More Five Sentence Reviews: The Radium Girls, Ongoingness, and The Janus Stone

I hope everyone is having a good week so far. It’s August! It’s hot. I just saw the new Mission Impossible movie yesterday and it’s terrific! Non-stop action. I’m currently reading books 16 and 17 from my 20 Books of Summer list, taking my time especially with George Saunders’s CivilWarLand in Bad Decline because it’s dark. Very good, but dark. And, in this current political hellscape,  I can only deal with so much dark at once. Plus I’m still trying to savor short story collections rather than blazing through them quickly. But I’ve got a stack of overdue reviews, so here is another batch of Five Sentence Reviews.

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore. 51GLNSdDDqL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Young American women considered themselves lucky to have jobs painting illuminated watch and clock dials in the 1910’s-1930’s. They licked the brushes, dipped them in radium-mixed paint, and painted, over and over again all day. When they started falling ill, the companies who employed them disavowed any responsibility. I’m so glad the stories of these brave women (who fought back against the companies despite grave illness and horrific injury) are finally being told. But important as that is, I felt like the narrative was disjointed and repetitive – and also very sad. (3 Stars.)

Ongoingness: The End of a Diary by Sarah Manguso. A 95-page memoir and exploration of the keeping and letting go of a meticulous daily diary, full of meditations on identity, motherhood, the passage of 81aIlYK3KLLtime, memory. I marked many passages, especially once Manguso became pregnant and had a child. I related to so much of what she wrote. “Before I was a mother, I thought I was asking, How, then, can I survive forgetting so much? Then I came to understand that the forgotten moments are the price of continued participation in life, a force indifferent to time.” (3 Stars.)

The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths (Ruth Galloway mystery #2.) I barely took any notes on this one, I read it so quickly. This mystery series is the perfect mix of realistic and cozy – not too gruesome for me to handle, but not too precious or 51+aKyKRIeL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_cutesy to be believable either. In this one forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway is called to investigate a child’s bones found at the demolition site of a former Catholic children’s home and, before that, a private residence. Someone is trying to frighten her off the case, of course, and she continues to work with the attractive (and married) DCI Harry Nelson. Their bond continues to be complicated, and I am really enjoying this series. (4 Stars.)

So how has your August in books been so far? Still going with 20 Books of Summer? Have you read any of these, and if so, what did you think?

(These three books are numbers 10, 11, and 12 from my 20 Books of Summer list.)

32 thoughts on “More Five Sentence Reviews: The Radium Girls, Ongoingness, and The Janus Stone

  1. Finally, someone who has the same opinion of The Radium Girls as me! 😆 It was very disjointed. I also thought the author put WAY too much personal opinion into it, like I was being told what to think.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I learned something from it, and I’m glad I read it, but maybe my expectations were too high. It was clear that the author had a passion for telling this story, which is good. But the execution felt lacking in my opinion.


  2. Hot here too — only mid-80s, but in a country where basically nowhere has air conditioning, it’s hard enough to deal with! I’ve read four of Sarah Manguso’s books and this is one that didn’t particularly stand out for me; I preferred her medical-themed memoirs. I have always meant to try George Saunders’ short stories, so I’ll be interested to see how you feel about them overall.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Woohoo! You’re doing great with your challenge! I’ve had The Janus Stone on my Kindle forever – I’ve read nearly all of the series but missed books 2 and 3 and have been meaning to backtrack to them – one day! It’s a pity about The Radium Girls – an important story, but it’s also important for a book to tell a story well…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How interesting that you skipped over 2 and 3 in the series. I have really enjoyed the two I’ve read. I hope to get to number 3 soon. She’s such an appealing character and the tone of the novels is just the right mix of realism and escapism for my taste. As for Radium Girls, I was a bit disappointed because I had seen nothing but praise for it. Oh well, I’m still glad I read it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Yay! This is an awesome way to catch up on reviews. I really should learn a thing or two from your example here. 😁

    The Radium Girls is on my TBR as both an Our Shared Shelf book and from Evelina’s recommendation. I’m sorry to hear it’s disjointed, but I’m totally intrigued. I’ll still be reading it someday. Do you feel the length is justified? I’ve heard some people complain of a lack of editing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It moved pretty quickly for its size, but still I think it could have used a bit more editing. The stories of the women seemed to blur together as it went on and I skimmed the last 100 pages or so just because I was having a hard time with all the suffering and the legal battles. But I am still glad I read it.


  5. I’ve written this comment on pretty much everyone’s blog who has reviewed Radium Girls: I saw a play version of this story several years ago, before the book came out. I really enjoyed the show and I didn’t know that it was going to be made into a book. I wonder which came first? Maybe the author had a contract sign for Radium Girls the book before the play? Though that doesn’t really make sense because you have to have time to write the play and sell it and have a theatre actually put it together into a show…


  6. I love this premise! Mostly because I’m pretty sure I couldn’t keep a review to 5 sentences if my life depended on it. I’m way too wordy, but now you’ve got me thinking about it.

    The story of Radium Girls sounds interesting but my take form what you’re saying is that the author didn’t do a good job of it so I’ll pass and hope that maybe someone else writes about it.

    My August reading has been good, but not great. I’d love to be wowed, but it hasn’t happened yet.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. That’s just what happened to me with the first Elly Griffiths and now I wonder if I don’t need to reread the first to move ahead with the series. In either case, I liked it a lot. Especially for a first-in-the-series mystery. All three are on my TBR. As usual. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I say a Goodreads refresher would be okay and then you could get on with the series. It’s realy entertaining and well done – I have the third one on my nightstand and hope to get to it in the next few weeks. (Good thing we can renew three times.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you – I’m going to take that advice. I borrowed volumes two and three of a series I haven’t begun yet a couple of weeks ago (they were so NICE looking) and now I will probably have to renew them at least three times as well. But what else would have provided the kick in the pants to finally read the first? *innocent look*

        Liked by 1 person

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