Hi there! Today I’m so excited to share a review–and giveaways!–in support of a new contemporary YA romance from debut author Julie Hammerle. THE SOUND OF US is a sweet and sassy story about Kiki, the nerdy, sidekick, opera gal who truly finds her path only once she’s stepped off of the wrong one.
There’s an excerpt below and a couple of great giveaways, too!
About the book:
Kiki Nichols might not survive music camp.
She’s put her TV-loving, nerdy self aside for one summer to prove she’s got what it takes: she can be cool enough to make friends, she can earn that music scholarship, and she can get into Krause University’s music program.
Except camp has rigid conduct rules—which means her thrilling late-night jam session with the hot drummer can’t happen again, even though they love all the same TV shows, and fifteen minutes making music with him meant more than every aria she’s ever sung.
But when someone starts snitching on rule breakers and getting them kicked out, music camp turns into survival of the fittest. If Kiki’s going to get that scholarship, her chance to make true friends—and her chance with the drummer guy—might cost her the future she wants more than anything.
How about a little taste?
From the music app on my phone, Ani DiFranco belts out a choice insult just as Brie bursts through my dorm room door, crosses the room, and plops a giant cardboard box on the other bed.
“I guess we’re roommates,” she says. There were a bunch of boxes in the room when I arrived, and I wondered who they belonged to. I suppose that mystery is solved.
I scramble to stop Ani from singing anything else we both might regret later and I look up just in time to see Seth Banks crossing the threshold into my dorm room, carrying another larger, heavier box over to Brie’s side.
“Hi,” he says. “Kiki, right?” He knows my name. Seth Banks somehow knows my name.
I nod, and sneak a glance at the mirror on the wall next to my bed, assessing myself against the two model-caliber people in my dorm room. I’m still wearing the cat dress. My frizzy hair is up in a messy bun, but the effect actually works with my blue-plastic glasses. I look eccentric, but artsy, which may not be the best look of all time but it is, in fact, a look.
(You’re probably wondering who my celebrity twin is. Well, there aren’t a lot of women in pop culture who have my body type, i.e. dumpy. I’m too fat to be thin and too thin to be fat. Head-wise, I have the glasses and mouse-like features of Mary Katherine Gallagher from Saturday Night Live with hair like Hermione before someone gave her hot oil help between the second and third movies.)
Brie cocks an eyebrow at me and tucks her bottom lip under her top teeth as she picks up my backpack and drops it on the ground with a perfunctory thud. I had tossed it onto the blue papasan chair in the middle of our room after I got back from the auditions. “That’s my chair,” she says. “My. Chair.” And then she proceeds to place a six-pack of Diet Coke into the fridge—My. Fridge.—because apparently that’s how fairness works.
Kiki is a high school junior at a six-week voice camp, singing opera, at Krause University, her sister’s alma mater and Kiki’s dream school. Of the 30-odd kids that were accepted, seven may win a full scholarship to the university. It’s a big opportunity for Kiki, but she’s not sure if is really sold on opera. She’s a good vocalist, but she has other interests musically–and her voice coach is a fussy man whose rules are strict and mostly unreasonable.
Kiki soon learns that the teachers have set the kids upon each other as guard dogs–enlisting them to snitch on anyone who steps out of line. As kids fall short and get kicked out, the pressure builds. Kiki’s drawn to another camper, Jack, a golfer, and the connection sizzles, but Kiki’s got issues with self-esteem. She’s a bit overweight, and she’s always been treated as a side dish. Her childhood best friend even stole the one guy Kiki finally worked up the courage to try and date. So she adopts a new, bolder mentality. She’s got a cute new wardrobe and she’s trying to step out of her comfort zone. When Jack gets close, but not close enough, Kiki’s sure it’s because she’s not attractive.
The book is fun adventure, with great supporting characters and experiences that are germane to the whole of teendom–breaking curfew, hooking up, crashing college parties, getting drunk–and it’s all going good, except for the “mole” who’s turning kids in to eliminate the competition for the scholarships. Oh, and Jack isn’t the great guy he seems, and Kiki’s semi-cracked up over it–but she handles it like a freaking boss. She gets her first few kisses, and I loved how Kiki owned herself. She loves scifi TV, and connects with kids who love her same shows. She loves show tunes and performing, but not necessarily opera, and questions whether Krause is the right place for her. Her alternative is going to the college in Illinois where her father teaches and getting a degree in something other than music–there’s no fine arts department at his school. That’s a depressing thought, so she does give a lot of effort to the competition. She’s probably a shoe-in for the scholarship when she’s faced with a big choice, and I think she does the right thing. It’s not easy to walk away from a dream, but Kiki does it with style and class, and then she goes on to embrace the life she truly wanted, in a way she never expected. Again, Kiki owns herself. She doesn’t pull many punches when she’s caught in a bad spot, and she earns all the friends and connections that she makes.
@Kikeronis U ROCK!
Interested? You can find THE SOUND OF US on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Amazon UK, Amazon CA, The BookDepository, and Books a Million. It releases tomorrow, but you can pre-order it today!
A few words from V on “body image” books….
THE SOUND OF US features Kiki, a gal who knows that she’s a little “too big” to be classical star material. All the front-runners in the competition are objectively attractive, slender and have sex appeal. Kiki doesn’t. She doesn’t hate herself, but she doesn’t “love” herself much either. I liked how she matured over the six weeks at camp. At first, it seemed as if she was play acting–fake it until you make it, of a sort–with all the right clothes, and trying to tame her frizzy hair, but she began to see that there were several people who were drawn to her because of her personality and openness, and they also found her physically attractive. As a woman, I recognize those moments of childhood insecurity as a rite of passage many of us face. Going through it again with Kiki was sure fun, for me. Her…not so much.
I’ve blogged about a few books in the past year where the characters had similar insecurities regarding their physical appearance. BIGGIE features an overweight (morbidly obese) high school senior who goes out for his baseball team. LETTING ANA GO is a rough one, about two girls with anorexia. THE ART OF NOT BREATHING features an overweight girl who takes up freediving to commune better with her drowned twin. And, THE LIBBY GARRETT INTERVENTION features an overweight girl who needs to love herself so she can embrace the real love of a special guy.
I do know a lot about teen eating disorders. Someone very close to me suffers anxiety-related binge eating, which is problematic because he’s also an athlete who has to maintain a specific weight to compete. I’ve been a blogger for several years, but I’ve been a writer even longer. The knowledge I gained in learning about, and getting treatment for, this person sparked me to write a novel–currently on submission through my agent–about an elite wrestler who develops an eating disorder. So, every time Kiki railed about her body, I had a moment of kinship, and also a moment of sadness. It’s not a MAJOR part of the book, but I really loved how Kiki came out of her self-loathing and worked her body to advantage. And, I was glad there wasn’t any fat-shaming going on. One thing that Kiki learned in the book is that life is too short to be miserable and we should all embrace our selves and our opportunities.
Sound advice at any stage of life.
Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $25 Amazon GC.
Dubsmash Contest Grand Prize:
A paperback copy of The Sound of Us by debut author Julie Hammerle
A box of Nutty Bars, which are prominently featured in the novel
A DVD of High School Musical, so you can watch the movie repeatedly to perfect your dubsmash abilities
How to enter the Dubsmash Contest? Create a dubsmash video on the Dubsmash app, the Musical.ly app, or upload it to your YouTube Channel of any song from Camp Rock, High School Musical, or Pitch Perfect.
Email in your video to firstname.lastname@example.org between May 30, 2016 and June 29, 2016 @ 11: 59 pm EDT for the first, mandatory entry into the contest, and then add one of several other ways to enter via this Rafflecopter link to increase your odds of winning! While we welcome all videos, only US residents are able to win the Grand Prize.
For full contest details click here!
Good luck and keep reading my friends!
About the Author:
Julie Hammerle is the author of The Sound of Us, which will be published by Entangled Teen in the summer of 2016. Before settling down to write “for real,” she studied opera, taught Latin, and held her real estate license for one hot minute. Currently, she writes about TV on her blog Hammervision, ropes people into conversations about Game of Thrones, and makes excuses to avoid the gym. Her favorite YA-centric TV shows include 90210 (original spice), Felicity, and Freaks and Geeks. Her iPod reads like a 1997 Lilith Fair set list. She lives in Chicago with her husband, two kids, and a dog. They named the dog Indiana.