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?
**** 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.
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.
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!
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!
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:
What I Didn’t Love:
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.
Octavia has only ever had one goal: to follow in the footsteps of her parents and become a prestigious whitecoat, one of the scientists who study the natural wonders of Faloiv. The secrets of the jungle’s exotic plants and animals are protected fiercely in the labs by the Council of N’Terra, so when the rules suddenly change, allowing students inside, Octavia should be overjoyed.
But something isn’t right. The newly elected leader of the Council has some extremist views about the way he believes N’Terra should be run, and he’s influencing others to follow him. When Octavia witnesses one of the Faloii—the indigenous people of Faloiv—attacked in front of her in the dark of night, she knows the Council is hiding something. They are living in separate worlds on a shared planet, and their fragile peace may soon turn into an all-out war.
With the help of Rondo, a quiet boy in class with a skill for hacking, and her inquisitive best friend, Alma, Octavia is set on a collision course to discover the secrets behind the history she’s been taught, the science she’s lived by, and the truth about her family.
****Huge thank you to HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!****
Trigger Warning: Animal Abuse & Experimentation
This book really surprised me in the best possible way, I was not expecting to love it this much!
“A Conspiracy of Stars” is a bit slow to start as it slowly introduces us to the characters and the planet of Faloiv, however, world building and plot were definitely enough to keep my interest regardless of the slower pacing. The pacing and action really does pick up in the second half of the book though, there were some great twists!
As I mentioned there are some pretty great twists in this story, although many of them I found to be predictable but that didn’t make them any less enjoyable! However, the main focus of the story is on Octavia and her friends who are interns in the labs studying the local fauna. That’s all I want to really say since I don’t want to spoil anything! And that cliffhanger at the end was awesome and I will definitely be anticipating the sequel!
The world building was absolutely fantastic in this book, it’s very unique and creative but I would say it’s safe to compare it to Avatar (the movie, not the Last Airbender!) with the native people, Faloii, and native plants and creatures. I was enthralled with the planet of Faloii, there was a lot of detail and thought put into it and I really can’t wait for the sequel so I can learn more!
However, since a lot of the book focuses on the human settlers on Faloiv and their scientific experiments it can get very emotional at times. Some of the scientists are cruel and subject these poor creatures to cruel experiments, it’s heart-breaking. That being said there are good characters that do everything in their power to help though.
I also thought the writing flowed well and was very descriptive, although it would have been nice to get some more character description.
While I really liked the characters in this story I just felt like they were a little…distant at times. I do think that Octavia especially could have used a bit more personality as the main character and the side characters could have used a little more development too.
Octavia and her friends, in general, were all pretty likable and sweet. They must be protected at all costs because of their adorableness! I thought the friendships were portrayed positively and well, they were all very loyal to each other.
Even with the lack of character descriptions there were some hints at diversity in the characters too, such as many characters being described as having brown skin and one character who has two dads.
There is a bit of romance in this book and it definitely doesn’t take the spotlight at all, which is nice especially in YA. It’s also more slow burn and develops from a friendship, they were pretty cute!
What I Loved:
What I Didn’t Love:
I highly, highly recommend checking this book out! It’s beautifully written and is an incredibly unique YA Sci-Fi that really breaks the mold in my opinion.
****SPOILERS FOR “THE DIABOLIC” BELOW!****
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?
**** 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.
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!
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!
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.
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:
What I Didn’t Love:
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!