Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie


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“All Sides Now” Falls Flat

“Well. That’s two hours out of my life I’ll never be able to get back” grumps Her Grumpiness. “What a hunka junk! And to think I coulda been playing Canasta! Or watching cheese grow mold!”

What?

Mom has just finished reading a real dud. It’s called All Sides Now. You might want to grab the nearest flak jacket. Cuz…. Incoming! I’ll let her explain:

Remember that iconic Joni Mitchell folk tune from yesteryear, Both Sides Now? Sung by Judy Collins, the song’s “bittersweet lyrics” portray “the duality of human experience.” Along the same lines, All Sides Now seeks to describe a life “steeped in duality and balance” via a mildly interesting collection of personal essays on a wide variety of topics.

What Mom Really Thinks

That’s what I said in my Reedsy/Discovery review. Here’s what I really think:

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‘Songbird’ Hits High Notes

Songbird

By Gail Meath

Via: Reedsy/Discovery

Genre: Historical Romance/Cozy Mystery

Summary: A gung-ho gumshoe and his canine partner team up with a beautiful Broadway star to track a serial killer. But people connected to the theater keep winding up dead. Is Laura next? Can Jax and Ace crack the case before the killer strikes again?

“Hey Mom!” says I, Kimber the Magnificent. You gotta get a load of this “cozy mystery” thingy. (No idea what that means. But it sounds yummy!)

“What’s up, Kim?” says Mom.

“This Songbird book? It stars Ace the German shepherd. His human sidekick is Private Detective Jax Diamond. I’m goin’ with the dog, okay? Whaddya think?”

Here’s our review:

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TTT: Dynamic Duos

 

It’ time for another edition of Top Ten Tuesday. This week’s topic is “dynamic duos.” If you’re thinking Aragorn and Arwen, Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, or Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, think again.

Because this week we’re featuring one of the most Dynamic Duos we’ve ever read: Barby Keel and Bailey.

Who? You’re saying. I’d be saying that too if I hadn’t recently read Barby Keel’s Will You Love Me? The Rescue Dog That Rescued Me.

Barby is the author of the Foster Tails series. She’s also the founder and head honcho at the Barby Keel Animal Sanctuary in Sussex, U.K.

“Bailey” is a horribly abused and mistreated greyhound who’s dumped at the sanctuary’s gate on a sodden, freezing night. The poor dog is so far gone, he isn’t expected to last the night.

Against all odds, Bailey rallies.

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Incredibull Stella’s Story Warms Hearts

Incredibull Stella: How the Love of a Pit Bull Rescued a Family

By Marika Meeks

Citadel Press – Kensington Publishing, 2019

Genre: Non-Fiction

Via: Publisher Request

Her Grumpiness speaks:

I had two distinct reactions to this book. It’s the true story of a pit bull puppy left to die on the side of a road in winter and the woman who adopted the dog while recovering from stage three breast cancer.

On the one hand, Incredibull Stella is an uplifting, heartwarming read about the power of love and second chances. Robust and engaging, it’s told with great honesty and empathy.

On the other, it too often reads like an overlong soap opera, careening from one cataclysmic, heart-rending event to the next with nary a dog’s whisker in between. Think Lassie meets As The World Turns.

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‘The Order’ Illuminates Pivotal Chapter in Human History

The Order

By John-Patrick Bayle

Lancelin Publishing

Genre: Historical Fiction

Via: Author Request

Summary:

Thrust into the political and religious tumult of the 16th century, a young monk is sent on a perilous journey with a mysterious document. 

A mysterious document is secreted beneath the floors of a French abbey for three hundred years until a young monk discovers it. If it gets out, the document threatens governments and religious hierarchies alike. Betrayal, double-crosses, kidnapping and murder follow in this thorough and solid work of historical fiction. 

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17 Unforgettable Love Stories

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. And what better way to ring in the day than with a love story?

Now, I could line the bottom of my bird cage (if I had one) with most of what passes for “romance” stories these days. That’s not what this list is about. You won’t find any cheap dime store boiler plate trash here. This list focuses on timeless love stories that go above and beyond basic romance.

Some of these titles are relatively new. Others have been around for centuries. All reach straight for your heart. Climb in. And settle in to stay. B.Y.O. tissue.

Here are 17 of the most unforgettable love stories of all time, along with memorable quotes. Many have been made into movies. Some might surprise you:

1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

Jane Austen’s masterpiece of love and life among English gentility during the Georgian era. Mr. Bennet is an English gentleman living in Hartfordshire with his overbearing wife, one of the most ridiculous mothers in all literature. Mrs. Bennet’s chief goal in life is to see her five daughters married off and living comfortably. But fate intervenes…

Memorable quote:

“My good opinion once lost, is lost forever.”

2. Doctor Zhivago – Boris Pasternak

This novel traces the lives and loves of its two tragic protagonists, Yuri Zhivago, a physician and poet, and Larissa Antipova. Pasternak’s epic love story takes place between the Russian Revolution of 1905 and World War II. First published in Italy in 1957.

Memorable quote:

“Oh, what a love it was, utterly free, unique, like nothing else on earth! Their thoughts were like other people’s songs.”

3. A Common Life – Jan Karon

Laughter and wedding bells ring as Father Tim and his artist neighbor, Cynthia, get ready to tie the knot. Finally!

Memorable quote:

“I am not proud, but I am happy; and happiness blinds, I think, more than pride.”

4. Message in a Bottle – Nicholas Sparks

When a woman discovers a tragic love letter in a bottle on a beach, she’s determined to track down its author – and finds much more.

Emotionally intense story of love after loss. Set in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Memorable quote:

“Without you in my arms, I feel an emptiness in my soul.”

  1. The Princess Bride – William Golding

Six-fingered swordsmen. Murderous princes. Treachery. Gallantry. Sicilians and rodents of unusual size.

Buttercup and Westley’s love story is a classic that not even the Dread Pirate Roberts can sink. Did you know the 1987 movie was based on a book?

Memorable quote:

“As you wish.”

  1. Where the Red Fern Grows – Wilson Rawls

The powerful, poignant story of the unbreakable bond between a young boy and his two Redbone Hound dogs, Old Dan and Little Ann, reminds us what love really means. Set in the Ozarks during the depths of the Depression.

Once in a lifetime, a story comes along that inspires generations of readers. Where The Red Fern Grows is one of those stories. Bring Kleenex.

Note from Kimber: My personal favorite, friends! Even better than bacon! Mom always wants to snuggle up with this one. I’m a good helper, ya know. But I’m a World Class Snuggler and face-licker!

Memorable quote:

“I looked at his grave and, with tears in my eyes, I voiced these words: ‘You were worth it, old friend, and a thousand times over.’”

  1. Out of Africa – Isak Dinesen

Set largely in Kenya, East Africa, this sweeping epic is a story of discovery, loss and love.

Karen Blixen followed her dreams until her dreams became reality. She came to Africa from Denmark to search for something inside herself. There, she discovers a man and a country. And life as she’s never known it.

Blixen published her autobiographical Out of Africa under the nom de plume, Isak Dinesen.

The 1985 movie won seven Academy Awards including Best Picture. It stars Meryl Streep as Blixen and Robert Redford as her lover, Dennys Finch-Hatton.

Memorable quote:

“If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Will the air over the plain quiver with a color that I have had on, or the children invent a game in which my name is, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?”

  1. The Notebook

    – Nicholas Sparks

A touching story about what we long for. What we settle for. And who we were meant for. Full of longing and wistfulness. Despair and hope. And unexpected plot twists. Vintage Nicholas Sparks.

“I read to her and she remembers.”

Memorable quote:

“We fell in love, despite our differences, and once we did, something rare and beautiful was created. For me, love like that has only happened once, and that’s why every minute we spent together has been seared in my memory. I’ll never forget a single moment of it.”

  1. Romeo and Juliet

    – William Shakespeare

Don’t make me explain this.

Memorable quote:

“My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.”

10 – 13. The Last Promise, A Perfect Day, The Letter, The Sunflower, – Richard Paul Evans

  1. The Velveteen Rabbit,

    Margery Williams

How a brand new toy becomes Real.

Don’t think this “children’s” classic is a love story? Think again.

Memorable quote:

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

  1. Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë

Beloved love story between the plucky orphan and governess Jane Eyre and the dark and brooding Rochester.

Memorable quote:

“Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.”

16. Bid Time Return – Richard Matheson

A haunting story of the link between a man and a woman that transcends time. The novel upon which the movie Somewhere in Time is based.

My husband rolls his eyes every time I drag out my SIT DVD. I just smile and grab some more chocolate.

This story and the movie that followed starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour prove how little critics know and how even a predictable love story never fails to tug at the heart strings.

An unforgettable John Barry score doesn’t hurt, either.

Memorable quote:

“Come back to me.”

17. West Side Story

The original classic update of Romeo and Juliet set on the mean streets of New York during the 60s, with an unforgettable musical score.

Memorable quote:

“Tonight, tonight…”

What would you add?

This post was first published on Pages and Paws in 2020. But, hey! We figured it’s worth a re-run. Happy Valentine’s Day!


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TGIF & Friday 56 With ‘The King’s Shadow’

Hello Book Lovers!

TGIF, eh? That means it’s time for another Book Beginnings and a Friday 56. Like this:

Book Beginnings is a theme where readers share the first sentence (or couple of sentences) from your current read. It’s hosted by Rose City Reader every Friday.

The Friday 56 is hosted by Frida’s Voice. Share a few sentences from page 56 or 56% into your current read. Sound good? Perfect! Cuz here we go:

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How a Rescue Dog Saves Her Human Told in “Gabby”

Gabby: The Little Dog That Had to Learn to Bark

By Barby Keel

Citadel Press  – Kensington Publishing Corp., 2020

Genre: Biography/Autobiography/Animals

Summary:
The true story of the unbreakable bond of love and loyalty between a woman and the little rescue dog who rescued her.

“Sometimes, a human and a dog find each other and fit together like two jigsaw pieces…”

The founder and director of the Barby Keel Animal Sanctuary in Sussex, England, Barby Keel makes the observation when she finds a Yorkie terrier mix cowering on the floor of a car as Gabby’s dropped off at the sanctuary. Continue reading


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EBook or Hard Copy?

Dear eBooks:

It’s not personal. After all, you’re pretty cute. Shiny and sleek. Portable. Lightweight and easy to carry. Slim and trim. Convenient.

And we still don’t like you.

We prefer hard copy. Like, a real, live physical book with actual paper pages. That you can actually turn. Crease. Stick a bookmark in to save your place.

We like hearing the satisfying creak a New Book makes when it’s opened for the first time by a brand new reader. Or the smack of a just finished book when you snap the cover closed.

We like the way hard copy books feel. How you can brush the cover with your fingertips. Open it with your hands. Thumb the pages. Tuck it under your arm.

Additionally, one of us has been reading books since shortly after the Ark made landfall. And eBooks hurt Momasaurus’s eyes. Cause fatigue. Headaches. Eye strain.

You do not want any of the above coming through in a book review if you’ve submitted your magnum opus via eBook, okay? (Trust me on this.)

Book dinosaurs of the world, unite! As long as we’re talkin hard copy, okay?

XXOO,

Kimber and Mom

Which do you prefer – eBook or hard copy?


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Hop on The Road Less Travelled With “Wax & Gold”

Wax & Gold: Journeys in Ethiopia & Other Roads Less Travelled (‘M’ Publishing House, Ltd., 2021)

By Sam McManus

Genre: Non-Fiction

Via: Author Request

Summary:

A collection of first-person stories detailing “off-the-beaten-path” adventures in Ethiopa, Japan, Bolivia, Egypt, Kyrgyzstan, Iran, Mongolia, Lebanon, Oman, and Costa Rica.

Wax and Gold isn’t your average travel guide. If you’re looking for lists of “must see” sights at specific destinations, where to stay or shop or eat, this isn’t it. It’s seventeen chapters covers 2005 to 2019.

The title comes from a form of Ethiopian poetry. “Wax and gold” is “meticulously comprised with a focus on the duality of its meanings. The surface meaning, the wax must be stripped away to reveal the hidden core of gold underneath.” The author explains description of how wax must be stripped away to reveal the gold underneath.

In similar fashion, the author describes how “the allure of Ethiopia” encouraged him to look deeper within himself. Indeed, Wax and Gold combines colorful, detailed chronicles of the people, places, destinations, and cultures the author discovered in his many travels with a more subtle discoveries gained during his inner journey.

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