Reviews of “The Head and Not The Heart” and “Horse-Famous: Stories” are unanimous: They’re all five stars! Below are some highlights, as well as links to blogs which have featured full-length reviews.
From Dappled Grey:
A lifelong rider, Reinert’s writing oozes with equestrian authenticity (an absolute must for equestrian fiction), and against this credible backdrop “The Head and Not the Heart” follows a young female trainer who is questioning the lifestyle tradeoffs that are fundamental to a life with horses. If you’re an equestrian who’s ever had a case of the “what if’s?” - and let’s face it, who hasn’t? – then this book is for you.
Recent Amazon Reviews:
5 Stars from Liz O’Connell for Horse-Famous:
The three vignettes that comprise Natalie Reinert’s Horse-Famous give us a glimpse into the inner workings of the lives of horses and horse people.
Set on the hard-luck winter backstretch of Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, NY, among the landscapes of a Florida thoroughbred breeding farm and using the backdrop of a pristine competition barn in South Carolina, the stories lead us along the decisions and events that drive people in this age of technology and clean-shoe jobs to spend their lives working with horses. Reinert explores the bond that keeps those with the calling-to-horses embedded in that difficult, fraught yet rewarding world, sometimes despite themselves.
5 Stars from MaryAnn Myers, author of bestseller “Favored to Win”, for The Head and Not The Heart:
Since I write Thoroughbred horse racing fiction, I am always hesitant to read it. It never quite lives up to my sense of reality. Not so with “The Head and not the Heart!” I loved this book! Natalie Keller Reinert depicts the training farm life with superb detail. If you’ve never been there, welcome. You’ll feel every nuance and emotion. If you have been a part of this breeding-training farm life, it’s a welcome home. Loved, loved, loved it!
5 Stars from Anne Honeywood:
This is one of those books that stays with you, long after you’ve turned the last page. The images and word pictures the author paints are subtle and provide layers of insight into this compelling story.
The author’s well-formed descriptions really caught my attention. I mean, who cannot love the way this house in Florida is portrayed: “This sprawling farmhouse looked like it had been dropped carelessly from a helicopter which had been en route to a more suitable location, like Vermont.”
And here’s another, about Aqueduct racetrack: “The windows were pitted with baseball-sized holes, as if there were an unfortunate profusion of home-runs from parking lot pick-up games.”
Then, there’s this: “He was a good-looking Thoroughbred who had been around the block a few times, with bumpy cannon bones that had seen many splints and the waterfall pattern of pin-fire scars down his forelegs. He had a patient look to his eyes, as if he knew that his life was ridiculous, but that there was hay waiting in his stall if he was just nice to this rider. I adored him instantly.”
This says it all. A bond between horse and rider that reaches into the hearts and minds of horse lovers everywhere.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novella and hope the author is busy writing more.
5 Stars from “Bonnie’s Mom”
A Horse Book That Knows ME
Although I own an OTTB and am not directly involved in racehorses, this book spoke to me. I became the main character. Her emotions toward the hard, cold horse industry were the same as mine. I was moved. The Head and Not the Heart is the real thing. It draws us in, then pushes us away…and the big-eyed, lovely beasts beckon for us to return, knowing that we will be hurt again someday. Natalie’s extensive experience in the horse world is translated into a beautifully written and accurate portrayal of REAL LIFE with horses. I must have more, because this is my life, too.
9/19/2011 From It’s Quarters For Me, an equestrian blog:
I felt this story was about self-discovery. The main character, a young adult, is forced to take a long, hard look at her life and decide if what she’s doing and where she’s at is really what she wants out of her life. Like what happens to so many of us, it takes a complete change in environment to help her find what’s really in her heart.
To me, the strength in Natalie’s writing is in how well she knows her subject and how accurately she can impart it to the reader. Even if you didn’t know Natalie, you could tell from reading this story that she really knows horses, when reading her descriptions of horse handling and riding you feel like you’re right there with the character. You feel a kinship because she gets horses the way most of us get horses- deep in our guts, like they are a part of us.
9/18/2011 From Miles on Miles, an equestrian blog:
My favorite part of the book is how Natalie creates this world for the reader-the weather, the stables, the people, the SCHEDULE (ugh, a schedule that a person in racing keeps would kill me dead), and of course, the horses. Only a person with first-hand knowledge of racing behind the scenes could write race horses like Natalie does-all of them, from the yearlings to the 2 and 3 year olds in race training to the broodmares to the foals to the retired stallions. It’s beautiful and it’s tragic, because anyone who knows horses knows without a doubt that they will hurt you. They will absolutely Break. Your. Heart.
Is the very thing that keeps people in horses-a passion and a yearning, to ride them, to train them, to care for them, to be with them all day everyday, the same thing that will destroy a person in the end? Not to mention the physical pain, the injuries (both to body and to pride), the constant dirt and grime, the 3 am emergencies, the 4:30 am wake up calls….are we all crazy?, she asks. Alex has her whole life ahead of her. Can she live it without horses and be happy?
I’m obviously not going to give THAT away, but I will say that Natalie does a masterful job of keeping us guessing until the very end.
9/17/2011 From GoLightly Facts+Fictions, an equestrian blog:
All I can say is, I want MORE. Funny, wonderfully accurate, sad, inspiring, honest. I loved it, raced through it, was so sorry to see it end. I kept paging down, but nope, hit the biography blurb, instead. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED the ending! Who wouldn’t. I just didn’t want it to…
Natalie has an uncanny ability to place the reader firmly into her written world, and you feel/smell/taste the sweetness of a horse’s every day life. A rider’s bruised butt, a cold harsh wind, a throbbing lack of sleep, a kind horse’s generous eye… Sigh. More, Natalie.
Natalie gets it 100% right on both the emotions and the details when it comes to horses and horse racing. The story is absolutely perfect. I felt the emotions right along with Alex as she struggled to decide if her life in Ocala, Fla. with horses is what she really should be doing. I’ve grown up around horses and do believe even those who have not will understand and fall in love with this story. It shows you the real deal the struggles of the world of horse racing. The details are spot on. The writing is so well done.
8/20/2011 From Eventing-A-Gogo!, an equestrian blog:
The novella asks a question that most, if not all, equestrians have asked themselves at one point or another – could I ever live this life without horses? What hard-working horsewoman (or man) has not stumbled into the barn before the sunrise at least once and wondered, how does it feel to be still sleeping right now?
On a business trip to the Aqueduct track in New York City, Alex branches out, explores externally and internally, and asks herself, “Do I want a life without horses? And even if I did, could I live a life without horses?”
The story is richly detailed, and it is clear the author is well-versed in all areas of the subject matter, from the leg movement of a potentially injured horse to the atmosphere of a Florida horse town to the interior of the Aqueduct barns. She knows these settings and she doesn’t miss a detail. You can almost taste the grime of a side street in Brooklyn, and you can exactly picture what the old Claremont Riding Academy looked like even if you had no idea of what it once was.
I look forward to the next book. If this is a debut novella, the stories can only get richer from here.
8/7/2011 From Linda Benson, Young Adult author of The Horse Jar
Great debut short novel about a young woman trying to find her place in life. Her passion has always been horses, but it that all there is? With lots of realistic details about training young racehorses from an author who knows her stuff, this story will especially appeal to horse lovers. Ms. Reinert has a great feel for language and words, and I look forward to reading more of her work!
7/27/2011 From Of Dogs and Horses, an equestrian blog:
Natalie Keller Reinert explores the idea that so many horse-people find themselves wondering at some point or another, “Can I live without horses?” Through The Head and Not the Heart and Horse-Famous, readers glimpse characters in different stages of asking and answering what their lives would be like without equine company. Reinert does not sugar-coat horse ownership in either story, but instead exposes her readers to both the small, intimate details of horse husbandry, like bedding depth, as well as the exhaustion that comes from keeping a strict routine for the horse’s sake.
One need not personally know what a hayfork feels like in their grip, or the way one’s leg feels when set correctly for the trot, to appreciate these stories. Reinert conveys enough about those feelings, and like a good science fiction writer, for the horse world to a normal person is a foreign land, she introduces readers to the particulars as the story calls for more information. Though, if you do have these experiences to draw from the stories seem more rewarding.