In "Stormwind of the North Country," an adventure and horse story set in the Adirondack Mountains, Kat's life changes one unforgettable summer when she must fight for the preservation of her father's land, the safety of her best friend, and the life of Stormwind, the horse she loves. The book's 186 pages touch on themes of friendship, animal welfare, and protection of the wilderness, for ages 10 to 14. $9.95 plus shipping direct from the publisher, www.publishamerica.com. Also available on Amazon.
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Jodi Auborn Books
14-year-old Kat lives with her widowed father, Luke, and younger brother, Dave, in their remote country farmhouse. She loves exploring the forest surrounding her house, and taking horseback riding lessons at the stable down the road. Her free-spirited father had taught her to love the natural world, and she considers herself a true outdoor girl.
After making a shocking discovery one morning, Kat struggles to rescue Stormwind, her favorite horse at the stable, from its abusive owner. Then her father brings home an unwelcome visitor with a secret that could destroy the way of life that the family loves. This upsetting change sends Kat and her dog, Hesperus, running away on a month-long camping trip in the wilderness with Stormwind. There, she finds a true friend in Randy, a teenage drifter with a mysterious past. After an accident forces them to return to Kat’s house, she must deal with the family problem she’d left behind, and help Randy overcome the memories of his troubled childhood.
This is a story about horses and nature, freedom and self-reliance. It is about going after your dreams, being yourself, and standing up for your beliefs. In her adventures at home and in the Adirondack wilderness, Kat learns that friendship and love will solve her problems.
Excerpts from "Stormwind of the North Country"
I didn’t know how my dad would react, but now I needed his help. “Luke!” I shouted as Stormwind raced up the driveway, kicking up gravel behind her. “Luke!”
The garage door was closed, the radio silent.
I tied Stormwind to the porch railing and burst into the house. “Dad! Daddy!” I was getting hysterical. “Dad!”
I found him at work redecorating the guestroom, his clothes splattered with fresh paint. “Katherine! What in the -”
“Daddy! It’s Stormwind...and Lorraine, and...she’s got a gun, and...and Commodore’s dead!” I collapsed into a nearby chair and covered my face, shaking, squeezing my eyes shut against the tears that threatened to fall.
He put his gentle hands on my shoulders. “Shhh, Kat...try to calm down, and tell me what happened.”
I took a deep breath and stood up. “Follow me.”
He gasped at the sight of Stormwind, who stood there puffing and trembling with exhaustion, bleeding from the whip wounds across her body. “Oh, my...” He gently touched Stormwind’s sweaty neck as she snorted and danced away.
Luke sighed and rubbed his forehead. “Oh, honey. You were telling me the truth. I should’ve believed you...and now, that poor animal...” He sighed again. “If only I had-”
“It’s not your fault, Luke...”
Suddenly he straightened up, his voice firm. “And it’s not yours, either. It’s that woman’s. You’re not going back there, Katherine...and neither is the horse. Now, we have to get her out of sight. Let’s take her in the barn. We’ve got to get her cleaned up, if she’s gonna be yours.”
“Mine? But I thought you couldn’t afford a horse -”
“I’ll find a way. Now, I’m going to get her some medicine, and I’ll bring the portable phone out in the barn. We’ve gotta make some calls.”
Far down the road, I heard a car being driven at an insane speed by the madwoman we’d just escaped from. “Stillwater!” I screamed. I led Stormwind at a trot toward the barn, but we didn’t make it. The car was here, after almost overturning when it careened into the driveway. Stillwater flew out and would have reached us if Luke had not turned back and stood before Stormwind and me.
“Leave my property, you!” he shouted. “You’re not welcome here!”
“Your daughter stole my horse! I’m simply here to regain my horse!” Stillwater reached over Luke’s shoulder and slapped Stormwind’s muzzle. “She is mine, and you and that little criminal are not to tell me otherwise!”
Stormwind lunged at Stillwater, almost knocking Luke down, and bit Stillwater’s arm. It started bleeding. “Why you...”
Luke pushed her back to her car. “Looks like the horse doesn’t want to be with you,” he said. “Don’t you think you’ve done enough around here? Stormwind means the world to my daughter. She belongs to her.”
“Get out of here, before I call the police!”
“The police! You bet I’ll call the police! I won’t stop there! I will take you to court!”
Luke laughed. “That’s just what I was planning on doing. That junkyard of yours will be condemned, and you’ll never lay your hands on another animal, again.”
Stillwater gunned her engine, pulled onto the road, and tore away for home.
The rain started not long after I fell asleep. I awoke to cold droplets splattering my face, the wind cutting through my wool blanket. Groaning, I pulled open my backpack and took out the plastic sheet I’d brought.
There was nothing I could do but crawl under the plastic and hope it wouldn’t blow away. I hadn't brought a tent for times like this, since I had pictured myself sleeping in caves like the one I'd found above the river, or making neat little shelters every night, or sleeping in the open looking at the stars until I fell asleep. Luke had taught Dave and me all about the woods, and told us to always be prepared for rain. I didn’t know why I thought everything would be as easy as I’d imagined, and I knew Luke would be disappointed in me.
Luke. I tightened my arms around my knees as I saw him in my mind. Apart from his fascination with Lavina, he wasn’t a bad guy at all. He and my mom had me when they were seventeen, and I’d always liked having a young father. He was only twenty-one when mom died, and he had to raise me and Dave, a kindergartener and a baby, all on his own. But what I remembered most of all, that night in the rain, were all the camping trips he took Dave and me on.
Sometimes we went to state-owned campgrounds. My favorite had a big lake surrounded by hiking trails, and a big shady picnic ground. Other times when he had no money to rent a site for a week, we’d go hiking out in the backwoods somewhere, staying out until we ran out of food or Luke had to go back to work, whichever came first. But no matter what, we’d always go on vacation every summer.
That was when I realized it. It wasn’t much fun to go camping alone. I remembered all those chilly nights at the campground, sitting at the damp picnic table drawing pictures by the light of the propane lantern, watching moths flutter around the light while Luke played his guitar softly by the fire. Other times, he had the radio on. But before we all went to bed, we’d sit by the fireplace and roast marshmallows. My mouth watered as I thought of them toasted just the way I liked them: burnt black on the outside after setting them on fire. Luke would tell the greatest ghost stories of phantom mountain men and Indians and lost hikers, and trees that came to life to grab people and kill them. I smiled through my misery. Those stories kept Dave and me awake and jittery for hours.
I couldn’t believe I was lonely. This was supposed to be the adventure of my life, and I couldn’t stop thinking about my father, or even bratty Dave. But it was turning into a disaster. First we were almost bit by a rattlesnake, drowned, discovered by a search plane, lost the way, and now this.
I refused to go slinking home in defeat, but couldn’t help wishing for some company - human company, I told myself, as Hesperus pushed her cold wet nose into my hand. At least if I was traveling with somebody, this rainstorm wouldn’t seem so bad. We’d suffer through it together, then laugh about it years later. Well, maybe not laugh. But we’d remember.
“Hey, look!” Randy pointed out at the lake where the loons had been calling all night. A bizarre, multi-colored glow flickered over the black water. It was really eerie, but fascinating. Supernatural, almost. “The Northern lights.” He spoke in a hushed voice as he stared at the sight. “I’ve never seen ‘em before, but Jake told me about ‘em once...”
“Randy, who is Jake? You keep mentioning him.”
He didn’t answer. He just studied the flickering lights, arms around his legs with his chin on his knees. We were silent as we watched the lights. I forgot all about drawing and knew that I would remember this moment forever. The small flickering fire behind us, the huge flickering fire-like light in the sky, sitting with a boy I realized that I’d met for some reason unknown to both of us. I didn’t protest when Randy hesitated, then put his arm around me.
He looked from the sky out over the dark water. “Have you ever wondered what it would be like if one day, you realize that your whole life was just a dream? You wake up as a baby in a crib, and it’s beginning all over again...”
I shivered. “That’s creepy.”
He got to his feet. “Wait here.” He went behind me into the lean-to and returned with two cans of soda. He handed me a root beer and looked back at the Northern lights, opened his can and raised it toward me. “To us. To this summer. To this place.”
“May the summer last forever.”
“So, you just stand there staring.” Randy sneered. “I shoulda known.” He spun around and pushed past me, stalking back to the lean-to. I trotted after him.
“Randy, I had no idea...”
“Yeah, that’s your whole problem. You have no idea. Nobody does.” He stopped short so we were face-to-face, clenched his fists and glared at me from under his bangs, as if daring me to make fun of him. I noticed the tears in his eyes as he smirked, trying to look tough. “Go ahead, tell me I look gross. Tell me I look like a monster. I know you want to.” Turning away, he wadded up his ruined shirt and dropped it on the ground.
“Oh, Randy...” I put my arm around his shoulders but he ducked away.
“Don’t touch me!” he snarled. “You think you can make me feel better?” He continued to glare at me as we stalked through the woods. “Katherine, you are a spoiled brat. You think that you have real problems with your dad’s girlfriend, but you don’t! You don’t know what real problems are!” He narrowed his eyes. “You don’t know how good you have it!”
Suddenly his shoulders slumped and his voice was gentle again. “Kat, look at you. You have a 15,000 dollar horse that you didn’t have to pay a cent for, you live in a huge house, you even know how to drive a car...and...you have a...family who loves you. You would never understand.”
“I could imagine...”
“No.” Randy shook his head and stared at the ground as we returned to the lean-to. He found the two pictures and slid them in his back pocket, put on a flannel shirt, and looked out over the pond. “I gotta take a walk,” he said softly. “Excuse me.”
What was Lavina planning on doing by late fall? I wondered as I hung her fancy clothes back in her closet. I took the papers and hid them in the secret room just as I heard a car pulling into the driveway. Assuming Lavina had returned from the mall, I ran into the main house and upstairs before she came inside.
I awoke very early the next day. But I doubted Lavina had gotten any sleep, since I had woken up that night to hear her muttering softly, moving furniture in her room and talking on the phone in a hushed voice.
It was a gorgeous morning, the sun streaming through the windows as I got dressed and thought about the hidden papers. They were safe, I knew, but I decided not to tell Randy or Dave about them. This was my project.
I went outside to feed Stormwind. As I walked in the chilly air, I noticed a shadow step around the barn, and I forgot all about the papers. What if Vito had discovered where I lived? Could he be trying to steal Stormwind and Hawk - or burn down the barn like he did in that nightmare? Nonsense, I told myself. He’s in the hospital, or jail! But I was nervous as I jogged to a window and peered inside. Could it be Stillwater? No! Lavina was searching the rows of empty stalls!
As she neared Stormwind and Hawk’s stall, I noticed the bags under her eyes, and that she wore no makeup for once. I silently slipped into an empty stall to see what she was up to.
Lavina’s high heels slowly clacked across the dusty floorboards as Stormwind began pacing and circling in her stall. There the woman stopped, looking at Stormwind’s halter, hanging from its hook. She unclipped the leadrope and slowly opened the door. I saw the tip of Hawk’s nose curiously touching her extended hand...
THUNK! THUNK! Lavina yelped and scuttled away from the horses when Stormwind pinned her ears and kicked the barn walls.
“What are you doing in here?” I asked as I strode down the barn aisle.
Lavina gasped and spun around to face me.
Great Get Away Read
My first review on Amazon.com:
By theresa zacharenko
This book is a great read. I purchased it as a quick read (186 pages) for a week in the mountains. It was a quick read, I finished it in 48 hours. The story intrigued me with the opening chapter and kept my interest with every turn of the page. Ms Auborn's knowledge of horses and the rural living in the Adirondack Mts. could only come from real life experiences. The book closes with the heroine Kat sitting on her porch looking at the blooming Tiger Lilies. My ending was similar finishing this delightful book on my porch overlooking the Tiger lilies. A must read for ages 12-65.
Review at www.TeensReadToo.com
STORMWIND OF THE NORTH COUNTRY by Jodi Auborn
Age Recommendation: Grades 6+
Release Date: 4/13/09
Reviewed by: Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky"
Rating: 4 Stars
Fourteen-year-old Kat is used to her independence. She and her younger brother have been raised by their
father. She thinks of her mother, who died when Kat was only five, as a sort of guardian angel.
Kat has always loved horses. Since they can’t afford to have one living in their own barn, she spends time at a
stables owned by Lorraine Stillwater. Stillwater doesn’t take care of her horses at all. In fact, the animals live in filth and are abused on a regular basis. When the story begins, Kat is headed to Stillwater’s stable to purchase a white horse named Stormwind. Much to her horror and disappointment, the nasty stable owner tells her $200 is no longer the price. Instead she wants $1,000 or she will be selling the horse to a slaughterhouse.
Kat is furious. She has witnessed the terrible treatment and horrible living conditions for the last time. She steals Stormwind and attempts to hide him on their property. When her father discovers the theft, he demands that she return the horse and won’t listen to Kat’s stories about neglect and abuse.
Just a few days later, Kat is passing Stillwater’s property and hears a commotion. What she sees fires her up all over again. Stillwater is beating the horse in her attempt to get it into the transport trailer headed to the
slaughterhouse. Once again, Kat steps forward and takes the horse. With the helpful distraction of the driver
from the slaughterhouse, she rides away on Stormwind. This time when her father sees the evidence of the
beating, he agrees that the horse should stay with them.
In the meantime, Kat and her brother are shocked to find out that their young father has decided to invite a
woman to their home for the summer. He met Lavina at one of the performances of his music group, and evidently he has fallen in love. Lavina is not a country girl, and she doesn’t seem interested in fitting in at all. In
fact, when Kat and her brother take the opportunity to snoop through her belongings, they believe she might
actually be a real estate agent intent on getting their father to sell her his property.
The real action begins when Kat comes up with a plan. She tells her brother that she plans to run away and
follow an old abandoned route from their home into Canada. The idea is that when her father discovers she is
missing, he will become involved in looking for her and Lavina will leave.
Kat’s journey into the wilderness riding on a pregnant Stormwind takes her into one crisis situation after another. In addition to crossing rapids, dealing with scavenging raccoons, and creating a shelter to weather storms, Kat meets Randy, another teen looking for answers in the deep woods.
STORMWIND OF THE NORTH COUNTRY is unique in that author Jodi Auborn uses a female protagonist in the role of wilderness survivor. Readers looking for a girl action figure will be satisfied with this read, despite the
sometimes unpredictable prose.
Review at www.FeatheredQuill.com
Stormwind of the North Country
By: Jodi Auborn
Publication Date: April 2009
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: August 25, 2010
Katherine Normith, or Kat to her friends, is one very determined fourteen-year-old. She knows what she wants, and even if the adults around her tell her it’s impossible, young Kat will find a way to make it happen. That’s just what she did to save a beloved horse, Stormwind.
Kat had been taking riding lessons at a farm down the road from her house for several years. She hated the farm, and the farm’s owner, Lorraine Stillwater, a cruel woman who abuses her horses. But if Kat didn’t come and take care of the horses (mucks stalls, brush the horses, etc.), who would? There are several neglected horses on the property, including Kat’s favorite, a pretty Arabian mare named Stormwind that only she can ride.
As the story opens, Kat is headed to Stillwater’s place to buy Stormwind. But the spiteful woman refuses to sell the mare, instead telling Kat that Stormwind is headed to the slaughterhouse. In desperation, Kat sneaks out at night and steals the horse.
When Kat’s father, Luke, finds out what his daughter has done, he’s quite upset. To make matters worse, he never gave Kat permission to buy the horse. When she had asked, he was deep in thought concentrating on his new long distance girlfriend and had mumbled a reply without realizing what his daughter was asking. Kat is forced to return Stormwind to Stillwater’s farm.
In a startling turn of events, Kat soon finds herself the owner of her beloved horse. Life should be good but then Luke’s new girlfriend, Lavina, arrives. A city woman who is very out of place in the country, Lavina has ulterior motives, which Kat soon discovers. She tries to talk to her father, but Luke is too in love to listen to his daughter. In protest, Kat runs away, taking Stormwind and her dog Hesperus for protection.
Kat heads into the deep woods of the Adirondack Mountains. Along with many thrilling, and frightening adventures, she meets a mysterious boy, Randy. Realizing they truly need each other to survive what nature, and man, throws at them, they soon become friends.
Stormwind of the North Country is an endearing story about a teen who is struggling to find herself and her place in the world. There is plenty of horse action in the first half of the story but it slowly takes a back seat to the relationship between Kat and Randy, as well as Kat, her dad, and Lavina. If you’re looking for a book that is all “horse,” this may not be the right book. But if you want a story where the protagonist is a very strong, self-assured female, take a look at this tale. Teens will likely relate to Kat and the story should draw them in to learn how Kat solves her problems.
The author has obviously spent time in the beautiful Adirondack’s as her descriptions of the scenery are spot on. You can hear the birds chirping and bugs buzzing in the background as Kat and Randy walk through a meadow. I did find some of the events strained believability (Stillwater reads a book while her stallion struggles to free himself from barbed wire, Kat takes Stormwind for a 4 hour trail ride shortly after the mare foals). There are also some scenes that might be tough for more sensitive readers, such as the death of a horse, and the revelation of the pain that Randy has endured. However, I suspect most teens won’t mind. They’ll be hoping Kat saves the horses, saves the farm, and helps Randy return to a “normal” life.
Quill says: A girl, a beautiful horse, and a journey in the woods, will draw many teens to this adventure.
For more information on Stormwind of the North Country, please visit the author's website at: JodilAuborn.webs.com
Please note that Stormwind is also available through the publisher for $9.95 plus shipping. You can learn more here.
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