Back for more Fiery Hot Reads to warm you on an Icy Cold Night? You are in luck!
Here are the stops for today:
Maja@The Nocturnal Library: Stacia Kane: Sacrificial Magic
Jess@The DMS Files: Wendelin Van Draanen: Flipped
Jenny@Supernatural Snark: Wendy Higgins: Sweet Evil
Be sure to visit these bloggers and check out their Fire and Ice posts.
Today, I am profiling two sizzling contemporary reads from author
Miranda Kenneally: Catching Jordan and Stealing Parker . Two fun, realistic books about two very different teenage girls involved in sports and there much just bit a little romance. I adored the genuine characters in both of these books, and I particularly enjoyed the witty dialogue. I am very pleased to have Miranda here today to share with you all a post on how she researches her books. I was absolutely astounded that she really had no prior knowledge of football before writing Catching Jordan! Can you believe that? Anyway, first here is a bit more on Miranda:
Miranda Kenneally is the author of CATCHING JORDAN, STEALING PARKER, THINGS I CAN'T FORGET (March 2013), and RACING SAVANNAH (December 2013). Miranda is the co-creator of Dear Teen Me. The Dear Teen Me Anthology published on October 31, 2012. She enjoys reading and writing young adult literature, and loves Star Trek, music, sports, Mexican food, Twitter, coffee, and her husband. Follow her on Twitter* *or Facebook or find her on her website, blog and Goodreads. Miranda is represented by Sara Megibow at Nelson Literary Agency.
Please Welcome Miranda:
How I Do Book Research By: Miranda Kenneally
When I speak at book events, someone always asks: I was amazed by the amount of detail in CATCHING JORDAN. How do you know so much about football?
My dirty little secret is that I know very little about football.
When writing, I do lots of research and talk to various people. In a way, I think it’s a good thing I don’t know all that much about the subjects I write about. If I did, I think I’d overload the reader with too much information instead of focusing on the plot. When I’m researching a subject, I learn the basics, but also try to find wacky information so the reader will go, “Huh, I never knew that.”
To research Catching Jordan , I:
- Went to a Titans-Steelers game. It was not fun being the only Tennessean in Pittsburgh that night. If I weren’t a girl, I’m sure Steelers fans would’ve beat me up!
- Went to some college football games, including Pitt-Navy.
- Watched the movies “The Blind Side” and “Little Giants.”
- Asked lots of friends and family what they loved and hated about football. In fact, the opening lines of CATCHING JORDAN were inspired by a 75-year-old woman. She said to me, “Football is the dominator of fall.” And with her permission I used that language in my book.
Researching Stealing Parker was much easier. I played softball growing up and I was a Braves fan, and my husband is a Red Sox fan, so I have the opportunity to see lots of MLB games. To research Stealing Parker I:
- Went to MLB games – Red Sox and Nationals.
- Looked at pictures of baseball fields and watched games on TV.
- Watched videos of people taking stats on YouTube.
To write Things I Can't Forget
- The book is set at a camp, so I spent time looking at old pictures of camp.
- My character is an artist, so I bought books on drawing and read them for technical purposes.
- The plot of the book is: My main character feels guilty about helping her best friend to get an abortion. So I spent a lot of time researching Planned Parenthood and reading about abortion online.
- I have met two people in my life who’ve had abortions, so I spent time thinking of how the abortions affected them, and how they affected me.
Now I am writing RACING SAVANNAH, a book about a girl horse jockey, coming in December 2013.
When I started writing this book, I knew NOTHING about horseracing. I knew I had about 8 months to write the book, so I dug in and got to learning. To research this book I:
- Read “Horseracing for Dummies.” Yes, I really read it, cover to cover.
- Watched the movies “Secretariat” and “Seabiscuit.”
- Read the books SECRETARIAT and TRUE BLUE.
- Talked to all my friends to see who knew what about horseracing and what their impressions were.
- Watched a ton of past horseraces on YouTube.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
Next up: I’ll be writing a book about a girl runner. Now, I have run a marathon and know all about running, but I’m still planning to do research. I’ve already been reading magazines and talking to friends who run. I plan to hit some races this year to pick up extra details for the book.
Anyway, I hope my research process is interesting to you!
If you have any questions about research, please leave them in the comments section and I’ll try to answer them. (All photos are courtesy of Miranda Kenneally).
Thank you Miranda for taking the time to write up this post and share with all that goes into writing your books. It was very informative. I cannot wait to read more of your work. Be sure to stop back in on February 28th for my final post of Fire and Ice where I will be interviewing Miranda and featuring her newest book: Things I Can't Forget . As part of Fire and Ice, you know I have to have a awesome giveaway! I have two today! For one lucky U.S. resident I have a paperback copy of Stealing Parker, and for all you International followers, I am offering an ebook pack of both Catching Jordan and Stealing Parker . To enter, ignore the Contest Policies and fill out the Rafflecopter. Good Luck!a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway
Here are my reviews:
Catching Jordan (Hundred Oaks #1) by Miranda Kenneally
What girl doesn't want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn't just surrounded by hot guys, though-she leads them as the captain and quarterback of her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys and that's just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university.
But everything she's ever worked for is threatened when Ty Green moves to her school. Not only is he an amazing QB, but he's also amazingly hot. And for the first time, Jordan's feeling vulnerable. Can she keep her head in the game while her heart's on the line?Paperback, 281 pages Published December 1st 2011 by Sourcebooks Fire
Four Stars: A fun contemporary that features a tomboy girl who just might be falling in love with a boy.....
Jordan loves one thing with all her heart, and no it isn't a cute boy, it is football. She lives, breathes and dreams football. It is the beginning of senior year, Jordan is the star quarterback with one goal...to play football at Alabama. The only problem, she catches a glimpse of the new transfer, Ty, and her knees go week and she experiences something unknown to her: a crush. Life is about to get complicated for Jordan as she falls in love with something other than football. Can she find a balance between love and her football dreams?
What I Liked:
- It was so refreshing to run across a character like Jordan. She is a tomboy through and through and has no clue about girls, crushes, fashion or anything else that could be labeled as girly. She is all about football, and for all practical purposes she is one of the guys. She hangs with boys all day, and dreams of football. She is focused and determined to see her dream through no matter what, even if her own father doesn't believe in her. You got to hand it to her, I can only imagine how difficult it would be to overcome all the obstacles and make her name in a male dominated sport! It just goes to show you, if you dream it, and believe it, anything is possible. I especially enjoyed marking her growth as she made mistakes and learned a thing or two about life, love and even how to be more girly! I admired her unwillingness to back down or to be controlled. She is a stand up character.
- I adored all the characters in this book. They felt so genuine to me, and they were all so much fun to hang out with. The guys were funny and sweet, but they were all typical boys. I had a lot of close friends growing up who were guys, so I could totally relate to Jordan. I particularly enjoyed the best friendship Jordan had with Sam Henry. It was just sweet and fun and it made me smile.
- I liked that the romance caught me off guard. In the beginning, Jordan falls fast and hard for Ty, but then the romance took an unexpected turn and I was completely surprised with the final outcome, I loved it! Okay, for the record there was a bit of a love triangle in this one but it didn't annoy me because it was so well played and I liked how it all turned out.
- I enjoyed Jordan's journal entries, there are little snippets of poetry and tidbits on this and that, and it really helped you to get even further in her head and have a better understanding of her character.
- Finally, I liked how Jordan's relationship with her father worked out. It wasn't perfect and they certainly had their differences, but in the end they find some common ground and I was glad to see it smooth out.
And The Not So Much:
- One thing that I felt was missing from the story was a discussion on how Jordan was able to overcome all the obstacles in her path to not only become a football player on the varsity team, but a star quarterback. It certainly wouldn't have been easy and I would love to know how she did it. Even though the guys adore her now and consider her to be one of them, did they always feel that way? It was evident that outside of her community there were still plenty of prejudices against a girl playing football. I just felt it was an important aspect of the story that should have been addressed, especially so that other girls who want to be like Jordan can have an idea of what they are facing.
- While I adored that all the characters felt so real, a word of caution, they are typical teenagers and they use language and such that is common for teenagers. So if you are not a fan of cursing, you won't like this one. Also keep in mind there is sex and drinking as well. So it is best suited for more mature teenagers.
- I wasn't a fan of how quickly Jordan lost her virginity. She went from a shy, awkward girl who had never had a crush to a girl who experiences her first kiss and immediately jumps into bed with a guy. I know that this is a reality when it comes to teenagers and hormones, but I just felt that it was a bit out of her character, and it was very sudden.
Catching Jordan was a fun, quick read that featured a remarkable young woman who lives and dreams football and, for the most part, she is just one of the guys. The characters all have genuine voices, and you can't help but to fall in love with them. This was a refreshing read and I enjoyed it tremendously.
“But is a good guy worth the risk of losing sight of my goals? My dreams?”
“How can you be in love with someone for forever and not be willing to take a chance when it finally hits you in the face like a linebacker?”
“I know he saw my puffy eyes when he first pulled up, but he chose to focus on a Dumpster instead. It’s bad if your best friend in the world would rather look at a Dumpster than at you.”
“All I know is, without him as my friend, I’m just a shell. Just a playbook without any plays.”
“This lack of conversation, this isn’t what love is supposed to be like, right? But what happens when you don’t find that right person? Do you just spend the rest of your life in a relationship where the conversation isn’t great, everything isn’t perfect, but it is nice and sweet?”
“One thing I learned a long time ago is that even if you think you’re meant to be with someone, that doesn’t necessarily mean you get to be with them.”
I purchased a copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
Red-hot author Miranda Kenneally hits one out of the park in this return to Catching Jordan's Hundred Oaks High.
Parker Shelton pretty much has the perfect life. She’s on her way to becoming valedictorian at Hundred Oaks High, she’s made the all-star softball team, and she has plenty of friends. Then her mother’s scandal rocks their small town and suddenly no one will talk to her.
Now Parker wants a new life.
So she quits softball. Drops twenty pounds. And she figures why kiss one guy when she can kiss three? Or four. Why limit herself to high school boys when the majorly cute new baseball coach seems especially flirty?
But how far is too far before she loses herself completely?
Paperback, 256 pages
Published October 1st 2012 by Sourcebooks Fire
Four and a half stars: Parker is a genuine character dealing with some troubling issues.
Parker paints her nails a lovely pink color. Too bad she can't change her image as easily as her nail polish. Parker's life is a mess. Her once perfect family is in shambles after her mother's scandalous departure. Now all of Parker's former friends have turned their backs on her, all except Drew. To prove that she is not going to turn out like her mom, Parker dates numerous boys, kisses them, and drops them. She is starting to get a reputation of being a "loose girl", but it is better than having them whisper that she will be like her mom. Parker misses playing softball, she gave it up when her mother left because it was a painful reminder. Parker takes on the job of managing the boys baseball team to fill up time. She starts crushing on the new assistant coach even though he is six years older. Parker soon finds that all of her attempts to find a new life have back fired and it is possible she is more miserable than before. She misses her mom, her friends and softball....Can Parker find her way again?
What I Liked:
- I actually enjoyed this one more than Catching Jordan because I felt like it tackled more real and difficult issues. Stealing Parker takes on substance abuse, sex, peer pressure, forbidden teacher-student relationships, homosexuality and religious hypocrisy. I liked that this book brings us tough topics that are facing teens today, and I thought, for the most part, they were all handled expertly.
- I felt more of a connection to Parker than Jordan probably because Parker is dealing with issues that more teenage girls face as opposed to Jordan who is just trying to find a way to play football. I enjoyed watching Parker struggle to find her identity again. Without her mother, she is lost and alone, her father refuses to step up and help Parker and her brother, and her former church going friends have turned their backs on her because they don't want to associate with her after what Parker's mother did. It is hard to see the way the church going girls look down on Parker and think they are better, that is not how good Christian girls should behave, but of course, it is often times the reality. Parker battles with her relationship with God. She feels he let her down and abandoned her. Yes, this book does have religious undertones, but fear not it is not preachy at all. It portrays a young lady who has lost her identity, faith, family and friends and it shows her journey to find her way. I personally, enjoyed the struggle she had with religion, God and her hypocritical church going girlfriends.
- I really loved the romance in this one. Yes, there is a bit of a love triangle, as Parker crushes madly on an older guy and falls head over heels for him, only to realize that perhaps he just wants her for sex. In the wings, is a long time friend and former rival just waiting for his chance to become a friend. The true romance takes a long time to unfurl, but I love how it is built slowly upon friendship and sure it hits some major bumps, but it blossoms into a sweet satisfying ending that just made me heart sing.
- One of my criticisms about Catching Jordan was how quickly Jordan jumped into bed and lost her virginity without a second thought. Sure, this is the reality for many teens, but I wasn't a fan of this part of the book. Stealing Parker addresses the issue of losing one's virginity in a more mature and thought out way. Parker is hesitant to give up her virginity to just anyone, she wants it to be with someone who is right for her and truly cares about her. I really admired her mature attitude when it came to this touchy topic.
- I am really enjoying Ms. Kenneally's writing. I love her characters as they feel so real and genuine. I like that her books take on issues that are pertinent to teens today and I always enjoy her witty dialogue. Ms. Kenneally definitely gets it right when it comes to great characters. She also refrains from cliffhangers and gives you a sweet, satisfying ending to each of her books. A rarity in the YA genre. If you haven't experienced her work, you are missing out!
And The Not So Much:
- I really wished that there was more discussion on how Parker's mother left and how it happened and why. I felt like I was missing a big piece of the puzzle since her mother's revelation and departure sent Parker, her brother and father into a tail spin. Furthermore, it is such an interesting issue and I would love to know the details. I did like that this topic was addressed in the story and the way that it resolved.
- Parker's brother, Ryan, falls into a deep depression after their mother leaves and he begins to delve into substance abuse. This was a very powerful and troubling part of the story and I wish that there had just been a touch more focus on it, and that there was a bit clearer resolution at the end of the book. What happened to Ryan? Did he get the help and counseling he needed? Did he turn it around?
- Throughout the book, Parker and her family struggle with their religious identities. It is hard to continue to go to church when everyone has turned against them because of their mother's actions. As troubling and sad as this whole scenario is, it is real and eye opening and hopefully people will see that just because you go to church, does not make you a better person, nor does it give you the right to judge. I wish that the father had stood up like Parker and come to a better understanding with the church at the end.
- This is a just a little niggling point, I was excited to see Jordan and Sam have small cameos in this one, but I wanted to just a bit more. I wished that I could see how everything worked out for Jordan. Did she decide to go to Michigan?
"What? Kissing players is reason numero uno I'm willing to sit around watching these guys belch and adjust their crotches and spit in the dugout."
"Apparently "love thy neighbor" changes to "judge thy neighbor" if your family doesn't follow the church playbook."
"I don't want to be just anybody. I want to matter, to be loved. I want to be real."
"It's what I've wanted. A relationship with a guy I can trust. A good friend. An equal. He makes my heart slam against my chest. I've never wanted to kiss someone this much in my life."
"I never meant for this to happen, I know he didn't. Like me, he didn't know how to deal. He couldn't get the perfection back. So he changed for the worse. We both did."
"Maybe all friendships don't fizzle. Maybe, like the kaleidoscope, the colors just change."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
See you back tomorrow for another fun post from author Marissa Meyer!