– Faith Erin Hicks –
First Second Books
Published 16 August 2022
If you are in a school library like me, you probably can’t keep the graphic novels up to your readers. Of if you yourself are a graphic novel reader, you are no doubt looking for your next read. Ride On combines horses and friendship in this delightful middle-grade graphic novel.
The Helheim Princess
– Tiana Warner –
Published 4 January 2022
Norse mythology, a main character determined to prove herself and fantasy action in a journey to the underworld. The Helheim Princess is sure to please readers who love mythology-driven fantasy.
Sigrid might have been born in the Valkyrie ward but she’s not a Valkyrie. The Junior Valkyries in training and the General make sure she knows her true place in life. A stable hand, with a Midguard horse and no future in the Valkyrie ranks. Sigrid is determined to prove them wrong. She knows her horse is fast and that the secret training they’ve been doing makes them an asset to the army, even if it’s only from the ground. But when an army of Night Elves invade and steal a precious relic, Sigrid takes her chance to fulfil her destiny. Joining with an enemy Valkyrie, Sigrid travels to the Underworld. But more than just destiny awaits her there.
The Heart’s Charge – Karen Witemeyer – Hanger’s Horsemen #2 – Bethany House Publishers – Published 1 June 2021
Members of Hanger’s Horsemen, Mark Wallace and Jonah Brooks arrive in Llano County, Texas, to deliver a steed, never expecting they’d deliver a baby as well. Left with an infant to care for, they head to a nearby foundling home, where Mark encounters the woman he’d nearly married a decade ago.
After failing at love, Katherine Palmer dedicated her life to caring for children, teaming up with Eliza Southerland to start Harmony House. From mixed ancestry, illegitimate, and female, Eliza understands the pain of not fitting society’s mold. Yet those are the very attributes that lead her to minister to outcast children. The taciturn Jonah intrigues her with his courage and kindness, but there are secrets behind his eyes–ghosts from wars past and others still being waged.
However, when a handful of urchin children from the area go missing, a pair of Horsemen are exactly what the women need. Working together to find the children, will these two couples find love as well?
It is impossible to resist Karen Witemeyer’s writing. Once again she absorbed me into this story of adventure, romance, strong female characters and the men of integrity who love them.
The Heart’s Charge provides us two stories in one. We readers first met the Hanger’s Horsemen in the first book in the series and in this second book we join up with two members of the group, Mark and Jonah. Together, Mark and Jonah stumble upon a pregnant woman in labour. They, reluctantly, assist in the birth and find themselves responsible for the care of the young infant. This then leads them to Harmony House, a place where children of any race or background can find a home. A surprise awaits them both. Mark finds the woman he once wanted to marry and who broke his heart. Jonah finds a strong and resilient Eliza who might just be the one woman who can work her way past his tough exterior.
An Appalachian Summer – Ann H. Gabhart – Revell – Published 30 June 2020
In 1933, most people are focused on the Great Depression but all Piper Danson can think about is how to get out of being a debutante and marrying Braxton Crandall. In an act of defiance, Piper volunteers as a frontier nursing courier in the Appalachian Mountains where adventure awaits.
An Appalachian Summer is an atmospheric novel about the frontier nurses of the Appalachian Mountains, women couriers, and life and love in the in 1930s. With romance aplenty, adventure and lighthearted moments, An Appalachian Summer is a light and easy book to enjoy.
Piper is grateful her family has weathered the crash of the economy so well, even if it means she must go ahead with her Debut Ball. Being pressured by her father to accept an engagement to Braxton Crandall and heartbroken over the silence she is receiving from her best friend and keeper of her heart Jamie Russel, Piper seizes upon the opportunity to join the frontier nursing courier service in the Appalachian Mountains. From the journey there, to the surprises in store for her, it is all a great adventure. She just wants to forget men and romance for a summer, which is fine until a mystery man from her aunt’s past re-emerges, Jamie follows her all the way to the mountains and she must decide where her heart and future will lay.
Set against the backdrop of the Great Depression, this is a novel that mixes the past with more modern ideas of women’s liberation and a changing society. I sometimes forgot the time setting and had to do a double take at some of the more casual language and use of jeans and such.
Out of the Embers – Amanda Cabot – Revell – Published 3 March 2020
Ten years after her parents were killed, Evelyn Radcliffe is once more homeless. The orphanage that was her refuge and later her workplace has burned to the ground, and only she and a young orphan girl have escaped. Convinced this must be related to her parents’ murders, Evelyn flees with the girl to Mesquite Springs in the Texas Hill Country and finds refuge in the home of Wyatt Clark, a talented horse rancher whose plans don’t include a family of his own.
At first, Evelyn is a distraction. But when it becomes clear that trouble has followed her to Mesquite Springs, she becomes a full-blown disruption. Can Wyatt keep her safe from the man who wants her dead? And will his own plans become collateral damage?
Out of the Embers is a charming historical Christian romance. Despite the historical setting, it’s quite modern from the female-empowerment positive messages and the independence of our female main character Evelyn. With a touch of mystery and a looming threat that overhangs the characters, the climax was a little suspenseful, but overall this is an easy book to read and enjoy.
When the orphanage destroys the only friends and home Evelyn has, she and the only other survivor run for their lives and make a new start in Mesquite Springs. Evelyn is used to watching over her shoulder ever since her parents were murdered and the feeling of being watched haunted her in the years following. But in Mesquite Springs she dares to dream of a new future for her and Polly. She finds good friends in Wyatt, Dorothy and their mother. She even opens up her very own dinning hall. But the threat promises to follow the two young ladies.
If you enjoy historical Christian romance, try this latest offering from Amanda Cabot. Out of the Embers is the first book in a new series. The sequels are set to follow characters from this book and I’m looking forward to reading Dorothy’s book in the next instalment.
Cross My Heart – Robin Lee Hatcher – Legacy of Faith #2 – Thomas Nelson – Published 28 June 2019
Ashley Showalter and Ben Henning have so much in common. Both were raised by single moms. Both want to help where they see a need. And both work with horses in the Boise valley. Ashley runs a horse rescue operation, while Ben has started an equine therapy barn on his great-great grandfather’s farm—and both Ashley and Ben have the feeling that there could be something more between them.
But they share something else that may drive them apart if the truth is ever revealed. Ben is a recovering alcoholic with ten years of sobriety behind him, while Ashley’s brother, Dylan, is an opioid addict, currently residing in court-ordered rehab. Ashley has promised herself she would never walk knowingly into the chaos created by addiction—because in her mind, addicts can never be fully cured. But with God, all things are possible. Will Ashley find it within herself to give love a chance, or will her brother’s mistakes jeopardize her future with Ben?
Cross My Heart is a beautiful story. The second book in the Legacy Of Faith series, Cross My Heart follows two new main characters but also continues the historical story of the Henning family. This modern-day story is woven together by threads of the past and the history and faith of a family across multiple generations. Cross My Heart is a relaxing and restorative read.
Ben Hennings is starting a horse farm, hoping he can help others through equine therapy, just as he was once helped. When looking for horses, he is directed to Ashley Showalter, who helps rescue horses. They both have a love of horses and helping others in common. What they don’t know is that they also share a history touched by addictions, Ben personally and Ashley through her brother’s addictions. When this is revealed, Ben and Ashley must decide if their pasts and fears should determine if they have a future together.
Objects in Mirror – Tudor Robins – Stonegate #1 – Published 18 April 2017
Starving, starving … Grace is always starving these days.
But Grace is also strong, and determined, and skinny. For the first time ever Grace is as thin as she wants to be – nearly – and there’s no way she’s giving that up.
Except, what if she has to give up other things to be able to keep wearing her new “skinny” breeches?
What if it comes down to a choice between all the horses she loves – Sprite, the ferocious jumper, and Iowa, the sweet greenie, and Whinny, the abused but tough mare – and the numbers on the scale, the numbers on food labels, the numbers always running through her head?
Grace knows what her stepmother, Annabelle, wants her to decide. She knows what Matt – gorgeous, amazing Matt – wants her to do. She knows what the doctors think.
But she also knows nobody else can make this decision for her. And sometimes she’s not even sure if she’s got the strength to do it.
Need a horse book for older teen readers? The number one author I always turn to is Tudor Robins. In Objects in Mirror, as in all her books, she expertly combines stunning horse knowledge and the precious bond between rider and horse with the every day challenges of being a young adult, growing up, and falling in love. Objects in Mirror also incorporates themes of mental health and anorexia. It is a beautiful, easy-to-love story that is sure to delight readers.
Thief of Happy Endings – Kristen Chandler – Viking Books for Young Readers – Published 19 June 2018
Cassidy Carrigan wasn’t planning to ever get on a horse again. She wasn’t even planning on going to back to school after her dad moved out, her best friend ditched her, and her anxiety took over. But then she wasn’t planning on being shipped off to a ranch in the mountains of Wyoming as a charity case either. Or falling for a cowboy with a broken nose and an even more broken soul. But sometimes you just have to do a stupid, dangerous thing to have the time of your life.
Horses, mountains, romance and new beginnings – Thief of Happy Endings has all the makings of a perfect YA contemporary that grabs your heart. Thief of Happy Endings is thoroughly charming in a down-to-earth, back-to-basics, raw and real way. It touches on so many important themes, from racism and prejudice, bullying and relationships, and divorce and parenting to anxiety and mental health, physical abuse, and the capture and treatment of wild mustangs. All these elements come together in a beautiful story that is utterly moving.
Cassidy’s parents are sending her to the middle of nowhere, Wyoming, to a horse ranch. Cassidy hasn’t been around horses since she was a young girl and suffered serious injuries from a fall. But fear of horses is just one more thing turning her stomach to knots. Settling into the ranch, fighting with her new bunkmates, and working with wild horses is nothing like she expected. This summer Cassidy will do more than just face some of her fears, sh might even learn to embrace them.
Author Interview: Soraya Nicholas
I would like to welcome author Soraya Nicholas to my blog. Soraya is the author of the recently released children’s books Pony Detectives and Gymkhana Hijinks, the first two books in the new Starlight Stable series.
This is a wonderful series for young readers, particularly if they are horse crazy. Set in the Australian bush, this is a lovely addition to all those horse stories that young readers just love.
Poppy has always wanted her own pony, and her dream finally comes true when her aunt and uncle present her with the most gorgeous pony, Crystal. But joining Poppy at her aunt and uncle’s stables are two other girls who have also been gifted their own ponies. These girls form a wonderful friendship, take care of their ponies and even set out to solve the mystery of the horses that have disappeared from neighbouring properties.
You can find my full review of Pony Detectives here.
Soraya is pictured here with her own horse, Finn.
I recently had the chance to meet and work with Soraya when she visited the school’s library and conducted a writing workshop with some lucky students. Soraya shared with us some of her writing tips, her inspiration for her stories and the publishing process. She has graciously offered to answer a few more of my questions so that I can share them with my readers here. Continue reading
Pony Detectives – Soraya Nicholas – Starlight Stables #1 – Penguin Australia – Published 28 March 2016
Poppy is thrilled to be back doing the one thing she loves – riding horses at Starlight stables – especially when her aunt and uncle make all her dreams come true with a gift of her very own horse. But there’s a catch . . . Poppy must look after the new scholarship girls. Will the bold and troublesome Milly and shy, sensible Katie be the pony-mad friends she’s always hoped for?
When horses go missing from the local farms, Poppy worries about Crystal, her new horse. Will the girls be able to protect their ponies from the horse thief and find the missing horses at the same time?
Love horses and dream of owning your own pony or escaping to riding camp for the summer? Well, Poppy answers yes to all three, and this summer her wishes are about to come true.
Poppy is going to stay with her aunt and uncle at their riding camp for the holidays and they have a very special surprise in store for her – her very own pony. But she will have to share this privilege with two other girls. When horses are stolen from neighbouring properties, Poppy and her two new friends decide it is up to them to keep their own ponies safe and maybe even rescue the missing horses.