Monday, March 23, 2015

BLOG TOUR + REVIEW: Leaving Amarillo by Caisey Quinn (A Neon Dreams Novel)

Shel: Court and I have been trying to expand our reading circle--to try writers new to us (or at least new to us reviewing it together) so when I saw that we had an opportunity to review Leaving Amarillo by Caisey Quinn, it looked like the perfect book of hers to read. Court: A book about a band. Check. A book about a girl in a band. Double check. Sign us up indeed.

Shel: If you love music, are intrigued by the 'behind the scenes' aspect of being a musician, and have a thing for a romantic pairing that should be off limits, this is the series for you. Dixie, her brother, Dallas, and best friend, Gavin, are in an up and coming country band and a good part of the novel is devoted to what that feels like. Really, though, this novel is about Dixie's feelings for Gavin. It's angsty and sweet and emotional..and, at times, frustrating. For five, yes FIVE, days at the Austin Music Festival we watch Gavin and Dixie torture themselves with their bottled up sexual tension. This takes up the vast majority of the novel and I'll admit sometimes I was a little frustrated at how long it took to get to THE night. In retrospect, I understand why all of the thoughts and actions were necessary ..but as I was reading I was a smidge impatient. Court: Awww, Shel. Yes. The journey and set up is angsty, and emotional, and frustratingly long. The slow burn definitely hurts there for a bit, but I found the end result to be phenomenal. I enjoyed Dixie as a character, and was rooting for her to get what she wanted the entire way. It is a hard journey she has, because unfortunately she, like the rest of us, doesn't get to decide what people will or won't do. And then that makes us quite frustrated readers! In a good way this time! 

Shel: Let me tell you what I appreciated about some important choices Caisey Quinn made; she made Dixie brave and strong. Dixie was almost always the first one to speak her mind. She was honest about what she felt with Gavin and she was willing to take a risk. I also loved that she didn't have Dixie play mind games with other guys to try to lure Gavin in. And I especially loved that she remained so strong and true to herself; even at the end when she was aching with sorrow and loss, she didn't succumb to the pain and wallow in it. She took what she had and she created an opportunity for that we won't truly know more about for a while. (Dallas' book is next and then we get to Gavin's book!). Court: I felt everything came full circle...and in a way that was beautiful, and tragic, and satisfying for this story. Bad things happen to good people, and then people manipulate and hate, and do even more bad things, and I struggled with that in my reading because she was so, so very strong in so many things...but there was this one time, and this one thing, that she doesn't do what I wanted her to do...and gah! Gah! Gah! And Gavin and Dallas. Don't even get me started on those boys. As much as I enjoyed their part of the story, I was glad this part was Dixie's... I was glad because they have a long way to go to figuring out how to be like her and love her, instead of always trying to control her...or trying to do what is best for her without her say. I can't wait for more of this series, y'all. 

Shel: In this character driven novel, where we're wondering if the girl will get her guy, the band can weather the consequences of crucial decisions, and love of family and music are on every page, you'll find yourself closing your eyes, humming songs, and wondering what it's like to chase those neon dreams. Court: Shel, that was beautiful. Because that is so true. Caisey did a beautiful job of creating a novel that is blended with passion and heartbreak, triumph and loss. She loves music it seems, as much as I do...and I cannot wait to read more from her. 

Dixie Lark hasn’t had it easy. She lost her parents in an accident when she was young and grew up in a ramshackle house on a dirt road in Amarillo with her ailing grandparents and overprotective older brother. Thanks to her grandfather, Dixie learned to play a mean fiddle, inspired by the sounds of the greats—Johnny and June, Waylon, and Hank. Her grandfather’s fiddle changed Dixie’s life forever, giving her an outlet for the turmoil of her broken heart and inspiring a daring dream.

Ten years later, Dixie and her brother, Dallas, are creating the music they love and chasing fame with their hot band, Leaving Amarillo. But Dixie isn’t enjoying the ride. All she can think about is Gavin, the band’s tattooed, tortured drummer who she’s loved since they were kids. She knows he feels the connection between them, but he refuses see her as more than his best friend’s little sister.

Convinced that one night with Gavin will get him out of her system, Dixie devises a plan. She doesn’t know that her brother has forbidden Gavin from making a move on her-a promise he swore he’d always keep . . . a promise that once broken will unexpectedly change the future for Dixie, Gavin and the band.

About the author: 

Caisey Quinn lives in a suburb outside of Birmingham, Alabama with her husband, daughter, and other assorted animals. She wears cowgirl boots most of the time, even to church. She is the bestselling author of the Kylie Ryans series and writes New and Young Adult books about country girls finding love in unexpected places.

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