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.

 

 

Press Release: "Windsinger" by A. F. E. Smith

Having  read and reviewed the first two in this series, I am super excited for the next installment! :D Here's the summary from the author:

"Ayla Nightshade prepares to meet with the Kardise ambassador to sign a treaty between Mirrorvale and Sol Kardis. However, negotiations are halted as the ambassador is discovered dead in his chambers, poisoned by the same bottle of taransey he and Ayla had shared the night before.

Ayla has been framed for murder and the peace between two kingdoms is at stake. Tomas Caraway and his Helmsmen must rush to prove her innocence before war destroys all they have fought for.

Along the way they discover the plans for a Parovian airship, the Windsinger, which reveal a chamber designed for a special cargo: a living one.

Together Ayla and Tomas set out to uncover their real enemies – a search that will lead them closer to home than they ever anticipated."

I am starting this book today and with the power of friendship I hope to have a review up for you guys before then! :D

Lenni Reviews: "The Haunting of Timber Manor" by F. E. Feeley Jr.

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

Daniel Donnelly has sadly lost his parents in a terrible accident. He gets a phone call from his estranged aunt who tells him he is now heir to a fortune and a house called Timber Manor. On the way there, Daniel has to pull over in a huge storm and Sherriff Hale Davis - a native of the town near Timber Manor - helps him out. But the manor holds a dark and powerful secret that puts Daniel's life in great peril

While Daniel and Hale make a good couple and you're rooting for them, the novel makes a great ghost story. The tone is perfect for curling up in a blanket and reading this on a stormy night.It was good to have the story switch perspectives to get everyone's thoughts on what's happening but I feel the supernatural story development had more care put to it than the romantic development. Daniel and Hale have that insta-love thing going on that will bug you if that's an aspect of romances that bug you.

And can Francine get a spin-off series!? PLEASE!!

Giving this a 3.7 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "Rebel Genius" by Michael Dante DiMartino

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

When I was poking around and saw this book was written by co-creator of the animated shows Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, I clicked it immediately, not even realizing it was a YA book meant for kids 8-12 years old. But much like those shows, this book can absolutely be enjoyed by adults.

They story centers around Giacomo, a young orphan who lives in a world where artists have entities much like familiars called a Genius which can not only inspire them but turn their art into magic. A tyrant named Nerezza has hunted down all the artists she could find and appointed herself Supreme Creator. After an accident, Giacomo finds himself with his own Genius and is discovered by other children who have been hiding from Nerezza's threat. They embark on a journey to find these artifacts called The Creators Tools what may help them overthrow Nerezza and bring art back to the ruined nation.

I love how there are sketches in the book and the way they are included, it's implied Giacomo is the one drawing them. It added extra charm to an already fascinating story. It's also worth noting that even though this story is labeled YA, it doesn't shy away from some pretty dark stuff. There's a real sense of danger and urgency to the mission and you do wonder if all the characters will make it or even succeed at all. But towards the end after the big twist, it got into some predictable plot points but hey, I'm a voracious consumer of fiction so it's not a major drawback to the story overall. I'm just much more likely to catch tropes, however, I can see it surprising a kid who's reading this.

You can absolutely feel the creative energy and love from the Avatar series in this book. The concept of art manifesting as physical magic is compelling, the adventure is tense and action-packed, and the characters are unique and fun. I am super curious to find out what happens next in what could very well be a rollercoaster of a series. 4.5 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "Syndicates Pawns" by Davila LeBlanc

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

The crew of the Jinxed Thirteenth is sent on a rescue mission to retrieve the only survivor of an abandoned space station. What they find is Jessie Madison in cryo-sleep; and she has been there for several millennia. Awakening to a world that's completely unknown to her, Jessie struggles to learn new languages and face the loss of her husband. Meanwhile, a crew criminals lead by Domiant, sets out to capture the ship and Jessie as valuable cargo. Captain Morwyn and his crew must beat back Domiant and his dangerous underlings in order to protect Jessie and her unborn child from being sold or worse.

This book is like a combination of Event Horizon and Firefly in that the story takes place mostly on one ship and the crews on both sides are made up of very different species with all sorts of different abilities and specialties that struggle to get along and work together. They work well together and the world building and action sequences are written very well, there are so many characters with not enough development to properly tell them apart. I found myself getting confused as to who was who very easily. Except for Jessie; who stood out really well but mostly because she is truly a fish out of water. While this book is the second in a series, it stands well enough on it's own. For muddled characterization but an exciting story, I give this a 3.5 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "Goodnight Batcave" by Dave Croatto and Tom Richmond

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

In this parody of Goodnight Moon, Batman is lounging in his cave when some bad guys show up. He beats them up, then goes to bed. The whole rogue's gallery is there and the character design calls back to the Batman: The Animated Series character designs.

This book is clever and funny. The joke works better if you're familiar with Goodnight moon and I read this to my kid (who loves comics) and she laughed and did want a copy of her own.

For a book put out by MAD Magazine, it's pretty kid friendly. The art is in their typical style but there's nothing in it I would feel hesitant to show a kid who is already familiar with comics. There's a justifiable amount of violence (superheroes don't tend to cuddle the villains to jail) and I think this will give both kids and adults a few good chuckles. I read this on my Kindle but I think this is worth a hardcover purchase if you love Batman and love MAD. 4.5 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.

Lenni Reviews: "The Deadbringer" by E. M. Markoff

Kira Vidal is a Deadbringer, possessing the ability to summon souls and raise the dead. Likely the last of his kind, this fifteen year old boy hides his abilities while living with his uncle. In order to live in peace, he has to keep out of reach of the Ascendancy and their elite soldiers called the Sanctifiers; who are charged with the mission of killing all Deadbringers. When a stranger shows up at their door asking for help, Kira's secret is exposed and he must protect his uncle while learning the truth behind his powers.

The world-building done in this novel is accomplished by dumping you in and wishing you luck yet at the same time it's immersive enough for you to get lost in it. There are a lot of interesting and distinct characters and while some may fall into typical fantasy tropes (like the mysterious counsel of evil hidden in shadow, climactic battle at a wall with ground troops, horned people, etc...), they all managed to get into my head clearly so I stayed interested throughout the entire book. At times the conversations lagged or got bogged down in WAY more complicated words than necessary; the narrative meandered off on occasion but once the story centered on Kira and his journey, this novel shined. Even with the cliffhanger ending (Arrgh! Where's the next one!!!), I ended this book feeling like I had a good time. As a fan of dark fantasy, I give this story a 3.5 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "Don't Be Cruel" vol 1 by Yonezou Nekota

Facing the possibility of losing his scholarship, Takashi Negugasa cracks under the pressure and cheats during a test. Unfortunately for him, school delinquent and known playboy, Kideyuki Maya, catches him in the act. In exchange for keeping it secret, Maya blackmails Negugasa into sleeping with him.

As this is a 2 in 1 volume, we see Maya's interfering cousin, Akira, and the obvious feelings Maya has for Negugasa despite Negugasa's obliviousness. It's that "I really like you but I can't say it" scenario. Once I got passed the coercion (yeah, it's a little close to straight up non-con) the pair to make a cute couple. As soon as they get out of their own way, that is.

This may be a typical sort of boys love story but its well drawn and the main characters are likable enough to endure the will they/won't they back and forth (which thankfully doesn't last all that long). I found it a little odd for Maya to turn around and say Negugasa was manipulating him when Maya was doing the blackmailing in the first place (what an odd character flip...) but hey, at first neither man would admit any feelings at all and I'm a  mush. I'll admit I like the happy ending. 4.5 out of 5 and I would love to read the next one!

Like Lenni's writing? This review and more are also posted at literaryloon.com

Lenni Reviews: "Behave" by Andromeda Romano-Lax

"Behave" is a fictional biography of Rosalie Rayner Watson; the wife and assistant of John B. Watson. Together they carried out The Little Albert Experiment; which studied classical conditioning in human beings. The novel starts with her time at Vassar and goes through Rosalie meeting John, becoming involved with him, and the experiment itself.

Though lovingly written, it was difficult to get fully into this book. The feel of it is poetic and lush but the main character seems so distant and cold it's hard to relate to her. It is not the writing at all because some of the descriptions are very detailed; even beautiful at times. But yikes, it was hard to pick this book back up if I put it down. And if Rosalie was distant, John was flat out unpleasant. You don't have to love babies but his flippant attitude towards his test subjects was grating. Despite being a pair of smart, capable characters; reading about them experimenting on these kids was distressing. Or maybe that's just me, I'm not a fan of making babies cry.

Overall, if reading about what Rosalie may have been like interests you and you are a fan of good writing, this book will please you. It's a solid 4 out of 5 since I just couldn't get over my dislike of the two main characters. 

For more reviews and various hi-jinks, check out Lenni's blog at Haunting Hypatia.

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

Lenni Reviews: Goldenfire by A. F. E. Smith

**Warning: This review may contain spoilers for book one; "Darkhaven" reviewed here.**

In this sequel to "Darkhaven," Ayla Nightshade is adjusting to being the new overlord of Mirrorvale, and being able to freely transform into her changer self; a fire-winged alicorn. She also has settled into her relationship with Tomas Caraway; the infamous Breakblade who is now a hero for saving Ayla's life in the first book. The conflict here is an assassin has been sent to kill Ayla and the secret that pistols can harm changers has managed to leak from the walls of Mirrorvale. Since Tomas is currently accepting new recruits into the Helm, the assassin could be among them.

Like the first book, this story revolves around the hunt for the true identity of a killer. Despite the repeated theme, the tension, character development, and pacing are well worth the read. In this second installment, we learn more about the cities surrounding Mirrorvale, the nature of changers, and the impact of guns being introduced into a fantastical, steampunkish (because there's airships and airships = steampunk, apparently). In addition, many books in a series get sappy and annoying when the romantic interests finally pair off but not here. The relationship between Ayla and Tomas is there but it doesn't take over or drag down the plot. It was refreshing to see the couple still retain their individuality, face conflict in their relationship, yet still remain a united force.

When the assassin is revealed and everything is wrapped up, it feels satisfying for the journey is took to get there. Each character's weaknesses and strengths are faced with grace in a well-built fantasy world and the concepts brought forth - such as the use of alchemy - leave the potential for interesting story avenues in the future. If there is a third novel in this series; I look forward to reading it.

If you like detailed world-building, fantasy creatures, and intriguing assassination plots, you will enjoy this book.

Check out Lenni’s site at atthequillsmercy.com

Lenni Reviews: Beauty and the Clockwork Beast by Nancy Campbell Allen

In this book, we meet the intelligent and strong-willed Lucy Pickett and the brooding, enigmatic Lord Blackwell. As this story is set within the classic framework of Beauty and the Beast, our two main characters fulfill their intended roles. Where the creativity lies in this book is the steampunk and fantasy elements Allen has woven into the narrative; introducing classic steampunk tropes as goggles and airships as well as werewolves and vampires. 

Lucy and Blackwell meet because Lucy's cousin has fallen ill and Lucy refuses to leave her side until she discovers the truth. As she is a researcher and familiar with plant-based remedies, Lucy stays with her cousin at Blackwell's manor. Meanwhile, Lord Blackwell is hiding a secret from the world and someone is  attempting to blackmail him; and rumors surrounding the mysterious deaths of his wife and sister put him in a dangerous position. As the mystery unfolds, the pair predictably fall in love, but as predictable as it is - this is a romance novel, after all - Lucy is an interesting character to read about and Lord Blackwell's reasons for being curt and brash are grounded in reality. He's not angsty for angst's sake and his transformation from 'beast' into a man Lucy can love is believable. 

The steampunk and fantasy elements are a good portion of the story, so while the elements of a historical romance are there if you're not into the paranormal or steampunk, those parts of the story may put you off. They do fit seamlessly into the world building and make a generic romance that much more exciting. Of course, it really helps that none of the women are simpering debutantes and the men aren't empty, emo sacks of angst in frock coats. They are all well rounded with solid motivations despite the fantastical setting. If you like your romances sweet, non-smutty, and with some interesting tech, Allen's book is a treat! Alas, you shall have to wait until August 2nd, 2016 to get your little hands on it.

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: "Evac" by Michael Murphy

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"Evac" is the story of a war veteran named Benjamin - Benji for short. While on assignment in Afghanistan, Benji loses his entire unit; including his partner, Blade. While his body mended, his mind is fractured; as he suffers from debilitating PTSD flashbacks. Finding it nearly impossible to reconnect as a civilian, Benji claws for any sort of release from his mental pain; participating in ever more dangerous activities until finally ending up on a bridge ready to end it all. It is here where he meets Nick, a young man on the same bridge for the same reason. The two men find common ground and give each other hope for a better future.

"Evac" is a quick but powerful story. Even at under 200 pages, I found myself both empathizing with Benji and enraged at the utter incompetence of the people around him. With such tragedy, it is very gratifying for him and Nick to get together with their much deserved happy ending. But what a ride getting there! Random sexual encounters, a brief stint at a BDSM club, picking bar fights; Benji hits all the self-destructive marks before  he meets Nick and is set on a more balanced path. Yup, I said BDSM club. And Michael Murphy doesn't flinch a bit in his depictions of the lifestyle and all the smutty encounters, so count this among the "mature audiences only" books.

And in case you're all wondering: "Lenni? What's with all the naughty LGBT books!?" Well, to be perfectly honest, I think more of these books should be reviewed on sites like ours and - I freely admit - I made myself a complete pest at the Dreamspinner Press booth at BEA this year. I have a LOT of books from them and I'm hell bent on reviewing as many as possible. Expect more of these in the future.

To get back on point, "Evac" packs a quick emotional punch with good pacing and development in a small package. Benji's unflinching honestly and pain to tug at your heart even if the book hits all the sorta cliche romantic tropes. But, they're cliche for a reason; it's how romances work. If you're looking for a quick and smutty romance with a happily ever after, "Evac" will do ya well.

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.

Lenni Reviews: 'Just A Sketch' by A. J. Marcus

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Leo Caldwell leads a mundane life as a tech support operator at a call center. He doesn't date much and spends most of his time with his two best friends; Julie and Felix. The three of them decide to change things up by taking an art class together and that is where Leo meets Aud Sorenson, artist and owner of the Bright Thoughts Gallery. The two have an immediate attraction and under the guise of Aud wanting to sketch Leo, they begin to date; touching off a whirlwind of drama that tests their budding relationship to the limit.

This is a cute little love story but when I say whirlwind of drama, I am not kidding. The moment these two meet you are rooting for them but Aud gets a  stalker who threatens their lives and causes so much trouble, Aud and Leo simultaneously question if it's all worth it and knuckle down to stay together. It's all very sweet but as a reader, I had to wonder if these two got hexed or something because so much goes wrong so quickly. This male/male romance does end in a happily ever after (noted because some readers prefer their romances that way) but I think I would have liked to see the sketching featured a little more. It is in the title after all and that initial reason for them to meet up got lost a bit in my opinion. But that's me being very nit-picky.

In the end, this is a cute little story that was fun to read. Aud and Leo are almost too adorable and the smutty scenes aren't over done or silly. It's just spicy enough to make the book interesting but not tawdry. If you like your overly sweet couples in a tidy 200 page romp, Just a Sketch is worth the read.

This book will be available from Dreamspinner Press on December 4th, 2015.

Lenni Reviews: 'Into the Darkness' by A. M. Rycroft

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Aeryne Ravane, a sword for hire, has been on a mission to discover the treasures of the deceased hero Tynan Selvantyr. Having been raised on his tales, Aeryne is excited to explore The Black Caverns and learn her hero's secrets; but the treasures contained therein are so much more than gold as she discovers even heroes have their deadly secrets.

This book is more about the journey than the result, in my opinion. Aeryne meets a young thief, the ghost of her hero, a vampire, and magic priests on her quest to defeat evil and come to terms with her past. Clocking in at 467 pages, the final climactic battle is around the 400 page mark. I did enjoy watching the main party of this sword and sorcery novel come together and grow as a group, the settings are well described and fun (or scary when applicable) to read; but there were points that had me muttering the dreaded "are we there yet" because I wanted the bad guy to get what was coming to him. It began to drag towards the middle there, but it picked up and it was worth reading through to the end.

All in all, Into the Darkness is a pretty cool book with some interesting characters. Everyone is fallible and real, and the story is overall fun if you enjoy these types of fantasy novels.

Lenni Reviews: Three Days in April by Edward Ashton

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Have you ever wondered what would happen if someone rewrote The Happening and made it... Well, all around better and cool? Then welcome to the technothriller Three Days in April.

In this world, there Augmented people, non-Augmented people, AI's that can run your house, and NatSec watching through every connected device in the net as well as cameras everywhere. Augmented people can connect and download information right into their heads,  have increased speed and agility, or strength. Then one morning in April, most of the people in Hagerstown keel over and die. Then the town is turned into a smoking crater. Our main protagonist is Anders, a down and out Augmented who is perfectly happy in his mundane teaching job when his friend Doug asks him to decrypt some documents he "found" suddenly Anders is involved in a massive conspiracy against all of humanity; genetically modified or not.

When I tell you this is The Happening and Ghost in the Shell, I am not kidding. While not suicides, a bunch of people all of a sudden drop dead in a painful way and everybody understandably scrambles around like crazy people. But then we THANKFULLY flee from any Shyamalan-ian mistakes for some cyberpunk, government conspiracy goodness! Having read (and LOVED) the Avery Cates series, this novel is a tense ride that won't let you go, with an ending ripe for a continuation should Ashton decide to write one. The characters are dynamic, real, and fun in this fantastical setting. I'm glad I gave this book a read and if you like cyberpunk, I think you will too.

Three Days in April is available now as an ebook and in paperback on October 13, 2015.