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Page 32: Five Newish Books by Vermont Authors

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Published April 8, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated April 14, 2020 at 11:13 p.m.


Seven Days writers can't possibly read, much less review, all the books that arrive in a steady stream by post, email and, in one memorable case, a cete of badgers. So this monthly feature is our way of introducing you to a handful of books by Vermont authors. To do that, we contextualize each book just a little and quote a single representative sentence from, yes, page 32.

Inclusion here implies neither approval nor derision on our part, but simply: Here are a bunch of books, arranged alphabetically by authors' names, that Seven Days readers might like to know about.

Screw Your Wedding: A Candid Guide to Wedding Planning by a Jaded Event Planner

Samantha E. Bellinger, Onion River Press, 220 pages. $17.99.

Forewarning: While it is delicious, buttercream has a tendency to melt in extreme heat.

With more than 10 years of experience planning events, Samantha E. Bellinger has a strategy for just about everything when it comes to preparing for a matrimonial celebration.

In this no-frills how-to guide published last summer, the 620 Events owner shares her nine-step formula for helping couples plan their wedding with calm and confidence. She parcels the behemoth task into manageable steps — think setting a budget, determining the date and creating a day-of timeline.

Helpful tools such as a script for speaking with vendor reps, an email template to use when inquiring about a cake, and a glossary of linens (would you prefer your overlay with or without ruching?) are designed to help the betrothed make the best choices for themselves and their guests.

With a conversational tone, step-by-step instructions and humorous anecdotes, Bellinger has crafted an approachable and realistic guide to planning the big day.

— Kristen Ravin


Lisa Mancini, self-published, 260 pages. $17.

Like, this week my editorial is about hate groups and her article will be about the increase of hate crimes since Trump was elected.

Endgame is Vermont author Lisa Mancini's fourth installment in her Freya Barrett mystery series. As the title suggests, chess figures into the story and serves as a metaphor for the cat-and-mouse drama with Freya's deranged stalker. But Agatha Falls (barely disguised Rutland), where Freya is a college student, newspaper columnist, mystery writer and preternatural sleuth, is beset with yet another, ripped-from-the-headlines crime: a white nationalist demonstration that erupts in violence.

Though Endgame is fiction, Mancini allows her characters a loathing for real-life President Donald Trump, and an epilogue tacked on to the story allows one "Avenging Angel" an interesting opportunity for retribution.

Freya is a veritable Nancy Drew for the 21st century, and the author has an innate feel for the page-turner genre. If the series continues, however, one hopes that the fundamentals of syntax, punctuation and spelling get as much consideration as plot twists.

— Pamela Polston

Healing Lyme Beyond Antibiotics: A Personal Account of Winning the Battle Against Lyme Disease

Isabella S. Oehry, Balboa Press, 162 pages. $12.99

Blood from other animals is the only item on the ticks' menu.

Isabella S. Oehry is not a medical doctor. A disclaimer at the start of Healing Lyme Beyond Antibiotics, published in December, states that the book is not meant as medical advice but as a personal account of Oehry's experience seeking treatment for the tick-borne illness.

The author, an avid outdoorsperson who describes her love of climbing, biking, hiking and trail running, was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2016. After what she describes as unsuccessful treatment with antibiotics, she went searching for a natural path to recovery.

A summary of Oehry's own journey gives way to a rundown of ticks and Lyme-causing bacteria, as well as treatment options ranging from medicinal plants to hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Oehry's education is in business, management information systems and psychology. Though the coronavirus era may not be an opportune moment to question medical science, her book is a resource for those seeking alternative perspectives.

— Kristen Ravin

Coffee Grounds for the Worm Bin

Glenn Reed, Onion River Press, 110 pages. $12.99

We keep pointing, but / her eyes are tired / done with squinting at / each signature from 85 years, like / old curled and yellowed notes, wanting / the dresser drawers to shut and be / content with paperbacks at the coffee table...

The thing being pointed at is an eagle, drafting majestically above Washington's Skagit River, but the would-be bird-watcher has already seen enough. Each of the 46 poems in Glenn Reed's Coffee Grounds for the Worm Bin seems to gesture insistently at something — the creep of daylight through a pile of dirty laundry on a hungover morning, a swirl of hair clippings on a barbershop floor, the way adolescent boys disappear into their clothes.

Reed, a Rutland-based writer and disability advocate, gathers his poems from his physical and existential meanderings: This collection, his first, which was published last summer, begins with ruminations on the trees of his childhood (i.e., "Dogwood Tree (at age 4)," "Crabapple Tree (at age 6)") and concludes with a quizzical pondering of late middle age. In the book's penultimate poem, "Deja View: In the Trinity Alps, California," he muses wistfully over the vistas of his past: "now to drink / of these distant spaces / now to ponder / of where i once left such thoughts / hanging on a crescent moon, perched / on another sky." With whimsical nostalgia and a nearly encyclopaedic grasp of all the flora and fauna between Vermont and the Pacific Northwest, Reed offers a satisfying, sensual — but mercifully not olfactory — rummage through the worm bin of his life.

— Chelsea Edgar

Time Is Always Now

Rebecca Starks, Able Muse Press, 116 pages. $19.95

But his is the page I fall open to / in this book of coming out into the light.

In her debut collection, Time Is Always Now, Richmond poet Rebecca Starks touches on the topics of aging, relationships, nature and postpartum life.

However, of the book's 36 poems, those that make the strongest impression tackle some of the hardest-hitting issues of the day. "Poem of Our Climate" looks at the climate crisis; "Post-Patriotic Ode to Town Meeting Day" examines the challenges of making meaningful change in democracy; and "Open Carry" questions current gun policies.

In the last, Starks replaces the idea of guns with umbrellas to illuminate the absurdity of carrying firearms in places such as nightclubs and elementary schools. "What if umbrellas don't keep you dry, / people do, and are broken trying?" she asks.

Whether she's musing on her relationship with social media, considering the future of the country or describing the state's mud-season driving conditions, Starks pens vivid and thought-provoking stanzas that leave a lasting impression.

— Kristen Ravin

Speaking of Page 32