Book Reviews

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

The Old Woman is back and wait til you read her stories!

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             The old woman hasn’t run out of stories.

The subtitle of Return of Old Maine Woman, written by Glenna Johnson Smith and published this year by Islandport Press, is Tales of Growing Up and Getting Older.

Glenna grew up in the 1920s and 30s in rural Hancock County, eventually moving to Aroostook County where she lived on a farm and taught school.

I guess you can tell from the title that Glenna is some old pleased to be an old woman.

Shooting bear cubs in their den, killing 100 trout in a day – these Old Tales of the Maine Woods will amaze and appall you

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I had been fishing for about two hours. On counting the catch, we had one hundred and thirty-seven trout.

This might be my dream fishing experience but it is not my story. Its Heber Bishop’s story, written in the Guide Book to the Megantic, Spider, and Upper Dead River Regions in 1887, and reprinted in Steve Pinkham’s amazing (and sometimes appalling) Old Tales of the Maine Woods published by Merrimak Media in 2012.

Bishop’s story continued: My heart smote me for taking so many, but we had carried them up to camp before counting them and it was too late to put any of them back then. So we did the best we could to prevent willful waste, by gutting them, building a smoke house, and giving what we did not eat that day a smoking all that afternoon, night and until noon the next day.

Mainers on the Titanic offers compelling and astonishing stories

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Until I read Mainers on the Titanic, I had no idea of the scope of that tragedy or how it impacted our state. Mac Smith of Stockton Springs brings it home, in a very compelling way. I was captivated – and astonished.

Published this year by Down East Books, this is no dull history. Mac gives us compelling personal stories of the many Titanic passengers from Maine and their families back home. He’s a great story teller. And oh my, what stories.

From the wealthy summer folks in Bar Harbor, to the far corners of our state, the maiden voyage of the Titanic attracted lots of Mainers and relatives of Mainers. Nearly all the men died, as well as some women and children. Of the 2224 passengers and crew, 1500 perished.

Maine State Trooper's book filled with humor and intrigue

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Maine State Troopers lead interesting lives filled with humor, intrigue, sadness, and, yes, foolishness. The foolish part comes from the people they encounter.

Retired trooper Mark Nickerson has the pedigree to write a book about his trooper career, and he sure enough has the stories. His Dad, Millard Nickerson, had a long and distinguished career in the State Police. Mark dedicated the book to his Dad, whose life he “aspired to have.”

Mark also has a one-man cheering squad, retired game warden and now-very-successful author John Ford – who encouraged (ok, badgered) Mark into writing a column called “Real Life Stories” in local newspapers. And those stories are what you get in his new book, Blue Lights in the Night, published by North Country Press.

Eating in Maine (At home, on the town and on the road)

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Two of our favorite Maine chefs praised Eating in Maine effusively on the back cover of this exceptional book, and boy, did they get it right.

Eating in Maine is a dazzling, intelligent, invaluable resource for the home cook and for anyone wanting to know more about the booming culinary scene in Maine,” wrote Shannon Bard, the owner/chef of Portland’s amazing Mexican restaurant, Zapoteca.

“Jillian and Malcolm are the real thing. From hot dogs to haute cuisine, if it tastes good, they let the rest of us know about it,” said Kerry Altiero, the very creative owner/chef of Rockland’s Café Miranda.

Too late for fiddleheads but there is lots more food in the Maine woods!

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 When Linda got the call from a neighbor with a back 40 that has a nice patch of fiddleheads every spring, she rushed right up. Unfortunately, the fiddleheads were almost gone by. She got one nice picking and that was it.

To overcome our disappointment, I pulled out Tom Seymour’s newly revised Wild Plants of Maine guide, published this year by Just Write Books, and we checked out our own back 40.

Wow. We’ve got lots of edibles out there!

Tom’s first guide, published in 2010, has been updated with lots of new plants and mushrooms.  Not all the plants in the book can be eaten, but those have been our focus so far since we got the book a few weeks ago.

Loon story is beautifully illustrated and written

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 I once played the haunting cries of a loon at a legislative hearing, to emphasize the importance of banning lead sinkers and jigs that poison and kill this iconic bird. The good news is that the legislature did just that.

My Dad is a wood carver and his carved loons have always been his most popular. He’s carved over 100 and they are stunning. Everyone in Maine recognizes the beauty and importance of our loons.

That’s just one of the reasons I expect The Lake Where Loon Lives by Brenda Steeves Sturgis to be a bit hit. Published by Islandport Press in Yarmouth, this children’s book is beautifully illustrated by Brooke Carlton. Maine Audubon hosted a special event on May 17 to launch the book. It’s getting a lot of deserved attention.

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