Book Reviews

Two Tents by Jim Haskell

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 I finished the Appalachian Trail at the top of Mt Katahdin. Of course, I started that hike at Katahdin Stream at the bottom of the mountain, so I didn’t hike the entire AT!

Thankfully, I don’t have to hike the entire trail because I experienced that in Jim Haskell’s great book, Two Tents, published by Maine Authors Publishing. The title references a mistake Jim made on one of his hikes, lugging two tents up into the mountains.

Jim, a Maine native, was not a “through hiker.” He completed the 2200 mile hike in sections over a 21 year period. And he was inspired to do that at the age of 9, when he and his Dad and older siblings climbed Mount Katahdin. Yes, Mount Katahdin can be inspiring!

Crossing Northern Borders by Patricia Leach

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 The poems and stories about Maine and the Maritimes in Patricia Leach’s book, Crossing Northern Borders, is almost as good as traveling that same path. Published by Maine Authors Publishing, the book is organized into stories and poems about farming and community, fishing and discovery, Cape Breton, and my favorite: Gratitude.

The best way I can share my enthusiasm for this book is to share some of it with you. Here’s a bit from an inspiring story about Patricia’s house raising.

“In these first years in Maine, the kindness of the people I had met was amazing.” Including friends from out of state, “There were more than fifty people for the house raising… A day filled with work, laughter, and picture-taking, and by its end, the frame stood tall and strong. The evening, under a starlit sky, was filled with great food and wonderful music from guitars.

Go to the Pine: Quoddy Journals 2005-2010 by Mark Pawlak

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 My heritage is centered in Lubec, the most beautiful place in our state. So I was pleased to receive Mark Pawlak’s book, Go to the Pine: Quoddy Journals 2005-2010.

The book is a collection of poems and narratives of his experiences along the coast of Maine, which he captures in all its glory and grit. You will hear the fog horn, see the waves lapping the shore, and oh yea, see the rusty draggers and tired motels too.

If you have never been to Lubec and Quoddy Bay, you will want to go after you read this book.

My great grandfather was the keeper at West Quoddy Head Lighthouse in Lubec for 32 years. My Mom grew up in South Lubec, and I often visited my grandmother there when I was a kid. My wife Linda and I visit Lubec and Campobello two or three times a year, relishing every trip and our time there.

The Other Island: Ben’s Story by Barbara Kent Lawrence

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 Now, we get the rest of the story. Ben’s story.

I loved Barbara Kent Lawrence’s novel, Islands of Time, and immediately after finishing it, I picked up the sequel, The Other Island: Ben’s Story. Both books were published by the Maine Author’s Alliance.

In Islands of Time, Becky Granger tells her story of love, loss, and a lifetime of incredible sorrow. Her family members are “summer people” on a Maine island when she falls in love, at the age of 14, with Ben Bunker, an island boy. Everything goes wrong, and Becky mourns that lost love for the rest of her life, through two unsuccessful marriages. And then she moves permanently to that island, and reconnects with Ben, although he is very happily married.

There’s a lot more to the story, of course, but I don’t want to spoil it for you. For sure, you should read Islands of Time before you tackle Ben’s Story.

Islands of Time by Barbara Kent Lawrence

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 Islands of Time will bring tears to your eyes – many times. Barbara Kent Lawrence’s first novel, published by Maine Authors Publishing, is both profound and insightful.

Set on a Maine island, a young “summer” girl falls in love with an island boy. But summer residents are a different breed than the local folks, and the young girl and boy are driven apart. The young girl never gets over her young love for the island boy, and that affects her life in every way.

When she returns to the island, after two divorces, well, the story gets even more complicated. I will leave this there.

I found Lawrence’s writing to be engaging, with deep emotions that leap off the pages, until you want to jump in and rescue that poor girl. My wife Linda is now reading the novel, and finds it equally compelling.

Can I Carry Your Luggage? By Shelley Lance-Fulk and Jacklyn Amtower

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 I don’t know how it is that I had never heard of Shelley Lance-Fulk and Jaclyn Amtower, who live in Beaver Cove, a small village just north of Greenville, and who have travelled to all 7 continents and more than 75 countries to experience and photograph wildlife.

Thankfully, I know about them now, after reading some of their amazing stories, and seeing some of their fantastic photographs, in their new book published by Maine Authors Publishing, Can I Carry Your Luggage? The title comes from a question often asked at their talks from folks who would love to travel with them and carry their luggage. Now, I’m also on that list!

Beneath the Depths by Bruce Robert Coffin

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I figured it out! I figured out who killed the prominent attorney, the drug dealer, and the stripper.  Well, ok, I was only about 20 pages from the end of Bruce Robert Coffin’s wonderful new novel, Beneath the Depths, but I did sense who the real killer was before Coffin revealed that information.

As the intriguing story progressed, more than a dozen possible killers were trotted out, and another prominent attorney was jailed for those murders, but it became obvious, using the clues Coffin revealed, that someone else was the killer. And I figured it out.

I enjoyed Coffin’s first novel, Among the Shadows, and his new novel is even better. I can tell you that this book is flying off the shelves of our Mount Vernon library, and getting rave reviews from our patrons.

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