More Than Music by Elizabeth Briggs - Blog Tour, Book Review, Excerpt & Giveaway

Title: More Than Music (Chasing the Dream #1)
Author: Elizabeth Briggs
Date of Publication: June 17, 2014
Genre: contemporary NA romance
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Music major Maddie Taylor just finished her junior year of college and has a summer internship lined up with the LA Philharmonic, yet every night she practices guitar and secretly dreams of a louder life. But geeky girls like her don't get to be rock stars. That is, until tattooed singer Jared Cross catches her playing guitar and invites her to join his band on The Sound, a reality TV show competition.

Once on the show, Maddie discovers there’s more to Jared than his flirty smile and bad boy reputation – and that he’s just as big a geek as she is. With each performance their attraction becomes impossible to ignore, but when the show pressures them to stay single they’re forced to keep their relationship secret.

As the competition heats up, Jared will do whatever it takes for his band to win, and Maddie must decide if following her dream is worth losing her heart.
Reading More Than Music feels like watching the reality show, The Voice. The only difference is that The Sound caters to band contestants. But what really caught my attention about this book was the fact that it has rocker musicians. Yes, I’m a sucker for that kind of books. It’s still one of my favorite themes for a good story.

More Than Music is a story of two characters who have very opposite personalities but are to be bound by their love of music.

Maddie Taylor. She’s a music student who dreams of writing musical scores for films and is currently making a name in the world of orchestra for she was chosen to be an intern in LA Philharmonic. She plays the piano but she has a secret affiliation with the guitar. She secretly practices at night when only her two roommates can her music. She comes from a broken family. She has a father who buys her guilt gifts and a drunk mother, who was the reason why she can’t play the guitar believing that she may end up like her if she continues. She has a bestfriend, Kyle, who plays in a rock band, Villain Complex. She has idolized Kyle’s brother since they started the band and she even has all their albums. She has been secretly in love with Jared but decided to ignore her feelings and just watch him from afar.
 When Jared leaned into the mic and sang, his smooth voice washed over me like a soft caress. It was like the last, decadent bite of a chocolate-covered strawberry. The smoky burn of whiskey as it slipped down your throat. The final night of passion before your lover left forever.
Villain Complex is led by Jared, Kyle’s brother. He has a reputation as a player since he has a different girl in his arm every night. He’s got his eye set on joining the reality show, The Sound. He will do his best to so his band can be accepted in the contest. So imagine his fury when his bass guitarist decided to quit the band days before they’re to audition for the show.
My fingers itched to touch the silvery strings, to form a chord and let it ring out through the amp, to hear what it sounded like without all the other instruments accompanying it. And if I was honest, I wanted to close my eyes and pretend I was on stage, playing for a crowd, hearing them scream for me. The longing I felt every time I went to a concert stirred up in me again. Before I could stop myself, I picked up the guitar and threw the strap over my head. It settled against my shoulder, and with one hand on the fret board and the other on the strings, I was home. My hands found the chords automatically, and the words flowed out of me with the music. Exhilaration swept through me with each note, and I closed my eyes and let the song take me away. Soon I was belting out the words, shredding the guitar like I was on stage playing for a massive crowd. I’d never do this in front of anyone else, but here, alone with this guitar, I could pretend. I could let myself go.

Desperate situation calls for desperate measures and Jared thinks he just found the newest member of his band.

What I like about this book was the concept. And although, it was based on a popular TV show, it is still unique given that bands are to undergo a blind audition to join the show. I loved how the author emphasized what exactly happens behind the scenes. It gave the readers something to ponder on. It may have been called a reality show, but sometimes, producers still have a say on who’s going to win or who’s going to lose. And as hard as it is to accept, sometimes the ones who are behind the show are the ones who create the drama and cause chaos among the participants.

Maddie and Jared. As the show progresses, they can’t seem to deny that fact that they are attracted to each other. But how will they express their feelings freely if they are being controlled by the network? How will Maddie tell the world that Jared is off limits? How will Jared inform his band mates of his relationship with Maddie if he promised them that he will not hook up again with a fellow band mate? Will Maddie give him up knowing that Jared will do everything to win the contest even if that means lying to every interview they had and flirting to all the bimbos lurking around him?

More Than Music is a story that tells us that dreams should not limit us. It also challenges us to do better. It tells us that it’s okay to want more as long as you’re not stepping on anyone; that if you love someone, you should hold on and fight for it. You should be proud to show him/her to the world. Do not let your dreams affect your life. You should know your priorities. Believe in yourself. Problems are meant to be faced and running away will not solve it. It will just make it worst. Don’t let your insecurity cloud your judgment because if what you had was real, it is worth all the struggles.

Jared surveyed the room with a line of worry across his forehead. He wore a black button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows, showing off his inked arms. His face had the perfect amount of stubble brushing his chin and framing his mouth, and even in this crowd, I couldn’t help but be drawn to him. 

“You okay?” I asked, after he sighed for the fifth time. 

Jared ran a hand through his hair, making it stick up more. It made him look even better somehow. “I didn’t think there would be so many people here, you know?” 

“Yeah.” I didn’t mention that there were probably dozens more on their way or auditioning on other days because I understood how he felt. This was his chance to follow his dream, to make it big with his band, and now it seemed impossible in the face of all this competition. Villain Complex was good, but we’d only spent one night practicing together, and there were so many bands here, and oh god, the more I thought about it the more I might throw up. 

“How about you?” he asked. 

I pressed my hands to my stomach, willing it to be calm. “Honestly? No, I’m not okay.” 

He laughed and sang my words to the tune of “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” by My Chemical Romance. He continued with the next lines in the song for a minute, and some of the other people around us turned to watch him serenading me. It should have been embarrassing, but instead it made me smile and some of the tension in my shoulders relaxed. It wasn’t every day a hot guy sang to me, after all. 

He finished with an exaggerated bow, and I laughed. “Yes, that song popped into my head, too,” I said. “Unintentional song reference, I promise.” 

“It got you to laugh, so my work here is done,” he said, and I melted even more.

Elizabeth Briggs is a Young Adult and New Adult author who lives in Los Angeles with her British husband and a bunch of fluffy white rescue dogs. She's a guitar-playing geek who loves books, rock music, and video games, goes to Comic Con every year, and is still hoping to be a Jedi when she grows up.

Elizabeth currently works with WriteGirl to mentor at-risk or pregnant teen girls in writing, to help them get through high school and into college. She also volunteers with Bichon FurKids to help rescued dogs find a new, loving home. She previously worked as an intern for literary agent Jill Corcoran of Jill Corcoran Literary Agency, an intern for Entangled Publishing, and an editor for Curiosity Quills Press.

Elizabeth is represented by Kate Schafer Testerman of KT Literary and is a member of SCBWI and RWA.
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