Book Reviews

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

Boy escapes poverty by living life outdoors in Maine

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                The cover photo will grab you. It features a young woman in a dress, wearing a red felt hat, holding a dead fox in one hand and a rifle in the other, with a dead deer hanging two feet from her, just in front of the clothes line. Bud Simpson’s mother didn’t bag the fox or deer, and the hat and rifle were not hers, but obviously, she was game for anything her family came up with.

Answers to Questions Nobody was Askin, by Tim Sample

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Tim Sample’s new book could probably be categorized as a biography, because there are many stories about Tim’s interesting life. But the book is much more than that. And yes, of course, there are some hilarious stories. Tim did not become our state’s most popular and well-known comedian by chance. He’s a very funny guy.

And while I enjoyed all the funny stories, and the special Maine humor, I was particularly captivated by some of the more serious stories.

Distant Cousin by Delia Drake

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Marti Brann is a Mainer with a great imagination. She even imagined a new name, Delia Drake, to use as author of her mystery, Distant Cousin.  But this novel is all Marti. In the brief bio of Marti in the back of the book, we learn that she has a “vivid imagination that has entertained her family for years.” And now that imagination will entertain you too.

Closer All the Time by Jim Nichols

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This novel surprised me. Jim Nichols is a very good writer, well recognized for his short stories. But in Closer All the Time, Jim has woven together a group of his short stories and turned them into a compelling new novel. Most of the stories have been published before, but he wrote three new ones to link all of the others.

That works, allowing some characters to continue throughout the novel, but I actually read them as short stories, a few at a time. Each stands alone, and all are compelling, interesting, and very insightful. The setting is Baxter, Maine, a community near the coast, the time is shortly after World War Two, and the characters are very recognizable, from Early Blake, the clam digger, to Johnny Lundun, a veteran with serious problems.

Consider this, the first paragraph in the chapter titled “Early.”

Solace by Tim Caverly

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Tim Caverly offers an intriguing mix of fact and fiction in his new novel, Solace. And while the fictional tale is a good one, it’s the factual parts of the book that I found most fascinating. As Tim writes in the preface, “It is up to you, the reader, to use your detective skills to determine what parts of the following text is fiction or nonfiction, autobiography or a fabrication, historic narrative or creative writing. Let me know what you decide.” Yes, there is all of that in Solace.

It didn’t take a lot for me to detect some of the nonfiction and autobiography. Tim served for 18 years as the Regional Supervisor of the Allagash Region for the Bureau of Parks and Lands. And the novel is set in the Allagash Wilderness Waterway.

Once Burned by Gerry Boyle

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I’ve been waiting – impatiently - for years for a new novel by one of my favorite writers, Gerry Boyle. Well, it was worth the wait, because Gerry’s new novel, Once Burned, is a real page-turner. I actually read it in one day – literally could not stop reading. It is that good.

The really good news for you, if you have never read any of Gerry’s novels, is that Islandport Press in Yarmouth, in addition to publishing his new novel, has republished all of his previous novels in paperback. You’ve got a summer of fun reading ahead!

Gerry began his writing career as a news reporter for a weekly paper in Rumford, and moved from there to the Morning Sentinel in Waterville. I can remember talking to him after his first novel was published, and learning that he got up at 4 am to write the novel, before going to work at the paper. That is dedication and determination!

Cold Hard News by Maureen Milliken

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A teenager dies in a snowmobile crash. An old fella emerges from the roadside snow in the spring, apparently killed by a snowplow. And this is only a portion of the murder and mayhem in Maureen Milliken’s wonderful first novel, Cold Hard News.

Maureen’s enjoyed a great career in the newspaper business throughout New England. Since she returned to Maine in 2011, she’s served as a columnist and editor at the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel, where it’s been my privilege to get to know her.  She is witty and sometimes cynical, and those qualities come through in the novel.

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