Wednesday, June 15, 2016

High Contrast (Evolution Ink #1) » Book Review (And Thoughts on Orlando)

I made a promise to myself, years back.  It was to review every book I read, even the ones with shirtless dudes on the cover. So here, I am saying to you, "Yes. I read this somewhat silly book. Let me tell you about it."

High Contrast: Evolution Ink  by Tess Bowery

High Contrast was a pretty standard romance novel — a New Adult M/M. Our protagonist, Jacob, is a self-doubting marketing intern from NYC. He's living off the support of his parents and successful twin brother while his office career gets its wings. He's very much a character yet to unfold.  His only adventure comes from the company he keeps — his brother's coworkers and employees at Evolution Ink, a tattoo parlor.

The story takes off when Jacob meets the store's new piercing specialist, Cody.  Cody is a beautiful specimen — lean, long blonde hair, full of sexy body modifications — and his personality attracts Jacob to boot.  There's just a few problems.  Cody is very reticent about speaking about his past and is reluctant to start anything with Jacob due to mysterious experiences. What's Jacob, a boy in love, to do?! Obviously, he's going to sleuth out what is troubling Cody and take his problems on, even when the problem turn to out be —oops!— the Russian mafia.

I can't give High Contrast more than 2.5 stars. It was an okay book, and sometimes I enjoyed myself while reading, but mostly I was perusing with a critical eye. My main problem is that the mafia angle was kind of silly.  I got the impression that Bowery, when choosing a plotline to carry her romance along, chose a very literal "action plot." But Jacob wasn't an action hero by any stretch of the imagination, so the plot and the protagonist seemed mismatched. Moreover, Bowery's mafia was unintimidating to say the least. That whole plotline flopped.

On top of that, I never got attached to the peripheral characters, who mostly just provided noisy dialogue. I sped-read through those tiresome bits of group conversation (which weren't really that funny) in order to move to the quieter one-on-one chats and moments between Jacob and Cody. And that is where the book redeemed itself slightly.  The book was meant to be a simple romance. All the handguns and street fights were unnecessary. What I enjoyed most was reading about a budding relationship between two boys.

Overall, I'm pleased I read High Contrast, because I do enjoy M/M romances.  I only started reading in this genre recently, so I enjoy broadening my reading experience within each new M/M (or any LGBTQ+) book I take up.

On the Subject of Orlando and the Recent Violence There

pride flagSpeaking of LGBTQ+ matters, I do want to write something quickly about the recent hate crime and mass shooting in Orlando, as many in our community have spoken up as well. These waves of violence and mass shootings in the United States are sickening.  They hurt the soul, not just of individuals but of an entire nation. But how can this epidemic be reversed?

Of course, as voters we can put pressure on our elected officials and hope they listen and act. (It's my own wish that our leaders take decisive and powerful action against the easy availability of automatic guns.) We can continue the discourse through our own public media long after news anchors stop reporting on the attacks. (Bless the internet.) And we can contribute to the fight against violence and hatred through using our own gifts...

What lies behind hatred, I've been told, is fear, and the best weapon against fear is knowledge. In our bookish corner of the world, we celebrate knowledge.  Our community already does a wonderful job at promoting and celebrating books with diversity.  Our writers are doing fantastic work at crafting stories and characters that give readers new outlooks and perspectives. We can keep up the good work. We can do our best to inform our rising generations about the many, beautiful differences that lie inside the hearts and minds of humankind.


  1. I appreciate your thoughtful words on Orlando, Ellen!

  2. Thanks, girl. My little voice seems so insufficient on its own, but I've never been worried about sharing my opinion on books. I shouldn't be reticent to share my opinion on this, either!

  3. First: You have a higher standards than I do with books, so who knows? Besides, I've always been a sucker for tatt'd boys who are in love with boys.

    Second: As a Canadian, I can only imagine how frustrating it is. I mean, I'm angry and frustrated with your gun obsession. Last week, I unfollowed someone on Twitter who said that banning high powered weapons will not stop the killing. I can't respect such a dangerous opinion. And maybe you're right, it's tough to reverse the effects of years of gun culture. But your government needs to start somewhere and banning those kind of weapons only makes sense. Your Congress has given so much power to the NRA that those idiots from the right can't sneeze without their approval. It's ridic. I was thinking the other day how America was so quick to invade another country under suspicion of WMDs. But you have weapons of mass destruction and I'm wondering why you guys haven't done anything about it. You're killing your own people. Stop the madness!

    Sorry I hijacked your post. I'm just. I'm so tired of the senseless killings. My heart breaks for the families. <3 #LoveWins

  4. Joy, I couldn't agree with you more. What's sad is that I'm hesitant to share my opinions with my family and friends since many of them are anti-gun control. I hear all the time about these mass shootings: "If only someone had a gun there it would have been stopped." ***RAGE*** I wish I had the bravery and fortitude to speak up more. But with so many people, it seems like their mind is already made up with an almost religious fervor. America loves its guns and it is such a stupid, vile thing to put before peace and safety.

  5. I probably wouldn't read this book... ;)

    Well said about Orlando.

  6. Sometimes, we just know that a book isn't meant for us. :D

  7. SAD FACE. :( Not connecting with characters for me is always a no-no. I usually try to tough it out and still read but it's hard. #thestruggleisreal

    As for the issue with Orlando... my heart breaks for them! It's like, WHY THE HECK, would a civilian be allowed to not only buy a powerful gun like that, but to ALSO be able to freely carry it around?? How is this okay? And then people want to say, that taking the guns away won't help?? Ignorance. EVERYWHERE.
    (Sorry... Kinda just went all over the place for a second...) hehe

    AND What the crap, man?? I've ben coming to your blog every couple of days (not to stalk, I PROMISE) but to see if you had posted anything new and HOLY CRAP, I don't visit for two days and WHAM, you have lek a gazillion new posts? hehe, just thought I should say that. I'm all up in my feelings, yes, yes I know. ;)

  8. Haha! Yeah, I've been having real momentum with my reading and the reviews have been pouring out. On top of that, the lovely Sierra has joined me at Quest Reviews. So our output has been marvelous! Gotta strike the iron while it's hot!

    And yeah, Orlando and the general violence in the U.S. is discouraging in the extreme. I'm with you on the feelings of frustration. I want to see a positive change in my lifetime.