Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie


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7 Surprisingly Splendid Seasonal Reads

Ready for reading that’s merry and bright? Great! Cuz what’s Christmas without some good books?

Fresh out of ideas for the season? We’ve gotcha covered!

Here are seven uplifting, engaging reads to help celebrate the season with faith, hope, and love. In no particular order:

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John Boy & Gentle Voices: A Thanksgiving Reflection

Mom is skipping around the kitchen today, merrily cooking up a storm! Everything smells de.li.cious! And I should know. Cuz I’m an expert in all things smellish. And delicious.

You gonna eat that? (Askin’ for a friend.)

With this Thanksgiving thing just around the corner, Mom and I wanted to switch things up a bit. So here, at no extra charge, we’re featuring a little Thank You gift in the form of an original story. From our house to yours. To THANK YOU for being one of our most favorite people in the whole wide world (aka: blog readers. Oh yeah!)

Ready? Enjoy! More info. at the end of this luscious post!

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11 for 11/11

Happy Veterans Day!

In honor of all who have served or are serving, on this November 11 we rounded up eleven best book titles. They’re set during world wars. If you love to read gripping, engaging stories about people and events set within compelling historical settings, these are among the best. Both fiction and non-fiction are included. How many have you read? (Psssst! Be sure to catch our upcoming November 13 post. Set in Italy just after WWII.)

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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:

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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!

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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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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.

 

Abraham Lincoln’s poignant two minute speech dedicated the Gettysburg National Cemetery just four months after that bloody battle took place. The Gettysburg Address memorializes the enormous debt of thanks and gratitude that we, the living, owe to those who gave “the last full measure of devotion” that “this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom. . . and that government of the people. . .by the people. . .for the people. . . shall not perish from the earth.”

We cannot dedicate, consecrate, or hallow the sacrifice of those who gave their “last full measure of devotion” to their country beyond what they have already done. But we can remember. We can reflect. We can humbly honor their sacrifice.  It is up to us, the living, to never forget.

One way to “never forget” is to read.

Worthy Reads for this Memorial Day weekend:

 

Image result for The Killer Angels Book Cover
  • The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara. The historical novel was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1975. In the four most bloody and courageous days of our nation’s history, two armies fought for two conflicting dreams. One dreamed of freedom, the other of a way of life. Far more than rifles and bullets were carried into battle. There were memories. There were promises. There was love. And far more than men fell on those Pennsylvania fields. Bright futures, untested innocence, and pristine beauty were also the casualties of war. Michael Shaara’s Pulitzer Prize–winning masterpiece is unique, sweeping, unforgettable—the dramatic story of the battleground for America’s destiny.
The Bridges at Toko-Ri

The Bridges at Toko-Ri, by James Michener. A tale of the American men who fought the Korean War, detailing their exploits in the air as well as their lives on the ground. Young and innocent, they arrive in a place they have barely ever heard of, on a ship massive enough to carry planes and helicopters. Trained as professionals, they prepare for the rituals of war that countless men before them have endured, and face the same fears. They are American fighter pilots. Together they face an enemy they do not understand, knowing their only hope for survival is to win.

 

The Red Badge of Courage

The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane. Don’t make me explain this.

 

 

 

 

A Medal for Leroy

A Medal for Leroy, by Michael Morpurgo

 

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.

A moving, memorable story of family, identity, and history. Inspired by the true story of Walter Tull, the first black officer in the British army.

 

My Brother Sam is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier.

This Newbery Honor book brings the Revolutionary War to life. Young Tim Meeker’s 16 year-old brother goes off to fight with the Patriots while his father remains a reluctant British Loyalist in the Tory town of Redding, CT. Young Tim knows he’ll have to make a choice – the Patriots or the Redcoats – and between his father and his brother. A stirring tale full of action and suspense.

 

What would you add?


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

Does your mom 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 mom will appreciate our Best Books for Mom list.

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, Kimber 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:

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10 Blogging Ideas for a Lockdown

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Tired of “what I’m doing while stuck at home waiting out the coronavirus” posts?

 

Me too.  I’m lookin’ for posts with a little more meat on their bones, if ya know what I mean. But what to write about?

 

If you’re staring at the screen and wondering what to blog about while the clock ticks, here are 10 blogging topics you might consider tackling:

 

1. Creative Ways to Stay Connected

 

“Stay at Home” orders are the order of the day. How do you stay connected with friends, family and colleagues while practicing social distancing at the same time?

 

Do your readers know about video communications like Zoom and Skype? Videoconferencing with GoTo Meeting? Give them the skinny on Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.

 

Videoconferencing is part and parcel of today’s workplace as many companies are seeking to accommodate work-from-home options. Here’s a list of 10 meeting tools and products for your organization.

 

2. Grocery Delivery Services

 

Research and polish a post comparing pros and cons for Shipt, AmazonFresh, Peapod, or Instacart. How ‘bout Gourmet Meals to Go? Which service provides the best quality, most selection and quickest delivery options at the best price? Also check out: 9 Best Site for Online Grocery Shopping in 2020.

 

3. Classic Books to Battle Boredom

 

Doctor Zhivago? Gone With the Wind? Jane Eyre?

 

A lot of classic literature has a lot of pages. What interesting, engaging classics can you recommend to help occupy the heart and mind while you’re stuck in doors?

 

Compile a list of long books that are worth the time. (Anything but Proust, or Bleak House, okay? On the latter, you’re better off watching the TV mini-series.)

4. Homeschool Helps and Hints

 

Homeschool blogger? If so, you may be experiencing a huge boost in traffic right now. So carpe diem! Seize the day and crank out some practical dos and don’ts. Where to find good curricula. How to keep kids on task. Setting realistic goals and expectations. (We homeschooled for years. I might jump in.)

 

5. Most Effective Relief Organizations

 

Many people are struggling and turning to relief organizations for help. Do you know a relief organization with a track record of efficacy and ability? Blog about it! Include a donation link and contact info.

 

6. A Little Levity, Please?

 

How ‘bout a roundup of some of the best coronavirus memes that’ll tickle your funny bone? Dispel some of the gloom with a little cheer.

 

7. DIY

 

With some store shelves bare and panic buying spread like wildlife, now might be a good time for a DIY post. Ideas:

 

8. To Soothe the Savage Beast

 

Put together a list of downloadable or other sources for soothing sounds: breakers on a beach, rain on the roof. Bird calls. AC/DC. (Well, okay. Maybe not AC/DC. But you know what I mean.) And how ’bout some golden oldies?

 

9. Cooking and Recipes

 

If this is your jam, your readers are probably looking for easy, comforting meals they can put together from what they have on hand. Whip up some recipes using pantry staples. Include substitute suggestions. Don’t forget kitchen projects to keep the kiddos busy!

 

10. Remember Rover

 

Pets can get stressed out, too. Research and write a post about how to identify and counter stress in your dog. Include creative ways to keep Rover occupied and exercised if you’re stuck in doors.

 

Of course, whatever category you choose depends on your niche and your interests. But writing is therapeutic. It may be “just what the doctor ordered” – not just for you, but for your readers, too!

 

Forget that ticking clock. Get busy blogging instead!

 

Have a blogging idea to add? Holler!


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7 Flicks to Battle Stuck-at-Home Boredom

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Are you practicing social distancing? Is your county or state under a shelter in place/stay at home order?

 

Battling Boredom?

Social distancing and such are “the new normal” as we battle the coronavirus. But what’s a body to do with all this stay-at-home-ing? Besides counting tiles in the ceiling or cracks in the linoleum, how do you pass the time while waiting for public health and government officials to lift or revise the order?

 

Literature and the arts are a coupla the best ways to get through this.

 

Top Seven

Here are seven movie picks to help you battle stuck-at-home boredom. We popped some popcorn and watched (or re-watched) all of these within the last coupla weeks or so. Some are recent releases. Others are Golden Oldies.

 

If you’re stuck at home looking for something interesting to do that doesn’t involve counting, consider:

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