ARC Review: Once & Future (Once & Future #1) by Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy

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ARC Review: Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

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ARC Review: Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston

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Seventeen-year-old Ana is a scoundrel by nurture and an outlaw by nature. Found as a child drifting through space with a sentient android called D09, Ana was saved by a fearsome space captain and the grizzled crew she now calls family. But D09—one of the last remaining illegal Metals—has been glitching, and Ana will stop at nothing to find a way to fix him.

Ana’s desperate effort to save D09 leads her on a quest to steal the coordinates to a lost ship that could offer all the answers. But at the last moment, a spoiled Ironblood boy beats Ana to her prize. He has his own reasons for taking the coordinates, and he doesn’t care what he’ll sacrifice to keep them.

When everything goes wrong, she and the Ironblood end up as fugitives on the run. Now their entire kingdom is after them—and the coordinates—and not everyone wants them captured alive.

What they find in a lost corner of the universe will change all their lives—and unearth dangerous secrets. But when a darkness from Ana’s past returns, she must face an impossible choice: does she protect a kingdom that wants her dead or save the Metal boy she loves?

review

**** Huge thank you to HarperTeen for approving me for an eARC in exchange for an honest review****

I can’t help but feel slightly disappointed with “Heart of Iron”, I was expecting a lot from it especially since it’s not only a sci-fi but also a retelling of ‘Anastasia’. I just felt like nothing lived up to these expectations and while the book was enjoyable overall it really wasn’t anything that blew me out of the water. I DID still like a lot of elements within the story though, just not the story as a whole.

PLOT

As I already briefly mentioned this story is kind of supposed to be “Anastasia in Space”, (and whether you want to compare it to the real story of Anastasia Romanov or the animated movie based off of her ‘Anastasia’ doesn’t really matter. Whichever you prefer, it makes no difference) but apart from the fact that it features a lost princess….I don’t really see what it has in common with ‘Anastasia’ at all. Just because one element of the original is present in the story doesn’t make it a retelling in my eyes.

The plot was a little confusing at times, like what’s going on? What’s supposed to be happening? What is the overall POINT of the entire story? I just felt like the “plot” described in the synopsis is resolved too early and the rest of the story is kind of directionless. Don’t get me wrong: things were definitely happening, but to what end? I have no idea, and I don’t really know what’s going to happen in the sequel either. As for the plot twists, those were very predictable and didn’t really surprise me whatsoever.

I did like how fast paced the story was though, we are thrown into action right from the start and it keeps the pace up throughout the entire book pretty evenly. There was also a decent amount of action and it did keep me interested.

I wish there had been more world building provided, I loved what little bit I got and I’m very curious about a lot of it! I wanna know more! I loved how well it blended sci-fi and fantasy elements together. I’m definitely looking forward to more of it in the sequel, hopefully it’s expanded on.

One thing I didn’t really like was that there are 4 different POVs and while each character had a very distinct “voice” and were easily distinguishable, I thought it was a bit much to keep track of.

characters

There are four main characters, and as I mentioned all have a POV during the story. I actually did like them all for the most part, they were good characters with quite a bit of personality. However, I did still feel like they could have used a little more complexity, but I understand that’s a little bit harder to accomplish with 4 differing POVs!

I also wish the secondary characters were developed a bit more, they are clearly very important to some of the main characters but to me they just didn’t feel very “real”. At times it felt these secondary characters were used solely for the purpose of being “cannon fodder” and I just couldn’t care much about them since they were never really developed at all. Shock for the sake of shock, is what it was.

However, one secondary character that was a freaking awesome queen was Captain Siege! I loved her! She was a total badass and also a POC and lesbian, she needs her own damn book because she is a godess.

Captain Siege’s crew also reminded me A LOT of ‘Firefly’, I know people compare things to that show frequently but trust me! I wish they would have been a little more important to the story because there was some serious ‘Firefly’ retelling material there. Plus space pirates are always awesome.

Last but not least we had a diverse cast of characters! Captain Siege, as I already mentioned, is black and lesbian, Ana has darker skin as well, and two characters (that will remain unnamed because of spoilers) are both gay. So there is quite a bit of diversity in the story!

romance

I’m a little “meh” on the romances in this book, they weren’t terrible but they really didn’t have me swooning either. They were pretty cute but at times I felt that the two different romances between main characters got to be too much and overshadowed the plot a bit. Now of course, I’m not a big fan of romances taking over especially in an action packed sci-fi. BUT like I said the pairings were adorable so I didn’t mind too much.

Although one of the romances was very, very insta-lovey and I didn’t like that. I ended up rooting for that pair but it was some hardcore insta-love which annoyed me.

Also diversity in the romances as well with F/F and M/M pairings!

in conclusion

Overall I liked the story but I didn’t love it, which was  disappointing because I was definitely excited for a sci-fi ‘Anastasia’ retelling. It’s definitely a three star rating right up the middle.

What I Loved:

  • Fast pacing
  • Decent amount of action
  • World building was interesting
  • Diverse characters
  • Space pirates comparable to ‘Firefly’
  • Characters were likable
  • Romantic couples were adorable
  • Captain Siege!!!!

What I Didn’t Love:

  • ‘Anastasia’ elements weren’t very big or important
  • Plot twists were predictable
  • The story and overall plot got “lost” at times and confusing
  • Wish there was a little more character development
  • Romances took over the plot too much at times
  • Insta-love

RECOMMEND

If “Heart of Iron” sounds interesting to you I say go for it, you may enjoy it more than I did! It isn’t a bad book whatsoever, it just wasn’t 100% for me but it did have enjoyable parts.

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository / Barnes & Noble

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The Sassy

ARC Review: Honor Among Thieves (The Honors #1) by Rachel Caine & Ann Aguirre

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Petty criminal Zara Cole has a painful past that’s made her stronger than most, which is why she chose life in New Detroit instead moving with her family to Mars. In her eyes, living inside a dome isn’t much better than a prison cell.

Still, when Zara commits a crime that has her running scared, jail might be exactly where she’s headed. Instead Zara is recruited into the Honors, an elite team of humans selected by the Leviathan—a race of sentient alien ships—to explore the outer reaches of the universe as their passengers.

Zara seizes the chance to flee Earth’s dangers, but when she meets Nadim, the alien ship she’s assigned, Zara starts to feel at home for the first time. But nothing could have prepared her for the dark, ominous truths that lurk behind the alluring glitter of starlight.

review

**** Big thank you to HarperTeen for giving me an eARC in exchange for an honest review****

Trigger Warning: Parental Abuse

I have to say even though I liked this one I definitely didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I went into this book thinking I’d be walking away with a 5 star rating if not a 4, but sadly it didn’t live up to those expectations. I feel like this will probably be more of an unpopular opinion and will I LIKED it I didn’t LOVE it, so it’s “meh” to me.

PLOT

I liked that we are thrown into action almost immediately and it’s pretty fast paced throughout the beginning. I did feel like the story really dragged in the middle and that’s where I got really bored with it but it did pick back up in the end. Overall I thought the pacing was kind of uneven though.

As for the plot itself, the premise was amazing but the execution fell short for me. I liked what little world building there was, the concept of sentient ships was really interesting but that’s as far as anything really went in this book. We hardly find out anything about the Leviathan and we really don’t learn anything about any other alien lifeforms out in the universe either. That was disappointing, however the ending seemed to promise future expansion on the world building in the sequel so I’m thinking I’ll read it just to learn more!

Other than the Leviathan (the sentient ships), the plot felt like it was really lacking any tension or action. Nothing about it compelled me to keep reading, since I felt nothing was really happening at all. This kind of carried throughout the entire story, the feeling that nothing was really happening. Which is a bummer because, come on, sci-fi should be filled with a lot more action than this! There really weren’t any big plot twists and when there were some, they were pretty anti-climatic or plain predictable.

There were some scenes where the action would pick up and things got a little interesting but it still felt…..flat and tedious. I don’t know, but the “action” scenes still felt lacking, which is a big reason I felt bored while reading.

However, the ending was pretty dang good. It’s a bit of a cliffhanger and it definitely piqued my interest enough to want to read the sequel.

characters

Since this book mainly focuses on a pair of Honors (people) traveling alone on a sentient ship through space, there really aren’t that many characters to keep track of.

Zara Cole is the main protagonist, she’s a thief/con artist that gets herself into more trouble she can handle just as she’s selected to travel with a Leviathan. I normally enjoy the “street rat/criminal” types of characters but it really didn’t work with Zara, in my opinion. I felt that the authors were trying way too hard to make her a “badass” and she just came off really flat and at times plain rude. Having an attitude problem towards every character doesn’t make you “tough and badass”, which is exactly how I felt with Zara.

On top of that, Zara makes stupid decisions. Granted, she didn’t make stupid decisions the entire time but there were a couple incidents where I cringed and wanted to teleport myself into the book just to make her stop. For example, when meeting an alien life form that doesn’t immediately attack you maybe DON’T shoot it. Just saying. Use some common sense here, shooting first and asking questions later isn’t going to make ANY life form fond of you.

So, I guess it’s safe to say I didn’t really like Zara.

As for Beatriz, Zara’s co-Honor, I actually did really like her. She’s quieter but she’s extremely smart and very sweet, I liked her a lot more than Zara anyways. Plus what Beatriz did to their medical bot was HILARIOUS!

Zara and Beatriz actually build up a really great friendship by the end of the story, and I LIVED for it. We need more great female friendships like this in YA!

The last important character is Nadim, the Leviathan/sentient ship. Honestly, Nadim was so innocent and adorable, I wanted to protect him because he is too precious for this world! There really wasn’t anything bad about Nadim, he is very kind and adores Zara and Beatriz and will do anything to protect them. Although as sweet as Nadim is, he is a bit naive which puts them in potential danger at times.

Also there is diversity! Zara is black, Beatriz is Brazilian, and there is a side character who is Chinese.

romance

Is there a romance in “Honor Among Thieves”? Kind of? I don’t really know myself as it was hard to tell. There was definitely SOMETHING between Zara and Nadim and while normally I would feel it was just a strong bond of friendship, I got some romantic feeling vibes. It was…….really weird. I hope it’s just a friendship thing and not romantic because that would feel really awkward in my opinion.

in conclusion

As I already mentioned I thought the premise for the story was fantastic but the overall execution fell short. I am interested in reading the sequel though, that ending left me feeling that the series may get better.

What I Loved:

  • The world building (even though it wasn’t much)
  • Beatriz and Nadim
  • Strong female friendship

What I Didn’t Love:

  • Uneven pacing
  • Overall plot was lacking tension and excitement
  • Zara’s character felt like she was trying too hard and she made some dumb decisions
  • The potential “romance” between Zara and Nadim was just plain weird

RECOMMEND

I can’t really say this will be a book I’ll go around recommending but it isn’t a BAD book by any means. I did enjoy it for the most part, it just wasn’t something that blew me away. I would say if it sounds like something you’d enjoy, go for it!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository

Follow Me Elsewhere: Twitter * Instagram * Goodreads

The Sassy

ARC Review: This Mortal Coil (This Mortal Coil #1) by Emily Suvada

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Catarina Agatta is a hacker. She can cripple mainframes and crash through firewalls, but that’s not what makes her special. In Cat’s world, people are implanted with technology to recode their DNA, allowing them to change their bodies in any way they want. And Cat happens to be a gene-hacking genius.

That’s no surprise, since Cat’s father is Dr. Lachlan Agatta, a legendary geneticist who may be the last hope for defeating a plague that has brought humanity to the brink of extinction. But during the outbreak, Lachlan was kidnapped by a shadowy organization called Cartaxus, leaving Cat to survive the last two years on her own.

When a Cartaxus soldier, Cole, arrives with news that her father has been killed, Cat’s instincts tell her it’s just another Cartaxus lie. But Cole also brings a message: before Lachlan died, he managed to create a vaccine, and Cole needs Cat’s help to release it and save the human race.

Now Cat must decide who she can trust: The soldier with secrets of his own? The father who made her promise to hide from Cartaxus at all costs? In a world where nature itself can be rewritten, how much can she even trust herself?

review****Huge thank you to Simon Pulse for approving me for this ARC in exchange for an honest review!****

Trigger Warning: Mild Gore & Graphic Description of Medical Procedures

This was a pretty good book, definitely creative and fast paced! It held my attention and made me curious about the sequel, but overall it wasn’t anything that blew me completely away.

PLOT

“This Mortal Coil” started out pretty strong with action right off the bat, we are also provided with a good amount of backstory/world building as well but it never felt like info-dumping which was great. It’s also very much a survival story as mentioned in the synopsis humanity has been brought to its knees due to the deadly plague that has spread across the Earth, and the main character Catarina does anything she can to survive on the surface and is also recruited to help find a cure. I liked the details on the virus that were provided I thought it was a pretty unique plague too, if it wasn’t too weird to think a plague was cool I would think this one was cool. I don’t won’t to spoil anything though!

I really enjoyed all of the science and genetics aspects that were included as well, and it was all very believable there wasn’t anything I felt that was too over the top or unrealistic. Normally things such as DNA and the gene-hacking that people did would fly over my head or be boring but it was actually pretty interesting! I also loved that certain aspects of the story felt very “X-Men” and “Resident Evil”, which of course are two franchises I adore so there’s that but I won’t spoil anything by going into too much detail!

The pacing was pretty fast throughout the entire book and things were in a constant state of tension for the most part, it really kept me on the edge of my seat! There were also more than a few completely mind blowing twists, I almost couldn’t keep up! However, there was one twist that kind of confused me and seemed a little….far fetched but it took me by surprise nonetheless. Also even though I thought the pacing was fast it still felt like the book was too long and it felt like it was taking me forever to finish. I think if the book could have been maybe between 50-100 pages shorter it would have been better.

Another thing that I liked was that the world and characters were morally grey, everyone does what they have to do in order to survive. It made things very exciting because you never knew what to expect!

characters

The characters were alright, I didn’t feel overly invested in any of them though. They weren’t overly complex or developed but they were interesting enough to keep me reading.

I felt that Catarina was a bit of a Special Snowflake at times because she was this “brilliant prodigy” and was the “only one who can figure out a cure” so that got kind of old but in general she was an alright protagonist.

As for the other side characters I enjoyed them but as I said I just wasn’t overly attached. Don’t get me wrong, I had moments where I was concerned about their well being but overall “meh”.

romance

The romance got a little too intricate for me since Cat is in love with Dax and Cole is in love with Jun Bei and they’re all sort of in relationships but there wasn’t ever any affirmation, if that makes sense. Then Cat and Cole start to develop feelings for each other but then still have feelings for their other significant others/crushes. What? Why? Sorry, but I would have preferred if you’d ended the other crushes and then initiated the Cat/Cole romance because that just feels like emotional cheating?

Yeah, I was over the love square and got pretty tired of keeping track of everything. I also don’t like when plots start to focus heavily on the romances either, which it felt like it did the more the story proceeded.

in conclusion

Overall I did enjoy this book, did it blow me away though? Not really. I find myself pretty in the middle as far as the rating and feelings go.

What I Loved:

  • Interesting World Building (No info-dumping)
  • Fast pacing, lots of action
  • Science!
  • Morally grey ambiguous characters
  • Plenty of plot twists

What I Didn’t Love:

  • Felt too long, could have been shorter
  • Dragged on in spots
  • Characters were kind of “meh”
  • Romance was overly complicated and also “meh”

RECOMMEND

I definitely recommend checking this one out if you enjoy books with a little more science in them and also just plague/dystopian type novels in general.

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

The Sassy

ARC Review: The Empress (The Diabolic #2) by S.J. Kincaid

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****SPOILERS FOR “THE DIABOLIC” BELOW!****

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It’s a new day in the Empire. Tyrus has ascended to the throne with Nemesis by his side and now they can find a new way forward—one where they don’t have to hide or scheme or kill. One where creatures like Nemesis will be given worth and recognition, where science and information can be shared with everyone and not just the elite.

But having power isn’t the same thing as keeping it, and change isn’t always welcome. The ruling class, the Grandiloquy, has held control over planets and systems for centuries—and they are plotting to stop this teenage Emperor and Nemesis, who is considered nothing more than a creature and certainly not worthy of being Empress.

Nemesis will protect Tyrus at any cost. He is the love of her life, and they are partners in this new beginning. But she cannot protect him by being the killing machine she once was. She will have to prove the humanity that she’s found inside herself to the whole Empire—or she and Tyrus may lose more than just the throne. But if proving her humanity means that she and Tyrus must do inhuman things, is the fight worth the cost of winning it?

review

**** Huge thank you to Simon & Schuster for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!****

**** All of my reviews are spoiler free but if you haven’t read “The Diabolic” you may not want to continue. If you have read it then continue as you will not be spoiled here!****

Right when I didn’t think S.J. Kincaid could blow my mind any more, she did it again! I think it’s safe to say my mouth was open, jaw on the floor the entire time I was reading and that I’m also dying for the third book now. I NEED IT NOW! Prepare for a review that will probably mostly be me fangirling.

This review will be a bit shorter than usual since I don’t want to spoil anything but you can read my full review for “The Diabolic” here for a little more information!

PLOT

If you were worried, like me, that “The Diabolic” should have remained a standalone and the sequel wouldn’t live up to it: don’t be worried. I was very satisfied with this book and now I’m happy that it turned out to be a series because what would I do if I didn’t have more of Nemesis?! I think this one is equally as enjoyable as “The Diabolic” but parts also weren’t as great, however, seeing as how we really waste ZERO time setting anything up it was better in that sense. Kincaid throws us right into the nitty gritty immediately.

Extremely fast pacing, I’m talking about the kind of pacing where you can’t turn the pages fast enough to keep reading! I am a sucker for fast pacing and “The Empress” did not disappoint whatsoever, as I mentioned we are thrown into a breakneck speed at the start and it doesn’t let up until the last page. There wasn’t a single dull or boring moment!

And the twists! The twists! There are so many ridiculously good twists in this book and I fell for every single one! At one point during the story I think there were about 3 major twists on ONE PAGE. So yeah you definitely will not be bored with this book! There is a ridiculous amount of action and I felt so many emotions while reading, mostly I got so enraged by the antagonist that I wanted to crawl into the book and pummel him…but hey that’s how you know they’re doing their job and the author is a fantastic writer!

I also really, really enjoyed that Kincaid expanded a lot more on the world building for this series, seeing as how in “The Diabolic” we didn’t get much. It’s definitely really interesting and also a bit of a shocker too!

If you’re a fan of political intrigue, you’ll definitely love this. Trust me. Trust me!

Kincaid’s writing packs the usual punch, and by that I mean it was fantastic and made me an emotional roller coaster the entire time I read this book.

Also that cliffhanger ending will destroy you so be prepared!

characters

Really the only characters I continued to love were Nemesis and Tyrus and that’s simply because they’re really the only characters with any substance. They’re complex and develop A TON during the course of this story and really learn their limits. They both continue to be badasses out smarting everyone, which is all I will say!

There were a couple other secondary characters that were okay and came into the story a couple of times but they weren’t very complex or developed, in my opinion. Still they were there and definitely progressed the plot…..a lot.

The antagonist was pretty dang good though too in the sense that I wanted to choke them out the entire time…..just means they were well written because that’s what the author wanted you to think!

romance

I burn. I pine. I perish for this romance! I will always and forever be a big fan of Nemesis/Tyrus especially since I’ve been rooting for them since “The Diabolic” so of course their wonderful romance continued on in this book and made my heart happy.

in conclusion

Overall, I was very impressed with this sequel! Usually sequels, specifically in trilogies, suffer from middle book syndrome in which they really drag on and are mostly there to set up the last book. However, “The Empress” suffered no such syndrome! It packed a huge punch and still managed to set up the last book magnificently!

What I Loved:

  • Can I say literally everything?
  • Twists and political intrigue
  • Fast pacing, non stop action!
  • Great writing
  • Great main characters
  • The romance
  • Did I mention plot twists?
  • Great additional world building

What I Didn’t Love:

  • I kind of wish the secondary characters were a bit more important, but they did serve their purpose! (hence the 4.5 instead of full 5 star rating)

RECOMMEND

If you read “The Diabolic” and enjoyed it but aren’t sure if you want to read the sequel…do it. Just do it! It’s fantastic and I promise you, you will not be disappointed!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

The Sassy