Book Reviews

Your last gift from Paul Fournier is ready to pick up.

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Paul Fournier’s last gift to us, completed just before he died last August, is ready for you. Paul’s cover photo for Birds of a Feather is just one of the astonishing things this wonderful man accomplished in his life – a life lived outdoors.

I am very grateful that he had time to finish this book, published by Islandport Press in Yarmouth, because it’s a testament to all he learned, loved, and lived. Paul’s previous book, Tales from Misery Ridge, was entertaining as well as award winning.

There are more tales in Birds of a Feather, but most importantly, he has also left us with a lot of wisdom – wisdom he gained as a guide, bush pilot, sporting camp owner, TV program producer, photographer, outdoor writer, and information officer for Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Always, everywhere, he was outdoors, leading the life, capturing it in photos, videos, and words.

Backtracking on our hunting and fishing memories

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Who among us doesn’t spend a lot of time backtracking on our trail of hunting and fishing memories? I certainly do, and so does V. Paul Reynolds.

It was a real pleasure recently to backtrack through Paul’s memories, in his new book Backtrack, published this year by Islandport Press. Paul’s tracks can be found all across Maine, in his jobs as general manager of the Bangor Daily News, spokesman for Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and editor and publisher of Northwoods Sporting Journal.

Despite all of that, his has been a life lived outdoors. More than 50 great memories and moments, presented in these stories of his outdoor adventures, will entertain, inform, and inspire you – perhaps to write your own book of memories, perhaps to just get outside that day to hunt or fish. Or just maybe you will head to the kitchen to make Diane’s beerburger soup. Yummy!

Approaching my 65th birthday, I paid close attention to Tree Stands for Seniors. Good advice, Paul!

Grandson helps with book reviews

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When two kids’ books arrived for reviewing, I knew just where to turn. Nine-year-old grandson Addison Mellor loves to read. And although his favorite books involve galactic battles, I knew I could count on him to help Grampy with this review.

 

Wild Fox, by Cherie Mason, illustrated by Ellen McAllister Stammen, published by Down East Books, 2013.

“It was good because it was a true story,” says Adi. “I liked that it was in Maine.”

Me too. Mason’s small book, beautifully illustrated by Stammen, tells the story of an injured fox that Mason befriended. It’s actually a very good read even for adults, and it’s perfect for those who like to read to their kids and grandkids (and I hope that is all of you).

Dinner with the Smileys brings laughter and tears

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You might think that a book titled Dinner with the Smileys, written by Sarah Smiley, would be all smiles. And there are lots of smiles in this book. But you’ll cry lots of tears too, just as Sarah did during the year her soldier-husband Dustin was deployed in Africa.

Stuck in Bangor with three very active boys, teaching and getting her Masters Degree at the University of Maine, and missing her husband on all fronts, Sarah began her now-famous weekly dinners with the Smileys, inviting someone to fill Dustin’s place at the table. It began as a diversion for the boys. It became a learning experience for many, far beyond the Smiley’s dinner table.

It all began innocently enough, when oldest son Ford invited Senator Susan Collins to dinner. She brought brownies with nuts. None of the boys liked nuts, and they carefully picked every nut out of the brownies before eating them, leaving piles of nuts on the table. Susan and her staff member Carol Woodcock were good sports and great guests.

Enjoying Katahdin - in art and in person

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Mount Katahdin loomed in the backyard, right up there behind our camp on Sourdahunk Lake. Our camp is tucked just outside the northwest corner of Baxter Park.

I had saved Art of Katahdin, a magnificent book created by David Little, edited by his brother Carl Little, and published by Down East Books in May of this year, to enjoy at camp. Turned out to be the perfect setting. I didn’t even need to jump in the boat and get out on the water to look back at Katahdin, peaking at me over the shoulders of North and South Brother.

The Art of Katahdin captures the mountain in all its mystery and majesty, but truthfully, I was entranced not by the mountain, but by the stories of the artists and their adventures in and around the mountain, and the paintings of river log drives, log cabins, wildlife, brooks and bogs.

The reading is fast on Easy Street

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Because I do book reviews, I occasionally receive unsolicited books to read and write about. Sometimes they are novels – and sometimes those novels are awful. But I admire anyone who attempts to write a book, especially a novel, so I do not write critical reviews. I just don’t write about the bad books. In this book review section of my website, you’ll only read about the books I liked. Some I loved.

Michael Shepherd was born in Massachusetts and raised in New Hampshire and – finally, he says with relief – Maine. Clinton to be exact. He retired not long ago after 29 years in the Air Force. He lives in Colorado but gets to Maine occasionally to hunt. That, I think, is how we connected.

Michael was reading my website Outdoor News blog and noticed that I review books. He emailed me, and very politely asked if I would be interested in reading and reviewing his novel. Well, what could I say? Of course. He shipped it forthwith.

The cider may still taste funny, but John Ford's new book is even funnier!

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Retired game warden John Ford is at it again. Perhaps he is astonished at the success of his first book, Suddenly, the Cider Didn’t Taste So Good! Maybe he’s enjoying his new assignment, traveling the state telling his tales to eager audiences.

For sure, he’s got a lot more stories to tell, so his sequel, This Cider Still Tastes Funny!, will delight all who loved his first book. I’m wondering now how many more stories he’s got!

As John got out into book stores and other places to talk about and sell his first book, he really caught fire, emerging today as a notable public speaker, irregardless of whether or not he has a book to sell.

But this column is about his new book. Published by Islandport Press in Yarmouth, you get 40 more stories from the diary John compiled as a Maine game warden. They range from the ridiculous to the sublime, with a bit of danger and a lot of humor thrown in.

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