“Lord of Shadows” by Cassandra Clare

20170706_0624591.jpgHello, blogosphere!

It has been a long time since I’ve been here. Last semester completely wiped me out and it was one of the most stressful three month periods that I have endured in a while. When I wasn’t working or studying, I was sleeping. So, unfortunately, my blogging fell by the wayside. Since my last post, I have read all of the P.C. Grant series by Ben Aaronovitch. That series is fantastic and shows a side to police work that we don’t often seen: the banality of it. So much paperwork.

But that’s not why I’m writing today. I have just finished Lord of Shadows and I need to talk about it.

Because I didn’t like it.

I actually found Lord of Shadows a struggle. Why? In two words: fan service.
Fan service is something I usually don’t pick up on. According to my friends, there was a whole lot of fan service going on in the last two seasons of Sherlock, but I couldn’t see it. “Sign of Three” remains one of my favourite episodes to this day. But in Lord of Shadows the fan service was everywhere. You couldn’t turn too many pages without some kind of reference to fan favourites Alec, Magnus, Jace, or Clary. Clare even threw in Tessa and Jem for good measure. Narratively, it always made sense why these characters were in Los Angeles with the Blackthorns, or in London with the Blackthorns, but the reasons were very flimsy.
Most importantly, though, was the fact that Clare seemed to place a lot more importance on the appearance of old characters rather than developing the new ones. Essentially, the two main characters, Emma and Julian, were thinly veiled rehashings of Jace Herondale and Will Herondale respectively. And I am mad about it. One of the reasons I loved Clare was her ability to create vivid characters, but these guys were not those characters. In fact, most characters were placeholders for the plot. And that pissed me off because Clare was always so good at creating unforgettable characters who leapt off the page. But, because Clare was so focused on making sure we knew that the old crew was around, her new characters suffered. And there was so much room for these characters to be just as magnificent as those of the previous series. It just seemed that Clare did not have faith in them.

Lord of Shadows was a story made up of fan service with a bunch of angsty love scenes thrown in, and a very small serving of an actual plot. The plot almost seemed to get in the way of Julian and Emma’s pining for each other, of Mark, Christina, and Kieran’s love triangle thing. Plus, why was it necessary to have the Blackthorn’s tutor Diana go on a date with Gwyn of the Wild Hunt? That did nothing for the story at all. And actually didn’t overly make sense. Not when the Cold Peace expressly forbade contact with fey. Diana just went. There was no debating the decision or even a glimpse into why Diana may have felt so comfortable breaking the law for a first date. It was this weird thing that we were just supposed to accept.
None of the story flowed together. It was a mess. Pacing and structure were all over the place. And dear Lord, the descriptions. When Clare was talking about Emma and Julian’s relationship everything was so unbelievably repetitive. Actually all love scenes (not sex, but when love was the primary focus) seemed to have a similarity to them. Which not only pissed me off because it’s lazy writing, but because all love is different and so should be represented as such.

What this all boils down to is a problem I have with a lot of mainstream authors; once the author gets famous enough and starts earning their publishing house lots of money, the editors seem to cower in fear of these authors. They stop with the constructive criticism and let the authors do as they please. But when this happens, the story suffers. When authors think they can do no wrong, that is when they need their editors the most. In the case of Lord of Shadows, I feel like an editor would have tightened up the story, gotten rid of some of the goddamn angst, and maybe helped the flow of the plot.

I’m going to stop here, because I feel like I could rant for ages and ages about how much this book let me down. And how I am now scared to go back and read The Infernal Devices for fear that there may be a whole lot of fan service that I missed.

I think I judged this book so harshly because Clare was an author I’ve loved for years and now she’s resting on her laurels by banking on our love of her previous books. That’s not how this works, Clare. We don’t have to continually love these books because we loved the old ones. Especially when this is the second book in a trilogy and we still don’t really know your new characters.

★★

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#LoveMe – Passion

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  1. Why are you doing #LoveMe?
  2. A photo of you
  3. A word that describes you
  4. A person who loves you
  5. A note to the past you
  6. A note to the future you
  7. One thing that’s just for you
  8. Share a scar
  9. Share something beautiful
  10. Share a secret
  11. Share a smile
  12. Share a flaw
  13. Share a quote
  14. Share a fear you overcame
  15. Something you have done right
  16. Something you like about yourself 
  17. Something that feeds your soul
  18. Something that feeds your brain
  19. Something you feel strongly about
  20. Something you love to wear
  21. Something you are proud of
  22. What makes you unique?
  23. What is your best feature?
  24. What makes you happy?
  25. What makes you laugh?
  26. What makes you feel beautiful?
  27. What have you accepted about yourself?
  28. What have you learned from doing #LoveMe these past twenty-eight days?

DISCLAIMER: THIS GETS A LITTLE POLITICAL. I AM ALWAYS WILLING TO HAVE RESPECTFUL DISCUSSIONS ABOUT THINGS, BUT ABSOLUTELY NO HATE. PLEASE.

Something I feel strongly about. Something I feel strongly about…

How much time have you got?

There are so many things about which I feel strongly. Each with differing levels of importance in the world around me. How do I choose just one?

I think most everything that I feel strongly about comes from one of my most fundamental beliefs:

Be Kind.

Our world has always been unfriendly, but it has become toxic. One of the bigger super powers in our world has elected a misogynistic bigot to power who is making it hard for people who aren’t white, straight, cis, or male to get anywhere. A man who has boasted about keeping out Mexicans and about grabbing women by their pussies is now in control of a country that influences so much of our popular culture. This is terrifying. It has become indirectly mainstream, because of this man, to be intolerant. His ridiculous statements have become commonplace and it is imperative now, more than ever, to remember that we are all the same. Race, gender, sexuality, religion do not matter unless they inflict pain on other people. And with so many politicians making policies that degrade people who are in any way different to the norm (also, who dictates this “norm” anyways?), it is now that we need to be as open-minded as we can be. As compassionate and warm as we have ever been.

There is an inordinate amount of truth in the statement Love Trumps Hate. We can absolutely trump the hate-and-fearmongering happening in our world at the moment. All we need to do is be kind.

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#LoveMe – brain food

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  1. Why are you doing #LoveMe?
  2. A photo of you
  3. A word that describes you
  4. A person who loves you
  5. A note to the past you
  6. A note to the future you
  7. One thing that’s just for you
  8. Share a scar
  9. Share something beautiful
  10. Share a secret
  11. Share a smile
  12. Share a flaw
  13. Share a quote
  14. Share a fear you overcame
  15. Something you have done right
  16. Something you like about yourself 
  17. Something that feeds your soul
  18. Something that feeds your brain
  19. Something you feel strongly about
  20. Something you love to wear
  21. Something you are proud of
  22. What makes you unique?
  23. What is your best feature?
  24. What makes you happy?
  25. What makes you laugh?
  26. What makes you feel beautiful?
  27. What have you accepted about yourself?
  28. What have you learned from doing #LoveMe these past twenty-eight days?

This is also kind of an easy one, much like yesterday’s. What feeds my brain is my studies. As much as I whinge and moan about my lack of spare time during semester (soon to be trimester, hopefully!), about not having time to do the things I want to do, I love my degree. I love learning about human nature and how people think. I also love seeing the ways in which I may be able to help people one day. There’s a reason why I haven’t dropped out yet. I earn a decent living doing what I do, and I do love it, but even though it can be challenging sometimes, I am not exactly stimulated by my work. I will be if I can build a career in psychology.

I want to make a difference in people’s lives. I want to help fight the stigma of mental health issues and the seeking of help for those issues. And in order to do that, I need to feed my brain up enough so that it is strong enough, and filled with knowledge enough, to be able to do the best work that I can.

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#LoveMe – what feeds your soul?

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  1. Why are you doing #LoveMe?
  2. A photo of you
  3. A word that describes you
  4. A person who loves you
  5. A note to the past you
  6. A note to the future you
  7. One thing that’s just for you
  8. Share a scar
  9. Share something beautiful
  10. Share a secret
  11. Share a smile
  12. Share a flaw
  13. Share a quote
  14. Share a fear you overcame
  15. Something you have done right
  16. Something you like about yourself 
  17. Something that feeds your soul
  18. Something that feeds your brain
  19. Something you feel strongly about
  20. Something you love to wear
  21. Something you are proud of
  22. What makes you unique?
  23. What is your best feature?
  24. What makes you happy?
  25. What makes you laugh?
  26. What makes you feel beautiful?
  27. What have you accepted about yourself?
  28. What have you learned from doing #LoveMe these past twenty-eight days?

Surprising absolutely no one, the answer to this question is books. Books have always fed my soul .Ever since my mother bought me the first Harry Potter book, I have been in love with the world of words. I think being able to see the world through the eyes of someone else; through the eyes of someone who doesn’t live in our world, lets us see reality in new ways. Even if we don’t think the books we read have an effect, they all show themselves in someway.

I’ve honestly always felt that people who read are generally (emphasis on generally. I am generalising) more open-minded than those who don’t. People who read have already walked, metaphorically of course, in thousands of different people’s shoes. We’re already aware of people other than ourselves because we have lived so many fictional lives.

Books, to me, are pure magic. There is no other art form as all-consuming as books.

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“The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 

I am ashamed of how long it took me to read this book. I never realised how much I needed my lunch hours and time before bed to get my reading done. This actually having lovely people to talk to at work and having to go to bed early for said work is really eating into my book time! Ah well, the things we do.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll be aware of the BBC reincarnation of Conan Doyle’s infamous crime solving duo, Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll be aware that I am a huge fangirl for this show. As such, I’ve been slowly buying up the BBC reissues of the famous stories. I have over half of the collections now I do believe which is very exciting.

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes finally introduces some of the big names of canon to whom we are introduced very quickly in Sherlock: Mycroft Holmes and James Moriarty. The banter between Mycroft and Sherlock in “The Greek Interpreter” was beyond beautiful. It was exactly that scene where Cumberbatch and Gatiss decode the ugly hat in S03E01, “The Empty Hearse”. It’s been a while since I’ve read dialogue this delicious.

And finally meeting the original Moriarty? Forget about it. Creepy, genius, evil as all get out? Check, check, check. What is amazing is how much of the original dialogue Moffat and Gatiss actually used in the exchanges between Sherlock and Moriarty in their version of the stories. It made me so happy to make this discovery.

Guess what else made an appearance! Go on, guess!

The Persian slipper in which Sherlock keeps his tobacco! And the knife he uses to keep his letters nailed down. And the shooting of the wall in 221B! Every time I read these stories, I feel more respect for the BBC showrunners, while also gaining more and more insight into the original canon.

Something that does frustrate me, though, is how absent Mary is in the original stories. Her character is such a badass in Sherlock that it never occurred to me that she would simply be a background character after her appearance in The Sign of FourI suppose it’s a symptom of the times, that female characters were overlooked, but it doesn’t make it sting any less. Though, really, without that gap in Mary’s character back then, we wouldn’t have the fantastic Mary Morstan we know and love today.

You’ll have noticed that this wasn’t a review so much as a recount. To reiterate, for those who are unfamiliar with this blog:
1. I do not review classics. I am far, far below the calibre of reviewer necessary to critically analyse works that have stood for centuries and;
2. I do not review books I am emotionally attached to. I’ll talk about them, maybe even mention flaws, but I am far too positively biased towards some books to give an unbiased opinion.

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes is a must for any Sherlock fan. This is where so many of the exciting things happen: meeting Mycroft, Moriarty, and the Reichenbach Falls. I implore you to read this, because it is an amazing compendium of stories.
If you don’t like Sherlock Holmes, it is still wonderful to see how people solved crimes before DNA testing and fingerprint dust.

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#LoveMe – what I love about me

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  1. Why are you doing #LoveMe?
  2. A photo of you
  3. A word that describes you
  4. A person who loves you
  5. A note to the past you
  6. A note to the future you
  7. One thing that’s just for you
  8. Share a scar
  9. Share something beautiful
  10. Share a secret
  11. Share a smile
  12. Share a flaw
  13. Share a quote
  14. Share a fear you overcame
  15. Something you have done right
  16. Something you like about yourself 
  17. Something that feeds your soul
  18. Something that feeds your brain
  19. Something you feel strongly about
  20. Something you love to wear
  21. Something you are proud of
  22. What makes you unique?
  23. What is your best feature?
  24. What makes you happy?
  25. What makes you laugh?
  26. What makes you feel beautiful?
  27. What have you accepted about yourself?
  28. What have you learned from doing #LoveMe these past twenty-eight days?

This is an interesting day to talk about this particular topic, because I spent today on the Sunshine Coast getting professional photos taken. I won a competition where the prize was getting the session for free. Full hair, make-up, and photos for absolutely nothing but the cost of the fuel to get there. I just have to pay for the prints, which is completely fair because those photos are someone’s art and people should always be recognised for their artistry in some way.

After the shoot, when I was viewing the proofs with the woman who had organised the day for me, we discussed each photo to try and figure out which ones I would take with me. There were two things that this lovely woman kept commenting on: my legs (hell yeah, all those Body Pump classes have been working for me!) and my smile.

The smile is the one that got me with the warm and fuzzies. Way back when, when my ex and I had first started dating, he told me that it was my smile that drew him in. Now, that’s saying something considering that we met at about 7.30 in the morning while I was cheesing bread at Subway, with Parmesan Oregano flavouring and bleach stains all over my uniform. I’ve always, subconsciously, carried that throwaway comment of his with me. If I’m nervous, and/or meeting someone for the first time, I smile as wide as I can. So to have that belief reinforced by a semi-impartial (she was trying to sell me stuff at the time, after all) third party felt really nice.

And it means that I can continue to smile, as wide as I can, when I meet people. I like that. I like that a lot.

 

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Don’t forget to smile!

 

 

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#LoveMe – getting something right

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  1. Why are you doing #LoveMe?
  2. A photo of you
  3. A word that describes you
  4. A person who loves you
  5. A note to the past you
  6. A note to the future you
  7. One thing that’s just for you
  8. Share a scar
  9. Share something beautiful
  10. Share a secret
  11. Share a smile
  12. Share a flaw
  13. Share a quote
  14. Share a fear you overcame
  15. Something you have done right
  16. Something you like about yourself 
  17. Something that feeds your soul
  18. Something that feeds your brain
  19. Something you feel strongly about
  20. Something you love to wear
  21. Something you are proud of
  22. What makes you unique?
  23. What is your best feature?
  24. What makes you happy?
  25. What makes you laugh?
  26. What makes you feel beautiful?
  27. What have you accepted about yourself?
  28. What have you learned from doing #LoveMe these past twenty-eight days?

I hate how hard this particular post is. It’s that flaw of human nature where we are more likely to focus on the negative than the positive in our lives. A million compliments can be derailed by one snide remark. A beautiful day can be marred by one negative action. So concentrating on something I’ve done right is actually, depressingly, difficult.

I think the thing I’ve done right in my life is deciding to go back to uni after graduating. My degree in Creative and Professional Writing was fantastic and helped me to be a better writer, although I don’t write nearly as much as I would like to. But I feel like continuing my studies in order to one day become a psychologist and eventually help people with their issues, will be more fulfilling. For me personally. Plus, I hope to combine the two degrees and use creative writing as therapy for clients one day. Writing is already so cathartic that using it to hopefully help in similar ways that music and art therapy help people, would be wonderful.

I think that is something that I’ve definitely done right in my life.

 

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