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Blog Tour: The Trouble With Destiny by Lauren Morrill | Book Recs for Music Nerds

Welcome to the blog tour for THE TROUBLE WITH DESTINY by Lauren Morrill! I can’t tell you how excited I am to be on this blog tour because I get to talk allll about music! THE TROUBLE WITH DESTINY is the story of Liza, the band’s drum major (for those of you non-band/music nerds, the drum major is essentially the band’s conductor and responsible for/assists with leadership responsibilities) and her mission to save her school’s band program from being cut. I immediately latched onto this concept because A) I’m a total music nerd (I was a choir-fanatic in high school… and college… and I still am) and B) because it’s Lauren Morrill! For my stop on the blog tour, Lauren (and I) are sharing some favorite book recs for fellow music nerds and I am so excited!

Before we get into the post itself, here’s a bit more about THE TROUBLE WITH DESTINY for you to get more acquainted with the book!

Blog Tour: The Trouble With Destiny by Lauren Morrill | Book Recs for Music NerdsTitle: The Trouble With Destiny by Lauren Morrill
Publishing Info: December 8, 2015 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Netgalley
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Music
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: October 15, 2015
Related Posts: Meant to Be, Being Sloane Jacobs, The Trouble With Destiny

With her trusty baton and six insanely organized clipboards, drum major Liza Sanders is about to take Destiny by storm—the boat, that is. When Liza discovered that her beloved band was losing funding, she found Destiny, a luxury cruise ship complete with pools, midnight chocolate buffets, and a $25,000 spring break talent show prize.

Liza can’t imagine senior year without the band, and nothing will distract her from achieving victory. She’s therefore not interested when her old camp crush, Lenny, shows up on board, looking shockingly hipster-hot. And she’s especially not interested in Russ, the probably-as-dumb-as-he-is-cute prankster jock whose ex, Demi, happens be Liza’s ex–best friend and leader of the Athenas, a show choir that’s the band’s greatest competition.
But it’s not going to be smooth sailing. After the Destiny breaks down, all of Liza’s best-laid plans start to go awry. Liza likes to think of herself as an expert at almost everything, but when it comes to love, she’s about to find herself lost at sea.

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ABOUT LAUREN MORRILL

Lauren Elizabeth Morrill is many things, including, but not limited to, a writer, an educator, a badass roller derby skater, a former band nerd, an aggressive driver, and a die-hard Mac person. She also watches a lot of TV, eats a lot of junk food, and drinks a lot of Coke. It’s a wonder her brain and teeth haven’t rotted out of her head.

Lauren is the author of Meant to Be, Being Sloane Jacobs, The Trouble With Destiny, and the forthcoming My Unscripted Life (October 2016), all from Random House.

Website | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

ON BEING A CHOIR NERD

Music nerds come in all forms — from classical to contemporary, performance to listening, there are all sorts of ways to get involved in a musical passion. Personally, I was a huge choir nerd in high school and I was totally obsessed. I started my choir experience my freshman year of high school, mostly because my sister had and she absolutely loved her teacher and the subject itself. (I went to a private school for pre-8th grade so we didn’t really have a “music program”.) I immediately fell in love and it also happened to be something that I was good at picking up so that just fed into my love of choir. I had always wanted to play an instrument because I just loved music but instruments were expensive and my parents didn’t want to purchase one for me on the chance that I would get frustrated and not practice (by the way, there were totally right on that. I tend to practice the things that I’m good at and give up on the things that I’m not haha!) and choir was a much more reasonable option — no instruments required!

Singing was an instant hit with me and I loved being a part of a group where my voice got to blend in with others, including different harmonies! It was also a great option for chickens like me who had little confidence to sing in front of others, though I did conquer that fear a bit more as the years went on! I continued with choir all throughout high school, made it into Madrigals (a Renaissance-style singing group, smaller ensemble), and even picked up a few solos along the way. My junior and senior year, I gave up basketball in order to participate it the spring musicals (though I probably would have dropped basketball anyway, but it gave me a good excuse). I didn’t land any major roles since I had little to no action experience but every minute was just a blast and I was just happy to be a part of them!

choir nerd

Even in college, music was important to me. I remained a part of choral groups throughout my time in college and it was always something I had so much fun with! To this day, I still look back on those memories as some of my fondest. I’m not in any groups now because I really don’t have the time but it’s something I always miss and really hope I can do again someday!

THE TROUBLE WITH DESTINY actually hits a little soft spot in my heart as well because I just found out that my old high school’s Madrigal group is no longer doing their annual Madrigal dinner. Each year the Madrigals put on an entire performance for an audience of friends, family, and fellow students and it always felt so prestigious and it was so incredibly fun. Granted, I’m not still in school with this announcement of no more Madrigal dinner so it’s definitely not the same as Liza’s situation but it does make me sad to think that there won’t ever be another one (for our school anyway) and that this is my very last chance to go back to the dinner as an alum! I’ve been putting it off for years but now I feel the pull to go back one last time and revisit one of the most fun times in my high school career.

BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS FOR MUSIC NERDS

And now the fun part! I know you’re here for the book recs so let’s get to it! Lauren Morrill put together a list of her Top Ten favorite books for music nerds and I couldn’t resist adding some of my own as well! If you’re a music fan, you definitely need to check out these book recs!

top books for music lovers

  • This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales: Leila’s books are always incredible, but I especially loved this one, about a teen misfit DJ. 
  • Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway: I love this book SO MUCH, and if you haven’t read it, you need to fix that NOW! 
  • Lovestruck Summer by Melissa Walker: Another book you have to read—it will make you want to visit Austin and binge on some music.
  • The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding: Funny and fresh, for your inner music-theater nerd. 
  • Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan: Two words: Tiny. Cooper. Need I say more?
  • If I Stay/Where She Went by Gayle Forman: This duology is a punch to the gut, but it gets so much right about music being your life.
  • The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson: Another punch to the gut, but Jandy writes so beautifully about music.
  • Five, Six, Seven, Nate! by Tim Federle: You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll want to hug Nate.
  • Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg: Fame meets Step Up in YA? Yes, please! 
  • This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen: I can’t make a top-ten list without a Dessen book on it. I’m pretty sure that’s illegal. And this one is just perfect.

I couldn’t resist sharing some of my own favorites too! Here are some of my picks:

  • Open Road Summer by Emery Lord: I’m not even a country music fan but I was so into the whole scene with this book! I loved the music aspect and how it was a main focus of the book (the country-wide tour).
  • Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols: This was another country music book that had me craving a trip to Nashville. Again, I don’t even like country but I could just picture myself in each scene and I wanted to be there!
  • The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss: This isn’t a traditional go-to for a music theme but I love how much music means to Kvothe and how his lute is really an extension of himself. Even when he loses everything, he can’t bear to part with his lute. I also want a set of talent pipes… but I’m not that talented.
  • Dissonance by Erica O’Rourke: This is a sci-fi novel about parallel worlds but I totally geeked out over all of the musical ties. The different worlds have different pitches and so there’s tons of music theory in this book which was SO much fun to see.
  • The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay: Nastya is a musical prodigy and her world changes when she loses her ability to play piano. There’s actually not a ton of music directly involved in the book since she can’t play but there’s that grief that the readers also experience for her loss of connection to her passion.
  • Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith: A musical genius and a rock band make up quite a bit of this whirlwind of a book!

TOUR STOPS

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GIVEAWAY

Of course we can’t let you go without a giveaway! Random House is offerring a Lauren Morrill prize pack of signed copies of all Lauren’s books and swag for one lucky winner! All you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter form below! US residents only, please! Must be 13 years of age or older to win. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Trouble With Destiny – Lauren Morrill

The Trouble With Destiny – Lauren MorrillTitle: The Trouble With Destiny by Lauren Morrill
Publishing Info: December 8, 2015 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Netgalley
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Music
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: October 15, 2015
Related Posts: Meant to Be, Being Sloane Jacobs

With her trusty baton and six insanely organized clipboards, drum major Liza Sanders is about to take Destiny by storm—the boat, that is. When Liza discovered that her beloved band was losing funding, she found Destiny, a luxury cruise ship complete with pools, midnight chocolate buffets, and a $25,000 spring break talent show prize.
Liza can’t imagine senior year without the band, and nothing will distract her from achieving victory. She’s therefore not interested when her old camp crush, Lenny, shows up on board, looking shockingly hipster-hot. And she’s especially not interested in Russ, the probably-as-dumb-as-he-is-cute prankster jock whose ex, Demi, happens be Liza’s ex–best friend and leader of the Athenas, a show choir that’s the band’s greatest competition.
But it’s not going to be smooth sailing. After the Destiny breaks down, all of Liza’s best-laid plans start to go awry. Liza likes to think of herself as an expert at almost everything, but when it comes to love, she’s about to find herself lost at sea.

bookreview1

I’ve been a fan of Lauren Morrill since 2012 when I first read her debut MEANT TO BE and the adorable contemporary novels have just kept on coming! THE TROUBLE WITH DESTINY was no exception to Morrill’s previous works and it was so much fun from start to finish.

Naturally, THE TROUBLE WITH DESTINY immediately pulled me in with the premise of Liza and her group of band nerds entering a performance contest to save their school music’s program. You don’t even have to finish the phrase “music nerd” before I am totally on board that ship and ready to set sail! I was a choir geek in high school (I’m not in an organization anymore but I think I’m still pretty geeky when it comes to choir) and I had an absolute blast with all of the music references, performances, and technical terms throughout the book. Lauren Morrill really did a fantastic job of bringing that music to life as well which is something that’s always so hard for me in books! Music is such a mood-setter and so important to a scene that it’s hard for me as a reader to listen to that song playing in my head while still absorbing the rest of the text but THE TROUBLE WITH DESTINY had some really amazing musical moments that stuck with me throughout the pages. I was so happy to finally see a book that was able to accomplish this and it sort of brought back that hope for me that I can hear the music used in books.

Liza was a fun character to read about! Similar to some of Morrill’s other heroines, Liza is hell-bent on perfection and success although instead of academics or sports, Liza’s obsession is her school band. It was a great addition to have that noble cause of saving the school’s music program as a driving force as well so Liza’s ambition had so much more emotion attached and reason to be driven to win instead of just winning for the sake of being the best. It also really affected the other students as well and it was really great to see that side of Liza show when she’s working hard to save the band not only for herself but for her fellow band members also. This blind determination was a bit hard to watch sometimes, but not in a way that was too cringe-worthy. Mostly it was just hard to see Liza so hard on herself when small mishaps occurred and when she sacrificed the happiness of herself and others to achieve her goal. I did like that the story wrapped up well with her eyes open to this fact and Liza ends up learning how to let some control go and allow others to help.

The romance was super cute in this book. I’m not sure if you’d exactly call it a triangle but I can see how it might feel like that for some. When it comes down to it, it’s more of a “they don’t know we know they know” kind of a situation where the wrong people are in the dark about who likes who and delightful cute contemporary confusion ensues! I thought it was really well done albeit a bit predictable but I really enjoyed the direction the romance went! It has not one but TWO of my favorite romance tropes and I won’t fully explain how those happen so you can discover for yourself but I really appreciated how each, let’s say, potential romance played out. I totally loved the ending and couldn’t have been happier with how it resolved! My only minor complaint is that because of the way the romance plays out, there aren’t AS many swoony moments in the beginning but still really fun!

The friendships were also so well done in this book. It was great to see Liza have strong friendships, build new ones, ponder old ones, and realize that things change over time and that’s okay. We’ve all had friend break-ups, new best friends, and people pop up from our pasts so it was fun to see all of these things happen to Liza and relate to how she handles each one. THE TROUBLE WITH DESTINY is lovely cute contemp so naturally, these resolve neatly and leave the reader with warm fuzzies!

THE TROUBLE WITH DESTINY was a really cute book and overall, I really enjoyed it. There were a few lulls in there for me but the book was also jam-packed with adorable moments, hilarious slap-stick comedy, and beautiful growing moments. Another very solid book from Lauren Morrill and I’m always ready for more!
view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

the trouble with destiny goodreads

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Liza // Character Obsessions: Music, saving the band, duty, romance. 
Liza is a very one-track minded character. She seems to be wholly absorbed into whatever she’s dedicated herself to — first the band, then to her crush — and she sort of forgets what’s going on around her. As painful as that was to watch at times (I felt bad for her!) I really enjoyed her growth throughout the book and ultimately stood behind her!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Music in books. I’m SO glad the music came to life in this book! I was beginning to think that it was impossible to hear that soundtrack playing as the book went along but now my faith is renewed!
Left Me Wanting More: Self-awareness. Poor Liza just had a really hard time seeing things outside of her bubble. I’m so glad she started to shake this off towards the end of the book though!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

THE TROUBLE WITH DESTINY was such a fun book. It was just adorable and I absolutely loved the music connections!

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BOOKS LIKE THE TROUBLE WITH DESTINY

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE CHAPEL WARS    THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US

Open Road Summer – Emery Lord

Open Road Summer – Emery LordTitle: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
Publishing Info: April 15, 2014 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Netgalley
Genres: Contemporary, Music, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: April 11, 2014
Related Posts: The Start of Me and You, When We Collided

After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking.

bookreview1

I don’t even like country music but somehow I end up falling in love with books about them. I was in the middle of a few super heavy books and wanted to start something light to combat the book hangover I was about to have… OPEN ROAD SUMMER was the perfect feel-good book but… well, it also gave me a book hangover because it was just SO good!! I had heard SO many good things about this book from my fellow lovely blogger friends before I had started so as I usually am, I was a tiiiny but scared that the hype of it so far would make me not love it as much. Thank GOODNESS that wasn’t an issue. Really from start to finish, I enjoyed every aspect of OPEN ROAD SUMMER. From the characters to the plot to the places the book could have gone but thankfully didn’t… And every scene just felt so incredible and magical. I was pretty much swooning the whole time — and that was even before I got to read about Matt Finch!

OPEN ROAD SUMMER follows Reagan as she spends the summer with her best friend Dee. And oh yeah, Dee just happens to be country superstar Lilah Montgomery and spending the summer together entails a 24 city concert tour. But this summer is exactly what Reagan needs to step away from her life and the decisions she needs to reconsider and try to start the next year with a clean slate. I really liked Reagan and I appreciated that she was really trying to turn her life around. She’s had some hard times in her life with her mother leaving their family when she was young and as much as she loves her dad, she isn’t a huge fan of her stepmom and they really just don’t get along.
I absolutely loved the celebrity and music super star aspect of this story which is not something I really would have ever expected. I really felt like I got an insight into the “normal” side of the celebrity life. I feel like celebrities are so built up in our minds that we often forget that they’re just normal people and it was really interesting to see the other side of that. Dee (to her friends, Lilah to her fans) loves what she does but that doesn’t mean she leads an easy life. She works hard to maintain a good, clean image to appeal to children and adults alike, so when a misleading scandal hits the news, Dee’s publicist decides to invite long-time friend and all-around good guy Matt Finch to open for Dee on tour.

Oh, Matt Finch. Count me in the Matt Finch fanclub for sure. I was nervous when we first met him, hearing that he had such a clean reputation and he didn’t even like lying even when helping out a friend — I was worried he would turn out to be a little too good for my tastes but don’t worry! There are many, many facets to Matt Finch and he easily had me swooning. Major swoons, guys. Major swoons. He and Reagan had such fantastic chemistry and don’t EVEN get me started on the forbidden romance aspect. It just KILLS me. See, part of the deal with Matt coming on tour is that he is supposed to be leading the press into thinking that he and Dee/Lilah are dating to help combat the bad press and rumors going around. Matt and Reagan have amazing chemistry but they can’t allow themselves to date because, well, Matt is supposed to come off as Lilah’s new love interest. AHHH. The tension. I died.

Okay, I don’t want to give away the whole story, but it’s so hard to write all the things about this book and not just GUSH. I absolutely loved it with very, very minor issues involving Reagan’s former path of rebelling and self-destruction. Overall, I really loved the characters, loved the romance, and loved the entire feel of the book. Each scene just really felt so genuine and I really felt like I was experiencing it as well. It’s everything I could possibly imagine that the perfect summer would be like! Great friendships, great romances, great adventures. I could honestly gush about this book so much more, but I’ll leave you to go pick it up yourself… (Which I hope you’re doing as soon as you finish reading this. GO! It’s okay. I’ll wait.)

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a new featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters! ors

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Reagan O’Neill // Character Obsessions: Shoes, boys, making a clean start.
I loved Reagan. She has so much going on in her life and got this new opportunity to turn her life around and it says so much that she took it. She didn’t have the easiest life but she also didn’t make it easy for herself and it was so awesome to watch her figure everything out and take control over her life again. Not to mention she made a GREAT choice to end up liking Matt <3
Delilah Montgomery // Character Obsessions: Music, her guitar, Jimmy, a good image.
I also loved Dee! She is SUCH a great friend to Reagan and she’s sort of like that friend who’s kind of like a mom. She’s always looking out for Reagan and tries to steer her to make good decisions but supports her even when she makes the wrong ones. They rarely fight and have such a wonderful friendship. The fame never goes to her head and she’s just a really good person.
Matt Finch // Character Obsessions: Music, his mom, his friends, Reagan.
I thought about just writing “SWOOOOOON” but I guess I should put some real words in here. Matt Finch is the good guy that girls hope exist but deep down think will they will never meet. Of course he has some flaws (what guy doesn’t) but please, they’re minor because Matt Finch is a ball of amazing. (Yeah, I can’t do it. SWOOOOOOON.)

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Kept Me Hooked On: Music-themed books. I don’t even like country music and somehow books involving country music JUST GET ME. I just really loved the tour aspect, the song-writing aspect — just so many parts involving the music and how it played such a big role in the book in so many ways.
Left Me Wanting More: MATT FINCH. Just always more Matt, right? Right.

Addiction Rating
BUY IT!

I looooooved it. So much. I instantly pre-ordered as soon as I was finished with my egalley because I NEEDED this one for my shelves.

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BOOKS LIKE OPEN ROAD SUMMER

(Click the cover to see my review!)

        Dirty Little Secret    The Book of Broken Hearts

This Song Will Save Your Life – Leila Sales

This Song Will Save Your Life – Leila SalesTitle: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
Publishing Info: September 17, 2013 by Macmillan
Source: BEA 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Music, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: March 2, 2014
Related Posts: Past Perfect

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, Leila Sales' THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.

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I feel like I’ve been finally catching up with a lot of books that have received a lot of hype lately and THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE was definitely one of them. I picked up the ARC at BEA, having Leila Sales sign my copy, confident that I would fall in love with the book and this would be one I wanted to keep. Then with all of the hype about the book, praising how honest and amazing it was, my confidence didn’t wane, but the hype did start to allow doubt to set in just a tiiiiiny bit considering my recent track record.

Well, the good news is that I definitely still enjoyed it! Right from the beginning, I connected with Elsie, who has always felt like an outsider in her own life. She’s never been good at making friends, has never been the popular one, and somehow even after trying, she still doesn’t manage to fit in with really anyone at all. I felt so bad for her and just couldn’t grasp what exactly was wrong with every single kid at her school and why Elise couldn’t manage to get in good with anyone. In a way, I totally related to her. I wasn’t ever one of the popular girls in middle school (or high school, but I had stopped caring by then) and in a class of only twenty-four kids for pre-school through eighth grade, it was glaringly obvious when you weren’t a part of the “in” crowd and that was something I struggled with for a long time. That fact alone allowed me to connect with Elsie on many levels so I really appreciated that character connection and directly tapping in to my personal experiences.

I finished THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE in two days. I almost finished it in one afternoon but you know… Life got in the way. Anyway, I was utterly captivated and reading about Elsie’s story was both incredibly interesting and heartbreaking… But unfortunately for me, this just wasn’t a book that really stuck with me. I was totally sucked in as I was reading but only those pivotal moments in the beginning of the book really stuck with me after I finished and sitting here writing my review weeks later, I don’t feel the magic with me still that many other fans of the book did.

I think my lack of feelings towards the book may be because I didn’t connect with the rest of it as much. You see, Elise falls in love with a DJ but more so, she falls in love with DJing. It’s something she never even considered doing but she does love music and once she starts this new craft, she completely throws herself into it, determined to be the best she can be. I certainly know a thing or two about that having spent much of my time in high school perfecting the crafts that I could. I absolutely loved how much Elise loved music and I also loved the music featured and the bands that were named dropped (I even begged Twitter to let me know if there was a playlist. There is!!), but I just didn’t connect with the whole underground club scene and I wasn’t a huge fan of Elise’s new friends that she met there. I didn’t dislike them, but I wasn’t a huge fan of Pippa and the whole quasi-triangle thing between Elise, Char, and Pippa. I didn’t have major issues while I was reading, but it seems like the more things I think about as I review, the more things I notice that I just didn’t quite connect with.

I loved the message that this book sends and I absolutely could have used a book like this when I was in junior high or high school. I went through so many of the same things that Elise did — maybe not as extreme, but I had plenty of friend issues and especially in junior high, the constant wonder of the arbitrary system of who’s popular and who isn’t — and I think it’s definitely an important read if you’ve gone through anything like this (chances are, you have). I really loved how the book wrapped up and seeing Elise go through so many personal changes and revelations. For me, I think the hype monster did get me just a little bit. It’s hard to go into a book when everyone else raves about it and while I did enjoy it a lot, I’m not sure it’s sky-rocketed to a favorite for me.

I love how this book made me think back on my own history and it sort of brought a personal peace. I’ve already made peace with these things a while ago, but it’s always nice to have that reassurance that being popular or having a ton of friends doesn’t necessarily equal personal success. It’s about the quality of friends. The importance of family. The level of enjoyment you allow yourself to have in life. Most of all, THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE tells us all that be whoever you are, no matter who that person is. Your dreams are so much easier to follow when you’re true to yourself and life is just so much more fulfilling that way.

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a new featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

tswsyl

Ew, typo in the first status update. Guess I was just too excited! Also, where was this supposed to take place? There was a mention of the Illinois fair but no such town exists in IL. HMMM.

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Elise // Character Obsessions: Music, researching popularity, DJing.
I felt so bad for Elise, mostly because I had been in her shoes. I feel like so many people, especially girls, can relate to Elise’s experiences. Sometimes it’s hard not to be popular or to have a lot of friends and for Elise, it wasn’t almost more scientific at times than actually a strong desire to be popular. Elise just didn’t want to be alone anymore. Didn’t want to be made fun of. Her story was heartbreaking and yet uplifting and I really loved seeing her go through the various changes and the road of self-discovery throughout the book.
Char // Character Obsessions: Music, DJing, girls.
Char was… confusing. It was hard for me to really understand him and I think that was the point. I was always worried for Elise and what her relationship with him might become and I was afraid of his potential to hurt her. I actually ended up disliking him a lot, if we’re just being honest here, and I was very protective of Elise whenever he was in the picture! I am happy for his willingness to teach her how to DJ though.

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Kept Me Hooked On: The unexpected. Who would expect a book about a teenage DJ to be such a success? I love how the readers were introduced to something so extraordinary and uncommon and making it something amazing. I loved that the book wasn’t entirely smashed in the city too. Elise lives a suburban life… And yet somehow ends up in this hidden underground world of music, dancing, and nightlife.
Left Me Wanting More: Emotion. Oh, there were plenty of things to be emotional about in this book, but I felt like Elise herself was more calculating and scientific about things at times than emotional. I think I always connect with a more emotional side because I’m really able to just lose myself.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This is definitely a book that even though it didn’t end up as a total favorite, I’d still recommend to everyone to read. It’s an important journey regarding self-worth, family, friendships, and following your dreams. I think most of us have gone through was Elise did in one degree or another and it’s definitely something that helped me reflect on my own past and come to a certain peace about how things went down in junior high and high school, even more so than I thought I already had.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE

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        Confessions of an Angry Girl       Wild Awake

Dirty Little Secret – Jennifer Echols

Dirty Little Secret – Jennifer EcholsTitle: Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols
Publishing Info: July 16, 2013 by MTV Books
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Contemporary, Music, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: June 20, 2013

    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…

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DIRTY LITTLE SECRET was just the contemporary I needed! A super cute guy, a swoony romance, family drama and MUSIC were the perfect recipe to create just the contemporary I was craving! Don’t be fooled by the title — First, this is not about The All-American Rejects (I honestly cannot get that song out of my head when I see this title) and this isn’t a romance novel (Bailey is actually more of the “dirty little secret”, not her having one).

The book starts off with an angsty Bailey living with her grandfather after her parents have left with her younger sister Julie who is working on a record deal and nation-wide tour. Bailey essentially becomes the family’s “dirty little secret” when her parents force her to stay out of the spotlight and essentially forbid her from performing — which she and Julie used to do together — for fear that the media will find out that she and Julie used to be a duet and now are not OR that Bailey will go off the deep end and ruin Julie’s image by being the crazy sister. But when Bailey meets Sam at a mall performance that her grandfather hooked her up with… Things all start to change.

Sam was a major swoon-factor in this book for me. He just oozes that kind of confidence that makes you want to drop whatever you’re doing and follow him to the ends of the earth… You know, the dangerous kind of confidence. He seems like he could be a lady slayer which is something Bailey has to be cautious about, but he says all the right things and flashes that gorgeous smile (Well, at least how I’m picturing this in my head…) and I’ll tell ya, I totally fell for him. Things get difficult for Bailey when she has to decide whether to play music with Sam — or even trust him in the first place — or to stay quiet and keep her head down until college. I really liked Bailey’s character because as rough of a time as she’s having now, you can tell that she really did respect her parents before things started going south so it really is a hard decision to obey their somewhat unreasonable wishes or to do what she really has a passion for in life. (Music… not Sam. Haha!)

I really enjoyed the romance that developed between the two characters. It was an instant attraction and yes, things technically moved quickly but it really didn’t feel like any kind of insta-love or anything. Sometimes you just meet someone and you’re instantly crushing; the more you get to know them, the more you like, and that’s exactly what this felt like. It wasn’t exactly a slow burn, but it wasn’t jumping in too quickly either so it was a nice balance, in my opinion!

I. Loved. The music aspect. The book takes place in Tennessee, specifically Nashville so we’ve got country music galore in this book. I actually really don’t like country music, but that never fazed me once while reading — In fact, the ambience of the book actually made me want to go to Nashville! Bailey is a fiddle player (which is awesome) and she’s an extremely talented musician in part because she has perfect pitch. I was no music major or anything, but being a huge choir nerd in high school and college, I took Music Theory so it was fun just seeing some of the more technical terms that Bailey used to talk about music, chords, and tuning (which I’m sure most musicians will easily identify with as well).
Besides that, I just loved all the performance scenes in the book. Seriously, Jennifer Echols made me want to go to Nashville and see these cover bands play in a bar. I love seeing any band play live — I love the feel of being there, watching the musicians play & really enjoy what they’re doing, and sharing it with other people. I really felt like I was THERE by reading this book and it was just so much fun to live that without actually being there.

The only small complaint I have about the book was the very end — It wasn’t bad at all, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes books wrap up just a little too neatly… I actually really liked the way it wrapped up in the end, but for the amount of back and forth and conflict in the novel, parts of it felt just too sunshine-and-rainbows and it was a little TOO nice. I just wanted the end to be a touch more realistic where not everything works out perfectly. Other than that, I loved the romance, loved the music, and really enjoyed the characters as well!

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Bailey: I really felt for Bailey. I was so incredibly curious in the beginning of the book to find out how she ended up so broken and self-destructive… But as the book goes along, Bailey opens up (to the reader first and then to Sam) and we find out what really happened to her… Honestly, I was expecting something much worse, but I’m also not diminishing her pain! I really enjoyed digging into that emotion with her and I can understand why she feels bad. I really liked seeing her come out her shell and I LOVED her musical ability!
Sam: Sam was super duper swoony in the beginning… and then he did ONE thing that almost made me strangle him. I understood it though — even if I didn’t agree — and regardless he was still swoony. THOSE KISSING SCENES. Omg. He stole my heart.
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Buy it!

I really, really enjoyed this one. It totally surprised me since for some reason I didn’t think I’d get into the country scene but it was fantastic! I just really connected.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE DIRTY LITTLE SECRET

     Such a Rush           Just One Day

The Reece Malcolm List – Amy Spalding

The Reece Malcolm List – Amy SpaldingTitle: The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding
Publishing Info: February 5, 2013 by Entangled
Genres: Contemporary, Music, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: March 5, 2013

bookreview1I have to admit that THE REECE MALCOLM LIST didn’t quite impress me as I’d hoped. I was expecting a cute contemporary, which yes it was, but I had heard so many different reviews about how this book was about a choir/musical nerd and I was like “NERDVANA! I will love this!!!” See, if you didn’t already know, now you do. I am a choir geek. Hardcore. I adore musicals as well, so I was banking on being BFFs with our MC, Devan. Only… that never happened.

Okay, I feel like I have to dissect THE REECE MALCOLM list in parts in order to get my thoughts out there:

1. The Reece Malcolm part: So Devan is “shipped” to L.A. after her father dies to live with the mother she never knew: famous writer Reece Malcolm. I gotta say… I kind of loved Reece. I love that she was figuring out how to be a good mother to this teenager that was dropped in her lap and awkward as she normally is with adults, trying to adjust to even figure out how to TALK to her teenage daughter. Reece was definitely my favorite part of the book! I liked the storyline too. It was really interesting to see these two characters try to figure each other out after barely knowing about each other their whole lives.

2. The choir/musical part: This is the part where I burst into song and flail some jazz hands at you *JAZZ HANDS!* (Okay, we didn’t have a show choir, but I can pretend) I really did love the musical aspect of this book! I really felt like I was reliving some of my own high school experiences through the descriptions of the choir classes and the excitement of waiting behind the curtain while the overture plays… The excitement of the very beginning of the production! It was a ton of fun to read about all those events which were really the best times of my high school career. Amy Spalding really nailed the specifics and I absolutely loved it! The only downside? I’m sure she picked Merrily for the musical either because it’s not well-known (aka overdone) and/or because of a personal connection to it, but I felt like a lot of the specific scene references/character names/costumes were lost on me whereas if it were a production I was a bit more familiar with, I could have had a better connection with the book. Maybe I wasn’t geeky enough to get there! Ha.

3. The romance part: Say what you will, but I never came around to liking Sai. I don’t know what it was! Maybe because he was kind of blowing Devan off and leading her on all at the same time throughout most of the book? His character always felt a little slimy to me and I felt like he was hanging out with Devan for the wrong reasons. I actually was NOT rooting for Devan to end up with her crush.

4. Devan’s singing talents: Devan was an awkward main character for me. There were so many times that she was timid, shy, soft-spoken, humble, etc – You name it, but when it came to singing, it was the thing she excelled at so naturally she was confident, right? Right! Buuuut… There were so many times that I felt like she was being boastful about her talent. From personal experience (I mean, my high school wasn’t anything flipping fascinating or anything but) EVERY kid had to work really hard to be as good as they were. My parents never wanted to shell out the money for voice lessons (I don’t really blame them, but still wish I could have taken them), but that was THE THING to do if you were serious about music. I felt like Devan’s talent was TOO perfect. She never did anything wrong as far as singing/acting goes in the whole book. Not even during auditions, which yes, okay… Some people thrive in auditions instead of choke (like I do), but not even a hint of nerves. It didn’t come off as confident to me – It came off as bragging and I just didn’t like it one bit.

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Devan: I really was not a fan of Devan. Sigh. She wasn’t terrible by any means but she really wasn’t an enjoyable main character for me either. I felt like she was too timid in most of the book and it kind of shut me out of getting to know her. Once she started standing up for herself, I actually started to like her a little more! (Also, see notes about regarding Devan’s all-too-convenient amazing singing talent — I think too much of it was too easy and perfectly neat.)
Reece: I actually really loved Reece. She made the book enjoyable for me! Her awkward parenting is more like just talking to an adult since she’s not really sure how to do it and I felt like I not only got a real personality from her, but I also saw a lot of changes. She was definitely my favorite character of the book!
SaI: I guess I just never trusted Sai in the long run. There was never anything really specific for me to be so wary of him, but I just got that vibe, ya know? I really wasn’t rooting for him to warm up to Devan and I felt like he abused their friendship a little bit. That’s happened to me too many times in my long-gone past, but I guess I’m still a little sore about it haha!

addiction_factor1Try it

Lots of people enjoyed this book more than I did, but I just couldn’t get on board with Devan. When I don’t connect with a character, it really affects how I see the book overall. It’s worth a try, though! We all relate to characters in different ways.

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