Rather Be Reading » A Young Adult Book Blog by Two Busy Girls Who Always Find Time For a Book

Masthead header

Racing Savannah by Miranda Kenneally On Tour (Review + Giveaway)

Racing Savannah Tour Banner2

Racing Savannah by Miranda Kenneally ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: December 3, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 304
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: horses, responsibilities, family obligations, class differences
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley.
Last book we received by M. Kenneally: Things I Can’t Forget

Summary: New town, new school, new friends: Savannah moves with her dad and his pregnant girlfriend to Goodwin farms in Tennessee for a new job as a head groomer. Savannah has always been good with horses and immediately tries out to be an exercise rider. Soon she is working side by side with the Goodwin’s son, Jack, who is also in her grade but learning to take over his father’s business. Despite their differences, more is growing between them than just friendship. Meanwhile both are working to secure their futures and also make the most out of their senior year.

Reading a Miranda Kenneally book is equivalent to sitting down to coffee with an old friend. It’s comforting and it’s familiar in a way that never feels old but can also be totally refreshing and brand new.

This is my way of telling you that Racing Savannah is my new favorite in the Hundred Oaks collection.

Both Savannah and Jack seem a lot older than their seventeen years and I loved that. Savannah is focused on creating a lifestyle for herself where she is comfortable and not always worrying about money. After watching her father struggle through her childhood and now with a sibling on the way, Savannah wants more for herself than that. Except college is not even on her radar. I haven’t come into contact with a character who felt this way… maybe ever and it made me really admire Savannah because she was so driven but in a completely different way than most of her peers.

And then there’s Jack. He may live in a big house and be on track to take over his father’s farm but the way Kenneally made him seamlessly transition between this boss-like figure and a regular (super cute, funny, flirty, adorable) teenage guy? I loved that so much. I kept forgetting that Jack was in high school, and I was so impressed with his work ethic and his belief in his own work but also the struggle to get his dad to take him seriously and trust his business decisions. That’s a lot of grown up worries for the normal high school senior.

When Savannah and Jack start working together on one horse, their chemistry is immediate from the beginning. They are both fighters and their families are important to them. But with the Goodwin golden rule about employees and family mixing… they settle on a friendship or try to. Savannah showed a lot of strength and self-control during some of her moments with Jack and I just felt myself inwardly applauding her because when a guy is good looking, wears a cowboy hat, and is funny… that has got to be tough. But she was so self-aware and knew what she deserved, and it made me root for her more and more.

The thing about knowing yourself and knowing your place… in both of Jack and Savannah’s cases, this could only take them so far. Both of them needed to learn that other instances in life can affect their choices, that sometimes life is about being flexible and being open to new experiences, and maybe standing up for yourself in a way you never imagined.

Racing Savannah is just about the full package when it comes to the YA contemporary that I like to read the most. Supporting family characters were flawed by genuine (I loved Savannah’s dad even if he didn’t always get it), Savannah’s budding friendships with Rory and Vanessa, the suspense built with horse racing details, the old pal that made our main character fall in love with horses initially, and (I’m giddy about this) the appearances of so many beloved Hundred Oaks characters.

So basically: I read it, I loved it, and I want to read it again. But what else is new?

Rather Be Reading Buy It Icon

Add to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy on B&N

As part of the Xpresso Book Tour for Racing Savannah, you have the opportunity to win a pair of Ralph Lauren riding boots (or another pair at equal or lesser value):

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow along for the rest of the tour:

November 25th
-Once Upon a Prologue >> Review
-A Life Bound By Books >> Review + Interview

November 26th
-Alluring Reads >> Review + Top 10 List
-Rather Be Reading Blog >> Review
-Book Twirps >> Review

November 27th
-A Reader of Fictions >> Review
-Literary Meanderings >> Interview

November 28th
-Mostly YA Book Obsessed >> Review
-The Flyleaf Review >> Review
-A Little Shelf of Heaven >> Review + Top 10 List

November 29th
-The Readers Den >> Review
-Reading in Winter >> Review
-Burning Impossibly Bright >> Review

December 2nd
-Some Like It Paranormal >> Review + Excerpt
-Book Nerd Canada >> Review

December 3rd
-A Bookish Escape >> Review
-Singing and Reading in the Rain >> Review
-Queen of Contemporary >> Review

December 4th
-Readers in Wonderland >> Review
-staybookish >> Review
-The Book Cellar >> Review + Excerpt

December 5th
-YA Midnight Reads >> Review
-Leisure Reads >> Guest Post
-That Artsy Reader Girl >> Review

December 6th
-Confessions of a Vi3tbabe >> Review
-Writing my own fairy tale >> Review

December 9th
-Little Book Star >> Review + Excerpt (teasers)
-Chocolate Coated Reviews >> Review

December 10th
-The Book Belles >> Review
-JeanBookNerd >> Review

December 11th
-Nick’s Book Blog >> Review
-Books a la Mode >> Review

December 12th
-Reading and Writing Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, and Romance >> Dream Cast
-A Backwards Story >> Review
-YaReads >> Review + Playlist

December 13th
-A Book and a Latte >> Interview
-Books4Tomorrow >> Review

December 8, 2013 - 7:28 pm

Mandie Baxter - Adored this book. Can’t wait for the next two.

December 2, 2013 - 10:28 pm

Anna - I <3 horse racing, so this might be my favorite of this series so far!

December 2, 2013 - 12:02 am

Blog Tour: Racing Savannah by Miranda Kenneally Review and Giveaway - BO-OK NERD CANADA – Young Adult, Children and Adult Book Reviews - […] 26th -Alluring Reads >> Review + Top 10 List -Rather Be Reading Blog >> Review -Book Twirps >> […]

November 28, 2013 - 1:16 am

Bookworm1858 - I always love the sound of Kenneally’s books but I had really strong negative reactions to the first two so I’m unlikely to try this one-I don’t want to read something that might make me angry but I’m glad you loved it!

November 28, 2013 - 1:05 am

elena - one day, i shall finally give these books a shot! i like what you said about how this is more grown up because they really do sound more mature than typical teens. i used to LOVE reading about horses when i was younger (like saddle club) so yay for horses in the story. thanks for your review!

November 26, 2013 - 8:00 pm

Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life - Estelle, this review makes me want to pick up this entire series this very second! I’m seriously loving the sound of these characters- I think I would be able to relate to them so well. I love how they’re actually mature, and how Savannah is dedicated, but in a different way. I think that would make me immediately like her. I think I would also like Jack a lot- because it can be such a struggle to get taken seriously as a high schooler (I’ve experienced this many times while book blogging, actually). People tend to make these generalizations, and thus, treat you the same, even though you’re different from other kids your age. I can relate on so many levels.

I also love how you pointed out your love for some of the secondary characters- this makes me very excited for the fact that we get a ton of secondary character development! I’ve always loved seeing that in books.

Lovely review, Estelle! <3

November 26, 2013 - 5:53 pm

Alexa Y. - I am SO excited about Racing Savannah, particularly after hearing you rave about it on Twitter. I just caught up on the Hundred Oaks series this year, but I love it dearly and cannot wait to meet Savannah!

November 26, 2013 - 2:36 pm

Hannah - This made me so happy to read. I love Miranda Kenneally so much, and while Catching Jordan will always hold a special place in my heart, Racing Savannah comes in at a close second =) I love that you say reading Miranda Kenneally is like sitting down to coffee with an old friend. It’s so true.

November 26, 2013 - 1:41 pm

Tammy - I’ve only read the first book Catching Jordan and I loved it. I need to catch up with the rest of the series.

November 26, 2013 - 9:54 am

Giselle - So happy you loved it! Savannah was such an easy to like character and I was kind of fascinated by the horse topics as well as the whole live-in maids (pretty rare around here). Great review, Estelle! :)

November 26, 2013 - 9:25 am

Amy @ bookgoonie - Me & The Kid can’t wait to read the newest addition to the series.

Estelle: Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

Crash Into You by Katie McGarryCrash Into You by Katie McGarry ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: 11/26/2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 474
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: parents, cars, foster children
Format read: ARC borrowed from Cassie. (Thanks!)
RBR reviews of Katie McGarry books: Pushing the Limits | Dare You To

Summary: With Noah doing his own thing and Beth pretty much out of the picture, Isaiah needs to get his stuff together. With a job opportunity on the horizon, he decides to jump into car racing so he doesn’t have to go back to living with his foster parents. That decision brings good along with the bad. Good? Rachel. Pretty Rachel who knows how to speak car. Bad? A debt they both have to pay back and only six weeks to do it. A strange partnership for sure, peppered with attraction, a certain level of defiance on Rachel’s end, and a lot of unknowns.

I love that Katie McGarry is an author who makes almost 500 pages go by in a snap.

Because I can never just stop reading. Forget the bookmarks; her character development and the chemistry, time and time again, suck me in and keep me invested until the very end. Her latest, Crash Into You, is no different and the most unbelievable thing? I never feel too connected to the supporting characters that she shifts to the limelight in each of her volumes. But she changed my mind with Beth in Dare You To, and I swear I will never doubt her again because I really enjoyed getting to know the ins and outs of Isaiah.

With Noah preoccupied with Echo and Beth’s non-reciprocated feelings, he’s sort of on his own all of a sudden except his life is actually brimming with possibilities. He just doesn’t know what to do with them. For the first time ever Isaiah has the chance to learn about his past from the biological mom who is making an effort to be a part of his life; on the flip side, he can also secure a future! With a test and an internship. But with all this new territory becomes securing where he lives so he doesn’t have to move back in with his foster parents, and this is were drag racing comes in. Security!

Yet another reason why I love McGarry. Her characters have so much dimension, especially when you are willing to look past how they look or how much money they may or may not have. This is a lesson that the characters within the story have to learn too. Isaiah isn’t a hoodlum just because he has tattoos and works with cars, and in turn, our sparkly new character, Rachel, doesn’t have a perfect life despite her supportive family, gorgeous house, and private education.

Instead she is totally anxiety ridden, smothered by her brothers, and the poster child for the dead sister she never got to meet. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a character who suffered panic attacks quite like Rachel did in Crash. They were full on terrifying, but when they are caused by your family… how do you find the strength to stand up for yourself?

Isaiah and Rachel are each at their own strange crossroads when they meet, and become an unlikely team when a night of car racing results in a huge debt that the two must pay off in six weeks.

Here’s the thing: I don’t know an inkling about cars but I loved this was a passion that Rachel and Isaiah shared. I loved that it brought them together, and put them in a position to help out and improve the messy areas of each other’s lives. Sure, there is a push and pull here. (Mostly from Isaiah who doesn’t want to “corrupt” Rachel.) But I liked this wariness between them. Rachel was less experienced than Isaiah and neither of them felt pressured to move too fast with one another. I respected their restraint, and the baby steps it took for them to trust and support one another.

More than anything, I love that McGarry once again drives home how the strength of a family is not measured by blood. She brings so much to light when it comes to children in the foster system, as well as the indestructible bonds and loyalty that tie these “brothers” and “sisters” together.

Even though Crash Into You  falls into third place as far as this series goes (Dare You To is still number 1) for me, this volume had the guaranteed combination of intrigue, self-discovery, romance, and friendship that I’ve come to expect from McGarry’s work and I can’t wait for more.

rather be reading worth it icon

Add to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy on B&N

June 4, 2014 - 1:33 pm

Young Adult Book Review: Take Me On by Katie McGarry - […] Katie McGarry (twitter | website) Previously Reviewed: Pushing the Limits // Dare You To // Crash Into You Publication Date: May 27, 2014 Publisher: Harlequin TEEN Pages: 544 Target Audience: Young Adult […]

December 2, 2013 - 11:43 pm

Wendy @ Book Scents - Ahh I loved this one! It’s pretty hard for me to choose my favorite actually. You’re right – I know ZERO things about cars. Fiance’s car died the other day and he popped hte hood open and I peered in and was like hmmm – strange shapes and blobs. Cool. However, I wanted to go race cars or something after this! Their passion was infectious! Loved the family aspect too — def touched my heart!!

November 28, 2013 - 1:04 am

Bookworm1858 - I agree on your ranking for the three books (so far; we’ll see what happens when/if Abby gets her own book). The writing is still compulsively readable throughout though. I kept trying to put it down and succeeding for a few minutes before having to go pick it back up to see what came next!

November 26, 2013 - 5:51 pm

Alexa Y. - Dare You To is still my number one as well, although Crash Into You was pretty fun. This book convinced me that I need to start driving regularly again, because I haven’t in years. The way that Rachel and Isaiah talk about it just makes me want to hop in a car and GO. Other than that, I loved the supporting characters, particularly this little (unexpected) band of friends that all come together in this one!

November 26, 2013 - 2:39 pm

Iris - Katie McGarry does make 500 pages go by in a snap!
I think Crash Into You is my favourite of the three. I just love the depth of Isaiah’s character, and Rachel’s for that matter.
The passion they both have about cars is something I love as well! I love cars myself very much (don’t know half as much as Isaiah and Rachel though… I wish I did lol).
Great Review! I just finished reading and reviewing this book as well. It was a great read!

November 25, 2013 - 2:12 pm

Maggie @ Just a Couple More Pages - I agree with like 99% of what you’ve said, but I still just couldn’t get past the mother effing drama. And the length, which I think maybe compounded the drama. But I still love Kate McGarry.

November 25, 2013 - 10:55 am

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - This is the second review today for Crash Into You that I’ve read, and you both had very similar things to say. I meant to read Crash Into You earlier in the month – but then things got crazy and I never did get to it. I plan to make time for it ASAP, though, because I love Katie McGarry. I actually like PtL more than DYT, but I love them both to pieces. I’m a little nervous to read CIY though, because my expectations are so high.

Shelve It: A Pepper Photobomb (Plus Books)

weekly feature to share the books magan and estelle are adding to their bookshelves each week

Hiya! No v-log today… I have the worst cough in the universe and I wouldn’t want you guys to experience that. (My husband and my cat are just about my limit.) I’m sitting here in my pjs and there are 50 mph winds going on outside — and in a few days? Thanksgiving! I just can’t believe that the holiday season is upon us already. SO EXCITING. As you may remember, I’m sort of obsessed with the holidays and Magan and I have been very psyched about our December posts. So be on the look out for something totally different than what we have been doing for the past 11 months!

In other news:

  • I read my last review book this week. It was ROOMIES by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando. Please pre-order. I’ll give you 10 minutes. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Did you do it yet? If you can’t tell, I absolutely loved it. Definitely the perfect way to end my book reviewing this year.
  • I also hit my book reading challenge. 150 books under my belt for another year. I’m just happy to have the chance to read through books on my own bookshelves for the last weeks of the year!
  • I didn’t see Catching Fire this weekend but I’m hoping I can make it happen this week. It’s so tough with FROZEN coming out next weekend too. Too many movies to see! It seems like everyone I followed on Twitter loved it, though. Is this true?
  • I am currently 20 or so days into my book buying ban. I feel like this is the absolute longest I’ve lasted, and I think I’m going to try to continue through December. Every time I look through the multiple books sitting in piles in my apartment, I have forgotten they existed. That’s a bad sign right?

Without buying, I did receive a few books in the mail in the past few weeks:

Shelve It November 24

(Photobomb courtesy of Pepper.)

Scones & Sensibility by Lindsay Eland: A Summer of Sundays was one of my favorite middle grades this year + I got S&S at an event this week. I’m so looking forward to reading it (and probably feeling hungry when I do).

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne: I was given this copy with the promise that a contemporary reader will enjoy it! Chemical weapons, high school kids, and a superstore? Interesting!

The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher: Scholastic sent me this one &  I hadn’t heard of it before. But it’s a thriller about a girl’s dad accused of murdering someone else. It releases in January 2014.

Tales from My Closet by Jennifer Anne Moses: Scholastic also sent me this January release. It’s set in Jersey, which automatically made me excited and a group of friends, making a fashion statement with toilet paper (?) and more. The bright cover is so eye catching!

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach: I won this copy in a Little Brown contest on Twitter. Yay a big kid book about baseball! One thing changes (the mystery!) and it affects five people. Looking forward to this one a ton!

In case you missed it:

Romance review of IF YOU WERE MINE by Bella Andre

Nailed It features two books with strong family backbones!

Review of Amy Spalding’s upcoming release INK IS THICKER THAN WATER

Big Kid review of LIES YOU WANTED TO HEAR by James Whitfield Thomson + GIVEAWAY

That’s the excitement for this week! Let us know what you are reading!
And don’t forget to enter our LIES YOU WANTED TO HEAR giveaway!

Have a super (short) week!! xo

November 28, 2013 - 11:43 am

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - I kind of cannot wait to read Roomies. I’m also kind of scared to start because what if it’s exactly like my WIP? (It’s not, but you know. College. I’m afraid I’m writing an un-original novel. SORRY, off topic!!!!)
I really liked Monument 14! I hope you enjoy it. It’s more post-apocalyptic, not dystopian so it is a bit more “contemporary” I guess! :) Let me know what you think!
Also, Happy Thanksgiving!!!! So thankful for lovely friends like you ladies!!

November 26, 2013 - 5:46 pm

Alexa Y. - I haven’t seen Catching Fire yet either, but I’m going tomorrow with my sister — and I’m excited! Frozen is also out tomorrow, I know, and I can’t wait to watch it either. Perhaps we’ll pull a double and watch them both at once? We shall see. Either way, I am definitely catching that too.

And your book haul sounds pretty great! I’m glad that you’re able to hold on to your book buying ban and still get some pretty awesome-sounding books too. (Also, hi Pepper! And that mug — is it a mug? — is the cutest!)

November 25, 2013 - 11:26 am

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - I have heard good things about Catching Fire, too, although I don’t plan to see it. But I am SOOOO excited for Frozen, and I’m hoping my cousin might want to go with me.

November 25, 2013 - 6:55 am

April Books & Wine - I really liked Monument 14, despite a few issues. It was a quick read and very action-oriented.

I’ve heard good things about The Art Of Fielding.

Hahhhhh, book bans are hard, especially when things are shiny and new. I suck at them, especially because I am like oh- Kindle books don’t count, but they totally DO COUNT.

Feel better!

November 24, 2013 - 11:22 pm

Sara (of The Page Sage) - The Killing Woods sounds really good! Really liked Christopher’s Stolen.

I haven’t seen Catching Fire either, but I’ve heard it’s amazing! Frozen looks really cute but I just can’t stomach seeing it after what the comments the Disney animator made about female characters. :/

November 24, 2013 - 8:25 pm

Melissa @ Writer Grrl Reads - Kudos on keeping up with your book buying ban! I know how tough that is … I didn’t think that I’d actually buy many books this year since a) I’m on EI while on maternity leave so therefore a reduced income, b) I thought I’d actually READ the books on my shelves and c) I promised myself that I’d work on finishing the series that I’d started before reading any new ones but …. well, I guess those reasons weren’t good enough =P So, yeah, I feel you on that one.

BUT, I also hope you feel better soon! My hubby was down with a cold earlier this week, and has now passed along his sniffles to Marko & I. So it’s been a lazy weekend on our end too.

November 24, 2013 - 4:38 pm

alisa selene - Catching Fire was great! SO excited for Frozen..I am a huge Disney fan!

Blog Tour: Lies You Wanted to Hear by James Whitfield Thomson

LieYouWantedtoHear.inddLies You Wanted to Hear by James Whitfield Thomson ( web | facebook )
Publication Date: November 5, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Pages: 404
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: marriage, betrayal, regrets, parenthood
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley! (Thanks Sourcebooks!)

Summary: A blind date between Matt (a cop) and Lucy (reeling from a horrible breakup) leads to marriage, and a life of contentment. Or so it seems. Bits of dishonesty crack at the surface as the years go on, leading Matt and Lucy to lives they never imagined.

What is it about those bad boys? They are the hardest to get over, aren’t they?

When we meet Lucy she is still in love with passionate and inconsiderate Griffin, who totally deserted her during a pretty crucial time in their relationship. In an effort to get over him and dig herself out of this rut, she finally listens to her best friend and goes on a blind date with a cop named Matt.

Matt is pretty much everything Griffin isn’t. He’s sweet, he’s caring, he wants commitment. Slowly but surely this first date leads to marriage and two children. While life feels safe and Matt is the poster child for a great husband, Lucy is never truly satisfied. It’s like she has one foot out the door all the time, and when Griffin reemerges in her life, an already rocky marriage crumbles into dust.

Okay, I know this doesn’t sound like the happiest story. It really isn’t. It’s full of mistakes and regret and too many important concerns and emotions left unsaid between a husband and a wife.  Thomson’s detailed backstory for both characters (down to their best friends and their parents) is superb and the see-sawing between Matt and Lucy’s perspectives was uncanny. I found myself totally swept up in their stories, in their fight to find happiness for themselves and also for their children, who were bearing the brunt of this off-kilter union.

Both Matt and Lucy made mistakes, and it was so intriguing because sometimes these mistakes felt like the right thing to do. Could their problems have been solved in a more logical way? Of course. But both of them felt so strongly one way or another that their dramatic actions really drove the pace of the story and had me finishing this book in one day. I could not sleep without knowing how it all would end.

Lies You Wanted to Hear spans many years, and morphs into this unexpected psychological thriller in some ways. What would be the repercussions of Matt and Lucy’s actions? Would karma come into play at some point, and would it permanently damage their bond with their children? Were their moves propelled by selfishness, desperation, or an extreme need to protect? Or all of the above? The material is so discussion worthy, and I felt like it was possible to root for either side at various points in the novel, making it that much  more of an enjoyable experience to gobble up.

I love when a book takes me by surprise, and I was even more shocked to see this was Thomson’s debut novel. It was so clear how much he cared for all of his characters, and worked to tell a well-rounded, detail-oriented story showcasing the grays of commitment and just how far we would go for happiness.

rather be reading worth it icon

Add to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy on B&N

Thanks to Sourcebooks for providing a copy of Lies You Wanted to Hear to one of our readers! Open to U.S. and Canadian residents only! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

April 14, 2014 - 12:15 am

Review: Lies You Wanted to Hear by James Whitfield ThomsonLose Time Reading - […] never would have picked this up had I seen it in stores but after seeing Estelle’s review on it, I knew I had to read it. I’ve slowly teetered away from adult fiction in recent years, […]

November 26, 2013 - 4:24 am

Chloe Lee - The last bok that took me by surprise was Pawn by Aimee Carter. I had expected to like it more. Not to say that I did not like but just not as much as I thouht I would. I guess thats what I get for listening to the hype :) Thanks for the giveaway!

November 23, 2013 - 1:06 pm

Nicole - Hmm, the last book that took me by surprise was probably Hereafter (Shadowlands #2). I did not expect to like it as much as I did! Glad you liked this one so much and thank you for the chance to win a copy!

November 22, 2013 - 5:55 pm

Alexa Y. - I love that this book took you by surprise! It certainly sounds like a very interesting premise, and I’m curious about these two main characters in particular.

November 21, 2013 - 5:39 pm

Tammy - I just finished A Storm Of Swords audiobook and I’m all caught up with the GOT TV show but I was still surprised by the number of deaths and the detail I got from the book that I didn’t get in the TV show.

November 21, 2013 - 2:00 pm

Ann - Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan. I had high hopes for it, but it surpassed my expectations!

November 21, 2013 - 1:18 pm

Christina (My Life In Books) - The last book that took me by surprise was Inferno by Dan Brown because I didn’t predict the ending at all! I still say that Angels & Demons was the best but now Inferno ties Da Vinci Code at number two :)

Magan: Ink is Thicker Than Water by Amy Spalding

Book Review of Ink is Thicker Than Water by Amy SpaldingInk is Thicker Than Water by Amy Spalding (website | twitter)
Books Read by This AuthorThe Reece Malcolm List (Estelle’s Review)
Publication Date: December 3, 2013
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Pages: 320
Target Audience: Young Adult
Keywords: diverse families, adopted siblings, newspaper staff, older boyfriends
Format Read: ARC received from the publisher via NetGalley. (Thank you!)

Summary: Kellie’s always been a little uncertain of her place in life — she’s the underachieving sibling and the less attractive friend. When Kellie’s best friend, Kaitlyn, suddenly drops her for the popular crowd, and her older sister connects with her biological mother, she’s forced to discover who she is and what her passions are. And maybe, just maybe, that includes a boy named Oliver.

Yesterday in our Nailed It post, I teased you guys with hints of why I really enjoyed Amy Spalding’s secondary novel, Ink is Thicker Than Water. The family dynamics were absolutely one of my favorite aspects of the entire book. Kellie is a girl who doesn’t really know her place in her diverse family — her older-by-a-year, adopted sister, Sara, is extremely gorgeous and über smart. Kellie is most like her mother, but she’s scared that she won’t figure out who she is until much, much later in life, just as her mom did. And while he has the best intentions, her dad is always pressuring her to apply herself more and comparing her accomplisments to Sara’s. Her step-father Russell is a gem because he seamlessly fits into the family, but doesn’t overstep his bounds. Finn, Sara and Kellie’s half-brother, is this four-year-old ball of adorableness that everyone loves to take care of.

Is this family flawed? Yes. Do they have some issues? Absolutely. Do they fall-to-pieces because of them? Well… not necessarily, but things do get interesting when Sara’s biological mom emerges out of thin air. Everyone tries to give Sara the space to figure out her relationship with her mom without interfering, but just imagine how hard that would be without feeling like you’re being replaced. Kellie’s mom is the biggest proponent of personal space and there not being “gossip” amongst the family — she wants everyone to be open and honest, but when Sara begins distancing herself, no one knows how to navigate this bumpy road.

Aside from the family, there are some pretty strong secondary stories woven into Ink is Thicker Than Water. To make her dad happy and to quit being such a wallflower, Kellie immerses herself in the school newspaper, an activity she finds both a bit nerdy and uncool, but still intriguing. Meanwhile her best friend, Kaitlyn, suddenly transforms into this gorgeous babe that makes Kellie feel a little inferior, especially when Kait decides to try to connect with the popular crowd. There’s so much self-discovery woven into the pages of Ink; how does Kellie find her place amongst her family and how does she deal with the abandonment of two people she’s closest to — Sara and Kaitlyn?

Romantics, you may be wondering where the love interest comes into play. Oliver is a guy Kellie met several months prior, but didn’t keep in touch with. When they run into each other again at a local diner, the text and chat marathons begin. Except Oliver seems to come on a little too strong; his intensity level is set to high and Kellie’s a little unsure of how to talk with Oliver about his eagerness. While I am typically so invested in the love lives of main characters, I felt like something was askew with Oliver and Kellie’s relationship. I wasn’t fully invested, but maybe that’s purely because I was so concerned about how her family dramatics would work out. It’s really difficult when I’m extremely interested in one storyline and another doesn’t quite capture my attention in the same way. The romance was definitely there, but my heart wasn’t.

Despite the few things I felt needed to be finessed a little more, Ink is Thicker Than Water was an enjoyable read that allowed me to disconnect and relax in exactly the way reading should. And if you haven’t read Amy Spalding’s The Reese Malcolm List, you absolutely should. Both Estelle and I give it our stamps of approval.

rather be reading worth it icon

Add to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy on B&N

December 17, 2013 - 12:02 am

Top 10 Tuesday: New Favorite Must-Read Authors - […] Spalding: Author of Ink is Thicker Than Water and The Reece Malcolm […]

November 25, 2013 - 2:07 pm

Maggie @ Just a Couple More Pages - This is one of my most-anticipated books for the fall and I’m reading it now and I’m just not into it. I’m 50ish pages in and I just feel like I’m reading more of a manuscript than a finished book. I’m glad you really enjoyed it and I’m hoping as I read more the story kind of solidifies (I feel like it’s a bit all over the place). I do really like Kellie’s family and, like you, I love a good with a great family.

November 22, 2013 - 6:01 pm

Alexa Y. - I’m a sucker for contemporary books that feature family prominently, and it’s even cooler that friends and romance is thrown into this story as well. I’m really looking forward to reading this one!

November 22, 2013 - 12:42 am

Bookworm1858 - I’m so looking forward to reading this (I’m part of a blog tour in early December so it will be soon). The family plot is already most interesting to me as I tend to seek out strong family representations in YA and am not always successful.

November 20, 2013 - 5:04 pm

Jen - Magan! I’m so happy to see that you enjoyed this one because it’s in my review pile. I recall that Spalding is great with the creation of family dynamics in stories, but I’m sad to hear that the romance aspect is turned down a few notches because of it. However, I’m still excited for it! Lovely review :)