Thursday, June 23, 2016

Book Review: The Hired Girl, by Laura Amy Schlitz

The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz book cover and review
Well I love historical fiction, so I loved The Hired Girl.

Joan, who is 14, has had to quit school and work to support her father and brothers on their poor Pennsylvania farm. It's 1911. Joan's mother has died and she is the only one to do the "woman's work" that her brutal father demands. Joan wants nothing more than to go to school and become a teacher. It's what her mother had planned for her too.

Joan devises a plan and using money that her mother hid in her doll, Joan runs away to Baltimore. She is taken in by a Jewish family to be their hired girl. At $6 per week, Joan, who now goes by Janet, feels like she is well on her way to financial independence.  She becomes attached to this family, even though she's never met anyone Jewish before. She works hard and also makes some serious mistakes.

The Hired Girl moves at a slow, methodical pace. It's written in the form of a diary, which adds to the atmosphere. There's a forbidden romance and some tense moments, but mostly the tone is very even. I'm not sure if that's the right word, but suffice it to say that my heart didn't ever pound. I never cried. I was never frightened. It kept my interest, though, and was very entertaining.

The Hired Girl is an ALA Notable Book, and has won the Scott O'Dell award for historical fiction as well as some other awards for Jewish literature. As I find is often the case with award books, I don't think The Hired Girl will be very popular in my library. However, for the historical fiction reader, this one is not to be missed.

Published by Candlewick, 2015
Copy obtained from the library
387 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Monday, June 13, 2016

DNF Book Review: How to Disappear by Ann Redisch Stampler

It's been a record year for me for not finishing books. I know that part of it is me. Less time to read and still a huge TBR pile. But still, there's something about How to Disappear that just didn't click.

Nicolette is on the run. She witnessed (or committed?) a murder. Jack is after her; he's supposed to kill her. Jack is the only upstanding citizen in the Manx family. His brother, Don (who is in prison), says Jack has to kill this girl or else his mob bosses will come after Jack's mother.  So Jack leaves school, missing his graduation, to find and kill Nicolette, who now goes by Cat.

So, what didn't I like? It moved very slowly. I read half the book. It just took so long for anything to happen. It was very repetitive. I got really tired of hearing about how awful Jack's family was over and over. It was predictable. So, Jack and Cat are gonna fall in love, right? You can't think that's a spoiler; we all know it's coming. Now, I didn't finish the book, so I'm sure there's some twists and turns that I wouldn't anticipate, but still. It's jumpy. I was reading the ARC, so this could change. But we jumped periods of time without any warning. No breaks in the text. For example, she's trying to gain weight to disguise herself, and all of a sudden, she's gained weight. The scenes flip suddenly and sometimes periods of time have passed, and it takes a minute to get back in the story.

I could have easily finished How to Disappear. and given it a rating of about three. I got a feel for the book, and I still think many teens will love it. That's my purpose in reading a lot of YA. To recommend it to my teens. And I won't hesitate to recommend How to Disappear. I just don't have the patience to finish it.

Published by  Simon Pulse June 14, 2016
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
200/416 pages

Rating: DNF

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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Book Review: With Malice by Eileen Cook

With Malice by Eileen Cook book cover and review
With Malice reveals an exciting and interesting premise, but the resolution just fizzled.

Jill wakes up in a hospital severely injured, and her first concern is will she still be able to make her planned trip to Italy. She is shocked to find out that her injury occurred in Italy, and that she has lost the memories from the last several weeks of her life.

She also wants to see her lifelong best friend, Simone, and soon finds out that they were both in a car accident. Jill was driving and Simone was killed. Her father had Jill jetted back to the US presumably to receive the best medical care, but also to receive the best legal advice. It seems the Italian authorities think the car crash may not have been an accident.

Jill spends the rest of her time in the hospital and then in rehab trying to figure out what happened. The reader gets police interviews and blog posts from those that were witnesses or those that were close to the girls. While the interviews reveal some details, the truth still isn't clear to the reader.

Jill is convinced there's no way she would have harmed Simone, no matter what they were arguing about. Even if it was about the Italian tour guide that Jill had a huge crush on and Simone tried to steal. But as the truth comes out...

Well, I'm not going to say any more. The ending is ambiguous and the expected twist really didn't materialize. There is an interesting revelation that any savvy reader could have predicted. With Malice  has been compared to We Were Liars but doesn't pack nearly the punch. I didn't experience any attachment to Jill. Maybe I'm not supposed to. I didn't dislike her, but I didn't really feel myself pulling for her.

The writing is easy, and With Malice is a quick read. The story is intriguing, and maybe teens will be more shocked at the revelations than I was.

Published by HMH BFYR, June 7, 2016
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
320 pages

Rating: 3/5

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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Book Review: The Hunt, by Megan Shepherd @megan_shepherd

The Hunt by Megan Shepherd book cover and review
The Hunt is even more exciting than the first book, The Cage.

The characters are all separated in different parts of the colony serving the Kindred in different ways. Cora, Lucky, and Mali are part of a safari attraction where the Kindred come to hunt. They take care of the wild animals and Cora also entertains the guests. Cassian is secretly training Cora to compete in an event called The Gauntlet where, if she survives, she can prove that humans are an intelligent species and they will all be freed.

Things don't go smoothly, of course. I enjoyed The Hunt because we get several different areas in which all of our characters are in danger in different ways. The tension mounts for each of them, and in the end they all come together to try to escape from their captors.

If there's any complaint about The Hunt it would be the characterizations. We get a few different POVs, but besides Cora, I didn't really feel like we got to know the others any better. Well, maybe Leon. All of them contributed, and because of the different settings maybe it was just difficult to connect. This is a very minor complaint though.

The ending is definitely an "out of the frying pan..." situation. There is a pretty brutal cliff hanger, so beware. I'm desperately wanting more....

You will want to read The Cage first, but this is a worthwhile series that I'm going to be recommending to my dystopian/adventure lovers. And I have a lot of those.

Published by Balzer + Bray, May 24, 2016
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
368 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

2016 EBook Reading Challenge - Post Your June Reviews Here

EBook Reading Challenge at Annette's Book Spot
How's everyone doing? Hopefully you are continuing to make progress on your 2016 EBook Reading Challenge. Keep on Reading!

You can sign up for the 2016 EBook Reading Challenge here.

You can see my progress on my 2016 Reading Challenges Page.

Here's a link to the May Reviews Page.

Thanks for participating.

Post your June reviews below:

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