Acquired Book By: I had to take a leave of absence hosting for this touring company in  whilst I worked towards finding better balance in my blogging and personal life. I returnt to hosting for Lola’s Book Tours in  before having to take a small hiatus from requesting future blog tours for a second time. By  as my health afflictions from 2018/19 started to recede I realised I could start to host for her authors with better confidence in being able to participate on the tours themselves. Thereby it was with the Dream Horse Adventures series I decided to mark my return and was quite thankful this was a series she was celebrating through her touring company.
I received a complimentary copy of “Selah’s Sweet Dream” direct from the author Susan Court in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
What I enjoyed about my introduction to
the Dream Horse Adventures series whilst reading “Mary’s Song”:
We journey back to 1952 wherein a horse crazy twelve year old girl named Mary yearns to ride the horses she is fascinated with observing through the fence line at her house. Her father, a kindly man who sees the hope of the situation in regards to her medical condition rather than the frustrated anguish of his daughter’s lost faith in a solution to present itself to give her a future wherein she could gain back what she’s physically lost. His voice is portrayed as a humbled and empathetic compassionate man who simply wants the best for his girl who dreams of horses and the freedom which carries the rider into the currents of the wind.
She might not have the regular childhood of her peers but she has a keen insight into art and the ways in which she can project her dreams into a sketch. She openly talks to her father about her fears and the reasons why she loses her belief in having a day arrive where she is not confined to a chair without the ability to rise and walk. She chooses to focus on the horses – to observe their behaviour patterns and to treat them whenever she can with treats she can throw over the fence. The horses have their own unique personalities which Count allows Mary to talk about whilst giving you the impression that it is the horses who strengthen her resolve moreso than the efforts of her father to find a way to give his daughter a second chance at life.
One of my favourite passages rather early-on in the story is when Mr Gregory (Mary’s tutor) is asking Mary how she’s able to get him to discuss horses in the middle of her lessons! The response from Mary is not only one of the most heartfelt answers I’ve heard in a horse drama of this nature (the second favourite of mine is actually the essay shared about mustangs from the film Flicka) – but it gives keen insight into Mary’s own heart and where her mind alights the most in her joy of feeling a deep attachment to horses. She was quite right too – about how horses played such a central role in History, from working horses to war horses to everyday horses who aided commoners to get round their townes. You don’t have to go too far back into our living histories to find horses as the main method of transportation and recreation, either!
I had to grin when I heard the girls’ talking about Black Beauty – as there weren’t too many stories involving horses I hadn’t personally known about myself when I was their age! Plus, the horse neighs as measures of a segue between scenes was just too delightful for words! You almost felt like you were listening to the story in the barn awaiting Mary and Laura to come round the corner and tell you its time to go for a ride! Laura likes to compete in Equestrian games but she doesn’t quite understand how Mary isn’t as confident in what she can accomplish herself. Mary tends to hold herself back even though she has the courage to try new things – especially observed when Mary talked to Laura about Laura’s sport. This was a lovely compliment to the library Mary has wherein she was encouraged to pursue collecting stories and books about horses. I must admit, I was awe-struck by how inclusive her library was in that regard! You can just see yourself agape looking at all the titles and browsing through her collection!
Laura was a smart lass – she understood Mary in a way that most might not have picked up upon themselves as she knew that Mary needed a bit of nudging and encouragement round the edges to step outside her comfort zones. It was through their growing friendship that both girls’ started to make choices which would affect their own lives. Their willingness to put themselves on the line for a horse and to rebel against the established rules of their parents endeared them to me because of how convicted they were in their belief about what they were doing was the right way to fix a wrong. Their passion and their dedication to their cause is beyond heartwarming and it was one of my favourite parts of the overall story!
I honestly felt conflicted by Mary’s father – he had such a difficult personality! At times, he was harsh and too hard on Mary – in ways that didn’t feel like he had her best interests at heart. Other times? He was sweet and caring – almost like he had an dual personality! I was quite shocked by the ending, too – as I just didn’t see that ‘coming’ in regards to how her father finds a new bit of happiness. For me, the heart of this story truly was encompassing how Mary was self-persevering to re-write her own truth – to seek out a method of therapy which worked best for and for having the courage to defy the odds in order to find her own path back to solid ground.
Ms Count has provided such a wonderful stepping stone into this series – I hadn’t realised it focuses on Selah’s grandmother until I first started to listen to the audiobook; having read the overlooked bit of trivia! Thought it makes sense as when I was contemplating the series before starting to read and listen to it I was trying to sort out how do we go from focusing on Mary to Selah? It would make sense Mary is laying down the origin story for Selah and building on how this family generationally has a connection to horses! I do look forward to seeing how Selah is introduced and how we carry-on with the series from here. Despite a few wrinkles of angst for me as a reader, I thoroughly enjoyed the narrator’s performance of the story – Cavannaugh truly brought to life everyone within the novel!
-quoted from my review of Mary’s Song
Twelve-year-old Selah’s quest to be equestrian superstar is impossible without a horse. Then she spots buzzards circling in the grasslands behind Grandpa’s farm. They’re stalking a horse trapped in wire and Selah is its only hope. But the mare she rescues might be a bigger challenge to her dream than not having a horse at all.
An old friend of Grandpa’s and a world renowned horse trainer offers to work with the wild and defiant mare. Selah jumps at the opportunity. She trains with a fierce determination to equal the equestrian talent of the deceased grandmother who instilled the love of horse in her. But when the horse causes mayhem at the trainer’s facility, he sends them home. Selah must gather her courage and face up to the trainer or watch her dreams gallop away.
Places to find the book:
Also in this series: Mary's Song
Published by Hastings Creations Group
on 15th December, 2015
Format: Trade Paperback
The Dream Horse Adventures series:
Mary’s Song (book one) (see also Review)
Selah’s Sweet Dream (book two)
Selah’s Painted Dream (book three)
Selah’s Stolen Dream (book four)
Available formats: Ebook, Trade Paperback and Audiobook (for Book One)
Converse via: #DreamHorseAdventures and #SusanCourt + #MiddleGradeMarch
as well as #MiddleGrade, #MGLit, #HorseDrama and #Equestrian Fiction