ARC REVIEW: Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves – Meg Long

ARC provided by Wednesday Books.

Sled racing, a frozen planet, and wolves? I don’t believe there’s another book out there as perfectly tailored to my wants and needs as Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves. I’ve made it very clear in the past that if the title says “wolves” or “wolf” there is a one hundred percent chance of me reading it and this was no exception. I was so excited for a story about the bond between a wolf and girl, especially one that features sled racing (I mean, I named my husky Balto for crying out loud).

The worldbuilding is definitely the book’s strong point. The author did an amazing job creating a setting that was both believable and imaginative. The vivid descriptions easily bring to mind images of an inhospitable frozen planet and the feel of the sharp sting of cold winds on your face. It was so easy to feel transported into the story while reading. The entirety of the setting of Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves was detailed, well thought out, and excellently written.

I was truly expecting to love everything and anything about this book, but the pacing of the story needed some work. The actual sled race doesn’t happen until well past the halfway mark. The beginning half of the story spent way too long setting up for the events of the second half and I was getting frustrated. I felt like the same plot line was reused multiple times: Sena angers her boss, Sena runs away from her boss, Sena has to go back because she needs something–rinse and repeat until the race begins. My expectations of the story were hoping for a book that spent a majority of time following Sena and Iska during the sled race as they fought for survival in the deadly elements of their world.

Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves is a debut that I still highly recommend, despite my personal shortcomings. The worldbuilding and atmosphere of the novel is phenomenally written and who can resist a book about the bond between a wolf and girl and a deadly sled race?

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ½

ARC REVIEW: Lakesedge – Lyndall Clipstone

ARC provided by Henry Holt and Co. through NetGalley.

Lakesedge is the latest release in this year’s trend of dark, gothic fantasy stories featuring monster boys and magic. There was a lot to like about this book: the atmospheric setting, the vivid writing, the sibling relationship and found family.

The story follows Violeta, who is fiercely protective of her brother, Arien. Arien is plagued by a dark, dangerous magic that brings nightmares to life and Leta does whatever she can to keep him safe. The bond between them was one of the best parts of the book. The sibling love between them was beautifully written and fit in perfectly with the book’s theme of family–both blood and found. I also really loved the bonds that formed between Leta, Arien, Rowan, Clover, and Florence at Lakesedge. Each of them have their own insecurities and feelings of not belonging, and yet they all fit together.

The writing was strong and did a great job invoking the gothic vibes and atmospheric setting. The magical elements were both intriguing and eerie. I did feel a sense of disconnection with the story, however, which is why I didn’t rate it higher. I wanted to absolutely love this, but it just felt like there was a spark missing.

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ½

ARC REVIEW: All of Us Villains – Christine Lynn Herman & Amanda Foody

ARC provided by Tor Teen through NetGalley.

For a book marketed as a bloodier The Hunger Games, it was really lacking in the maiming and killing.

The premise of All of Us Villains is good. I was captivated by the synopsis and the magical tournament aspect and all that it entails was really intriguing. I kept seeing reviews calling this dark and bloody, but I think we read different books? None of the characters acted ruthless or unapologetically maniacal enough to be considered villains like the title suggests. I also struggled with the multiple POVs, most likely because I wasn’t invested in any of the characters other than Alistair.

The pacing felt off as well. It started out pretty slow and the action doesn’t really pick up until the tournament actually begins…which is almost halfway through the book. Then once the action started, it felt like the pacing and plot were moving too fast.

All in all, I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting but it wasn’t this. I love both these authors so I was really disappointed that I didn’t enjoy this.

⭐️ ⭐️

ARC REVIEW: Iron Widow – Xiran Jay Zhao

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ARC provided by Penguin Teen through NetGalley.

There are so many exciting elements to Iron Widow which made me really excited to read this. First of all, the tag line is Pacific Rim meets The Handmaid’s Tale loosely based on the first and only female Chinese Emperor. That alone made me immediately add this to my TBR. But also, it features mech pilots, fighting the patriarchy, and a polyamorous relationship.

“My body is mine and mine alone. I have chosen to use it for murder and vengeance. And I will succeed by any means necessary.”

Iron Widow started out strong and quickly hooked me into its story. Zetian can only be described as a badass. She’s hellbent on vengeance and is willing to do whatever she needs to to achieve those goals. She’s unapologetic and incredibly well-written. In fact, the strength of Iron Widow lies in the characters. Xiran Jay Zhao not only did a great job with writing her heroine, but the side characters as well are extremely fleshed out. 10/10 I would lay down my life for Li Shimin.

The plot throughout the book was very fast paced. It worked well for the first half of the story, but by the second half it only caused confusion. My biggest issue was that not much of the worldbuilding and science was not fully explained. Coupled with the fast pace, it felt like a whole lot was happening in the plot, but at the same time I couldn’t follow along.

“Female. That label has never done anything for me except dictate what I can or cannot do.”

I really loved the overall themes of feminism and the protogonist, Zetian. However, my brain started to get fatigued by the end of the book trying to figure out everything that was going on.

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ½

ARC REVIEW: The Heart Principle – Helen Hoang

ARC provided by Berkley through NetGalley.

I’ve been looking forward to reading Quan’s story for a long time, and while I really enjoyed reading it, there was just something missing that kept it from being a winner. The Heart Principle was more of an emotional read than the previous two, but it still contained the light-hearted, romantic charm of the rest of the series.

Continue reading “ARC REVIEW: The Heart Principle – Helen Hoang”