Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie


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14 Best Christmas Movies You Never Heard Of (and a few you have)

‘Tis the season for merry-making and movie-watching. Grab some hot chocolate. Plop in a peppermint stick. Gather the fam and get comfy. (Don’t forget the little’uns! Or the dog!) This is Mom’s 100% subjective, totally unscientific list of Best Christmas Movies Ever.

Several are well-known, perennial favorites. But you may find some surprises here. In fact, you may have never heard of some of these. All are worthwhile. How many do you recognize?

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Warm Up Your Winter With ‘Aunt Ivy’s Cottage’

Aunt Ivy’s Cottage (BookoutureDecember, 2020)

By Kristin Harper

Romance/Woman’s Fiction

Romance and mystery collide in this cozy ‘beach novel’ about loss, love, second chances, and family secrets.

Thirty eight year-old Zoey Winslow arrives at her aunts’ home on Dune Island at a loss. Several losses, in fact. First her parents divorced. Then they both died.  Then she lost her beloved sister Jess to cancer.

Nearly bankrupted by bad investments made by her ex-boyfriend, a “financial planner,” Zoey’s also recently lost her job as a librarian. She comes to Dune Island and Hope Haven to care for her ailing Aunt Sylvia and Sylvia’s dearest friend, Zoey’s elderly Aunt Ivy.

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‘Marley’ Brings Dickensian Character Back to Life

 

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By Jon Clinch

Fiction

It’s December and ‘Tis the Season! So we’re kicking off the month with a seasonal classic. Sort of. It’s more like a twist on a seasonal classic, called Marley.

As in: If you thought Ebenezer Scrooge was a piece of work, wait till you get a load of Jacob Marley.

Yes, Marley. Scrooge’s deceased business partner. He appears briefly in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. He’s the chained and tormented ghost doomed to wander the earth forever as punishment for his greed and selfishness when he was alive (He also looks a lot like Alec Guinness in the 1970 musical, Scrooge).

Back Story

Clinch’s vividly imaginative and enjoyable novel fills us in on Marley’s back story of greed, duplicity, and treachery. This guy makes Scrooge look like a piker. If lying, cheating, and stealing were Olympic sports, Jacob Marley would bring home the gold. Every time.

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‘The Sky Worshipers’ & Echoes of Scheherazade

The Sky Worshipers: A Novel of Mongol Conquest (History Through Fiction, 2021)

By F.M. Deemyad

Historical Fiction

Setting:

Thirteenth century Asia, Middle East, and Eastern Europe

Main characters:

Chaka, youngest daughter of a Chinese emperor and a Tangut Princess of China. Kidnapped by Mongols. Becomes wife of Genghis Khan, founder of the Mongol Empire.

Reyhan, Granddaughter of the last Seljuk King of Persia, kidnapped by Mongols.

Krisztina, Princess of Poland and Mongol prisoner of war.

Lady Goharshad of Persia. In 1398 she discovers a hidden manuscript buried in a hidden compartment under a floor of some ancient ruins in Karakorum, the Mongol capitol.

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7 Surprisingly Splendid Seasonal Reads

Ready for reading that’s merry and bright? Great! Cuz what’s Christmas without some good books?

Fresh out of ideas for the season? We’ve gotcha covered!

Here are seven uplifting, engaging reads to help celebrate the season with faith, hope, and love. In no particular order:

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Why This Animal Classic Is Worth Another Read

A Forest World (Simon & Schuster, 1942)

 

By Felix Salten

Fiction/Juvenile

Remember the guy who wrote Bambi?  (It was a good story before Disney got ahold of it. But that’s a discussion for another time.) Did you know Felix Salten wrote two other books, Renni the Rescuer and A Forest World? We’ve read both. Both are just as good – or maybe better – than Bambi. Today we’re focusing on the latter title.

A Forest World isn’t necessarily a quick read by modern day standards. But it’s a good one. Here’s why:

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John Boy & Gentle Voices: A Thanksgiving Reflection

Mom is skipping around the kitchen today, merrily cooking up a storm! Everything smells de.li.cious! And I should know. Cuz I’m an expert in all things smellish. And delicious.

You gonna eat that? (Askin’ for a friend.)

With this Thanksgiving thing just around the corner, Mom and I wanted to switch things up a bit. So here, at no extra charge, we’re featuring a little Thank You gift in the form of an original story. From our house to yours. To THANK YOU for being one of our most favorite people in the whole wide world (aka: blog readers. Oh yeah!)

Ready? Enjoy! More info. at the end of this luscious post!

***

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The KIMBER Awards!

You’ve heard of the Academy Awards. The Emmys, Tonys, and Golden Globes. But you may not have heard of The Biggest Bow Wow of them all:

The Kimber Awards.

You may not have heard of this prestigious honor. That’s because I, Kimber, just made it up. Just in time for Thanksgiving.

Well, okay. Mom helped. A little. She lobbied for “World’s Most Super Duper, Seriously Splendid, Extra Excellent, Terrifically Talented, Genuine Genius-y, and All-Around Awesome Author Awards.”

I nixed that. After all. Someone has to be the adult in the room. Besides. Mom and I thought that with all this negative COVID-ish talk going around, something upbeat is in order. (Well, okay again. It was mostly me. But Mom helped a bit.)

Where was I? Oh yeah. The Kimber Awards. …

 

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‘Giver of Stars’ – Better Than Bacon?

See the source imageThe Giver of Stars (Viking, 2019)

By Jojo Moyes

Historical Fiction

To seek knowledge is to expand your own universe.

Kimber here. Mom says she’s sometimes “biased” about certain books. I’m not sure what that means. But she says it applies to most any book that combines two of the best things in the world (besides bacon and more bacon): historical fiction and reading/literacy/libraries. (Okay. That’s four. But you get the picture, right?)

Well. Mom tends to love that stuff even before she opens the cover. So when someone suggested an historical fiction book about lady “Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky” serving destitute, isolated families in rural Kentucky during the Depression, Mom was like, “Oh yeah. Love this thing already.”

But Mom’s expectations are high. Here’s more from the Book Bias Queen:

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‘Love Costs’ Offers Worthy Read

Love Costs (November 2020)

by E.B. Roshan

The best love costs the most.

That’s the basis of the latest installment in the Shards of Sevia series, Love Costs.

She’s Tur. He’s Sevian. While working as an interpreter for a war-torn Sevia, Radoslav discovers a man, his sister, and a baby. All are supposed to be taken to a refugee camp.

When Dunya asks “Rado” to find her lost cat, he agrees. But Coco has other plans. Just like the rest of the war-torn country.

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