Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie

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Big Kitty Litter Box Awards 5.0

One of us used to feel a teensy twinge when an author complained about a negative book review. For a lousy book.

Now she just laughs:


Newsflash, Cupcake: We do honest reviews here. We’ve panned Pulitzer Prize winners we thought weren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. We’ve also heaped praise on unknown indie authors who earn it. So don’t whine about a negative review. You sound like the “wah-wah” adult in Peanuts.

Cuz guess what, Toots? We So. Don’t. Care.

Now that we’ve got that outta the way, buckle up. Cuz it’s time for another rip roarin- edition of Big Kitty Litter Box in the Sky Awards. Cuz, holy Meow Mix! You don’t want to waste your valuable time on lousy snoozers that make fish wrap look delish, right? We already did that. So you don’t have to. You’re welcome. (Note: We received complimentary copies of most of these titles in exchange for honest reviews.)

Here’s the short list of qualifications for a Big Kitty Litter Box in the Sky award:

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The Best ‘Box’ Novel Yet?

Kimber: Hey Mom! You know that author guy we stumbled upon a while back? The box-y dude who writes crime thrillers set in Wyoming?

Mom: “You mean C.J. Box?”

Kimber: Yeppers! Didya know he has a new book out?

And that’s how Her Momness and I flew over to the library faster than Captain Kirk aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise.  Here’s what we found:

The Setting

It’s early spring in Wyoming. State Game Warden Joe Pickett is facing the mother of all storms in C.J. Box’s latest crime thriller western, Storm Watch. And we don’t mean just the blizzard kind, either. No siree, Lassie! Although there’s enough snow and ice and freezing temps in this taut and tightly written novel to make you want to toss another log on the fire. Maybe two.

Well. The Cowboy State is about to get hit by an “apocalyptic blizzard” in more ways than one.

Kimber: The title has a double meaning, if you get my drift. As in snow drift. Also deep doo-doo of the political type “drift.”

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‘The Retreat’ Hits a Snag

The Retreat

By Sarah Pearse

Publisher: Viking, 2022

Pages:  Waaaaay too many

Genre: Who cares?

Via: Library

Ever grab a new book by an unfamiliar author? Feel that surge of excitement as you peruse the cover blurb and the synopsis? Break in to your happy dance with that “Oh yeah!” feeling? …

… Only to start reading and feel like you just walked into a blender.

That’s what Sarah Pearse’s The Retreat is like. It came highly recommended as a “cliffhanger murder mystery” by someone who shall remain nameless.

What we wound up with was a badly overwritten hunk of junk that doesn’t really get going until Chapter 44. We would’ve ordinarily bailed out long before then. But we promised a friend (who shall remain nameless) we’d read the whole thing.

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‘Citizen K-9’ Offers Mystery, Levity

Citizen K-9

By David Rosenfelt

Publisher: St. Martin’s, 2022

Genre: Fiction/Murder Mystery

Pages: 263

Via: Library

An unsolved double murder. A cold case. A crackerjack team of private investigators specializing in cold cases. Playing cards. Like, the king of clubs. A high school reunion where two friends vanish without a trace. Not a single clue that makes sense. At all. A retired cop, Corey Douglas, and his brilliant German shepherd, Simon Garfunkel. A scene stealer extraordinaire and the smartest member of the team by far, Simon is also recently retired from law enforcement. And Really Bad Dudes.

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‘Maya Fairy’ Hits a Bull’s Eye!

Maya Fairy

By Stanislava Buevich

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy (November 2022)

Pages: 280

Note: We received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Not everything you’ve heard about fairies is true. So when a young girl finds out the truth about her own house fairy, keep an eye out for fairy dust in this delightful magical mystery by Stanislava Buevich.

“Has your child been acting strangely? Tired? Rundown? Listless?” There’s a reason for that. But it’s not what you think as revealed in this charming and winsome fantasy for middle grade readers.

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‘Search and Find Animals’ a Treasure Hunt for Young’uns

Pages: 44

Genre: Children’s Non-Fiction, 2023

Via: Book Sirens

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

You know those Where’s Wally puzzle books? They’re a series of detailed, double-page spread illustrations depicting zillions of people doing a variety of amusing things at a given location. Readers are challenged to find a character named Wally hidden in the group. You have to look pretty close.

Well. Shelby Hudson has created a delightful children’s book in the same vein, only featuring animals, the alphabet, and counting. It’s like a treasure hunt for all things furry, feathery, or fishy. 

Young children are encouraged to look for and find animals starting with certain letters hidden in each colorful illustration in this charming book. “Find an animal that begins with G,” for example. The answer is a Giraffe. Other featured animals include the usual dog and cow as well as some more unusual animals such as kangaroo and octopus.

Later, readers are encouraged to count the number of animals they find in each picture. Four dolphins, five chicks, 10 mice, etc.

A brief discussion on how and why puzzle books help children “develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills” is included. Also tips such as encouraging interaction and using descriptive language.

Young readers will enjoy finding and identifying the animals in each scene. Vivid illustrations will keep them engaged. Parents will appreciate how the book helps develop their child’s concentration and cognitive skills.

Entertaining and educational, Search and Find Animals is like a treasure hunt for kids. Delightful! (And you don’t even have to find Wally.)

Our Rating:



‘To Dream of Shadows’ Will Leave You Breathless

To Dream Of Shadows : A Gripping Holocaust Novel Inspired by a Heartbreaking True Story

By Steve N. Lee

Publisher: Blue Zoo (April 2023)

Genre: Historical Fiction

Print Length: 466 pages

Via: Author Request

Note: We received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

“Here we go again!” says I, Kimber the Magnificent. “You’d think one of us would learn. Don’t start a top-notch historical fiction thingy at night. If you do, you’ll be up till the wee hours finishing it. Cuz you can’t put it down! But you know Mom!” (Insert eye roll here.)

Just being all magnificent and everything.

Yeppers, Steve Nee’s To Dream of Shadows is one of them thar barn-burning page turners. Here’s the 4-1-1:

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Sneak Peek at ‘The Missing Peke’

The Case of the Missing Peke

By Kate Darroch

Publisher: Ad Astra Press (March 2023)

Genre: Fiction: Cozy Mystery/Thriller

Pages: 30

Via: Bittersweet Book Tours

Note: We received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Okay. First off. Who can resist a cover like this? I mean, c’mon. Talk about “Too Cute!” Even the neighbor’s cat is gonna want to snuggle up with this sweet little fella. You will too after a few pages. Like this:

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Middle Grade Mystery Soars!

The Case of the Crying Signpost

By Tom Xavier

Genre: Fiction/Middle Grade

Note: We received a complimentary copy of this book from Reedsy in exchange for an honest review.

You’re not afraid of ghosts, are you?

What’s a city girl from Chicago doing locked in a high tower prison in a creepy old house in 1930s New Orleans? How did she get there, and why? These questions and more swirl throughout Tom Xavier’s utterly absorbing mystery, The Case of the Crying Signpost.

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Kimber to the ‘Rescue’!

Mom here.

I know you’re all ginormously disappointed that a little furry face we all know and love isn’t kicking off today’s post. Sorry ’bout that. (Naw. Not really.) But there’s a reason I’m leading off today:

This post is about a wonderful little book I recently came across via Net Galley. It’s called Ava Loves Rescuing Animals.

Talk about a girl after my own heart!

Did you know that Kimber’s a rescue dog? Yeppers. She came to us in 2016 via a mutual friend who works at the local rescue shelter. Kimmi was ten weeks old going on 92, if ya know what I mean. She’s been an Absolute Delight ever since! (Don’t tell Kimber I said that, okay? I’ll never hear the end of it!)

So I wanted to share this delightful book with you, with a sweet furry face in mind. Here goes:

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