Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Book Review: Oh, those problem horses...

It's not much of a secret - if it has horses in it or on it, I'll probably at least pick it up and look at it. More often than not, if "it" happens to be a book, it comes home with me. (Hey, paper horses are cheaper than the real thing.... sort of - lol!) But this week's book, I didn't even have to pay for. Bonus!

You may have noticed the LibraryThing images & links to all of the books tagged "horses" over on the right side of the screen. Well, here's a fun fact - LT is home to a group known as the Early Reviewers, and a list of free advance copies of all sorts of books. How it works is, publishers provide however many copies they feel they can spare, and LT readers sign up for the chance to read the books and review them. (Competition for some of the titles is pretty fierce, and the LT folks aren't saying how exactly they select each month's readers - but reading & reviewing on the site any of the ER books you're lucky enough to snag certainly doesn't hurt.)

(If the idea
of receiving free books
intrigues you,
you can learn more about LT HERE
And you too
can be an
Early Reviewer.)

This week's book was on December's Early Reviewer's list - I requested it, and was one of the lucky recipients. My copy arrived last week (and yes, dear it is the reason why I didn't get to the dry cleaners this weekend - sorry!).

A Gentle Rain by Deborah Smith
Kara Whittenbrook is a woman of many accomplishments, although she wouldn't say so. An heiress, semi-vegan, and holder of multiple degrees, she's always felt just a little different from her globe-trotting activist parents. When her parents die in a fiery plane crash, Kara finds that she was adopted as a newborn. Her birth parents are Mac Tolbert and Lily Akens. When Kara learns the pair live on a ranch in Florida, she reinvents herself as Karen Johnson and sets off to learn more about them, little dreaming what fate has in store.

Ben Thocco is a Florida Cracker, and darn proud of the fact. Part Seminole, owner of a struggling cattle ranch, Ben has a checkered past and a big heart. His ranch is home not only to Coon Racking Cracker horses, but also to a varied cast of special people, including his brother Joey, who has Downs Syndrome and a heart condition. Ben doesn't have time in his life for romance. But Lilly, Mac, a horse named Estrela, and a young woman named Karen just may make him change his mind.

There's a LOT going on in this story. Lots of characters, numerous subplots, and the ending is pretty much a foregone conclusion (it's happy, of course). In spite of the fact that a few of the subplots get lost along the way, and a few of the named characters aren't really fleshed out, I found myself liking this story a lot. Smith's books usually have a little more nail-biting suspense to them. In contrast, this one is more gentle, hopeful, and endearing. I really enjoyed it.
So, that's my LT review - for the non-horsey audience. But on the fictional equine end of things, Estrela the barrel-kicking, hat-stomping horse was part of what really made this book for me.
In spite of the fact that Cracker Horses sound like an odd sort of ground grain product for teething children, they appear to actually exist, and there's even a Florida Cracker Horse Association. (I kid you not!)
Sure, she's a bit over the top, and I wish all problem horses worked out their difficulties as easily (and ended up - spoiler alert - winning gigantic jackpots), but the description of the last-chance auction is true as they come, and Estela's cranky-contrary nature is a riot.


Rising Rainbow said...

Wow a new book and a "new to me" horse breed all in one post. thanks!

SunnySD said...

Hope you like it - let me know what you think of Estrela :)

materials said...