Crushing It was sent out for reviews in May, and I’ve received some in return. Here’s one from author S.M. Carriere:
Crushing It by Jen Desmarais is available now!
*Edited December 2017* the more I think about it the more I realize how little this book offers other than nostalgia and the less I like it. Fun score brought down from a 4 to a 1.
Hello My Imaginary Friends,
I devoured Ready Player One in record speed (for me) and despite being addictive, I’ve got mixed feelings.
I greatly enjoyed the characters of Halliday and Ogden. They were obviously based off of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, with more than a little Gandalf thrown in for fun.
I liked the over the top villain Sorrento. True mustache twirling baddy, who pulled no punches and didn’t do anything particularly stupid.
Any of the main characters. The main character was a whiny undereducated obsessive with an extremely unhealthy crush. The love interest was a fantasy geek girl who had similar interests to the main character. She was a wilting flower embarrassed by her appearance and in the end enamoured with the protagonist’s ability to look past it. There was also the token 80’s obsession with the honorable Japanese characters.
The only character that could have been interesting was Aech. Unfortunately what could have been a source of tension and actual character growth was tacked on at the end to show that the main character is an okay guy.
Each character is a stereotype of 80’s movies, tv, and books. I’m not sure if this was intentional but it certainly wasn’t effective at creating well developed or relatable characters. Add in the odd transphobic, sexist, or homophobic comments and I really didn’t like these characters.
For characters, I give it 1 out of 5
The book suffered from the biggest strength and weakness of the first person narrative. It’s biggest strength is urgency and quick pacing.
The author was great at referencing nostalgia without needing to explain it. The world building was well executed.
The word and sentence construction was perfectly balanced in the exciting bits.
The biggest weakness of a first person narrative is the narrator. If a reader doesn’t like the main character, it hurts the book, which leads authors to give their characters super-powers that either make no sense or are too convenient. In this case the character had perfect luck and the ability to play any classic video game at an expert level.
For writing style, I give it 4 out of 5.
I absolutely loved the puzzles and the quest. It was a perfect combination of trivia and classic MacGuffin hunt. The nostalgia was pretty well done and it actually informed the story instead of controlling it.
It was predictable. It was a classic MacGuffin quest. I could tell you all the notes it would hit and how it would end by the end of the first act.
The nostalgia was awesome but at some parts I wanted to move on with the story not hear more about John Hugh.
I give the story 3 out of 5
The world and puzzles were fantastic. Both of them drove the plot and the interest. The author did a great job of capturing and referencing the feel and excitement of 80’s nostalgia. The excitement of the hunt was expressed in such a way to make me feel the same need to continue. It’s the mark of an author who really knows how to excite their audience.
The characters and plot were predictable. The love story was painfully bad and partially toxic. I hate the “demure woman who is obsessed with her appearance” trope. As in all 80’s media where they tried to have a love interest that was the equal to the character, she was better qualified then he was in every way to win the contest.
I give it 1 out of 5 for fun
This is a fun and quick book with quite a few problems. Its thick slathering of nostalgia, exciting puzzle game, and interesting world are the only things that saves it from a weak 80’s quest with weaker 80’s character tropes.
Final score is 45%
In my continuing mission to read the first in every series I haven’t read yet but I own. I read Blood Relations.
Full disclosure I have known the author for nearly 2 years and I’d consider her a friend. She is also one of the head people at Renaissance Press, to whom I may have submitted a book.
None of this really matters cause I’d be completely honest either way, or if it was really really bad I might pretend I didn’t read it. Yeah I can be a coward.
The main character is involved in organized crime and has some serious “daddy” issues but is incredibly likeable. His likeability probably stems from the fact that throughout the book he is trying to help people.
The secondary characters are well fleshed out even if we don’t fully know their motivations.
There is a lot of vice from the innocuous like drinking cola, to heavy drug use. The main character is a chain smoker and even though it’s important to the character development, I’m not a fan.
I also find that the style and the fact that the main character is both young and not great with other’s emotions that we don’t get as much of a depth of knowledge about the other characters.
For characters, I give it 4 out of 5
I normally dislike present tense. It’s very hard to do properly and I’ve rarely seen it done well throughout a novel or series. Even the Hunger Games only manages to do it well for 80% of the books.
The author however wields the first person present tense as if they’d being using it their entire life. It’s skillfully done from choice of information to description and word choice. I can’t state and stronger how impressed I am with the author’s skill.
The only issues I had with style were due to the limitations of first person narratives.
I give it 5 out of 5.
The flow of the novel is extremely well balanced. Being someone who takes a week or two to read a book I appreciate the slower character moments between high action scenes. The story was built to ebb and flow without spending too much time world building or dumping information.
The tropes and structure of the book are closer to Horror than Urban-Fantasy. Often times Urban-Fantasy gets bogged down by long infodumps about how the world is really different. While this story borrowed from classic supernatural horror movies and gave small bits in between action.
In the same way that the Horror structure helped the flow of the novel it also detracted from the wonder that comes with Fantasy or Urban-Fantasy. The wonder of realizing that there is a great big world of supernatural. The information about the supernatural world was so sparse that it didn’t feel like the world was that big.
None of this detracted from the engrossing and fun plot.
I give the story 5 out of 5
The characters, the action, and the witty dialogue were all very fun.
Again the smoking and drugs weren’t fun for me. I also felt the fight scenes with the vampires were a little fast. I also feel that the main character’s supernatural abilities didn’t progress at all, he used them a lot but never seemed to improve in control.
I give it 4 out of 5 for fun
Blood Relations is an action packed and emotional ride through a Supernatural, Horror, and film noir style story. It challenges and bends the tropes of all three styles into something completely unique and compelling. The author has a command of style and language which is rare in a first novel.
If you enjoy Horror, Urban-Fantasy, or Supernatural stories, you’re going to want to pick up this book.
Final score is 90%
Hello My Imaginary Friends.
I’m picky about my Fantasy novels except Urban-Fantasy which runs through my veins (No blood just Urban-Fantasy and coffee). As much as I love the “Magical Detective” clichés, I hate the “Farm boy / chosen one” clichés. I also find that a lot of fantasy authors embellish for embellishment’s sake.
S.M. Carrière finds a great balance between lush fantasy worlds and straight storytelling. I reviewed her first published full length novel last December.
A perfect blend of High Fantasy and Military Fantasy with a great big dollop of Shamanistic Magic. The author balances a fascinating world with a plethora of characters, each character with a satisfying journey and story. It’s a book that will run you through the gamut of emotions, from joy to sadness and everything in between.
I highly recommend you pick up this book.
The author is giving away a free
Ebook version paperback through a Goodreads giveaway. Go check it out.
The book is in pre-release now and you can preorder it on the author’s website.
I’ve heard there will be some available at Can-Con and there will be a book release party near Halloween. I’ll let you know the details closer too.
What are you still doing here? Go preorder or get the first in the series.
Last month S.M. Carrière asked me to join Silver Stag Entertainment as a contributor. All I had to do was sit with other people and discuss movies and books. That’s how I joined The Nights of the Round Table.
The first book was Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper. If you hadn’t guessed yet.
I really enjoyed the ominous and creepy villain but wished we’d been properly introduced to him earlier on. I also enjoyed Barney who was the only fleshed out character in the book.
I also enjoyed that the main characters spoke to each other, as if they were siblings. It’s a fine line between friends and siblings but the banter is a little different and Cooper nailed it.
I felt that for the size of the book, there were too many characters that didn’t get fleshed out. The parents were basicly set pieces.
Other than the scene where the Uncle lays out what’s going on, I found he was more or less useless. He was so useful that the author needed to pull a Gandalf and have him disappear.
For characters, I give it 2 out of 5
The language in this book was wonderful. It wasn’t dumbed down or over explained. I also liked the weaving of Arthurian myth into the story. It was a very simple book and didn’t pretend to be anything more.
I felt she spent too much time describing how they solve the puzzle and not enough explaining the puzzle.
I give it 4 out of 5.
I liked the second half of the books, action. It was quick and well-paced. Again I think a little trimming of characters might have helped the pace.
The beginning was just so slow and I kept thinking certain people were more important than others. It was a little frustrating that the Author introduced characters and possible stories and then didn’t follow through.
I give the story 3 out of 5
It was light and easy to read. The language was nice and it was an Arthurian Quest. It was written to be fun and that’s what it was. I also really like the part at the end with the Uncles name.
How slow it was to begin or that the majority of characters aren’t fleshed out as much as they should have been.
It shows that the author made the characters interesting if one of my major complaints is that she didn’t let me see more of them.
I give it 4 out of 5 for fun
It’s an interesting book that holds a lot of nostalgic value for people who read it as children. Since I read it as an adult I can see the flaws in the over-simplicity of the story.
Final score is 65%