Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Blog Tour and Review : Horse Flesh by Tina Sugarman

The Very Pink Notebook is thrilled to be part of Tina Sugarman's exciting new book, Horse Flesh, blog tour this week.  With much thanks to Authoright for involving me in the tour and for a copy of the book, in exchange for an honest review.

Published by : Clink Street Publishing
1st September 2016
Copy : Paperback - provided by Authoright in exchange for an honest review

The Blurb

Enter the highly competitive world of Standardbred horse racing, in this exhilarating debut from an insider. The story, however, goes far beyond that and touches on universal themes that every reader will recognise.

You’ll be thrust into the front car on a roller coaster ride, through triumph and disaster, that begins on page one. You’ll feel every twist and turn of the story in the pit of your stomach. You’ll laugh and cry with the rough, tough guys who put on the show, rain or shine. You’ll empathise with the women who give this world a heart.  You’ll meet the cheaters who use horses as pincushions, who want to win at any price.  You’ll get to know the equine athletes who give their all, whatever challenges life throws at them. Last, but not least, you’ll feel the overwhelming sense of community that pervades this world, despite the sharp edges of a highly competitive sport. If that’s not enough, there’s a backstory that will keep you on the edge of your seat, which takes you on a journey from Ontario, Canada to the Rockies, the US, the Caribbean and even the UK. The icing on the cake is an ending full of surprises that will leave you feeling well satisfied.

The characters leap off the page: a brilliant harness horse driver whose drug habit risks costing him everything, his cousin, a trainer who refuses to compromise her integrity, a mysterious individual known only as the Scorpion, lurking in the shadows, pulling the strings, the Director of Racing trying desperately to clean up the industry, his mentor and best friend who has his own agenda, a low life groom who knows too much for his own good, the Canadian Mountie who inadvertently gets involved, with unforeseen consequences, a veterinarian caught between two worlds, young horses unaware of what’s in store for them and trainers whose livelihoods hang by a thread, who face a Hobbesian choice if they are to survive. These are just some of the players in a story where passions run high and where the distinction between right and wrong, good and evil, is always blurred.

Fascinating, fast paced and with shocking twists and turns until the very last, HORSE FLESH is a breakthrough debut novel set to entertain not only horse and racing enthusiasts, but fiction fans looking for a fresh next read.

The Very Pink Notebook Review

When I first received my copy of Horsh Flesh, I must admit, I was a little overwhelmed at the size of it - weighing in at 703 pages I did wonder how the story was going to keep me gripped for the duration!  I needn't have worried though, I flew through the book quickly, completely absorbed by the plot and fantastic characters.

There are an awful lot of characters in this book and sometimes I did struggle to keep up with the names of who was who and what they were to the story at the start, but the more involved I got I realised how necessary each one was as the very intricate story-web was weaved.  The author very cleverly left little snippets of information about each character when they had been absent from the plot for a while to remind you who they were and draw them back in which was most helpful and never tedious.

I liked the pace of the book it raced along even though the time-span requires coverage of years.  Sugarman copes with this well, by clearly marking out the seasons and varying special events, e.g new year.  Little summaries of the characters personal lives are dropped into keep you up to date with the movement in time and I never once struggled to keep up to speed.

The plot is centred around the cut-throat world of Standardbred horse-racing in Canada and completely annihilates any sugar-coated idea you may harbour about this racing world.  The 'good guys' it seems are far out-weighed by the scheming and selfish ones who treat the animals as nothing but horse-flesh (and there we have our title!) and will do anything - literally - to try and win races.  The welfare of the animals do not even register on the radar of a lot of those involved and even when standards and measures are put in place to try and protect the horses, it just causes worse and even more underhand and devious acts to take place.

Alongside the racing world we are also drawn into the underbelly of drugs and top gangsters - those who do the dirty work and the top dogs - who with the mere making or receiving of a phone call can end or saves lives, which eventually all ties in with the racing circuit.  How Tina Sugarman ever kept track of all the plot lines and threads and got them to all weave in and tie up is quite literally a stroke of genius.  Also, not only is this a brilliant book, but it is one of my favourite book covers to date.

Although lengthy and not particularly set to a classic structure I found this book easy to read and enthralling.  I think it helped that I like horses and find the racing world - well I used to find the racing world - somewhat enigmatic - so I was drawn in by the cover and blurb, but even if horses are not your thing if you like a gripping and meaty saga then this book will be a treat.

I give horse flesh a brilliant :

Follow the Tour

Check out other reviews of this book by following the tour.

About the Author

Tina Sugarman has been involved with Standardbred horse racing in Ontario for nearly two decades, spending summers on a horse farm a few kilometres from Mohawk Raceway, the premier harness racing track in Canada. She lives in Poole, Dorset with her husband and their maine coon cat, Juliette and enjoys driving their hackney mare, Mango, in the New Forest.  She still takes a keen interest in the sport. HORSE FLESH by Tina Sugarman (published by Clink Street Publishing September 1st, 2016) is available to order from online retailers including Amazon and to order from all good bookstores.

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