Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Nevermore: Smoke and Mirrors, Missing World, Civil War, and More!

Reported by Kristin

Nevermore began with one reader praising Elly Griffiths’ second installation in her series starring DI  Stephens and magician Max Mephisto:  Smoke and Mirrors.  In Brighton, England in late November 1951, two child actors are found dead in the snow.  To add to the horror of dead children, candy is sprinkled around the bodies, causing the press to dub this the “Hansel and Gretel” case.  Despite the morbid subject matter, the book is recommended enthusiastically.

Next up was The Missing World by Margot Livesey.  Main character Hazel is hit by a car, suffers a blow to the head, and loses her memory of the last three years.  Unfortunately, her ex-boyfriend Jonathan takes advantage of the situation and tries to control her life again as Hazel comes out of a coma but continues to suffer seizures.  Our reader described the character’s interactions as almost sitcom-like.

Dakota: A Spiritual Geography by Kathleen Norris was chosen by another reader upon reflection of current events in Standing Rock Native American Reservation.  As a newcomer to a land with so little water and so much isolation, Norris found herself exploring the wisdom held by Native Americans, Benedictine monks, and other high plains residents.  Our reader described it as a very spiritual book with a significant message.

One of Nevermore’s history buffs brought up a well-written book:  A Disease in the Public Mind:  A New Understanding of Why We Fought the Civil War by Thomas Fleming.  Beginning with the state of affairs before the Revolutionary War, Fleming discusses the roles of slaves in the northern and southern colonies.  As slavery began to diminish in other parts of the world, political leaders and private citizens began to question their conscience and some began to advocate for the abolishment of slavery.  The North and South became increasingly polarized over these issues, eventually leading to states’ secession and war.

Moving from North America to South America, the next book up was Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time by Mark Adams.  As a travel magazine editor, Adams had travelled to Machu Picchu previously, but had taken the easier tourist route.  For this experience, Adams decided to walk (with mules and guides managing all the supplies) the “original” route travelled by Hiram Bingham a century ago.  Our reader said that this was a fun book but she was glad that she had not been the one walking amidst the giant spiders, snakes, and other dangers.

 How to Keep House by Sam Martin garnered a few chuckles because it is part of the tongue in cheek series “The Lost Art of Being a Man”.  With 1950’s style illustrations, in this book the man of the house is the one wearing an apron, ironing the clothes, and washing the windows while the woman sits back in an easy chair reading.  Joking aside, the book offers tips for modern householders who may not have learned how to remove stains from clothing, troubleshoot a malfunctioning vacuum cleaner, or replace a windowpane.

Finally, author Anne Wetzell Armstrong was touted as one of the most important (though largely unknown and unappreciated) novelists to live in the Bristol area.  Her novel This Day and Time is a tribute to the rural Big Creek community that she came to know after moving from Michigan to Tennessee as a child.  Armstrong also published several articles in the 1920’s about the emerging role of women in the workplace.

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