Why I Love Geek Girl

Hello everybody!

Today’s post is a tiny bit different to usual (more in format than anything else), so onto the post! I hope you enjoy it 💜

Of all the books that I count as favourites, the Geek Girl series is one of the very closest to my heart. There are so, so many reasons why I love this series and I decided, since it’s now almost a year since the final book came out that I wanted to write about it.
It fits my taste perfectly.

Harriet’s voice is incredibly unique, and her dry sense of humour throughout never, ever fails to make me laugh at least once a chapter. We’re very different in a lot of ways, though I see similarities too. I don’t rattle off facts or love maths and Science, but I adore history, and books, and I’m the first to admit I’m not all that into fashion. There is a passage in the first book about that very topic that speaks hugely to me, and I’m often heard saying ‘they’re just clothes!’

That’s something Geek Girl has given me. There are whole sections of this book I can rhyme off by heart; Harriet’s vocabulary has seeped into mine. Ostensibly, which features in one of the most uncomfortable bullying scenes throughout all 6 books is one of my go to phrases in an essay, and it’s one of my favourite words ever. I also try and learn some of the glorious facts sprinkled throughout that always fit just right with the narrative, which never feel jarring as they could be in other hands.

The rest of the cast are just as special. Eccentric agent Wilbur; so bizarre I can’t help but giggle when he’s on the page. Her parents; clever and caring, and undoubtedly my favourite book parents of all time. Toby; initially an irritation, but someone I came to care about by the end of Forever Geek. Best friend Nat; ferociously protective of Harriet, hilarious, a true ‘girl bomb’. Scary fashion designer Yuka Ito, whose terrifying manner provokes Harriet into some of the best moments of the series for me. And Nick. Lion Boy. A character I’m unashamedly in love with. He’s funny, charming, gorgeous and I can picture him so vividly throughout. He’s perfect for Harriet, to me, and she’s perfect for him.

Watching them grow over the course of the series is a pleasure, and letting them go in Forever Geek was difficult (I spent the entire sitting in which I read it in tears, even as I inevitably laughed). I don’t think I’ll ever stop rereading them though. At the end of any especially tough week, or in preparation for something I’m dreading, I go to the drawer in which I keep these (the most easily accessible I have), pull them out and start reading. And it feels like going home.

Why do you love Geek Girl? I’d love to hear from you in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl

Amy xxx

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I Swapped My Brother on the Internet Blog Tour- Jo Simmons on Funny Fiction 

Hello everybody!

Today, I have a guest post from Jo Simmons all about funny books as part of her blog tour for her own VERY funny book which I really enjoyed (and will be reviewing in my January Reviews!)

I’m not often sure what I think about anything. Age has not brought wisdom, just a sense of bafflement and a love of early bed times. But I do know what I think about funny fiction for kids – I think it’s a really, really good thing.

Not all kids are hardwired to read, but most kids are hardwired to laugh. They laugh so much more than adults – 300 to 400 times a day apparently, while grownups manage about 15 times. This makes children a willing audience for funny fiction. In fact, I’d argue that they positively deserve it!

I remember devouring Spike Milligan, Ogden Nash poems and PG Wodehouse as I went into my teenage years. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy dazzled with its cast of curious intergalactic characters and the hilarious fictional small ads in the copies of Viz my brother passed me were just brilliant. That and the Fat Slags, of course.

Once I had my own two boys, I was impressed by their ability to laugh their way through a day and unimpressed by the unutterably dull books I sometimes found myself reading to them at bedtime. So when I sat down to write my first children’s book in 2010, I wasn’t sure what to write, but I knew anything I did write had to be funny.

Funny fiction does so much more than simply entertain. Humour can tempt even a reluctant reader to try another chapter and every time an author makes a child laugh, it’s a little victory for reading. They’re communicating the message that reading funny books is fun, therefore reading must be fun. 

So it’s annoying that funny fiction sometimes gets overshadowed by those heavy books that tackle issues and win prizes, as if a witty story cannot also have meaning or relevance. Writing funny does not mean compromising on narrative ambition. A good funny story is still just that – a story – and can deliver all the truths and meaningful moments a serious tale does. 

My books contain plenty of bonkers scenarios and freaky folk, but also touch on issues relevant to children: friendship problems, anxiety about change, fear of the dark, loss of a loved one and, in my latest, I Swapped My Brother on the Internet the frustration of being inferior in age and privileges to an older brother. Serious stuff, for sure, but all wrapped up in a thick coating of silliness and escapism, ghosts, merboys and doppelgangers, and some seriously grotty pants. Maybe not great art, but hopefully great fun. 

You can follow Jo on Twitter @joanna_simmons and the book’s illustrator Nathan @nathanreed_illo.

Thank you so much for reading! What are your favourite funny books? Did you love this one? I’d love to hear from you down in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx 

Guest Post: Books I’m Hoping to Find Under my Tree by Zoe (nosaferplace)

Hello everybody! 

Today, I’m thrilled to welcome my lovely friend Zoe from the exceptional No Safer Place to chat about the books she’s hoping to get for Christmas, similar to my Top Ten Tuesday post the other day. 

Over to Zoe now, and see you tomorrow,

Amy xxx

I rarely ask for anything at Christmas. Christmas for me is about giving and spending time with my family. But if I do ever drop a hint at what I’d like for Christmas, you can bet it’s going to be a book. There’s just something so magical about opening a brand new book, smelling the pages and wondering which world you’re going to get lost in next. So what books am I hoping for under my tree this year? Read on, to find out.

Origin – Dan Brown

I absolutely adore Dan Brown and the Robert Langdon series. I read The Da Vinci Code when I was quite young, but I was just completely mesmerised by this complex book, and the twists and turns that lurked on every page turn. I have gone into bookshops several times since the book’s release, just to hold it and let me tell you – the excitement is strong.

The Silver Mask – Cassandra Clare & Holly Black

This is the 4th book in the Magisterium series. Cassie is obviously one of my favourite authors and everything she writes is just gold dust to me. The series gives off very strong Harry Potter vibes, but is aimed at a slightly younger audience. I read the first 3 on their release dates, so I’m slightly gutted not to have this yet – but I know it’ll be worth the wait.

Turtles All the Way Down – John Green

I don’t think this book needs any introduction and I’d imagine if you’re a bookworm that hasn’t read this book yet, like me, this will be on your Christmas book list too. I don’t really have any idea what the book is about, but I know John Green has written it, and that alone is reason enough to give this book a go.

 

Harry Potter: A History of Magic – British Library

Harry Potter has been in my life for as long as I can remember. I was never really interested in the illustrated editions of the books but I think there’s something really magical about this one. The illustrations look incredible and of course, I’m always open to learning more about the series that dominated my childhood.

A Christmas Wedding – Paige Toon

Now, would this list really be complete without a Christmas book? Paige Toon is one of my favourite authors and this short story, with a cup of hot chocolate, under a blanket, really sounds like the perfect way to get me into the festive spirit.

What books are you hoping to find under your tree this Christmas? Do we share any? Tweet me your answers at @zcollins1994!

Check out my book recommendations and blogmas posts here: nosaferplace.co.uk 

My 2017 YA Favourites List

Hello everybody!


Welcome to day 20 of blogmas! Today, I’m going to be speaking about my 10 favourite YAs in 2017. This was a tough choice, and I still love all of the books on my mid-year favourites list too! There’s one book on here that I didn’t give 5 stars as I can’t actually remember why not and I really enjoyed it,  and I highly recommend everything I’ve rated that not on this list too. I’ll be doing a seperate list for MG books in a few days, and I’m leaving it till last as my 3 overall favourites of this year are all MG.
 Note- not all of these are from 2017. Some are books I’ve read this year that were either published before 2017 and others aren’t out till 2018

Onto the books!


The Summer of Telling Tales
– this was beyond heartbreaking. It’s a tough but hopeful read, and reminded me of Jacqueline Wilson at her very best. I think this is massively underrated, so if you get a chance to read it (I stumbled on my copy at the library, for example) please, PLEASE do.

The Exact Opposite of Okay
-I  feel so lucky to have read this already, seeing that it isn’t out till next March. It has a wonderfully witty narrator who made me snort and cackle multiple times and I think a lot of people are going to fall in love with this when it’s released.


This Beats Perfect-
A wonderful boyband YA, with a really nice romance and a prontagonist I loved, as well as a superb cast of secondary characters. I also just really liked the writing style, which felt unusual but I can’t explain how, and I’m looking forward to the sort of sequel that’s due out in February.


The Graces
– this was so chilling and creepy it gave me goosebumps in places, and I couldn’t put it down to revise for my French exam (which I read it on the day of… oopsies). I passed though, so my love for this book remains very much in tact. Also, the last line is GLORIOUS; roll on the Curses right now please!


Radio Silence
– This was another book from my last week of exams, which I also read in a day (the day of my Modern Studies exam). The thought of going back to this got me through a challenging paper, and it’s just phenomenal! Aled is one of my favourite characters ever.


Stargazing for Beginners
– I read this after a bit of a reading slump, around the start of May I think, and it’s just wonderful. Meg is such an inspirational, yet flawed and realistic character, and watching her struggle with caring for her little sister after their mum jets off and abandons them is so sad in places. Her friends, such as Annie, are hilarious, and I also loved her romantic interest Ed.


The Empty Grave-
this was pretty much the perfect finale to a pretty much perfect series. The trademark drama, humour and adventure combo was as slick as ever, and the characters continued to be exceptionally awesome in every way. And it made me cry at the end!


Wing Jones
– I read this at the start of 2017 and it got me through the very difficult night before my MRI scan (which I find really difficult). Wing’s journey of finding her passion for running and falling in love is stunning from start to finish, and I adored the magical realism element.


Moxie
– This is a fierce, feminist read that’s guaranteed to make you want to start your own revolution. It tells the story of Viv as she starts up her own zine and creates the Moxie movement to shake up her sexist school.


Noah Can’t Even
– I genuinely have no idea why I didn’t give this 5 stars. It made me giggle loads and it was amazing fun, and Noah is so sweet and nerdy. DEFINETELY a favourite of this year in spite of the stupidity of past me’s star rating. (Which I have now went and swapped on Goodreads)

EDIT- I forgot a book! One of the most special things I’ve read this year is Forever Geek by Holly Smale, which was the final instalment of one of my favourite series (Geek Girl). I am MOST ashamed that I forgot it, but it’s definetely worth going over my 10 books.

What have your favourite YA books of 2017 been? Do we share any choices? I’d love to read your list if you have one! Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx

Guest Post: Louise of Book Murmuration’s Favourite Winter Fairytales

Hello everybody!

Welcome to day 9 of blogmas! Today, I have my friend Louise here to talk about her favourite winter fairytales!

Enjoy! 


Peter Pan- Peter Pan has been associated with Christmas since it hit the stage in the Christmas season of 1904. Otherwise it has nothing to do with winter, or Christmas. I think this shows how any story can become a favourite Christmas tale. Lots of us feel like big children at Christmas, and Christmas is never so magical as in those early childhood years, so I think the theme of the boy who doesn’t want to grow up resonates with children and adults at this time of year.

The Match Girl- Why does a story that ends with the death of a child have associations with Christmas? Seasonal reading doesn’t have to be light and fluffy. Dickens was master of that, but The Match Girl predates even A Christmas Carol. These days we’re as likely to be obsessed with presents and wrapping paper, and driving each other up the wall over television watching rights. The Match Girl goes back to a time when a warm fire and the love of a family was a gift, not a … gift in disguise. I think it has the power to get under the frustration caused by modern life, and modern Christmas, and remind us how lucky we are. Everybody begs that final match to provide the miracle. Every. Single. Time. 

The Snow Queen- Modern adaptations focus on the queen in her palace. To me, the beauty of Hans Anderson’s story is how Gerda travels through the seasons, and those seasons are personified by the people she meets. My favourite part is the Autumn bandit camp.

The King Of The Swans- Delphine travels into a summery land to find the strawberries which will save her friend Hilda. Delphine is unable to get home, until she gifts some strawberries to the King of Swans. Hilda is cured, and years later the swan king gifts Delphine a crown. Ever after, children go in search of the same strawberries, but none find them. Delphine’s selflessness is rewarded, while the other children go in search of riches and come back empty-handed. This story stays in my memory because of the contrast – the summery land found in the middle of a snowy forest.

The Snow Maiden – An elderly couple believe they have been blessed with the child of their wishes when a girl made of snow comes to life. She grows within days into a beautiful young woman, but evaporates over a fire when she is invited to run through the springtime wood. 

The child made of snow is the image which stays with me. We all know what will happen when the girl is invited out into the spring. This is a lovely story to tell aloud, as the twists and turns invite questions.  ‘What do you think they found?’ ‘Do you think she’ll return home?’ 

Don’t these all sound brilliant?! I think my favourite winter fairytale is the Snow Queen for sure. What’s yours? 

Amy xxx





October Reviews

Hello everybody!

Today, I’m finally sharing my reviews for the month of October, except for the couple of books I didn’t enjoy. Without further ado, onto the books! 

The Curse of the Chocolate Phoenix by Kate Saunders

In this return to the magical world we first visited in the Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop, Kate Saunders sends Oz, Lily and Caydon on a new adventure to protect Britain from magical terrorists. Even though the chocolate shop and magic related to chocolate didn`t feel as prominent in this instalment, I still really enjoyed what we did see of it. In addition, I found the time travel element of the plot really confusing and ended up a bit lost for part of the book. However, I feel that the real strength of these books is the characters as there is a really likeable main trio and I liked all of them individually as well as their dynamic as a team. I also thought new character Silver was an excellent addition and she actually ended up becoming my favourite of the children. I wasn`t just as keen on the villains in this book in comparison to first, but they were still suitably scary, and Alba was especially sinister. My absolute favourite characters had to be Demerara the cat and Spike the rat who were so sweet and funny. 3.5/5

Vlad the World`s Worst Vampire by Anna Wilson, and illustrated by Kathryn Durst

In this utterly lovely younger middle grade book, we follow Vlad, a young vampire who is struggling so much with his vampiric studies that he decides to give human school a go instead, with some interesting results. This was really gentle but also well paced; it was a one sitting read for me mainly due to its length (between 150 and 200 pages), but also because I was so immersed by Vlad`s world I didn`t want to put it down. The book`s humour also appealed to me- I was chuckling constantly. Vlad`s fabulous pet bat Flit was the source of much of this; he was totally hilarious. Finally, Kathryn Durst`s illustrations added so much to my already extremely positive view of this book as they truly brought the story and the characters to life. I couldn`t have been more overjoyed when I discovered a few days later that there`s going to be a sequel in a few months! 4.5/5

Countless by Karen Gregory

In her important and topical debut, Karen Gregory tells the story of Hedda, a teenage girl with anorexia as she falls pregnant and her life changes as she calls a truce with the disorder (which she calls `Nia`) for the duration of her pregnancy. While I can`t speak for the accuracy of the anorexia portrayal myself, it came across as well researched and realistic, and also gave insight into Hedda`s mind and how the disorder can manifest in a sensitive way. It also never felt sensationalised. Hedda was a wonderful, brave character who I definetly sympathised with throughout the novel. I loved how much she developed throughout and became a very different person for her baby. I actually found this true of all the characters, for example Hedda`s family (who I found frustratingly unsupportive at times, and were excellently portrayed as it shows not all people who face challenges like this have a support system). Considering the book takes place over a long period of time, this seemed true to life. Another thing I found interesting in this book was that we actually got to see Hedda have her baby and adjust to life as a mum, which I don`t remember ever seeing before in a book about a teen pregnancy. The only thing I`d have liked slightly more development in was what led Hedda to develop anorexia as it was only briefly touched on but I would have been interested to  Finally, the ending broke my heart in some ways but also put it back together in others, and I liked the hopeful note on which we left Hedda a lot. I`m looking forward to seeing what Karen Gregory writes next. 4/5

The Spellchaser Trilogy by Lari Don

In this middle grade fantasy/magical realism trilogy, Lari Don tells the story of Molly, a girl who has been cursed into shapeshifting into a hare, as she meets other cursed characters and works with them to reverse the curses. First of all, the worldbuilding is phenomenal. It`s well explained and detailed, but never info dumps, and I adore the magic system and idea of curses being so important to so many magical groups. The characters were also well developed and really interesting. My personal favourites were Beth the druid and Atacama the sphinx, but I rooted for all of them (except the horrible baddies!) in lifting their curses and beyond. The plot of the trilogy worked fabulously as well; it was never predictable and I loved all the shocks and surprises that the team faced, and it`s the best constructed trilogy I`ve ever read. There was a standalone plot to each book that kept me interested, and also longer threads interwoven throughout, which weren`t resolved till book three and therefore, made that very satisfying. 5/5

Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell

In her first book after the end of the How to Train Your Dragon series, Cressida Cowell tells the story of Wish and Xar, who are from opposing warring tribes, as they meet and go on an adventure together. I found it incredibly slow paced and considered DNFing more than once, but it did pick up slightly in the second half, and I also enjoyed the construct of the mysterious narrator. I also found the main characters quite difficult to connect to, particularly Xar, although I did love a few secondary characters rather a bit (namely Caliburn and Squeezjoos). Another high point was Cressida Cowell`s stunning illustrations. I especially adored the wolf drawing, which is around page 116 I think. I doubt I`ll be continuing with this series, but I`m thinking about giving How to Train Your Dragon a chance as it sounds fantastic. 3/5

Editing Emma by Chloe Seager

In her laugh out loud hilarious debut, Chloe Seager introduces us to Emma, a 16 year old who has just been `ghosted` by her sort-of-boyfriend Leon, as she dips her toe back into the dating pool in a bid to improve herself, while also tackling friendship drama and family problems. I found this similar to the humour in the Electra Brown series by Helen Bailey (which I adored), and I snorted more than once. I adored the characters in this huge amounts. Emma was such a relatable main character, but I also loved her best friend Steph and madcap mum. The only thing I found slightly difficult was the short chapters as it was slightly jarring as it was hard to tell where I`d left off, but as this was such a fast paced, fun read and I got through it in a few sittings it wasn`t too big a problem! I can`t wait to see what Emma gets up to in book two… . 4.5/5

Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend

In a dazzling debut novel, Jessica Townsend writes the story of cursed child Morrigan Crow, as her predicted date of death arrives and she is saved by enigmatic Jupiter North and taken to the magical land of Nevermoor to compete in trials for a place in the Wundrous Society. I was gripped from the first page and constantly desperate to read on throughout due to the perfect pacing, and I thought the worldbuilding was utterly exceptional. I loved getting to know Nevermoor and its customs, and I especially enjoyed the Christmas scenes. Though I guessed the conclusion to the mystery of the book partially, there were still some shocks and twists I hadn`t anticipated, and it`s left me so excited to see where the story will go in the next book. Finally, the characters were also incredible. I loved Morrigan, who was a heroine I could get behind absolutely, her mentor Jupiter and his many eccentricities and her friends Hawthorne and Jack. My very favourite, however, was undoubtedly Fenestra the Magnificat, who was so feisty and funny and fabulous. I`ve been anticipating this book eagerly for around a year, and it didn`t let me down. A future classic for sure, in my opinion. 5/5

The Witch`s Kiss by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr

From the very first page of this, I was intensely invested in Merry and her story. Merry is a teenage witch who isn`t very interested in powers, as she becomes embroiled in protecting her town from a terrible magical danger and falls in forbidden love while trying to defeat the enemy. The standout thing in this for me was the sibling relationship between Merry and Leo; they felt realistic and never overly mushy, but also have each other’s` backs no matter what. I also loved the blend of contemporary and fantasy, as well as the dual timeline (I was equally interested in both time periods, which I`m not usually), and this doesn`t feel quite like anything I`ve ever read before. I did get slightly muddled during the very fast paced climax, but I liked the resolution and overall, I really enjoyed this. 4.5/5

The Witch`s Tears by Katherine and Elizabeth Corr

In this excellent sequel to the Witch`s Kiss, we see Merry on a new adventure when her gran goes missing and odd, dangerous events begin to take place, and she has to work out what`s going on, while also trying to fit into a coven and deal with other issues. I found it very different in tone to the first book, and if anything I actually preferred it as it read more as a mystery with fantasy/contemporary subplots to me, and I adore mystery books. I also liked how much the characters, especially Merry`s wonderful big brother Leo, changed and developed, and that even though this was mainly a different story we still saw the effects of book one on their lives. I enjoyed getting to see new characters too, and I love Finn in particular. After THAT ending, I`m dying to get my hands on book 3, and if you love any of the genres I`ve mentioned that I think this books fits into, I strongly recommend you pick them up. 4.5/5 

The Eye of the North by Sinead O` Hart (received from publisher in exchange for an honest review)

In this mesmerising, magical adventure, we meet Emmeline and follow her on her journey to the North to rescue her kidnapped parents. The characters in this book are amazing. Emmeline`s sidekick Thing was so sweet and such a good friend, and I adored him, and I thought that the other main secondary character Sasha was wonderful too. Emmeline was one of my favourite heroines in ages, possibly of all time; I saw a lot of similarities between us and I thought she was just an imperfect heroine trying her very best, which I love. I really liked being able to see all the characters when they weren`t together at some points, even though some of the switches were quite sudden. The world was all-enveloping, and I felt like I was journeying alongside the characters. I want my own ice horse immediately, though I wouldn`t like to run into the super sinister villains that O Hart has created. I`m so very hopeful for a sequel someday soon, particularly after an event in the climax that made me cry buckets and the lovely ending. 4.5/5

The Midnight Peacock by Katherine Woodfine

In the fourth and final book of the series, we see Sophie and Lil attend a Winter Ball to solve a mystery there, and finally discover the identity of the notorious Baron. It was fast paced and most intriguing, and it was wonderful to see snippets of Christmas at Sinclair`s Department Store, which made me feel really festive even though I read it in October. It was also fun to see how all of the main quartet have grown and changed since The Clockwork Sparrow, and I loved that many of the minor characters were brought back in this book too. Woodfine`s writing continued to be as elegant as ever and brought her world to life, and made me want to jump into it in many places. Finally, I thought the conclusion of the series`s arc of the Baron was phenomenal, and there were some gasp-worthy moments in the last few sections of the books (which are split into parts, with titles, and each new one has a stunning Karl James Mountford illustration to signify it). 4.5/5

Goodybe Perfect by Sara Barnard  (received from publisher in exchange for an honest review)

In my opinion, Sara Barnard`s third novel is her best to date, which I didn`t think I`d say as a huge fan of both Beautiful Broken Things and A Quiet Kind of Thunder. It`s the story of Eden as her best friend runs away with her boyfriend (her music teacher). I found it interesting to read about a teacher-pupil relationship from the point of view of a friend, as I haven`t seen this before, and I love Barnard`s character focused writing, that keeps me completely hooked even though the plot isn`t full of action. I devoured Goodbye, Perfect in a single afternoon. Eden was a glorious main character. She was so misunderstood in places and I was behind her all through the book. I found living in her head for a few hours amazing; and some scenes (such as those with Bonnie`s mum) really made me laugh. I also adored some of the side characters, in particular Eden`s sister Valerie and her boyfriend Connor (I loved that their relationship was prominent, but didn`t go through any issues. I can`t remember seeing anything like that in another book).  In short, this book was stunning in every way imaginable and made me go through so many emotions in a relatively short amount of pages, and I highly recommend picking up a copy come February. 5/5

The Rise of Wolves by Kerr Thomson (received from publisher in exchange for an honest review)

In a lyrical, exciting middle grade mystery/contemporary, Kerr Thomson tells the story of Innis, a boy who lives on Nin in Scotland as he decides to try and jump the Bonnie Laddie`s Leap in order to become Laird of Nin and not have to move due to his grandfather`s deteriorating health, while also trying to work out why there are wolves on the island and why they`re so interested in him. I thought Innis was a lovely, yet still flawed, main character and I felt really sympathetic towards him when things were tough.  I also enjoyed his friendship with Kat (who was such a fabulous character in her own right; a very strong female), and how his relationship changed throughout with moody, mysterious Lachlan Geddes, who is somehow linked with the wolves. I felt like I learnt some new things from this (namely about the history of Nin and wind turbines) and I`m an absolute sucker for island settings, so I was guaranteed to fall in love with this book). The only thing I`d have liked was for the book to have continued on a little longer after the end, but I suppose it had to end somewhere 😉 . I`ll be seeking out the Sound of Whales soon! 4.5/5