Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Saddle Club #1: Horse Crazy

One of the dearly loved book series of my childhood is The Saddle Club. Three girls who are bffs and obsessed with horses. It was the perfect combination. But how do they hold up over the years?

We begin the first book with Stevie, who has exposition duty. Apparently there's a big horsey camp-out coming up and if Stevie doesn't get good grades, her parents aren't going to pay for her to go. This is only bad news until Stevie figures out that her parents said that they wouldn't pay for it if she got bad grades, not that she couldn't go. So she perks up and decides she's gonna earn a bunch of money doing odd jobs. I don't know about Stevie's parents, but that would not have flown with mine.

Then we switch to Carole, and learn that she's obsessed with horses and her mom just died. Downer. Carole is the only one out of the three who isn't a walking stereotype, so she actually had what I thought was the best-developed personality of the three. Anyway, Carole's talking about how her dad is always sorry and Mrs. Reg (deus ex grandma) suggests that he's sorry he can't be her mom and her dad. This is getting way too deep for a Saddle Club book. Abort! Abort!

Lisa walks into the barn with her overprotective, upward-mobility minded mother. Everyone can tell she's super smart, but Lisa is embarrassed by her mom talking her up to everyone. She starts to ride and everything's going well until somebody slams the door and the horse takes off.

I kind of take issue with this - loud noises are not exactly uncommon, and I don't think anyone would consider a horse who's terrified of them to be a good horse for someone's first ride ever. The beginner horses I've known you could pull a grenade under their bum and they would be too lazy to move.

But okay, we need this to happen because when Lisa meets Stevie, she starts to suspect Stevie of being THE DOOR SLAMMER. Fair enough because Stevie takes the stirrups off Lisa's saddle so she can't mount up for her first lesson, thereby humiliating her. Stevie, you're an ass.

Lisa befriends Veronica instead of Stevie & Carole, although she quickly learns that Veronica is a huge spoiled brat because we all know that rich people are the devil. Carole knows that Veronica is actually THE DOOR SLAMMER, but won't tell Lisa under pain of not being able to ride Veronica's STALLION WTF (who puts a beginner rider on a stallion? Whatever, book).

I call shenanigans at this. Slamming the door was obviously stupid, but Veronica could easily say, "Oh yeah, sorry, the wind blew the door out of my hand. I'm so glad you weren't hurt!" Plot thread over. But no, we have to go on for 80 pages with Lisa thinking that Stevie is out for her blood.

A bunch of really boring stuff about Stevie earning money happens, and Lisa finally overhears Veronica being the biotch she is. Carole finds Lisa crying and they kind of clear the air, and Carole invites Lisa to TD's. Prepare to hear a lot about TD's.

Sadly the rest of the book is mostly about sorting out Stevie's money dilemma, which is extremely boring. Basically Lisa tells Stevie to use the racketeering setup she's come up with as her math project, and saves the day so Stevie deigns to like her. Stevie really comes off as a jerk in this book. All's well that ends well, and they establish The Saddle Club.

This book is basically just background info with a story thrown in to tie it together. Unfortunately, the background info is a lot more interesting than the storyline. I ended up skimming all the parts about Stevie because guess what - 7th grade math projects don't get more interesting over time. The parts with Carole and Lisa are the most interesting, but the temporary friendship Lisa has with Veronica is boring at best because she's so obviously a big bad (or as bad as this series gets). Also, I picked this cover because I'm pretty sure it's the cover I originally read it with, but there's about a bazillion others as I found out when I looked it up on Amazon.

That's all for this time! Tell me if you enjoyed it; hopefully someone else gets a kick out of going back in time for these books.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Teaser Tuesday!

From my recently completed novel, Timekeeper.

“Will you tell me about Connor?” I whispered. I hadn’t forgotten that day in the gym. But I felt like the words were made of glass; too fragile to bring out at just any opportunity.

The van jolted and as Alex yelled back, “Sorry! Bus with nuns!” I windmilled in the air for a second before falling flat on top of Neil.

He made a surprised “whuff” noise when I hit and knocked the air out of him, but his arms opened automatically and he hugged me to him.

I said, "Sorry," but anything else I might have added was cut off as Neil squeezed me to him like a kid grabbing onto its teddy bear when the night-light goes out for the first time. He was even stronger than he looked and I gasped for breath, but quietly. I didn’t want him to hear me and feel like he had to let me go.

We lay there for a long time, the sound of the engine drowning out our breath and jolts from the bad suspension making it difficult to fall asleep. Neil didn’t say anything, and I didn’t either. I was too afraid to break the moment, and I felt in a strange way that maybe Neil was answering my question in the only way he could.