Favourite Fictional Father Figures!

Richard Manners in Geek Girl

It just so happens that any one of these favourites posts can be used to promote the Geek Girl series. Funny, that. Richard is a fantastic dad. He may not always make the right decisions, or completely understand his daughter, but he’s there to support her (by taking free trips to Russia!) and generally be a maverick of the household. We absolutely love that Holly Smale wrote a family that inverts the tradition of the mother to be the one to stay at home and the dad to do the work. It’s so positive to see.

Hagrid in Harry Potter and Whatever He’s Up To

Every one who’s ever compiled a list like this is guaranteed to have any male character bar the Malfoys and Voldemort from Harry Potter. Out of every other contender for best father figure, I’ve chosen Hagrid because he’s the only one, in my opinion, who loves Harry because he wants to. Lupin and Sirius love him because he’s a miniature James, and brings back a piece of their shared past. Dumbledore cares for him because he turns out to be a selfish pusher of his own agenda. Hagrid loves him, full stop. Yes, he may put Harry in the radius of dangerous magical creatures, but whatever.

Dad Edwards in Second Chance Summer

I may not know his name, but he’s crucial to the story, and still manages to give Taylor some beautiful life lessons with the time he has left. This was a difficult father-daugther relationship to read about because illness gets in the way, and neither of them want to admit that their time is limited, but I think this story really proves how much loved ones matter to a person, and that no matter how much time you have with someone, it’s always worth being together. Excuse me while I go sob now.

Mr Bennett in Pride and Prejudice

A man that loves his daughters and irritating his wife. Although P&P definitely isn’t a comedy, Mr Bennett provided the light hearted jokes just when you needed them, and didn’t really care about what society thought of his family, as long as they were happy. I also really appreciated how he didn’t shame Lydia for what happened to her, whereas Mrs Bennett was distraught for days. No wonder everyone likes their father best!

Dad Marx in The Museum of Heartbreak

He just loved dinosaurs and wanted to share that love with the world, even in inappropriate scenarios. Dinner party conversation? Dinosaurs. Break up conversation? Dinosaurs. Definitely one of the stand out characters of a rather wishy-washy read.

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Top 5: Books as Event Themes!

Maddie: Neither Bee or I are really party people. The closest we’ve got to a book party is listening to Hailee Steinfeld while we read.  This Top Five Wednesday theme encourages us to think outside the box to create the perfect themed get-together and a couple of books instantly jump to mind!

First, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. I’m not suggesting that we all sit around and write letters to past crushes, but can you imagine the aesthetic of the party? It would be pastel confetti, tea dresses and homemade baked goods galore. We’d make each of the sisters’ favourite cookies and then play the ninja-warrior-hide-and-seek-tag game from the second book. Now that’s the kind of party I’d attend in a heartbeat.

Next, Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan. Everyone would be claimed by their godly parent, when they arrived, with a fun personality quiz. Then we’d play Capture the Flag. (I just like parties with games, okay?) If there was some real planning involved, we’d stage a quest to find…something. Or go in a maze.

Continue reading “Top 5: Books as Event Themes!”

Review: Forever Geek by Holly Smale

32288152Forever Geek (Geek Girl #6) by Holly Smale
Genre: Contemporary
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 400
Format: ARC e-book
Rating: ★★★★
Series: All That Glitters (#4) | Head Over Heels (#5)
Note: We received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This is it. We’ve been waiting for a whole year, and it’s finally time to finish our beloved Geek Girl series. To say that we were overjoyed to receive this is an understatement. Geek Girl is one of the books that we’re always recommending, and the fact that we’ve re-read the whole series (some of the books multiple times) proves its staying power as one of our favourite series of all time. Forever Geek had a lot of hype to live up to and a lot of expectations to fulfil and both things we think Holly Smale did perfectly. We dare you to find a Harriet fan who isn’t going to be satisfied by all that unfolds in this final book! So, on to the review! Continue reading “Review: Forever Geek by Holly Smale”

Review: Sunny Side Up by Holly Smale

27209626Sunny Side Up (Geek Girl #4.5) by Holly Smale
Genre: 
Contemporary
Published by: HarperCollins
Pages: 224
Format: ARC e-book
Rating: ★★★★
Note: We received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Another Geek Girl book, you say? This is the best news ever! Sunny Side Up is the second Geek Girl special, and takes place between All That Glitters and Head Over Heels. In the first short story collection, All Wrapped Up, we got to see more of Harriet and Nick’s relationship outside of the modelling world. In this one, however, we jump head first into Harriet’s modelling adventures as she conquers Paris Fashion Week! Here’s everything we loved about Sunny Side Up, and why it’s one of the best short stories around!  Continue reading “Review: Sunny Side Up by Holly Smale”

A Chat With Holly Smale!

What follows in a transcript for the video we posted on our channel, when we got our Geek Girl books signed by Holly Smale! (Be warned: if you have not read Head Over Heelsyou may find some of the conversation spoiler-y!)

Transcript:

Sarah: I did have to fangirl when you talked about Shakespeare

Holly Smale: How could anyone not love dinosaurs and Shakespeare?

Maddie: Write them in. Retelling!

S: That’s your next project

HS: That’s it. Hamlet but with a T-Rex!

*

HS: Did you have a good time, yeah?

Bee: Yeah, yeah, it was amazing! How are Nick and Harriet going to end? I feel so betrayed. We have already read ‘Head Over Heel’s because we got a review copy and I’m so torn, like, I love where this is going but…Nick?

HS: All I’m gonna say is that I’ve known for a long time what the story’s going to be and how it’s going to end so I’m doing it very carefully knowing what the end is. I think that everyone will be happy. But, it’s about the journey. I mean, that’s what books are.

B: I love the character development. You can see how Harriet becomes more and more mature and it’s like: this is great!

HS: Yeah, she does and that’s the thing. It’s really about Harriet developing, and also and what’s most important is that, with Nick and Harriet, it’s not enough to just love someone, you have to love yourself, to be strong enough, to be in a relationship and Harriet’s growing and it’s not unrelated that Nick can’t be there for all of it. She had to grow alone. She has to be strong enough to be in a relationship.

B: I love how we don’t know everything about their relationship, as well, because the timeline is quite jumpy but we don’t need to know.

Anna: Look at this smile. This is an author having a reader get exactly what she’s trying to do.

HS: I had someone go ‘I’ve missed a book’ and I was like ‘what one have you missed?’, I gave her the lineage and she was like ‘oh, no I haven’t, why is there five months missing?’ and I was like ‘that’s what I’m having fun with!’

B: If Harriet says she doesn’t want to remember it, we don’t need to know.

HS: And also, it’s part of the joy of an unreliable narrator. She fills you in on parts of it, then doesn’t fill you in and lies and pretends and fakes it and it’s what you do in real life, because you black out thing you don’t want to know and it also gives you the opportunity to do flashbacks to show you the story very organically, rather than A to Z, here you go, this is what it is, which I love doing. It feels more real to me, and the fact that their relationship is and the fact that everyone is so gunning for it, it makes me think that everyone else feels it’s real too.

B: I think ‘Head Over Heels is probably my favourite.’

HS: Really?! Everyone’s saying that.

B: It’s amazing!

HS: I was so nervous.

B: We can see Harriet mature and her friendships make me feel for her so much because having friends is what she’s always dreamed of.

HS: Honesty, there’s so much of me in her and I was someone that struggled with people at school like, as an adult, I’m surrounded now by people – I’m lucky I’ve met people that love me for me but the urge to clinge and to really force things is always there and when I was writing it, I thought this is how I’ve reacted to having that past so I’m going to give it to Harriet. That, like, ‘I’ve got what I want, I’ve got what I’ve always wanted and now I’m going to keep it, whatever it takes.’

B: Definitely gave me flashbacks to my secondary school experience like ‘I was Harriet!’

HS: Harriet is supposed to be a real person, and she reacts to things. You don’t just go ‘I’ve had this horrible thing happen to me, but la la la la la’, you’re over it but you have echoes back to it, so it’s just about showing someone psychologically processing. Not just that, but heartbreak, friendship, everything. Identity.

B: And Toby as well, he’s a real fave!

HS: Aww, I love him. You’ve read book five, yeah?

B: Yeah.

HS: I had the Rin intention from the beginning of book two.

B: It’s the only way it could have gone!

HS: Exactly! And I had that intention. Everyone was like ‘Oh, is Toby going to get with Harriet?’ and I’m like ‘Wait for it!’ I’m gonna give him something better than Harriet, I’m going to give him someone who actually thinks he is the king. I just think he deserves that and Rin would think he’s a king because he’s a boy Harriet.

B: I think that’s an excellent thing, that Rin comes back as well, because she’s such a beautiful secondary character that she needs to be more prominent.

M: Spin off series!

HS: I had a question yesterday at my event and they were like (they hadn’t read five) ‘is Rin coming back? She’s my favourite character’ so I was able to go ‘Yes!’ She was so special to me, there was no way I was just going to wipe her out. And that’s what’s lovely about series is that you can fall in love with characters and then go ‘I can bring them back!’ but then at the same time, it’s sad, because unless you want to write the same story again and again and again, which you don’t want to do, you can’t have them all having equal weight in every story, so you have to sit down and go ‘OK, in this book, Nat won’t be as prominent, but in the next book she’ll be a lot more prominent.’ For instance, in Book Five she takes very much a background but guiding role, more of the Annabelle thing, whereas in book six, she’s going to be very prominent. It’s going to be Nat’s main role in the book. Out of the series, it will be Six that will be Nat’s book.

B: Is Book Six going to be the last book?

HS: It is the last.

M: Sad noises.

HS: I’ll be tying everything up by this time next year and then obviously in the future, I’d love to come back and do Harriet a bit older.

M: Harriet at 27, Harriet at 53.

HS: Adrian Mole style, you know? I would love that, and I’ve already got ideas for it, but it needs, first of all, for me to do something else so that I’m not just Geek Girl forever, but also it needs time for Harriet to actually get older. So it’s not like ‘Oh by the way, it’s six months later but now she’s twenty!’ I need that time.

S: You need to take a break to write Shakespeare and dinosaurs.

HS: Yes, yes! Hamlet with a T-Rex, that’s what I’m going to be writing.

*

M: I’d like to say that Annabelle and Richard are my favourite characters in the whole thing. They’re so lovely.

HS: I love them!

M: I love that they’re such prominent parents as well because parents are something that’s just invisible in YA.

HS: Yeah, I did that on purpose, because parents are important you know!

M: And when you were saying about the gender balance in raising children and I really liked how Richard was always there and Annabelle was the lawyer mum

HS: It was really important to me to show that parents don’t have to be ‘MUM’, ‘DAD’, the stereotypical roles. They can be loving, they can be fulfilling different roles and also showing a romance between adults rather than just teenagers to show that the love story isn’t just Nick and Harriet and Nick and Jasper- Nick and Jasper! That would be another story!

B: Fanfiction!

HS: But, it’s showing this adult love which is established and is decades old and has it’s own pattern. I think it’s nice to show that life doesn’t stop, that love doesn’t stop when you hit teenage years.

M: It definitely added the term ‘maverick’ to my dictionary. The amount of times it came up in the first book, I was like ‘this is going to be used now!’

HS: Richard is basically my dad. My dad is a self-declared maverick.

B: He’s adorable. Richard is adorable.

HS: He’s adorable. My dad is an idiot but he is adorable.

M: We like exactly the same things about these books, so when she was talking I was like ‘yeah, yeah!’

HS: You know what, I know this sounds arrogant, but I love these books. I love, LOVE them. I read them and I go ‘God, they’re good!’ But, I love the characters and they do what I want them to do. I wanted an adult parenting team that show the love element, but also a man that wasn’t afraid to be feminine, and a woman that was more masculine and showing this journey as a teenager gets older and more experienced but also making mistakes and being quite childish at times, and love coming in and out and having to deal with that, so it’s not just a love story because that’s not enough.

M: What was your favourite modeling adventure in the books, so far, because obviously she’s got Australia to go?

HS: Do you know what, one of my favourite things is thinking up her shoots. I am the most selfish writer; I’ll just do whatever I feel like. I love elephants, so the elephant shoot was pretty amazing and I only did it because I love elephants so much, I was like, ‘I’m doing an elephant shoot not matter what anyone says!’

M: It makes sense!

HS: Well, I’ve washed an elephant in a pool, so I’ve done it, so I know what it’s like to stroke an elephant and cuddle it, so I love that. I loved the Japanese ones.

M: Oh gosh, that one in the pool.

B: Harriet with the lights in the water.

M: I can so imagine it.

B: I can picture it. I need to draw it! It’s so gorgeous.

HS: And in the glass box, with all of the dolls. It’s such a fun job because I get to go ‘what’s the most fun, weird, wacky thing’ and I never did any of the shoots that she actually does because mine were weird in another way and I like making them up so once I had to dress up like a raspberry. In Geek Drama, I made her dress up like a carrot, so I do tweak it. But, I did some really wacky stuff, and I go through Vogue and I go like ‘why is a woman standing in an elevator, I don’t know.’

HS: [about Geek Drama] What’s so fun about it is getting to come at it from Harriet’s perspective, because she’s so dry, and so sarcastic, and being able to slam Shakespeare while also adoring him. Being able to go, I personally think Hamlet is a complete idiot, but I love Hamlet the play.

HS: I just love my job and I’m going to be so sad when [Geek Girl] finishes.

M: I absolutely love when Harriet’s doing the shoots, when she’s trying to do what they want her to do, and they’re like ‘no, no, that’s not it’ and when she’s being herself that’s when they really love her. I think that’s a really lovely message, that you’ve got to be yourself, and that’s what people will enjoy more than trying to be someone that you’re not.

HS: Yeah, exactly. And, it comes across in pictures, you know. The really good models are models that are able to relax and show something through the pictures, not just standing there woodenly, which is what I did, which is why I was rubbish. I had two facial expressions and it was this or this.

M: That with a smile!

HS: Just really, really, really happy and scared.

S: Was the pout not a thing?

HS: Oh, I didn’t know how to pout. Everyone else was pouting and I was going like this. Everyone was like ‘you look like a little owl!’ Also, again, showing a variety of models, showing that models come from every background and every type of person. You get thick ones, you get smart ones, you get nice ones, you get bitchy ones. They’re so many types of people and you can’t just stereotype, like ‘this model’s going to be a bitch and stupid,’ you know?

M: Harriet’s definitely not a stereotype and that’s what’s so wonderful about her! We literally promote it to everyone: read Geek Girl, it’s the best thing!

B: On our channel, it’s like every other video. It’s always relevant.

M: Now whenever we say Geek Girl people are like ‘shh!’

HS: No, no, you tell ‘em to ‘SHHH!’ Keep talking!

B: Thank you!

Review: Head Over Heels by Holly Smale

26094860Head Over Heels (Geek Girl #5) by Holly Smale
Genre: Contemporary, FUN
Published by: HarperCollins
Pages: 416
Format: ARC e-book
Rating: ★★★★★
Series: All That Glitters (Geek Girl #4)
Note: We received this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. 

Head Over Heels is one of our most anticipated releases of 2016, and if you known us, even just a little bit, you know we LOVE the Geek Girl series. It’s one of the best things to come into existence because I think there’s a Harriet Manners in all of us. She’s such a relatable and funny character, you can’t help but fall head over heels for her. SO, we had great expectations for the fifth book, and BOY were they met! Let’s fangirl about it! Continue reading “Review: Head Over Heels by Holly Smale”

UKYA Day! (with Recommendations!)

ukyadayToday, the 12th of April is UKYA DAY! (I think it should all be in capitals, I’m that excited!) It’s a celebration of YA, written by UK authors, or authors living in the UK, and it’s brilliant. (That’s a real fact.)

UKYA needs to be championed by all who love it. Reading books by UK authors is so inspiring, especially because both Bee and I want to be authors some day, and part of not just the people who love it, but the people who create it.

So, without further ado, let’s have some recommendations!

121278101. Solitaire by Alice Oseman
I almost can’t believe this book is written because it’s so realistic, I’m not quite sure how Alice Osman wrote down what teenagers think that accurately! Tori Spring, the main character, is a child of the internet and a pessimist. She mets a boy called Michael Holden, who helps her to realise that she’s not alone. What makes ‘Solitaire’ so great, though, is that it’s not a love story. Who would have thought it, a boy and a girl can be friends without a romantic attachment! There’s some mystery and some mental health and sexuality representation…it’s got everything you need and everything the current YA market is missing. Read it, like, now.

fearsome-dreamer-wip2. Fearsome Dreamer by Laure Eve
I will champion this book to my grave, I swear. A lot of the UKYA that’s popular are contemporaries. ‘Fearsome Dreamer’ makes it’s own YA genre, as a mixture of technology and fantasy. There’s magic. There’s computer-generated worlds. There’s a ghost girl, and a hedgewitch and a monster lurking in a creepy castle. So many beautiful things combined to make the most exciting and vivid duology. Again, I could not recommend it more.

3. Geek Girl by Holly Smaleall that glitters
UKYA Day is just another opportunity for us to rave about how much we love the ‘Geek Girl’ series. Harriet Manners is an amazing character – she’s well-rounded, endearing, hilarious, sweet and a little bit clueless. (All my favourite qualities!) I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much at four books. FOUR BOOKS. If you haven’t started this series yet, you’ve got a lot of amazing UKYA to catch up on!

4. Kisses for Lula by Samantha Mackintosh 
This EXCELLKisses_for_LulaENT book often slips under the radar, because it was published in 2010. ‘Lula’ was probably our very first UKYA, and we will treasure it forever. Like ‘Solitaire’, so much goes on within this book. It’s not just one girl’s quest to be kissed before her 16th birthday. It’s a crime mystery, there’s a witchy presence in the forest and Lula has a job all book lovers would crave. She works in a library. Funny and adorable, ‘Kisses for Lula’ is not to be missed.

176969735. The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss
All the books I’ve recommended so far have been quite cute. ‘The Year of the Rat’ is completely different. I absolutely love books that deal with difficult subjects, like bereavement. What was so amazing about this book, was its sense of realism. The protagonist, Pearl, did not glamourise the situation. She was not mature and sensible. She was a real teenager, dealing with the death of her mother. If you’re looking for something a little deeper than a search for true love’s kiss, this is it.

So, those were are recommendations for UKYA. The sub-genre of YA is definitely rising to prominence, as more authors take to the shelves, with a UK background. (Have I said UKYA too much in this blog? Answer: no. I’m going to shout it from the rooftops all morning.)

What would you recommend on this glorious UKYA Day? Let us know!

Review: Geek Girl – All That Glitters by Holly Smale

all that glittersGeek Girl: All That Glitters by Holly Smale
Genre: Contemporary, Humour
Published by: HarperCollins
Pages: 430
Format: ARC E-Book
Rating: ★★★.5
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon

The fourth book in the Geek Girl series maintained the same level of humour and fun that the other three books in the series uphold! ‘All That Glitters’ took Harriet on a new adventure: being a Sixth Form student! (Such a nice change from the plethora of secondary school settings out there!)

Harriet’s venture into sixth form shouldn’t dissuade a younger reader from continuing the series – she’s still the same geeky, bubbly girl she was in secondary. Although, we were expecting Harriet’s voice to mature as she became a young adult, we’re sure this will happen in the subsequent books, as she went through some major character development by the end of the book.

Continue reading “Review: Geek Girl – All That Glitters by Holly Smale”