Books · Reading Diary

Re-reading Childhood Favourites: The Black Stallion (Walter Farley)


Title: The Black Stallion
Author: Walter Farley
First published: 1941

Alec Ramsay is the sole human survivor of a devastating shipwreck. Trapped on a deserted island, Alec finds his only companion is a horse, beautiful, unbroken, and savage . . . a horse whose beauty matches his wild spirit.

Thursday, 30 May 2019

I have been meaning to re-read Walter Farley’s The Black Stallion for a while. I would like to read the whole series in the months to come, but I am about to start the first book. I have several copies that I have collected over the years, as it is my favourite book from childhood. I shall try and gather my copies together and take a pic.

I have such fond memories of both the book and the Francis Ford Coppola movie. I lived for them as a child. They made me fall in love with horses. I loved these books because they were not about some girls at a riding school with their pretty ponies. No, this boy and his big black stallion actually had proper adventures! This was about the fastest horse in the world! When I learned to ride I always dreamed of a horse like The Black. I never got him, but I am now the loving owner of a Irish cob mare and a shetland pony, so my dreams of owning a horse have come true in the end.

It has been a good decade or two since I last read these books, so it is about time. I am not too apprehensive.

So, what do I expect?

I am pretty sure I will still love it, but I am also sure there will be some flaws. This books was first published in 1941, so there will probably be some outdated horsemanship and some casual racism, but I am hoping it will still hold up. I am not going to be too critical. I simply want to enjoy the ride.

Friday, 31 May

10.53 – I have read the first 25 pages. Being middle grade the story moves quite fast. Alec has shipwrecked and the wild Arabian stallion has pulled him to the shore of an uninhabited island, where they are surviving. So far, so good. I still love it. The writing is simple, but not childish, and the imagery is beautiful. If I read this for the first time now, I would still fall in love with this horse

22.56 – I had planned to get this wonderful childhood book read today, but I have hardly had any chance to read and I have only managed to get to page 46 at the moment.   Alec and The Black have been rescued and are on their way home to New York. This is such a nostalgia trip for me! I really ought to go to bed soon, so there is no way I will finish it tonight. I will try and get halfway (to around 80 pages) and read the other half tomorrow. 

Saturday, 1 June

TBS page15.08 – There is definitely still magic in these pages. The story still grabs me and is full of nostalgia for me. This book was the epitome of the horsegirl inside me. I was never the ponyclub girl, I was that girl racing my pony against any who dared and I always won because I had no fear. There was nothing I enjoyed more than galloping my pony as fast as it could go. I wanted to be a jockey, but I soon realised I would be too tall.

How times have changed. I now have my own ponies, but I am no longer that reckless rider I once was. Having a child changes so much. However, reading this book reminds of being that wild girl so much! Part of me misses that complete lack of fear.

So yes, this is a complete nostalgia trip and I enjoying every page.

I thought I would find all my copies of this book and discovered  I have five, two in Dutch and three in English.

TBS versions

18.40 – Only 20 pages left in the book. Just the big race to go. It’s a fact now, this little middle grade horsey book makes me happy!

I am not going to give it a rating, as I feel way too nostalgic about it. It is a really good read though for any youngster out there who are into horses, but not necessarily into the ponyclub type books. It’s not at all girly and I love that about this novel.

23.33 – I finally finished this wonderful story and I loved it so so much. I will be continuing the series in the near future.

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Centaur (Declan Murphy/Ami Rao)

Murphy, Declan - Centaur


Title: Centaur
Author: Declan Murphy / Ami Rao
Genre: Non-Fiction/ Sports/(auto)biography/memoir  Pages: 304
First published: 2017
Edition: Hardback, published by Doubleday

A natural on a horse since he was able to walk, and imbued with a pure love of riding, Declan Murphy became one of the most brilliant jockeys of his generation before his world came crashing down at the final hurdle of a race at Haydock Park.

This book broke and healed my heart. This is the incredibly powerful story of Declan Murphy, the jockey who fell at a fence, had a horse run over him shattering his skull in 12 places and lived to tell the tale. This tale.

The books is written by Ami Rao from Declan’s point of view and it feels incredibly authentic. Clearly a lot of thought and time has gone into the way this biography is told. Considering Declan Murphy has no memory of the 4 ½ years prior to the accident they did a wonderful job in piecing these together from interviews, videos, etc.

This very much feels like a book of two halves; the first half, the man Declan was before the fall, and the second half the man Declan became afterwards. I tell you, the second half is an absolute rollercoaster of emotions. Yes, I cried…

What shines through in this books is Declan’s absolute belief in himself througout life and the confidence that anything is possible as long as you believe it is. He does not come across as a humble man, but as a man who has been humbled by the sheer fact that he is still alive.

This book is on par with Seabiscuit in my opinion as one of the great stories in horseracing. A superb book, not just for people who love horses and racing, but for anyone who loves a story of surviving the odds. A fantastic read.

7 out of 7 stars


A Review of my Reading Year: 2017

Bye Bye 2017!

Well, I guess in these last hours of 2017 it is time to have a look back at my reading year.

First of all I think of 2017 as the year I fell in love with reading again. And just that thought makes me smile. It took me until about July to really step up my reading habits and I have enjoyed it so much!

As I did not record the books I read in the first half of the year I am sure I have forgotten some of them and not all have been reviewed on this blog. I have trouble reviewing books that I have read months ago, so I decided not to.

How many books did I read exactly in 2017?
Well, I am not sure. I have read at least 68 books in 2017, which I am very pleased with. I did not include most children’s books (which I read with my daughter), but did include graphic novels. According to Goodreads my average rating was 3.6 stars. It will be different on my blog as I have a different rating system, but it gives you an idea! I am not the toughest of critics, but I do not sugarcoat anything either.

Books I read that I did not review on my blog and my star rating:
Lord of Misrule (Jaimy Gordon) 1/7 stars
The Other Boleyn Girl (Philippa Gregory) 5/7 stars
The Hippopotamus (Stephen Fry) 4/7 stars
Tim Book Two: Vinyl Adventures from Istanbul to San Francisco (Tim Burgess) 5/7 stars
The Dreaming Stones (Sarah Harrison) 3/7 stars
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Ransom Riggs) 3/7 stars
Hyddenworld #1: Spring (William Horwood) 5/7 stars

Those were the ones I remember reading prior to starting this blog. There must have been others, but my memory is failing me horribly!

A note on the 5 star reads:

William Horwood is one of my favourite writers and I now have the complete Hyddenworld series, which I hope to read in 2018. I love the Other Boleyn Girl, which was a re-read, but I can also see its flaws. Generally, I really enjoy Philippa Gregory’s books and that one just hits a sweet spot! I also really enjoyed Tim Burgess’ book on his search for various vinyl records recommended to him by various faces in the music industry, though it was a little bitty.

The one I least enjoyed was Lord of Misrule, but I was most disappointed by Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. After all the hype I felt it really was not that good…

Let me know if you do want more of a review on any of the books mentioned.

My highest rated books and my favourite books I read in 2017
Not always the same thing, are they?

I had only two 7-starred books in 2017. Generally, 5 stars means I really enjoyed the book and 6 stars is the mark of a book I really really loved. 7 pretty much means perfection and unsurprising to me both 7-star books are non-fiction books. I have discovered that I generally rate non-fiction books higher than fiction and I feel that is fair, as a true story can only be told so many ways, whereas with fiction it can go wherever the author’s imagination takes it.

Anyway, my two 7-stars are:

The Choice (Dr Edith Eger)
I generally stay away from books about WWII or any books on actual wars for that matter, but for some reason I decided to read this autobiography and I just felt so moved by this book; so horrified yet hopeful. I would urge anyone to pick up this book about the author’s experienced in Auschwitz and her life afterwards, because it teaches so much about human strength and endurance, both in body and in spirit. I felt awed by it and I will never forgot it.

Our Native Bees (Paige Embry)
In this book the author explores the U.S.’s native species of bees and whether they could take over the job of the imported honeybees in pollinating the nation’s crops. I felt it was a fascinating read written in a relatable style. I felt like I was learning about bees WITH the author, as she researched the subject. I absolutely loved it!

I requested both of those books as e-ARCs via NetGalley and I will shortly be buying both of those. Thank you to NetGalley for letting me read those books, cause these were both awesome and inspiring in completely different ways!

As for other favourites, looking at my review list a few stick out.

Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower
Both of these were 6-star reads for me and I enjoyed them so much. They were not quite perfect, but came SO close.

The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern)
So beautifully written and such an original story, I just fell in love with it, even if the love story did not quite wow me. A book I am sure I will read again!

I, The Aboriginal (Douglas Lockwood)
A fascinating glimpse into a world I knew nothing about. This book may have been the biggest surprise to me in 2017. It is about an Aboriginal man in Australia as he tries to straddle two distinctive cultures.

My Reading Habits in 2017
I started out reading mainly physical books, but some months I read mainly e-books. Registering at NetGalley definitely was the main reason for my increase in digital reading, but I bought quite a few books in Amazon sales as well. I read two audio books in 2017, both of those were autobiopgraphies of sorts.

As for genre, I feel I read a smaller percentage of fantasy books than in previous years. My reading has definitely diversified and I am so glad it has. I actually read some graphic novels in 2017, which I had not done for years. And some poetry, which I want to read more of. About 20% of the books I read this year were non-fiction, which makes me happy. I have found that I have been enjoying non-fiction books quite a lot lately.

Reading Plans for 2018
I just want to enjoy reading and read as much as I feel like. I will probably set a conservative goal on Goodreads, maybe 50 books. I would like to read a good chunk of the books on my actual shelves. Mainly so I can justify buying new books (ha!).

Best wishes for the New Year everyone

Top 5 Wednesday

Top 5 Wednesday: Children’s Books

I found Top 5 Wednesday through  Yelispressing and Goodreads. 🙂 I felt I needed to participate! Thanks!

I was a quite a horsey child (and I still love horses) and many of my favourite books are horse-related.

1. The Black Stallion (Walter Farley)

Farley, Walter - The Black StallionI still adore this book and the many other Black Stallion books that followed. It was so different from other ‘horsey’ books and it spoke far more to my wild imagination than the usual horse stories. It’s about a boy who is saved by a wild stallion and wins his trust on a desert island. They get home and go on to beat the best race horses in the States. Pure childhood magic. It still brings a smile to my face every time!

2. The Silver Brumby (Elyne Mitchell)

Mitchell, Elyne - The Silver Brumby

Another ‘horsey’ book, but again one that is so different from the usual horse fare. Written from the view point of  a wild horse living in the Snowy Mountains in Australia, we follow him from foal to stallion, being chased by other stallions and men. A gorgeous story against the gorgeous backdrop of the Australian bush. Beautifully written.


3. Bambi (Felix Salten)

Salten, Felix - Bambi

No, not the Disney version. No Thumper in sight I am afraid. Salten’s story of the roe deer Bambi is touching, brutal at times, but always bewitching. It deals with life and death and the cycle of life. It paints a vivid picture of the world Bambi lives in.  I thoroughly recommend reading it if you can.

4. Room On The Broom (Julia Donaldson)

Donaldson, Julia - Room on the Broom


I have a five-year-old daughter and I have read a lot of Julia Donaldson books with her. This is my favourite to read with her. I love Donaldson’s use of rhyme. It reads beautifully aloud.


5. De Avonturen van Pinkeltje (Dick Laan)

Laan, Dick - De Avonturen van Pinkeltje

This is a Dutch book I read a lot with my daughter, who is bilingual. I had the Pinkeltje stories read to me as a child and now I am reading them to my daughter. Very nostalgic for me. Pinkeltje is a little gnome, who ends up living with some mice in a big house and has lots of adventures.