Book Reviews

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about LL Bean - and More!

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Many Mainers will get and/or give Christmas gifts from LL Bean this week. For a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the company and all its players, turn to James Witherell’s exceptionally comprehensive book, L.L. Bean – The Man and His Company.

Published in paperback by Tilbury House of Gardiner, Maine in June of 2011, this 533-page tome is the definitive account of the rise of the nation’s favorite outdoor store, including the many stumbles along the way.

Well, ok, maybe that’s a bit of hometown cheerleading, but it’s my favorite outdoor store and maybe yours too. The quality of Bean’s products, and the lifetime guarantee, keep me shopping there, year after year.

The Amazing Life of a Maine Pioneer and Wildlife Writer

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Born in New Sharon, Maine, close to my Mount Vernon home, Joshua Rich experienced a life I can only envy.

Rich hunted, fished, trapped, guided, and farmed. At times he owned a hotel, general store, and what may have been Maine’s first sporting camp. He served as a trial justice, pension agent, humane officer, and newspaper columnist. Well, I have that in common with Rich!

William “Bill” Krohn, whose fascinating account of Manley Hardy remains among my all-time favorite biographies, has given us another interesting look at a Maine pioneer and sportsman who lived from 1820 to 1897. Joshua Cross Rich – The Life and Works of a Western Maine Pioneer and Wildlife Writer, was published in paperback by the Maine Folklife Center in 2010.

Maine's Splendid Scenic Drives

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We returned from a September visit to Bethel to find a book in our mailbox, sent to us to review by its publisher, Down East.

When we opened the book to the first chapter of Maine’s Most Scenic Roads written by John Gibson and republished recently by Down East in a revised an updated version from the original that was published in 1998, we were astonished to find a description of Route 113 from Gilead to Fryeburg. We thought on that trip to Bethel that we’d discovered this drive! Turns out John Gibson was there ahead of us.

In fact, Gibson has been to a lot of our favorite places. Linda and I are working on a travel column about the drive from Rockland to Port Clyde, one of our all-time favorites, and sure enough, Gibson’s got it.

Paul Fournier's Misery Ridge Tales Are Mighty Fine

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Paul Fournier hooked me with his first sentence: “I was fifteen that summer when first love struck.” His first love was a 17 foot long Old Town canoe.

On the third page of Paul’s new book, Tales from Misery Ridge, (Islandport Press, 2011) he started to reel me in when he purchased his second canoe – at age 17 – from Leon Prince of North Monmouth.

Leon was my wife’s grandfather, and when I read Paul’s words describing her grandfather to her, Lin said he had captured her twice-widowed grandfather exactly. Paul noted that Leon was “a small, genial, lonesome gentleman in oversize overalls. Contrary to the stereotype of taciturn rural Maine folk, he was downright garrulous.”

Paul Doiron's New Novel Compelling and Real

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Some of my favorite mystery authors started out with a good book, then got better as they went along. Maine’s Gerry Boyle did that. I liked his initial books but his last two are terrific.

Paul Doiron wrote a great first novel, superb really. Not only did he start right out of the novelist’s box with an unusual three-book contract, but his first novel was nominated for an Edgar Award, heady territory for any mystery writer.

I enjoyed Paul’s first novel and wrote a favorable review. But his second book, Trespasser (Minotaur Books, 2011), is much better. It was a “kept-me-up-late” mystery, compelling, suspenseful, and very true-to-life.

Book Offers Fascinating Look at Early Maine Wildlife

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“The year 1805 will long be remembered on account of the advent of the wolves from Canada to the State of Maine and other parts of New England. They came in droves, and their howling was a terror to everyone.”

 

This important event may not be remembered these days, but it won’t be forgotten either, thanks to a valuable new book, Early Maine Wildlife, by William Krohne and Christopher Hoving, published in 2010 by the University of Maine Press.

 

Drawing from old magazines, journals, and government reports, Krohne and Hoving compiled fascinating accounts about Canada lynx, moose, mountain lions, white-tailed deer, wolverines, wolves, and woodland caribou in the period from 1603 to 1930. Most of the references fall between 1830 and 1930, a period rich with sportsmen’s publications and journals.

 

The Poacher’s Son – A Great Book!

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Paul Doiron is lucky.

Yes, it took him four years to write his first novel, The Poacher’s Son. And he’s wearing himself out traveling the state promoting the book before small gatherings at libraries and other venues. And he still has to go to his regular job as editor of Downeast magazine.

But right out of the novelist’s starter’s gate, he snared a great agent, a 3-book contract with Minotaur, and an initial printing of 30,000 books.

Robyn Jackson, a newspaper features editor with 20 years experience who now writes about writing on her website, www.robynjackson.com, claims that 80 percent of Americans want to write a book.

“Anyone who has ever tried to find an agent or get a manuscript accepted by a publisher knows what a tough business writing is. Even if you do get your book published, there’s no guarantee anyone will buy it,” Jackson says.

She points to statistics about book publishing and reading on self-publishing guru Dan Poynter’s website, www.parapub.com.

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