The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz

thehiredgirlThe Hired Girl

In 1911 Pennsylvania, farm girl Joan Skraggs wants a life like those in her beloved books, one with romance and beauty and adventure. But Joan’s father hates her books and the ideas they and her mother put into her head. When her father refuses to give her some recognition for her hard work at the farm taking care of him and her three brothers and then he burns her beloved books when she asks for money to improve their situation, Joan decides to run away and become a hired girl in Philadelphia. She reinvents herself as Janet Lovelace working for a charitable Jewish merchant family, the Rosenbachs, with a persnickety old cook, Malka, who needs help. The Rosenbachs become a sort of family to Joan, with the father who highly values education, the kind eldest son who wants to study the Talmud, the younger son who wants to be an artist, and their young daughter who hates learning. Joan catalogs her journey in her diary, resolving to be as refined and elegant as the novels she loves, and in her experiences, Joan can truly transform into a bright heroine like the ones she’s daydreamed about.

I really liked this book. It definitely has that turn of phrase and tone that evokes similar thought-provoking award winners and the appeal is probably less broad as a result of both the more literary writing and the subject matter. However, this could be for younger audiences who are voracious or more serious readers as they will appreciate Joan’s ability to dream and her same love of literature. Joan herself is inspiring for having the courage and perseverance necessary to achieve a new future, one in which she might have a chance at happiness and independence. I love that theme of feminism! I also really liked the other characters and their development, particularly how their interactions with Joan teach her different ideas and how Joan learns to think for herself rather than simply listen to what she’s told. Joan is funny in her naivety, strength of will, and her straightforwardly honest demeanor that occasionally causes a few mishaps with her new employers. This book is perfect if you’re looking for something thought-provoking and yet quietly inspiring, especially for its love of learning and education.

Note: This title will be more appealing to older readers as it follows the slower maturation of classic literature than your typical fast-paced YA. It would be a very interesting research essay to compare and contrast this book and heroine with one of Joan’s favorites like Jane Eyre and how both evolve…

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Posted by on October 25, 2016 in Young Adult/Teen, Historical fiction


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Picture Perfect (Geek Girl, 3) by Holly Smale

pictureperfectPicture Perfect

Since Harriet Manners quit modeling at the end of the last book, her life has been pretty perfect. She has a new baby sister, a wonderful model boyfriend, and she’s made tons of plans for her new year, especially with Nat who will be at a new college. There’s not much to ruin it, except…her dad still doesn’t have a job, her parents are so tired they forgot her exam results day, and her nemesis Alexa has stolen her diary. Wait, let’s rewrite that. There’s not much A LOT to ruin it! Faced with the horror of every day of Alexa’s teasing and her friends leaving her alone, Harriet decides to be excited when her dad announces his new job. The Manners family is going to New York New Jersey! Harriet thinks she’s in for the Big Apple with all of its excitement and rich culture and her grandiose plans. Instead, due to their poor finances, their new house in the suburbs of New Jersey is over an hour away from NY by train, and that’s not all Harriet is upset about. Her professional tutor keeps piling work on and she’s floundering, any friends Harriet might make think she’s Tabitha’s mom and hate her, and her date with Nick is ruined when he gets on the wrong train. To make matters worse, Annabel and her dad don’t notice because of work and parenting and they even forget Harriet’s birthday! Suddenly Harriet has had enough. To get back at her parents, she sneaks out to model again and finds herself believing that just a little bit of rebelliousness won’t hurt…

This series is happy, hilarious, and yet relateable! Every teen who thinks of him/herself as the “good, obedient kid” who wants to have a little bit more unsanctioned fun will identify with Harriet’s longing for adventure and the mess that results. Even better is Harriet’s plucky attitude and penchant for random facts at inopportune moments making her lovably amusing to the reader despite any anxiety at how Harriet’s life falls disastrously apart. Try this series when you need laughter or a pick-me-up instead of drama!

Note: Good for middle grade (or younger) readers, though there is a bit of romance.


Posted by on October 18, 2016 in Contemporary fiction, Young Adult/Teen


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Life Update

Hi readers,

I thought I would write you a quick note to explain why I’ve been so sporadic with posting. Skip if you don’t want to read personal stuff (though I don’t try to go on too long a rant)!

The short of it is that this year has been more demanding than I had anticipated.

The longer version: My family had a health scare at the beginning of the year, and typically I write a few posts in advance, but this, combined with some other activities resulted in much less time and energy for myself and for my reading/blogging. I also switched to working a different night and my routine writing times changed, making it harder to get a post finalized before my usual Tuesday posting day. I have had a harder time catching up while behind since having a family leaves little mental clarity for writing, especially when this writing, while awesome, isn’t one that feels like an enjoyable me-time activity (like reading or writing my book or watching tv). Sometimes we don’t anticipate how life’s commitments will change us, and this is an area that has suffered. It’s something I definitely want to do better, but there are certainly more areas than just my blogging that has had reduced attention. I’ve not been able to read the quantity I have in the past, or been able to focus on other hobbies and priorities that I miss and highly value.

So, all of that being said, readers, I still love you all and sharing great (or at least good) books with you. I’ll try to do better, but I’m also not trying to put pressure on myself. It makes the writing less pleasurable. Hopefully though, since I’ve got a backlog of posts and awesome books I’ve been reading, you’ll see more soon. (Don’t count on it though since we’re heading into the holidays. I never have extra time during the holidays!)

Happy reading, and I do hope you’ll all pick something literary for Halloween! (Oh no, that’s another thing I’ve yet to do…) Feel free to share yours!

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Posted by on October 17, 2016 in Uncategorized



Sanctuary by Jennifer McKissack

Sanctuary by Jennifer McKissack


Today, I’m posting over on Tynga’s Reviews. Click on the image above to follow the link.

To help you get ready for some haunted mansions like the one in Sanctuary, here’s a few I thought were particularly lovely to keep in mind.

P.S. Just for fun, I have actually visited a haunted mansion. Pictured below is the Sorrel-Weed house in Savannah, GA where my husband and I unintentionally caught an EVP on our honeymoon.


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Stacking The Shelves

Today I’m posting over on Tynga’s Reviews for Stacking the Shelves.

Click on the image to check it out!

Stacking the Shelves

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Posted by on September 17, 2016 in Young Adult/Teen


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