Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Nevermore: Gone Girl, Winnie the Pooh, Washington's Spies, Joan Rivers, Place Names & The Secret to Hummingbird Cake

Reported by Ambrea

Nevermore settled in with a familiar book and revisited one of their favorite authors with Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  On the day of Amy and Nick Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary, Amy mysteriously disappears—and Nick is at the very top of a list of suspects.  Suddenly, Nick finds himself under intense scrutiny by the police, the local media, and his own family and, when a series of lies and inappropriate behavior surface, he’s left shouldering the blame.  An intense and twisted examination of one man’s deteriorating marriage, Gone Girl was described as a “fascinating book.”  Although our reader had already watched Gone Girl, starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, he was pleasantly surprised by the way the story grabbed and held him.  Despite knowing how the story would end, he enjoyed reading Gone Girl and highly recommended it to other readers who hadn’t yet had the opportunity to read it.

Next, Nevermore looked at The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh:  A Walk Through the Forest that Inspired the Hundred Acre Wood by Kathryn Aalto, which delves deep into the forest—Ashdown Forest—that inspired and helped shape A.A. Milne’s beloved stories.   Serving as a both a guide to the Hundred Acre Wood (and the creatures which inspired it) and a biography of the author, The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh was thoroughly researched and, according to our reader, incredibly fascinating.  He liked the detail Aalto provided, especially regarding the photographs of locations within the Ashdown Forest which inspired the world of Winnie-the-Pooh.  He “[spent] a delightful, nostalgic afternoon with this book,” saying he enjoyed it immensely.  He loved the opportunity to reminisce about his experiences with Milne’s stories, both as a reader and an adult reading to his children.

Nevermore also looked at another fascinating book on George Washington and early American espionage.  Like George Washington’s Secret Six by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger, Washington’s Spies:  The Story of America’s First Spy Ring by Alexander Rose was an intriguing examination of the Culper Ring—George Washington’s secret spy ring which helped bring victory to the United States during the Revolutionary War—and its impact on espionage.  “Rose’s thrilling narrative tells the unknown story of the Revolution—the murderous intelligence war, gunrunning and kidnapping, defectors and executioners—that has never appeared in the history books.”  A fascinating book on Nathan Hale, the Culper Ring, and the indomitable leader, Washington’s Spies was a big hit for our reader.  He called it a “good little book” that struck all the right notes.  Although short and simple, it doesn’t lack for impact and it served as an enjoyable way to pass time.

Switching gears from the American Revolution to modern American stardom, Nevermore checked out I Hate Everyone…Starting with Me by Joan Rivers.  In book, Rivers takes on—and hates on—everything from ugly children, dating rituals, First Ladies, politics, Steven Hawking, feminists and doctors and hypocrites, even herself.  She shows no mercy, poking fun at everyone and everything, much to the amusement of her audience.  Uproariously funny and viciously irreverent, I Hate Everyone…Starting with Me received rave reviews from our reader for its candor, biting wit, and humor.  Our reader said she had so much fun reading this book.  It’s so true to Joan River’s personality, to her voice, that it feels very similar to one of her stand-up comedy roles.  However, she noted she often read River’s book by individual chapters.  It could sometimes get a little tiring when taken in large chunks, so it was best enjoyed in small doses.

Next, our readers looked at A Place Called Peculiar:  Stories About Unusual American Place-Names by Frank K. Gallant.  In his book, Gallant examines some of the most unusual city names and dives deep into the urban legends, myths, and sometimes humorous origin stories of these strange towns.  His list includes:  Smut Eye, Alabama; Tie Siding, Wyoming; Breakfast Hill, New Hampshire; Dinner Station, Nevada; Bug Tussle, Alabama; and Useless Bay, Washington.  Full of interesting names and peculiar places, A Place Called Peculiar proved to be an intriguing and delightful book for our readers, passing through several hands before coming to Nevermore.  According to one reader, it was a wonderful book to pass through and read the little anecdotes provided by the author.  She said she flipped through the pages and couldn’t help but enjoy the short synopses of each town, as well as the colorful history provided by the author.

Last, Nevermore looked at The Secret to Hummingbird Cake by Celeste Fletcher McHale.  A uniquely Southern novel, The Secret to Hummingbird Cake tells the story of Carrigan—Carrie to her friends—and Ella Rae and Laine.  Together, this inseparable trio has grown up in the same Southern town and relied on each other through the very worst moments, including Carrigan’s deteriorating marriage.  But when their friendship is threatened by more than petty squabbles and rough roads, Laine, Carrigan, and Ella Rae are going to have to come to terms with losing something more precious than they realized.  Our reader said she really enjoyed McHale’s first novel.  Sweet, like the hummingbird cake for which it’s named, but hinted with threads of tragedy, The Secret to Hummingbird Cake was a wonderful novel about friendships, cake, love and quirky friendships and loss.  It was an excellent novel with wonderful story development, and it hit just the right notes to make it both incredibly fun (and funny) and terribly tragic.

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