WHAT'S THE DEAL? Bailey is a gifted fiddle player who grew up wowing crowds on the bluegrass circuit with her sister. However, things changed when her sister was offered a chance at a solo career and Bailey was forced to keep a low profile and finish her senior year. Bailey kept her promise in terms of keeping off social media but acted out by living hard and fast. By the summer, she is almost burnt out and thanks to her granddad, ends up playing fiddle in tribute bands at the local mall. Through mall-Elvis, she meets Sam who convinces her to defy her parents and join his band. Bailey soon realises Sam's band is more than average and has to weigh up whether or not getting back into the industry is worth the extra trouble.
ANY GOOD? I liked Dirty Little Secrets (although I hear the opening riffs of that All-American Rejects song every time I see the title) but it wasn't my favourite Jennifer Echols book. Mostly, it felt like a prologue to a really big story, so hopefully there's a sequel...otherwise, not much happened. I loved all of the music references and, what with Nashville being one of my favourite new shows, I lapped up the setting and the atmosphere. I think Jennifer Echols also did a really nice job of slowly unraveling Bailey. I felt extremely sympathetic towards her by the end of the book. We often read about someone gaining success quickly and the trials they go through but I liked that we heard the story from a shut-out sibling's perspective.
ADD TO BASKET? If your cowboy boots are winking at you from your closet.
WHAT'S THE DEAL? Lillia, Kat and Mary have bones to pick with some of their classmates after an eventful summer, so they join forces and hatch a plan to seek revenge. Hell hath no fury like a teenage girl scorned. However, things are not always as they seem when revealed in the cold light of day. How far is too far? How much is too much?
ANY GOOD? I picked this up on a whim during a trip to Foyles. I'd never heard of it but I enjoyed Jenny Han's Summer series (for the most part) and I still want to read Siobhan Vivian's The List. Going in plot blind was a good move because had I known there was a paranormal element to it initially, I wouldn't have bought it and missed out on a good first book in what will most likely be a great series. First of all, I loved Lillia and Kat. Mary was a little flat but I'm sure, judging by the ending, she'll be more of a central figure in the sequel. It was also nice to have an Asian main character. Secondly, I really appreciated the style of writing. Like I said, I'm not familiar with Siobhan Vivian's work but I think I recognised Han's style. She has an almost vintage, nostalgic sound. When I read this (and the Summer series), in my mind's eye, it looked and sounded like one of those coming-of-age films with the lens flare and measured voiceover. Finally, I thought it was clever the way we were able to get into the heads of those being punished by the girls and realise they might not have deserved it. This wasn't really a Mean Girls/Revenge style story. In many ways, it was an anti-revenge novel. It showed that actions have consequences, we cannot control everything, and people will get hurt.
ADD TO BASKET? If you like your contemporary with a sprinkle of paranormal.
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
WHAT'S THE DEAL? Eccentrically styled Lola, her boyfriend Max, her dads, and her dog are happily going about their lives in San Francisco until a blast from Lola's past upsets the apple cart. Cricket Bell is back with his triple-axl spinning twin sister in tow. Lola is forced to confront her old demons and has to decide if she should forgive and forget or rehash the past.
ANY GOOD? I'll admit, it took a while for me to get into this one, as I wasn't feeling Lola but by the end I was hooked. The supporting characters in this book really made the story, in my opinion. Lola's parents (including her mother), her friends, San Francisco, and of course Cricket Bell, were all so bright and vivacious. Oh and what a brilliant dog name! It was also great to see Anna and St.Clair again. The ending was beautiful and fit the story perfectly. I enjoyed this book so much, I now have this as my wallpaper. I can't wait to read Isla and the Happily Ever After - all the best to Stephanie Perkins.
ADD TO BASKET? If you enjoyed Anna and the French Kiss.