Book Reviews

Everything You Wanted to Know About Lobsters

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Given that Maine is known for its lobster – and sometimes only for its lobster – isn’t it time you knew more about this tasty crustacean?

Ginny Wright, a very talented writer for Down East magazine, has stepped up to this task, writing The Maine Lobster Book, published this year by Down East. It’s a comprehensive guide to everything lobster from the creature’s fascinating sex life to lobster lingo.

The next time a tourist stops you on the road to ask directions to the nearest lobster roll, you’ll be able to start your answer with a couple of revelations about the lobster’s sex life. The female lobster woos the “guy with a reputation for toughness and strength,” by leaving him gifts – urchins, mussels, sea starts, at his front door.

Then they move in together and the story gets a lot racier! Ginny leaves nothing out!

Cracks in the Wall A Must Read

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A book that is 18 years in the writing deserves to be read. So even though I set it aside after reading about 20 pages, I came back to J. Morris Lavallee’s Cracks in the Wall a couple of weeks later. And I’m so glad I did.

Morris, who lives in Brunswick, is an interesting guy, a disable veteran, a rock band musician, and a writer. State Representative Kerri Bickford called him to my attention, insisting that I get a copy of his book, read it, and get to know Morris. Here’s how he describes himself in the book’s introduction:

“J. Morris Lavallee is a student of human behavior, always searching for the answers to life’s conditions. He is a father of three, a divorcee, a veteran, a machinist, a fabricator and a musician.”

In a special author’s note, Morris dedicates the book to his three children, four ex-wives, family and friends.

Stroby Offers Compelling Dialogue, Characters, and Plots

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I began at the end, with Wallace Stroby’s current and fifth novel, Kings of Midnight. I loved  it, wrote a review, and ordered up more of his books.

I received two of his novels, Cold Shot to the Heart published in 2011, and The Barbed-Wire Kiss, Published in 2003, and worked backward, reading his third novel, Cold Shot, then his first novel, Barbed-Wire Kiss.

The Washington Post called his Barbed-Wire Kiss “a scorching first novel.” They got that right. I got so involved in it that I had to turn off the Red Sox game to concentrate on the book.

I started Cold Shot on a Memorial Day weekend trip Lin and I made to the Inn on Peaks Island. She had to drive home on Sunday so I could keep reading. Stroby has created a captivating career criminal, Crissa Stone. Love that girl!

Doiron's Bad Little Falls is Good

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I hope Paul Doiron doesn’t follow the same trajectory of some of my other favorite crime novelists whose books got better and better until they hit a plateau – often writing the same novel book after book – or worse, deteriorating until I couldn’t read the first chapters without setting the books aside with a sigh of disappointment.

Doiron, the editor of Down East magazine, is certainly on the upward trajectory right now. I liked his first novel, The Poacher’s Son. I really liked his second novel, Trespasser. And I loved his third about-to-be-published by Minotaur books novel, Bad Little Falls.

Lovitch Helps Us Be Better Birders

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When my binoculars focused on a Blackburnian Warbler in the front yard of our Mount Vernon home, I was hooked. For years we watched our neighbor, Dona Seegars, binoculars plastered to her face, walking our property in the spring. When she finally got Linda and I out there with her, seven years ago, the number of warblers on our property amazed and thrilled us. And my first look at the wondrously colorful Blackburnian made me a bird watcher.


Eventually, I became a birder, a higher level of bird watching that sent me on Audubon trips in Maine and to far away places including Texas and Costa Rica in search of birds. Linda and I just returned from our third Texas birding adventure where we added 34 new species to our life’s list.

Stroby's Kings of Midnight Grips and Grabs You

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Just when my stash of mysteries and crime novels was getting low, Wallace Stroby’sKings of Midnight arrived in my mailbox. It was a very special surprise because I’d never heard of Stroby, even though he’s an award-winning novelist.

I call this a very special surprise because not only did Kings of Midnight grip and grab me from the first page, but now I’ve got more Stroby novels to look forward to. Next up for me will be The Barbed-Wire Kiss, a Barry Award finalist.

If it’s better than Kings of Midnight, I’ll be amazed.  Crissa Stone is the compelling criminal star of this novel, full of impressive heists, conflicts, and nail-biting risks. And best of all, dialogue drives it all.

New LL Bean Book is Guaranteed to be Good

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If there’s one thing that made me a life-long avid advocate for and customer of LL Bean, it’s the company’s guarantee for everything they sell. If I don’t like it, for any reason, at any time, Bean takes it back. No receipt required.

So it’s fitting that a new book chronicling LL Bean’s history is titled Guaranteed to Last, LL Bean’s Century of Outfitting America. And with a bit of irony, the book is authored by James Gorman, no relation to my good friend Jim Gorman, Jr., LL Bean’s great grandson. The book was produced by Melcher Media for LL Bean and the company’s 100th anniversary.

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