Posts Tagged ‘horses’

The Diamond Horse by Stacy Gregg.

November 3, 2016 Comments off

diamond-horseThe Diamond Horse by Stacy Gregg. Pub.HarperCollins, 2016.

Anna Orlev lives in Tsarist Russia when Catherine the Great is Empress. Her father was given an estate by Empress Catherine an estate where wild animals were free to run. Anna has a Siberian tiger and a borzoi wolfhound as companions but her greatest love is a half Arabian, half Siberian stallion called Drakon or dragon. She hid the colt from her ruthless father Count Orlov and from her crazy brother Ivan and  establishes the famous Russian horse breed the Orlov Trotter.

Anna’s mother died of a fever when she was 9 years old and on her deathbed gave Anna a black diamond teardrop necklace. This necklace has a power to show the past, present and future but it is the stone that decides what she will see.

Through the necklace she becomes aware of the second girl in this story, Valentina, a girl who works in today’s world as a circus performer. Valentina has cruel characters to contend with and runs away with her pink horse Sacha and joins the Russian Federation international showjumping team.

The horses and the girls are linked. Read it and find out how.

Beautifully written and conceived by Stacy Gregg. Her descriptions of Russia in the winter,  all the characters of Tsarist Russia and the circus are amazing. Some may say the books are formulaic and to a certain degree they are  but Stacy Gregg’s research into her topic and her knowledge of horses is stunning. Her descriptive prose is outstanding.

Lots of drama and adventure in this novel for horse lovers of all ages but particularly of primary, intermediate and junior secondary age.

Starlight Stables Bk.4: Saving Starlight by Soraya Nicholas

July 21, 2016 Comments off

saving starlightStarlight Stables Bk.4: Saving Starlight by Soraya Nicholas. Pub. Puffin Books,imprint penguin Random house, 2016.

This fourth part about a horse riding stable has the same quality and values as the previous three which are reviewed on this blog. Set in Australia and mainly written for horse crazy girls and there are a lot of them, this continues the story of Poppy, Milly and Katie and their horses Crystal, Joe and Cody.

Aunt Sophie and Uncle Mark have financial worries after a sponsor hits hard times. Starlight Stables is under threat. The girls have a competition of their own and Aunt Sophie is riding for an Olympic place at an event in Melbourne on her impressive horse Jupiter.

The girls want to help save Starlight and poppy wants to do well at her role of groom for Aunt Sophie’s horse Jupiter. What will happen if the stables go broke?  Will the impressive colt Prince have to be sold?  Will the girls be able to hold on to their horses? Read it and find out.

Starlight Stables Bk.3 Bush Bolts by Soraya Nicholas.

July 20, 2016 Comments off

bush boltsStarlight Stables Bk.3 Bush Bolts by Soraya Nicholas. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2016.

Poppy and her two horse riding friends Milly and Katie return to Starlight stables for a long weekend but this time they have another companion who doesn’t share their fanatical love of horses.

Her name is Sarah and she was a good friend to Poppy when her father died and her mother was grieving badly. poppy badly wants Sarah to love horses like she does but that is a big ask. However Sarah has other qualities as a friend and a human being especially her love for all animals.

Starlight Stables is tinder dry and bush fires are a threat. While out riding the girls come under threat from a lightening storm that threatens catastrophe. Read the rest and find out what happens.

The other Starlight books are on this blog and the author can be reached at

Starlight Stables. Bk1 Pony Detectives. Bk 2 Gymkhana Hijinks by Soraya Nicholas

March 13, 2016 Comments off

pony detectivesStarlight Stables. Bk1 Pony Detectives,Bk 2 Gymkhana Hijinks  by Soraya Nicholas. Pub. Puffin Books, 2016.

These two easy to read novels for primary/Intermediate school girls who love horses are brand new out of Australia by an author who lives on a farm near Christchurch.

Poppy is given a pony by her aunt Sophie and Uncle Mark when she stays at the Starlight Stables over the school holidays. She calls the pony Crystal. She shares her time with two girls who are scholarships to the stables. Milly a bright cheerful risky and competitive girl who rides an Arab cross pony, Joe. Katie is less assured but an  honest, shy and competitive girl who rides Cody.

The girls train together and become close friends but on their first outing near neighbour Old Man Smithy’s farm. Milly sees strange horse hooves marks near the fence and wonders what is going on.

It becomes evident that horses are being stolen in the area, could these horse marks be a clue? and are their horses in danger? The girls are going to find out.

Gymkhana hijinksBk 2 Gymkhana Hijinks

This book continues on straight after book 1 when a new girl Jessica and her horse Cleopatra come to share training. Jessica is a surly rude girl with a mother who is even worse.

The girls are training for the Gymkhana, all want to win but Jessica has a win at all costs attitude and tries to ruin it for the other girls. When things go wrong and Aunt Sophie is told she doesn’t believe the girls so they are going to have to prove it.

These novels are not just about pony riding. They are about competition, friendship and other life problems such as grief and honesty. Poppy’s father has died and her mother is in grief. How will this affect Poppy?

As well there are two fine adults giving the girls guidance. Aunt Sophie and Uncle Mark.

A well written wholesome exciting series with good values about girls and horses. Certain to be popular.

The Girl Who Rode the Wind by Stacy Gregg.

July 23, 2015 Comments off

girl windThe Girl Who Rode the Wind by Stacy Gregg. Pub. HarperCollins, 2015. I wanted to read this new Stacy Gregg novel over 2/3 days but I couldn’t wait and read it in one day. It is another story of romance, of history of drama and of course it is about girls and horses. Formulaic the novels may seem but they all have their own individual flavour that says read me.

Lola is 12 years old and she lives near New York’s Aqueduct racetrack. All her family are involved in horse racing and she herself is a gutsy rider who loves horses. Lola goes back to Italy with her Nonna who fled Italy after World War 2 and has never been back. Nonna came from the beautiful city of Siena where every 16th August they run the Palio around the dirt cover cobblestones of the main piazza of Siena. It is the roughest horse race in the world competed for by the 17 Contrada or districts of Siena with names like Wolf, Porcupine and Giraffe. Winning is more important than life and death.

Lola meets a boy who works for a stable that trains the Palio horses and also meets Nico a wild powerful horse who she rides every day. But there is much history to get through before the Palio.

Nonna was known as Scavezzecolla when she was  a young girl because she was a fierce rider who had competed in the Palio. She has a story of murder and romance in Facist Italy to tell Lola that she told to no-one and needs to get out. Secrets are to be revealed.

Stunningly written by Stacy Gregg who continues to write horse stories that are thrilling but I have always been a succour for romance. Teenage and pre teen readers have much to enjoy in this novel.

The Island of Lost Horses by Stacey Gregg.

November 12, 2014 Comments off

island lost horsesThe Island of Lost Horses by Stacey Gregg. Pub. HarperCollins, 2014.

Not many people will have heard of the Abaco Barb horse, the rarest breed in the World. Stacey Gregg has and she has written another of her impressive horse stories with an historical context. This time it is about Christopher Columbus on his quest to the New World at a time when Spain was living in fear of the Spanish Inquisition and Jews were being persecuted not for the first or last time.

Stacey Gregg links 12 year old Beatriz a present day girl who is sailing with her marine biologist mother studying jellyfish in the warm seas around the Bahamas. Lucky girl. With a story of a girl Felipa from the year 1492. A girl who keeps a diary of her life.

While anchored near an island Beatriz sees a horse with top hat markings and is drawn to the horse. While chasing  the horse she both are caught in a life and death struggle in mudflats and are rescued by and old woman named Annie.

It becomes clear that Beatriz and the horse are fated to be together and this attraction has roots in the history of Christopher Columbus. Felipa’s  diary  tells a story of persecution and flight to the New World with a top hat marked horse on one of Columbus’s ships. Is there a link between the two girls?

I really like Stacey Gregg’s novels. They have good values, strong girl characters and great adventure and of course horses. Can the rare Abaco barb horse species be saved and of course there is a hurricane.  Wonderful ending.

Reluctant girls of primary and intermediate school age love them. This year another of Gregg’s novels The Princess and the Foal won children’s choice at the NZ Post Book Awards. This novel is just as good.

Kiwis at War: 1914 Riding into War by Susan Brocker.

June 18, 2014 Comments off

riding into warKiwis at War: 1914 Riding into War by Susan Brocker. Pub. Scholastic, 2014.

The first of a new series from Scholastic that has quality NZ writers telling about New Zealanders  in  World War 1, featuring each year of the Great War, the war to end all wars. If only that were true.

This novel is accessible to a wide range of readers from middle school through to secondary students and I expect the others will be the same.

Billy Bowman is 17 when he, his best mate Jack and work colleague, Chopper, ride off the farm to sign up for the big adventure. What they and their horses got fell well short of that description. At Awapuni Racecourse they were assigned to the 6th Manawatu Squadron of the Wellington Mounted Rifles Regiment.

They expected to ride gloriously into battle on their chargers but instead got Gallipoli and the battle of Chunuk Bair. At home New Zealander’s were greeted with the headline” How the ANZACS gained a foothold at the Dardanelles, No finer Feat in the War”. At the front it was a different story.

Before the action the men and horses were shipped to Egypt and experienced the heat and culture shock while champing at the bit to go into action. Leaving their horses behind was a telling blow.

Susan Brocker tells it well through the character Billy and through letters from home. She knows the story of the horses having written the story of Brave Bess one of only 4 horses that returned. A review appears earlier on this blog.

Much has been written about the Gallipoli Campaign but this account adds the dimension of the horses and will still bring a tear to your eyes as Billy learns two new words – amputee and prosthetics. Lest we forget.