Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore (Book Review)

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-

The incredible true story of the young women exposed to the “wonder” substance of radium and their brave struggle for justice...

As World War I raged across the globe, hundreds of young women toiled away at the radium-dial factories, where they painted clock faces with a mysterious new substance called radium. Assured by their bosses that the luminous material was safe, the women themselves shone brightly in the dark, covered from head to toe with the glowing dust. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” were considered the luckiest alive—until they began to fall mysteriously ill. As the fatal poison of the radium took hold, they found themselves embroiled in one of America’s biggest scandals and a groundbreaking battle for workers’ rights.

A rich, historical narrative written in a sparkling voice, The Radium Girls is the first book that fully explores the strength of extraordinary women in the face of almost impossible circumstances and the astonishing legacy they left behind.

Kate Moore is a Sunday Times best selling writer with more than a decade’s experience writing and ghosting across varying genres, including memoir, biography, and history. In 2005 she directed a critically acclaimed play about the Radium Girls called ‘These Shining Lives.’ She lives in the UK.

My thoughts-

I had never heard of the radium girls before coming across this book. I will always read an interesting story, and I enjoy learning new things about history that I didn't previously know so this was a good read for me. The Radium Girls is a heartbreaking account of the young women who were working in radium factories during the first world war. This book will enrage you. The lengths to which this company went to not be held liable for the illness they caused so many women is infuriating. These women were dying, some of their friends already dead before they took their story to court, and they still were not taking ownership of their misdeeds. The Radium Girls is a little bit on the long side, but it is broken up into three sections and there are also many girls' stories to be told. If you enjoy books about history, you will probably enjoy The Radium Girls.




Saturday, April 1, 2017

Life After by Katie Ganshert (Book Review)

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Blogging For Books in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are 100% my own.

About the book-

It could have been me.Snow whirls around an elevated train platform in Chicago. A distracted woman boards the train, takes her seat, and moments later a fiery explosion rips through the frigid air, tearing the car apart in a horrific attack on the city’s transit system. One life is spared. Twenty-two are lost.

A year later, Autumn Manning can’t remember the day of the bombing and she is tormented by grief—by guilt. Twelve months of the question constantly echoing. Why? Why? Why? Searching for answers, she haunts the lives of the victims, unable to rest.

Paul Elliott lost his wife in the train bombing and wants to let the dead rest in peace, undisturbed and unable to cause more pain for his loved ones. He wants normalcy for his twelve-year-old daughter and young son, to see them move beyond the heartbreak. But when the Elliotts and Autumn are unexpectedly forced together, he fears she’ll bring more wreckage in her wake. 

In Life After, Katie Ganshert’s most complex and unforgettable novel yet, the stirring prose and authentic characters pose questions of truth, goodness, and ultimate purpose in this emotionally resonant tale.


My thoughts-

I don't know how she does it, but Katie Ganshert consistently outdoes her previous work with each new book. I've yet to read a book she's written that I didn't immediate fall in love with. Ganshert is great at writing relatable characters with imperfections and faults, the easiest characters to relate to when reading. Life After is very different from any of her other novels with this added huge thing of a train exploding that kills everyone on board but one sole survivor, Autumn. This is the story of Autumn wanting to tell the stories of those who perished. Her mission leads her on a journey of learning about the others who welcome her with open arms, with the exception of one, Paul Elliot, who wants to leave the past in the past. It was difficult to go on this journey with Autumn, but it was a story that gripped me from the very beginning and had me until the end. I absolutely loved this book and I think anyone who enjoys contemporary women's fiction will enjoy it as well.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Polygamist's Daughter by Anna LeBaron (Book Review)

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from Tyndale Publisher's via their Tyndale Blogging Network in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-

My father had thirteen wives and more than fifty children . . .This is the haunting memoir of Anna LeBaron, daughter of the notorious polygamist and murderer Ervil LeBaron. Ervil’s criminal activity kept Anna and her siblings constantly on the run from the FBI. Often starving, the children lived in a perpetual state of fear—and despite their numbers, Anna always felt alone. Would she ever find a place she truly belonged? Would she ever be anything other than the polygamist’s daughter?

Filled with murder, fear, and betrayal, The Polygamist’s Daughter is the harrowing, heart-wrenching story of a fatherless girl and her unwavering search for love, faith, and a place to call home.

My thoughts-

I am fascinated by what I can't understand, as I think many people are, and something lately has me particularly interested in the fundamentalist Mormon group that Anna LeBaron was once a part of, mainly because she was born into it. The good majority of the memoir is heartbreaking. This kid is dumped on other people in different places, never sees her parents, is forced to work for nothing and never knows what's going on. I could not imagine a childhood like that. She could wake up one day and be living in Texas only to be told that now she is moving to Mexico. Beyond the fact that her childhood without her parents must have been super confusing, her father lead the cult and is known to have committed or ordered many murders on people who he felt had a wavering faith or on rivals who he felt threatened by. Anna had only met this man a handful of times. Who knows how many other kids he had with how many other wives! Luckily, one of her older sisters and her husband who had left the cult adopted a parental role with Anna and took her under their wing. Sadly, there was still more tragedy to come, but I don't want to spoil the book for anyone so you will have to pick it up to see what happened. The Polygamist's Daughter will make you angry, sad, confused, and probably make you feel more empathetic to the people born into this cult. It will open your eyes and give you more of a direct look into what life was like for someone who didn't choose this path and the danger it can create trying to escape it. I recommend this book to people who enjoy memoirs.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Idea of You by Amanda Prowse (Book Review)

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-

With her fortieth birthday approaching, Lucy Carpenter dares to hope that she finally has it all: a wonderful new husband, Jonah, a successful career and the chance of a precious baby of her own. Life couldn’t be more perfect.
But the reality of becoming parents proves much harder than Lucy and Jonah imagined. Jonah’s love and support is unquestioning, but as Lucy struggles with work and her own failing dreams, the strain on their marriage increases. Suddenly it feels like Lucy is close to losing everything…
Heart-wrenching and poignant, this latest work by bestselling author Amanda Prowse asks the question: what does it mean to be a mother in today’s hectic world? And what if it’s asking too much to want it all?

My thoughts-

I would like to start off this review saying that The Idea of You contains very sensitive subject matter of miscarriage that might be difficult for some people to read. If this is you, you probably want to skip this book. For others it might be therapeutic, for me it was eye opening. This book was full of heart wrenching pages, from what I gather from the author's note at the end, Lucy Carpenter is having some of the same struggles she has in reality. The Idea of You was full of sadness and frustration, but poignant and full of hope. It is interlaced with great humor and sweet husband, so that helped break up some of the more dramatic and serious scenes. I read the book in one sitting, I couldn't put it down, but some of it was really hard to get through because of how emotional a toll it can take on you. I recommend The Idea of You to anyone who enjoys drama or women's contemporary fiction.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Dinner by Herman Koch (Book Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Steve Coogan, Rebecca Hall, and Chloƫ Sevigny

"A European
Gone Girl." —The Wall Street Journal
An internationally bestselling phenomenon, the darkly suspenseful, highly controversial tale of two families struggling to make the hardest decision of their lives—all over the course of one meal.

It's a summer's evening in Amsterdam, and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Between mouthfuls of food and over the scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened.

Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act; an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children. As civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple show just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.

Skewering everything from parenting values to pretentious menus to political convictions, this novel reveals the dark side of genteel society and asks what each of us would do in the face of unimaginable tragedy.

My thoughts-

If  I find a book that is soon to be a movie, something about that book compels me to read it. The Dinner is a novel by Dutch author Herman Koch, it has been translated into several languages and it a best seller. I was curious when I read the plot what the two fifteen year old kids did that their parents would be discussing. Sadly you don't get anywhere near that plot line until half way in the book. I thought that the set up of the book into the different parts of a dinner was interesting, but the book kind of went all over the place. For people who don't like narrators who jump from one time period to another the whole novel this might be confusing. I don't mind it usually and still had trouble keeping up. The set up to the story was slow and I felt like the first half of the book was all about what they were eating rather than why they were at dinner, but once we got to the second half things picked up and the plot got juicy. I had no trouble finishing up the book at that point. If you like books like Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, where there are pretty much zero likeable characters, but the story telling is suspenseful, you will love The Dinner.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

How to Draw Cool Stuff by Catherine V. Holmes (Book Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received  copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About the book-

How to Draw Cool Stuff: Holidays, Seasons and Events is a step-by-step drawing guide that illustrates popular celebrations, holidays and events for your drawing pleasure. From the Chinese New Year to April Fools' Day, Father's Day to Halloween, Christmas and New Year’s Eve - this book covers over 100 fun days, holidays, seasons and events, and offers simple lessons that will teach you how to draw like a pro and get you in the spirit of whichever season it may be! The third book in the How To Draw Cool Stuff series, this exciting new title will teach you how to create simple illustrations using basic shapes and a drawing technique that simplifies the process of drawing, all while helping you construct height, width and depth in your work. It will guide you through the creative thought process and provide plenty of ideas to get you started. The lessons in this book will also teach you how to think like an artist and remind you that you are only limited by your imagination!

My thoughts-

My daughter recently decided to take up painting so I have been painting with her. The problem is I have no artistic talent whatsoever, so I need a picture to look at or mimic or trace and I thought what better way to do that than to practice by sketching. I saw How to Draw Cool Stuff and knew I needed to check it out. I like that there are step by step instructions and it shows you how to start off simple and then has several more steps to get to the finished product. Some of the drawings in the book are away over my head, but there are a couple of simple ones that I plan on giving a try! I think this book is great for beginners like more and even for a more seasoned sketcher who would like some new ideas.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Vibrant India by Chitra Agrawal (Cookbook Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received  copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

I have long been a fan of Indian food, but I must admit that I typically lean towards the comforting curries, usually meat dishes, although I will typically get my Tikka Masala with paneer instead of chicken. I have always wanted to dive deeper into the world of vegetarian Indian cuisine and Vibrant India has allowed me to do just that. This cookbook has every tidbit of information you need to get started with cooking Indian vegetarian cuisine. Just thumbing through the book makes my mouth water and I have visions of dosas and stews, salads, breads and desserts dancing around in my head. I love that there is information inlcuded for how to make homemade ghee, something that can be utilized in your cooking whether you are making Indian food or not. I know I will be utilizing Vibrant India as a wonderful source for both Indian and vegetarian cooking in my kitchen.