Tag Archives: YA Realistic Fiction

Dirty Little Secret – Jennifer Echols
Book Reviews
July 1, 2013 posted by Nichole

Dirty Little Secret – Jennifer Echols

16058488From the author of the “real page-turner” (SeventeenSuch 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…


As someone who used to claim that she hated contemporary books, I have read SO many of them this year. And it just so happens that it was Jennifer Echols that made me fall in love with contemporary. I remember reading Such a Rush last year, and all the feels that it made me have. It is probably one of my top ten favorite books. So, obviously, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her upcoming book, Dirty Little Secret.

Dirty Little Secret is about a fiddle player named Bailey. Since she was just a little girl, her parents have dragged her and her sister, Julie, around to gigs in the hopes that they would get noticed and get a record deal. And one day that does happen….but only for Julie. Bailey has been excluded from the record deal, and her parents have demanded that she quit music altogether so that she does not mess up Julie’s career.

Since Julie got her record deal, Bailey has spent the last year screwing up and doing everything in her power to disappoint her parents. But after a car crash that involved drugs, Bailey has been cast out of the family to live with her grandfather. And if she messes up just one more time, her parents won’t pay for her college tuition.

Bailey’s grandfather gets her a gig at a mall, where she ends up meeting Sam. Convinced of her talent, Sam persuades Bailey to join his band on some gigs. Afraid of her parents threat, Bailey is terrified to perform with the band, but her love for music and her new found feelings for Sam convince her to live just a little. But with everything that’s going on in her life lately, Bailey isn’t quite ready to allow Sam in her life once and for all.


Jennifer Echols’s writing style is so freaking beautiful. This is the second book of hers that I’ve read, and every single time she makes me feel so many damn feels. Whether it be crying over Such a Rush or screaming at the stupid parents in Dirty Little Secret, I always have so many emotions going through me. I don’t think that I could ever DISlike a book by Jennifer Echols. I don’t even think that it is physically possible. However, I will say that this book pissed me off probably more than it should have.

My first issue with Dirty Little Secret was the stupid ass parents in the book. I hated them so much that it made it really difficult to enjoy the book at times. Seriously….what kind of parents ditch one kid to fawn over another? WHO DOES THAT?! They treated Bailey like absolute shit. They told her to give up her music…something that she loved more than anything!…and then they threatened not to pay for her college tuition if she didn’t listen to them. Now….not that my parents can afford to pay for my college tuition. I mean…most parents can’t, and I have a pretty decent chunk of student loans, but they would NEVER do that to me. I mean…maybe I had so many issues with the parents, because I’m freakishly close with my mother, but I HATED THEM. I would scream at my book, I would slam it shut and refuse to read any more of it for awhile, I would vent. I would just get so damn mad at this book because of the stupid parents. I have to stress that this is NOT bad writing! I mean….I think that it’s pretty amazing writing to get me so damn upset over a character. But they just made me so mad!

Another thing is that I hated…hated hated HATED Sam. I found him to have very abusive behavior. Abuse isn’t always physical, and I just found him to be a crybaby who was emotionally screwing up Bailey to get his own way. Bailey went along with it, too, which upset me even more. So the romance in the book was a major miss for me. It’s really hard when I find myself not enjoying several characters. Loved the writing……wanted to bash in several faces.

There were some negatives in the book for me, but there were also several positives. First, I LOVED that this book was set in Nashville. I don’t know if any of you have watched the television show, Nashville, that premiered this year. I love it. It’s probably my favorite television show this year…if not one of my top favorite shows ever. I’ve never been a huge fan of country until Nashville, and now I can’t get enough of it. Dirty Little Secret had the perfect setting. The perfect atmosphere. The perfect music. The perfect everything. I was in love with what this book was about. And Bailey’s a freakin FIDDLE player! How cool is that?

Although I didn’t enjoy some of Bailey’s decisions, I actually really liked Bailey herself. She was very laid back, and she was very easy to follow and get along with. It was a bit difficult at times, because I really hated Sam, but I enjoyed her throughout the whole book.

Dirty Little Secret is the first New Adult book that I’ve read all the way through. I’ve been seeing some crazy talk out there about new adult books, and I don’t really understand the issue. I mean…yes…there were some more advanced romance scenes…but it’s a new adult book. It wasn’t porn or erotica. Maybe not something you would want your little kid reading, but nothing too major or that any teenager hasn’t heard of already. I actually enjoyed the more advanced scenes, probably because I’m almost 23 and it’s nothing I haven’t heard of before. Personally, I wasn’t offended, and I think that a lot of people are going to enjoy the new adult genre.

Overall, I would recommend this book to everyone. I am a huge Jennifer Echols fan, and I’m going to read every single book that she writes. Even though I had some problems with this book, I still liked it. Yes, I hated the parents, Sam, and I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending of the book, but I love her writing. Definitely read this one once it comes out!


Pages: 288

Publication Date: July 16th, 2013

Publisher: MTV Books

Rating: : ★★★½☆


Teaser Quote: ” I sidled forward and put my hand in the pocket of his jeans. Feeling warm as his eyes widened, I shoved my fingers as far down as they could reach into his tight jeans and fished out his guitar slide. I placed in on his middle finger and lifted his hand to my eye level so I could see my tiny, rounded reflection, then brought my lipstick out of my own pocket and reapplied it.

He laughed. “You have style, Bailey.”

“I ain’t nothing but class,” I agreed.


Life Swap – Abby McDonald
Book Reviews
November 23, 2009 posted by Katie

Life Swap – Abby McDonald

Can changing places change their lives?

Two girls on opposite sides of the globe both want a quick getaway. The answer? They switch places through a last minute global exchange program. The catch? It’s a direct swap. They swap classes, accommodation and universities. No exceptions. Feminist political theory for film studies. On-camps accommodation for an share-apartment. A university where attendance is expected to one that doesn’t take a roll.

Tasha’s life seems to be coming to pieces. After the disastrous ‘hot-tub incident’, Tasha’s parents wont even talk to her. She can’t go anywhere without being recognised – for all the wrong reasons. She’s desperate to get out. To go anywhere. Emily thought she was on-track. Every aspect planned until she is dumped by her boyfriend for being too studious and up-tight. Every step of her life has been because it is the right decision for the future. The future that her parents what for her. Until now.

Tasha winds up in Oxford, England. Not something you would expect of a typical beach going, class-skipping and all round party girl from America. Finding herself wadding Ugg-deep in feminist theory, Tasha just wants people to see her for who she really is. Not who they all think she is. Yet when the whole university seems out to get her for her rather different views on feminism, blending in seems to be an impossible feat. Emily heads to the University of California, Santa Barbara. Suddenly she is in a world that is the opposite of organisation, planning and preparation. From a class size of three to a lecture hall of 200, Emily is in for a semester of film critiquing, script re-writing and filming. However, her ‘English’ image of perfection and organisation seems to be alienating the rest of the student body against her.

Before long, the two girls make contact from opposite sides of the globe, each offering the other tips and strategies on how to fit in, navigate the difficulty of love and figuring out who they really want to be. Can Tasha and Emily help each other before they each make the best or worst mistake of their lives?

First off, I loved this book. It was extremely well-written and captivating from the first page until the end. Life Swap is debut novel from Abby McDonald, who is a recent graduate of Oxford University providing an excellent platform to satire the collage experience. McDonald’s spin on what could have potentially be seen as stereotypical characters gave a fresh new insight into the way different cultures work and operate against each other. The language choices are fresh and real – McDonald knows how to talk in the language of a teenager, and it transfers into the truth and reality conveyed in Life Swap. With interesting plot developments for both characters and an equal division of both characters story, McDonald manages to create two diverse universe’s that operate in sync with each other. For me, the characters where real people that I could relate to.

I saw a reflection of myself in both Tasha and Emily’s actions, and were able to relate to the choices and situations that both characters found themselves in. From Tasha trying to re-gain some sense of pride and belief in herself after a past mistake that the world wouldn’t forget, to Emily trying to let loose and relinquish her almost obsessive-compulsive to have everything this in her life organised. Emily’s defiance of her parents in the face of, for once, choosing to do what she wants and the events that influence this decision was an interesting look for me, and I feel that many young adults who read this book will relate to it in the same way.

Life Swap was a joy of an adventure that had you laughing, crying and cringing with every decision made.

Rating:: ★★★★★