Category Archives: Reviews

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – Review

A very happy book birthday to Strange the Dreamer – the first in a new duology by Laini Taylor author of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series.

This has been one of my most anticipated reads of 2017 after reading a sampler last year. The sampler also encouraged me to finally read her first series, which I loved, and I entirely blame, for making me plan a trip to Prague in 2018.

The setting of Strange the Dreamer is entirely fictional so that should save me some money, although I will be needing the follow up in Hardcover too. I got my little grabby hands on a beautiful signed and blue edged copy on Saturday so spent the weekend reading it. I’d already made a mask prop for bookstagram and the story is set in a city called Weep so Sadness was a must for the picture below.

Weep

Synopsis

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around— and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? and if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

In this sweeping and breathtaking new novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage.

Welcome to Weep.

What I Thought

Looking at the reviews on Goodreads it appears Laini Taylor is quite a polarising author, and I’m glad to say  I am fully in the love her camp. Her writing is so beautiful that it made me read more slowly because I didn’t want to miss any words or the images they create. I’m not a very visual reader normally but, I can see her worlds.

We are thrown straight in to a world where people have two hearts and blood and spirit runs through them. I would have liked a pronunciation guide for some of the words because my brain was getting twisted trying to read them but I loved the myth and mystery that that bought.

Much as in her previous series we focus mainly on two points of view, that of Lazlo and the blue skinned goddess, though we do step into the minds of other characters too at times. There was only one point where the POV shifted within a scene unexpectedly. But, it was in a shared scene.

Lazlo is a dreamer and believer, a lover of books and stories, and as a fellow book person I was naturally drawn to him, but I also felt for Sarai, and was compelled by her inner conflict. Gods and Monsters seems to be a common theme in Laini’s work and she doesn’t shy away from exploring the murky side of what makes a Hero or a Villain. Consequently her characters are rich and complex, as well as humorous and human. There’s one character that reminded me of Claudia from Interview with a Vampire and there is more than one heartbreaking relationship explored in this book.

I don’t want to say much more because I don’t want to spoil it but this book is magic and you will want to savour it and it will destroy you and … how long do we have to wait until part two?

If you’ve read the book and want to discuss DM me on twitter.

Also over the weekend I read samplers for The Boy on the Bridge by MR Carey and Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh but thankfully only have to wait until May to read them. Lucky really as I’ll be doing Camp NaNo in April.

 

 

#GeekGirl by Holly Smale – Series and Ultimate Party Review

Geek Girl jackets - FULL SERIES

Following on from the guest post from Holly, as part of the Forever Geek blog tour on Wednesday, I have decided to do an overview of the entire series, a rundown of the characters and some highlights of the Ultimate Geek Girl Party. Please read with caution because there may be some SPOILERS included though I’ve tried not to give major spoilers, especially not for the final book.

Way back when I also interviewed Holly about her geekiest traits so do take a look back.

The entire series were 5 out 5 star reads for me and Holly has a beautiful and easy to read writing style with a strong voice. Geek Girl is about family, friendship, being flawed, it’s funny, fantastic and familiar (Reading about Harriet feels like coming home and I love the Harry Potter and book references throughout).

Book Main Setting/Modelling Assignment Synopsis My Thoughts
Geek Girl (#1) The Clothes Show Live – Birmingham – being spotted

 

Moscow – Russia – Baylee shoot and runway show

Harriet is discovered by the fashion world – and us. The message – that it’s ok to be yourself.

Check out my full review here

All Wrapped Up (#1.5) London – Ice-skating

 

 

PE class – Netball

How to handle a first date.

 

Also includes some bonus Christmas themed features and the short – Team Geek

Short, sweet, romantic in a geeky way. Christmassy. Loved it.

 

Check out my full review here.

Model Misfit #2 Perfume shoot

 

Tokyo – Japan – new label campaign – with co-model Charlie the octopus and Sumo, Manga Arcade Game and Mount Fuji.

Harriet is due to be a big sister, and with all attention on the baby, Natalie sent away for the summer and a lack of Lion Boy! Harriet jumps at the chance to head to Tokyo with her grandmother Bunty as “chaperone”.

 

My favourite character, Toby – Harriet’s stalker, reduced me to tears in one scene, and I nearly hugged myself because of ‘all the feels’.

 

Check out my full review here.

Geek Drama #2.5 Infinity Models London – Brink Magazine Casting and Shoot

 

Drama – Hamlet auditions

Short story published for #WorldBookDay in which Harriet gets persuaded to audition for the school play (set in the middle of Model Misfit). A fun school based short story where we get to learn more about Harriet and her classmates.

Holly gets to share her love of Shakespeare with us.

Picture Perfect #3 New York – LA MODE magazine spread at a fairground

 

Party at Gotham Hall

On exams results, moving away, governesses, turning sweet sixteen, and long distance relationships.

 

Harriet navigates America and the modelling world. A more gently paced story, apart from the rollercoaster, but still the same loveable Harriet. I like the exploration of the family relationships.
All That Glitters #4 Back Home in Hertfordshire – Mount Fuji shots released.

Marrakech, Morocco – Levaire jewellery commercial with Richard!, and Dancing in the Sahara Desert.

Party – Night of Stars

On starting sixth form, stardom, bullying and friendship. Annabel accompanies Harriet on her trip. So emotional. I wanted to protect Harriet all the way through this one. Alexa is at it again. Totally empathise with her diving into books as a solace.
Sunny Side Up #4.5 France – Paris Fashion Week

 

Fashion yacht party

 

Gothic Catacomb fashion show

 

Animal Catwalk

 

Novella length story where Harriet joins Paris Fashion Week but is she in the City of Lights, or in the Dark?

 

In the short scene we get to meet our characters through Nick’s POV.

Love this book. Favourite fashion scenes yet. Most embarrassing disaster??

 

The short excerpt was great and I laughed out loud at Nick’s ‘Intro to Toby’.

Head Over Heels #5 London – New modelling agency castings

 

How to Be a Perfect Model Training

 

London – Lucky 7 castings??

 

British Vogue Sisters Shoot

 

India – Fizzy Drink Campaign

 

This time she’s got a foolproof plan and a social team. Hasn’t she?

 

Harriet switches roles and aims to be Wilbur’s fairy godmother.

 

 

 

I love re-entering Harriet’s world and really enjoy seeing all the unreliable threads come together. It’s great fun being ahead of her.
Forever Geek #6 Sydney, Australia – MAKE NAT A FASHION ICON

 

Impromptu casting and The Great Barrier Reef

 

Sydney Australia For Yuko’s The Show To End All Shows

 

 

Nat and Harriet head down under with Bunty.

Will Harriet end up with Nick or Jasper and when will her transformation from Geek to Model be complete?

 

Will we have a happy ending even though we have to say goodbye?

This book made me cry. Perfect Conclusion. NO SPOILERS for this one – just enjoy the finale.

Main Characters

Harriet Manners – knower of lots of facts turned model – the titular Geek Girl and my favourite unreliable narrator.

Natalie “Nat” Grey – the best friend, wannabe model and fashion fan/designer – part of Team JINTH

Toby Pilgrim – Harriet’s Stalker and Fellow Geek – part of Team JINTH

Nick Hidaka/Lion Boy – love interest and male model, met under a table

Alexa Roberts – Harriet’s school-based nemesis

Wilbur “not iam”  – modelling agent and inventor of the most fun descriptors

Yuko Ito – fashion designer who gives Harriet her big break, and Nick’s Aunty.

Richard Manners – Harriet’s Dad, works in advertising – witty

Annabel Manners – Harriet’s Stepmother, a lawyer – wise

Bunty Brown – Harriet’s Step-Grandmother, a loose cannon if ever there was one

Tabitha Manners – Harriet’s Baby Sister

Hugo and Victor – Manners family dog and cat

Fleur – model Harriet has a run-in with – literally in Russia, America and the final book.

Rin – Japanese model and friend

Kenderall/Siren – model and miniature pig owner

India Perez – new girl to Head Girl – part of Team JINTH

Jasper King –foe to part of Team JINTH and love interest

ForeverGeek

So it is time for Harriet to hang up her Geek Girl glasses (for now at least) so I’m now planning a re-read (and have recently listened to the first two books on audio as well – great narration by Katy Sobey). I’m going to aim to note down Harriet and Toby’s outfits and Wilbur’s isms. If you’d like me to share let me know.

Ultimate Geek Girl Party – 4th March

I was very honoured to get an invite to the party especially because the launch of Geek Girl was my first ever Blogger event. It appears that Holly’s book parties seem to have a need for fancy lighting. Check out my post on the blogger launch of Geek Girl, and do take a look at my instagram photos posted today in celebration. I’ll always remember her swamped by that enormous squashy chair. For the Ultimate Party we had cupcakes, mocktails, face paints and nails. Holly spoke about the series, got understandably emotional and gave us a reading from Forever Geek. We were each given a goodie bag including tote, bookmark, sweets, signed copy of the final book and a copy of the first book to pass on. I got mine signed and gave it to a young girl on the tube – and it turned out to be her birthday. Hope she loves it as much as I did.

Here’s highlights of the notes I took from Holly’s speech:

DSC_2927

Harriet isn’t Holly but there are certain aspects of Holly’s life that have influenced the books. In fact the whole series was written as part of a dare to write about her experience of being a teenage model. Holly wrote the first sentence and got shivers. Huge thanks go out to that friend!

The part where Alexa says ‘hands up who hates Harriet’ happened, modelling didn’t transform Holly. Richard is actually based on her dad (and as a side note her grandad is the biggest geek she knows).

This is a book about being an outsider but by sharing it Holly was surprised and honoured to find people identified with Harriet. She has met amazing, brilliant and unique girls who understand and empathise with her character and who have ‘blown her away’.

Originally Geek Girl was going to be a stand alone, and the end of book 6 was going to be the end of book 1. Thanks to a wise editor suggesting a series would be possible we are a few books better off than we would have been. Holly has had 9 years of writing, loving and living with Harriet Manners, she feels like a little sister, precious, brave, silly but also selfish and does stupid things. Her advice to Harriet is the series, but also to keep growing and looking around you. Sad to say goodbye (cried through about a third of the final book) but she’s off to sleep now. Well, actually she’s off to China. And Holly has not completely closed the cover – she may return, in the future, if it seems right.

There are hopes for Geek Girl to be filmed and Holly is working on a script, however the concept has to be right, and Holly is passionate about keeping the essential British schoolgirl nature of Harriet. She thinks a Netflix series would be good – maybe we should tweet Netflix with the hint.

What Holly would say about her next series is that it will be a comedy about more than one girl. I know I’m going to be reading it.

The Geek Girls’ thanks to Holly

Finally, here is a picture of Holly and I, I decided to turn the tables and go as Toby’s Stalker complete with binoculars and flask. And why is there a polar bear on my T-shirt? You’ll have to read the books to find out.

TPFC

Harriet’s Facts – #ForeverGeek Blog Tour

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