My new Sunday Spotlight feature (which actually bears a striking similarity to my old Saturday Spotlight feature) will showcase some of my favourite recent books reviewed for the superb Bookbag site.
Harriet Manners is clever, works hard, and retains lots of information. She knows more facts than just about anyone else at her school. She just doesn't know why barely anyone seems to like her...
So when she gets the chance to become a model, she decides to reinvent herself. Will she succeed? And what effect will the change in Harriet have on her best friend, who always wanted this opportunity herself, her dad and stepmother, and the male model she falls for? (Not to mention her stalker...)
I've been in something of a reading slump recently, where I haven't liked anything new that I've tried all that much, so it was a really pleasant surprise to pick up something by a debut author and immediately find myself smiling. Harriet herself is a brilliant main character whose woes I could sympathise with, and I liked most of the supporting characters - even Toby the stalker, who could easily have come across as creepy, manages to stay just about funny and likeable. The one character I wasn't overly keen on was Harriet's dad, who just seemed a little bit too immature to be particularly believable.
Given that Smale is a former model herself, I was expecting the descriptions of the modelling world to feel realistic, and she certainly didn't let me down. What I wasn't necessarily expecting was that the book would be so cleverly plotted - it's unpredictable, funny, and carries a strong message without ever feeling like the message is more important than the story. She also has a breezy writing style which made this very easy to read, and I raced through it. (Apart from the one scene which nearly made me cry, at least - still great, but I had to put it down for a little bit!)
Strong recommendation as something that will make people smile - if it worked for me in that sort of mood, it should work for anyone! I'm definitely looking forward to Smale's next book.
I was lucky enough to be able to interview Holly - check it out here!