Book Reviews

One Man’s Maine by Jim Krosschell

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 Jim Krosschell’s book, One Man’s Maine, is both thoughtful and provocative. Published by Green Writers Press, a Vermont based publisher whose mission is to spread a message of hope and renewal, the book is all of that.

Jim’s “from away” with a home in Owls Head, and he’s a very strong environmentalist. I most enjoyed his chapters on Maine’s wild critters, from moose and deer to yellow finches and crabs. While he is critical of moose hunters, I forgive him for that. Having never hunted, he doesn’t really understand that hunting is not all about killing.

Jim has a unique way of expressing his appreciation for our state, from moss and lichen on a mountaintop to rockweed in the ocean, and he has strong feelings for our wild places.

Here’s a good example from his chapter titled “Human Natures.”

This writer has captured Maine

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 I just discovered a wonderful Maine writer. Lew-Ellyn Hughes isn’t exactly a hidden gem, because she’s been writing a column, Away with Words, for western Maine’s The Original Irregular, for many years. And she’s won many Maine Press Association awards for those columns.

But I didn’t know about her until I read a review by Bill Bushnell of her new book, Maine Stories, published by Maine Authors Publishing in Thomaston. I was intrigued and promptly ordered up a copy of the book. And now I know why she’s so popular and has won awards.

Maine Stories are just that, great stories about our state and people. Lew-Ellyn has a very entertaining way of writing her stories, often in the first person. Many of the stories are humerous. She covers it all, from bugs to grandchildren. There’s even a story about how she could not come up with a story for that week’s column.  I also enjoyed her column about her collection of old Maine books – something I’ve done too.

Stunning photos and great stories about loons

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 There is something very special about loons, and photographer Nick Leadley has captured that specialness in a spectacular way. In his book, Gavia – Tales from Loon Country, Nick gives us dozens of stunning photos of loons, and dozens of stories about loons submitted by folks all over the state.

As Harry Vogel, Executive Director of The Loon Preservation Committee in New Hampshire, notes in the Foreword, “Science and magic combine in loons as in no other animal.”

Nick has experienced photographic adventures all around the world, but says one of his very favorite places is the western Maine mountains where he spends his summers running a gallery in Rangeley, leading bird walks, moose photography outings, and more.

A beautiful book about a beautiful butterfly

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           Monarch butterflies are in trouble, which makes Melissa Kim’s new book, A Monarch Butterfly Story, published by Islandport Press in Yarmouth, all the more important. Jada Fitch’s illustrations are beautiful, and Melissa gives us a wonderful story of a grandson in Maine who gets a special message from his grandfather in Texas, telling him that the Monarch Butterflies are “running out of food and places to live.”

I got caught by Caught.

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 From Tony Small’s first photo and Glen Libby’s first quote, I was hooked by their wonderful book: Caught – Time. Place. Fish.

“Changing the world was not as simple as it seemed here in Port Clyde, but a remarkable thing happened…”

That’s the first thing I read, and it was so true: this is the story of a truly remarkable achievement in Port Clyde, Maine, one of my favorite places.

As Port Clyde’s fishing industry declined, due to the disappearance of shrimp and other species, Glen jumped up and organized the first Community Supported Fishery (CSF) in the nation.

The CSF was designed to process and sell the fish and allow fishermen to capture more of the profits. It was not an immediate success. Indeed, it’s been a long and often difficult road to profitability. But in the meantime, more than 100 other CSF’s have been organized in our country, and Glen has become a well-known leader in the industry.

Another suspenseful

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 Kate Flora is prolific, a novelist whose books are full of suspense, great dialogue, and superb descriptions of her characters. And they are impossible to put down.

As I neared the end of Led Astray, Kate’s book published last October, I found myself breathing deeply, anxiously awaiting the climax.

I find it amazing that she has cranked out 15 books, including many award winning novels. She won the 2013 and 2015 Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. She’s also written nonfiction true crime books, and another of my favorites, A Good Man with a Dog, which she co-wrote with retired Maine game warden Roger Guay.

Great stories from a Maine bush pilot

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 Jake Morrell offers many great stories in his book, Hardscrabble Lodge. I got to visit with Jake at an authors’ event in Boothbay Harbor and eagerly grabbed a copy of his book.

Jake and his wife Beth lived an interesting and unusual life as the owners of Hardscrabble Lodge in the north woods. They purchased the abandoned and dilapidated remote camps and turned them into a popular destination.

Jake loved flying, and most of the stories feature his flying adventures and challenges. And yes, some were scary. Glad I wasn’t in the plane that time his engine quit – twice! His story of a trip to northern Quebec brought back my memories of fishing in that same region.

Not all stories are about planes. Wait ‘til you read about that time millions of blue insects surrounded the camps! There are also some great color photos in the book.

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