Virtuosity

( 24 )

Overview

Now is not the time for Carmen to fall in love. And Jeremy is hands-down the wrong guy for her to fall for. He is infuriating, arrogant, and the only person who can stand in the way of Carmen getting the one thing she wants most: to win the prestigious Guarneri competition. Carmen's whole life is violin, and until she met Jeremy, her whole focus was winning. But what if Jeremy isn't just hot...what if Jeremy is better?

Carmen knows that kissing Jeremy can't end well, but she ...

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Virtuosity

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Overview

Now is not the time for Carmen to fall in love. And Jeremy is hands-down the wrong guy for her to fall for. He is infuriating, arrogant, and the only person who can stand in the way of Carmen getting the one thing she wants most: to win the prestigious Guarneri competition. Carmen's whole life is violin, and until she met Jeremy, her whole focus was winning. But what if Jeremy isn't just hot...what if Jeremy is better?

Carmen knows that kissing Jeremy can't end well, but she just can't stay away. Nobody else understands her—and riles her up—like he does. Still, she can't trust him with her biggest secret: She is so desperate to win she takes anti-anxiety drugs to perform, and what started as an easy fix has become a hungry addiction. Carmen is sick of not feeling anything on stage and even more sick of always doing what she’s told, doing what's expected.

Sometimes, being on top just means you have a long way to fall....

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“An intoxicating blend of passion,vulnerability, and the desire to have it all, no matter the cost. A mesmerizingread.” —Lauren Myracle, bestselling author of Shine and ttyl

“Passionate and true, Virtuosity singsfrom first page to last.” —Sarah Ockler, author of Fixing Delilah and TwentyBoy Summer

“Beautiful writing, a swoon-worthyromance, and tension that will keep you turning the pages. Virtuosity ispitch-perfect.” —Lauren Barnholdt, author of Sometimes It Happens and Two-wayStreet

"Heartfelt, gripping, and unflinchingly authentic.VIRTUOSITY will change the way you think about music." —Antony John,author of Five Flavors of Dumb

"Martinez brings this overwrought world totense, quivering life and guides readers through it confidently. A brilliantdebut." - Kirkus STARRED REVIEW

“Riveting... A beautifully written story….The portrayal of Carmen’s world, in which every performance is terrifying and even one stumble could end her career, is unique and convincing. The novel builds to a satisfying finish as the competition arrives and Carmen discovers a terrible secret. Even readers without much interest in music will enjoy this exceptional novel.” — School Library Journal

“This story of violin prodigies will elevate readers, lifting them above the standard YA romance offerings and delivering a wise yet endearing love story….Well-developed, with flawed but likeable characters. Any teen who has felt pressured to succeed will easily identify with Carmen and Jeremy, and romantics will find themselves cheering for the star-crossed lovers.” - Library Media Connection

“Martinez has a gift for making classical violinaccessible and understandable to even the most tone-deaf reader. The twists inthe pair’s love affair, combined with the turns in their careers, catapult thisnovel from sweet romance to tour de force. Decisions are never easy, but willthe cost of winning—or losing—be too high?” —Booklist

Children's Literature - BriAnne Baxley MLIS
Carmen's life has always been about music. The bow in her hand, the music that sings from her violin and the crowds that draw to hear her perform have been the very definition of who she is as a person. Every note that she plays and every minute that she finds herself practicing has allowed her to draw closer to the moment that she could let everyone know that she was the definition of what music is. With the all important Guarneri competition just around the corner Carmen must prepare in every way to win the covenant title, even with spying on her competition Jeremy King. When Jeremy King unexpectedly befriends Carmen, the young musician finds her life changing and new ideas forming that make her question what her life has become. Like the music she has played for years, Carmen finds her life playing the rises and falls of uncertainty allowing readers to search within themselves what their motives, drive, and passions are in any activity that they do. Reviewer: BriAnne Baxley, MLIS
Kirkus Reviews

Grammy-winning, world-touring violinist Carmen Bianchi, 17, has outgrown child-prodigy status. To transition to an adult career as a virtuoso soloist, she must win the Guarneri Competition. If she loses, she'll be just another former prodigy.

Reflecting on the peculiar fame belonging to classical-music prodigies, Jeremy King—another ambitious ex-wunderkind with an equally intimidating resume—tells Carmen, "You're a god to two percent of the population and a nobody to everyone else." Carmen embodies this strange dichotomy. She's homeschooled, has never dated, lacks close friends and depends on anti-anxiety drugs. She also has a vocation she loves, a Stradivarius violin and a posse of adults dedicated to advancing her career. Chief among these is Carmen's mother and manager, Diana, whose operatic career ended early. As the competition approaches, Carmen and Jeremy—each ardently competitive and deeply smitten—form a deep but wary bond that Diana, ruled by anxious passions and an iron determination to win, bitterly opposes. Carmen's struggles to succeed with integrity remind readers that "virtue" is the root of "virtuosity," a fragile truth often lost when valuable prizes are at stake.

Former child violin prodigy Martinez brings this overwrought world to tense, quivering life and guides readers through it confidently. A brilliant debut. (Fiction. 14 & up)

School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—In this riveting novel, 17-year-old violin prodigy Carmen Bianchi is forced to question everything she believes when she falls hard for a rival musician. At first, she is, with her manager mother's encouragement, completely focused on her career and winning the Guarneri Competition. On her mother's orders, Carmen even takes prescription pills to steady her nerves during performances. When she meets Jeremy King, her main competition, he helps her see beyond her own sheltered world. This is a beautifully written story, especially the descriptions of the pressures and pleasures of Carmen's life as a professional musician. Readers will sympathize as she deals with a controlling parent, high-stakes situations, ethical choices, and uncertainties over Jeremy's romantic motives. Carmen's mother seems less fully developed, but the budding relationship between the teens is realistic, and the Chicago setting adds to the story. The portrayal of Carmen's world, in which every performance is terrifying and even one stumble could end her career, is unique and convincing. The novel builds to a satisfying finish as the competition arrives and Carmen discovers a terrible secret. Even readers without much interest in music will enjoy this exceptional novel.—Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Unified School District
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442420526
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse
  • Publication date: 10/18/2011
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 1,382,884
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Jessica Martinez lives in Orlando, Florida, with her husband, her two children, and her violin. She spends her days writing, running, and teaching her children to be music lovers. She is the author of Virtuosity, The Space Between Us, and The Vow. Visit her at JessicaMartinez.com.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Carmen, stop staring. You can’t force him to appear with your eyes,” Heidi said.

She was right. But I couldn’t risk missing him either. The backstage door of the Chicago Symphony Center was frozen shut, and it had been for at least a half hour. He had to be coming out soon.

“Trade you,” she said.

I took a quick glance at my dessert, a miniature chocolate cake with a molten center oozing out and a dollop of whipped cream on top. Then I looked at Heidi’s, a lemon drop cupcake nestled in an unnaturally yellow cloud of spun sugar. Both were missing one bite.

“What’s wrong with yours?” I asked, eyes back on the target.

“Nothing. It’s just too tart for me. Look at it, though. Isn’t it pretty?” She poked it with her fork.

“Um …” I didn’t really care. Where was he?

She smiled, sensing victory, and tucked her silky blond hair behind her ears. “I’m just in the mood for something richer.” She glanced at my plate again. “And you love lemon, right?”

“I guess.” I pushed my plate toward her. I didn’t hate lemon.

“You’re the best,” she said, her fork already sinking into my cake.

“I know.”

I took a bite of her dessert. The lemon curd was tart, especially after that bite of chocolate cake, but the frosting was painfully sweet. Elegant and trendy, like everything else on Rhapsody’s menu, but not something I actually wanted to eat.

I took one more bite, then slid the cupcake out of my way and propped my chin on my hands. I had selected the patio’s corner table specifically for its view of the backstage entrance to Symphony Center. We were close enough to see the paint peeling off the door, but sufficiently hidden by Rhapsody’s hovering gold umbrellas and the fat green leaves sprouting from planters. Perfect for hiding.

“Remind me what I’m looking for again.” Heidi licked a chocolate smudge from her thumb.

“Blond hair, violin case.”

“Right. Now remind me why you’re stalking this mysterious albino violinist.”

“He’s not an albino and I’m not stalking. Stalking implies some kind of romantic interest.”

“Sheesh. Lighten up,” she teased. “A little crush doesn’t have to be such a big deal.”

I wanted to ignore her, but she was just too far off. “Again, Jeremy King is not a crush. I’ve never even met him. He’s the competition.”

“But here’s the part I don’t get: Why do you need to see him? You’re a violinist. It’s not like you’re going to arm wrestle him. What is a visual going to tell you?”

“Nothing. I’m just curious.” I pulled my hair up and tried to smooth the mass of unruly curls into a ponytail. “Everybody is talking about this guy.”

“Everybody?”

I didn’t have to look at her to know she was smirking. My everybody was not her everybody. Occasionally I forgot that the rest of the world didn’t exist exclusively in the realm of classical music.

“I think this competition is finally getting to you,” she said. “It’s so bizarre to see you worried. You never worry.”

“I’m not worried,” I said. “I just want to see him. And I’ve been preparing for the Guarneri Competition for four years now. There would be something wrong with me if I wasn’t getting a little freaked out.”

Heidi’s eyes widened. “Are you going to make a Jeremy King voodoo doll? Is that why we’re here?” Then before I could glare at her, she gave me her signature sweet smile.

Heidi’s cuteness was her greatest weapon. She used it to win people over, and then, knowing she was too adorable to hate, said and did whatever she felt like. I loved her like a sister, but she drove me nuts. And I had to wonder, if I had baby blue eyes and butter-yellow hair (yes, Heidi was essentially Barbie minus the sexy pout), would I get the same free pass? It’d be nice to be brutally honest, even act like a brat occasionally. But my dark, curly hair and brown eyes just didn’t cast the same spell. The slightly oversize nose probably didn’t help either.

“No voodoo dolls,” I said, “but just think how much more interesting this is than physics or French, which is what we’re supposed to be doing right now.”

“Agreed.”

“Although, I guess that’s what my mom is paying you for.”

She sat up straight and looked around the patio, as if Diana might actually be lurking behind an umbrella.

“Looking for someone?”

Heidi shrugged. “Nope. Just a reflex.”

“We’ll do physics and French tomorrow. I’m almost finished anyway.”

Heidi couldn’t argue with that. They were my last two high school courses. I’d left physics to the end because I hated it, but my test scores were good. Not that it mattered. And French had been an afterthought. It wasn’t a GED requirement, but during my European tour last spring I’d fallen in love with the sound of the language, the way the words rolled around and tumbled out.

“You’re right,” Heidi said. “Spying on lover-boy is more fun anyway.”

“I hate you.”

“No, you don’t.” She smiled and ate the last bite of my cake. “I’ve got an interview, by the way.”

“For what?” I asked, without breaking my stare on the door.

“A real job. No offense.”

“None taken.” I paused. “That’s great,” I added, trying to sound sincere.

Heidi getting a real job was the inevitable. She had been tutoring me for six years, but now I was almost done, going to Juilliard in the fall. Of course she was interviewing. But for what? She had a degree in art history and I was her work experience.

“What kind of job?” I asked.

She shrugged. “Human Resources at OfficeMax.”

I nodded.

She nodded.

Neither of us had to say it, but we both were thinking it: She should have gone to dental school.

The server came with a new soda for Heidi and refilled my water.

“Anything else I can get you?” she asked.

Heidi shook her head no, and the server left. My eyes never left the backstage door. It didn’t budge.

“So how do you know he has blond hair if you’ve never seen him before?” Heidi asked.

“His picture,” I said. “It’s next to his bio in the Carnegie Hall program.” I pulled the booklet from the crocheted bag on my lap. The hemp purse was a souvenir I’d bought from Camden Market in London on the last day of my British Isles tour. It was stuffed with CDs—an array of the Bach Violin Sonatas and Partitas recordings. Yuri had sent me home with them after my lesson to listen and dissect.

I handed Heidi the Carnegie Hall program, which flipped open to the exact page. “Diana brought it back from New York.”

“She heard him play?”

“No. The program is from a year ago. She just picked it up for me.”

“And did she bring it home from New York with the spine split open to this page, or did you do that?”

I ignored the bait. She was either suggesting that Diana was a pressuring stage mom or that I was obsessed with Jeremy King. Neither was entirely true.

Or false.

Heidi examined the picture. “Cute kid. Dimples, curls, he’s like a male Shirley Temple. How old?”

“Seventeen.”

“No way.”

I shrugged. “That’s what his bio says.”

“More like twelve.”

I checked my watch. 1:37. “His rehearsal should have ended at one fifteen. Maybe we missed him.”

“How do you know when he rehearses?”

“I saw the CSO rehearsal schedule last week. I had yesterday’s noon slot, he was supposed to have today’s.”

But the door still hadn’t opened. At least not since we’d sat down thirty minutes ago, which meant Jeremy had to be still inside.

Heidi picked up the program again and brought the photo closer to her face. “He can’t be your age.”

I shrugged and looked back at the door. Maybe it was locked, I reasoned. Maybe he’d gone around to one of the front exits, but that was tricky from the backstage dressing rooms if you weren’t familiar with the hallways and side entrances and tunnels. No, it would be this door.

Suddenly, the door swung open. I inhaled sharply before I realized it wasn’t him. It was a tall, lanky guy wearing jeans, a T-shirt, a baseball cap. A stage hand, maybe. But there, slung over his shoulder, was a violin case. I squinted into the glare. Why hadn’t I brought sunglasses? Blond hair curled up around the back edge of his hat, and under the shadow the bill cast over his face, I could see the dimples that creased his cheeks.

Jeremy King.

My stomach fell. That could not be Jeremy King. That was not the boy in the photo or the picture I’d seen online. Unless those pictures were old.

Really, really old.

I forced myself to take a slow breath. If that was Jeremy King, he wasn’t a child prodigy. At least not anymore.

The guy in the cap—a Yankees cap, I could see now—glanced right and left, trying to orient himself. Then, without warning, he turned and stepped in the least likely direction. Toward me. I had been counting on him cutting through the parking lot and across Wabash for the El station. Instead, he walked along the side of the building over the crumbling parking blocks, toward Rhapsody. He was whistling, and the fingers of his right hand trailed along the red brick as he walked. Long, slow strides propelled him closer and closer to me. I sat frozen, hypnotized by his fluid movement.

I should have looked away. If I’d been thinking, I would have pretended to drop something or I could have at least rooted around in my purse with my head down. But of course I wasn’t thinking.

And then he looked right at me. His eyes locked into mine like two magnets. His face held the blank expression people give strangers in elevators or on sidewalks.

I still could have looked away, while his face was still empty, in that moment before it happened. But I was too stunned. This was Jeremy King.

That’s when his face changed. His eyes narrowed and his mouth formed a smug grin.

Before I could think, my head jerked down and my hand shot up to cover my face.

“What are you doing?” Heidi hissed.

I’d forgotten she was even there. “Nothing. I don’t know.” What was I doing? “I don’t want him to see me.”

“Too late, genius,” she said.

“Is he still looking at me?”

“Yes. And just because you can’t see him doesn’t mean he can’t see you. Move your hand.”

“But he’ll know I’m spying on him.”

“Trust me, he already knows.”

She reached over, took my wrist, and pushed my hand into my lap. I forced my eyes up.

He was still staring at me, not more than ten feet away now, but the grin had become a full-blown sneer. And just when he was close enough that I could have reached out and grabbed his arm, he lifted his hand and saluted me.

I did nothing.

He walked by and was gone.

Heidi and I sat in silence. My stomach churned and I wondered whether those few bites of bitter lemon drop cupcake would come up. Why hadn’t I taken my medication? I should have known I would need it.

Heidi spoke first. “Wow.”

I heard myself groan.

“That was bad,” she added.

“How did that happen? How did he see me? How did he recognize me?”

Heidi shook her head. “Really, Carmen? I mean, it was bad luck that he happened to walk this way, but not that surprising that he recognized you.”

“But he’s never met me before!”

“Maybe not officially.”

“No, not at all,” I insisted.

“I could walk into any music store in the country, probably the world, and find a stack of CDs with your face on the cover. Do I need to remind you that you won a Grammy last year? Of course he knows what you look like.”

I could barely hear her. My heart was still thundering in my ears.

“Think about it,” she continued. “You’re scared of him. He’s probably scared of you.”

I put my cheek on the tabletop and closed my eyes. I needed an Inderal. Why hadn’t I brought the pills in my purse? “I’m not scared.”

Across the street the El thundered by, making the table buzz beneath my cheek. Even with my eyes closed I could feel Heidi’s stare, sense her harshness melting into concern.

“It’s just a competition, Carmen,” she said softly.

But it wasn’t just a competition. Heidi couldn’t grasp that and I didn’t expect her to. I didn’t expect anybody to understand. I wasn’t just scared of Jeremy King. I thought about him constantly, googled his name and read his reviews, listened to his CDs, and studied that stupid outdated photo from the Carnegie Hall program. If I wasn’t practicing or thinking about music, I was thinking about Jeremy King. I was obsessed, and I had every reason to be.

Jeremy King could ruin my life.

© 2011 Jessica Martinez

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 24 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(10)

4 Star

(8)

3 Star

(5)

2 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 24 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2012

    Personally I thought this book was a good book with a interestin

    Personally I thought this book was a good book with a interesting story line. You do not see a lot of young adult books about music, and that really intrigued me. To be honest the first part of the book was a little slow and took me a while to get into. But once you get closer to the middle it starts to pick up. I thought the relationships between the characters were developed nicely and seemed realistic rather than fairy tale. It has depth, action, mystery, and romance. It's really interesting to see a different side a the music world, especially that it's classical music not modern. Overall, I think it was a nice book and a great read for the summertime.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 3, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I feel torn writing this review. There are a lot of elements tha

    I feel torn writing this review. There are a lot of elements that I enjoyed about this novel and a lot that I didn't like. I used to play the viola when I was younger so it was really awesome to read about a girl playing a string instrument. You don't see a lot of that in YA fiction, right?

    Some parts in this novel are really beautiful. I really like the part toward the end when Carmen is sitting on the beach, gazing out at the colorful horizon. I love the amount of detail the author put into her scenes. It made me visualize everything without trouble. The attention to detail really propels the story forward, especially when Carmen is playing violin.

    The romance is so-so for me. I was more interested in Carmen's growing confidence in herself and her ability to stop taking the medication. That takes a lot of courage and strength. The ending is extremely satisfying, too, proving that she experienced a huge change from beginning to end. She is no longer that little girl who is coddled and bossed by her authoritative mother.

    However, I had a really hard time connecting with the main character. I've read other reviews that have shared this opinion, so I know that it's not just me. There was a scene early on in the novel that made me dislike her so much, which is on page 55:

    "In less than two weeks I'd be facing Jeremy King and the Guarneri. Scared? I stared at the pregnant girl in the ad. She had no idea."

    Really? Perhaps I am too sensitive or taking it too far, but that really upset me. Carmen is a privileged girl. She doesn't have to worry about food, a home, a bed, or money, among other necessities in life. It really rubs me the wrong way when people compare hardships in life. I am not perfect, but I try my best to not compare life situations like that. While I can understand why she is comparing this competition to being pregnant, it just rubbed me off the wrong way. Having an unexpected pregnancy is one of the scariest experiences in the world, especially when it comes unexpectedly and you are not prepared emotionally and financially (and physically, too). Competition is extremely scary, too, but why in the world should it be compared to realizing that you're pregnant and being completely lost as to what to do?

    The privileged fact was another reason why I felt distant from the novel. There are examples of lavish living everywhere, from Gucci to expensive hotels. I'm tired of reading about rich people. Not everyone in this country is rich. Actually, most of us are struggling. That's another reason why I found it hard to connect with the story.

    Even though the details were great, I felt that Virtuosity isn't really for me. I was too disconnected from the main character to really connect to the story, and ultimately that affected my reading experience greatly.

    2.5 stars, which rounds to 3 stars.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 23, 2011

    a Page turner that keeps you reading.

    Wow! It is a page turner from the beginning. I could not put it down. I really enjoyed the glimpse in the life of a young musician. The stress and extent people will go to in order to be on top. It is a story of coming to terms with ethics and how far will Carmen go in order to be on top. Who do you trust?

    Jessica, great writing! I look forward to your next book!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2013

    Hook, line, sinker

    Carmen pulled me in. Relatable and engrossing this is definitely something to be read. Especially if you have a background in orchestra. And even if you've never played before you can still feel the same elation as that characters.

    Most easy description i will give of thus book... alive.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2013

    Best book ever

    I absolutely loved this book! So sweet and cute! With a couple twists in the book it keeps you confused on who to trust! The author is very detailed and i suggest if you like this book try reading her other book the space i between us

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 28, 2012

    This book was good as a first read however it was seriously lack

    This book was good as a first read however it was seriously lacking depth and in some parts I had to re-read a couple of times to understand. I finished this book quickly really without enjoying almost every aspect of it like I try to do my best with all others but, this book although wasn't hard to get into; I just couldn't picture the movie in my head. I love that this book was about violins and a serious violinist the events which led to her downfall weren't as severe as the main character makes them out to be. With everyone in this book having problems its very hard to see hers as the most extreme of the all.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2012

    Havent read i yet Haven't read it yet...

    But i suspect great things from Martinez. From the blurb,I noticed that there may be drama/Romance/Comedy/(and of course)MUSIC!! Marti?ez we expect great things from you in the near future.

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  • Posted March 10, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    complex and engrossing

    Carmen Bianchi should have one thing and only one thing on her mind right now: winning the Guarneri competition. Technically, the Guarneri violin competition has already been on Carmen's mind for years. She has fame, she has a Grammy. But victory at the Guarneri has always been the final target--the last step to confirm her ascent from talented prodigy to a true virtuoso, a real talent.

    Except Carmen is losing focus.

    Carmen's mother channels all of her own career aspirations into managing Carmen's professional life while micro-managing her personal life. That used to be fine. But now Carmen isn't so sure why she is playing. Struck with painfully acute stage fright isn't even sure she's good enough.

    Not after she hears Jeremy King play.

    With the Guarneri finals fast approaching, both Carmen and Jeremy know the real competition is between two violinists: them. Carmen has every reason to hate Jeremy, every reason to stay away from him. She knows that. She also knows she can't stay away when Jeremy is the one person who might really understand her.

    As what should be her finest hour approaches, Carmen has to decide if a win playing the violin is worth more than finding her own voice in ¿Virtuosity (2011) ¿by Jessica Martinez.

    ¿Virtuosity ¿is Martinez's first novel. Martinez began playing the violin herself at the age of three. She has worked both as a symphony violinist and as a violin teacher.

    With a book so grounded in the main character's passion there is always the risk of getting lost in technical jargon or simply atmosphere, particularly when the author is already an expert in the field. One of the biggest strengths of ¿Virtuosity¿ is that the story remains centered around Carmen as a character instead of Carmen as a violinist.

    With snappy prose and competitive passion, ¿Virtuosity ¿is an interesting story about the difference between fostering a talent and quashing it. There are no easy answers for Carmen and the choices she faces throughout the novel which is part of what makes this book ¿such a gripping read. Martinez's characters are well-drawn and authentic from their talents and wants right down to their flaws. Virtuosity is as complex as it is engrossing.

    Possible Pairings: ¿Catalyst¿ by Laurie Halse Anderson, Prom and Prejudice¿ by Elizabeth Eulberg, Bunheads by Sophie Flack, Where She Went by Gayle Forman, An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach, ¿Rx¿ by Tracy Lynn

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  • Posted February 3, 2012

    Amazing debut and Contemporary

    I was not expecting to like this book as much as I did. I thought it would just be a quick read (which it was) but it was so much more.

    I really felt like I could relate to the subject matter as playing an instrument myself. Although I play the cello instead of violin and I'm nowhere near as talented as Carmen is. But I do think that those who don't have a musical background can also enjoy this book.

    Carmen was my favorite part of this book. I loved watching her grow throughout the book. She learned how to decide for herself what she wants and what she does. She was a little weak in the beginning, which was a tad bothersome, but she grew and became a stronger person, which I liked that about her.

    Virtuosity is a fantastic debut--one that I wasn't expecting to like so much. Even with its short length, there is an addictive quality to it and wonderful character.

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  • Posted January 14, 2012

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    Great Read!

    As you no doubt read in the blurb, Carmen is a world-renowned violin virtuoso. I found it interesting to read about her life and the inevitable pressures that come along with such talent and fame. Carmen, for all of her world travelling and access to unique circles of people, is still a very sheltered teen thanks to her mother, Diana.

    Although, I'm sure, Diana's intentions were pure in the beginning of Carmen's career, she has now become a stage mother of all stage mothers (hello, Mama Rose!) and the central source of Carmen's growing anxiety.

    Enter stage left: Jeremy. Jeremy is Carmen's cheif rival for an upcoming all-important competition and (natch) her love interest. I liked the way their relationship developed and loved the mystery that made me question his motives almost until the end.

    The only drawback for me was the end. I promise not to ruin it for you, but Carmen's choices in the last chapter had me questioning girl power in the modern world. My faith was restored in the end, but just barely.

    Overall, I really enjoyed Virtuosity. I loved peeking behind the scenes of such a glamorous, yet stressful life and Martinez shares the details like an insider.

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  • Posted January 12, 2012

    A debut not to be missed

    I love books about musicians. Granted, I may be slightly biased, but I think that serious musicians, especially in high school, aren't always understood well and are often shunned by others who aren't as serious about music. I think it is great that books like this can help show others what life is like for them.

    Carmen is a child prodigy and one of the best violinists in the world. She has toured the globe, played in some of the best concert venues, and even been homeschooled so that she can devote more time to practicing and performing. But one disastrous performance led her to Inderol, an anti-anxiety drug that she takes to get through her performances...and her lessons. Soon she's relying on these much more than she should. Enter Jeremy, the arrogant but oh-so-hot competition. They wind up talking one night, and Jeremy's description of performing causes Carmen to begin to question many things about her own musical life. As the prestigious Guarneri competition grows closer, Carmen finds herself more drawn to Jeremy and more inclined to rebel against her mother the manager. When an unexpected event calls the entire competition into question, Carmen must make an important decision - what is she willing to lose in order to win?

    Virtuosity has a little bit of everything YA - the struggle to define yourself, the question of what do you really want from life, striving for independence from parents, and romance - blended together in a fresh and engaging way. I found Carmen's character incredibly easy to relate to. But even if you're not a musician with performance anxiety, we all have things that we dread. No matter what profession we're in or what our hobby is, there is always somebody who is better. This book explores those issues. And I loved the budding romance between Carmen and Jeremy. The cynicism of Carmen's mother Diana toward their relationship sounded just like the doubts that we all let ourself have. Virtuosity embarks on an emotional roller coaster that doesn't stop until the last page. The feelings, struggles, and situations were incredibly vivid, which made for a very intense (in a good way!) read.

    There were a few things about this book that I found frustrating, however. Carmen's mother, for instance. She is your classic overbearing, controlling mother (not to mention she's Carmen's manager), and I wanted to defy her right along with Carmen. Even still, I couldn't hate her completely - unfortunate circumstances forced her to give up her dream, and so she shifted the pressure of success onto Carmen. Then there was something that Jeremy did. While some people may find it endearing, I was actually very annoyed with it. So, if you are like me, keep reading - you will be glad you did.

    You do not have to be a musician to appreciate the depth of this book. Complete with the butterflies and beauty of first love and the quest of one girl to find her place in the world, Virtuosity is a debut not to be missed!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2011

    Virtuosity:)

    I love the story it was great and i loved how i could relate to it as a teenager. I thought the ending was sweet but i do wish the book was a tad bit longer....hence the 4 stars....overall great read if your looking for a contempoary read:)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2011

    Good Read

    Great Book. Martinez does a great job at creating a sense of what is actually going through Carmens mind when she interacts with other charaters in the novel. As a fellow pianist I felt as if I could strongly relate to Carmens feelings and emotions of what she was thinking when she was torn betweening having to decide whether to chose a "muscians" career - full of expectations and obligations- or Jermey - someone who makes her happy, free, and able to forget about and get away from the stress of the competitive music world. When she got nervous I could feel myself getting nervous for her. The characters in the book are outstandingly realistic, which I guess is why I loved this book so much. I kept reading and couldn't put the book down, I just had to keep reading. Its a page turner that keeps you wanting to know more about whats going to happen next. I would most definitely refer this book: First, to all my muscian friends who and then to everyone else!!! Love this book! Thank you sooo much Jessica Martinez!

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  • Posted October 30, 2011

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    Sweet Contemporary Read

    Virtuosity is a sweet contemporary read that will make you rethink your wants in life. I loved that the story focused on a classical violinist and the competition she was striving to win. Even if I hadn't read the authors bio, it would have been completely clear to me that she has played the violin and been in competitions like this before. She conveyed what it feels like to play in such a way that even non-musicians like me could identify. Many teens will also be able to identify with the pressure placed on them to be the best at what they do.

    Carmen's character has led a very sheltered life and it's quite visible in her reactions to some things. The subject matter of prescription medications also plays a big role in the story and it's handled wonderfully by Carmen. If only we could say the same for her mother. While her mom is the one pushing her to do more and is the ball and chain for Carmen, her stepdad is the loving and kind one and scenes about him stand out. Jeremy is written in such a way that I was laughing one minute, appalled the next, and then smiling another moment. His character is the most defined and realistic as he varies from moment to moment, never quite perfect. While all of the choices made by Carmen may not be the ones parents want their children to make, I still felt she was justified in doing everything she did given the situation she was in. The best part of this book was the love of music the author was able to inject into it. Now off to check out some of the mentioned pieces of music.

    Reviewed by Jessica for Book Sake.

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  • Posted October 27, 2011

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    Great book!

    As I began this book, I really loved the feel of the book. The passionate music flowing between the fingers of the strings of the violin, but also the great competition in between. The reader begins with two great musicians, yearning for a fantastic prize of fame and fortune. What starts off with an exchange of fighting words slowly becomes something beautiful.

    The plot line of this book blew me away! I loved reading about music. Both characters were so passionate about it. The strive to be the best, the uphold a family legacy, had me reading pages faster and faster. I adored watching both Carmen and Jeremy push and pull each other. See there love blossom between the aches and pains of music is very nice.

    The characters Carmen and Jeremy felt real enough to the reader, that you felt every ounce of stress, nausea, anxiety when it came to performance time. I guess you can say I have had a taste of this cause I too was in band. I played Clarinet and when it came to competition time, it was on! I liked that Carmen and Jeremy face a road of obstacles. Though it did not bring them down, it made them stronger. Stronger in themselves, as well as a couple.

    I also adored the betrayal in the story. it may not seems like a big one to some people, but when you are that passionate about something like that, it comes off as a low blow. You are no longer what you claimed to be. You are now a fraud. I adored that the character took steps in the right direction to correct the matter, but I also felt for the pain of loss they had to endure.

    Virtuosity is a great book about two amazing musician coming to term with who they are. With passionate music, a burning love and a betrayal that will make everything different, this book I loved.

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  • Posted October 22, 2011

    Unique and Wonderful!

    As someone who grew up on the stage, in front of audiences, and in the professional world, I could really relate well to this book. Jessica captured the pressure and demands of that lifestyle so well. And besides that, there is a hot British boy and a killer opening scene - one of the best I've read.

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  • Posted October 18, 2011

    Great Story About Great Music

    Carmen is a child prodigy on the violin. She's had world tour, CDs, even a Grammy. The last thing she needs to really make it is the prestigious Guarneri prize. She really only has one person to worry about beating her, and when she hears him play she becomes quite worried. However, when Jeremy, the other violin player, e-mails her out of nowhere, things take an interesting twist. Soon Carmen and Jeremy are spending more time together, and Carmen's mom is not pleased. Carmen will have to decide who she's playing for and why she plays. Her decisions could change her life forever.

    I enjoyed this book a lot! I found the contrast between Carmen and Jeremy fascinating. Who has it better? The one who has more natural talent but has everything handed to them? Or the one who has to fight for everything because of their passion for music? Somewhere in the middle of becoming violin famous, Carmen has forgotten about her love of music. I wanted so much for her to be able to rediscover her passion for playing. Although Jeremy was competitive, he was still very nice. Not perfect by any means, but someone who will certainly have readers swooning.

    I was honestly surprised with where the plot ended up going. There were some twists and turns that made the book even more exciting. Through it all you really feel the author's passion for music. This was translated so well throughout the book. I highly recommend this book. It's an interesting study on music, competition, romance, and true motivations.

    Galley provided for review.

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  • Posted October 16, 2011

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    Hobbitsies Reviews: Fantastic contemporary with an awesome MC

    I was absolutely blown away by Virtuosity. I've read a few books where the main character was some sort of musical goddess, but never anything as good and as real feeling as Virtuosity.

    Because Carmen? Yeah, she's in my Spanish class and I just spoke to her at the library and I went to high school with her and oh, hey, Carmen is me! That sounds weird. Do you get it? Carmen is real. She has a seriously whack and controlling mother, and issues with anxiety and boys and friends and family and isn't that everyone? She has a passion and she doesn't know what is right and wrong and what to do about it.

    And Jeremy. Maybe I didn't necessarily feel anything towards Jeremy alone, but I loved Jeremy and Carmen together. How they interacted with each other and their insecurities and trust issues and their mutual love of music. I loved that.

    Let's not forget the (awesome) craziness that went down at the end of Virtuosity. I definitely did not see that coming. I mean, I didn't see any of it coming! Something big had to happen, of course, but.wow! Definitely through me for a loop there. And the ending itself - open ended in a way that I think I know what happened, but not too telling.just enough to leave me guessing! Perfect.

    Overall, I loved Virtuosity. It's an absolutely amazing contemporary and stunning debut. I loved the characters (except for the mother rahrghahrw) and the storyline, and my god, this book made me want to start playing the cello again. Be sure to pick up a copy of Virtuosity as soon as you can!

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  • Posted October 15, 2011

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    Really good contemporary

    my thoughts cover: The cover does not really tell me something about this book. Its just nice to look at. The pink-reddish in contrast to the black silhouette. The uk cover is a bit plain and boring for my taste . Just a girl on the cover . she whore that dress in a scene book: I first saw this on my on one of my favorite blogs as a review book. I looked it up on goodreads and added it to my tbr/wishlist shelf. When i got the galley grab email, i was so exited seeing it downloaded it along with pledge and legacy ,will be reading those soon. Carmen Bianchi our leading lady has got it all , fame and fortune and she's only 17 but has social and family issues. I felt for her ,like i wanted to be there as a friend. Her stress and all. Jeremy King is the romantic intrest. He was not the ''BAD BOY" but not the perfect goody two shoes boyfriend. A normal British young teenage dude ,except being a music prodigy. I think a couple of galls wil swoon over his british accent and appearence in their mind, will say this he played rugby There was no insta-love I admire that. I like love triangles, but sometimes its overkill and so overdone. This does not have that, triangles i mean. Miss Martinez did not focus much on the romance but more on the coming of age of Carmen and facing her fears. I wanted to know a little bit more bouth Jeremy's life and such Other than Jeremy and Carmen, my favorite character was Clark, her step dad. A true father and a fanatic White socks fan. OK a tad fanatic. Had no trouble with Jessica's writing and the pasing of virtuosity. Some 50 or so pages were a bit slow but the remaining 100 pages were exiting. The ending was thoroughly good but it was bittersweet. Was exited for this book cause i always wanted to play the violin but a music instructor said that a drum or a instrument of that sort would be for me. Something with differentiating music tones and have small hands for a male , not femine but small hands. When i encountered a classical piece in this book, i looked it up on youtube. Virtuosity gave me a look in the world of musicians and the classical type. Jessica is one, a musician and plays the violin beautifully.

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  • Posted October 8, 2011

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    Magical

    Carmen Bianchi has accomplished more in eighteen years than most teens her age do in a lifetime. She's a Grammy award-winning, violin prodigy and in the fall she will attend Julliard. There's just one more thing she has to do - win the prestigious Guarneri competition which will give her career a final boost. The only person standing in her way is Jeremy King, a British violin prodigy, and her biggest competition. When Carmen spies on Jeremy one day, she doesn't expect to get caught, nor does she expect him to contact her afterward. As the competition draws closer, Carmen finds herself attracted to Jeremy, despite the warnings from her overbearing mother. Is Jeremy really into her, or is he just trying to throw her off before the competition? Should Carmen follow her mind, or her heart?

    I was surprised by this book. Typically I'm weary of romance books, mainly because the main character falls in love too quickly. That wasn't the case here. Ms. Martinez does a great job of pacing the romance aspect to make it feel believable. I also liked that the attraction between Carmen and Jeremy wasn't the main focus. Ms. Martinez does a wonderful job of portraying the life of a competitive musician. I felt the pressure that Carmen's mother and teacher put on her, and I sympathized with her and was able to understand her reluctance to take the anxiety medication her mother forced on her before performances. The writing is electric, and the story is engaging, my only problem was with the last couple of chapters. While I was happy with the outcome, I wasn't sure I totally believed it. Still, this is a great read and one I would recommend.

    (Review based on an Advanced Reader's Copy courtesy of the publisher via Simon & Schuster's GalleyGrab)

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