Book Reviews

Pass the Pandowdy, Please – Words by Abby Zelz, Art by Eric Zelz

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 Do you like food? How about history? As a lover of both, I found Pass The Pandowdy, Please, to be absolutely fascinating. It’s a book that will entertain both adults and children, and I can’t wait to share it with my grandsons.

The subtitle tells it well: Chewing on History with Famous Folks and Their Fabulous Foods. This book, published by Tilbury House in Thomaston, takes us on a romp through history, looking at what famous people ate, and telling us why. Abby Zelz wrote the stories while her husband Eric Zelz did the art.

Imagine dining with Cleopatra. You’ll have to be prepared to eat with your fingers, as she did. They didn’t have utensils at that time. That’s my kind of eating!

Among the Shadows by Bruce Robert Coffin

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Bruce Robert Coffin’s novel, Among the Shadows, is the only thing that went right on our recent flights to Italy. I’d dipped into the book the night before we left, to make sure it was worthy of carrying all the way to Italy and back. And it was.

So I started reading it on the bus trip from Portland to Boston, read a bit more at Logan and on the plane to Rome, and finished the book during a 7 hour layover in Rome. We’d left Boston late, missed our connection in Rome to Pisa, waited 7 hours for another flight to Pisa, and arrived too late to get to our destination that night. And oh yea, our luggage didn’t arrive in Pisa with us.

Some Writer! The Story Of E.B. White, by Melissa Sweet

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 When Melissa Sweet’s book, Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White, arrived in the mail, I had a rather tall stack of books waiting to be read and reviewed, but I knew immediately that Melissa’s book would be next. E. B. White is one of my writer heroes, and I treasure a very early copy of his One Man’s Meat.

But I made a mistake. Right after lunch, I opened the book just to read a couple of pages. And that was the rest of my day! I took the book outside, sat in the shade on a very nice sunny afternoon, and savored the entire book. While it was written for children, I have to say I was captivated by it.

Threaded Journeys is not your typical book of hunting and fishing stories.

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 Threaded Journeys by Tom Johnson is an unusual book, with a subtitle that gives you a hint of what’s inside: “Fishing, Hunting, Conservation, Adventure… and America’s Future.” Yes, Tom covers it all.

You’ll get provocative opinion pieces on important issues from climate change to the endangered species act to fracking. And there are lots of great hunting and fishing stories, as Tom roams North America and beyond. I particularly enjoyed his stories of deer hunting in Maine and fishing some of my favorite rivers in Montana. And his favorite brook trout spot in Quebec sounds a lot like mine, although it’s not.

Ships, Swindlers, and Scalded Hogs by Frederic B. Hill

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                 When I first picked up this book, Ships, Swindlers, and Scalded Hogs, I wasn’t sure it would be all that interesting. Sure, a history of the famous Crooker Shipyard in Bath is a worthy subject, and the book is written by the great-great-grandson of one of the Crooker brothers, but I’ve got a pile of books to read and write about, so I decided to simply flip through it quickly.

                Well, it only took a few pages before author Frederic B. Hill had me hooked. There’s a whole lot more here than simply building ships. Swindlers and scaled hogs indeed.

Maine on Glass by W.H. Bunting, Kevin Johnson, and Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr.

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                 Historic photos accompanied by fascinating stories of Maine between 1909 and 1950 kept me glued to this book for several evenings. Published by Tilbury House in partnership with the Penobscot Marine Museum, Maine on Glass features 200 black and white photos taken all over the state.

                This wonderful contribution to Maine’s history was created by Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr., the Maine State Historian, Kevin Johnson, the Penobscot Marine Museum photo archivist, and Bill Bunting, Maine’s foremost interpreter of historical images. From resorts to hunting camps, farms to lobster shacks, huge historic homes to large steam ships, brass bands to village schools, they’re all here.

Layne Witherell’s career in wine has been amazing!

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You could be excused for thinking Layne Witherell drank wine from his baby bottle instead of milk. I’m pretty sure he knows more about wine than anyone in the world, and I’m absolutely sure he’s had the most interesting life in the wine business.

Layne’s new book, Wine Maniacs – Life in the Wine Biz, is phenomenal, entertaining, very informative, and something that will surely improve your selection and enjoyment of wine.

It was my good fortunate one day, wandering into the wine section at the back of Trader Joe’s in Portland, to have Layne recognize me and begin a conversation. In person he is very engaging, but what impressed me the most was one of the first things he told me, as I was reaching for a fairly expensive bottle of wine.

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