Lenni Reviews: "Sovereign" by April Daniels

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

In this sequel to Dreadnought, Danielle is working hard as the new hero in town but between kicking butt and maintaining her reputation with the press; and without even being fully licensed due to her age, she is feeling the strain. But Dreadnought is needed now more than ever as a worldwide threat lingers on the horizon.

I can't quite put my foot on what it is but this is not as enjoyable as the first book. Don't get me wrong, this is still a well-written superhero story with high stakes and plenty of thrilling action; by no means a bad book. A teenager dealing with the harsh realities of being a superhero AND transgender AND some topical threats to humanity deserves this darker tone. But in comparison to the first, the darkness is unpleasant instead of intriguing or compelling. I want to like this more than I do. If you ware interested in following Dreadnought's next steps as she develops as a hero, this entry is just ok. 3.5 out of 5.

 

Lenni Reviews: "Dreadnought" (Nemesis - Book One) by April Daniels

*I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Danny is out secretly buying nail polish and ends up thrust in to the middle of a superhero battle. Defeated, Dreadnought transfers his powers to Danny, giving him super human abilities but the female body this transgender teen has always wanted. But not only does Danny have to deal with coming out as the new Dreadnought, she also must come out to her strict parents, the Legion of other heroes, and content with Utopia, the cyborg villain who killed Danny's predecessor. 

After reading "Black Angel" I was a little nervous about another LGBTQ YA novel. However, this book is much like "Rebel Genius" in that I was hooked and entertained for most of this despite being outside the target demographic.

This novel touches on the good and bad about being a trans teen with the added flight of fancy that if anyone bullies you for being trans, you can pummel them into the ground. Danny is such a great kid, you can't help but root for her and just outright DESPISE what she's put through. And, as a comic book geek, this also makes for an awesome superhero story. There is genuine peril Danny has to deal with as a budding super-heroine and despite the world ending consequences; the story doesn't feel like it gets bogged down when dealing with the issues surrounding a transgendered individual. Some reactions are almost TOO evil but I think that's just the part of me that is desperately holding on to a shred of hope in humanity. It doesn't pander, it doesn't preach; "Dreadnought" is a well-written, wild ride, and if it's the start to a series; I look forward to more. 4.7 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: Dreamlands #1 by Felicitas Ivey

Keno Inusaka is a hacker who stumbled into the computers of a secret organization called The Trust. This organization prides itself on hunting demons so they kidnap Keno and keep him prisoner, letting the world think he's dead. When the facility he works in is breached, Keno finds himself in the Dreamlands; living among the same sort of creatures The Trust kills. He is given as a gift to Samojirou Aboshi, a demon, who treats Keno with more respect than anyone at The Trust ever did. When a team of soldiers come to bring him back, Keno isn't sure if he wants to go, having found a place where he is safe and loved. But The Trust doesn't want to let him go.

This is a pretty awesome first outing for a fantasy series. It's well developed with fun world-building, interesting characters, and an engaging story. Keno and Samojirou are a cute couple and their relationship develops slowly over time. They don't jump into bed right away because Keno's past abuse is addressed and worked through with patience and care; so there isn't much in the way of out and out smut. There are some steamy love scenes so this book is for mature audiences.

If I had to complain about one thing, it would be that the story is terribly short on decent human beings. A lot of fantasy or science fiction stories have "the monsters are more human than the humans" angle but I found myself thinking too often that there are too many assholes in this book. It made me kinda depressed! Other than that, 4.5 out of 5 for this book! I look forward to the next one!

 

For more reviews and silly things, check out Haunting Hypatia.

Lenni Reviews: Song of Song by L. J. LaBarthe

Song of Song is a science fiction romance by L. J. LaBarthe. Set in the far future where humanity has expanded beyond Earth, this book stars Dex (short for Dex742A-GR23), a genetically engineered man called a Boxie, and his AI cat, Manx, fleeing their home in search of freedom. Dex has been created to serve one purpose and if he deviates from that purpose, he will be killed. Once he and his fellow Boxies have been ordered to turn in their AI companions, Dex is too attached to his friend and decides to flee. While in outer space, Chen Lau Song is a fugitive fleeing the oppressive government on a sentient and evolving ship called Fa'a. The government wants to use Fa'a as a weapon but as the genius who created her, Song decided to run with his ship to make sure she couldn't be used as a tool or a template for other warships. Dex and Song meet when Fa'a is damaged and Song commandeers the ship on which Dex is hiding. Their mutual desire for freedom is what brings them together just as the despot seeking control of Fa'a and the entire galaxy; Cory Lewis Atticus Melvile (you can tell he's bad because he's way over named...) plots and schemes - willing to go to any lengths to capture them.

The sci-fi world built in this novel is very well done even if the characters are a bit cliche. You have the eccentric genius in Song, the man who wants out of his slotted life in Dex, and the evil businessman in Cory. It really is the setting and the overarching plot that sets this book apart; making it more a sci-fi with romantic elements than the other way around. If you're looking for the emphasis to be all on the budding relationship between Song and Dex, you may be let down. But the story as a whole is very entertaining. Manx and Fa'a are adorable characters and the rest of the cast and crew are likable characters fleshed out just enough so you care about what happens to them. Except for Cory... He's a twit.

If this story could have been fleshed out some more, it would have been even more fun. The universe created here has so much potential and I hope LaBarthe has more planned for it. I mean, come on. You CANNOT have a character named Shafaquat: Sultana of Agony and Cleverness with no back story! I can see an entire book about just her, easily.

If you like your sci-fi with a sweet little M/M romance, Song of Song will live up to your expectations. While some adult situations are present, they're not overwhelming and I had a great time reading this book.

Lenni Reviews: "Bane" by Amelia C. Gormley

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I must have said a dozen or so times in my tenure as a book reviewer here that I'm going to be writing a review for you guys for the second book in a series without having read the first one. Well, surprise! Bane is the sequel to Strain, which I have indeed read! I happened upon it in one of my free ebook newsletters so when I saw this book in my review box, I snatched it up.

Bane follows the further adventures of Rhys Cooper, a man with a strange immunity to the virus which has ravaged the planet. The virus has three strains that do three different things: infect you with a disease called Rot, turn you into a monster called a revenant, or a super-human they call Juggernauts (or Jugs for short). Scientists in the Clean Zone have caught wind of Rhys' immunity and asked him to be a test subject for a possible vaccine but his partner; Darius Murrel, and the rest of Delta Company don't trust the government. It is the same government that developed this virus, had the Jugs fight for them, then banished them from society.

While as steamy (read: smutty) as the first book, Bane focuses more on the twisted story of trying to find a cure and a safe place for uninfected people and the Jugs they fear. With the virus in the book is so virulent, transmission and risk of another outbreak is a constant concern. The tension surrounding a possible vaccine, how it will effect the balance in the word, and whether or not it will even work, was the most riveting part for me, and I look forward to a sequel if Gormley has one in the works.

As for the M/M romance aspect of it, Rhys and Darius are pretty well established as a couple. The main romantic conflict comes from characters introduced in a different book; Nico Fernandez and Zach Houtman. Nico is a Jug and Zach is one of the doctors working with Rhys on a cure. Kept apart for a decade by Nico's infection, they are thrown together again. Their possible reconciliation is the backdrop to a well built, post-apocalyptic landscape.

To sum it all up, Gormley has sharp world building skills and a red hot pen for her erotic portions of her books. If you like your M/M romance with a sci-fi bent, Bane is a welcome addition.


If you like Lenni’s reviews; she also has her own writing posted at www.atthequillsmercy.com

Lenni Reviews: "Pathfinder: Exodus Book Two" by Gun Brooke

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In the wake of utter chaos on their home planet, the Oconodians are fleeing their world on a massive ship called Pathfinder. Due to riots caused by Changers; people who have developed various sorts of powers, this ship will take them on a long journey to a new world. Chief engineer and seasoned soldier Adina Vantressa has the responsibility of keeping all two million people aboard safe by overseeing the proper functions of all the systems keeping them alive. One of those millions is Briar Lindemay; a nurse who, along with her sister Caya, have boarded the ship in search for a better life. Briar joins the expedition as a nurse but also is hiding the fact that her sister is in fact a changer and Briar has illegally boarded the ship to protect her young sister from the violence at home. Thrown together by an obvious sabotage attempt, Adina and Briar become fast friends with a chance at something more. But the same sabotage that brought them together was not the first and with Caya's ability to see visions increasing in strength, Briar is forced to decide if her budding romance is worth risking her sister's safety or Adina's life as well.

The science fiction elements to this story are spot on and very interesting. This novel starts off running and doesn't stop for very long; even when the main characters are trying to get to know each other. What is gratifying about this book is since the situation is so dire, every character has no other choice but to be strong. Male or female; every character is a professional trying to ensure the survival of millions of people during a major interplanetary evacuation and resettlement so nobody is whining here. I know readers are sometimes on the lookout for strong female characters in particular and Brooke gives us an excellent balance of capable people where gender isn't important.

As for the romance, if you're looking for some steamy trash, this isn't the place. In  my opinion, this is a science fiction novel with romantic elements and a couple of steamy scenes here and there. And I mean mature rating steamy, so don't be shocked by some woman on woman sexytimes.

Coming into this series on book 2 makes it so I cannot comment on how this book relates to the first but Pathfinder does end with the promise of more. But since the romance was so secondary in my opinion, I would love to see more about how these adrift settlers manage when they get to their destination. This is not to say that the romance is not executed well, it's just the story surrounding it was very cool. Briar and Adina are a cute couple and your root for them to come through the chaos around them. Kudos so you, Brooke! I look forward to book 3.