Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie

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FINE WINE FRIDAY: 7 Books to Curl Up With If You Love Whodunits

“Alright. Who let the viking in?”

You’re kidding, right? I say this to Mom a lot. Especially when she gets The Look. You know. That Look. It usually precedes a mile-long description of her new favorite book. Of course I listen. Because, ya know. That’s my job. Well, that and being beautiful and brilliant. (It’s a tough job. But I’m up for it!)

So when Mom came up with yet another harebrained idea the other day – where do these things come from? – I just smiled and listened.

Mom’s latest brainstorm? A list of really cool murder mysteries/whodunits.

Being the brains in this dynamic duo, I tried to remind Mom that she doesn’t typically gravitate toward either genre. But you know Mom!

It’s been like FOREVER since our last Fine Wine Friday. One of us has been falling down on the job (Hi, Mom). So let’s go!

So here, in no particular order, are Mom’s recently-ish read murder mysteries/whodunits. All get at least a four on the Official Mom and the Kimster rating-o-meter:

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20 Awesome Outdoor Classics for Kids!

Grays skies are clearing. Temperatures are inching upwards. Summer’s waiting in the wings. Even if you’re stuck inside, you can still roam the outdoors through books! Especially when celebrating Great Outdoors Month!

Today we’re highlighting 20 top outdoor titles for kiddos. These books are geared for children ages third through ninth grade, roughly.

All include strong characters, engaging plots, and superlative story-telling. All have stood the test of time. (You may detect a big canine bias here. Because as Kimber knows, everything is better with dogs. Yes sirree, Lassie! That goes double for the Great Outdoors!)

Besides. If you can’t go to the outside, we’ll bring the outside to you, inside with:

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6 Titles to Curl Up With if You Love Whodunits

You’re kidding, right?

I say this to Mom a lot. Especially when she gets The Look. You know. That Look. It usually precedes a mile-long description of her new favorite book. Of course I listen. Because, ya know. That’s my job. Well, that and being beautiful and brilliant. (It’s a tough job. But I’m up for it!)

So when Mom came up with yet another harebrained idea for Fine Wine Fridays – where do these things come from? – I just smiled and listened.

Mom’s latest brainstorm? A list of really cool murder mysteries/whodunits.

Being the brains in this dynamic duo, I reminded Mom that she doesn’t typically gravitate toward either genre. But you know Mom!

So here, in no particular order, are Mom’s version of Fine Wine Friday murder mysteries/whodunits. (See more Fine Wine Friday picks here.)

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10+ Bark-Worthy Books Set in Exotic-ish Locales

You don’t have to say it. I know I’m beautiful. Also shy, modest, and retiring.

Kimber here with another edition of Fine Wine Fridays. (I was holding out for Excellently Scrumptious and Splendiferous Book Lists That Are So Delicious, They’re Even Better Than My Fave Dog Chow or Squeaky Toy. Mom nixed that. Ugh.)

Anyway, today we’re highlighting books set in exotic locales or other continents. So if you liked Peter Pan or Narnia, you may like… Oh, wait. Scratch that. These are set in real places, not Neverland or Aslan’s Country (Mom, you are no fun!)


Wait. Where was I?

Oh yeah. Fun, interesting, engaging reads in other settings. Some titles are old. Some are new. They may be even better than my squeaky toy. (But I’m still holding on to it. Just in case.) So here, in no particular order, are:

10+ bark-worthy books set in exotic-ish locales:

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5 Sumptuous Books Celebrating FOOD (and lots more)

Good food and books go together like peanut butter and jelly. Summer and surfing. Braying politicians and migraines. Belay that last. Cuz today we’re going a step further.

For today’s Fine Wine Fridays we’re sharing some favorites that combine the best in creative, delicious recipes and creative, delicious writing.

Insalata di Polpo – ‘Savoring Tuscany’

In order to make our menu, selected books must be more than just collections of recipes. They focus on food but must also include:

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The Munificent Seven: 7 Great WWII Reads You May Not Have Heard Of

Welcome to another edition of Fine Wine Fridays!

FWF brings you The Best in rich, full-bodied reads. I can personally recommend each title because I’ve actually read All Of Them.

This week Pages & Paws is featuring outstanding reads set during World War II. If you love to read gripping, engaging stories about people and events set within compelling historical settings, these seven titles are among the best. Both fiction and non-fiction are included. How many have you read?

My Family for the War

1. My Family for the War, by Anne Voorhoeve

Escaping Nazi Germany on the kindertransport changes one girl’s life forever

Ten-year-old Franziska Mangold is torn from her family in Berlin and taken out of Nazi territory aboard the kindertransport. The train secretly takes nearly 10,000 children to safety in England. Taken in by strangers who become like family, Frances (as she is now known) courageously pieces together a new life for herself because she doesn’t know when or if she’ll see her true family again. Frances struggles with questions of identity, family, and love ,against the backdrop of war-torn London.

Originally published in Germany, Anne Voorhoeve’s award-winning novel is filled with humor, danger, and romance. A captivating, compelling read.

2 & 3. The Hiding Place: The Triumphant True Story of Corrie ten Boom and A Prisoner and Yet…, by Corrie ten Boom

Corrie ten Boom and her family became leaders in the Dutch Underground, hiding Jewish people in their home in a specially built room and aiding their escape from the Nazis. For their help, all but Corrie found death in a concentration camp. The Hiding Place is their story.

A Prisoner and Yet… When the Nazis overran Holland Corrie ten Boom, her father and sister, chose to risk death by making their quiet, respectable home a haven for refugees. Finally the Gestapo came and during the months in a concentration camp that followed, Corrie ten Boom shared suffering and torture, watched her father and sister die. Yet she survived, mind intact, soul still free.

Where did this gentle, undemanding woman find the courage to resist… to suffer… and to endure? This book contains the answer. It reveals a belief in Jesus Christ that carried an innocent woman through some of the worst agonies man can devise.

A Prisoner and Yet

The Hiding Place is one of the most gripping, inspiring stories I’ve ever read. In fact, I’ve re-read it and its “companion volume,” A Prisoner and Yet, numerous times. Both titles get five stars!

The Wartime Sisters

4. The Wartime Sisters, by Lynda Cohen Loigman

Insightful, poignant and powerfully subtle, this novel is a deep dive into the unique sisterhood of unrelated women. Set during WWII.

Read my full review here.

Hansi: The Girl Who Loved the Swastika

5. Hansi: The Girl Who Loved the Swastika, by Maria Anne Hirschmann

“Don’t ever forget Jesus!” This tearful admonition of her foster mother followed the teen-aged orphan girl as she began her trip to Prague.

Maria (“Hansi”) was the envy of all in her little Czechoslovakian village. She won a scholarship to the Nazi school in the capital and would be able to serve the Fuhrer.
Thus Maria began a long journey into blind devotion to Hitler and the atheism of the Nazi system. The path led to a storybook romance…cruel disillusionment at Hitler’s suicide…a traumatic awakening to the swastika’s scourge across Europe and upon the Jews…a breathtaking escape from Communists… and a reemergence into the love and lordship of her mother’s Jesus.

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6. All Ships Follow Me: A Family Memoir of War Across Three Continents, by Mieke Eerkens

An engrossing, epic saga of one family’s experiences on both sides of WWII. All Ships Follow Me questions our common narrative of the conflict and our stark notions of victim and perpetrator, while tracing the lasting effects of war through several generations.

Read my full review here.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

7. The Tattooist of Auschwitz, by Heather Morris


A shatteringly beautiful love story set amid the tragedy and horror of a Nazi death camp. This riveting, remarkable story of hope and courage is based on interviews were conducted with Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov—an unforgettable love story in the midst of atrocity.

Wait. Did I say “seven”? Okay. I fibbed.

Here are four more compelling stories that take place during world wars. Three are from WWI.

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8. War Horse, by Michael Morpurgo

It’s 1914. Joey, a sturdy farm horse, is sold to the army and thrust into the midst of World War I on the Western Front. When Joey is dragged away, his heart aches for Albert, the farmer’s son he’s forced to leave behind. In the army the beautiful red-bay horse is trained to charge the enemy, drag heavy artillery, and carry wounded soldiers not much older than Albert off the battlefields.

Amongst the clamoring of guns, and while plodding through the cold mud, Joey wonders if the war will ever end. If it does, will he ever see Albert again?

Heart-rending and riveting. I read it cover-to-cover in one sitting.

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9. A Medal for Leroy, by Michael Morpurgo

A moving, memorable story of family, identity, and history.

When Michael’s aunt passes away, she leaves a letter that changes everything. It starts with Michael’s grandfather Leroy, a black officer in World War I who charged into a battle zone not once but three times to save wounded men. His fellow soldiers insisted he deserved special commendations for his bravery. But because of the racial barriers, he would go unacknowledged. Now it’s up to Michael to change that.

Inspired by the true story of Walter Tull, the first black officer in the British army.

An Eagle in the Snow

10. An Eagle in the Snow, by Michael Morpurgo

Inspired by the true story of the man who might’ve stopped WWII. The Mother Lode of “What ifs?”





Read my full review here.

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11. Making Bombs for Hitler, by Maria Forchuk Skrypuch

Lida thought she was safe. Her neighbors wearing the yellow star were all taken away. But Lida isn’t Jewish. She’ll be fine, right?

But Lida’s parents are ripped away from her and she’s separated from her beloved sister, Larissa. The Nazis take Lida to a brutal work camp, where she and other Ukrainian children are forced into backbreaking labor. Starving and terrified, Lida bonds with her fellow prisoners. But none of them know if they’ll live to see tomorrow.

When Lida and her friends are assigned to make bombs for the German army, Lida cannot stand the thought of helping the enemy. Then she has an idea. What if she sabotaged the bombs… and the Nazis? Can she do so without getting caught? Will Lida ever see her sister again?

I read this start to finish in one sitting. Couldn’t put it down!


What would you add?

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6 Books to Read if You Loved ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’

Welcome to another edition of Fine Wine Fridays, where we feature rich, full-bodied read-alikes. Today we’re focusing on books like The Chronicles of Narnia.

Did you love disappearing into a wood robe and entering into a magical land with Lucy, Edmond, Peter and Susan Pevensie? How about Aslan, Jadis, Eustace and the heroic Reepicheep?

If you enjoy top-flight stories brimming with enchantment, intrigue, and allegorical undertones like C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, here are six more titles with similar themes and styles. All offer strong stories. Epic battles between good and evil. Fantastic creatures. Heroes and villains. Friendships won and lost. And wonderfully magic reads. In no particular order:

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1. Green, by Ted Dekker

As foretold by ancient prophets, an apocalypse destroyed Earth during the twenty-first century. But two thousand years later Elyon set upon the earth a new Adam. This time, however, he gave humanity an advantage. What was once unseen became seen. It was good and it was called…”Green.” But the evil Teeleh bided his time in a Black Forest. Then, when least expected, a twenty-four year old named Thomas Hunter fell asleep in our world and woke up in that future Black Forest. A gateway was opened for Teeleh to ravage the land, and… Oh, wait. You’re on your own for the rest.

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  1. 2. The Magic Bicycle Series, by John Bibee

“Once there was a magic bicycle that found a boy,” begins this tale of adventure and suspense. When John Kramer comes across an old, rusty Spirit Flyer bicycle, he finds it far from ordinary. First, the bike helps him save a neighbor’s barn from burning. Then it brings him into conflict with the boys in the Cobra Club, a representative of Goliath Toys and other forces that not only want John’s bike, but want it destroyed. While John learns about the Magic in the bicycle, every reader will be delighted as they join him for this fantastic ride.

This was one of our boys’ favorite read-alouds when they were young. Excellent!

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  1. 3. Out of the Silent Planet, by C.S. Lewis

A Cambridge academic is abducted and taken on a spaceship to the red planet of Malacandra, which he knows as Mars. Dr. Ransom’s captors are plotting to plunder the planet’s treasures and plan to offer Ransom as a sacrifice to the creatures who live there…

The first book in Lewis’s classic science fiction trilogy.

4. The Shack, by Wm. Paul Young

I absolutely loved this book. One of the most compelling/absorbing works of fiction/allegory I’ve ever read.

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5. This Present Darkness, by Frank Peretti

Ashton is just a typical small town. But when a skeptical reporter and a pastor begin to compare notes, they suddenly find themselves fighting a hideous plot to subjugate the townspeople―and eventually the entire human race. A riveting thriller, This Present Darkness offers a fascinating glimpse into the unseen world of spiritual warfare.

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6. Epic, by John Eldredge

For most of us, life feels like a movie we’ve arrived at 40 minutes late.

Good things happen. But so do tragic things. What does it mean?

We find ourselves in the middle of a story that’s sometimes wonderful. Sometimes awful. Usually a confusing mix of both. And we haven’t a clue how to make sense of it. No wonder we keep losing heart.

We need to know the rest of the story…

Epic isn’t an allegory in the classic. But it’s an excellent take on The Great Story. The full story. And where you fit in it. Insightful and incisive. Beautifully written. Five stars.


What would you add to this list?

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13 Books to Read if You Loved The Hunger Games!

Welcome to another edition of Fine Wine Fridays!

Did Suzanne Collin’s dystopian Hunger Games trilogy keep you on the edge of your seat? Were you captivated by strong characters who must rely on their wits, courage, and friendships to survive?

If you enjoy high octane stories featuring youthful (mostly) protagonists who battle oppressive regimes, read these next (as always, I only recommend books that I’ve actually read myself. Personally):

13 Books to Read if You Loved The Hunger Games:

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  1. 1. The City of Ember, by Jeanne DuPrau

The underground City of Ember was built as a last refuge for the human race. Two hundred years later, the city is threatened by aging infrastructure and corruption. They’re running out of food and energy.


When Lina finds part of an ancient message, she’s sure it holds a secret that will save the city. Now she and her friend Doon must race to figure out the clues to keep the lights on. If they succeed, they will have to convince everyone to follow them into danger. But if they fail? The lights will burn out and the darkness will close in forever.


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2. Red Rising, by Pierce Brown

Set on a future planet Mars, inhabitants fall into a caste system based on birth. A hierarchy of “colors” represents their ranking within society. The novel follows lowborn miner Darrow as he infiltrates the ranks of the elite Golds. The first book in the Red Rising trilogy.


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3. Matched, by Ally Condie

In the Society, officials decide everything. Where you work. Who you love. When you die. Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s a small price to pay for a long life. The perfect job. The ideal mate. When she turns 17 and attends her Matching ball, she expects society to pair her with her optimal partner. But then…


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4. Delirium, by Lauren Oliver

A potent blend of romance, drama and danger in a world where falling in love isn’t just forbidden, it’s impossible. Right?



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5. The Maze Runner, by James Dashner

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone. Outside the surrounding stone walls s a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive. Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying: Remember. Survive. Run.

I read this cover-to-cover in one sitting. A taut, thrilling ride about teens who are pawns of evil adults. High octane action from start to finish. (The subsequent novels, not so much.)


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6. Cinder –The Lunar Chronicles, Book 1, by Marissa Meyer

New Beijing is filled with humans and androids. But a deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when she meets the handsome Prince Kai’s, Cinder is suddenly plunged into an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

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7. Life As We Knew It, by Susan Beth Pfeffer

When an asteroid knocks the moon closer to Earth, high school sophomore Miranda’s whole world gets turned upside down. Worldwide tsunamis and earthquakes hit. Volcanic ash blocks out the sun. During winter in northeastern Pennsylvania, Miranda and her family retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.

Told in a year’s worth of journal entries, this heart-pounding story chronicles Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all—hope—in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world. I’d bring a sweater ‘fize you.

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7. Gone, by Michael Grant

In the blink of an eye, everyone is gone. Poof. Except for the young. There are teens, but not one single adult. Just as suddenly, there are no phones, no internet, no television. No way to get help. And no way to figure out what’s happened.

Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents—unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers—that grow stronger by the day.

It’s a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen. A fight is shaping up. And time is running out: on your birthday, you disappear just like everyone else.


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9. Legend, by Marie Lu

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem. From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect…

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10. Unwind, by Neal Shusterman

In America after the Second Civil War, the Pro-Choice and Pro-Life armies came to an agreement: The Bill of Life states that human life may not be touched from the moment of conception until a child reaches the age of thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, a parent may choose to retroactively get rid of a child through a process called “unwinding.” Unwinding ensures that the child’s life doesn’t “technically” end by transplanting all the organs in the child’s body to various recipients. Now a common and accepted practice in society, troublesome or unwanted teens are able to easily be unwound.

Unwind follows three teen runaway Unwinds: Connor, a rebel whose parents have ordered his unwinding; Risa, a ward of the state who is to be unwound due to cost-cutting; and Lev, his parents’ tenth child whose unwinding has been planned since birth as a religious tithing.

Gripping. Brilliant. And chilling. I couldn’t put down!

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11. Red Queen, by Victoria Aveyard

A sweeping tale of power, intrigue, and betrayal. Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with common, Red blood serve the Silver-blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. This sweeping tale where romance and revolution collide. first book in the Red Queen series.


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12. The Darkest Minds, by Alexandra Bracken

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” Ruby might have survived the mysterious disease that killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerge with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

This taut thriller packs a punch! Another one I couldn’t put down!


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13. Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand

No list of dystopian novels would be complete without this classic.

Perhaps the “grandparent” of all dystopian novels (along with Orwell’s 1984, the World’s Most Depressing Book, so let’s not go there).

The fourth and final novel of Ayn Rand’s novels, Atlas Shrugged is sprawling epic that combines economics, science fiction, philosophy, and intrigue. It’s set in a dystopian United States in which private business struggles under increasingly onerous laws and regulations. Railroad executive Dagny Taggart and her lover, steel magnate Hank Rearden, match wits with those who want to exploit their productivity and entrepreneurialism. But they’re scotched at every step. Can they keep their heads above water – and for how long?

And who is John Galt?


What would you add to the list?








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7 Books to Read If You Loved ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’

Want to read more? Find more books like your favorites?

Well woof and double woof! Cuz you’ve come to the right place!

Fine Wine Fridays

Kimber here. I can’t wait to tell you about a new feature Mom and I are launching here at Pages and Paws. We’re calling it Fine Wine Fridays. (I was holding out for Excellently Scrumptious and Splendiferous Read-a-Like Book Lists That Are So Delicious, They’re Even Better Than My Fave Dog Chow or Squeaky Toy. Mom nixxed that. You know how moms are.)

Anyway! We’ll be featuring The Best in rich, full bodied read-a-like books every other Friday. You may even want to sit down with these titles and pair them with a glass of… whatever. Like:

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