Maine tales flood bookstores this spring

Posted April 29, 2012, at 3:35 p.m.
Last modified April 29, 2012, at 3:56 p.m.

A wave of fresh books is hitting bookstores this spring. But before you start shopping the shelves for a stack of summer reads, consider trying out a few books with a local connection.

To help you sift through the many new titles emerging this spring, here’s a list of some recently published books that are either by Maine authors, about Maine or set in Maine:

“Dead Level” by Sarah Graves, May 2012, Bantam Books, 256 pages, hardcover, $26.

“Just hearing her list the ways you can kill yourself fixing up an old house … is a hoot,” a New York Times book review said of Graves’ series, in which she mixes suspense with do-it-yourself home repair.

In “Dead Level,” Jake and her best friend Ellie drive deep into the woods to finish building the porch on her husband’s cottage. But as the friends set to work, they realize they aren’t alone.

Graves, who has written more than a dozen Jake Tiptree mysteries, lives with her husband in Eastport in the 1823 Federal-style house that inspired her books. This series and the author’s real-life experience have been featured on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” in the New York Times “At Home” series and in USA Today. To learn about the author, visit sarahgraves.com.

“Judith: A Quoddy Tale” by John R. Cobb, 2012, Maine Authors Publishing, 226 pages, paperback, $15.95.

Cobb’s debut novel “Judith: A Quoddy Tale,” is a story of three men, Jasper, Ray and Dale, trying to overcome sorrow and find purpose after family tragedies. But can solace be found on a lobster boat or in fixing up an old house? To complicate matters, a multitude of maritime accidents stir up speculation and superstition among local fishermen.

Employed as an information technology infrastructure analyst, Cobb has written a number of fictional short stories from his home in Maine, where he lives with his wife and son, enjoying a variety of outdoor activities. To learn about Cobb, visit johnrcobb.com.

“Berlin Cantata” by Jeffrey Lewis, April 2012, Haus Publishing, 220 pages, paperback, $15.

Set shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, “Berlin Cantata” weaves 13 voices into a story of conspiracy, desire and identity.

Lewis, who lives in Castine and Los Angeles, has earned a variety of awards for his novels. He won two Emmys and the Writer’s Guild Award for his work as writer and producer of the critically acclaimed television series “Hill Street Blues,” and he has twice won the Independent Publishers Gold Medal for Literary Fiction. To learn about Lewis, visit hauspublishing.com/author/31.

“Backroads of New England: Your Guide To Scenic Getaways & Adventures” by Kim Knox Beckius, photos by William H. Johnson, Voyageur Press, April 2012, 256 pages, $22.95.

This book will come in handy on a summer roadtrip. It’s also a great resource for people who want to get to know New England and plan nearby adventures. This revised and updated edition of “Backroads of New England” reveals the region’s most secluded and overlooked natural areas and historical sites. Just 6 inches by 9 inches, the guide is perfect for the glove compartment.

“Army of Clay: A Cody/McIntire Mystery” by Joshua Bunnell, March 2012, Bookstand Publishing, 94 pages, paperback, $13.95.

In the late 1800s, a string of brutal murders had been taking place in London’s Jewish quarter; the victims were members of the anti-Jewish movement growing throughout the city. As the investigators search for the culprit, they uncover a greater evil, the “army of clay.” This is book two of the Cody/McIntire Mysteries written by Bunnell, who lives in Cherryfield with his wife and two children and works 40 hours a week at a local, full-service gas station.

“I Love Maine” by Jeff Cox, Nancy Griffin and Anne Rosen, January 2012, Macintyre Purcell Publishing, hardcover, $9.95.

Griffin’s debut children’s book is a must-have board book for Maine children (ages 0-6 years old). The beauty and fun of Maine, from Mount Katahdin to Portland Harbor, is explored through colorful, simple illustrations and a gentle rhyming scheme. Griffin, a former wire service and newspaper reporter and editor, has been living in Maine for more than 30 years. She is currently a freelance writer and the editor of the “Gulf of Maine Times” and also the author of two bestselling books, “Maine 101” and “Making Whoopies — The Official Whoopie Pie Book.”

“Maine Beaches” from the editors of Down East, May 2012, Down East Books, 120 pages with maps, paperback, $7.95.

This handy guide lists more than two dozen of the state’s treasured beaches and describes what these sandy (or rocky) locales are best for: swimming, surfing, dog walking, solitude. The editors of Down East have included easy-to-read maps and helpful information about parking, fees and beach amenities. Find the book at downeast.com.

“Maine to Greenland: Exploring the Maritime Far Northeast” by Wilfred E. Richard and William W. Fitzhugh, May 2012, Random House Academic, 256 pages, hardcover, $39.95.

Richard’s essays and photographs documenting his personal odyssey of more than two decades, along with Fitzhugh’s archaeological work on the lower north shore of Quebec reveal the beauty, history and cultures of one of the world’s little acknowledged geographic regions: the maritime far northeast. The book has a strong message about conservation and explores how small-scale societies have adapted to, rather than change, their environments.

Richard, a registered Maine guide, is a research collaborator with the Smithsonian’s Arctic Studies Center and a research fellow with Greenland’s Uummannaq Polar Institute. Fitzhugh is the Director of Arctic Studies Center and curator in the Department of Anthropology at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. He has conducted archaeological and environmental research from New England to Baffin Island, the largest island in Canada. To learn about the authors, visit wilfrederichard.com and anthropology.si.edu/staff/Fitzhugh/Fitzhugh.html.

“The Coldness of Marek” by Rachel O’Laughlin, March 2012, Dublin Mist Press, paperback, 215 pages, $14.95.

O’Laughlin’s debut novel pulls readers into a fantasy kingdom, where what at first appears to be a romance is thrown into a whirlwind of action. Living among the cold cliffs of Marek, Trzl Sakar has made a habit of making enemies of allies, but she has to change her game in an effort to save herself and her son. If you find yourself falling in love with the characters and creatures of this mysterious world, don’t worry. A sequel is expected to be released in March 2013.

O’Laughlin is a full-time mom and a moonlighting author living in her home state of Maine with her husband and children. In her spare time, she blogs ( rachelolaughlin.wordpress.com), Tweets ( @rachelolaughlin) and grows marigolds.

“Fingerprints” by Marcia Leonard, April 2012, Passionate Writer Publishing, 222 pages, paperback, $14.95, Kindle e-book $4.99.

“Fingerprints” by Maine resident Marcia Leonard, is a murder-suspense novel with a tricky plot, beginning when the police show up to arrest Julie’s son, Jeffrey, for murder. As the investigation progresses, Julie realizes she is falling for the lawyer defending her son. And the lawyer, Clark, has his own problems, chiefly his institutionalized wife, who has multiple personality disorder. “Find out where the fingerprints lead.” Purchase a copy at passionatewriterpublishing.com.

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