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Amplified
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2012
Amplified is Tara Kelly's sophomore novel, and the first one I've read of hers, and let me tell you: it's brilliant and wonderful and now I'm going to be her fan forever and ever. And I'm already looking for money in the couches to buy her debut novel, Harmonic Feedback!

From what I knew about Amplified, there was a girl with stage fright, but plays a killer guitar, and she's a little bit rich, and she's also kicked out. What I didn't know is said girl is just like me, and by that I mean, same attitudes. Hiiiii, rudeness...

I loved Jasmine. I loved her snarky attitude, her quick remarks, and how she wouldn't put up with Sean and Bryn. (If you've read the book, you know the scene I'm talking about with Bryn. When she defends her position. I was cheering for her the entire time! And with Sean, it's well, every time he's being a jerk and she says something back to him.)

And guys? Said boy Sean? Oh, he's so hot. So, SO hot. And I wants him. For starters, he's the bassist. And when they have a gig, he wears a fedora and a button down shirt.

!!!!!!

Now you understand why I wants him. Mwahaha. All mine. I call dibs.

There is so much more to this book than what the summary says. I mean, obviously, right? But what it doesn't tell you is all the emotions in this book. It's not as intense as VIRTUOSITY by Jessica Martinez, but there is anxiety and I was nervous when Jasmine was. I was angry as she was at her father at times, and ahh, so many emotions.

It is a brilliant, gorgeous, wonderful book with a dash of romance and a whole lot of music and snappiness. If this book sounds like one you'd read, definitely get it. :)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2013
While there is certainly a lot to like about Amplified, the book fails to offer something new, interesting, or valuable to the genre.

Despite the personal quirks that make Jasmine a successful protagonist, her personal situation is one giant cliché. Privileged daughter of a rich but distant, critical, and disapproving father decides to throw her amazing opportunities to the wolves in order to pursue a dream that seems frivolous and impossible. While there is a slight twist in the story involving Jasmine's mother, the overused plot device is not appreciated.

Jasmine's naive character and extreme self-consciousness are outweighed only by her determination to not give in to her father's expectations, essentially equating her with a petulant three year old who refuses to eat her vegetables just because someone told her to.

This affects the rest of the novel greatly, as it is difficult to feel compassion for a protagonist who is stubborn simply for the sake of being stubborn. In other words, rather than feeling she is justified for her actions, the reader is forced to view Jasmine's actions as reactions to what is expected of her by others around her.

The plot of Amplified revolves on Jasmine's ability to assimilate into the life she thought she wanted. There is a great pace to this story, with plenty of tension created between Jasmine and the other characters. On the surface, Amplified is a very successful YA contemporary novel: it is entertaining, contains a clear-cut message, and provides memorable characters.

However, where Amplified fails is in its ability to merge all of these elements together in a way that is not plagued by cliché and predictability. Because the premise for the entire novel is a cliché, the book seems to be doomed from the start.

Despite these rather large pitfalls, the book is carefully written, which prevents it from receiving a far lower rating than it does here.

A note on the setting of the novel: Amplified portrays Santa Cruz in a very balanced, but almost caricatured version of itself.

I grew up just a half hour from Santa Cruz and spent a large portion of my time there. I have ridden the unnamed rollercoaster at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk that frightens Jasmine to death in the beginning of the novel, the Giant Dipper, and let me tell you: that rollercoaster is just not scary. Even for a ten year old.

Yes, there are a lot of weirdos in Santa Cruz. A lot of eccentric, tattooed musician-types, surfer hippie dudes, and everything in between. But not everyone there is like that, which is what Amplified seems to portray in descriptions of the locals.

For those looking for a very entertaining and quick surface-read, Amplified is a great choice. But for readers who need less cliché and more meaning, their time will be better spent with another book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2012
Amplified was fun, but wasn't exactly what I was hoping for. Jasmine didn't really add up to me; she had a lot of quick, sarcastic responses that didn't match up with the insecurities in her head. I understand that she was trying to hide that, but there weren't even any thought processes that led her to the snarky attitude. She just sort of popped it out of nowhere. But she was realistic and tough anyway and didn't back down in the face of total humiliation. I sincerely was hoping for her to take it up a notch and slug Amy. But maybe that was just me. In any case, I wasn't able to get emotionally invested in her problems with her.

The plot was, again, fun, but superficial. It didn't really have a lot of depth in the sense that Jasmine's problems with her father were all spelled out and told, rather than shown. And the whole thing with her mother was kind of tossed in at the very end. I did like that so much was left open and unresolved at the end, however. That much was very realistic. And as a musician myself, I love the whole follow-your-dreams-to-make-it-on-stage concept. It never gets old. And Kelly handled it very well, in the sense that things can and will go wrong and you'll screw up and embarrass yourself and the next time you can play like a boss. :)

As for the side characters, I found some of them more interesting than Jasmine. I was afraid at first that Sean was going to be a total jerkwad like so many love interests in YA fiction. But he opened up and got more compassionate and was the one aspect of the book I did find my emotions reaching out to. Bryn was fascinating and I wanted to know more about why he was such a turd. Felix was a complete mystery. Veta I enjoyed but never really grew to love her. Amy was interesting in a whole different way, and although I hated her, I was very curious about her. I would definitely read another book with these same characters just to learn more about the background characters.

All in all, if you've ever dreamed of being a rock star (like me!), this is an awesome book for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2012
Amplified was a fun read, but sadly not as awesome as I'd hoped. I think I'd been a little setup for failure, though since I'm not quite as big a music fan as most of my blogger friends who gave it rave reviews. Still, it was really fun (and a little weird) reading about a main character who shared more similarities with me than just a name. Besides, you know, musical abilities :P

Jasmine was a hard-headed, stubborn girl, but I didn't really find it too annoying for the most part. She knew what she wanted and she was willing to do the hard work to get it. Sometimes I just wanted to shout at the girl to ask for/accept a little help, but I completely understand why she was the way she was. I mean, with a father as crappy as hers, I'm sure I'd have learned to do things on my own too.

I really liked the band and how the characters who made it up were really well-rounded. They didn't really feel like side characters at all, in fact. If any of them were missing I kind of feel like the book wouldn't have been the same at all. That's not to say I liked them all. I kind of hated Bryn, actually. He was a big fat jerkwad and I frequently felt like punching him in the face. Veta was spunky and crazy and just plain awesome. She was definitely one of my favorite characters :] Felix was...well, Felix was strange to me. I don't have a problem with dudes wearing tutus and pigtails, but I just wanted to know why. I'd actually love to read a companion starring him.

Then we have Sean and his and Jasmine's relationship. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about Sean. He was sexy and snarky, sure, but he was also really hung up on that stupid Amy girl. I get it, I really do, but I wish he could have gotten over her and just went for Jasmine wholeheartedly. If you're looking for a fresh relationship formula, then you'll definitely find it in Jasmine and Sean.

The Nutshell: Though Amplified wasn't a complete win for me, it wasn't really a loss either. I think most of my disappointment could be attributed to high expectations. If you're a music lover or like books with music then you'll probably have a much bigger appreciation for Amplified than I did. If you're looking for something beyond your typical boy-meets-girl-and-smoochy-smoochy-ensues then you should definitely check this one out. If you love bold, strong characters then give Amplified a try :D
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2011
3.5/5
This was also not really what I was expecting. I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing, though. There was just more to the story than I was thinking there would be.
It's about Jasmine Kiss, who's just been kicked out by her father because she refuses to go to college before pursuing music. So she moves to Santa Cruz, where her car breaks down, and she joins a band who want to perform, only she has stage fright. And she moves in with the majority of the band, which are all male.
Jasmine was alright. She isn't the brightest, and she really needs to grow up some more. She does some lying and some other things that aren't the smartest, but she does some growing up, and she doesn't give in, even if it's tempting. And she wasn't immature, or stupid, but she needed more experience. She wasn't ready to be out on her own yet, and by the end, I still didn't really feel that she was ready. Also, she says things without thinking about them, a lot.
I did like the band. Or, most of the band. Felix is big and girly but still straight. Veta, the singer, is gay and kind of psychic and pretty awesome. Bryn is quite a jerk, but he warms up to Jasmine some by the end of the book. Sean can be mean and still fun, and I liked him with Jasmine. They fool around some, which was nice, and even though the ending left things open for them, it still promised things were going to happen, and for some reason, I still liked it.
Also, I liked Veta and Sean's family. Their sister was cute, and their mom was sweet. I feel like the fact that Jasmine didn't have a great family life but that she has friend with good ones could have been expanded upon, though.
Their competition, were jerks. Teddy seemed like he could have been alright, while Amy was a total biotch. I did not like her, at all, didn't see what Sean did, and would have enjoyed it if Jasmine and her got into a fight. It should have happened. Dave was also a jerk. And Luna's Temptation seemed alright. Nile was a jerk, and Zia was really odd, but in a good way.
I didn't particularly like her dad. He was a bit of a jerk, and I don't feel that things were completely solved between them by the end. They just don't communicate very well, and I don't see a lot of things getting better for them, but it is on the path to getting better, so who knows. He did push her to do things on her own, though, which was good.
Her best friend, Jason, was adorable. We only saw him a couple of times, which was disappointing, because I really liked him and it would have been nice if we got to actually see him interact with her instead of only over the phone. And to meet his boyfriend.
Oh, if you didn't notice, this book was very friendly to gay people. (As there are two, one boy and one girl. Plus a girly boy that's still straight.) And it's pointed out casually, like, that's cool, whatever. I thought this was awesome.
And, as I mentioned above, there was more to the story than I'd expected. She does something stupid pretty early in the book and then it came back to her around halfway through, and after that, she really did have to prove her worth to the band. This, while I'm unsure if it was a good thing, because it was terrible how bad she messed up (cringe-worthy, that's how bad it was), it did help her grow up some. She worked harder after that to stay.
So, while Jasmine made me cringe with some of the things she did, and while it ended kind of openly, I still really enjoyed the book.
Oh, one thing that really bothered me. Jasmine is kind of going poor, as she only has so much money saved up and spends most of it on where she's staying, and then has to pay for her car, which is a lot. And her dad refuses to pay for anything (which is jerky, but understandable). So how does she have a cell phone throughout the whole book? There's never any mention of her paying for it herself, and I don't see why her dad would be paying for it for her. It's never mentioned how it's paid for, and this bothered me, because she has it from the day she leaves her dads place to the end of the book. So she would have been paying for it on her own before she abruptly moved out or her dad was paying it while she lived somewhere else, but wouldn't pay for anything else? I don't understand.
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on November 8, 2014
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Valerie

Not many YA books focus on music. And out of the books that do, not many are good. Amplified is an exception. Not only did Amplified intrigue me, but it also made me laugh, cry, scream like a fangirl, and yearn for the sequel. Considering this is a book reviewer who rarely makes it through a full book without wanting to tear her hair out, it’s quite an accomplishment. Here’s to Amplified!

Jasmine is quite a character. She’s been accepted into Stanford. Unhappy, she decides to pursue her dream of playing guitar. Jasmine has a great sense of humor and a lot of determination. I loved her drive and courage. Throughout Amplified, she truly develops as a character. Overcoming her shyness and inability to play onstage, she becomes a true guitarist. Jasmine, I kind of wish I were you.

Let’s move onto the guy now. Sean, can I marry you? Sean is your typical brooding guy in YA. He’s broken and unhappy because he recently broke up with his girlfriend. He feels betrayed by the world and is taking it out on Jasmine. However, he’s cute, smart, and charming when he wants to be. How much better can you get than that?

Tara Kelly, I commend you for not resorting to insta-love. Insta-love has got to be my biggest pet peeve. Instead, Jasmine and Sean gradually progress as a possible couple. They slowly and plausibly overcome their mutual dislike of each other. Then they build up naturally! Keyword naturally. I love loves that are at least half believable.

Amplified is truly hilarious. The fact that it’s extremely far-fetched adds to the humor. Tara Kelly is a naturally humorous person. When you give that humor to Jasmine, you get a funny, interesting book that tells you a lot about the music world and jams. Half this book left me laughing, and the other book left me in pain. Pain because I was laughing too much.

The characters in this book are all fresh. I truly enjoyed reading Amplified!
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Every graduation ceremony is littered with students who feel obligated to make their parents happy, have their fleeting moment of freedom cut short by obligations, and are wildly unsure of themselves. If you show me a new graduate who has a clue what they want to do with their lives, I will show you someone who is delusional! In Tara Kelly's Amplified, we get a glimpse into the life of a young woman who is in the middle of figuring out what she really wants to do, even if that means her father kicks her out of the house.

Jasmine Kiss (yes that's her real name) may not have ever played in a real show or in front of anyone, but she considers herself a musician. She has used every penny she ever saved to buy her equipment, and even though her only shows are for her best friend in the garage, she knows she has to spend her life playing music. The problem is her father has other ideas about what she should be doing with her time- namely, college. When Jasmine refuses to go to college right away, her dad kicks her out and tells her to make it on her own. For a girl form the rich neighborhood, being homeless and broke are new experiences.

When Jasmine finds an add for a guitarist similar to her style, but they are only looking for guys. Since the gig comes with housing, Jasmine takes a chance anyway. She instantly likes Veta, the perky, angsty singer, but Sean, Veta's rude brother is a whole different story. When they agree to let Jasmine join the band (albeit reluctantly for some members), they have no idea that she has never played a show or been part of a band before. With the band, C-Note's, rising success, the next few shows are going to make it or break it for them, and Jasmine's complete lack of experience could do them in completely.

Jasmine was a strange mix. She was strong enough to stand up to her father, get kicked out of the house, and even sleep in her car until she hooked up with the band. But then you put her onstage and she becomes a shy little mouse who can't even do what she loves. And quite frankly, that was tough for me to understand. A girl who has enough guts to abandon her cushy life and live in her car should be able to get up in front of five people and play the guitar (the packed club I understand, but she could barely even try out!). But the supporting characters were a decent addition. Not everyone in the band was sold on Jasmine, which made the dynamic more realistic and believable. I had a tough time even liking Sean, Jasmine's love interest, because he was such a toad most of the time. Yes, it sucks your girlfriend cheated on you with your best friend and broke up your band, but what the heck does that have to do with this new girl who might save your flippin' band, dude? Lighten up! Sean just didn't really do it for me.

The story, however, was much more interesting than any individual character (although I loved Veta). I love the idea of abandoning your parents' expectations and taking some risks in order to do something that makes you happy. By this age our kids are so influenced by everyone around them, it was enlightening to see a young girl who simply couldn't pretend anymore. She knew she wanted to play, and there was nothing that was going to stop her (except stage fright, perhaps). So this isn't a bad story for young adults, but it might be particularly good for that rebellious young woman who needs to recognize rebellion for a cause, not rebellion for the sake of annoying people. And anyone interested in music will enjoy the detailed descriptions of the band's songs- pretty powerful!
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on August 3, 2012
Jasmine Kiss just graduated from high school and wants a break before College and instead of her Dad understanding, she ended up getting kicked out of the house with only her car, guitars, a few clothes and savings she'd saved up since forever. Jasmine drove out to Santa Cruz, her car broke down and she has no where to go. She's stuck walking around trying to find a place to stay before night comes.

Taking a break from paranormal books couldn't get any better. After starting Amplified, I couldn't put it down. I know reading is basically like watching a movie. But for me, only some books are movie material and this one is definitely one of them.

Reading about how Jasmine Kiss, who is only seventeen, struggled to find a place to live and a band to join on her own. It was admirable. I'm twenty and I don't think I can do anything without my family in the picture. The realism in this book had a huge presence that makes a reader connect to every character and scene in this book. It simply blew me away.

Jasmine is snarky, defensive, and guarded at all times. She's a character who doesn't want to show any type of feeling to anyone but the reader can't help notice that she's just a little girl struggling in a big bad world, so her facade doesn't fool anyone. The secondary characters on the other hand contributed so well into the story. Its hard to get secondary characters stick to the readers but this book nailed it. Congrats to Tara!

Music is a big factor in the entire book. And the descriptions of Jasmine's band on stage doing a few set lists is written very well. I'm thinking either, Tara Kelly did her homework or she has a hell lot of music experience to write about live performances like she's actually been up there on stage.

Overall, the only thing the book lacks is a good climax. The book was good but when it ended it felt abrupt and cut short like some pages were missing. Aside from that, the book was brilliantly written, with a unique concept and characters a reader could relate to. A definite unputdownable book for the teens!
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Music, romance and the quest for independence are just a few of the things that made Amplified a surprisingly engaging read for me. Tara did a lot of fabulous things with her story that kept me hooked, and had me wanting to know what would happen next. I enjoyed the different vibe with this story, as it's not one I've personally read a lot of in YA books, and that's the musical element. Tara did an incredible job at making me feel apart of the musical world that makes up this story. From the band's relationships, to the music scene, the music itself and the instruments. Plus I love a short girl who can pack a surprisingly powerful punch, which Jasmine does via her awesome guitar playing.

One of the other things I admired about what Tara does in this book, is she allows her character Jasmine to grow, make realistic, and relatable mistakes. She gives her real life situations and very real consequences. I totally respect an author who does that. Though I didn't experience the same things Jasmine did, I still felt I connected with her on a few levels, because I related to the wanting to do things on my own, learning from stupid choices, and learning to pick yourself up and keep going. I have to say I started off admiring Jasmine for wanting to do it on her own, which readers come to understand why in the book, was a little disappointed in her for some of the pour choices she makes and went back to admiring her for owning up to things and trying to make things right again, as well as proving her worth, so to speak.

This strong, stubborn girl doesn't get off the hook so easy, and her biggest challenge isn't with earning her place in the band, it's her romantic counter part, Sean. Oh wow Sean. I seriously loved getting to read about him. This broken hearted, tough guy sure calls it like he sees it, and he definitely sees more than he lefts on, especially with Jasmine. I loved the way these two grew closer together. There are times I laughed out loud from the things they say to each other the attitudes they have with one another, and then there's times I want to sigh over a few of their moments together. Huge kudos to Tara for creating a refreshing, realistic romance in this story. I seriously wanted to yell "FINALLY" while reading this. The way in which Tara executed this part of her story was brilliant! While there was an attraction between the two, and plenty of down right fabulous snark, there wasn't a love at first site, which was wonderful! This relationship was one that made sense, was a little sigh worthy at times and left me feeling hopeful for the future of Jasmine and Sean.

Tara's writing is seriously what kept me reading this book. Her words flowed beautifully, her story came to life for me, and everything about the music world in Amplified was intriguing to me. I liked the conflict, and uncertainty that takes place through out the book, especially given the fact this story takes place right after Jasmine's high school graduation. That phase of life is a bit uncertain, it's a little scary, and it's definitely a whole new world after high school. I personally felt that Tara explored those thoughts and feelings well with what Jasmine is going through. This is a book I surprisingly enjoyed, especially given the fact that I usually enjoy more paranormal/fantasy books. Slowly but surely I've been branching out and reading more coming of age/contemporary books, and I'm surprised with how much I'm enjoying them now.

I would like to mention that there is some language, a few uses of the f-word, mentions of sex, and some underage drinking in this book. Given the music scene and all that goes on in this book, I will say that Tara did a great job handling all that, and these are things I had expected to read about in this book.
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on April 15, 2012
Oh, my god. I'm seeing mention of one of my favorite bands all over the place! Tara Kelly, you get bonus points for mentioning one of my favorite Placebo songs on the forth page. You kinda blew my mind with that one!

Amplified was a really good music-related novel. The characters were real and fresh, and since the author knows a thing or two about music, it was accurate and I learned a whole bunch of stuff I never knew.

Now, normally when you have music related novels, the authors don't mention actual things like this author did. She literally knows what she's talking about, so she gets extra bonus points for that.

Jasmine was a fun character to read about. Sure, she's from a richy family, and the only thing her father expects her to do is go on off to college like a good little girl. Jasmine has other plans; the main one being staking her independence, getting kicked out of her house by Daddy Dearest and starting all on her own.

The premise is one that we've all read: girl breaks away from the confines of her family/mom/dad and eventually grows and becomes an independent person. This novel isn't really anything new, but the way in which the character grows is new. She doesn't really have anything in mind besides maybe being in a band. As long as she has her music, however, she's happy. Interesting, but not really new.

Then you have side characters that are cool, some that are funny as crap, and some you just want to slap over the head. Really, you need a wide-spread cast of characters in order to make anything interesting. Which Tara Kelly does.

Okay, seeing as how I'm kinda rambling, I'm going to shut up (eventually). I loved what came about, and I admit I was a little scared to read some of the chapters (mainly the first "live" show scene. I was so worried about Jasmine and how she lied to the rest of the band about playing live before. And whoo. What a chapter!).

The ending is something I have to admit, I foresaw, but hey, I still loved it!

Lots of good music mentioned, mainly one of my favorite bands (ha! I love it!) and I think that anyone who loves music should pick this one up. (4/5 stars)
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