Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie


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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.

Intrepid

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


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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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J.D. Vance’s ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ Comes Full Circle

Well. Who’d a thunk it?

When we did a review of J D. Vance’s searingly honest memoir, Hillbilly Elegy, we had no idea the author would become a United States Senator!

Just shows what we know.

But in light of last night’s election news out of Ohio, we figured now would be a good time for a revisit. So here ya go. From 2020.

From Appalachia to Yale Law: ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ Delivers Searingly Honest Memoir of Upward Mobility.

You’re welcome.


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FRIDAY FEATURE: “Tech-Save Us”

Mom and I like to feature new talent and fresh voices from time to time.  Today it’s author Gib Check.  Okay. So it’s not exactly “today.” This post is actually from  2011. (Yeah. One of us is older than dirt. I won’t tell you who.) Gib was one of our very first guest authors. So we’re honoring him today with a revisit of one of his submissions from yesteryear.

So grab a chair and sit down for some chuckles and “oh yeah!” moments with Gib’s humorous ode to modern day technology, Tech-Save Us. Does this sound familiar?

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The Dog Days & Children’s Classics

What?

Hello Friends and Happy August!

If you’ve been following Pages and Paws for any length of time – say, 20 minutes or so – you know that Her Momness sometimes says weird stuff about books. (Don’t tell her I said that, okay?)

Sometimes Mom’ll read a “best-seller” that’s topping the charts and go, “Aaaarg! Barf-o-rama and gag me with Meow Mix! Bleeeech and double bleech!!” And sometimes she’ll read an obscure-ish book by an unknown indie author and chirp, “Why isn’t this magnum opus in every library, on every shelf, and in every bookstore in America and the whole world included?! Cuz it’s Seriously Awesome!”

The Children’s Section

Well. You know Mom. (Insert eye roll here.)

She also thinks some of the best writing and coolest stories around can be found in the Children’s Section of the local library. (Not sure what that says about Mom. Can I get back to you on that?)

Pop Quiz!

Anywho, Mom was lumbering back from The Book Place the other day with her usual truckload of To Be Reads. All from the Children’s Section. I’m not making this up. Then she decides it’s time for a Pop Quiz. Like this:

“Okay, Kimmi. What children’s classic opens with these lines”:

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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?