Oh, gentle reader, you have arrived on an auspicious day indeed. Not only is this my very first book review (on this blog, anyway), but my very first giveaway, too! You have to read to the end for the freebie part, no cheating.
Featured author Jennifer Walker is the author of Bubba Goes National and Bubba to the Rescue. Her stories have also appeared in the anthologies Elements of the Soul and The Ultimate Horse Lover. A full-time freelance writer and editor, her work has appeared in numerous magazines and websites including the Yahoo! Contributor Network. She resides in northern California with her husband, cat, dog, and Arabian stallion.
This post is part of Jennifer’s very cool two-week Virtual Book Tour. Jennifer will also be contributing a guest post right here on March 13th on writing for the Young Adult market, so mark your calendars, peeps!
BOOK REVIEW: BUBBA TO THE RESCUE
As Young Adult fiction for horse-crazy girls goes, Jennifer Walker’s Bubba to the Rescue, the second in her Green Meadow series, has a lot going for it: beautiful Arabians, an adrenaline-pumping forest fire, an intriguing mystery … and two perfect guys who love horses and horse-crazy girls so much that they never complain about all the time spent in the barn!
The latter two – one, teen protagonist Leslie Clark’s father Dan, the other her devoted (and maybe just a wee bit two-dimensional) boyfriend Alex – may be the most fictional elements of Bubba to the Rescue. Where the story really comes alive is in Walker’s depictions of Green Meadow Stable and its equine residents, which is absolutely as her tween and teen readers would want it.
From her heart-wrenching description of Leslie’s Arabian gelding, Lucky (aka Bubba) suffering a potentially career-ending injury in the forest fire, to the ethereal appearance of the mystery horse, Spark, who materializes out of the flames to gallop home safely with Leslie, Alex, and their horses, Walker provides vivid portrayals of her equine characters, the routine of barn life and horse shows, and authentic details of stable management that reveal her extensive background in that world. When a friend’s horse suffers a bout of colic, Leslie’s anguish is palpable, as is her pride when her mystery horse excels at his first show.
Leslie also wrestles with some typical teen challenges: adjusting to a blended family when her father (widowed in the first in the series, Bubba Goes National) remarries, testing the murky waters of dating and formal dances, peer rivalry from a mean-spirited classmate, and feeling helpless when a friend comes under the influence of a controlling boyfriend. In the saddle, however, she is skilled and her horses perform perfectly; if I were to quibble, I would say I would have liked to have seen her struggle with her blossoming horsemanship skills just a smidge!
There also seems to be little focus on Lucky once his veterinarian declares that his recovery will be slow (as realistic a part of the horse industry as that circumstance might be). The horse who was the heart of the first Green Meadow book gets turned out in a field and seldom mentioned afterwards; I kept waiting for his re-entry to the story, though I suspect Walker is planning Lucky’s triumphant return in the in-progress book three!
In an age where dark forces seem to be almost obligatory in teen novels, Bubba to the Rescue is refreshingly free of supernatural influences, R-rated themes, and bad behaviour. Leslie and her cohorts are normal, modern teens, the adults in their lives provide gentle moral guidance, and there are subtle life lessons taught without hitting the reader over the head.
Although this is the second book in the Green Meadow series and builds on characters introduced in Bubba Goes National, it does well as a stand-alone volume. The pacing is brisk and never bogs down, making Bubba to the Rescue not only a page-turner, but quite an incentive to pick up its sequel just as soon as it becomes available.
Published by Twin Trinity Media, Bubba to the Rescue (and Bubba Goes National) can be purchased here.
$1 from the every sale of Bubba Goes National and Bubba to the Rescue, between now and July 1, 2012, will go towards a fund to send a deserving young lady, Zoe Deaton, to the Arabian Youth Nationals in Albuquerque, in the last year she is eligible. Purchase a copy today and not only will you get to read a great story, but you’ll help this young rider fulfill her dream!
BREAKING NEWS! Comment on this post for your chance to WIN a FREE download of Jennifer Walker’s short story from the Green Meadows series, Leslie and the Lion. Just make sure you comment, with your e-mail address, by midnight (Eastern Daylight Time) on March 16, 2012! One commenter will be chosen at random.