Saturday, 29 January 2011
This is a newly published book (well 2010) and just a chance spot on Amazon. Infact I actually saw a forum post about pony books for boys and the Author had posted this one...Always intrigued by new pony books I went to have a nosy and on account of the excellent reviews it already had bought myself a copy.
What a debut! Best book I've read since Twilight (okay i know that doesn't say much for my taste but you really need to give this one a go!)
In all honesty, although horses do form an integral part of the plot, this book is not exclusively a book for horse lovers, but it is a book that youngsters would benefit from reading.
It covers such a wide base from coping with social deprivation, living with alcoholism, low self esteem and neglect to the social divide between these youngsters living this life and those from the same wider communities who have a far more affluent upbringing and want for nothing. This book covers all of these gritty issues and more with tact and remains true to life and most importantly of all is very believable.
Declan 'The Hood' and 'Princess' Vicky might be cousins but they are worlds apart.
The biggest hardship Vicky has ever dealt with is the breakdown of her parents marriage...however a young stepmother with the same interest in horses and whom Vicky likes very much is not too much a difficulty in her otherwise perfect life. She goes to a good school, has an expensive show jumper (who she has just gotten a place on school SJ team with), has private jumping lessons and her every whim catered for.
Declan on the other hand lives a far less charmed life. Social deprivation is very real in Declans world and with an alcoholic Mother, dead Father and previous conviction for joyriding just for starters I don't need to state the obvious.
Their two worlds collide, quite literally, when Declans Mother takes an overdose and Declan has nowhere to go but his Aunt Collette's (Vicky's mother). Without spoiling it too much, needless to say it's a whirlwind ride of emotions for both the youngsters and as Declan stumbles deeper into 'Vicky's world' emotions certainly ride high with devastating consequences...
Taking Flight is such an absorbing fast pace read that you are quickly drawn into it and I found it very hard to put down indeed.
Declan is an intricate but fascinating character, and a far cry from my own upbringing and experiences (thank goodness if I'm honest) but most of all he's real, sadly very real. There are millions of real Declans out there and Declans story highlights, not only how difficult life can be for these youngsters but also that there can be a different life for them. Anything is possible and life is what you make it regardless of where you come from...this echoes throughout this excellent story.
Wednesday, 7 May 2008
I seem to have been having a really good run of of books at the min, infact the tbr pile is slowly diminishing at long last!
Wednesday, 26 March 2008
Normally I steer well clear of these compilations as they generally tend to disappoint. More often than not they are full to the brim of excellent extracts by well known authors.
So what's the problem you ask...how can they disappoint?
Well when you've enjoyed Silver Snaffles in the complete version why an earth would you want to read just a chapter? I also feel for the poor souls who read the extract, desperately want more, only to find it's gonna cost them £40 plus to do so.....I know it's been re released and is much cheaper but it's still pricey.
Then on the other end of the scale are the ones, like the one pictured above, The Best Of Pony Club Stories. These are new (okay they did appear in annuals but over quite a long time span so i doubt unless an annual collector you would have them all) short stories but boy is there a reason they never got fully into print (IMO). On the whole they are rather poor, and apart from an excellent story Chop and Change by JPT, this one is no exception.
A very Silver Snaffles style tale, where ponies do the narrating and tell it from their perspective. It mainly concerns two ponies who are unhappy with their owners. They engineer a plan a swop but find the grass is not always greener. Beautifully written and so different from her usual stuff....it makes the books and changes it from a don't do it to buy a copy, if only for this small delight. It also boasts an otherwise unobtainable story from the pen of Primrose Cumming, but quite frankly it's awful...how it can have come from the author of such greats as Silver Snaffles and The Wednesday Pony I'll never know.
Some are better than others of course and I fondly remember this one above from being at school ( I actually think apart from The Switch Horse it was the only pony book in the school library I didn't have at home) and again it has an otherwise (as far as I am aware) unavailable short story this time by DPT entitled........... However fondly remembering and reading are quite different and the stories were not quite as good as I remembered them bar the DPT.
Then of course there are the other compilations such as the Pullein-Thompson sisters contributions such as proud riders and a pony scrapbook. These are a mixture of stories, puzzles and factual articles on choosing and looking after a pony and were probably quite exciting as a youngster (mainly due to the puzzles) but quickly lose their appeal as you get older (not to mention date terribly!) Lots of oats being ate etc.
This is one I rather like, the cover and title are enough to put anyone off but the stories themself on the whole are actually okay. The author appeared to know her stuff and kept the stories simple and to the point. It is also novel in the fact that the author wrote all the stories herself, infact she has written several compilations to which she is the soul contributor although Molly and The Misfits is the only one I've read so far.
And there not all bad as this one proves, published by Pony magazine, it is extremely good. It features new stories by CPT and Patricia Leitch along with a host of other well written excellent stories and not an extract in sight! In fact I would go as far as to say there isn't a weak story in this lovely book.
Saturday, 15 March 2008
Sunday, 17 February 2008
I have this week managed to finally get hold of one of the most sought after pony books of recent times. The extremely elusive Mystery On The Moor. I have been after this one for a few years now and it certainly has a 'hype' around it which I have found on past occasions brings nothing but disappointment on actually reading the story, such as with Sheila Chapman's books and rosette for Royal. Thankfully, this time it wasn't the case!
I also must apologise to someone for this review as I know this title will be covered by The pullein-Thompson archive in just a few weeks time, but I couldn't resist...it's not every day you actually manage to get hold of the most wanted book on your list! I'm hoping you will understand.
The story see's Angela Fletcher return to spend the summer as a paying guest with the Ashworths, meanwhile Jess and her sister Georgie are saying with their Gran, Mrs Hathaway. Once ponies are sorted out for everyone a great summer should be in the offing, but threat of a rabies outbreak is hanging over the country. It is also slightly marred by the fact the cottage on Menacoell, where they so often in the past had camped out, has now been turned into kennels and Mr Bates is far from friendly and won't have them near. A trip to the shops at peennecford is followed by the usual crossing of the estuary to have a gallop in the fields beyond, however this time they are greeted by birds who have been caught up in an oil spill. The friends immediately mount an operation to save the birds and help is at hand from the RSPCA. While this is going on suspicions are raised about Mr Bates and what exactly his business is. Is it as innocent as it seems and what of the rabies outbreaks? Where are they coming from and is it set to spread to the moors.......
I was all set to not like this book a single bit, I hadn't thought much of it's predecessor Treasure on the Moor, thought even less of the following book Suspicion Stalks The Moor and knew this one would be lacking the main characters from the first 5 books. However I can honestly say I enjoyed it as much, if not more than any other book in the series...and considering the times I have been thoroughly disappointed by books I have wanted so desperately it was somewhat refreshing to say the least.
The AsheyPales, as Sukey and Chris were known in Treasure, really come into their own in this book as they take over the main character slots previously filled by Louisa and Frances Burnett. They have turned from feeble city kids, struggling to adapt to their new surroundings into much stronger, dependable and infinitely more likeable characters. SuKey and Huw emerge as the new 'leaders' within the group, a void that is left by the absence of the Burnetts, older Hamilton's and the Jackson's. Danny is now fully integrated and accepted as part of the group and we see the return of the quite frankly 'horrendous' Angela. A pushy, in your face brat who more than meets her equal in the impertinent and downright obnoxious equally spoilt brat Jess. Unlike Jess, Angela has a few moments where she almost manages to redeem herself but Jess is selfish and out for herself through and through. She is also even more dislikable due to her natural ability on horseback...she immediately has the unschooled and difficult Russet going beautifully for her to further irritate the others.The Ashyplaes ponies are new reformed characters due to the help from the Burnetts and Snowman makes an interesting addition to their stable. He is a skinny mass of bones covered in warts who neither of them really want but as Sukey begins to ride him he proves himself to be a wise old hand and super all round performer...there is even a happy ending when his warts disappear!
It leaves me wondering a little whether I would like 'Suspicion' more now, knowing a little more about the characters in it, this book fills a lot of gaps in their personalities that make them appear bland and un endearing in Suspicion.The story itself covers several important issues. Firstly the devasting effects of an oil spill on local wildlife. Josephine didn't just touch lightly on the subject either as we learn about how the birds are to be cared for and how the RSPCA becomes involved. There is also the serious issue of Rabies, now laws and restrictions have changed, I guess smuggling dogs into the country is less necessary but Josephine tackled this issue well and the rabies plot was only brought fully into play at the end of the story...I won't go on and totally spoil it but suspicions were rife prior to this and the missing link falls into place in an unexpected way.............
The only thing I didn't like was the absence of the previous main characters and poor explanations of this in the case of the Burnetts. The Mitchell's had been being fazed out slowly for a while and are no great loss, The Jackson's were busy running their trekking centre and again this had been building up for some time, the older Hamilton's were away with their TV star/producer (I forget which) father, which was plausible but the Burnetts absence was due to their mother being ill and needing to recover in a warmer climate. Hello this is the 1980's, this might have been common in the 40's and 50's but did this really still happen in the 80's? I for one am not so sure but stand to be corrected. I know Josephine didn't want to bring in new characters but was made to by the publishers...I fear it was almost deja vu of the Noel and Henry series as her publishers didn't like the hint of romance between Noel and Henry and you felt a relationship was blossoming here between Frances and Felix too in the same subtle way. Whatever the reasoning the old characters were well and truly dead and buried apart from odd fleeting mention early on in this one.
The book is an enjoyable read with or without the characters of the first books and more than holds it own within the series. It showed her diversity as a writer as she shied away from her usual style of pony based story and embarked on a more adventure/mystery theme with ponies thrown in......maybe it was the what was popular and 'wanted' at the time as the Peter Grey Kit Hunter series and Linda Craig Mysteries by Ann Sheldon all got re-released in the early 1980's too but for me it will never be able to live up to and will always be a poor relative of her earlier classics such as Six Ponies and Pony Club Camp? It may be more sort after than these books but that is purely down to the rarity factor rather than content in my opinion.