Category Archives: Book Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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.
Header designed by Daphne @WingedReviews