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.

Comparing ‘We Come Apart’ by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan

We Come Apart

How did I get it?:
Netgalley- thanks to Bloomsbury

Previously read by the same author:
Sarah Crossan-
The Weight of Water
Apple and Rain
One

Synopsis:

Nicu has emigrated from Romania and is struggling to find his place in his new home. Meanwhile, Jess’s home life is overshadowed by violence. When Nicu and Jess meet, what starts out as friendship grows into romance as the two bond over their painful pasts and hopeful futures. But will they be able to save each other, let alone themselves?

For fans of Una LaMarche’s Like No Other, this illuminating story told in dual points of view through vibrant verse will stay with readers long after they’ve turned the last page.

Thoughts before you started reading We Come Apart?

CHRISSI: I was really intrigued to read another book in verse again. Especially after I really connected with Sarah Crossan’s ‘One.’

LUNA: Partly “this will be spectacular” and then “oho what if it doesn’t deliver”…

What did you think of Nicu and Jess?

CHRISSI: I have to admit that I liked them from the beginning. I really enjoyed how Nicu’s story was told. He was different to how the rest of his peers interacted and I really think that was captured perfectly from the very beginning. I felt sorry for Jess from the start. She clearly had a troubled life and I thought this was portrayed beautifully.

LUNA: Both their voices pulled me into the story from the start, yet I connected more with Nicu. I think it’s having an inkling of understanding about how confusing and isolating school/society in another country is. I certainly got the confusion about sayings. With Jess I learned to like her the more I got to know about her.

Best bit?

CHRISSI: It captured my attention from start to finish. That makes a great book!

LUNA: There wasn’t a single moment in this book that made me think “this is it” and so I want to answer: Everything. It’s not quite right though. I think it’s how easily I got lost in We Come Apart. The words, characters and story.

Worst bit?

CHRISSI: I can’t say there really was a worst bit for me, as I thoroughly enjoyed it all. I would have liked to have known more about what happened next to Jess and Nicu.

LUNA: The ending. I know it was the right ending, but SPOILER WARNING, it was not the riding-into-the-sunset one I hoping for. Which completely doesn’t make sense because usually I don’t buy into the “fix-it” all solution yet with everything that was happening to Nicu and Jess I wanted something to work out for them. I think that’s a testament to how much I ended up caring about both characters.

Favourite character/moment?

CHRISSI: Jess becoming less conscious of how she appears to her friends!

LUNA: I liked how the friendship between Jess and Nicu developed. The conversations at the beginning, how Jess starts to stand up to her friends. (Term applied loosely).

Was We Come Apart what you expected?

CHRISSI: It was more than I expected!

LUNA: Yes, my apprehension about this book not delivering on my high expectations was unfounded. It did. The only thing that did surprise me was that I was able to put the book down (I mean I had to due to other commitments but I didn’t loathe having to do it) – it gave me the opportunity to digest and think about what I was reading.

Would you recommend it?

CHRISSI: Of course!

LUNA: Absolutely

Comparing ‘Lying About Last Summer’ by Sue Wallman

Lying About Last Summer

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

The story centres around a girl called Skye, who is sent to a camp for troubled teenagers after her sister dies in an accident. However, once she is at the camp she starts receiving text messages from someone pretending to be her dead sister.

Thoughts before you started reading Lying About Last Summer?

CHRISSI: Love the cover! Simple but effective. I hope the story inside is good.

LUNA: Lying About Last Summer was one of the titles highlighted at the Scholastic Brunch I attended and I’ve been intrigued by it ever since.

What did you think of Skye?

CHRISSI: At first, I wasn’t sure what to make of her. I think I’ve read too many books recently with unreliable narrators so I end up going into stories, especially books like this one, very suspicious of the main characters. As the story progressed I really warmed to Skye. I felt for her. I can’t even imagine what it must feel like to carry the guilt she did as she attempted to move on.

LUNA: I never connected to Skye the way I wanted to but she was a convincing narrator. I think if I’d had a stronger connection with Skye the story might have had a different impact, but the book was engaging and intriguing without me having to be best friends with the main character. One thing I did really like about Skye was her internal dialog.

Best bit?

CHRISSI: I really enjoyed how the mystery element was played out. I thought the use of flashbacks was really effective. Flashbacks don’t always work for me, but I felt like they were well done in this story. They helped us get to know Skye even more.

LUNA: Sue Wallman’s portrayal of grief, not just how Skye dealt with it but all the characters. There is no one-size-fits-all and it was good to see that reflected in the story.

Worst bit?

CHRISSI: It’s not a worst bit as such, but I didn’t enjoy the ending as much as I wanted to.

LUNA: The revelation about who’s sending the messages, or rather Skye’s reaction to it.

Favourite character/moment?

CHRISSI: Joe. He intrigued me!

LUNA: Ok so surprisingly Fay’s and her story. Not the actual ending (which I’m a bit mixed about) but how Fay begins to lose herself. Skye’s opinion of Fay is negative and it does impact your own as the reader. But once I took a step back and looked at Fay’s perceptive it changed my view of her as a character. I ended up developing quite a soft spot for her.

Was Lying About Last Summer what you expected?

CHRISSI: I didn’t expect it to cover grief as well as it did. It had some really intriguing moments and kept me gripped throughout.

LUNA: Yup 🙂

Would you recommend it?

CHRISSI: Yes!

LUNA: Yes

Comparing ‘The Moonlight Dreamers’ by Siobhan Curham

The Moonlight Dreamers

How did I get it?:
I received an ARC from Luna!

Previously read by the same author:

Dear Dylan
Finding Cherokee Brown
Shipwrecked
True Face

Synopsis:

A inspirational, heart-warming book about four girls trying to find their place in the world. Siobhan Curham celebrates very different but like-minded friends in this captivating novel.

Amber craves excitement and adventure. Instead, she’s being bullied at school for having two dads, and life at home isn’t much better. Inspired by Oscar Wilde, Amber realizes that among the millions of people in London, there must be others who feel the same as she does; other dreamers – moonlight dreamers. After chance encounters with Maali, Sky and Rose, Amber soon recruits the three girls to the Moonlight Dreamers. It’s high time they started pursuing their dreams, and how better than with the support of friends?

Thoughts before you started reading The Moonlight Dreamers?

CHRISSI: Excited. It’s Siobhan Curham. I adore her writing.

LUNA: Very excited.

What did you think of Amber, Maali, Sky & Rose?

CHRISSI: I thought all of the girls were fantastic characters that readers will find incredibly relatable. The characters are well developed and interesting to follow.

LUNA: Because each girl is different I think each reader will find a connection one character, probably more than one. I know that each one of them had moments that spoke to me. I actually thought it would be Amber that would be “my” character, but it turned out to be Maali. This surprised me but while her dream was not something I would have picked but Maali’s uncertainty I could definitely connect with.

Best bit?

CHRISSI: How ‘real’ the characters were. They were flawed, that’s for sure, but that’s what makes a story realistic. No-one is perfect. I love the messages Siobhan Curham always portrays in her stories.

LUNA: I enjoyed the turning points, especially the one for Sky and Rose (I’m not going to give anything away). Another thing I liked about the The Moonlight Dreamers is that all the girls are very convincing, there were a couple of moments were I thought “ugh brat” or “why are you doing that” and “please no”. But it’s what made the book more real.

Worst bit?

CHRISSI: I can’t really pinpoint a worst bit if I’m honest!

LUNA: The German Tourists. It’s not even a whole page out of the book. But you know that thing where you can make fun of your family/friends but if anyone else does it you’ll defend with teeth and claws? Well it’s the same.
I can say my pedanticness is my German heritage or roll my eyes of at the summer fashion of socks & sandals, but when it’s by someone else – not cool. Don’t assign a nationality to the tourists in that scene, just say tourist. It saves somebody getting the hump about it. Like me.:P

Favourite character/moment?

CHRISSI: I loved the character growth. I was impressed!

LUNA: There were quite a few but I’m going to pick the readers introduction to Maali, as she goes to find that unicorn. I knew instantly I’d adore her.

Was The Moonlight Dreamers what you expected?

CHRISSI: Of course! It made me feel warm and fuzzy!

LUNA: Yes, Siobhan Curham doesn’t let me down.

Would you recommend it?

CHRISSI: Definitely!

LUNA: Absolutely.

Comparing ‘Poppy’s Place’ by Katrina Charman

Poppy's Place

Synopsis:

Isla Palmer is CRAZY about cats — SUPER-IN-LOVE crazy — but her vet-nurse mum has never let her have one. Then Isla meets Poppy, a gorgeous cat in need of a loving home, and comes up with the perfect way to convince Mum.

It’s not long before Poppy has transformed life at the Palmers’ – everyone is happier, especially Gran, and even Isla’s older sister Tilda admits she likes having Poppy around. But Poppy isn’t the only one in need of a home and soon their
house is full of cats. With Mum at her wits’ end, Isla needs to come up with a plan and fast!

Thoughts before you started reading Poppy’s Place?

CHRISSI: It looks so cute and it’s something I could add to my classroom at school too. Ha! Always thinking of the job…
LUNA: It looks adorable.

What did you think of Isla?

CHRISSI: She’s a sweet character. I liked that she was cat mad and determined to get her own way!
LUNA: Isla is likable and kind, plus utterly cat mad. There probably isn’t has much character depth as there could be for Isla (or the rest of her family and friends) but I didn’t mind. In a way it’s quite nice to just have a straightforward character profile and for this story it’s suitable.

Best bit?

CHRISSI: It was just utterly cute. The fact that I enjoyed it so much when I’m NOT a cat person says it all really.
LUNA: That’s kind of difficult to answer since I just enjoyed everything about Poppy’s Place from page one. Probably the sheer cuteness of the whole book – plus all the cat moments?

Worst bit?

CHRISSI: I don’t have a worst bit!
LUNA: Nothing, zilch, nadda. I have no complaints. Katrina Charman fulfilled the requirements I was after.

Favourite character/moment?

CHRISSI: Isla’s concern for her Gran. So adorable.
LUNA: Ugh…so many to choose from. I’m going to pick when everyone banded together to convince Isla’s mother to take Poppy home, because that started the whole thing.

Was Poppy’s Place what you expected?

CHRISSI: Yes. I wanted cutesy, I wanted something light to read. This was exactly what I needed.
LUNA: Yes. I was nearing a bit of a reading-slump and wanted something cute, fun and easy to read and Poppy’s Place ticked all these boxes. Plus Lucy Truman illustrations are beautiful so that was an extra bonus.

Would you recommend it?

CHRISSI: Of course! I can’t wait to add it to my bookshelves at school.
LUNA: Absolutely, I’m looking forward to reading the next in the series.

Comparing ‘Follow Me Back’ by Nicci Cloke

Follow Me Back

How did I get it?:
Received from publisher, thanks to Hot Key Books

Synopsis:

There was no sign of a struggle, they whisper to each other. She took her phone but left her laptop behind.

Apparently, she’d met someone online, they write to each other in class, phones buzzing.
She ran away. She was taken.

The first time Aiden Kendrick hears about Lizzie Summersall’s disappearance is when the police appear at his front door. He and Lizzie used to be friends; they aren’t anymore. And when Aiden finds out that Lizzie had been talking to strangers on Facebook; that the police think she went to meet one of them, he begins to wonder how well he ever really knew her, and Aiden doesn’t know it yet, but with Lizzie’s disappearance his life is about to take a twisted and desperate turn.

Thoughts before you started reading Follow Me Back?

CHRISSI: It looked really interesting and I love books based around social media.
LUNA: The premise sounded intriguing so I was looking forward to this.

What did you think of Aiden?

CHRISSI: I wasn’t a fan. I couldn’t find anything to really like about him. That doesn’t always bother me, I don’t NEED to like a character. But at the same time, I usually need to somewhat understand them, but Aiden just seemed forgettable to me.
LUNA: Normally I love unreliable narrators but there was no connection to Aiden.

Best bit?

CHRISSI: I liked how everything came together.
LUNA: The ending is quite intense.

Worst bit?

CHRISSI: I think the worst bit for me was that I just couldn’t connect to the story. There wasn’t really a character who I could really find myself liking. That makes the book as a whole really hard to connect with and enjoy.

LUNA: Follow Me Back did not work for me. I liked the premise but I feel like this book night have worked better a few years ago when the world as whole was still more naïve about online ‘friendships’. Also I didn’t care about Lizzie’s disappearance because I don’t know Lizzie or why everyone loves her.

The fact that more POVs are added to the story later was a good way to have more depth to Lizzie and what was going on, but for me, I didn’t think these new voices sounded that much different to Aiden’s.

Favourite character/moment?

CHRISSI: I enjoyed how everything came together at the end.
LUNA: I liked Aiden’s best friend Scobie at the beginning of the story.

Was Follow Me Back what you expected?

CHRISSI: Unfortunately not!
LUNA: Not really.

Would you recommend it?

CHRISSI: It’s not for me. It really didn’t work for me.
LUNA: Honestly I don’t think so, which is a real shame because it sounded great.

Comparing ‘More of Me’ by Kathryn Evans

More of Me

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Teva’s life seems normal: school, friends, boyfriend. But at home she hides an impossible secret. Eleven other Tevas.

Because once a year, Teva separates into two, leaving a younger version of herself stuck at the same age, in the same house… watching the new Teva live the life that she’d been living. But as her seventeenth birthday rolls around, Teva is determined not to let it happen again. She’s going to fight for her future. Even if that means fighting herself.

Thoughts before you started reading More of Me?

CHRISSI: The cover pulled me in when I was book shopping with Luna. It sounded good, so I picked it up!

LUNA: Excited, Chrissi picked More of Me up when we were both book shopping and it sounded amazing, so I grabbed my own copy.

What did you think of Teva?

CHRISSI: I liked her, but I don’t think she’s an overly memorable character. I enjoyed reading about her though!

LUNA: I’m sad to say that I did not connect with Teva, as she is the only narrator in this book and her viewpoint is the one the reader has this proved to be a struggle. I hoped that as the story progressed this would change. Maybe if I got to know Teva better I’d care more, but sadly that didn’t happen.

Best bit?

CHRISSI: The level of intrigue. I really enjoyed learning more to see if I could try and predict what was going to happen next.

LUNA: Overall the premise of More of Me is intriguing and you do want to know how it’s resolved.

Worst bit?

CHRISSI: That’s a hard one to answer, because there wasn’t anything that I really didn’t like about the book. I read it fairly quickly (despite an insanely busy week) and enjoyed reading it. I guess it would have been nice to have read more about the back story behind Teva’s story.

LUNA: As I’ve said, my lack of connection to Teva made reading More of Me unengaging. I don’t have to like a character but with Teva (and by extension her ‘others’) I did not care what was happening. Teva’s conflict with “Fifteen” was a big part of the story and I wished I could have had Fifteen’s viewpoint as well. I think maybe that would have helped me engage more with the book.

Favourite character/moment?

CHRISSI: Fifteen. I found her intriguing.

LUNA: I liked Teva’s friends.

Was More of Me what you expected?

CHRISSI: I wasn’t sure what I was expecting. Intriguing=yes Memorable?= perhaps not.

LUNA: In this case I think I’m a no. 😦

Would you recommend it?

CHRISSI: Yes!

LUNA: Not sure.