Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie


2 Comments

10+ Bark-Worthy Books Set in Exotic-ish Locales

You don’t have to say it. I know I’m beautiful. Also shy, modest, and retiring.

Kimber here with another edition of Fine Wine Fridays. (I was holding out for Excellently Scrumptious and Splendiferous Book Lists That Are So Delicious, They’re Even Better Than My Fave Dog Chow or Squeaky Toy. Mom nixed that. Ugh.)

Anyway, today we’re highlighting books set in exotic locales or other continents. So if you liked Peter Pan or Narnia, you may like… Oh, wait. Scratch that. These are set in real places, not Neverland or Aslan’s Country (Mom, you are no fun!)

Squirrel!

Wait. Where was I?

Oh yeah. Fun, interesting, engaging reads in other settings. Some titles are old. Some are new. They may be even better than my squeaky toy. (But I’m still holding on to it. Just in case.) So here, in no particular order, are:

10+ bark-worthy books set in exotic-ish locales:

Continue reading


Leave a comment

Why Did The Chicken Bus Cross the Road?

Adventure by Chicken Bus: An Unschooling Odyssey Through Central America (Resource Publications, 2019)

 

By Janet LoSole

Non-fiction
hi res ABCB.jpg

When the author first reached out to me requesting a review, I didn’t know what to think about this book. As in, What’s a ‘chicken bus’?* (Kimber: “Can I eat it?”) I was dangling on the rim edge of Not Interested. As a veteran homeschooler myself, however, I decided to give it a chance.

What a ride.

Adventure by Chicken Bus is a thoroughly entertaining, fascinating ride along with a family of four as they travel through Central America over the course of roughly a year and a half. With two little girls in tow, ages then-five and eight, the LoSoles roam all over the region, including the Caribbean coast, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, and Mexico.

It’s quite the odyssey. Continue reading


2 Comments

‘Invisible’ & ‘Unbroken’: Two Remarkable WWII Reads

Combining history and biography can be a challenge, especially when the setting is a world war. But two recently read books do that and more, offering compelling reads that shouldn’t be missed. Both are set in WWII.

Here they are:

Continue reading


2 Comments

10 Fabulous Reads for FALL!

“Fall is in the air!” Mom announced the other day. I’m not sure what that means. But Mom is skipping merrily around the house, chirping about “fall colors,” “sweater weather” and “hot chocolate.” I’d be just as happy with a nice, thick New York steak. Whatever.

I figure it’s only a matter of time until Mom breaks out that stupid bright orange thingy she hauls me into whenever we go out in cold weather. Pay off: Coming home to a cozy spot in front of a nice, warm fireplace.

Anyway, Mom says fall is a great time to grab a hot cuppa whatever and curl up next to a roaring fire with a good book! She’s got a list. Checked it twice. (I helped. The first list didn’t smell right.)

Here are some of Mom’s top picks for the season. Some are old. Some are new. All are worthy reads. In no particular order:

Continue reading


Leave a comment

Shout Out for ‘Bell Hammers’

Kimber here. “This looks fun!” says I to Mom. “And it’s not even bacon!”

Bell Hammers

This debut novel looks promising. It purportedly has a Mark Twain-ish ring to it (we love ‘ole Sam Clemens). We just don’t have time to read it right now.

But the author recently reached out to us. He asked for “a quick shout-out on your social media platforms on the 12th of October, the day it comes out.”

Well. Mom and I? We like to be helpful. So:

Shout out for Bell Hammers, a new novel that looks almost as good as crisp-fried bacon.

The book blurb includes:

Four generations of carpenters and lovers take on major oil and coal companies using pranks.

PRANKS. OIL. PROTEST. JOKES BETWEEN NEWLYWEDS.

AND ONE HILARIOUS SIEGE OF A MAJOR CORPORATION.

Says the author:

Critics compare it to Mark Twain, but I compare it to my grandpa’s old pranks.

Bell Hammers comes out today. Find out more about Bell Hammers here.

How was that?

Rating System & Submission Guidelines

This might also be a good time to re-introduce our Rating System & Submission Guidelines.

We’re getting quite a few review requests that do not meet our submission parameters. Please save yourself and us some time and effort by taking a few minutes to read our submission guidelines prior to contacting us for a review. We’re picky, okay?

Thanks! and Woof!


4 Comments

‘Thirteen Miracles’ & My New Best Bud!

 

Thirteen Miracles

By D.L. Kennedy

Christian Fiction, 2020

 

Kimber the Magnificent here. Introducing my new best bud, Bebo. He’s a blue-eyed albino boxer dog. Super smart. Loyal. Dependable. Totally fearless. Solid as the Rock of Gibraltar. All-around awesome. You know. Like me.

Anyway, Bebo my new best bud is the hero of this cool book Mom and I recently read. It’s called Thirteen Miracles. Humans probably think this book is about a lady named Abby Welles. She kinda has a crisis of faith after her twin sister dies in a car wreck.

Depressed, confused, and running on faith fumes, Abby travels to Mexico to find Jose Luis Hernandez, aka: Destiny Man. He supposedly knows about miracles. Abby wants to research and write a book on the subject. She heads into the Sierra Madres and the Devil’s Backbone to try to make some sense of her life’s loose ends. What she finds is more than she bargained for as something dark and evil stalks her every step.

But Bebo steals the show.

Continue reading


2 Comments

Why “A Healing Touch” Isn’t – or – How to NOT Tick Off Mom

Happy Sunday Authors!

At least it’s a happy Sunday for some of us. Others who shall remain nameless are sulking (Hi, Mom!). Lemme explain.

 

Her Crankiness (hi again, Mom) is miff-ified at authors who waste her time by not adhering to and/or ignoring our submission guidelines when they request a review.

Case in point.

A Big Stretch

Back in August Mom got a review request for a “historical fiction” book “because many people turn to independent reviewers for realistic recommendations on what to read. Considering the current social, economic, and political climate, not only are readers looking for something new and different, many are wondering about young America’s beginnings as a nation. A Healing Touch speaks to this interest.”

We enjoy historical fiction. So we decided to dive in. Only to find out that “historical fiction” is a mighty big stretch for this thing.

Cuz what starts out as a story “of two people blazing trails into the Northwest Territory along the Ohio River in 1796” crashes big time in chapter 22. Here the author seems to forget where she is, jumping from historical fiction into porno. Too bad. It was a pretty good story up until that point.

Bye! Outta here! Doneski! Hasta la vista baby!

“Can’t believe I wasted two days on that,” grumbles Her Crankiness. Cuz there are two things that’ll get your book into the nearest round file (trash can), right off the puppy chow:

  1. Mistreating any animal, especially dogs, or
  2. Crap of the R-rated variety (or worse).

So don’t even go there. Don’t waste our time. It ticks us off. It gets you on our Kitty Litter List. You don’t want to be there, okay? (I’m telling you this so you won’t hawk up a hairball when we pan your stuff  because you didn’t bother to read the submission guidelines. Think of it as a public service announcement.)

Speaking of Which

For the zillionth time, as noted in the first line of our Rating System & Submissions page (for anyone who could be bothered to read it):

We review fiction and nonfiction books rated G to PG-13. We don’t have the time or interest in anything else. (Occasional exceptions may be made on the basis of artistic merit. But that is rare.)

 

Stay Inside the Lines

The novel noted above colored outside these lines. Way outside. And nothing tees off Her Crankiness like authors who can’t or won’t follow simple instructions or who misrepresent their work. She will not be happy that you’ve wasted her time. (Not a good idea. Trust me on this.)

Since you’re still reading, however, you’re smarter than that. You’re up front about your book. Its genre, storyline and content. If you’re honest about that, we like you already. If you’re not, then off to the Big Kitty Litter Box in the Sky with you!

Are we clear here?

 


2 Comments

Between The “Light” We Cannot See

See the source imageAll the Light We Cannot See (Scribner – Simon & Schuster, 2014)

By Anthony Doerr

10 Best Books by The New York Times, 2014

National Book Award Finalist

Pulitzer Prize Winner – Fiction

True-ism: We’re not big fans of “Winner” books. Mom and me, we’ve been around long enough to realize that politics and too much other non-bookish stuff goes into handing out those kinds of awards. We don’t do auto-impress just cuz something has “prize winner” attached to it.

As in, Big Wow. Not.

This “Light” book, we’re not sure about yet. Finished it the other day. Didn’t exactly love it. But we didn’t hate it, either. We’re somewhere in between. Like….

Continue reading


4 Comments

Timeless & Transcendent: ‘Born Free’ Still Touching Lives

Have you ever re-discovered a book from your childhood that still has the power to move and profoundly impact you, even a half century after your initial read? If so, then you’ve found a true classic.

Pinterest

Joy Adamson’s Born Free: A Lioness of Two Worlds is such a book.

A Remarkable True Story

Evocative and compelling, Born Free is the remarkable true story of Elsa, an orphaned lion cub raised by Joy Adamson and her husband, George.

At its core, Born Free is a love story. With great sensitivity and precision, Adamson chronicles the mutual affection and bond between a magnificent lioness and the humans who loved her enough to set her free.

It’s probably the most moving and inspiring “animal story” I’ve ever read.

Joy Adamson wrote three books about African lions: Born Free, Living Free, and Forever Free. I read them all. Born Free is my favorite.

I first read Born Free in 1969, nine years after it was first published. I was in the fifth grade. Entranced, I read it over and over. There’s something timeless and transcendent about the story that’s difficult to put into words.

I lost track of Adamson and Elsa over the years. But I never forgot the extraordinary story of a free born lioness and the humans who loved her. I recently located a library copy of Born Free. Finally.

Elsa and “Born Free” author Joy Adamson.

 

Like a Ton of Bricks

Opening the Forward to the Fortieth Anniversary Edition (2000), I was startled to learn that Joy Adamson was stabbed to death by a disgruntled former employee in 1980. The news hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt like I’d lost a best friend I’d never met. So it was with a mixed sense of sadness and reverence that I sat in a sun-soaked living room in a far corner of the Pacific Northwest nearly forty years after that sad event and re-opened a book that profoundly impacted my life, especially with regard to animals.

Lavishly illustrated with black and white photographs, Elsa’s story is still an unforgettable one. So is Adamson’s prodigious writing talent. Her breezy, bucolic style recalls another formidable literary talent who writes so evocatively about her life in Kenya: Isak Dinesen. Like Dinesen, Adamson’s descriptions of her life as the wife of a senior game warden in East Africa have a luminous quality that is almost melodic.

My favorite photo from the book. Joy Adamson and Elsa.

I read Born Free cover to cover in one sitting. Here’s a key line, from page 109:

“Her (Elsa’s) good-natured temperament was certainly due in part to her character, but part too may have come from the fact that neither force nor frustration was ever used to adapt her to our way of life. For we tried by kindness alone to help her to overcome the differences that lie between our two worlds.”

The Adamsons and Elsa succeed beyond all expectations.

Patiently Waiting

Re-reading the last chapter, The Final Test, the same intense sense of sadness and loss these pages evoked in me five decades ago bubbled up again from some deep internal well. It was as if Elsa and her human pride had never left, patiently waiting 50 years for my return to their story.

Recording Elsa’s success in finding her own wild pride and mate, Adamson writes:

“We returned to camp alone, and very sad. Should we leave her now, and so close a very important chapter of our lives?”

The Adamsons decide to wait “a few more days” to make sure Elsa has been accepted by the pride.

In the final elegiac paragraph, Adamson returns to her “studio” by the river to continue writing the story of Elsa, “who had been with us until this morning.” Sad to be alone, the author writes that she tries to make herself happy “by imagining that at this very moment Elsa was rubbing her soft skin against another lion’s skin and resting with him in the shade, as she had often rested here with me.”

I cried. Again.

And that, friends, is the mark of a true classic.

 

Elsa on Camp Bed Photo Credit

 

 

Author’s note: This post was first published on Pages and Paws in June 2019. We thought it deserves a second run. – Mom and The Kimster


Leave a comment

‘Euphrates Yield’ & Buying a Piglet

By David H. Hanks

Mystery/Thriller

 

The third and final installment in the Carson Griffin series, Euphrates Yield tries hard to be a Tom Clancy-esque mystery thriller and spy/espionage story with a high octane kick.

 

It falls short for several reasons.

Continue reading