Monday, February 3, 2014

A HUNDRED HORSES - Book review

    I'm reviewing a book today. And it isn't a picture book.  
    Don't sound the alarms! I'm an adult, so it makes sense that I read books for adults, too. What some of you may not know is that I also read a lot of middle grade and young adult children's books. 
    If it's a good book, I want to read it. And honestly, I usually enjoy the middle grade and young adult books better than the adult tomes that often seem to me to be trying overly hard to impress. Go figure, I'm an attorney that likes plain language.
    Over the next week, I'm going to try to highlight a few NON-picture book titles that I've enjoyed.
     Don't worry--on Fridays it will be perfect picture books.
     First up, in honor of the Year of the Horse:
     Title: A Hundred Horses

     Author: Sarah Lean
     Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books, 
                             Jan. 2014
     Middle Grade - 217 pages (ARC)
     Intended Audience: Ages 8-12
     Themes: Friendship, Belonging
     Synopsis: Nell, an eleven-year old girl has to spend her vacation on a farm with relatives she doesn't know well. When a mysterious girl takes Nell's prized metal toy carousel, Nell stumbles onto a secret about the girl and the horses that are awaiting sale on a nearby farm.

     What I liked--and didn't like:
     I don't like the opening. 
             "Mom was late picking me up from drama
             club again. Which meant another twenty minutes of not wanting to  
             be there."
     For me, this opening was a bit whiny in tone, and after reading the entire book the drama club was no drama. Nothing pulled me in here.
     I also expected a bit more about horses. While horses are part of the plot, in large part you could have substituted any animal in their place and the story still would have worked. 

     I do like the magical realism, reminiscent (to me, anyway) of SKELLIG. I don't want to give the plot away entirely, so suffice it to say that this is a friendship story that also has an element of the supernatural. 
     The friendship element of the story worked well. It's the rare friendship that doesn't face obstacles, and the unlikely pairings that are often the most satisfying. My favorite lines from the book:
     "And I thought about magic and fairy tales. They are not real. It's just that beautiful things make you feel full up inside. As if nothing is missing. And that feels like a miracle." (p.178)
      Good stuff!

     I would recommend this book. Note: I received the ARC of this book from the publisher with no expectation or requirement for a positive review.


  1. Always value an honest review, Wendy. I agree about the opening not being a great hook, but love your magical quote.

    1. Thanks, Joanna. I'm honest, sometimes to my own detriment. But it's what I'd want from others.

  2. This sounds pretty good. :)

    1. It's a little bit different - which is always a good thing in my book. Love a twist!