Monday, October 17, 2011

Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez


Author: Jessica Martinez

Publisher: Simon Pulse

4½ out of 5 stars

I closed my eyes and let all of the tension drain out of my body.  My fingers were poised on my violin, ready to start strumming the bow across the strings.  Tonight would be the night.  But I couldn’t think about that right now.  I couldn’t think about the audience, the lights, or the judges staring me down.  I definitely couldn’t think about what would happen if I failed.  That was not a possibility.  I had to feel the music and let that show, because I didn’t get another shot after this.  It was now or never.

Carmen Bianchi is a world-renowned violinist.  Anyone and everyone in the classical music industry has heard of her.  A child prodigy, Carmen has won an Emmy, produced numerous albums, and is on her way to stardom.  And the Guarneri Competition is going to be the launch of her everlasting legacy.  That is, if she can win…

The Guarneri Competition is the most esteemed competition in the classical music industry.  The brightest and the best violinists come together to compete for the ultimate prize: fifty thousand dollars, a four-year loan of the 1742 Guarneri del Gesu violin, and performances all across the world with the best symphonies.  It’s kind of a big deal.

Carmen is the favorite going into the competition, but she’s not the only one.  Her biggest competitor is the British equivalent of Carmen, Jeremy King.  He’s got everything she has and maybe even more.  After meeting him for the first time, things start to spiral out of control.  For one, he’s really good.  Maybe better than Carmen ever thought she could be.  Not only that, but Carmen might just be falling for Jeremy.  Could it be possible?  Or is this all part of his plan to win?  Will Carmen be able to rise above him?  Jessica Martinez reveals all in her debut where if just the right notes are played, then the most beautiful music will be created in, Virtousity!

Virtousity is a stunning story filled with impossible expectations, unbearable truths, and most of all, the grain of hope that comes with it all.  I was given a glimpse of what the life of someone in the classical music business is like, and it wasn’t pretty for one so young.  I received Virtousity from Simon & Schuster’s Galley Grab* and I recommend it for teens looking for a profound story with a sweet romance to soften the edges.

I really enjoyed getting to see what Carmen’s life was like as a professional musician.  Ever since she was a child this is what she has done.  Going to a “real” school was unheard of with all of the work she does, and actually socializing with teens her own age was impossible.  Her life was so different from that of a typical teenager, but she couldn’t do anything about it.  It was all she had ever known and that was that.  The classical music industry seemed like a harsh and brutal environment for anyone to have to try and survive in, especially a teenager playing a grown-up game.  The only way to survive was to be the absolute best.

Throughout the course of Virtousity, Carmen grew into a strong, independent young woman.  She knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life.  There would be no more of the mindless choices where she just went along with the decisions that were being made for her.  She was going to dictate her own life from now on.  In the beginning everything was done for her, to keep her safe, happy, and basically to keep her making her music.  It didn’t matter how she felt about things.  It wasn’t her choice to make, but really, it was.  It was wonderful to witness Carmen start out as a bud, and then fully blossom.

Jessica Martinez’s writing is fluid and beautiful.  The book starts off with a bang in the prologue, where I was able to feel right away the pressure that Carmen has to deal with and how it was slowly eating away at her.  It was so easy to relate with Carmen, even though I’m not professional violinist.  Martinez made Carmen feel like any teen, even though she really wasn’t.  The tone in Virtousity could go from dark and heavy to light and humorous in a second.  I definitely can’t wait to see what Matinez tries her hand at next.

Carmen and Jeremy’s relationship was definitely a complicated one, filled with an unrelenting cascade of emotions.  Do they hate each other?  Do they try to get along?  It was interesting to see how they interacted with each other.  They were the only two who could actually relate with one another.  They both knew what if felt like to do what they do, but in ways that couldn’t be more different.  There were times where I would have enjoyed to have seen more of the music incorporated in Jeremy and Carmen’s relationship, but overall it was a nice balance of the two.

Virtousity is a stunningly beautiful read that will have you sagging under the weight of everything that Carmen has to deal with and how she copes with it all.  Join Carmen as she searches through the discordant harmonies that make up her life, and learns what she really wants in, Virtousity!

-This is T.B. with Another Book Back on the Shelf…
Until Next Time, Keep Reading!

*I received this book from Simon & Schuster's Galley Grab, a website on which you can read free advanced reader copies of books.  I received Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez in exchange for my honest review.  This book will be released on October 18, 2011.  Thank you Simon & Schuster's Galley Grab!

Check out Jessica Martinez's website at


  1. I completely agree! Virtuosity was a beautiful novel, and it was so easy to connect with Carmen! Great review, Tessa. :)

  2. Hi Tessa!
    I'm so pleased to have made your acquaintance. I so enjoy your reviews--I see that you are still getting down with your bad self! :)

  3. My daughter just finished this book and loved it!

  4. Sigh. Yes! This book was just... so much wonderful! :D


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