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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‘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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3 Surprising Packages of Hope

Kimber here. I bet you think Her Crankiness is… 100% cranky, right? So do I. (Don’t tell Mom, okay? Let’s just keep this our little secret.)

But every once in a while Mom surprises me. Not that I’m surprise-able. But …

Wait. Where was I?

Oh yeah. Mom and I read a trio of books recently that were … surprising. They were quite different from each other, too. Think dogs and cats. (Well, okay. Maybe not cats. But you get the picture.)

Anyway, the first book is a delightful new Christian romance from Kim Vogel Sawyer. The second is a non-fiction “travel tome with a twist” from Joseph F. Smith, M.D. There’s also an historical fiction novel by Kristin Hannah.

All get an Official Thumbs Up from Her Crankiness. Here’s why (short version):

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Going The Distance With ‘Shoeless Joe’

“Writing is different,” says Jerry. “Ordinary people don’t understand. Even other writers don’t understand.’” – Ray Kinsella, Shoeless Joe

This is one of many insights percolating through the book that inspired the Kevin Costner movie, Field of Dreams. You know the movie. But have you ever read the book?

I did. Finally.

Shoeless Joe isn’t an easy read. Kinsella has a penchant for circuitous syntax, dense dialogue and bunny trails. He also hits similes and metaphors like – on a fastball. The result is a rambling, lumbering read. In fact, I was surprised at what a struggle finishing this book was. I didn’t expect that. But it also has its moments. And some key differences from the movie version.

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7 Skunkers & Clunkers

Ever get a whiff of skunk? You don’t need to get close. One whiff is Plenty. (Don’t ask how I know that.)

Mom and I, we read. A lot. Like, 300+ books a year on average. We know what we like. What we don’t. What works. What stinketh.

We try to approach every book with an open mind. Give it a chance. That being said, it doesn’t take us long to smell out a stinker. (We don’t look for this stuff. It finds us.)

When we can, we pass on our 100% unscientific, totally subjective “olfactory discoveries” to you. No extra charge. Consider it a Public Service Announcement.

So here’s our newest list of literary skunkers and clunkers. Four topped our most recent DNF (Did Not Finish) list. Here’s why:

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