Tag Archives: Horses

Nicholas Sparks. The Longest Ride. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2013.

The Longest RideNicholas Sparks returns with another solid effort that is sure to have readers everywhere reaching for Kleenex. The Longest Ride, Sparks’ seventeenth novel, weaves together two seemingly disparate love stories. Readers might not immediately spot any connections, however, by the conclusion of the novel, Sparks stitches the two stories together with surprising poignancy.

The first story concerns 91-year old Ira Levinson and his beloved and deceased wife, Ruth. As the novel opens, the combination of Ira’s failing eyesight and a snowstorm has caused him to run his car off the road and down a steep embankment. The front of his car has smashed into a tree, and Ira is lodged tight in his damaged car. From what Ira can tell, he has sustained several possible injuries. If he tries to climb out, with his age, his wounds, and the icy slope, he would never be able to make it back to the road. So Ira has no choice but to wait in his car until someone discovers him. While Ira bides his time, he imagines that his late wife, Ruth has materialized in the passenger seat of the car.

She and Ira reminisce about their marriage. Their story starts in Greensboro. They met through their families. Ruth’s parents recently immigrated from the threat of Hitler’s burgeoning regime and Ira’s parents owned a local haberdashery. The courtship was slow and managed to endure through World War II. Ira revisits all the unexpected twists in their lives, some good and others bad. Ruth, or at least the fantasy of her, helps keep Ira conscious as he struggles to hold onto life. Sparks drums up a great depth of emotion and convincing detail with Ira and Ruth’s romance. Readers will feel invested in this plot line and will wonder what will happen to Ira. Will someone rescue him in time?

Meanwhile, in the second story, Sophia, an art history major and senior at Wake Forest, has called it quits with her unfaithful boyfriend Brian.  She has discovered that Brian has cheated on her once again. She insists to herself that this will be the last time–she is done with him. But slipping away from Brian’s clutches is easier said than done – as evidenced by her past failed attempts to break it off. As Sophia’s best friend Marcia puts it, Brian “is funny, good-looking and rich” plus he’s the most popular guy in his fraternity. Essentially, he possesses all the characteristics of a perfect catch (minus the infidelities, of course).  Brian can’t accept that the relationship is over. He has followed Sophia around campus since the break up and she’s sick and a little bit scared of his stalking.

During a weekend trip to a bull-riding competition with her sorority sisters, Brian approaches Sophia. Just before the confrontation escalates into something nasty, one of the cowboys intercedes and diffuses the situation. After the awkward incident Sophia and the cowboy, named Luke, become acquainted. Luke lives with his mother on a ranch near King. He competes in bull-riding competitions partially out of love of riding and partially to help pay the bills. Soon Sophia is spending all her free time with Luke. Marcia warns her against leaping so quickly into another long-term relationship and predicts that Sophia and Luke’s lives are headed in different paths. For a while, the pair is blissfully happy. Then the real world intervenes–Luke withholds a serious secret, and Sophia feels pressured about finding a job after she graduates in the spring. Can the new couple brave the strain from the outside world, or will the hard realities of life crush their relationship?

Despite the surface differences, the two love stories mirror each other in several respects. Ruth and Sophia are both immigrants with who have an affinity for art and date rich, important men. Ira and Luke are the men who stand on the sidelines and come to marvel that such special women could fall for them instead of the obvious choice. Ira and Ruth’s tale is expansive in its recollection, but the actual story within the span of the novel is compacted given the parameters of the car accident in terms of time and space. Luke and Sophia’s romance is more spread out and has a longer time frame to develop. Sparks alternates between the two stories, told from the point-of-view of Ira, Sophia, and Luke. Together they play off each other nicely – one love story at its end and the other at its beginning.

Check out this title in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Forsyth, Piedmont, Romance/Relationship, Sparks, Nicholas

Lisa Williams Kline. Season of Change. Grand Rapids, MI: ZonderKidz, 2013.

Season of ChangeIn Season of Change, the fifth and final installment of the Sisters in All Seasons series, Diana and Stephanie have returned with new challenges. The stepsisters overhear fighting between their parents, Lynn and Norm, and Stephanie unwittingly finds a brochure advertising marriage counseling in their bathroom. While the thought of another divorce makes Stephanie distraught and anxious, Diana acts nonchalant and indifferent about the evidence of marital discord. She tells Stephanie not to worry about the conflict. In Diana’s experience, not fighting is much worse than fighting.

Soon after the girls suspect trouble, Norm and Lynn announce that they are taking a quick weekend vacation to reconnect and refresh their relationship. They have decided that Stephanie and Diana will stay for the weekend with Lynn’s parents who live on Lake Norman. Stephanie feels uncomfortable with that arrangement. She believes that her presence at Diana’s grandparents will be unwanted and out-of-place since she is their granddaughter through remarriage and not by blood. Her sensitivity is heightened because she is already nursing an open wound. Stephanie’s mother has been consistently unavailable when Stephanie has needed her the most, devoting her time to her new husband, Barry, instead of her daughter. The weekend of Norm and Lynn’s vacation, Stephanie’s mom has a trip to Asheville planned with Barry and she does not intend to cancel it for Stephanie. Meanwhile, Diana faces difficulties with her horse, Commanche, who has gone lame. She visits and cares for the horse, but she cannot ride him and is not certain when he will be well enough to ride again. Diana is also practicing driving, and not without some usual parental stress and novice mishaps.

Throughout the series, Stephanie and Diana’s relationship has been rocky. Neither girl felt they could understand the other; shy and nature-loving Diana and social and artistic Stephanie clashed at first. They each wanted to sever the relationship between Norm and Lynn. Now, with what looks to be another potential divorce, the girls are starting to question their initial desires and to understand that they have grown more attached to each other than they realized. Do they really want to be separated? What will happen when Norm and Lynn return from their weekend vacation? Novelist Lisa Kline has penned another absorbing book in her Sisters in All Seasons series. Diana and Stephanie are relatable characters, and their problems and adolescent milestones – divorce and family strife, boy trouble, summer jobs, driving, and more– are realistically portrayed. This is a great read for teen readers and readers fond of young adult novels to sneak in before the end of the summer.

Check out this title in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

To start at the beginning, take a look at the posts written on the previous volumes in the series:

  1. Summer of the Wolves
  2. Wild Horse Spring
  3. Blue Autumn
  4. Winter’s Tide

 

 

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Children & Young Adults, Kline, Lisa Williams, Novels in Series, Piedmont

Kathryn O’Sullivan. Foal Play. New York: Minotaur Books, 2013.

Foal PlayWho killed Myrtle Crepe? That’s the question lingering on the minds of the townspeople of Corolla. Not many people were fond of Myrtle. A retired schoolteacher and the despotic head of the Lighthouse Wild Horse Preservation Society, Myrtle was known for her terse and domineering manner. Myrtle made it difficult for anyone to like her. Even her son Bobby and her sole companion Nellie Byrd struggled to overlook her demanding attitude. But did someone hate Myrtle enough to want her dead?

Gruesome things have been turning up around Corolla lately. Immediately prior to Myrtle’s death, the burned body of a John Doe washed ashore. News of the murder entices Fire Chief Colleen McCabe into the beginning stages of the investigation despite well-meaning warnings for Colleen to mind her business from her best friend, Sheriff Bill Dorman. In the past, Colleen has demonstrated a tendency to conduct her own “unofficial” investigations without solicitation from the local police force.

With her tenacious Irish roots, Colleen is a tough protagonist, and definitely not one to be deterred from solving a mystery. She single-handedly whipped the firemen of Station 6 into shape and refused to tolerate any insubordination. Colleen is not afraid to go with her gut and get her hands dirty. With her trusty Border Collie, Sparky (who has a nose for sniffing out fire) alongside her, Colleen winds up at the center of all the action. Although she is in for a few bigger shocks than she could ever imagine.

Kathryn O’Sullivan is a first time novelist. With the offbeat characters, the coastal setting, and the wild horses, O’Sullivan emphasizes local color in Foal Play. She formulates many comedic encounters and interweaves them between more serious moments and surprising plot developments. Readers interested in mystery and and Outer Banks enthusiasts will enjoy this novel. Foal Play is a great read to get in the mood for summertime.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

 

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Coast, Currituck, Mystery, O'Sullivan, Kathryn

Anton DiSclafani. The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls. New York: Riverhead Books, 2013.

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for GirlsThea Atwell has done something terrible. What teenaged Thea has done exactly is not clear, at least not right away. However, it is certain that Thea’s shameful actions have caused a rift in the Atwell family, so much so that she is shipped hastily from her insulated home near Emathla, Florida to the Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls in Blowing Rock, North Carolina in the middle of the summer.

The sudden separation is a shock for Thea. Before her relocation, she lived in virtual isolation. Her family resided outside of town and Thea had few regular interactions with other people aside from her mother, father, twin brother, Sam, and a handful of immediate relatives. She feels acute pain and longing in her separation from Sam, her primary companion, in particular. Her absence severs their deep bond as twins.  Upon and following her removal from her home, she questions the endurance of her family and their connection to each other.

The novel is set in 1930, during the difficult years of the Great Depression. Thanks to the Atwell citrus farm though, Thea’s family has remained largely unscathed by financial burdens. They are not necessarily wealthy, but they are comfortable for sure. If not for her indiscretions, Thea might have continued without much notice of the Depression. Not until Thea is removed from her home does she begin to notice traces of financial insecurity and become more acutely aware of class differences surrounding her.

Not surprisingly, the transition to the Yonahlossee Riding Camp, or YRC, is abrupt and disorienting for Thea. Everything at YRC is different from Florida: the land is mountainous rather than flat, the camp is populated by girls and Thea is unaccustomed to female friendship. The lifestyle and attitudes at the camp are quite alien to Thea as well. Although Thea is from the South geographically speaking, she does not feel Southern culturally, and she displays emotions of inferiority in her new locale.

The fact that gossip clings to Thea, due to her mid-season enrollment, does not help her acclimation either. Nevertheless, she is befriended by a popular girl named Sissy who helps her through the social minefields of the camp. Despite Thea’s alliances, she is still snubbed by girls from more fashionable areas like Memphis and Atlanta and she develops a rivalry with Leona Keller, the top rider at the camp. Apart from Sissy, horses help Thea adjust to her surroundings. She is an expert rider. Her fearlessness for riding and her competitive nature benefit her in the ring. Novelist Anton DiSclafani’s equestrian background is apparent in her writing.

DiSclafani does not reveal the specifics of Thea’s inappropriate behavior up front. Instead she chooses to gradually reveal the details of Thea’s scandal alongside her arrival at YRC so that the two stories are intertwined with heavier suspense. The novel’s setting almost appears tangible with its atmospheric description. Indeed, the world of YRC is so lucid and authentic that it could believably exist off the page. Much like Thea’s sheltered life in Florida, YRC seems to be shielded at large from the world suffering at the hands of the Depression. But DiSclafani hints that the bubble that YRC and its occupants exist within might not be as protected as it appears. Currents of change are manifested throughout the story in both possessions and customs. Moreover, Thea is in for another surprise when she discovers that YRC is more than just a riding camp…

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Caldwell, DiSclafani, Anton, Mountains, Watauga

Rhonda Riley. The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope. New York: Ecco, 2013.

The Enchanted Life of Adam HopeAfter her Aunt Eva passes away, seventeen-year old Evelyn Roe is charged by her parents to tend to her deceased aunt and uncle’s farm near the fictional town of Clarion, North Carolina. The farm lies twenty-five miles outside of Charlotte. Riley’s story begins at the end of World War II and most of the town’s men are off fighting, if they have not already perished in the wake of the war effort.

With their work at the cotton mill, Evelyn’s parents do not have time to look after the farm. Despite her initial shock at the responsibility, Evelyn quickly adapts to her new circumstances and finds freedoms alongside her obligations. Thanks to her height, her red hair, and her smattering of freckles, Evelyn is teased mercilessly. Like many small towns, Clarion does not take kindly to differences. But on the farm, she develops a loving bond to her family’s land.

On the farm, Evelyn happens upon something odd — a man lodged in the harsh, red clay earth. Evelyn rescues and cares for the disfigured man. Yet the unknown, unnamed man is not what he seems. He possesses strange talents that verge on supernatural. Evelyn and the man who eventually transforms into Adam Hope fall in love. Their connection is profound, both spiritual and sensual. They marry and start a family.

The town of Clarion accepts Adam unequivocally. They appreciate his kind heart, large appetite, and earthy nature. At first. After a tragic incident brings grief to the Hope family, Adam’s unusual behavior elicits discomfort and draws questions from the townspeople. Suddenly, the Hope family finds their way of life endangered. Will Evelyn and Adam be able to restore their standing in the community and maintain their intimate bond? Or will the stress of prying public opinion unravel the Hope family?

First-time novelist Rhonda Riley presents a story with biblical undertones that focuses on unwavering love and that experiments with concepts such as gender and physical manifestations of differences. Her exploration of gender in particular is at times reminiscent of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. She highlights the subtleties and secrets that exist within families. Riley questions ancestry and if people can know one another truly.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Piedmont, Riley, Rhonda, Romance/Relationship

Lisa Williams Kline. Wild Horse Spring. Grand Rapids, MI: Zonderkidz, 2012.

Fourteen-year old stepsisters Stephanie and Diana bonded last summer, despite having two very different personalities and struggling with their parents’ new marriages. Socially adept but squeamish Stephanie learned to be braver and to take risks during a family vacation at a ranch in the mountains, and outdoorsy but awkward Diana finally reached out to her new sister. But now a whole year has gone by, the first one in which both girls attend the same school. Diana still doesn’t fit in and gets made fun of, while for Stephanie making new friends is effortless. Diana is jealous and hurt and pulls back from their budding relationship.

Stephanie doesn’t understand what makes Diana tick. She’s been sweet and kind to her, just as she is to everyone. But Diana refuses to let her in, retreating into her passion for horses and other animals. Stephanie’s problems don’t stop with Diana: she lives primarily with her mother and her mother’s new husband, along with his 18-year-old son Max. Max calls Stephanie names and drinks behind their parents’ backs. Stephanie yearns to live with her dad Norm and Diana’s mom Lynn, but she’s afraid to ask. When Norm, Lynn, Stephanie, and Diana all go to a beach rental on the Outer Banks for the girls’ spring break, Stephanie hopes she can work up the courage to tell her father what she really thinks, even if it means making things difficult for the adults.

But if Stephanie is considering causing problems, Diana can be counted on to stir up trouble. This time it’s the wild horses that roam Currituck’s beaches: Diana becomes obsessed with them, and keeps running off to find the herds. When she discovers a hurt mare hit by a vehicle, nothing will satisfy her but to find the perpetrator, and Stephanie is once more party to her stepsister’s determination. Will the two be able to overcome the new obstacles in their relationship and find out who injured the horse?

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Children & Young Adults, Coast, Currituck, Kline, Lisa Williams, Novels in Series

Donna Campbell Smith. An Independent Spirit: The Tale of Betsy Dowdy and Black Bess. Buford, GA: Faithful Publishing, 2006.

An Independent Spirit is based on the Revolutionary War-era story of Betsy Dowdy, who rode to warn a North Carolina general about the approach of British soldiers from Virginia. This book presents the year leading up to her famous ride, with fourteen year-old Betsy living on Currituck Island, riding her wild pony Black Bess, and traveling to Edenton. Betsy’s quiet life is interrupted when Virginia’s Lord Dunmore threatens her community and her beloved wild ponies. Her all-night ride from Currituck to Hertford brings news of troop movements and leads to a patriot victory at the Battle of Great Bridge. This edition of the book includes a bibliography and teacher’s guide.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2006, Children & Young Adults, Chowan, Coast, Currituck, Docufiction, Historical, Smith, Donna Campbell

John W. Moore. The Heirs of St. Kilda: A Story of the Southern Past. Raleigh: Edwards, Broughton & Co., 1881.

The large antebellum plantations of the St. Kilda Valley provide the setting for this lush, nostalgic novel of horse racing, fox hunting, and other aristocratic pursuits. The main character, Philip Eustace, lives the good life at home and abroad in Europe. After attending the university, he marries his childhood sweetheart and their extended wedding celebration closes the novel. The setting is thought to be the St. John community in Hertford County. The author intended the novel to be “a faithful picture of our lost civilization.”

Check this title’s availability and access an online copy through the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 1880-1889, 1881, Coastal Plain, Hertford, Moore, John W., Novels to Read Online

Judy Reene Singer. Horseplay. New York: Broadway Books, 2004.

Fed up with her life, Judy van Brunt quits her teaching job, leaves her philandering husband, and finds work at a North Carolina horse farm. Her instincts were correct: she finds happiness much easier to come by in the simple world of the horses. Singer writes with knowledge and humor about the equestrian world as she portrays Judy’s efforts at riding and managing thoroughbreds. Judy has some success with the horses, but their complicated and colorful owners prove more difficult to handle.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC Library Catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2004, Singer, Jody Renee

B.J. Mountford. Bloodlines of Shackleford Banks. Winston-Salem: John F. Blair, 2004.

Wild ponies have run wild for centuries on the Outer Banks island of Shackleford Banks. But modern development and diseases have taken their toll, and each year volunteers gather to roundup the ponies for a checkup. This year, however, things don’t go quite as usual. One of the horses is missing, and there are signs of foul play. The stakes quickly escalate when one of the volunteers is murdered. Park Service worker Roberta “Bert” Lenehan pursues the case, in the course of which she encounters greedy developers and environmental activists, and studies the long lineage of the horses.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC Library Catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2004, Carteret, Coast, Mountford, B. J., Mystery, Novels in Series