Predictable Fluff: All That Glitters by Holly Smale

 

My name is Harriet Manners, and I am still a geek.

Harriet Manners has high hopes for the new school year: she’s a Sixth Former now, and things are going to be different. But with Nat busy falling in love at college and Toby preoccupied with a Top Secret project, Harriet soon discovers that’s not necessarily a good thing…

Source: GoodReads

If we’re going to be honest about it, this series has gotten a bit pedantic (which seems to be the word of the week, FYI).  The good thing is if  you’re reading it with its publication schedule you’re not going to notice as much the repetition.  The bad thing is if you’re an American who has gotten tired of waiting for these things to be released in the states and decided to just buy them at the Book Depository you’re not exactly going to binge on them as I was planning…

Yeah.

The good thing though, is if the real world is being particularly hellish as it has since Biff stole Doc and Marty’s machine and somehow stole the presidency from HRC Donald Trump has become president (that sounds so wrong) this series can at least buy you some hours of peace at least another Executive Order has been dropped.

Sorry for all the current events references, it has really been hard to read or really  lately.  And really do anything else especially when all this shit has been thrown in your face on a 24/7 basis.  If you follow my Twitter feed you know I’ve been very vocal in my disdain.

Anyway, back to the book.  Its the predictable fluff that is needed right now in this world and I am grateful for that.  Honestly, I will probably be reading a lot of fluff in the coming months.  It’s needed and wanted and this book does the trick.  It’s easy to look past the faults, but they are there and it’s pretty obvious to anyone who has read this series what they are.

Harriet is a stagnent character.  She doesn’t grow, and at this point I don’t expect her too.  Most of the books center around ridiculous misunderstandings that anyone with adequate emotional skills would be able to pick up on but this is Harriet we’re talking about.  So…yeah, don’t expect her to pick up on social cues.

And to be honest, her friends are sort of shitty in this one.   I get that they want to help her, but come on.  They should know that she wasn’t going to exactly take their behavior the way she wanted them too.  And really, at this point…ugh.

The more I think about it, the more I want to pull my hair out.  But again, I don’t hate this book.  It’s sort of like the Princess Diaries series.  Sure, there was a slump in the middle of that series where all I wanted to do was deck Mia, but it didn’t make me hate or stop reading the series and I sort of hope that in the next two full installments there’s some growth with Harriet-again, don’t expect there to be but I still can’t help there is some.

As far as the romance department goes, this installment of Geek Girl is ridiculously light on that as well as the modeling stuff.  I did enjoy the modeling antics though.  I think they’re often some of my favorite parts of the book surprisingly.  Even though they are more or less the same-Harriet going to some exotic location and making a fool of herself.

So yeah, there was nothing surprising or really unprecedented about this particular installment of Geek Girl if it was a more serious series, I’d probably would give it a lower rating.  But as it stands, it did its job in getting to me forget about the crap that’s been going on in this world right now.

Overall Rating: A B- it’s flawed but enjoyable.

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Perfect If You Want Something Dumb: Picture Perfect by Holly Smalle

“My name is Harriet Manners, and I’ll always be a geek.”

It’s the hilarious third book in the No.1 bestselling, award winning GEEK GIRL series!

Harriet Manners knows more facts than most. She knows that New York is the most populous city in the United States. She knows that its official motto is “Ever Upward”. She knows that 28% of Americans believe we never landed on the moon.

But she knows nothing about modelling in the Big Apple, and how her family will cope with life stateside. Or how to “become a brand”, as the models in New York put it. And, even more importantly, what to do when the big romantic gestures aren’t coming from your boyfriend…

Does geek girl go too far this time?

The laugh out loud follow-up to award winning GEEK GIRL and MODEL MISFIT will have you in stitches.

Source: GoodReads

Picture Perfect was a far improvement from Model Misfit, but I still didn’t love it as much as I loved the first Geek Girl novel and occasionally-okay, lots of times- I wanted to give Harriet a good kick in the pants.

She does some really idiotic things in this book.  Well, she really does a lot of idiotic things in all these books, even the first one.  But it’s like this character hasn’t grown any.

And while that’s annoying, at the point I read it, I really didn’t care because I wasn’t really wanting to read something heavy.  I just wanted something that was fast and easy to read during my sanctioned breaks-roughly thirty minutes after three hours of studying or so.

And that’s what Picture Perfect did, it was exceedingly easy to read.  But also ridiculously unrealistic.

And I’m not talking about in the typical YA unrealistic like way.

I’m talking about the OTT people wouldn’t act like this way.

That’s bad.

In Geek Girl, I think I mentioned how responsible Harriet’s parents were.  Or at least her step mother.  I might’ve said that her father was at least involved in her life, which is more than you can say for most YA books.  Well, here both her parents get Golden Charlies.

They are exceedingly dim and borderline neglectful.  In fact, a couple of times I thought about calling the Fictional CPS on them.  Because for reals, you don’t punish your sixteen-year-old by forcing her to stay in her room except for using the bathroom AND then forget to check on her.   Oh, and when you hire a tutor for your sixteen-year-old, it’s probably a smart thing to do a background check.

It’s just common sense.

I am not even going to go into the whole immigrating to the US thing.  Or Harriet’s lack of a work visa for modeling thing because that’s being a little too picky.  That sort of thing, I could arguably see happening in a YA book because the it’s fiction schitcion excuse (i.e. Editor ate too many Twinkies and didn’t feel like  doing any fact checking-though, to be fair to Twinkie loving editor, author has access to Google).

So I can give that thing a pass (sort of).

What I can’t give a pass to is the horrible characterization of these parents.   That and how unrealistic the set up is.

I read a lot of British chick lit-which is where Geek Girl sort of follows, but is YA.   One thing I notice about these books if they’re a series, they’ll likely have a book that takes place in America (see Shopaholic Abroad  and I Heart New York  for prime examples).   It’s sort of a right of passage for this type of series.  One thing I will give Smalle,is that she sort of twist this trope by having Harry reside in the actual suburbs rather than the city.   But while that sort of made the story more interesting, at the same time it sort of hindered it since Harriet was commuting back and forth.   I actually would’ve liked to see her falter in suburban American more than rehashing the model thing again.

While I liked the model thing in the first book, it’s run it’s course.  Harriet is and always is going to be grossly unprofessional in that world.  It’s almost embarrassing.  Much like her relationship with Nick.

Poor, poor, Nick.  I put him in the same category as I put Michael Moscovtiz in during those middle Princess Diaries books.

I really don’t know how that poor baby does it.

Anyway, as embarrassing as Harriet’s antics were and as dumb as her parents were, I still enjoyed this one.  If anything because it was a nice quick break that didn’t cause me to use any analytical skills.

Overall Rating: A generous B.  Probably most of the time it would be a B-, but hey I wanted something dumb and I got it.

Sheldon Cooper’s More Emotionally Challenged Sister: Model Misfit by Holly Smalle

Harriet Manners is a model.

She used to be a geek, but now she has transformed into a creature of grace and sophistication. She is completely at one with the world of fashion.

Except she’s not.

In fact, Harriet feels even less popular and more awkward now than she did when she was just a geek. So when Yuka Ito invites her to go to Japan and be the face of her new label, Harriet seizes the chance to get away.

Harriet might have to bring along her crazy grandma Bunty, and she might run into Nick, the gorgeous costar who unceremoniously dumped her two months ago. But no one is going to ruin her fabulous Tokyo summer.

Unless she accidentally ruins it herself…

Source: GoodReads

I loved Geek Girl earlier this year, but its sequel….

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Um, I think it showed me the flaws that were in Geek Girl that I ignored.

To be fair, Model Misfit wasn’t a total flop.  But I did make the cringe face more than a couple of times throughout my read.

Before I get “nasty”, I’d like to say at its core this is not a bad book.  It is very enjoyable.  It is a feel good book.  The sort of book that’s perfect to read in short bursts while you wait for the cable guy to set up the wireless at your new apartment (okay, just giving an example of my reading experience).  It’s nice fluff.

And I like fluff.  Don’t get me wrong, good fluff is hard to come by and should be enjoyed.  It’s just that sometimes fluff like this is clearly written for profit.

Because I am really wondering was a sequel necessary?

There wasn’t anything relevant to the plot in this one.  It just felt like a tact on installment.

I think a lot of it had to do with the lack of character development.  The side characters are one dimensional as ever.  Harriet’s dad acts ridiculously childish.  Her agent’s dialogue while sometimes hilarious sometimes grates.  And Harriet herself.  Is soooo grating.

I get that the book is suppose to be over the top, but I’d like to see some development with the character.  Having her remain in status like this is a problem I see with lots of pink books.  Case in point, the middle part of the Princess Diaries novels and the ever continuing Becky Bloomwood series (you’d think her husband would get a clue and cut up the credit cards at this point and banish her to a cabin in the middle of nowhere with no Wi Fi and the nearest Wal-Mart is like two hours away).  These characters just stayed the same to produce more books.  Okay, in Mia’s case she finally grew up, but Becky is still binge shopping.  I’m afraid that five books from now Harriet will still be spewing out useless facts in outfits that only a three-year-old high on LSD would pick.

Yeah…

As for the romance in this installment, I didn’t care for it.  I actually didn’t mind Nick in the first book, but I hated the set up in this one.  Which involved a lot of girl hate.  Yes, I get girls can be mean, but it’s such a groan worthy cliche that I have no words about it.

And yes, I get it was one big  misunderstanding on one of the parties part.  But still, I have my bitchy face (oh, wait, that’s my normal face-have recently learned I have a case of resting bitch face since several people have “kindly” t0ld me to smile more-um, NOT going to happen) on about this relationship.

I really don’t even get the attraction between the two of them at this point.  Harriet is…well, she’s like Sheldon Cooper’s more emotionally immature little sister and Nick is just a dick (okay, I couldn’t help myself it rhymed).

Model Misfit wasn’t a complete disaster for me, but it was a harsh wakeup call.  I just could not see past some things.  While there were occasions that the quirks I found in the first book were charming, a lot of the time they felt gimmicky.  I will be continuing on but with high caution, I hope this series goes more in the vein of the Princess Diaries books than the Shopaholic books.  At least Mia eventually grew up.  Alas, after this installment, I have a feeling that Geek Girl: Ties the Knot (if it were to ever be published) would include an over neurotic twenty-seven year-old Harriet who still wore outfits out of Claudia Kishi’s closet and talked about random facts that obviously make her a geek-probably about weddings that no one will want to know about.  She’ll also do something fairly stupid like piss off the Wedding DJ or getting into a food fight at her wedding.  I don’t know.  Just something that is ridiculously cringe worthy.

Overall Rating: I’m giving it a cautious B.  I did enjoy this book, but yeah it had its flaws and I have a feeling after I read the third installment I might be shaking my head in retrospect.

Big Bang Theory Meets Princess Diaries:Geek Girl by Holly Smale

Geek + runway = a hilarious runaway hit! This bestselling UK debut is full of humor and high-fashion hijinks—and now it’s coming to America.

Harriet Manners is tired of being labeled a geek. So when she’s discovered by a modeling agent, she seizes the chance to reinvent herself. There’s only one problem: Harriet is the definition of awkward. Does she have what it takes to transform from geek to chic?

Geek Girl is the first book in a hilarious new trilogy. It was also the #1 bestselling YA debut of 2013 in the UK, where it was shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize and won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for Best Book for Teens. With all the humor and fabulous shenanigans of Louise Rennison’s Confessions of Georgia Nicolson and Meg Cabot’s The Princess DiariesGeek Girl is about to become an international superstar.

Source: GoodReads

I hate to say this, but I was reluctant about Geek Girl.

I totally judged it that it was written by a former model.  To be far, books by models that I’ve read before have been sort of a wash-anyone remember Modelland? But Geek Girl, damn it was good.

It was the perfect MJ book.  And the comparison to The Princess Diaries series was pretty spot on, though I’m sure Harriet would correct Mia on some of her WebMD information.

Harriet is completely engaging, awkward (in the not cringe worthy way), and adorable beyond words.  Her voice while catchy, was maybe a little borderline too quirky. I could see this maybe becoming a problem in the future, but for now it worked.

I also liked how the book focused more on family and friends than romance.  While the romance is still there, very light (mind you) there is more focus these other relationships which is refreshing.  I especially liked the relationship that Harriet had with her parents.

Her relationship with both parents, her stepmom and father, are well defined and unique.  They sort of remind me of a grown up Ron and Hermione-except much more tolerable than that ill fated couple.  I really like that there is such a strong relationship with a step parent in this book.  Usually, step parents are treated like the evil on non-participatory entities in YA.  However, that’s not the case here.

I also liked the portrayal of Harriet’s friendship with Nat. It seemed realistic.  Both of them make mistakes and they both admit it when they screw up.  And yay for Nat for standing up for her friend in such a big way.

In addition to strong relationships, Geek Girl also has a unique quirky-ish vibe that gives it it’s own identity.  In addition to Harriet’s geek-isms other characters such as her father, Wilbur, and Toby have their own quirks that add to the book as well.

As I previously said, the quirkiness can get a little bothersome at some points, but in moderation it really works.

The plot that Geek Girl has is pretty simple and I think that’s one of the things about it that works for it.  While you’re expecting the ridiculous Tyra-ish makeover that turns Harriet from blah to beautiful, Smale does it in a way that’s tolerable and not too reminiscent of other books.

Not like this.

 

I will also say that I’m glad about how small the love interest’s role is in this book.  In future installments, I’d like to see more of Nick, but I think for this one  the brief appearances that we got of him were okay and just enough.

Overall, if you’re looking for something light and fluffy I recommend Geek Girl.  I am concerned about how the series might develop in the future, but it’s one of those books I’ll will definitely be picking up again.

A-