrints” by Ru Xu

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Masquerading as a boy, Blue loves her job as a newsboy delivering papers so people can be informed in a time of war. The paper she works for is the only one that tells the truth so her job can be perilous. While on the run from boys from a rival paper, she happens upon an eccentric scientist and then a young boy named Crow with strange secrets of their own.

This is a cute little book in a steampunk sort of world with odd gadgets and scientists with goggles. While overall entertaining and gorgeous to look at, this is a familiar story; plucky girl, quirky scientist, enigmatic boy with a secret, and government secrets. If you’ve never read something like this before, you may enjoy this more than I did. Not to say I didn’t like it or have fun reading it but I have seen this all before. 3.6 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Imitatore” by A. Rose

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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.

Born with multiple magical abilities, Sophie knows she is destined to do great things. But when she meets Oliver, an Imitatore who has the gift to use her powers and amplify them, her destiny rushes headlong at her, upending her life and leaving her with few she can trust and the future of the world at stake.

This book encapsulates every trope of YA fiction: Very tell, don’t show, simple sentences, and a wayward protagonist. By ‘wayward’ I mean the plot seems to blow her along; not leaving her to make many decisions. I do appreciate the diverse cast; a dark-skinned main character and non-gendered costar. There’s some cool world building but this is absolutely geared for someone younger than myself. I still had fun reading it, though. 3 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Black Bull of Norroway” by Cat Seaton & Kit Seaton

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Sibylla is given a prophecy as a young girl that she will marry a monster named The Black Bull and despite dreaming of a life of adventure, she goes willingly when the beast appears at her door years later. They embark on a quest to break his curse but no one will tell Sibylla why this curse exists or if it should be worth her life to end it.

This is an impressive and interesting start to a young adult series with very strong characterization for such a short volume. Sibylla is a strong woman obviously out of her depth with all the mystical things suddenly surrounding her but she strives to learn as much as she can. I enjoyed following her through this journey and I look forward to the next one! 3.9 out of 5.

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