Book Reviews

George and Linda review books and other publications, many of which are referenced in the blogs.

Unpaved Surfaces by Joseph Souza

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                 When he autographed his newest novel, Unpaved Surfaces, for me, Joseph Souza wrote, “I hope you like it, George!” Well, Joe, I am sorry to report that I didn’t like it. I loved it!

                Boy, it is always a treat to discover a new favorite novelist, and Joe has made the list. And I’m particularly excited because he wrote another novel, The Reawakening, that I haven’t read yet. That novel won the 2013 Maine Literary Award for Speculative Fiction.

                Yes, Joe is a Maine writer who lives in Portland with his wife and kids. He’s been writing award winning short stories for quite a while. You can read more about him at

Tall Tales from the Tall Pines by Christian P. Potholm

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 Chris Potholm’s tall tales may be more truth than fiction. Tall Tales from the Tall Pines is a book of hunting and other outdoor stories that will be read, re-read, and put up on the shelves with outdoor books that are handed down from generation to generation. And not just because some of the stories are based on true amazing experiences that happened to author Christian Potholm – some of them with me.

Owls Head Revisited by Jim Krosschell

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 You may have visited the Owls Head lighthouse, or Lucia Beach, or even eaten one of those famous burgers at the Owls Head store, but you’ve never seen Owls Head as Jim Krosschell has seen it. Jim’s book, Owls Head Revisited, published by North Country Press in Unity, is both interesting and provocative.

Jim has lots of opinions about Maine, politics, the environment, and most especially everything in Owls Head from the airport (doesn’t like it) to the mansions of summer people (doesn’t like them) to the hard-working Mainers (likes them) to the ocean and forests and wildlife (loves them), to the very relaxing and reformative state of our State (that’s why he’s here).

History Matters

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                 History matters. And we’re losing too much of it. I was reminded of this last year when Linda and I visited the new library on Swan’s Island for one of my book talks. The Island librarian lamented that their old library burned and they’d lost a lot of valuable historical items and records.

                I was reminded of this again when I recently spent an hour with Adam Fisher at the Maine State Library, where Adam is doing a superb job of collecting and digitizing old books, brochures, photos, and other records from long-gone Maine sporting camps. Adam had suggested I have a look at these items for the book on sporting camps I am writing for Down East Books.

No Flies on Bill by Darcy Wakefield

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 This is a delightful book about a woman whose lifetime spanned most of the 20th century, written by Ethel “Billie” Gammon’s granddaughter, Darcy Wakefield, who subtitled it “The Story of an Uncontrollable Old Woman.” Billie was all of that and much more.

For all of her adult life Billie was a teacher, but not always in a school setting. And she spent a good deal of time at home, with her children, something women were expected to do in her time. I found many of the stories fascinating, such as her early dating years in the chapter titled, “You Kept Your Legs Locked Together.” Her even earlier years in Nova Scotia, before her family returned to Maine, are defined in this chapter, “A Happy, Happy Life.” If you didn’t live through the depression, you may be surprised to discover how little it took to create that happy happy life. Billie’s family was forced to give up their Nova Scotia farm when the depression arrived there in 1926.

Hunting accidents leave blood on the leaves

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 As we open the fall hunting seasons in Maine, it would be a good idea for all of us to read Blood on the Leaves, published by Rowman and Littlefield, to remind ourselves of how one brief mistake with a firearm can cause such tragedy. The authors of this book, Rod Slings, Mike Van Durme, and B. Keith Byers, were hunting accident investigators in their states. And the stories they tell about the hunting accidents they investigated are sobering.

One of the authors actually got shot himself – twice. The first time he was crawling through the grass to get a look at someone who was hunting a stream. He thought they were illegally hunting ducks. But they were actually shooting frogs – legally, with a .22 rifle.

Unnatural Deaths Is all about Maine

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I purchased and read Bob Fuller’s novel, Unnatural Deaths, when it was first published in 2009, and a recent conversation with Bob reminded me of how much I had enjoyed it, so I hauled it off the shelf and read it again this week. And I enjoyed it just as much as I did the first time.

Bob really captures us Mainers, especially in his dialogue, and all of my favorite novels include great dialogue. There is plenty of murder and mayhem here, but it’s the way Bob presents the goodness in Maine that really pleased me. And given today’s disappointing and dysfunctional governing at nearly all levels, there’s an important message in this novel about this as well.

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