Book Reviews

Ardeana Hamlin’s novels are enjoyable reads

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                 I wasn’t sure I’d like these novels, given that they are set in 19th century Bangor and focused on lots of family problems and challenges, but from the very first page of Pink Chimneys, I was hooked. And after finishing that book, I moved quickly to Hamlin’s follow-up novel, Abbott’s Reach.

                My thanks to Islandport Press in Yarmouth for republishing these novels in paperback, making them easily accessible for all of us.

Let Me Tell A Story by Paul Betit

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 Paul Betit wants to tell you a story. Well, actually, a bunch of stories. And he does just that in his new book, Let Me Tell A Story, published by BeeMan Books in Brunswick.

If you haven’t read Paul’s three novels, you should. They are very good. But it turns out he can write nonfiction too. Well, sort of.

Paul says his new book is “a mix of short fiction and memoir.” He told me, “This book is a big departure from the books I have published in the past. It’s more personal and, I think, much more literary. Basically, the book is about growing up and growing old.”

It is all of that, a relatively short (116 pages) trip through Paul’s interesting life. I would love to know what is fact and what is fiction, but part of the fun is trying to figure that out.

This how-to-ice-fish book is both informative and entertaining

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 Frank Richards moved to Maine in the mid-1980s and quickly fell in love with ice fishing, something he’d never done before. Maybe that was because his first ice fishing experience was on Moosehead Lake, where his friends had rented an ice shack with a woodstove, at a local sporting camp.

Yes, that’s the best introduction to ice fishing I can imagine!

And Frank really understands why ice fishing is so much fun. “An uninitiated observer may not see the entertainment in running around in the middle of a frozen lake, heavily dressed. In reality, those who participate in this sport are usually feeling quite comfortable, having a good time, and catching fish.”

Save the planet and all its creatures – by gardening wisely

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                  The Life in your Garden by Reeser Manley and Marjorie Peronto is an important and interesting book for all who garden and all who value our environment and the critters that share it with us. I originally got the book for my wife Linda, a gardening fanatic who gardens all winter in her 14 foot by 28 foot hoop house, heated by the sun. 

                Yup, we had fresh veggies for Christmas dinner! Linda also has raised beds and two regular outdoor gardens. And that doesn’t count her amazing flower gardens that surround the house.

“Just One More Thing, Doc” by Bradford B. Brown, DVM

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After reading Brad Brown’s first book, While You’re Here, Doc, I couldn’t wait to dive into his second, Just One More Thing, Doc.

And sure enough, just like his first book, once I began reading, I couldn’t stop, racing through the non-stop astonishing stories of Brown’s career as a veterinarian, focused on farm animals.

In his first book, Brown was trampled, dragged, mauled, and more by farm animals, especially horses. And the beatings continue in book two.

“The Boston Castrato” by Colin W. Sargent

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The Boston Castrato by Colin W. Sargent is an intriguing novel, original and compelling. It really surprised me.

When I heard that the founding editor of Portland Magazine had written a novel, I expected a Maine story. But the principle character, Raffi, starts out in Italy and ends up in Boston, working at the historic Parker House Hotel.

I’ve got to say that Sargent has a vivid imagination and has filled his book with astonishing priests, shipbuilders, politicians, poets, and really really bad people. There’s plenty of humor too.

As a young boy, Raffi is focused on singing, but his Priest castrates him and he is forbidden from ever singing again. He makes his way to Boston where he mingles with all sorts of mobsters and charlatans. Honestly, this is an amazing story.

“A Girl Called Vincent” by Krystyna Poray Goddu

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You probably know that Edna St. Vincent Millay was a famous Maine poet. Among her many national awards, she won a Pulitzer Prize, a Distinguished Lifetime Achievement award, and was declared one of the ten most famous women in America.

But do you know the rest of the story? Well, even if you do, you will enjoy A Girl Called Vincent by Krystyna Poray Goddu.

And please don’t let the book’s designation “Young Adult” discourage you. This book is for all ages, and I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about this amazing woman.

Millay was raised in poverty by a single Mom, and was responsible for raising her two sisters. Yet she found time to sing, play the piano, act, and write poetry. Her poems began attracting attention at a very young age.

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