Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Nevermore: The Brain, Moths, Family Magic, Ice Cream Star, & Lisabeth Salander

Reported by Ambrea

Our Nevermore readers jumped into the meeting with an intriguing book about incredible new discoveries in neurology.  The Brain’s Way of Healing by Dr. Norman Doidge is a compelling and insightful book about the human brain and its ability to recover, function, and even restructure through neuroplasticity.  According to Doidge, the brain can form brand new neural connections even if it sustains extensive damage through injury or disease—and the brain, which was originally considered too complex to recover from damage, has a unique way of healing.  Our reader highly recommends The Brain’s Way of Healing, saying it offers an intimate and moving look at neurology, giving readers insight into the technology of modern medicine and new scientific discoveries about the wonderfully resilient brain.

Next, our readers dived into a series that’s proved a perennial favorite with The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz.  Continuing where Stieg Larsson left off in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Lagercrantz follows Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist as they run headlong into a new mystery:  a tangled web of spies, cybercriminals, and shadow governments that will put them back into the midst of danger.  Our Nevermore reader gave The Girl in the Spider’s Web an excellent review.  Calling it compelling and suspenseful, Lagercrantz’s novel was a seamless transition for the Millennium series that most have come to know and love.  She said it wasn’t as violent as the former novels, but it managed to keep the same pace, the same edge-of-your-seat suspense and intrigue that made Larsson’s novels smash hits.

Unlike The Girl in the Spider’s Web, which received exceptional praise, The Country of Ice Cream Star received less enthusiastic reports.  A post-apocalyptic narrative of epic proportions, The Country of Ice Cream Star weaves a heart-wrenching and terrifying tale of a fifteen-year-old girl as she struggles for survival amidst the wasteland known as American and hunts for a cure that will rescue her small tribe from a dreadful contagion.  Although Sandra Newman has received rave reviews for her novels and received rewards—and nominations—for her writing, our reader found her latest book less than enjoyable.  Rife with broken English that makes it difficult to understand and paced agonizingly slow, The Country of Ice Cream Star wasn’t a hit at Nevermore.  While he only completed about a hundred pages of the novel, he admitted that he wasn’t really interested in pursuing the rest of the story—he just couldn’t foresee himself ever enjoying it.

Our Nevermore readers also looked at a Gothic thriller:  Moths by Rosalind Ashe.  Nemo Boyce is a boisterous young newlywed who falls in love with the Dower House; however, after she convinces her husband to purchase the old estate, their world is suddenly turned upside down by Sarah Moore, a ghost of the actress who once lived and died there.  Two of our readers actually had the opportunity to read Moths, and they had some positive remarks to make.  One reader said it was interesting, a Gothic horror that kept her guessing to the very end; whereas another reader gave it very high marks, saying he really enjoyed it.  It was somber and a little macabre, beginning happily enough and devolving into a terrible tragedy, but he really enjoyed Moths and he devoured it quickly.

Last, our Nevermore readers trekked off the beaten path and ventured into a young-adult fantasy with Family Magic by Patti Larsen.  Sydlynn Hayle is the daughter of a witch and a demon, which makes an ordinary life complicated to say the least—and that’s not including when she crosses paths with Quaid Mormond.  But when Sydlynn is forced to protect the coven that dislikes her and save her family’s magic from destruction, she’ll be pushed to the brink of her knowledge and her power.  Our reader picked up Larsen’s novel in an effort to become better acquainted with young adult novels and find some common ground with her students.  She said it was an enjoyable fantasy novel and quick to read, an interesting encounter for her first foray into young adult literature.

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