Book Reviews

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

Murder and mayhem in Belfry, Maine - plus lots of laughs

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Amidst the murder and mayhem, author Earl H. Smith, the retired Dean of the College at Colby College, offers lots of laugh-out-loud humor in his first novel, The Dam Committee. It’s a quick read, and as soon as I finish writing this review, I’ll crack open Earl’s second novel, More Dam Trouble. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Published by North Country Press in Unity, Earl’s first novel is filled with small-town characters in Belfry, Maine. And yes, you can be forgiven if you see similarities between Earl’s hometown of Belgrade Lakes and his fictional town of Belfry. Living in Mount Vernon, next to Belgrade Lakes, I certainly recognize the issues that keep the dam committee busy. But the murder and that half million dollars in a buried suitcase, well, that’s all news to me!

Life in Prison - Eight Hours at a Time

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                Robert Reilly was in prison in Pennsylvania and Maine for seven years. By choice. He was a prison guard. And his story, told in Life In Prison – Eight Hours at a Time, published recently by Tilbury House in Thomaston, is shocking, scary, discouraging, and disturbing.        

                This book is must-reading for each of you, because the only way this horrific situation will be corrected is if we demand it. And that won’t happen unless and until you are aware of it. Special thanks to Tilbury House for publishing this important book.

Maine’s devastating and destructive wild fires of 1947.

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If it wasn’t true, Wildfire Loose – The Week Maine Burned would make a good science fiction tale. I knew that Bar Harbor and Mt. Desert Island burned badly in 1947, but I did not know the devastating fires spread throughout the state, terrorizing Mainers, exhausting fire fighters, wiping out entire communities.

                Glad I wasn’t born until 1948!

                A severe drought set the stage for this tragedy, which was ignited, in many places, by carelessly tossed cigarettes. Some of the fires were deliberately set. But it only took a single spark to set the ground ablaze.

A fascinating, informative, and historic look at Maine's fisheries management

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                Do you think you know a lot about Maine’s inland fisheries? So did I until I read Suzanne Auclair’s amazing new book. The Origin, Formation & History of Maine’s Inland Fisheries Division is a thorough, often-in-their-own-words, fascinating examination of the important and historical work of our state’s fisheries biologists.

                This book is a treasure and will be the place future fisheries managers and anglers go to understand the state’s complicated evolution of fish and fisheries management. Suzanne spent two long years creating this book, and here’s how she describes it:

The Theriaults have published the best snowshoe book ever!

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 Want to make your own snowshoes? Need to take better care of your snowshoes? Want to know more about snowshoes?

                Leaving Tracks – A Maine Tradition, by Brian Theriault and his Dad Edmond, will answer all your questions and lots of others you haven’t thought to ask.

                Part biography (Brian grew up in Fort Kent), part pep talk about the value of traditional snowshoes, and part instructional with detailed drawings explaining how to make your own snowshoes, this book will entertain and inform you, and maybe even inspire you to make a pair.

Fights over fish and game are not new!

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Common Lands, Common People, by Richard W. Judd, is a fascinating account of the origins of conservation in Northern New England. Published by Harvard University Press in 1997, Judd’s book has been an important reference for me for the last 15 years.

There are all kinds of lessons for us in this book, on contemporary issues from commercial fishing to tourism, and of course many impacting hunting and fishing. I will share these, along with passages from the book, with you from time to time over the next few months.

Let’s start with this, from a section titled “Farmers, Fish, and Tourism,” about “a sharp debate over game and fish management in the 1890s.”

Enjoy an African safari – without leaving home!

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 I’ve always wanted to visit South Africa to see all the amazing animals there, and I will probably never get there, but Vonne Martin’s new book, Southern Africa Safari, published by AuthorHouse, gives me an astonishing, spectacular, close-up look at the animals I’d hoped to see in person.

Martin has been an underwater photographer for 35 years, and this book represents her first photography adventure on land. It’ll be tough to top this, an over-sized limited edition account of her month in the grasslands of South Africa, Botswana, and Zambia.

“It is my hope that the images of the magnificent creatures inspire readers to fall in love with the different species and become involved in conservation efforts,” Martin said. “This was a labor of love and it added so much meaning to my life.”

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