Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie

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Do YOU Know ‘Net Galley’?

Kimber here. Asking what a ‘Top Reviewer’ is? It must be good, right? Cuz Mom’s doing her happy dance. (Why she does this, I dunno. But she also loves asparagus. Sometimes there’s just no accounting for taste.)

Anyway. Mom’s a Professional Reader with Net Galley. Do you know Net Galley?

Mom says Net Galley makes ARCs available to professional readers and helps promote new and upcoming titles. Professional readers–reviewers, media, journalists, bloggers, librarians, booksellers and educators–can join and use Net Galley at no cost.

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ROCK Goes the 4th With These 25 U.S. Historical Fiction Books

Kimber here. Mom is busy rustling up some Independence Day eats. I’m not too sure about the potato salad and corn on the cob thing. But I’m all over the grilled burgers! Yeah, Lassie!

Well. The subject of “best U.S. historical fiction” came up the other night. We were watching videos of last year’s fireworks or somethin’. You know. The stupid Big Boom things. (Why do humans do this every Independence Day? I don’t get it.)

I was all ears. (For the book list. Not the Big Boom things. Mom got me a Thunder Shirt for that.)

Anyway, just in time for Independence day, Mom and I put together a list of the best historical fiction reads set in the U.S. Mom says we aren’t even going to try to cover books by decade, social movement, issue, or what not. That’d take us like, till the cat comes home. Gag me with Meow Mix!

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Why a Good Book is Like Filet Mignon

File:Filet mignon with mushrooms and vegetables (1).jpg

Filet mignon with mushrooms and vegetables. Wikimedia Commons. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

“Eureka!” says Mom the other day, coming home from the library (they’re doing “curbside” pick-ups these days.)

I have no idea why Mom says this. But she says it a lot. Especially when she’s lugging another truck load of “books” home from The Book Place.


The Book Place

Me, I’m not crazy about The Book Place. Ever since Mom pointed out the “guide dogs and service animals only” sign. What am I, chopped Salisbury steak with extra gravy? Tri-tip roast? A nice, thick burger sizzling merrily on the outdoor grill?


Wait. What was I saying?


Oh yeah. “Eureka” and The Book Place.

File:Omaha Steaks Bacon-Wrapped Filet Mignon.jpg

Omaha Steaks Bacon-Wrapped Filet Mignon. Wikimedia Commons. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.


“See what we have here?” Mom oohs and ahhs, pulling out one of those big square, reading thingies from a “book bag” big enough to choke a Brontosaurus. “Letters on pages,” she explains. “This is a book.” She fans the pages.


Can I Eat? Classics

I sniff said pages. Can I eat it? Something tells me no. As in, BIG N-O.


David Copperfield!” Mom announces.  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn! Jane Eyre! Classics!”


I’m still sniffing. Am I supposed to be impressed?


“Wait! There’s more!” Mom crows, excavating deeper into the Bronto bag. She unearths more reading thingies. Like Pride and Prejudice. Raisin in the Sun. The Black Stallion Returns. Thunder Rolling the Mountains. Born Free: A Lioness of Two Worlds.


Still sniffing…

Filet mignon wrapped with bacon with assorted vegetables フィレミニョンのベーコン巻き 温野菜添え | by naotakem

Filet wrapped with bacon and assorted vegetables. Flickr. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Book Boon

Meanwhile, I’m beginning to wonder about these reading thingies she calls “books.” They don’t have any buttons. Blinking lights. Bonus levels. App updates. In fact, books really don’t have any sounds at all. And not much smell, either. (Dust, maybe. Or something that’s been sitting on a shelf since just after the discovery of fire.)


“Look,” crows Mom, cheerfully paging through something called Anchor in the Storm. You’d think she just discovered filet mignon, medium well.


Buried Treasure

“Finding a good book is like finding buried treasure!” Mom continues. “It’s like an adventure waiting to happen! Like biting into a nice, thick, juicy…”

I get the picture, okay? Salivating here royally.

File:Filet Mignon with Asparagus Spears.jpg

Filet mignon with asparagus spears. Wikimedia Commons. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

She also tells me these reading thingies – “books” – can:

  • Take you on travels only you can imagine.
  • Guide you through forests thick with facts.
  • Discover whole galaxies dripping with starry fiction.
  • Introduce you to lifelong friends.
  • Keep you awake all night until The End.


Says Mom, “A book can be a friend if you just want to be by yourself in the highest status-update-free mountain.” Plus, the only “storage space” that runs out in a book is what’s in your own head.

Photo by Kasumi Loffler from Pexels.

Batteries Not Required

Also, a good book doesn’t run on batteries. Never needs a recharge. Or a power cord. Doesn’t have an off button. And you don’t need to remember a password to get inside.


A book won’t make you sick because it doesn’t catch viruses.

A book won’t unfriend you.



Well. Why is a good book like a good filet mignon? Because both taste great!


At the end of the day, you can put down a book guilt-free. It won’t mind. And you won’t be missing out. Because, says Mom, a book will always be there, waiting for you to come back. Pick up where you left off. Like an old friend welcoming you home. Whether you’re a “service animal” or not.


Mom may be on to something. I just hope she hurries up with that steak.


For more of some of our “filet mignon” reading, check out Fine Wine Fridays. Ta!


What do you enjoy or appreciate most about reading and books?




Wedding table photo by Kasumi Loffler from Pexels

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5 Sure-Fire Ways to Lose Readers (And How To Avoid Them)

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Kimber here. Mom says it’s time for a little bloggish housekeeping.(She calls it “housekeeping.” I think it’s more like Rants From the Ole Curmudgeon. Don’t tell her I said that, okay?)

But here’s the deal. Mom gets tons and tons of jun… um, stuff in her In Box. Every day. Lots goes straight to the big kitty litter box in the sky. Never gets opened or read. We’re gonna tell you why and what you can do to fix that.

Here are 5 sure-fire ways to turn off readers and put them to sleep (and how you can fix them):

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40+ Book-ish Quotes to Boost Your Instagram

There I was. Stretched out in a pool of sunshine. Working on my tan.  Mom comes along with her mobile Doo-Hickey:

“Smile, Kimber! Sit. Roll over. Lay down. Stay. Say ‘cheese.'”

While the Doo-Hickey is clicking away.

So annoying.

Anyway, Mom says she’s going to “post” the clickey things from her Doo-Hickey. Whatever that means. Then she says:

 “Kimmi, How’re we gonna caption these?”

What “we,” Kimo Sabe?

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10 Ways to ROCK Read Across America Day!

Someone has finally come up with an idea I can sink my teeth into! Mom calls it Read Across America Day! Mom is so excited! So I! Am! Excited! Too!

Mom says this special day is a nationwide observance. We’re giving you a little head start. Cuz it coincides with the March 2 birthday of Dr Seuss. You know. That “hat cat” and Grinch guy. (Nobody’s perfect.)

Anyway, Read Across America Day is our kinda day! Yeah, Lassie! One whole day to focus on my favorite two things in the world: reading and books. (Well, okay. Maybe a nice, thick New York steak, too.) So, here are…

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33 Post Ideas to Ignite Your Book Blog & Keep Readers Reading!

“I’m outta blogging gas” says Mom the other day. She rolls her eyes. Sighs.


Why does Mom do this? I don’t know. Maybe she needs me to lick her face?

Mom says she’s tired of trying to come up with interesting, original blog posts. “I think I’m about book-blogged-out.”

Ever feel that way? Like, if you write one more book review, you’re going to have to chase the neighbor’s cat? Or wear one of those stupid doggie sweaters?

Well. You know me. How I like to help. I’m a helper, see? To start the new year off right, I came up with 33 Rocking Post Ideas For Your Book Blog That’ll Keep Your Readers Reading!

Pretty good, huh? Here they are:

1. Top book club picks

This depends on the kind of book club. Dickens’s Bleak House or Austen’s Sense and Sensibility may not do so hot in a science fiction book club. But you can blog about titles you’d like to read with your club this year and why.


2. Seasonal or holiday books

Not just Christmas-themed stories! How ‘bout Valentine’s Day? President’s Day or Independence Day? The first day of spring? Don’t forget my favorite, National Dog Day!

3. Author lists

Great idea for highlighting prolific authors like Gary Paulsen. Richard Paul Evans. Will Hobbs. Or Mom. Readers don’t always know about other books a good author has written. Share!


  1. Theme lists

Best outdoors books? Love stories? Science fiction? Mystery or dystopian? Make a list and check it twice. Then blog about it.


  1. Does listening to audio books count as “reading”?

There’s quite a debate about this in the book community. What say you? Why?


  1. Tell the Librarian!

You’ve been invited to a one-on-one lunch with the head librarian. What do you want to tell him or her? Should the library be open longer? Hire more staff? Increase its collection? What electronic resources would you like to see available? What special programs would you like to see for children, young adults, adults or seniors? Blog it!


  1. Buying books on-line or brick and mortar?

Ohhh boy! Plenty of blogging fodder here!


  1. Best-Loved Children’s Classics That Never Grow Old

Think Easy. Picture Books. Or the Juvenile Section of your library. Share your childhood faves and your kids’s faves.


  1. Top Read-Alouds Your Kids Will Love

Related to the above. Not every read-to-myself book makes for a good read aloud. What titles can you recommend that will have the kiddos asking for “one more chapter”?


  1. Best (and Worst) Book Titles

List the _______ book titles you’ve ever seen. *Most clever? Most intriguing or surprising? Catchiest? Longest? Shortest? Dumbest? Most obscure or off-target? Blog away!


  1. 10 Books You DO NOT Want To Start Before Bedtime (or you’ll be up all night finishing)

What books can you recommend that were so compelling and engaging, you couldn’t put them down until The End?


  1. Five Books I’ll Rescue First If My House Catches Fire

Which books could you not live without, and why?


  1. Best Book Pairings

Food and books go together like peanut butter and jelly. Wine and cheese. Chocolate and more chocolate. Share a recipe of two that ties into your latest book review.

Clock’s running!

  1. Take It or Toss it? How Long I Give a Book To Prove Itself

How long does it take you to make a decision as to whether or not you’ll continue reading a book? A few chapters? 100 pages? The end of the first paragraph? Tell us and explain why.

15. What’s on Your TBR List?

We’re book lovers and writers. We usually have piles of To Be Read books. Share what’s in yours.


16. Create a Bookish Award

Did you discover an under-rated but excellent read? Give it some love by creating an award! What about a new book blog that rocked your socks off? Or a new author who catapulted to the top of your Favorites list?

17. Biggest Book Turn-Offs

There are no right or wrong answers here. So rant away!

18. 5 Literary Characters I’d Die To Have Lunch With

As long as they’re not serving oysters. Ugh!

19. Favorite Author Birthdays

Make a list of some fave authors. Do a bit of biographical research. Find out their birthday. Sprinkle in a few “Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss” or “Happy Birthday Laura Ingalls Wilder” posts in this year’s calendar. Be sure to highlight favorites by these authors.

20. Books Every Teenager Should Read (or skip)

To the horror of high school English teachers everywhere, my list would start with two mega duds: Catcher in the Rye and The Sound and the Fury. It can only get better from there.

21. A Book That Surprised Me

You thought it was going to be about A, but it turned out being about B. Good or bad? Recommend or pass?


22. Most Inspiring Books I’ve Read in the Last 12 Months

What books touched you in a powerful or poignant way, and why?

23. Pros & Cons of Book Clubs

Some readers swear by book clubs. Others detest them. What do you think?


24. 10 Books I Bought or Read Just For Their Covers (C’mon. ‘Fess up. We all do it!)


25. The Worst (or funniest) Book Typos Ever?

Ay! Yi! Yi! This requires a sharp eye and a keen wit. But you can do it!


26. Glitz or Glum? Do Book Awards Mean Anything Anymore?

Have you ever chosen a book based on “Best Seller” status? Or do you just ignore it? What about other literary awards? Meaningless or helpful?


27. A Book Series I Didn’t Want to End

Chronicles of Narnia? The Hunger Games? The Wizard of Oz? Little House books?


28. Bookish Gifts I’d Like to Give or Receive

Okay, so a hot new title, a steaming mug of cocoa and a snuggly blanket top this list. But think outside the box. What bookish gift would bring a smile to your face?


29. A Field Trip to My Library

Think of this as a virtual “show and tell.” Pictures! Pictures! Pictures!


30. Write a How-To Post

The blogosphere loves how-to posts. Whip up a reading and writing related posts. Tips: How to Overcome Writer’s Block. How to Read More in 10 Easy Steps! How to Get the Most out of Your Next Library Visit.

31. Share Your Version of The Perfect Reading Room (even if you have to make one up)

What would you include in this room? Book shelves? A fridge? Floor-to-ceiling windows? A fireplace? A lock and key? Would it overlook a lake? Be a snug log cabin perched on a mountain peak, or a fancy French chateau with an inexhaustible wine cellar?


  1. Books I Thought I’d Hate But Wound Up Loving (or vice-versa)

Books can surprise us. Sometimes they just need a chance.

32. 10 of My Favorite Literary Hero(in)es & Villains!

Lord Voldemort? Iago? Captain Hook? How about Elizabeth Bennet? Martin Chuzzlewit? Katniss Everdeen? Blog it!


  1. List Hyped-Up Books That Tasted Like Toe Lint

Ever dive into a “5 star review” book and wonder, “What were they thinking?! This is awful”? Make a list.


There! See? A whole bunch of  post ideas to rock your book blog and start the new year off right!


Wait. Do I smell bacon?



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13 Ways to ROCK Your 2020 Reading Challenge

Hello lovers of books and bacon!

Kimber here. I’m taking over for Mom today. Cuz she’s buried in a new book. Again.

But there was this New Year thingy last week. It’s a human thing. Big booms. Silly hats. A nice ham dinner. Bacon. Leftovers…

Wait. Where was I?

Oh yeah. New Year’s.

It seems there’s this Reading Challenge thing around New Year’s. It makes the rounds of the reading world every January. “That’s now,” says Mom. (She’s a genius. Like me.)

Anyway, I’m supposed to ask if you are or will participate in this year’s Reading Challenge? Like, how many books do you plan to read this year?

No Frisbee throwing involved. No special treats. Or bacon. So I’m not really sure what the point is. But I guess some people like to do reading challenging. They like to challenge themselves to read more pages or books than they did last year.

So here are some ideas Mom and I came up with to help you do that. (Well, it was mostly me. Mom helped. A little. She’s read every title recommended. But I did the heavy lifting. You know, snoozing in her lap while she reads. To keep her company. It must work. She read 383 books in 2018. No, really. I was there.)

13 Ways to ROCK Your 2020 Reading Challenge. Read a book:

  1. By a local author

Of course this depends on where you live.

Suggestions (Northwest):

  1. Told from an animal’s POV


  1. That you can read in one day-ish


  1. That’s been adapted for the stage, the silver screen, or as a television series


  1. Set in a place you always wanted to visit or learn more about


  1. Inspirational/Personal Development


  1. A cook book (learn some new recipes and enjoy some new food!)


  1. An award winner


  1. That was published 50 years ago or more


  1. An historical novel


  1. A biography or memoir


  1. An action/adventure outdoor story or thriller


  1. Connected to your family heritage or culture


Whew. Mom wants to keep going. But I think I need a nap. Who’s with me?

Are you doing a 2020 reading challenge?

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Why 2020 Is NOT a “New Decade” & Other Strokes of Brilliance

Everybody’s been saying “Happy New Year” or “Happy New Decade.” “Best of the Decade” lists pop up like dog biscuits after I do something  really, really clever. Like every nano-second.

But did January 1, 2020 actually mark the beginning of a new decade, or the last year of an old one? Mom and I looked into this. Sort of.

Here’s what some people have to say, via NBC15:

According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, the agency that maintains the country’s master clock, the new millennium began on Jan. 1, 2001.

Astronomical data also takes a similar course, beginning in 2001, 2011, and this time around, 2021.

But to others, that doesn’t change the fact that as a society we seemingly talk about decades starting with zeros and ending with nines. For instance, the 1990s seemed to last from 1990 until 1999.

Also see: When Does the New Decade Being: This Week, Or a Year From Now?


Julian dates and Merriam Webster and the Farmer’s Almanac? Why do humans have to make stuff so complicated? How ‘bout we all settle for a nice long walk and a milk bone?

Well. You know humans.


Here’s what Mom and I think:

1. A “decade” is 10 years, right?

2. So if a “decade” starts on zero, then it ends on zero, ten years later.

3. Which means the “zero” year is the final year of the decade.

4. Not the first year of a new one.

5. So save the “new decade” thing for 2021.


By the way. Did you notice our new look?

Mom and I spruced up our web site over the holidays. These are days when I get extra good stuff to eat and more treats! People laugh and dance a lot, too. They smile more. Why do they do this? Why don’t they laugh and dance and smile more every day instead of once a year? Well. You know humans.


Now lemme see. Where was I?

Oh yeah. Our new web site. Did you notice we added a new banner? New theme and layout? New style and approach?

We even got a custom domain. We’re now officially Pages and Paws. (I’ve been bugging Mom about this since the 12th of Never. But you know Moms.)


We’re still making some changes. Updates. Revisions. Well, it’s mostly me. Mom helps a little. I mean, someone’s gotta keep track of meal times.


Anyway. We have lots of good stuff in the pipeline.

Like 13 Ways To ROCK Your 2020 Reading Challenge. Easy Super Bowl recipes. Delicious Valentine Pairings (books and food! Yum!). 16 Unforgettable Love Stories. 10 Most Romantic Movies of All Time. Ways to celebrate Read Across America day!


Oh yeah! I’m so excited!


So don’t be a stranger. C’mon in. Pull up a chair. Put your feet up and set a spell. Share a good book. Don’t forget to comment. (We love comments. But not as much as bacon.)


By the way again, can you eat “decades”? Askin’ for a friend!


Stay tuned!




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10 Tips for Reducing Holiday Stress

You know I’m a happy camper, right? My middle name is “merry and bright”! So I don’t quite get all this barking about “holiday stress.” Mom says it’s a thing. So it must be a thing.

Well. You also know I’m a helper. I help going out on walks and hikes. Cleaning up kitchen spills. Guarding the house. Especially from menacing deer. Lurking Fed Ex drivers. Sketchy-looking plastic bags.

Being a world class helper and all, I figure I better help with this holiday stress thing. So here are my top ten tips for reducing holiday stress. Ready? Okay. Here goes:

1 – 9: Get a dog.

10. Take her for long walks. Preferably without that stupid orange doggie coat.


Oh, alright. Mom says I have to try harder to be helpful. Sigh. Here we go:

  1. Take extra precautions to stay healthy. Getting sick can wreck anyone’s holiday faster than you can say “Ebenezer.” So drink plenty of water. Get a good night’s sleep. Wash your hands. (Something about killing germs?) Take Vitamin C to ward off the effects of Jack Frost. (Anyone nipping at my family’s noses is in deep doo-doo! Just sayin’.)
  2. Say “No.” I hear this all the time. It’s easy. Like, if it feels wrong, too stressful, or there’s a cat involved, just trot out this handy-dandy two-letter word. Works wonders!
  3. Make scents. No, really. Find a plug-in, candle, or potpourri pot with a favorite, soothing scent. Activate. Let it fill the whole house with a refreshing, relaxing aroma. (Mom made me say that.)
  4. Exercise. Even if you have to chug up stairs or do jumping jacks in the basement due to weather, get moving! Get that heart rate up! Exercise reduces stress. (Or you could just walk the dog, ya know.)
  5. Sing. I don’t quite get it. But Mom always feels better when she’s rocking out to Manheim Steimroller at nose bleed volume (see # 4, above). Or belting out Joy to the World at the top of her lungs. So it must work. You could also listen to this guy:

6. Take a hot bath. And lock the door. (Mom made me say that, too. You know how moms are.)

7. Practice an “attitude of gratitude.” Like me. I’m thankful for everything! Family! Walks! Chow! A new leash! A warm fireplace! Sunshine! Well, okay. Maybe not The Powder Puff on four legs. (Nobody’s perfect.) Altho I wouldn’t know myself, I hear it’s hard to be a Scrooge when you’re focusing on being thankful.

8. Slow. Down. For just five minutes, okay? Related: Apply the “KISS” principle. Keep things simple. If you don’t know how to do that, lemme help:

9. Get a dog. (That Scrooge dude? Bet he was a feline fun. Hah, bumhug!)

10. Hang out with me! Cuz I love everyone! O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy…