Books I've Read

Book Review: Crown of Midnight

Crown of MidnightTitleCrown of Midnight

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Genre: YA Fantasy

SeriesThrone of Glass #2

Edition: Kindle e-book

Blurb: “A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.

It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend.”

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie… and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

Review: Slight spoilers for book one, because it’s hard to avoid them at this point.

I love when reading the first book of the series and thinking that the story showed promise, and then reading the second book and being extremely satisfied. This was a great book two! It followed up on the events of book one (particularly the tournament in which Celaena becomes the King’s Champion) and added whole new levels of excitement and intrigue.

Celaena is such a great heroine. She is feisty, doesn’t take crap from anyone, but is still deeply, deeply flawed. And she knows it. The final reveal at the end of the book was not necessarily a surprise (I had my suspicions), but it was still so satisfying to see the evil powers confronted the way that they were. I won’t say more, or else I’ll really spoil things. It was a great finale for the second book, but things are definitely not tied up neatly. So much is happening, threatening Celaena’s relationships/friendships with both Dorian and Chaol, and testing Chaol’s loyalty and Dorian’s sanity.

And yes, there is a love triangle a bit, which can sometimes annoy me, but this one was done nicely. It didn’t bother me.

This book was hard to put down. I had to know the next steps. Has Celaena turned loyal to the king? Or is she playing her own game? What is going on with the magic in Adarlan? Who are these rebels? All things we need to know!

GoodReads rating: 4 stars

Books I've Read

Revisiting Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

I didn’t post a WWW yesterday because I have A). been stressed, B). been going through some personal issues, which has led to, C). the beginnings of a reading slump, which means that, D). there are no changes to what I am reading at the moment. Working through it though, as much as I can.

Sorcerer's StoneThis is not a review in the traditional sense. Most of my reviews rely heavily on what my first impressions are. With a book series like Harry Potter, which has been in my life for a long time and has impacted my life in many significant ways, there is no way that I can be impartial about reviewing them. I logically know that they are not perfect works, that there are plenty of flaws that people love to pick apart, but I will always revere these books and what they did, not just for me, but for their impact culturally towards the way we see fandom and how they invigorated the book world as a whole.

I was one of those readers who saw the movie first. I had seen all kinds of advertisements and interviews and hype for the film, but I didn’t really know much about it. I had heard the name, but wrote it off as just some kids book – probably good, if it was getting this much attention, but nothing I would probably pick up and read. My then-husband and I went to the theater to see another movie (I don’t even remember what it was now), but it was sold out. A showing of Sorcerer’s Stone was getting ready to start and still had seats, so we went ahead and purchased tickets, figuring that it was probably just a silly kiddie flick, but at least it would be fun.

Afterwards, we immediately left for the Barnes & Noble down the street and bought a copy of the book. We agreed that I would read it first, because I am a much faster reader than he is. It took me less than a day. I almost read it in one sitting. I was completely transported into the story and the world. I loved the characters, even more than I did in the movie. It was, in many ways, a truly magical experience (pun intended).

Discovering Harry Potter also happened during a time in my life when I desperately needed something to make me happy. The movie came out in November 2001. 2001 was a shitty year. We were all still coping with the after effects of 9/11, but for me, hating 2001 is personal. I had lost my father in February 2001 (hence some of the personal issues I mentioned – this is a rough time of year). Still reeling from that, I allowed myself to get completely lost in the Wizarding world. It was my escape from dealing with the emotions I couldn’t handle (The Lord of the Rings films also helped in a similar fashion, as Fellowship came out that December). Part of me connects both of these franchises to my dad, both because of the time they first came out, and also because I think he would have absolutely LOVED them.

Hence why it is hard for me to be impartial to Harry Potter.

So is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone a silly kids’ book? In some ways, yes.

Is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone way more than just a silly kids’ book? Also yes. It’s so much more than that, to me, and always will be. It helped me find joy at a time where joy was hard to come by and kick-started my reading again, which had gone stagnant. For both of those things, I will always be grateful.

Books I've Read

Book Review: Throne of Glass

throne of glassTitle: Throne of Glass

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: Throne of Glass #1

Edition: Ebook

Blurb: After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her … but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead … quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Review: I picked up this book after being emphatically told that I must read this series by my very dear friend and former podcast co-host, Jess. Actually, what she said was more along the lines of, “I need you to read these books right now because I really really really need to talk to someone about them before I lose my mind!!!” She has done this to me before, and usually, she recommends good stuff. Our reading tastes are very similar, which is why we get along. I also noticed that, back in 2016, I had read this book and gave it a 4 star review on GoodReads, but never read the rest of the series. This makes it eligible for my “Complete the Series” challenge, an added bonus.

I have to say, I read this book very quickly. I was immediately pulled into this world and these characters. Maas is very good at making the story seem simple at first, but leaving little hints of the depth of the world behind it all. It is very easy to be captivated by Celaena’s story and struggles to win the competition, but it is also very clear that there are deeper mysteries that she will need to contend with.

I really liked Celaena as a character. She is feisty, sarcastic, and does not take any crap. While the love triangle thing is played to death, especially in YA, I also really like the two men who in her orbit. Dorian is the son of a terrible, cruel king, but Dorian does not want to be like his father. He is kind and compassionate and will hopefully survive to become a benevolent ruler. Chaol is the captain of the guard, keeping his feelings close to his chest, but you can also tell that his grudging respect for Celaena will grow into something more.

The plot and pacing of the story was good, very exciting. The competition aspect was good, but adding the whole intrigue layer with champions being attacked and killed just upped the ante. The final battle, both of the competition and of the book itself, we both satisfying and open enough to make you want more.

GoodReads rating: 4 stars, but probably more like 4 1/2

Books I've Read

Book Review: Crow Flight by Susan Cunningham

crowflightTitle: Crow Flight

Author: Susan Cunningham

Genre: YA Contemporary/Mystery

Series: none

Edition: ebook ARC from NetGalley

Blurb: Gin trusts logic a little too much. She even designs programs to decide what to eat and how to spend her time. All that changes when she’s paired with a new transfer student, Felix, on a computer modeling assignment to explain certain anomalies in the behavior of crows.

As she enters Felix’s world and digs further into the data behind crow behavior, Gin uncovers a terrible secret. And the wrong decision could equal disaster squared . . .

Review: Another review for NetGalley, and it was a very pleasant surprise! I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would. Not that I had a bad expection, but I had no expectations at all.

Let’s start with our main character, Gin. I absolutely loved her. More stories about nerd girls, please! I could relate to her on a level that I did not expect. She loves computers and making these models and apps to help her with her life. She is awkward and has trouble making friends at school, but she is also very confident and knows who she is. She doesn’t expect to find her self-worth through other people. Her goal is to get a very prestigious internship and then go to Harvard.

She doesn’t quite know what to do with Felix, and for most of the story, I didn’t either. He was a big part of the mystery, even though he seems like mostly a normal, nice guy. A big part of this story was trying to figure out what was going on with him and, of course, with his family’s pet crows. In the beginning, their behavior seems almost magical (to the point that I almost thought this had fantastical elements at one point, but it doesn’t – they weren’t actually “talking” to the crows, they are just very well trained).

The story itself did drag in some places, but it also really kept me invested. I didn’t want to put it down. I was a bit disappointed in the ending, as I was expecting more of a final confrontation, but if there was one, it happened offstage somewhere. It was a satisfying ending, I just wish we had seen it more on the page, especially since so much time was spent leading up to it.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book. It was interesting and fun to read with some really good characters.

GoodReads rating: 4 stars

Books I've Read

Book Review: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

an absolutely remarkable thingTitleAn Absolutely Remarkable Thing

Author: Hank Green

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: This is the only book so far, but GoodReads shows a book two is planned.

Edition: Hardcover, pre-ordered as soon as I heard about it

Blurb: The Carls just appeared. Coming home from work at three a.m., twenty-three-year-old April May stumbles across a giant sculpture. Delighted by its appearance and craftsmanship–like a ten-foot-tall Transformer wearing a suit of samurai armor–April and her friend Andy make a video with it, which Andy uploads to YouTube. The next day April wakes up to a viral video and a new life. News quickly spreads that there are Carls in dozens of cities around the world–everywhere from Beijing to Buenos Aires–and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the center of an intense international media spotlight.

Now April has to deal with the pressure on her relationships, her identity, and her safety that this new position brings, all while being on the front lines of the quest to find out not just what the Carls are, but what they want from us.

Review: First, a disclaimer. I was a huge fan of both Hank and John Green since I found their Vlogbrothers channel on YouTube. I liked their funny videos that made me laugh, their serious videos that made me cry, and everything in between. This drew me in to reading John’s books, which I absolutely loved. So when I heard Hank was also writing a book, I knew I would buy it immediately and that I would love it too, no matter what.

What I’m saying is, I am not the most unbiased reviewer where the Green brothers are concerned.

That said, I thought this book was really, really well done. First off, the Carls are just plain cool. Giant metal beings that just appear across the globe, they are both fascinating and slightly sinister at the same time. You never know exactly what they are or where they came from (until the end, sort of – this book is screaming for a sequel). I don’t want to spoil too much, but there was one instance where something April and her friends did caused the hand to fall off of the Carl in New York. The statues are completely still, but the hand falls off and skitters away AND NO ONE CAN FIND IT. It ran into a restaurant or a club, but then just seemed to disappear. The weirdest bit – the hands on all the other Carls across the world vanished at the same time.

So that’s the gimmick. Let’s talk about our main character. April is very relatable. She had big hopes and plans, but is stuck working in a dead end job she hates. She finds this amazing thing, makes a video that goes viral, and has her entire life upended. She is now a media sensation, the target of both adoration and hatred. We watch her personality change, how she suddenly becomes obsessed with the numbers of hits and followers, of trying to stay relevant in a growing number of people talking about the phenomenon. It does go to her head, and one thing that I liked was that Hank was not afraid to make April a little bit unlikable during part of this time. She becomes very selfish, and that takes its toll on her relationships and friendships.

It made me wonder if this was something that Hank (and John) had to deal with once they started getting some acclaim as YouTubers (it really took off after Hank made a video of a song he wrote anticipating Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows –  wow, that was a long time ago). If so, it never showed on the outside, but that’s kind of the point. April tries to present herself in a very positive light, no matter what is happening on the inside, so that none of her followers ever really see the real April. What I really liked about this book was how it not only covered the fantastical story about the Carls, but also showed the very real issues of dealing with social media and Internet celebrity culture.

This book is a very unusual book, but I enjoyed it very, very much.

GoodReads Rating: 5 stars

Books I've Read

Book Review: Terrestrial Magic

terrestrial magicTitle: Terrestrial Magic

Author: Marina Ermakova

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Post-Apocalyptic?

Series: currently standalone, but definite series potential

Edition: E-book ARC from NetGalley

Blurb: Most sensible people avoid fire-breathing carnivores that prey on humans. But Jordan has built a career out of studying such legendary animals, creatures thought mythological until their reemergence in the world three decades ago. She and researchers like her believe that knowledge is the key to reclaiming the land they’d lost back then, when humanity retreated into designated safety zones.

But when the humans moved out, the legends moved in. They were the descendants of mythical heroes, inheriting the powers of their ancestors, and they weren’t afraid of the monsters. Jordan never expected to run into a legend, but when a field expedition turns into a trap for her team, she realizes that one deliberately tried to kill her. It’s a diplomatic nightmare the Roman authorities might happily sweep under the rug. But if Jordan doesn’t figure out who attacked her and why, they could try again. Yet even if she does solve the mystery, what could one stubborn scientist possibly do to stop a powerful legend?

Review: (Disclaimer – I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)

My first ARC from NetGalley, and it was such a fun read! I really enjoyed the setting (in and around Rome) and the new mythology surrounding it. Usually post-apocalyptic stories have their basis in sci-fi – something technological goes wrong – so having a fantastical apocalypse is actually pretty original. Which is impressive. You don’t see that many original ideas anymore. It was also nice to see the mix of the fantasy and the science, as Jordan and her team are scientists studying these creatures. Also a cool concept.

I enjoyed the “legendary animals” that have made their come back, although we don’t get to spend as much time with them as I would like. In the beginning of the book, we see them deal with a basilisk and a chimera, and later we get to see a pegasus, but other than that, we don’t see them much. I thought there would have been a bit more than that. I also wasn’t a fan of the term used for these creatures – “legimals.” I don’t, as a rule, like when people make these kinds of contractions, but this one just felt a bit too cutsey.

We do get to spend a fair amount of time meeting and talking about the legends, descendants and heirs (of a sort) to the legends of the area, like Remus, Hercules, and Aeneas to name a few. These people have powers of their original hero (for example, the people of the House of Hercules are unnaturally strong) and have taken over part of the world. There is a very tenuous truce between the legends and the regular humans, and this book is about the attempt at blowing that truce apart. The legends are also very interesting and it was cool how it all tied back into the ancient mythology that has magically come back to life in a way.

This book has a great hook at the beginning and a good, adventurous pace throughout. Jordan and her team of scientists are a really good bunch that have a good camaraderie, but also have some secrets. This book does not list itself as part of a series, and the author has only written one other book that does not look related to this one, but I definitely see series potential. The story was tied together at the end, but there were still plenty of questions that were left open, just in case. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading urban fantasy and enjoys a new take on mythology. This book is out TODAY – happy book birthday! – so get a copy and enjoy.

GoodReads Rating: 4 stars.

Books I've Read

Book Review: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened

let's pretend this never happenedTitleLet’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir

Author: Jenny Lawson

Genre: Autobiography/Memoir

Series: none

Edition: Hardcover, borrowed from a friend

Blurb: For fans of Tina Fey and David Sedaris—Internet star Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, makes her literary debut.

Jenny Lawson realized that the most mortifying moments of our lives—the ones we’d like to pretend never happened—are in fact the ones that define us. In the #1 New York Times bestseller, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson takes readers on a hilarious journey recalling her bizarre upbringing in rural Texas, her devastatingly awkward high school years, and her relationship with her long-suffering husband, Victor. Chapters include: “Stanley the Magical, Talking Squirrel”; “A Series of Angry Post-It Notes to My Husband”; “My Vagina Is Fine. Thanks for Asking”; “And Then I Snuck a Dead Cuban Alligator on an Airplane.” Pictures with captions (no one would believe these things without proof) accompany the text.

Review: Ugh, you guys. I cannot love Jenny Lawson more.

My friend had loaned me Furiously Happy a while back at a time when I really, really needed it. I was going through some difficult mental health issues, as were some family members, and reading Jenny’s writing really helped (you can see my review here). I’ve noticed on several people’s lists recently that they have also found Furiously Happy and enjoyed it, but I haven’t seen as many folks mention Jenny’s first book, which is just as good.

This one delves a bit more into Jenny’s childhood – not that her second book didn’t, but this one had a bit more stories about her parents, her sister and growing up in a very, very weird household. Of course, there are also stories about Victor, particularly about when they first met and got married. All delivered with Jenny’s unique voice and outlook on life in general, which is awesome.

If you haven’t read this one, you should definitely check it out, especially if you already read Furiously Happy. Of the two, I probably enjoyed Furiously more, but Let’s Pretend is also excellent. You should also follow Jenny on The Bloggess, just because.

GoodReads Rating: 5 stars

Books I've Read

Book Review: Anger is a Gift

Anger is a GiftTitleAnger is a Gift

Author: Mark Oshiro

Series: none – standalone novel

Edition: Hardcover that I preordered as soon as I heard about it

Blurb: A story of resilience and loss, love and family, Mark Oshiro’s Anger is a Gift testifies to the vulnerability and strength of a community living within a system of oppression.

Six years ago, Moss Jefferies’ father was murdered by an Oakland police officer. Along with losing a parent, the media’s vilification of his father and lack of accountability has left Moss with near crippling panic attacks.

Now, in his sophomore year of high school, Moss and his fellow classmates find themselves increasingly treated like criminals by their own school. New rules. Random locker searches. Constant intimidation and Oakland Police Department stationed in their halls. Despite their youth, the students decide to organize and push back against the administration.

When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift.

Review: Y’all. This book. I just can’t.

Let me back up. I first discovered Mark Oshiro probably in 2008. He was writing a blog for Buzznet at first, but then branched out on his own, writing daily posts where he reviewed books a chapter each day, usually popular books that he had never read. He started with the Twilight series (oh, how he hated those) and his reviews were hilarious. Then he reviewed Harry Potter, expecting it to be boring kiddie books, and it changed his life. After that, he started his own website, Mark Reads, and has reviewed tons of books this way. His posts are funny, insightful, at times heartbreaking, and always unprepared for the next plot twist.

So of course, when I saw that he was writing a novel of his own, I had to get it. When I saw the title and heard what it was about, I knew that this wouldn’t just be cute and adorable. This would be serious. This would be tragically timely. I was both excited and terrified to get started.

You will absolutely love Moss and his friends. They are sweet, wonderful kids who are beautifully written, facing issues that kids that age shouldn’t have to face. In short, they grow up way too quickly, especially Moss ever since the death of his father. At times, the plot points felt way dramatic and over the top, except that I know for a fact that this stuff happens all the time. And that made it, at times, very hard to read, but also very important to read.

Mark is bearing witness to issues that affect many different underprivileged communities and people of color. In the book, Moss has a friend who was adopted and goes to the “rich school” and it is important to see how she doesn’t quite understand the struggles that Moss and his friends deal with at his school. She is sympathetic and wants to help, but she doesn’t understand. She doesn’t get it. This is so relevant right now, it almost hurts. Many people, me included, have never had to deal with these struggles – racism, classism, other-isms – and while we are sympathetic, we will never fully relate to these experiences. It is important to recognize that, especially since it can make people unintentionally insensitive to certain situations.

I think this is a book that should be read by everyone, especially high school students. It will probably end up being challenged or banned by people who don’t read it and think, just by the title, that it promotes anger and violence (which it absolutely does NOT do). That just means that it should be read more. Everywhere. This book will lift you up, break your heart, and the last sentence will bring you to tears. Read it.

Books I've Read

Book Review: My So-Called Afterlife

** WARNING – MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD **

Honestly, there’s no way to review this otherwise, so read at your own risk.

18 ThingsTitle(s): 18 Things, 18 Truths, and 18 Thoughts

Author: Jamie Ayres

Series: My So-Called Afterlife trilogy

Edition: Kindle e-books

Blurb (1st book only): Olga Gay Worontzoff thinks her biggest problems are an awful name and not attending prom with Conner, her best friend and secret crush since kindergarten.

Then, Conner is killed in a freak boating accident and Olga feels responsible for his death.

When she downs an entire bottle of pills to deal with the emotional pain, her parents force her into counseling. There, her therapist writes a prescription in the form of a life list titled “18 Things”: eighteen quests to complete the year of her eighteenth birthday.

But there’s more to Olga’s quests than meets the eye and when her therapist reveals a terrifying secret, her world is shaken.

There’s only one thing she knows for certain: her choices won’t just affect her future, but all eternity.

Review (for the series): Okay. It is rare that the first book of the series throws me completely for a loop, but this one did. To be honest, I didn’t really get into the first book. I thought it was sweet and life-affirming in a somewhat overly saccharine sort of way. A young girl almost commits suicide due to the guilt of not being able to save her friend from dying in an accident and comes up with a list of 18 things to do before her 18th birthday to teach her how to live. Her other friends rally around her, including one who was previously an enemy who she makes peace with, and they all graduate high school. Happy ever after, the end.

OR IS IT!!

18 TruthsHere comes the big spoiler for book one, so be prepared

No, actually it’s not it. See, I didn’t think this was a fantasy/paranormal book until the very, very end. It read like just a regular contemporary Christian fiction (Olga is very devout Catholic). Then comes the last few chapters, where you find out that Olga actually did die when she swallowed the pills and this whole year has been her in Limbo preparing to go into the afterlife. And the new guy, Nate, that she met soon after the accident? He’s dead too. The first book ends with them deciding to become spirit guides (like their therapist was – another late book reveal).

I was completely blindsided by this. Literally had no clue that was the direction we were headed. Like I said, it reads like a completely different genre, and then suddenly, we’re off to heaven. Or at least, the afterlife.

Of course, if I head read the GoodReads page, it is clearly listed as fantasy/paranormal. But still.

The second book involves Olga and Nate learning how to become spirit guides and being given their first charge – the daughter of the therapist who helped them. I have to say, this version of the afterlife is a very interesting take, especially as a version of Christianity. There are angels (including one that seems to crush on Olga a bit, which I did think was weird), but there’s also this very business-like atmosphere to it. Olga finds out that Conner, who did die for real, is not in this Limbo area, but is in Juvie, which is sort of a step down. He wasn’t as devout, so he is in a boot camp sort of situation (I think). Olga wants to rescue him, or at least see him again and make sure he doesn’t blame her for the accident. Unfortunately, she has to make a deal with a demon (yep, they’re in here too) in order to make it happen.

18 ThoughtsThis is one of the things I didn’t necessarily like as much. Conner has apparently always loved Olga, but never told her. Seriously, folks. Tell people how you feel. It makes things so much simpler. The problem is that Olga and Nate sort of became a couple during their faux senior year. So here we have the classic YA love triangle. Except, you know, they’re all dead.

In the third book, Olga, Nate, and Conner actually get the chance to do everything over again. It was a bit convenient and contrived, but I forgave it because it made things very interesting. So Conner never died in the boating accident, so Olga never took the pills. And Nate survived his unrelated car accident, and still moved to Olga’s town. Except Conner has changed. He is reckless and lewd and downright awful.

Guess who has a demon stowaway!

Conner has some moments where he is able to get away from the demon, Samuel, and tell Olga that he is not always the one in control. They don’t know about the demon, so book three is all about them figuring out what is happening and finding a way to get rid of Samuel and seal him away. Which, of course, they do, but it was still very exciting.

So yeah. This nice, sweet contemporary YA book series turned into angels and demons and a fight between Heaven and Hell. And I have to say, it was pretty enjoyable. Some things were obvious and a bit overly done, but there were also lots of twists and turns that kept you guessing.

GoodReads rating: 4 stars for each book

 

Books I've Read

Book Review: The Radium Girls

The Radium GirlsTitle: The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women

Author: Kate Moore

Series: none

Edition: e-book borrowed from my library

Blurb: The Curies’ newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright in the otherwise dark years of the First World War.

Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” are the luckiest alive — until they begin to fall mysteriously ill.

But the factories that once offered golden opportunities are now ignoring all claims of the gruesome side effects, and the women’s cries of corruption. And as the fatal poison of the radium takes hold, the brave shining girls find themselves embroiled in one of the biggest scandals of America’s early 20th century, and in a groundbreaking battle for workers’ rights that will echo for centuries to come.

Written with a sparkling voice and breakneck pace, The Radium Girls fully illuminates the inspiring young women exposed to the “wonder” substance of radium, and their awe-inspiring strength in the face of almost impossible circumstances. Their courage and tenacity led to life-changing regulations, research into nuclear bombing, and ultimately saved hundreds of thousands of lives…

Review: First and foremost, I will say that this is NOT the type of book I usually read. I picked this up to read along with the Seasonal Reading Challenge’s book picks for Fall. They had three books to choose from. This was the only one my library had available immediately. And I have to say, I am very glad that I did. This is a story that will stick with me for a long time.

Kate Moore paints a picture of these women, some of them very young girls when they started working in the factories, that is haunting and inspiring. Her attention to detail and the amount of research that went into telling this story is unbelievable. You really get to know these women and feel a punch in the gut at their hardships and struggles. They are much stronger than I ever will be, knowing that their fight would probably not help them in the long run, but would help other workers facing similar fights in the future.

The details of their illnesses are gruesome and not for the faint at heart. It was very hard to read at times, but it was also very hard to put down. It’s a fairly long book, almost 500 pages, but it reads very quickly. Also, if your blood isn’t boiling with rage at the heads of these companies willfully denying their fault in any of these womens’ health problems, then I don’t think we can be friends. It is abominable what they did, especially since they knew that what they were doing was dangerous, but getting that sweet, sweet money was more important.

GoodReads rating: 5 stars. This is a book everyone should read.