Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie


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

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


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


2 Comments

Dark Secrets & Mysterious Menace Revealed in ‘A Savage Kultur’

A Savage Kultur

A Savage Kultur

By Monique Roy

Historical Fiction

The art world is filled with secrets and a dark past.

Mystery abounds as Oxford art student Ava Goldman tries to unravel the truth about her family’s past with the help of her ailing grandmother, Gisela. It begins with a “chance” encounter with a uniformed Nazi on the banks of the Thames River in 2013, followed by a posthumous letter from Ava’s art loving grandfather, Karl. Vowing to find a priceless van Gogh painting plundered by the Nazis from her grandparents, Ava steps into a world of shadow, mystery, and menace.

Continue reading


Leave a comment

BKLBITS Awards! 6 Vastly Over-Rated Books That Fall Flat

 

Ever finish a book and thought:

 “Well. That’s (fill in the blank) hours or days out of my life I’ll never be able to get back”?

Kimber here.

Mom and I have run across some of those lately. They’re the kind of books that epitomize the phrase, “All that glitters is not gold.” Cuz they’re just lousy. Boring. Insipid. Pointless slogs to the Middle of Nowhere. Littered with unsympathetic, cardboard characters we don’t know, don’t want to know, and could care less about.

BKLBITS Awards

Mom and I, we nominate these losers for what we call BKLBITS “awards.” That’s Big Kitty Litter Box In The Sky.

We’re telling you this to save you some time. As in, don’t waste yours on these colossal duds.

Heading this summer’s BKLBITS nominations, all of which earned a one star rating or less, are:

Continue reading


Leave a comment

Is This Historical Novel Destined to Become a Classic?

The Librarian of Boone’s Hollow (Waterbrook/Multnomah, September 2020)

By Kim Vogel Sawyer

Christian/Historical Fiction

 

Triumphant and transcendent, this delicious historical novel is easily one of the season’s best. Here’s why:

Continue reading


Leave a comment

‘Black Willows’ Offers Delicious Romp Thru Georgia & Beyond

Black Willows (Black Rose Writing, October 2020)

By Jill Hand

General Fiction (Adult)/Humor/Mystery & Thrillers

 

The Apple Dumpling Gang meets the red earth of Tara in this delicious romp through a Georgia playground of the rich and infamous.

 

When the Trapnell family patriarch dies, spoiled rotten and uber shallow family members drool over their slice of the $40 billion family fortune. They all try to snatch Daddy’s will from the shaky hands of a senile probate judge in order to further their own ridiculous plans.

Continue reading


Leave a comment

Now Go, Cat, Go!

Remember that rockin’ Carl Perkins tune about shoes famously belted out by Elvis?

Well, it’s one for the money

Two for the show

Three to get ready

Now go, cat, go!

We’re giving you the Kimber and Mom Blue Suede Special on three+ recently read books. The first book is a modern retelling of the biblical story of Abraham and Sarah. The other is historical fiction set in the Russia of Peter the Great. Another is a gripping memoir of love, loss and hope. And because we’re so generous and all, we’re throwing in a fourth at no extra charge, set in 1789 France and England. There’s also a fifth set in …. la la land.

So. Without further ado, on with the reviews. Or as Kimber would say, Go cat, go!

Continue reading


2 Comments

‘Aloha’ and ‘Family’ Merge Into Delightful Read in New Novel

The Aloha Spirit: A Novel Kindle Edition

The Aloha Spirit (She Writes Press, August 2020)

Historical Fiction/Romance

By Linda Ulleseit

What is “family”? How do families behave? Relate? Stick together? Who is and isn’t “family” – and why?

Captivating & Compelling

These questions and more swirl through the pages of a captivating new historical novel by Linda Ulleseit. Set in Hawaii and California, The Aloha Spirit is the compelling story of Dolores and her lifelong search for “family” and the aloha spirit.

We first meet Dolores when her father drops her off at a friend’s house. He and Dolores’s older brother are heading to California to find work.

Bewildered and feeling abandoned, the scrappy seven year-old soon wearies of the never-ending, back-breaking work at Noelani’s. Dolores dreams of re-joining her family on the mainland. But when her father finally invites her to join him in California some four years later, Dolores isn’t exactly turning cartwheels at the prospect.

Several different settings and experiences later, Dolores eventually learns that family “just is.” You don’t “choose it or grow it.” Most of the time “you just deal with it” with love and patience. She also learns that “family” sometimes means loving a person without loving everything they do.

Fascinating Blend

A fascinating, clever blend of history, culture and customs, The Aloha Spirit is divided into three parts. It covers 28 years between 1922 and 1950. In Part 1 Dolores goes from one “odd person out” context of “family, but not really” to the next.

The story takes readers to the sugar-white sand beaches of Hawaii and Diamond Head, San Francisco and the World’s Fair, and a backyard shelter during the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor. We eventually wind up in Sunnyvale and then San Jose, California.

Much More

Along Dolores’ journey of personal growth and self-discovery, The Aloha Spirit gently shows us how even a blood brother can be ‘ohana in name only. How friends can be closer than sisters. What keeping “aloha in your heart” really means. And why.

It also shows us how and why “Aloha” is much more than a greeting or a farewell. It also means giving kindness and appreciation to everyone, even family members who are hard to love. Aloha is “the joyous sharing of life’s energy,” as Dolores finds out in her teenage years. But to have aloha, you need to love yourself first. Dolores finds this out later, when her teen marriage to Manolo unravels. Then family ties are sorely tested when Dolores and her two children evacuate Hawaii for California and her brother’s place after Pearl Harbor is bombed.

Somewhere along the way, Dolores falls in love with Alberto. She’s still married to a jerk. But Dolores is Catholic. And Catholics don’t divorce. Especially when doing so means losing her family.

Caveats

Dialogue attributed to a grade schooler strains credulity at times in Part 1. Joining Dolores in the kitchen to chop veggies or stir stew also gets a little old. But The Aloha Spirit quickly rises above such mundanities and paints a vast, vibrant mosaic of time, culture, loss and disappointment, triumph and redemption.

Winsome

Poignant and captivating, The Aloha Spirit brims with gentle insights and fascinating cultural and historical vignettes. This book has a realistic, authentic feel to it that makes it a winsome read. Characters are dynamic and three-dimensional. Fortified with rich, lyrical prose, settings are lush and unique. You can almost feel the trade winds and smell the pikake blooms as Dolores slowly realizes the true meaning of familia es todo.

A delicious read. Aloha.

Our rating: 4.0

Diamond Head Image Credit


Leave a comment

‘Aura’ Offers Promise

Aura: Revive Edition

By Krisley Jior Castillo

“Do whatever it takes to survive for now. We both know this won’t end well.” – Aura

Looking for a quick, fluffy story as good battles evil in an epic fight for the future? You may want to check out this book, with a couple caveats.

Plot

Sixteen year-old Ren is minding his own business, sleeping under a tree in the futuristic Kingdom of Zinah. His younger sister, Garnet, hollers at him to wake up or get locked out of the house again. Suddenly a mysterious dark-hooded man shows up with a golden necklace. Everything goes sideways from there, when Garnet is captured and taken prisoner by the evil Gaians who are on the war path against pretty much everyone else.

Continue reading