Book Reviews

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.

Moxie is Maine in a Bottle

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If you take a certain pride in drinking Moxie, admittedly an acquired taste, and like to kid those who can’t man up and appreciate that bitter aftertaste, you’ll need to read Jim Baumer’s second book on the subject: Moxie: Maine in a Bottle. It’ll give you a lot of ammunition for those nonbelievers, and a ton of entertainment, taken preferably with a bottle or two of the brew.

Published in 2011 by Down East Books, and “dedicated to Moxie drinkers everywhere” as if Moxie drinkers exist outside of our state, the book is a wonderful trip down memory lane with astonishing photographs.

On page 27, the photo of Ted Williams jumped out at me. The photo is of a tin plate advertisement with an image of Ted Williams and a bottle of Moxie, and the words, “Ted Williams says… Make Mine Moxie.”

Heart of a Killer's a Real Thriller

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It’s always fun to find a new author of mystery and crime novels – my favorite genre. I’ve got a lot of favorite authors, including Maine’s own Gerry Boyle, and have been working my way through some of the older novelists like Ed McBain and John MacDonald.

My favorite modern-day (still living) novelists like Michael Connelly just don’t turn out enough books to keep me engaged, so I’m always looking for new authors. But I was puzzled when I received, unsolicited, David Rosenfelt’s new novel, Heart of a Killer, from the publisher, Minotaur Books.

Avian Architecture Is A Fascinating Look at Nests

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Finally, we have snow! And when you get out there on your snowshoes to enjoy this abbreviated winter season, you’ll see lots of bird nests.

Avian Architecture will identify the birds that made those nests, and give you lots of fascinating insights about how those birds design, engineer, and build the nets.

And I’m not exaggerating when I use the word fascinating. I found this book, written by Peter Goodfellow and published by Princeton University Press in 2011, to be amazing.

First, the gorgeous photos will grab your attention, 300 gorgeous full-color shots. My mouth fell open when I turned to the introduction and saw the African Masked-Weaver, hanging upside down from its nest. Wow!

The Lobstering Life

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Let’s hope The Lobstering Life doesn’t turn out to be a nostalgic look at an industry and way of life that once defined Maine.

This exceptional book, published in 2011 by The Countryman Press, is a gorgeous photographic presentation of lobstering. David Middleton and Brenda Berry are professional photographers whose evocative photos may cause you to want to drop everything to become a sternman on a Maine lobster boat.

Well, look a bit closer, because it’s not all gorgeous sunny days on the water! Check page 22, for example, called “winter storm.” Oh yea, they lobster in the winter. Or page 29, “steaming out at dawn.” Oh yea, they are up well before the sun. Or page 107, “unloading the catch after a long day out.” Oh yea, the sun has set before they return to the dock.

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