Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie


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Enchantment & Intrigue Abound in ‘The Disappearance of Emily’

Meet my new bud, Nola. You’ll get that when you read The Disappearance of Emily (Better Beginnings, 2021 ). It’s Book 2 in the Destiny Falls Mystery and Magic series by Elizabeth Pantley.

Just don’t tell Kimber about Miss Fancy Feline, okay?

Not on a Map

Anyway, Destiny Falls is a magical place. You won’t find it on a map. You can’t get there on your own. You have to be called by either the town or the “cozy, mansion-sized mountain cabin” family home of Caldwell Crest. And oh yeah. Once you’re “called” to Destiny Falls, you’re kinda stuck. You can’t choose to leave, as young Hayden, formerly of Seattle, finds out in this delightful sequel to Falling Into Magic. (See my full review here.)

Young Hayden is minding her own biz, enjoying a nice hot cuppa with her bro Axel when she’s suddenly accosted by a ferry boat captain, Nakita. The captain delivers a vague, mysterious message about meeting the day after tomorrow. Nakita says it’s a matter “of life and death.” She insists  Hayden come alone and “tell no one.”

Well. What the Hay?

Cuz next thing ya know, Nakita winds up dead.

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High Octane Powers C.J. Box Mystery-Thrillers

We discovered C.J. Box a year or two ago at The Book Place. By accident. Mom was reaching for another title when she accidentally bumped a C.J. Box book. It plopped onto the floor. Mom picked it up. Read the synopsis. Checked it out. We really liked the American west/great outdoors settings. Read our first Box book, The Bitterroots, cover to cover in one sitting. (See our full review of that first C.J. Box novel here.)

Pro Tip!

Same thing with a couple subsequent Box mystery-thrillers, Paradise Valley and Wolf Pack. Only this time mom made the mistake of starting the former in the evening. Pro tip: Don’t do that unless you can stay up all night reading. Cuz it’s a barn burner from the get-go.

Rugged outdoor settings and strong female leads make Paradise Valley a dual stand-out in the genre. Like investigator and Montana native Cassie Dewell. Now in Bakken County, North Dakota, she’s been trailing a serial killer for years. He haunts highways and truck stops. Anyone he picks up or grabs vanishes.

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Why THE GREAT ALONE Blows THE FOUR WINDS Away

Mom and I? We get it. We’re supposed to go gaga over every new Kristin Hannah novel that comes down the cat. Yes, Hannah is one of our favorite writers. She proves her mettle once again in The Great Alone. So what happened with The Four Winds?

I’ll let Mom explain. (You know how Mom is, right?):

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How to Snort Sprite Out Your Nose, Southern-Style With ‘Me, Boo & The Goob’

Me, Boo and the Goob: A Southern Adventure

By William M. Garner

Fiction/Humor

You know how you’re drinking a soft drink and then start laughing so hard, you snort Sprite out your nose?

“Don’t look at me,“ says Kimber. (Insert eye roll here.) “I don’t do Sprite.”

Mom doesn’t really do Spite either. But if she did, that’s exactly what would’ve happened when we read this book. We laughed so hard, we cried! (Maybe even snorted. A little.)

Rimming with wry wit and dry humor, this is the story of three young boys growing up in a small town near Memphis in the 1960s. Adventures and misadventures abound as they try to navigate the adult world with the best of intentions. 

(Kinda like me!  As in, if you don’t tell Mom about the missing New York steak, I won’t tell her about… well… how was I supposed to know that nice, juicy steak was headed to the backyard grill? Sitting there on the table unguarded, it looked like fair game to me! Football anyone?)

 

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Kimber to the Rescue with ‘Trail Angel Mama’!

Trail Angel Mama: Tales of a Pacific Crest Trail Angel (2015)

By Sue Holman and Trisha Faye

Non-Fiction

Mom was in a Blue Book Funk the other day. After wading through mountains of garbage disguised as “hiking memoirs” of the Pacific Crest trail (PCT), she was ready to buy stock in Pepto-Bismol. (For more on that, see 7 Skunkers and Clunkers.)

Well. You know me. I’m a rescue dog. I’m a rescuer. It’s what I do. So I says to Mom, “Maybe you oughtta check out The Book Place. Do the search thingy. See what else is available in the PCT category.”

Weeks later, Mom finally stumbled upon Trail Angel Mama: Tales of a Pacific Crest Trail Angel. (Mom’s nothing if not quick.) At less than 100 pages, Mom almost passed it over.

“No way!” barks I! Order that puppy!’

She did.

We loved it!

A Border Collie mix, Kimber is a rescue dog. She’s also The Smartest Member of the Family.

Did I mention I’m a rescue dog? And totally brilliant?

Wait. Where was I? Oh yeah. Trail Angel Mama is the first PCT/hiking-ish book we’ve ever awarded marks. Here’s why:

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How a Human & a Street Cat Save Each Other in ‘But First, Rumi’

But First, Rumi (Ant Press, December 2020)

By Chitra Ramaswami 

Non-Fiction/Memoir

A young woman in Oman finds a scrawny “ginger and white cat” on her apartment staircase. The cat is undernourished, dehydrated, and injured.

Reluctant to make contact with a stray cat, Chitra is hesitant about reaching out. But compassion wins. She eventually takes the cat in and nurses it back to health. (The “she” cat is originally named Naaz until the author discovers the cat is male. She rechristens the stray “Rumi” after  a favorite poet.)

An unexpected friendship begins to bloom as the author battles a mysterious, debilitating illness while becoming increasingly attached to her new feline friend. And vice-versa. As Chitra learns to love “the little stray,” she begins “to see greater life lessons about herself, her family, her home country, and her place in the world.”

They wind up saving each other.

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‘A Time to Seek’: Honest & Effervescent

A Time to Seek:

Meaning, Purpose, and Spirituality at Midlife

By Susan Pohlman

Non-Fiction/Memoir/Travel

What is “midlife”? How does it affect perspectives, relationships, family, priorities, goals, self-worth and expectations? Is “midlife” a state of mind or a number? What do we do once we find ourselves approaching this new season of life, and how?

Touching, Incisive

These questions and more percolate throughout Susan Pohlman’s touching and incisive memoir, A Time to Seek. Beautifully written and spiritually sensitive, the narrative invites readers to join the author as she returns to Italy, the site of a significant turning point in her life as she hits another major life milestone: middle age.

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‘Bag of Lies’ & a Breath of Fresh Air

Is it spring yet?

During Snowmaggedon. One of us was really, really cranky about being cooped up indoors. Since like, the 12th of Never. So when the author reached out to us about a book review, saying he’d actually read our submission guidelines, we accepted. We got the ARC the next day.

You know that phrase “breath of fresh air”? Well…

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‘Acts of Dreams’: Where ‘Impossible’ Doesn’t Get The Last Word

Acts of Dreams (March 2021)

Book 3 of The Inquisition Trilogy

By Martin Elsant

Historical Fiction

How far would you go for freedom? Would you contest a centuries-old law? Throw in with a notorious privateer? Sail across an ocean? Challenge the Queen of England?

These questions and more are at the heart of a fast-moving historical fiction novel by Martin Elsant. There is so much in this story to keep both history lovers and bibliophiles turning pages until the very end.

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