The Readymade Thief by Augustus Rose

Thank you to Penguin Random House and the First to Read program for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

I love stories that have unconventional main characters and that was what drew me to this novel. I wanted to see how the author would spin this story and make it unique. Here are my thoughts:

Lee Cuddy is 17 and on the run. After being betrayed by her family and best friend, she finds refuge in a cooperative for runaways in a building called the Crystal Castle. However, this “safe haven” is a far more sinister place, where fanatical men set on decoding powerful secrets hidden in art take advantage of the young teens who find them. And Lee is their next target. With the help of Tomi, a young hacker and artist, Lee escapes into the unmapped corners of the city. But the deeper she hides, the more tightly the noose tightens around her neck. Desperate and out of options, Lee steps from the shadows to face who is after her—and why.

Wow, this book was not what I expected. And I don’t mean that in a good way. This novel really didn’t have anything that I enjoyed. I thought that the story would move at a much faster pace than it did … and it was seriously slow. It was also very unrealistic in terms of plot. Now, I know that sounds like a dumb comment, considering that this is fiction, but there needs to be a touch of realism in order to make the reader believe in the story. The amount of bad luck that follows Lee is ridiculous and the author’s struggle to tie in art, science made me cringe. The whole novel felt like this huge struggle where the author was trying to say something meaningful…. but there really wasn’t anything meaningful to say. To top it all off, the characters were all one-dimensional and didn’t have anything to connect me to them. Overall, this novel failed for me on many levels and I would give this a 1.5/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

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The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I haven’t read a nonfiction novel in a long time and I don’t think I have ever blogged about it. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to broaden my reading range. I’m so glad that I chose to read this book because it was such a fantastic experience. Here is my review:

As World War I took its tool, hundreds of young women were employed at radium-dial factories to paint clock faces with a new miracle substance: radium. Assured by their bosses that the luminous material was completely safe, the women used the “lip-painting” technique to do their job, happily surprised to find themselves glowing from head to toe by the dust that collected after a day’s work. With such a coveted job, these girls were considered to be the luckiest of all – until they all began to fall ill. As the radium poisoned their bodies, they found themselves battling not just their physical ailments but the working industry themselves in one of America’s biggest scandals.

I never expected a nonfiction novel to be so moving and gripping. I could not read this novel in one sitting; I had to take multiple pauses because it was just so emotional. I didn’t know much about this topic before I began reading. I had just thought that this was an interesting event that involved radium, a substance I’m familiar with through my course work. I got so much more than that through this book. The author creates a vivid story that looks at the lives of all of these women, full of their hopes and dreams and despairs. It shows all of the different people involved that either hindered or aided in justice being meted out. There was so much courage and strength portrayed here and the author made the reader care about every single woman mentioned in the story; they weren’t just names but real people that I could connect with. While the novel was definitely more in favor of the women than the radium companies (which totally makes sense!), I was happy to see that the author did take into account the reasons why the companies did what they did; it didn’t make me sympathetic to them on any account but it did make an attempt to give a more well-rounded picture of the scandal. This was a gripping story where I was on the edge of my seat, wondering how the women would get past each obstacle thrown in their way. The best thing about this story was the message of perseverance and hope and bravery that these women showed in every facet of their lives; they may have been dying but they wouldn’t give up on living and fighting. It made me feel so proud to see all that they accomplished even after facing such adversity. I can honestly say that I have never felt this emotionally invested in a novel before. What an amazing story and the author did such a brilliant job of making it relevant and appealing to the masses. This is definitely a nonfiction book you don’t want to miss out on!

Happy reading ~

Orphan #8 by Kim van Alkemade

What drew me to this novel was that it is based on a true story. I love fiction and I will read pretty much any genre but when it comes to historical fiction, the more truth there is, the more I like it. The story line itself seemed quite intriguing, what with its gruesome portrayal of experimentation done on children in the name of science. I was very eager to read it and now, I am eager to give you my review!

In 1919, 4-year-old Rachel Rabinowitz lives in a small apartment with her parents and her older brother. But when tragedy strikes, Rachel is separated from her brother and sent to a Jewish orphanage, where she is subjected to experimentation by Dr. Mildred Solomon. The x-ray treatments leave her disfigured in more ways than one, and Rachel grows up suffering from the consequences both physically and emotionally. Years later, Rachel is a nurse at a Manhattan Care Home and comes face-to-face with Dr. Solomon, who is now elderly and cancer-striken. This is Rachel’s chance to confront the doctor and punish her for her wrongdoings. But as Rachel begins to take care of her new charge, she realizes that things may be more complex than she initially thought.

Although I liked the premise of this novel, it didn’t satisfy me as much as I had hoped. I loved the moral dilemma that Rachel was facing and I really enjoyed reading about the life Rachel had lived before, during, and after the experimentation that led to this culminating point in the novel. The complexity of the situation was aptly described and it made me rethink my own views on the situation. Revenge always seems simple when you first encounter a situation where you have been wronged, and it’s not often that one gets the chance to really delve deeper into the emotions and morals associated with revenge. This novel gives you that chance. That being said, the ending was too bittersweet for my taste.  I felt like I wanted more for Rachel. The author had done such a good job portraying her character that I felt a kinship towards her and wanted everything to be absolutely perfect. And even though life doesn’t work out that way, I wanted it to. In a way, that’s a sign that this novel is fantastic in its ability to capture the reader’s attention and draw the sympathy of the reader for the protagonist. If you are looking for a good historical fiction, I would definitely recommend this one!

Happy reading!