Book Reviews

The Pier at the end of the World by Paul Erickson

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 It’s no surprise that The Pier at the end of the World by Paul Erickson was cited as an Outstanding Science Trade Book by the Children’s Book Council of the National Science Teachers Association. If we’d had this book when I was in school, I might have liked science more!

With stunning photos by Andrew Martinez, this book gives us a fascinating look at the ocean creatures who live under an old rotting pier. One of several outstanding books in Tilbury House’s Nature Book series, I can’t wait to share it with my grandsons, who live near the coast.

As Tilbury notes, each of these wonderful books “aims for the highest standards of scientific accuracy and storytelling magic.” You get both in The Pier.

Summer to Fall by Dana Wilde

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                 If you love summer and fall as much as I do – and what Mainers don’t? – then you will enjoy Dana Wilde’s new book, Summer to Fall: Notes and Numina from the Maine Woods, published by North Country Press.

                As Dana explains, “It's a book about the quirks, denizens and stars as seen from Troy, Maine, and collected from the Backyard Naturalist and Amateur Naturalist newspaper columns, plus other writings.”

Statesman: George Mitchell and the Art of the Possible by Douglas Rooks

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 We all know that George Mitchell had an amazing career with major accomplishments for Maine and our country, but I still learned a lot in Doug Rooks’ wonderful biography, Statesman: George Mitchell and the Art of the Possible, published by Down East Books. Years of research went into this book, and I especially enjoyed the level of detail Doug was able to include, from Mitchell’s key staff members to projects and programs I had no idea he’d led and/or influenced.

For example, I’ll bet you didn’t know that Mitchell led the successful effort to return passenger rail service to Maine or that he secured, through tough negotiations, the funding for many improvements in our interstate highway system. I certainly didn’t know Mitchell saved the higher standards for maple syrup maintained by Maine and Vermont, after lower standards were adopted at the federal level for all other states.

Maxi’s Secrets by Lynn Plourde

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 I’m at a loss for words, having just finished Lynn Plourde’s heart-warming and very thoughtful new novel, Maxi’s Secrets (subtitled: What You Can Learn From a Dog). Should I begin by telling you about the 51 “Secrets” that Lynn divulges, things that you can learn from a dog, each one listed at the end of a chapter? Perhaps I should start with Maxi, the deaf dog, or Timminy the very short 5th grader, or Abby, the blind sixth grader next door?

Lynn is a fabulous and imaginative writer of more than 30 children’s books, including my favorite, Merry Moosey Christmas, in which the reindeer take the night off and Santa’s sleigh is led by moose. That story and Russ Cox’s amazing illustrations are really wonderful.

The Rebel’s Wrath by Christopher W. Morin

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 I enjoy historical novels, so it was particularly pleasing to discover Maine resident Christopher Morin’s books. He’s written two novels and one short story, and I decided to begin with his new novel, The Rebel’s Wrath.

The Civil War has just ended, and Christopher neatly blends the history of that era with a compelling fictional story where tension builds throughout the book, culminating in an astonishing bunch of murder and mayhem in the small town of North Scarborough.

Having visited Gettysburg, I particularly enjoyed the fact that Christopher began his novel there, where his main character, Private Sherman Jackson, served in the famous 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment, led by General Joshua Chamberlain.

Playing God by Kate Flora

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Kate Flora is one of my favorite writers, and not just because she helped retired game warden Roger Guay with his wonderful new book, A Good Man with a Dog. While her novels are at the top of my favorites list, Kate’s 2015 true crime book, Death Dealer, is also remarkable. It’s about the search, by Maine game wardens with their dogs, for a killer in New Brunswick. You’ll be very proud of the Maine Warden Service when you read Death Dealer.

Suddenly Spying is an imaginative and entertaining novel

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Gin Mackey  has a tremendous imagination and she puts it all to work in her novel, Suddenly Spying. The subtitle, A Mapcap Caper, doesn’t begin to describe it.

The plot is imaginative, that’s for sure, with Nora Gallagher joining her sister as a secret agent and spy, sent to Barlanadana Island to stop a coup by a dangerous drug dealer called Tommy the Twitch. There are lots of amusing twists (ok twitches) and turns in the story, and you won’t want to stop reading.

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