Book review – Joe and the Lightning Pony

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July 2013 2This book was kindly sent to me by the publisher. It was published on 4 July so is only just out.

Second in the Joe trilogy, we find our hero established in his life in the countryside, looking after the family’s two ponies and also getting to grips with the charges at their new horse rehabilitation centre (a great plot idea, as it allows new characters to be introduced easily and plausibly). Joe’s sister Emily starts to get more keen on horses again after her scary experience in the last book, and there’s a bit of well-observed jealousy as she takes to it really well, gets in with the Pony Club crowd and generally slots in to the Girls And Ponies stereotype, right down to her pink wellies. Will Joe be able to maintain his position as The Horsey One out of the two of them, or should he be more open to these changes? In the main plot, when Joe starts riding Lightning more robustly, he finds she has a skill that she enjoys and could take them on an interesting journey …

The author doesn’t spare our emotions in this one. Heartstrings are tugged, emotional situations are described … but friendships are strengthened and new ones flourish, with the modern use of technology which brings these books up to date (but in a sensible and believable way). Joe is faced with some dilemmas about friendships and ponies, and his relationship with his friend Caroline deepens, too. I cried at one point (probably not the point you’d think – don’t give the plot away if you have read this but you can ask me privately using my contact form!). But there is a theme that might be a little sensitive for some readers, and might need some support for the very youngest or most sensitive readers (I coped, and I’m a sensitive reader).

I was pleased to find that Chris the farrier and Sensei Radford the aikido tutor both appearing again, alongside the wise and down-to-earth Nellie. This range of characters gives the series a depth and an anchor that make it really special. It’s also good to find out about the workings behind horse passports, the Pony Club and mounted games competitions, so you learn as well as enjoying.

Highly recommended yet again for pony-book-loving boys, girls and adults. I can’t wait for the third one in the series (although why do there have to be only three – maybe the author could do a Jill type series …?).

Buy the book on Amazon.

Review of Joe and the Hidden Horseshoe.

Reviews of all of Victoria Eveleigh’s books.

Interview with Victoria Eveleigh on her writing career.

Book reviews – The Gentry and Between You and I and two confessions

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June 2013 TBRToday we have for your enjoyment two books that look back at the past. One celebrates what has been and how it has changed, flourished, dipped and held on, the other is, in a way, trying to hold on to the past, even though it claims it isn’t. Intrigued? Read on. While you’re reading on, you will notice some book confessions at the end. Oh dear, and so much for my claim that I wasn’t likely to acquire many books this month (three isn’t “many”, is it?) – but you’ll see that none of it is My Fault …

Adam Nicolson – “The Gentry”

(22 Nov 2012)

A spectacular and amazing book that did not deserve to be in the remaindered bookshop. What were people thinking, not buying this? I see that there is a paperback edition now, but I’m glad that I’ve got the hardback, as it’s definitely one to keep.

Nicolson takes the stories of various gentry families (the gentry being defined, loosely, as the squire and MP class, below the aristocrats with their safe money, just above but dipping into the professional class, and clinging to this often precarious position) that have been active during various times from the 1410s to the present day and uses a combination of meticulous research, beautiful writing and the ability to tell a jolly good story to bring their lives, relationships and concerns vividly to life, capturing small details and personal testimonies and seeming to revel in the process himself.

Some of the 17th century stories were told in his TV series, “The Century that Wrote Itself”, but it’s so nice to have them written down on paper, although with fewer images, obviously (more of these can be found on the book’s website), and without Nicolson’s energetic stile-leaping and bicycle riding. That took a slightly different angle: while the written documents are still highlighted as an amazing source of information, perfectly preserved in all its details, the families are placed much more within their context and social history. The book as a whole is moving, honest, not extrapolating past the sources into “must have felt” this and “should have done that”, and letting the voices of the subject shine through – the best kind of history writing, in my opinion. Flexible like the families about notions of gentry, but also looking at how that term has been defined over the centuries. It brings us right up to date in the last chapters, skillfully weaving the experiences of the modern-day gentry into their context and history. Magnificent.

There is a good website to back up the book and provide more information on its contents – what a good idea!

Adam Nicolson is one of those authors whose books I will ALWAYS buy, no matter what the subject. Others include Hunter Davies and Andrew Marr. Whose books will you always pick up, whatever the topic?

James Cochrane – “Between You and I”

(25 December 2012)

Drawn from columns in The Times, fulminations on incorrect usage, etc. While the previous book is flexible and accepting of change, this one is a little reactionary, although it does claim to understand about descriptive rather than prescriptive description of language. Many of the topics are valid, with just a few being very old-fashioned. Many of the Troublesome Pairs that I’ve blogged about were there, and I made a few notes on new ones to include, and it was an amusing and interesting read.

Confessions

July 2013 1My friend Verity, who is very good at book parcels, sent me a parcel with some great socks and these two books, which she thought I might fancy.  And, indeed, I do. The first is a history of the London Underground through the voices of people involved and using it, just my sort of thing, and the second is a novel involving vigorous exercise: I don’t read much that looks as chick-litty as this but I do let books with running and the sort through, and this looks like a light and fun read, which is always a useful thing to have around the place. These two will need to languish in the TBR pile for a bit while I Re-Read in July …

July 2013 2This one will need to be read soon, though, as it was kindly sent to me by the publishers and is out today! It’s the second in a pony book trilogy featuring a male central character, Joe, written by modern pony book author, Victoria Eveleigh. I very much enjoyed the first volume in the trilogy, which I reviewed back in May, and I can’t wait to start this one! Thank you, Orion Children’s Books!

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I’m currently deep into my Month of Re-Reading, which is always fun! I’ve got a biography of Barbara Pym and Stuart Maconie’s autobiography on the go at the moment, although I have lots of novels to dip into, too. Don’t forget to tell me which authors’ names on the front of a book will always make you pick up that book!

State of the TBR and Month of Re-Reading in July

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July 2013 TBRWell, just LOOK at my TBR. I might have “only” read 12 books last month (not all reviewed yet, in case you’re counting), but I seem to have got through some of the wider ones on the shelf, and look how good it’s looking (pop to the State of the TBR category to compare with previous months). Unfortunately, apart from the three Georgette Heyers I have already removed for Month of Re-Reading in July, nothing else is likely to leave the TBR next month; however, I’m going to make an effort not to add anything, either … We’ll see how that goes.

July 2013 PymCurrent reading is a bit of a cheat, as I started it in June, but I didn’t have a little one I could fit in before the end of the month. Because I’m going to the Barbara Pym Centenary Conference this month, I wanted to catch up with all the books on her, so there are two of her novels on the TBR pile and then this autobiography in letters and diary entries to read, too. It’s a good read although very full and detailed, so might well be background reading for a while as I skip through some novels, too

July 2013 coming upAnd this is the pile for Re-Reading. I added all the Georgette Heyers I had on the TBR as I know I’ve read them all before. The two Pyms (the one you can’t see the title of is “A Sweet Dove Died” are this and next month’s LibraryThing Virago Group reads, getting as many re-read as I can before the conference). M remembered enjoying Dance to the Music of Time on the TV and decided he’d like to read it on audio book, so I said I’d read along as we like doing that, just the first season this month, though. “Iceland Saga” is following a theme of reading books about Iceland that I’ve been doing recently. “Are You Dave Gorman?” is there because I’ve got a lot of these ‘quest’ books on the shelves and I’m wondering if they stand up to a re-read. The same is true of the Joanna Trollopes – I have all the early novels still, but do I need to keep them? And the Molly Moynahan is a random grab off the shelf – “Living in Arcadia” – do I need to keep that, as I thought I did at one stage?

I like to do a Jane Austen in these months. Ali is re-reading Emma next month, so I thought I’d go for the same one as her again. And she’s hosting an “Anita Brookner July” themed read, so I’m participating in that with a re-read of one of her early novels.

That’s quite a lot, but mainly novels and I should have a bit more reading time this month …

Is anyone else doing any Re-Reading in July? You don’t have to devote the whole month to it, but I do find it very rewarding (see my other months in the category cloud).

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