Summertime Reading that Appeals to Everyone

The magazine continues to receive many books by Finger Lakes authors on diverse topics. Themes range from a fictional 50-year old mystery to summertime fun for students and their teacher. One new volume offers a close look at natural gas exploration in the Marcellus Shale.

These titles will be available in both independent and chain book shops, stores that feature local products, such as Wegmans, Simply New York in Rochester or at Artizanns in Naples, and of course, online.

Want more choices? Go to and find past reviews in Book Look under Article Archive.

Learning to Walk: Book 1 of the Trilogy
Richard Shade Gardner
Brigade Southern in paperback and Kindle versions

This entertaining and thoughtful memoir is filtered through the author’s extensive hiking and walking experiences. Between his astute observations of nature and people he encounters on his walks, the author interjects insightful accounts of growing up. Gardner transitions easily between his recollections of youthful adventures and his walking regimen around Cobbs Hill Reservoir in Rochester or along Lake Ontario at Durand Beach.

A reader will be engaged in Gardner’s seminal experiences like his narrative of hitchhiking 1,200 miles in 1966 to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, or the trials of Navy boot camp training two years earlier. These and other stories are artfully alternated with many journal-style entries revealing the author’s passion for walking. As he begins to plan a challenging walk around Lake Ontario, he prepares by circumnavigating some of the Finger Lakes. Readers will experience the highs and lows, from the sighting of bald eagles nesting on Hemlock Lake to a winter storm which stalled a hike around Seneca Lake. They will be inspired to be more observant on their next walk.

Learning to Walk is Book I of a trilogy. Forthcoming are books on Gardner’s treks around Lakes Ontario and Erie.

Folklore and Legends of Rochester
Michael T. Keene
The History Press
Includes the DVD “Visions,” an award-winning
documentary film

This title examines a pivotal location in downtown Rochester, known in earlier times as “Hoodoo Corner.” While exploring Midtown Plaza’s history, author Keene discovered an obituary of department store founder J.C. McCurdy (1858-1931) which referred to the Main and Elm Streets intersection as “Hoodoo Corner.” It was even considered cursed. A McCurdy store was located on that corner. Eventually, Midtown Plaza, the first indoor shopping center in the U.S., was constructed there in 1962 and is now gone.

The author researches the curious label for this intersection and traces its links to America’s most important religious, social and political movements of the 19th century.

The well-illustrated volume probes meanings of “Hoodoo” to uncover its association with the Rochester locale. No one single answer emerges.“Hoodoo Corner is rather a layering of memories about the famous, infamous and not-so-famous people,” writes Keene. Beginning in 1800, it was an intersection of Indian trails with a nearby burial ground. Rochester in the 19th century became “nearly a perpetual crossroads of American life.” The book recounts the role of significant events such as the disappearance of Captain William Morgan, the spiritualism of the Fox sisters, and the work of Frederick Douglass, among others.

Architecture in a Small Town
Compiled by Sue Lange; editor: Francis Dumas, Yates County Historian
Yates Heritage Tours Project, LLC

Is it Greek Revival or Federal? This booklet will answer that question as readers peruse the built environment in and around the village of Penn Yan in Yates County. The authors cover popular architectural styles found in Penn Yan from its early settlement in the 1790s to recent times. Thanks to the establishment of Penn Yan’s historic preservation district in 1989, many historic buildings have survived there.

This volume is published by the Yates Heritage Tours Project, which is focused on books and tours designed to promote the history of the Finger Lakes Region. A Walk Along Penn Yan’s Main Street will also be available for purchase by the end of June 2012.

Examples of each architectural style are listed, along with their characteristics, in an easy-to-use format with photo illustrations and a map to enable the reader to locate the examples. There is a helpful glossary of architectural terms. This compact resource is an ideal companion for visits to other small communities in the region that have buildings of similar styles.

Lehigh Lineman: The memories of John H. & Lester L. Buchholz 1922-1932
edited by John A. Buchholz
Clear Spring Publishing

The author has compiled fascinating first-person accounts of his father, John H. Buchholz, grandfather William C. Buchholz, and two uncles who worked on the Lehigh Valley Railroad. His relatives’ experiences in various jobs as camp-car cook, assistant signal maintainer, ground hand or lineman, fueled the author’s imagination when he heard them recounted at family gatherings. Buchholz hopes “to preserve an appreciation for the common men whose toil and sweat made America’s railroads go.”

The Lehigh Valley Railroad, combining many smaller lines, transported anthracite coal from Pennsylvania to the industrial Northeast. It was known as the Route of the Black Diamond, named for its premier train and the cargo it transported.

The book includes maps charting all the branches of two early divisions of the L.V.R.R: the Seneca out of Sayre, Pennsylvania and the Mahanoy and Hazleton division out of Hazleton, Pennsylvania. These were eventually absorbed into three divisions.

The personal tales are “laced with comedy and calamity.” Memories of the brothers, John H. and Lester, who traveled in a Model T on a 5,000 mile cross-country search for work in 1928 and ’29, recall hard times. But their adventuresome spirit prevailed, and eventually they found employment in California before returning East.

Healey’s Cave
Aaron Paul Lazar
Twilight Times Books
Awards include the 2011 Eric Hoffer Book Award, Commercial Fiction Category

Mystery and time travel are on tap in the first of Aaron Lazar’s Moore Mysteries series. Newly retired family doctor Sam Moore is eager to immerse himself in his passion for gardening. Rototilling the soil, he discovers a marble that glows green and connects him with his younger brother Billy who disappeared without a trace 50 years earlier.

Sam lives with his wife Rachel, who suffers from MS in fictional Conaroga, a location loosely based on Geneseo. When Sam’s work in his garden leads him to unearth the skeletal remains of a small boy, there is reason to believe his brother’s disappearance is linked to a serial killer of young boys. He suspects a crazed neighbor was responsible for Billy’s vanishing. However, renewed interest in the multiple murders even brings Sam’s childhood friends under suspicion. One, a politician, has presidential aspirations. There is plenty of page-turning suspense when Sam realizes his young grandson may become the next victim.

Sam’s fictional family life is believably drawn, as are the tortured feelings of his brother’s loss, which haunt him. For Keeps, the next in the Moore Mysteries, will be released this summer.

Under the Surface
Fracking, Fortunes, and the Fate of the Marcellus Shale
Tom Wilber
Cornell University Press

The issue of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” makes the news daily. This practice injects chemically treated water deep underground to extract hundreds of trillions of cubic feet of gas. Tom Wilber focuses on the Marcellus Shale formation, the geologic structure which runs from southern West Virginia through eastern Ohio, across central and northeast Pennsylvania and into New York through the Southern Tier and the Catskills. It underlies a sparsely populated region characterized by striking landscapes, critical watersheds and a struggling economic base. It also has one of the world’s largest supplies of natural gas.

In New York State, shale drilling is on hold while regulations are put in place. This book will provide insight into the consequences of drilling. While fortunes can be made, there can be side effects caused by an industrialized countryside.

Under the Surface tackles this complex topic and its ramifications for environmental policy, energy markets, politics, and especially residents of the region. The former journalist spent years interviewing key players on all sides of the Marcellus Shale issue, covering business, health and environmental issues. The impact on the lives of individuals, like the couple whose dream home is now surrounded by gas wells, will resonate with readers.

Lost at Seabreeze
Sally Valentine
Pyramid Publishing Inc.

In this fictional story for middle-grade readers, Rochester teacher Audrey Levine, with several family members in tow, coincidentally meets a group of her 5th grade students from Susan B. Anthony School #27 at Seabreeze Amusement Park during summer vacation. Seabreeze, in Irondequoit near Lake Ontario, is the fourth oldest amusement park in the U.S. and has offered family fun for generations.

There are nearly as many twists and turns in the events of one summer outing as there are in rides like the Jack Rabbit, the park’s famed wooden roller coaster. Mrs. Levine’s treasured brass ring, caught by her husband on the park’s carousel 30 years ago, is lost. Her students, engaged in assorted misadventures, enjoy the park attractions while searching for their teacher’s beloved ring, as well as a lost teddy bear.

As in three other novels in Sally Valentine’s Rochester series, the setting is a well-known local landmark. Seabreeze is the setting for lessons in friendship, values and a dose of history. The youthful classmates and their dedicated teacher are crafted with authenticity, humor and warmth. To add an extra learning experience the author has created a Seabreeze Scavenger Hunt, plus study guides and vocabulary worksheets that can be found on her website under Teacher Resources.

by Laurel C. Wemett

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