Wednesday 13 November 2013

Blog Tour for Racing Savannah (Hundred Oaks #4) by Miranda Kenneally; Review + Guest Post

18517919Posted by Donna
Release Date: December 3rd, 2013
Finished Date: October 18th, 2013
Publishers: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: YA Contemporary, Romance 
Source: For Review
Format: eARC
Pages: 304
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 Review: "You are really pretty..." He drags a hand through his blond hair. "Bur you're kind of like a great know, you pock up a book at a bookstore because it has a beautiful cover...but it's what's inside that pulls you in."

I always look forward to a new release from Miranda Kenneally because she is one of my favourite contemporary authors right now, and I believe with each book her work becomes stronger and stronger – and Racing Savannah is proof of that. 

Savannah is a girl that, unfortunately, doesn’t come from a wealthy family – her family are pretty poor because all their money had to go towards her mother’s health bills. When Savannah’s father decides to relocate and take a new job, it’s there that she meets rich boy Jack – the son of her father’s new boss. Jack is trying to prove to his father that he can take over the family business one day, and has been given the title of acting boss for the year. Jack gives Savannah the chance to prove that she can become a capable horse jockey, but the catch – she has to help him train one of the wild horses that somehow, she seems to have a connection with. It’s while working with Star (the horse) and Jack, that Savannah suddenly develops feelings for Jack, but how does Savannah stay away from a boy that seems interested in her too – even if she’s been warned to stay away? 

Here's another book that I absolutely loved wrote by Miranda Kenneally. This women doesn’t know how to disappoint – she’s a remarkable writer and as I said, I truly believe she’s becoming a better writer - I’m not saying she was bad to start with, I’ve loved all her books so far, but these last two I’ve just seemed to enjoy more and more. What I love about her books is how she weaves in the characters love of a hobby, and makes us readers aware of things that most of the time wouldn’t really interest us. Football baseball and horse racing aren’t my favourite things, and I find it really weird that I wouldn’t pay attention to these sports in real life, but while I’m reading Miranda’s books, I find myself completely compelled by these sports. That in itself proves how talented Miranda is, don’t you think?

Savannah (I adore this name by the way) and Jack were fantastic characters. I love a good story that involves two different characters from different worlds, it always makes it’s so interesting – and their story was. Savannah is a brave girl; she’s had to face so much in her life so far. It’s not until Jack enters her life that she finally decides she wants more with her life and he’s the one to give her the hope. I loved that Jack pushed her to want more, rather than being okay with what she had. Even Jack had struggles with his family but again, Savannah pushed Jack. The connection between the two was clear from the moment they met, sparks fly and it was touching and lovely to see their stories come together. 

What I always enjoy about Miranda’s book is her need to put appearances from her past characters, I love that, I love being able to see what Jordan, Sam, Kate etc.. are getting up too. And I also loved the new secondary characters that she introduced – Rory, Vanessa and Kelsey. 

Overall, Miranda Kenneally once again charms her readers with another heart-warming and lovable story from the Hundred Oaks series and I can’t help but want more. 

Guest Post with Miranda Kenneally.

Before I started writing Racing Savannah, I knew NOTHING about horse racing. Here's how I got the idea for the book. I was out to dinner with a big group of Washington DC-based writers. I wasn't sure which sport I wanted to feature in my next book, so everybody was throwing out ideas. Of course there were silly ideas like Synchronized Swimming and ping pong, but then Diana Peterfreund pointed out a horse painting on the wall. And then Jessica Spotswood and Andrea Lynn Colt said I should write a book about dressage. I said, "What in the world is dressage?" I guess it involves jumping horses over poles and pools of water. Anyhow, that didn't interest me so much. But what did interest me is horse racing. I've always enjoyed watching the Kentucky Derby every year, even if I never understood the ins and outs of the sport.

Writing Racing Savannah gave me the opportunity to learn about horses and horse racing, as well as write about a girl in a male-dominated sport again. I loved writing CATCHING JORDAN and I knew I wanted to write a strong, fun, snarky girl once more. 

If you are interested, this is how I researched horse racing, which was a lot more complicated that I thought. I knew I had about 8 months to write the book, so I dug in and got to learning. To research this book I:
1.    -- Read “Horseracing for Dummies.” Yes, I really read it, cover to cover.

2.     --Watched the movies “Secretariat” and “Seabiscuit.”

3.     --Read the books SECRETARIAT and TRUE BLUE.

4.     --Talked to all my friends to see who knew what about horseracing and what their impressions were.

5.     --Watched a ton of past horseraces on YouTube.

6.     After I did all of the above, I took a trip to Hollywood Casinos in West Virginia to watch a real-live horse race! My husband hated the casinos and called it the “Fourth Circle of Hell.”

-       --I spent a lot of time walking around the track, reading the race program, talking to the people who work at the betting machines.

-       --I got to see the horses up close in the paddock and I watched them work with their trainers and jockeys.

-       --We watched 4 races and even bet some money. I came away with a profit of $2.40!

7.     --After West Virginia, I knew I hadn’t seen the best horses in the world. So I decided to take a trip to Kentucky, where I discovered the Queen of England keeps her racehorses. First I visited the Thoroughbred Center in Lexington, where I got a great tour.

-       --Over 1,000 racehorses live at the Thoroughbred Center, so I got to see lots of horses.

-       --I spent about 2 hours there, asking tons of questions. I made sure I had the lingo down and was using the right terms in my book. They seemed impressed I knew what I was talking about!

-       --I watched the racehorses exercising on the track and I even got to meet an Appaloosa Pony named Barley! Barley’s job was to chase down racehorses that escape and pin them to a fence, and when I was there, a racehorse did escape and Barley chased after him. Barley let me pet him.

-       --I wasn’t allowed to pet the racehorses because they would bite me.

-       --I met a racehorse named “Tell a Little Secret.” She was a beautiful mare who had won all sorts of races and was a descendant of the real Secretariat on both sides. She let me pet her and didn’t bite me. She did try to bite her owner, though.

8.     --While in Kentucky, I also visited two racetracks: Kentucky Downs and Keeneland, which are featured in my book. The owner of Kentucky Downs drove us around on a golf cart and answered questions for a couple hours.

-       --Kentucky Downs is one of the only racetracks in America where they race on grass instead of dirt. It’s European-style.

-       --I found out that Kentucky Downs is haunted!

-       --Kentucky Downs used to be the site of dueling grounds, so lots of people died where the horses now race.         

       Thanks so much for having me on your blog!

Miranda Kenneally
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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