By Kara Swanson
From Enclave Publishing
If you like Peter Pan, you’ll love this book.
Claire’s view of herself and the world is pretty dark, especially since her twin brother disappeared six years ago. Her search for him brings her to London, where she meets Peter Pan and finds out magic is real. But Peter is grounded with no pixie dust, the Lost Boys have turned against him, and Neverland is falling apart. Claire needs to believe in herself to find her brother and help Neverland, and Peter needs to face the truth of why everything is screwed up in the first place.
This young adult fantasy is charming, relatable, fun, and romantic. The characters were alive and I felt with them every moment. The author captured Peter Pan perfectly. I loved every page of this book and can’t wait to read more.
This is Book 1 of the Heirs of Neverland series (released July 2020). Book 2 will be published July 2021. While Book 1 includes satisfying, complete character arcs, the story is far from over when you reach the end. Be aware that this book leaves you hungry to keep reading the series. But I have a feeling the wait will be worth it.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves Peter Pan or whimsical young adult fantasy.
Find it here on Amazon.
A hearty five to-be-read piles for this one!
Lady Long Rider
If I could be reincarnated, I believe I would like to come back as Claire Dog. Bernice Ende shared over 20,000 miles with her faithful companion, Claire, and I can’t think of a better life than to ride horses and see the country the way Bernice and Claire Dog did.
Lady Long Rider chronicles these adventures in beautiful style. This is a must-read! Ms. Ende rides horseback across the United States and into Canada, and her vivid descriptions make you feel like you are there with her.
Ms. Ende is not just an equestrian; she has done detailed research about many of the places she has visited, and she offers bits of history and fascinating insights throughout the book. The last ride she documents takes her coast to coast with a special visit to the home and gravesite of Susan B. Anthony in Rochester, New York. This year is the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, making this a particularly timely read for me. Along with the stories of her travels, her horses, and Claire Dog, Ms. Ende offers keen reminders of the importance of the women’s rights movement. She reminds the reader that we are all standing on the shoulders of history and it is always worthwhile to take a moment to reflect and offer thanks to those who came before and opened doors that we may now walk through . . . and that we should be guiding lights for those who will come after us.
I love the down-to-earth, yet graceful, style of Ms. Ende’s writing. I was almost as impressed with her writing as I was with her exploits as a long rider. This is a great book to read during our current time, with so many travel restrictions. The only caveat is that it will make you want to take some long rides yourself!
While this book is similar to Rough Magic (see below) that I recently read and reviewed about another woman on an endurance ride, the two stories could not be more different. Lady Long Rider is marvelously written and details a wonderful story of love for nature, love for animals, love of country, and searching for self. Rough Magic involves more of a whim . . . and the luck that carried a girl across Mongolia. Rough Magic is a quick, engaging read that is easily picked up and put down. Lady Long Rider engulfs the reader, provokes thought, and Ms. Ende’s words stay with her reader long after the book has finished.
Definitely a five out of five must-read piles!
Get it here on Amazon.
I think I need to visit Mongolia. From what Lara Prior-Palmer writes in Rough Magic, and from what I had been told previously, it is a beautiful country still honoring age-old traditions centered around horses. But this book is a story not just for those of the horsey persuasion but for anyone interested in a good adventure story. I had heard of the Mongol Derby but had never paid much attention. I prefer horses of the hunter-jumper persuasion, over endurance riding, but Rough Magic piqued my interest in the race to such an extent that I started researching it. The entry fee is now about $14,128, but this year’s race is full; entries for next year’s race are being accepted. If you’re as intrigued as I was, you can check out theadventurists.com for info.
Rough Magic's narrative uses Prior-Palmer’s perspective and centers more on her own (somewhat meandering) thoughts during the race than on the race itself. I wish she had detailed the actual race, the country, the horses, and the people more. I really wanted to root for her. As she was the youngest person ever to finish the Mongol Derby and the only woman to win, I wanted to be in her corner. But as she details her complete lack of planning and poor attitude, I quickly began to wonder how she even survived the race. Depending on others to navigate for her and for supplies such as water, food, toilet paper, even a course map, I started to think that she didn’t deserve to win; it seems like it was just dumb luck and time penalties that propelled her past her American nemesis. This girl didn’t even pack extra clothes and had to spend the majority of the race in damp jodhpurs after riding through rain on the first day! At one stopping point, she and another competitor stay the night with a local family that is not affiliated with the race. In the morning, the matriarch demands payment and Prior-Palmer simply rides off, unwilling to offer anything from her store of cash.
Rough Magic is a quick, easy read, though the writing is sometimes clumsy. Prior-Palmer is a good writer, but her apparent desire to be a great author gets in the way sometimes. I had to keep reminding myself that this girl was only nineteen years old during the story. Keeping that in mind, the storyline is more palatable. While the writing is lacking at times, the premise of the book is interesting and will hold the reader’s attention.
Published by Catapult, Rough Magic is definitely worth a read, but don’t take it too seriously. The meaning of life may be found on the back of a horse, but it will not be found in this book. If you need some escapism from the current craziness of our world, this is a good read! I am not sure if I am up for trekking 1,000 kilometers across the steppe on semi-wild ponies, but then again, it sounds rather tempting given the current COVID lockdowns.
Three+ to-be-read piles!
Find it here on Amazon.