Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie


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Books I Hope Santa Brings (sort of)

Pssst! Kimber here. I’m makin’ a list. Checkin’ it twice. For Her Momness. Cuz today’s Top Ten Tuesday is Books I Hope Santa Brings.

The things I do for Mom. Sheesh!

You probably already guessed that Mom’s Book Wish List is a mile long. I tried paring it down. It’s still the list equivalent of War and Peace. (You know Mom!)

So I decided to focus on authors instead. Pretty much anything by these authors is gonna be a winner in our house. I’ll probably get extra bacon. So here goes. Any author on this list ranks high on our Wish List:

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5 Fine Reads for Fall (or anytime)

HAPPY FALL YA’LL!

Mom’s at it again. She’s skipping around the house chirping about sweater weather. Pumpkins. Leaves changing clothes. And FALL! I have no idea what that means. But you know Mom!

Squirrel!

Wait. Where was I? Oh yeah. Fall and reading. Like we noted before, Mom says fall is perfect for curling up with a good book and a cuppa hot whatever. She made a list of recent reads that fill the bill. Checked it twice. (I helped. The first list didn’t smell right.)

Anyway, here are some of our top picks for the season. In no particular order:

1.Gone to the Woods: Surving a Lost Childhood (Farrar Straus Girous Books/Macmillan, 2021)

By Gary Paulsen

Non-fiction/Memoir

Via: Library

“One of the most remarkable memoirs I’ve ever read” – Mom

Gary Paulsen has long been a favorite author. We love his simple, almost terse style of storytelling about nature and outdoor adventures. So when this book came along, we snapped it up quick.

Can’t Skim or Skip

Some books you can skim. Skip through pages or chapters like a game of hop scotch. Gone to the Woods: Surviving a Lost Childhood isn’t one of them. This is the kind of book you have to slow down for. You’ll want to savor each chapter. Suck the marrow out of every paragraph and sentence.

Gripping & Compelling

Indeed, the story of how Paulsen survived his turbulent childhood is gripping. Compelling. Contents include The Farm, The River, The Ship, Thirteen, and Soldier. All are vintage Paulsen: Real and raw.

Backstory

With absentee/alcoholic parents, Paulsen pretty much raised himself. There were only two places he felt safe: the woods and later, the library.

He describes living in a basement at age 13 to escape his drunken parents. It’s “blue winter.” Paulsen stumbles into a library to get warm. With the help of a kind-hearted librarian, Paulsen discovers the wonderful world of books and reading. It changes his life.

This is Paulsen at his most powerful and riveting. An exceptional achievement.

Hardcover Soldier's Heart: Being the Story of the Enlistment and Due Service of the Boy Charley Goddard in the First Minnesota Volunteers Book2. Soldier’s Heart

By Gary Paulsen

Historical Fiction

Via: Library

“There’s always fear and there’s always a meadow.” – Soldier’s Heart

Charley Goddard didn’t really know what  a “shooting war” meant when he lied about his age, 15, to enlist with the First Minnesota Volunteers.  He didn’t really understand why he was fighting. He just didn’t want to miss out on “a great adventure.”

In this fast-paced, based-on-fact historical fiction, it doesn’t take long for Charley to discover the true face of war – and all its horrors – from the first Battle of Bull Run to Gettysburg.

Giving Voice

Soldier’s Heart gives voice to all the anonymous young men who fought and died in the Civil War. It is brutal. Chilling. Heartbreaking. And not to be missed. At just 102 pages, you can read it cover-to-cover in an afternoon. We did.

Another absorbing Paulsen read.

3. Neverhome

By Laird Hunt

Historical Fiction

Via: Library

A farmer’s wife disguises herself as a young man and marches into the U.S. Civil War to fight for the Union.

Compelling & Mysterious

In this compelling, mysterious read, “Gallant Ash” becomes a hero, a traitor, a madwoman, and a legend.

Told in the first person in short, staccato sentences, Neverhome makes the Civil War stand up and walk as “Ash” provides eye witness accounts of the bloody battlefield of war. Also intense longing. Suffocating loneliness. Sweat-drenched fear. Fierce devotion. Confusion and bewilderment as thick as a pea soup fog.

The narrative has an authentic first-person quality to it, with phrases common to the language of the period. It reads like you’re looking over the writer’s shoulder as she pens letters home or drafts entries into her diary.

Why?

Swirling throughout the story is the inevitable undercurrent of “Why?” Why did this woman leave her home and husband and join the war in the first place? Readers are kept guessing in this intriguing, unusual account of some of the bloodiest years in U.S. history.

4. Night Swiftly Falling

By Tricia D. Wagner

Fiction/Novella/Juvenile Fiction

Via: Reedsy/Discovery

Tragedy is narrowly averted when eight year-old Swift and his best friend and fellow pirate, Ash, suddenly discover the power of the restless sea.

The Story

After being warned not to play by the water alone, Ash tumbles into the deep. Frantic, Swift calls for help. But no one comes. So he dives in after Ash – and emerges with a fractured friendship.

Bewildered and confused by Ash’s sudden rejection post-rescue, Swift struggles with a friendship fabric torn asunder. As his older brother, Caius, helps Swift slowly realize he can’t control others, Swift discovers the anguish and frustration that accompanies the desire to help someone who needs help but can’t or won’t accept it.

How?

As Swift mourns a friendship gone south, he slowly learns that sometimes letting go is all that’s left. And that change “is the nature of life.” But “how not to lose oneself?” Swift wonders. “How not to lose those you love in the face of unstoppable pain?”

Tightly Woven

This is one of the most clever, contemplative books I’ve read in awhile. In addition to a tightly woven plot, the author demonstrates a masterful command of the language in every paragraph that’ll keep you turning pages until the end.

Propelled by delicious prose, Night Swiftly Falling is also poignant and heartfelt. It’s relatively short – just seven chapters. But this beautifully written novella packs a punch. It’s honest and hopeful at the same time. A triumph.

5. Listen to Me: How My Down Syndrome Brother Saved My Life

By Lynne Podrat

Via: Reedsy/Discovery

This book opens in August 2020 as the author watches the original Star Trek TV series with her Down Syndrome brother. “Brucie” has been diagnosed with kidney disease and pancreatic cancer at age fifty-three.

The rest of the book is a retrospective on Bruce’s life and the impact he had on not just the author but on many others as well.

Mission Change

Intent on becoming a veterinarian, the author’s life mission changes from saving animals to saving Bruce and children like him. While focusing on Bruce’s life and his unique challenges, the narrative also touches on family interactions and events such as bar and bat mitzvahs, weddings, graduations, and later, trips to the hospital for Bruce as his health deteriorates. Through it all, Bruce remains a “source of heartache and inspiration.”

To ‘Open and Enrich’

The author writes that her plans for Bruce were “to open and enrich his world.” In the end, however, she realizes how being with Bruce “accomplished so much more.” She realizes how this “sweet small man” and “Brucie’s” capacity to love and to “just go on because there was no other choice” profoundly influenced her life. And how Bruce opened and enriched her world.

I’d bring tissue ‘fize you. 

 

 

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5 Favorite Authors for Autumn

As the calendar crosses the bridge from summer into autumn, now is a good time to find and snuggle up with a good book! But what to read? What to read? Hmmmm…

Not worry. Kimber and Mom have you covered. (You knew that, right?)

Looking for high quality, well-crafted stories that are wholesome and uplifting without being preachy? Have we got a deal for you! These authors never disappoint. (They also know that vulgarity is no substitute for wit. Yea.) They offer heaping helpings of inspiration, hope, and grace.

So, without further ado, here are five great authors for autumn. Or anytime. In no particular order:

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3 Choice Novellas and a Monkey Wrench

Paintings from  the Cave: Three Novellas

By Gary Paulsen

YA/Fiction

Via: Library

“Dogs know how to love better than people.”

Paintings From the Cave

Sometimes even the best laid plans go awry. Especially when a monkey wrench gets thrown into the mix.  Like  when Mom and I plan our blogging calendar. (Well, one of us plans. The other snoozes. I’ll let you figure out who’s who.)

See, we were going to put together a collection of Best Gary Paulsen Books Ever. He’s an old favorite. When it comes to outdoor adventures or coming of age tales, no one does it better than Gary. He’s our bud. He’s also a dog lover. Need I say more?

So here Mom and I were, cruising along with our blogging calendar when Mom stumbled upon a Paulsen book she somehow missed: Paintings from the Cave.

Monkey Wrench Alert!

After finishing this extraordinary trio of gripping, poignant novellas, we knew they had to have a stand-alone post. Here’s why:

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6 Adventure-ish Titles For Great Outdoors Month

June is Great Outdoors Month. I love this month because… well… um… I love June because Mom loves June. And I love everything Mom loves. (Except broccoli. Gag me with roughage!)

Back to June. Check it out: Hiking! Frisbee tossing! Swimming! Canoeing! Frisbee chasing! Kayaking! Fishing! Frisbee-ing! Picnicking! Biking! Frisbees! The beach, the mountains, the desert, the plains!

Did I mention Frisbees?

Anyway, when it comes to books about The Great OutdoorsGary Paulsen titles top our list. Every time.

Mom says Paulsen’s a three-time Newberry Award-wining author. I have no idea what that means. Can you eat it?

More importantly, Paulsen is a super duper dog lover. Told you he’s brilliant.

Paulsen’s writing style is spare and lean to the point of terse. No excess fat. Brisk as an autumn breeze. Quick as a greyhound. Or me.

Reading any of the Paulsen books below would be a great way to celebrate Great Outdoors Month. You still have time to knock out a couple or more this month.

Some of our favorites:

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5 Cool Authors for Cold Weather and Turkey Leftovers

I was just a young pup last Thanksgiving. Chewing on slippers. Dish towels. Wayward fingers. Learning Come. Down. Jump. Sit and Stay. Also how to jitterbug. That just kinda happened. I mean, who can listen to In the Mood sitting still?

Anyway. I’m coming up on two and a half years now. So I’m leaving all that baby stuff behind. Well, some of it. But I’ve gotten pretty good at chasing fallen leaves. Wearing that stupid “doggie jacket” Mom insists on when the temperature drops below forty degrees. Swiping turkey leftovers when no one’s lookin’.

Even though it’s cold and crisp outside, it’s not all bad. A neighbor’s cat, Sir Puddleglum, is staying indoors most of the time. (That’s not the orange tabby’s real name. I just call him that because it gets his goat. Or his cat nip. Whatever.)

Anyway again. Apple cider. Crunching leaves. Snoozing by the fireplace. Mom says fall is a great time to re-read some favorite authors. She showed me her list. I’m passing it on to you at no extra charge. (Don’t tell anyone.)

5 Cool Authors for Cold Weather (in no particular order):

1. Earl Hamner, Jr.

Hamner is best known as the creator, executive producer, and warm narrative voice of The Waltons. He wrote several books, including the autobiographical Spencer’s Mountain and The Homecoming. The latter inspired the movie of the same name. It became the pilot that launched The Waltons. You can almost hear the snow fall… G’night John Boy…

2. Jill Hucklesby

Never heard of her? Me neither. Until Mom swooped into the library and yanked Samphire Song off a shelf. The librarian said it was on the “weeding” (death) list. She felt sorry for it. Read it. Loved it. Said it’s brisk. Engaging. Beautifully written, with memorable characters. The story revolves around a young girl, Jodie, and her half-wild stallion, Samphire. Both are damaged. They inch their ways toward healing together.

3. John Eldredge

A multi-published author of best sellers like Wild at Heart, John is a Mom perennial favorite. He has a warm, cogent, and down-to-earth writing style. Bonus points: I hear John’s a Dog Guy.

4. Richard Paul Evans

Mom says this guy is a prolific, award-winning author perhaps best known for The Christmas Box. Richard publishes a book every year, usually when temperatures start dropping. Says Mom: Richard’s gentle, uplifting stories are a great choice for curl-up-near-the-fireplace reading!

5. Gary Paulsen

Looking for larger-than-life outdoor adventure told with a keen eye for detail and a gritty, spunky writing style? Gary Paulsen’s your guy, according to Mom. His many books include The Hatchet series, Dogsong, Harris and Me, Woodsong, and Winterdance.

Even Sir Puddleglum can’t complain about that.

Hey. You gonna to finish that turkey sandwich? Askin’ for a friend.


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Celebrate “Great Outdoors Month” With These Awesome Outdoor Reads!

Frozen Lake Trail out of Sunrise, Mount Rainier National Park.

June is Great Outdoors Month. I love this month because… well… um… I love June because Mom loves June. And I love everything Mom loves. (Except broccoli. Gag me with roughage!)

Back to June. Check it out: Hiking! Frisbee tossing! Swimming! Canoeing! Frisbee chasing! Kayaking! Fishing! Frisbee-ing! Picnicking! Biking! Frisbees! The beach, the mountains, the desert, the plains!

Did I mention Frisbees?

Anyway, when it comes to books about The Great Outdoors, Gary Paulsen titles top our list. Every time.

Mom says Paulsen’s a three-time Newberry Award-wining author. I have no idea what that means. Can you eat it?

More importantly, Paulsen is a super duper dog lover. Told he’s brilliant.

Paulsen’s writing style is spare and lean to the point of terse. No excess fat. Brisk as an autumn breeze. Quick as a greyhound. Or me.

Reading any of the Paulsen books below would be a great way to celebrate Great Outdoors Month. You still have time to knock out a couple or more this month.

Some of our favorites:

  1. Hatchet –Thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson’s small plane goes down in the Canadian wilderness. He’s alone, except for a tattered windbreaker and the hatchet his mother gave him as a present. It will take all his know-how and determination, and more courage than he knew he possessed, to survive. Newberry winner.
  2. Dogsong (pretty obvious, huh?).  Oogruk the shaman owns the last team of dogs in the village. He alone understands Russel’s longing for the old ways and the songs that celebrated them. Driven by a strange and powerful dream and by a burning desire to find his own song, Russel takes Oogruk’s dogs on an epic journey of self-discovery that will change his life forever.
  3. The River – Book two of the Brian saga. The government sends Brian back to the Canadian wilderness.
  4. Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod –  Paulsen writes about his experience running his team of dogs in this famous race. Snowstorms, frostbite, dogfights, moose attacks, sleeplessness, and hallucinations in the relentless push to go on.
  5. Wood Song – Paulsen has survived a dogsled crash and a fall down a frozen waterfall, a bear attack, and running the grueling Iditarod. In this vivid, vibrant book, the author recounts the experiences that shaped his life and inspired his award-winning writing.
  6. My Life in Dog Years – Don’t make me explain this.

Oh yeah. Nothing about broccoli. I like this Gary guy more and more.

Honorable mentions:

 

What are your favorite outdoor books and authors?

Kimber the Amazing Frisbee Chasing, Book-Loving Dog!