Showing posts from September, 2013

Review: Sheena Wilkinson - Too Many Ponies

Sheena Wilkinson's novels Taking Flight and Grounded are both aimed at the Young Adult market, so don't pick Too Many Ponies up thinking it's the same. Although the book features characters from the previous books, Declan and Seaneen are now grown up, married, and have two children, Aidan and Kitty. The family have a farm (Rosevale) for abused and rescued horses, which is run on a financial shoestring. Aidan's just starting secondary school, and the book's aimed at children of around that age. Aidan's not the only one starting secondary school: his good friend Lucy, who keeps her pony at Rosevale, is starting too. The author has a canny eye for what life as an eleven year old is like: an age when the comfortable life of primary school vanishes, and you're thrust into the maelstrom of senior school and fight to stay afloat, or not. Lucy floats; Aidan doesn't. Lucy unwittingly thrusts Aidan into the path of the class bullies, who view ponies as somet

Review: Jill Hucklesby – Samphire Song

Jill Hucklesby’s Samphire Song deals with grief and illness, and combines them with the conventional girl gets horse only she can ride plot. Heroine Jodie’s father, a pilot, died in a flying accident, leaving her, her mother, and her ten year old brother, Ed. The grief and gap left by Jodie’s father’s death is not the only thing they have to contend with: Ed has kidney disease, and has to have dialysis several times a week. Life is too much for Jodie, but she’s helped by looking after a horse called Rambo, who provides an escape for her as she tries to get through her days. Jodie’s dreams of horse owning come true when her writer mother gets a regular post on a gardening magazine, meaning Jodie will be able to have her first horse. The fact this book is called Samphire Song does rather ruin the plot of the getting-the-horse section, as from the moment Samphire appears, you know that’s who Jodie’s going to end up with, not any other horse described in this section. Samphire o

Amazon, the OFT, and Price Parity

Until very recently, sellers on Amazon weren’t allowed to sell any item they had listed on Amazon for less elsewhere.  Many booksellers have their own sites. It costs much less to sell a book from your own site as you aren’t paying Amazon either their monthly fee, or the 17.25% they take from every sale, and the cut they take of the postage. It makes good economic sense for you as a small business to encourage people to your site with costs that undercut Amazon’s, but under Amazon’s price parity policy, you couldn’t do this. There was an outcry about this back in 2010, and a complaint was made to the OFT. One of the booksellers who complained was contacted by the OFT on 4 th June 2010 via email (which I’ve seen, as I have the rest of the emails mentioned in this piece). The bookseller was asked if they’d be available to answer some questions, as the OFT gathered information on Amazon. The interview happened. Not a lot else did, so the bookseller wrote to the OFT on 10th Augus

Review: Katharina Marcus - Eleanor McGraw, a Pony Named Mouse and a Boy Called Fire

Eleanor McGraw is Katharina Marcus’ first book, but I must say it doesn’t read as if it is. It’s an accomplished piece of writing. Heroine Eleanor doesn’t have the usual pony book heroine background. She’s the daughter of a rock star (long since faded from the scene, though he keeps in touch) and a folk musician. Eleanor’s not had a stable background, but at last her mother has settled down with Kjell, a Swedish dentist, with whom she’s expecting a baby. The family have moved to the south of England, and Eleanor’s about to start yet another new school, which means yet another group of people who have to get used to the fact the only way Eleanor’s going to look like everyone else is if she grows another foot and puts on another stone. Eleanor’s life has given her a fair degree of self-possession, which she needs. The new school doesn’t go well, but there are two things that make it a bit more bearable: a pony she’s found near her home, alone in a field, and a boy, Pike. Pike,

Review: Tudor Robins - Objects in Mirror

I like this book very much indeed. The moment, I’d finished it, I wanted to start it again straightaway, to check out any bits I missed, and enjoy the story all over again. It's a very fine piece of writing. I don’t normally rush like a fiend for the author bio, if there is one, but in this case I was racing to get to it. The heroine in this book, Grace, has an eating disorder. She’s anorexic. I had an eating disorder (if I’m being honest, I still have it; it just takes different forms) and was anorexic at about the same age as Grace. All anorexics are different, but it soon became obvious to me as I was reading this that the author knew exactly what she was talking about. There are little tricks that you have as an anorexic, ways you think... There was so much about Grace’s story that rang bells. The author, like me, had an eating disorder. Grace lives with her stepmum, Annabelle, and her half brother Jamie, who’s three. Her distant, and frankly unlikeable father, h