Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie


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Ever Feel Alone? Why You Should Give New Lucado Book a Look

You Are Never Alone: Trust in the Miracle of God's Presence and Power

You Are Never Alone: Trust in the Miracle of God’s Presence and Power

(Thomas Nelson, September 2020)

By Max Lucado

 

 

Ever feel like no one’s listening? No one cares? Ever feel stuck? Like no one can help you, hear you, or heed your call? Then this book is for you.

Packed with parables of hope, grace, and healing, You Are Never Alone takes readers on a rousing ride through gospel of John. A fresh coat of joy, perspective, and personal polish is applied to Jesus’ miracles, from Cana to Capernaum. A storm in Galilee. A crowd listening to their tummies growl. A paralytic. A blind man. Two cemeteries. And an empty tomb.

The Heartbeat

The heartbeat of this book is this:

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Why a Good Book is Like Filet Mignon

File:Filet mignon with mushrooms and vegetables (1).jpg

Filet mignon with mushrooms and vegetables. Wikimedia Commons. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

“Eureka!” says Mom the other day, coming home from the library (they’re doing “curbside” pick-ups these days.)

I have no idea why Mom says this. But she says it a lot. Especially when she’s lugging another truck load of “books” home from The Book Place.

 

The Book Place

Me, I’m not crazy about The Book Place. Ever since Mom pointed out the “guide dogs and service animals only” sign. What am I, chopped Salisbury steak with extra gravy? Tri-tip roast? A nice, thick burger sizzling merrily on the outdoor grill?

 

Wait. What was I saying?

 

Oh yeah. “Eureka” and The Book Place.

File:Omaha Steaks Bacon-Wrapped Filet Mignon.jpg

Omaha Steaks Bacon-Wrapped Filet Mignon. Wikimedia Commons. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

 

“See what we have here?” Mom oohs and ahhs, pulling out one of those big square, reading thingies from a “book bag” big enough to choke a Brontosaurus. “Letters on pages,” she explains. “This is a book.” She fans the pages.

 

Can I Eat? Classics

I sniff said pages. Can I eat it? Something tells me no. As in, BIG N-O.

 

David Copperfield!” Mom announces.  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn! Jane Eyre! Classics!”

 

I’m still sniffing. Am I supposed to be impressed?

 

“Wait! There’s more!” Mom crows, excavating deeper into the Bronto bag. She unearths more reading thingies. Like Pride and Prejudice. Raisin in the Sun. The Black Stallion Returns. Thunder Rolling the Mountains. Born Free: A Lioness of Two Worlds.

 

Still sniffing…

Filet mignon wrapped with bacon with assorted vegetables フィレミニョンのベーコン巻き 温野菜添え | by naotakem

Filet wrapped with bacon and assorted vegetables. Flickr. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Book Boon

Meanwhile, I’m beginning to wonder about these reading thingies she calls “books.” They don’t have any buttons. Blinking lights. Bonus levels. App updates. In fact, books really don’t have any sounds at all. And not much smell, either. (Dust, maybe. Or something that’s been sitting on a shelf since just after the discovery of fire.)

 

“Look,” crows Mom, cheerfully paging through something called Anchor in the Storm. You’d think she just discovered filet mignon, medium well.

 

Buried Treasure

“Finding a good book is like finding buried treasure!” Mom continues. “It’s like an adventure waiting to happen! Like biting into a nice, thick, juicy…”

I get the picture, okay? Salivating here royally.

File:Filet Mignon with Asparagus Spears.jpg

Filet mignon with asparagus spears. Wikimedia Commons. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

She also tells me these reading thingies – “books” – can:

  • Take you on travels only you can imagine.
  • Guide you through forests thick with facts.
  • Discover whole galaxies dripping with starry fiction.
  • Introduce you to lifelong friends.
  • Keep you awake all night until The End.

 

Says Mom, “A book can be a friend if you just want to be by yourself in the highest status-update-free mountain.” Plus, the only “storage space” that runs out in a book is what’s in your own head.

Photo by Kasumi Loffler from Pexels.

Batteries Not Required

Also, a good book doesn’t run on batteries. Never needs a recharge. Or a power cord. Doesn’t have an off button. And you don’t need to remember a password to get inside.

 

A book won’t make you sick because it doesn’t catch viruses.

A book won’t unfriend you.

Ever.

 

Well. Why is a good book like a good filet mignon? Because both taste great!

 

At the end of the day, you can put down a book guilt-free. It won’t mind. And you won’t be missing out. Because, says Mom, a book will always be there, waiting for you to come back. Pick up where you left off. Like an old friend welcoming you home. Whether you’re a “service animal” or not.

 

Mom may be on to something. I just hope she hurries up with that steak.

 

For more of some of our “filet mignon” reading, check out Fine Wine Fridays. Ta!

 

What do you enjoy or appreciate most about reading and books?

 

 

 

Wedding table photo by Kasumi Loffler from Pexels


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‘Wrong Place, Right Time’ Hits the Mark

Wrong Place, Right Time

By E.B. Roshan

Anna Belko is your average twenty three year-old garment worker in the fictional country of Sevia. Her life in the uneasy city of Dor takes a sharp turn when a waiter at a sidewalk café accidently spills a pot of tea in her lap. Turns out the waiter’s cousin has been recently killed, an innocent casualty in the high stakes battle for control of the country. And Boris Merkovich isn’t sure he can live with the loss – or with his growing affection for Anna.

Story

Simmering tensions explode as Dor plunges into war in Wrong Place, Right Time. Rival gangs fight it out in the streets. Anna’s family decides to leave Dor for safety, but she chooses to stay behind and be with Boris. As Boris unexpectedly rebuffs her, feeling he’s unworthy, Anna wonders if she’s made a terrible mistake. Internal and external conflict soon crashes into Anna and Boris’s private world, threatening to up-end them both.

Boris and Anna have their flaws. But Wrong Place, Right Time shows readers why that doesn’t really matter, and why forgiveness is always a choice, even in the midst of a raging gang war.

Lithe and agile, this uplifting faith-based story features robust world building and sturdy writing. You can almost smell the smoke. Hear the gun fire. Taste the sugar-glazed cherry tarts.

Suspense

Meanwhile, suspense builds as personal and political antes are upped in this gentle romance. Will Anna and Boris’s love survive as Dor descends into chaos and internal war threatens to tear them apart?

Keep an Eye Out

A new author, E.B. Roshan writes like a seasoned pro. Keep an eye on this author. I’m already looking forward to the next Roshan book.

4.0


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BATTER UP! 10 Summer Hits & Misses

Woof-hoo! It’s summer time, summer time, sum-sum, summer time! Doo-whop, doo-whop.

Kimber here. Mom and I are celebrating the First Week of Summer with something a little special. I was lobbying for filet mignon. But nooooo! Mom decided on a quick run-down on recently read titles. To save you some time. So you can avoid the clunkers. And enjoy the goodies.

Public domain

And hey. What’s summer without baseball, right? So I suggested we categorize titles as either Hits and Misses or as Strike Outs and Home Runs. Brilliant huh? (Mom helped a little. But it was mostly me.)

So here are five kinds of each book. Five duds. As in, swing-from-the-heels strike-outs and don’t waste your time. Five awesome-dawsome, tail-wagging, bonafide home runs. (One is somewhere in the middle, depending on which bat you choose.)

So… batter up!

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‘No Place Too Far’ Brings Family Home

No Place Too Far

(Lake Union Publishing, September 1, 2020)
By Kay Bratt

A Maui-based book that begins with a shaggy dog named Woodrow? Count me in!

A highly engaging story with a smooth-as-silk plot, No Place Too Far is just plain fun. It snaps and crackles with energy throughout and is chockful of memorable characters like a precocious four year-old named Charlie, a scatter-brained but loveable veterinarian, Dr. Joe Starr, and a blue-haired dynamo named Juniper.

Setting

Lush tropical locations and a pitch-perfect pacing surf in and out of intrigue, danger, and triumph. Oh yeah. There’s this great dog and veterinary heroes, too. My kinda book!

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15 High Octane Novels With Superstar Heroines

Photo: NJFF.no

What’s a Superstar or a”Bad Ass Heroine?”

In our literary context, a “BAH” is a main female character who:

  • Doesn’t quit when the chips are down, but digs deep, discovering and drawing on resources she probably didn’t know she has.
  • Is a dynamic, three-dimensional character.
  • Overcomes adversity with valor, integrity, determination, and grit.
  • Isn’t perfect, but learns from her mistakes.
  • Is clever and courageous.
  • Keeps a clear eye, a keen ear, and a level head.
  • Possesses rapier wit. Bonus points for a decent sense of humor.
  • Turns Mama Grizzly in a nano-second if her loved ones are threatened.

Oh yeah. Having a titanium spine qualifies, too. So does not acting like an idiot. Additionally, …

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5 Reasons Why “The Edge of Nowhere” Will Keep You on the Edge of Your Seat

The Edge of Nowhere, 2nd edition

By C.H. Armstrong

Penner Publishing, 2015 (1st edition)

C.H. Armstrong’s The Edge of Nowhere is set in Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl days of the “Dirty Thirties.” The protagonist is a no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners spitfire named Victoria Hastings Harrison Greene.

Victoria is a graduate of the School of Hard Knocks. Now elderly, she has a tumor on her pancreas. So the novel opens with a letter. It’s penned by Victoria and addressed to her grandchildren. Dated November 12, 1992, the epistle begins:

“I know you refer to me as ‘the meanest woman you’ve ever known.’”

The rest of the book – 261 pages – fills in the blanks. What emerges is the fictionalized story of a woman who refused to be a victim.

Here are 5 Reasons Why The Edge of Nowhere Will Keep You on the Edge of Your Seat:

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‘Without Complete Understanding’: Why ‘Wartime Sisters’ Runs Through It

In his novel, A River Runs Through It, author Norman Maclean struggles to make sense of what happened to his family in the early 20th century and why. Set in rural Montana, this hauntingly evocative novel was made into a major motion picture in 1992. It’s directed by Robert Redford.

Lynda Cohen Loigman’s The Wartime Sisters echoes themes from A River Runs Through It. Especially the final scene featuring Tom Skerritt as Norman’s pastor father. The last message we hear Rev. Maclean deliver is called We Can Love Completely:

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10 Ways to ROCK Read Across America Day!

Someone has finally come up with an idea I can sink my teeth into! Mom calls it Read Across America Day! Mom is so excited! So I! Am! Excited! Too!

Mom says this special day is a nationwide observance. We’re giving you a little head start. Cuz it coincides with the March 2 birthday of Dr Seuss. You know. That “hat cat” and Grinch guy. (Nobody’s perfect.)

Anyway, Read Across America Day is our kinda day! Yeah, Lassie! One whole day to focus on my favorite two things in the world: reading and books. (Well, okay. Maybe a nice, thick New York steak, too.) So, here are…

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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?