Monday, December 19, 2011

Last Minute Horse Books

Still looking for a few last minute gifts for a young horse lover on your list? Here are some suggestions:

Take the Reins, Canterwood Crest - Book One - by Jessica Burkhart

This is the first book in the wildly successful Canterwood Crest series by Jessica Burkhart (over half million copies sold.) I wasn’t at all sure what to expect with this novel, because it deals with totally unfamiliar territory for me: a young girl arriving with her horse at a prestigious boarding school, hoping to fit in not only academically and socially, but become part of an elite jumping team. But in the first few pages, our main character Sasha loses control of her horse, Charm, who spooks on the way to his new stable, runs off and causes the fall of another rider, who immediately becomes Sasha’s enemy. What a horrible first day! Can we say high drama in the horse barn? (And trust me, I’ve had the experience of a horse pulling out of my hands and running loose through a group of horses and people. It’s not only dangerous; it’s one of the most embarrassing and scary moments imaginable – all rolled into one.)

Take the Reins is indeed filled with drama, and at times I almost wanted to dub it “mean girls” because I was appalled at the horrible stunts pulled on Sasha by a group of snooty girls, led by arch-enemy Heather, all because Sasha’s abilities as a rider may cost another girl a highly-sought after spot on the advanced show-jumping team. But Sasha is a spunky character who doesn’t whine to either her parents or her coach. She just keeps her head down and deals with her problems by studying and working harder, and she is definitely a character to be admired. These dire social situations, thrown in with a little romance and plenty of horse details obviously appeal to a certain young audience, because there will be a total of 15 Canterwood Crest books published when the last two arrive next year: Initiation and Popular.

Ms. Burkhart’s writing style strikes a chord in young readers, offering just the right mix of horses and social drama, because the books continue to be gobbled up and collected. They are available in both paperback and e-reader editions, and your young horse enthusiast might just love one for a Christmas gift! You can check them out right here.

Risky Chance - Horse Diaries - by Alison Hart
This is #7 in the Horse Diaries series, written for a slightly younger audience, but wonderful all the same for anyone who loves horses. This series is told from the point of view of the horse (a la Black Beauty) and Risky Chance is a young thoroughbred destined for the race track. The book starts, in fact, when he is a very young colt, still with his mother, racing the other colts across the pasture. How he loves to race! The story follows Risky as he is trained for the track and eventually taken to Santa Anita. The time is during the 1930’s, the Great Depression, when another great racehorse came to fame – Seabiscuit. Although Risky Chance loves his job, and loves to run, things don’t go as smoothly in his life as planned, and at one point his fate becomes dire and uncertain. This book has a happy ending, though, and you’ll be glad to gift it to any horse loving youngster this Christmas. I also liked the fact that the author, Alison Hart, author of many books for young readers (including Shadow Horse and Whirlwind) offers factual information at the back of this book explaining more about Thoroughbreds, horse racing, as well as the Great Depression. I highly recommend any of the books in this Horse Diaries series. Here's the link to the page on
Riding Invisible - by Sandra Alonzo
Running away on a horse? How many of us have imagined this when our life became difficult and hard to control? What if you had a mentally unstable brother that threatened to harm both you and your beloved horse? This book is the journal of fifteen-year-old Yancy Aparicio, who runs away into the California desert with just a flashlight, a backpack, a journal, and his horse. When this book came out last year, I was so engrossed in the story that I read it in one sitting. A wonderful read, fast-moving and heart-felt, it's not only an adventure story of a boy and his horse running away from problems, but also a serious story of a family coming to grips with a very difficult situation, and a boy finding his own courage and heart throughout it all. Powerful and gripping, I highly recommend it for both boy and girls who are not only horse lovers, but also lovers of realistic adventure stories.
The best part is that Riding Invisible is available now on Amazon at a reduced price in hardback, and also in paperback and for eReaders. Don’t miss this one!
 The Girl Who Remembered Horses - by Linda Benson
Of course I have to mention this one. It’s my brand new book. It’s available right now as an ebook, and if you’d like to choose it as a gift for someone, you can! On either Amazon or Barnes and Noble, simply click the button in the upper right hand corner of the page where it says “Buy as Gift.” Cool, huh? Here's the link on Amazon.
A great adventure story, The Girl Who Remembered Horses is set in a future world that has forgotten the ancient bond between horses and humans. It has a spunky main character named Sahara who dreams of horses and attempts to tame one, and it’s garnering 5 star reviews from readers. Be sure and check this one out, as well as all of the great books above. I hope you find just the right last minute gift idea for your reader.
Merry Christmas, and Happy Reading, Everyone!


Alison said...

Thanks for the review and links for all the horse books (my favorite books, of course!)

Patricia said...

Just bought Riding Invisible! Thank you for the review.

Linda Benson said...

We all need the spread the word about good books - there are so many! Alison - I love your horse books. Patti - I bet you'll really enjoy Riding Invisible. It's an awesome story. Let me know!