Lone Wolf – Book 2 in the Oldenglen Series by Robin Mason

“Hunted. That was the sensation: the feeling of being hunted. Hunted down. Terror gripped his wolven side. But even the part of him that was human felt the loss of freedom. He felt suffocated.”

For Jackson, being a new student entering the seventh-grade at Bear Creek Valley Middle School in Ashland, Oregon is challenging. Even though English is the common language between the U.S. and England, he feels like an alien in this different land in the foothills of the mountains.

His summer was an adjustment learning to live with the wildlife in their remote home away from the small town. The magic of nature and this particular place developed into a friendship with the granddaughter of his nearest neighbor and landlord.

Making friends is always a little awkward for Jax. He is comfortable with animals, but teenagers can be a challenge for anyone. Also Jax is a little different. He spent his summer learning about his new habitat but people are a little more complex.

Noah observes Jax holding a wren on his finger in the middle of a group of girls. He states that he is saving the girls and throws the wren against a window.

Jax immediately verbally attacks Noah revealing a part of him that needs to stay hidden. Noah is much bigger and older and has friends who treat him like a leader.

Miraculously, after Jax holds the injured bird, it can fly away. Jax feels relieved. Noah, angry, calling Jax, a Freak. Is Noah jealous of Jax’s attention from the girls or did he see something that scared him?

Noah wants revenge. For what, saving a bird? Making him look bad in front of a bunch of girls?

Noah also is good friends with three other boys who like to bully other students. Four against one are not great odds for Jax. How can one seventh-grade boy fight four eighth-graders?

For tweens, having thirty-one chapters is perfect for young readers. Also unique about this series is that the books are boy-oriented. Most literature for this age-group is girl-based.

Lone Wolf is an excellent fantasy adventure for eight to twelve-year-olds. The story is appropriate for tweens with issues of bullying and an overlying theme of friendship. Learning the value of being one with nature and preserving the wildlife and their habitats is also a major component throughout this series.

While recommended for young readers, Lone Wolf has lessons for everyone of all ages.

Book Review – Smoky the Cowhorse

For those not familiar with “Smoky,” the tale follows a horse named Smoky, who was born on the range, wild and free. His first few years are spent frolicking along with his mother and other horses in his herd. From beating off aggressive, older horses to escaping from hungry wolves, Smoky has many experiences that help shape him as a horse, and make him a strong horse who knows how to survive.

Other than being captured as a youngster with the rest of the herd so all the foals can be branded with the Rocking R ranch’s mark, Smoky has no contact with humans until it is time for him to be “broke” and made into a proper cowpony. The “breaking” of the range horses is harsh and eventually wears Smoky down, so that he can be ridden, but only by Clint, the man who broke him and who rides/breaks all the young horses at the ranch. Clint and Smoky come to an understanding and while Smoky frequently bucks, and bucks so strongly that no other man can ride him, Clint likes the horse’s feistiness. Smoky also has uncanny cow skills and quickly proves invaluable to Clint and the Rocking R.

Every fall, after the annual roundup is complete, all the cowponies are set free to roam the range until spring. It is during one of these winters that Smoky and the band of horses he is with are stolen by someone from south of the border. Lost to the Rocking R, Smoky proves unrideable and is eventually sold to a rodeo outfit. It is here that Smoky is known as “The Cougar” – a bronc nobody can ride. While Clint searches for his beloved horse, Smoky goes through a series of careers and owners.

Smoky is a classic in the world of horse books and if you’re a fan of this genre, you really should read this book. There’s a reason it was made into a movie (twice) as well as a winner of the Newbery. The only caveat is that, because it was written by a true cowboy, back in the 20’s, it is both dated in the way the horses are handled, the way different people are treated, and the “cowboy speak” that uses mixed tenses, poor grammar, and misspellings (crethure for creature; eddication for education), that are frequent, but at least consistent. It takes a few chapters to get used to the unusual language, and if you stick with it, the reward will be well worth it. The story is interesting and will frequently pull at your heartstrings.

Quill says: A true classic that every horse lover should read.

Books You Should Read BEFORE Going to College

As a part of becoming a well-rounded adult, educating yourself with a good book is a great place to start. I am going to discuss a few books that I feel are a MUST READ before entering your college years.

A Christmas Carol

This book is about an old, grumpy man, Ebenezer Scrooge, who is awakened by spirits on Christmas Eve. These spirits show Scrooge, from the outside looking in, the opportunities he wasted in his younger days, his cruelties, and simply his miserable existence and that a dreadful fate awaits him if he doesn’t change. He faces the ultimate question: Death or redemption?

Three different ghosts throughout the night visit Scrooge: the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet. The Ghost of Christmas Past shows how happy he once was until his greed for money got in the way. The Ghost of Christmas Present shows the lives of people currently. And lastly, the Ghost of Christmas Yet shows his fate if his ways don’t change.

This is a tale written to illustrate how Christmas spirit inspires good and moral tendencies in people rather than selfish, greedy, immoral tendencies we may face because of other factors in our lives. It also shows that anyone can redeem themselves from their darkest hour through appreciation and love.

If you don’t get a chance to read the book, familiarize yourself with the story. It has some life lessons in there everyone should be aware of!

To Kill a Mockingbird

“To Kill a Mockingbird” is a story depicting the injustice and prejudice of Alabama in the 1930’s through the childhood of Scout and Jem. In the novel, the small town of Maycomb, Alabama is divided; Blacks and whites, prevailing racism, and those that are ignorant and those that aren’t. When a black man is accused of raping a white woman, all hell breaks lose and we watch how the town handles the trial. Various events in the novel shaped their character and taught them about human nature.

Not only is this book a classic, but also it is intense, captivating, and absolutely worth a visit! Who doesn’t like a story filled with innocence, love, sympathy, and history!

Animal Farm

“Animal Farm” is about a dream that animals have to live together with no human beings to control and oppress them. Once their dream becomes a reality, everything begins to change. At first, the farm prospered and all the animals were happy. However, before too long, power and greed took over, making the farm the very thing they were trying to escape from the humans. In a sense, the animals were becoming more and more like humans.

“Animal Farm” illustrates how social classes with a common enemy may become internally divided when their enemy is eliminated. In a nutshell, Animal Farm is depicting human society.

This is a quick read, but a fascinating story. Good for kids and adults!