Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie


What is Strong Writing?

What is “strong writing”?

“Strong writing” is somewhat subjective. Pose the question to 100 book reviewers or authors and you’re likely to get 100 different responses. Or variations on a theme.

Our Version

So what do we mean by “strong writing” in fiction? Glad you asked. Here’s the 4-1-1 (the short version):

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How to Write Book Reviews Like a BOSS

“The Boss.” (But you already knew that.)




  1. a person who is in charge of a worker, group, or organization:

Kimber here. I’m explaining what a “boss” is. In case you’re wondering about who’s in charge around here. And ya know what? Mom takes orders pretty well. Most of the time.

So about how to write a book review. We’ll show ya how in five easy steps. But first, let’s determine what is and isn’t a “book review,” okay?

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’40 Fingers’ for Friday!

Happy Friday Friends!

We’re doin’ something a little diff today. A little bookish. A little music-ish. A lot cool-ish. (Kimber: By the way, whaddya think of my new pic featured on the blog header? Am I like Totally Pawsome, or what?!)

Have you read James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans? Seen the 1992 movie starring Daniel Day Lewis as Hawkeye? If you’ve seen the movie, you know that it doesn’t bear any particularly close resemblance to the book. (Cuz, yeah. We’ve read it. Twice.) But the movie has a great musical score.

A Treat!

So you’re in for a treat today.

Here’s the main theme from The Last of the Mohicans as performed by 40 Fingers. This is the first all-guitar performance of this score we’ve ever heard. It’s a little bookish. A little music-ish. A lot… Well. You know.

Just under two minutes. Enjoy! And have a great weekend!


100 Books For Your Bucket List

Kimber the Magnificent here. Telling you about this poster we got awhile back: 100 Books Bucket List. Mom and I? We’ve read 81 of the titles listed. The rest? Who cares? And some titles on this puppy? They’re on our Super Duper Over-Rated Duds and Disses and Total Waste of Time, Off You Go to the Kitty Litter Box List*. (Mom’s version. I just call it our Yuck List.)


So We Did

Anywho. That poster thingy got one of us thinking. Mom, says I, Kimber the Genius. We can do better. Let’s make our own Bucket List. So we did.

Mom Tested, Kimber Approved

Below is our Mom Tested, Kimber Approved, 100% Unscientific, Totally Subjective 100 Books For Your Bucket List. As in, Good Stuff Here. Enjoyable. Enlightening. Inspiring. Entertaining. Thought-Provoking. Great writing. And Just Plain. Fun. Both fiction and nonfiction. 

Note: We’re not talkin’ all Hoity-Toity here. So relax, okay?

Some titles are newer than others. Most have been around awhile. Stood the test of time. You’ll find some well-worn “classics” that are probably on everyone’s “Best Books” list.  Some might surprise you. And a few are… Well. Hi, Mom.

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What Keeps Us Going?

You know it’s a lotta work doing a book thingy blog, right? Maybe not as much work as grilling up a nice, thick burger all juicy and sizzling and…

Wait. Where was I?

Oh yeah. Book blogging.


Well. Some intrepid soul recently asked why we do book blogging? After all, it’s a ton of work. For free. (“Intrepid.” Isn’t that a great word? No idea what it means. But Her Momness likes it. So I do, too.)

So, Mom and Me? We put face and fur together on that one to round up a response. You know. Something other than, “Chocolate!” (For one of us.) Or, “We’re World Class Bibliophiles and can’t help it!” But really. The main reason we run this blog comes down to one word:

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Book Tag 2023!

I’m a tag expert. Get the ball? I’m on it! Fetch the stick! It’s mine! Grab the Frisbee? Oh yeah! So Mom says we’re getting the tail wagging for 2023 with a January Book Tag.

“Someone say ‘Fetch’?,”

Ready to play? It’s goal-setting and challenges for the year. Aw, come on! It’ll be fun! Let’s jump on it! Ready? Set? Let’s go:

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7 Most SURPRISING Reads of 2022

You know that feeling you get when you walk into a seemingly dark, deserted room and everybody and their dog jumps out and hollers, “SURPRISE!!”? It’s so unexpected and sudden. You may feel astonished. Happy. Giddy. In shock. Or the surprise may give you a heart attack.

“Someone say, ‘T-bone?'”

Well. We came across some reads this year that surprised us. (The good kind of surprise, not the heart attack kind.) The books below are all by authors that are new to us. That we never heard of before grabbing their book and deciding to take “a shot in the dark.” All feature:

  • Excellent writing that’s briskly paced
  • Strong, sturdy characterizations
  • A solid plot that’s unusually clever, creative, fresh, and/or informative
  • A transcendent theme or message
  • Are page turners worth re-reading

These titles include indie and/or first-time authors. Several are either self-published or published by small imprints. And they’re all surprisingly good.  Engaging. Interesting. Quick as Kimber after a bowl of kibble. Or extra crispy bacon. 

Most have had little to no exposure. And that’s too bad. Because these are all worthwhile reads. Think “breath of fresh bookish air.” Yeah, baby!

So… drum roll please for the 7 Most Surprising Reads of 2022 (in no particular order):

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Is ‘Die Hard’ a ‘Christmas Movie’?

It’s that time of year again. Time for celebrating and merry-making. Giving and gratitude. Caroling and cantatas. Sleigh bells. Snow. And the never-ending debate over whether or not Bruce Willis’s “Die Hard” is a “Christmas movie.” (We are speaking of the original.)

Image: Mirror Screen Grab

What’s a “Christmas Movie”?

We’re gonna settle that controversy once and for all today. Of course, it all boils down to: What makes a movie a “Christmas movie”?

Many would say a Christmas movie should focus on the Babe born in Bethlehem, angelic choirs and wise men from the East. Santa. Sleigh bells. Snow. The prancing and pawing of each little hoof. Festive trees and twinkling lights. Themes of peace, joy, love, and “a thrill of hope.” It goes beyond just tossing out the phrase “Merry Christmas” like confetti on New Year’s. 

The Acid Test

Far as we’re concerned, the “acid test” of whether or not a movie is indeed a “Christmas movie” is pretty simple:

Is Christmas incidental or intrinsic per the movie in question?

Another way to look at it:

Can you take the movie’s essential elements, drop them into any setting other than the Christmas season and have the elements (and thus the movie) still work?

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Look Who’s a “Top Reviewer”!

Merry Christmas, Friends!

Kimber here, being all Brilliant and Beautiful. Again. (It’s a tough job. But someone’s gotta do it!)

I’m letting you know that Her Momness  – aka: ‘Ole Bleary Eyes – would send Christmas greetings herself. But she’s just settled her brains for a long winter’s nap.

“Why is Mom napping during The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?!” you ask. Good question.

At The Top!

Short answer: Her Momness just scored Top Reviewer Honors at Reedsy/Discovery. She also bested her Goodreads Reading Challenge for 2022. By 170%. How does that Goodreads thing look? Well, like this:

341 of 200 books read in 2022

Mom’s reading goal for 2022 was 200 books. She just finished Book #341. In one year, January – today. And she’s still goin’ strong! I am not making this up. See?

A Crown

Then there’s this Reedsy/Discovery thingy. Her Momness wears the crown for a Top Reviewer in November. See again: Continue reading


Happy Birthday Mom!

Pssst! Kimber here. Being all magnificent and everything. Telling you that today, one of my favorite people turns 100 years old! What? Well, okay. Maybe not One. Hundred. Maybe just “older than dirt.”

Anyway, I thought I’d mark this auspicious occasion by sharing a post by Her Momness from 2014. You know. About 100 years ago. Wait. Where was I? Oh yeah. The post is called “Like Coming Home.” It’s about growing up as a voracious reader and book lover.

You don’t want to miss this. Cuz it’s really, really good. (Maybe not as a good as a nice, thick T-bone steak. Nobody’s perfect.)

Anyway, it goes like this:

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