BOOK REVIEW: The Hired Girl – by Laura Amy Schlitz

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Title: The Hired Girl
Author: Laura Amy Schlitz
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Religion
First published: September 8th 2015
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Finished reading: July 23rd 2016
Pages: 400
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“But I think the most important thing those books gave me was a kind of faith. My books promised me that life wasn’t just made up of workaday tasks and prosaic things. The world is bigger and more colorful and more important than that.”

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The Hired Girl was my latest TBR jar choice and quite a fortunate pick, since I already planned to read it for the When Are You Reading? Challenge anyway because of its historical 1910s setting. I normally really enjoy reading historical fiction, but unfortunately I wasn’t impressed by this story by Laura Amy Schlitz. Most people seem to love The Hired Girl though, so I guess this will be yet another unpopular opinion review… First things first, I can’t deny the historical setting is well executed and I liked that the prose matched the era. The descriptions and prose in general show that the author has investigated the era thoroughly and used the terms appropriate for the 1910s. This was probably the strongest feature of The Hired Girl, because the rest didn’t manage to convince me. While the first part is interesting enough (even though the first chapters are a bit dull) and the descriptions are great, the story takes a strong religious turn later on. I don’t mind religion in a story as long as it doesn’t have a strong presence, but in The Hired Girl it was just too much for me to enjoy. The fact that I didn’t like the main character in general didn’t really help either. I know a lot of people seem to love Joan, but she was too naive and later on even whiny for me to grow closer to her despite her love for books. During most of the book this unlikeable character still wasn’t too much of a problem, mostly because of the interesting historical setting. Unfortunately the last part of this story was full of strongly religious dialogue and cheesy romance; ending up ruining the reading experience for me. I know I’m in the minority for not enjoying The Hired Girl though, so you might enjoy this historical fiction story a lot better than I did.

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After her father decided that his fourteen-year-old daughter Joan can attend school no longer because she is needed at home, Joan has no longer an escape from the hard work at Steeple Farm. Her mother died years ago and her father and brothers don’t exactly treat her well; the dreams of her mother (and Joan herself) for her to become a teacher seem to have evaporated. How will she ever escape the neverending and dull work at the farm? Miss Chandler used to be a teacher and gave her a diary, telling her she should write to practice. Joan pours her heart out into the diary and decided to seek a new and better life for herself despite better judgement. Maybe escaping the farm, traveling to the city and working as a hired girl cleaning and cooking for a family will finally help her improve her chances of a better future?

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The historical setting and well researched descriptions and prose are without doubt the best feature of The Hired Girl. I especially liked the Rosenbachs and what they added to the story; the descriptions of their household were really intriguing. I can’t say I liked the main character Joan though. I understand she is still really young, but instead of endearing I found Joan mostly annoying, naive and even whiny at points. And then I’m not even talking about the romantic blabbering and strongly religious dialogue in the last part… I really wanted to enjoy The Hired Girl, but this novel just wasn’t for me.

WWW Wednesdays #101 – July 27th

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WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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I’ve only just started When We Collided by Emery Lord, but I have heard so many great things about it that I can’t wait to continue reading! I won’t be having a lot of spare time this week, but hopefully I will be able to finish it before the weekend.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* The first book I was able to finally finish was The Neverland Wars by Audrey Greathouse. I can’t say I really enjoyed it. The first part was quite slow and I had problems with the prose. I also wish the story would have focused on the war itself… The Neverland descriptions were really entertaining to read though.
* I then read the Dorothy Must Die novella Ruler Of Beasts by Danielle Paige. This one was probably one of my favorite novellas of the bunch… Mostly because Ozma played a big role in the story and a new interesting character (the Nome King) was introduced.
* Next up was The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel, which made it to my list of favorite 2016 reads. Such a powerful and well written story! I can definitely recommend this one.
* I then finally finished The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz, a book I didn’t enjoy as much as I thought I would. I normally love historical fiction, but I didn’t like the main character Joan and there was too much ‘strong’ religious dialogue and cheesy romance in the last part of the story.
* Next up was the supershort, but action-packed story Environmentally Friendly by Elias Zanbaka. Without doubt an interesting and fast-paced read!
* I then read Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry for free at Riveted. Check out the website if you haven’t already; each two weeks or so they offer four new free titles to read online! (This one is available until August 1st). Rot & Ruin turned out to be a very good read, which I’m still surprised about because I normally don’t really like stories with zombies… But it’s well written and I like that there’s almost no romance (at least in the first book).
* The last book I finished is The Fire Child by S.K. Tremayne, which turned out to be even better than her first novel. Well written prose, great descriptions that set a spooky atmosphere and many many plot twists… Recommended!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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I will probably read my last pending ARC first: the Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection by Barbara Venkataraman. It definitely sounds like an entertaining read! I also want to read The Bird And The Sword by Amy Harmon, but I might try Thunderlight by Adrienne Woods first. I really enjoyed the first book and since I’m in the mood for a dragon story this one sounds like a great choice. Secret Letters by Leah Scheier is still my newest TBR jar pick.

WWW Wednesdays #100 – July 20th

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100TH WWW MEME CELEBRATION EDITION!!!

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WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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I’m currently reading The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel and it is turning out to be an interesting read. I’m glad the reviews I’ve seen so far convinced me to get a copy of this book! I’ve also finally started my last TBR jar pick The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz, which is ok enough so far, although I do hope the plot will get a little more interesting in the future. I still have to finish The Neverland Wars by Audrey Greathouse as well… I actually thought about DNFing it because I am really struggling with it, but since I already made it this far I will just finish it.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* The first book I finished since last week is Wanderlost by Jen Malone, which turned out to be a quick, fluffy and entertaining summer read. Not perfect and in a way a bit cliche, but I loved the road trip details!
* I then finished The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey; probably one of the first stories with zombies I absolutely loved. I still can’t believe it took me this long to pick up this book! Well written, excellent worldbuilding and Melanie is probably one of my newest favorite characters.
* I also finally continued The Stepmother by Claire Seeber, but unfortunately I wasn’t completely convinced by it. I liked the fact that  it reversed the roles of the typical ‘evil stepmother’ plot, but the pace is quite slow and I REALLY disliked the main character.
* The last book I finished is The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne, which turned out to be a well written, spooky read with great descriptions. The plot was a bit uneventful, but it is without doubt a great read.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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Depending on what genre I’m in the mood for, I will read When We Collided by Emery Lord. I might read The Fire Child by S.K. Tremayne first though; especially since I really enjoyed her other novel. Talon by Julie Kagawa is most likely my next fantasy read; I have been wanting to read another dragon story for too long now! Secret Letters by Leah Scheier is another Sherlock Holmes retelling and my newest TBR jar pick.

WWW Wednesdays #99 – July 13th

wwwwednesdaysWWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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I’m currently reading Wanderlost by Jen Malone, which is turning out to be a quick and entertaining road trip story from what I can see so far. I’ve also started reading The Neverland Wars by Audrey Greathouse because I was in the mood for a Peter Pan retelling, but I can’t say I’m enjoying it. The tone and prose don’t seem to fit the theme at all and I’m struggling to continue this one… Same goes for The Stepmother by Claire Seeber: I started reading it last week, but I couldn’t get into the story and decided to keep it temporarily on hold and read a few other titles instead.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* The first book I finished since last week is My Girl by Jack Jordan, which is probably one of the most twisted and disturbing thrillers I’ve read so far this year. If you are into the genre, definitely make sure to check out this book!
* I then finished Out Of The Easy by Ruta Sepetys, which is without doubt my new favorite of this author. The setting, prose and character development are excellent and I really felt like I was right there in the 1950s along with the characters.
* I also read The Night Stalker by Robert Bryndza, which by no means suffers from the ‘weak-second-book’ syndrome. It’s fast-paced, well written and has an intriguing plot and plot twists. It’s without doubt a very entertaining read!
* I then read The Straw King by Danielle Paige. This novella was surprisingly good compared to the last few previous stories, but I still wasn’t overwhelmed by it.
* I’ve also been able to finish Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon, a title that was on my 2015 most-antipated-releases list. I enjoyed reading it and I admit it was a ‘cute’ read, but I did have some problems with the credibility of the plot. I mean, if the main character is really that sick, doing what she did is incredibly stupid.
* The last book I managed to finish is The Sister by Louise Jensen, which I ended up really enjoying. It’s dark, messed with your mind and has many plot twists… The story jumps back and forth between the past and present and there are quite a few unreliable characters, but it only added to the whole mystery around Grace and Charlie.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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Depending on what genre I’m in the mood for, I will read When We Collided by Emery Lord. Although I really want to read The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne as well, both because I’ve heard great things about it and because I want to The Fire Child by the same author. If I want something different, The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey is also high on my list… And my latest TBR jar pick is still The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz. (Which I should read soon since it’s been too long since I last read a TBR jar book.)

WWW Wednesdays #98 – July 6th

wwwwednesdaysWWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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I’m currently reading one of my pending Netgalley reads: My Girl by Jack Jordan. It’s still too early to tell what I will think of it, but it looks like it’s a fast read. I have also finally started Out Of The Easy by Ruta Sepetys; a book I have been wanted to read for a while and it is a nice change of scenery after all those mystery/thriller reads. So far I’m really enjoying it! I also want to continue Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain, but I might read another pending Netgalley mystery/thriller or two before that.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* After a few disappointing reads last week, All The Missing Girls by Megan Miranda definitely made up for it all. This book is without doubt one of the best mystery/thriller reads I’ve read this year and on my favorites list!
* I then finished Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate, which was quite good, although the many different POVs did make this read a little more difficult to read and less entertaining. Also, I liked some of the characters and prose better than others and I would have liked to see the whole seven sins theme playing a bigger role in the book.
* Last To Die by Arlene Hunt started off slow, but completely recovered with an explosive ending that definitely made this read worth reading! If you like twisted, creepy and intense reads, this one is definitely for you.
* I also read As Red As Blood by Salla Simukka on a whim after thinking about possibly seeing one of my Finnish friends again this summer (who lived in Tampere as well). I really liked the beginning of this read and the setting, but the whole plot and main character was a bit fantastical for a mystery/thriller read and it wasn’t as good as I hoped.
* I’ve also been able to finish Cascadia by H.W. “Buzz” Bernard yesterday evening. I ended up really enjoying this suspense/natural disaster/science story, definitely worth reading! More in the upcoming review…

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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As soon as I finish at least one of my current reads, I will most likely start reading The Night Stalker by Robert Bryndza. I really enjoyed the first book, so I was so glad Netgalley approved my request for the sequel! 😀 I also want to read Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon, a book that has been on my TBR pile for way too long now and really want to read. The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne is high on my list as well, both because I’ve heard great things about it and I was able to get a Netgalley copy of the just published The Fire Child by the same author and I want to read the other book first. My latest TBR jar pick is still The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz. (Which I should read soon since it’s been too long since I last read a TBR jar book.)

WWW Wednesdays #97 – June 29th

wwwwednesdaysWWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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I have actually almost finished All The Missing Girls by Megan Miranda already and will do so after finishing this post, but technically I’m still currently reading this… This book is without doubt one of the best mystery/thriller books I’ve read so far this year and a must-read for fans of the genre! I’m also in the middle of Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate, which I picked up on a whim and I’m enjoying so far despite a few flaws. I haven’t made much progress with Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain due to the Netgalley books, but I’m continuing it as soon as I finish the other two current reads! And I’ve decided to put all fantasy reads on hold until I’m in the mood for the genre again…

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* I already knew Hitman Anders And The Meaning Of It All probably wasn’t going to be as good as Jonas Jonasson‘s other book The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared, but that doesn’t take away the fact that I was REALLY disappointed by this read. It was boring, had flat characters, wasn’t funny, it took me ages to finish and I actually thought of DNFing it at one point. More details in the review that will be published later today.
* I also read We Awaken by Calista Lynne, which unfortunately turned out to be another disappointing read. I loved the cover, the blurb and the fact that it talks about asexuality, but the rest of the book just didn’t convince me. It was a fast read, but that didn’t make up for the flaws. More in my review…

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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As soon as I finish my current reads, I will pick up my oldest ARC: Cascadia by H.W. “Buzz” Bernard. It promises to be an adrenaline-filled suspense story about the after effects of extreme natural events (in this case a massive earthquake and tsunami), so I’m definitely looking forward to it. I also still want to read Out Of The Easy by Ruta Sepetys… And the Netgalley ARC Last To Die by Arlene Hunt is also on my list. My newest TBR jar pick is still The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz

WWW Wednesdays #96 – June 22nd

wwwwednesdaysWWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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I know, I know, I have been (shamelessly) posponing A Court Of Mist And Fury by Sarah J. Maas for the last couple of weeks. It’s not that I don’t want to read it, but I haven’t been in the mood for fantasy and the book is quite big in the first place… I did read a few pages yesterday, but I will probably not finish it before the end of the month unless I’m in the mood for fantasy again. Meanwhile I started reading Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain, which is the second book in a thriller/serial killer series and hopefully just as good as the first book.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* I finally managed to finish The Munich Girl by Phyllis Edgerly Ring, a historical fiction read I ended up really enjoying. The story has a fast pace and switches between contemporary scenes and the notes of the main character’s mother. I particularly enjoyed reading the historical section and the fact that the story is about the role of women during WWII (something you don’t see often). The only thing I wasn’t convinced about were the contemporary romance scenes, but the rest of the story makes up for it.
* I picked up The Ex by Alafair Burke afterwards, which had been recommended to me by various bloggers. It turned out to be a really fast-paced and entertaining thriller, although some of the scenes/plot twists might be a bit too farfetched (think Gone Girl or The Girl On The Train vibe). The end came as a surprise though.
* After hearing repeatedly I just HAD to read this book, I decided to read Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum next. And I’m glad I did, because I really loved it! The only thing that was slightly annoying would be the love triangle (rectangle?!) and the idea itself might not be that original either, but I still loved this book anyway. Without doubt a great summer read!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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I still have an ARC pending: Cascadia by H.W. “Buzz” Bernard. It promises to be an adrenaline-filled suspense story about the after effects of extreme natural events (in this case a massive earthquake and tsunami), so I’m definitely looking forward to read it soon. I also want to read Out Of The Easy by Ruta Sepetys, since I really enjoyed her other novel Between Shades Of Gray. Same goes for Hitman Anders And The Meaning Of It All by Jonas Jonasson, although I’ve already learned it’s not as good as The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared… My newest TBR jar pick is still The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz.