Lenni Reviews: “Orbit” by Leigh Hellman

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

Committed troublemaker Ciaan Gennet runs afoul of the law one too many times and ends up sentenced to probation at a spaceship port facility. He blonde hair makes her a target for bullies so she hopes to keep her head down and serve her time without incident. But when a captain with obviously suspicious cargo docks his ship, Ciaan gets caught up in a multiplanet conspiracy that puts her life in great danger.

Perhaps a little slow going until Ciaan ends up on the spacecraft but it’s still interesting. Great characters, awesome worldbuilding, and a great spin on some dystopian concepts. We have a smart woman of color as our main lead and I love reading about a motley crew of space rebels. Very cool book. 4.9 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "Bones and Bourbon" by Dorian Graves

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

Retz is tasked with bringing some escaped exhibits for Lady Delight, a lamia who runs a menagerie of captured supernatural creatures. Lady Delight is a former acquaintance of Nalem, an entity who shares Retz's body and mind so he agrees to the mission not knowing his Retz's brother, Jarrod, has been hired by the escaped funaribi to protect them from Lady Delight. Retz and Jarrod have been estranged for 10 years and their reunion occurs under the pall of their conflicting missions as well as a horde of homicidal unicorns.

With all the stuff going on, this book is difficult to pin down. I get some Supernatural vibes (I haven't watched more than a couple episodes of that but even I could see the similarities) but it is a superficial connection that didn't take away from the story as a whole.

The characters are lively, well written, and have some great chemistry; particularly Retz and Nalem. The dynamics of having to share a body with some ageless entity of dubious morals is conveyed very well. Jarrod and his boyfriend Ferris have a great relationship and Jarrod is a great character who happens to be transgender instead of being transgender being the entire focus of this existence; as it should be. And with a relentless army of killer unicorns in the mix, this is a cool dark urban fantasy. I really enjoyed it. 3.9 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "Scorpio Hates Virgo" by Anyta Sunday

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

After his aunt passes away, Percy Friedman moves into her home. Even though she left it to him, Percy is intent on selling it not only because it makes him miss his aunt so much, but it is also located in the same cul-de-sac as his childhood nemesis, Callagahan Glover. But, As Percy settles back into the tight-knit community and gets to know Callagahan all over again, he wonders if running away is the best plan.

I enjoyed this "enemies" to lovers story. There is no real malice between Percy and Cal so when their relationship forms, it feels real and relatable. Their sarcastic barbs are funny, the main leads are charming, and even the side characters have plenty of personality without derailing the main focus. It's a nearly perfect bit of fluff but since there's no closure regarding Percy's relative, Frank, I felt as if that bit was incomplete. Other than that, a great sweet and sexy romance. 3.9 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: “Broken Mirror” by Cody Sisco

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

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.

Lenni Reviews: "Ashes to Fire" by Emily B. Martin

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

In an attempt to bring peace, Queen Mona agrees to meet with the man who cost her her kingdom and many of her friends, King Celeno. But instead of diplomacy, Queen Mona ends up on the run after her ship is blown up and she is kidnapped along with Celeno's wife, Queen Gemma.

Despite being the second book in a series, enough details are filled in so you understand why things are the way they are and Martin includes these details well, without getting bogged down in clunky exposition. The cast of varied personalities all play off each other and the plot twists and turns like spinning poi (a reference you will understand when you read the book, which you should) making this a page-turning adventure. I can't speak to how well this fits in with the first book in the series but I can say I am absolutely looking forward to the next one! 3.8 out of 5.

The Art of Harley Quinn (Review)

The Art of Harley Quinn (Review)

Harley Quinn made her comic book debut in The Batman Adventures #12 and soon became one of the most popular characters in the DC Comics pantheon. From there, Harley made regular appearances in multiple series, eventually getting her own ongoing comic in 2001.

Read More

Lenni Reviews: "Rainbow Gap" by Lee Lynch

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

This sweeping novel follows Jaudon Vicker and Berry Garland's relationship over the course of 15 years. Set in Florida during the 1950's and 1960's, the book starts from their childhood when the classically girly girl Berry protects the boyish Jaudon from bullying classmates. We are along on their journey through college, Vietnam, even the budding LGBT community all while they stay bonded in a deep and powerful relationship.

You can feel in every word how much love was put into this book. The setting is real enough that you feel transported back in time and the level of detail becomes hypnotic. However, this book also gets bogged down in those details and the actual story slows to a crawl. When the plot moves, dear gods this book is beautiful. Otherwise, you feel every inch of those 342 pages. It's worth it though to get the full impact of Jaudon and Berry's journey. 3.9 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "Conflict Management" by Rachel White

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

When Morgan's boss, Lawrence, makes a pass at him one too many time, Morgan tells him he will sue Law if he doesn't knock it off. Law obliges and Morgan can finally have normal workdays. That is until Law's brother ends up in the hospital after a suicide attempt, Morgan learns his boss is more than just a former creeper. As they get more friendly, Law's pet project - a merger with another company - has major problems and Morgan may have to be the whistle blower that costs Law his job.

Morgan and Law are so delightfully awkward, I found myself identifying with them right away. White doesn't make her characters overly perfect or overly evil; as evidenced my Morgan's ill-fated relationship with Harvey and the way Law's brother Christopher's schizophrenia is handled. Racism and mental illness can be tricky to include without being preachy or over-exaggerated to the point of ridiculousness. The realistic way the characters are presented made reading through this book enjoyable.

Since the romance takes its time, this is not a book peppered with sex scenes. The focus is more on Morgan and Law's feelings for each other and how the mess going on in the company impacts their professional and private relationships. The smut IS there so this book earns its 18+ status.

My only real gripe would be with Morgan's roommate, Anita. She's the only character who came off cartoonish to me. Luckily she isn't as distracting as a character like that can get. She says her spiel then the plot resumes.

Without blithering on further, I enjoyed the premise and the slow burn romance. I give it a solid 3.7 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "Tartarus" by Eric Andrews-Katz

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

The Titan, Echidna, has escaped from her underworld prison and vows vengeance on the Olympians who put her there. But the power of the old gods now resides in their descendants. Twins Adrian and Annelise have been unaware of their godly lineage until Echidna attacks them and an artist named Zack reveals himself to be another descendant of the gods. They must defeat Echidna before she destroys them and takes back the world under her rule.

While an interesting concept, the beginning felt so slow, I had trouble getting into it. I also had issues believing these characters were in their late 40's. The way they speak, you would think they were in their late 20's or early 30's. And this applies to all three of our main characters. If you want a believable set of older characters, Deadlight Jack is a perfect example. When I am reminded of their age in this book, they all seem terribly immature.

The best parts of this book for me were how the mythology is intertwined with real life. I have always been a huge fan of Greek Mythology so seeing the legends brought to life was cool. As for the romance elements, they are an afterthought. Zack and Adrian have this love/hate relationship with these random moments of intimacy as if to say "B.T. Dubz, they're in love now."

All in all, it was cool to see the mythic creatures and characters again but the rest is oddly framed. 3 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "Counting to Zero" by A. J. Quinn

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

The NSA orders Dr. Emma Thorpe to put together a team of hackers - off the books - in order to help the US government fight cyber terrorism. One of the people tapped is Paxton James, currently in an Indonesian jail because she was set up for a crime she didn't commit. Paxton is willing to deal as long as it gets her out of jail and it doesn't hurt that Emma is hot. But trust won't come easy to the betrayed Pax or the hardened agent Thorpe and they must learn to deal with their mounting attraction and fight a cyber criminal with ties to Pax's criminal past.

If you like your romances a little slow, this is a good example of the main couple having an instant attraction but not the insta-love so many romance novels tend to use as a trope. The situation these characters are in gives them some real issues to deal with so the real focus of this novel is the cyber crime. Quinn has created some smart, interesting, and fun characters who are a pleasure to get to know but somehow, it all comes off a little rushed. Granted, they're chasing a cyber-criminal trying to kill people so it's not like they have time to sit around and have tea to discuss their feelings. There is enough here to enjoy a quick, romantic thriller with some strong female characters. If I had one real gripe, it's that Pax must be part terminator because every ten seconds she's getting injured and recovers unrealistically fast. 3.8 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "A Kind of Honesty" by Lane Hayes

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

Tim Chalmers is a drummer for an up and coming band named Spiral. The stress of his new fame and recent tabloid fodder breakup with a supermodel sends him to a dive bar for what he thinks is a one night stand. Turns out the man; Carter Hamilton-Temple, is a friend of a friend and Tim runs into him at a birthday party. As one night turns into three then four, both men find themselves wanting more but the stress of Tim's fame and Carter's painful past dealings with bisexual men keep them from taking the next step.

First the good stuff. The writing starts off strong and sets a great scene. Despite it being from Tim's perspective, you can glean a lot of what Carter's feelings are just from Tim's observations; as they are detailed and well written. Tim is just the right amount of sassy and Carter has this reserved strength and power that makes him likable and fun.

The "bad" stuff. The band is TOO good. Dropping little bombs like breaking The Beatles records felt kinda silly; like Bella being the most beautiful girl in the world. Spiral could have easily been a hugely popular band without making them seem overly perfect.

As for the relationship, this is another case of the conflict persisting because the plot demands that the characters don't offer any reasonable explanation. I think Carter gave up too easily after it was made clear to him that Tim's ex-was a manipulative liar. Yes, Tim has other issues but I feel Carter jumped the gun and could have been as understanding as he was presented at the beginning.

Overall, not terrible but not great either. The writing was OK, the setup was OK, and eve the sex scenes were OK... All of it just OK. Nothing stood out to me as being particularly memorable but I did enjoy it so I give this a 3.5 out of 5.

Mastering Manga 3 Power Up Review

Expert manga artist Mark Crilley guides you to another level with this powered-up drawing book. Complete your Crilley collection with this third installation, which elevates the instruction to focus on drawing methods to help you create distinctive and detailed professional-level manga art. Through 40 in-depth step-by-step demonstrations not covered in other Mastering Manga books, Mark reveals his secrets for adding color, how to draw manga-style.

Mastering Manga 3 is an impressive step to step guide on the basic fundamentals on different drawing styles of Manga. Unlike many how to draw Manga books, Mark Crilley shows step to step examples on how to draw particular eyes, poses and much more. Crilley does a great job of explaining the different styles of Manga drawings that readers are accustomed too. Mark Crilley explains different drawing styles such as Shojo Cuteness, Shojo Elegance, Dark Fantasy, Shonen Realism and many more. Each style is shown thoroughly explaining a little bit of the history or perception of each style then gives you a basic overview of how to start the style. Mark starts off with explaining the shape, the eyes and even given detail angles to which the style should be done. Is the book beginner friendly it depends on the level you’re at to be honest. I can’t draw if my life depended on it and found the explanation and steps to be a nice guideline to even do some of the basic shapes. One thing that I like about this book is that Mark touches on the topic of clothing and accessories. He explains how to draw armor, how certain style of clothing helps and panel. This is a very informative book for a 65 page book. Examples are shown in detail and easy to follow. If you’re interested in drawing Manga this might be one you might want to check out.

 

Lenni Reviews: Choices: Golden Collar Book 1 by Grace R. Duncan

Teman and his best friend Jasim are thieves for hire in the 11th century; living a life of relative freedom. When they're caught after a job goes wrong, they are given a choice: dungeons or place pleasure slave. Iron collar or gold. Vowing to escape, the pair chooses pleasure slave and end up serving the royal court and their guests.

Bathasar is a reluctant prince uninterested in the throne. When Teman saves Bathasar's life and in return is publically abused by Bathasar's brother, Mukesh, Bathasar becomes infatuated with Teman. When Mukesh's sadism threatens war with another nation, Bathasar must step up to save his country. However, rising to rule would give him the power to release Teman from slavery and Bathasar must decide if he can let Teman go.

Despite how trippy it is for me to read an audiobook, narrated in my edition by Joel Leslie, this book is long, decadent, and very heavy on the sex scenes. You're pretty deep into the book (around chapter 10) before the story between Bathasar and Teman kicks off. This is not the book for you if you don't like a slow build to your romance or massive amounts of man on man sex (since you get several full chapters on the 'training'). But if you like a well developed, smutty, and beautifully written (and spoken, in this case) romance in a historically based setting, 'Choices' is an amazing book. I'd give it a 4.5 out of 5 for being nearly perfect; as I tended to zone out during some of the sex scenes waiting for the plot to keep going.

For more reivews: check me out at Haunting Hypatia at literaryloon.com

Coding In Scratch: Games Workbook Review

Coding In Scratch: Games Workbook Review

DK builds on their kids coding series with a new book and workbook that use video games as a way to advance computer science skills. Coding Games in Scratch: A Step-by-Step Visual Guide to Building Your Own Computer Games (Dec. 2015) and Coding in Scratch: Games Workbook (Jan. 2016) follow DK’s popular 2014 book aimed at parents, Help Your Kids with Computer Coding, but this time speak directly to kids (ages 9-12).

Read More

First Brood: Greenhouse (First Brood: Tales of the Lilim Book 2) by Lenni (Book Review)

First Brood: Greenhouse (First Brood: Tales of the Lilim Book 2) by Lenni (Book Review)

Free of her guild, the former dreamhunter Darjeeling wants to leave everything behind her. But traces of her old life remain and they are hunting her down. What strange new powers will these hunters posses and will Auris have to protect the woman he once hunted? 

Read More

Savaging The Dark by Christopher Conlon (Book Review)

Savaging The Dark by Christopher Conlon (Book Review)

Mona Straw has it all—beautiful daughter, caring husband, lovely home, fulfilling job as a middle-school teacher. But one day a new man enters Mona’s life and turns it upside down, their passionate affair tilting her mind to the edge of madness—and murder. Her lover’s name is Connor. He’s got blonde hair, green eyes…and he’s eleven years old.

Read More

The Walking Dead Hardcover Ruled Journals

Based on AMC’s hit original series, The Walking Dead ruled journals embody the thrills and excitement of The Walking DeadEach journal is themed around a popular character, including Rick Grimes, Daryl Dixon and Michonne, and the Walkers who threaten the survivors’ existence. Along with debossed covers, the journal interiors also feature full-color photography from The Walking Dead. 

Along time ago before people put their thoughts on social media. There was something we did in the 90's and and years before that. We used something that is rarely used today and that's journals. Insight Editions is bringing back the journals in a big way with The Walking Dead. The cover and material is amazing in great detail. I got the Darryl Dixon journal which comes with pics of the character and  great design of his signature logo on his vest. The journal has a pages to make you're own story book. At a fair price of 18.00 dollars this is a great gift for kids, family and friends. Great things you can do with a journal. Practice creative writing, put your innermost thoughts instead on social media, even use as a data entry log. With The Walking Dead you can even think of making your own fan fiction. This is a great journal to pick up. 

 

Frozen: The Poster Collection Review

The heartwarming story of two sisters who save their kingdom through their love for each other, Frozen has gained unparalleled popularity and acclaim worldwide. Based on the award-winning animated film, Insight Editions in collaboration with Walt Disney Animation Studios proudly presents Frozen: The Poster Collection (Insight Editions / $24.99 /2015).

Fans of Frozen this is a great collectible for you. Frozen: Poster Collection is a collection of movie posters, character posters and key scenes from the movie. The book contains 40 pages of removable posters filled with epic scenes, characters and artwork. My favorite one has to be the original poster with the three main leads in the front. The poster size are 12 x 16 which is great if you want to frame it for the house or office. With 40 posters to choose from you can definitely get enough for the price of $24.99. This is a great deal for Frozen fans and people who want good artwork.  Check out some of the posters below.

Frozen: The Poster Collection

Reprinted from Frozen: The Poster Collection published by Insight Editions. Copyright © 2015 Disney Publishing Worldwide. All rights reserved.

Final Grade A-/9.5