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review 2017-06-25 03:19
Book Review: Shadows On My Soul by Leigh Jarrett
Shadows On My Soul - Leigh Jarrett

First off, trigger warning - there's is on-page male on male rape in this book. Be aware. The blurb hints, but doesn't spell it out. It's thankfully not drawn out, and done with sensitivity toward the subject matter.

This was my first book by this author. I liked the complexity of the characters in this book, but they exasperated me as well.

Supposedly best friends as well as business partners, Justin has kept a huge secret from Derek, and Derek has a secret of his own. Neither of them has the emotional maturity to discuss things honestly and openly, and their relationship was highly dysfunctional. Even at the end, which is supposedly a HFN/HEA, I didn't believe they will make it. There was a ton of unnecessary drama that could have been avoided if Derek wasn't so emotionally stunted and hadn't make such stupid assumptions, and if Justin hadn't lied for so long. Both of them needed therapy after the trauma (Justin for being violated, and Derek for having seen the violation first hand) to help them cope, but neither got that.

Their inability to read each other's facial expressions and emotions also threw a big wrench into their relationship, so much so that it made no sense considering that they had been best friends since their high school days. They just didn't really seem to know each other at all.

In addition to this, the two of them are also apparently completely oblivious to how their friends perceive them - Justin pretends to be straight and not in love with Derek, and Derek has one-night-stands to distract himself from being in love with his supposedly straight, supposedly best friend, but to everyone around them, they appear to be a couple.

The writing itself was perfectly fine, but the characterizations and the constant back and forth drama between the two main characters who have lied to each other, by omission or directly, for years, in a story that was billed as a romance, didn't work for me.

YMMV.


** I received a free copy of this book from its author. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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review 2017-06-24 22:16
Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices #2) by Cassandra Clare
Lord of Shadows - Cassandra Clare

Just a much, much better book than the first in this series, in terms of pacing, story and character. One of my biggest complaints was how Clare seemed unable to blend the main storyline in the first with the romantic storyline, and they both fought for dominance while it seemed like two whole books slapped together. They're interwoven perfectly this time, with the relevance to the main action apparent.

 

Clare also willfully defies expectations, subverts what was seemingly put in place in Lady Midnight. The thing is, I didn't always love what she subverts it for. Ever since Sarah J. Maas got popular, it seems like it's ALWAYS THE FAIRIES nowadays. Not that this is unknown to Clare; the Seelie Court makes a HUGE impact on The Mortal Instruments, but since the first book started as more of a Gothic tale of magic and unfulfilled love, it was a letdown, for me, to jump to the Faeries.

 

And the death (again) of a CERTAIN CHARACTER from the first novel was surprising, to be sure, and so was the hand that dealt the killing blow; I had assume that that CERTAIN CHARACTER was actually the titular Lord of Shadows, until I came to understand it was the Unseelie King and we were going full-out Faerie. I liked that CERTAIN CHARACTER and wished that he'd been more fulfilled as a villain.

 

And while there's an excitement in following the Blackthorn clan to London and Idris, I miss the melding of the flashy modern world, in the shape of L.A., mixed with the strange and unique of the magical world from Lady Midnight. Though at least England does provide a bit of that dark romance that I was missing from the first novel.

 

The end is a little bit of a letdown. No one wants a political council meeting to be the climax to such a huge tale, and the loss of one main character actually seems ridiculously mandatory and unnecessary; I wasn't even certain what she was still doing there or why another CERTAIN CHARACTER lashes out at her. Shrugs. And I thought I knew where it was going, where the story was taking me, with Jules and Emma, making them an echo of the tragic couple from the first novel, but that was another subversion and... I'm not certain how I feel about that.

 

Emma does remain probably the strongest character, in my opinion, that Clare has written; while Clary remains a favorite of mine, Emma sort of fulfills what I had wanted Clary to be.

 

A solid entry, and I enjoyed it far, far more than I actually thought I would. Despite being nearly 700 pages long, it read fairly quickly, and I never felt a fatigue, which is a testament to its spot-on pacing.

 

I do have to say, I think it's hilarious, in a series that references anything and everything in pop culture, especially with fantasy fiction, the fact that she openly avoids mentioning Harry Potter is howl worthy, considering this world started off as Potter fanfiction. So things that could have been written off as another reference actually seem like she's ripping them off, because none of the characters mention it. Not a huge problem, just something I thought was funny.

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text 2017-06-24 14:51
Reading progress update: I've read 271 out of 365 pages.
Sewing the Shadows Together - Alison Baillie

whenever a writer seems to be pushing me, strongly, into suspecting one particular character of malfeasance, I naturally form a wild side-suspicion to hedge my bets. I'm not even sure my "wild suspicion" in this instance would even make logical sense...but one little detail about a character's past has been gnawing at me, without much more to support suspecting murder, but we'll see. should finish this tonight!

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text 2017-06-24 04:00
Reading progress update: I've read 204 out of 365 pages.
Sewing the Shadows Together - Alison Baillie

a shocking development, caught me by surprise (then again, that's what shocking developments do, so I guess I'm not surprised that I'm surprised...); the only thing is: if the accident wasn't really an accident, it's hard to see how one particular character couldn't be guilty of something terrible. or things terrible. so, with something seeming sort of obvious, but with scads of pages yet to go, it now remains to be seen if there will be any big twists that stick a pin in the obvious.

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text 2017-06-24 00:44
Reading progress update: I've read 158 out of 365 pages.
Sewing the Shadows Together - Alison Baillie

I'm kinda loving this book now. I mentioned some early concerns about style, but I think maybe the author was guilty of a slightly stiff start-up--setting things up, introducing a lot of characters early (school reunion) while also hinting at a complex, tragic back-story, not having a beginning that allowed for emotional content, having to instead lead into scenes like that. now there's been a funeral and a scattering of ashes, people showing some cruelty in how they treat each other (whether they know it or not), a forbidden but completely understandable romance blooming, bitter characters trying to keep secrets...this author works best with scenes that force her to deal in emotions--emotions in characters, and emotions as they must be generated in the reader at this stage of the game. the overall whodunit aspect, and everything attached to it, is compulsive reading. and I love all the Scottish locales--Portobello, Edinburgh, Lewis, an island of the Outer Hebrides (I think I've got that right, the Outer Hebrides) called Eriskay, bairn/cannae/wee and other cool words floating through the dialogue. all this, and a dark nasty feeling to what lurks just under the surface...

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