Rakie's Recommendations

Hidden
by
Sophie Jordan

The FIRELIGHT series is a rare sparkling gem. I delved into the mystical world and discovered a fast-paced, gripping story. In HIDDEN I was again swept away in a whirlwind of thrilling danger, shocking secrets, and entrancing romance. Anytime my readers ask for a book recommendation, I always say, “Read Sophie Jordan!”

- Goodreads Review

Optimists Die First
by
Susin Nielsen

Petula holds herself personally responsible for a tragedy that befell her family, and has developed a complex series of behaviours to reassure herself that it’ll never happen again.

This story tackles a lot of big themes – bereavement, PTSD, anxiety, OCD – but does so in a careful, well-balanced way. The characters are flawed but easy to relate to. Despite the themes, it somehow also manages to be heart-warming, optimistic, and genuinely funny in places.

- Rakie, Librarian at the Family Library

Six of Crows
by
Leigh Bardugo

Fantastic blend of adventure and fantasy, with some tasty magic thrown in as well. Basically, it's what would happen if a bunch of Firefly side-characters had to plan a (probably doomed) heist in a steampunk universe. The characters are so much fun, you'll wish they could all be your friends in real life. It's funny, it's thrilling, it's occasionally heart-breaking, and it's highly recommended.

- Rakie, Librarian at the Family Library

The Accident Season
by
Moïra Fowley-Doyle

Every year for Cara comes the accident season – a month of mysterious injuries and tragedy. This year looks like it’ll be worse than most.

The story effortlessly blends reality, mystery, and a touch of fantasy together to make a darkly intriguing book full of family secrets, fraught relationships, and the sense that nothing is exactly what you think it is. The writing style is haunting and draws you in immediately. Creepy and compulsive reading.

- Rakie, Librarian at the Family Library

The Lie Tree
by
Frances Hardinge

A dark, atmospheric tale with a thick, delicious current of magic realism running through it. Frances Hardinge is consistently original and compelling in all her books, and this is no exception. The characters are brilliant (and also flawed) and the central mystery will quickly get its hooks into you.

- Rakie, Librarian at the Family Library

The Loney
by
Andrew Michael Hurley

Astonishing literary fiction with a gothic dark undertone that had me alert from beginning to end. I read this in hours, unable to put it down and it's a powerfully written novel that doesn't need a fast pace or out of this world twists or in your face horror to get the story across to you. Mesmerising and disturbing.

The Loney is a bleak place off the coast of Lancashire, England. A place steeped in history, religious belief and dark undercurrents. A pilgrimage is made back to this mournful place by a group of church-goers and their new Parish Priest, what then unfolds is nothing short of imagination genius. It's more what is not said in this book that makes it so brilliant, it's the way you put pieces together and wonder if you've arrived at the right conclusion.

- Goodreads Review

The Museum of Extraordinary Things
by
Alice Hoffman

Interesting glimpse into the world of a sideshow in New York in the early twentieth century, blending elements of real history with a story about love and family and self-acceptance. The main character, Coralie, performs as the Mermaid in her father’s carnival, but yearns for something more. If you liked THE NIGHT CIRCUS, you’ll enjoy this.

- Rakie, Librarian at the Family Library

The Sun Is Also a Star
by
Nicola Yoon

Coincidence or fate brings Natasta and Daniel together for one beautiful, unforgettable day.

Funny and touching and smart and true, and full of science and pathos and true love, and it made me cry, and I finished it in one day. Come fall in love.

- Rakie, Librarian at the Family Library

Wolf Hollow
by
Lauren Wolk

Set during World War II, this is the story of Annabelle, whose idyllic farm life and friendship with an older war veteran named Toby is threatened when a bully named Betty moves into town.

Annabelle is a relatable, realistic main character, and her relationships with her family and friends are great to read. The whole story is a well-written look at how we treat each other.

- Rakie, Librarian at the Family Library

An Island of Our Own
by
Sally Nicholls

Ever since the death of their mother, Holly and her siblings have been trying to survive together. But will a book of photographs offer a clue to a treasure which might solve all of their difficulties?

A classic treasure-hunt-adventure story with a wonderfully written group of characters at its heart. Full of family and friendship.

- Rakie, Librarian at the Family Library

One
by
Sarah Crossan

PREPARE YOUR FEELINGS. Sarah Crossan writes books that are simply astonishing, in the poetry-prose style she's so deft at, and here she’s constructed a tale that's heartwarming and oddly funny despite featuring some heavy themes. The bond (literal and figurative) between the twin girls is beautifully portrayed. We should probably start regarding this author as something of a national treasure.

- Rakie, Librarian at the Family Library

Stone Rider
by
David Hofmeyr

Post-apocalyptic motorbike racing in a Mad Max-esque setting, you say? Sign me up! Adam Stone’s only chance of escaping his hometown is competing in a brutal cross-desert race, where winning is only slightly harder than surviving. High octane, fast-paced adventure, with an obligatory handful of romance thrown in, adds up to an exciting tale of endurance and risk. Some great world-building and characters too.

- Rakie, Librarian at the Family Library

The Fire Sermon
by
Francesca Haig

Wow. Just... WOW. I'd hoped it would be good, but I didn't expect to completely fall in love with it the way I did. It's AMAZING. Such an intriguing and terrifying dystopia where radiation has turned half the population into mutants and changed the way twins are perceived forever. I'll be honest––the opening few chapters were a little slow. But it didn't take long for me to completely love main character Cass, and soon enough I was devouring pages and enjoying the journey she took. I loved the entire story and the plot twists, the side characters Piper and Zoe (ultra kick-butt lady) and of course, secondary character Kip (who I loooooove). The story wasn't filled with typical action, but it was nonetheless a harrowing tale about survival, trust, and sacrifice. Pick this one up ASAP!!!

- Goodreads Review

The Green Bicycle
by
Haifaa al Mansour

Wadja is a sassy eleven-year-old Saudi Arabian girl who sells forbidden contraband and uses her smarts to save up money to buy a forbidden bicycle. She’s a fantastic, inspiring character, and the book gives us a nuanced look at the world she lives in. Very much recommended.

(Based on the movie WADJA, but can be read on it’s own too!)

- Rakie, Librarian at the Family Library

The Map of Bones
(The Fire Sermon #2)
by
Francesca Haig

Book two of the Fire Sermon trilogy and this one was as good as the first. Continues the story which started 400 years after a nuclear event. The aftermath has caused all humans to be born in pairs- one perfect, the Alpha and the other, their deformed Omega twin; but there's a catch - if one twin dies, so does the other. The Alpha Council has put in place a plan to permanently contain the Omega's to ensure their own survival. The Omega resistance after a terrible attack at the end of book one is in hiding - but not defeated and the fight for their survival continues!

- Goodreads Review

The Rest of Us Just Live Here
by
Patrick Ness

This is a great spin on the usual Chosen One tropes, focusing instead on the characters who're just in the background, attempting to get on with their lives. Fun, inventive, with compelling and diverse characters, and all the teenage dramas and anxieties that Patrick Ness writes about so well. One of his best books, imo.

- Rakie, Librarian at the Family Library

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
by
Karen Joy Fowler

If at all possible, go into this book without knowing a single thing about it. Don't read the back cover, don't even look too hard at the front cover, don't seek out reviews, nothing. Trust me, you'll thank me for it, because if there was ever a book you should discover everything about on your own, it's this one. And that’s all I’m going to tell you about it, except that you should definitely read it because it’s great.

- Rakie, Librarian at the Family Library

Blade and Bone
by
Catherine Johnson

Fascinating story set during the French Revolution, when young surgeon Ezra McAdam finds himself caught up in another man’s (slightly obsessive) search for the secret of reanimating the dead. My only complaint with the book is that the pace was sometimes TOO fast for me - I would've liked more time to catch my breath while reading, while the characters race from one exciting incident to another without pause. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

- Rakie, Librarian at the Family Library

Darkest Night
by
Will Hill

I absolutely loved this series and more people need to read it! The amount of research it must take to make a supernatural paramilitary organization fighting the rise of Dracula seem realistic and grounded must have been phenomenal. Hill uses real places, real history, and literature as a structure for the world of Blacklight and Dracula. He expertly combines the Dracula of Bram Stoker with the Dracula of history, the ruthless Vlad Tepes, Prince of Wallachia. Fast paced and emotionally gripping, this finale to the Department 19 series is spectacular.

- Goodreads Review

Girl Hearts Girl
by
Lucy Sutcliffe

Lucy always knew her idea of Prince Charming was different to that of other girls…

A beautiful, brave, inspiring non-fiction about love conquering pretty much everything. Uplifting.

- Rakie, Librarian at the Family Library

Paper Towns
by
John Green

Things John Green does very well: Teenage angst, small-town feelings, naturalistic dialogue, characters who feel so real that you're pretty sure you know someone exactly like them, road trips, falling in love when you're only just old enough to know what that is, more teenage angst. PAPER TOWNS is a meandering journey through all these things, written with the author's usual confidence and style.

- Rakie, Librarian at the Family Library

Scat
by
Carl Hiaasen

Carl Hiaasen takes a break from writing bestselling thrillers to pen this fun adventure-mystery set in the Florida everglades. When Mrs Starch, the most formidable teacher in school, goes missing during a school trip, Nick is determined to track her down…

There’s a strong environmental message that threads the delicate line between entertaining and educational without being too preachy. Characters are great, and the story speeds along at a pace that ensures you’ll never be bored.

- Rakie, Librarian at the Family Library

The Girl With All the Gifts
by
M.R. Carey

Who likes some post-apocalypse zombie fiction? Trick question, everyone likes it! And this is a particularly fun take on the zombocalypse, being told from an unusual and sympathetic POV. It also breaks away from the familiar zombie shamblers to do something fun and original with the tropes. Thrilling and tense in places, gentle and thought-provoking in others, this is really quite good.

- Rakie, Librarian at the Family Library

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
(Flavia de Luce #1)
by
Alan Bradley

Quirky, charming cosy-mystery set in 1950s England. It features a brilliant main character who is smart, funny, engaging, and wise beyond her years. The plot is compelling, and builds to a very satisfying conclusion. Recommended for anyone looking for a good murder mystery!

- Rakie, Librarian at the Family Library

The Widow's Tale
by
Mick Jackson

I loved this book. A recently bereaved widow goes on a pilgrimage to North Norfolk. She is still in shock and feeling grief and wants to make sense of what is happening to her, which is probably a breakdown. She walks across the Salt Marshes, examines a painting by Holbein she cares about, remembers a retreat she went on and thinks about the men she has loved. What is so fantastic about the book is the voice of the Widow. We never know her name but a sense of her comes through so strongly. This may sound grim but it's not. It is witty and authentic because the voice of the Widow is acerbic, intelligent, self-deprecating with some very enjoyable forays into malice and rudeness about others. The novel is about the big things, Love and Death.

- Goodreads Review

Wayward Son
by
Rainbow Rowell

For fans of fan-fiction! Simon Snow and his roommate/mortal enemy/love interest/sarcastic vampire Baz attend a school of magic that is totally not based on Hogwarts at all. It's all written with a joyous sense of fun and adventure. I hope everyone falls in love with the characters, just like I did (although I also wanted to bosh their stupid heads together quite often).

- Rakie, Librarian at the Family Library

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