Review and Giveaway: Run for the Roses by Rachel Schieffelbein

 

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

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.

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Release Day Book Blitz and Giveaway! Run For The Roses!

 
 
 
Run for the Roses
Release Date: 11/2013
by Swoon Romance
 
Summary from Goodreads:
Abigail Conrad has spent her whole life training for one goal: to win the roses at the Arabian Youth Nationals. She’s given up friends, a social life, and doesn’t have time to even think about guys — much less date!

Now that she’s headed off to college in the fall, it’s her last chance to be a Youth National Champion, and she won’t let anything distract her from that dream.

Except maybe Chase, the older brother of Abigail’s biggest rival. He’s charming, funny, and possibly Abigail’s biggest problem. How can she focus on riding when her mind keeps wandering to Chase’s green eyes and confident smile?

With her dream on the line, Abigail had better learn to fight her growing attraction to Chase, or she might end up losing the roses and the guy.
 
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The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves–Vacation Edition!

 

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. 

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Interview with Maggie Gilbert, Author of Riding on Air

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 Smile

[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 Smile

[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’.

Goodreads  http://www.goodreads.com/MaggieGilbert

Amazon: www.amazon.com/author/maggiegilbert

Twitter https://twitter.com/maggie_gilbert_

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/MaggieGilbert/617257878299778?ref=hl

Website/Blog www.maggiegilbert.com

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can purchase Riding on Air from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the link below:

About the book:

For readers of Jenny Downham, John Greene and Maureen McCarthy, a poignant young adult romance about following your dreams and realising what really matters.

What can you do when your own hands are the enemy? Hold on tight, for as long as it takes.

Melissa has secrets. Sure it’s pretty obvious she has Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, but no one knows how bad it is or how many pills she takes for the pain. She’s determined to make her horse Jinx into a champion and she dreams that her childhood friend William will one day see her, rather than her condition.

So when William asks her out and Jinx is shortlisted for selection in an elite training program, it seems Melissa’s dreams have come true. But when her secrets are exposed, all those dreams come crashing down around her. Can William ever forgive her? And can she learn about letting go in time to truly ride on air when it matters most?

 

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.

Review: Pidgy’s Surprise by Jeanne Mellin

Title:  Pidgy’s Surprise: The Little Shetland Pony with a Big Heart

Author:  Jeanne Mellin

Publisher:  Willow Bend Publishing

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Early Chapter Book Ages 7-8   Pidgy’s Surprise is the story of Cindy Sawyer and her plucky little Shetland pony named Pidgy. Cindy is always dreaming of the beautiful horse she hopes to own. Ponies are nice, but a horse would be wonderful. Cindy’s dream soon becomes an obsession and her parents realize that she is becoming a very unhappy girl. After a summer full of fun and riding, a morning comes when Pidgy goes missing. Not until she looks into the empty stall does Cindy realize how much she really loves her pony. Over 80 detailed drawings by famed equine author/illustrator Jeanne Mellin.


Review:

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.

Grade:  B+

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!

The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves–September 2nd

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.

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.

Check out my current contests! See the Contest Widget on the Sidebar to enter!

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews to share new additions to our library. Click here to learn more about it.

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!

What did you get? Please leave links and share!

The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves–Updated Pony Pix!

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.

Here are some updated pictures of the Morgan twins born this spring. 

This is from June.  They were still pretty small and skinny.

This is from last weekend.  They are being taught basic ground  manners, like how to stand and how to lead.  They will be going to their first horse show in September, where they will have to stand and be led around the ring.  Because they are babies and their brains are about as big as a pea, they have a very hard time doing that.  Weanling classes are fun to watch, because you never know what the silly little things will do.

This is the older twin.  She is a bay.  See how nicely she is developing?  She is very cute.

This is the younger twin.  Look at her!  Her lighter chestnut coat shed out, revealing her liver chestnut coat.  I love her!

Look at that pretty face!! 

Here is the happy family after lessons have ended.

Check out my current contests! See the Contest Widget on the Sidebar to enter!

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews to share new additions to our library. Click here to learn more about it.

New Arrivals at the Café:

Most of these were delightful surprises.

 

Rough Justice: The DC Comics Sketches of Alex Ross by Alex Ross

Blood Moon (The Drake Chronicles) by Alyxandra Harvey

The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron

Black Bottle by Anthony Huso

The Moonstone and Miss Jones (Phaeton Black, Paranormal Investigator)  by Jillian Stone

Adaptation by Malinda Lo

The Diviners  by Libba Bray

Fathomless by Jackson Pearce

How to Tame a Willful Wife by Christy English

 

Cleopatra Ascending (A Shadow’s Edge Novel) by Maureen Lipinski

Shifter’s Destiny (Harlequin Nocturne) by Anna Leonard (Yes, it is about a shape-shifting unicorn.  You didn’t really think I could pass this one up, did you?)

I also received the new issue of RT Book Reviews.  I love flipping through this magazine.

A great big thanks to the publishers for their continued support!

What did you get? Please leave links and share!

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Cover Shot! My Favorite Mistake by Georgina Bloomberg and Catherine Hapka

I loved The A-Circuit, so I’m super excited to see that there will be a follow-up book.  The horse is a cutie, but I am not so sure that I like the model.  I certainly don’t like what she’s wearing.  I can’t image tackling a few jumps dressed in that!  It would make Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction appear tame.  Wearing that is like wearing flip-flops to work your horse; just think about what you might step in, and better yet, a steel or aluminum shod hoof trampling on your toes.  Despite the fashion disaster that’s waiting to happen, I can hardly wait to get my hands on My Favorite Mistake by Georgina Bloomberg and Catherine Hapka.

Tommi, Zara, and Kate are all elite riders on the A Circuit. Tommi, the billionaire heiress, is training a young horse to prove she can make horses a real career. But when her new beau, Alex, convinces her to skip a horse show to party in the Hamptons, the results could be disastrous. Zara, the celebutante wild child, is finally taking her riding seriously. Until the new "nanny" her dad hires threatens to upstage Zara’s party girl status. Then there’s Kate. She doesn’t have money to burn like the others, but she does have Fitz, the barn’s resident hot guy. But when the pressure of being a working student builds, Kate’s perfectionist tendencies threaten to get in the way of her relationship and her riding.

Readers who are growing out of the Canterwood Crest series or searching for an A-list fix have found just what they’re looking for in the A Circuit series.

In stores March 2012