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

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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 ‘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.

Ten Bookish Blogs That I’ve Been Following For Years!

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the wonderful The Broke and The Bookish. This week it’s all about celebrating book bloggers either through snapchat, facebook, instagram, twitter…but I decided to keep it simple and go for book bloggers that I love in general. There are so many bloggers that I could have included this week, so I decided to pick bloggers that I’ve been following right from the start. Of course, a special mention goes to The Broke and The Bookish, the host of the meme that has made me find many of the bloggers in the list below!

In no particular order…

Bibliobeth– I had to include this one! My sister started her blog not long after I started Chrissi Reads. I love collaborating with Beth on our Kid-Lit challenges, Banned Books and Talking About… features.

Luna’s Little Library– Luna has been a friend for years. She was one of the first bloggers that I followed. I love our monthly ‘Comparing…’ feature!

Cleopatra Loves Books– I have been following Cleo for ages now. She always has fantastic book recommendations!

Lipsyy Lost and Found– I love this blog! I love reading her reviews. She’s just fabulous.

A Daydreamer’s Thoughts– Faye is fantastic. She is very welcoming in the community and just so lovely!

What Danielle Did Next- I’ve followed Danielle right from the beginning! She’s so lovely.

Lilybloombooks– Another blogger I’ve followed right from the start. I love her reviews and discussion posts.

Bingeing on Books– I have very similar taste in books with Cynthia!

Broc’s Bookcase-  I am yet to meet Hannah in person, but I adore her blog and her taste in books!

Curiouser and Curiouser-I love this blog! I ‘met’ Jess through this meme and I adore reading her blog!

I love this week’s Top Ten post as it’s spreading the book blogger love which is lovely.

What did you do for your list this week? Feel free to leave a link to your post and I’ll stop by! ❤

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.

Comparing ‘Made You Up’ by Francesca Zappia

Made You Up

Synopsis:

Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook, and Liar.

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn’t she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal.

Funny, provoking, and ultimately moving, this debut novel featuring the quintessential unreliable narrator will have readers turning the pages and trying to figure out what is real and what is made up.

Thoughts before you started reading Made You Up?

CHRISSI: I’m scared of the hype. SO very scared of the hype.

LUNA: There is a rule; if Marieke Nijkamp recommends a book to me it’ll be brilliant. She is never wrong… (this is not the least bit irritating)

What did you think of Alex?

CHRISSI: Alex is one of my favourite characters. She’s amazing. I liked her immediately and loved following her narration.

LUNA: Alex is wonderful as a narrator.  She’s the kind of character you want to follow. Sort of like that friend that takes you by the hand and pulls you into adventures – only with Alex you’re partly in awe of her but also protective.

Best bit?

CHRISSI: Is it enough to say every single thing? I really couldn’t find anything negative about this book. The characters are great, the representation of mental health is fantastic and I was pulled into the story. It was completely engaging, absolutely amazing and one of the most well written books I’ve ever read. The fact that it’s a debut absolutely blows my mind.

LUNA: I’m not sure I’m going to manage to explain this well but Francesca Zappia made me lose my own sense of what was real while reading Made You Up. I thought that I’d sympathise with Alex but that I’d still know when she’d be hallucinating and sometimes I did.

Because of how Made You Up is written I was pretty certain I knew reality (like Alex, only I didn’t need to double-check myself, because why would I?) only then it didn’t necessarily turn out to be reality.

I’m not going to say what is and isn’t real in Made You Up because each reader should have this journey. It gave me so much more understanding about the emotions, especially the fear. When you can’t trust the little things or people you rely on.

Worst bit?

CHRISSI: I didn’t have a worst bit. There were moments that I was absolutely heartbroken, but I was only so heartbroken because it was well written and so, so poignant.

LUNA: There wasn’t anything I disliked about Made You Up but as in heartache moment… Well I don’t want to spoiler anything, so I’m just going to say: Charlie.

Favourite character/moment?

CHRISSI: My favourite character is Alex. She’s just so real. The author clearly knows how to write an unreliable narrator.

LUNA: I’m going to pick a moment that contains a bit of spoiler (maybe, depends on your definition thereof). When Alex and Miles at in Alex bedroom making out with all signs point to this going all the way but Alex says “Don’t hate me, but I don’t think I want to do this. Not… not right now.” and its ok.

There are loads of other moments in Made You Up that I loved and there is a lot more to this particular chapter but I picked it because I kinda felt like, yes thank you dear author.

Was Made You Up what you expected?

CHRISSI: It was much, much better.

LUNA: In some ways yes, I mean it was a Marieke rec but I wasn’t expecting to be so involved in the book – so on that level it exceeded by expectations.

Would you recommend it?

CHRISSI: Without a doubt!

LUNA: Absolutely

Comparing ‘Am I Normal Yet?’ by Holly Bourne

Am I Normal Yet? (Normal, #1)

Synopsis:

All Evie wants is to be normal. She’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the girl-who-went-crazy. She’s even going to parties and making friends. There’s only one thing left to tick off her list…

But relationships are messy – especially relationships with teenage guys. They can make any girl feel like they’re going mad. And if Evie can’t even tell her new friends Amber and Lottie the truth about herself, how will she cope when she falls in love?

Thoughts before you started reading Am I Normal Yet?

CHRISSI: I was a little nervous if I’m honest. I struggle with anxiety on a day to day basis so when it comes to books on mental health issues, I often find they can either be hit or miss.

LUNA: Apprehensive. So any reader of my blog will know how much I love and promote diverse books but sometimes it goes wrong and sometimes very wrong. So there is always a little worry before you begin reading…

What did you think of Evie?

CHRISSI: I thought she was a fantastic character. So well written. I could relate to so many of her thoughts. It was like Holly Bourne had crawled inside of my head and really took notice of everything going on in there!

LUNA: I loved Evie. She had me hooked from the very beginning of the book. Her narration is engaging and, for me, I absolutely and completely believed in Evie. There are certain aspects of Evie that I understand entirely too well, which is why I think I think I connected so strongly with her.

Best bit?

CHRISSI: It’s rawness. I don’t think Holly ever holds back and through Evie, she really documents what it’s like to live with a mental health problem.

LUNA: Pages 90-93, which includes this page:

https://twitter.com/lunaslibrary/status/690998142695784448

As someone with panic attacks, if I had a £1 for every f#cking time somebody said that. Well I found certainly have another 2-week holiday in Las Vegas. No problem.

Worst bit?

CHRISSI: Some moments are particularly hard to read as they are close to the bone.

LUNA: That I couldn’t climb into the book and help. Is that an option for an answer? Just this once, please?

Favourite character/moment?

CHRISSI: I can’t pinpoint a favourite character. I did adore Evie and Amber. They stood out to me.

LUNA: This might be an odd choice but it’s actually Evie’s reaction to Oli. Why? Because it’s completely real and I understood why she did that.

Also I love Amber, I’m so glad the next book is about her.

Was Am I Normal Yet what you expected?

CHRISSI: It was much better than I had anticipated. I will definitely recommend it!

LUNA: It was better. I should never have doubted Holly Bourne
*hangs head in shame*

Would you recommend it?

CHRISSI: Of course!

LUNA: Absolutely