Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Nevermore: Girl in Disguise, Other Einstein, Makeup Man, Physics, Brain, Eva Luna and End of the Day

Reported by Kristin

Our first Nevermore reader very enthusiastically recommends Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister.  Based on the true story of the first female detective in the Pinkerton agency, Kate Warne forges a career in what until then has been an old boys club.  Once Pinkerton realizes that having women detectives would be to his advantage, Kate is placed in charge of training other women, a task she falls to with a vengeance.  Our reader found this novel fun, interesting and informative, and said that she just got enveloped in this woman’s life.

The next reader had a very different reaction to her novel—she thought that The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict was simply awful.  The book made her dislike Albert Einstein, as he was depicted as a selfish jerk who took credit for his first wife’s work.  Additionally, our reader did not think that the book was well written.  With mixed critical reviews, this volume depicts physicist Mileva Maric, the aforementioned first wife of Einstein, as a brilliant woman who sacrificed her own career for her husband’s.

Discussion turned to non-fiction with Makeup Man: From Rocky to Star Trek The Amazing Creations of Hollywood’s Michael Westmore by Michael Westmore with Jake Page.  The Westmore family has been involved in the Hollywood make up business for a full century, since 1917.  As well as working with such stars as Sylvester Stallone, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Michael Westmore also designed the make up for hundreds of Star Trek aliens.  Our reader found this a fascinating book.

Going from art to science, our next reader talked about Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life by Helen Czerski.  Just detailed enough to be challenging, but simple enough to understand, Czerski seems to know everything about mid-level science.  Our reader was fascinated by the variety of scientific facts offered up, and in fact performed an experiment at the book club table.  How can you tell if an egg is hard boiled or raw?  Spin them and observe which one goes fastest and longest.  After several people tried testing the eggs, our reader cracked the two “boiled” eggs.  Fortunately, our spinners were correct.  Many other scientific curiosities are included in this illuminating book.

From physical science to life science, The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science by Norman Doidge discusses the way that our experiences shape the physical properties of our brains.  Throwing out the old idea that brains are static organs, the author examines the idea of “neuroplasticity,” looking at how brains can rewire themselves after trauma.  Our reader was very impressed with the idea that our brains can use cognitive reserves to adapt to new circumstances.

The End of the Day is a new novel by Claire North.  Charlie decides he’s ready for a change in his life, so he applies for a new job.  The title?  Harbinger of Death.  Charlie visits people all over the world.  Sometimes he comforts them as they are dying.  Sometimes, he may visit quite some time before the time or day of actual death, but his visit serves some purpose to prepare them for what lies ahead.  Our reader commented on the fact that in Charlie’s world, everyone dies twice: one actual death, and a second when people stop talking about you.

Lastly, another reader discussed Eva Luna by Isabelle Allende.  Eva is a young girl who was orphaned early and is making her own way in a rough South American country.  As Eva moves through life, she experiences a series of unusual circumstances.  Our reader called it a tale of mystical realism, as the reader may question if the events really could have happened.  Our reader said that it was a good book and worth suspending disbelief over the fantastical elements in order to appreciate the story.

No comments:

Post a Comment