The Tea Machine by Gill McKnight

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First, how do you like the cover? Because I simply love it. I think it’s my favorite from all of the Ylva Publishing books yet.

And I’m so glad that the inside meets the promise of the outside, because The Tea Machine is an incredible read.

Here’s what’s in it:

Millicent Aberly is upset with her brilliant brother because he’s used her favorite parasol for his newest invention: a time machine. In the attempt to get at least a piece of the parasol back, she engages the machine and is catapulted to a strange place in a strange timeline, where a strange warrior woman dies because of her.

Trying to save this woman’s life over and over again, Millicent, her brother Hubert, and his fianceé Sophia are trying to walk the stony path of histories with as much dignity as it allows, changing the world and their own fates – maybe forever.

Well, there’s also a giant squid, Amazons, and steampunk galore in this story, but where to put it in a short blurb? This story is a breathless adventure with so many delicious parts that you can’t put them all together by retelling.

I’ve never read a steampunk novel, though I am intrigued by this subculture. And if all novels that include this phenomenon are as wild and wonderful as this one, well, then I’m a fan. McKnight understands the intricacies that come with time travel and never loses track of her story. I’m truly fascinated and enthused about her imagination.

There is some romance, but the story is more important. McKnight creates entertaining and charming characters and not all of them are human. But all of them are overwhelmed by the magnitude of Hubert’s invention and at a loss how everything will turn out in the end. McKnight takes the time to explain what happens. Her time travel story is well thought through and it’s possible to follow it and not get swallowed by plot holes, because there are none.

This is an entertaining, fascinating read. The only regret I have is that it was over too quickly, but as I’m told that there will be a sequel, The Parabellum, I’m looking forward to it.

Even if you’re not a fan of science fiction stories, even if you think steampunk is ridiculous, give this story a try. It’s really funny and smart and entertaining. Go, read!

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

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[translated from German by Anthea Bell]

I came across this trilogy last month when I had nothing to do one day and went to the movies. I didn’t want to watch anything in particular and ended up watching a young adult film I knew nothing about – Sapphire Blue (or rather the German version Saphierblau). I didn’t even know it was the second part of three, but I learned pretty quickly and I liked it.

I think I’ve always been fascinated by time travel (movie-wise). The Back to the Future-Trilogy is part of my childhood and I remember that I was the only one in my family who really got the plot. I haven’t read much about time travel, if anything, I didn’t even finish The Time Machine when I started reading it earlier this year. Still, fascinated, so I thought I’d read the books of this trilogy.

So far, I’m not disappointed. I’m not sure how the German version is written but I find the translation really good and easy to read. The plot is certainly interesting and rather fast-paced. I guess, that’s one of the aspects of writing (or filming) time travel, things happen fast and some things are simply not explained. It makes sense since the paradox of time travel – are things changing constantly after one trip to the past after another, or have things been this way because they have been changed and everybody knew all along – is difficult to solve.

Sorry, I forgot – the plot:

Gwendolyn Shepherd has never expected to be the one in her family to carry the time travel gene but then, one day, she’s pulled into the past and her life changes from there. The secret society bound to help her with this predicament is no help at all as they all expect her to betray them, and even fellow time traveller (and love interest), Gideon de Villiers, thinks she’s only a stupid goose. Gwen is reeling from new information and trips to the past. And that’s before she even knows about her cousin Lucy’s treason and Count Saint-Germain’s ability of scaring the heck out of her.

I like that Gier has not invented a new world, a different reality but rather deals with an exceptional situation in our society. Then again, she has created a secret society and is rather scetchy on the details, but she ties this scetchy-ness to what Gwen knows, or rather doesn’t know about it and it all makes sense again. The historical parts of her novel are well-researched but the mix of modern people in old times gives them a modern and sometimes comical touch.

Ruby Red is a great first volume of an intriguing trilogy – hopefully. It’s also a quick read. What I’m not entirely happy with is the short span of time that elapses. The first volume happens on two days. While a lot happens in that short span of time, it’s not a very promising premise for the trilogy. At this speed, the whole trilogy is over in a week. But other than that – if you like young adult novels and time travel and a young woman coming of age… go read.