Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Shelf Control: April 26, 2017

Shelf Control is a weekly meme created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies. The idea of this meme is to create a post about a book on your shelf (print or electronic) that is waiting to be read. Because I use my library so much, I may also use my library ‘to be read’ shelf. I’m hoping this may help me to rediscover and finally read some of the books that have been waiting for their turn to be read for way too long!

This week I am featuring The Martian by Andy Weir

Title: The Martian
Author: George Castle and Jim Rygelski
Genre: Fiction - Science Fiction
Year Published: 2014
Length: 369 pages
Goodreads Rating: 4.39

Goodreads Synopsis:

A mission to Mars.
A freak accident.
One man's struggle to survive.
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.
Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.
After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars' surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive. And even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive.
Chances are, though, Mark won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first.
But Mark's not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills—and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength–he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth.
As he overcomes one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next, Mark begins to let himself believe he might make it off the planet alive.
But Mars has plenty of surprises in store for him yet.

How I Got It: This one is on my ebook wishlist through my library

When I Got It: Jul 2015

Why I want to Read It: The synopsis reminded me of the Mars One project in which the astronauts will be making a ‘one-way’ trip to colonize Mars.

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Review: The Radium Girls

The Radium Girls
by Kate Moore

Why I chose this book? A book combining mystery, crime, history and more
When I read this book? March 2016
Who should read this book? Readers of narrative nonfiction
Here is a synopsis of The Radium Girls from Goodreads
My Rating:  ★★★★★       5 Stars

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.

My Review

Wow! This book is amazing,. The story is a nonfiction account of the young women who lost their lives due to industrial radium poisoning. Though it is nonfiction, it reads like a novel; a horrifying, heartbreaking novel!

The story starts in 1917 just before the outbreak of WWI, when the US is in love with radium and the idea of radium as a health benefit. Yes — people actually believed that swallowing radium would make you healthy!! So when a company in Orange, NJ opens a business manufacturing watch dials that glow-in-the-dark because the numbers are painted with radium-infused paint, no one has a problem with this. To increase productivity, the girls are taught to ‘lip-point’ their brushes to a fine point - bring the brush to their lips and twist to a fine point, then dip into the paint, and paint the fine numbers...then repeat….over and over and over, ingesting a bit of radium with each repetition. Very soon, the girls started getting sick with horrible symptoms; teeth falling out, jaw bones rotting, etc. Yet still — the company maintained that radium is safe and encouraged the girls to continue their work!

When you pick this book up it feels like a long, heavy read, but I flew through it, hardly able to put it down. The story is a mix of medical drama, courtroom drama, and family drama. At first things were a little confusing for me as their are so many characters, and some had similar names, but unfortunately that is not the author’s imagination, but a result of the sad fact that so many young women were affected. Quickly the names got easier to keep straight as I got to know and care about the women and their families, and of course as time went on there were fewer women left. My only suggestion to improve the book would be to include a more complete table of contents referring to the date and place of the chapters, These are given in chapter headings but not listed in the table of contents. It would have made it a little easier to go back to refer to earlier information when I became confused.

There is an epilogue included and I have to say it left me shocked! There is so much more I could tell you about this story, but you really should read it for yourself. And then encourage your book club to read it, because you are going to want to talk about it!

To see examples of some of the health benefits attributed to radium, visit Messy Nessy Chic. You can visit to view an interview with author Kate Moore. To read an article about one of the last surviving Radium Girls, visit the NPR website.
I received an Advanced Reader’s Edition of this book through the recent "Sneak Peek" Contest.
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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Shelf Control: April 19, 2017

Shelf Control is a weekly meme created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies. The idea of this meme is to create a post about a book on your shelf (print or electronic) that is waiting to be read. Because I use my library so much, I may also use my library ‘to be read’ shelf. I’m hoping this may help me to rediscover and finally read some of the books that have been waiting for their turn to be read for way too long!

This week I am featuring Echoes of the Titanic by Mindy Starns Clark and John Campbell Clark

Title: Echoes of the Titanic
Author: Mindy Starns Clark and John Campbell Clark
Genre: Historical Fiction - Romance - Christian
Year Published: 2012
Length: 400 pages
Goodreads Rating: 4.04

Goodreads Synopsis:
Kelsey Tate comes from sturdy stock. Her great-grandmother Adele endured the sinking of Titanic and made it safely to America, where she not only survived but thrived. Generations later, Kelsey works for the firm Adele founded nearly 100 years ago.
Now facing a hostile takeover, the firm’s origins are challenged when new facts emerge about Adele’s actions on the night Titanic sank. Kelsey tries to defend the company and the great-grandmother she has long admired, but the stakes are raised when Kelsey’s boss is murdered and her own life threatened. Forced to seek help from Cole Thornton, a man Kelsey once loved—and lost, thanks to her success-at-all-costs mentality—she pursues mysteries both past and present. Aided by Cole and strengthened by the faith she’d all but forgotten in her climb up the corporate ladder, Kelsey races the clock to defend her family legacy, her livelihood, and ultimately her life.

How I Got It: I picked this of the library sale shelf.

When I Got It: Jul 2015

Why I want to Read It: I have an obsession with stories related to the sinking of the Titanic.

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Review: A Certain Age

A Certain Age
by Beatriz Williams

Why did you choose this book? 1920s lifestyle and FREE!  
When did you read this book? April 2017
Who should read this book? Readers of mystery, romance, and the 1920s
Source: B&N Readouts & library ebook
My Rating: ✰✰✰✰½   4½ Stars

Here is a synopsis of A Certain Age from Goodreads

The bestselling author of A Hundred Summers, brings the Roaring Twenties brilliantly to life in this enchanting and compulsively readable tale of intrigue, romance, and scandal in New York Society, brimming with lush atmosphere, striking characters, and irresistible charm.

As the freedom of the Jazz Age transforms New York City, the iridescent Mrs. Theresa Marshall of Fifth Avenue and Southampton, Long Island, has done the unthinkable: she’s fallen in love with her young paramour, Captain Octavian Rofrano, a handsome aviator and hero of the Great War. An intense and deeply honorable man, Octavian is devoted to the beautiful socialite of a certain age and wants to marry her. While times are changing and she does adore the Boy, divorce for a woman of Theresa’s wealth and social standing is out of the question, and there is no need; she has an understanding with Sylvo, her generous and well-respected philanderer husband.

But their relationship subtly shifts when her bachelor brother, Ox, decides to tie the knot with the sweet younger daughter of a newly wealthy inventor. Engaging a longstanding family tradition, Theresa enlists the Boy to act as her brother’s cavalier, presenting the family’s diamond rose ring to Ox’s intended, Miss Sophie Fortescue—and to check into the background of the little-known Fortescue family. When Octavian meets Sophie, he falls under the spell of the pretty ingĂ©nue, even as he uncovers a shocking family secret. As the love triangle of Theresa, Octavian, and Sophie progresses, it transforms into a saga of divided loyalties, dangerous revelations, and surprising twists that will lead to a shocking transgression . . . and eventually force Theresa to make a bittersweet choice.

Full of the glamour, wit and delicious twists that are the hallmarks of Beatriz Williams’ fiction and alternating between Sophie’s spirited voice and Theresa’s vibrant timbre, A Certain Age is a beguiling reinterpretation of Richard Strauss’s comic opera Der Rosenkavalier, set against the sweeping decadence of Gatsby’s New York.

My Review

Before I start this review, I want to call your attention to the cover. Isn’t that beautiful?! I am mesmerized by it! The more I stare at it, the more I love it! That said, however, I really had not planned to pick this one up. You see, a few years ago I’d read A Hundred Summers by the same author, and while it was an ‘ok’ read for me, it didn’t leave me wanting more. But A Certain Age is this month’s selection for the B&N Readouts program and everyone’s been talking about this book, so I decided to give it a try. My plan was to read a few chapters and if it didn’t hook me, I’d cast it aside for something more intriguing. Did it hook me? Well, I didn’t learn about B&N Readouts until the sixth of the month, but by the time I reached chapter 10 I realized that this one-chapter-a-day thing wasn’t going to work for me and clicked to Overdrive to see if the book was available through my local library. Lucky for me, it was!

What are some of the things I loved about this book? Well, the 1920s flavor for one. This novel definitely had a ‘Great Gatsby’ feel to it, with the glamour of the Roaring Twenties, prohibition, and the excesses of the upper crust! I also liked the characters. Other than the person who ultimately turned out to be a villain, I don’t think there was a character in this book that I didn’t like, at least among the main characters. I particularly liked Sophie Fortescue and her cavalier, recently returned war hero Octavian Rofrano, who is in the midst of a passionate affair with Mrs. Theresa Marshall, a wealthy socialite. A character I would like to know more about is Theresa’s brother, Ox, a formerly confirmed bachelor who is engaged to marry Sophie.

I also liked the story. As I mentioned, I couldn’t wait to finish the book! There is romance and romantic triangles. There is a murder mystery. There are a lot of twist and I was never quite sure how this would end up! Some things really surprised me! I really enjoyed the quotes at the beginning of each chapter, from a witty but somewhat cynical journalist of the era named Helen Rowland. Here’s one example:

“Every man wants a woman to appeal to his better side, his nobler instincts, and his higher nature — and another woman to help him forget them.”

I liked the ending — everything was wrapped up well enough that I can see happy endings for some of the characters and predict what happens next. There were a few loose ends that left me hanging as far as what happens to a few characters, though. While normally this would bother me enough to lower my rating of a book, in this case it does not. The book includes a reader’s guide at the end and the last question mentions that the author has another book to be released this coming June, Cocoa Beach, in which at least one of these characters appears.

One thing that left me confused was the switch from the B&N Readouts version of the book to the Overdrive version. The latter has additions not contained in the first version; interspersed among the chapters are excerpts from a newspaper gossip column written about a court trial. These gave information about the story that I would not have learned about until much later in the book if I’d stuck to the B&N Readouts version. I’m not sure if that was a plus or a minus. They kind of were spoilers that would have clued me in to some things I didn’t know what I started reading the book. On the other hand, I think I missed some details that seemed meaningless fill when I was reading the B&N Readouts version, but turned out to be important to the story.

Though I wasn’t a fan of Beatriz Williams previously, I am now. I will definitely be checking out Cocoa Beach!
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