Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Nevermore: Overwhelmed, Flora, Reptiles, Lee, Divergent, and Much, Much More!

 Reported by Meygan

We had quite the turnout at Nevermore this week! We began with Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte. This book looks at everyday life and how stress consumes our brains. Did you know that our brains shrink by 20% when it becomes stressed? This book also approaches what we can do about the stress and, just like the title states, suggests how exactly we can work, love, and play when we feel that we have run out of time. Jud stated that in Denmark, everyone on a particular mailing list receives a catalog of classes of various activities that people can attend. He said this is the direction the Bristol Public Library is heading in, and he would like the library to contribute to a saner lifestyle for us all! 

Flora of Virginia by Alan Weakley was discussed next. The Foundation of the Flora of Virginia Project Inc. and Botanical Research Institute of Texas Press worked together to publish an updated publication of the state’s flora (there hasn’t been one since 1726!). Although the book was like gibberish to the reader because of the VERY detailed accounts about flowers, this book is recommended to those who are interested in botany/researching flowers. 

Next was Carl Hiaasen’s Dance of the Reptiles. Hiaasen is well known for writing about the seedy side of Florida and this book is no different. This is a collection of Hiassen’s best pieces from his Miami Herald columns. In this book, he is very critical of the Federal Environmental Protection Agency, which the reader found humorous. He also discusses pollution, animal welfare, the criminal justice system, and other various topics. 

The Man Who Would Not Be Washington: Robert E. Lee’s Civil War and His Decision That Changed American History by Jonathan Horn is the true story of Robert E. Lee and his struggle of being married into George Washington’s family but turned against the union, Washington’s achievement, by war. It was stated that this book was well worth the time for anyone who likes reading about the Civil War. 

Tana French’s The Secret Place (book five of the Dublin Murder Squad series) was discussed next. When a boy is found murdered with a card that reads “I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM”, Detective Stephen Moran finds himself right in the middle of the case. Usually at The Secret Place, where the boy’s body was found, the boarding school girls gather to gossip. But after the body is found, everything changes for the girls. Detective Moran and Antoinette find leads that trace the boy’s murder back to them. This book received mixed reviews from our Nevermore readers. One reviewer said she didn’t care at all for the book and had a difficult time reading it not only because of the content but because of the small print. Another stated she enjoyed the book because of the psychology brought about in the boarding school girls. 

Next was A Wolf Called Romeo by Nick Jans. This is a true story about how Nick encountered a lonesome black wolf when he lived in Alaska. The wolf continues to return to Juneau to see the people of the community. When people first see the wolf, they want him dead, but as the wolf, aka Romeo, starts to come around more, he becomes the town pet. Nick learns to understand Romeo, and he takes it upon himself to watch over Romeo for as long as he can. This book was highly recommended by our Nevermore reader! 

In June 1954, a teenage girl, Juliet Hulme, helped her friend kill her mother. Since the girls were minors, they served 5 years in prison and were given new identities. Years later, one of the girls received a phone call wanting to know if she was Juliet Hulme. Indeed she was, but the fact that she had been found was not the surprise—Juliet Hulme is historical mystery author, Anne Perry. In Peter Graham’s Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century, readers will learn about the murder and the trial. The reader said this was an interesting read of why people do the things they do. The girls originally wanted to plead insanity, but in New Zealand that would mean the girls would have to serve life in prison. Although our Nevermore enjoyed the book, she stated she is not going to read anymore Anne Perry’s books because she can’t understand her way of thinking even after everything is said and done. Another reader stated she felt the same way and after reading an interview with Anne Perry, she felt that Anne was not apologetic at all for her actions. 

The next book discussed has been very popular. Andrew Hodges’ Alan Turing: The Enigma has just been adapted into a movie (The Imitation Game), and both the book and the movie were highly praised in Nevermore. Alan Turing was a British mathematician who was a pioneer in computer science and a gifted cryptographer. It has been said that his work ended the World War II at least two years early.  Alan Turing was a very talented man whose life was too short.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt has been a popular Nevermore book. Theo Decker is a 13 year old boy who survives an accident but his mother does not. Theo is taken in by his friend’s family, but nothing can take away Theo’s pain. He desperately clings to the painting of his mother, wishing she were there with him. This painting draws Theo into the world of art and as he becomes older, Theo continues to surround himself with art. When asked about this book, the Nevermore reader stated, “Talk about your dysfunctional family!” She said the book is rather large, but the print is a decent size. She also said although Theo has good role models, he continues to do dumb stuff throughout the book, which aggravates her!

Next was The Chicken Chronicles by Alice Walker. In this memoir, Alice Walker writes about how she raised and cared for chickens. She also writes about caring for her chickens as she travels to Bali and Dharamsala where she serves as a peace activist. Our Nevermore reader had just started reading this book, so perhaps we will hear more about The Chicken Chronicles next week!

For those of you who like reading about gore, then this next book is for you! Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner by Judy Melineky MD is about a woman, Dr. Judy Melineky, who becomes a medical examiner after 9/11. The Nevermore reader stated that even though she found the author’s writing irritating, the book had enough blood, guts, and gore to keep her going! She also said this book provided the most graphic descriptions of dead bodies. One of the most descriptive parts is when the Brooklyn plane crashed shortly after 9/11. This book was highly recommended!

One of our Nevermore readers finished The Divergent series by Veronica Roth. In this series, children are left to deal with a dystopian world that has been ruined by the people before them. Every person is assigned to a group depending on their talents/skills. Our Nevermore reader said she enjoyed the first two books but barely made it through the last book. She said the series was interesting because as tech savvy as children are now days, it made her question how would those children survive in a world where technology would no longer exist. 

Let Me Be Frank with You by Richard Ford was the next book discussed. In this book, Frank is a retired realtor who sells a beach house. Several years after the house is destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, Frank receives a phone call from the man who purchased the home. The Nevermore reader says this book is a feel good story and a study of interpersonal relationships.

The same Nevermore reader has also read Richard Ford’s Women with Men, which is a collection of three short stories about love, passion, and strife. Although he enjoyed Let Me Be Frank with You, he cannot recommend Women with Men because he didn’t like it. He said it is a bit depressing.

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