Book Review: “A Touch Of Ruin” by Scarlett St. Clair

Hello!

Well, I am back with my third review of a Scarlett St. Clair book.

If you didn’t know I have already read A Touch Of Darkness written with Persephone, as the main focus, and A Game Of Fate told in Hades’ point of view of the same plot. This one continues Persephone’s story following the events at the end of both books. Scarlett is releasing A Touch Of Malice in May 2021 and A Game Of Retribution sometime next winter. I know it seems very confusing but that’s just how I read both series and will as the rest of the books are released.

I really tired during the last week of January to change up what was next on my list but I couldn’t leave it alone and honestly, I think it was the best thing I could have done because now I can officially move on from the story of Hades and Persephone and read other genres, like nonfiction, and be fully committed to it.


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Persephone’s relationship with Hades has gone public and the resulting media storm disrupts her normal life and threatens to expose her as the Goddess of Spring.

Hades, God of the Dead, is burdened by a hellish past that everyone’s eager to expose in an effort to warn Persephone away.

Things only get worse when a horrible tragedy leaves Persephone’s heart in ruin and Hades refusing to help. Desperate, she takes matters into her own hands, striking bargains with severe consequences.

Faced with a side of Hades she never knew and crushing loss, Persephone wonders if she can truly become Hades’ queen.

taken from Goodreads.

I think the best way to describe this story is, it was a roller coaster of different emotions. I was proud, envious, in love, sad, and God help me, aroused throughout much of the book. Sorry to any family members out there who are reading this post and wishing I hadn’t shared that little tebibit.

“I just need a mental health day,” Persephone said.

Anyways…

There are a lot of things in this story. We talk about the ultimatum that Demitri gave her in the beginning, the ins and outs of Apollo and Sybil’s relationship, how the Goddess of Spring is dealing with her new found powers, and eventually we get on to Lexa. On top of all of this, we have the new relationship with Hades and the prospect of becoming his wife and eventually Queen of the Underworld.

As much as I saw Persephone as a strong woman in the first book, I didn’t really see her like that here. There are a few parts where she comes out like a total badass, but I find with this one, she is more whiny than anything else. Whenever she was posed with going back and forth between the Underworld and Upperworld, you as the reader could clearly see her juggle more than she could really handle and even though I admired her for wanting to being present in both worlds with her friends she never really found a way to find a steady solution until the end of it. Of course, now that I mention it on here, that was probably the point of the whole story in the first place.

Despite the fact that the story is stretched out in three parts, every single chapter had a lot of information that I am still trying to digest because I know the next book is going to be even more difficult. I am looking forward to checking it out but I am also in need to meditate with Hecate as well or hang out with Hermes, either one would be a blessing in disguise!

Have you read this series yet? What were your thoughts on this installment of the saga of Hades x Persephone? Were your emotions all over the place like mine?

Album Review: “SIGN from Above” by RAIGN

Hello!

I have heard of bloggers encouraging others to update older posts over the years, but I just chose to ignore them because I think it’s best to keep them the same to allow yourself to see where you were and as you continue to grow as both a blogger and writer. I have never said I am a perfect writer in the past, and hope people respect me on that subject.

However, I am here once again, because I found out that British alternative-pop singer RAIGN (ray-gen) has come back with an even bigger surprise for us fans, and that is, she re-released her 2018 album, “SIGN” late in October; the album has a new title as well the addition of nine other songs! It is now called, “Sign From Above” and I thought instead of re-writing the previous songs, how about I just add onto the first post. So below is everything I wrote about Raign and the album back then, while the newer material is below divided by a line to hopefully keep everything in line so nobody gets confused. I seriously hope you enjoy the album experience and what I’ve written as far as the review.


Back in January, British singer-songwriter RAIGN released her extended play “Born Again” and I put out a review of it on here about a month later. Now I’m back to talk about her debut album that came out in mid-September. It is called “Sign” and even though I kept seeing a couple of singles pop up on the new music tab on Spotify, I did not expect this at all! Despite only really listening to one single before working on this, I didn’t know what I was getting into but I was open to new sounds and some of the familiar stuff that made me fall in love with her music in the first place.

The album itself consists of 12 songs, which is standard for any musician but also with that amount, means you can hear a wider range of her style. I am hoping for an eclectic mix as I continue down the list of tracks. So, let’s start!

We begin with an introduction, “Sign” and it’s an instrumental start to the album. It has a dreamy quality to it as it’s soft but haunting too. I really like hearing the orchestra build up and sound like the second song “Out Of Time”. This song has a completely different tone, as it has a pop-rock sound which wasn’t something that I expected but I actually liked it! It’s something we haven’t heard from her yet and I thought it was perfect to break that barrier so early in the album. Next we have “Who Are You” and it has that familiar mysterious vibe playing throughout it. It’s very powerful but in a way gentle too!

We move on to “God Only Knows” and what I really like about this one was the fact that it started off in this soft way, with only her echo-y but deep voice and a light epic drumming in the background. It was so beautiful to only have those elements, before adding the orchestra back in too. The fourth track “Into Heaven Alone” has a melancholy sound but it does have a rock-y vibe on top of that cinematic beat, it’s not an overwhelming. I liked the uniqueness it gave the song! I feel the next song “Inside Of Me” has this motivational statement to make, as it gave you the strength to get through whatever is bothering you at that moment. The beat itself was strong in terms of matching the emotions and lyrics to the song, but it was also really light too. It was a nice balance.

When we first started the album, we had a nice epic intro with “Sign” but for the sixth track, it is the vocal version of the actual song. It still has this gentleness about it, but now that we are hearing the words along with the ominous ballad of violins, bells and of course Raign’s deep voice. It will take you away into a magical place whenever you listen to it, at least that’s what it did for me. I felt like I was walking in a snow-y, forest wonderland, I love it when music can do that in a matter of three minutes! Next, there’s “Calling” and this has another interesting quality. At first, I thought it was going to continue what we heard in the last song. I’m hearing more pop-y notes in the beat, it still has that cinematic sound in it, but it is very mild so you can hear them both at the same time. It is a cool song.

We are on the last four songs. “Hold On To The Sky” is kind of tame, almost dreamy in a way. One way to explain it, is if you were in a deep amount of water. Your body is weightless so dancing inside is a breeze. If this was a song, this would be it. I’m sorry for the weird metaphor, but that’s what I instantly thought of when it started playing! Next there’s “Find My Own Way” and this has a sexy beat behind it. It keeps you on your toes because it’s a somewhat simple song, but there’s that underling feeling you could be surprised soon. It was a pleasing track and probably one of my favorites out of the whole thing.

I was really curious about the eleventh song and final track because the titles seem so easy to figure out, I just hoped I wouldn’t get disappointed in the end. However, “Sunrise” starts with this very loud bass boom and then her voice gets echo-y and the beat itself builds into the monstrous beast. As it continues, Raign basically stays the same as far as tempo goes, but I’m glad she’s like that because the dynamic between these two makes it that much better. It has an edge, a jaggered edge that makes it powerful! Finally, we end with “Evergreen” and after the previous one, I was a little worried but thankfully it was at the same vibe, but I think I fell in love with the lyrics a lot faster than I did with “Sunrise”, plus it has a happier beat. It had a motivated outlook on it, but everything about it was inviting to me, and it made me like I could do anything so I was thinking of good things rather than the negative and that’s what I like the most about it.

One of my favorite things to do now whenever I watch a movie or television show, is that I keep an eye out for the music being played on a certain scene. When The Vampire Diaries started playing Raign’s music throughout the last four or five seasons, I did not expect to still crave her music but I do! I think she has a gorgeous voice and the beats she uses to showcase it, make me extremely happy! Raign was at the forefront of my taste for cinematic music, and I deeply encourage you to check out some of her songs! This album gave me feeling after feeling, and although I tend to listen to her music whenever I’m sad, I was happy listening to all the way through and for that to happen rarely works anymore.


After the last song of the original lineup, we start again with “Causing Love” and this was initially released in 2019 and I do remember listening to it, but overall it’s been a while since I’ve heard her music but I instantly remembered what I enjoyed the most, her voice. It is semi-deep and raspy, but adds an extra edge to her style of music that brings out a positive and dark side to her songs. As far as this song goes, it is absolutely beautiful! You can feel the love rushes out of your speakers, and I really enjoyed that guitar solo along with her high notes echoing in the background at the end. The next song has that darker vibe I love the most, at least the introduction has this as it builds into a bigger picture full of various pictures. This song is called, “Things Can Only Get Better” and as much as I like the cinematic take, I kind of wished it kept that base sound, it almost gave it a country vide especially in the way she is singing it, it definitely could have worked out greatly without the symphony in the background. It’s an interesting combination!

Our third track is, “Now I Can Fly” which is totally different to the others I’ve heard so far. The poppy drums in the beginning was a nice surprise, and I feel like this could be a great Monday motivational song, especially with all of the anxiety and worry that life has brought to a good chunk of people nowadays! I liked the boost of energy and message in the lyrics, it’s clear this is a happy song! Now, I don’t know how we got on the Christmas-y train, but okeydokey! This is “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” and this is absolutely gorgeous! It has that nostalgic sound you would normally hear in churches and/or orchestra, I was really pulled into it at the sound of the banged bells that flicker throughout the song. Raign doesn’t have that traditional voice you would hear in carols but I thought it was cool to not only hear, but see something different come out of that type of music.

As far the next three songs, they are new versions of the songs mentioned above in my original post. The fourth is an orchestra take on “Who We Are” and of course I adore anything–well, apparently, almost anything as we’ve uncovered in the previous paragraph!–with a symphony sound to it, and I’m shocked to say I still like the other way more! Although I do like her transitions on the high pitched notes at the end of the courses, but that’s all I really like about it. “Out Of Time” was actually #2 and since I’ve only heard her cinematic finished songs, this was a lovely surprise. I loved the acoustic switch of this, as much as I love the majestic and powerful sound of a full orchestra, some days I like stripped down type of music and this was so good!

“Into Heaven Alone” is on now and we are back on the orchestral sound, but honestly it is milder than what I was expecting it to be right out of the gate. It has a nice mixture of a slower acoustic-orchestral session. I have heard other artists and bands do this before, but I’ve always felt some were too chaotic to include both styles for one song, but I did like this one. I wasn’t into it at first, but as it ended, the sound mellowed out and it was really nice.

We are at the final two songs: “Walls” was another track that was released sometime in 2019, this one I never got a chance to hearing because I didn’t “follow” her on my Spotify yet so I missed out on the actual time and date of when it came out. Anyways, it has a dance-y beat to it in the beginning and then quiets down when Raign starts to speak, but I enjoyed this one. I think this one is a favorite, but I kind of wished she was singing more because I felt as though it was more circled around the music itself, which I seemed to notice a distinct electronica vibe going on with this one. I liked it quite a bit so obviously, I didn’t mind it that much! And the last song, is another version of “Causing Love” and it includes the Millionaire London Orchestra and unlike my comments about the orchestral take on “Who We Are” this one is pretty good! I like the sadness of the violins and what I was feeling in the other one, is more inflamed and very exciting!

A part of me figured the newer songs were going to somewhat stay within the original sound but I had hoped for more diversity, because as much as I love this style and grace of music Raign does, I want to see what else she can bring to the table too. So, a part of me wonders if she is planning on releasing any more music in the near future. I mean, 2021 is right around the corner and it has me thinking of changes and more music, so maybe she has been experimenting with other genres, or want to go into acoustic even more after putting “Out Of Line” on here like this, maybe these are clues and she isn’t necessarily finished with us yet.

Of course, I could be absolutely wrong and this is only just one present to her fans. I would be okay with that, but I am always wondering about the people I listen to on the radio, Spotify and YouTube, you just never know what’s going on, until it comes out finally! So, we’ll see what happens as we cross the new year bridge next month.

Have you heard of RAIGN’s newest edition of her album yet? Do you have any favorites? If I wasn’t the one to introduce you to her music, how did you find her?

snowflake

Music Monday | Missy Elliott

Howdy!

When I was thinking about doing the series, I know I wanted to keep it diverse, not because my love of music is all of the place, but it is very important to say that there are women music producers out there. In fact, I decided to talk about two of them that I knew were important to my life and musical journey. However, if you know and love of any other women producers out there, please tell me about them in the comments. I would love to learn more about why you adore them, and of course check out their music too!

A couple of years ago, Missy Elliott was awarded by MTV’s VMAs (Video Music Awards) with the Lifetime Achievement award. Back when MTV did play hours and hours (boy, do I miss those days!) of music videos, you probably saw one or if you were really lucky two Missy Elliott videos within 20-30 minutes of each other. I’d say from 1998 to 2004 is when she was just creating all kinds of stuff. A lot of them included dancing, but she was very known for her crazy antics and style in those days. They all looked fun every single time they appeared on your television screen. I’m sad to say I haven’t seen any of her previous videos, but remembering her others, I know she would continue going down that way for as long as she is allowed.

Missy is most known for her songs and friendship with Timbaland and Aaliyah, but I think it’s important to say that she has worked with all kinds of acts throughout the years! In 2004, when the R&B artist Ciara appeared, especially after watching her first music video for “Goodies” you probably hoped that she’d work with Missy one day. Dancing played a big part in the two artists, but it also just seemed like a great combination because Ciara has that same soft voice that Aaliyah was known for–even though nobody could ever be as good as her–you still hoped that they would work together. So, by the time “1, 2, Step” came out on the radio, it was like the music gods were really hearing our prayers and then it happened again in 2004 with Missy’s track “Lose Control” with Fatman Scoop. It was an awesome sequel to the story of these two big female singers.

Since we’re on the subject of girl power, I think we should discuss the remake of Patti LaBelle’s “Lady Marmalade” of the film Moulin Rouge in early 2002. Instead of having one singer do the entire song, she produced and worked with four powerhouses of the popular genres of that time. You had the R&B artist Mya to start off and then we move on to Pink, who at the time was a mixture of pop-R&B at the time. Brooklyn’s own Queen rapper Lil’ Kim lended a nice section and gave the song an added flare, and finally Christina Aguilera graced us at the end. I still think this is where she began weaning herself out of the cookie cutter bubblegum pop music. The song itself went on to win lots of awards but I think a lot of people either don’t know and/or forget that Missy Elliott was a huge part of making this happen. I mean, think of it as like the first time The Avengers assembled. Yes, I just did that and I’m not even sorry about it either!

Are you a fan of Missy Elliott? Do you have a favorite music video from over the years? Is there any other artists that you think she should consider working or maybe not collaborating with next? Please give me your thoughts about that down in the comments.

snowflake

Music Monday | Timbaland

Last month I started this new series; essincally talking about the two people who were at the heart of my decision of wanting to go off to college for Audio Recoedings ten years ago. The first was Dr. Dre and I discussed my love for him and the influences between him, Eminem and 50 Cent that made me want to explore the world of hip hop when I was a teenager. A week later, I talked about Rick Rubin and how much I respected him for not sticking to one genre, he experiments with various genres and musicans. The work he has done with Linkin Park really struck a cord with me because it made me realize that it was perfectly fine to love all kinds of music.

This time we really start at square one. I know I should have started it out this way, but in a way both people were the beginning although there were many years between them. I was introduced to rap music when I was like four or five years old, so early 90’s so for the next couple of months I will take you through the other music producers that have kept me entertained and inspired throughout my life.


As you can see above in the banner, May is going to be about Timbaland and Missy Elloitt. So, we are moving on to the later part of the 1990’s and easily into the early 2000’s.

Timbaland is a very unique indivdiual. He has been able to be around for a lot of the ups and downs in the music insturdy. He has worked with a lot of various people, some of them have put him at the forefront of their music for a time. He and Missy Elloitt have worked together for a very long time. He has written and produced a lot of her music. He has even been featured in her wacky music videos too! These two had a great time in the late 90’s with R&B artist Aaliyah. They quickly became the dynamic thrio in a way, because they just dominated the charts. Unfortunately, when she died in 2002, of course it was sad. It still makes me upset everytime they make a comment about her on her birthday or anniversary of her death.

As you go into the 2000’s though, you see him working with newly solo boy band member Justin Timberlake on his first record “Justified” and honestly, I don’t think it mattered that he was the favorite of N’Sync, I just think that the two of them worked so well together was insane! In 2005, they came to work with Nelly Furtado and those next three years were really interesting because almost every track that was released I was totally into, and it was just like a steady stream and I kept falling into it everytime. However, I don’t think nothing could have prepared us for the introduction of OneRepublic in 2008. Once the song “Apologize” came out we were all gone. I know I wanted more and thankfully, we didn’t have to wait that long until the band released their second track “Stop and Stare” a few months later.

By 2009, I wasn’t really watching what was going on with Timbaland. Although, when Justin Timberlake released his second album, I took notice because I hoped that they teamed up again, which they did and everything was awesome, I started growing out of both pop and R&B, as this was the time I was officially introduced to Linkin Park and I immediately went rock bottom. However, I recently found out that a song I have been enjoying lately that was remixed by Timbaland. I’m pretty sure you have heard of it. The original track has Dolly Parton, which is awesome too, but I love Of King & Country’s version of “Only God Knows” with Echosmith is amazing! I think it’s a interesting track because with both singers and their styles, it allows the song to be played in two different radio airways: country and pop.

I am curious to see how farther Timbaland can push the boundaries in music. How many other collabrations he can create with new and older acts. It will be interesting if he can get back to leading the charts in R&B and/or pop again like he has done in the past. It’ll be fun to see what else he has up his sleeves in the next year, I mean think about this, summer is quickly appoarching so he could surprise us all with a new track that could be your new anthem. You never know these days, but you know I’ll be keeping my ears and eyes open to the music.

Are you a fan of Timbaland’s music? What decade do you think he hit his peak? Which team do you side with as being the best too?

snowflake

Album Review: “III” by BANKS

Today I am finally going to talk about BANKS! Sometimes it can be harder to talk about your favorite artists than it is for newer artists, at least it has been for me! You see, I’ve tried in the past to review her previous album The Altar back in 2017 but I just could not get myself to do it and I’ve been kicking myself ever since! So, for this post I am basically conquering my fear and discussing what I like or maybe dislike about this album.

I actually didn’t know she was going to put out an album until a whole bunch of songs on YouTube and I thought, “well, this is strange!” So, I went on her Facebook page and quickly figured it out. This record has thirteen tracks with only one that credits another artist and/or band, but we’ll get to that in a minute,. I have only heard probably three or four songs but the rest I have saved for you guys, because you know how much I like to express my thoughts during that first listening. I hope you enjoy the rest of this post. Let’s get to it!

The first song we have is “Till Now” and I think everyone will agree with me on forgetting that the actual word “till” is spelled with 2 “L’s” the fact that Google and everybody else in the world has no problem with leaving it with one is fine. However, it is nice to be reminded of that every once in a while. Anyways, when the song first started it actually made me think of another song of hers “Better” because it was pretty empty with only her vocalizations in the background but the one difference with this is that it sounds more upbeat. Towards the ending it sound really static-y and I was really concerned that it was my speaker but her vocals never changed so I let it go. I really liked it, just wish it wasn’t so short though!

Next we have the first single, “Gimme” and I loved this from the moment it was released! I really approve of her seductive side coming out in this song. I have a really tough time not dancing to this and that’s what made me fall in love with it first, because it just has this great meaty beat to move to. It was an awesome little taste of what was to come next. The third track is “Contaminated” and we have continued on this mysterious train with the beat itself. Even though it does have darker notes, it also has these sweet vibes going through it as well. I can’t quite explain it, maybe it’s the undertone of the song that I’m feeling but I liked it!

We move on to “Stroke” and the first thing that popped into my mind when I saw the title was the word “heatstroke” I don’t know about my brain sometimes. The song is on a totally different level that what we’ve heard from her; she’s given us everything I thought until I heard this one. The bass on it is amazing! If you know me well enough, you know I have a slight obsession with bass. I may not jam as loud as I use to, but I still love to feel the bass on a speaker. By the way, you read that right. I said feel instead of hear. One thing that I really like about it is that once you get to the bridge, the sound changes and you have this almost jazz-y worthy type of beat going on for a bit and what really gets me is that it all works really nicely!

“Godless” is next and I love that her vocals are soft, really sensual this time around. It is still sexy in every sense of the word but it’s not as overwhelming as the last track–and I mean that in the best way possible! I just like how everything about the song is milder. It is a nice change, but it isn’t anything like the next song: “Sawzall” as this has a true acoustic feel. You can hear everything individually, and it’s wonderful. I love her dark-alternative music but it is amazing to hear her as naturally as possible. These two songs really surprised on how different they could be, compared the rest of her music.

We move on to “Look What You’re Doing To Me” and this is, dare I say, very cheery and playful! This is the song that features another artist, it is Francis & The Lights. I have never heard of them before but I really enjoyed the subtle way they came into the track. So far, this is the only one that sound like a regular R&B song, although it still has the essence of what we all love about BANKS, but thanks to adding another voice, it has an edge compared to the others. Unfortunately, it isn’t one of my favorites but it’s still pretty good though!

Next we have “Hawaiian Mazes” and I really loved the quiet introduction. It was just a sweet kiss. The tempo stays very mellow throughout the whole thing. The “uh, uh, uhs” are also nice too, the whole thing brings out a sensual vibe. Perfect for the summertime! After that, we travel to “Alaska” basically. I thought it was interesting that we had these back-to-back. As the last one was very chill, this is fun and mild beat wise. It has a nice groove to dance to, and has a unique flare to it. The recent song that I allowed myself to hear was “Propaganda” and I thought it was great! I really think it has more of a House feeling going on, it does match the other two with the lightness of the beat, but thankfully all of them have something to make them different from each other.

“The Fall” is the one of the three tracks left on the album. This one threw me for a loop. While you listen to the verses, the beat is very gentle, almost relaxing in a way. After the last few songs, it shouldn’t really surprise you that this could happen, but once you get the chorus, it explodes. Suddenly, you feel this fierce tone and if I’m not mistaken, she’s rapping towards the end? Yummy! We have “If We Were Made Out Of Water” and I love the sounds of birds in the beginning. When you first hear them, you kind of think that it’s going to be a happy song but it’s not. It’s rather sad, especially when you read the lyrics along, you feel like you could cry. despite this, I think it’s one of my favorites! We are at “What About Love” which is the final song. I really enjoyed the bluesy, but gospel sound going on. It does a bittersweet tone, but I like how simple it was; kind of the perfect way to end the story.

I will be honest when I say, I have yet to actually listen to any of BANKS’ albums all the way through, and this was the main reason why I wanted to review her last record because I knew I wouldn’t without having a reason to do so. However, because of this too, I was very hesitant to review it at all. I am normally very picky with her music so going into this was a bit scary for me, but everything is fine. I actually loved it!

I can’t say her music has changed, I don’t feel like I can say that officially, but it hit my needs as to start on a high note and end kind of softly. For an album like this, a summer record basically, it wasn’t overwhelming with tropical sounds and full of sex, although it does have a bit of it on here, but it’s pleasant. You finally get to hear her voice and raw emotions as the album continues on. The lyrics are different, certain words that maybe you wouldn’t expect to be in a song. It was a unique experience, that’s all I can say!

Have you listened to BANKS’ new album III yet? What did you love it or not liked it as much? What were your favorites? Put your answers below in the comments!