Review: Racing Savannah by Miranda Kenneally

Book Title: Racing Savannah
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Published Date: January 1st, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: YA Contemporary
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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…

Disclaimer: Library book.

Yay, finally we get a book set on a horse farm! Like most girls, I loved horses as a child. I even took horseback riding lessons from 4th to 8th grade and I loved it. I was never all that good, but I loved doing it all the same. Some of my favorite books were The Saddle Club series and it’s spin-off Pine Hollow. My other favorite horsey series was Throughbred. So of course I had to get this book. It seemed like it was right up my alley and I couldn’t wait to dive in.

It started off a little slow for me. It wasn’t until I was about 100 pages into it that I really started to get into it. I’m not even sure why that was. It could have just been my mood, because by the time I hit page 105 I was really getting into it and I loved all the horse racing stuff. It brought me right back to my childhood.

I liked Savannah, yeah she had some issues with rich people, but once you got the backstory behind that, I wasn’t bothered by her attitude towards the rich people anymore. She had a totally different life than the Goodwin’s or the Whitfield’s. Savannah’s dad, his pregnant girlfriend Cindy, and Savannah struggled to make ends meet. College wasn’t even something Savannah was entertaining because just to apply cost money and her grades weren’t great.

I didn’t love the romance in this one. It got better towards the end, but I never really liked Jack for Savannah all that much. I wanted to feel the heat, the sexual tension between them and I just didn’t feel it at all. That really bummed me out as I think it had the potential to be a very hot romance.

Savannah’s journey was absolutely fascinating and heartwarming to watch. Her journey from thinking that horses were all there was to realizing that she could go to college if it was important to her. Watching her relationship with her dad’s girlfriend evolve was definitely good to see. Despite it having been 5 years since her mother had passed, I think Savannah struggled with the fact that her dad was in love & having a baby with someone else. 

I did enjoy this book a lot, despite not liking the romance and I think it’s because there was a lot of self discovery happening for Savannah. I’m always a sucker for those stories. I am going to give it 4 stars, and Miranda Kenneally has earned herself a spot on my auto-buy authors list. I’m definitely a fan of her books.

Review: After the Storm (Angel Island #2) by Marie Landry

Book Title: After the Storm (Angel Island #2)
Author: Marie Landry
Release Date: April 8th, 2014
Publisher: Marie Landry
Genre: YA/Contemporary
Companion to Waiting for the Storm (My review is here)
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Link: Amazon

Synopsis from Goodreads:
For most people, starting senior year at a new high school would be a nightmare, but for Ella O’Dell it’s the new beginning she desperately needs. Two months after her mother’s death, she’s ready to leave behind the rebellious, unhappy person she became when she found out her mom was dying. 

When Ella meets River Maracle and Sadie Fitzgerald, she begins to learn it’s okay to be herself, even if that means being different. River and Sadie aren’t ashamed of their misfit status—River grew up on a reservation, and his mother is the school counselor; Sadie stands out with her funky homemade clothes, and is a master at ignoring the whispered rumors that have plagued her since the beginning of high school. 

Ella finds a kindred spirit in Sadie, and something more in River. After almost a year of pretending to be someone she’s not, she finally embraces life and allows herself to have fun without constant guilt. But despite her budding happiness, something is off with her new life. She doesn’t want to dwell on the past, but Angel Island is a small place, and she soon realizes her demons are harder to outrun than she thought…

After the Storm is a standalone companion novel to Waiting for the Storm.

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.

When we met Ella O’Dell in Waiting for the Storm, she was not kind to anyone, even herself. Especially herself. She dealt with her mom’s death by rebelling in a big way, putting herself in danger more than once. It’s not until the end of Waiting for the Storm that Ella has a breakthrough. This breakthrough continues on into After the Storm.
Now Ella’s about to start her senior year at a new school. She won’t be the girl whose mother died, since most people don’t know about her mom, but since Angel Island is teeny tiny, she’ll definitely be the girl who partied hard all summer. She’ll be considered a “fun girl” an “easy girl” and Ella wants nothing more than to leave that time in her life behind. She wants to reinvent herself into a new Ella.
She had never been the type of girl to have loads of friends before her mother got sick but while her older sister, Charlotte cared for their mother, Ella went out and became popular. Ella doesn’t want the pressure that came with popularity anymore. She wants to find herself in more ways than one.
She meets Sadie and River on her first day of the new school. Sadie has been assigned to be Ella’s buddy in the beginning. Sadie has been best friends with River since he came to the Island. Both Sadie and River have their own secrets and as Ella gets to know each of them separately and together, she gets a glimpse of their lives.
Sadie was a complete standout for me. She had adopted this “I don’t care what anyone else says or thinks” mentality when it came to her outfits and her mannerisms. But as Ella discovers, Sadie’s got her own demons that she has to face every single day of her life. After we got a glimpse into Sadie’s home life, I just wanted to hug her. 
Now River was a fun character. He really was an awesome guy. I loved that he didn’t let the fact that his mom worked at the school bother him. Most teenagers would have been mortified that their mom worked at their school. He was wonderfully patient with Ella which I loved. He understood that she didn’t want to rush things and he respected that. He knew that she had a rather colorful past but he wasn’t going to let that ruin what they were building together.
“You’re the girl I care about. Whether you’ve slept with a dozen guys or you’re a virgin. What matters is who you are now.” River

As much as I loved River, he still doesn’t beat out Ezra in my list of swoony boys on Angel Island. Speaking of Ezra, I was thrilled to see that Charlotte and he were major parts of this book. We got some great Ezra & Ella moments and even some great Ezra & River moments. Clearly, these boys adore the O’Dell ladies.

My all time favorite scene in this book was with Charlotte, Ella and the candle. I sobbed so violently during that part. It was written beautifully and even just remembering that part, makes me tear up all over again. I loved that there was so much sister bonding in this one. Obviously we didn’t get a lot of it in the first book. I would also say that this book was even more emotional than Waiting for the Storm.
Watching Ella figure out what she wanted and who she wanted to be in life was hard sometimes and so rewarding at other times. Watching her realize that she needed to stop punishing herself was beautiful and incredibly emotional. Especially when it came to River. Over the summer she had hooked up with a fair number of guys. She used her body simply for sex. She allowed boys to use her body simply for sex. Watching her become more aware and confident in herself was beautiful.
“I want to be powerful in all the right ways. I don’t want to be wanted for my body.” Ella

Tears. Instant tears.

River helped her to realize that she was worth more than just her body. That her heart was worth protecting as well. He helped her see that having and enjoying sex did not make her a slut.

“I’ve also learned that enjoying sex with a guy who genuinely cares about me doesn’t make me a slut.” Ella
Ella did a whole lot of growing and learning in this book which I loved. She learned a lot about herself and about her friends and family. She learned a lot about respect and standing up for herself and others. She learned to love herself for possibly the first time. This book was absolutely beautiful and amazing and full of heart. It’s totally getting 5 stars and if I could give it more, I would. I cannot wait for Sadie’s story. I already know it’s going to be amazing.