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.

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!

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!

George

George

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

BE WHO YOU ARE. When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not….

Thoughts:

I had heard SO much about this book from fellow bloggers that I just knew I had to check it out. I was immediately pulled into George’s story. It’s such an engaging, touching read that I do highly recommend. I can totally see why so many people love it!

The story centres around George who identifies as a girl. At school, they’ve been studying Charlotte’s Web, they’re going to perform the story and George is desperate to be Charlotte. George’s love of the book helps her to show everyone that she identifies as a girl. In George’s eyes, she is a girl, she just has to make everyone else aware of that.

I loved George’s friendship with Kelly. Kelly just accepted George for who she was which was absolutely heart-warming. This book felt realistic to me, because it did have hard moments within it. Everything wasn’t easily accepted and I imagine that’s true to George’s situation. George’s mother wasn’t accepting to begin with and I feel like this is how it could possibly be for many that identify as transgender.

Another thing that I really loved about this book, was that George did feel 10 years old. The writing was incredibly lovely and simplistic. It really felt like I was living George’s life as he struggled with his identity. She was so brave! I think it’s such an inspiring story.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

An inspiring story which I think is truly wonderful!

Blog Tour- The Witchfinder’s Sister

The Witchfinder's Sister

How did I get it?:
I received it from the publisher for the blog tour! Thank you to Penguin Random House

Synopsis:

The number of women my brother Matthew killed, so far as I can reckon it, is one hundred and six…

1645. When Alice Hopkins’ husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.

But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which he is gathering women’s names.

To what lengths will Matthew’s obsession drive him?
And what choice will Alice make, when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan?

Thoughts:

I didn’t know much about this book before I was asked to be a part of the blog tour. I really liked the sound of it though. I absolutely love historical fiction and this one looked like it was going to be great.

This book is set in 1645, it centres around Alice Hopkins who returns to Manningtree, Essex when her husband dies. Alice’s brother Matthew still lives there. It used to be a safe place for Alice and her family, but Matthew has changed. There’s rumours of witchcraft in the local area and Alice finds out that Matthew is collecting women’s names in a book. Names of women he believes are using witchcraft. Alice finds herself at the heart of Matthew’s obsession.

I really enjoyed the first part of the book which I found to be incredibly intriguing. I immediately wanted to know more about the characters and to find out what was going to happen next. I was turning the pages completely sucked in by the setting. I found it fascinating to think that Matthew actually existed. That’s what really added to the story, in my opinion. It equally creeped me out at the same time! I love when books are based around fact.

I liked the way that Beth Underdown approached this story. She particularly delved into the character of Alice, exploring Alice’s struggles in her life so far. It was interesting to read her interpretation of what Matthew’s sister may have been like (if he had a sister, I’m not sure!) I thought that The Witchfinder’s Sister was a good read which explores a well known part of history in an engaging way.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

A fantastic debut novel with some great characters!

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Talking About ‘The Trouble With Goats and Sheep’ with Bibliobeth!

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

England,1976.

Mrs Creasy is missing and The Avenue is alive with whispers. As the summer shimmers endlessly on, ten-year-olds Grace and Tilly decide to take matters into their own hands.

And as the cul-de-sac starts giving up its secrets, the amateur detectives will find much more than they imagined…

CHRISSI: What were your first impressions of this book?

BETH: I was already pre-disposed to like this book, I had heard really good things about it from a friend of mine and the title was just too good to resist! I almost couldn’t believe it was a debut novel when I first started reading it, it felt like I was reading a book where the author had been established and writing for years. I was initially confused by some aspects of the story – but in a good way, I just wanted to know what exactly was going on and the author is very good at the “slow reveal,” shall we say?

BETH: Who were your favourite characters in the novel and why?

CHRISSI: I really liked Grace and Tilly because I felt like their friendship was incredibly realistic. I found myself excited to read Grace’s point of view because I really wanted to read about her perspective on the whole situation. I love reading from children’s point of view because they can be so honest, be incredibly wise, yet they can be incredibly naive at the same time.

CHRISSI: The cover of this book is quite simple. Why do you think they went for this choice?

BETH: I actually love how simple the cover is. It’s a lovely shade of blue with just a single goat on the front. No sheep though! 😊 The title is actually described quite early on in the book but I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that the two young girls are trying to find God and they have been told by the local vicar that God prefers his people to be a flock of sheep rather than goats. The story is quite simple in the end, coming down to separating these people into the two categories (or can they really be separated?) so I think the cover is perfect for what the novel is.

BETH: What did you think about the relationship between friends Grace and Tilly? Was it typical of a female friendship at that impressionable age?

CHRISSI: I’ve mentioned in the previous answer that I really enjoyed the relationship between Grace and Tilly. I did like reading about them because it was so realistic. I felt like Grace was the more dominant friend and I do feel that friendship at that impressionable age can be like that. I felt like Grace thought she had to watch over Tilly and I loved that protective quality that Grace had. There are moments when Grace doesn’t treat Tilly well and I think that is true of a female friendship at that age. Children can be insensitive towards others and hurt them deeply because they still have a lot to learn.

CHRISSI: What do you think the setting of the heat wave of 1976 adds to the story?

BETH: The heatwave is almost a character in itself, it is mentioned so often and people are obviously suffering because of it. I think people have heard about the heat doing funny things to people’s characters…making them snap, do odd things etc and I think the heat actually has a huge affect on the characters in the story in exactly this way. Perhaps the heat exacerbates the situation and causes people to over-react where they might not normally do so?

BETH: How do you think the mystery of where Mrs Creasy had gone was played out in this novel?

CHRISSI:  The mystery of Mrs Creasy was very intriguing throughout the story. I have to agree that it’s very much a slow reveal and at times, I did start to lose a bit of interest in the story which is why I haven’t rated it higher. I enjoyed reading about the worry of the secrets that Mrs Creasy had taken with her. I felt like that was more important to her neighbours, rather than genuine concern about where she was.

CHRISSI: Many characters in the story have secrets and regrets – how do you judge the actions they have taken? Does it make you consider how we judge people without really knowing them?

BETH: Yes, yes, yes. I don’t think any character really comes out and apologises for their behaviour outright but you can definitely sense the guilt, the regret and a cooling of tempers, especially to the object of most of the characters anger. It felt very much when I was reading it sort of like a mob mentality with each character being “egged on” by what another would say/feel or do. This kind of behaviour becomes very dangerous when multiple people jump on the bandwagon so as to speak, as we can see from the events that occur.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: Yes! I can’t believe that this book was a debut. It seemed incredibly accomplished! I enjoyed this book.

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Yes! 3.5 stars

Infinite Sky

Infinite Sky (Infinite Sky, #1)

How did I get it?:
I received it as my 2nd book in my Reading Year from Mr B’s Emporium.

Synopsis:

A truly beautiful book about the summer that changed one girl’s life, as her mum leaves home, travellers set up camp in the family’s field, her older brother goes off the rails, and she falls in love for the very first time. Opening with a funeral, Iris is mourning the boy in the casket – but who is it? Sam, her tearaway brother, or Trick, her tentative boyfriend? Over one long hot summer, we find out just how their three lives were turned upside-down.

Thoughts:

I was pleased when Infinite Sky turned up on my doorstep as part of my Reading Year from Mr B’s. I had given up on this book before so it certainly tempted me back in. I’m not sure why I gave up on it before as this time around I thought it was a highly enjoyable book that didn’t take me long to tear through. I thought it was highly compelling. I’m glad that they’ve changed the cover of Infinite Sky as the cover I’ve put in this post reflects the story so much more than the cover with the girl under a tree which seemed to give a cutesy vibe to it. It’s certainly not that kind of story.

Infinite Sky tells the story of Iris, a 13 year old girl who has so much going on in her life. Her mother has left her and her family. Her dad is struggling and drinking a lot. Her brother is angry. A group of travellers settle down behind their house. Iris is intrigued by their life style, but her dad is furious that they are there. Both her dad and her brother are quite prejudiced towards them. Despite their opinions, Iris makes friends with Trick, a slightly older boy. They get on so well despite their very different backgrounds. It’s not long before trouble brews between the families which leads to an awful event…

I absolutely loved the character of Iris. I think she came across as much older than her years. She hasn’t had it easy and you can see her struggle between wanting to do right and follow her father’s instructions and wanting to make friends with the travellers. The characters are so well developed, despite it being such a short read. It really has depth to it which I never anticipated.

Infinite Sky has some really heartbreaking moments, but it’s such a beautifully written story. I think many readers would enjoy it!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Infinite Sky stole my heart!