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?
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.
Title: Goddess in the Machine (Goddess in the Machine #1) Author: Lora Beth Johnson Rating: ★★★★
As soon as I read an excerpt of this on BookishFirst, I knew Goddess in the Machine was going to a book that thrilled me. The synopsis revolves around a girl who wakes from her cyrosleep 1000 years too late to a vastly different world, which ironically is a senario I had pondered a few months before hearing about this book. What were the odds?
Goddess in the Machine is about Andra, who was put into cyrosleep to wake in another planet with other colonists from Earth in 100 years, but ends up waking 1000 years later instead. Everyone she knows as long since been dead and now the descendants of those original colonists believe her to be an actual goddess, awakened to help save their failing city.
The worldbuilding was intriguing and fantastically written. It honestly was what drew me into the story from the first chapter. The story has a very apocalyptic feel; it reminded me a bit of The 100 which is a show I love. I also thought the “language” that was created was excellently construed. It was never over the top or confusing to figure out, but you were forced to think a bit harder about what was being said. It was totally believable how English could have changed and mutated over hundreds of years in that fashion. It was actually fun piecing together how certain words/phrases could have evolved into what was being said.
I absolutely loved the protagonist, Andra. It was very easy to sympathize with her and understand the loneliness and despair she must be feeling at her situation. At the same time, she remains determined to solve her problems as best she can while remaining true to herself. I also loved the representation she brings to the book: Andra is part-Asian and frequently describes herself as “chubby” or “fat”. I loved that she accepts her body for what it is and her weight is never the focal point or made out to be a negative attribute.
My favorite part of the book? The plot twists. It’s not often a book can take me completely by surprise but Goddess in the Machine succeeded three times. The first major plot twist was amazing. I honestly never saw it coming and nearly squealed in excitement. I love that feeling when reading! The second plot twist had a small hint earlier which I caught, but it seemed to far-fetched for me to consider so I was pleasantly surprised (and shocked) when I turned out to be right. The third plot twist happens just before the book ends and I will admit I was again caught in complete surprise by that turn of events. As I said, I’m usually pretty good about catching the hints or guessing at the twists, but Lora Beth Johnson did a tremendous job keeping the twists well-hidden until they needed to be revealed, yet at the same time they are totally believable and added so much to the story.
Goddess in the Machine is one of the most impressive debuts I’ve read this year. The apocalyptic sci-fi setting is the perfect backdrop for this amazing story. I absolutely cannot wait for the next book.
Title: TRUEL1F3 (Lifelike #3) Author: Jay Kristoff Rating: ★★★
ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.
TRUEL1F3 is packed full of the same non-stop action and thrills as the two previous installments and concludes the trilogy in a way that leaves the reader feeling satisfied. The Lifelike series was one hell of a ride and I would highly recommend it to any fan of YA Science Fiction.
The book picks up exactly where DEV1AT3 left off so it’s easy to fall right back into the story. Not to mention that once again Jay Kristoff blesses his readers by giving a short run-down of the plot/characters before the first chapter. Seriously, can we please make this a thing with all sequels? Instead of struggling to remember everything and everyone through the first few chapters, I can jump right in like no time at all has passed since the previous book.
My one issue with DEV1AT3 was that Eve’s POV wasn’t as prominent and she didn’t have as big of a voice in that book. I was super stoked to find that her and Lemon Fresh both had equal amounts of the proverbial limelight in TRUEL1F3. I was really glad to be back in Eve’s head, especially with all the emotional turmoil she was experiencing regarding her identity.
In all honesty, however, TRUEL1F3 didn’t stand up to the I had for LIFEL1K3 or the enjoyment of reading DEV1AT3. The book was non-stop action from the first page until the last, which I generally enjoyed, however it was almost too fast-paced at times where it felt like I was getting whiplash from being bounced back and forth every chapter. I also felt like there were some aspects where I needed more convincing, especially regarding Ezekiel’s true feelings. It seemed to get brushed over and we never really get inside his thoughts or emotions enough for it to convince the readers.
That being said, TRUEL1F3 wrapped up the trilogy nicely. If you enjoyed reading the other two books in this series, TRUEL1F3 will sure to please you as well!