Love Songs and Other Lies
By: Jessica Pennington
Summary: It’s summer romance and second chances, the songs that stay in your head, and the boy you’ll never forget.
Two years after rock-song-worthy heartbreak, Virginia Miller is looking forward to a fun, carefree summer. Her friends just landed a spot on a battling bands reality show, and Vee is joining them for her dream internship on tour. Three months with future rock stars seems like an epic summer plan. Until she learns she’ll also be sharing the bus with Cam. Her first love, and her first heartbreak. Now Vee has more than just cameras to dodge, and Cam’s determination to win her forgiveness is causing TMZ-worthy problems for both of them. With cameras rolling, she’ll have to decide if her favorite breakup anthem deserves a new ending. And if she’s brave enough to expose her own secrets to keep Cam’s under wraps.(Goodreads).
As a member of Jessica’s street team, I received an ARC from Tor Teen and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I found out about this book from Kim Chance’s live show for Keeper. It had been a long time since I’d read a good YA/NA contemporary romance, and anyone who knows me knows how much I love music. When I found out that the author was still recruiting for her street team, it was impossible to resist. Going in, I had high expectations. For the most part, I’m happy to say it didn’t disappoint.
Lead Characters: Vee and Cam are the main protagonists of this book. I like them both equally. I particularly related to Vee though, as she was the quiet type who, before meeting Cam, could only be herself among a small group of friends and kept her music talent hidden. I saw a lot of myself in her, even down to her meticulous need to plan things, and that made her very easy to relate to. Used to flying by the seat of his pants, Cam was a sweet, yet mysterious counterpart for her. He pushed Vee out of her comfort zone, but also knew when to respect boundaries and could sympathize with feeling like an outcast due to his own personal struggles. As a pair, I really liked seeing them grow and a part of me wanted even more on that front.
Duel Timelines: The book is divided into two sections: THEN, which tells the story of how Vee and Cam met and NOW, which tells the story specified in the blurb. I’m torn as to my feelings on the use of this particular technique. On the one hand, I loved it because it wasn’t something I’d ever seen before and as a reader, I really got to see the characters grow and change, and how different they were in the present versus when they first met. It gave me a good sense of character evolution because of the direct contrast, and I think the separation really helped round Vee and Cam out.
On the other hand, because the book was split almost down the middle with the dual plotlines, I found myself wanting more at times. THEN was often more appealing to me than NOW, and while I can’t quite put my finger on the reason, I think it might’ve had something to do with the pacing. I feel like a lot of my emotional investment in their relationship happened because of the THEN section, and as a result, NOW didn’t have the chance to fully develop into its own unique arc. That said, I don’t feel like either of these sections would’ve been as successful without the other, so kudos to Pennington for striking a difficult balance.
Writing Style: Piggybacking off of my last point, much as I was intrigued by one plotline over the other, I didn’t find myself skimming anything simply because I loved the writing style. There were several lines that made me laugh or swoon, in addition to the timelines switches, the book also contains duel point of views, alternating between Vee and Cam. The closeness meant I was truly invested in each of them as individuals as well as a couple, something that, in my opinion, is also very hard to find in a YA/NA romance.
Side Characters: As well developed as the leads were thanks to the dual timelines and point of use, I felt like it was for that very reason that the side characters suffered. Other than Logan, Vee’s best friend, and Ted, the cameraman on the bus, I found that all of the side characters were somewhat interchangeable for one another. Even though I remember their names, none of their personalities particularly stuck out to me.
Music Element: Based on the summary and the setting, I expected music to influence the book quite a bit. It was more present in the past storyline than the one where they’re actually on the tour bus. That said, it didn’t really take away from my enjoyment of the book, as the heart of the story lay with the romance. It was just that every once in a while, music would crop up and I’d have to reorient myself in the setting, rather than having the reality show being solidly integrated into the fabric of the plot.
Cam’s Backstory: I have to admit, of all of the things I’ve critiqued this far, I was most disappointed by this one. It’s not a major element in the story and it does not disrupt the overall atmosphere, but I felt like the author missed an opportunity to really dig deep into his character development and add another layer to Cam. Cam’s past is presented throughout the book as a sort of mystery, and though technically it is resolved by the end, the outcome was a bit too open-ended for my taste.
Overall: 4/5 stars Recommended for fans of contemporary romance with a unique style.
Recommendation: Don’t Forget Me by Judy Cory
Summary: Sparks are flying between these best friends. Could a practice kiss change everything?
Seventeen-year-old Eliana Costa has never kissed a guy. Her best guy friend, Jess, is more than willing to help her out. He has plenty of experience since he finds a new girlfriend every other week. But when a practice kiss brings on feelings Eliana hadn’t bargained for, her already messy life is thrown into a new level of chaos.
Life is already more than she can handle after her dad’s disappearance. Eliana worries that if she admits her feelings to Jess, she just might lose her best friend. And right now, a best friend is all she needs. But when another girl tries to date Jess, Eliana is forced to decide if taking a chance on love is worth the risk. (Amazon)
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