Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Nevermore: Did You Just Eat That?, How Democracies Die, When the Lights Go Out, Daughters of the Lake, Alchemist's Daughter, Amy & Isabelle

Reported by Kristin

Nevermore is made up of a diverse crowd, some loving science, some digging into archeology, some solving mysteries along with books’ protagonists.  Sometimes someone will come in with a really fun book like Did You Just Eat That?: Two Scientists Explore Double-Dipping, the Five-Second Rule, and Other Food Myths in the Lab by Paul Dawson and Brian Sheldon.  Tackling those really tough questions brought up since the advent of microbiology, the authors examine just what kind of bacteria are out there and how they are spread.  Our reader said it was very fun, although now she shudders at the thoughts of how many germs are on restaurant menus.  Another reader said that at her age, if it hasn’t killed her yet….

A couple of different readers were trying to get through How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt.  While touted as a comprehensive, enlightening and timely book (by the New York Times Book Review) our readers thought that the authors included perhaps too much information about the current political situation and left out some history about how the United States has previously helped to overthrow democracies in developing countries due to our own national interests.  While there is a lot of important information included, the consensus was that the authors did not do a good job of drawing it all together.

Another book club member read fiction this week, enjoying Daughters of the Lake by Wendy Webb.  Kate Granger is trying to regroup after her divorce, staying at a family home on Lake Superior.  When she discovers a woman’s body, she is shocked at the familiar face, known only to Kate herself.  The story moves forward and back in time, uncovering a tragic mystery from a hundred years ago.  Our reader was immersed in the ghostly sense of mystery and betrayal.

Fiction reading continued with Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout.  In this debut novel, a mother’s love and angst are on full display as her sixteen year old daughter Amy comes into her own sexuality.  Isabelle has secrets of her own that she would like to keep quiet in their small New England town.  Our reader claimed that this was well-written and she would recommend it to others.

Continuing the theme of daughters, this time a father-daughter relationship is explored with The Alchemist’s Daughter by Katharine McMahon.  In 1725, young woman Emilie Selden has followed in her father’s footsteps as a philosopher and alchemist.  But passion intervenes when Emilie falls in love with someone who may be the wrong man for her.  In London, Emilie’s life changes dramatically, and she learns more about the world than she ever knew in the English countryside with her father.

Finally (and still continuing the familial relationship plotlines,) another reader enjoyed When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica.  Twenty year old Jessie Sloane is devastated when her mother succumbs to cancer.  As she tries to find her way in a world without her mother, she finds that not all is as it seems, and she begins to question who she really is.  The story weaves back and forth from Jessie in her grief and sleeplessness to her mother Eden when she was a newlywed.  Our reader hinted at big plot twists and a shocking conclusion, but definitely recommended the book to her fellow readers.

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