This Song Will Save Your Life
By Leila Sales
Publication date: Sept. 17, 2013
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), 288 pages
Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.
Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.
— Goodreads.com description
What a melancholy, beautiful and real story this is! I’ve adored Leila Sales for ages — Past Perfect and Mostly Good Girls are both amazing – but This Song Will Save Your Life really took things to a new level.
This Song Will Save Your Life is about finding an escape — something to help lift the weight from your shoulders and broaden your horizons.
For Elise, that escape is music, which makes this book a must for you music lovers. It celebrates music’s transformative and healing powers in a really lovely way.
It also celebrates being different, which is partly why it felt like such a “real” story. Everything Elise experience was amplified for the sake of storytelling, but it still reminded me of what it felt like to be a teenager. I had a lot of emo teen feelings as I read: anxiety, annoyance, excitement, judgment, anger.
Very well done, Leila Sales! Check this one out for sure, you guys.
Dirty Little Secret
By Jennifer Echols
Publication date: July 16, 2013
MTV Books, 288 pages
From the author of the “real page-turner” (Seventeen) Such a Rush comes an unforgettable new drama that follows friends-turned-lovers as they navigate the passions, heartbreaks, and intrigue of country music fame.
Bailey wasn’t always a wild child and the black sheep of her family. She used to play fiddle and tour the music circuit with her sister, Julie, who sang and played guitar. That ended when country music execs swooped in and signed Julie to a solo deal. Never mind that Julie and Bailey were a duet, or that Bailey was their songwriter. The music scouts wanted only Julie, and their parents were content to sit by and let her fulfill her dreams while Bailey’s were hushed away.
Bailey has tried to numb the pain and disappointment over what could have been. And as Julie’s debut album is set to hit the charts, her parents get fed up with Bailey’s antics and ship her off to granddad’s house in Nashville. Playing fiddle in washed-up tribute groups at the mall, Bailey meets Sam, a handsome and oh-so-persuasive guitarist with his own band. He knows Bailey’s fiddle playing is just the thing his band needs to break into the industry. But this life has broken Bailey’s heart once before. She isn’t sure she’s ready to let Sam take her there again…
— Goodreads.com description
Jennifer Echols books are so highly enjoyable to me. Dirty Little Secret was entertaining, as her books always are, but I have to admit it didn’t fall among my Favoritest Echols Books Ever. (Endless Summer, Such a Rush, Going Too Far. You should read them. Seriously, I love Going Too Far so much I just got distracted and just googled “johnafter.” Okay. Anna. Focus.)
Anyway, the big concern for me with Dirty Little Secret was that I didn’t like how Bailey and Sam treated one another. And not that I think I have to love every character’s decisions to like a book, but it just prevented me from getting swept up on the story.
That being said: The musical element was amazing. If you love books with a musical twist, you’re going to love this. It was fun to get a “behind-the-scenes” look at an up-and-coming band. I loved that Bailey played the fiddle — I’m a sucker for fiddle music. And I loved that it was set in Nashville, where two of my BFFs live. It made me ache to visit them again!
Music fans, check it out. Echols fans, you’ll like this one but probably won’t rank it first among her works. Non-Echols fans, I’d definitely recommend starting with one of the other books I mentioned and working your way here.
The Reece Malcolm List
By Amy Spalding
Publication date: Feb. 5, 2013
Entangled Teen, 352 pages
Things I know about Reece Malcolm:
1. She graduated from New York University.
2. She lives in or near Los Angeles.
3. Since her first novel was released, she’s been on the New York Times bestseller list every week.
4. She likes strong coffee and bourbon.
5. She’s my mother.
Devan knows very little about Reece Malcolm, until the day her father dies and she’s shipped off to live with the mother she’s never met. All she has is a list of notebook entries that doesn’t add up to much.
L.A. offers a whole new world to Devan—a performing arts school allows her to pursue her passion for show choir and musicals, a new circle of friends helps to draw her out of her shell, and an intriguing boy opens up possibilities for her first love.
But then the Reece Malcolm list gets a surprising new entry. Now that Devan is so close to having it all, can she handle the possibility of losing everything?
— Goodreads.com description
I so thoroughly enjoyed The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding. I mean, I got the vibe from the description (I love lists!) that this was going to be a quirky, realistic contemporary story (my favorite kind of book). And it was all those things and more.
Reece was realistic and definitely likable. Sure, she was put in an unlikely situation — dad dies, girl moves in with the mom she never knew, who happens to be a J.K. Rowling-level author, starts to attend super fancy California performing arts school — but her reactions to every situation were spot-on teenage girl. Plus, the interactions and fights with her friends really rang true.
Bonus factor: SINGING!!!!!!!!!!! Okay, so I have zero musical talent. But I’m super into musicals and books and movies about the performing arts. So the Glee aspect here was so fun — I really loved Reece’s drive to perform.
Double bonus factor: One of my favorite characters of the year, Reece’s mom’s boyfriend Brad. Those who have read this book: Is Brad not the best thing ever!?
Anyone looking for a fun, realistic contemporary that’s more about friends and family than about romance (hey, even I can appreciate that from time to time) should absolutely check this one out.
From the fantastic author of The Lonely Hearts Club and Prom & Prejudice comes a story of all the drama and comedy of four friends who grow into themselves at a performing arts high school.
Emme, Sophie, Ethan, and Carter are seniors at a performing arts school, getting ready for their Senior Showcase recital, where the pressure is on to appeal to colleges, dance academies, and professionals in show business. For Sophie, a singer, it’s been great to be friends with Emme, who composes songs for her, and to date Carter, soap opera heartthrob who gets plenty of press coverage. Emme and Ethan have been in a band together through all four years of school, but wonder if they could be more than just friends and bandmates. Carter has been acting since he was a baby, and isn’t sure how to admit that he’d rather paint than perform. The Senior Showcase is going to make or break each of the four, in a funny, touching, spectacular finale that only Elizabeth Eulberg could perform.
— Goodreads.com description
I very thoroughly enjoy Elizabeth Eulberg — after Prom & Prejudice, I put her on my must-read list. If you are a Darcy freak like me, read it! Such a fun read. (Check out my review here.)
So let me start by saying this: Take a Bow is a 100% teen novel.
What do I mean by that? It means that a lot of YA is very adult in subject matter and for multiple reasons has a lot of adult appeal. But this is a book for teenagers, through and through.
I don’t mean that to sound like a bad thing. I’m trying to say “I didn’t relate to this book” but acknowledge that I’m not really meant to, am I?
I had a crankypants adult voice shouting in the back of my head for much of the book. Like, really LECTURING at the characters in my head.
But the lectures were on lessons I learned the hard way through the years and buckets of tears, and I can’t expect teenager characters to just – BLAMMO! – learn it overnight, can I?
So ignore my lame grownupness and give Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg a go, especially if you’re in high school, because the subject matter of friends and relationships and fitting in and growing up are BEYOND well done and relevant. Plus, it’s told from the point-of-view of four intriguing and very different teens at a performing arts school. Glee fans — Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg one is likely for you!
Just…adults, be warned, it might not be for you. And that’s okay.
By Tara Kelly
Publish date: Oct. 25, 2011
Henry Holt and Co. (BYR), 304 pages
Source: Borrowed from Ginger
When privileged 17-year-old Jasmine gets kicked out of her house, she takes what is left of her savings and flees to Santa Cruz to pursue her dream of becoming a musician. Jasmine finds the ideal room in an oceanfront house, but she needs to convince the three guys living there that she’s the perfect roommate and lead guitarist for their band, C-Side. Too bad she has major stage fright and the cute bassist doesn’t think a spoiled girl from over the hill can hack it. . . .
In this fresh new novel by critically acclaimed author Tara Kelly, Jasmine finds out what happens when her life gets Amplified.
— Amazon.com description
I am practically tone deaf, and I know nothing about music other than “I like this” or “I don’t like this.” But, in Amplified, Tara Kelly made me want to learn.
I couldn’t relate to any of it, from the technical terms to the type of music Jasmine plays in this book, but it was told with such passion that you just had to follow along and to root for this character and her love of music.
By the end, I was completely attached to Jasmine and her very emotional journey. This book is filled with passion and angst and tears and, yes, loooooove.
I keep using the word “passion,” but there’s no other way to put it. From her love/hate relationship with one of her bandmates/roommates, to her struggles with family to her love of music, Jasmine is a fiery girl. She’s a fighter, and her story was such a strong, enjoyable read.