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Recommended Reads - Children

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Fireborn: Twelve and the Frozen Forest by Aishling Fowler  

Fireborn: Twelve and the Frozen Forest by Aishling Fowler
Published by Harper Collins 2021

Ember is full of monsters. Twelve gave up her name and identity to train in the art of hunting them--so she says. The truth is much more deadly: she trains to take revenge on those who took her family from her. But when Twelve's new home is attacked, she'll find herself on an unexpected journey, where her hidden past is inescapably intertwined with her destiny--and the very fate of her world.

This is the first installment in a new fantasy series with a unique take on the much-loved quest story. A story that is full of danger and mystery, fierce battles and magical powers, it will delight younger teens. For fans of His Dark Materials and Eragon.

In the Dark Woods by Eliza Wass  

In the Dark Woods by Eliza Wass
Published by Quercus 2016.

Castley Cresswell and her five siblings—Hannan, Caspar, Mortimer, Delvive, and Jerusalem—know what it’s like to be different. For years, their world has been confined to their ramshackle family home deep in the woods of upstate New York. They abide by the strict rule of God, whose messages come directly from their father. Castley’s world rapidly expands beyond the woods she knows so well and the beliefs she once thought were the only truths. There is a future waiting for her if she can escape her father’s grasp, but Castley refuses to leave her siblings behind.

" Castley is the main character in this book – you get to know her and her family and it is scary the way society know that it is wrong the way they are being treated but do nothing until they begin to fight back. Great read for teenagers". - reviewed by a Kilmihil Library Member

Asking For It by Louise O’Neill  

Asking For It by Louise O’Neill
Published by Quercus 2015.

It's the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O'Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident. One night, there's a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma.
The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can't remember what happened, she doesn't know how she got there. She doesn't know why she's in pain. But everyone else does.
Everybody should read this. It should be read in school, by parents and by teenagers. This is an excellent novel. It tackles how awful and judgemental people can be towards each other. It’s so real and horribly cruel.

Suitable for ages 15+.
Accelerated Reading: Interest Level UY. Book Level 4.8. Points 11

What Beauty There is by Cory Anderson  

What Beauty There is by Cory Anderson
Published by Roaring Brook Press 2021.

Jack Morton has nothing left. Except his younger brother, Matty, who he'd do anything for. Now with their mother gone, and their funds quickly dwindling, Jack needs to make a choice: lose his brother to foster care, or find the drug money that sent his father to prison. He chooses the money.

Ava Bardem lives a life of silence. For seventeen years her father has controlled her fate. He has taught her to love no one. Trust no one. Now Victor Bardem is stalking the same money as Jack. When he picks up Jack's trail, Ava must make her own wrenching choice: remain silent or help the brothers survive.

This book is full of atmosphere and tension, with in-depth characters and a plot that will keep you hooked from cover to cover. Anderson deftly portrays a bleak frozen landscape that contrasts starkly with Ava and Jack’s growing relationship, making the story even more gut wrenching, as you find yourself rooting for them to succeed.

Suitable for ages 15+.
Shortlisted for the School Library Association of Ireland Great Reads Awards 2021.

Mina and the Undead by Amy McCaw  

Mina and the Undead by Amy McCaw
Published by UCLan Publishing 2021

17-year-old Mina, from England, arrives in New Orleans to visit her estranged sister, Libby. She can't wait to explore the city's darkest secrets - vampire tours, seedy bars, spooky cemeteries, disturbing local myths... But the perfect summer bliss is broken when Mina stumbles upon the body of a girl with puncture marks on her neck, clutching a lock of hair that suspiciously resembles Libby's... Mina must discover the truth and prove her sister's innocence before she becomes the victim of another myth.

This is a tense thriller that will keep you gripped all the way through. It perfect for fans of the classic vampire stories and readers will enjoy the many references to cult horror classics such as Buffy and Interview with a Vampire.

Accelerated Reader: interest level UY, book level 5, points 11.

Any Way the Wind Blows (Simon Snow 3) by Rainbow Rowell  

Any Way the Wind Blows (Simon Snow 3) by Rainbow Rowell
Published by Macmillan Children's Books 2021

This is the third and final installment of the much loved Simon Snow trilogy. Reeling from their failed trip to America, Baz, Simon and Penelope are trying to move on with their lives back in England. For Simon, that means deciding whether he still wants to be part of the World of Mages -- and if he doesn't, what does that mean for his relationship with Baz? Meanwhile Baz is bouncing between two family crises and not finding any time to talk to anyone about his newfound vampire knowledge. Penelope would love to help, but she's smuggled an American Normal into London, and now she isn't sure what to do with him. And Agatha? Well, Agatha Wellbelove has had enough.

Anyway the Wind Blows is full of twists and turns, unexpected truths and new revelations with plenty of magic and suspense in between. Rowell has cleverly crafted a magical world that began as a nod to the classic chosen one plots of Harry Potter, and evolved to become an exciting and entertaining series in its own right.

No Country by Joe Brady, illustrated by Patrice Aggs  

No Country by Joe Brady, illustrated by Patrice Aggs
Published by David Fickling Books, 2021

A nation at war. Millions displaced. One family trying to survive...
What would you do if your home wasn't safe any more? Bea and her family are trying to live as if everything is normal. She and her sister Hannah look out for one another, at home and in school.

But their country is starting to fall apart. A civil war is raging, and it's getting closer. Bea is desperate not to leave home, but how long will it be before they have to run?
An astonishing and timely new graphic novel for younger readers from the pages of The Phoenix. Nominated for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2022
Suitable for ages 10 years and older.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie; art by Ellen Forney.  

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie; art by Ellen Forney.
Published by Andersen Press, 2008.

Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.
Suitable for older teens.

Accelerated Reader: interest level UY, book level 4, points 6.

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna  

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna
Published by Usborne Publishing 2021

A promising debut, this is the first book in the new Deathless series. The story portrays a fantasy world set in a deeply patriarchal society where women and girls are controlled by strict rules and customs. 16 year-old Deka is rejected by her friends and family when they discover her blood runs gold. Plucked from her village by a mysterious mentor Deka is forced to join an elite army of girls where her gifts are used to fight evil.

"A tense adventure story set in a unique fantasy world. This story will satisfy readers who are looking for something a bit different. Perfect for fans of Children of Blood and Bone". - recommended by a Clare County Library Staff Member

Lark by Anthony McGowan  

Lark by Anthony McGowan
Published by Barrington Stoke 2019

Things are getting tense at home for Nicky and Kenny as they wait for a visit from their estranged mum. To escape, they go for a walk on the moors, taking their little Jack Russell terrier with them. But what should have been a laugh, a lark, turns deadly when the weather changes and they are caught in a blizzard. Nothing will ever be quite the same again...

"This is the last in the series of short books about Nicky and Kenny. From publisher Barrington Stoke, this is a quick read which is perfect for readers who don’t want a long novel but still want an engaging story. Every sentence of this book is perfectly crafted, making a story that is compelling from first page to last. Available in branches and as an e-book on Borrowbox" - recommended by a Clare County Library Staff Member

Hope Against Hope by Sheena Wilkinson  

Hope Against Hope by Sheena Wilkinson
Published by Little Island 2020

Ireland is at war, communities torn apart by bitter hatred – and now a hard border. But brave young women stand up for hope.

The year is 1921. Ireland has been at war for two years. Communities are torn apart by bitter hatred - and now a hard border splits the island. In Belfast, Helen's Hope hostel is a progressive space where young women live and work together - a haven of tolerance and diversity in a fractured city. But some people hate Helen's Hope and its values.

"Another pitch-perfect historical novel from the prize-winning author of Star by Star. Wilkinson expertly portrays the complexities of loyalty and friendship in times of conflict to create a story that is both funny and sensitive. Perfect for fans of historical fiction" - recommended by a Clare County Library Staff Member

Becoming Dinah by Kit de Waal  

Becoming Dinah by Kit de Waal
Published by Orion Children's Books 2019

In her first Young Adult novel, Costa-shortlisted Kit de Waal responds to classic Moby Dick by tearing the power away from obsessive Captain Ahab and giving it to a teenage girl.

17 year-old Dinah is determined to find a new life; she is leaving her home and her name behind and going to go it alone. But her plans get hijacked by a grumpy neighbor who needs her to drive him 100s of miles to the south of England in his VW campervan.

"This is the first Young Adult novel by award winning author Kit de Waal who skillfully creates a before and after story about Dinah as she comes to terms with who she wants to be and who she really is" - recommended by a Clare County Library Staff Member

Deeplight by Frances Hardinge  

Deeplight by Frances Hardinge
Published by Macmillan Children's Books 2020

Frances Hardinge is a master at building fantasy worlds that are captivating and magical but also so rich in detail that make them real and believable. Deeplight is set in 15 year old Hark’s hometown of Myriad, a town that is only just beginning to recover from generations of terror and destruction caused by God-like sea monsters who are now extinct; or so everyone believes. Hark discovers a beating God’s heart deep in the waters when scavenging for valuable godware. Hark must stop the heart from falling into the wrong hands when he realizes that people will stop at nothing to get it – including Hark’s best friend Jelt. This book will keep readers enthralled from first page to last.

"A tense adventure with that raises many questions about loyalty and friendship. Perfect for fans of adventure fantasy and historical fiction" - recommended by a Clare County Library Staff Member

A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell  

A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell
Published by Hot Key Books 2020

Taking its title from the Octavia Butler quote, "In order to rise from its own ashes, a phoenix first must burn", this was one of the most hotly anticipated YA anthologies of 2020. A collection of speculative fiction stories written by some of the most prolific Black authors today, each tale is set in a diverse fantasy world, but questions real world issues that exist in today’s society.

"Each story explores themes of love, family, loyalty, structural racism and oppression, all centering on the lives of Black girls. This book is perfect if you’re in a reading slump and need something that promises satisfaction without a big commitment" - recommended by a Clare County Library Staff Member

Perfectly preventable Deaths by Deirdre Sullivan  

Perfectly Preventable Deaths by Deirdre Sullivan
Published by Hot Key Books 2019

Fifteen-year-old twins Madeline and Catlin move to a new life in Ballyfran, a strange isolated town, a place where, for the last sixty years, teenage girls have gone missing in the surrounding mountains.
As distance grows between the twins - as Catlin falls in love, and Madeline begins to understand her own nascent witchcraft - Madeline discovers that Ballyfrann is a place full of predators. Not only foxes, owls and crows, but also supernatural beings who for many generations have congregated here to escape persecution. When Catlin falls into the gravest danger of all, Madeline must ask herself who she really is, and who she wants to be - or rather, who she might have to become to save her sister.

" Deirdre Sullivan expertly weaves Irish myth and folklore together with contemporary Irish teen culture in this engaging story about finding your own path in life. Perfect for fans of uncanny ghost stories that keep you reading long into the night" - recommended by a Clare County Library Staff Member

The Gone Book by Helena Close  

The Gone Book by Helena Close
Published by Little Island 2020

Matt's mam left home when he was 10. He writes letters to her but doesn't send them. He keeps them in his Gone Book, which he hides in his room. Five years of letters about his life. Five years of hurt. Matt's dad won't talk about her. His older brother is mixed up with drugs and messing with dangerous characters. His friends, Mikey and Anna, are the best thing in his life, but Matt keeps pushing them away. All Matt wants to do is skate, surf, and forget. But now his mam is back in town and Matt knows he needs to find her, to finally deliver the truth.

" This is book is full of raw emotion as we watch Matt find the one thing he wished for all his life – his mother, only to discover she’s not who he imagined her to be and life is not as simple as he thought it was. Helena Close writes with such honesty and clarity that you will find yourself missing Matt and his friends Mikey and Anna long after you finish reading. Perfect for fans of Anthony McGowan" - recommended by a Clare County Library Staff Member

The Last Zoo by Sam Gayton   The Last Zoo by Sam Gayton
Published by Andersen Press 2019

Pia lives in a zoo in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with her parents (both ghosts), several old and cranky genies, a devil, and two young angels. She spends her days trimming genie-beards, trying to avoid being tricked into selling her soul, and waiting for the angels to make a miracle big enough to save the world.

A fantastic story with the plot immediately sweeping the reader away into a dystopian fantasy world with Pia, a slightly clueless heroine celestial zookeeper. - Recommended by a Clare County Library staff member.

Wing Jones by Katherine Webber   Wing Jones by Katherine Webber
Published by Walker Books 2017

Wing Jones idolises her big brother Marcus, but he’s everything she isn’t: good-looking, athletic and popular. But when tragedy strikes, calling everything she ever knew into question, Wing comes into her own and discovers strengths and talents she never knew she had.

Wing Jones is a gorgeous debut, a sensitive exploration of family ties, love and identity and what it really means to grow up, with a diverse cast of characters that will stay with you long after you have turned the last page. - Recommended by a Clare County Library staff member.

The Boy Who Hit Play by Chloe Daykin   The Boy Who Hit Play by Chloe Daykin
Published by Faber & Faber 2018

Twelve years after he was found wrapped in a newspaper as a baby, YouTuber Elvis sets off on a quest with his dad and friend to discover where he comes from. The journey takes on a darker edge when it becomes clear that someone is determined to force them to turn back.

Filled with eccentric characters, this book reminds us to be ourselves no matter what others think and handles the subject of a person finding their birth parents in a caring and sensitive manner. - Recommended by a Clare County Library staff member.

Splash by Charli Howard   Splash by Charli Howard
Published by Nosy Crow 2018

Molly is in her final year of primary school, with secret dreams of becoming an Olympic swimmer. Having always lived in the shadow of her manipulative friend, Chloe, Molly finally has the chance to compete in a regional swimming contest and define herself on her own terms. But with the pressure of fitting in, will she give up on her dreams for a shot at popularity?

A classic underdog story, a relatable protagonist, an important message of body positivity, and celebrating who you are. - Recommended by a Clare County Library staff member.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green  

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
Published by Penguin, 2017

An impressive follow up to The Fault in Our Stars is hard to imagine but John Green’s latest young adult novel is that and more. Sixteen-year-old Aza and her fearless friend get drawn into the mystery of missing, fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett for a one hundred thousand dollar reward. Together, they journey to solve the mystery and in so doing they must navigate through their personal relationships, issues and mental health.

"Memorable characters in a story of love, friendship and extraordinary teenage struggle all combine in this emotional roller coaster that is also an action packed adventure". - a Clare County Library Staff Member

A Dangerous Crossing by Jane Mitchell  

A Dangerous Crossing by Jane Mitchell
Published by Little Island Books, 2017

Ghalib doesn’t want to leave his home, but when he’s injured by a barrel bomb in his Syrian home town, his family can’t take any more and decide to flee to a better life in Europe. So together they start on a dangerous journey. They experience unimaginable hardship including the miserable life of a refugee camp and a perilous boat journey that we hear all too much about today.

"This is a powerful story based on the distress and difficulties experienced by Syrian refugees in the world today. Based on the experiences of real families, A Dangerous Crossing is endorsed by Amnesty International". - a Clare County Library Staff Member

Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence  

Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence
Published by Hodder, 2016

After Marlon goes on a date with the hottest girl in school his world is turned upside down. The promise he has made to his mother is impossible to keep when he assures her he will never take the wrong path as his brother Andre did.

Marlon has to grow up fast. He is no longer the unnoticeable person he once was. He becomes someone he’s loathe to be, in order to protect everyone he loves.

Orangeboy is the winner of the The YA Book Prize awarded annually to the best young adult book written by an author living in the UK or Ireland. Previous winners of the prize are Louise O'Neill's Only Ever Yours (2015) and Sarah Crossan's One (2016).

"This is a book that explores the meaning of family, friendship and loyalty with intelligence and sensitivity. It is an urban, coming of age story about family ties, gang culture and the dangers of drugs with a shocking storyline that you won’t forget in a hurry." - a Clare County Library staff member

Chasing the Stars by Malorie Blackman  

Chasing the Stars by Malorie Blackman
Published by Doubleday, 2016

Malorie Blackman’s latest novel is sci-fi adventure, murder mystery and a teenage love story all in one. Olivia Sindall (Vee) and her brother Aidan are the only survivors on a starship heading back to Earth. Everyone else including their parents have been killed by an alien virus and the siblings are at risk from the deadly Mazon species whose mission is to wipe out all humans.

Vee is 18 years old. She is the tough, resilient and intelligent skipper of a starship, but she is also human and behaves like every other hormonal teenager. Nathan, one of the Mazon is irresistible to her and she soon finds that everything she believes in and the challenges she faces are compromised by her emotions.

"Drawing on Shakespeare’s Othello for inspiration , Chasing the Stars is a story of love, hate, fear, jealousy and betrayal. This a different departure for Malorie Blackman and the book has got mixed reviews. Lots of action and emotion combined with an exciting climax with the hint of a sequel makes it well worth a read." - a Clare County Library staff member

Plain Jane by Kim Hood  

Plain Jane by Kim Hood
Published by The O’Brien Press in 2016

Ten year old Emma has never been resented by her older sister Jane, aged almost 16. Emma is a talented dancer. She also has cancer. Up to now Jane has been happy to live in her sister’s shadow but with other family pressures of her parents disagreeing and struggling financially, Jane finds herself skipping school and hanging out with a boyfriend she’s not all that interested in. Because no one seems to care where she’s at in life, neither does she. But Jane comes to a realisation that her life is not all that bad, her sister’s health improves and the sisters take up where they left off before Emma got sick.

“A story of sibling rivalry with the added dimension of a possibly life-threatening disease thrown into the mix makes this a compelling read for any teenage girl who feels over shadowed by their sister.

“Themes of sisterhood, cancer and teen mental illness are all realistically explored in this novel that will resonate and be remembered by young adult readers long after they’ve read it.” - a Clare County Library staff member

Still Falling by Sheena Wilkinson  

Still Falling by Sheena Wilkinson
Published by Little Island in 2015

Esther and Luke are teenagers from two very different backgrounds in Northern Ireland. Esther feels unpopular and isolated at school and is questioning the rituals and teaching of her church. When Luke arrives at her school after many years in care, he has a chance to prove himself but has an epileptic fit on his first day. Esther and he are drawn to one another and become inseparable but they both have serious issues to resolve whilst surrounded by pressure on many levels, even from themselves. This is a story about the struggle it can be to love someone who doesn’t love themselves – and why it’s worth it to persevere.

“One of the most moving and thought-provoking books published for teenagers.” - a Clare County Library staff member

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