Monday, June 8, 2015

Review and excerpt: Wonder Horse by @anitadaher #mg #giveaway #horse@chapterxchapter @RebelightBooks

~~ About Wonder Horse ~~
Wonder Horse by Anita Daher
Publication Date: May 8, 2015
Publisher: Rebelight Publishing
Fitting into a new school in a new city isn’t easy, but dreams come true for Sera with a gift from her parents: a gorgeous and spirited American Paint horse. Sera’s bubble bursts when a mean girl, Brittany, tells her that neither she nor her less than well-trained horse belong with the rest of the “reiners” in their riding class. As Sera sets out to prove Brittany wrong, she risks losing her passion for training and the friendship of Dev, another girl who truly understands her.

An earlier version of this story was originally published by Stabenfeldt (Stavanger, Norway) in 2011 as Wager the Wonder Horse and distributed in six languages: Norwegian, Hungarian, Czech, German, Finnish and Swedish.

~~ My Review ~~
Wonder Horse is a delightful story about a young girl and her new horse, Wager. As Sera struggles to fit into a new school, she and her horse are snubbed for his less than perfect bloodlines for the sport of reining. But Sera is determined to prove her special boy can do anything, including a few tricks she teaches him.

Along with her goal to show her horse’s abilities, Sera must also decide what’s important to her – sucking up to the mean girls, being childish and fighting back, or choosing her reactions to become the person she wants to be.

This is a book that will appeal both to girls who love horses and those who know nothing about them. The horse lingo is well explained in a natural way, and Sera’s difficulties are universal. But she’s a smart girl who handles even a spooking horse analytically and finds the ability to use her parent’s psychology experience in her own way.

I loved that Wager’s antics were based upon a real horse. I’ve known a couple horses that would have been his best friends and delighted in learning tricks from their owners as well.

The editing of Wonder Horse was top notch, no grammar nazi complaints from me! The only nit I found was Sera’s extremely calm reaction to her horse running away with her. It took away from the drama of the situation. Or maybe I’m just jealous cuz when my horse bolts, I panic. No thinking at all!

I heartily recommend Wonder Horse to middle grade readers or anyone who wants to enjoy a low-key, but very cute, horse story with a likeable main character who comes to terms with nay-sayers and proves them wrong. 

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~~ Excerpt ~~
As we walk our horses toward the arena door, I see Brittany watching us, and she doesn’t look happy. Talk about jealous! As usual, her mare flattens her ears at Wager. That mare might benefit from Mom and Dad’s lecture on actions and reactions.
                “Dani,” Brittany calls, “have you seen some of the other things Wager can do?”
                “What do you mean?” Dani asks.
                “Yeah, what do you mean?” I echo.
                “He’s a good looking horse,” she says. “Flashy.”
                She looks at me, as if expecting me to say something. Like what? I’m way too surprised.
                “Since they’re going to be at the winter show anyway, why don’t they enter a showmanship class?”
                Dani cocks her head to the side. “I wonder,” she says. “Sera, what do you think?”
                I’ve watched showmanship classes in Calgary. It wouldn’t be like our lesson. Wager would have to be groomed to look like a million bucks—not a problem for my boy—and must respond instantly to my cues to walk, trot or halt. He’d also have to stand still for very long periods of time.
                “Honestly? I don’t think he’s patient enough.”
                “Well let’s see,” she says. “Go ahead and walk a small circle with him.”
                I feel like today’s lesson has been three-in-one! We walk, trot, stop, and start and backup on Dani’s cues. Finally she calls us in. “I think you’ll do fine if you’d like to try it,” she says. “Good idea, Brittany.”
                “No problem,” Brittany says, and I see a strange glint in her eyes. “Wager’s a good boy.” She looks at him. “Aren’t you. Wager? Such a good boy!”
                I’m so busy thinking about the show that I don’t notice how closely Wager is listening to Brittany. I catch on just in time to watch Wager offer a vigorous “yes” head-bob, which unfortunately catches Dani’s chin on the upswing.
                “Son of a gun!” she shouts after a sharp cry of pain. She’s holding her chin, but manages to look at me and spit out, “What is that?”
                “A trick,” I say, my voice small.
                She shakes her head. “Bad idea, Sera. Does he always do that when someone tells him he’s a good boy?”
                “Pretty much,” I say. “You have to be looking at him.”
                “And what if a showmanship judge tells him the same thing?” She lets go of her jaw and gives her head a roll, as if to work out the kinks, and I get the sense she’s not really waiting for me to answer. Her chin is red where Wager whacked her. “I’m not confident that we can train that out of him in one week. Stick to reining this time around, Sera. We’ll work on showmanship another time.” She turns and—muttering the whole way—leads Spike out of the arena.
                “Why did you do that, Brittany?”
                “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she says, smirking. “Clearly, Wager is a special boy, but that doesn’t mean he can be good at everything.” She sniffs. “You don’t have to show him, you know. He’s a nice riding horse. Why don’t you stick with that?”
                My heart and every bit of happy I had in me drops to the arena floor. I don’t know what I did to turn Brittany against us, but it’s pretty clear she doesn’t want us in her world.
                We’ll show her, Wager. We’ve got to.
                I stroke Wager’s nose. Brittany’s right about one thing. He is a nice riding horse. We used to have so much fun together. When exactly did riding stop being fun?

~~ About Anita Daher ~~
Anita Daher has been entrenched in the publishing industry since 1995, and is (thus far) author of fourteen books for children and teens. Aside from short stints as grave-plot seller, tour guide, and children’s party clown, she’s worked in aviation, publishing and broadcasting. When not word wrangling, she enjoys inhabiting characters on stage and screen.

Connect with the Author:  Website | Twitter Facebook | Goodreads

Giveaway Information:  Winner will be drawn June 26, 2015
·         Two (2) winners will received a physical copy of Wonder Horse by Anita Daher (US/Canada)
·         Five (5) winners will receive a digital copy of Wonder Horse by Anita Daher (INT)

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