Book review: Hannah Hooton’s “Share and Share Alike”

Buying a share in a racehorse syndicate seems like a good idea to Share and Share Alike‘s Tessa Hawkesbury-Loye, the artistically inclined protagonist at the center of the story. Recently back from Malta, Tessa is looking for a way to integrate herself back into Aspen Valley’s social scene as well as take her mind off the events that drove her home to the UK. Things are going well at first: the horse is winning, Tessa’s making friends, and there’s more than one eligible bachelor among the syndicate’s members. Disaster strikes when the horse is deliberately injured; someone close to the syndicate is responsible, and the culprit must be found before blame is placed on the innocent. 

Share and Share Alike is author Hannah Hooton’s third entry in the Aspen Valley series. Reading the other novels isn’t necessary to understand or enjoy this book. While classified as a romance novel, there’s very little bodice-ripping; instead, the book focuses on the ups and downs of racehorse ownership and the mystery of the horse’s purposeful injury. Romantic encounters and relationships are written to accompany the story- not to overwhelm it. Readers looking for steamy bedroom scenes and silly euphemisms will be better served by another tome. 
Share and Share Alike is a wonderfully enjoyable book. Hooton’s writing style is fast-paced but easy to read. Her descriptions of races are excellent- they’re full of the thrill and tension any race-goer experiences while rooting for their favorite horse to win. Descriptions of horses, their care, and their training are accurate. The mystery elements of the story were also well done. Hooton keeps readers guessing throughout the book, and when the criminal is finally revealed, it’s a surprise. Relationships between characters are believable and develop naturally; nothing seems forced or awkward. 
While some may be disappointed that Share and Share Alike isn’t a book about racing itself but the relationships that form between people involved with it, most readers will enjoy the engaging story and the outstanding writing.
You can purchase Share and Share Alike (along with Hooton’s other novels) as an eBook through a variety of outlets:
You can also buy it as a paperback through Lulu: Share and Share Alike.

Product Review: Champion Sports Bra

I received my prize pack from Fit Bottomed Girls a few weeks ago (you know, from when Gina won it for me) and one of the things included was a sports bra. Excitement!

Now, I am a busty lady; I wear a 38DD. I also have slopey shoulders which means that bra straps (sports bras and regular bras alike) sometimes slide down my shoulders more than is comfortable. I’ve found a great regular bra in Victoria’s Secret’s Body by Victoria line, but I’ve struggled to find a sports bra that fit well while minimizing bounce. Because let me tell you, I have a lot of bounce. I’ve been getting by with these reasonably priced Old Navy bras; they’re fine, but after a high impact workout like jogging or sitting trot for more than five minutes, my boobs don’t feel great.

The bra I won is the Champion All-Out Support Wireless Sports Bra. Just take a look at this bad boy.

Front

Back

It clearly means business. The bra proclaims it has “the support of 2 sports bras/the comfort of 1”, which for me is kind of moot; I’ve never tried wearing two sports bras at once. (Maybe I should?) It’s also “engineered to beat the bounce during your most intense workout” (their emphasis, not mine). Suggested sports include running, basketball, and aerobics.


The straps are wide and adjustable, which is great for my weird shoulders. The back has hook closures like you’d find on a regular bra, and while it’s wireless, the bottom band is a thick, wide fabric without a lot of give. You can’t tell from the top picture, but the bra actually kind of looks like two bras sewn together. (For a better picture, go to their website.) That’s weird, but whatever.

I was super excited to try this thing out. So I put it on. Well. “Wiggled into it” is a more accurate description of what I did. The band at the bottom is very stiff fabric that maybe stretches half an inch. That’s great when it’s on and keeping your boobs in place, but it makes pulling the bra over your head and shoulders difficult, even with the hooks unbuckled. Once I had successfully put on the bra, I spent a couple of minutes tugging it down and stuffing my boobs in it.

The sides of the bra are fairly low-cut, which means some armpit fat tried to escape over the top. Unflattering, but not uncomfortable and essentially no big deal as I always wear a shirt when I ride.

As for support: should I ever need to pass as a man for a Halloween costume or bank robbery, I will wear this bra. It squashes my boobs down to near-nothingness. That’s kind of impressive; however, if you’re not into the uni-boob look, this is not the bra for you.

As far as performance goes, I have zero complaints. I’ve ridden in it several times at all gaits. (I have not jumped in it.) It definitely minimizes/nearly eliminates bounce. It isn’t hot or overly uncomfortable and it certainly makes button-front shirts fit better.

I have no idea what its care instructions are. I’ve washed it a few times in cold water with my other undergarments and dried it on low heat; it’s held up just fine with no stretching or shrinking.

Champion All-Out Support Wireless Sports Bra
Sizing: 4/5; I thought it ran a bit small, but that could just be lack of give in the band.
Comfort: 4/5
Durability: 5/5Value: 4/5; While I received this bra for free as a prize, it runs about $35. I’m still adjusting to the idea of paying more than $10 for a sports bra, but compared to similar bras, this price point seems reasonable.
Cool Factor: 3/5; It looks pretty cool by itself, and would probably look pretty cool on a more muscular or fitter person. For your average, somewhat overweight, haven’t-seen-the-sun-in-months white woman, I would definitely recommend wearing a shirt over it. 

Product Review: Hunter Original Tall Rain Boots

About two years ago, everyone I knew gave me a Dover Saddlery gift certificate for Christmas. I pooled the gift cards and purchased a pair of Hunter Original Tall Rain Boots. I’d read on various blogs about how great the boots were- durable, comfortable, even a little stylish! I was excited to have a good pair of mud boots to wear out to the barn; my poor cowboy boots were taking a lot of abuse and my last pair of cheap rain boots had finally sprung a leak.

Imagine my crushing disappointment, then, when my lovely boots arrived and were too narrow for my calves! I have fairly wide calves; all of my riding boots are wide or extra wide. However, I wasn’t expecting a pair of rubber rain boots to be narrow enough that my boyfriend’s arm could barely fit in them. Rain boots are meant to be worn, presumably, outside pants like jeans. With socks. Unlike breeches, which are form fitting, jeans can add some extra bulk to a leg. I was absolutely crushed. I didn’t return the boots; instead, I shoved them under my bed (like an adult), brought them out periodically, and whimpered in sadness when they still didn’t fit onto my bare legs.

Now, let me deter the review for a moment to gripe about Dover’s website. I can’t find the Hunter boots on their website at the moment, but I assure you that two years ago, they were there. Dover also lacked a size chart for the boots, or any notation that the men’s and women’s boots weren’t sized differently in the calf. (My boots actually have “Men’s Size 8/Women’s Size 9” printed on the inside.) So when I ordered the boots, I ordered a men’s size 8 in hopes the calf would be more generous. I never returned the boots because I didn’t want to order an alternative boot and was still somewhat miffed over the glove incident. Hunter’s website at the time didn’t list calf sizes; happily, it currently does.

Anyway. Fast forward to about a month ago. Rainy season is upon us in Oklahoma; the barn where my horses live has terrible drainage, as does my workplace. I am dreading another winter of muddy, wet cowboy boots. I dream of grossly expensive Dubarrys. I notice my jeans are a little looser than they used to be, so because I am a glutton for punishment, I drag the Hunters from under my bed and attempt to shove my oversized calves inside. They fit. They fit. Not in that glamorous loose way that pretty people in style blogs wear them, but in a kind of tight but functional way. A victorious way. (How’d I lose weight, you ask? No idea; I eat a lot of vegetables and tofu and walk approximately 20,000 steps a day.)

Now that my Hunters fit (only under skinny jeans, mind you), I wear them any time the weather is wet. And that’s been pretty frequently over the last month or so.

Genuine Hunters, aren’t I cool?

They are very comfortable; I am regularly on my feet and moving in my boots from about 7:00 AM until 7:00 PM. I teach riding lessons in them, muck stalls in them, and walk horses to and from pastures in them.

Side view from the manure pile.

The buckles on the outside of the boots are solely decorative. They do not adjust the fit of the boot. The buckle on the left boot tore off while I was tugging the boot on one day; it has not affected me whatsoever. 

Good in manure.

The rubber is pliable and flexible, which is nice. I can sit at my desk and drive my car without the ankle area of the boot irritating me.

Good in mud.

While the shaft of the boot is fairly narrow, the foot of the boot is very roomy. I have plenty of room to wiggle my toes and can wear my thickest wool socks without a problem.

Good underwater.
The boots have no lining, so when my feet get cold, they stay cold. I recommend wearing thick socks if you’re going to be slogging through a significant amount of water or snow. 
Dirty boots.

Hunter Original Tall Rain Boots
Sizing: Foot roomy; shaft narrow.
Comfort: 5/5
Durability: 4/5; I feel like the buckle that popped off shouldn’t have popped off.
Value: 3/5; while these are a good, solid pair of rain boots, they also cost around $100. My last pair of cheap rainboots was $25 and lasted for about three years. By that standard, these boots need to last me more than 12 years!
Cool Factor: 5/5; I’ve gotten compliments on them from random strangers at my favorite sandwich place, so that makes them pretty cool in my book.

What do y’all do for rain boots? Hunters? Another brand? Has anyone tried the wider-calf Hunter boot, the Huntress?