Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie


2 Comments

ROCK Goes the 4th With These 25 U.S. Historical Fiction Books

Kimber here. Mom is busy rustling up some Independence Day eats. I’m not too sure about the potato salad and corn on the cob thing. But I’m all over the grilled burgers! Yeah, Lassie!

Well. The subject of “best U.S. historical fiction” came up the other night. We were watching videos of last year’s fireworks or somethin’. You know. The stupid Big Boom things. (Why do humans do this every Independence Day? I don’t get it.)

I was all ears. (For the book list. Not the Big Boom things. Mom got me a Thunder Shirt for that.)

Anyway, just in time for Independence day, Mom and I put together a list of the best historical fiction reads set in the U.S. Mom says we aren’t even going to try to cover books by decade, social movement, issue, or what not. That’d take us like, till the cat comes home. Gag me with Meow Mix!

Continue reading


4 Comments

16 Unforgettable Love Stories

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. And what better way to ring in the day than with a love story?

Now, I could line the bottom of my bird cage (if I had one) with most of what passes for “romance” stories these days. That’s not what this list is about. You won’t find any cheap dime store boiler plate trash here. This list focuses on timeless love stories that go above and beyond basic romance.

Some of these titles are relatively new. Others have been around for centuries. All reach straight for your heart. Climb in. And settle in to stay. B.Y.O. tissue.

Here are 16 of the most unforgettable love stories of all time, along with memorable quotes. Many have been made into movies. Some might surprise you:

1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

Jane Austen’s masterpiece of love and life among English gentility during the Georgian era. Mr. Bennet is an English gentleman living in Hartfordshire with his overbearing wife, one of the most ridiculous mothers in all literature. Mrs. Bennet’s chief goal in life is to see her five daughters married off and living comfortably. But fate intervenes…

Memorable quote:

“My good opinion once lost, is lost forever.”

2. Doctor Zhivago – Boris Pasternak

This novel traces the lives and loves of its two tragic protagonists, Yuri Zhivago, a physician and poet, and Larissa Antipova. Pasternak’s epic love story takes place between the Russian Revolution of 1905 and World War II. First published in Italy in 1957.

Memorable quote:

“Oh, what a love it was, utterly free, unique, like nothing else on earth! Their thoughts were like other people’s songs.”

3. A Common Life – Jan Karon

Laughter and wedding bells ring as Father Tim and his artist neighbor, Cynthia, get ready to tie the knot. Finally!

Memorable quote:

“I am not proud, but I am happy; and happiness blinds, I think, more than pride.”

4. Message in a Bottle – Nicholas Sparks

When a woman discovers a tragic love letter in a bottle on a beach, she’s determined to track down its author – and finds much more.

Emotionally intense story of love after loss. Set in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Memorable quote:

“Without you in my arms, I feel an emptiness in my soul.”

  1. The Princess Bride – William Golding

Six-fingered swordsmen. Murderous princes. Treachery. Gallantry. Sicilians and rodents of unusual size.

Buttercup and Westley’s love story is a classic that not even the Dread Pirate Roberts can sink. Did you know the 1987 movie was based on a book?

Memorable quote:

“As you wish.”

  1. Where the Red Fern Grows – Wilson Rawls

The powerful, poignant story of the unbreakable bond between a young boy and his two Redbone Hound dogs, ‘Ole Dan and Li’l Ann, reminds us what love really means. Set in the Ozarks during the depths of the Depression.

Once in a lifetime, a story comes along that inspires generations of readers. Where The Red Fern Grows is one of those stories. Bring Kleenex.

Note from Kimber: My personal favorite, friends! Even better than bacon! Mom always wants to snuggle up with this one. I’m a good helper, ya know. But I’m a World Class Snuggler and face-licker!

Memorable quote:

“I looked at his grave and, with tears in my eyes, I voiced these words: ‘You were worth it, old friend, and a thousand times over.’”

  1. Out of Africa – Isak Dinesen

Set largely in Kenya, East Africa, this sweeping epic is a story of discovery, loss and love.

Karen Blixen followed her dreams until her dreams became reality. She came to Africa from Denmark to search for something inside herself. There, she discovers a man and a country. And life as she’s never known it.

Blixen published her autobiographical Out of Africa under the nom de plume, Isak Dinesen.

The 1985 movie won seven Academy Awards including Best Picture. It stars Meryl Streep as Blixen and Robert Redford as her lover, Dennys Finch-Hatton.

Memorable quote:

“If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Will the air over the plain quiver with a color that I have had on, or the children invent a game in which my name is, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?”

  1. The Notebook – Nicholas Sparks

A touching story about what we long for. What we settle for. And who we were meant for. Full of longing and wistfulness. Despair and hope. And unexpected plot twists. Vintage Nicholas Sparks.

“I read to her and she remembers.”

Memorable quote:

“We fell in love, despite our differences, and once we did, something rare and beautiful was created. For me, love like that has only happened once, and that’s why every minute we spent together has been seared in my memory. I’ll never forget a single moment of it.”

  1. Rome and Juliet – William Shakespeare

Don’t make me explain this.

Memorable quote:

“My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.”

10 – 13. The Last Promise, A Perfect Day, The Letter, The Sunflower, – Richard Paul Evans

  1. The Velveteen Rabbit, Margery Williams

How a brand new toy becomes Real.

Don’t think this “children’s” classic is a love story? Think again.

Memorable quote:

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

  1. Jane EyreCharlotte Brontë

Beloved love story between the plucky orphan and governess Jane Eyre and the dark and brooding Rochester.

Memorable quote:

“Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.”

 

16. Bid Time Return – Richard Matheson

A haunting story of the link between a man and a woman that transcends time. The novel upon which Somewhere in Time is based.

My husband rolls his eyes every time I drag out my SIT DVD. I just smile and grab some more chocolate.

This story and the movie that followed starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour prove how little critics know and how even a predictable love story never fails to tug at the heart strings.

An unforgettable John Barry score doesn’t hurt, either.

Memorable quote:

“Come back to me.”

What would you add?


2 Comments

Stories & Soirees: 5 DELICIOUS Valentine Pairings!

Hello February!

‘Tis the month for love and romance and all things heartfelt. That includes good books and good food! In fact, what better way to kick off Valentine’s month than with pairing some great love stories with great food!

The titles below feature love stories flavored with rich, robust writing. Also links to a culinary idea or two you can savor before, after, or while you’re turning pages.

Some of these titles may be familiar. Some may be new. Some may surprise you. Just don’t get so engrossed in the plot that you neglect to mind the stove, okay?

Ready? Set? Grab your book. Head to the nearest kitchen and Let’s Go!

Continue reading


2 Comments

10 Fabulous Reads for FALL!

“Fall is in the air!” Mom announced the other day. I’m not sure what that means. But Mom is skipping merrily around the house, chirping about “fall colors,” “sweater weather” and “hot chocolate.” I’d be just as happy with a nice, thick New York steak. Whatever.

I figure it’s only a matter of time until Mom breaks out that stupid bright orange thingy she hauls me into whenever we go out in cold weather. Pay off: Coming home to a cozy spot in front of a nice, warm fireplace.

Anyway, Mom says fall is a great time to grab a hot cuppa whatever and curl up next to a roaring fire with a good book! She’s got a list. Checked it twice. (I helped. The first list didn’t smell right.)

Here are some of Mom’s top picks for the season. Some are old. Some are new. All are worthy reads. In no particular order:

Continue reading


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


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


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

Inspiration Across the Ages: John Mernone Talks His Personal Connection With His Debut Historical Novel, The World Turned Upside Down

Happy Wednesday Friends!

Author John Mernone joins us today to discuss his debut historical novel, The World Turned Upside Down. You’ll want to listen in.  Says John:

***

John Mernone’s debut historical novel has a personal connection.

How many times have you heard someone say that history is boring?

If you only see it as a list of names and dates and facts to be memorized, it is boring. I was lucky enough to have a few truly amazing teachers who taught me to look at history through the lens of personalities and situations. Take George Washington. In school, we’re taught about this legendary hero who led the colonists to independence. And maybe we hear about his wooden teeth.

 

We don’t learn about his many mistakes on the way to victory. We don’t learn that he wasn’t always patient or a brilliant strategist. He had very real flaws. But he was driven by an unshakeable belief in the cause, and he possessed a level of humility and conscientiousness that inspired devotion and admiration in everyone around him. I’ve always believed that George Washington was the greatest man in history, flaws and all.

Continue reading


Leave a comment

GUEST AUTHOR: The Ultimate ‘Insider’s Guide’ to New York!

‘Mom! Wake up!’

 

“Mom! Mom! Wake up!”

 

“Gah….! Wha… Huh?” Crash. Stumble. Stubbed toe. “Dadgum it!”

 

Mom’s nothing if not quick. Especially when it’s 0500. And I’ve got a  cool new book to show her! It’s like an illustrated time travel thingy. Through New York City! I’m don’t know where that is. But it sounds good. So does a soon-to-be-released book, 400 Years of New York History: A Pictorial Guide.

Continue reading