Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie


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How Spinach Can Make You A Better Blogger

Ever come back from lunch with a piece of spinach stuck between your teeth? You didn’t know anything about it. For hours. Just greeted everyone with your dental greenery. Because : 1) You didn’t check, or 2) No one said anything.

That can happen in the blogging world, too. Example? This recent conversation between Mom and Kimber the Wonder Dog:

Kimber: Mom! Mom! You gotta optimize us!

Mom: Don’t bother me now, Kimmi. I’m writing.

Kimber: Mom! Mom! You gottta find a responsive theme and layout for our blog so we’re mobile friendly!

Mom: Kimmi. Can you give it a rest already?

Kimber: Mom! Mom…!

Kimber Continues:

It’s tough being brilliant all the time. But somebody’s gotta do it.

Well, I try to go easy on Mom. After all, she still remembers typewriters and carbon paper. White-out and 8-track cassettes. (I’m pretty sure she was on a first name basis with that Abe Lincoln guy. Don’t tell anyone, okay?)

As I was saying, I try to go easy on Mom. About the time she got the hang of desk top computers, they came out with those mobile device doo-hickeys. Then she had to figure those out, too.

So I wasn’t going to push her too hard on optimizing her site for mobile. Or switching to a responsive theme for the blog. Every time I brought it up, Mom said:

 

Go lie down, Kimber. There’s a good girl.”

So annoying.

Eureka!

Then Mom had a Eureka! Moment. (About time.) “Kim,” says Mom. “I’ve been doing this blog thing all wrong!”

Duh.

That was the day Mom finally figured out that her blog had to be “mobile friendly.” It wasn’t. So she made some changes.

Can you see? Can you see? Can you tell the difference? Huh? Huh? Huh?

If she’d only listened to me sooner. But you know how moms are.

Anyway, this is what one of us learned:

  1. Writing for the internet is different than writing for print
  2. A good print writer does not necessarily a good blogger make
  3. Desktop computers aren’t the primary way most people access the internet anymore. They’re using mobile devices more and more. So make sure your blog is optimized for mobile. If you don’t, you’re likely to get left in the dust.

Remember the spinach-in-the-teeth thing? Mom also learned that some of the Biggest Blogging Mistakes Ever include:

  • Thinking you know it all
  • Being unwilling to change or adapt for new platforms and audiences
  • Assuming that providing brilliant content alone will catapult you into the blogger “A List”

The truth is, reading on-line and reading print are two different critters. They require two different approaches. Mom used to think that because she’s a multi-published author, she could easily turn and pivot into blogging.

Ha!

A Whole New Approach

She had to learn a whole new approach for a whole new platform, including:

  • Brief, pithy sentences
  • Eye-catching graphics
  • Bullet points
  • Short paragraphs
  • Make sure your blog is Mobile Friendly. (Find out how to do that here.)

Mom didn’t know about that last one until someone finally told her. Like getting rid of that pesky bit of spinach stuck between your teeth, sometimes you don’t know what’s wrong until someone points it out. So hurray for spinach!

Go lie down, Mom. There’s a good girl.

One last thing. What’s a “typewriter”? (Askin’ for a friend.)

XXOO,

Kimber

  


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Share Some Blogging Sunshine!

Kimber here. Sharing some tummy rub-worthy news!

Mom and I have been nominated for our first

Sunshine Blogger Award!

 

Well, it was mostly me. I can’t help it. As a Border Collie mix with loads of love, I’m all about sunshine! And all things brilliant, shiny, and bursting with good cheer! I’m also highly intelligent. Loquacious. Loyal and protective. Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall felines in a single…

Wait. Where was I? Oh yeah. Sunshine Blogger Award. Nominated by Hiker Babe. Who loves to explore The Great Outdoors. Plenty of positive vibes there! Also great info and inspiration about hiking, camping, and treating nature with respect. 

What’s a Sunshine Blogger Award?

The Sunshine Blogger Award is given by bloggers to other bloggers. It honors bloggers who are “creative, positive and inspiring while spreading sunshine to the blogging community.” (Aw, shucks. That’s me all over, dontcha know? Did I mention that I’m also shy, modest and retiring? Thank you, Hiker Babe!)

 

The Sunshine Blogger Award isn’t a self-congratulatory pat-on-the-back paw shake. (Like the neighbor’s cat, if ya know what I mean.) The award means you spread the word about writers you love with your readers! That’s a win-win for everyone. Yesssiree, Lassie! (See bottom of page for details.)

“Sharing some sunshine,” Kimber-style.

The award also comes with some rules, ‘natch.

Sunshine Blogger Award Rules:

 

  • Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog so others can find them.
  • Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.
  • Notify the nominees about it by commenting on one of their blog posts.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post and/or your blog site.

 

And now, on with some sunshine!

 

Our answers to Hiker Babe’s Questions:



1.Your favorite book?

Man! That’s like asking a mom which kid she likes best! But if you insist, here’s a “short” answer:

I’ve long maintained that some of the finest writing in all literature is Children’s Literature. Any writer who can grab and keep a child’s attention for an entire story is doing something right. Examples?

  • Misty of Chincoteague and King of the Wind
  • Prairie fires, rampaging grasshoppers, scarlet fever, and Christmas candy in the Little House books.
  • Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series.
  • Aslan and Narnia. Black Beauty. Peter and Wendy.
  • The Velveteen Rabbit.
  • The Little Prince.
  • The Inkheart series by Cornelia Funke.

Perennial favorites? Most anything by John Eldredge. Corrie ten Boom. Elisabeth Elliot. Gary Paulsen and Max Lucado. For uplifting, inspiring stories of hope and grace, Richard Paul Evans is right at the top. Ditto Debbie Macomber and Jan Karon.

I also confess a certain fondness for Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel as well as a curious little monkey befriended by a man in a yellow hat.

2. Describe a recent reading or book-related achievement:

In 2018 I surpassed my Goodreads Reading challenge of reading 365 books in one year. My final total: 383 books. Mostly from the local library.

 

3. Favorite comfort food?

Tiramisu. Raspberry white chocolate cheesecake. Onion rings. Chocolate anything. Cobb salad. Dilled salmon. (Not necessarily in that order.) 



4. Favorite place?

The library! There’s also a sweet little mountain inn in western Washington that the hubs and I adore. 

 

5. A Pet Peeve?

People who keep interrupting me when I’m reading! Or writing!

Like, “Can you not see that my nose is buried in a book? That I’m in deep concentration here, 98 miles beneath the Marianas Trench? That I’ve sailed to the end of the world, jumped off, and hove to in another galaxy? That I’m on the rim edge of another Stroke of Sheer Brilliance that you’ve just possibly derailed forever?!” Puh-leeze!



6. What would your ideal day look like?

Is that a trick question? Cuz it could literally go “16 ways from Sunday.” (Kimber says “Limit it to three.” So here goes.)

Possibility 1: Curled up in my living room recliner with my snuggly blankie, a roaring fire, a steaming mug of hot cocoa and a good book. With Kimber snuggled onto my lap, of course.

Possibility 2: Any day in The Great Outdoors with the hubs and Kimber. Especially at Mount Rainier National Park. Cuz most any day at Mount Rainier is better than the worst day most anywhere else. (Don’t ask how I know that.)

Possibility 3: Any day with Kimber the Magnificent. Listening to Andrea Bocelli or Chris Tomlin tunes and doing most anything to avoid scrubbing the tub.

7. Favorite Quote(s)?

Man! That’s like asking a mom which… oh, never mind. That’s hard to narrow down. But in the running would be:

“All children, except one, grow up.” (If you don’t know this, kindly look it up.)

“We can beat these guys!” Coach Herb Brooks, 1980 U.S. Men’s Hockey Team

“Hand over the chocolate and no one gets hurt” – Yours Truly


8. What do you love most about blogging?

I love connecting with other readers and bibliophiles, fellow bloggers and writers. Ditto sharing ideas and inspiration and supporting each other.



9. Why do you your write/blog?

Writing is part of my personality. Embedded in my DNA. “Writer” is who I am, not just what I do. Basically, I write because I can’t not write. Ever since I was a little kid. 

I also love the challenge of trying to convey sometimes complicated, intricate thoughts, emotions, events and/or experiences with words. It’s a never-ending challenge, both frustrating and joyous – especially when you finally reach that Aha! “light bulb” moment! Know what I mean?

10. Have you published any books? If so, what genre?

Yep. I’ve authored and published over 25 books. I *specialize* in what one wag dubbed “excruciatingly insightful prose.” I’m not quite sure what that is. Can I get back to you on that?

 

11. What book moved you to tears?

Wow. There have been many over the years in this category. Everything from Old Yeller and Where the Red Fern Grows to Marley and Me. (You may detect a slight canine bias here.)

However, a recent re-read that comes to mind is Born Free: A Lioness of Two Worlds, by Joy Adamson.

I first read this remarkable book in 1969. Some 50 years later, this true story of an orphaned lioness and the two humans who loved her enough to set her free remains one of the most powerful, poignant stories I’ve ever read. It includes overcoming overwhelming odds. Triumph. Tragedy. Tenderness. Hope and loss. Also vivid, evocative descriptions of East African flora, fauna, and people. Born Free has it all. (Shoulda bought stock in Kleenex.)

On a similar note, Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa also qualifies.

Nominations


Kimber here again. Here are Mom’s and my nominations to keep the love flowing. (We’re still working on coming up with 11. But here’s a start):

Jane @ Greenish Bookshelf

Cristian @ The Art of Blogging

Christine @ The Uncorked Librarian

Barbie @ Barbie Holmes

Andy @ Pearls and Pantsuits

Jody @ Jodyleecollins



Eleven questions for these exceptional bloggers to tackle:



1. How long have you been blogging?

2. Why did you start a blog?

3. How has blogging affected your life?

4. Describe your biggest blogging challenge

5. Your favorite book genre?

6. Describe your version of The Perfect Vacation ($ not an obstacle)

7. How do you defeat writer’s block?

8. Are your family and friends aware that you’re a blogger? What do they think?

9. What’s the best writing or blogging advice you ever heard?

10. Describe your blog in 10 words or less

11. Dogs or cats? (Inquiring Kimbers want to know!!)

 

 

By the way. The whole point of the Sunshine Blogger Award isn’t to keep it to yourself. It’s to share it! And spread some blogging love. So, nominate away, friends! 

Whew! Is it dinner time yet? “Askin’ for a friend.” Thanks again for reading. Happy blogging and full sunshine ahead!

 

 


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Is This Blogging Thing Going to Work?

Image result for blogging

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Are you a newbie blogger struggling to find your voice? Have you been blogging for awhile and are discouraged? Wondering if it’s worth the effort?

 

Have you asked yourself:

  • Am I wasting my time?
  • Does anybody care?
  • Is anyone listening?
  • How come I don’t have more readers?
  • Do I have what it takes to be a “successful blogger”? (Whatever that means.)
  • Is this going to work?

 

These questions aren’t about education level or computer skills. Prior knowledge or experience or anything like that.

 

Nope. If someone’s asking if they have what it takes to be a “successful blogger,” what they’re really asking is:

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Social Media: Blogging Boon or Bane?

Image result for blogging

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Most everyone who’s anyone is singing the praises of social media when it comes to growing your blog. The amen corner is full of “absolutely!” and “imperative!” when it comes to using Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and/or Instagram, etc. to jump-start your blogging traffic or increase book sales.

 

But is social media use helping or harming your writing?

 

Answer: It depends. Here are some possible boons and banes.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA BOONS:

  • Speed and convenience. You can publish that great American novel yesterday and trumpet your magnum opus all over the world today via your Facebook page or Twitter account. Or sooner.
  • Ease. Social media applications are generally straight-forward and easy. You don’t have to have an advanced degree in computer science to figure it out and plug in.
  • Accessibility. Unlike paper and pen or hard copy, you can update your social media outlets from virtually anywhere – email, mobile phone, blackberry, etc. You don’t even need to be near a computer.
  • Maximum exposure with minimal effort. Many social media platforms offer an option to link to your other accounts so that posting in one venue generates an automatic message in another.  (If you activate this option, just be sure that what you’re tweeting about will also be of interest and appropriate elsewhere.)
  • Cost. There’s no need to invest in paper, ink, or postage when using social media to promote your expertise or your work. You can open a Twitter or Facebook account for free.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA BANES:

  • Quantity doesn’t necessarily mean quality. Social media is quick, convenient, and cursory. You can cover lots of ground with minimal effort, but social media is the online equivalent of “a mile wide and a quarter inch deep.” Cultivating the kind of relationships needed to successfully market yourself or your work takes a lot more than a one-sentence status update or a 140-character tweet.
  • It can be deceptive. Writing and blogging take time, energy, and effort. You may feel like social media-ing yourself all over the place is boosting your writing/blogging career, but in the final analysis, only one thing can do that: writing.
  • It’s distracting. What’s easier – tossing out a 140-character tweet, or cranking out a full page of prose, correcting spelling and punctuation, sharpening your POV, or creating several pages of meaningful dialogue? The ease and accessibility of social media can seduce you away from the real work of writing.
  • Time spent on social media is time taken away from actual writing. Like the above, if you’re spending half your day Facebooking, linking, or retweeting and devoting twenty minutes a day to revising that troublesome chapter or rounding out that one-dimensional character, you’ve jumped the tracks. You’re a writer, not a tweeter. Prioritize your time accordingly.

 

In Sum

Social media can be a boon and a valuable tool in your marketing arsenal when used properly and advisedly.

It can also be a bane, a glitzy distraction that gobbles up huge quantities of time and creative energy that should go into your writing.

 

Bottom line

The answer to the “help or harm” question depends on you. Balance is the key. Use it wisely.

 

How do you balance your writing/blogging and social media use?

 

 

 

 

Image Credit:  Creative Commons License 2.0


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Are You a Discouraged Blogger?

Man wearing gray shirt standing near house digital wallpaper

Remember how you felt when you first started blogging? Wasn’t it a rush? Exhilarating? You had lots to say and probably couldn’t wait to say it.

You wrote and published a bunch of posts sharing your genius with the world. And waited for the world to notice.

And waited. And waited.

And waited.

Maybe you’re still waiting?

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13 Books to Read if You Loved The Hunger Games!

Welcome to another edition of Fine Wine Fridays!

Did Suzanne Collin’s dystopian Hunger Games trilogy keep you on the edge of your seat? Were you captivated by strong characters who must rely on their wits, courage, and friendships to survive?

If you enjoy high octane stories featuring youthful (mostly) protagonists who battle oppressive regimes, read these next (as always, I only recommend books that I’ve actually read myself. Personally):

13 Books to Read if You Loved The Hunger Games:

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  1. 1. The City of Ember, by Jeanne DuPrau

The underground City of Ember was built as a last refuge for the human race. Two hundred years later, the city is threatened by aging infrastructure and corruption. They’re running out of food and energy.

 

When Lina finds part of an ancient message, she’s sure it holds a secret that will save the city. Now she and her friend Doon must race to figure out the clues to keep the lights on. If they succeed, they will have to convince everyone to follow them into danger. But if they fail? The lights will burn out and the darkness will close in forever.

 

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2. Red Rising, by Pierce Brown

Set on a future planet Mars, inhabitants fall into a caste system based on birth. A hierarchy of “colors” represents their ranking within society. The novel follows lowborn miner Darrow as he infiltrates the ranks of the elite Golds. The first book in the Red Rising trilogy.

 

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3. Matched, by Ally Condie

In the Society, officials decide everything. Where you work. Who you love. When you die. Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s a small price to pay for a long life. The perfect job. The ideal mate. When she turns 17 and attends her Matching ball, she expects society to pair her with her optimal partner. But then…

 

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4. Delirium, by Lauren Oliver

A potent blend of romance, drama and danger in a world where falling in love isn’t just forbidden, it’s impossible. Right?

 

 

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5. The Maze Runner, by James Dashner

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone. Outside the surrounding stone walls s a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive. Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying: Remember. Survive. Run.

I read this cover-to-cover in one sitting. A taut, thrilling ride about teens who are pawns of evil adults. High octane action from start to finish. (The subsequent novels, not so much.)

 

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6. Cinder –The Lunar Chronicles, Book 1, by Marissa Meyer

New Beijing is filled with humans and androids. But a deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when she meets the handsome Prince Kai’s, Cinder is suddenly plunged into an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

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7. Life As We Knew It, by Susan Beth Pfeffer

When an asteroid knocks the moon closer to Earth, high school sophomore Miranda’s whole world gets turned upside down. Worldwide tsunamis and earthquakes hit. Volcanic ash blocks out the sun. During winter in northeastern Pennsylvania, Miranda and her family retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.

Told in a year’s worth of journal entries, this heart-pounding story chronicles Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all—hope—in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world. I’d bring a sweater ‘fize you.

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7. Gone, by Michael Grant

In the blink of an eye, everyone is gone. Poof. Except for the young. There are teens, but not one single adult. Just as suddenly, there are no phones, no internet, no television. No way to get help. And no way to figure out what’s happened.

Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents—unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers—that grow stronger by the day.

It’s a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen. A fight is shaping up. And time is running out: on your birthday, you disappear just like everyone else.

 

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9. Legend, by Marie Lu

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem. From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect…

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10. Unwind, by Neal Shusterman

In America after the Second Civil War, the Pro-Choice and Pro-Life armies came to an agreement: The Bill of Life states that human life may not be touched from the moment of conception until a child reaches the age of thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, a parent may choose to retroactively get rid of a child through a process called “unwinding.” Unwinding ensures that the child’s life doesn’t “technically” end by transplanting all the organs in the child’s body to various recipients. Now a common and accepted practice in society, troublesome or unwanted teens are able to easily be unwound.

Unwind follows three teen runaway Unwinds: Connor, a rebel whose parents have ordered his unwinding; Risa, a ward of the state who is to be unwound due to cost-cutting; and Lev, his parents’ tenth child whose unwinding has been planned since birth as a religious tithing.

Gripping. Brilliant. And chilling. I couldn’t put down!

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11. Red Queen, by Victoria Aveyard

A sweeping tale of power, intrigue, and betrayal. Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with common, Red blood serve the Silver-blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. This sweeping tale where romance and revolution collide. first book in the Red Queen series.

 

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12. The Darkest Minds, by Alexandra Bracken

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” Ruby might have survived the mysterious disease that killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerge with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

This taut thriller packs a punch! Another one I couldn’t put down!

 

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13. Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand

No list of dystopian novels would be complete without this classic.

Perhaps the “grandparent” of all dystopian novels (along with Orwell’s 1984, the World’s Most Depressing Book, so let’s not go there).

The fourth and final novel of Ayn Rand’s novels, Atlas Shrugged is sprawling epic that combines economics, science fiction, philosophy, and intrigue. It’s set in a dystopian United States in which private business struggles under increasingly onerous laws and regulations. Railroad executive Dagny Taggart and her lover, steel magnate Hank Rearden, match wits with those who want to exploit their productivity and entrepreneurialism. But they’re scotched at every step. Can they keep their heads above water – and for how long?

And who is John Galt?

 

What would you add to the list?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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7 Common Blogging Mistakes – Are You Doing This?

New to blogging? Been at it awhile? Trying to figure out why you’re not getting any new readers, likes or comments?

Maybe you’re making some blogging mistakes. We all do it. What separates “the wheat from the chaff,” so to speak, is who identifies and learns from those mistakes and who doesn’t.

So let’s start with 7 common blogging mistakes. Then we’ll discuss how to fix them.

Are you doing any of these?

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Huck Finn Meets The Great Depression in “This Tender Land”

 

This Tender Land, by William Kent Krueger

Atria Books, 2019

A poignant coming of age novel set amid the grim backdrop of the Great Depression, This Tender Land is a Huckleberry Finn-esque type story. It’s about four children who escape a horrific Indian school by canoeing down the rivers of Minnesota to St. Louis.

And much more.

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Ties That Bind Can Burn in “The Bitterroots”

The Bitterroots, by C.J. Box

St. Martin’s Publishing Group, 2019

Ever been unsure of an author or a title but decided to dive in anyway, and discover a pleasant surprise in the process?

 

That’s how I felt after reading C.J. Box’s new crime thriller, The Bitterroots. True confession: I nabbed it off the library’s New shelf cuz of the cover. I mean, hey! Rugged mountains. Jet-puffed clouds. Fiery Montana meadows. And a tall, lanky cowboy.

 

What’s not to love?

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7 Books to Read If You Loved ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’

Want to read more? Find more books like your favorites?

Well woof and double woof! Cuz you’ve come to the right place!

Fine Wine Fridays

Kimber here. I can’t wait to tell you about a new feature Mom and I are launching here at Pages and Paws. We’re calling it Fine Wine Fridays. (I was holding out for Excellently Scrumptious and Splendiferous Read-a-Like Book Lists That Are So Delicious, They’re Even Better Than My Fave Dog Chow or Squeaky Toy. Mom nixxed that. You know how moms are.)

Anyway! We’ll be featuring The Best in rich, full bodied read-a-like books every other Friday. You may even want to sit down with these titles and pair them with a glass of… whatever. Like:

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