Okay, so, you know my position on adult fiction, right? ("adult" simply meaning as opposed to teen, not XXX) I hate it. It's either full of sex scenes, or the writing is so vague and mysterious (and not in a good way) that I have no idea what the hell is going on. I base this on the fact that approximately 9 out of 10 times I try to pick a general novel out of the other half of the library, I end up throwing it aside in disgust less than halfway through.
Then on Thursday I was browsing the "new" section, which is good for finding non-fiction books, and happened to let my eyes stray over to fiction, where I saw one called Flying Changes. Wow - the title suggests horses, there's a horse on the cover, and the summary on the back seems to mention horses a great deal. Normally, this means that the story will be all about the main character's complicated love life and struggles with her job, with perhaps three references to a pony she owned as a child or riding lessons she takes as part of a plan to recharge her life. Because adult authors hate animals and enjoy misleading people. (See: The Horse Whisperer)
But something made me check it out anyway. Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down (except for the approximately ten times I ran to Mom, squealing about how this book was AMAZING and actually about what it claimed to be about!) I kept waiting for it to derail, quash my excitement...but it never happened. Horses were a key role to the end. Strictly speaking, the main character, Annemarie, is a recently-divorced 39-year-old single mother. But she's surprisingly easy to relate to, given that she owns a horse farm and teaches riding lessons, while her 16-year-old daughter has her sights set on professional showjumping. Annemarie does have a boyfriend factored into the picture, but seeing as he's a vet/owner of a horse rescue, I pretty much fell in love with him. The requisite bedroom scenes are no more explicit than what I tend to read in fanfic, which is to say mild, generally fading straight from a kiss to pillow talk. I had no desire to chop them out; on the whole I thought they were both necessary and satisfying. I never think that.
And most importantly, did I mention this, HORSES PLAY A KEY ROLE. Not only does it both open and close on Annemarie riding her horse, the horses actually count among the characters, with names and personalities and all kinds of details. Oh, and there are even a dog and a cat thrown in for good measure. You know what else? PMU farms and Nokota mustangs are highlighted. I nearly died of shock when I saw each mentioned in turn. Fresh! Original! Close to my heart! YAY! There were several passages I enjoyed so much that I kept rereading them, and the story took me through every extreme - I laughed out loud a fair few times, but was also moved to tears. It just doesn't get any better than this. I love this book so much I'm actually going to have to go out and buy my own copy. New, even. I think I've just added Sara Gruen to my "favorite authors" list.
Part II: The Sales
The garage sales today were AMAZING! I haven't bought anything from one all year, but since we must have visited about 30 separate houses in the neighborhood sale and another 50 booths in the church parking lot...I came away with the following:
- 4 paperback books - Touching Spirit Bear (Ben Mikaelsen) and Snow Dog (Jim Kjelgaard) are among favorite novels that I've been meaning to add to my collection whenever I found them cheap, while I also picked up, for the princely sum of a dime apiece, a couple of cute novels that look like they could have been raided from my mom's old collection. One written 1952/this edition published 1966, Marcy Catches Up (Rosamond du Jardin), and The Peter Pan Bag (Lee Kingman), 1970, which I thought looked like a particularly fun summer read as it's about a high school senior spending the summer in a "hippie haven." Period piece, yay!
- A college textbook (hardcover), Mammology - somewhat dated, but an interesting read, great reference, and 100% free
- Some fairly cheap jewelry, just for fun - a nicely patterned golden necklace, and a pair of snowman earrings for wintertime.
- A still-packaged highlighter/flag-tabs all-in-1 device. True, I already have plenty of highlighters, but this was inexpensive and I was going to buy some of those flag tabs anyway; might as well get it now.
- Dogz 4 - a computer game which may or may not work, but is one I've wanted for years, so why not?
- Two brand-new 3x5 silver picture frames, decorated with crescent moons and stars. Very attractive, marked down to 50 cents apiece.
- This cute little bulldog pup purse - I already have a shoulder bag from this line featuring a Dachshund, which I really quite like, so when I saw this I debated only a little bit before snagging it. Especially given that it's in perfect condition and was only $2. There are little rhinestones on the hat to add sparkle, but mostly I just love the wrinkly pup's expression. Plus my current purse is not just beat-up but tiny; I could use one that's still small enough to clutch but big enough to actually fit a book inside. This has a detachable shoulder strap too.
Plus the bonus of getting to pet a couple of dogs, a toy poodle (I can never believe how soft and fleecy their fur is) and a very sweet little Labrador who came right up to me when I knelt down and promptly established herself as a leaner, propping herself up against my leg and sighing in contentment over being petted.
In other words, today was a wonderful Saturday. And now I'm off to see if Office Max still has flash drives on sale. [Edit: YAY! 2 GB, $20, I have a flash drive again. Which I shall guard with my life.]