Book Reviews

Every middle-schooler (and you too) should read this novel

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                 Susan Ross’s book is a “middle grade novel” but I thoroughly enjoyed it myself, and I am a very long way from middle school. Kiki and Jacques, a Holiday House Book, delivers a very important and timely message.

              The story features the arrival of Somali refugees to a Maine town dominated by Franco Americans. A young middle schooler, Jacques, who is involved in a difficult family situation, takes an interest in a Somali girl whose brother, a great soccer player, becomes a rival of Jacques on the playing field.

It’s not a beagle. It’s a Pekingese!

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 Author Leah Haney dedicated her wonderful kid’s book, Muffin’s House, to “every kid who ever fell in love with a dog.” Yup. That would include me.

Well, truth be told, I have loved several dogs in my lifetime. I’m looking at a painting my Dad did of Gypsy Lou, an English setter that pointed the first pheasant I ever shot. We raised, trained, and sold setters, but we kept Gypsy, and she was the best of hunting companions.

I can still see her pointing, in that cornfield at the end of Maranacook Lake, and the pheasant taking off as I raised my shotgun, Dad right beside me, and the pheasant falling to the ground after I shot.

Joseph Souza writes another winning novel.

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 Joe Souza has a great imagination, and his new novel, Need To Find You, proves it.  It’s so fast paced that you won’t want to set it aside. I did, after reading just a few chapters, because I had a busy schedule that week, and then I had to start over because I’d forgotten some of the characters and plot twists in a couple of days. You’re going to need to pay attention when you read this one!

There’s plenty of murder and mayhem in this novel, as there is in Joe’s first novel, The Reawakening, which I also enjoyed and which won the 2013 Maine Literary Award for Speculative Fiction. A Portland resident, Joe has written another potential award winner with his new novel.

Did coyotes kill those hikers on the Appalachian Trail in Maine?

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                 Did coyotes kill those two hikers on the Appalachian Trail in Maine? Well maybe they did. And maybe they didn’t. But a lot of people think they did. And you’ll have to read Paul Doiron’s new novel, The Precipice, to find out if they are right.

                If you’ve never read one of Paul Doiron’s novels, you are in for a summer of fun, because he just added novel number six to his group of engagingly fast reads of stories featuring a Maine game warden. And while I enjoyed every one of Paul’s novels, I do think he is getting better and better.

Amazing stories from an exceptional Maine game warden

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                 Roger Guay was a great game warden, and his book, A Good Man with a Dog, contains thoughtful, insightful, frightening, and entertaining stories of his 25 year career. With the help of Kate Flora, one of my favorite authors, Roger has delivered a book that you will read and share with friends, and then put upta camp to read again.

                One of my favorite chapters involved wild animals, from blind owls to sick moose. The moose was actually leaning on a car when he arrived. The owl was attacking people. Wait until you read his story of the raccoon that attacked him! Roger had several impressive dogs in his career, and those stories are really good too.

The Maine Angler’s Logbook is a march down memory lane

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 Paul Reynolds is a good writer, and his latest book, The Maine Angler’s Logbook, proves this once again. Subtitled Tips, Tales, and Tactics, it is all of that and much more.

For me, it was a march down memory lane. Some of my all-time favorite fishing adventures occurred in Alaska, Montana, and Labrador. Paul’s did too, and his stories about his adventures there brought back a lot of my own wonderful memories.

You won’t be able to stop reading Straw Man by Gerry Boyle

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 I couldn’t wait for Gerry Boyle’s new novel, Straw Man, so I ordered up an uncorrected proof review copy, and read it in two evenings. Couldn’t put it down actually. Stayed up the first night well beyond my normal bedtime.

Gerry is one of my very favorite novelists, and this is the 10th in his Jack McMorrow mystery series. He once worked for the Morning Sentinel. He told me back then that he got up at 4 am to write his novels, before heading off to work. I’m afraid anything I wrote at 4 am wouldn’t be worth reading!

But boy, this novel is that and a lot more. It’s set in Prosperity, Maine, a place that could be any town in rural Maine. Gerry does a wonderful job with his characters and plots, and the plot in Straw Man is intense. Very intense. There’s lots of murder and mayhem, intrigue and mystery, and, as another of my favorite novelists, Paul Doiron, wrote on the back cover,”this book is lean, mean, and packed with action.” That it is.

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