Why hello there!
Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers…the site that aims to FEED your NEED to READ every day of the week. Yesterday, we sampled a Young Adult title that puts the creep in creepy…but only just because well, let’s just say that I finished it in the wee hours this morning and it takes some seriously question inducing turns! But I digress, that is not our star today…but it will be soon, so stay tuned!
ALSO, a quick reminder…don’t miss your chance to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of Daddies Do It Different by Alan Sitomer! It’s open for entries RIGHT NOW through Sunday, June 17th…and while you’re checking out the post (which also included my review as well as a memory of Dad shared by the author), be sure to download your FREE FATHER’S DAY card for the big “D” in your life! Now, onward and upward…
Today, we take a step back to Middle Grade or Kids Fiction if you will with a series for young readers and the young at heart featuring a friend from the animal kingdom that many are particularly fond of….horses (hence why today's post title appears to have a typo...only not). That’s right, horses! I myself love these majestic creatures…though I’ve yet to have my request to own one granted from when I was four. ^_^ Their beauty is in their strength as well as appearance creating a combination that enchants the hearts of girls (and boys) of all ages. Before I wax to far into memories, allow me to properly introduce today’s book of choice….
Book 1: Keeping Secrets
From the author’s site…
A beautiful show jumper is dead, and it’s all her fault . . . which is why 14-year-old Kate McGregor has put horses and riding out of her life.Forever!But her new job as a companion to Holly Chapman, a former riding star who’s now confined to a wheelchair, takes Kate back to the barn—the last place she wants to be.Can Kate keep her terrible secret from Holly, who is fast becoming her best friend? More important, can she keep her secret from Angela Dean who lives for only two things—winning ribbons and causing trouble?Kate manages to hide her secret until a riding accident forces it into the open ... and it's just the moment Angela has been waiting for.
Sounds harrowing, right? Oh buddy, you don’t know the half of it yet! It is filled with quite a few devious acts on the part of SOMEONE or other that apparently can’t grasped right from wrong…certainly doesn’t help that their Mother doesn’t know this basic lesson either. *tisk tisk* Very distasteful…their actions, not the book…and deadly. *-* Whoever said the Middle Grade reads lack the energy and edge-of-your-seat pull you get from stories written for an older audience….should really think again. Side note…I’ve actually ridden a horse once before…okay, so it was more sat-on-whilst-a-friend-led-the-pony-a-short-distance-through-the-woods, but I WAS in the saddle and stayed there so humphf! The experience was brief, but memorable nonetheless (as was my ride on an elephant and a camel….two less-interesting-than-they-sound stories for another time) so I can certainly see how youngsters fall in love with the idea in general, but this is one of those stories that readers can relate to no matter your interest level in equines.
Our main events center around Timber Ridge Stables, home of tranquil paths through beautiful woodlands and an award winning riding team currently lead by Ms. Chapman. She seeks to instill a love of horses and of riding in those she coaches but the powers that be (aka the owner…whom we shall discuss in a few) are looking for a heavier hand. They aren’t satisfied with merely placing in the competitions, they want to be number one….regardless of the riders enjoyment, lessons they learn or whomever thinks they can be a shining star (because only her daughter can be THAT person…again, we’ll discuss later). It’s less about play and more about the prestige which as you can probably guess is a recipe for disaster. Ms. Chapman takes it in stride even when things begin to spiral out of control and I really admire the kind heart she shows even to those you’d really like to just go all out ninja on. (Seriously, the patience of a saint has this one!) Now, for the rest of our featured cast…
I found myself rooting for Kate time and again as she struggled to balance her outward persona with the guilt and blame she carried within. The cause of this heavy burden? A death at her previous riding school for which all blame fell to her. Was it her fault? Mums the word on that one (gotta let you uncover that secret on your own!) but whether or not she was 100% guilty, the way the owners handled things? SO wrong! She’s only 14 for crying out loud, a mere child…accidents happen, people make mistakes. Yes, the consequences were dire, but my goodness…check things out fully before attacking people and take some blame yourself for not following up on your workers ESPECIALLY when they are children! *shakes head* Anywho….where was I…oh yes! Moving forward…
Holly is a spitfire whom I loved every bit as much as Kate. She’s stubborn, doesn’t let a thing stop her, and fights for what’s right even when others lack the needed backbone to do it themselves….in short, a great friend and from what I hear, a great rider! She may be in a wheelchair now, but umm….well, just wait and see. I think we may be up for a demonstration of her aforementioned skills in book 2. Now for our final leading lady…Angela Dean.
Angela is a product of her upbringing, sad to be so cliché but it’s true. Her Mother is an upstanding citizen in the community and owns the resort/ranch featured here…read into that a snooty woman who thinks she’s above EVERYONE and deserves the best of EVERYTHING regardless of whom she steps on in the process. Guess what? She wants that for her daughter too. Oh…goody. *o* Angela is more than happy to take up the reins as she tries out for “Queen B of the Year” (not a real competition, just my way of saying how “nice” she is…or isn’t…) but underneath it all…all the tennis sweaters, lack of cooperation, ugliness in words and actions (to the extent that they could do MORE than injure!)….yes, miles below the surface, I think she might have a glimmer of hope still (okay, so you might need a magnifying glass…or a microscope).
She prides herself on her image and the company she keeps but most of it stems from a craving for attention from the one that should be giving it unconditionally (aka Mom). She’ll do whatever she needs to remain in the spotlight, even if it means bending the rules or much worse. I think she had a little “ah-ha” moment at the end of this story with Kate at the competition….not enough to call it an epiphany but certainly enough to rattle her well constructed cage just a wee. Perhaps Angela’s humane side will be unveiled in future tales? Then again….every story needs a “villain”….hmm, it’ll be interesting to see where she goes from here; the good side or the dark side (…I hear they have cookies? Hehe…).
In summary, a story full of heart for readers of all ages that explores the connections we have with animals as well as each other. Horse lovers will delight in the interactions with their equine counterparts as well as the “stable talk” (something that allows those less familiar with all the terms associated to this past time a chance to learn a bit as well) while those with merely a passing fancy will find a home in the adventure of the story itself. The ups and downs, secrets kept and revealed, plotting and planning will keep you guessing just what will happen next while the final scenes will keep you coming back for more (and there is more! Hang, on …we’re getting there….) We all want to be the best, but there can only be ONE “number one”. Perhaps instead of focusing on that lack of a blue ribbon, it is better still to strive for being the best version of ourselves we can be; it’s certainly a peaceful prospect and allows a lot more light and mirth to occupy our days than hard feelings and deceit. Something to think about…
Ebook for review courtesy of author Maggie Dana. (THANKS!) For more information on this author as well as her other works, feel free to visit her official website, like the series on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter. This book was released the later part of 2011 and should be available at a retail outlet near you…here’s two online options to get you started: Amazon…Barnes & Noble. Now, if you’ve already read this tale or are looking for more, you’re in luck! Book 2 in the series, Racing Into Trouble, is already out and ready for your reading pleasure (and will be read/reviewed here very soon). But wait, there’s more! Book 3, Riding for the Stars, is getting ready to celebrate its bookish birthday on June 20th, a week from today to be precise (coincidence? Maybe… ^_^)…and book 4, A Horse of Her Own, is waiting in the wings. I know I’ll be checking out the further adventures of these endearing characters…how about you?
Until next time…happy reading!