The Radium Girls


The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women
By:  Kate Moore
Published:  2017
# of pages:  399
  Full House (non-fiction)


Goodreads description:

The incredible true story of the women who fought America’s Undark danger.

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…

My opinion:  Wow, I don’t really know how to start.  This book made a large impact on me.  I’m so thankful that Kate Moore chose to tell the story of “the radium girls,” so many courageous women who played such an important part of U.S. history.  

The book is a non-fiction that follows the stories of two groups of women who worked at two different dial painting companies that used paint containing radium to produce light up watches, clocks, and instrument panels.  One was in Orange, New Jersey and the other in Ottowa, Illinois.  Moore sketches brief biographies of many women, but she concentrates on ten women in particular: the women who chose to stand up and publicly fight the companies who were responsible for not only exposing them to radium poisoning, but purposefully deceiving them in regards to the danger.

It was horrifying to read much of this book.  I kept wishing I could go back in time and stop the women from trusting their supervisors and putting the brushes in their mouths to shape them, playing with the paint, eating at their desks, taking the paint home to let their siblings play with it, etc.  The descriptions of their physical health problems was also heartbreaking to read.  I was also so frustrated when they were trying to find both medical and legal help.  Not only do I feel so thankful to Moore for telling the stories of these women and what they went through to make the future a safer place, I feel so thankful for the few doctors, dentists, lawyers, and reporters who helped the women.  Those professionals, along with the women, are true U.S. heroes.

And one of my final thoughts – is this situation that seems so obvious to us today truly something that will stay in history?  Is there something today that we come into regular contact with/ingest/medicate with that is deemed safe by medical professionals and the government but is actually dangerous?  I’d say the average person in the U.S. is quick to say that certain vaccines, medications, etc. are safe because they are recommended by doctors, the FDA has approved them, etc, etc.  But perhaps we don’t  know everything and it’s only a matter of time before we are horrified to discover the side effects of something that seems so safe.  Just food for thought…

Why I gave this book 5/5 stars:  Kate Moore did a fantastic job making a non-fiction book, including details and statistics, interesting and she also brought the women to life.  I was amazed that I had never heard of these women or even the aftermath that industries using radium had on the environment.  It’s important to hear more about these forgotten (hidden) parts of history.



The Family Plot


The Family Plot
By:  Cherie Priest
Published:  2016
# of pages:  
Challenge:  R.I.P.


Goodreads description:

Chuck Dutton built Music City Salvage with patience and expertise, stripping historic properties and reselling their bones. Inventory is running low, so he’s thrilled when Augusta Withrow appears in his office offering salvage rights to her entire property. This could be a gold mine, so he assigns his daughter Dahlia to personally oversee the project.

The crew finds a handful of surprises right away. Firstly, the place is in unexpectedly good shape. And then there’s the cemetery, about thirty fallen and overgrown graves dating to the early 1900s, Augusta insists that the cemetery is just a fake, a Halloween prank, so the city gives the go-ahead, the bulldozer revs up, and it turns up human remains. Augusta says she doesn’t know whose body it is or how many others might be present and refuses to answer any more questions. Then she stops answering the phone.

But Dahlia’s concerns about the corpse and Augusta’s disappearance are overshadowed when she begins to realize that she and her crew are not alone, and they’re not welcome at the Withrow estate. They have no idea how much danger they’re in, but they’re starting to get an idea. On the crew’s third night in the house, a storm shuts down the only road to the property. The power goes out. Cell signals are iffy. There’s nowhere to go and no one Dahlia can call for help, even if anyone would believe that she and her crew are being stalked by a murderous phantom. Something at the Withrow mansion is angry and lost, and this is its last chance to raise hell before the house is gone forever. And it seems to be seeking permanent company.

My opinion:  This was a fun, creepy read.  I’ve read Boneshaker by Priest and enjoyed the unique story and characters (a mom was one of the main characters, super cool.)  This book sounded perfect for the R.I.P. challenge so I bought a copy since it wasn’t available at my local library.

The Family Plot follows the main character, Dahlia, and her co-workers Brad, Bobby, and Gabe.  Bobby and his son Gabe are also her relatives since she works for the family business her dad runs, Music City Salvage.  Dahlia and her small crew camp out at an abandoned and secluded mansion in Tennessee that they are salvaging.  It isn’t long before eerie things start happening to the crew.  What do you expect, especially when they stumble upon a cemetery on the property?

I appreciated Dahlia’s connection to the house.  It was interesting how her past weaves in with the future of the house.  At times Dahlia was someone I related to, at others I thought she was too accepting of the entire situation.  That was how the whole book went for me, at times I would empathize with the characters and then others I was thinking, “How can you people act like this? Shouldn’t you…”  But isn’t that how horror books/films are for so many people?

While the book had its flaws, overall the story was interesting and kept me hooked.  I always enjoy Gothic elements and haunted house stories and this is a pretty good one.

Why I gave this book 4/5 stars:  Interesting story, easy to read, I felt a little frustrated with the characters sometimes, a few times the plot felt a little underdeveloped.

Other reviews:

Have you read this book?  Let me know and I’d be happy to post a link.

What I’m Reading Wednesday (9/27/17)


What I’m reading:  Spooky South  by: S.E. Schlosser

Where I’m reading:  On the couch with my new soft and fluffy throw blanket.

What page I’m on:  75

Where I acquired the book:  Bought it from Amazon a couple of years ago!  It wasn’t available at the library.

What I think so far:  I started reading this 2 years ago and never finished.  The stories are quaint, but aren’t told in a very “spooky” way.  I appreciate the fact that the author decided to collect and retell stories from across the South U.S., but none of them really draw me in.  It’s still a neat and quick read (I just need to actually finish them all this year!)  The illustrations are really neat.

Something Wicked This Way Comes


Something Wicked This Way Comes
By:  Ray Bradbury
Published:  1962
# of pages:  289
Challenge: R.I.P., Full House (Published pre-2000), Monthly Motif (September)




Goodreads description:

Few American novels written this century have endured in the heart and mind as has this one-Ray Bradbury’s incomparable masterwork of the dark fantastic. A carnival rolls in sometime after the midnight hour on a chill Midwestern October eve, ushering in Halloween a week before its time. A calliope’s shrill siren song beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. And two inquisitive boys standing precariously on the brink of adulthood will soon discover the secret of the satanic raree-show’s smoke, mazes, and mirrors, as they learn all too well the heavy cost of wishes — and the stuff of nightmare.

My opinion:  

This has been on my TBR list for a long time, but my book club finally gave me the motivation I needed to actually read it.  The story is about two boys on the verge of turning 14.  Jim Nightshade can’t wait to grow up and is already curious about adult themed things.  Will Halloway is content to hang out with his best friend, race back and forth to the library where his father works, and everything else boys find to do with their time.  Will’s father, a janitor at the local library, spends much of his time contemplating his life and how he ended up in his mid-50s as a father of an active son with whom he doesn’t have anything in common.

One night a very creepy carnival rolls into town.  Weird things start happening, including a few of the town’s residents disappearing.  Jim, Will, and Mr. Halloway find themselves wrapped up in a dangerous situation and must work together (and against their own desires) to save themselves and the town.

Bradbury’s descriptions in this book are very poetic.  At times it assists the reader in entering the setting and understanding the characters.  At other times, it’s overly poetic and breaks up the action.  Also, I didn’t like how the narrative is poetic, the way Mr. Halloway speaks is the same, and then his quotes of books/pamphlets is, once again, the exact same.  It isn’t natural and I found myself spacing out while reading entire paragraphs.  There often isn’t anything to distinguish between the dialogue and the narrative.

However, I did enjoy the overall story and there were a couple of points where I felt the suspense so strongly.  This book is technically the second in a series, but I never would have known that and it isn’t necessary to read the first book.

Why I gave this book 3/5 stars:  Suspenseful and interesting story, characters are easy to relate to, but the poetic descriptions were often over the top and the action was disjointed.

Other reviews:

Have you reviewed this book?  Let me know and I’d be happy to post a link.

What I’m Reading Wednesday (9/20/17)


What I’m reading:  Something Wicked This Way Comes  by: Ray Bradbury

Where I’m reading:  My usual place on the couch, but this time with some Chick-fil-A for breakfast!

What page I’m on:  167

Where I acquired the book:  The library.

What I think so far:  I’m not super impressed.  It’s creepy, but it’s written almost like poetry at times.  I feel like the action and the characters’ thoughts are interrupted by so many unnecessary words and metaphors.  The only other book by Bradbury I’ve read is Fahrenheit 451, which I really enjoyed.

Doctor Sleep


Doctor Sleep

By:  Stephen King
Published:  2013
# of pages:  
Full House (More than 500 pages)


Goodreads description:

Stephen King returns to the characters and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the very special 12-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.
On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless – mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky 12-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of hyper-devoted fans of The Shining and wildly satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.

My opinion:  

I was nervous about reading the sequel to The Shining because I didn’t think it would do the first novel justice.  However, Doctor Sleep was a great and well written book that I very much enjoyed.  It’s good that King didn’t try to make this novel the same as the first.  It does have some of the creepy elements, but I wouldn’t say that it is a true horror story.

The book starts out describing how Danny Torrance has grown into a troubled alcoholic. While summing up how Dan arrived at rock bottom, the narrative also sums up key parts of The Shining, which is good since it’s been 2 years since I read it and I didn’t remember everything.  This could also help readers who have never read the first book, but I recommend reading The Shining first.

Although the beginning is depressing, the story takes a turn for the better when he joins an AA group and turns his life around.  After that, the story follows his journey as “Doctor Sleep,” providing care for hospice patients in their final moments.  But mostly the story is about his relationship with a little girl named Abra, who is similar to Dan in many ways.

The parts where Dan helps his elderly patients “pass on” was part of what makes my feelings about this book hard to express.  This past June, I held my grandfather’s hand as he took his last breath.  I stayed with him in the long, excruciating last hours of his life.  I wanted so badly to give him some peace, but it was hard since he was struggling to breathe and was very restless.  In the last 2 hours he fell asleep and thankfully was peaceful when he died.  I do wish I could go back and say more, but I did the best I could, especially since it was very unexpected.  Watching him die changed me forever.  I haven’t talked about it very much.  The only people who understand are my mom and sister since they were there too.  Nobody else I know has been through anything like that.  And reading the parts of this book where Dan holds the hands of the dying and reassures them made me remember and made me appreciate the character.

My overall thought of this book: it’s mature.  Part of it is the characters.  Dan is mature and Abra is mature for her age.  Much of the maturity is Dan and the rest of the characters taking responsibility for their actions.  AA is discussed a lot which is great.  Dan and a few of the other characters participate in that program.  Both Dan and Abra care so much about other people and that is a large part of their motivation for fighting against a great evil.  Remember Dick Hallorann from the first book?  He plays a part in Doctor Sleep, but I feel like parts of him are embodied in Dan, Abra, and many of the other characters.  Dick’s willingness to reassure the scared Danny, become involved in a physically and mentally dangerous situation for people he doesn’t know well, and his outlook on good and evil can be found throughout Doctor Sleep.

I appreciate the fact that Stephen King wrote this story the way he did.  It’s incredibly encouraging.

Why I gave this book 5/5 stars:  Well written sequel, the characters are great role models while still easy to relate to, interesting action.

Other reviews:

Have you reviewed this book?  Let me know and I’d be happy to post a link!

What I’m Reading Wednesday


What I’m reading:  Oryx and Crake  by: Margaret Atwood

Where I am reading:  At home on the couch near my laptop, surrounded by notebooks and pens and kid toys.

What page I’m on:  62 of 376

What I think so far:  This has been on my list for a long time, but I’ve always felt too intimidated to read it.  I enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale by the same author, but didn’t like The Blind Assassin or Cat’s Eye.  But I’m enjoying it so far!

The Big Move

“Andrea’s Book Nook” has existed for eight and a half years on Blogger.  After creating a website on WordPress, I decided to take a big step and move from Blogger to WordPress.  Andrea’s Book Nook is becoming Carolina Book Nook.  Now that my young children are in school 4 days a week, I want to put more time and love into the Book Nook.  I hope it shows and that you have a good time browsing!