Off the Charts and On the Horizon – cactus jack (Brad Smith)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I received an eArc of this contemporary novel through Edelweiss in exchange for me honest musings.  Though this log’s focus is on sci-fi, fantasy, and young adult, this Captain does have broader reading tastes. So occasionally I will share some novels that I enjoyed that are off the charts (a non sci-fi, fantasy, or young adult novel), as it were.

cactus jack (Brad Smith)

Title: cactus jack

Author: Brad Smith

Publisher: Arcade

Publication Date: TODAY!!! (hardcover/e-book)

ISBN: 978-1950691456

Source:  Edelweiss

Cactus Jack: A Novel

This book drew me attention because of the cover.  The crew knows that I was a horse lover before the sea stole me heart.  I saw this book compared to Elmore Leonard’s work and thought “I be in the mood for a western with a girl on the cover.” Ummm well this is not a western.  Apparently Mr. Leonard wrote all kinds of things besides westerns.  I know of him by reputation only, having never read any of his work.  But I be glad the comparison made me pick up this book.

This novel takes place first in Ohio and then in Kentucky.  It revolves around an old run-down farm in Kentucky.  The main character is a woman named Billie who inherits the farm, a mountain of debt, and a two year old thoroughbred.  After coming back home, Billie gets wrapped up in the world she left behind and the colorful characters around her.

The stereotypes of small town life seem to be here – old local lawyer, rich clueless racehorse owner out to take down the old farm, drunken beat-down trainer, local kid hanging around, and Billie who wants to quickly escape them all.  However, I ended up loving all the “good guy” characters and watching all the “bad guys” machinations came to naught.  These stock characters still seemed fresh and fun.

Really this novel was just cozy and comfortable.  None of the plot was super exciting given how many racehorse books I read as a kid.  That said, it was engaging and I knew everything was gonna to turn out just fine.  Which it did.  I was happy and relaxed reading this novel.  I loved this novel about Billie and how her family turns out in the end.  Arrr!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Brad Smith “rivals Elmore Leonard at his best” (Publishers Weekly). His latest novel, for fans of Richard Russo and Jane Smiley, is a terrific novel about a thirty-something single woman, the untried colt she inherits, a horse crazy little girl, and their band of misfits and has-beens who stick it to the establishment in the cutthroat world of horse racing.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Brad Smith – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

cactus jack – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

3 thoughts on “Off the Charts and On the Horizon – cactus jack (Brad Smith)

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