May 1, 2012

Racing Into Trouble

Racing Into Trouble
Book 2: Timber Ridge Riders
by Maggie Dana
Ever since Kate McGregor arrived at Timber Ridge Stables, Angela Dean has been making trouble for her. Maybe she’s angry because Kate’s a better rider than she is, or maybe she’s jealous because Kate’s the only one who’s allowed to ride Buccaneer, the barn’s willful new horse. To further complicate matters, a new girl — Jennifer West — moves into the neighborhood and Angela sets out to impress her. But when Angela makes a fool of herself in front of Jennifer, things begin to go wrong and Kate gets the blame. Is Angela behind the trouble? Kate and her best friend, Holly Chapman who’s learning to walk and ride again, can’t be sure. But they do know one thing. If Angela’s on the warpath, Kate is heading for trouble, and fast.
Volume two shakes things up pretty dramatically in Timber Ridge Riders, which begins with a couple of new additions: the extra excitable Buccaneer and the newest rider at the barn, Jennifer. The resident antagonist, Angela, has high hopes that she will commandeer both Buccaneer and Jennifer for herself, but it's pretty clear from the get go that both Buccaneer and Jennifer are way out of Angela's league. Angela can only handle well-trained, push-button horses, which Buccaneer is definitely not, and Jennifer appears to be polite and has spiky hair and a nose piercing. Le gasp! Who is this magical girl who seems to have some sort of personal style that is not normally defined as "grubby" and dares to ride horses? And why can't there be more of them in horse books?

So anyway. Liz, Holly's mom and resident adult, determines that only she will ride and train Buccaneer, but when she sprains her ankle Kate steps up to pick up all the extra chores around the barn. Naturally, Kate and Buccaneer hit it off over a roll of minty Life Savers and Liz hesitantly gives her the go ahead to exercise him. Magician, awesome horse from the previous book, is probably wondering why no one loves him anymore. Poor guy. Kate romps around on Buccaneer, only to be seen by Angela and, in an odd turn of events, winds up accidentally allowing Angela to go careening off on the horse. This ends in disaster, and since Angela is not to be shamed for the stupidity she gets herself into, people are going to pay. People being, well, mainly Kate.

And so begins the truly awe inspiring campaign to drive Kate completely insane. Antagonists everywhere could learn at the feet of Angela, because she is something to behold. Granted, some of her actions are based on pure chance, but the girl knows how to capitalize. And because Holly and Kate are too afraid to tell Liz what is going on for fear that Angela's mom will fire her and kick them all out of Timber Ridge for being competent, Angela's campaign is a smashing success. Everyone loses faith in Kate, who is eventually fired and forced to garden for the rest of the summer. (Ha! I'm kidding...or am I? Dun dun dun.)

Seriously. It was like watching a plane crash in slow motion. It just keeps tumbling to the ground and you keep expecting it to pull up and it just...doesn't. It hits the ground. Angela is officially the horsey main character slayer. Long live Angela! (No, not really. I don't like horse book antagonists that much. I just wish Brad Townsend had been this effective. I would have laughed and laughed...but that's besides the point.)

Anyhoo, the other major development is Holly's walking ability. She's been battling through two books to get over her hysterical paralysis, determined to one day ride Magician again. For some reason, no one takes this girl to a therapist, but that's neither here nor there. We're just waiting for her to climb out of her wheelchair and insert herself in the sort of romance that may or may not be budding between Kate and Adam. Love triangle of doom is on, you guys. Prepare yourselves!

We end the book by officially declaring that no one likes Angela. No wonder she acts out all the time.

All said, this is a solid middle grade. The horse crazy tweens will lap it up, and that's okay by me because I'm again charmed by the fact that none of the main characters irritate me. There is crop usage (and visualizing smacking people in the face with the crop, so all is not perfect in main character land). And none of the horses act like special flowers waiting to apply themselves after the appropriate dosage of love and a well-timed, long winded speech. It's appreciated. Thanks Maggie Dana! I'll be on the look out for book three.

To get your own copy of Racing Into Trouble, head on over to Amazon or B&N. It's available in print, as well as being Kindle and Nook friendly!

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