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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.


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.




Facebook Group

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.

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.




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.

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.

#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


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:


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.


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