Tuesday, July 16, 2013

{Joint Review} Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols

Title: Dirty Little Secret
Author: Jennifer Echols  
Published  July 16th 2013 by MTV Book
Genre: YA Contemporary
Format: Digital ARC provided by publisher via Edelweiss. (Thank you!)
Goodreads summary:
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…
  Opening comments:

Racquel's thoughts: when Sharon finished reading Dirty Little Secret she texted me: "I didn't hate it." and well, that's how I felt too. It's a sad day in my world because this is the first Jennifer Echols book I didn't love. 
Bailey:
Racquel's thoughts: I might have not liked the book overall but I still liked Bailey. I had issues with the "faux bad girl trying to piss her parents off" thing she had going on especially when apparently her make-up and lacy underwear equals bad? Umm I wear red lipstick to sleep. Not that big of a deal. And do they even make non-lacy panties anymore? To be honest, this is not an issue I have with Bailey but with the thing itself which I also read in a few other books. Please spare us, authors. What qualifies as bad has changed. So I really needed to get that off my chest but I DID like Bailey and I did feel for her. Can I jump in the book and give her a hug? 

I love that Echols isn't afraid to write less mainstream type characters. Bailey was a girl who loved playing fiddle but did not fit the image with her punk haircut and heavy eye makeup. She was a teenager and confused and trying to act out even though it went against her natural instincts. She was dealing with family issues and boy stuff, and her sister had stopped talking to her.

Bailey was a complicated character. I felt for what happened to her, I did. It sucked. But she also seemed to be on a mission to give everything a negative spin which got annoying after a while. She had perfect pitch, but heaven forbid she actually be grateful for something, so it became a source of whining throughout the entire book. I get it. I don't have perfect pitch, but I have a very sensitive ear. No, train whistles are not tuned, nor do they make pretty sounds. Get over it.
Sam:
Racquel's thoughts: I do like fucked up characters so I obviously liked Sam! As Sharon says below, he is "selfish, manipulative, and an admitted liar" and I didn't mind. Everybody has a bit of at least one of those qualities. But Sam also wore his heart on his sleeve which was a nice change from the usual way characters hide everything. He had issues and I liked seeing how he dealt with them. He was just a complex character with a vulnerable side and I can see why people would hate him but I sure didn't.

Whereas I liked certain things about Bailey, Sam was what really did this book in for me. I don't have the FAINTEST idea what Bailey saw in him besides a pretty face. Sam seemed so promising at first. He was hot, he was amazing at guitar, and he seemed like he would be fun to be around. But then we started to get to know him, and ultimately? He was selfish, manipulative, and an admitted liar (and of course used the "but I would never lie to you" line). He would pretty much do anything he wanted to get what he wanted, and if he wanted to use you and you objected, he would yell at you and go off and sulk like a toddler. Basically, he was actually a 3-year-old in an 18-year-old's body.

I also had issues with the way he treated women in general. There was, finally, an explanation for that one (which was more than a little messed up), but I still wasn't entirely satisfied. I just couldn't muster up the ability to believe him when he said he cared about Bailey and that she was different. Everything sounded like a line to me and lacked authenticity.
Story/plot:
Racquel's thoughts: Here is where my problem with the book came in. I was surprised as I read on that the book focused on Bailey and Sam instead of Bailey. She had issues she needed to work out with her family but we hardly see Bailey's family which really disappointed me. The big issues Bailey has with her family are "resolved" in one chapter and in a scene that we don't even get to see. WHAT? Pretty much, Bailey's issues were sweeped under the rug instead of cleaned out and that really annoyed me.

I was excited to read about a main character with a sister and I expected family interactions because that's important to the story yet it never happened. Instead there was a lot of focus on Sam and his family and while I didn't mind--I enjoyed learning more about Sam!--I still wished there was a better balance between Bailey and her family, Sam and the romance. As for side characters, I did love Ace, Sam's band member and I might have wished the book was about him or that we get a book about him and why couldn't Bailey's grandpa get more page time?! He was interesting.
 
Honestly, there wasn't a lot to this book other than the so-called romance. What seemed like it should have been the plot was never really tied up in the end. The so-called "resolution" was pretty quick as well as rather incomprehensible. The side story with Bailey potentially wanting to join Sam's band (but not being allowed to) was interesting. Plus, it introduced me to one of my favorite characters: Ace, the bass player! My other favorite was Bailey's grandpa. I loved both of them so much! I just wish they would have played a bigger role in the story.
Romance: 
Racquel's thoughts: I'm with this Sharon on this one. I did like Sam, I did like Bailey but I never bought their love. Infatuation is a better suited word to describe their relationship. However Jennifer Echols knows how to write scenes with couples so I did enjoy reading about Sam and Bailey together even though I doubt their HEA.

Sharon's thoughts: As I was not a fan of Sam, I just never really got into the romance. It was too instalove for my taste, and I never felt any real connection between them besides infatuation. Honestly, I was way more invested in the will-they-or-won't-they side romance between Ace and Charlotte, the drummer in Sam's band.
Music:
Racquel's thoughts: I've come to realize that I don't like music books. I just do NOT. But I liked reading about Nashville and specifically country music in Dirty Little Secret because it was way different than the usual rock band and NYC or LA dreams because really, have YOU read a YA set in Nashville before?
 
Sharon's thoughts: My favorite thing about the book overall was absolutely, 100% the music. I loved the atmosphere of Nashville. I loved how much this book revolved around music, especially country music (haters to the left!). Bailey loved music. She wrote songs, and she was incredibly talented at both fiddle playing and singing. She got so into the music, and it was beautiful. The scenes where she was able to really play and challenge herself and have fun and lose herself in the music? Were hands-down awesome. I loved the adoration and commitment Bailey had for music. I think it was her most endearing quality.
Closing comments:
Racquel's thoughts: I do recommend this book because Jennifer Echols writes fantastic characters and the country music is a nice change that will appeal to people. Overall, I kind of liked Dirty Little Secret and I kind of didn't but I'm still a Jennifer Echols fan.  

Sharon's thoughts: Despite the book not being a hit for me, I still harbor a major cover crush. It's just so perfect and lovely, and I am in love with the font.
Our ratings:
Racquel's rating: [D+ rating] It kills me to say this but the story went in a different direction then I wanted it to and I couldn't fully enjoy the book because of that.

Lunch Break Read

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