Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie

Rating System & Submission Guidelines

First things first.

We review fiction and nonfiction books rated G to PG-13. We don’t have the time or interest in anything else. (Occasional exceptions may be made on the basis of artistic merit. But that is rare.)

Everyone Has an Opinion

We’ve read “bestsellers” we thought were atrocious. How’d this waste of ink ever break into print? We’ve also read books panned by The Critics – who are these people? – that we thought were marvelous and luminescent. Which is all to say: Book reviews are highly subjective.

Note: We reserve the right to accept or decline any request for a book review, for any reason, without explanation. Period.

That being said, here’s our Rating System. (Submission guidelines below.)

Rating System

The Official Mom and Kimber Rating System is one to five stars. Like this:

  1. Poor. What a slog. A lousy book with crummy writing. Dull, dim-witted, and pointless. Don’t waste your time. (We’ve plastered this rating on some award winners. Just sayin’.)
  2. Fair. Okay-ish. But wouldn’t necessarily recommend unless you’re house-sitting the neighbor’s cat.
  3. Good. Proficient writing with an interesting, engaging plot. Fun. But nothing that’s going to set the literary world ablaze.
  4. Very Good. Books that garner this rating are a cut above, with rich, robust writing and a superlative story that sticks with you.
  5. Superb. Our highest rating. Better than bacon! A remarkable achievement. Must have a transcendent theme. Rings heart bells. May qualify as life-changing. Would read over and over and over.


  • We may issue “half point” ratings, as in 3.5 or 4.5, for books that are better than the lower number but don’t quite make it into the higher rating.
  • Ratings of 1 and 5 are rare. Although every now and then we hand out a “zero” to a real stinker. Because it earned it.
  • We don’t necessarily rate every book we read.

2 Easy Ways to Get On Our Losers List:

  1. Rely on the repeated use of gratuitous profanity. Don’t give me that “authenticity” nonsense. If repeated, gratuitous profanity is the best you can do as an author, you’re either lazy, have a limited vocabulary, or suffer from a deplorable lack of imagination. Additionally, we don’t care how rich or famous you are, author pal. If your characters can’t or won’t express themselves without stooping to four-letter words every time they open their mouths, you need to dig them up a mommy. Fast.
  2. Use fiction to deliver Pecksniffian political polemics or champion your pet social issue. No thank you.

Finally, books and mom have been fast friends for over fifty years. She typically reads 300+ books a year. She has a degree in Communications/Print Media. Has been writing professionally since the 1980s. Spends so much time in the library, they’re thinking of charging her rent (just kidding. Sort of.)

So she knows what she likes and why. Perhaps more importantly, she knows what she doesn’t like and why. You may disagree. That’s fine. But once our minds are made up on a book, they’re unlikely to change unless you’re ready to prove up your case with a really, really solid argument. Or bacon. Extra bacon works.

Submission Guidelines

Before contacting us for a potential review of your book, please be sure to read the following guidelines. They will help you determine whether or not your work is a good fit for our site, saving both of us time and effort:

  1. We review both fiction and nonfiction titles in which we have an interest, rated G to PG-13. We do not have the time or interest in reading books with other ratings.
  2. We reserve the right to accept or decline any request for a review for any reason, without explanation. Our blog. Our rules. Period.
  3. Net Galley. If you haven’t already listed your magnum opus on NG, please look into it. This is our first choice for reading ARCs. (We may or may not review PDFs. Please see below.)
  4. We do not typically review PDFs over 200 pages. We may make occasional exceptions. But only if you ask Real Nice or bribe us with crispy bacon.
  5. Don’t push or nag. Our TBR/reviewed list is a mile long. If Mom says she’ll get to your book, she’ll get to your book. Unless you tick her off by nagging. In that case, your book will most likely wind up in the kitty litter box. At the bottom. So please be patient.
  6. Our review of your book/ARC may or may not be featured as a stand-alone post. Sometimes we combine. No special reasons. Just easier that way.
  7. We do honest reviews here. If we love your book, we’ll say so. If we hate your book, we’ll say so. We’ve panned Pulitzer Prize winners and heaped praise on unknown indie authors. You just never know. So don’t say we didn’t warn you, okay?
  8. Posts are usually written and scheduled for auto-launch on a future date, sometimes far in advance. Like weeks. Or more. Mom will let you know the date our review of your book will go live. We expect you to keep track of the date yourself. We do not send links. So please don’t ask.
  9. Please be sure your manuscript pages are numbered.
  10. You may include an author’s bio of 100 words or less along with links to your author or book site if your review request is accepted. An author’s head shot is also okay. Relevant guest posts by authors whose work has been accepted for review are an option, but not a promise.
  11. Please” and “thank you” go a long way. Just sayin’.

Review requests may be sent to: Please put “Review Request” in the subject line so we don’t miss it. Thanks!