Category Archives: Book Reviews

Geek Girl: All Wrapped Up – Book Review

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.


Asking For It by Louise O’Neill – Book Review #NOTAskingForIt

First Sunday post of my new schedule and I even had real post delivered today – on a Sunday! Uncle Vernon would be fumigating right now.

Today’s book created another unusual experience for me too – a proper book hangover. Often, after a finishing a book, I can just pick up another not long after  – but, not after this one. It hung around in my brain for a while and has been a tickle there ever since. Please note that this review discusses sexual violence against women so if you find that triggering please don’t read on.

This is my first book from Louise but it won’t be my last. Everyone was talking about Asking For It on twitter and saying how important a read it is. They aren’t wrong but, the fact that that’s true, is.

This is Emma’s story of that time she went to a party in a tiny dress, drank too much, took some drugs and woke up the next morning, in pain, on her front door step. Pictures emerge – online of course – that showed what happened last night and everyone, including Emma herself, is asking – was she Asking For It. You might even be asking the same question.

The book is written from Emma’s point of view and her view is heartbreaking, the responses everyone has to her are illuminated through her internal narration. The person whose initial response made me the most angry was her brother, he comes round, but I couldn’t understand why what he saw would make him think what he does. Some have criticised the ‘repetition’ in this book. I’d suggest that this reflects the type of mental ruminating that might happen after a traumatic event.

I’m not going to tell you the outcome but needless to say this will never be the type of story with a typical happy ending.

Asking For It will make you angry – at society and even at yourself. I knew what this book was about and even found myself almost repeating this question – in fact had the book not added the scenes that Emma doesn’t remember, it would have probably have been a very difficult case to prosecute. I remember seeing the film The Accused with Jodie Foster when I was a lot younger and this book echoes that. Who are the accused? Not the rapists but the girl who “let herself” get in a position to be raped. We really need to change the question from What did she do? To Why did they do it?

Please put yourself aside a few hours to read this in one go – once you’ve started it you won’t want to put it down…and even after you’ve literally put it to one side, figuratively it’s going to stay with you.

People ask why do we need feminism – because we call books like this important. Because the cover of the girl as a Barbie doll to be played with and posed is reflected on the cover of numerous magazines and in clubs and at parties across the world. I look forward to the day that the story in this book is seen as a relic of the past! How can we make that a reality?

I was inspired by Georgia Blackheart @GeorgiaReads review graphic. She said I could borrow the idea so I made some review tweaks to the cover below.

Asking for it

Next Sunday Guest post from author Holly Webb as part of the Return to the Secret Garden Blog Tour

Coming Soon Review of Red Rising by Pierce Brown – sneak peek – I bloodydamn loved it!

Sun Catcher and Storm Chaser by Sheila Rance – Book Reviews #CountdownYA

I was lucky enough to receive copies of Sun Catcher and Storm Chaser, the first two books in Sheila Rance’s Sun Catcher trilogy in preparation for today’s Countdown to 7th May post (Thanks to Jim Dean @Yayeahyeah for organising the blog tour and inviting me to join in).

Later on I’ll share with you an interview with Maia the books’ protagonist, but first, to whet your appetite for the last book in the trilogy, here are my thoughts on the first two books.

Sun Catcher cover Storm Chaser Cover

Firstly let’s talk about the covers (Images from Goodreads), if these don’t draw you in then I’d be pretty surprised. Vivid Colours, Fantasy Clothing, Raging Sun and Surging Storms as a backdrop. “Flame-Headed Witch or Long Lost Princess?” “Silk Tells Stories. It Sings of Secrets Long Forgotten. It Sings of Fire.” “Catching the Sun Was Not Enough…” “Silk Whispers. Clouds Gather. A Storm is Coming.” “Game of Thrones for a Younger Audience”

Like Game of Thrones this fantasy (or magical reality as Sheila terms it) story looks at different groups of people but really our focus is on Maia. We learn that Maia and her father Tareth were shipwrecked and although they were saved by and live among the Cliff-Dwellers Maia feels and looks an outcast. In Sun Catcher she begins to find out the truth of her heritage and her destiny. On her naming day the Watcher names her Sun Catcher and so begins her journey to discover who she is expected to be, and who she wants to be. This struggle to forge an identity is shared by the other teen characters in the books. What role you play in society is a common theme in Young Adult literature but with the unusual roles in this world it gives more scope to play with the underlying feelings about responsibility, meaning and so on.

At the beginning of the books, before the story starts, is a page dedicated to the main players in the stories. Here Kodo, the lizard boy and Razek the weed master and storm chaser are introduced. Two boys that fight for Maia’s attention. I wouldn’t call this a love triangle though – it’s far more complex than that and I’m really interested to see how these relationships develop in the final book.

I love the importance of animals to the story, the silk moths, lizards, eagles, horses, bees and a cheetah all play integral parts in the plot, showing how humans can rely on animals. They become more than creatures and are true characters in the books. The silk moths and the silk weaved from them produce much of the magic – silk sings and whispers leading characters astray and sharing information with them (but is it false or truth). I’d love to see how these scenes are portrayed in a filmed adaptation.

At the back of the books we get an insight into the research Sheila did into the Bronze Age that inspired the story, and you can see how that influenced but hasn’t limited the story.

The books are beautifully illustrated throughout by Geoff Taylor – I particularly love the one from Storm Chaser where Kodo is cradling Zena’s (Maia’s young sidekick) tattooed head.

The young adult characters work with the older characters and it is pleasant to see a mutual respect between them, something that I think we can learn from.

Story Singer Cover

Overall I really enjoyed the books and am looking forward to reading the concluding part in Story Singer on 7th May. I’m also looking forward to sharing my interview with Maia with you later which will pick up on some of themes mentioned above.

Countdown to 7th May Banner Header designed by Daphne @WingedReviews


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