Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie


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‘Acts of Dreams’: Where ‘Impossible’ Doesn’t Get The Last Word

Acts of Dreams (March 2021)

Book 3 of The Inquisition Trilogy

By Martin Elsant

Historical Fiction

How far would you go for freedom? Would you contest a centuries-old law? Throw in with a notorious privateer? Sail across an ocean? Challenge the Queen of England?

These questions and more are at the heart of a fast-moving historical fiction novel by Martin Elsant. There is so much in this story to keep both history lovers and bibliophiles turning pages until the very end.

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3 Surprising Packages of Hope

Kimber here. I bet you think Her Crankiness is… 100% cranky, right? So do I. (Don’t tell Mom, okay? Let’s just keep this our little secret.)

But every once in a while Mom surprises me. Not that I’m surprise-able. But …

Wait. Where was I?

Oh yeah. Mom and I read a trio of books recently that were … surprising. They were quite different from each other, too. Think dogs and cats. (Well, okay. Maybe not cats. But you get the picture.)

Anyway, the first book is a delightful new Christian romance from Kim Vogel Sawyer. The second is a non-fiction “travel tome with a twist” from Joseph F. Smith, M.D. There’s also an historical fiction novel by Kristin Hannah.

All get an Official Thumbs Up from Her Crankiness. Here’s why (short version):

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7 Skunkers & Clunkers

Ever get a whiff of skunk? You don’t need to get close. One whiff is Plenty. (Don’t ask how I know that.)

Mom and I, we read. A lot. Like, 300+ books a year on average. We know what we like. What we don’t. What works. What stinketh.

We try to approach every book with an open mind. Give it a chance. That being said, it doesn’t take us long to smell out a stinker. (We don’t look for this stuff. It finds us.)

When we can, we pass on our 100% unscientific, totally subjective “olfactory discoveries” to you. No extra charge. Consider it a Public Service Announcement.

So here’s our newest list of literary skunkers and clunkers. Four topped our most recent DNF (Did Not Finish) list. Here’s why:

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‘Book of Lost Friends’ Hits High Notes

The Book of Lost Friends (Ballantine Books, 2020)

By Lisa Wingate

Historical Fiction

“If there is magic in this world, it is contained in books.” – The Book of Lost Friends

You know one of us looooooves historical fiction. And I love anything Mom loves! Because, hey! It’s me. Kimber the Magnificent!

Anywho, our intrepid humans at The Book Place know Mom loves historical fiction too. They’ve piled her with tons of historical fiction set in World War II. But Mom got a teensy-weensy bit tired of HF set during WWII.

So someone suggested The Book of Lost Friends. Set in 1875-ish and 1987. I’ll let Mom tell you more. You know how Mom is. Take it away, Mom:

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Buckle Up for The Lane Betrayal & High Octane Historical Fiction

The Lane Betrayal (February, 2020)

By John Heldt

Historical Fiction

If you could time travel back to April 1865 and foil the plans of John Wilkes Booth, would you do it? Should you?

Those are some of the questions raised in this delightful historical fiction novel by John Heldt. The U.S. Civil War comes alive in this captivating and clever high octane novel in a skillful blend of historical fiction, suspense, gentle romance, and what ifs?

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Gold Standard in Historical Fiction?

Calling all fans of historical fiction and anyone else who can fog a mirror!

Today we’re reviewing three outstanding novels. They’re all historical fiction. All are set during World War II. Anchoring these narratives are strong women who survive and flourish against the odds.

Mom says The Nightingale and Cilka’s Journey are two disturbing but outstanding reads. And that The Things We Cannot Say is one of the year’s best. (And she reads alot. When she’s not out walking with me.)

Taken together, these three novels may represent the “gold standard” for historical fiction. 

So sit tight and get ready to dive in.  Let’s go!

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SPOON UP 3 Hefty Helpings of Historical Fiction!

You know Her Momness loves historical fiction, right?

“If historical fiction was a flavor, it’d be raspberry white chocolate cheesecake! With double hot fudge!” croweth Mom.

Why she says this, I don’t know. I do know she’s breaking out her Happy Dance. Because we’re reviewing three sturdy historical fiction titles today! All set during World War II.

Break out some extra spoons for Lilac Girls, Irena’s War, and The Orphan’s Tale:

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‘The Sky Worshipers’ & Echoes of Scheherazade

The Sky Worshipers: A Novel of Mongol Conquest (History Through Fiction, 2021)

By F.M. Deemyad

Historical Fiction

Setting:

Thirteenth century Asia, Middle East, and Eastern Europe

Main characters:

Chaka, youngest daughter of a Chinese emperor and a Tangut Princess of China. Kidnapped by Mongols. Becomes wife of Genghis Khan, founder of the Mongol Empire.

Reyhan, Granddaughter of the last Seljuk King of Persia, kidnapped by Mongols.

Krisztina, Princess of Poland and Mongol prisoner of war.

Lady Goharshad of Persia. In 1398 she discovers a hidden manuscript buried in a hidden compartment under a floor of some ancient ruins in Karakorum, the Mongol capitol.

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‘Giver of Stars’ – Better Than Bacon?

See the source imageThe Giver of Stars (Viking, 2019)

By Jojo Moyes

Historical Fiction

To seek knowledge is to expand your own universe.

Kimber here. Mom says she’s sometimes “biased” about certain books. I’m not sure what that means. But she says it applies to most any book that combines two of the best things in the world (besides bacon and more bacon): historical fiction and reading/literacy/libraries. (Okay. That’s four. But you get the picture, right?)

Well. Mom tends to love that stuff even before she opens the cover. So when someone suggested an historical fiction book about lady “Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky” serving destitute, isolated families in rural Kentucky during the Depression, Mom was like, “Oh yeah. Love this thing already.”

But Mom’s expectations are high. Here’s more from the Book Bias Queen:

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Meaning of ‘Home’ & ‘Family” Probed in Evocative Historical Fiction

The Children’s Train (Harper Collins, 2021)

By Viola Ardone

Historical Fiction

This book may not be what you think it is. Yes, it’s an historical fiction account of an effort to help impoverished children in southern Italy by transporting them by train to better off families in northern Italy in the aftermath of World War II. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg – or the shoe – in this hauntingly beautiful novel spanning some fifty years.

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