Chasing The Wind – a Book Review

Some of you may remember last year I reviewed the fourth book in the Aspen Valley series, Making the Running, by Hannah Hooton.

Well, a couple of months ago I was asked to be a beta reader. This means that I was one of the first to read the book, compare the alternate endings, and provide feedback. 

Now the book is officially finished and available to buy (links at the end of the post). I can provide you guys with a review and recommendation.

  
Chasing The Wind is the final book in the Aspen Valley series. Set in Somerset, the series revolves around racehorse trainer Jack Carmichael, his family, his horses, his staff, and his career. The book got off to a gripping start, with the tragic death of Jack’s two-year old daughter, Gabrielle, in the hands (or hooves) of a racehorse, Shenandoah.

Simultaneously, young journalist Lucy Kendrick, arrives on Jack’s doorstep. Already the reader can smell a rat, as we see the edges of her web of lies in her shadow, suggesting that all is not what it seems.

The book follows Jack as he tries to come to terms with his loss; tries to make amends with his devastated wife; battles the horse racing authorities when his reputation is threatened;  finds the perpetrator within his closest; solves the enigma that is Lucy; and all whilst planning his revenge on the unbeatable Shenandoah at the upcoming Grand National.

I would class this book, as with the others in the series, as a romance book, with the backdrop of the horse racing industry. It’s got plenty of witty, comedic moments, memorable and instantly recognisable characters, and is easy to read and to pick up, making it perfect bedtime reading with a mug of hot chocolate.

It is also definitely part of a series. Whilst it can be easily read on it’s own and thoroughly enjoyed, previous protagonists pop up throughout.

What I particularly liked about this book, compared to the previous ones, is that it brings in a few technical elements – having a horse x-rayed for kissing spines, a common complaint of the racing industry, and jump schooling to improve a horse’s technique. To me, it makes the books more realistic and well researched, if not slightly idealistic.

The book has many sub plots, and a couple of traps to fall into, and I was kept guessing until the end. When I thought I knew who Lucy the journalist was, another suspicion was raised. 

I will admit, that when I read the ending -which I will not reveal – in the beta version, I was slightly disappointed. It took me from the highs of reconciliation to the lows of retribution. For the end of the series I felt there was something missing. I voiced my opinion in my feedback, and I have to say I was thrilled by the improvements.

In the final version of Chasing The Wind there is an epilogue, which cleverly ties up the series whilst leaving the door ajar if Hannah Hooton decides to revisit Aspen Valley in the future.

The books are available from AmazonNookiTunes, and Kobo

Nostalgia

When having a moment of nostalgia not so long ago I started thinking about my favourite horse-related books. As a book-worm child books like The Silver Brumby, of which I am devastated to find that only the first book is available as an e-book. The first book is fab, but I loved the continuation of Thowra`s life. I had hundreds of horsey books; I remember Mum taking me to Hay-on-Wye every summer where we would scour the bookshops for second hand books to occupy me through the holidays. Some were better than others; a timeless classic is My Friend Flicka, but did you know it was a trilogy, closely followed by the Thunderhead books, and finally Green Grass of Wyoming?

I think the classic we all know is Black Beauty; the film adaptation makes me cry every time. That part when Ginger`s body goes past Beauty … 😦 I also had the little-known volume by the Pullein-Thompson sisters about Black Beauty`s family and descendents. One of the Pullein Thompson sisters books, Save the Horses, I think it was called had a line at the end about the tired riders returning with their rescued horses, being dog tired, but saying “we should always make sure our horses are happy, comfortable and fed before seeing to our own needs” Or words to that effect. But it is a mantra I`ve always remembered and abided by. The Pullein Thompson sisters books, along with Pat Smythe`s Three Jays series were inherited by me from my Mum. Also on the book shelf were the K.M. Peyton books; a Swallow`s Tale and the rest. I`ll be honest, these books didn’t inspire me because I didn`t like the thought that you could fall in love with a horse, but not be able to ride it as well as your friend. I think that rang quite true when I was growing up and aspiring to be as good as my older friends. I also had the two books about Misty of Chincoteague, of which I recently found the film version; at the time I was intrigued in the idea of horses swimming across the sea, but a quick look on youtube showed the real round up happening! My Mum`s favourite books were by Ruby Ferguson, about Jill; I don`t really remember them that well except that in one book they had their own riding stables at the age of 15 or something! If only it was that easy in real life.

A more modern few books that I had growing up were Sandy Lane Stables, Half Moon Ranch, and of course The Phantom Horse. How I dreamed about having a palomino horse from them on! I still wouldn`t turn one down… The other book which really sticks in my mind, after making me shed bucketfuls of tears is Ashleigh`s Diary, from The Thoroughbred series by Joanna Campbell. I feared an epidemic for months after that. Another horse that I wouldn`t have turned down is Polly, from Wendy Douthwaites series, which I am gutted to find is no longer in print, because I fear I leant one of the books to a friend and never got it back.

 

My favourite Narnia book is The Horse and His Boy; again I dreamed that my pony would suddenly start talking to me and could teach me everything about them!

I think I`ve covered most of the horse classics, but if anyone would like to tell their favourite book or story then just comment below, it will probably spark more memories for me!