Showing posts from 2012

Books of the Year 2012

This post has been bubbling away for a while now, but has kept falling to the bottom of the list of things to do. We are still trying to move house and I am still spending hours disinterring the junk of ages and attempting to sort it out. The people at the tip no longer bother to tell us what to put where, as they know we know.

Reading has been something I've managed in five minute bursts, usually while waiting for something else to happen. But this year has not been a total washout on the reading front: far from it.

There has been some fine series fiction. Victoria Eveleigh's Exmoor stories (Orion), have been republished and re-written to good effect. Belinda Rapley's Pony Detectives series (Templar) is an exciting new series for the slightly younger reader. Maggie Dana has been re-writing and re-issuing her Timber Ridge Riders books. She has a particularly good appreciation of the ups and downs of teenage life, and the latest, Wish Upon a Horseis one of her best. I parti…

Guest Blog: Janet Rising on a vicious recruitment drive in Suburbia

Busted! Vicious recruitment drive in Suburbia!
They were there again yesterday as bold as brass; circling the churchyard, trawling for recruits, secret agents under their thin Christmas disguise, masquerading as Santa’s little helpers, sweeping up victims one at a time and taking only a circuit of the churchyard to gain followers for life. They knew what they were doing, and they were doing it in broad daylight, under the gaze of fully consenting parents. Flashbacks washed over me like a tsunami as I bore witness to unsuitably dressed children lured to a few moments of seemingly innocent pleasure, their eyes wide, in a winding queue impatient for their turn, excited and breathless. Volunteering to be suckered in, their unsuspecting parents paying for the privilege, well oiled from mulled wine from the adjoining Christmas Fair and snapping away on their iPhones to record the moment for Grandma. To all intents and purposes a harmless bit of fun ‘for the kiddies’. Merciless, that’s what it…

Guest post: Jane Ayres on Black Beauty

My guest blogger today is, Jane Ayres, author of theMatty series. You can download Matty and the Racehorse Rescuefor free today and tomorrow (26/27 November 2012).  The other two books are Matty and the Problem Poniesand Matty and the Moonlight Horse. All the profits from the books go to support Redwings Horse Sanctuary.

Black Beauty, past and present by Jane Ayres
I can’t actually remember the first time I read Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty.  I think it was over several sessions when I was staying with an aunt in Kent on a family holiday.  It was on the bookshelf along with other classics like Treasure Island and Little Women.   I was about eight years old, and got very upset about any kind of cruelty to animals.  I loved the illustrations in the book (and wish I could remember what edition it was).  I cried when I read about Ginger’s fate and got so angry I felt like tearing the pages out.  I wanted to attack the people who hurt Ginger.  I also felt like Ginger was being punished for bei…

Review: Diana Kimpton - There Must be Horses

Diana Kimpton: There Must Be Horses
Paperback, Diana Kimpton, £6.29
Kindle, £2.56, Kindle, $1.23,, $3.99

Diana Kimpton's website

Thank you to the author for sending me a copy of this book.

Diana Kimpton is best known in horse circles as the author of the Pony Mad Princess series, of which I am a fan.  There Must be Horses is her first essay into horse fiction for the older reader. It's only available (thus far) in Kindle format, but don't let that put you off. I have to say I am not a Kindle habituĂ©, and if I get an e-book, it tends to take me longer to read, as I prefer your actual page to your virtual one. This book (file?), however, I finished in a day, and at the end was sitting with tears streaming down my face.

There Must be Horses is the story of Sasha. Her adoptive parents have given up on her, and when the book opens, she is off to yet another set of foster parents, for yet another temporary placement. She is now a hard-to-place child, too old t…

Tuesday giveaway

Another giveaway - completely different to Friday's. This one is a rather charming unicorn story. I am not normally a fan of the unicorn; not in his 21st century guise, anyway. This one does have a noble unicorn, but he is quite a worried beast too. No one can see him, save for one elderly man, and the unicorn does want to be seen. This is a charmingly told story, and it has beautiful illustrations, and a satisfyingly ambiguous ending.
If you'd like to be entered for the draw to win it, just add your name to the comments below.

Friday giveaway....

Friday giveaway .... though possibly not if you're easily offended. I have a copy of Judy Reene Singer's Horseplay, which I suppose you could just about consider a romance. It's more about the heroine sorting out her horse life, and the up
s and downs of the women she lives with. It is at times very funny. And occasionally quite rude. Those who have read it will know whereof I speak if I mention the vet. If you'd like this copy, which is very minimally exlibrary but really in pretty good shape, add your name to the comments. I will pick names out of a hat at some point on Saturday.

Comfort reading

I am about to give up, slope away and sleep on the sofa with the dog, for I have a cold. Usually I carry on regardless, my agricultural labourer genes usually up for slogging on, but today I have had enough. I am a bit goggled by the fact that we have NOWHERE TO LIVE. To be more accurate, we do, we're still living in the house, but the sale is hurtling towards a conclusion (good, because that's what we wanted, wasn't it?) but there is nothing for sale in the area we want to move to, and nothing to rent that has a garden, or that will allow dogs, if it has a garden. 
Today I am feeling completely overwhelmed by our imminent homelessness, and the vast amounts of sorting out I still have to do to de-clutter, and now I have a cold. And it is right at that drippy, miserable, temperature-y stage where the world seems a place viewed best from underneath the duvet. Comfort reading is what I need. One useful side-effect of the decluttering I have done is that I do at least know wh…

Heroines on Horseback

which is the title of my book, will be out in March 2013. Here's the draft cover. It won't look like that when it finally emerges into the light of day.

It's about

the pony book, which galloped on to the children’s book scene with a flick of its rosetted bridle in the 1930s, and has remained a fixture ever since. Brave girls, nervous ones, scruffy ponies and ornaments of the show ring cantered through pony tale after pony tale, all fallen upon by an audience desperate to read anything that reflected their own passion for the pony.

Heroines on Horseback looks at the pony book through its beginnings in the 20s and 30s, to the glory days of the 40s and 50s, and beyond. I write about the lives and contributions of noted exponents, including Primrose Cumming, Monica Edwards, Patricia Leitch, Ruby Ferguson and the Pullein-Thompson sisters, as well as providing a wide-ranging view of the genre as a whole, its themes and developments, illustrators and short stories.

There are plenty…

Interview: Belinda Rapley

My latest interviewee is Belinda Rapley, author of the Pony Detectives series. It's about a group of four girls: Rosie, Alice, Charlie and Mia who keep their horses at Rosie's farmhouse home.  It’s a solid and well-written series, which concentrates on the relationships between the girls and their ponies, and avoids the fantastic or romantic elements that have been added to the genre over the years.

Can you tell me something about how you came to love the horse?
The honest answer is that I’m not quite sure how it came about, it crept up out of nowhere! None of my family had ever shown any interest in anything remotely horsey, and I grew up in suburbia with very little greenery anywhere near. I used to share my name with an ancient donkey on the Isle of Wight, and whenever we went over there on holiday I was allowed to lead her out for some cow parsley, which she loved. But I don’t think I ever crazed my parents for lessons, or a pony. On one holiday though my parents organised a…

Elaine Walker: Fact, Fiction and Reality - Writing What I Know

Elaine Walker - Virtual writer-in-residence - October 2012
Elaine writes fiction and non-fiction about the horse. Her work has been featured at The Guardian Hay Festival and translated into several languages. Her book The Horses, mentioned in this piece, is an excellent post Apocalyptic story, in which a family who have been holidaying in remote Scotland find that everyone who lived in any community numbering more than a few is dead. The family are trying to survive on a Scottish farmstead, but life is desperately difficult, particularly when the family’s father dies. And then the horses come...

As well as lecturing in Creative Writing and English Literature, Elaine offers bespoke courses and mentoring in Creative Writing. Mention Jane Badger Books for a discount on courses and copies of Elaine's books - you can contact her via her website.

Writing Residency - week 4
For my final post, I'm going to talk about the way my connection with horses links to my academic and creative wri…

Review: Patricia Leitch - The Magic Pony

Patricia Leitch: The Magic Pony
Catnip, 2012, £5.99

Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book.

Patricia Leitch’s books are immensely satisfying; multi-layered: they succeed on so many levels. If you want to read The Magic Pony as a pony adventure in which a girl rescues a woman from dying somewhere she didn't want to; a mistreated pony from appalling conditions, and sees her own horse recover from a mystery foot injury, it works perfectly on that level. As a pony story, it is extraordinarily good, but it has much to say on ageing, and on death, and on how we perceive those around us.

The Magic Pony is the seventh in the Jinny series. Jinny is struggling with school (the intractability of algebra), and the utter frustration of a half term that has seen even she, normally uncaring about the weather, restricted to home in the face of the deluge that lasted until the last day of half term. And now the last day has come; it has dawned fine, but Jinny has to go to the d…