Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Racing Savannah: Review & Author Interview

Racing Savannah (Hundred Oaks #4)
Published By: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: December 3, 2013
Page Count: 304
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via NetGalley
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary

I'm a huge fan of this series and Miranda Kenneally's writing; I was ecstatic when I found out that Reading Lark had been chosen to be part of the Racing Savannah Blog Tour. I have come to expect an addicting story with complex characters and Kenneally certainly didn't let me down. My favorite novel in the series is still Catching Jordan, but Racing Savannah also has a special place on my favorites shelf.

Each of the novels in the Hundred Oaks series follows a female character as she navigates social situations and romantic currents. The path to true love never runs smoothly for Kenneally's ladies, but I love that by the end of the story, the girls have learned so much about themselves. I appreciate that the female lead in a Hundred Oaks book is going to be a kickass sort of girl. I'd happily have been best friends with any of the leading ladies from Hundred Oaks.

Racing Savannah takes place about four years after Catching Jordan. All of the main characters from the first three novels make brief appearances in this one, but they have all finished college and are beginning their adult journeys. In fact, there is even a wedding in this one. I won't mention which couple ties the knot, but I loved that part of the story. Many of the former characters' siblings take center stage in Racing Savannah. For example, Will's younger brother and Ty's younger sister are both high school students in this installment and play prominent roles in Savannah's story.

In Racing Savannah, readers are introduced to Savannah Barrows, a girl who has recently moved to Tennessee from West Virginia. Savannah's father has landed a job at the prestigious Cedar Hill Farms. Mr. Barrow and Savannah love caring for horses; Savannah also finds that she has a talent for riding and figuring out what makes a horse tick. She lands a job as an exercise rider for an irritable horse named Star. Savannah's work with Star allows her to spend a lot of time with the owner's son, Jack. There is an instant connection between Savannah and Jack, but the vast gap in socioeconomic status poses some serious hurdles for their relationship.

I really enjoyed the commentary on class issues. Even in 2013, people are still judged based on the amount of wealth in their family. My heart broke for Savannah when she didn't think that she deserved more than working in the stables. She had never even considered college a possibility. There are many students who find themselves in the same position as Savannah; she provides a positive role model for changing your fate and breaking the cycle of poverty. In addition, I was happy to see that Kenneally also made the point over and over again that Savannah's social status didn't make her less than her friends. In fact, Savannah is an extremely strong girl with the heart of a lion. She doesn't allow fear to keep her from striving to reach her goals - even in a world like horse racing that is dominated by males.

In addition, I enjoyed the romance in this one. Kenneally is the master of creating handsome boys who will steal your heart and steam up your Kindle with romantic kisses. I wish novels like this one existed when I was a teenager.

Racing Savannah is one of my 2013 favorites. In fact, I kept telling myself I would only read one more chapter, but when I looked up again it was past 1:00 am and I had finished the entire thing. I try so hard to read the Hundred Oaks novels slowly, but I find that to be impossible. I love living in this world with these characters; I find myself wanting to spend as much time there as possible. I highly suggest you spend some time getting to know this community and its inhabitants if you haven't already had the pleasure of Hundred Oaks High's southern hospitality.

One Last Gripe: I was bummed that I didn't get to spend more time with Jordan. I think it's time for a reread...

My Favorite Thing About This Book: Seeing my old favorites grow up and meeting new favorite characters

First Sentence: Welcome to Hell would be a more appropriate sign, considering Dad just uprooted me from West Virginia and hauled me to Tennessee two days before senior year.

Favorite Character: Savannah

Least Favorite Characters: The entire Winchester family

They’re from two different worlds.

He lives in the estate house, and she spends most of her time in the stables helping her father train horses. In fact, Savannah has always been much more comfortable around horses than boys. Especially boys like Jack Goodwin—cocky, popular and completely out of her league. She knows the rules: no mixing between the staff and the Goodwin family. But Jack has no such boundaries.

With her dream of becoming a horse jockey, Savannah isn’t exactly one to follow the rules either. She’s not going to let someone tell her a girl isn’t tough enough to race. Sure, it’s dangerous. Then again, so is dating Jack…

The Larks would like to welcome Miranda Kenneally, the author of the Hundred Oaks Series, to Reading Lark today to discuss her upcoming release, Racing Savannah.

Andrea @ Reading Lark: Why did you decide to create the Hundred Oaks series?

Miranda: Honestly, it sort of just happened. I had already written Catching Jordan, and when I started writing Stealing Parker, characters from Catching Jordan just showed up. I had planned to write stories set in various Tennessee towns, but I'm glad that everything revolves around Hundred Oaks High. 

Andrea @ Reading Lark: I love that even though they are often complex characters that your females kick some major butt. Where do you get your inspiration for your leading ladies?

Miranda: I try to create characters who WANT something. I like giving my characters goals and throwing all sorts of stuff in their way, so they grow stronger as they move forward. But I also like giving them flaws and misconceptions. I like making them "real" girls with fears and hopes and dreams and snarky voices. Sometimes this makes readers not like my characters, but I don't really care. We are all flawed and unlikeable from time to time.

Andrea @ Reading Lark: How is Savannah different than the other girls we've already met in the series?

Miranda: Compared with Jordan and Kate, and even Parker, Savannah is super underprivileged. Savannah grew up in a trailer, ate the free lunch at school, and gets her clothes from yard sales and Goodwill. At the beginning of the book, Savannah has no college aspirations or plans for her future other than to make sure she doesn't end up working as a maid in a hotel. 

Andrea @ Reading Lark: What is your favorite part about writing this series?

Miranda: The book boys! I love writing realistic, flawed, sexy guys. Also, I enjoy writing the kissing scenes. (Obviously)

Andrea @ Reading Lark: What are you currently reading?

Miranda: A LITTLE TOO MUCH by Lisa Desrochers. Hellloooo, Alessandro. 

Andrea @ Reading Lark: It's a tradition at Reading Lark - What is your favorite bird?

Miranda: Blue Jays. When I was a little girl, I liked throwing peanuts to Blue Jays in my yard. I liked watching them swoop in to grab peanuts. 

Miranda Kenneally is the author of CATCHING JORDAN, STEALING PARKER, THINGS I CAN'T FORGET, and RACING SAVANNAH. Her fifth book, most likely to be titled BREATHE, ANNIE, BREATHE, is coming out in July 2014. She enjoys reading and writing young adult literature, and loves Star Trek, music, sports, Mexican food, Twitter, coffee, and her husband.

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