THE TROUBLE WITH DEMONS review

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For seeker Raine Benares, a demon infestation on the Isle of Mid couldn’t come at a worse time. Already fighting the influence of the Saghred, a soul-stealing stone, Raine discovers she is also magically bonded to a dark mage and a white knight, two dangerous and powerful men on opposing sides.

Turns out, the demons want the key to unlock the Saghred. As a seeker, Raine should be able to find it first. As the axis of light and dark powers, she’s a magical cataclysm waiting to happen.

Well, there was certainly demon troubles.

Unfortunately, I just didn’t love THE TROUBLE WITH DEMONS as I did the Raine Benares books #1 and #2. I can’t really pinpoint why. Well, okay, I can think of a couple of reasons.

But first – the good:

Demon-Squishing

I enjoyed the introduction of new types of demons in this novel, and I was intrigued by the way Raine and the Saghred handled them. The threat-level has definitely increased, both internally and externally, and it’s great to read how Raine, despite her new power, struggles with it.

Getting to See More of the Baddies

Because it’s been a while since I’ve been in Raine’s world, I was always going to feel disorientated at characters saying “oh, it’s so-and-so here to do threat to us. Sigh”. However, I didn’t feel like I needed to well know the characters. Sure, it would be a bit awkward to start reading at book #3, but the plot stands-alone in its arc and even the main characters are pretty summarised by Raine when she interacts with them. “Until a week ago, so-and-so did not know…”

So, being faced with some baddies that I’d forgotten about from the first two books, I wasn’t scratching my head and wondering how they fitted in, which is always something I like to read. I wasn’t confused.

First-Person Raine

You really get inside Raine’s head with the narrative. I guess whilst I didn’t like how plain the language and description was (see below) it well suits Raine’s style of speaking and, well, living. She rough and doesn’t take anything from any of the baddies or the I-know-what’s-best-for-you heroes.

Me – crying over not enjoying a novel I ought to.

And now – what I didn’t enjoy:

The Pacing

Demon-fighting, talking, demon-fighting, talking. My biggest problem with Demons was that I got bored. It felt a samey progression like a) the previous books and b) every other paranormal fantasy. I wanted more from the writing, which felt plain, and more from the plot. The characters did the same thing at each location.

Love Triangle

Granted, it’s also a magically enhanced love triangle, as mentioned in the blurb, but character-shipper in me just finds one of the guys irritating whilst the other is the sexy, white-magic guardian every girl wants. #teamMychael

And whilst I loved the flirting (at least, where I felt it between Raine and Mychael), I didn’t feel there was enough of it/in the right place to satisfy. Then after all’s said and done, Raine is contemplating her love life and it just…seemed too arbitrary at the end.

In Conclusion

I find more positive points than negatives, but unfortunately, the negatives were what would’ve sold the book for me. It is, unfortunately, about personal taste, and I just didn’t feel that THE TROUBLE WITH DEMONS was my book.

TableClock_AlexB2 - Copy.jpgRegrettably, 3/5 steamy cogs. I will be reading on…when I can get my hands on the next novels. I am invested in Raine’s story, and hope I get to see more variety to the description and action in book #4.

House Moving and Procrastination

Sorry I have been shamefully quiet this last week. It looks like I was more able to post when I was out of the country (in Poland for the World Youth Day) than when I have been here in England with my laptop and time to my disposal.

There have been a few factors orchestrating this virtual absence – and the least of them, for once, is not having the time or knowing what to write. I could have posted about anything, and I should have, but my own self got in the way.

Firstly, though, there have been some developments in my non-writing work. That is, I moved to London to get settled into my student lodgings for the time I need to be in London for my Masters in Linguistics. I’m in the capital! It’s kind of scary…

Not much has happened so far, apart from unpacking, shopping, and cracking the wifi code. Cough… I’ve also been planning my next Steampunk outfit for the Lincoln Asylum in a couple of weeks. I’d like to say that I’m going to write a post about my experiences at the biggest Steampunk festival, but signs point to that being unlikely…

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Oh, and making friends with the resident cats. Boop.

Then I journeyed up to Leeds for some personal matters and exploring the surrounding areas. I didn’t know how long I was going to stay up there, but two days turned into three easily. The problem is: when I stay with my partner, I find his dad’s place a difficult place to concentrate on work. Sure, I did some research (not writing-or uni-related) I was hoping to do and got a couple of chapters of Metropolitan Magic written. But none of the writing is serious.

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My partner making an idiot of himself, as usual.

Which brings me to my other point for why my progress with writing has been slow… I haven’t felt emotionally up to editing. I want to edit Horology, as it’s with Betas at the moment, but I keep putting other things first. I keep saying I’ll do it later when I know full well that I may not have a later. I am filling up my schedule so I don’t have to think about what is probably not so much a mammoth task as it feels to me.

I can’t shake it, though. I love writing, and it’s a great stress reliever, yet I don’t want to face the constant barrage of rewriting and knowing that my work may never be good enough to see in print. I think non-writers, those who ask that poison-to-writers question are you going to get published? don’t understand how much time, effort, and energy we put into our work. It’s not just writing, rewriting, and editing; it’s that over and over and over again. We have characters in our heads, ever-roaming, and we want their stories to be perfect – but the stories never will be. And everything we do is fruitless to change that.

It’s one thing to have a tough skin at the comments of others, and quite another to be sensitive enough to rip one’s own work apart.

I don’t know how I’ll proceed. Need to take some big breaths and take things slowly. Again. Until next time: pax.

Ten Questions With…Alexandra Ott

Today, I welcome a special guest to my blog: author, Alexandra Ott, who is a member of the Swanky Seventeens group of authors whose debut books are releasing in 2017. Not only that, but Alex is one of my closest Critique Partners, so I am delighted to be chatting to her about her MG Fantasy, RULES FOR THIEVES, a book I had not only the pleasure of reading, but also helping to name!

Rules for Thieves temp cover

Coming Summer 2017 from Aladdin (Simon & Schuster)

Twelve-year-old orphan Alli tries to join a legendary band of thieves in order to get the cure for the curse that’s killing her.

  1. Tell us a little about your journey to your publishing deal.

I first wrote Rules for Thieves in the summer of 2012. Revising it took a while because I was in school at the time, but I finally started querying in late 2013. I spent 2014 revising and querying some more. In early 2015, I signed with my agent and went out on submission. We received an offer from Aladdin in the summer of 2015, about three years after I wrote the first draft!

  1. What was the on-submission time like for you?

It actually went by much faster than I thought it would! I knew that the submission process could take a year or more, so I wasn’t expecting to receive an offer so quickly. When my agent first told me there was an offer, I almost didn’t believe it.

  1. What inspired or led you to start writing the plot of RULES FOR THIEVES?

I was inspired by the kinds of stories I loved as a kid. I always really liked heist novels and fantasy books, and I also loved to invent adventure stories and games that I played with my sister. All of those things came together to become Rules for Thieves, which is really an attempt at writing a book I would have loved to read when I was younger.

  1. Has the novel changed much between your first draft and this current draft?

Yes, quite a bit. The first draft was much shorter, and several crucial elements of the book didn’t exist yet. Much of my revision process has been developing and deepening that initial story. I’ve added more than 15,000 words between the first draft and the current one.

  1. What has been the toughest part of writing RULES FOR THIEVES?

The revision process has been a long one, and there were definitely times when I was so tired of reading it again and again that I just wanted to stop working on it. But there was something about this story and these characters that compelled me to keep working—that, and the encouragement of my awesome critique partners.😉

  1. What is your favourite part of main character, Alli’s personality? Do you think she is like you?

I love how smart and funny Alli is. On the surface, she isn’t much like me at all. She’s snarky, outspoken, impulsive, and daring—all of which I love about her, but none of which is very much like me. But we do have a few things in common, namely impatience and stubbornness!

  1. Why did you decide on a duology, rather than the more common trilogy and stand alones?

I knew early on that it was going to be a series, but I didn’t know how long it was going to be. Eventually, I realized that two books would be the best fit for the story arcs that I have in mind—three books would be stretching the story too thin, and one wasn’t enough to give Alli the resolution that I wanted for her.

  1. Tell us one thing we can look forward to in the sequel.

There’s not much I can share without spoilers, but let’s just say there will be sinister plots and spies and characters who are more than they appear…

  1. Are you more drawn to writing YA or MG and why? RULES FOR THIEVES is MG, but I know you are also working on YA fiction.

I think I’m drawn to both categories equally. I love the sense of adventure and wonder that comes with MG, but I also love going a little older with YA. It’s nice to be able to take a break from one story and work on something that’s completely different. And I love writing both preteen and teenage protagonists—both ages are endlessly fascinating to me and have so much potential for storytelling.

  1. Is this your first novel, or are there some in drawers that you never want to see again?

I have two novel-length manuscripts in drawers, plus some shorter fiction. They were really important manuscripts that taught me how to write, but they’re not ever going to see the light of day!

Hehe, I know the feeling! Thanks for joining me, Alex, and I can’t wait to get my paws on a copy of the finished product!

Interested in learning more about RULES FOR THIEVES or Alex? Check out her updates on social media:

About the Author

Alexandra Ott writes middle grade and young adult fiction. Her debut middle grade fantasy novel Rules for Thieves will be published by Aladdin/S&S in summer 2017.

Alex graduated from the University of Tulsa, where she studied English. She is currently an editorial intern at Entangled Publishing. In her spare time, she plays the flute, eats a lot of chocolate, and reads just about everything. She lives in Oklahoma with her tiny canine overlord. She is repped by Victoria Doherty Munro of Writers House.

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The Swanky Seventeens

Currently…Warming

Sometimes I take part in the Currently… blog hop series.

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Loving…

The British weather at the moment. It’s glorious and sunny; a good return from Italy, as there’s been a minimal drop in temperature. Indeed, the temperature indoors in Britain matches the air-conned lounges of Italia, so not much change there. But will it last?

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My mum’s garden

Reading…

THE TROUBLE WITH DEMONS by Lisa Shearin. I love this author’s style and characters, but I’ll admit that I am rubbish at keeping up with these books. I got given the Raine Benares series #1 and #2 and then didn’t read them for ages, then I only recently had the money to buy #3. As far as I am aware (from memory), there are at least 7 books.

Writing…

Metropolitan Magic online collaborative story. I took a break to think out the layout of these coming POVs, but I think I’ve got over that bump and can’t wait to write more.

If only my serious novel rewriting was going so swimmingly…

Watching…

I love watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. It’s very addictive, as all Netflix shows tend to be, yeah? Apart from that, there’s not much on my virtual to-watch list. My YouTube to-watch list, however…

Thinking about…

My plans for next year. I can’t say much, but there will be big things happening, and I have my eyes set on planning. Because planning is so much fun.🙂

Anticipating…

Starting my Masters course. It’s a bit of time away yet, but I’ll be moving to the capital, which of course, is something different for me. And different things have never sat so well.

Wishing…

For a safe and short journey for my holiday in Poland. I’ll be doing some volunteering for a week, then participating in the World Youth Day, which is something I’m definitely nervous about, but also proud I get to be a part of.

 

Have a good rest of your week.🙂 Did you post a Currently… post this week? What have you been up to?

Currently…

Sometimes I participate in the Currently series on Tuesdays…

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Loving

That there will be a new Five Nights at Freddy’s game. Okay, I don’t play the series, but I enjoy watching YouTubers like Markiplier and 8BitGaming playing it. As I mentioned in my review of the novel, I enjoy the lore and the elements of mystery the way Scott Cawthon has woven them through the games.

Reading

AlexB_Curse1A CURSE OF ASH AND IRON by Christine Norris. It’s a Steampunk Cinderella retelling, and it’s keeping me on my toes, even though I’m less than halfway through the novel yet. Another Curiosity Quills Press novel (I got it with Hour of Mischief), this flows around merrily (or not so😉 ) and has two voices from compelling characters.

 

Watching

Well, Star Trek: The Next Generation has just popped up on Netflix, so I’ve been watching a couple of episodes every night and relishing in nostalgia for a show I’ve always loved, but not seen for a number of years.

Writing

An old collaborative piece about that I have recently been inspired by my packing to work on. It’s coming to its end, and I don’t want to lose the work we have done, simply because the story is incomplete.

Whilst my chapters from 2009 are abysmal to say the least, you can read the story here.

Thinking About…

Packing. My mum is moving house mid-July whilst I will be on holiday in Poland, so all my packing has to be done before we go to Italy this week, and packing has been consuming my mind.

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Anticipating…

It goes without saying that I’m anxious about the state of Great Britain at the moment. Never have so many young people cared about the politics and seen it go so far the opposite of what they wanted. I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen next, but we must remember to not descend into negativity.

Making me happy…

The Boyfriend. He knows exactly how to cheer me up when I’ve not seen him for a couple of weeks, and I get to see him again tomorrow, then we’re heading to Venice, which lightens my heart.

On the Thames

Did you write a Currently post this week? What have you been up to?

HOUR OF MISCHIEF Review

(What’s this? Another review? Well, I read on the way to work, okay.)

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Born in a whorehouse in the slums of Fortuna and burdened with a prosthetic arm, seventeen-year-old JANET REDSTONE doesn’t think she owes the Clockwork Gods anything—which is why she makes a living stealing from their temples. But when she lands her team in prison, making a pact with the God of Mischief, ITAZURA, is the only way to right her wrongs and free her friends.

Janet doesn’t trust Itazura as far as she can punch him, but with her soul in his hands, she has no choice but to do what he says. The clockwork gods and the bad-tempered elder gods of the ancient past are locked in a game of cat and mouse and the human realms are caught in the middle. If Janet can’t somehow convince the gods to step in a save the world, humanity is in an abyss of trouble.

Using her unconventional wits, an impressive tolerance to alcohol, and a strong right hook, Janet has to convince the gods that humanity is worth saving. Unfortunately, it’s a lot more difficult to stop an apocalypse when you’re slowly being driven crazy by the Lord of Mischief, especially when he starts growing on you.

(Also, yay, an excuse to use Steampunk gifs!)

Author Aimee Hydman is someone I admire, having acquired an agent and deal during college/university. So, I was eager to get my teeth into her debut, particularly as it’s Steampunk right off the bat.

It’s hard for me to pick a favourite element of the book. The setting was luscious but not over-described – Fortuna, Janet’s home city lies on part of a clock-shaped world. I am rather jealous, actually, of how Hyndman incorporated her world-building into the Steampunk aesthetic of the novel and explained through it the human characters’ relationship with the clockwork gods.

Speaking of the characters, they were also engaging. Janet’s the kind of spunky heroine that my teen MC, Agnetha, would hate and be best friends with. It wad great to have the book narrated by Janet; she makes a number of questionable decisions – yet, one understands her reasoning and even supports her. Not only because we see it through her eyes, but also because she is fearlessly faithful to her friends.

Speaking of which, I was sad we didn’t get to see more of the Pendulum Thieves, but, again in retrospect that the is a book1, My favourite character, however, was the goddess Laetatia. Despite being world-weary and as assertive as Janet, she is a foil to Janet with her femininity and elegance. She combines Janet’s strong qualities with a softness that makes her an appropriate companion/big sister figure in the novel.

There was also a lot of set up for later, with hints of foreshadowing here and there that I appreciated. Got to love some subtle foreshadowing (though, Shakespeare does tend to ram it in your face…). Granted, I didn’t realise this was the first of a (potential) series until the final chapter, so I was expecting the mysterious elements to be wrapped up by the end. Okay, I’ll admit that I was a little disappointed they weren’t, but at the same time, I liked that they weren’t all solved. Hyndman avoided rushing the reveals with some deus ex machina explanation or the old “as you know, Fred…” trope. (You can tell I’ve been editing the end of my first-draft novel, cant you? *grin*)

I planned not to be interested in any potential sequels (I have too many books on my to-read list to be involved with series at the moment) but the cliff-hanger-esque feeling to the ending meant that there are so many questions still unanswered in the novel that I want to snatch up the sequel if it’s published.

4 Steampunk pieces out of 5.

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I took a star off for the typos I noticed. I consider this not the fault of the author but of the editor, who I would expect to have caught these things before publishing, and whilst I do admire Curiosity Quills Press, I have heard of a few editorial problems from them.

Would I recommend the YA Steampunk novel? Absolutely. It’s an adventurous quick read with a take-no-trouble-from-anyone heroine and, yes, a somewhat dreamy god who’d rather give you a trick than be a hero.

~

About the author:

Aimee Hyndman, by Aimee HyndmanAimee Hyndman has been writing ever since her toddler fingers could grasp a pencil. A lover of all things speculative fiction, she spent many a night penning the beginnings of novels that would never see the light of day. Now attending college in Iowa, double majoring in Creative writing and English, she has clearly never lost her love of the craft.

When not writing and avoiding her school work, Aimee enjoys reading, singing, and acting at her school’s theater department. She is also a lover of anime and all things Disney.

Her area of specialty is fantasy of all sorts but she dabbles in many genres— whatever she feels compelled to write at the moment. The plot bunnies are never ending but, luckily, so are the words!

 

Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Book

I missed the chance quite a while ago to write about the finesse of mystery accompanying the Five Nights at Freddy’s game series by Scott Cawthon that has almost haunted me since I learnt about them. Never played, but always fascinated.

The thing is, it didn’t translate well to book form. Don’t get me wrong: I wanted to love it and I did, but…there were some things I couldn’t overlook and that I still questioned once the novel was over.

It’s been exactly ten years since the murders at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, and Charlotte has spent those ten years trying to forget. Her father was the owner of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza and the creator of its four adult-sized animatronic animals, and now Charlie is returning to her hometown to reunite with her childhood friends on the anniversary of the tragedy that ripped their town apart. Curiosity leads Charlie and her friends back to the old pizza place, and they find it hidden and sealed, but still standing. They discover a way inside, but things are not as they once were: the four mascots that delighted and entertained them as children have changed. The animatronic animals have a dark secret, and a murderous agenda.

(blurb from Amazon)

As the premise is based on the (not so secretive) reveal in the games that it’s not only the animatronics coming alive but also that the pizzeria has a deadly history of child murder – of the thriller of a past murder and the paranormal element that surrounds the automatons – this was the appeal to me at first, but then the story itself caught my attention.

I liked the characters; although they were mostly stock characters: the love interest, the popular girl, the smart one, they still helped to aid the story forward with their own qualities, and I think that is what made this big cast effective. I liked Charlie, and I appreciated that we saw from her perspective, as she seems to be the most sensible of the characters.

The setting, too, was well brought out. The sleepy town still reeling in the wake of the murders. The residents there, who still have their theories and hold their guards up. And, especially of course, the dark mall built around the remains of the pizzeria. I lost track of some of the rooms and the layout of the pizzeria, as the characters all darted around them repeatedly. And whilst this was disorientating – and I’d say the layout of the pizzeria should be obvious, as it’s the main location of the inciting incident and the present of the plot – it’s not that important to reading the story, as long as one knows the main rooms.

On the other hand, some turns of phrase jarred with me, or read as if they could have done with more polishing. I think the problem partly comes from the high standard I set myself for writing and precise syntax. I tend to expect it from all I read, which is no fault of the authors themselves. High expectations = being letdown somewhat.

So, 3/5 stars because it was a great story, a little roughly written at times, and missing just that added sparkle to make it a great novel. I can’t say what it was, but I expected something more from the surprises and so the reveals weren’t that dramatic to me.

That is not to say that I didn’t enjoy it, though. If you like teen voice and tense storyline that can be read quickly, I’d say give Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Silver Eyes a peruse.