Racing Manhattan by Terence Blacker

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received an advance reading copy of this book from the publisher through LibraryThing Early Reviewers for an honest review.

Racing Manhattan by Terence Blacker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Jay isn’t much like the other teenagers around her, but she’s uniquely good with ponies. Even as a Thoroughbred, Manhattan has never made a positive mark as a racehorse. The pairing of these two misfits will be a fight involving more than a racetrack in Racing Manhattan, a novel by author Terence Blacker.

Well. Even with the “cheering” language in this book’s official blurb, don’t mistake this for a “cheerful” tale. Despite being a story of a young lover of ponies, horses, and riding, it isn’t the stuff that light and delightfully corny family horse flicks are made of.

Much of it is more melancholy than that, grittier, displaying family tragedy and dysfunction; sexism, bullying, and blackmail; and the seedy side of horse racing. The heroine, outcast that she may be, isn’t a timid or “wallowing in woe-is-me” sort, but she’s full of rage and determination. And yet, she isn’t a snarky jerk, she isn’t totally beyond intimidation, and she doesn’t forget how to smile.

Speaking of jerks, though, some of the characters did tire me a little. There’s a stretch when it seems that just about everyone Jay encounters is sarcastic, condescending, dismissive, or what have you, and an abundance of people being “mean” to the protagonist can get as irksome as an abundance of people being too friendly. But it all starts to balance out in due time, without being cheesy about it.

So, no, it’s not a cheerful story, but it is relatable and inspiring, with a moving and rather brilliant style. Definitely glad I picked this young adult novel up.
Note to my blog readers: this novel contains one instance of language I wouldn’t use.


I used the book cover from the previous edition of Racing Manhattan because I feel it’s a better fit for the story. But if you pick up a copy of the US edition to release in May 2018, it’ll have the cover below.



Pat of Silver Bush by L.M. Montgomery

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Pat of Silver Bush by L.M. Montgomery

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Nothing means more to Pat than being at home with the people she loves. And nothing frightens Pat more than change. But growing up will mean that not everything can stay the same in Pat of Silver Bush, a novel by author L.M. Montgomery.

Some of the best reading of my life has come from this author, including classics like Anne of Green Gables and more of the Anne novels, but even more so than those, for me: Emily of New Moon and the following two novels about Emily Byrd Starr, three of my all-time favorite books.

But after I moved on to some of this author’s more “mature” work over the past few years and ran into stories with unequivocally racist undertones and overtones, I wasn’t sure if I’d seek out any more of her writing. In this case, I read this novel chiefly because I’m interested in reading the one after it, and I already own copies of both. I believe that after these two, I’ll simply keep the good L.M.M. books I’ve read, continue to appreciate them for what they are, and leave the rest of the would-be-new-to-me stories where they are, wherever they may be.

As for this novel, I think I might have enjoyed it more if I weren’t already so familiar with Emily, Anne, and the ways of their books. Pat’s story felt too similar but somehow not as interesting, and this fairly lengthy novel might’ve been half as long without all of Judy’s ramblings. (Yes, I enjoyed Sarah’s [were they Sarah’s?] ramblings in Rilla of Ingleside, but I guess it wasn’t something I needed to see done over again with a “too similar” character.)

Still, as I expected it would, this novel vividly paints the beauty of Prince Edward Island and the sparkle, pain, poignancy, and wonder of childhood and growing up. All things considered, I’m glad I read it.


Yep. I read Pat’s first novel mainly so that I won’t be at all lost when I read her next, Mistress Pat.


Winners: Favorite Reads and Favorite Covers 2017 Giveaways

My hearty thanks to everyone who entered 2017’s Favorite Reads and Favorite Covers giveaways!

I’m happy to announce that Shamekka won a copy of Home by Ginny L. Yttrup, Cassandra won a copy of Loving Luther by Allison Pittman, sbmcmh won a copy of The Last Operative by Jerry B. Jenkins, Kathy won a copy of The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron, Linda won a copy of Weaver’s Needle by Robin Caroll, and Pat won a copy of Egypt’s Sister: A Novel of Cleopatra by Angela Hunt. Congrats!



Be sure to check out all of this year’s Favorite Reads and Favorite Covers for great books to add to your reading list.


World of the Innocent

When It’s Time Series


The Christmas Star: A Love Story by Robert Tate Miller

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

The Christmas Star: A Love Story by Robert Tate Miller

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

The pain of a crushing tragedy has driven Paul away from his family, and he now drinks far too much. He’s come to abhor Christmas, but one Christmas Eve accident lands him back in time—in the path of shepherds who’ll soon travel to see the newborn Christ in The Christmas Star: A Love Story by author Robert Tate Miller.

This novel wasn’t originally in my holiday reading queue for the year. But with the simple and tranquil but stunning quality of its chilly blue book cover sitting atop my TBR pile, and the beautiful white light of that star winking at me, I had to read this book sooner than later.

I usually dislike making comparisons between creative works, as I don’t want to set up people’s expectations for something other than the work in question. Still, here and there, this novel personally reminded me of four different movies I like, including two of my all-time favorites: It’s a Wonderful Life and The Nativity Story. I found much of this to be a fairly easygoing read, but just as it would settle into a predictable groove, it would slip in a little something unexpected to keep me on my toes.

The backstories of a couple minor characters went on a bit long to me, until I felt somewhat adrift from Paul’s tale. And there are some instances when backstory pops up to suddenly relate to an unfolding scene, instead of those past details being mentioned earlier in the book. Also, Paul has a minor tendency to be redundant, especially while he’s describing some of his lowest moments.

Nevertheless, this sobering story is saturated with the meaning of Christmas and the hope, redemption, and beautiful light that meaning brings.