Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie


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Electrifying New YA Novel DISCOVERS Dazzle

Kimber yukking it up with her BFF, Xenia. Is it dinnertime yet?

Discovery of the Five Senses: The Urban Boys

By K.N. Smith

Via: Author Request

Genre: Young Adult/Light Fantasy/ Action and Adventure

Before we jump into this review, Kimber wants to make one thing perfectly clear: She is not happy about Her Momness forgetting dinner because she was so absorbed in this book, she forgot what time it was.

Not that we’ve got that out of the way…

Basic Plot

The fate of humanity hangs in the balance as five high school friends battle evil with their unusual gifts and abilities. Meanwhile, there’s a reason the nearby “forbidden preserve” is forbidden. You so do not want to go there.

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Adventure Abounds in ‘The Aging Machine’

The Aging Machine

By Paul Robert Schreyer, 2021

Genre: Young Adult Action/Adventure

One of us started reading this book with a big bowl of marble fudge ice cream with extra hot fudge sauce. And raspberries. Mom added peanut butter to make up for any nutritional deficiencies in the berries. This book moved along so briskly, she kept having to refill. To “keep her energy up,” dontcha know. (Insert eye roll here.)

Anyway, I, Kimber the Magnificent, will let Her Momness tell you more about The Aging Machine:

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3 Titles: The Good, The Tasty, & The Wa-Wa Section

Ready to dive into something a little different? Good! Cuz Mom and I? We’re mixing it up today with three titles that are as different as me and the neighbor’s feline. (Gag me with Meow Mix!) 

Today we’re reviewing a Young Adult dystopian fantasy. A yummy cookbook with down home cookin’ (it passed the Kimber Taste Test, so grab a plate!). And a clunker of a skunker. Can you guess which is which?

Ready? Set? Play ball!

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Epic YA Fantasy a Rousing Read

The King’s Trial (Morgan Horse Publishing, 2019)

By M.L. Farb

Fiction/Fantasy/Young Adult

Via: Author request

Palace intrigue. Love. Loss. Double crosses. An evil queen bent on enslaving a third of her people. An unassuming tavern hand with a knack for picking up vital information. A petulant prince and his beautiful, spirited fiancé. A kingdom teetering on the verge of anarchy.

Main characters:

Yosyph: The protagonist is a “shadow walker” wannabe.There’s more than meets the eye with this guy. Just like this book.

Katrin: the feisty seventeen year-old daughter of a wealthy merchant. She’s been betrothed to Prince Halavant since infancy, but is now targeted for assassination by the Queen, Halavant’s mom.

Prince Halavant: Haughty and supercilious, Halavant is about a mile wide and a quarter inch deep when we first meet him. But then… Well. You’ll have to read for yourself to find that out.

Naven: Personal servant of Katrin’s father and her trusted friend.

“When we overthrow the monarchy, we will have a rule of law and not of whim. A law that will protect the weak and give everyone access to justice.”

The Plot:

Yosyph says little, observes much, and is assumed mute. Posing as a tavern hand, he gathers intel on the wicked queen. When he learns she plans to enslave his people forever, Yosyph vows to raise a rebellion. But he fears that such a revolt will only result in needless bloodshed and the death of thousands.

After saving Katrin from the queen’s would-be assassins, Yosyph and Katrin embark upon a dangerous journey across a peril-filled desert in search of Yosyph’s kin. He hopes they will join him as allies in the war that is to come. Can he muster the faith necessary for his plans to come to fruition? Will Yosyph’s unexpected answers to his prayers stop his realm from descending into bloody darkness? What exactly is a “king’s trial,” anyway? Why does it exist, and for whom?

“Wishes and horses, and a year to ride them.”

Enchanting & Echoes

All of these questions and more are addressed in this enchanting, fast-moving fantasy. Fans of The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings will find much to enjoy here. If you know what to listen for, you may also hear whispers of The Once and Future King.

Rife with unexpected twists, the plot is complex and intricate without devolving into unwieldy or clunky. The narrative flows smoothly as it switches POVs between Halavant and Yosyph.

“Stockpile swords and speak softly.”

Gently Faith-Flavored

Indeed, there’s a lot going on in this sturdy, gently faith-flavored story. A robust plot is buttressed by prodigious world-building skills, full-bodied characters, and rich word pictures. A fresh and original tale saturated in courage, sacrifice, love, loyalty, and loss, this expertly crafted story reels you in from chapter one and doesn’t let go until the very end.

Delightful!

Book 1 in The King Trials series, The King’s Trial is an absorbing, rousing read that’ll have you turning pages faster than Secretariat rocketing around the final turn in the Belmont. It’s a delightful read that’s ripe for a sequel. Keep an eye out for more! Cuz this one’s a keeper!

Our Rating: 4.5


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Apocalyptic Christian Thriller Packs a Wallop!

Salvation

Book 3 in the Subversives trilogy

By Raena Rood

One Foundation Publishing, 2021

Genre: Christian Fiction/Apocalyptic Thriller

Via: Author Request

“… (we) must tell them what we have learned here. We must tell them that there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still. They will listen to us, Corrie, because we have been here.”

– Betsie ten Boom

Kimber here, ready to rock and roll with Salvation, the third and final installment in the fast-paced, high-octane Subversives trilogy by Raena Rood. But first, a disclaimer:

Her Crankiness   – Hi, Mom – isn’t necessarily a big fan of book series or trilogies. The reason is simple. Way too often, the first book starts off as a real barn burner. Subsequent titles soon run out of gas. They sputter and putter and limp into The End with way too many stops in Dullsville and Snooze Gulch along the way.

So we were a little hesitant to take on the Subversives trilogy. Which just shows you what we know.

A Pleasant Surprise

The trilogy turned out to be one of the most well-written, thoroughly engaging and highly readable books/series of the year. (Not to brag or anything – Hi again, Mom – but one of us read over 350 books last year. Well, it was mostly me. But Mom helped. A little.)

“Whatever happens to us in the future, we must never lose faith in the end of the story.”

Anyway, here are our reviews of the first two books in the Subversives trilogy: 1) Subversive, and 2) Sanctuary: What Do ‘Sanctuary’ and Secretariat Have in Common?

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Why THIS Debut Novel Reads Like a BOSS

Sitting on Top of the WorldSitting on Top of the World

By Cheryl King

Historical Fiction/Young Adult

Via: Reedsy/Discovery

Launch Date:  December 31, 2021

Some books just grab your attention. Slide down your throat. And wrap themselves around your heart. Sitting on Top of the World is one of those books.   

June Baker is a “girl with gumption.” The “almost fifteen year-old” has to be while she rides the rails in search of work as the family farm hangs in the balance. How she got there and why rounds out the first part of this delightful book. What’s happens next fills the second half. Both pick up steam quickly in this heartwarming, delicious read about family, faith, loss, love, desperation, betrayal, and hope during the Great Depression.

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High Octane Action Powers ‘Albertan Apocalypse’

Albertan Apocalypse

By John Keillor, 2021

Fiction/Dystopian/Action-Adventure

Summary: Governments have been destroyed worldwide by global catastrophe except in Alberta, Canada. But when malevolent forces try to take over, Albertans put up a ferocious fight to keep their freedom. 

Originally reviewed on Reedsy/Discovery.

Setting

It’s 2031. Twelve years ago a worldwide catastrophe destroyed the internet and disabled governments. Many human brains were also “ruined” when the atmosphere “was transformed into a microwave oven.” One of few stable societies remaining is in Alberta, Canada. But malevolent forces are converging to invade the province, exploit its natural resources, and enslave its citizens.

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3 Choice Novellas and a Monkey Wrench

Paintings from  the Cave: Three Novellas

By Gary Paulsen

YA/Fiction

Via: Library

“Dogs know how to love better than people.”

Paintings From the Cave

Sometimes even the best laid plans go awry. Especially when a monkey wrench gets thrown into the mix.  Like  when Mom and I plan our blogging calendar. (Well, one of us plans. The other snoozes. I’ll let you figure out who’s who.)

See, we were going to put together a collection of Best Gary Paulsen Books Ever. He’s an old favorite. When it comes to outdoor adventures or coming of age tales, no one does it better than Gary. He’s our bud. He’s also a dog lover. Need I say more?

So here Mom and I were, cruising along with our blogging calendar when Mom stumbled upon a Paulsen book she somehow missed: Paintings from the Cave.

Monkey Wrench Alert!

After finishing this extraordinary trio of gripping, poignant novellas, we knew they had to have a stand-alone post. Here’s why:

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