Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie

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20+ Mesmerizing Memoirs/Biogs To Read Before You Die!

Kimber: “Memoirs? Biogs? Is that like when that Barbra lady sings about misty water-colored memories? Like in the movie with Robert Corvette?”

Mom: “The movie is The Way We Were, Kimster. And the actor is Robert Redford.”

Kimber: “You drive what you want and I’ll drive what I want… Wait. Where was I? Oh yeah. Memoirs and Biogs.  Guess we better start with some definitions:”

  • A memoir is usually a collection of memories written by the person themselves. It’s the story of a specific time, theme, or experience in a person’s life.
  • A biography presents chronological events from the life of a specific person. It’s the story of someone’s life told by someone else.
  • An autobiography is a person telling their own life story.

Got that? Great. Cuz we’re gonna color outside the lines a bit. Bring you some of All of the Above, under the general-ish category of Memoir/Biogs. (We’re using the terms a bit loosely. So don’t blow a gasket, okay?)

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Recs for Your Summer Reading

What’s on YOUR Summer TBR?

Mom’s at it again. She’s skipping merrily around the house, opening every window in sight.  Humming that Temptations song. You know the one. About sunshine on a cloudy day.

Here in the omni-soggy Pacific Northwest, we take whatever we can get in the “sunshine” department. Maybe that explains Mom lately. Why she keeps crowing, “Summer’s comin’! Woo-hoo!”

Has anyone found my frisbee? Cuz frankly, what’s summer without a nice, chewy, frisbee?

Anyway, with the weather warming up and some blue skies finally putting in an appearance, we whipped up a quick list of books for your summer reading. Categories include:

  • Most Unusual and Imaginative.
  • Most Intriguing.
  • Notable Nonfiction.
  • Just Plain Fun.
  • Favorite Re-reads.
  • Most Poignant.
  • #1 Favorites.

Titles appear in no particular order. So without further ado, here ya are. You’re welcome:

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5 Worthy Reads ‘For Us, The Living’ On Memorial Day

Memorial Day typically marks the unofficial start of the summer season. But let’s also take time out to remember those who gave their “last full measure of devotion” for their country. To honor those brave men and women in uniform who gave their lives so we can enjoy the blessings and responsibilities of liberty today.

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10 Terrific Titles for Mom on Her Special Day (or anytime)

Kimber here. Gettin’ ready to break out my super-duper, snazzy-jazzy, woniferous and totally amazing canine Happy Dance! Cuz today’s one of my favorites! As in, Mother’s Day! (Don’t make me explain this.)

So, hey! Is your mom like Her Momness? Does she  love to read? Is her (or your) idea of paradise a quiet reading nook, a pina colada, and hours of uninterrupted page-turning?

Great! Then your mom will appreciate our Best Books for Mom list. Kimber Tested. Mom Approved!

Kindly note that books don’t necessarily have to focus on a mom to make the cut. Bonus points if they do. But our list is about compelling, captivating reads that mom can enjoy in that quiet nook with her chilled drink and some alone time. So our list is based on – but not strictly limited to – the following criteria:

  • Must be an enjoyable, uplifting read (who wants a downer on Mother’s Day? Ack!)
  • Superlative writing
  • Credible dialogue and a solid, poignant story
  • Strong, three-dimensional female characters who learn, develop and grow
  • Bonus points if all of the above include a dose of spunk and sass

That being said, Her Momness and I are rushing in where angels fear to tread with our purely subjective, 100% unscientific list of Best Books for Mom on her special day. Let’s go!

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10 Worthy Reads Set in and Around Ireland – And That’s No Blarney

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

According to family lore, one of us has roots in Ireland. So on this Saint Patrick’s Day we’re highlighting books worth reading that are set in and around the fabled Emerald Isle.  

Now, if you Google “Books set in Ireland” or something similar, you’ll find a veritable pot o’gold at the end of the proverbial bibliophile rainbow. But we’re only highlighting books we’ve actually read. And that’s no blarney. (Incidentally, we’re not really big fans of James Joyce. In case you’re wondering. So don’t look for Ulysses on this list, okay?)

Here are 10 Worthy Reads Set in and Around Ireland, just in time for your Saint Patrick’s Day! How many have you read?


Angela’s Ashes 

By Frank McCourt

Cover of Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt

A masterful memoir of Frank McCourt’s childhood in Ireland.

Frank’s mother, Angela, has no money to feed the children since Frank’s father, Malachy, rarely works, and when he does he drinks his wages. Yet Malachy—exasperating, irresponsible, and beguiling—does nurture in Frank an appetite for the one thing he can provide: a story. Frank lives for his father’s tales of Cuchulain, who saved Ireland, and of the Angel on the Seventh Step, who brings his mother babies.

A Pulitzer Prize winner.


Only the River Runs Free

By Brock and Bodie Thoene

Only the River Runs Free (Galway Chronicles Book 1) by [Bodie Thoene, Brock Thoene]

Dateline: Ireland, 1830s. English landlords hold power over Irish tenant farmers and seeds of bitterness are ssown that would last for generations.

In an endeavor to eliminate all influences of Irish heritage, the English force an intellectual and spiritual bondage on Ireland as well as a bitter physical bondage of servitude. Freedom has become so rare that the Irish coined a saying, “In Ireland only the rivers run free.”

Yet one poor, befuddled old woman speaks of freedom, truth, and hope. Mad Molly Fahey promises the priest and villages that a miracle is on its way.


All Rivers to the Sea 

By Brock and Bodie Thoene

(Book 4 of The Galway Chronicles)

Hardcover All Rivers to the Sea Book

Western Ireland’s potato crop was the best it had been in October 1844. But by the next year, the Irish would see the potato blight destroy the crops and thousands will die of starvation.

Soon a great migration to America would begin as the hopelessness of the situation finally sinks in. In this fourth and final book of the Galway Chronicles, the story of Kate, Joseph, and the inhabitants of the village of Ballyknockanor continues with Joseph’s dramatic return to his estate and the beginning of the terrible years of the Irish potato famine.


Scarlett: The Sequel to Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind

By Alexandra Ripley

AlexRipley Scarlett.jpg

The book picks up where Gone With The Wind Leaves Off. Heartsick after Rhett walks out,  Scarlett eventually heads to Ireland and is heartily welcomed by her Irish kin. There she finds an old house called ‘Ballyhara’; it was O’Hara land long ago before the English seized it. Scarlett soon receives a notification of divorce from Rhett. She makes plans to leave for America but learns that Rhett is now married to Anne Hampton, who is said to resemble Melanie Wilkes.

Heartbroken, Scarlett decides to remain in Ireland. She leaves part of Tara to her son Wade Hampton (fathered by her first husband, Charles Hamilton), buys Ballyhara and settles down in Ireland, to her Irish family’s delight. But then… Oh, wait. You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens next.


Irish Folk and Fairy Tales

By Michael Scott

Tales and legends that range from the misty dawn of Gaelic history and the triumph of St. Patrick to the Ireland of the present day – tales as beautiful, mystical, and enchanting as the ancient land itself.


Spuds and The Spider 

By Seamus O’Conaill and Daniele Archimede

A heartwarming tale about an unlikely friendship between a spider and a leprechaun. The delightful story follows Spuds the leprechaun and his disdain for spiders. 


Finn MCcool and the Great Fish  

By Eve Bunting and Zachary Pullen

Finn McCool is the largest giant in all of Ireland. He’s a fierce warrior, even beating the giant Culcullan and saving Ireland from the Scots. Helpful and kind, he helps the farmers bring in the hay. “He’s the best-hearted man that ever walked on Ireland’s green grass.”

But for all his strength, courage, and goodness, there’s one thing that Finn lacks. He’s just not smart. And he knows it. When a wise man living in a nearby village tells Finn about a magical red salmon with the wisdom of the world, Finn sets out to catch the fish. He learns a thing or two about himself in the process.


W.B. Yeats 

By W.B. Yeats, edited by Seamus Heaney.

Introduced by Seamus Heaney, this collection of Yeats’s best poems provides insights into the work and readers’ reactions. If you’re interested in William Butler Yeats’s work, check it out.


Ireland: A Visual Journey Around the Counties of Ireland

By Michael Diggin

A collection of 300 contemporary images of the natural beauties of Ireland, covering every one of the 32 counties. The photographs are taken by two of the country’s leading landscape photographers, Peter Zoller and Michael Diggin.


Saint Patrick the Forgiver

By Ned Bustard

Image result for saint patrick the forgiver

This little book introduces young readers to the life and work of the Patron Saint of Ireland.

Brief, bite-sized sentences take readers on a nimble journey through Patrick’s life, beginning with his birth in old Britain. How he’s stolen from his parents and winds up in the wild and pagan country of Ireland as a slave. Working as a shepherd, Patrick discovers God’s grace and turns to Christ.

Even if you’ve heard about the legend of Saint Patrick for years, there’s something endearing and uplifting about the simplicity of this book and the simple and conversational writing style. It’s like nestling into grandma or grandpa’s lap and hearing them tell you the story over a hot cuppa.

Do you have a favorite book set in or around Ireland? Holler in the Comments!



21 Top Love Stories Of All Time

Happy Valentine's Day Red Glitter Free Stock Photo - Public Domain Pictures

Let’s celebrate Valentine’s Day with some great love stories!

Now, by “love stories” we don’t mean stuff you can use to line the bottom of your bird cage. That’s not what this post 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 boiler plate “romance.” (Hint: A transcendent theme of selflessness and sacrifice appears frequently in this curated list.)

Some of these titles are relatively new. Others have been around awhile. All reach straight for your heart. So climb aboard. And settle in to stay. (B.Y.O. tissue. In no particular order):

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The Heart of CHRISTMAS!

‘It’s not easy being beautiful and brilliant. But someone’s gotta do it!’

Thank you for joining us for a year of gaining new friends, discovering new authors, and savoring good books!

For those who’ve taken the time to read Pages and Paws, share links, like a post, comment, submit guest articles or recommend Pawsome titles new and old, THANK YOU!

It’s been a great ride. We’re looking forward to more in 2023!

Please join us as we celebrate today with one of our favorites. By Matthew West:

“Wherever you are, no matter how far,

Come back to the heart, the heart of Christmas.

Live while you can, and cherish the moment.

The ones that you love, make sure they know it…”

And today:

Our best wishes to you and yours for the merriest of Christmases and a Happy New Year!

Mom and Kimber


The Best Gifts of Christmas

“all snug in their beds…”

Kimber: Mom just called me in from the yard. ‘Bout time. That big yellow ball in the sky is starting to spread across the horizon like a giant egg yolk. Temperatures are dropping. The Powder Puff just sauntered past. Why that canine lets her owner deck her out in that green and red jacket + reindeer antlers, I’ll never know.

Anyway, when Mom opened the porch door, I caught a whiff of Something Warm and Wonderful inside. She says, “Kimber, dinner! Come!”

I don’t need to be called twice. No siree, Lassie! I bounded up the stairs and into the house like Rin Tin Tin after a bad guy. Sure enough. Something Warm and Wonderful was waiting for me.

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‘Christmas Across Africa’ Charms & Captivates

Peace, Joy and Love:
Christmas Across Africa

By Terry Lister

Genre: Non-Fiction/Travel, 2022

Via: Author Request

Pages: 120

Note: We received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

“Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.”

Steve Maraboli, winner of the United Nations Award for Philanthropy (as quoted in Peace, Joy and Love: Christmas Across Africa.)

One of our favorite travel writers in back. This time Terry Lister offers a collection of experiences and observations just in time for the Christmas season.

Titled Peace, Joy and Love: Christmas Across Africa, Lister’s newest collection covers Christmas traditions and celebrations in over a dozen African countries. These include both predominantly Muslim countries like Morocco and Tunisia to predominantly Christian countries like Ethiopia and Kenya. And all points in between, including Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana, the Gambia, Senegal, Zimbabwe and Cameroon.

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