Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sing Me to Sleep A Thing of Beauty (With a Giveaway!)

Today on BBB, we're celebrating young adult author Angela Morrison. I first heard about Angela from her sister, who's a friend of mine. I agreed to review Angela's first novel, Taken By Storm, even though I had some misgivings about doing it. Critiquing books by your friends, or friends of your friends, or family members of your friends is always more difficult than reviewing books by strangers. I mean, what if I hated the book? What would I tell my friend? Would we still be friends afterward? Luckily, I loved Taken By Storm (you can read my review here). Since posting that review, I've had the chance to meet Angela and get to know her a little. Let me tell you, she's sweet, interesting and just cool.

Naturally, I was thrilled when she told me about her newest book, Sing Me to Sleep (to be released on March 4). As you will soon see, I loved it, too. Not as much as Taken By Storm, but still ... it's good.

Angela has generously provided me with several books to give away (read all the details at the bottom of this review). She will be guest posting here tomorrow, AND she's agreed to answer readers' questions. So, read the review, enter the contest, check out Angela's website and come back tomorrow with your most burning questions. I can't wait to learn even more about Angela.

Read on ...

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

"If this was about sex, it would be so much easier.

But that's not what he wants.

He wants my soul."

I know, I know, the quote makes the book sound like another blood-sucking Twilight ripoff, but it's not. You will not find a single vampire in Angela Morrison's new YA romance, Sing Me to Sleep. I know, right? An about-to-be-published book for teens with no paranormal activity whatsoever. What's this world coming to? If you're tired of vampires, werewolves, pixies, zombies and the like, or if you just want to read an ultra-romantic story about two mere humans, well, this book is for you.

Sing Me to Sleep stars Beth, a junior who's always been The Ugly Duckling. With her tall, gangly body, spotty skin and thick glasses, she's a natural target for high school bullies. Nicknamed the Beast, she's mocked, teased or completely ignored. Only one student shows her any kindness: her old pal, Scott. Short, nerdy Scott has been her best friend since preschool. He's always been nice to her, steady as a rock. Suddenly, though, things are changing. Scott's changing. A growth spurt and some serious hours in the gym are turning him ... well, hot. He even seems to be flirting with her - another kindness, obviously, since no guy would ever fall for a Beast.

Beth's only escape is music - singing along with divas on her iPod, admiring the smooth sounds of the world-renowned Amabile Boys Choir, and scratching out song lyrics whenever they pop into her head. No one - not even Beth - realizes just how good she is until a soloist opportunity with her all-girls choir falls into her lap. Suddenly, she's getting some diva-like R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Her solo just might be the clencher her choir needs to compete at the Choral Olympics in Switzerland. There's only one problem: While Beth might sing like a diva, she doesn't look, move or behave like one. Thanks to snooty Meadow, who barely gave Beth a glance before, all of that is about to change.

When her transformation is complete, Beth realizes she may not be as hideous as she thought. In fact, she may even be beautiful. At least that's the message she's getting from Derek Collins, Amabile's gorgeous soloist. Thankfully, he's never seen the real her, the Ugly Duckling her, the Beast that still crouches behind her straightened hair, acne-free, Lasik'd facade. His attention makes her think she may have been wrong - maybe a guy, even a hot guy like Derek, really could love her. Even though everyone warns her away from Derek, Beth can't resist. She knows there's something he's not telling her. She also knows she doesn't care. Maybe he truly is dangerous, maybe he is leading her on, but isn't it worth it to feel adored, even just for a few weeks? And what of Scott? Newly hot, completely devoted Scott, who stood by her even before her extreme makeover? Is it really possible that he wants to be more than friends? What's a girl, especially one with no guy smarts whatsoever, supposed to do? Derek won't tell her anything, Scott says things she doesn't want to hear, and her mom's revelations about Beth's absent "bio-dad" really aren't helping. She's never been more confused in her life. Beast or Beauty - which one is she really?

Although it's predictable and cheesy in places, Sing Me to Sleep is a gripping, passionate story about dreams, self-image, first love, and trusting one's heart. Beth's voice is pitch-perfect; she's a character to whom everyone, even Beast-free Beauties, can relate. With her awkwardness, her sarcasm, her self-deprecating humor, she's hard to resist. Plotwise, the story moves along at a fair clip. Although you can see the big surprise coming a mile away (unlike Beth, who doesn't figure things out until it's almost too late), Morrison manages to keep some suspense going. Sing Me to Sleep actually becomes one of those stories where you know what's going to happen, but you don't really care that you know. You know what I mean? Beth's voice is strong enough to transcend predictability, occasional cheese, and some underdeveloped characters (all the boys, basically) - she makes the story unique, vibrant and compelling.

Sing Me to Sleep starts with three words - Damn, she's ugly - and that's all it took to ensnare me. Beth's voice is magic. It seduced me into caring, believing, hoping. As desperately as Beth wanted to write her own song, I wanted to hear it. There's nothing Beastly about it - Sing Me to Sleep is a thing of beauty. Now, who's being cheesy?

The trailer for Sing Me to Sleep was recently released on YouTube. I don't love it - I think it makes the book look more melodramatic than it really is, but the music is really beautiful. The song in the background is "Beth's Song" from the novel. The single will be available for download on iTunes soon.



Grade: B+

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG for mild language and some mature content (see note below)

To the FTC, with love: I got this ARC from Angela Morrison. The fact that she's a friend and generously provides me with free copies of her books didn't influence this review in any way. I swear.

Note: Like Morrison's first novel, Taken By Storm (which I reviewed here), Sing Me to Sleep is what I call "mostly clean." It has a bit of mild swearing, no sex, and only vague references to things like drugs, partying, underrage drinking, etc. It does deal with these issues - especially Beth's almost overwhelming desire to be intimate with Derek - but it does so in a realistic, open way. Instead of being racy or graphic, it's honest, an approach that may open doors to some much-needed mother/daughter chats.

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Now, for the fun part: I have some Angela Morrison goodness to give away. Here's what's up for grabs:

1 - signed, hardback copy of Sing Me to Sleep

2 - signed, paperback copies of Taken By Storm, Angela's first novel

7 - glossy, signed bookmarks featuring Angela's books

This is what you have to do:

Answer this question: If you could choose any musician to write a lullaby for you, who would it be? Who would you most like to sing you to sleep?

Leave your answer in the comment section of this post. Also, let me know which book you'd like to be entered to win. You may enter to win copies of both books. The winners of the books will each receive 1 bookmark. The remaining bookmarks will go to whomever Random.org chooses :) If you spread the word about the contest (post it in your Facebook status, Tweet about it, blog about it, stick it on your sidebar, etc.), you will get 1 extra entry per word-spreading tactic. This contest is limited to readers in the U.S. only. I will choose winners on February 14th.

Good luck!

----- SPOILER ALERT------DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN'T YET READ SING ME TO SLEEP-----

A couple of notes I didn't want to put in my review for fear of spoiling plot surprises:

  • Sing Me to Sleep reminds me a lot of A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks. Anyone else think so?
  • The character of Derek Collins was inspired by Matt Quaife, a real Amabile singer who died of cystic fibrosis in 2007. To learn more about the disease, visit The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

26 comments:

  1. Ok... let me tell you about one of my favorite artists... KEVIN BACON!!! He could sing me to sleep anytime. :-) Not sure I would fall asleep though...

    What a fun giveaway!! Looking forward to discovering this author... she sounds wonderful!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I would choose to be lulled to sleep by Over the Rhine, my favorite band of all time. I cannot imainge anything else more soothing ;)

    I think that this book sounds great, but mostly the cover is stunning!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have so many favorite artists and bands, but I think John Mayer would be the best to fall asleep to...other singers would probably just keep me up all night! I'd want either of the two books...both seem amazing!

    do you need my email? musicxisxlovex19@aim.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. sounds completely cheesy... but my Joe is an amazing musician, so he is my favorite to lull me to sleep- not that I can con him into singing me a lullaby before bed very often!

    The review is great and Id love to check this book out! Either copy would be cool to win :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a great question! And ok, this is going to sound bizarre I know, but I have a weird, old school crush on Neil Diamond and yeah, I'd totally want him to sing me a lullaby. Perhaps with Mark Sallig of Glee fame. That's a duo I'd love to see sing together.

    The book sounds great. I'd be happy winning either book. Thanks for the review too. Those first three words have really captured my attention.

    riddikulus.sarah@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. The answer for both of these questions for me is Michael Buble. Mmmm mmmm!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you for the review! I really, really want to read this
    book! And also Taken by Storm.
    Both books sound great & they are in my
    wish-list hehe! Also the covers are
    amazing!!

    What a great question! Well let's see, I would love for Eduardo Verastegui to sing me to sleep anytime.
    He is my favorite actor, and he sings
    too!

    Thank you so much for the giveaway, I'm so
    excited. I'd be happy winning either book.

    +1 Sidebar = http://suenosenlaluna.blogspot.com/

    bere4estrella@hotmail.com
    Bere

    ReplyDelete
  8. I would definitely say Jack Johnson. All his music is quiet and mellow.(my husband is a big fan)

    Awesome giveaway!! I still have not read Taken by Storm. Usually by now I would have borrowed this from someone. But no one I know has this book. I see all the good reviews on it. Please enter me. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  9. With a review like that, how can one NOT enter the contest? Seriously, love the honesty and the cheese. :) I'd love to win any copies or the bookmarks. Um, a lullaby for me would be by Michael Buble. Or maybe Coldplay. Or possibly U2. Hm. Can we choose dead artists, I'd also like Frank Sinatra.

    ReplyDelete
  10. please count me in ... thanks

    karenk
    kmkuka(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  11. I found some cd's by Jamie Callum @ my library. I think he would sing a great lullaby!

    ReplyDelete
  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  13. I would want Metallica to write me a lullaby. Sure it would be very loud and probably keep me awake, but sleep is overrated.

    I would like to win Sing Me to Sleep.

    Thanks, sharonluvscats(at)gmail(dot)com

    +1 I rt'd your link @sharonlovescats

    ReplyDelete
  14. Sing Me To Sleep And Taken By Storm Sound Like Really Great Books I Would Love Tio Be Entered To Win Both Books.

    If You Could Choose Any Musician To Write A Lullaby For You, Who Would It Be? Who Would You Most Like To Sing You To Sleep?

    The Musician I Would Choose Would Be Robert Pattinson. I Love His Voice. He Sings On The Twilight Soundtrack And His Voice Has This Sort Of Quality That I Could Just Close My Eyes And Be In Total Peace. I Would Definitely Love For Him To Sing Me To Sleep.

    +1 I Blogged About This Giveaway.
    http://skyla11377.blogspot.com/2010/01/bloggin-bout-books-blog.html

    +1 I Tweeted About This Giveaway (@skyla11377).
    http://twitter.com/skyla11377/status/8422068741

    skyla11377(At)AOL(Dot)Com

    ReplyDelete
  15. I think John Mayer would sing a great lullaby! Thank you for sharing the interview! I admire all of your posts!

    ReplyDelete
  16. This is an AWESOME Giveaway! I'd like to be entered to win a signed hardback of "Sing Me To Sleep".

    Who would I want to sing me to sleep...OMG this is SO hard because it's a toss-up! My first love musician or my new love musician. My first love...RICK SPRINGFIELD! He still makes me melt and my new love musician...DAVE MATTHEWS! See why it's SO hard!?! If not...I'm just speachless!

    Thank you SO Much!

    x0xx Amy *Park-Avenue Princess*

    IAmHiMaintenance@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
  17. I'd like Michael Buble to sing to me. There's something about his voice...
    Thanks for the giveaway.

    s.mickelson at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hmmmm...I want Ray LaMontagne or John Mayer to sing me to sleep. Not so sure I would fall asleep though ;)
    kghobbs@gmail.com
    blog post: http://kghbookhunter.blogspot.com/2010/02/sing-me-to-sleep-by-angela-morrison.html
    tweet: http://twitter.com/kghobbs/statuses/8578275521
    So excited!

    kghobbs@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  19. Jude Law can sing me to sleep anytime. I don't even know if he can sing but as long as I can see him before going to sleep, that's good enough for me.
    I would love to read both of these books.
    tweeted: http://twitter.com/Emma015/statuses/8645630156

    findjessyhere at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  20. If i had to choose one musician to write me a lullaby and sing me to sleep it would have to be Eric Bowley from The Scene Aesthetic. His voice is magical and soothing.

    i would like to enter to win both books please (:


    e-mail: jillpole27@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  21. OK, I guess if I had to choose someone to sing me a lullaby, it would be Michael Buble. What a lovely voice. And so cute.

    I'll enter to win both books please. Thanks for doing this Susan and thanks to the author as well.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I would like to be lulled to sleep by Jack Johnson. :)

    Enter me for Taken by the Storm. :)
    towerofbooks(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  23. I would like Kara Dio Guardi to write the song and I'd like Jon Bon Jovi to sing it to me at night!! The book I would choose is: Taken by Storm. Thanks!!

    ReplyDelete
  24. I woild like Stephen Curtis Chapman to sing me a lullaby. He has an amazing voice.

    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

    ReplyDelete
  25. Tweet! Tweet!

    http://twitter.com/NancyeDavis/status/9118964876

    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

    ReplyDelete
  26. I would like to win "Sing Me to Sleep" only. I already have "Taken By Storm"

    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

    ReplyDelete

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