My Midnight Moonlight Valentine By: J.J. McAvoy :🕮 : | Book Tour + Review (GIVEAWAY)

My Midnight Moonlight Valentine
By: J. J. McAvoy
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Vampire Romance, Supernatural, Witches 
Rating: Liked it
Publisher: J.J. McAvoy
Release Date: May 1, 2020

 | Amazon | NOOK | KoBo |

Synopsis:

Druella Monroe is a vampire, but she hasn’t been one for long. Ever since her rebirth a year ago, she’s done her best to live a quiet, peaceful life as an art conservator and restorationist at The National Gallery of Art. All she wants is to blend in with the humans.

However that all gets thrown out the window one night while hunting in Great Falls Park, where Druella comes across a naked vampire with no memory of how he got there, or the last century for that matter. All he seems to be sure of is that she is his soulmate…and he won’t leave without her.

Book Review

My Midnight Moonlight Valentine tells a story of a newly turned vampire, Druella, who is a complete introvert. She lives alone. Works in solitude and hunts in the woods for deer in the middle of the night. However, upon one normal evening of hunting, Druella stumbles across a naked, but a ruggedly handsome vampire who tricks her into helping him after he saves her from a witch attack.

After agreeing to help the strange vampire who claims to be hundreds of years old and missing an entire century from his memories. Druella soon discovers that she and Theseus are bound to each other by something stronger than their thirst for blood.

But the romance novel and art fanatic-loner Druella refuses to buy into any of the nonsense the strange vampire she met in the woods has to say until strange things start to happen all around her—and to her all at once.

Druella is uprooted from her life and all that she has ever known and thrown into the world of magic and the politics of vampires completely unfamiliar with their customs or the culture. But it’s a good thing she has a willing, chivalrous centuries-old vampire eternal by her side to help her.

This is the third book I have read by J.J. and I think that it will hook readers who are fans of vampires/ the supernatural, magic, and romance genres. Moreover, it will be a good read for those who like to have books that are in-depth with a lot of content and background information.

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The Good, The Bad and The Boring — A Writer’s Update While Stuck Inside

Hello, Again,

I hope you’ve been well since our last meeting. This impromptu post came to mind while working on something else and decided it was the right time to give an update. Like everyone else out there trying to adjust, cope, deal, and process all that is happening in our world with COVID-19, my normal schedule has been altered. I am balancing my normal to-do list with creating school assignments and activities for my cousin while he’s out of school.

On top of that, I’m working through a family situation that involves caring for a family member and their recovery. But I won’t get into that right now. I am still writing, reading, and kicking ass–just at a bumper rate at the moment. Ironically, this is a post I drafted based on just the titles several years ago. As both a writer and a (general) book blogger, I have always found more comfort in posting my comments and thoughts on the material I read. Rather than sharing personal stories of my struggles and hard times.

Putting that all into a journal or in the thoughts and words of a fictional character I’ve created was always easier for me than to just post it here. Will I make that part of my “something new” theme here? I don’t know. I think keeping this generally a book-blog/media site is what works best for me.

It has allowed me to make a number of contacts with creative indie writers and it is still a space I feel at home with. However, that urge to share more of me with all of you and the rest of the world bubbles just under the surface. So,  a few weeks ago I applied to be a contributing content writer with Ghost Speaks. It is a powerfully open platform where writers and just normal people can share their stories with the rest of the world anonymously, under a pen name or their own.

Over there I am still G. Jacks for the pieces I’ve shared but who knows, I might submit a few things anonymously from time to time. 😏 Whether you check out Ghost Speaks because of my posts or someone else’s story I highly recommend putting in the time to read some of the pieces there. You never know, you could come across a post from a person who has or is going through the same thing you are.

With the current restrictions and limitations we are all facing, I have turned to books, manga, anime, tv shows (a few) and writing to space out my free time and remain busy. The latter has always been my strongest saving grace. For those who might be having a hard time adjusting, I wanted to close out this post with a few options to pass the time.

WAYS TO CURVE THE SOLUM BOREDOM

animals blur car close up

Photo by NEOSiAM 2020 on Pexels.com

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Butterfly By: Ashley Antoinette : 😬 : | Book Review

Butterfly
By: Ashley Antoinette
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Urban Drama, Gangs, Adult Content/ Adult Fiction, Spin-off from different series,
Rating: Wasn’t for me
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: January 7, 2020

Audible | Amazon |

Synopsis:

Butterfly is the first novel in an all new series by New York Times bestselling author Ashley Antoinette!

“Run away from the boy that gives you butterflies, he’s going to break your heart.”

Morgan Atkins had been told that phrase ever since she was a little girl and still she allowed herself to fall for the boy that made her heart flutter. After losing her first love, Morgan is terrified to love again. She’s settled for a comfortable life with a respectable man. She has everything. She’s living in the lap of luxury and although she’s comfortable, she’s bored out of her mind.

When a ghost from her past blows into town, she finds herself entangled in an illicit affair. It’s wrong, but she can’t fight the butterflies he gives her and honestly, she doesn’t want to. She can’t hide the natural attraction she feels and soon, she’s so deep involved that she can no longer tell where the boundary between right and wrong lies. Her heart is telling her one thing, but her head is saying another. Morgan Atkins has always been a spoiled girl and she tries to have it all, but when she’s forced to choose between a good man and a bad boy, someone will end up hurt. Someone just may end up dead.

Morgan Atkins has been through more tragedy than one girl can bear. Will she weather this storm? Or will the ultimate heartbreak ruin her for good?

**Reviewer note: I would like to mention a warning to readers about the contents of the book: some might be triggering. As the context includes strong adult language and mature material.**

My Thoughts

Mourning the loss of her first love, Morgan tries to move on with her life a few years after heartbreak in London with her twin toddlers, and a wonderfully caring, affectionate and wealthy man who willingly stepped up for the role as their father. She has been blessed with remarkable beauty and Morgan couldn’t hope or ask for a better life. But she isn’t happy.

She knows she should be but cannot seem to put her heart into anything but her children even after being publicly and adoringly proposed to by her boyfriend, Bash.

That is until old friends from her past life and neighborhood show up and almost as if a switch is flipped, Morgan begins to question everything about her new life.

Butterfly was my first read by Ashley Antoinette, so I didn’t know what to expect to read with this book. And I have to say it was a unique experience. The premise of the book was intriguing and gave me the impression that I was going into a story of a woman showing this huge struggle emotionally between an old love and a new one but the further I went into the book the more I realized that my assumption was off base. And it left me with a perplexed reaction to the story and Morgan’s character.

While I am certain there is a BIG audience for this story style, I do not think I fit the mold. Morgan’s character has a lot of flaws, which is usually what makes a character so interesting and entertaining

But Morgan’s actions and thoughts remained in a state of constant contradiction. Not only with matters of the heart but with her children and her struggle to just be honest with herself.

Morgan claimed in the beginning that she put her children first because they were all she had in life that mattered and because they were the last real connection she had with her the love of her life and the kids’ father, Messiah.

Yet it was this detail I felt her character never actually lived up to in the narrative. In my opinion, Morgan does Morgan in Butterfly. An instance that remains true in all her decisions from beginning to end. I don’t mind self-involved characters but since I had such a hard time figuring her character out I was hoping to feel a connection with her based on the bond she had with her kids while her love-life was all in over the place but the connection wasn’t there.

In fact, I got the impression that she was happier to be without them and reconnect with her old life and friends before she had them rather than put real thought into a future love life with them factored into it, putting Bash’s wealth and status to the side, she had other means of giving the thought serious consideration. But she overlooks it.

And while I could understand her character’s impulse to default to old habits out of habit and familiarity. Driven by this repressed need to feel like herself after not dealing with or fully processing Messiah‘s death. Just to turn around and have his children on the cusps of falling into yet another serious relationship in such a short period.

We see Morgan herself call attention to these red flags with the arrival of her old friends Asia and Ahmeek. She makes the clear as day repeatedly, noting her particular attraction to Meek as being strongly tied to her grief over Messiah and lingering feelings of her past. Therefore, because of her repression and indecisiveness, I wasn’t convinced that her feelings came from a real place unlike that of Meek’s as the two grew closer—this is just an assumption on my part with the level of internal struggling Morgan’s character has in the book, it might make you wonder too.

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Love Her Or Lose Her By: Tessa Bailey :😶: | Book Review

Love Her or Lose Her (Hot & Hammered #2)
By: Tessa Bailey
Genre:Contemporary Romance, Marriage, Therapy, Relationships, Adult Fiction
Rating: Liked it
Publisher: Harper Collins/Avon
Release Date: Jan 14 , 2020

IndieBound | Amazon |

Synopsis:

New York Times bestselling author Tessa Bailey returns with a unique, sexy romantic comedy about a young married couple whose rocky relationship needs a serious renovation.

Rosie and Dominic Vega are the perfect couple: high school sweethearts, best friends, madly in love. Well, they used to be anyway. Now Rosie’s lucky to get a caveman grunt from the ex-soldier every time she walks in the door. Dom is faithful and a great provider, but the man she fell in love with ten years ago is nowhere to be found. When her girlfriends encourage Rosie to demand more out of life and pursue her dream of opening a restaurant, she decides to demand more out of love, too. Three words: marriage boot camp.

Never in a million years did Rosie believe her stoic, too-manly-to-emote husband would actually agree to relationship rehab with a weed-smoking hippy. Dom talking about feelings? Sitting on pillows? Communing with nature? Learning love languages? Nope. But to her surprise, he’s all in, and it forces her to admit her own role in their cracked foundation. As they complete one ridiculous—yet surprisingly helpful—assignment after another, their remodeled relationship gets stronger than ever. Except just as they’re getting back on track, Rosie discovers Dom has a secret… and it could demolish everything.

My Thoughts

I thought this book was a fairly good read. There was great chemistry between the two main characters and I could feel their history and connection with one another come off of the page. But I have to be honest, it took two full-chapters for me to invest in Dominic’s character😂 .

In the beginning, I was worried we were going to see his character as this overbearing, abusive ex-military husband but I’m happy to say that that is so far from the truth. His character was more complex and emotionally shut-off than Rosie’s character after being so unhappy in their marriage for so long.

Moreover, I also enjoyed the level of insight we were able to see with Dom’s character by the end of Love Her or Lose Her even if it was just scraping the surface.

Seeing Dom and Rosie go to therapy to confront the distance and issues between them felt real and dynamic because the sessions, although started as a joke, acted as the vessel they needed to get back on track.

And guys, these two were not just husband and wife, they were each other’s best friends. It made me root for them to mend what was broken between them.

I also liked that I could just pick up this book without having to read Hot & Hammered #1 but I suspect with the way the secondary characters were set-up in this book that the other book(s) in the series likely revolved around them but didn’t spoil much of their stories.

Hands down, Dominic’s character development was my favorite in this book because of where we see him at the beginning, but I ADORED Rosie’s breakthrough in this book. No longer settling, timid, or hesitant, we get the chance to see her character go after what she wants and follow her dream of opening up her restaurant 😊.

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If I Never Met You By: Mhairi McFarlane :🤔: | Book Review

If I Never Met You
By: Mhairi McFarlane
Genre:Contemporary Romance, Friendship, Relationships, Law Drama
Rating: I liked it
Publisher:HarperCollins Publishers/William Marrow Paperbacks
Release Date: March 24, 2020

IndieBound | Amazon |

Synopsis:

If faking love is this easy… how do you know when it’s real?

When her partner of over a decade suddenly ends things, Laurie is left reeling—not only because they work at the same law firm and she has to see him every day. Her once perfect life is in shambles and the thought of dating again in the age of Tinder is nothing short of horrifying. When news of her ex’s pregnant girlfriend hits the office grapevine, taking the humiliation lying down is not an option. Then a chance encounter in a broken-down elevator with the office playboy opens up a new possibility.

Jamie Carter doesn’t believe in love, but he needs a respectable, steady girlfriend to impress their bosses. Laurie wants a hot new man to give the rumor mill something else to talk about. It’s the perfect proposition: a fauxmance played out on social media, with strategically staged photographs and a specific end date in mind. With the plan hatched, Laurie and Jamie begin to flaunt their new couple status, to the astonishment—and jealousy—of their friends and colleagues. But there’s a fine line between pretending to be in love and actually falling for your charming, handsome fake boyfriend…

My Thoughts

Hiya, guys.

I’m back again with another book review and thoughts post and today’s book is if I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane.

Highlights & Summary:😃

If I Never Met You, is a book about a successful, smart, beautiful lawyer in her mid-thirties named Laurie.

Laurie who has spent nearly two decades with the same guy, Dan, since college, lives with him and even works at the same law firm. She and her boyfriend have been in a solid, strong, and committed relationship—or so she thought. After a night out with some work friends, Laurie comes home to her committed long-term boyfriend, but he suddenly hits her with the shock of her life. He wants to break up.

Coining the reasoning behind his sudden change of heart is down to the two of them going in different directions. Laurie, thinking he might just be having cold feet (again) with planning to get pregnant attempts to talk him down like she has done several times in the past. But the longer the conversation goes on Laurie begins to realize that Dan isn’t having a midlife crisis, the love of her life (or so she thinks) is really finished with her.

Laurie is obviously devastated; they’ve been living together for so long and he has been the only person she’s ever been with intimately that her world is completely turned upside down.

Not sure how to move forward, Laurie holds onto hope that the pair could reconcile like they’ve done in the past until she realizes Dan has been dishonest about what sparked their breakup. In my opinion, that’s when things really start to get interesting in If I Never Met You.

First off, I will openly admit that the story was an ok read. More like a summer book for light reading because it doesn’t have a page-turning-can’t-press-pause feel to it. And there was a bit of predictability with the development of Laurie’s new relationship that stems from the fake-love to real-love troupe.

However, the elements that really made the story good for me were the dry humor moments in the narrative. And I liked the slow buildup of Jamie and Laurie’s relationship—this is an important thing to note here because the beginning was very slow 😂.

But the slow buildup of their relationship that expanded out from their little “deal” is what makes their chemistry and bond feel more authentic.

And because Jamie and Laurie are perceived as these two extremely different people on the outside, their interactions carried that much more of an impact as we see their lives and hearts change as the story progressed. Especially getting to see Jamie’s true character which was nothing like how Laurie and the rest of their firm perceived him to be.

Least I forget to mention the fact that McFarlane gives us a mature relationship on both a professional and romantic level with these lead characters. (Who share an age difference in Laurie’s favor). It is one that contests against more than just the issues that her ex, Dan has with the pair being together.

And the drama that follows in the workplace was pretty entertaining–I’m talking about you, Michael🙃🙃. Seriously, guys that guy, just…

Personal Pitfalls & Narrative Flags:😬

I want to make it clear to have this section as personal pitfalls and narrative flags as the issues I had with this book may not strike a chord with other readers or fans of this book.

From the beginning, I think that it took me a while to kind of warm-up to Laurie’s character. As I did like Jamie kind of at the start; he was charming, respectful and confident but always vulnerable around Laurie even when she wasn’t aware of it. The dry humor and witty banter structure of their back-and-forth were also things that I liked about this book.

They are elements that are close to my personality and style of interaction.

Likewise, I am not the outlandish, flashy or in your face type of person. I live in a world of sarcasm and being upfront and honest. So, I felt more in sync with her friends Emily and Nadia who by the way this book needed MORE of.

In comparison with the main lead, Laurie. My eyes glazed over the repetitive passages of her going over and over her relationship with Dan especially after it was made clear how repressive and dishonest, he had been in their relationship. I know she loved the guy, but why put up with so much of that nonsense, Laurie? Why?? 😫

Yes, obviously with a relationship as old as theirs Laurie’s character is going to have this abundance of faith in a guy but as the book progresses, those seeds of doubt that she mulls over didn’t just materialize overnight. They were there for several years while they were together, so the logical part of my brain was constantly questioning why would she ignore her instincts, you know?

While I liked the self-reflection Laurie’s character has in this book, it should not have taken Jamie to come in to tell her how powerful and special she was for Laurie to have that “aha” moment. In my opinion, this cheapens her development and character strength because she is lead there by another man while still picking up the pieces of herself from her breakup with Dan. I would have loved it so much if these two elements were kept separate in the narrative and Jamie’s effect on her only highlighted what Laurie came to realize on her own.

Second, the most notable narrative flag for me reading this book was the fact that the lead character is a POC of mixed ethnicity. And unless I am incorrect the author is not a POC, therefore, it lacks the true connection to Laurie’s character when it comes to prejudices, racial comment, stigma, and stereotypes that come with being a person of color.

I do not bring it up often, but it is an element that I will never, ever, ever be ok with and not draw some attention to it. It would be a different thing if her ethnicity was not drawn directly into the story or brought up in such a way that warrants discussion, but it does.

The points of biracial discrepancies and the prejudices on mixed-race all the way down to the texture of her hair were all brought up with Laurie’s backstory. No matter the amount of “research” pursued to pluck these anecdotes from friends’ stories, books or media outlets, etc. In my opinion, if it is something so fundamentally rooted within an entity that you cannot and will not ever have a personal experience with everyday life as a person of color.

Then it’s best not to try to write or imagine up details like that. I don’t care if you must have a co-author come in and write all those POC perspectives for you 😂 it is just something that should be avoided.—I don’t know the editors for this book and if this they even had any influence with this, but I think you get my point by now.

I have read books dealing with POC characters and non-POC authors before (Because lots of people do it) but there was just something about  the way Laurie was presented that made this notch of the narrative stick with me.

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Awaken The Dragon By: A.C. Arthur | Book Review

Awaken The Dragon
By: A.C. Arthur
Genre:Contemporary Fiction,Sci-fi, Fantasy
Rating: It was ok
Publisher: HARLEQUIN – Carina Press

Release Date: Nov 4, 2019

IndieBound | Amazon |

Synopsis:

He’s sworn to protect the very entity she was born to kill…

Next in line for the Drakon throne, Theo Masters is the most powerful half human, half dragon in the world. Royal power is the last thing he wants, however. He lives as a human and runs the Legion Security Company. But his new client—a mysterious, beautiful human from a small African village—and the unknown danger she faces may forever change the quiet life that he’s chosen.

Shola N’Gara exists to kill the dark spirit that is attempting to demolish her people. It’s her purpose and her destiny. The gorgeous protector who taunts her with his sexy voice and body is not—especially after he shifts into a magnificent black dragon with turquoise eyes.

A rise in demon activity and the brutal murders Theo’s agents have been reporting start to add up. Someone is making a play, and it’s big enough to change the course of the world as they know it. Now Shola must choose between her destiny and her heart. And Theo must decide if standing by the woman he’s fallen in love with is worth facing his father in a battle to the death.

My Overall Thoughts Were Split:

WHAT I LIKED:

Hands down, the best thing about this book is the concept of these supernatural begins and Dragonlike-demigods being in the human realm, the concept of between realms and soul identities(?!! so cool). Moreover, the fact that the characters are mainly made up of people of color and African descent with this blended incorporation of contemporary and older cultural traditions in the story represented mainly with one of the main protagonists, Shola.

All in all, it was definitely something new to me in terms of context and creativity but a lot of the time the book seemed hard to follow because key details were revealed in spotty locations or broken up by Theo and Shola’s clearly palpable, however, oddly random, sexual attraction for one another.

Romance books are still a bit of a learning curve for myself in terms of breaking down the ratio of how much context/story there tends to be in terms of the attention put towards the main couple’s relationship.  This is why I have been trying to read more of them lol,  but the attempt at these two establishing a connection that quickly with just glances felt rushed every time. If it stemmed from general curiosity or a mutual appreciation for the other’s fighter instinct perspective, for instance, then I might have been on board, but the ship seemed to sail without me.

WHAT PUT ME OFF:

While I liked the mixed elements of the supernatural world and beings coming into play within this story, by the end of the book I did not think the mixing of magic, vampires and Dragonlike-demigods/beings worked well together.

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Destination Wedding By: Jacqueline J. Holness | Book Review

Destination Wedding
By: Jacqueline J. Holness
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Drama, Friendship, Relationships, Personal Growth
Rating: It was ok
Publisher: Soon Comes Books
Release Date: Dec 3, 2019

IndieBound | Amazon |

Synopsis:

Three successful best friends in Atlanta believe they are thriving in the Black Mecca. Bossy bank executive Senalda breaks down men from business to bed no holds barred. Hip hop PR guru Jarena praises the Lord and pursues married men with equal persistence. Famous and infamous radio personality Mimi fights with her fans and for the love of her on-and-off-again boyfriend.

But when an ABC News Nightline report, “Single, Black, Female — and Plenty of Company,” asks why can’t a successful black woman find a man? The friends are suddenly hyper-aware of their inclusion in the sad statistic: 42% of black women who have never been married. Like the women in the report, they are career-driven, beautiful black women living in Atlanta who have everything — but a mate. They resolve to defy the statistic by marrying in a year and have it all by tackling their goal as a project with a vision board, monthly meetings, and more. Project Destination Wedding is born. A “happily married” best friend Whitney is a project consultant.

But as the deadline ticks closer, the women wonder if they can withstand another year of looking for love in the media-proclaimed no-man’s land of Atlanta. Senalda wrests a marriage proposal from the male version of herself, but the proposal comes simultaneously with a devastating secret. Jarena unleashes hell when her call to ministry coincides with dating her married college sweetheart. Mimi faces losing her career and jail time chasing her boyfriend and marries another man in the process. Whitney’s power couple profile plummets when her husband, a pornography addict, announces he would rather pursue photography than be an MD.

Inspired by an actual Nightline report, Destination Wedding charts four women’s journeys as they discover that love is not an experiment easily confined to a timetable.

 

My Thoughts

Despite my ill-favored thoughts on this book at the present, I do think it is a book that I will re-read in the future due to the possibility that I might be able to connect with its context on a more personal level. Moreover, I will say that the tones of the popular TV shows Sex and The City, and Girlfriends were fairly prominent in the story as we got to know the main characters, Senalda, Whitney, Jarena and Mimi, in this book better.

While I liked the concept and motivation behind this book, I could not fully get into the story. Regardless of how much we learn about each of the main characters and the struggles within their love and personal lives. I do love that this book is about these powerful, even insecure but strong-spirited women of color trying to pursue the best aspects of their lives as well as love. They are quirky, mouthy, smart, sassy and vulnerable at time, making them that much more relatable.

Besides the hook for the story’s synopsis, I remember hearing about the statistic and the primetime piece that sparked the inspiration for this book a few years back and was intrigued to read the author’s approach.

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Most Ardently By: Susan Mesler-Evans | Book Review

Most Ardently
By: Susan Mesler-Evans
Genre:Contemporary Fiction,YA Fiction, Retelling, LGBT Fiction
Rating: It was ok.
Publisher: Entangled: Embrace
Release Date: October 21, 2019

IndieBound | Amazon |

Synopsis:

Elisa Benitez is proud of who she is, from her bitingly sarcastic remarks, to her love of both pretty boys and pretty girls. If someone doesn’t like her, that’s their problem, and Elisa couldn’t care less. Particularly if that person is Darcy Fitzgerald, a snobby, socially awkward heiress with an attitude problem and more money than she knows what to do with.

From the moment they meet, Elisa and Darcy are at each other’s throats — which is a bit unfortunate, since Darcy’s best friend is dating Elisa’s sister. It quickly becomes clear that fate intends to throw the two of them together, whether they like it or not. As hers and Darcy’s lives become more and more entwined, Elisa’s once-dull world quickly spirals into chaos in this story of pride, prejudice, and finding love with the people you least expect.

My Thoughts

For me, this book was ok. I think this is the type of book for anyone not familiar or who hasn’t read Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice to be honest. Trying to be as abstract as possible here without giving too much away (as it is technically a re-telling) I will try to stick to the things I liked about the characters and the overall tone.

First, I love that the main characters include people of color and taken out of the context of this re-telling, I know that there is another book titled Pride that came out a few years ago that does the same thing, but I haven’t made it to that one—yet.

Getting back to Most Ardently, our main character, Elisa, in this book has strong opinions about those around her. But at the same time, her character came off as a bit timid and shy while around new people and in school. Her counterpart, Darcy, on the other hand, seemed to carry that same level of indifference that we expect from the archetype of the character. And while I actually expected this, I cannot be sure if that was more upsetting, getting what I expected instead of a character more relaxed, friendly and sociable.

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