Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Dirty Little Secret Blog Tour: Review of Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols + GIVEAWAY

I'm really excited to be a part of the Dirty Little Secret blog tour hosted by Itching For Books! Click HERE for the rest of the tour.

Goodreads rating: 3.83
e-ARC, 288 pages
Expected publication: July 16th 2013 by MTV Books
Genre: YA contemporary

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…

Some bad language.

I really wanted to love this one, but sometimes Jennifer Echols is either a hit or a miss for me. I enjoy her writing style, but sometimes her plots seem to get a little weird. This one had a very complicated cast of characters, which I loved, but then they didn't get complicated enough. I wrote in my initial review on Goodreads that I thought this one wrapped up too quickly and a little too neatly. But we'll get to the ending. Let's start from the beginning where we first meet Bailey. Bailey is living with her grandfather because her family has basically cast her out and wants her to put her own music career away forever so that her sister Julie can take her record deal and have there be no drama. Because of this, she has a bit of a rebellious phase and then gets shipped off to grandpa's. The thing is, her whole family is music (her grandfather makes guitars) and so there's no way she's getting away from it. The family dynamic in this one was heartbreaking because it was so terrible. It seemed like no one in this book had any kind of functioning relationships, which is why it seemed a bit unbelievable at times. But her grandfather gets her a job playing fiddle for tribute bands that are going nowhere and she meets Sam.

Sam was a weird love interest. In the beginning, he seemed a lot like the tortured artist. He's jealous of Bailey's perfect pitch, but at least music gives them some common ground. In fact, it's some of the only common ground they have. Sam is a total heart-breaker. He's had over twenty girlfriends, one of which he brought into his band and then broke up with, and she still remains in the band. So when Sam asks Bailey to join his band, she runs into a lot more drama than she bargained for. Sam no longer loves Charlotte (the drummer), and now he has his eye on Bailey. And then there's Ace, who sees this all happen and he has an emotional stake in it as well though he tried to hide it. And while Bailey is falling for Sam, she's waiting to be the next numbered ex-girlfriend. And Charlotte isn't exactly helping. But Sam tells Bailey that she's different. Yeah, right. One of the things that really bothered me about Sam was his uncanny ability to be completely insincere. I mean, at some point, you have to give the guy up. I saw her initial attraction for Sam, but the boy is way more drama than he's worth. Sadly, Bailey also gets pulled into the thrill of being in a band that might actually be going places. It ain't that easy though; it never with these books.

Both main characters have skeletons in their closet, and after Bailey learns about one of Sam's, she understands why he's had so many girlfriends and why she starts getting the same treatment as all the others did before her. For me, though, this doesn't excuse something he did to Bailey that honestly broke my heart. Despite finally knowing what she knew, I'm not sure I could forgive him. And like I said above, this book wrapped up way too nicely way too quickly. The ending is a bit predictable, but I guess it's the journey that counts. I actually really love books about music because I used to play an instrument in high school band and I love to sing now, so that wasn't a problem for me in this book. I understood a lot of that. It was the relationship dynamics that I felt lost in. So many people cannot be so terrible. Just the idea of ever shipping my child off just because their sibling had a great opportunity and they didn't want it to get messed up doesn't even compute for me. Family is meant to be a unit, but you see that nowhere in this book. Even the grandpa seems completely detached from what Bailey really wants. I honestly don't think this is the best novel for teens because it's really giving the kids the short end of the stick when it comes to their parents, and that's not always true. Still, it was an interesting and heart-breaking summer read that would be great for fans of country music, hot but tortured boys, and high-octane emotions.

Lovers of music (especially country) and contemporaries.


Jennifer Echols was born in Atlanta and grew up in a small town on a beautiful lake in Alabama—a setting that has inspired many of her books. She has written nine romantic novels for young adults, including the comedy MAJOR CRUSH, which won the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the drama GOING TOO FAR, which was a finalist in the RITA, the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the Book Buyer’s Best, and was nominated by the American Library Association as a Best Book for Young Adults. Simon & Schuster will debut her adult romance novels in 2013, with many more teen novels scheduled for the next few years. She lives in Birmingham with her husband and her son.

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