Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols {Review}

Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols {Review}Title: Dirty Little Secret
Author: Jennifer Echols
Publisher: William Morrow Impulse on July 16th 2013
Format: eARC, 273 pages pages
Source: Mundie Moms Blog Tours
3 Stars


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…

My thoughts

Bailey and her sister were once a very popular duo, but Bailey is dumped by her parents and sister when a big studio requests Julie as a solo artist. Bailey starts acting out in anger (cutting and dyeing her hair, hanging out with the wrong crowd, taking it a bit too far with the boys…) and winds up barely bruised when her high boyfriend crashes the car in a lake. That’s enough of a wake up call for her parents to send Bailey to live with her grandfather. Of course, she is sent with the instructions to disappear, as having a left-behind sister wouldn’t look well for Julie’s new career.

Man alive, I don’t think I’ve ever disliked a set of parents as much as I did Bailey’s. They were simply awful. The second someone saw a star quality in Julie, they hitched their wagon to her and literally dumped Bailey. The ignored her until they needed her to convince Julie to do something. They took away her online presence and basically told her to shut the hell up. It was awful and I felt so sorry for Bailey. I was amazed at how well adjusted she was, all things considered. She had her issues, as expected, but she also had her head on straight.

Sam, the love interest, was not a very likable character (more on him in a minute). He was a bit of a player, and he was hell-bent on using Bailey for her contacts. On the plus side, at least he wasn’t sneaky about it; he was very upfront about what he wanted from her. His bandmates, Ace and Charlotte, weren’t quite as complex as I would have liked, but at least they weren’t completely flat.

The plot was interesting, and I really enjoyed all the music information. There was a lot of it, including keys, instrument parts, music notes and trivia. Not enough to be boring, but enough so that it was clear Jennifer Echols knew what she was talking about.

I enjoyed the story overall, but I had a problem with the way some of the characters behaved. I thought Sam was sweet at first, but he kind of turned into a pushy, stubborn jerk. And while I appreciated how Bailey stood up to him in the beginning, she kind of rolled over and let him have his way, which irritated the hell out of me. I can point to at least 2 instances in the story where I would have told Sam exactly where he could put his guitar. But it turned out Bailey was much more forgiving than me.

This is my second book by Jennifer Echols, and while I liked it well enough, I wouldn’t consider her an insta-buy author.

The sum up

If you like country music and/or family drama, this is your book.

About the author

Jennifer EcholsJennifer Echols was born in Atlanta and grew up in a small town on a beautiful lake in Alabama—a setting that has inspired many of her books. She has written nine romantic novels for young adults, including the comedy MAJOR CRUSH, which won the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the drama GOING TOO FAR, which was a finalist in the RITA, the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the Book Buyer’s Best, and was nominated by the American Library Association as a Best Book for Young Adults. Simon & Schuster will debut her adult romance novels in 2013, with many more teen novels scheduled for the next few years. She lives in Birmingham with her husband and her son.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


The Book Depository | Amazon | IndieBound

Other opinions

Book Angel Booktopia | YA Reads | Boricuan Reviews

Why We Love Cowboys by Jan Scarbrough {Guest Post + Giveaway}

timeless banner

jan scarbroughAuthor Jan Scarbrough is stopping by the blog today to talk about every woman’s fantasy: the cowboy. After that, you can enter the giveaway for a chance to win an ecopy of Timeless, or a $25 Amazon giftcard!

A technical writer by day, Jan Scarbrough spends her nights writing romance. She is a member of Novelist, Inc. Jan has written for Kensington and ImaJinn Books, and currently has contracts with Turquoise Morning Press and Resplendence Publishing. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky, and rides American Saddlebred horses for fun and recreation.

the busy bibliophile

Why we love us some cowboy

Fisting her hand, Mandy pounded on the door. Then she stuck both hands into her pants pockets, knocking her car keys out of the right pocket. She bent down to pick them up.

The door opened and a pair of hand-tooled, black leather cowboy boots stepped into her line of vision.

For an instant, Mandy forgot to breathe, and then her breath came too quickly. Her heart raced. She glanced up. Up past the pointed toes of expensive leather boots, past tight Wranglers, past a big gold belt buckle pressed against a flat belly and a white Western shirt that delineated a broad chest and brawny arms, and into the piercing blue eyes of Judd Romeo.

She tipped her head back, unprepared for what she saw. Time seemed to stand still. Judd shifted his stance and flashed his familiar, bad boy smile. There was a Colin Farrell edginess about him, a sexy untamable quality that welled up from every fiber of his cowboy persona.

“Hello, Mandy,” he said.

At some point in her career, a romance writer will write a cowboy hero. We all love them. But it has to do with more than just their “cowboy good looks,” as I describe in my book Kentucky Cowboy.

In the book Folklore on the American Land, Duncan Emrich makes the point that the cowboy is “a symbol of what we as a people and nation have wished as our way of life. He is a projection of our hopes and desires, a projection of our best code of ethics, of our wished-for mores.”

Americans have always been attracted to cowboys for what they represent: individualism, independence, freedom, courage, loyalty, and much more.

I believe it is as simple as that. If you write a good cowboy, he will have those qualities. He will be a man of his word and a fierce protector of women. He won’t take guff from anybody. You won’t be able to walk all over him. He will stand up for what he believes, and he won’t back down.

Don’t we want that in any man? Our man? And don’t we aspire for that in ourselves?

the busy bibliophile
When Beth Abbott receives a surprise inheritance from her birth mother, she travels to the family’s nineteenth century mansion in Old Louisville, now a bed and breakfast. There she meets the resident ghost, a little girl whose crying scares, but intrigues guests. Beth sets out to discover the identity of the ghost and why she appears happy to Beth, not sad.

Jeff Halstead, a man with several secrets, runs the bed and breakfast. But he’s more than that to Beth, and she feels their connection immediately. A psychic medium who doubts his skills, Jeff slowly uncovers the truth of their past lives. Will he be in time to reveal the identity of Beth’s enemy? Will the love they shared in the past follow them into the future?

the busy bibliophileThanks so much for stopping by today, Jan. You’re right, those are the qualities I look for in a man (fictional or not). If you’d like more information about Jan or her novels, check out the links below:

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

Class of 2013 YA Superlative Blogfest: Best In Show


I’m so excited to take part in this fun event! Organized by Katy Upperman, Jessica Love, Alison Miller and Tracey Neithercott, it’s a chance for everyone to talk up the 2013 books we really loved. Each day will be a different “subject” with lots of categories (over 40!) to fill in. So get ready to meet some new bloggers and add a ton of books to your tbr list!  (The book covers below lead to my reviews or, if I haven’t posted them yet, the book’s Goodreads page.)

Best In Show

Favorite Cover

Cutest Couple

Most Likely to Succeed (Future Printz Winner.)

Romance Most Worthy of an Ice Bath

Sleeper Hit (Book you wish had been hyped more.)

Most Creative Use of a Love Triangle

Best Repeat Performance (Favorite Sequel)

Favorite Outlier (Favorite picture, middle grade, or adult 2013 book)

Favorite Finale or End of Series Novel

Most Likely to Make You Miss Your Bedtime

Most Pleasant Surprise (Book you didn’t think you’d like, but totally did.)

Best Old-Timer (Your favorite read of the year published BEFORE 2013.)

Breakout Novel (Your favorite book by a debut author.)

Your Turn:

Pick your all-time

favorite 2013

YA book. Leave

your choice in

the comments.

Your Turn Part 2:

Pick your all-time

favorite 2013

YA Audiobook.

Leave a comment

with your choice.


Today’s the final day of the Superlatives Blogfest, and I have to say, I’m sorry for it to end! I’ve had a ton of fun going back over my year’s reading, thinking about the different aspects and characteristics of each book. I remembered the little things that made each book so satisfying (or not).

I’ve also added a crap ton of new books to my tbr list, and found some great new bloggers that I’ll continue visiting. All in all, my first year in this event was a winner, and I look forward to participating again next year.

And don’t forget to leave me your votes for the best YA book of the year, and the best YA audiobook of the year. I can’t wait to see your picks!

Interview + Giveaway with Ruth Mancini {Swimming Upstream}

ruth manciniRuth Mancini is stopping by the blog today to answer a few questions about herself. Then she’s giving away an ebook copy of her debut novel, Swimming Upstream.

Ruth Mancini was born in South-West London and studied in Cambridge and London where she gained a bachelors degree in French and Spanish and a post-graduate diploma in Law. For several years she worked in the publishing industry before leaving to travel and to write the first draft of Swimming Upstream. She then put her writing career on hold for several years whilst she retrained as a lawyer.

She now lives in Oxfordshire with her husband and two children. She still practises as a lawyer and juggles that with writing and raising the children.

the busy bibliophile

What 1 book do you think should be on everybody’s must read list?

That’s such a difficult question. There are so many important and influential books. I would probably say The Diary of Anne Frank. An author friend reminded me recently that the last survivors of the Holocaust are nearing their final days and that it will slowly drift beyond living memory. But it must never be forgotten and history can never be allowed to repeat itself. I was pleased to see a friend’s young son reading Anne Frank’s Diary recently and I will ensure my son reads it too when he is a little older.

What 3 words would you use to describe yourself?

I asked my husband that once and he said that I was caring, intelligent and beautiful. I think the first one is probably right! I seem to have way too much empathy and I feel tears coming to my eyes over the silliest of things. I saw a programme on TV about psychopathy a few days ago and how many successful business people are lacking in empathy and it made me realise that I’d never cut it in the world of banking or anything cut-throat where you really have to switch off your emotions to succeed. But I suppose it’s a useful quality to have as a writer, to be able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. And also, I’m unlikely to ever kill anyone. So that’s good too.

What’s your favorite part of writing/publishing a novel?

I love the English language with a passion and I find the creative process so inspiring. I think the best part for me is that when I’m writing the subconscious takes over and I find myself pouring things onto paper that I had no idea I was going to say. It’s the best form of self-expression for me and though I like creating fiction, it still gives me a chance to inject some of my personality and beliefs.

What’s the most unusual thing a fan said/wrote to you?

That would be when a male on Twitter confused me with the porn star who has the same name as me. I don’t think I need to go into detail. You get the idea. Fortunately it’s not happened recently.

Who/what influenced your writing style?

I’m not quite sure really! I love to read and write books with strong female characters and I’m sure I’ve been influenced by writers such as Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen and Harper Lee. I also like contemporary writers such as Anne Tyler, Jane Smiley and British author Nick Hornby – I’ve been told I write in a similar style to him.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I wrote my first book when I was 9! I think I always knew that I wanted to write but when Swimming Upstream was published on Amazon and got such amazing reviews, this was probably the time that I realised that writing was what I was born to do.

Do you seek out reviews of your novels? Why or why not?

If you mean, do I read my reviews, then the answer is yes. I am inspired and encouraged by the wonderful readers who have taken the time to leave me feedback and I read each and every one. I have had the occasional critical review but I haven’t let them faze me too much. You can’t please all of the people all of the time! And I always try to learn from feedback, unless it’s just spite mail. I had a 1 star review once from someone who so obviously hadn’t read my book that it was laughable. All authors have to expect the bad ones from time to time.

the busy bibliophile
swimming upstream
“I once read that the end of a relationship is like being involved in a road traffic accident. Which is quite fitting really, given what happened.”

After seven years, Lizzie wonders whether she’s truly happy with her long-term boyfriend. When one wrong step and a chance meeting set off an unexpected chain of events, her life begins to unravel. In the same day that she meets Martin, an attractive lifeguard, her old friend Catherine re-appears. But is Martin really all he seems? And what is the secret that Catherine is hiding? As Lizzie struggles to confront the ghosts of her past, can she survive the shocking twist that will change the course of her future?

Swimming Upstream is a life-affirming and often humorous story about a young woman’s pursuit of happiness. It is also a story of female friendship, love, and divided loyalties – and the moral choices that we find ourselves making when the chips are down.

“Gripping, pacey…I truly enjoyed Swimming Upstream. This is thinking women’s chick lit!” – Catherine Amey, author.

the busy bibliophile

Thanks so much for stopping by, Ruth. You have a great attitude about reviews, I wish more authors felt the way you do. And you’re right about the Holocaust – I don’t think it will ever truly be forgotten, but I can see it becoming more “distant history” as the last survivors pass. I’m glad The Diary of Anne Frank remains on so many reading lists.

Also, does anyone else suddenly feel the need to search Ruth’s twitter feed? Or is that just me?

If you’d like more information about Ruth, or her debut novel, check out the links below:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

the busy bibliophile

The giveaway has ended.

Class of 2013 YA Superlative Blogfest: Elements of Fiction

ya superlatives

I’m so excited to take part in this sure-to-be-fun event! Organized by Katy Upperman, Jessica Love, Alison Miller and Tracey Neithercott, it’s a chance for everyone to talk up the 2013 books we really loved. Each day will be a different “subject” with lots of categories (over 40!) to fill in. So get ready to meet some new bloggers and add a ton of books to your tbr list! (The book covers below will either link to my review or, if I haven’t posted one yet, their Goodreads page.)


Elements of Fiction

Most Formidable World (Tie)

Most Formidable World (Tie)


Best Performance in a Supporting Role: Drew




Most Dynamic Main Character: Alessandro

Most Jaw-Dropping Ending

Best Use
of Theme

Most Envy-Inducing Plot (The plot you wish you’d thought of yourself.)


Class of 2013 YA Superlative Blogfest: Popularity Contest


I’m so excited to take part in this sure-to-be-fun event! Organized by Katy Upperman, Jessica Love, Alison Miller and Tracey Neithercott, it’s a chance for everyone to talk up the 2013 books we really loved. Each day will be a different “subject” with lots of categories (over 40!) to fill in. So get ready to meet some new bloggers and add a ton of books to your tbr list! (The book covers below lead to my reviews or, if I haven’t posted them yet, the book’s Goodreads page.)


Popularity Contest

Mostly Likely to
Start a Riot:


Biggest Flirt:

Fashion King:

Girl You’d Most Want For Your BFF:

Most Likely to Become President:

Villain You
Love to Hate:


Favorite Parental Figure:
Lucy’s dads

Coolest Nerd:

Class Clown:

Boy You Wish You’d Dated in High School: Matt

Quirkiest Character: Alyssa

Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today I’m showing the Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2013.  In no particular order, they are (the pictures lead to my reviews, or their Goodreads pages):

Richelle Mead

Ruthie Knox

Suzanne Young

Tracey Garvis Graves

Lisa Desrochers

Kelsey Sutton

Maggie Stiefvater

Teri Terry

Victoria Scott

Susanah Cahalan

I found a lot of great new authors this year, and had a hard time narrowing down my choices to just ten! I’d love to find even more new-to-me authors to read in 2014, so leave a comment with your link so I can add to my tbr list. Have a great Tuesday!

Class of 2013 YA Superlative Blogfest: Head of the Class


I’m so excited to take part in this sure-to-be-fun event! Organized by Katy Upperman, Jessica Love, Alison Miller and Tracey Neithercott, it’s a chance for everyone to talk up the 2013 books we really loved. Each day will be a different “subject” with lots of categories (over 40!) to fill in. So get ready to meet some new bloggers and add a ton of books to your tbr list! (The pictures will lead to the book’s review or, if I haven’t posted it yet, its’ Goodreads page.)


Head of the Class



Science Fiction

Favorite Action/Adventure




Family Drama

Genre Bender


Don’t forget to check out the other participants (use the links above)!