Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie


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Breaths, Bear Hugs & Best of 2021

A Breath of Fresh God

Kha’ris Books, 2021

Via: Author request

“Sit down with me. We have much to say to each other.”

We’re closing out the year with one of the most unusual and uplifting reads of 2021.

We thought about including this title in a “Best Of” year-end post. Naw. We decided to give it a stand-alone post instead. Here’s why:

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25 PAWsome Non-Fiction Books That Read Like Fiction

It’s been forever since we did a Fine Wine Friday post. So here ya go. No extra charge:

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“Alright Kimber. Step away from the Narrative Non-Fiction (NNF) book stash and I’ll forget all about the incident with that double cheeseburger.”

“Drat! I was kinda hoping Mom already forgot about that. But anyway, you’re probably asking, What’s ‘narrative non-fiction’ and why should I care?”

Bet this tastes great if I can ever get it off the fence!

Glad you asked. Basically, narrative non-fiction is non-fiction that reads like a novel instead of a dry-as-burnt-toast textbook. Or War and Peace. ( Mom said I oughtta throw in that last one.)

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Travel Memoir Offers Deep Dive Into West Africa

A New Day Dawns

By Terry Lister

Publisher: Brooklyn Knight Enterprises, 2021

Via: Author Request

Genre: Memoir/Travel

“This is Africa!”

Terry Lister is an experienced world traveler. He’s also a first class storyteller with a knack for drawing readers into his adventures. As in his first volume, Immersed in West Africa, Lister invites you to join him in traveling through four West African countries as he seeks to “learn what makes people tick.”

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How ‘I’m Supposed to Make a Difference’ DOES

I’m Supposed to Make a Difference:

A Memoir About Overcoming Trauma and Abuse

By Kevin Vought

Non-fiction/Memoir

Via: Author Request

Summary: The true story of one man’s quest to confront the inner demons of his horrible childhood and chart a course toward hope and healing.

“The events that unfolded over the next few hours would define who I was to become in life. These few hours spawned much of the hatred, loneliness, terror, pain, and dread that have plagued me for decades. I still have nightmares about that day. I would go years at a time without a good night’s sleep because of those nightmares.” – Kevin Vought, I’m Supposed to Make a Difference.

This is a story of childhood abuse and its lingering, lifelong effects. It’s also a story of transformation and hope. The author shares how he not only healed from horrific childhood trauma, but how his journey also transformed him into someone who wants others with similar experiences to be able to heal and become whole, too.

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Two Non-Fiction Books To Read If You Don’t Usually Read NF

Are you a non-fiction reader or a fiction reader? Or both?

We’re good either way. But if you fall into “fiction only,” we have a coupla recently read books you may want to consider. They’re both excellent reads, with superb writing and taut storylines that’ll keep you turning pages until the very end.

One is based on the real-life story of the hunt for the world’s most notorious Nazi. The other, told by former NFL star Kermit Alexander (L.A. Rams and San Francisco 49ers), is his personal story of tragedy and redemption.

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Julie Andrews’ ‘Home Work’: A Drop of Golden Sun

Home Work

A Memoir of My Hollywood Years

By Julie Andrews

Non-Fiction/Memoir/Autobiography

Julie Andrews’ second memoir, Home Work is a substantial tome, clocking in at over five hundred pages. Is Home Work worth the time? Mom will let you know – if ever stops prancing around the house singing about female deer and a drop of golden sun. Oh, wait:

Short answer: Yes.

Longer answer:

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Powered By Hope: ‘Chasing Rainbows’ Refuses to Let Tragedy Have the Last Word

Chasing Rainbows: The Stolen Future of Caroline Ann Stuttle (Pegasus, 2021)

By Richard Stuttle

Non-Fiction/True crime/Self-help

“What continues to destroy me more than anything else is that she had the potential to achieve whatever she wanted in life. I truly thought we would have had a lifetime together.” – Richard Stuttle

An early morning phone call on April 10, 2002 crushed that assumption and changed Richard Stuttle’s life forever.

His younger sister, Caroline, age 19, had been “on the adventure of a lifetime,” backpacking around Australia with a friend. But on that terrible April evening, Caroline was thrown off a Bundaberg bridge and fell to her death.

Chasing Rainbows: The Stolen Future of Caroline Ann Stuttle is the raw, unfiltered story of Caroline’s life, the devastating impact of her murder, and how a “charity born out of tragedy”came to life to help young backpackers travel in a safer environment.

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3 Wag-Worthy Summer Stand-Outs

One of my baby pictures. I know. I’m adorable.

Her Momness is doing that “I can’t decide” thing again. Like when she has a coupla/three books she enjoyed and thinks you will, too. But she can’t decide which one to feature in a blog post.

Mom’s just funny that way.

“Mom,” says I. “Why don’t you just do all three? Like, at the same time?”

You know that deer-in-the-headlights look? AKA: The Her Momness Look? Mom has it down pat. Ditto three books we recently read. One is a murder mystery: Muzzled: An Andy Carpenter Mystery. Super great cover. Best I’ve ever seen, in fact. The other is a non-fiction book, Empire of the Summer Moon. The third is News of the World. By Paulette Jiles.

They’re as different as day and night. Peanut butter and jelly. Intelligence and presidential debates. Wait. Let’s not go there. Anyway, here’s The Official Mom and Kimber Scoop on these two very different but wag-worthy summer reads:

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The “deliciousness of exploring a new place” CAPTURED in ‘Travel Mania’

Travel Mania: Stories of Wanderlust

By Karen Gershowitz

Travel/Memoir/Non-Fiction

“It’s Summer!”

What a kick in the passport!” Mom hooted after finishing Karen Gershowitz’s Travel Mania: Stories of Wanderlust. “It’s fun and educational!” (She’s outside turning handsprings. Don’t tell anyone, okay?)

“But Mom,” says The Level-Headed One. “You say that about every travel book!”

Ever see someone try to stop hand-springing halfway through?

“I do not!” barks Mom.

Okay, fine. Whatevs, says I, Kimber the Magnificent. But tell me, Mom. What makes this book so splendiferous?

Well. Buckle up. Cuz here we go:

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‘Olive the Lionheart’: Roar or Whimper?

Olive the Lionheart: Lost Love, Imperial Spies, and One Woman’s Journey into the Heart of Africa (St. Martin’s Press, 2020)

By Brad Ricca

Non-Fiction/Biography

In 1910, a strong-willed, flame-haired Scottish woman travels to Africa in search of her missing fiancé. Olive MacLeod was engaged to Boyd Alexander, one of the most famed naturalists of his time. When Boyd’s work leads him to Africa – and he goes missing – Olive teams up with explorers Mr. and Mrs. Talbot and sets out to find him.

What follows is the true story of the Talbot expedition across 2,700 miles of Africa. It made history.

Large chunks of the story are told by Olive herself through the extensive use of her diaries and correspondence. Included are detailed, vivid descriptions of Africa – its flora and fauna, tribes and villages and mind-melting heat. Bats. Rampaging hippos and crocodiles. Snake bites. Villages and chiefs and colonial powers vying for control.

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