Great Middle Grade Reads discussion

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ARCHIVE - BOTM discussions > BOTM for June is the Secret Horses of Briar Hill

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message 1: by Jemima (last edited Jun 02, 2018 11:21AM) (new)

Jemima Pett | 1495 comments Mod
This month’s read is Megan Shepherd’s The Secret Horses of Briar Hill.

Once you’ve read it, post your comments here. Try to avoid plot spoilers, or enclose them between the tag ‘spoiler’ enclosed in square brackets.

I’m hoping my copy will be on our mobile library when it comes on Tuesday!


message 2: by Raquelle (new)

Raquelle Element (elementray932) | 28 comments Man, I loved this book. I read it in one get go. It reminded me of The War That Saved My Life, though I don't know why. Great story.


message 3: by Jemima (new)

Jemima Pett | 1495 comments Mod
I've got another month to wait till I get the book :( It didn't make it onto my library bus.


message 4: by Becky (new)

Becky Avella (beckyavella) | 17 comments Jemima wrote: "I've got another month to wait till I get the book :( It didn't make it onto my library bus."

I'm so sorry about that, Jemima. I really enjoyed the story as well and hope you get a chance to read it soon. It was a quick read and had a gentleness and depth to it that made it feel classic even though it was published so recently. I checked it out from the library, but I think I might need to buy a copy of my own. I keep finding myself daydreaming of riding on the back of a winged horse.


message 5: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (rdouglass) | 1673 comments Mod
I was going to take a pass on this one, because I'm busy. But your comments make me think I'll go ahead and order it. "Quick read" is a good recommendation to me right now :p


message 6: by Justine (new)

Justine Laismith (justinelaismith) | 322 comments I agree with Becky. It's got a timeless classic feel to it even though it's published recently. Very gentle, so I would say it's for the lower middle grade, or even advanced younger readers. A horse lover would enjoy this book.


message 7: by SaraKat (new)

SaraKat | 167 comments Mod
I adored this book! It is not one I would have picked on my own since I'm not a big lover of middle school fantasy books, but I'm glad this group chose it. It was beautifully written and had many of my favorite plot devices.

(view spoiler)


message 8: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (rdouglass) | 1673 comments Mod
I got sidetracked, but it's looking good so far. Not my favorite; I'm just not that into magical realism. But good.


message 9: by Maria (new)

Maria Dateno | 42 comments I liked the setting of this book--a creative twist on the "kids during World War II" setting--and I was prepared to enjoy it, especially when I ran into the minor character, Sister Mary Grace (since my name is Sister Maria Grace!), but I have to say it didn't really care for this book. The "unreliable narrator" didn't work for me, and seemed not to go with the young age of the audience (I agree with Justine that it seems appropriate for the younger side of middle grade in other respects) If I had read this as a child, I would have been very annoyed at the ambiguous ending.


message 10: by Becky (new)

Becky Avella (beckyavella) | 17 comments Maria wrote: "I liked the setting of this book--a creative twist on the "kids during World War II" setting--and I was prepared to enjoy it, especially when I ran into the minor character, Sister Mary Grace (sinc..."

I was a fan of this story and got swept up in the beauty of the writing, but I have to admit that as soon as I finished it I've had this nagging question of whether or not I would have enjoyed it when I was a kid. I'm still not sure of my answer yet and have to agree with you about the ending. I did struggle a little with wanting an explanation about what was real and what was imagined.


message 11: by Paula (new)

Paula S (paula_s) I messed up and speed read through the book because I had to find out what happened. Now I have to go back to the beginning and read the book properly :) I really liked what I read though!


message 12: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (rdouglass) | 1673 comments Mod
Maria, I had a reaction much like yours--I did enjoy the writing and like the setting, but maybe I've never grown up, because I don't really care for that "is it real or isn't it" style, and I don't like the ambiguous ending (and would really have hated it as a kid--I was even more into clarity then). I like fantasy, don't get me wrong. Totally willing to suspend disbelief. I just don't like being jerked around so I don't know if I should be looking for the rational explanation or enjoying the fantasy.


message 13: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (rdouglass) | 1673 comments Mod
Apologies for the rather awful sentence above. I'll have my coffee before I try to write any more :)


message 14: by Jemima (last edited Jul 08, 2018 01:42AM) (new)

Jemima Pett | 1495 comments Mod
Finally got this book, and was glad I got the paperback to see the lovely drawings. They were very like those of Wonderstruck, which irked me a little. I’ve just discovered we read Wonderstruck in 2014, though! How time flies.

I didn't enjoy the book to start with, it felt clumsy and contrived. However, like many MG I read, it gathered pace and I’d now call it a compelling read. I suspect I’d have liked it even more when I was a kid, unless I got too irritated by the secret garden elements.

I think it’s a worthy addition to our library.

I thought the ending was intriguing. It was interesting that the author discussed it in her afterword.


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