Book Reviews

Save the planet and all its creatures – by gardening wisely

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                  The Life in your Garden by Reeser Manley and Marjorie Peronto is an important and interesting book for all who garden and all who value our environment and the critters that share it with us. I originally got the book for my wife Linda, a gardening fanatic who gardens all winter in her 14 foot by 28 foot hoop house, heated by the sun. 

                Yup, we had fresh veggies for Christmas dinner! Linda also has raised beds and two regular outdoor gardens. And that doesn’t count her amazing flower gardens that surround the house.

“Just One More Thing, Doc” by Bradford B. Brown, DVM

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After reading Brad Brown’s first book, While You’re Here, Doc, I couldn’t wait to dive into his second, Just One More Thing, Doc.

And sure enough, just like his first book, once I began reading, I couldn’t stop, racing through the non-stop astonishing stories of Brown’s career as a veterinarian, focused on farm animals.

In his first book, Brown was trampled, dragged, mauled, and more by farm animals, especially horses. And the beatings continue in book two.

“The Boston Castrato” by Colin W. Sargent

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The Boston Castrato by Colin W. Sargent is an intriguing novel, original and compelling. It really surprised me.

When I heard that the founding editor of Portland Magazine had written a novel, I expected a Maine story. But the principle character, Raffi, starts out in Italy and ends up in Boston, working at the historic Parker House Hotel.

I’ve got to say that Sargent has a vivid imagination and has filled his book with astonishing priests, shipbuilders, politicians, poets, and really really bad people. There’s plenty of humor too.

As a young boy, Raffi is focused on singing, but his Priest castrates him and he is forbidden from ever singing again. He makes his way to Boston where he mingles with all sorts of mobsters and charlatans. Honestly, this is an amazing story.

“A Girl Called Vincent” by Krystyna Poray Goddu

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You probably know that Edna St. Vincent Millay was a famous Maine poet. Among her many national awards, she won a Pulitzer Prize, a Distinguished Lifetime Achievement award, and was declared one of the ten most famous women in America.

But do you know the rest of the story? Well, even if you do, you will enjoy A Girl Called Vincent by Krystyna Poray Goddu.

And please don’t let the book’s designation “Young Adult” discourage you. This book is for all ages, and I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about this amazing woman.

Millay was raised in poverty by a single Mom, and was responsible for raising her two sisters. Yet she found time to sing, play the piano, act, and write poetry. Her poems began attracting attention at a very young age.

Maine’s Remarkable Women by Kate Kennedy

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 Some of them you know: Margaret Chase Smith, Sarah Orne Jewett, Fly Rod Crosby. But I’ll bet you didn’t know as much about them as you’ll learn in Kate Kennedy’s wonderful book, Maine’s Remarkable Women, published by Down East Books.

And I’ll bet you’ve never heard of most of these other remarkable women, whose stories you will find interesting and inspiring.

As we begin another winter, you’ll enjoy Tante Blanche’s story. She strapped on snowshoes, loaded up her sled with food and supplies, and traipsed out into a huge blizzard in Madawaska to save her starving neighbors. She was an Acadian who was expelled from Nova Scotia by the English. Yes, she was an immigrant, as were fourteen of the other 15 remarkable women profiled in Kennedy’s book.

Maine’s Favorite Birds by Jeffrey and Allison Wells

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 Do you know Maine’s favorite birds? Jeffrey and Allison Wells do! And they’ve shared that information in a book, Maine’s Favorite Birds, published by Tilbury House.

Linda and I became avid birders twelve years ago, and have found that it adds so much to our travel visits, as well as our time in the wilds of Maine (and even on our front lawn!). While I try not to obsess over it, I do keep a list of the birds we’ve seen, which now totals 504.

Melena’s Jubilee by Zetta Elliot

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Children’s books these days are amazing, with beautiful illustrations, great stories, and often, important messages for kids. All of those descriptions fit Melena’s Jubilee by Zetta Elliot, published by Tilbury House and illustrated by Aaron Boyd.

Young Melena’s been a bad girl. She didn’t make her bed. She didn’t put her toys away and a friend of her grandmother tripped over one and banged into a table, breaking her mother’s favorite vase. “It seemed like everyone was mad at me,” she said. No kidding!

But then, she’s redeemed. “I never let the sun go down on my anger,” her grandmother tells her at breakfast the next day. “Today’s a new day, Melena,” says her mother, “and that means you’ve got a fresh start.” Lucky girl!

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