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Happy Girl Lucky (The Valentines #1) by Holly Smale – Book Review

In yesterday’s guest post author Holly Smale shared her soundtrack for the first novel in The Valentines series. Today I’d like to let you know a little more about Happy Girl Lucky.

Synopsis

The Valentine Sisters – Hope, Faith and Mercy – have everything: fame, success, money and beauty. But what Hope wants most of all is Love, and it doesn’t matter how far she has to go to find it.

Except real life isn’t like the movies.

Unless of course you’re a Valentine…

Goodreads link

What I Thought

If you are familiar with my blog you will already be aware I’m a huge fan of Holly’s writing and have been a champion of her Geek Girl series, whose protagonist Harriet was the geekiest of adorable geeks and you couldn’t help but love her.

The Valentines Sisters therefore had big boots to fill and it’s a good thing they can afford the best boots out there.

We start with the story of the youngest sister, Hope.

Fifteen year old Hope has grown up in a famous family (her parents met on the set of a film) but out of the limelight. The Valentines have a family rule that have seen her coddled and protected from the media until she turns sixteen, and Hope can’t wait.

She lives out her days fighting with her sisters, stealing their clothes, being tutored at home and daydreaming that she is part of an epic love movie. Hope’s daydreams appear in the novel as mini scripts complete with wistful actions and declarative dialogue. Hope lives up to her name – she falls in “love” freely and frequently. It’s just a shame the boys don’t always follow the script.

Hope is hopelessly naive at times, she is a horoscope devotee and I have to admit, as well as wanting to give her a big hug I also wanted to shake her a few times – you know gently and just so she doesn’t get hurt. Hope herself says it’s a doggy-dog world but she doesn’t seem to quite grasp what that means (Geek Girl’s Harriet’s eye would be twitching at some of the phrases Hope comes out with).

As much as this book is about romantic love it is also about familial love and the relationships with her siblings, parents and grandmother is vitally important to her. Her mum is in rehab, dad is in the US filming and her siblings each have their own public persona to cultivate…

…leaving Hope lonely, and she is reaching out for love wherever it comes from and she has the resources to go all out to get it. And boy does she take things to extremes – including a trip to the Hollywood Sign.

Holly Smale has developed another excellent cast of characters, I’m actually desperate to find out more about Mercy. In Hope she utilises her skill at writing teen girls as they can be, unreliable narrators of their own lives. With a different take on humour than in her first series there are less laugh out loud moments and some serious issues tackled in Happy Girl Lucky including gaslighting (although it’s not explicitly labelled). This was a fast paced and hugely enjoyable read and yes, you will do as the series tagline suggests, and fall in love with the Valentines.

Sisters Faith and Mercy will each have their own story, and I’m not going lie, I already know I’d love to have a story of some sort from brother Max’s perspective (maybe a novella if not a full length escapade).

Thank you to HarperCollins for the Advanced Review Copy I was gifted for the purposes of giving an honest review. I also grabbed my very own finished copy with orange sprayed edges from Waterstones on Thursday – which was release day.

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Yesterday I had an idea and I decided to act on it whilst inspired – so please do go follow #UKYARocks and get involved with spreading the news about all the fabulous UK Young Adult Fiction that we have available to us. My first creation had to be based on Happy Girl Lucky.

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Soundtrack to Happy Girl Lucky – Blog Tour Guest Post by author Holly Smale

So pleased to welcome Geek Girl author Holly Smale back to the blog today to talk about the Soundtrack that helped her write the first book in her brand new series which released yesterday.

 

SOUNDTRACK FOR HAPPY GIRL LUCKY

 

I always write to music, and every time I start a new book I usually have a handful of songs I turn to when I need to feel in the right mood, or get the right tone, or just generally have to click back into the mindset of the character I’m writing as. Sometimes they’re lyrically accurate, but they’re often more of a feeling: something that encapsulates how it feels to be my protagonist.

 

Happy Girl Lucky is a different kind of book to Geek Girl, and Hope is a very different girl to Harriet; she needed a new kind of soundtrack. She’s a very positive, confident, easy-going and high-energy girl, and the music I listened to needed to fit that: far less classical than with Geek Girl, with a lot more attitude.

 

Here’s a list of the songs I turned to again and again. Songs I think Hope would probably have on her iPod. Ironically, there’s quite a big cross-over between my Happy Girl Lucky playlist and my personal running playlist. In both cases, I need to feel uplifted, motivated and positive: maybe a little bit sassy and kick-ass.

 

 

 

All I Do Is Win – DJ Khaled

 

I love this track – it’s so amped and fearless. There’s so much exuberant confidence, so much go go go. I feel like Hope would be listening to this in her room to motivate her; she’d probably have her own little dance for it.

 

 

Don’t Delete The Kisses – Wolf Alice

 

Another personal favourite. This is so sweet, so teenage and so perfectly encapsulates a huge, joyful crush. With – I think – a perfect undercurrent of anxiety and fear that you won’t get what you want.

 

 

Waiting For A Star To Fall – Boy Meets Girl

  

A straight-down-the-line love song, and one I used to dance round the living room to as a child in the 80s. It’s so buoyant, so happy, so playfully romantic. I feel like Hope would appreciate the 80s vibe immensely, and whenever I need a shot of sweet hopefulness I stick this one on.

 

 

Transatlanticism – Death Cab for Cutie

 

Bit of a change with some solid emo, but for someone in a long distance relationship between the UK and America, this feels yearning and pretty fitting. As happy as Hope usually is, there are moments in the book where she is genuinely struggling with sadness and I needed to find music to fit that.

 

 

Soda – The Cinematic Orchestra

 

Again, while Hope is generally very upbeat there are moments where she needs to be quiet, thoughtful, more introverted. This is one of my favourites – I’ve taken it around the world with me, on various road-trips through India and Asia – so it helps me tap into that. It really is a great one for beautiful landscapes.

 

 

Safe and Sound – Capital Cities

 

Not going to lie: this is one of my favourite running tracks of all time, and it’s also one I turned to over and over again for Hope. It has a similar, fast rhythm to the others – it’s the right tempo for Hope – but it also has a beautiful optimism to the lyrics.

 

 

 

Where No-one Goes – JONSI

 

Okay, this is famously the soundtrack to How To Train Your Dragon. But I’ve been a fan of Jonsi for nearly 20 years – he was in one of my favourite bands, Sigur Ros – and this is so beautifully hopeful, so upbeat, so sweet, so brave, so free-ing. In my mind, this is where the book ends up: this is so perfect for the mind-set Hope ultimately reaches. If I have to choose one song for Happy Girl Lucky, it’s this one. It’ll always be the one that reminds me of Hope.

Huge thanks to Holly for sharing her HGL playlist inspired by its point of view character Hope. Lots of tracks I wasn’t familiar with on there. I’ve created a YouTube playlist if you want to listen to it before or after reading Happy Girl Lucky. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLzXeNd36_QuQbSGGrRfDui23h-nm85Q6f

Each book in the Valentines series will focus on a different member of Hope’s family and I’m sure their playlists will all be very different.

Do come back tomorrow for my review of Happy Girl Lucky.

The Witch’s Blood by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr – Blog Tour Author Interview

I’m so pleased to be welcoming sisters Katharine and Elizabeth Corr to Books, Occupation… Magic! today to help them celebrate the publication of the final book in The Witch’s Kiss trilogy. The Witch’s Blood.

As one door closes… Thoughts on finishing a series

We started writing the book that became The Witch’s Kiss back in the early summer of 2014. It wasn’t our first book, but it turned out to be the one that changed our lives: it got us an agent and then a publishing deal with HarperCollins during the course of 2015. Since then, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind. In the two and a half years since we started working with HarperCollins we’ve written and/or edited three books and seen them published. We’ve collaborated with three different editors and have seen our characters grow and survive (mostly!) everything that we’ve thrown at them. And now…

And now that particular bit of our writing journey is over. We dotted the last ‘i’ and crossed the last ‘t’ of The Witch’s Blood, the final book in our trilogy, back in November. Now the finished product, in all it’s beautiful, blood-and-holly glory, is in the shops. We don’t have to think about Merry and Leo, about witches and curses, anymore. And that makes us feel…

Weird, to be honest.

On the one hand, it’s nice to be able to take our feet off the accelerator a little (yes, you have to imagine us both trying to drive a car at the same time – it’s kind of how we write our books). Finishing three books in two and a half years has kept us pretty busy. But now, we’ve got time to think about what we’d like to write next. Time to start working on our new projects (four, at the last count). Time to invent new places, make friends with new characters, and decide what horrible things we’re going to inflict on them. And yet…

And yet, we’re a little bit sad. The more we’ve explored the world of The Witch’s Kiss, the more that world has revealed itself to us; there’s always just the hint of something over the horizon, of another room glimpsed through a half-open doorway. Both of us would like to spend more time with Leo and Cormac, for example. Or maybe find out what it was like for Gran to grow up in a magical family in wartime England. Lots of possibilities. But still only twenty-four hours in a day.

So, for the time being, at least, we’re shutting the door on The Witch’s Kiss and moving on to new endeavours. But we’re not throwing away the key: just tucking it under the doormat so it’s easily accessible. Because you never know.

Thanks to Kirsty for being part of our blog tour!

I’ve recently re-read the first two books and loved them even more. I always find I spot new things on a re-read.

Flashback to my interview with the sisters and their characters on the release of The Witch’s Kiss – https://kirstyes.co.uk/2016/07/04/the-witchs-kiss-blog-tour-author-and-character-interview/

And I was so happy to be invited to the launch of The Witch’s Tears that I made a little present for them both. Looking forward to seeing what’s gone in the last frame. Some Black Holly perhaps?

Finally a nod has to go to Lisa Brewster of Blacksheep Design for the stunning covers.

And I did shed a little, happy, tear when I read the acknowledgments in The Witch’s Blood. Thanks guys. Now I have a day off work so I’m going to tuck up in bed and read the whole of The Witch’s Blood. Will share my review shortly. I’m not sure I’m ready to say goodbye to Merry, Leo and the gang either. 😢

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