Tag Archive | Ireland

O is for ALL OUR HIDDEN GIFTS with cards, candle, dark waters! by Caroline O’ Donoghue (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of All Our Hidden Gifts, by Caroline O'Donoghue. Published by Walker Books US | recommended on BooksYALove.com

In-school suspension (again),
Storeroom clean-out (boring),
Tarot card deck…hmmm.

Falling behind in high school, Maeve longs for the days when her four much-older siblings lived at home so she wasn’t Mum and Dad’s only focus.

The tarot cards she found in the school basement storage are more interesting than her classes, for sure, especially as she studies more about them online.

Soon her circle of acquaintances at their all-girls school is asking her to do tarot readings for them, with pal Fiona as scheduler, earning Maeve some pocket money and a tiny bit of popularity.

It all goes bust after a unique card appears in a reading for her former best friend Lily. Maeve doesn’t know what it means, so she left it at home! When quiet, hard-of-hearing Lily says it’s all done just for attention, Maeve snaps that she wishes that Lily would disappear. That’s the last time anyone sees Lily…

The police have questions for Maeve several days later; so does Lily’s big brother Roe whom Maeve began talking to just as this tarot thing began. Of course, the headmistress confiscates the tarot deck.

Days crawl along with no progress, as slow as the river Beg through their Irish city. Maeve’s dreams include gender-fluid Roe and his band, the mysterious Housekeeper on the unique card, and eventually Lily by the river. And the tarot deck brings itself to Maeve’s house.

Is the Housekeeper more than ink on a card?
Who will believe that she has taken Lily?
How can the three teens bring her back without losing themselves?

The power of wishing, the power of hope, the power of learning to love your true self – don’t miss this UK novel brought to American readers by Walker Books US – in hardcover now, paperback release in May 2022 – read the first chapter here, free courtesy of the publisher.

What hidden gift has graced your life as you’ve gotten older?

Book info: All Our Hidden Gifts / Caroline O’Donoghue. Walker Books US, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Erase his deceit, with LOVE & LUCK, by Jenna Evans Welch (YA book review)

book cover of Love & Luck, by Jenna Evans Welch. Published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Beautiful green Ireland,
terrible dark mood,
heal the heartbreak, that’s all she wants.

Addie’s used to being the quiet one, between her real estate agent mom, HGTV star aunt, and three older football superstar brothers, so keeping her new relationship with Cubby secret was easy, until it wasn’t.

He betrayed her in front of the whole football team with that photo, so she’s following the Ireland for the Heartbroken tour book’s advice to heal her heart – if local guy Rowan can keep Addie and Ian from pushing each other off another cliff!

From the author of Love and Gelato (my recommendation here) which tells how Addie’s best friend Lina got to Italy, where Addie and Ian are going – if she can convince her brother to get moving before Mom discovers they didn’t leave as scheduled!

Which wonderful places in your area can bring solace to the downhearted?

Book info: Love and Luck / Jenna Evans Welch. Simon Pulse, 2018. [author IG] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: After the private photo debacle with her ex-boyfriend, sixteen-year-old Addie can’t wait to escape Seattle and visit her best friend now in Italy, following a stopover in Ireland for a family wedding.

Suddenly on a clandestine Irish roadtrip with brother Ian (football star and… international music journalist?) and Rowan (local guy and Ian’s biggest fan) to chronicle an influential rock band’s roots, Addie realizes that her problem won’t disappear with distance.

As long as they visit the places recommended by Ireland for the Heartbroken guidebook, Addie is okay with going along before she and Ian head to Italy, but cute Rowan’s tiny rickety car has other ideas…

Ian’s indie music blog has nearly ten thousand followers – would he really give up a football scholarship for journalism?
Not sure if what happened with Cubby is her fault – why can’t Addie tell Mom, as Ian keeps nagging?
Social media is great for Ian, went terribly wrong for Addie – maybe she can stay in Ireland or Italy forever?

If Addie can just tell Lina everything about Cubby, if Lina can convince Mom that Addie and Ian are in Italy with her while they rumble around Ireland with charming Rowan, maybe she can figure out how to endure next year at school.

Potato crop dies, HUNGER remains… by Donna Jo Napoli (book review)

book cover of Hunger by Donna Jo Napoli, published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.comLife-sustaining potatoes collapse into slime,
and all over Ireland, the common people face starvation,
each village praying that it is spared, but no…

A tiny organism swept through the main food crop of Ireland in the mid-1800s, leading to a million deaths by starvation and two million people emigrating from their beloved green isle.

Lorraine doesn’t want to leave, won’t let her family starve, risks everything to make that true.

Look for this February 2018 release with Napoli’s other novels of Ireland’s past (like Hush, an Irish princess tale I recommended here) at your local library or independent bookstore.

To save your family, how far would you go?

Book info: Hunger: A Tale of Courage / Donna Jo Napoli. Paula Wiseman/Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Lorraine fights to keep her family from starving, as the potato blight hits their Irish village in 1846, but the 12 year old can only do so much alone.

Not fair that Da’s grain crop must be sold to pay land-rent to the English.
Nor that not a single hare or bird may be trapped by them on the landlord’s vast property.
Nor that so many children and parents and grandparents are dying because the potato plants cannot produce food.

Scavenging for wild plants that might strengthen her weakening little brother, Lorraine encounters the rich English landlord’s daughter presiding over a doll picnic with more food than the village has seen in months!

Would the girl share with Lorraine… or even speak to her?
When will the potatoes grow healthy again…ever?
How many more families will bury their dead and leave for the city… or even America?

Lorraine’s resourcefulness is her family’s best chance of surviving the Famine which decimated Ireland in the 1840s – may it be enough!

Hush, by Donna Jo Napoli (book review) – Irish princess, kidnapped by Vikings?

original book cover of Hush by Donna Jo Napoli published by Simon SchusterStolen from her homeland,
once a princess, now a slave,
silent, always keeping silent…

Sisters fleeing the Vikings who seek revenge on their royal father are separated when the elder is kidnapped and taken far from their homeland of Eire.

Melkorka soon realizes that her captors fear what they can’t understand, so she speaks not a word, neither as greeting nor as she binds her fellow slaves’ wounds.

Perhaps she will not die as a slave. Perhaps she will see Brigid and their parents once again.

Look for this tale of the power of voice at your local library or independent bookstore – it was re-released in December with a different cover.

What would induce you to stay silent?

Book info: Hush: An Irish Princess’ Tale / Donna Jo Napoli.  Paula Wiseman/ Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2007, paperback 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Kidnapped after treacherous Northmen attack her father’s stronghold, princess Melkorka’s vow to stay silent until she returns to Ireland is severely tested by the perils of her slavery and her captors’ behavior.

A lighthearted shopping trip to the city leads to heartbreak for the king’s family, as prince Nuada is gravely wounded and his father demands satisfaction from the Vikings. Sent away from the dangerous meeting, Melkorka and Brigid are ambushed, with only the younger sister getting free.

As the slave ship sails away from Eire, Melkorka promises herself that she’ll return home and that she won’t speak to her captors until then.

Working alongside her fellow slaves, growing to understand the Viking languages, listening and never saying a word, the young woman fascinates those who have stolen her away but cannot control her spirit.

A companion book to Hidden,  this Irish princess’ tale evokes a long-gone world of earlier history and the inestimable power of words. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Read around the world (reflective)

We’ve circled the globe during July and the Ultimate Blog Challenge, highlighting books set in many countries (and eras).

The Grassland Trilogy reaches back beyond written history, showing the courage of young people trying to Escape the Mask, see Beneath the Mask, and go Beyond the Mask.

Cate of the Lost Colony traveled from the glittering court of Queen Elizabeth I to the desolate sand dunes of Roanoke in the New World, and Plain Kate, driven from her home by superstition, must search for answers down the river, into the mists.

Esty’s Gold took us from famine-stricken Ireland to the Australian goldfields in the 1880s, while The Reformed Vampire Support Group sticks together in today’s Sydney.

Online gamers in China, India, Singapore and the US are fighting For the Win and a fair chance at life.

Annexed and Briar Rose brought us perspectives on the Holocaust – the Netherlands, Germany, Poland – so many bitter sorrows, so many untold tales.

Modern-day Paris hides decades-old secrets in Die For Me, while in Montreal, Mira just wants her own today in Pieces of Me.

And we’ve just begun the Rivers of Time trilogy, as Lia and Gabi go back to 14th century Tuscany in Waterfall.

Oh, the photo up there? That’s me aboard the wooden sailing ship Southern Swan in Sydney Harbour in the 21st century. Ready for more great books in August?

Esty’s Gold, by Mary Arrigan (fiction) – from Irish famine to Australia’s goldfields

Famine! How could your family survive?

That’s the life-changing question that 12-year-old Esther faces, as we go back to the Irish Potato Famine of 1845 on this World Wednesday.

As the blight makes potatoes rot when they’re dug up, poor Irish rental farmers and their families starve to death with their main food source gone. While having just one variety of potato planted all over Ireland contributed to the problem, the Famine was largely caused by the laws forbidding Irish Catholics from owning land.

When Esty’s father is killed trying to help starving farmers, she and her mother and granddad no longer have a home, and Esty must hire out as a servant. Emigration out of Ireland is offered – many travel to the United States, but Esty has carefully read the newspapers discarded by her employer and finds a way for her family to get to the goldfields of Australia.

The Mahers will face bandits, harsh weather, backbreaking toil, and outright prejudice as they dig for gold in Ballarat in this exciting story based on history.

If your local independent bookstore doesn’t have Etsy’s Gold, they’ll be glad to order it for you. Check your local library, too!

Book info: Esty’s Gold / Mary Arrigan. Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2010. [author’s website] [publisher site]

Recommendation: Surely the potato blight won’t hurt Esty’s family, her papa being agent for the landowner, right? But the famine in 1840s Ireland cuts deep, and 12-year-old Esty finds herself hired out as a servant, with Mama and Grandpa sent from their big house to a tiny cottage.

As the large landowners continue evicting the tenants who can’t pay rent or feed their families because of the blight, more rebellion springs up. Esty reads the newspapers discarded by her employers and dreams of taking her family away from the famine, off to the goldfields of Australia.

Such a long journey, from Ireland to the other side of the world! And what perils along the way to the goldfields at Ballarat – thieves, wild weather and worse!

Can Esty really find a way to get her family all the way to Australia? Will they be tough enough to survive the pioneer conditions at the edge of the Outback? Can they find gold or will Ballarat be one more heartbreak for the Mahers?(One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy courtesy of the publisher.

Fish (fiction)

Ahoy, and welcome aboard on Fun Friday! But ’twere no fun for Maurice Reidy to give up country life and become an errand boy for his uncle in Dublin. The only swimmer in his large and impoverished family, he’s known as “Fish” and would certainly rather swim than fight.

How was Fish to know that he’d be kidnapped by pirates during his very first errand? And what a crew of pirates! A captain who’d rather search for treasure than capture other ships, a gunner who’s expert in cannons and cheese, and a girl cook!

Life on board a pirate ship challenges both Fish’s swimming skills and his conciliatory abilities, as he tries to stave off mutiny while the captain solves an intricate puzzle, then “The Scurvy Mistress” must outrace other would-be pirates to the treasure.

A rollicking read on the high seas, and a great addition to any pirate’s library of fantastic fiction – with nary an Arrrggh in sight!

Book info: Fish / by Gregory Mone. Scholastic, 2010. [author’s website] [author’s blog] [publisher site] [book trailers one and two]

Recommendation: Living in bustling Dublin or a poor country farm? At age 11, Fish (nicknamed for his swimming skills) will soon find out which he prefers as he leaves his large family’s small farm to work for his uncle as a courier. But his first parcel is snatched just as he is delivering it to Mr. Swift on the city dock! Chasing the thieves, Fish watches them row toward a menacing ship across the harbour and decides to swim after them to recover the bag of coins.

The sailors aren’t going to give up their prize easily, and Fish finds himself kidnapped – aboard a pirate ship! A good captain (and his wife!), a skilled ship’s cook (a girl!), a silent giant, a first mate plotting mutiny, and Fish’s own determination to survive without fighting make life aboard ship complicated. The coins are part of a treasure map that must be unpuzzled…

Ahoy! “The Scurvy Mistress” is being pursued by Mr. Swift and his ship full of treasure hunters who shoot first and talk later! And they want those coins so they can complete the treasure map!

As they race to find the treasure predicted by the mysterious coins, Fish and crew must overcome treacherous waters, nefarious plots, and terrible smells. Who will discover it first – the honest pirates or the dishonest treasure hunters?

Travel the high seas with a young man who’s true to himself in this tale of adventure and danger (and really funny characters!). (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)