Showing posts with label music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label music. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

[Review] Noteworthy - Riley Redgate: A Cappella and Crossdressing

In NOTEWORTHY, Jordan struggles with getting accepted in the musical theatre world because she's an Alto 2, and then applies to the male a cappella octet.

What intrigued me: I just heard bisexual. I'm ready.

Quiet and Melancholic

NOTEWORTHY is that kind of quiet bittersweet story that you have to have a sweet spot for. Looking at the cover I was expecting a loud, joke-y book full of puns and fanfares but this is actually quite the opposite. NOTEWORTHY does have its funny moments but at heart this story is very much a coming-of-age contemporary that doesn't sugarcoat anything about growing up.

A lot of the themes are very melancholic in nature, I especially loved reading about Jordan's past relationship and her feelings for her ex-boyfriend. There is so much heart's blood poured into this story that it figuratively drips with authenticity. NOTEWORTHY is one of those books that you have to put down sometimes because it got too real.

I think it's also worth mentioning that this an #ownvoices book about a Chinese girl written by a Chinese author. In general I was very positively surprised by the amount of non-white characters and especially by the depth and care that went into creating them.

A Love Letter to A Cappella

NOTEWORTHY especially impressed me with its nuanced discussion of gender, sexuality, and disability. I certainly didn't expect to find this in this book, but it's absolutely necessary considering that crossdressing is a huge part of the plot, but not necessarily in a trans or drag context. I'm glad that Redgate included a passage about this because this initially worried me when I heard about the book for the first time. Crossdressing is a tricky thing to write about.

I initially picked this up solely for the bisexual representation and was a little disappointed to see that NOTEWORTHY doesn't really discuss Jordan's sexuality a lot.  This is neither a romance nor a story about Jordan and her growing up, in my opinion it's a love letter to a cappella. NOTEWORTHY is set at college and you definitely don't get a break from that while reading this - this is a specific type of book that you need to be prepared for in order not to be caught off guard. While it is very unique, I think NOTEWORTHY absolutely delivers. This is the book for you if you're a singer, if you like a cappella, if you like stories set at college. NOTEWORTHY definitely stands out positively in the world of books about music.

Note: Despite NOTEWORTHY featuring a scene where the protagonist addresses that she's putting on a performance act as a cis person, and explicitly states that this is different to being trans, trans reviewers have pointed out that NOTEWORTHY neither features non-binary/trans characters, nor addresses the trans aspect enough. I don't feel comfortable speaking about this, but do be aware that this is 100% a book about a cis character crossdressing and does not include any trans characters. Here is a twitter thread that describes the issues a little more.





Rating:

★★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

NOTEWORTHY reads like a love letter to a cappella and is a fairly quiet and calm type of Contemporary. Do be aware that it's a book about a cis character crossdressing and does not feature any trans characters.



Additional Info

Published: May 2nd 2017
Pages: 336
Publisher: Amulet Books
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN: 9781419723735

Synopsis:
"It’s the start of Jordan Sun’s junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts. Unfortunately, she’s an Alto 2, which—in the musical theatre world—is sort of like being a vulture in the wild: She has a spot in the ecosystem, but nobody’s falling over themselves to express their appreciation. So it’s no surprise when she gets shut out of the fall musical for the third year straight.

Then the school gets a mass email: A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshiped ... revered ... all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for."
(Source: Goodreads)


What's your favorite Contemporary?

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

[Review] Diving Into Him (South of Forever #1) - Elizabeth Barone: Rock Musicians and Banter

In DIVING INTO HIM, Jett and Koty desperately need to find new band members to play a concert she promised to somebody months before her old band broke up.

What intrigued me: I haven't read too many books with a focus on musicians and I'd like to change that.

Pleasant writing and a great protagonist

DIVING INTO HIM opens with the premise of Jett and her ex-boyfriend Koty looking for more band members and keeps working on that for the entire novel. Barone has a very pleasant writing style that makes it easy to follow the storyline and quickly get immersed by the story.  I especially enjoyed Jett's narration and found her voice relatable and funny. It's interesting to learn more about the life of aspiring musicians, and absolutely a welcome spin on the usual New Adult novels you'll come across.

And because this is New Adult, DIVING INTO HIM of course features a steamy romance side plot. I liked that Barone decides to only make this a side plot - I really, really didn't get Jett's attraction to Koty. He's barely described, if at all with a focus on his physical attractiveness. I would've enjoyed more of an emotional connection to be honest, I would have loved to get to know Koty as a person first, and then surely wouldn't have minded a few nods to his attractiveness. Generally I was missing that certain connection to the characters' personalities.

This is a spin-off?

While I was reading DIVING INTO HIM, I kept feeling like something was missing. Protagonist Jett often manages little details or events, or even people that aren't in the book. This confused and frustrated me a little, I kept thinking I accidentally skipped a chapter. But DIVING INTO HIM is actually a spin-off of PLAYING FOR YOU, part of a different series by the same author.

To be honest, the little things that Jett mentions, a friend dying, her ex-boyfriend singing in a boy band, and her being a recovering alcoholic - it all sounds more interesting than the actual plot of DIVING INTO HIM. While I did very much enjoy this book and had fun following the simplistic storyline, it made for a very light read. That isn't a bad thing per se, it's a solid novel and I'm sure many other people will genuinely enjoy this, it just didn't quite match my personal taste.


Rating:

★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

DIVING INTO HIM is a solid, very light New Adult Contemporary. I enjoyed it and found it entertaining. If you like the genre, there's no reason not to pick it up!



Additional Info

Published: September 2015
Pages: 338
Publisher: Maietta Ink
Genre: New Adult / Contemporary
ISBN: 9780991283835

Synopsis:
"Sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll—that was Jett Costa’s old life. After her wildly popular band falls apart, she’s determined to remain sober and rebuild her career. There’s just one problem. The only person who still has any faith in her is her ex-boyfriend Koty, and Jett isn’t sure that she can keep her hands off him.

Maybe living together wasn’t such a great idea after all.

She may have been sober when she made that decision, but she definitely wasn’t when she agreed to play a show on behalf of a band that no longer exists at one of the biggest bars in Boston. Now she has less than three weeks to get her new band together. Can she ignore the sizzling sparks that fly between her and Koty every time they play?"(Source: Goodreads)


What's your favorite New Adult read?

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