The Hired Girl

November 25, 2015 by

The Hired GirlThe Hired Girl

By: Laura Amy Schlitz

Joan lives with her brothers and father on a farm in rural Pennsylvania. As the only female in the household, she is left to do all the household chores and cooking. Her own mother (now deceased) believed that she should be educated and Joan goes to school. It is insinuated that her mother thought one day Joan should be free from the grueling farm life and carefully sewed money into Joan’s doll for whenever she would need it. After father burns Joan’s beloved books in response to her rebellion, Joan decides to run away to become a hired girl in a family home and make $6 a week. The story is written in a diary format and Joan’s intelligence and passion for romantic plots in novels informs her thoughts and writing.

Joan arrives in Baltimore with uncertainty and cannot find a place to sleep for the night. Upon deciding to sleep on a park bench, she is rescued by the Rosenbachs, a family in need of an additional hand around the house. Malka, the current housekeeper, is treated as family, but is also aging. Joan is brought on contingency before becoming fully hired and making her dream $6 a week. Joan’s primary function is as a “Shabbos goy,” a non-Jewish worker that can help do cleaning during the Sabbath without violating religious doctrine. Some humorous situations involving her lack of knowledge of living in a big city and Judaism add to the plot. Will Joan have her own happily ever after?

Why I picked it up: I saw this book floating around in professional literature and since I love historical fiction, I had to read it.

Why I finished it: At times Joan’s thoughts can become exasperatingly naive, but there is something enjoyable reading through her resolutions. Plus, I had to find out how everything worked out.

I’d give it to: Fans of historical fiction and those that enjoyed the Dear America and American Girl series when they were younger.

I’d give it: 4 stars

4 Stars




Reviewed by: Diana (Harrington Library)

Perfect Ruin

November 23, 2015 by

1371177758000-PERFECT-RUIN-3--1306132243_3_4_r537_c0-0-534-712 (1)Perfect Ruin
by Lauren DeStefano

On the floating city of Internment,you can be anything you dream – a novelist or a singer, a florist or a factory worker… Your life is yours to embrace or to squander. There’s only one rule: you don’t approach the Edge. If you do, it’s already over.

Morgan Stockhour knows getting too close to the edge of Internment, the floating city and her home, can lead to madness. Even though her older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. There’s too much for her on Internment: her parents, best friend Pen, and her betrothed, Basil. Her life is ordinary and safe, even if she sometimes does wonder about the ground and why it’s forbidden.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially once she meets Judas. Betrothed to the victim, Judas is being blamed for the murder, but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find—or whom she will lose. (summary from book jacket)

Why I picked it up: The cover was the big draw obviously- bare tree branches with miscellaneous things hanging, and some whimsical gears? Sign me up! But once I read in the description that there was a floating city well, it jumped to priority on the to-read list.

Why I finished it: There was something really refreshing about a dystopian novel that had romance, but where the characters already knew each other, and loved each other. And while the romance does evolve, it really allows the plot to build, and not be sidetracked by angst.

I’d give it to: Anyone who has found themselves questioning what they know of the world, and what it all means.

I’d give it: 4 stars

4 Stars

Reviewed by Anna (Parr Library)


November 20, 2015 by


Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1)
by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Illuminae recipe:

2 parts science fiction
2 parts space explosions
1 part out of control artificial intelligence
1 part hacker
1 part space soldier
2 parts space zombies
1 part romance

Mix all ingredients together in a big, awesome mash of emails, direct messages, transcripts and surveillance footage.
Makes one helping of awesome, epic sci-fi book!

Seriously, chums. Read this one.

Reviewed by: Nina (Haggard library)


November 18, 2015 by


By Suzanne Collins

Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss’s family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding. It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans–except Katniss. The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’s willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels’ Mockingjay–no matter what the personal cost.  (from Goodreads)

Why I picked it up: With The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 opening on Friday, I wanted to re-read the book to make sure I was ready for the movie.

Why I finished it: I loved it just as much as the first time I read it! I picked up on many details that I missed the first time through. For those that haven’t yet read this one, pick it up and find out who Katniss chooses. Will it be Peeta or Gale? Who would you choose?

I’d give it to: Everyone who loves dystopian fiction, and all the Hunger Games fans out there. Even if you’ve read it before, pull your copy out and re-read it before the movie opens.

If you love The Hunger Games, be sure to join us for HungerFest at Schimelpfenig Library on Monday, November 23rd from 12-8 pm for a day long Hunger Games event including a three-movie marathon (PG-13), themed activities, and snacks! (for ages 13-18)

I’d give it: Four Stars!

Reviewed by: Melanie, Parr Library


Mirrored by Alex Finn

November 16, 2015 by


I picked this book up because I am a sucker for fairy tales!  And no surprise here, I also enjoy fairy tales retold.  Some of you may already be familiar with one of Flinn’s earlier books, Beastly, a contemporary retelling of Beauty and the Beast and I was curious to see how Flinn would retell Snow White in a modern setting.

Summary: Celine’s life is the stuff fairy tales are made of. She’s beautiful, talented, and brave. Unfortunately, her tale comes complete with a wicked stepmother! When Violet steps into Celine’s life, everything changes and weird things begin to happen to her. Celine doesn’t feel safe anywhere. It’s almost as if some hateful witch is out to get her.

I would recommend this book to others who, like me, enjoy retellings of fairy tales.  Mirrored is a “good” read but not a “great” one.  I have looked at to see what the consensus is there and discovered that it is very mixed. I would enjoy hearing back from other readers and seeing what they think of Mirrored.



November 11, 2015 by

OneTitle: One

Author: Sarah Crossan

Grace and Tippi are sixteen-year-old twins conjoined at the hip. They have two heads, two hearts, four arms, and two legs. When they transition from being homeschooled to attending a private school many of the students stare and make fun of them. However, their two new friends, Yasmeen and Jon, help them feel comfortable and accepted. Tippi and Grace enjoy feeling like regular teens for a while. They hang out and have fun with their new friends. Unfortunately their lives are also filled with many problems. Their father has a drinking problem, their mother loses her job and money is tight. The girls agree to be videotaped as part of a reality TV series to bring in some much needed money. During this time, a health crisis has the family considering separation surgery for the first time.

This novel, told in verse from Grace’s point of view, is a moving story that explores a health condition not commonly covered in literature.

Why I picked it up: I read a review about this book and immediately put it on hold. I was intrigued by a story about conjoined twins. I had never read a book on that subject before.

Why I finished it: I came to love the characters of Grace and Tippi. I felt their pain as they were treated as outcasts at school and I shared in their happiness when they made two new friends at school. I was also very worried about what would happen when one of them became ill.

I’d give it to: This is a great story for anyone who wants to see life from a different perspective.

Star Rating:   Four stars

Reviewer: Renee (Parr Library)



Egg & Spoon

November 6, 2015 by

egg and spoonEgg & Spoon

by Gregory Maguire

Elena Rudina lives in a village – well more of a settlement – nestled in the Russian forests. This community is left starving and without men or children after a series of tragic events. Elena only has her dying mother, an old veterinarian and now human doctor, and a superstitious grandma-like figure. Suddenly a train carrying a noble family comes through the town and has to make an unscheduled stop in the area to repair a dangerously bridge. Hoping to get some food for her family, Elena meets Ekaterina and that is when the adventure starts.

Maguire weaves a delightful tale with wonderful descriptive imagery and intrigue. Oh, and the wonderful witch, Baba Yaga, makes an appearance! This is a great tale for anyone looking for a fairy tale-like story set in another land. For similar stories check out:

West of the Moon by Margi Preus

Baba Yaga’s Assistant by Marika McCoola (graphic novel)

I, Coriander by Sally Gardner

Far, Far Away by Tom McNeal

Life Unaware

November 4, 2015 by

by Cole Gibson

You have achieved what your mother always wanted for you in high school, popularity.  You are a cheerleader, on student council and a straight A student.  Meet  Regan Flay whose mother has even shown her how to manipulate those around her to make sure she stays on top.   It was quite a life for Regan until she fell off her popularity perch.  The emails she was sending to all her friends were suddenly exposed to the entire student body.  Regan was harassed, bullied and quickly learned  she had no friends she could call on.  Learning what it felt like to be on the outside was a real wake up call for Regan but it also gave her an opportunity to look within herself.  She reached out to those who she had once ridiculed and discovered what a friendship was all about.

Social media is everywhere these days and do we realize just how little privacy we have?  How easy is it for someone to expose our little secrets.  Cole Gibson’s book, Life Unaware, is a perfect example of just how unaware we are in the lives we live today.

Why I picked it up?  The inside flap of the book intrigued me.

I would give it to:  Teens, a good book for them to read and realize how little privacy we all have in our daily lives.

I would give it:  4 stars  

4 stars


November 2, 2015 by

Title: Monster

Author/Artist: Walter Dean Myers

Why I picked it up: Since this book was on the reading list, I knew it would be important for me to read. The title and cover intrigued me, for it portrays a young male facing the reader, and on the back, it shows the side of his face with a series of numbers beneath it, as if he was being photographed for records. Is he the monster?

Why I finished it: The style in which it was written was unique. The protagonist, Steve Harmon, writes in his journal; however, he is also imagining if it would be a movie, so he writes out the various details, such as when to have a close-up of a certain character or when to focus on someone doing a small action. The storyline was fascinating. Steve is accused for helping commit a murder. “Monster” is used to describe him by the prosecutor. Is he really a monster who helped commit the murder? Is he guilty of the crime, or was he really at the wrong place at the wrong time?

I’d give it to: I’d give it to those who enjoy reading about court cases and justice.

Star rating: 4stars

Reviewer: Derex (Plano teen)

I Crawl Through It

October 30, 2015 by

asking-icrawlthroughitI Crawl Through It

by A.S. King

Four talented teenagers are traumatized-coping with grief, surviving trauma, facing the anxiety of standardized tests and the neglect of self-absorbed adults—and they’ll do anything to escape the pressure. They’ll even build an invisible helicopter, to fly far away to a place where everyone will understand them… until they learn the only way to escape reality is to fly right into it.

This is not an easy book. It’s strange and surreal, and you might not always know exactly what is going on, but it’s also brave, and beautiful and deals with issues that pretty much all teens can relate to, and in a way that is surprising and totally satisfying.

If you’ve read King’s Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future, this book feels like it takes things a step (or five) further, and A.S. King is also a great choice for those looking for something similar to Andrew Smith‘s work–thoughtful, challenging, weird, and so, so good!

I can guarantee you won’t have read anything else quite like it!

Happy reading!

Lara (Haggard Library)