Ambition ~ Natalie Keller Reinert

"Jules Thornton didn’t come to Ocala to make friends. She came to make a name for herself. Young, determined, and tough as nails, she’s been swapping stable-work for saddle-time since she was a little kid - and it hasn’t always been a fun ride. Forever the struggling rider in a sport for the wealthy, all Jules has on her side is talent and ambition. She’s certain all she needs to succeed are good horses, but will the eventing world agree? 

On her own at last, Jules is positive she’s poised to become eventing’s newest star, but soon finds she’s making more enemies than friends in the close-knit equestrian community. Little mistakes cost big -- her students are losing faith in her; her owners are starting to pull their horses. And then there’s the small matter of Peter Morrison, the handsome, on-the-rise event rider who keeps showing up when she least expects him. 

Jules is convinced that all she needs is good horses -- not friends, not romance, not anyone’s nose in her business. But it’s just the beginning of the long, hot, Ocala summer, and as Jules tumbles through the highs and lows of a life with horses, she might find she’ll need help after all to weather the coming storm." ~Amazon Description

Brittney Joy's Review ~ I 100% understand why Reinert titled this book "Ambition." I couldn't think of a better word to describe the main character, Jules, who is a broke, insanely-hard-working horse trainer trying to make her mark on the eventing industry. Jules drinks Diet Coke like a fiend, has a working student that doesn't respect her,  rides through lightning storms so she can get all her horses worked, and vows to never date a horse trainer because she's certain he'd just tell her how to ride her horses. Yet she's making it work. Well, kind of. Jules is hard-headed and set in her ways and sometimes I wanted to give her a little shake to let her know she was being an idiot, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching her story unfold (along with her antics). Actually, I loved watching her story unfold -- the good, the bad, and the ugly were highly entertaining.

Something that really surprised me about Ambition -- a major plot twist involves a hurricane and this was probably my favorite part of the story. Growing up in the Midwest and now living in the Northwest, I've never experienced a hurricane and, after reading Ambition, I hope I never have to. I cannot imagine the horrors of a hurricane as a horse owner, but Natalie does an amazing job of describing the preparations, the fears, the destruction, and the emotional rollercoaster before, during, and after the storm. I was choked up over and over, fearing for the characters (human & animal).

Furthermore, I thoroughly enjoyed the I-don't-want-to-like-him-but-I-really-do-like-him relationship between Jules and Peter and was delighted to have this weaved in as a major story line in the second half of the book. I was rooting for Peter all along. :)

By the end of the book, the stubborn Jules completely warmed my heart. She learned her lesson -- but you'll have to read the book to find out what that lesson is.

Looking forward to reading more of Natalie Keller Reinert’s books!

Staying The Distance ~ Mara Dabrishus

"July Carter’s world is perfect from the back of a horse. From the ground, everything is a complete mess: her jockey mom ran off for California years ago, her dad always seems more interested in the horses than in her, and the horse July wants for herself will never be hers. 

Even though the New York racing circuit has taught her not to get attached, July can’t help connecting with Kali, a hopeless filly that refuses to run when it counts. When bankruptcy rumors start swirling around the barn, the future is murkier than ever. July can’t stand losing one more thing, and Beck, the barn owner’s son, knows more about the rumors than anyone else. July will get the truth, even if she has to pry it out of him, for Kali’s sake and her own." ~Amazon Description

Brittney Joy's Review ~ I'm a book hoarder ...  I have stacks of unread paperbacks and rows of unread e-books just waiting to be flipped through and I can't seem to get to them fast enough (that dang thing called life gets in the way). So, I've had Staying the Distance on my e-reader since this summer and after reading a few short pages, I wondered why the heck I hadn't started it sooner! I loved ... loved, loved, loved! For the past week, every time I picked up my e-reader, I felt like I was going to visit old friends. I adored every single character in Dabrishus's book and that rarely happens for me. July ("Juls") is a witty, hard-working, overly organized, die-hard-horse-lover and her thoughts and one-liners cracked me up. If I was seventeen again, we'd be besties! And, Beck . . . swoon. He's my favorite kind of love-interest -- sarcastic and mildly-cocky! And he can ride ... swoon again...

Not to mention, horses are heavily ingrained in this book -- which is set in the racing world. And, I'm wondering if the author had real-world experience on the track or if she's just a really good researcher. The details about the races, jockeys, barns and training was very interesting to read and I even learned some new terminology. Actually, I want to work at Blackbridge after reading this book. ;) Furthermore, each horsie-character has its own personality. The horsie body language, personalities, and experiences are spot-on and Dabrishus is OBVIOUSLY a horse-girl! I wanted to kiss Diver, ride Kali, and watch Lighter from a distance (while someone else rode him). Actually, crazy Lighter made me laugh out loud ... chipmunk! You'll get the chipmunk reference after you read the book.  

The mix of horses, a sweet love story, and family dynamics/drama kept me wanting more and I was sad to leave the characters after the last page ... good thing Mara is working on a sequel! 

Wildwood ~ Jadie Jones

"In Wildwood, the third book of the Moonlit Trilogy, Tanzy’s journey races toward a final battle within the Unseen world. Tanzy Hightower has crossed the veil and entered the Unseen world to fulfill the destiny she has at last embraced, to either seal or destroy the veil between the Seen and Unseen. She is the only mortal in a land teeming with creatures who want her dead. To stay alive long enough to stop Asher, the most powerful of the Unseen, Tanzy accepts his marriage proposal and seeks refuge inside his palace.

On the Seen side of the veil, Tanzy’s allies are fragmented and lost, without leadership. They must gather forces and train an army of candidates to defend their world against unfathomable predators poised to strike should the veil holding them at bay dissolve.


While Tanzy has accepted her own inevitable death in fulfilling her destiny, her closest friends refuse to stop searching for the impossible: a way to save Tanzy’s life."  ~GoodReads Description

Brittney Joy's Review ~ "I don't believe in lies or secrets. They turn into weapons." This line from Wildwood basically sums up the series . . . and, Wildwood provides a lot of "weapons" - both figuratively and literally! I was privileged to receive an ARC of Wildwood and very curious to see how Jones wrapped up the Moonlit series with the third and final book. What I didn't expect was to have the last piece of this story laid out before me through multiple character's eyes ... I loved this! The multiple POV made me even more invested in the story as I saw the secrets, lies, and battles from different views. And the ending ... wooza! Jones can certainly weave a serious action scene! 

I would recommend Jadie Jone's Moonlit Series (Moonlit, Windswept & Wildwood) to the fantasy/paranormal reader who also wants a twist of equestrian! 

The Longest Ride ~ Nicolas Sparks

"Ira Levinson is in trouble. Ninety-one years old and stranded and injured after a car crash, he struggles to retain consciousness until a blurry image materializes beside him: his beloved wife Ruth, who passed away nine years ago. Urging him to hang on, she forces him to remain alert by recounting the stories of their lifetime together - how they met, the precious paintings they collected together, the dark days of WWII and its effect on them and their families. Ira knows that Ruth can't possibly be in the car with him, but he clings to her words and his memories, reliving the sorrows and everyday joys that defined their marriage.

A few miles away, at a local bull-riding event, a Wake Forest College senior's life is about to change. Recovering from a recent break-up, Sophia Danko meets a young cowboy named Luke, who bears little resemblance to the privileged frat boys she has encountered at school. Through Luke, Sophia is introduced to a world in which the stakes of survival and success, ruin and reward -- even life and death - loom large in everyday life. As she and Luke fall in love, Sophia finds herself imagining a future far removed from her plans -- a future that Luke has the power to rewrite . . . if the secret he's keeping doesn't destroy it first.

Ira and Ruth. Sophia and Luke. Two couples who have little in common, and who are separated by years and experience. Yet their lives will converge with unexpected poignancy, reminding us all that even the most difficult decisions can yield extraordinary journeys: beyond despair, beyond death, to the farthest reaches of the human heart."
~Amazon Description
 

Brittney Joy's Review ~ So, this is my very first Nicolas Sparks novel! I've seen quite a few of the movies based off of his books ... and loved them all! I mean, who didn't bawl watching The Notebook, Safe Haven, A Walk to Remember, etc, etc?! And, with every best-selling romance novel that Sparks pumps out (and then turns into a movie), I've always pondered "how the heck does he come up with that many great love stories?" And, I've always wondered how his stories read ... what makes them so great?

So, when I started seeing movie trailers for "The Longest Ride," I knew this HAD to be my first dive into a Sparks book. A cute cowboy, rodeos, and a love story? Ummm ... YES, PLEASE!! And, I wanted to read the book before I gathered up my girlfriends, popped a bottle of wine, and soaked in the movie itself. Cause the book is always better than the movie, right? Well, this movie has Clint Eastwood's son cast as Luke (the cowboy) ... so, this may be the first time the movie is better than the book ... we'll see. ;)

Anyhow, the plot of "The Longest Ride" really took me by surprise. I actually started the book without reading the synopsis (I had only watched the movie trailer) and I didn't realize there were two separate storylines - Luke & Sofia and Ira & Ruth. While the storylines eventually intertwine, this doesn't happen until much later in the book.

Initially, the story of Luke & Sofia grabbed me (the bull rider and the city girl) and I really only wanted to hear about their story. I wanted to follow them around as they rode horses, as Luke introduced Sofia to his ranch, as they played kissy-face and their relationship grew. However, the second plotline (the story of Ira & Ruth -  a 90 year old man who just sustained a car crash and talks to the ghost of his wife) really grabbed my heart strings in the second half of the book.

Overall, I was amazed at the way Sparks built his characters, introduced me to their pasts, and made me care about their relationships ... to the point that I was stifling tears and sniffles (multiple times) while finishing this book on an airplane. I'm sure the guy next to me thought I was a whack-job!

Sparks has a beautiful way with minimal description that sucked me right into every scene and every character ... making me feel cozy, warm, excited, and nervous ... all while yanking at my heart strings. I can see why his books are best-sellers ... and I'm looking forward to reading more of Spark's love stories!

And, now, I'm ready to rent the movie as soon as it comes out on DVD! 
 

 

P.S. -- I'm not sure about the movie (as I haven't seen it yet), but the book is a very clean, sweet romance. Clean enough for a teen to read. :)
 

Dare to Dream ~ Kate Lattey

"Saying goodbye to the horses they love has become a way of life for Marley and her sisters, who train and sell show jumpers to make their living. Marley has grand ambitions to jump in Pony of the Year, but every good pony she’s ever had has been sold out from under her to pay the bills.

Then a half-wild pinto pony comes into her life, and Marley finds that this most unlikely of champions could be the superstar she has always dreamed of. As Marley and Cruise rise quickly to the top of their sport, it seems as though her dreams of winning the Pony of the Year might come true after all.

But her family is struggling to make ends meet, and as the countdown to Pony of the Year begins, Marley is forced to face the possibility of losing the pony she has come to love more than anything else in the world. Can Marley save the farm she loves, without sacrificing the pony she can’t live without?"
~Amazon Drescription
 

Brittney Joy's Review ~ Dare to Dream is truly a horse-lover's novel! From page one through the end of this book, the equine adventures never quit - whether they involve riding bareback & barefoot to the local pond for a swim, the view from the back of a pony galloping through the show jumping arena, or the every day details of loving & caring for horses. But, what I loved most about this book is the characters Lattey created - especially the three main characters! The three main characters are the Carmichael sisters - Marley, Van & Kris. All three are strong, spunky, hard-working, truly passionate girls. And, even though they face hard times and massive debt, they preserver and stick together, fighting for what they love - each other and their horses. Seriously, I want to be the fourth Carmichael sister! That's how much I enjoyed these characters ... looking forward to reading the sequel. :)
 

Appaloosa Summer ~ Tudor Robins

"Sixteen-year-old Meg Traherne has never known loss. Until the beautiful, talented horse she trained herself, drops dead underneath her in the show ring.

Jared Strickland has been living with loss ever since his father died in a tragic farming accident.

Meg escapes from her grief by changing everything about her life; moving away from home to spend her summer living on an island in the St. Lawrence River, scrubbing toilets and waiting on guests at a B&B. Once there, she meets Jared; doing his best to keep anything else in his life from changing.

When Jared offers Meg a scruffy appaloosa mare out of a friend’s back field, it’s the beginning of a journey that will change both of them by summer’s end." ~Amazon Description

Brittney Joy's Review ~ When I started the first chapter of Appaloosa Summer, my stomach sank a little, thinking "oh no, this is going to be another show jumping book." While I enjoy reading about lots of different riding disciplines, it seems like a large portion of equine-fiction revolves around the jumping world...and, frankly, I get tired of it. BUT, I quickly realized this book was different. In the first chapter, the main character's horse dies - he collapses underneath her, just strides before a jump. THAT, I did not see coming!

Instead of taking us into the world of show jumping, Appaloosa Summer takes us on a sweet journey of a teenage girl dealing with loss, deciphering family relationships, growing up, and falling for a boy - all in one summer....and on a quaint country island. Tudor Robins writes so beautifully simple that the characters, scenery, smells, and feelings come to life on the page, without extensive descriptions. Here are a few of my favorite lines..."Wow - happy and sad will just about knock you over when they hit together." And..."I fill my lungs with the scent of lightening-born ozone, and cool air pushing out the heat, and the earth, opening up, releasing everything that's been baked into it by the searing sun. Dirt. Life. Country. Summer." How can you not gasp when you read that? I know I did.

I thoroughly enjoyed this sweet, well-written story and actually wanted to hug my IPad after reading the last page. I'm looking forward to reading more of Tudor Robins' work ... And, I would recommend you do as well!

Jump Girl ~ Leigh Hutton

"SHOW JUMPING IS AN EXTREME SPORT WITH A DRESS CODE, ONE THIS GIRL DOESN'T FOLLOW . . .

Imagine being dumped by your mother as a newborn and shifted between foster homes your entire childhood. Imagine being taken in and offered hope for your future by a kind, loving show jumping socialite. Imagine falling in love with some of the most gorgeous horses in the world, and making a life in the thrilling and glamorous sport of international show jumping.

Now imagine it all being taken away.

Ebony Scott Harris is painfully close to making her dreams a reality when the only mother she has ever known mysteriously dies. She’s forced from their home to live with the gold-digging aunt, who takes her in only to ride the prized show jumpers she claims are now hers. Teetering on the edge of a hopeless depression, Ebony is saved by the discovery of a forgotten horse nearly starved to death, and an unlikely partnership with a handsome stranger, whom she must learn to trust if she is to uncover the truth about her mother’s death and reclaim her home.

But with the evil aunt selling her best and beloved horse, a maniacal ex-coach out for revenge and more savage competitors than she can count, Ebony has a lot more at stake than proving the truth, saving her horses and jumping for gold at the World Equestrian Games . . ." ~Amazon Description

Brittney Joy's Review ~ First of all, I have to admit I didn’t start out liking Ebony, the main character in Jump Girl. The teenager’s punky, angry streak made it difficult for me to relate. BUT, as Ebony’s world unfolded, I began to understand how she got to be that way. And, let me tell you, author Leigh Hutton created some wicked characters (down-right-evil antagonists) to challenge Ebony’s dreams. Most of the antagonists in this book should probably end up in jail – and some actually do. With Jump Girl’s dramatic ups and downs, don’t pick this book up expecting to experience a light, fluffy horse-read. This story has a lot of dark aspects – murder, abuse, betrayal, cut-throat competition.

Even though some of the darker aspects of this novel made me gasp (I tend to gravitate towards more of a “rainbows and butterflies” type of horse story), Leigh Hutton’s action scenes are tremendously written. She is quite the wizard with fast-paced dramatics. The action and adrenaline practically “jump” off the page (no pun intended) and it’s obvious that Hutton was a competitive rider herself, as she accurately (and beautifully) describes the athletic technicalities of riding – for both equine and human characters. And, Ebony’s love and commitment to her horses is obvious. Although, I sometimes wondered what she enjoyed more – the horses or the sport itself?

Very interesting twist(s) on a horse story. And, having said I thoroughly enjoyed the action/riding scenes, I can imagine Hutton’s first book, Rev Girl, accomplishes the same adrenaline-induced reading for the dirt-bike girls out there!

What to get your Horse-Crazy-Book-Loving Friends for Christmas!

 

THE SHOW DIVA ~ Where can you find your friend at 9:00 on a Friday night?? At the barn washing her horse until he gleams, of course! The Show Diva can band and braid in less time than most women take to curl their hair, her fingernails sport the lingering effects of purple-whitening-shampoo, and she owns at least five different sleezie-hoods ... all with varying prints and colors.

The Dressage Chronicles
By Karen McGoldrick

Book-Gift Recommendation for The Show Diva ---> The Dressage Chronicles by Karen McGoldrick! This is a four book series that will keep your Show Diva friend flipping pages late into the night ... after a long day at the show, while she's curled up in the goose-neck bed of her trailer.

 

THE HOPELESS ROMANTIC ~ This is your friend that believes every story deserves a happy-ending! She tears-up at Hallmark commercials and drags you to every Jennifer Aniston movie ever made. Her book shelves are stacked with Nicholas Sparks novels and I guarantee her horse's name is Romeo ... but she tends to call him her "Boo."

Book-Gift Recommendation for The Hopeless Romantic ---> Cut & Run by Amy Elizabeth! And In the Reins by Carly Kade! Both books will make The Hopeless Romantic swoon! Wrap up these pretties with a cute coffee mug, a pack of hot chocolate, and a baggie of marshmallows ... and tell your friend to get cozy by the fireplace for these reads!

 

THE TWEEN ~ This is your niece who has not quite hit the boy-crazy stage (and probably never will - thanks to horses!). In fact, she LIVES and BREATHES horses. If allowed, The Tween will spend every waking minute in the barn. She doesn't care what she is doing, as long as she is doing it with her pony. Her bedroom floor is covered by Horse Illustrated magazines and she owns a HERD of Breyer model horses.

Book Gift Recommendation for The Tween ---> Headed for the Win by Rachael Eliker! The Tween will DEVOUR this book before the sun sets on Christmas day! And then, the next day, she will create a make-shift jump course for her and her pony.

 

THE PARANORMAL PRINCESS ~ The Paranormal Princess camped out in front of the movie theater for the midnight premiere of all five Twilight movies -- and, she lives for the battle scenes! She has her Halloween costume picked out a year in advance and was "Xena: Warrier-Princess" more times than you can count. THE PARANORMAL PRINCESS lives for speed and adrenaline. Her horse's name is "Thunder" and, together, they can round three barrels in 14 seconds flat. And, she has decided mounted-shooting is not enough of a challenge ... so she prefers to use a bow.

Book Gift Recommendation for The Paranormal Princess --> Moonlit by Jadie Jones! The Paranormal Princess will get lost in the time-travel, gladiator battle scenes, and wicked characters ... and, after she finishes the last page, she'll swear the "unseens" are real.

 

THE FACT-CHECKER ~ You refuse to play Trivial Pursuit with this friend ... because she knows everything! Her mind is like a trap for random tidbits. She can rattle off the the name of every Triple Crown winner ... and then  she will continue on by noting the year they won, the jockey who was riding, and the the winner's preferred treat. How does she know Secretariat preferred sugar cookies??

Book Gift Recommendation for The Fact-Checker --> The Eighty Dollar Champion by Elizabeth Letts! This heart-warming true-story is surrounded by a plethora of equine-factoids from the 1950s. Wrap this book up with a set of new highlighters and your Fact-Checker friend will have hours of fun noting her favorite equine-tidbits!

 
Deck the Stalls: Horse Stories for the Holidays
By Jessica Burkhart, Natalie Keller Reinert, Mary Pagones, Brittney Joy, Mara Dabrishus, Kim Ablon Whitney, Kate Lattey, Maggie Dana

AND FOR EVERY HORSE PERSON ~ Deck the Stalls: Horse Stories for the Holidays! Get in the holiday spirit with this Christmas-themed set of short stories! Best-selling authors in the equestrian genre have banded together to share Christmas stories from the heart. And in the true spirit of the holidays, all proceeds will go to benefit Old Friends, a Thoroughbred retirement home providing life-long homes for former racehorses.

So grab a mug of hot cocoa and curl up by the fire with these heart-warming Christmas Horse Stories!

 

Which books fit your horse-crazy-book-loving friends?? I loved all of these books ... so I must be a mix of all five equine-personalities.

happy holidays!  ~brittney Joy

The Eighty Dollar Champion ~ Elizabeth Letts

"Harry de Leyer first saw the horse he would name Snowman on a truck bound for the slaughterhouse. The recent Dutch immigrant recognized the spark in the eye of the beaten-up nag and bought him for eighty dollars. On Harry’s modest farm on Long Island, he ultimately taught Snowman how to fly. Here is the dramatic and inspiring rise to stardom of an unlikely duo. One show at a time, against extraordinary odds and some of the most expensive thoroughbreds alive, the pair climbed to the very top of the sport of show jumping. Their story captured the heart of Cold War–era America—a story of unstoppable hope, inconceivable dreams, and the chance to have it all. They were the longest of all longshots—and their win was the stuff of legends." ~Amazon Description

Brittney Joy's Review ~ "The horse vans parked along Seventh Avenue came loaded up with dreams." The first line of The Eighty Dollar Champion gave me goose-bumps and it also did a great job of setting the story’s tone - that big dreams can come true, with hard work and a little good luck.

The Eighty Dollar Champion is a heartfelt story of two underdogs with an undeniable connection: Harry, the Dutch immigrant horse trainer struggling to make ends meat for his young family, and Snowman, the ex-plow horse headed for the slaughter house - before Harry laid eyes on him. Even through the open slots of the packed stock trailer, Harry recognized the horse’s kind eye and strong body and, when Harry brought Snowman home to his family, he hoped to nurse the gelding back to health and add him to his small string of lesson horses. Snowman was intended to teach small children how to ride (which he willingly did), but Harry had no idea of the impact "Snowy" would eventually have on him, his family, and even the hopes of the Nation.

This is a touching story, particularly because it is true. While sometimes the author went into too much detail on the history surrounding the story (I was much more interested in Snowman's story rather than the details of the industrial revolution), the core of the story touched my heart. Plus, a bonus of the book is that the author includes many black and white pictures of the real Snowman and Harry. All and all, a great read for any horse lover and I cannot wait for the movie to come out next year!

Cut & Run ~ Amy Elizabeth

"Raised in the crime-ridden neighborhood of South Boston, Rebecca Sheehan has learned the hard way that people can't be trusted. So when her unscrupulous boyfriend turns up without a pulse, she knows she needs to get out of Southie. Fast.

She seeks refuge in the last place anyone would think to look for her–the picturesque town of Jackson, Wyoming. The locals in this small community live by a different set of standards, as Rebecca discovers when she finds work on a horse ranch. For once in her life, she’s surrounded by genuine, respectable people–with one exception. Her arrogant new boss, Alec Westin, appears hell-bent on making her employment term as short as possible. With his self-righteous attitude, she’d gladly grant him his wish, if she wasn’t so desperate for the job–and if he wasn’t so easy on the eyes.

But after a chance encounter with his quadriplegic father, Rebecca learns the truth behind Alec’s callous façade. Suddenly he is no longer a tyrant, but a diligent man risking his entire livelihood to provide for his family. Moved by Alec's fortitude and his father's warmth, Rebecca finds herself increasingly drawn into their personal affairs–and to Alec. Just when she starts to lower her guard, however, she discovers that her past is catching up with her. A series of sinister threats confirms her greatest fear–she's being hunted. It's only a matter of time before her stalker finds her. And when he does, she’ll discover just how much her new friends are willing to risk–and sacrifice–to protect her."
  ~GoodReads Description

Brittney Joy's Review ~ There was so much I enjoyed about this book...the well-developed characters that pulled at my heart-strings, the beautifully described backdrop of a Wyoming ranch, a mystery that made me read so fast I could barely comprehend the words, and a simmering romance that I wasn't certain would end in a love story. I picked this book up because it involved horses, but it was so much more than a horse-story. The author swept me away with her story of Rebecca and of Alec- with how she unraveled their past, their mistakes, and their choices.

The only reason I put down this 337 page book was because I was forced to - forced to go to work, cook dinner, correspond with anyone or fall asleep. This book is now in my top-ten of all-time favorite reads. And, I read a sample of the sequel and I literally gasped. I can't even wait to continue on with Rebecca and Alec's story. Beautiful work, Amy Elizabeth!

 

Headed for the Win ~ Rachael Eliker

"Nadia Wells has spent her life trying to convince her parents that horses are a necessity but despite her best efforts, they see them only as an extravagant luxury. After landing her dream job mucking stalls in exchange for riding lessons, a wealthy philanthropist recognizes Nadia’s talent and decides to invest in her. Purchasing a mare nicknamed Winny, Nadia is sure she’s bound for equestrian greatness but on the cusp of their most challenging three-day event yet, Winny bucks Nadia off in front of a crowd of her peers. Humiliated and fuming, Nadia makes a birthday wish that she could better understand her horse. The next morning, she wakes up to discover she has four hooves and a tail swishing between her legs: she and Winny have switched places! If life as a teenage-girl-turned-show-horse wasn’t hard enough, Nadia has to figure out a way to tell the dashing Mike how she feels or risk losing him and the competition to the talented, gorgeous and spoiled Gretchen. Will the pair concede defeat or work together to overcome the impossible and be headed for the win?"  ~GoodReads Description

Brittney Joy's Review ~ Nadia and her new horse, Winny, switch places - what a fun horse story with a fantastic plot twist! Right from the beginning I connected with the main character, Nadia. Nadia is so "head-over-heels" in love with horses that she literally faints when she finally gets one. She's a hard worker and a natural rider, but when she doesn't immediately understand her horse, an old "wives tale" forces her to switch places with Winny. I love this twist because the author really shows how a horse feels, what they see, and why they act the way they do. I would categorize this book as a tween-read, but a horse-lover of any age will enjoy! And, I'd especially recommend it to a new horse owner as the story will actually give the reader real insight into a horse's thought process! Fun read and I could completely see this story as a Disney movie! Tons of action and a great lesson!

 

Keeping the Peace (Aspen Valley Stables, book 1) ~ Hannah Hooton

"London waitress, Pippa Taylor has no interest in horses or country-living. But when she inherits Peace Offering, a hopeless racehorse, she embarks on a career change in order to see her late uncle’s wish to run him in the Grand National come true.

But having talked her way into a job as racing secretary to champion National Hunt trainer, Jack Carmichael and moved to the West Country, Pippa finds herself faced with more daunting obstacles than even the Grand National can throw at her.

Most take the form of Jack, her moody boss. Although easy on the eye, he's certainly not easy on the ear. And after a Christmas they would both rather forget, danger and deception threaten Pippa’s life in the country. As her time at Aspen Valley Racing Stables draws to its conclusion she discovers Peace Offering is not the only thing she  must fight to keep." ~Hannah Hooton's website

Brittney Joy's Review ~ Pippa, the London waitress turned (inherited) racehorse owner, quickly became one of my favorite protagonists! She's a cheery ray of sunshine who's not afraid to lay down a four letter word...when absolutely called for. Author Hannah Hooton created a character that I wanted to hang out with - Pippa (and her wonderfully naughty bestie Tash!) are my kind of girls. 

As the story played out, I found myself rooting for Pippa and her long-shot race horse, Peace Offering, to win the Grand National - a gritty British steeplechase that sounds scary as all heck! "Helping" Pippa along the way is Peace Offering's grouchy but attentive trainer, Jack. There were a few times I wanted to shake Jack to alert him of his unnecessary grouchiness, but the contrast between Pippa and Jack made for some great banter.

The only negative was that I wish there were more horse scenes and that Peace Offering was a bit more "fleshed out" as a character. However, the sequel (Giving Chase, Aspen Valley book 2) revolves around a new protagonist ... a female JOCKEY at Aspen Valley Stables! Book 2 is bound to have more horse scenes and I'm looking forward to reading it!

**Note: Contains a few mature scenes suited for those that consider themselves an "adult."