Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Nevermore: Pins, Physick Book, Whistler, Mobituraries, Wonder, Ice Lake, Fatal Love Chase, Desert Solitaire, Visitor

Reported by Laura

Nevermore featured another amazing assortment of book this week, and a surprise at the end!

 Desert Solitaire is an autobiography by Edward Abbey. It was written while he was working as a ranger at Arches National Park outside Moab, Utah. Our reviewer said it had beautiful descriptions and was absolutely fabulous. One anecdote included in the book tells of bringing in nonpoisonous snakes to eat the rats in order to keep the poisonous ones at bay. A marvelous book that is highly recommended, especially if you enjoy the outdoors. It was first published in 1968, but don't let that deter you.

          A Long Fatal Love Chase is a Gothic thriller written by Louisa May Alcott. It was written in 1866, but left unpublished until 1995. It was believed to be too sensational for the times and put aside until the manuscript was bought and published many years after her death. The story centers on 18 year-old Rosamund who lives with her grandfather and is feeling distinctly trapped by her existence. In the opening line, she states, “I’d gladly sell my soul to Satan for a year of freedom.” Unfortunately, she basically does just that. She falls in love with a seemingly charming 35 year-old man, who is in fact quite the opposite, and vows to never let her go. This book was recommended.

          The next offering is the 2nd in the Emile Cinq-Mars series by John Farrow. Ice Lake is set in Canada and the reviewer felt it was written in such a way that you could feel the cold and slickness of the landscape. She found it to be a captivating thriller concerning a pharmaceutical company that, during the time of the AIDS crisis, hired men and women and essentially used them as lab rats.

          The Visitor by Amanda Stevens is part of the Graveyard Queen mystery series. Amelia Gray was born with the gift (or curse) to see ghosts. The estate of a wealthy family is selling the property where an old graveyard reserved for suicide victims is located. As one might expect, this graveyard is one that even animals avoid--no birds, no squirrels, no wildlife of any kind--and Amelia is hired to do the renovations. The reviewer said it was a fun read and that Ms. Stevens is a good writer, but she felt that the book got bogged down with a love interest and side issues, rather than the meat of the story.   

          Our next book was a nonfiction offering, Mobituaries: Great Lives Worth Retelling by Mo Rocca. It is a beautifully written, and often funny, book by a compassionate author. There is a great deal of background for each entry which covers a wide variety of people, one of which is Billy Carter. He was interviewed after he was sober and reflected on his behavior during his brother’s presidential years. Definitely a must read!         

          The Whistler by John Grisham covers the investigation of a corrupt judge who works to see an Indian Casino opened on a reservation and then proceeds to make millions from undeclared winnings. An indicted lawyer operating under an assumed name is representing the whistle blower who has the proof of the judge’s dishonest dealings. Due to FL law, they stand to receive a large percentage of those winnings by recovering the illegally acquired assets. But first they must convince Lacy Stotlz, a judicial investigator, to take on a corrupt judge whose associates think nothing of murdering those who get in their way. Grisham is always a good recommendation.

          Wonder by R.J. Palacio is a juvenile novel about an amazing little boy who is born with a condition that causes his face to appear inhuman. Rather than be defeated by his lot in life, he becomes an inspiration to all those around him. This book inspired a movie and launched the BE KIND movement. The reviewer reports that it is a short book that is sad, but also extremely uplifting!

          The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe has an element of real witchcraft in it. Connie Goodwin is an academic whose mother makes a living reading other people’s auras. While cleaning out her grandmother’s cottage near Salem, she finds parchment with the name Deliverance Dane on it. As she delves further, she unearths the existence of Deliverance’s spell book, the Physick Book. Unfortunately, there are other interested parties who want to find the artifact at any cost. The reviewer really enjoyed the story and felt like there were a lot of interesting things in the book.

          Our last review of the day was Read My Pins by Madeleine Albright. This a fabulous book with beautiful pictures that tells the story of how Ms. Albright used the pins she wore to say something “without saying it”. Others began to realize what she was doing and people began to give her pins to wear when she visited other countries. There is a story to tell for each pin and the book comes complete with a detailed index in the back. Our reviewer loved this book so much it inspired her to bring in her own pin collection to share that was the highlight of the meeting!

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