Guess what happens a month today?
Yes, you’ve guessed it I’m a Christmas Geek – I love it, but do I love it as much as Harriet Manners the quintessential Geek Girl?
Here’s just a few things she knows about Christmas (with my additions in brackets):
In the Ukraine, Christmas trees are decorated with spider’s webs
(Is that really decoration or fear of cleaning?)
The First Ever Christmas card was sold in 1843 and depicted a family drinking wine
All the gifts in the Twelve Days of Christmas would equal 364 separate presents
(Even Dudley Dursley couldn’t complain about that number)
The word mistletoe comes from the Old English word mistletan, which means poo twig, because it spreads itself through seeds in bird droppings that land on tree branches
(Haha – poo twig, that’s worse than thinking it’s infested with Nargles)
The most romantic Christmas fact ever – in 1913, a couple were fined fifteen dollars for kissing in the streets of New York City on Christmas Day
(Awwww, somebody needed visiting by three ghosts).
What Harriet doesn’t know an awful lot about though is dating… but when you’ve kissed Lion Boy that’s the next step…if he gets round to ringing you.
All Wrapped Up is a festive Geek Girl special from Holly Smale which fits into the events of the first book.
Harriet is supported to reach her next relationship milestone by the usual suspects including my favourite stalker Toby and a rather suspect list on ‘how to ace a date’ that really should simply say – be yourself.
Having recently been on a first date of my own at the time of reading this I felt Harriet was channelling my inner thoughts and paranoias, even though our ages are “a few years” apart. Dating – the universal evil! Holly’s comic style works well in short form and I found myself giggling along. There’s a comfort in coming back to Harriet, and it was nice to revisit her as she started out.
The romance factor is this book is high, there’s ice-skating and plenty of falling. Things are not straightforward, but it’s a perfect Christmassy tale with a warm ending. Wait until a chilly day, come in from the cold, make yourself a hot chocolate and settle down on the sofa with All Wrapped Up.
The book contains All Wrapped Up: a short story of what happens after that first kiss, as well as the previously limited edition short Team Geek, a Q&A with Holly, and some other festive extras – including a survey that you can test your gift giving skills with (although you might be banned from future family Christmases if you employ it).
Huge thanks to Serena from HarperCollins for my copy (and the list of geeky facts), the fact that I didn’t have to chew your arm off to get it does not affect my opinion of the book. 5 stars.
A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to host a guest post by Holly Webb on how she approached working with someone else’s characters. Now, I’ve had the opportunity to read Return to the Secret Garden thanks to Faye Rogers PR and Scholastic.
In preparation I re-read my Classic Adventures version of The Secret Garden and really enjoyed rediscovering the garden along with Mary Lennox, Dickon and Colin.
Holly’s sequel Return to the Secret Garden is set in 1939 at the beginning of the Second World War. Emmie is our protagonist whisked away from London to Misselthwaite Manor in Yorskshire before the bombs start dropping. She is forced to abandon a stray cat called Lucy, but as an orphan, everyone else she knows comes with her.
Emmie finds a set of diaries in the room she is staying in and through them finds a connection to Mary and sets about following in her footsteps and finding the Secret Garden.
The echoes from the first book don’t stop there, there’s a robin, a grumpy gardener and strange crying noises in the night.
As Holly said, the main character she used was the house and its gardens but we do also get to meet the original characters but not perhaps in the way we’d expect. The presence of war invades and not everyone has a happy ending.
Because the garden hasn’t been abandoned we don’t quite get to see it coming to life in the same way as the original but Holly has done a fantastic job of making connections to the original alongside creating her own story. You won’t need to have read The Secret Garden…but I’d advise that at some point you do.
My ratings were:
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett – 5*
Return to the Secret Garden by Holly Webb – 4*
Return… is a fitting follow up that gives us insight into the life of the garden and the characters from the first book whilst introducing us to a new group of children and that cat called Lucy… the magic of the garden is at work again.
This is the last post on the tour but do check out what everyone else thought too. Return to the Secret Garden is out now.