Cover Image: Girls and Their Horses

Girls and Their Horses

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Member Reviews

I really loved this book. The only criticism I have, is that I really didn't like the cover of the book. It doesn't match the brilliant writing, and the addictive storyline. It was such a cleverly written book. So edgy and twisted.

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Thank you Netgalley & Berkley Publishing Group for a copy of Girls & Their Horses by Eliza Jane Brazier. I love this author ever since Good Rich People, so was pumped to get approved for this one!

Okay - I learned a lot about horses in this one. Who knew that the riding world could be so competitive? And not just the riders, but their cutthroat mothers, too. The group of moms in this book not only gossip, but will do whatever it takes for their daughters to be, and have, the best. Secrets galore, mean girls and even romance - This book packs a punch with it all.

It wouldn't be a Brazier book without some twists and a mystery, though. Buckle up - Saddle up, I guess?

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This comparison may be weird but I got major Drop Dead Gorgeous vibes from this book and I loved it! It’s a dark view into the horse training world where we explore competitiveness and how vicious it can be. I also don’t know much about horses and that world of competition so they was interesting too.

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This book reminded me, a lot of Dance Moms. Although I never watched the show myself, this is just what I think it would be based on what others told me about the show. There was drama. There was so much drama between the moms, the kids, and then the sisters. If you like a book with drama, this is def a book you need to look into. If you like books about horses, this is a book you need to look into reading. It was very easy to read, and the writing flowed well!

I like horses and I like drama, but this book was harder for me to read, unfortunately. I just couldn’t get into as fast as I normally get sucked into a book. Please remember this is a me thing nothing to do with the book! I know I’m in the minority with this book. I did enjoy the book, and I am so grateful for the chance to read it early. Yet here I am, posting my review 100 years late.

Thank you to Eliza Jane Brazier, &  @netgalley for an eARC copy of this book. It is out NOW!

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This was a fun and soapy read I read in the summer. Just like the title implies, get ready to read about rich bitches and the drama at their stable. Brazier has a sharp, incisive writing style and I enjoyed the way she built the plot and ratcheted up the tension throughout the story. I could definitely see this adapted for TV, it'd be a fun watch. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the arc.

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A wealthy family moves from Texas to California for a fresh start. The mother signs her daughters up for riding lessons. Soon they are fully involved in the horse world.

Girls and Their Horses is told using multiple points of view, including chapters for the police interviews. Unlikable characters, a dead body, and plenty of suspects.

Rich people behaving badly and lots of drama. A fun, slow-burning mystery with toxic people.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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As the newly affluent Parker family settles into an upscale Southern California community, they envision a fresh start and better opportunities. Heather Parker, determined to provide her daughters with the life she never had, begins their journey by introducing them to the world of horses.

Enrolling her daughters in riding lessons at the prestigious Rancho Santa Fe Equestrian, where horses are a way of life, Heather becomes a "Barn Mom." She joins a circle of affluent women who frequent the stables, sharing wine, and preparing their daughters for competitive events.

Quickly immersed in the equestrian world, the Parker family experiences the complexities—from cliques of mean girls to barn romances and hidden secrets. As the summer horse show approaches, the pressure intensifies, and these mothers are willing to go to great lengths to ensure their daughters receive what they deserve. The narrative unfolds with competitive stage mothers, betraying friendships, a dubious trainer, and a gripping murder mystery that adds suspense to the tale. Diverse and intricate characters evolve emotionally as the story unfolds, and the stakes heighten for the helicopter moms and their ambitious children in the competitive equestrian scene. This thrilling page-turner exceeded my high expectations, delivering a captivating story that kept me fully engaged.

Thanks to the publisher and the publisher for sending a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Ahh the lives of horse people…who knew they were so dramatic? Actually the horse girl shows of the 90’s were plenty dramatic, although not quite as murderous.
Here we have the story of Maple and her family and their new adventures into riches and horses. Oh and murder.
This story is told with series of flash-forwards of police interviews after one of the characters is murdered. I really loved the fact that we didn’t know who was murdered at first. I had a few guesses of who it could have been, but I was surprised when it was revealed.

The multiple POV’s was interesting, it made it seem like different stories at some points. We had teen drama, adult marriage troubles, coming of age, a romance, it was just a little…all over the place. I sometimes had trouble following along because of this, despite the fact that each chapter was labeled with the characters name, It felt like the story didn’t quite know what direction it wanted to go at some points, or that the author didn’t have a clear end goal in mind.
It was an interesting book overall, I did think it was going to be about the horse world as a whole, and not the woes of a privileged group of horse owners, but that’s my assumption and not the authors fault.

Overall though it was a fun read, although not one I would read again.

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"Horses are healing," says Eliza Jane Brazier, author of "Girls and Their Horses" (Penguin-Random House), as she walks her horse around the arena while we talk on the phone. Brazier, who first started riding when she was five and has worked as a horse trainer, riding instructor and a head wrangler at a dude ranch, reconnected with her sport and those feelings helped her cope with the death of her husband.

"I have a horse in my backyard," she says with a laugh about Tennessee, the draft horse she owns.

But the love of horses and the pursuit of championships along with the status of the horse owners in the rarefied air of Rancho Santa Fe Equestrian in exclusive Rancho Santa Fe, California can be much more toxic than healthy. This isn't a jeans and cowboy boots sort of group hanging out in a drafty old barn with straw-covered dirt floors. The equestrian center is all stone and wood beams and the "barn moms" who gather there like it's a social club can sum the cost of clothes that a new arrival like Heather Parker is wearing just by one quick glance (lucky for Heather she's wearing an $800 blouse) and how much she's worth by learning her address.

And Heather is worth a lot. Her husband stopped telling her how much he was making when it topped $150 million. But money doesn't make Heather secure, it frightens her. She has other reasons to worry as well. She's unable to stop her marriage from slipping away, her younger daughter Maple was brutally bullied when they lived in Texas and her older daughter Piper hates the move.

Their new home is so large that it's easy to get lost and Heather also carries the scars of her impoverished upbringing and the abandonment by her father.

She's determined to make life perfect for her children and she believes that joining the Rancho Santa Fe Equestrian will do just that, creating a bonding experience and also helping her relive and recreate her past. She still feels the pain of losing her barn family when her father left and they no longer had money. She lost friends and overnights and all the things that had made her happy. Now she has the money to give her kids what she missed and is still pining for after all these years.

Oh, if only it were that easy.

Her first day at the barn, Heather meets Pamela who takes her in hand. But Pamela has a hidden agenda. Her bank account is filled with nothing but fumes and she sees the rich Parkers as a way to help keep her in good graces with the barn's owner so she can remain a member. And like Heather, she has a complicated back story as well.

Add to that, Maple doesn't like horses. And Piper is jealous because Maple gets a horse the costs seven figures. It's all so complicated.

And it becomes even more so when a mysterious death occurs in the barn.

Brazier's opening chapter sums up the atmosphere of the rich barn culture perfectly.

"Oh, I can tell you exactly what happened," replied the tiny young girl in an expensive riding habit told the police who had been waiting for her to finish her competition at an international horse show when asked if she knew of the murder and what had occurred in the first chapter of the book. "Do you have a mother?" Indeed, this is a wickedly fun murder mystery where the mothers are often more driven for their daughters to succeed than the girls are themselves. "Horses are like mirrors.

They reflect all the good parts and the bad parts of ourselves back at us," is a quote from the book.

"It's a mean girl kind of place," says Brazier who is training in show jumping when she's not writing mystery novels. "And things go deeper and deeper as time goes on."

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I liked this! I found the characters relatable and interesting, and was impressed with the detail of the storyline. Recommend!

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13-year-old Maple is a little bit different. She has been picked on, bullied, and rejected over and over again. Her mother, Heather, has had enough. She decides to move her family to California for a fresh start. Heather has always had dreams of riding horses. After all, horse girls are the toughest girls around. The competition is cutthroat, however, and at the end of the summer, someone winds up dead. 😱

While there are snippets of detective's interviews throughout the book, the reader does not know who was murdered until reaching about ~90%. Unfortunately when the reveal was made, I was so underwhelmed. I read almost 400 pages for THAT? That said, I enjoyed the rest of the story and the character development overall. To be honest, it could have stood on its own without the murder. Why did the author try to turn this book into a "thriller" when it clearly was not?

My overall thoughts: As a thriller, this absolutely missed its mark. Considering it to be a family drama and coming-of-age story, though, its message was profound. I'm surprised the editors weren't as confused by this as I was.

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Eliza Jane Brazier is an auto-read author for me after topping my top reads for 2022, so I knew that I needed to read her latest, GIRLS AND THEIR HORSES. This book dives into a world I never really knew anything about—horses and riding competitions. I know this world is close to the author’s heart, so I was curious how this story would unfold.

GIRLS AND THEIR HORSES has a few main characters, but the Parker family plays a pivotal role. Heather, her husband Jeff, and her daughters Piper and Maple, move to California after Maple’s time at school becomes abusive at their house in Texas. Heather is a total stage mom and encourages her daughters to practice horseback riding. Immersing her daughters into this world becomes dangerous when their wealth attracts the wrong crowd.

This book is totally unique and very engaging, even at over 400 pages. It is a bit slower paced than Good Rich People, and it’s less popcorn thriller and more family-drama mystery. I loved the juxtaposition between all the main characters, and each one plays a major role in developing the mystery. Eliza Jane Brazier continues to sell me on her storytelling and I can’t wait to see what she has next for readers.

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[2.75 stars]

This Dance Mom with horses book should've worked for me on paper (wealthy people behaving badly, sports, parents pushing their kids to the breaking point in sports, a mysterious death), but the execution fell short. Heather Parker had to give up her equestrian dreams when her family couldn’t afford her riding anymore, so when the nouveau riche Parker family moves to California, Heather is desperate to give her daughters the life that got stolen from her. The oldest Parker daughter, Piper, is a great rider, but quit before the family moved to CA because of the pressure Heather put on her. Maple, the youngest, is not a great rider, but keeps going to please her mom. When they get to CA, they find an exclusive barn with a checkered past to help them pursue their dreams of equestrian glory. I loved the look into the incredibly Machiavellian horse world…full of ambition, scheming, rivalry, and SO MUCH MONEY. But, the writing felt very YA, there was a lot more telling than showing, and the pacing felt off (it really dragged in the middle). I was also looking forward to the exploration of the psychology of terrible sports parents...and I felt like that topic was covered in a surface and cliche way.

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Girls and Their Horses by Eliza Jane Brazier was a highly enthralling read that I had a hard time putting down.

Engaging from the first page, this fictional novel paints a picture of wealthy girls and their families in the cut-throat horse world and the extremes they will go to be the best or the chosen ones in their barns. Perhaps they might even resort to murder.

Overall, I loved this book. The characters and the plot were intoxicating. I always wanted to know what was going to happen next. And while I guessed some of the twists, there were others that caught me completely by surprised.

This was the first book I read by this author and I have a feeling I will be reading more of her books in the future.

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Thank you to the publisher for my copy - all opinions are my own.

I had seen great reviews floating around for this one, and I figured I needed to see what all the hype was about. I am SO GLAD I did because this is easily one of my favourite reads of the summer!

I don't even know how to accurately describe this book - its part murder mystery, part character drama, part rich people behaving badly, part could-be reality tv show.....and it is 100% awesome. I was completely obsessed with this story of rich people and horse girl culture by the third chapter, and it just kept sucking me further and further in. I could honestly probably read an entire series of books on these characters and never ever get bored by it.

The way the story unfolds, as you see the characters slowly morph (some good, some bad, some you are rooting for, and some you are rooting to fail hard), you can't help but speed up your reading to see what happens next, and to finally figure out who was killed and who killed them. No spoilers, but all my guesses were very wrong, and I LOVE THAT.

This is a super unique read and is a must have for mystery lovers and anyone who like me, loves the rich people doing bad things genre. You won't regret it.

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This was darker than I had pictured but very well written with really interesting characters. Definitely not my normal read, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

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Thank you to @netgalley @berkleypub and @berkleyromance for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Thank you to @prhaudio for a free download of the audiobook. And thank you to @berittalksbooks and @dg_reads for including me on this buddy read.

Rich people drama usually leads to a great story! Even better when it’s a thriller. Girls and Their Horses is a story of the rich silver spoon riders and the mother of a star rider who works at the stables just to pay for her lessons. It’s a story of the trainer who thinks he has control and is smarter than the rich people throwing around money for the best of everything.

Each character has their own issues and lives that are intertwined. The author unravels all the ties as the reveal to the reader who died!

4 stars

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I loved Eliza Jane Brazier's "Good Rich People" so must admit I was slightly disappointed with this one, as it was not as shocking or unique. Still - a very enjoyable read. Being a horse girl myself, I loved all of the horse talk! And the ending was very satisfying.

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As someone who's best friend is a certified Horse Girl (TM), I knew I had to read this one. I loved how this story deals a lot with privilege and the mega rich. That's not something I was expecting. I also thought the characters were very well planned out. If you love the trope of rich people behaving badly then this one is for you.

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I've been a fan of Brazier's twisty writing style ever since "Good Rich People" came out. At 400 pages, this is one of the thicker thrillers I've read in a while, but I loved the exclusive and completive show jumping setting. The short chapters and different point of views help to move the plot along and keep the reader engaged, and while I wasn't completely blown away by the ending, I'll be adding this book to my thrillers recs list.

"When the nouveau riche Parker family moves to an exclusive community in the heart of Southern California, they believe it’s their chance at a fresh start. It’s not long before the Parker family is fully enmeshed in the horse world—from mean girl cliques to barn romance and dark secrets. Before the summer is over, lies will turn lethal, accidents will happen, and someone will end up dead."

Glamorous and Horsey, this was a Well-executed slow burn thriller.

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