Quick Picks: The Hired Girl

Image Retrieved from Amazon.com

Title:  The Hired Girl

Author:  Laura Amy Schlitz

Characteristics:  Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Class and society, Religion, Diary

For:  Grades 6-10

Fourteen year old Joan Skraggs wants nothing more than to live the dream that her mother and the heroines from her novels inspired in her, to get a good education and become a school teacher.  However once Joan’s mother passes away Joan is left to take on all of the ‘women’s work’ in the house looking after brothers and an uncaring and often cruel father.  The drudgery of housework begins to wear on Joan but she holds out hope for a better future until her father pushes her too far.   Armed with a few possessions and a little money her mother managed to tuck away for her, Joan sets out on her own determined to find paid work and build a better future for herself.  Danger awaits a solitary young woman at the turn of the century who dares strike out on her own.  Will Joan achieve her dreams and be the heroine of her own story or will her daring move to strike out on her own write a tale entirely new?

This book is written as a diary and so can easily appeal to reluctant readers who have the opportunity to read little bits at a time.  Historical fiction is one of my very favorite genres so I was excited to finally have an opportunity to explore this story.  Schlitz incorporates a few historical elements, including social customs, into the story without alienating readers who aren’t as fond of historical fiction as I am.  I was intrigued by the religious discussions that are brought up in the book as I don’t often find them in the novels I read.  Joan hopes to become Catholic but is taken in by a Jewish family.  Both Joan and the family hold very strongly to their respective faiths, but they do take time to try and understand the faith and customs behind each.  The family respects Joan’s religious education and in return Joan respects the religious practices the family observes for their holidays and Sabbath days.

The book also incorporates works of art into the story and displays the pieces in the back of the novel for curious minds.  This was a little extra something that caught my interest!  I give this book 4.5 stars out of 5.


Quick Pick- The Chemist

Image Retrieved from Amazon.com

Title:  The Chemist

Author:  Stephenie Meyer

Characteristics:  Action, Spy, Governement, Romance

For:  Adults

Stephenie Meyer’s newest novel, The Chemist, is an action packed page turner!  Unlike her first book for adults, The Host, which took it’s time in developing the exposition, The Chemist, jumps right into the gripping story of an escaped government laboratory employee on the run for her life.  Alex’s old employer has long wanted her dead but suddenly offers her an out from a life on the run when they appear to need her special services.  Alex takes the offer with a grain of salt, wisely, and soon finds herself on the run with a ‘dangerous’ target that’s falling in love with her and his twin brother who couldn’t hate her more.

Meyer does a fantastic job of weaving together action, romance, and intrigue without seeming too over the top.  I was pleasantly surprised that I couldn’t predict most of what happened and found the new mixed genre and more realistic story line refreshing from Meyer’s tendency to work with fantasy elements.  (I do enjoy Meyer’s vampires and her aliens, but it was interesting to read about her scientists as well!)  While I believe that many adults will enjoy this novel, I think female readers will enjoy it more as it is told from a female protagonist’s point of view.  (Just my humble opinion.)

This is one of my first ‘grown-up’ books in a while.  I found the five hundred page book to be a little daunting at first but quickly made my way through it.  I would give it four out of five stars.

Quick Pick- The Tell-Tale Start

Image Retrieved from Amazon.com

Title:  The Tell-Tale Start (The Misadventures of Edgar & Allan Poe, #1)

Author:  Gordon McAlpine

Illustrator:  Sam Zuppardi

Characteristics:  Mystery, Series Fiction, Spooky/Scary

For:  4-6 graders

Edgar and Allen are the orphaned great great great great grand nephews of the famous Edgar Allen Poe and, like their uncle, their creative minds are interested in all things odd, dark, grim, and spooky. Their love for the peculiar is not all they share however, the boys have a unique trait that their uncle was never able to possess.

Edgar and Allen share a strange cerebral connection through which they are able to share thoughts, experiences, knowledge, and ideas without communicating to one another! This incredible bond has caught the attention of an evil and dastardly scientist, Professor Perry, who plots to kidnap the boys and murder one of them. The Professor hopes that the boys’ special connection won’t be severed even in death and believes this connection will allow him to talk to the dead!

From up above old Uncle Edgar carefully watches the plot unfold as the scientist hatch his evil plans. He works to warn the boys by sending a series of secret messages to the twins on posters, license plates, even through fortune cookie fortunes! Will Uncle Poe’s messages save the day or will they put the boys in harm’s way?

First in the series “The Misadventures of Edgar & Allan Poe”.

This review appeared on the Prince William Public Library system’s Goodreads page as well.  Check out more of my and other great reviews there.

Social Medium: Communicating from the Other Side (Of the Screen)

Picture accessed from:  http://collegian.tccd.edu/?p=6240 Illustration by Eric Rebosio/The Collegian
Picture accessed from: http://collegian.tccd.edu/?p=6240
Illustration by Eric Rebosio/The Collegian

Social media has invaded our world in the form of Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Youtube, Reddit, Snapchat…the list goes on and on. While first designed for a community of individual users, many social media platforms have been embraced by businesses and organizations as an additional way to engage internet users and build a base of online consumers. This holds true for libraries, many of whom now rely on the services to transmit important messages to patrons.

As part of the social media content team in my library system, I am always looking for ways to make my posts more exciting, more interesting…and more widely read. I was given the opportunity last Friday to attend a one day training session on social media and the library. I went into the training with hopes of finding better ways of posting material, discovering the target audiences for different platforms, and of learning how to capture that ever elusive group of non-library users. I wasn’t able to fulfill all of my wishes for the class, but I did learn some tips and tricks which I’ve listed here for quick and easy reading. (I hope!)

(Some of these may seem somewhat straight forward, so you have any successful tips or tricks I would love to hear from you! Please feel free to comment below!)

*Original content posts will only get you so far in the social media world. Social media is all about sharing and connecting, so in order to build a successful and visible page you must share content created by other users. A successful social media page runs on social capital. Each time you ask something of your users you draw from your ‘social resources.’ In order to refund your supply you must share their work, comment, interact, and engage with users!

*Don’t just market materials on your page.  My favorite post I wrote, and the most well received, was an ironic conversation I overheard at the Info desk:

‘Librarian 1:  It is so cold out there!  I couldn’t believe it!
Librarian 2: I know! The weatherman was saying it felt like it was in the teens with the wind chill!
Librarian 1 (To patron): Hello, how can we help you today?
Patron: Could you help me in the lab? My computer is frozen.’

*Many times libraries use social media to advertise their own programming and information about resources. Be sure to give a reason as to ‘why’ that program or resource is important to the person on the other side of the screen. Every. Single. Time. Simply posting something like, “The best books will be discussed tonight at the library! Join us for our Monthly Book Club program at 8:00!” doesn’t tell the person very much at all as to why they would want to journey out at night and is not engaging. Motivate and inspire action with your posts! The ‘why’ is vital!

*A post that has multiple pictures is more likely to attract a wider audience and to get more shares and likes than a post with no pictures or only one image. This is especially true for Facebook users.

*The ‘best times’ for posting to different platforms. (Please note these change on a rather frequent basis.)

Facebook: Weekdays 6-8 am and 2-5pm.
Pinterest: Weekdays 2-4 pm and weekends.
Blogs: Morning posts get more views.
Instagram: 7-9 am, 11-2 pm, 5-7 pm.

Sharing on social platforms is currently at its highest levels on Thursdays…for whatever reason!

*Always respond as quickly as possible. 24 hours is the absolute longest a comment should go without a response.

*Be aware of what your competition is doing. (And know that everyone has competition) Follow them! 🙂

*Be creative with your posts…your audience will thank you. Don’t be so afraid of mistakes that your posts are always strictly factual.

I hope I have been able to share something new here with you. I would really like to hear your thoughts, ideas, suggestions, and social media successes! After all, social media is all about sharing and community! 🙂

Want to Know a Secret?

Hello and welcome to my newest blog, ‘Secrets of the Stacks!’

I have started this blog as a place to collect everything ‘library’ in my life. I have been a librarian for just over six years and in that time I have collected an extensive amount of resources, written many book reviews, and have many many tales to tell!

I hope that, through this blog, I’m able to share some of what I have learned and some of the resources I’ve created for other librarian bloggers (and I know there are quite a few of us out there!). I hope to post book reviews, start conversations about books, post resources for programs, and much more.

Most importantly, I hope to reach readers who may visit the library once or twice a month, or every so often, or maybe haven’t been in ages. I hope to capture your attention and let you in on a little secret…that the library isn’t always what it seems…

I hope you’ll join me!