20 YA Fantasy Stanadalones

20 YA Fantasy Standalones

Looking for a young adult fantasy novel but don’t want to get caught up in reading a series? Check out our list of YA fantasy standalones! Find our first list of YA fantasy standalone recommendations here.

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The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad

Candle and the Flame

Fatima lives in the city of Noor–only one of three humans not killed by the Shayateen djinn. Now, however, the city is ruled by the milder Ifrit djinn. But when one of the Ifrit djinn dies, Fatima finds herself drawn into the conspiracies of the ruling elite.

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We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett

The Union has been at war for years and the situation is growing desperate.  The draft age has been lowered once again and, even worse, the army is now reduced to recruiting women who wield illegal magic in order to power a new flight unit.  Revna is a disgraced factory worker whose skill manipulating the Weave gains her a spot in the unit.  Linné is the disgraced daughter of a general, angry she was caught serving in the regular army as a “boy.” Now they have to work together both to complete their missions and to gain the first women’s flight unit the respect it deserves.

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Cinderella Is Dead by Kaylynn Bayron

200 years ago, Cinderella married Prince Charming. Now, in her honor, the young maidens of the kingdom must appear each year at the king’s ball, where the men will choose their brides. Those who are not chosen are sentenced to a labor camp. Sixteen-year-old Sophia must attend this year, but she would rather marry her best friend Erin. So, she makes a desperate attempt escape, finding Cinderella’s last descendant in the process. Could it be that the fairy tale they have all been told was never true? This feminist retelling encourages readers to smash the patriarchy and choose their own destiny.

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Vial of Tears by Cristin Bishara

Vial of Tears cover

Sixteen-year-old sisters Samira and Rima don’t have the easiest lives. Their dad is dead and their mom regularly disappears, gambling away the little money then have. Then a mysterious box arrives from their Lebanese grandfather and, in it, a cursed coin sought by an angry god. Shortly the sisters find themselves in the Phoenician underworld, trying to escape.

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Lore by Alexandra Bracken

Lore Book Cover

Every seven years, nine Greek gods must become mortals and be hunted. The humans who defeat them become gods themselves. Lore turned her back on that life after her family was brutally murdered by a man now turned a god. But then a childhood friend asks for her help, as does the goddess Athena. Lore believes this is her chance to escape the hunt forever, but her alliance will come at a cost

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Into the Bloodred Woods by Martha Brockenbrough

Into the Bloodred Woods

Upon his death, King Tryan divides his land, giving half to his son Albrecht and half to his daughter Ursula. But Albrecht is not content with half. He overtakes her land and declares himself king. Now Ursula is gathering followers to take back what is hers–as well as the land that was Albrecht’s.

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Bright Ruined Things by Samantha Cohoe

Bright Ruined Things

Mae has spent her whole love on the island owned by the Prospers, and she dreams of being trained as a magician like the patriarch of the family. But then the spirits on the island start dying. And Mae might have to consider that the family’s magic is very different from what she thought.

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A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe

Daughter of a famous alchemist, Thea Hope longs to create the legendary Philosopher’s Stone with her mother. But when her mother destroys the Stone in a fit of madness, Thea finds herself shipped off to England to live with the father she has never met. She believes making the Stone could cure her mother–but others want the Stone and its power, as well.

House of Salt and Sorrow by Erin A. Craig

Annaleigh lives with her sisters in Highmoor Manor, a house by the sea. Once there were twelve of them, but four of her sisters are already dead, and Annaleigh is beginning to think that is no accident. Each night, she and her sisters sneak out to attend glittering balls. But who–or what–are they really dancing with? Now Annaleigh must place her trust in a mysterious and handsome stranger if she is to break the curse that haunts her family.

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Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray

Beasts of Prey

Sixteen-year-old Koffi is indentured to the Night Zoo, which houses terrible and fearsome creatures. Then one night she unleashes a power she did not know she possessed. On the run, she encounters a monster called a Shetani and a hunter named Ekon. Now all their fates are intertwined.=

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Deeplight by Frances Hardinge

Thirty years ago, the gods tore each other apart. Now scavengers search the deep for pieces of their bodies to sell for technology. When fifteen-year-old Hark finds a still beating heart of a long-dead deity, he uses it to heal his best friend Jelt. But Jelt starts to change. Can Hark prevent him from becoming a monster?

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Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

Descendant of the Crane Book Cover

Princess Hesina of Yan unexpectedly ascends the throne when her father is murdered. Determined to discover the culprit, Hesina consults an illegal soothsayer and uses the information she gains to hire a convicted criminal to investigate. But, with an unstable kindgom, Hesina will have to find answers before everything crumbles around her.

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Into the Heartless Wood by Joanna Ruth Meyer

In the forest, a witch captures souls to feed to the heartless tree, and thus expand her domain. But then one of her daughters, Seren, saves the life of a man. Seren longs to be human, but finds herself drawn into a war.

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Sing Me Forgotten by Jessica S. Olson

Because Isda can manipulate the memories of people who sing, she was cast in a well to die at birth. The owner of the opera house saved her. But now Isda finds herself attracted to the handsome Emeric–and in his memories a chance for her to escape the life she’s been given.

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Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Four Dead Queens

Seventeen-year-old Keralie Corrington is a skilled thief whose life becomes intertwined with that of Varin when she steals a package from him, thus endangering his life. But their interactions become more complicated when they find themselves investigating the deaths of four queens. Only by discovering the culprit can they save their own lives.

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Jade Fire Gold by June C. L. Tan

Altan is the lost heir to the throne. He believes that Ahn, a peasant girl with magical abilities, can help him reclaim his birthright and get revenge. But their quest puts both their lives in danger.

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Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Determined to prove himself a brujo to his family, Yadriel attempts to summon the ghost of his murdered cousin to set him free. Instead, his summons Julian, and Julian will not leave until he solves the mystery of his murder. Soon, Yadriel does not want Julian to leave at all.

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Lost in the Neverwoods by Aiden Thomas

Five years ago, Wendy and her brothers went missing. Only Wendy returned. Now, she has found an unconscious boy in the woods–a boy named Peter who seems to remember the time she cannot. He says that if they do not act, other children in the town will disappear, as well. But Wendy is not sure she is ready to face her past.

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A Rush of Wings by Laura E. Weymouth

Rowenna Winthrop has magic in her veins, but her mother Mairead will not teach her how to use it, believing that Rowenna lacks control. Then Mairead dies, leaving their Scottish village unprotected. And a woman wearing the shape of Mairead appears to take her place. She transforms Rowenna’s brothers into swans and takes Rowenna’s voice. Now Rowenna is on the run. And she will have to claim her power if she is to save her family.

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The Last Legacy by Adrienne Young

Bryn Roth has waited her whole life for the letter that arrives on her eighteenth birthday from her uncle Henrik. Now, finally, she can return to Bastian and take her rightful place in the family. But the Roths play a dangerous game, creating fake gemstones for trade, and they have many enemies in the city and abroad. If Bryn wants to survive, she will have to create her own stake to bring in money for the family. She just didn’t count on losing her heart in the process. A companion book to Fable and Namesake.

The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Hawthorne Legacy Book Cover

Information

GoodreadsThe Hawthorne Legacy
Series: Inheritance Games #2
Age Category: Young Adult
Source: Library
Published: December 2021

Summary

Avery thinks now that she might know why Tobias Hawthorne left her his fortune. But does she? The old man left another puzzle, this one suggesting that his long-lost son Toby is alive. And, if that’s true, Avery stands to lose everything she just gained.

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Review

I have to admit that I have confused and conflicted feelings about the second book in the Inheritance Games trilogy. While book one ended with a shocking cliffhanger–and a promise that this would be Xander’s game–The Hawthorne Legacy throws all of that away. Calling the book a “mystery” seems inaccurate, as there are few clues and few twists and turns, just Avery and her friends following a trail to a predetermined conclusion. And Xander? He conveniently fades into the background, so Avery can take over the game once more. The Hawthorne Legacy is entertaining, but it is not particularly clever or exciting. Read it if you love the characters, but not if you were hoping for something sleuthy.

Initially, I picked up book one in this series because reviews made it sound like a puzzle-solving thriller. That was barely true of book one, but certainly not true of The Hawthorne Legacy. Avery and her friends simply follow a trail laid out for them by Tobias Hawthorne, with very few red herrings, mistakes, or surprising twists. They have a good guess about what is happening early on and are simply on a mission to find evidence for their hunch. Expect no real shocks here. Additionally, none of the clues are that hard to figure out, and it seems silly that Avery and her friends often take so long to solve a clue when they are all supposed to be so incredibly intelligent.

The characters are probably what will keep most fans of the book reading, but those fans will have to be content with the continuing love triangle. Love triangles are usually bad enough, but it worse here because two of the participants are brothers and, well, that is more than a little icky. Avery spends a lot of the book making out with Jameson, wondering about Grayson, and trying to decide if she is actually willing to get close to someone or if she is allowed to, as Max would say, just have fun without worrying about making a commitment. (Which actually seems unfair to the two boys wanting to win her heart, since I read them both as being serious and wanting more than a fling.) One needs some suspension of disbelief to accept that Avery’s life is in danger, but her biggest worry is about which boy she ought to be kissing.

I was actually really excited for this book because the finale of book one suggested that it would focus on Xander, Thea, and Rebecca teaming up to win the game. Having new focal characters was exciting! I was highly disappointed, then, to realize that the book is still narrated by Avery and that Xander gets shoved aside by Avery and Jameson as they take over the puzzle. Xander happily lets them. Frankly, I think Xander would be a more likable character than Avery, so this is a shame.

And my criticism of book one, where the narrator seems to think readers are not clever enough to deduce anything on their own? That still happens here. Avery describes a scene or reads a clue, then breaks it down into small sentences, then gives readers the conclusion. This happens even a puzzle is not involved. For instance, when Avery happens upon two people kissing, she will say something like, “X had Y pressed up against the wall. Her hands were in Y’s hair. Their clothes were tousled. They were…kissing.” As if readers could not have figured out they were kissing from the five sentences previously describing the kiss. It makes Avery seem none too bright that she has to overthink everything before coming to the obvious conclusion, but it also makes it seem like the narrator thinks the readers need everything spelled out, too. Maybe it does not help that I listened to the audiobook, and the narrator always makes Avery seems so surprised.

The book ends by wrapping up pretty much all the questions from book one, so book three honestly feels kind of optional at this point, unless there is some big reveal throwing into question what we learned about Avery’s past. From what I gathered, book three will focus on [potential spoiler] finding two of the Hawthorne brother’s fathers. [end spoiler] To me, that makes book three a fun bonus for fans of the series. But, I am baffled that the author would wrap up all the big, main questions before the series is actually over.

Final verdict? A good book for fans who just want more of the Hawthorne brothers. But not an edge-of-your seat mystery or thriller.

3 Stars

We Need to Stop Expecting Library Workers to Do Literally Everything

I do not work at a library. But as someone who knows many library workers in real life and online and who is active in the book community online, I cannot help but realize that the expectations that the public (and often politicians) have for libraries and their employees are getting out of control.

When someone applies to work in a library, they are, like everyone else with a job, applying to a position with a job description. Generally, that job description involves things like being responsible for checking out books, providing customer service related to the library collection, purchasing books, creating programming for children or adults, etc.  And yet the public routinely expects library workers to do an ever-expanding set of tasks that they did not apply to do, and which they may have no actual qualifications to successfully perform.

For instance, to be successful at children’s programming, one might be expected not only to know about children’s books and childhood development, but also to have a wide variety of extra talents so they can offer programs on sewing, baking, scrapbooking, photography, drawing, cosplaying and more.  They weren’t hired to be an artist and no one asked about their art skills in their interview, but they’re expected to have enough of those skills to create monthly programs on varying artistic topics.  Similarly, I know library workers who have been asked to offer language or STEM programming. Whether a library worker is fluent in the language used in the program or whether they have any academic background in STEM was not a factor in hiring, and the worker might be trying to teach themselves enough that they can then teach kids.

During the pandemic, libraries were suddenly expected to provide communities with free computers and wi-fi to compensate for the fact that school districts were not providing them to students suddenly asked to learn from home. And, more recently, many libraries have been volunteered as pick-up spots for COVID rapid tests. I’ve seen largely positive responses from the public about this program; it’s so convenient to go to the library to get a test! Yet no one asked library workers if they WANTED their daily workplace to become a spot for people who likely have COVID to constantly walk in—and, just like the rest of us, they probably do not.

I have a completely non-healthcare-related job. My coworkers have been COVID-averse throughout the pandemic, and many are still resisting return to in-office work. If my job (which, again, is not related to COVID or healthcare in any conceivable way) told us to return to the office AND become a location for people with COVID to pop in to get a rapid test, there would be an employee riot. People would quit. They would demand to continue working from home in order to avoid infection. Caring for public health is not in our job descriptions. It’s not in any library worker’s job description either, yet people expect library workers to simply pivot and do it.

There is room for libraries to expand their roles, of course.  Many don’t offer just books, magazines, and movies.  They might offer notary or passport services (which their employees are actually trained to do), and they might let patrons borrow anything from board games to baking pans to seeds for their gardens.  But, please, let’s stop expecting libraries to do EVEYTHING, especially things they didn’t sign up to do and are not trained to do.  If a town wants a community center that provides tax preparation, a food bank, mental health services, COVID rapid test pick-up, and classes on computer programming, the town should build an actual community center and hire people with degrees in social services, healthcare, and computer science to staff it.

Disclaimer: I know in some library systems, particularly bigger or better-funded ones, that there can be experts that come in and run these programs and services instead of the library staff, but that is not true at every library, and there are too many places where, yes, library workers are asked to do anything from help do taxes to teach a chemistry class.

Briana

The Dark Queens: The Bloody Rivalry That Forged the Medieval World by Shelley Puhak (ARC Review)

Dark Queens book cover

Information

Goodreads: The Dark Queens
Series: None
Age Category: Adult
Source: Netgalley
Publication Date: February 22, 2022

Official Summary

The remarkable, little-known story of two trailblazing women in the Early Middle Ages who wielded immense power, only to be vilified for daring to rule.

Brunhild was a Spanish princess, raised to be married off for the sake of alliance-building. Her sister-in-law Fredegund started out as a lowly palace slave. And yet—in the 6th-century Merovingian Empire, where women were excluded from noble succession and royal politics was a blood sport—these two iron-willed strategists reigned over vast realms for decades, changing the face of Europe.

The two queens commanded armies and negotiated with kings and popes. They formed coalitions and broke them, mothered children and lost them. They fought a years-long civil war—against each other. With ingenuity and skill, they battled to stay alive in the game of statecraft, and in the process laid the foundations of what would one day be Charlemagne’s empire. Yet after Brunhild and Fredegund’s deaths—one gentle, the other horrific—their stories were rewritten, their names consigned to slander and legend.

In The Dark Queens, award-winning writer Shelley Puhak sets the record straight. She resurrects two very real women in all their complexity, painting a richly detailed portrait of an unfamiliar time and striking at the roots of some of our culture’s stubbornest myths about female power. The Dark Queens offers proof that the relationships between women can transform the world.

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Review

The Dark Queens is an utterly immersive work of narrative nonfiction that had wide-eyed and gasping more than any fiction book I’ve read in the past several months. Though the book is focused on Queens Brunhild and Fredegund, the cast of characters is massive, and the complexity and wildness of their political, personal, and military maneuvers is truly something to behold. I couldn’t get enough of this story, and I hope it makes the “Dark Ages” more accessible and interesting to other readers.

Puhak’s work is clearly rooted in an enormous amount of research. There are footnotes (though not so many they interrupt the flow of the story) and direct quotes from sources like Gregory of Tours where applicable. (Unfortunately, very little survives of Brunhild’s or Fredegund’s own words.) There are moments where Puhak is obviously conjecturing, about what Brunhild or Fredegund was probably feelig at some point or about what the city would have looked like from their bedroom windows, etc., but this, too, is clearly grounded in some sort of research (ex. what did this city look and sound like in general at this time period, to their best of our knowledge?), and a careful reader will be able to mentally note the pieces where Puhak seems to be filling in the gaps a bit. Her educated guesses do make the book read more smoothly (again, it’s narrative nonfiction), which I think readers will generally appreciate and find keeps the book engaging.

And engaging it is. I can hardly remember the last time I read a nonfiction book this quickly and with an urgent sense to find out what on earth was going to happen next– because what happened next was always absolutely crazy. Brunhild comes across as brilliant and calculating but one of the more level-headed actors in the story, while Fredegund is fierce about getting rivals out of her ways and cool with being accused of a wide number of murders. The men go about marrying and divorcing and killing and invading everyone left and right, betraying each other and making up and acting like this is all totally normal. What a time to be alive, either as someone in power who had to participate in all this scheming or as a poor peasant who had to wonder month to month exactly what kingdom they belonged to now.

One of the author’s goals is to revive the history specifically of Brunhild and Fredegund, two powerful women who ruled something amounting to an empire, whose contributions to society would be systematically erased by their successors. And the book does do that. I do think, in spite of Puhak’s efforts, that Brunhild comes across as more “sympathetic” than Fredegund, who murdered tons of people and was even violent with her own daughter, but Fredegund is clearly brilliant at playing politics and a force to be reckoned with, and I can see the arguments that people were/are to be less likely to bat an eye at man who’s as violent at she is. I, however, do think the book expands a lot beyond the two women; it’s an excellent portrayal of the region as a whole during this time period, with a large network of actors striving to take land and power.

You don’t need to be a nonfiction fan to enjoy this one. The strong narrative voice and the wild action of the story will keep you engaged even if you’re normally just a fiction reader. I don’t know if a fantasy author could have made stuff up that’s this fast-paced and, at times, downright bizarre. Seriously, go pick this one up when it’s released February 2022.

Briana
5 stars

My Fine Fellow by Jennieke Cohen (ARC Review)

My Fine Fellow Book Cover

Information

Goodreads: My Fine Fellow
Series: None
Age Category: Young Adult
Source: Netgalley
Publication Date: January 11, 2022

Official Summary

It’s 1830s England, and Culinarians—doyens who consult with society’s elite to create gorgeous food and confections—are the crème de la crème of high society.

Helena Higgins, top of her class at the Royal Academy, has a sharp demeanor and an even sharper palate—and knows stardom awaits her if she can produce greatness in her final year.

Penelope Pickering is going to prove the value of non-European cuisine to all of England. Her contemporaries may scorn her Filipina heritage and her dishes, but with her flawless social graces and culinary talents, Penelope is set to prove them wrong.

Elijah Little has nothing to his name but a truly excellent instinct for flavors. London merchants won’t allow a Jewish boy to own a shop, so he hawks his pasties for a shilling a piece to passersby—but he knows with training he can break into the highest echelon of society.

When Penelope and Helena meet Elijah, a golden opportunity arises: to pull off a project never seen before, and turn Elijah from a street vendor to a gentleman chef.

But Elijah’s transformation will have a greater impact on this trio than they originally realize—and mayhem, unseemly faux pas, and a little romance will all be a part of the delicious recipe.

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Review

With some delightful twists on history and pages of delectable food descriptions, My Fine Fellow is an entertaining take on my My Fair Lady that will have readers’ stomachs grumbling and their hearts hoping for a happy ending for Elijah.

While the book does feel long at times with its extensive descriptions of food, cooking technique, history, and the characters’ pasts interrupting the action, many readers may enjoy these interludes as they can get some real tips for making delicious meals and pastries and learn more about how Jews were treated in England during the early 1800s. Even the main characters are not always free from prejudice on certain topics, adding realism to the book even as it provides those characters an opportunity to grow.

The best part, I believe, is the focus on cooking competitions. I love a good book about the culinary arts, and My Fine Fellow has enough to keep any reader satisfied on this point, with its featuring of a wide variety of foods and techniques and inspiration from various cultures. It will be hard to read this without getting hungry.

The characters are bit hit-or-miss for me. Helena is absolutely insufferable, and while I understand that’s the entire point of her characterization, it at times made reading this book an irritating experience rather than an entertaining one. She’s also snotty and stuffy, and I often wanted to laugh at her way of speaking, which is ironic considering her goal is to teach Elijah how to speak like her. Penelope and Elijah are a bit more well-rounded, and they also have bigger struggles to deal with than Helena does, which grounds them a bit.

My Fine Fellow stands out for its focus on food, and I think readers who enjoy YA historical fiction that provides real insight into history while also making creative alterations and not always taking itself series will like this one.

Briana
3 Stars

How Might the Pandemic Permanently Change Public Libraries?

Libraries are always evolving, sometimes because of new technology, sometimes because of their needs of their community. And sometimes a global pandemic changes everything. Here are some ways that I think public libraries might change in response to shifting usage habits as a result of the pandemic.

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Smaller DVD Collections

Many people subscribed to streaming services during the start of lock-downs and while public libraries were closed. This may reduce the demand for DVDs in the future, leading libraries to slim down their collections and allocate money for other parts of the collection–perhaps for more ebooks or other digital content.

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Less Computer/Internet Usage

Public libraries pride themselves on the ability to meet the needs of the community beyond books and one of their biggest selling points in recent years has been that they provide public computer and internet access, and often even WiFi hotspots for patrons to check out. Since the pandemic has highlighted the digital divide, however, many local governments have looked at internet access more closely. If internet access is expanded in the future, fewer people will have to go to the public library for this service.

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More Hybrid Programs to Increase Accessibility

Many libraries purchased subscriptions to digital platforms that allowed them to do virtual programming during the pandemic. Some may choose to keep virtual or hybrid programming as an option so they can reach people who cannot make it to programs in person.

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New Services to Increase Accessibility

Some libraries may choose to keep other services that they began to offer during the pandemic. Curbside checkout, for instance, may be a permanent feature at some libraries, as might other ideas libraries experimented with–kits for pickup, librarian-curated book bundles for checkout, etc.

What are your predictions for the future of libraries? And how might they evolve in response to the pandemic?

What Is the Ideal Posting Schedule for a Book Blog?

What Is the Ideal Posting Schedule for Book Blogs?

We post fairly frequently at Pages Unbound about our experiences gaining blog traffic. We have suggested general strategies, talked about Pinterest, and discussed how non-generic graphics could help. However, we have not yet fully touched upon the question of posting frequency. Does posting more often increase blog traffic? And is there an ideal amount that book bloggers should try to post?

Unfortunately, I do not have any hard data about the relationship between posting frequency and blog traffic, only my anecdotal experiences and personal preferences. As a reader, I do know that I consult posting frequency when visiting a new blog and deciding whether or not to follow. If a month has passed without a new post, and no notice of a hiatus, I think the blog might no longer be active and I might not bother to follow. But even if I scroll through the past posts and see that the regular posting frequency is only once a month or less, I might not decide to follow. Because I have no established relationship with or knowledge of the blogger, I do not know if the posts will continue when they seem infrequent. I have seen many blogs begin and end very quickly, and so, especially if a blog is very new, a lack of frequent posts can be a sign for concern for me, the reader.

If I am already familiar with a blogger and their work, posting frequency might matter less to me. I would in this case have some idea that so-and-so posts only infrequently, but that is just their habit. They have not disappeared and I should not remove the blog from my reader when I go to clean it out (which I do periodically). However, the key here is that I still need to be familiar with the blogger. I need to remember who they are when a new post appears again. If a blogger posts very infrequently, I might actually forget who they are and why I followed the blog in the first place. Especially if, in the interim, the blogger has changed the website design or even the focus of the entire blog. Ideally, blogs should be updated often enough that readers still recognize them and are not confused when a new post is published.

To me, a post at least once at week seems like the minimum for bloggers who want to stay on readers’ radar–especially if a blog is just starting out. Showing consistency and keeping content in front of people is really important for new bloggers because this is the time to build a brand, so to speak. Gaining that initial audience is hard–but it is even harder when that potential audience cannot find new content to read, comment on, and wait for expectantly. Once a blog has a number of regular followers, posting frequency can probably drop because there is enough back content for readers to engage with while waiting for new material.

Here at Pages Unbound, we post daily–but that is probably not an achievable goal for most. We are able to do so in part because there are two of us. Most blogs, however, only have one person doing everything–and there is a lot to do from photography to graphic design to social media to commenting to actually writing content. And real life always has to come first. What I can say from posting daily, however, is that posting frequently really does matter when it comes to gaining more views. The more content a blog has, the more there is for readers to discover, connect with, and maybe even link back to. Additionally, more content means more for people to find when using search engines. At this point of our blog’s life cycle, most of our daily traffic actually does come from search engine hits and not other bloggers. Interspersing evergreen content with other types of posts can help bloggers gain traffic this way.

Ultimately, how often one should post will come down to one’s personal schedule, preferences, and audiences. However, bloggers seeking to grow their traffic may want to keep a few tips in mind. Posting more often can result in more traffic because there is more for people to read and engage with. And bloggers just starting out should post more frequently at least in the beginning, so readers know what kind of content to expect from the blog and so they can be reassured that the blog will stay active. There is no magic formula for successful blogging. But delivering quality content with some consistency can certainly help grow an audience.

Other Resources:

7 Book-Related Blog Post Ideas for When You Haven’t Read Anything Recently

Bookish Post Ideas

Need a post idea, but haven’t read anything recently? Here are some book-related post ideas for your book blog!

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Movie and TV Reviews

Book-to-film adaptations come out all the time! If you have not read a book recently, why not review a film or a TV show that is book-related? And there are plenty of twists to put on this. You can talk about changes you liked (or didn’t), or do a “Who did it better?” type of post. You could even come up with your dream cast for an upcoming adaptation, if you do not have a film ready to review.

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Game Reviews

Books can inspire more than movies. If you enjoy playing a game that is book-related–anything from a Lord of the Rings board game to a Nancy Drew video game. Or, if you do not want to do an entire game review, you can do mini reviews, lists of recommendations, or even a reflection on what playing a certain game has meant to you. You could even come up with a list of your dream games, or books that need games!

Collection Tour

Show off your bookish merch! Highlight special editions, beautiful covers, and cool illustrations. Or take pictures of some of your non-book bookish items–figurines, bookends, bookmarks, tote bags, T-shirts, whatever!

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Recommendation Posts

Recommendation posts do not have to start with books. Try recommending titles for people who enjoyed a certain movie, TV show, video game, or music album.

Quizzes

Everyone loves a good quiz! Try coming up with a personality quiz or a trivia quiz based on a favorite book.

How-to-Read Guide

Are you a fan of a long or complicated series or franchise? Explain to readers how the series works. What is a good starting point? Do they need to read the books in any certain order? Or can they jump in wherever they want? (Such a guide will work for comics, too!)

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Cover Commentary

Highlight several covers of one of your favorite books–then discuss. Do some work better than others? Are some completely off base? Which ones are your favorites and why?

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Nancy Drew PC Game Review: Warnings at Waverly Academy

Autumn means it is time for a Nancy Drew game–particularly a spooky one! Having played Warnings at Waverly Academy before, I already knew who the culprit was. However, I also knew that while the game has a slightly spooky atmosphere, it would not keep me awake at night. Mentions of black cats and a bit of creepy chanting are about all I can handle! While not HerInteractive’s longest or most complicated game, Warnings at Waverly Academy game me what I wanted–a few hours of fun puzzle solving along with the iconic Nancy Drew.

The Nancy Drew PC games can vary quite a bit in quality, length, and even format. While I appreciate the educational aspects of the games, I do not particularly enjoy the ones where Nancy has to read books of information or read museum exhibit signs, and then pass quizzes in order to advance. Having information dropped more organically or be part of a puzzle (like the many puzzles that require gamers to learn musical notes) makes the game more fun. Warnings at Waverly Academy delivers organic information for the most part, making it more enjoyable than tedious.

Warnings at Waverly Academy also appeals to me because I love when Nancy has to take on jobs, or chores. Not everyone likes these diversion from the main game, but mini games like serving up trays in the snack shop usually prove really entertaining for me. And they can make the game feel longer, as well. Unfortunately, however, this game has more diversions than just Nancy’s snack duties. She also has to play darts (and air hockey) repeatedly with another student, and she spends most of her time at the Academy running around doing chores (and homework assignments, for some reason) for the other girls. It sometimes felt like Nancy was too busy being taken advantage of by catty prep students for her to actually start solving the mystery.

The plot and mystery of the game are lacking a bit. I thought, from the interviews and the clues, that the culprit’s motivations were going to be different from what they actually were. I also thought the sudden reveal of hidden chambers and traps–while pretty standard in Nancy Drew games–seemed a bit out of place. And, ultimately, despite the culprit’s previous crimes, which included locking a claustrophobic student in a closet and giving a student with allergies something they were allergic to, I was still left wondering if the culprit was really capable of murdering Nancy. The characterization just is not there.

The game play, however, is largely satisfying. Nancy has plenty of places to explore and numerous characters to interview, so the game never feels like it is stagnating. Also, the puzzles and clues are (at senior level) are about the right bit of challenging. I never felt bored solving the puzzles, but I also never truly got stuck. More challenging puzzles might have been nice to extend the game play somewhat, but, overall, I was not upset that, for once, a puzzle was not proving to be overly frustrating.

Warnings at Waverly Academy may not be a standout among all the Nancy Drew games, but it is enjoyable. I liked the boarding school setting, the ability to interview numerous characters, and the options to run the snack shop or play other mini games (though air hockey is far easier to beat than darts). Playing reminded me of how much I love these games, so it might be time soon to replay another.

Do you play the Nancy Drew PC games?

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More on Nancy Drew

Sunny Makes a Splash by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm

Sunny Makes a Splash

Information

Goodreads: Sunny Makes a Splash
Series: Sunny #4
Age Category: Middle Grade
Source: Library
Published: 2021

Summary

Summer is here and, to escape babysitter her younger brother, Sunny gets a job serving snacks at the local pool. Watching the older kids flirt is like witnessing a real-life soap opera, too! But Sunny’s mom is having trouble realizing that her child is growing up.

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Review

Sunny Makes a Splash is my favorite Sunny yet. Our titular character returns for a delightful summer-themed story set at the local pool. The cute lifeguards, nostalgic snacks, and good old-fashioned fun all feel classic; this is what an American teen’s summer should look like (at least, according to the movies!). I adored the 1970s setting with its fashion, its food, and, yes, its dangerously high diving board. If only I could go on vacation with Sunny next year!

The 1970s setting is no doubt a good deal of the series’ charm, but the books go far beyond raising feelings of nostalgia. Though she is coming of age in another decade, Sunny feels completely relevant. She undergoes the same experiences as contemporary teens, trying to make her mother understand that she is growing up and feeling both interested in and baffled by flirting. Sunny’s easygoing nature is, however, what makes the books such a treat for me. Her unflappable attitude contrasts strongly in this installment with her mother’s worries, to great comedic affect.

Adding to the humor is an appearance by Sunny’s grandfather, who arrives unexpectedly for a visit when his home must undergo renovations. Sunny’s grandfather has always been delightful with his own positive approach to life. He really shines in this book, though, as he starts dating a woman and his daughter (Sunny’s mom) starts treating him like he is another teenager under her roof. Her attempts to send him to his room and impose curfews are hilarious, but her dad takes it all in stride.

Hints of romance also occur in this book for Sunny, which may please some of her readers. I found the potentially budding romance sweet, but was also pleased to see that, for now, Sunny and her love interest appear to be good friends. For what is a great romance built on, if not friendship? Perhaps future books will explore Sunny’s love life more in-depth. But I thought Sunny’s observations of the other workers at the pool–and their slightly convoluted flirting– were as entertaining as they were realistic.

Sunny Makes a Splash is a feel-good book that will transport readers to the ideal summer–an open pool, delicious food, good friends, and the possibility of romance. Absolutely wonderful.

4 stars