Lila, reviews

Diabolically Delightful | Five Reasons To Read…The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

26836910Title: The Diabolic

Author: S.J. Kincaid

Narrator: Candace Thaxton

Running Time: 12 hours, 30 minutes

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Goodreads Summary: Nemesis is a Diabolic. Created to protect a galactic Senator’s daughter, Sidonia. There’s no one Nemesis wouldn’t kill to keep her safe. But when the power-mad Emperor summons Sidonia to the galactic court as a hostage, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia.

She must become her.

Now one of the galaxy’s most dangerous weapons is masquerading in a world of corruption and Nemesis has to hide her true abilities or risk everything. As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns that there is something stronger than her deadly force: the one thing she’s been told she doesn’t have – humanity. And, amidst all the danger, action and intrigue, her humanity might be the only thing that can save her, Sidonia and the entire Empire…

Hey, y’all! It’s Lila and today I’m here to share my thoughts on The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid with you! Despite the fact that it took me a eternity to finish this book due to my book slump, I really did love it! The Diabolic is one heck of a wild ride, filled with twists and turns, suspense, intrigue, and romance! So without any further ado, here are five things I loved about The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid…

1. Et tu, Brute?

The Diabolic‘s the name, backstabbing’s the game! The Diabolic is all about politics and deceit and betrayal and it’s absolutely fascinating to watch these elements unfold! Everyone is playing a power game and you realize pretty quickly that there’s no character you can trust. If you love the intricacies of politics, this is the book for you!

2. Love Or Lies?

I loved how, to the very last word of the book, Kincaid has you questioning almost all of the relationships that the characters form. You never know if characters are allies or enemies. The only character you can be certain of is Nemesis, because you are inside her head. But when it comes to the relationships Nemesis forms, you really don’t know how the other person truly feels. Plus, the relationships change at the whims of characters’ schemes, adding an additional layer of complexity. The intricacy of all of the relationships between characters and how the characters manipulate the threads connecting them to each other is so interesting.

3. Catching Feelings

I adored the characters! In particular, I loved Nemesis and Tyrus! Nemesis was so strong and I loved how we saw that while the world thought she was just some emotionless creature, she really had such depth of emotion and love. One of the things I like about Nemesis is that she’s a dynamic character. We watch her constantly growing, changing, and evolving on the page. She begins the book one way and ends the book a different person.

And Tyrus! *Swoon*! I loved him! He was so intelligent and cunning and calculating. I love how he was a well-rounded love interest, with his own motives (some of which we know and some of which we may not know). I also liked how we saw that Tyrus wanted change and wanted to do right by his people, but he was also willing to be ruthless in order to get just that. It brought up the great, old moral question: how much bad are you willing to do for the greater good and do the ends justify the means? Further, I liked how Kincaid made us question Tyrus right up to the last word! We’re lead to always feel some unease about his character and I like that we never know whether or not he’s truly on Nemesis’s side.

4. A Galaxy Far Away

The world was absolutely fascinatingThe Diabolic is set far in the distant future, presumably in a different galaxy. But Kincaid doesn’t just build an interesting setting–she also has created a fascinating society, one in which gods are worshipped and knowledge is banned. In many ways, though the society of The Diabolic has progressed technologically, they have regressed in culture and attitude, creating a fascinating dynamic. I could study this world all day long and never get bored and that’s what shows me that Kincaid has done not just a mere good job in world building, but a great one!

5. Choose Your Own Adventure

The Diabolic was originally intended to be a standalone and can be read as such. It’s not like other “standalone” books where there’s an open ending. Instead, the end of The Diabolic wraps up all of the threads of the story! Or you can read The Diabolic as the first installment in a series, as the publisher bought two more books following the same characters! It’s completely up to you!

Juuuust In Case, Some Things That Might Make You Say “No Way!”…

  • There is a short scene of attempted sexual assault.
  • There is a lot of graphic violence in this book. A lot.
  • There is a single diverse character, a lesbian side character.  There are two problems that I found with the representation in The Diabolic, although please note that I am a heterosexual, cisgender female and therefore am not the best person to speak on this. That being said, I feel like if the representation was poor enough that even I, a heterosexual, cisgender reviewer, notice it, then it’s probably really problematic. Okay, so I’ll move on to telling you the two issues I had. First of all, the lesbian character’s identity is used as a plot point and glossed over as simply “unrequited love” that Nemesis, the heterosexual, cisgender main character,  now awkwardly “has to deal with.” That’s my first problem, which leads into my second problem which is that at the end, Kincaid kills off the lesbian character as a way of catalyzing the actions of Nemesis, the cisgender, heterosexual protagonist. To me, it felt cheap to first use the lesbian character’s identity as a plot twist and then to (pretty promptly) just kill them off. That’s just me, though.

So all in all, I really enjoyed The Diabolic and I can’t wait to see what’s on the horizon for our cast of characters!

Thoughts In A Gif

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About Me, fun, Lila

Lila Does The “Anything But Books” Tag

I’ve seen this tag floating around and I figured, since it’s been a while since I’ve made any posts with fun fun facts about me, I’d jump on this tag! Now, I must warn you…what you are about to read is very, very nerdy. You have been warned! Now let’s get this show on the road!

1. Name a cartoon(s) that you love.

Uh oh, it’s already confession time…My confession is that sadly, I’ve never really liked cartoons, save for Disney movies, which I’m not sure if those count? If they do, then my favorite Disney movies are Mulan and Pocahontas.

2. What is your favorite song right now.

I’ve had “Human Touch” by Betty Who on repeat for the past few weeks and, miraculously, I’m still not sick of it!

3. What could you do for hours (that isn’t reading)?

I could spend ages just singing, making art, learning new skills, and/or socializing!

4. What is something you love to do that your followers would be surprised by?

Something that everyone (even my irl friends) save for my mom seems surprised by is that I enjoy listening to hip hop and rap, especially from 90s artists like Tupac, Arrested Development, and Digable Planets. I think this surprises people because I’m an opera and jazz/blues singer, so people think I only like classical music. But, no. I like all music, even rap!

5. What is something unnecessarily specific you like to learn about?

Anything science related! I love any and every branch of science and I love learning new science stuff! I can’t help it–I’m a nerd!

6. What is something unusual you know how to do?

I know how to do the lab parts of a basic paternity test, as well as how to analyze the raw data results of the test. Ya know, swab, centrifuge, gel electrophoresis, analyze gel? We did a live lab on how to do it in my IB Biology class in high school…

7. Name something you’ve made in the last year?

My long term project that I began in about February of this year is my journal. It’s a work in progress, but I’m really proud of how it’s coming along so far.

8. What is your most recent personal project?

Myself? Hah! I kid…sort of. I am working on being a bit more organized and put together.

9. Tell us something you think about often.

I often think about the physics of how the universe began and about uniting quantum mechanics and relativity.

10. Give us something that’s your favorite, but make it something oddly specific.

I love the feeling of singing a really heartfelt song–and, for me, there is a very specific physical feeling when I do this. I’ll sing a really emotionally pure sequence and I feel something in my chest, right above my stomach, pang and leap, like my heart is flying. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but I know for sure the people who are musicians and who consider music more than a hobby can relate to what I’m talking about.

So Those Are All The Quirky Facts About Me That You’re Getting Today! Thanks For Sticking Around! And Tell Me An Oddly Specific Favorite Thing Of Yours In The Comments! SMuch Love And TTYL! 💗

 

book fashion, fun, Lila

Literary Looks | The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon

Title: The Sun Is Also A Star

Author: Nicola Yoon

Goodreads Summary: 

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

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fun, Lila

Obsession Confession | Song Of Anne’s Party

Hello, friends! How are you? What have y’all been up to? I’ve just come back from my journey around the world wide web, lol! And I’ve brought back with me many new obsessions to share with you! So let’s dive right in!

Books

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I began the eARC of Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser and am making my way through it at a painfully slow pace because #thatchronicfatiguelife, ya know? Anyhow, I’m really enjoying it so far! I tweeted Tolscer to ask and she confirmed the Caro, the main character, is mixed race (Black/White) and Tolscer imagines Sabina Karlsson as Caro. This made me totally squeal because asdfghjklzxcvbnmpoiuytrewq Caro is like me and looks like me!!! So if that don’t show y’all that representation matters, then i don’t know what will!

Movies/TV/Trailers

Netflix’s Anne of Green Gables adaptation (simply titled Anne) got it’s first trailer and it looks absolutely wonderful! As a child, I wasn’t a major fan of the book series, but I did love the Anne of Green Gables cartoon that used to air on PBS. This adaptation looks really adorable, though, and I can’t wait to see it!

Music

It’s been literal years since I last listened to Fall Out Boy, but I broke that streak the other day, when I discovered their song “Where Did The Party Go.” It’s your typical Fall Out Boy pop rock song that you can’t help but want to dance to. On a sidenote: as a classical singer, I must say that Fall Out Boy’s lead singer has a really good voice and A+ diction! Anyhoo, it’s a great, fun song that’ll have you singing and dancing along!

Other Stuff

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So, as y’all know, I’ve taken to journaling of late. It was during this new venture that I discovered a new obsession: washi tape. It’s colorful and fun and you can use it in collages or to spice up a plain page! It makes a great addition to my journal! I discovered washi tape because it was already quite popular in the journaling and bullet journaling community, and now I can totally see why. I ordered three rolls the other day and I swear I have to stop myself from sticking it all over everything in my vicinity, haha!

News

Alas, dear friends! I could find no news this week! So I’m turning it over to y’all–what’s one piece of recent bookish news that you’re excited about?

Around The Blogosphere/Vlogosphere

Guys, I messed up. I meant to share my good friend Fadwa’s (at Word Wonders) post last week and I accidentally just shared the link. So I’m trying to make up for it ad sharing it now. Fadwa wrote a really great post on whether or not characters need to be relatable in order for a book to be enjoyable. In typical Fadwa style, the post made many great, thoughtful points. Go check it out!

Laughter Makes The World Go Round

tampon taker

fun, Lila

Obsession Confession | Blood for Blood Is Just Water Under The Bridge

Hello, friends! How are ya? It’s that time of week again! Time for Obsession Confession, my weekly segment in which I “confess” all of my latest obsessions! This week there’s plenty to get through, so let’s get going!

Books

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Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin was one of my last reads of 2015 and ended up coming #1 on my list of to books I read in 2015. So when Blood for Blood,the sequel and finale to the duology, was released, I snapped it up…Aaaaaand didn’t get to it…until this past week. I think I never got to Blood for Blood because I was waiting for the perfect moment. Anyhow, I decided to bite the bullet and get to it a few days back and…wow. I forgot how much I love this series and Graudin’s writing. Everything about Blood for Blood is perfection, pure and simple. If you haven’t yet checked out this duology, definitely give it a try!

Music

I listened to Adele’s latest pop  ballad,”Water Under The Bridge,” and, predictably, I loved it! There are so many things to love about Adele and her music. I love how she’s managed to evolve as an artist while still staying true to the spirit she began with. I also love that no matter how pop-y her music gets, she maintains that deep thread of emotion in her voice. “Water Under The Bridge” is no different in these respects and also happens to be incredibly singable, a ballad you’d belt out in the car on your way to work. I’m sure it’ll be another great hit under Adele’s belt.

Movies/TV/Trailers

Netflix released a new featurette for their upcoming adaptation of 13 Reasons Why. This short video definitely got me even more interested in the show!

Netflix dropped a trailer for their upcoming adaptation of the beloved manga, Deathnote. I’m not a manga/anime fan, but I do know that Deathnote is incredibly popular, so I figured at least one of y’all would be interested plus the show does look interesting. The only thing that kinda concerns me is the potential whitewashing as I think (And I want to stress that I don’t know and that I may be wrong on this count) the characters are Japanese and the series takes place in Japan? If you do know if the show is whitewashed, please let me know in the comments. Other than that, this looks like your standard A++ Netflix show and I can’t wait to check it out! Who knows, maybe watching the show will encourage me to read the manga series!

News

This is slightly old news now but I can’t believe I forgot to mention that the cover for Marie Lu’s new novel, Warcross, which releases in November, was released! I have kind of mixed feelings on the cover. Many people think it’s beautiful, while others think it looks too basic and simple. I’m pretty in between, but regardless of how the cover looks, I’m super excited for the book! What do you think of the cover? Did you enjoy the sneak peak of the book? Are you excited for Warcross?

In other, more “recent” news, the cover and synopsis for Maggie Stiefvater’s newest novel, All The Crooked Saints, which releases later this year, was released. The book sounds both magical and mysterious, as per usual Stiefvater, and I’m interested in seeing how it pans out.

LOLing

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book fashion, Lila

Friday Fashion | Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Hello, m’dears! Tis I, Lila! I know it’s been a while since I’ve done some good creative posts so I’m bringin’ some back from the past! One of which is a new and improved Fashion Friday! If you haven’t followed me from the beginning, Fashion Friday is a recurring segment which takes place on Fridays in which I create a fashion set based on a book cover. It’s pretty simple! So let’s get to this week’s featured look which is for…DRUMROLL, PLEASE!…Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones!

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About Wintersong

24763621The Instant New York Times Bestseller!

Bustle – 2017 YA Must Reads
Paste Magazine – Most Anticipated YA Books of 2017

Dark, romantic, and unforgettable, Wintersong is an enchanting coming-of-age story for fans of Labyrinth and The Beauty and the Beast.

The last night of the year. Now the days of winter begin and the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride…

All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her mind, her spirit, and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen and helping to run her family’s inn, Liesl can’t help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away.

But when her own sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. Drawn to the strange, captivating world she finds—and the mysterious man who rules it—she soon faces an impossible decision. And with time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.

Rich with music and magic, S. Jae-Jones’s Wintersong will sweep you away into a world you won’t soon forget.

“Wintersong is a maze of beauty and darkness, of music and magic and glittering things, all tied together with exquisite writing. This is a world you will want to stay lost in.” —Marie Lu, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“This was Labyrinth by way of Angela Carter. Deliciously romantic, with a nuanced Goblin King and a strong heroine, this story was rife with fairy tales, music, and enchantment.” —Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen” (Goodreads)

Lila, reviews

Melodic And Monstrous Musings | Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones Audiobook Review

24763621Title: Wintersong

Author: S. Jae-Jones

Narrator: Eva Kaminsky

Publisher: Recorded Books

Running Time: 14 hours, 17 minutes

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Goodreads Synopsis: The Instant New York Times Bestseller!

Bustle – 2017 YA Must Reads
Paste Magazine – Most Anticipated YA Books of 2017

Dark, romantic, and unforgettable, Wintersong is an enchanting coming-of-age story for fans of Labyrinth and The Beauty and the Beast.

The last night of the year. Now the days of winter begin and the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride…

All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her mind, her spirit, and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen and helping to run her family’s inn, Liesl can’t help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away.

But when her own sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. Drawn to the strange, captivating world she finds—and the mysterious man who rules it—she soon faces an impossible decision. And with time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.

Rich with music and magic, S. Jae-Jones’s Wintersong will sweep you away into a world you won’t soon forget.

“Wintersong is a maze of beauty and darkness, of music and magic and glittering things, all tied together with exquisite writing. This is a world you will want to stay lost in.” —Marie Lu, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“This was Labyrinth by way of Angela Carter. Deliciously romantic, with a nuanced Goblin King and a strong heroine, this story was rife with fairy tales, music, and enchantment.” —Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen

Buckle up, y’all, cause this is gonna be a long one!

Ah, conflicting emotions, how you torture me! This book was so, so, soooooo good but also so, so, soooooo problematic….

Let’s start with the good. The good thing is that I loved Wintersong so much that it’s a new all-time fave of mine! Rich, dark, and seductively magical, Wintersong dazzles. Everything about the book pulls the reader in and immerses them in a darkly enchanting tale. Wintersong reads like a modern fairytale.

First off, Jae-Jones’s writing is absolutely luscious. She manages to write in a style that is beautiful and enchanting, yet succinct. In this way, she allows readers to experience the magic of her world without swallowing them in description and losing the storyline. And, my gosh, is this world immersive. Jae-Jones’s writing and world just completely surrounds you, flowing from the page to make you feel as if you’re right there with the characters!

Jae-Jones’s gorgeous writing works hand in hand with the world building to create a full experience for the reader. Wintersong takes place in Bavaria in about the 18th century. But this is not quite the Bavaria you might know. Jae-Jones’s Bavaria is ripe with magic and enchantment. Magical creatures mingle with humans, playing tricks and capriciously “granting” wishes. And beneath the human world lies the dark goblin underworld, where nothing is quite as it seems. I loved how Jae-Jones wove in whispers of folklore to create the feeling that this world was ancient. She slowly, succinctly sets up the history via Liesl’s superstitious grandmother and then weaves in new elements of the world through Liesl, who is experiencing magic for the first…er, well, actually the second time. Everything about the world leaps from the page, painting pictures before your eyes and wrapping you in its arms.

The story isn’t just immersive in its world alone but in its plot as well, which is absolutely enthralling. Wintersong almost hummed with the vibrations of the story, whirling in a slow, yet enchanting waltz. I lost myself in the viscous melody of Liesl’s story. I always wanted to know what was going to happen next, what new secret Liesl was going to discover. I found myself looking for clues even in the ordinary moments and frantically turning the pages to find out more!

So now that I’ve gushed enough, I’m gonna move on to the elements of Wintersong that I disliked. I’m gonna start with a relatively tiny issue that I’ve heard about from other readers/reviewers that I didn’t experience too much myself. So, as I mentioned, music plays an integral role in Wnitersong. Unfortunately, in weaving music into the story, Jae-Jones used a lot of complex musical terminology. I generally was able to follow along because I’ve studied music all of my life, but I’ve heard from others who aren’t musicians that it was very confusing because they couldn’t understand the jargon. So that’s just something to be aware of.

Okay, so let’s get to what I think is a more pressing problem which is: Liesl. I couldn’t relate to Liesl at all. She was so gosh dang selfish. Everything–everything–she did was purely out of self interest. Not only that, but she was also so judgmental and envious and self-pitying and, honestly, whinyAll the freaking time! She can’t go a chapter without somehow mentioning how every other woman is so beautiful, but (in her opinion) their beauty makes them shallow and how she’s so plain, but has depth that beautiful women don’t, so people should pity her because no one will ever be interested in her because she’s plain and on and on and on and on…That narrative got tiring real fast and left me feeling like, “Girl, the reason no one likes you isn’t because you’re plain, it’s because you’re bitter af.”

Which brings me to to the downright problematic elements of Wintersong. Liesl’s bad attitude plays straight into the first problematic element of Wintersong, which was the demonization of beautiful women. I’m not about girl hate. And I don’t think anyone else should be about it either. I get that the author wanted to hammer in that Liesl is plain and insecure, but she could’ve easily done so without tearing down other women.

But the “girl hate” isn’t where the problematic content ended. Oh no. That was only the beginning, my friends. Liesl goes on to have a troubling romance with The Goblin King. My issue with the romance lies in that Liesl enters it almost entirely out of her deep desire to be desired. Not because she’s falling in love. Because she is desperate to feel wanted and she feels The Goblin King can satisfy that desire. Now, I’m not a psychologist or a relationship counselor or anything, but that to me seems like a really unhealthy reason to enter into a relationship. In America, we have a saying that goes something like, “you gotta love yourself before you can love someone else.” I wish Liesl could have learned that lesson.

And if you thought the issues would stop there, you’d be wrong. The romance becomes even more problematic due to the fact that Liesl wants to have sex because she wants to “find herself” and in this narrative, her wish comes true–only after Liesl and The Goblin King have sex does Liesl “find” herself and her music and begin to love herself. Ummm??? I’m sorry, but what kind of message do you think that sends young women??? Because it seems to say to me something like, “your value and worth comes only from having sex with a man,” as well as “you need a man to help you discover your value.”

To top it all off, the anti-feminism doesn’t limit itself to females, but also extends itself into the realm of perpetuating masculinity stereotypes. After Liesl and The Goblin King have sex for the first time, The Goblin King cries and the next morning Liesl’s all “I felt shame at having seen him during this embarrassing moment of vulnerability and emotional nakedness.” She gives off the vibe that it’s shameful and embarrassing for men to cry or be vulnerable.

So, I know I’ve listed a lot of things that I found problematic, but I really did love Wintersong. If you’re willing to look past the…less positive…elements of the book, I think you’ll find a darkly magical and intriguing read. Bottom line for me, personally, is that I really loved it and I’m desperate to get my hands on the sequel–especially after that dreadfully heartrending end! I’m so happy to hear that the sequel is a direct sequel and not a companion and I honestly can’t wait to get my greedy little hands on it!