Book Reviews

Maine man’s walk across America filled with danger, colorful characters, beauty, and great stories

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 Somehow Nate Damm, tossing aside everything in his life to walk 3,200 miles across America, confused and alone, became a wonderful writer. Maybe it happened in Kansas, because despite all the warnings to avoid that state, Nate loved it. You tend to do well the things you love.

And finally, 3 years later, we have a book to prove that I am right about Nate’s writing. Life on Foot – A Walk Across America is compelling, often funny, sometimes sad, definitely inspiring.  And darn that Nate, he launched his book before I got mine out there. He beat me by four days! Somewhat ironically, my book is titled A Life Lived Outdoors. But my outdoor adventures can’t top Nate’s!

Like wine? Read Layne!

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Layne Witherell's fascinating account of his life in the wine biz is best enjoyed with a glass of delicious chardonnay and a bite of just-off-the-boat steamed lobster. When I asked him for a recommendation of a wine to enjoy with his self-published book, Wine Maniacs, the chardonnay and lobster were his suggestions.

You may want to pause right now to get those out and ready, to enjoy while read this review!

I follow Layne’s wine recommendations religiously, so it made sense to ask him for guidance. In retirement, after a long and illustrious career in the wine business, Layne now works at Trader Joe’s in Portland, where he has saved me a lot of money with his wise wine advice.

These animals may be lost, but they’re not forgotten thanks to Errol Fuller

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It’s heartbreaking and I stared at it a long time. It’s one of the only photos ever taken of the ‘O’u, a gorgeous little yellow-headed bird found in the Hawaiian islands.

As Erroll Fuller tells us in his exceptional book, Lost Animals, published by Princeton University Press, “During the 20th Century, ‘O’u populations plummeted. By the 1970s the species was almost extinct, with just a few surviving pockets. One of the last reasonably stable colonies lived on the slopes of the volcano, Mauna Loa. During 1984 a lava flow demolished the habitat.”

Lest you think extinctions are ancient history, we lost many of the animals in Fuller’s book on our watch.

Paul Betit's third novel is the best yet

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 The Man in the Canal by Paul Betit

Ok, now I’m hooked on John Murphy and Romana Alley. Will they get together? Where? When? And what kind of adventure is next for them?

Retired sports writer Paul Betit’s third novel in a series, The Man in the Canal, is his best. I loved his first two books, but he’s really getting this novel writing down now. The Man in the Canal offers an intriguing plot, plenty of suspense, and a surprising finish. It moves right along. You won’t want to put it down.

I never spoil the surprise of a novel in these reviews, but I can tell you this. John Murphy is a military investigator and the main character in these novels. He lives a very exciting life! And in novel number three, working alone and under cover, he gets into a very dangerous situation.

Lyme disease horror story is a must read

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 I thought – given that I have friends with Lyme disease, some of whom have suffered terribly, that I would be prepared for Andrea Caesar’s A Twist of Lyme, published last year by Archway Publishing. But I was wrong.

This story is gun-wrenching, raw, hard to read, relentlessly troubling. Subtitled, “Battling a Disease That ‘Doesn’t Exist,” the book is a collection of Caesar’s blog posts as she fought the disease with astonishing toughness and determination.

But don’t be fooled – there’s no happy ending. Caesar is still alive, and still blogging, but her battle with Lyme will last her lifetime.

Given the spread of Lyme disease in Maine, and the need for more medical attention to this terrible affliction caused by deer ticks, every one of us should probably read this book.

Paul Betit gets second hit with Kagnew Station

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 After recently receiving Paul Betit’s new novel, The Man in the Canal, a sequel to his first two novels, I had to double back and read novel number two, Kagnew Station. So I toted it along last weekend on our visit to Sugarloaf.

Although we were there to write travel columns, it was a very relaxing weekend. We especially enjoyed the Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel’s new 40 person outside hot tub – along with wonderful meals at Shipyard, 45 North, and Coplin Dinner House.

I finished Kagnew Station on Sunday morning before we headed home, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  When you think about it, a good novel is even more relaxing than a hot tub, because you can enjoy it a lot longer.

A solution to scary climate change predictions

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 Small Change, Big Gains by Thomas H. Stoner Jr.

I wore out a highlighter reading and marking passages in Thomas H. Stoner Jr.’s 500 page book, Small Change, Big Gains, subtitled Reflections of an energy entrepreneur.

The hefty tome not only scared the heck out of me about where we are driving our planet, but also gave me hope with a path to salvation for Planet Earth. The book is really all about a comprehensive solution to climate change, created by Project Butterfly, an entity organized by Stoner to address climate change problems.

The book is not an easy read. Lots of complex information about the current state of our planet, deep background on all current sources of energy, and tons of detail about the solution. I didn’t really get any momentum into the book until I got to page 331 and the chapter titled, “Coming of Age: Renewable Energy.”

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