{Blog Tour} The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid Review + "My Writing Journey in GIFs"

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Ever since I heard The Diabolic pitched as something comparable to The Hunger Games/Game of Thrones/Star Wars, I was definitely intrigued! Luckily this was a book which didn't disappoint, and despite my high expectations, I ended up really enjoying this gritty and engrossing read. 

To set the scene, here's the book trailer, complete with cinematic background music...

The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid
Released: 1st November 2016
Published by: Simon and Schuster Australia
Genre: YA Sci-fi
Source: Publisher
Pages: 416
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Simon and Schuster | Booktopia | Book Depository
A Diabolic is ruthless. A Diabolic is powerful. A Diabolic has a single task: Kill in order to protect the person you’ve been created for. Nemesis is a Diabolic, a humanoid teenager created to protect a galactic senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The two have grown up side by side, but are in no way sisters. Nemesis is expected to give her life for Sidonia, and she would do so gladly. She would also take as many lives as necessary to keep Sidonia safe.

When the power-mad Emperor learns Sidonia’s father is participating in a rebellion, he summons Sidonia to the Galactic court. She is to serve as a hostage. Now, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia. She must become her. Nemesis travels to the court disguised as Sidonia – a killing machine masquerading in a world of corrupt politicians and two-faced senators’ children. It’s a nest of vipers with threats on every side, but Nemesis must keep her true abilities a secret or risk everything.

As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns there is something more to her than just deadly force. She finds a humanity inside her that is true and pure – more so than that of most humans she encounters. Amidst all the danger, action and intrigue, her humanity just might be the thing that saves her life – and the empire.
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

The Diabolic is a gripping futuristic novel, exploring the issues of unfailing loyalty and protection, the bounds of friendship and questioning humanity when supposedly a being has none. Though in the beginning, I may have been skeptical of the bold comparisons this story had been held to, soon enough the plot had me hooked with every twist and moral dilemma to follow.

Nemesis is definitely one of the most badass protagonists I've come across in this genre. Her unwavering loyalty as a Diabolic to Sidonia was admirable, though detail isn't spared when it comes to getting rid of potential threats to that Impyrean's life. The fighter in Nemesis however isn't her only characteristic. There's the fundamental question of whether she does actually possess the capacity for feeling more human emotions, and this aspect of what comprises the humanity in anyone is an element which Kincaid executed well. 

World-building is another strong-suit of The Diabolic. Though it took most of the first half of the book to fully understand the customs, values and underlying conflicts in this world where education is punishable under the belief of 'Helionics' and the Emperor rules with inherently corrupt motives, it is these complexities which ultimately make the storyline so fascinating. This is a vividly imagined society hurtling through space, where knowledge is power, and playing to the ears of the right 'Grandiloquy' can be make or break. Once Nemesis is brought onto the scene disguised as Sidonia, the story escalates to new levels of heightened tension, and it is here where her character faces the biggest challenges; and sometimes taking unexpected turns. 


It's not so often that novels like these are 'stand-alones', though in this case it works - there is just the right amount of action to keep your eyes glued to the page, right up to the very last word. The Diabolic is the latest YA release to hit the shelves which not only possesses the hallmarks of its renowned comparisons, but has a unique identity all of its own. 

Guest post from S.J. Kincaid - "My Writing Journey in Gifs"

I could never possibly get published, so I'll find an office job.

I write for a hobby. I'll give a crack at a book after all!

I'll even co-write it with my best friend!

Whoa, our book got an agent! 

Agent has simply stopped e-mailing us. Guess she forgot we exist?

Goodbye, Agent.

Book two. Book three... Now I have an agent again! Finally!

Book doesn't sell.

Okay, onto the next manuscript.

Agent doesn't like next manuscript.

Leave agent. Send out three manuscripts for new agent. No agents accept.

Write another manuscript. This is old hat now.

Get an agent! Happy, though I've been here before without selling...

Book does not sell. Not so surprised.

Pursue real world job, and give one last shot to book seven. After this, I am giving up on this. Done.

Book sells! It actually sells!!! 

Career begins.

A big thank you to S.J. Kincaid for that gif-filled post - it just goes to show that the writing journey may not be an easy one, but getting published can become a reality if you keep that dream alive.

Read Me Love Me Share Me (The Simon and Schuster Australia YA page) will also be releasing a special video on release day and a giveaway for the book on 4th November. Details will be up on their facebook page.

Check out the other stops on the tour!

Review: Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman

Monday, 17 October 2016

Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman
Released: 10th May 2016
Published by: Little Brown (Imprint of Hachette)
Genre: Adult suspsense
Source: Publisher
Pages: 320
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is not a story of bad things happening to bad girls. I say this because I know you, Dex, and I know how you think. I'm going to tell you a story, and this time, it will be the truth. 

Hannah Dexter is a nobody, ridiculed at school by golden girl Nikki Drummond and bored at home. But in their junior year of high school, Nikki's boyfriend walks into the woods and shoots himself. In the wake of the suicide, Hannah finds herself befriending new girl Lacey and soon the pair are inseparable, bonded by their shared hatred of Nikki.

Lacey transforms good girl Hannah into Dex, a Doc Marten and Kurt Cobain fan, who is up for any challenge Lacey throws at her. The two girls bring their combined wills to bear on the community in which they live; unconcerned by the mounting discomfort that their lust for chaos and rebellion causes the inhabitants of their parochial small town, they think they are invulnerable.

But Lacey has a secret, about life before her better half, and it's a secret that will change everything . . .

Starting - and ending - with tragedy, Girls on Fire stands alongside The Virgin Suicides in its brilliant portrayal of female adolescence, but with a power and assurance all its own.
Thank you to Hachette Australia for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Girls on Fire had me hooked from the first page. In this unnerving thriller, Wasserman has created a story that is suffused with an aura of vengeance, where girls turn on each other not just because of jealousy, but unbridled obsession. There are parts of this book entering territories you wouldn't think it would dare, but find that although you may want to look away before it all comes undone...those pages won't stop turning until the final, didactic end.

Hannah wanted to be invisible. Dex wanted to be seen. Dex was a rule-breaker, a liar, a secret keeper; Dex was wild, or wanted to be. Hannah Dexter had believed in right and wrong, an ordered world of justice. Dex would make her own justice. Hannah would show her how. 

What this novel excelled at is cleverly weaving multiple perspectives, each with a distinct narrative voice. Detailing the time of 'Us' from November 1991-March 1992 from both Hannah/Dex and Lacey's perspectives, it soon becomes clear just how twisted the dynamic relationships operating in this situation are. Lacey is insubordinate in every way, bordering on diabolical. Hannah's humdrum existence once letting her into her life is completely transformed. Their defiant duo is held together by a bond formed through unabashed manipulation, with an all too willing participant. Make no mistake, Wasserman's tone of prose is scorching - the whole premise for this novel is set up to keep you wanting more, discovering the hidden secrets which really drive these girls towards the fate which awaits them. As readers, when beginning this book you are lighting a match - then stand to watch it burn.

The trappings of evil were for scary movies and school assemblies; the real devil wore pink and smiled with pastel lips. And here, in the dark, we all knew who she was. 

And then there was Nikki. The resident 'golden girl' whose boyfriend took his own life. It's interesting how Dex and Lacey 'bonded' over this 'shared' ostensible virulence towards her. But who out of the trio is really the 'wolf in sheep's clothing' - that is, if any of them are? Girls on Fire searingly explores the bounds of loyalty and the devastating implications of betrayal. Emotions are powerfully expounded, chillingly expressed and manifested in ways which only these characters could accomplish. It's a tangled web of desire, defined by the 'us versus them' kind of subversive attitude that so often is depicted by adolescents today.

She was so good at it, acting cold-blooded. The secret of pretending to be someone else, she told me, was that you didn't pretend. You transformed. To defeat a monster, you had to embody one. 

I have to say, Girls on Fire definitely had shock-factor. All the while reading this, you know that something eventually will go awry. There is no way that such an intensely ferocious imbroglio would end without an explosion of some sort. And there is one. Just...not the one you may be expecting. How far will these girls go to get revenge? How deep are those scars from the past? You'll just have to read this for yourself and find out. In any case, I don't believe what eventually happened was there simply to shock the audience. The ending isn't rushed, and in the last few pages I found what the essence of this book was all about. Wasserman closes her story with words that will make you think, that leave an imprint your mind for a good while after you've closed it.

What matters isn't how we found each other, Dex, or why. It's what we did, and what happened next. Smash the right two particles together in the right way and you get a bomb. That's us, Dex. 


In Girls on Fire, flames lick the edge of the adolescent experience, lighting a trail of dangerous obsession and inexorable jealousy. Robin Wasserman's caustic prose draws in the most intense of human emotions, and places them in destructive circumstance; ultimately creating a read that you can't put down - even if you want to.