Lenni Reviews: "Windsinger" by A. F. E. Smith

Mirrorvale has long stood in a precarious 'truce' with the surrounding kingdoms; held together with the fear of the changers. Now not only overload but a mother, Ayla Nightshade attempts to broker a formal peace treaty with an ambassador from the neighboring kingdom of Sol Kardis. After one day of hard negotiations, the ambassador is found dead. Suspected of murder, the race in on to prove Ayla's innocence and prevent all out war.

Across the the three books (this is the third Darkhaven novel) the writing quality, world building, and character depth has been consistently entertaining and well executed. The build up is slow to a rip-roaring climax; leaving plenty of time to be intrigued and entertained. The characters are especially interesting in this outing, with even the side characters having story arcs ramping up several times to push them to the limit and end up with some great development. It can seem a little trivial in the grander scheme of things but it was good to get to know them.

I do hesitate to give away too much and end up spoiling some pretty major plot points. Suffice it to say I am loving this series and hope to see more. 4.7 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "Oria’s Gambit" by Jeffe Kennedy

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

With her kingdom, Bara, captured by the Destrye, Oria gambles on a marriage with the conquering leader; Lonen. Since Bara is ruled by magic, the highly powerful and sensitive Oria takes a huge risk in marrying Lonen since he cannot use magic and Bara has never had a non-magic using ruler. The main reason for this gamble is Oria's cruel and despotic brother, Yar; who may likely begin another war despite the peace her kingdom has just attained.

Having not read the first part, there is enough here to make you understand there was a brutal war and that our main pair would like to spare their respective kingdoms any further bloodshed. Oria and Lonen are well developed enough and the writing is competent enough for you to get emotionally invested enough to want them to succeed. But the book does spend a great deal of time meandering around Lonen and Oria's obvious attraction to one another and their hope to overcome Oria's inability to even touch Lonen without her magic causing her pain. The pacing lost it's sense of urgency when the book spends so much time on the romance. The love story didn't distract from the major fantasy elements but once Yar came back into the picture, I felt the characters should have spent less time making gooily eyes and more time getting ready.

Don't get me wrong; Lonen and Oria have good chemistry and the overall story kept me interested enough to not only finish it but to want to know what happens in the next installment. If you like fantasy in your romance, this isn't a bad offering despite being pretty short and ending on a cliffhanger. 3.7 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "Uneasy Dreams: Dreamlands #3" by Felicitas Ivey

The siege on Nippon continues as the Trust has allied with the Egyptians and the lords of Nippon must band together to take back their lands. With the conflict intensifying, Mason tries to find a place under Tamazusa's protection and Keno struggles against the brutal nature of his ancestor as battle brings it seeping to the surface.

In this book, Keno and Samojiro are headed into "annoying couple" territory. This is a personal pet peeve of mine and I'm sure people won't agree with me; I have read many a series where the couple you've wanted to get together for the entire time keep sending the narrative to a screeching halt so they can bone as much as possible. This is not to say it ruins the book but I found myself skipping over their love scenes to get back to the war going on.

Other than that, I love how this book is not perfectly wrapped up for the next installment. As I received this series in a 4 book bundle (and reviewed one at a time so it didn't take forever to get these books reviewed for you guys), I was wondering if each book would have a self-contained antagonist or an overarching one. All these little threads of manipulation carry through all three books and their effects don't just disappear. Out of the three, this one is the most tense and ends with characters injured, separated, and floundering as to what to do next. The writing level and style carry through seamlessly and seeing all these different cultures in the Dreamlands is very cool! Very interesting overall. 4.5 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: 'Angelus: The Books of Raziel Book Three' by Sabrina Benulis

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Well, Lenni did it again; reviewing a cool sounding book that's not the first in the series. Heck, this is the conclusion of a trilogy! Ah, well...

Angela Mathers is the current Archon who sits on the throne of Hell. By being there, she is fulfilling a prophesy that means she has the power to end the universe by opening the Book of Raziel. But the book isn't a 'book,' it's her best friend Sophia and the only way to 'open' the book is to kill her. But Lucifel sits on the throne of Heaven, the realms are set to collide and destroy one another, leaving Angela with a terrible choice to face.

Although the premise of this dark fantasy novel is cool, the overall story left me kinda flat. While the characters are well rounded and engaging, the plot is carefully woven together, and the creatures are interesting to read about; it hits all the usual beats; thus ends up a bit predictable. According to her author bio, Sabrina Benulis likes anime and you can tell from how the book is structured on its way to the ultimately satisfying yet bittersweet conclusion. Even without having read the first two, 'Angelus' would obviously be the climactic final season of an anime in one book. This also means - for my fellow anime watchers out there - there are points that are pure filler. You can take them or leave them but you want to get back to the main story. However, 'Angelus' does take an original and creative view on the whole mythos of angels, demons, Heaven, Hell, and how humanity fits in with all of them.

On the whole, it's an ok book. I can easily see this being classified as 'older teen' if not for some bloody fights. If you like dark fantasy and would like to take a break from watching an anime and read one, 'Angelus' isn't a bad pick.

Angelus will be released from Harper Voyager on February 9, 2016.

Lenni Reviews: 'Rule of Three' by Lore Graham

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Ian is an adept magic user but his rival, Jae, always teases him that he doesn't take any chances with his work. Finally having enough, Ian does the research and summons a demon he can show off to Jae to prove he can do something risky. The demon Ian ends up with is an incubus named Alistair; and a sexy romp progresses from there.

This short novella gives you exactly what it promises; a smutty romp with two guys and a demon. It has the sort of pacing that occurs when you need to get three men in bed and naked in under 50 pages; rushed and dirty. But, yeah, that's the price of admission here, folks. You don't get short erotica for the character development. Alistair is my favorite by far, of course. He seems to have the most personality out of the three.

What made me stumble was the replacement of pronouns like "his" "him" and "he" with "ze" and "zir." I just rolled with it after awhile. If you are looking for a quickie with some magic and fun, 'Rule of Three' isn't half bad! A little short for $3.99, in my opinion; but if you are looking for a m/m/m fantasy short story, you may want to check it out.

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? 

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Lenni Reviews: The Deepest Poison by Beth Cato

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The Deepest Poison is a short story and introduction to the novel Clockwork Crown by Beth Cato (which I have reviewed here). Since I've already reviewed the novel, this review will focus on the shorter story.

This story covers some history of Miss Percival; Miss Leander's mentor. Percival recognized and nurtured Leander's healing abilities and this story showcases them while in the field stationed at a camp called Cantonment Five as they try to puzzle out the mystery of why wounded soldiers thought to recover were dying. It was nice to see some back story as reasoning behind Percival's actions in the Clockwork Crown. It is written in the same style as the novel but much more succinct and inside Percival's head and it was cool to see the healers in action. 

If you liked the first novel, Deepest Poison has a sample of Clockwork Crown to whet your appetite for the full novel. At $0.99 on Amazon, it's a worthwhile bit of steampunk fun.

Lenni Reviews: Tides of Maritinia by Warren Hammond

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In this surprising space adventure, Jakob Bryce is sent on a covert mission to infiltrate and dismantle the power of the newly freed Maritinia; a planet on the far reaches of The Empire that rules the system. Despite the small size of this world and the limited role of their single export - kelp - to the economy, the Empire is stretched thin defending their control. If one small planet can successfully rebel, it may inspire others and it's Jakob's job to make sure that doesn't happen.

Jakob is a newbie to this job so his loyalty is truly tested as he's thrown into this odd mix of idealists and madmen and forced to maintain a cover with some really shoddy intel. For an all powerful Empire, they send this guy on his first mission not knowing a great deal; like who is the father of the woman his target is in a relationship with. In this reader's opinion, I was already losing faith in the Empire way before Jakob did. To keep Jakob in line, there is an artificial intelligence implanted in his brain named Pol, who keeps Jakob from being able to deviate from the mission. This poses a problem because Jakob's loyalties are tested, emotions are toyed with, and he has to decide if the will of the Empire is worth the cost of the people of Maritinia.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. At first I was confused by the typo filled journal entries at the beginning of each chapter but the why's and how's of that are revealed later in the book. The world building is detailed and exacting. You really feel like you're in a waterlogged boat the whole ride. As the story progresses, Jakob's character gets better and better. You will be cheering for him by the end of it. While this can easily be a standalone novel, I do hope we hear more of Maritinia from Warren Hammond. It's a cool spy adventure in space that will leave you wanting more.

(For more of Lenni's writing, click here)