Comparing ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’ by Morgan Matson

18189606Synopsis:

It was Sloane who yanked Emily out of her shell and made life 100% interesting. But right before what should have been the most epic summer, Sloane just…disappears. All she leaves behind is a to-do list.

On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily would normally never try. But what if they could bring her best friend back?

Apple picking at night?
Okay, easy enough.

Dance until dawn?
Sure. Why not?

Kiss a stranger?
Um…

Emily now has this unexpected summer, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected), to check things off Sloane’s list. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go skinny-dipping?
Wait…what

Click on the image to get to Luna's blog!Thoughts before you started reading Since You’ve Been Gone?

CHRISSI: I was completely the other way around to Luna. I loved Second Chance Summer, but couldn’t really get on with Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour. I was excited to see whether I enjoyed this book as much as Second Chance Summer.

LUNA: Having read both Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour (loved it) and Second Chance Summer (mixed feelings) I knew I’d get lost in Morgan Matson’s storytelling but I just wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the characters in this story.

What did you think of Emily?

CHRISSI: I thought she was a likeable character who you could really see grow throughout the book. It was lovely to see her come out of her shell and become more confident.

LUNA: Initially Emily comes across as a little bland because all of her descriptions were in comparison to Sloane (which is the point) but I loved how much character development there is in this book. You really get to go on a journey with Emily.

Best bit?

CHRISSI: I really loved when Emily was completing items from Sloane’s list. There was a really nice element of humour in the story, which I wasn’t expecting.

LUNA: Honestly the whole book. Morgan Matson has this way of just pulling you into a story from the beginning. There’s a good mix of humour and sincerity in the character’s feelings, not just Emily’s. I also really like the playlists.

Worst bit?:

CHRISSI: There were a couple of really cheesy conversations which made me cringe, but didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story!

LUNA: While I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it and I wasn’t happy with the conclusion- Emily and Frank’s relationship is predictable.

Favourite character / moment?

CHRISSI: There was never a character that I didn’t like! Morgan Matson really does write some beautiful characters.

LUNA: A lot of the tasks on the list made me smile but I think the one I liked best was the “hug a Jamie’ because it was when Emily really committed herself to doing them. Another part in the story I really thought worked was when Collins and Emily had their ‘honesty hat’ conversation.

I think Collins might actually have been my favourite character, he just was- you know what I mean?

Was Since You’ve Been Gone what you expected?

CHRISSI: Yes. I wasn’t sure whether this was going to make me feel as much as Second Chance Summer. It did, but in very different ways. I think Second Chance Summer had more of an emotional impact on me, but Since You’ve Been Gone still made me feel warm and fuzzy.

LUNA: Yes and I liked Emily so now I’m back on the Morgan Matson bandwagon, though Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour  is still my favourite. :)

Would you recommend it?

CHRISSI: Of course!

LUNA: Absolutely!

 

Rump

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How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

In a magic kingdom where your name is your destiny, 12-year-old Rump is the butt of everyone’s joke. But when he finds an old spinning wheel, his luck seems to change. Rump discovers he has a gift for spinning straw into gold. His best friend, Red Riding Hood, warns him that magic is dangerous, and she’s right. With each thread he spins, he weaves himself deeper into a curse.

To break the spell, Rump must go on a perilous quest, fighting off pixies, trolls, poison apples, and a wickedly foolish queen. The odds are against him, but with courage and friendship—and a cheeky sense of humor—he just might triumph in the end.

Thoughts:

I first heard about Rump from Laura who is a fellow book blogger who also dabbles in Booktube. I was immediately interested in the book. I love a fairy-tale retelling/reimagining so this book was definitely right up my street. I’m also into reading middle grade reads at the moment. There really are some gems out there worth discovering and Rump is definitely a gem!

Rump is a retelling of the classic fairy-tale Rumpelstiltskin. It’s so creative and makes you consider what happened to Rumpelstiltskin in order for him to be the horrible creature that he was in the original tale. I loved the ideas that the author came up with. They were completely credible and made me root for a happy ending for Rump. I absolutely loved how there were different fairy-tales tangled up within Rump. Rump’s best friend is Red. Red’s Grandmother is a witch. It’s just very clever! I can’t even begin to imagine how much thought has to go into reimagining these classic tales, but I’m very appreciative of the author’s efforts!

Rump was incredibly easy to read but it did have some moments were the pace slowed down a little. That didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book though.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes- 3.5 stars!

Rump is a fantastic book for middle grade aged children and adults that love clever retellings!

Stronger Than You Know

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How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Albert Whitman and Company

Previously reviewed by the same author:
The Summer I Found You

Synopsis:

After police intervention, fifteen-year-old Joy has finally escaped the trailer where she once lived with her mother and survived years of confinement and abuse. Now living with her aunt, uncle, and cousins in a comfortable house, she’s sure she’ll never belong. Wracked by panic attacks, afraid to talk to anyone at her new school, Joy’s got a whole list of reasons why she’s crazy. With immense courage, Joy finds friends and grows closer to her new family. But just when hope is taking hold, she learns she must testify in her mother’s trial. Can she face her old life without losing her way in the new one? Will she ever truly belong in a world that seems too normal to be real?

Thoughts:

Sometimes a book like Stronger Than You Know is exactly what I’m looking for in a read. I thought the synopsis sounded intriguing and moving, so I went with it and requested this book. It didn’t take me long to read. I also appreciated how the author tackled mental health and anxiety. As a long term sufferer of anxiety, I could relate to the main character, even though I am lucky enough to not have experienced what she had. I think it’s really important that mental health is tackled in Young Adult literature as it is so common yet so rarely tackled. The story isn’t perfect, but I still think it’s a decent, quick read.

I loved Joy as a character. I couldn’t begin to understand how she felt after suffering such abuse at the hands of her mother and her mother’s terrible boyfriends. It’s characters like this, and people like this in real life that I find admirable. They nearly always find that inner strength in order to move on with the rest of their lives. I also loved how honest she was a character. She knew she wasn’t quite right yet and had a mountain to climb with her fears, but she started to move on and she was strong enough to acknowledge that it was going to take some time to find some normality.  She kept fighting because she wanted to move past her horrible upbringing and move forward with her new family. I just love that strength of character. She grew so much throughout the book. I love characters that develop so well.

Joy’s family, her Aunt, Uncle and her cousins, that she was placed with were also incredibly well written. I adored the pure love that her Aunt and Uncle gave her, despite not knowing the full story about what happened to them. It was lovely to read about someone placed with a family member and actually getting on with them. I also appreciated how the rest of the family had their flaws too. It was realistic!

Being ultra critical, healing and growing is all the book is really about. Therefore if you’re looking for a story with a bit more of a plot then this isn’t it. Stronger Than You Know is about healing after terrible incidents and finding out who you are with the love of family to guide you.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

Perfect for fans of strong character development contemporaries!

WWW Wednesday #84

WWW Wednesdays is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Click on the image to get to her blog!

Welcome to another WWW Wednesday! To participate in WWW Wednesday, you need to answer three questions.

•What are you currently reading?
•What did you recently finish reading?
•What do you think you’ll read next?

Click on the book cover to get to the Goodread’s page for the book.

What are you currently reading?

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I’m currently reading It’s Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han. It’s so far very easy to read! It’s a short read for me as it’s under 300 pages. So hopefully I’ll finish that today so I can get onto my next book which I’m very excited about!

What did you recently finish reading?

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I finished Lola and the Boy Next Door yesterday. I’m on a bit of a contemporary kick at the moment and desperately trying to get some books knocked off my TBR before I start university. I much preferred this book to Anna and The French Kiss. My review for this book will be coming up within the next week or so!

What do you think you’ll read next?

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I have been wanting to read this book for a LONG time. It actually wasn’t due to be read for a few weeks in my little schedule, but I can’t help it. I need to read it. I’ve heard it’s amazing and emotional. I just can’t wait any longer.

What are you reading this week? Please feel free to leave your answers or links in the comments below and I’ll stop by! Happy Reading :-)

The Ones That Got Away #1

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This feature is going to showcase some recent reads that I haven’t fully reviewed. This may be because I didn’t finish the book or that I didn’t have enough to say to warrant a full and fair review of a book that I’m sure others will absolutely adore. I figure this way the books will be highlighted and someone somewhere might find the right book for them!

(BOOK IMAGES GO TO GOODREADS!)

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All The Truth That’s In Me- Julie Berry

Four years ago, Judith and her best friend disappeared from their small town of Roswell Station. Two years ago, only Judith returned, permanently mutilated, reviled and ignored by those who were once her friends and family. Unable to speak, Judith lives like a ghost in her own home, silently pouring out her thoughts to the boy who’s owned her heart as long as she can remember—even if he doesn’t know it—her childhood friend, Lucas. But when Roswell Station is attacked, long-buried secrets come to light, and Judith is forced to choose: continue to live in silence, or recover her voice, even if it means changing her world, and the lives around her, forever.  

imageA Place For Us- Harriet Evans

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The FIRST of four exclusive part-serialisations of a A Place for Us by Harriet Evans – you’ll be desperate to read on …

The day Martha Winter decided to tear apart her family began like any other day.

So opens A Place for Us by Sunday Times bestselling author Harriet Evans, a book you’ll dive into, featuring a family you’ll fall in love with … and never want to leave. If you devour Rosamund Pilcher and Maeve Binchy and have discovered Jojo Moyes, you’ll be thrilled to add Harriet Evans to your collection of favourite authors.

The house has soft, purple wisteria twining around the door. You step inside.

The hall is cool after the hot summer’s day. The welcome is kind, and always warm.

image (1)Far Far Away- Tom McNeal

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It says quite a lot about Jeremy Johnson Johnson that the strangest thing about him isn’t even the fact his mother and father both had the same last name. Jeremy once admitted he’s able to hear voices, and the townspeople of Never Better have treated him like an outsider since. After his mother left, his father became a recluse, and it’s been up to Jeremy to support the family. But it hasn’t been up to Jeremy alone. The truth is, Jeremy can hear voices. Or, specifically, one voice: the voice of the ghost of Jacob Grimm, one half of the infamous writing duo, The Brothers Grimm.

Jacob watches over Jeremy, protecting him from an unknown dark evil whispered about in the space between this world and the next. But when the provocative local girl Ginger Boultinghouse takes an interest in Jeremy (and his unique abilities), a grim chain of events is put into motion. And as anyone familiar with the Grimm Brothers know, not all fairy tales have happy endings…

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God Is An Astronaut- Alyson Foster

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Jessica Frobisher is a botany professor at a university in Michigan. Her husband Liam works for a space tourism company called Spaceco. She has a son and a daughter, a nice house – and an intense friendship with Arthur, a fellow botanist, who has departed to the wilds north of Winnipeg, who she emails almost every day and misses every moment.

Then disaster strikes Spaceco. Liam departs for Arizona and Jess wakes up to three TV vans parked in their drive. Jess attempts to keep down to earth by building a greenhouse in her garden, dreaming of orchids and orange trees and roses hanging from the ceiling. But nothing she does can prevent her life beginning to spiral out of control.

Unfolding through Jess’s emails to Arthur, written in glimmering prose, this extraordinary debut is both an exploration of space and of what it is to be human. It is also a love story like no other.

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A Different Me- Deborah Blumenthal

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Allie Johnston’s secret wish since the day she was twelve is to have her nose done. But she hasn’t told anyone–not her parents, or even her best friend, Jen. But when she starts visiting a plastic surgery discussion board on the Web, she finds people who get her, for the first time in her life. Her new friends, including two girls her age with vastly different backgrounds who share her obsession with changing their faces–but for very different reasons. A sharply written, insightful book about learning to be happy with who we are.image (5)

Top Ten Books I Really Want To Read But Don’t Own Yet

toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely The Broke and The Bookish. Each week they come up with a list for us to complete. This week it is Top Ten Books I Really Want To Read But Don’t Own Yet.

Given my TBR pile and wish list I could probably make a top 50 or beyond list! But I’ve limited it to ten that will definitely be in my possession ASAP!

Click the book image to go to the Goodreads page for the book!

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Night School- C.J Daugherty- I have heard so many wonderful things about this series. I really need to get my hands on it!

Truly Madly Deadly- Hannah Jayne- This book has been on my wish list for a long time, but for some reason I haven’t got to it yet!

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Love and Other Foreign Words- Erin McCahan- I’m hoping to get this book soon! I’ve seen it positively reviewed by a lot of bloggers/vloggers that I follow!

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place- The Mysterious Howling- Maryrose Wood- This series just really appeals to me, for some reason. I think it would be fun!

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Across The Universe- Beth Revis- I’m very intrigued by this series, so I hope to eventually get around to reading it!

Evidence of Things Not Seen- Lindsey Lane- This is a 2014 debut that I’m very excited to get my hands on. I think it could be quite original!

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Trust Me, I’m Lying- Mary Elizabeth Summer- Another 2014 debut that I can’t wait to read. Love the title, love the cover, hopefully I’ll love the book!

Torn Away- Jennifer Brown- I’ve read all of Jennifer Brown’s other books, so I’m looking forward to reading Torn Away!

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What I Thought Was True- Huntley Fitzpatrick- I’ve seen mixed reviews for this book, so of course, I want to make up my own mind!

And We Stay- Jenny Hubbard- I’ve been recommended this book a few times now. It seems extremely dark, but like it’ll be an intense, interesting read as well.

So what books do you want to read that you don’t yet own? Please feel free to leave your link to your posts and I’ll stop by. I feel like this week my TBR is going to GROW!

BANNED BOOKS #2: The Earth, My Butt And Other Big Round Things

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Every month for the rest of 2014, ChrissiReads, Bibliobeth & Luna’s Little Library will be reading one Banned / Challenged Book a month. We’ll be looking at why the book was challenged. How/If things have changed since the book was originally published and what we actually think of the book.

This month the choice is The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler.

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First published: 1st January 2003
Most recently in the Top Ten of Frequently Challenged Books in 2009 (
source)
Chosen by: Luna’s Little Library
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

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Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged originally?

BETH: Okay, so the reasons for it being challenged originally is the offensive language, it being sexually explicit and unsuited to the age group. Some things I kind of agree with, some I don’t. I don’t really remember instances of very offensive language to be honest so I don’t agree on that level. After all, teenagers may hear more foul things in the streets or on television (or maybe in their own homes?) than what is written in this novel! And as for it being unsuited to the age group I completely disagree with this. Some teenagers read at a more mature level, others at a more immature one and you can’t really put everyone into a nice neat little box and tell them what they should be reading and at what age. 

CHRISSI: I somewhat understand why it’s challenged. This isn’t necessarily to do with me agreeing that the content should be challenged. It’s a tough one. I DO think that teenagers need to be reading about this sort of thing and I completely support that. However, I think it has to be a very brave teacher that takes on this book. Not because it’s ‘bad’ but mainly because I can imagine parents would get very uptight about their children reading about these issues. I think Luna’s right, we do underestimate teenagers. They can read this material. They should! But should they in school? That’s where I begin to wonder. I think if I was about to train to be a secondary/high school teacher instead of a primary school teacher, then I’d definitely recommend this book to my class. Would I read it with my class? No. I’d be scared of the reaction from parents. That’s a wimpy way of looking at it, but I wonder if parents are part of the problem with books like these. Can we as educators, suggest books for teenagers to  read in their own time to get around this problem? Perhaps.

LUNA: I have this feeling I’m going to be permanently moving into the NO Camp for the all books we read (you can read my previous rant here) but upon finishing The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things I thought: “Are you kidding me?”

1) “offensive language” – There is one scene where Virginia’s brother swears at her and yes is real swearing but it’s completely within context. Be it in 2003 or now I promise you that teens will have heard and used that word themselves. They’ll probably know a lot more.

2) “sexually explicit” – *sighs* I wasn’t sure which part of the story this was referring to but regardless it just made me roll my eyes. Either it’s the beginning of the book when Virginia and Froggy are making out and she’s talking about her ‘bra’ and shock horror the word ‘nipples’ is used or it’s to do with what her brother Bryon does.

SPOILER ALERT Virginia’s older brother is suspended from university following a date-rape allegation which is upheld. The rape happened but this is Virginia’s story so as the reader you know of it but you never actually read about the experience. Carolyn Mackler doesn’t include a first person account from the victim.

3)  “unsuited to age group” – shall we just pretend I gave you the long version of Don’t underestimate teenagers! Yes? Excellent. Moving on…

How about now?

BETH: This book has a relatively recent publication date (2009) and I don’t think things have changed much in the past few years but I think regardless of what year it was published my opinions would still be the same. I do think this book should be read by teenagers, especially those that may pick on someone slightly larger than average. (Hey, what’s average anyway?) But should it be taught in schools? Quick and easy answer to this one… I don’t think so. I think I have valid points to back this up though. Virginia shares with the reader some of her diet tips, like drinking a lot of water to feel fuller so you don’t eat so much and puts pictures of skinny girls on the fridge for “thinspiration.” Now, do we really want to be reading these kind of things to vulnerable kids that may feel they need to lose some weight?! And yes we might not give a lot of credit to how sensible teenagers can be etc but there only needs to be one that is slightly more naive or less worldly and BANG – welcome to eating disorder city. 

LUNA: *pfft* see above answer and yes I said this for Perks but we’re already teaching classic literature that deals with the same themes in schools.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is on the GCSE reading list in the UK (source) and taught in the US. It’s strongly implied that the monster rapes Frankstein’s wife on their wedding night. While not nearly as frequent as Frankstein I did still find Tess of the D’Urbervilles as recommend reading for High Schoolers and despite the fact that Thomas Hardy is ambiguous on purpose the general opinion is that Alec rapes Tess.

I’m repeating myself but if we’re already dealing with the reasons The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things was challenged in “classic” literature (that are being taught in schools) then why is this a problem for a modern book?

Romeo and Juliet has teenage sex, plenty of violence and suicide. Shakespeare is pretty graphic so why is that ok but not a book written in the last fifteen years? Somebody explain this to me because I just don’t get it.

CHRISSI: Again, like Luna… see my answer above. I really wish we could read more contemporary books in schools. I think the problem with contemporary books is that they seem much more explicit compared to the classics. The classics do deal with issues as well, but I guess in some ways they don’t seem as relevant to teenagers as contemporary reads do. I think it’s a good thing that there’s relatable literature out there for teenagers.

What did you think of the book?

BETH: Despite my earlier rant I do think this is a good young adult read. Virginia is a likeable character that I think teenagers will love and I hope that they will take home all the positive messages in the novel, of which there were plenty.

CHRISSI: I thought it was a decent read! I haven’t read anything by this author before, but I felt like she dealt with the issues really well with a relatable, likeable character.

LUNA: I really liked The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things. I previously read The Future of Us and loved it.

Virginia is such a relatable character, especially for me. I thought that Carolyn Mackler handled the issue of weight/self-confidence really well. Even though her parents fail at the beginning there is character growth (be it small steps) for them and it was good that Virginia has positive adult influences, Dr Love and her teacher for example.

I went through a lot of emotions while reading this book: sympathy, heartache, joy, rage, hope, etc. but the overriding feeling was that of pride for Virginia – you girl are awesome. :)

Would you recommend it?

BETH: Probably!
CHRISSI: Yes!
LUNA: Absolutely

NEXT UP FOR OUR SEPTEMBER READ:  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie