Comparing ‘Fish Boy’ by Chloe Daykin

Fish Boy

How did I get it?:
I received it from Faber! Many thanks to them!

Synopsis:

Billy is a lonely boy. He’s obsessed with swimming in the sea, which is where he goes to wash his problems far, far away. Thanks to his mum’s mystery illness, his dad has been forced to work extra hours to make ends meet, so Billy locks himself away with David Attenborough films, and ponders the magic of nature. Meanwhile at school, bullies mercilessly seize on Billy’s ‘otherness’ and make his life as miserable as possible – but then new boy Patrick Green, with “fingers like steel, strength of a bear”, joins Billy’s class. And when a mackerel swims up to Billy’s face, blows bubbles into his Vista Clear Mask goggles and says: Fish Boy – Billy’s whole world changes.

 

Thoughts before you started reading Fish Boy?

CHRISSI: I was intrigued. I had heard great things about the book already and was curious to see if it would live up to my expectations!

LUNA: This sounds magical/lovely, can’t wait to read it.

What did you think of Billy?

CHRISSI: Billy stole my heart. I loved that he was different and wanted him to find happiness, no matter what obstacles were in his way.

LUNA: I liked Billy but I didn’t connect to him the way I hoped. He’s nice and I sympathised with the feelings he went through, the bullying at school and his concerns and anger about his mother.

Best bit?

CHRISSI: I really enjoyed how weird this book was. That might sound strange, but I honestly did. I liked that this book was a little odd and not like your average middle grade read. I also thought it was a unique way to write about the subject matter. (Don’t want to spoil!)

LUNA: The concept of the book. I agree with Chrissi in I enjoyed how weird this book was and I liked the flowing writing of the swimming sections, it was like reading movement.

Worst bit?

CHRISSI: I don’t think it has a worst bit as such. I personally didn’t keep turning the pages, so it didn’t grip me as much as I had anticipated. That’s a minor quibble though!

LUNA: As much as I enjoyed how different Fish Boy was I did not connect emotionally to the book. I don’t know why this was. It has the ingredients but because of that lack of connection I wasn’t invested in Billy, Patrick or Billy’s parents.

Favourite character/moment?

CHRISSI: Billy’s relationship with his parents warmed my heart. Billy had a good relationship with both of his parents and even though his Mum had a lot going on in her life, you could tell she still really cared for him!

LUNA: The Merz wall. The whole concept of the Merz wall and the scene in the book, I just loved it. It’s like the random pin boards I make of memories and ideas. If I had a garden I would want a Merz wall.

Was Fish Boy what you expected?

CHRISSI: It wasn’t what I expected but in a good way. It was weird and wonderful.

LUNA: For the writing yes and I knew it would be different. Personally though, I hoped for a stronger connection to the characters and sadly that didn’t happen.

Would you recommend it?

CHRISSI: Yes!

LUNA: I don’t know.

All The Forever Things

All the Forever Things

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

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

“How many times have you saved me?” I ask Bree.

She grins. “Don’t you mean how many times have we saved each other?”

Nothing is forever. Gabe knows that more than most girls. After all, she lives in a funeral home (it’s the family business), and she gets that everything in the world dies eventually – people, rumors, fashion trends, the nickname “Graveyard Gabe.” But her best friend, Bree, has been a constant in her life; it’s always been the two of them together. Until Bree starts seeing a guy who stands for everything Gabe thought they were against. How could Bree change her mind and go for someone like Bryce Johnson?

Now Gabe doesn’t know who her friend is anymore. And the only person who seems to have time for her is Hartman, the new guy, who is somehow not weirded out by the funeral home stuff (well, a little). Still, Gabe doesn’t want to lose her mind over a guy the way Bree has, so she holds back.

But a very strange prom night (driving the family hearse instead of a limo) will change what Gabe knows about friendship, love, life, and everything that comes after – forever and otherwise.

Thought:

I have been a fan of Jolene Perry’s writing since I read The Summer I Found You, I recommend her books whenever I can. When I noticed that she had a new book coming out, I was very excited. I love reading her books because they’re often deeper than you might expect. This book is no exception! I wouldn’t say that this is my favourite book by Jolene, but it’s still a decent read which is well worth checking out!

All The Forever Things centres around Gabriella (Gabe) who lives in a funeral home as it’s the business her family are in. Gabe is a little strange, choosing to dress like Wednesday Addams after being teased about her life. Gabe thought she was happy enough alongside her good friend Bree. However, when Bree starts changing who she is when dating Gabe’s worst enemy, Gabe feels like she’s losing her best friend. Hartman, a new guy at school, comes into her life and isn’t weirded out by the funeral home business. Gabe holds back, not wanting to become one of those girls who changes herself. Gabe’s battle to keep her friend Bree takes a turn for the worse, when she drives Bree, her boyfriend and their group to prom…in a hearse…

I really liked the story line which I felt was quite unique. Gabe was certainly an interesting character. I have the feeling that you’re either going to love or hate her. She’s not the most likeable and can come across quite selfish and unaware of other’s problems. Bree is an interesting character too, I liked that she didn’t have it easy. Hartman was a good character, although I wish we had heard more from him. Hartman had a tragic past, and I feel that wasn’t as in depth as it could have been. I got past not liking some of the characters straight away, because I think that they all grew during the course of the story.

All The Forever Things is a decent YA contemporary read. It may not be my favourite book by Jolene Perry, but I think it’s worth picking up, especially if you’re a fan of the genre!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes- 3.5 stars

A unique YA read!

Blog Tour- Pilot Jane and The Runaway Plane

How did I get it?:
I received it from the publisher for the book tour!

Synopsis:

Join Pilot Jane, a fun and fearless airline captain, as she travels the world with her best friend Rose, a high-speed passenger jet. Together Jane and Rose have exciting adventures and form a perfect team, delivering their passengers safely to destinations as far afield as Alaska and Australia. But when disaster strikes and Rose falls ill, Jane is paired with ‘lean, mean flying machine’ Mighty Mitch. Can she still get the Queen to her party on time? Featuring a clever and courageous heroine, this action-packed rhyming story celebrates ‘Girl Power’ and shows what you can achieve if you work together. Fasten your seatbelt and get ready for take-off!

Thoughts:

I am a primary school teacher, so when I had the opportunity to read this book, I decided to test it on some guinea pigs. Well, some classes at school. I read it with two groups of children. Year 1s (5-6 year olds) and Year 3/4 (7-9 year olds). The book went down well with both classes. Here are some words from their mouths… (real names have been changed)

  • I liked it because it was adventurous. (Mandy, Age 7)

  • I like it because it’s got teamwork. (Natasha, Age 8)

  • I liked it because it had everything a story needs. I think it would be great for younger children. (Tim, Age 9)

  • I think the moral of the story is teamwork. (Hannah, Age 6)

  • I liked it because when the plane broke down, Jane had to  learn to work with a different plane that she didn’t really know.  (Harry, Age 7)

  • I like it because it was for boys and girls. I thought at the start it was just for girls but it changed into boys as well. (Tobias, Age 8)

  • I liked the book because Mitch and Jane had to work together. (Jason, Age 8)

  • I liked the girl and boy power! (Lauren, Age 5)

As for me, I think it’s such a cute book for young children. Both the infant and junior school children took the message from the book, which makes it highly successful in my eyes!

Follow Me Down by Sherri Smith

Follow Me Down

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Macmillan

Synopsis:

Mia Haas has built a life for herself far from the North Dakota town where she grew up, but when she receives word that her twin brother is missing, she’s forced to return home. Once hailed as the golden boy of their small town, Lucas Haas disappeared the same day the body of one of his high school students is pulled from the river. Trying to wrap her head around the rumors of Lucas’s affair with the teen, and unable to reconcile the media’s portrayal of Lucas as a murderer with her own memories of him, Mia is desperate to find another suspect.

All the while, she wonders, if he’s innocent, why did he run?

As Mia reevaluates their difficult, shared history and launches her own investigation into the grisly murder, she uncovers secrets that could exonerate Lucas—or seal his fate. In a small town where everyone’s history is intertwined, Mia will be forced to confront her own demons, placing her right in the killer’s crosshairs.

Thoughts:

This book’s synopsis immediately grabbed me. It won’t be a surprise to many, to know that I really enjoy a thriller. I have read so many in the genre so I feel that every single time I pick up this genre, it has a lot to live up to. I really enjoyed Follow Me Down. I didn’t find it overly predictable or cliche like so many thrillers are becoming.

Follow Me Down centres around Mia who hasn’t had the easiest of childhoods. She struggles with an addiction to pills. Out of the blue, Mia receives a phone call from the police. Her twin brother, Lucas, is suspected of killing a teenage girl. He’s gone missing which certainly makes him a person of interest. Mia is convinced that her brother is innocent, so goes back to her small town to try and clear his name.

I really liked Mia from the start. I loved her determination to prove her brother’s innocence, despite some evidence not being stacked in her favour. I also really appreciated how Mia wasn’t a perfect, flawless character. Mia was carrying a lot of trauma from her childhood and was really trying to make life better for herself.

The reason why I haven’t given this book a four star rating is because it got a little slow towards the middle of the story. Don’t get me wrong, it was easy to read, but nothing really kept me gripped besides my desire to find out whether Lucas was guilty or not. The pace does pick up towards the end, so I would definitely recommend staying with it. I enjoyed Sherri Smith’s writing and I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up another book from her!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes- 3.5 stars

A decent thriller. It may not be the most fast paced, but it’ll keep you guessing!

The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give

How did I get it?:
It was sent to me by Walker Books, many thanks to them!

Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice.

Thoughts:

This book has been most anticipated by so many bloggers. I’m always scared of hyped books. Always. Quite often that hype monster appears and destroys a raved about book for me. I’m happy to say, that this wasn’t the case with The Hate U Give. I have to admit, as a teacher, the ‘U’ bugged me in the title, until I started to read it and realised why the author used a ‘U’. I’m also pleased to say that I enjoyed this book. It wasn’t quite a 5 star read for me, but it was very, very close.

It centres around Starr, who is only sixteen, but has seen two murders in her lifetime. The first was a friend in a drive by and the second was a black boy, shot multiple times by a police officer whilst she was in the car. Starr laid with him as he died. The boy in question didn’t do anything wrong. The story surrounds life after these murders. It explores the sensitive subject of racial issues in society involving black people and police officers. As a reader, we wonder whether Starr will stand up for Khalil and talk about what she witnessed.

I thought this was a fantastic book. It’s a story that should be read by so many. The fact that black people are still dying because of social issues with race is heartbreaking and scary at the same time. I think this book is incredibly educational. It tackles racism and injustice, but it’s not all doom and gloom. There are so many moments that made me smile.

This was an incredible debut novel. Angie Thomas writes so well. I’m looking forward to exploring what she writes next.  

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A fantastic, important debut!

Talking About ‘Lie With Me’ with Bibliobeth!

Lie With Me

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Synopsis:

“I suppose what I am saying is, how much do we collude in our own destruction? How much of this nightmare is on me?

You can hate and rail.
You can kick out in protest.

You can do foolish and desperate things, but maybe sometimes you just have to hold up a hand and take the blame.”

Breathless.
Claustrophobic.
Unsettling.
Impossible to put down.

CHRISSI: What was your first impression of this book?

BETH: To be perfectly honest, it wasn’t a great first impression! It was quite a slow start to the story although I had read some GoodReads reviews that mentioned that it got a lot better so I was kind of prepared for this. I was hopeful that it would pick up though and once our main character, Paul finally goes away on holiday with the woman he is seeing, the tension and action crept up a notch.

BETH: The (female) author has chosen to write from a male point of view. How well do you think she achieved this?

CHRISSI: Interesting question. I didn’t even think to take note of the fact that she was writing from a male point of view. To me, that says Sabine Durrant pulled it off. It never even crossed my mind that it was a female writing from a male point of view. Well done, Sabine!

CHRISSI: This novel is built on tension. Discuss how the author builds the tension and structures the novel.

BETH: I’m very wary of giving spoilers but I’ll do my best! I think the opening of the novel is absolutely brilliant. Let’s just say that Paul is in a place that we don’t expect him to be in (being deliberately vague, sorry!) and after this initial chapter, the story goes back in time to the events that occurred in the build up to the situation he now finds himself in. So we know where he ends up but we have no clue initially how on earth he got there! He seems, by all accounts to be a “normal,” man (apart from his compulsive lying, that is) and it makes the reader really rack their brains to try and figure out how and why he got where he ended up.

BETH: Discuss where the line falls between a few acceptable fibs and harmful lying. Is it ever ok to tell a small lie?

CHRISSI: Ooh, another good question. Lies are so difficult, because I would say that you shouldn’t lie if it is going to affect another person. However, sometimes I feel that some individuals need to be protected by a little white lie. It made me think though, is that okay? Is it okay to alter the truth a little to protect someone you care about? Argh, I really don’t know. In the end, the truth often comes out, so is it better to tell the truth from the start even if it causes some hurt? Harmful lying is obviously always a no, no for me, but ‘acceptable fibs’… hmm. It depends on your definition of acceptable. Some might consider something acceptable that others don’t. Ooh, such a good discussion subject and I haven’t even really come up with a decent response. All I’ll say is that line is very very unclear.

CHRISSI: Without spoilers- discuss the ending of the novel – did you see the twist coming?

BETH: Not really, no. I knew something wasn’t right with certain characters but I hadn’t figured out exactly what was going on. It was a big surprise when it came and I was shocked how it ended up. Did he deserve it? Some people might say yes, he wasn’t a very likeable character to say the least! However, what he ends up suffering is incredibly extreme in comparison to what he did wrong in my opinion. Loved the twist though, I’m really glad I didn’t predict it!

BETH: This novel has quite a slow pacing to it, did this affect your enjoyment of the story?

CHRISSI: To be honest, yes it did. I am not a fan of a slow paced novel, especially when I have a lot going on. I like to be picking up a book and immediately flying through the pages. I want something to get back to and want to get back to without worrying that I’m going to be bored. I just don’t think this book’s pacing worked for me, although I know some people really enjoyed it and got over the slow pace.

CHRISSI: How does this book compare to others in its genre?

BETH: I thought this book was quite different to other psychological thrillers that I’ve read and I thought it was quite brave in a lot of ways. It read to me almost like a literary psychological thriller (no offence meant to other psychological thrillers). I just mean that the pacing compared to other thrillers was quite slow and you usually find with other books in the genre it’s all quite action-packed and not really focused on character development, unlike Lie With Me. By the end of the book, I actually thought it was the most interesting novel in the genre that I’ve read for a long time and has stayed with me for a while, always a good sign that a book’s got under your skin!

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I’m not sure. It would depend on the subject matter. I thought it was interesting enough, but the pace did affect my enjoyment.

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Yes!

The Half Life Of Molly Pierce

The Half Life of Molly Pierce

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Luna!

Synopsis:

You take it for granted. Waking up. Going to school, talking to your friends. Watching a show on television or reading a book or going out to lunch.

You take for granted going to sleep at night, getting up the next day, and remembering everything that happened to you before you closed your eyes.

You live and you remember.

Me, I live and I forget.

But now—now I am remembering.

For all of her seventeen years, Molly feels like she’s missed bits and pieces of her life. Now, she’s figuring out why. Now, she’s remembering her own secrets. And in doing so, Molly uncovers the separate life she seems to have led…and the love that she can’t let go.

The Half Life of Molly Pierce is a suspenseful, evocative psychological mystery about uncovering the secrets of our pasts, facing the unknowns of our futures, and accepting our whole selves

Thoughts:

I borrowed this book from Luna over at Luna’s Little Library ages ago and have only just got around to reading it. I had heard mixed reviews about it, but like always, I was willing to give it a go. What I will say is that it can be slightly confusing but it’s really good at the same time- so stick with it.

The story centres around Molly who has regular blackouts. She has huge gaps of time missing from her life. Everyone around her is being cagey and Molly doesn’t know who to turn to.I was so intrigued by this story. I wanted to know what was going on with Molly. I can’t imagine feeling like you’re missing chunks of your life.

I found the writing to be incredibly gripping but I can imagine that it might frustrate others. I personally couldn’t put the book down. I was desperate to find out what on earth was going on. I thought Katrina Leno cleverly pieced everything together. It was an interesting concept that I don’t want to spoil!

Molly is easy to like and I wanted everything to turn out well. She’s a complex character with issues and I always like to read about someone who struggles but is so determined to come out of the other side. This is so true for Molly!

If you’re looking for a book with resolution then this isn’t a book for you. There are some unanswered questions and some plot holes, but all in all I thought it was a fantastic read. I shall certainly be reading more from this author!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A fantastic, if confusing read!