The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba of The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. This is a weekly meme where we can share news of the week and highlight new books received. Read more
May Contain Spoilers
I wanted to read Run for the Roses because the protagonist competes with her Arabian horse, and she rides saddleseat. Do you know how many times I have read a book were the protagonist rides saddleseat? Maybe three, and I read a ton of horse books. Almost every book with competitive riding features hunters or jumpers, so I was stoked to read this story. I wanted to see how closely Abigail’s preparations and challenges stacked up against mine. Even though she competes in a different circuit because she shows Arabians and I show Morgans (and Saddlebreds), the run up to the biggest show of the year felt very familiar. I really enjoyed Run for the Roses, and I wished that it was just a little longer. At about 80 pages, most of the action takes place at the Youth Nationals, as Abigail is struggling to stay focused on winning what is essentially her last show. She’s about to head off to U of M, and once she’s in college, it will be very difficult for her to be able to afford to show.Read more
The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba of The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. This is a weekly meme where we can share news of the week and highlight new books received.
We made it to OKC! Friday was a long, long day (didn’t get to our hotel until 2am and had to be up again early!) but things have settled down and now I am just chilling, watching beautiful Morgan horses and reading. Also enjoying the company of good friends. Elle shows undersaddle tomorrow, and I am looking forward to seeing her and Sarah go. Big classes and lots of competition for both of them. Naturally, Elle chose the month of October to grow another couple of inches – like she wasn’t tall enough!!! – so she is a little awkward going with her rear a little higher than her withers. She is now larger than Blondie, and Blondie was a big girl.Read more
Please welcome Maggie Gilbert to the virtual offices today! Maggie is celebrating the release of Riding on Air, a YA romance set in the world of competitive riding. Yeah! One look at the cover and I knew I wanted to ask Maggie some questions, and she graciously agreed to stop by for a chat.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
[Maggie Gilbert] Eclectic. And maybe heading for eccentric too
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Riding on Air?
[Maggie Gilbert] It’s about a teenage girl with a horse she’s devoted to and a dream she’ll do almost anything to achieve, despite some fairly significant obstacles in her way. And then a gorgeous boy she’s always ached for comes along to complicate things even further. Horses, a gorgeous boy and romance – what more could you want?
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[Maggie Gilbert] I’d planned on writing some horse books aimed at younger readers but then I started thinking about what it’s like to be a teenage girl besotted with your horse but also crushing madly on a boy. With the characters, once I knew Melissa had JRA then who she is evolved out of her illness; there were things she just couldn’t do and this shaped everything about her. When it came to William, I wanted a boy worthy of her courage and determination, and he had to be sweet but also strong. He had to be someone who will do the right thing even if that is going to cost him. And he had to be totally gorgeous, of course.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Melissa?
[Maggie Gilbert] Resolute, self-contained, fervent
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If William had a theme song, what would it be?
[Maggie Gilbert] What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction. It sums up the way William sees Melissa, and how she makes his heart skip even though she has no idea. Not that he’d admit he’s ever even heard of that song
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Melissa is never without.
[Maggie Gilbert] Hope. She goes after her dreams even when it seems impossible.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in William’s pockets?
[Maggie Gilbert] Money, receipts, phone. He tends to leave everything in his ute, such a boy.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Melissa’s greatest regret?
[Maggie Gilbert] I can’t answer that without plot spoilers!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?
[Maggie Gilbert] Stephen King would be the biggest influence. I read everything he writes and he is the master of making the ordinary interesting, and of developing utterly believable characters. And although on the surface his stories are about monsters, underneath he’s writing about themes that resonate for me, like love, loyalty, friendship and heroism. I think all the creative works you expose yourself to – art, photos, magazines, songs, movies, books, TV series – have an impact on what you write even if you don’t realise it.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?
[Maggie Gilbert] Coffee, laptop, time. Especially coffee – I can always make do with a pen and notebook
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?
[Maggie Gilbert] Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?
[Maggie Gilbert] Gosh, it’s hard to say – Mum taught me to read when I was three, so that’s a lot of books ago. An early book that sticks out though is Wild Pony by Lucy Rees. I’d read a lot of horsey books but that one blew me away. It stayed with me and I re-read it over the years.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Maggie Gilbert] It can vary depending on what the latest obsession is (gardening, learning cello, quilting). But there are some constants: I read as much as I can – sometimes when I really should be doing other things! I also like watching a movie or an episode of a favourite TV series. I love to run and I’m trying to get back into that. If I’m not inside at the laptop, there’s not much better than a sunny afternoon in the back yard with a good book and my dogs.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
[Maggie Gilbert] I have a website with blog and also newly established author pages on Goodreads and Amazon or you can find me on Twitter or Facebook. I’d love it for people to pop in and say ‘Hi’.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!
You can purchase Riding on Air from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the link below:
About the book:
About the author:Maggie Gilbert can’t remember a time when she didn’t want to be a writer, even when she was otherwise occupied. She’s been an executive editor, an equestrian journalist and worked with horses for the Modern Pentathlon event at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Currently she’s an administration officer with an Agricultural Society by day and a writer of romantic stories by night—an ideal combination. She lives on a property in country NSW with her family and dogs.
Author: Jeanne Mellin
Publisher: Willow Bend Publishing
May Contain Spoilers
If you follow the blog at all, you know how much I love horses. When I saw this book by Jeanne Mellin, I was dying to read it. Originally published in 1955, Willow Bend Publishing worked with the author to update the text to make it more relatable to modern readers, without changing the flavor of the original story. I thought they did a wonderful job; the story flows smoothly, and the dialog doesn’t feel stiff or unnatural. Cindy’s dream to own a horse instead of her stubby little pony will resonate with young, horse-crazy girls. It certainly resonated for me!
Cindy Sawyer dreams constantly of owning a sleek, graceful, and bold horse. What she has instead is Pidgy, a chubby Shetland Pony. Unremarkable in any way, Cindy feels that she’s outgrown her childhood companion, and now all she can think about is getting a horse. She wants to compete at the summer horse show, and, besides, all of her friends have horses now! It’s unfair that she’s the only one who still has a pony.
After initially disliking Cindy because she seemed a bit spoiled to me, I gradually warmed up to her. When I was her age, I would have done anything to have a pony or a horse. I would have done anything to even be able to take riding lessons. My parents did not understand the depth of my equine obsession, but it never went away. When I moved out of the city, I continually talked about taking riding lesson. The DH, finally fed up with hearing me talk about it but never do anything about it, told me I wasn’t getting any younger and if I was serious about learning to ride, I needed to do something now, or I needed to stop talking about horses. Several years later, I am the proud owner of not one, but two, horses, and I’m sure he wishes he hadn’t said anything to me at all! I will remain eternally grateful!
So, getting back to young Cindy, she had a perfectly pleasant pony she could hack around on. Pidgy is about as bomb-proof as they come, and Cindy often jaunted about town bareback. For her to wish and wish and wish for a horse seemed a little greedy to me. But then I began to sympathize with her and her dream to own a horse. All of her friends had gorgeous, flashy mounts that were spirited and fun to ride. Comparing the shaggy little Pidgy to these beautiful horses was a little bit like comparing a Smart car to a Ferrari. Being surrounded by all of that horsey hotness made Cindy miserable. They were everything that Pidgy was not.
I liked the portrayal of Cindy’s parents. They are sympathetic to her unhappiness, but they also can’t see anything wrong with Pidgy. Her mother actively attempts to find a solution for her daughter’s misery, and after allowing her to show Pidgy in a local horse show, they allow the pony to prove to Cindy that they still have many adventures to enjoy together.
The descriptions of the horse show are spot-on, as is Pidgy’s stubborn, mischievous personality. I don’t know much about Shetlands, but when Hackney ponies get a little big for their tiny britches, we just laugh and say, “That’s a pony for you!” They are smart and they thrive on attention. They are also gifted at getting into trouble. Pidgy behaved much the same, and proved that she had a mind of her own, and that she wasn’t afraid to use it. When they had a battle of wills, it was debatable whether Cindy won, or whether Pidgy allowed her to think she had.
My favorite part of the book are the beautiful illustrations. Each drawing is detailed, and the horses are lovingly rendered. They add so much personality to the story, and I enjoyed all of them. Though it would be prohibitively expensive, I would have loved to see some of these in color. Jane Mellin knows horses, and her illustrations are a joy to behold. The book would be greatly diminished without them.
If you have a horse crazy girl in the house, I can’t recommend this book enough. Pidgy’s Surprise would also make a wonderful addition to a classroom library.
NOTE: As mentioned in the forward, Pidgy’s Surprise was written before wearing helmets was common. After recently falling off one of my horses when I was trying to dismount, I can’t stress strongly enough how important it is to strap on an approved helmet before getting on a horse.
Recommended for ages 7 – 8, but I think this will appeal even to older girls, as well as some adults, due to the fantastic interior illustrations.
Review copy provided by publisher
Just for Fun:
This is a picture of Bentley, a Hackney pony, standing next to a Freisian. If you are wondering how Cindy felt riding her pony next to her friends with their horses, this picture should give you a good idea!
I got back late last night from a horse show, and I’m totally exhausted. I am so glad that it’s a holiday weekend so that I have another day to recover. I always think I’m going to have some time to chill and read when I’m at a show, but it doesn’t usually work out that way. There is a lot of running around at the fairgrounds, with many, many distractions, especially at the bigger shows. There are all of the pretty, pretty horses, and almost against my will, I find myself sucked in to watching the classes or the warm-ups, even for the divisions I don’t really like. And then there are all of the puppies and dogs people have brought to keep themselves company, and it’s animal overload. It’s a lot of fun meeting new people and their pets at the shows. My favorite new animal friend was a 3 year old Great Dane. He was awesome because he was so well behaved, and because I didn’t even have to bend down to pet him!
Elle had her best show yet, winning Grand Champion Mare and getting the Reserve in her driving class. It was raining during the performance class, so I didn’t get any pictures (again! every time the trainer drives her, we have a monsoon!)
This is Elle after her in-hand class, being modeled by my show buddy, Sarah.
This is all of the stuff they shove into your arms after your horse wins a championship class. Then you are supposed to run across the fairgrounds without dropping or breaking any of it, which would be bad, because there is horse poop everywhere.
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New Arrivals at the Café:
The Clockwork Sky Vol 1 by Madeleine Rosca
Message to Adolf Part 1 by Osamu Tezuka
A Guile of Dragons by James Enge
Reaper by K D McEntire
Callie’s Cowboy by Karen Leabo
The Devils Thief by Samantha Kane
Send Me a Sign by Tiffany Schmidt
Freaks Like Us by Susan Vaught
A great big thanks to the publishers for their continued support!
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