Time Travel for Love and Profit was a surprising book for me. I was intrigued by the concept itself, because it’s not something that I’ve seen much of in YA, and not a genre that I’ve seen much of either, but I ended up enjoying it quite a lot.
When Nephele has a terrible freshman year, she does the only logical thing for a math prodigy like herself: she invents a time travel app so she can go back and do it again (and again, and again).
Fourteen-year-old Nephele used to have friends. Well, she had a friend. That friend made the adjustment to high school easily, leaving Nephele behind in the process. And as Nephele looks ahead, all she can see is three very lonely years.
Nephele is also a whip-smart lover of math and science, so she makes a plan. Step one: invent time travel. Step two: go back in time, have a do-over of 9th grade, crack the code on making friends and become beloved and popular.
Does it work? Sort of. Nephele does travel through time, but not the way she planned–she’s created a time loop, and she’s the only one looping. And she keeps looping, for ten years, always alone. Now, facing ninth grade for the tenth time, Nephele knows what to expect. Or so she thinks. She didn’t anticipate that her new teacher would be a boy from her long ago ninth grade class, now a grown man; that she would finally make a new friend, after ten years. And, she couldn’t have pictured someone like Jazz, with his deep violet eyes, goofy magic tricks and the quietly intense way he sees her. After ten freshman years, she still has a lot more to learn. But now that she’s finally figured out how to go back, has she found something worth staying for?
It’s hard to imagine how exactly a year ago, I sat down and posted my very first post (a review of The Devouring Gray, for those curious). This technically isn’t the true anniversary for my blog, as I had been working on the behind-the-scenes elements for longer, but today is what I consider my full first year of blogging, and I’m really proud of myself for that. Read on for what I’ve learned, what I’m proud of, and what my goals are!
My year in stats:
105 posts | 78,694 words | 44 reviews | Visitors from 63 countries | 585 spam comments
A Dark and Hollow Star drew me in for so many reasons (including but not limited to that cover) and I was so not disappointed by it. It appealed to the fantasy lover in me, as well as the nerdy RPG player, and Shuttleworth does such a good job of pulling all the elements that make an awesome fantasy story together into one magnificent book.
Genre: YA contemporary fae fantasy
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry (US), Hodder & Stoughton (UK)
Release Date: February 23rd, 2021
The “ironborn” half-fae outcast of her royal fae family. A tempestuous Fury, exiled to earth from the Immortal Realm and hellbent on revenge. A dutiful fae prince, determined to earn his place on the throne. The prince’s brooding guardian, burdened with a terrible secret.
For centuries, the Eight Courts of Folk have lived among us, concealed by magic and bound by law to do no harm to humans. This arrangement has long kept peace in the Courts—until a series of gruesome and ritualistic murders rocks the city of Toronto and threatens to expose faeries to the human world.
Four queer teens, each who hold a key piece of the truth behind these murders, must form a tenuous alliance in their effort to track down the mysterious killer behind these crimes. If they fail, they risk the destruction of the faerie and human worlds alike. If that’s not bad enough, there’s a war brewing between the Mortal and Immortal Realms, and one of these teens is destined to tip the scales. The only question is: which way?
I was curious about this book since I heard about it, as part of a cover reveal. It sounded very much up my alley, and although it’s not quite the same as you’d expect from the tagline, I still really enjoyed it. I also happened to recognise the name of one of the authors, and it turns out that I had read one of their previous works, The Shoebox Project (published online), which was a fun coincidence!
Genre: YA fantasy
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: 10th of November 2020 (US), 7th of January 2021 (UK)
Rags is a thief—an excellent one. He’s stolen into noble’s coffers, picked soldier’s pockets, and even liberated a ring or two off the fingers of passersby. Until he’s caught by the Queensguard and forced to find an ancient fae relic for a sadistic royal sorcerer.
But Rags could never have guessed this “relic” would actually be a fae himself—a distractingly handsome, annoyingly perfect, ancient fae prince called Shining Talon. Good thing Rags can think on his toes, because things just get stranger from there…
This Golden Flame is a YA fantasy novel featuring automatons, which have slowly been growing in popularity over the years. I didn’t consider it a ‘blow my socks off read’, but there were things I enjoyed (including the aroace MC) and I thought it was an easy read.
Genre: YA fantasy
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (UK), Inkyard (US)
Release date: February 2nd 2021
Orphaned and forced to serve her country’s ruling group of scribes, Karis wants nothing more than to find her brother, long ago shipped away. But family bonds don’t matter to the Scriptorium, whose sole focus is unlocking the magic of an ancient automaton army.
In her search for her brother, Karis does the seemingly impossible: she awakens a hidden automaton. Intelligent, with a conscience of his own, Alix has no idea why he was made. Or why his father – their nation’s greatest traitor – once tried to destroy the automatons.
Suddenly, the Scriptorium isn’t just trying to control Karis; it’s hunting her. Together with Alix, Karis must find her brother . . . and the secret that’s held her country in its power for centuries.
I was intrigued by this book when I first heard about it, because it didn’t sound quite like anything else I’d heard of. I read it fairly quickly, though it did take me a short while to get properly going, and I found it an overall enjoyable blend of historical influence and fantasy, though I did have some minor nitpicks.
Genre: Adult fantasy with historical influence, crossover appeal
Release date: January 12th
Dellaria Wells, petty con artist, occasional thief, and partly educated fire witch, is behind on her rent in the city of Leiscourt—again. Then she sees the “wanted” sign, seeking Female Persons, of Martial or Magical ability, to guard a Lady of some Importance, prior to the celebration of her Marriage. Delly fast-talks her way into the job and joins a team of highly peculiar women tasked with protecting their wealthy charge from unknown assassins.
Delly quickly sets her sights on one of her companions, the confident and well-bred Winn Cynallum. The job looks like nothing but romance and easy money until things take a deadly (and undead) turn. With the help of a bird-loving necromancer, a shapeshifting schoolgirl, and an ill-tempered reanimated mouse named Buttons, Delly and Winn are determined to get the best of an adversary who wields a twisted magic and has friends in the highest of places.
Rating: 4/5 stars
The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry is a very peculiar sort of book. It’s at once an action story, as well as a historical romance, and a fantasy. There are moments where this didn’t quite fit together, and there were moments where it really, really did. There are some darker themes, but the book itself isn’t particularly dark, and once you get into the story, it certainly becomes an enjoyable read.
The writing is the first thing that is immediately noticeable when reading this novel: it’s fairly unique, and very much tailored to the main character Delly’s way of speaking. This had its positives, and its negatives. Even though it was third person POV, the writing meant that it was very easy to understand Delly as a character and get a feel for her distinctiveness. This meant that a lot of her character, and her perspective of what was going on, was shown and not told, which helped the story flow without clunky sections. However, it was also an adjustment to get used to because it was so unique. It didn’t take more than a couple of chapters to get used to, but there were some turns of the phrase, and especially world building elements, that weren’t quite clear and that were a little off-putting. Ultimately, though, it did level out and very much lent a distinctive tone to the book.
I think one of my biggest issues with this book, which is still fairly minor, was that it wasn’t quite what I was expecting from the blurb. I went into the story expecting it to be an intrepid adventure with a group of magical women protecting someone, but that really only applied to the first part. The rest was very much ‘taking down a drug distribution ring to try and find someone’, which was unexpected. This wasn’t a bad thing, as this latter half of the book was still a very interesting story. The pacing did get thrown off a little bit in the transition from adventure to more subtle action, but overall the balance of the two worked out well. The ending fit the tone of the story and the direction the characters had taken, even though it was slightly more subdued. Everything worked out nicely in the end, which made this a satisfying book to finish.
One thing I liked a lot was the characters. There’s a fairly large cast of supporting characters that appear at various points, with very few men of much significance, and none as main character, but the two that we see the most of are Delly and Winn. Neither are particularly similar to the characters who tend to feature in similar books, which is why I liked them so much. Delly is very rough around the edges, fairly self-contained, and though she does change throughout the book, she still stays very much Delly. There’s no sort of push for her to polish up, or to leave behind her roots in the rougher areas of town, and Winn is a similar story, because I don’t think I’ve ever come across a love interest who was part troll and said things like ‘regulation hammerball’. Winn was clear and honest, and I love how kind she was but also how determined she was to do the right thing. Absentia Dok was a fairly major secondary character, and though she was certainly a very accomplished lady and knew exactly that, she still had a fairly open outlook regarding Delly especially.
I had fun reading this book, and I remember good things about it. It’s quite a genre-blending book, with influences from different areas and a plot that reflects that, but I enjoyed the way it was done. There were a lot of things to like, even if there were some things I did, and the main relationship was handled well without feeling like it took over the story. Definitely a recommendation from me, if you like quirky, fun, new stories with lots of women who just are, without needing a reason.
How do you feel about quirky writing styles? Does this book interest you?
Be Dazzled was a delightfully nerdy and crafty book, from the author of one of my favourite books of 2019. I thought it was really well written and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes cosplay and second chance romance. With the announcement of La Sala’s third book, I also can’t wait to see what comes next.
A third of this list is made up of titles relating to fire, so I’m certainly sensing a trend here. 2021 is packed with exciting releases, with more and more being announced each day, but I’ve had to narrow it down to just nine releases from February to July for this post. Hopefully at least a couple of these will pique your interest, if they haven’t already!
I actually first read Winter’s Orbit as Course of Honor so naturally I was going to want to read the published version too. It ticks all of my trope boxes, and it’s set in space! Somehow I managed to love it even more this time, because it really levelled up, and I can’t recommend it enough.
January has been a bit of a weird month for me, because everything is so uncertain right now. Considering January is named after the Roman god Janus, who has two faces, I feel like that’s an apt etymology for the duality that this month has had. I did manage to put a dent into my TBR, which has been good, and I’m happy with what I posted this month too. You may also have noticed the new theme – I’m really happy with how my blog is looking, and especially the graphics that I’ve been making!
What I Read in January
Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala (5 stars) – I really loved this heartwarming cosplay story!
Tales of the Hinterlands by Melissa Albert (3.5 stars) – Very atmospheric but slightly samey
Star Wars: Ahsoka by EK Johnston (4.5 stars) – My first Star Wars book!
City of the Plague God by Sarwat Chadda (5 stars) – Everything I love about middle grade
Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell (5 stars) – I loved this so much, it’s hard to put into words
Queen’s Peril by EK Johnston (4 stars) – I wasn’t the hugest fan of this, but I still thought it was interesting
The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry by C.M. Waggoner (4 stars) – This took a while to get into but it was very entertaining!
Of Giants and Ice by Shelby Bach (5 stars) – This was a reread from years ago, and it’s still as good as it was then.
A Curse of Roses by Diana Pinguicha (4.5 stars) – This was a very lush novel, and I loved the historical elements.
January was a fairly good month for me posting-wise, but in February I’d like to be more lenient with myself in terms of posting. Sometimes posting multiple times a week can be a bit much, and that’s something I’d like to work on not doing when I don’t feel like it. Blogging is supposed to be fun! I think it would also be nice to post more on my Instagram, but that’s far more variable than my blogging, which is saying something.
I have several reviews to catch up on (hopefully they won’t be posted too close together!) and some January books to finish reading, but I’m also going to try and read more books that I just feel like reading. February is also usually the time I do my first RWRB reread of the year, so that’s on the cards for this month.