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Book Review: Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau

Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau is a coming of age novel taking place in Baltimore, Maryland. During the 1970's, fourteen year old Mary Jane is caught in the middle of her family's conservative ideals and the progressive ideals of the Cone family where she is a summer nanny. Mary Jane is a sheltered teen who enjoys cooking with her mother, listening to Broadway Show Tunes, and singing in the church choir. On the first day of work, she is shocked at the mess in the Cone's home and introduces them to home cooked meals and keeping the house clean. In return, Mary Jane gets a front row seat to sex, drugs, and rock & roll. This novel was the selected for the book club I belong to. Again, this is a novel that I likely wouldn't have chosen to read on my own, but I was glad I did. Mary Jane is the first novel I've read by Jessica Anya Blau, and I was impressed with her storytelling.  Touching on race, class, and stereotypes, along with drugs and infidelity, it reminded

Book Review: Happy Trails (Horse Crazy, #2) by Virginia Vail



Reminiscing about books that I loved as a middle school kid, I remembered there was a book series about horses that I was absolutely crazy about, but I couldn't remember the name of the series or the name of the author. It drove me nuts that I couldn't remember! Then, a couple of years ago, I was at my local library book sale and came across the first book in the series and was ecstatic. It brought back all the feelings, lol. The long forgotten book series was Horse Crazy by Virginia Vail. The first book in the series is Horseback Summer (Horse Crazy, #1), and I remember the entire series made me want to go to sleep away camp that taught horseback riding lessons.
Horse Crazy #2 by Virgina Vail
The second installment in the Horse Crazy book series is Happy Trails (Horse Crazy, #2). Emily and the rest of her bunkmates in the Fillies cabin are set to go on an overnight trail ride with their horses, but when unhappy Dru falls off her horse, the excursion is cancelled and everyone has to go back to camp. After all of the drama, Dru runs away.

The main theme throughout the book is that things aren't always what they seem with people and that you never really know what is going on in their life, so you should be kind to them regardless of how they act towards you. Even though most of the characters are a bit stereotypical (i.e. the snobby, rich girl; the tomboy; etc.), they are written extremely well for a book targeting children between the ages of nine and eleven. Even as an adult, I loved rereading Happy Trails (Horse Crazy, #2) by Virginia Vail mainly because it was a nostalgic read for me, and I honestly couldn't remember what happened in the story because it had been so long since I first read it.

I'd definitely recommend it for kids nine to eleven, but I think kids up to thirteen or fourteen would enjoy this book, especially if they have a love for horses. And, even though it was written in the 1990s, I think most of the book is relevant in society today. I gave it four out of five stars, but if I had been reading it as a kid, I probably would have given it five out of five stars.

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