THE HUMANE HOME: EASY STEPS FOR SUSTAINABLE AND GREEN LIVING by Sarah Lozanova; Princeton Architectural Press, 2021; 168 pages, $25.95.

THE HUMANE HOME: EASY STEPS FOR SUSTAINABLE AND GREEN LIVING

An unknown pundit once said: “Living on earth is expensive, but it does include a free trip around the sun every year.” And as more and more Americans are discovering, living on earth is more than just pocketbook expensive — it’s costly to human and planet health.

“The Humane Home” is Belfast author Sarah Lozanova’s debut book offering simple, common-sense steps folks can take right at home to produce a cleaner, healthier environment for themselves, their families, communities and Mother Earth. Lozanova is an environmental journalist and sustainability consultant who lives at the Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage.

This slim volume is a handy guide to help people identify and change behavior regarding resource usage, waste and conservation, with chapters on eco-friendly housing, building materials, energy, water, food and waste, air quality (especially inside the home), growing your own food, even how to identify toxins in the home.

Best of all, Lozanova doesn’t preach. Instead, her writing is focused, conversational and lucid, pointing out how folks can improve their health with easy, clearly explained steps. And she’s honest about how expensive some changes might be. She suggests downsizing the home (less is more?), engaging in “voluntary simplicity” to cut costs and reduce energy use. She also discusses the pros and cons of solar power and wind power, as well as passive solar heating and passive cooling.

Other subjects include the “Twelve Permaculture Principles,” tips on properly insulating your home as well as thoughtful ideas on how to improve ventilation and home air quality, like never using the self-cleaning feature on your oven.

Learn about the remarkable advantages of an earthen floor (and how they are made), how to get a soil test for your vegetable garden, how to create a “food forest” and what Kombucha really is.

MUZZLED: AN ANDY CARPENTER MYSTERY by David Rosenfelt; Minotaur Books, 2020; 293 pages, $27.99.

MUZZLED: AN ANDY CARPENTER MYSTERY

If anyone thinks Big Pharma isn’t in business to make money, then David Rosenfelt’s excellent mystery novel, “Muzzled,”will correct that misconception. And considering the multitude of drug ads on TV and the recent lawsuits over the opiod crisis, Rosenfelt creates a chilling story of greed, corruption and corporate murder.

Damariscotta Lake writer Rosenfelt is the Shamus Award-winning author of 22 Andy Carpenter mysteries. Andy is a lazy defense attorney who doesn’t want to work, doesn’t really like his clients, and now gets unwittingly caught up defending a man who sure looks guilty.

This story is particularly timely as Covid vaccines are developed and rushed to market, and pharmaceutical companies compete for market shares to treat everything from migraines, diabetes, asthmas, eczema, toenail fungus and constipation. With Rosenfelt’s careful plotting and vivid narrative, Andy gets a real education in how Big Pharma really operates. The closest he gets to Big Phama is taking an Aleve because “lawyering gives me a headache.”

His client is Alex Vogel, a drug-company executive thought killed in a boat bombing that killed his two partners. But Vogel survived and went into hiding. The police are convinced Vogel killed his partners and faked his own death. Even Andy doesn’t believe his story, and knows he’s lying. Andy and his crack team of investigators (well-armed with computers, guns and brains) peel back the hidden layers of drug development, finance, production and marketing, revealing huge profits made through money laundering, stock manipulation and falsification of drug testing.

After more murders, Andy realizes too late that Vogel was telling the truth — he really was the target of the bombing. This sharp, well-crafted and suspenseful mystery proves that 17th century scholar Thomas Browne (1605-1682) was right: “No one should approach the temple of science with the soul of a money-changer.”

Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.

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