Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Book Review: Hazel Fine Sings Along

By Melissa Amster

As Hazel Fine steps out of her crummy hotel room into the bright LA sunshine, she knows she’s got one, and only one, chance. Her audition for the massive talent show, The Sing Along, could change her life forever. She has the skills, what she needs now is a bit of luck.

Soon Hazel finds herself alongside fifteen other contestants who all have the same dream: superstardom. There’s the beautiful Hollywood golden child, Bella. The bright, bubbly country singer, Zoey. The extraordinarily handsome surfer/influencer, Benji. And Hazel, who has more to hide than her past. She’s got the chops, but can she handle the pressure without self-combusting?

Add in an undeniable attraction to the show’s talented yet brooding musical director, Nick, and the lecherous tactics of one of the judges, Hazel soon finds herself in over her head. But with her guitar strapped to her shoulder, she’s going to sing her heart out—and maybe open herself up to love at the same time. Who says you can’t have it all . . . (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

I had my eye on Hazel Fine Sings Along ever since Catherine McKenzie announced she would be writing this one as Katie Wicks. Catherine writes thrillers, but she did start out with a couple rom-coms and it was nice to see that side of her again. Her debut as Katie Wicks hits it out of the park! It is such a fun and interesting story. I even got teary-eyed a couple of times. I really liked getting to know Hazel and seeing what it was like behind the scenes of a reality music competition. (I watched American Idol for a few years in the late 2000s.)

If you're looking for drama, you've come to the right place. There is a lot of stress in Hazel's life and it starts to affect her relationships with the others in the competition. She has a secret that could hurt her career if it surfaces, so she is doing a lot to guard that, along with fending off advances from the show's host and hiding contraband (in this case, a quirky pet) in her hotel room. 

I just really liked this story overall. It kept me going from beginning to end, wanting to know what secret Hazel was keeping and wondering who would win the competition. The supporting characters were great (except the ones we weren't supposed to like) and the plot moved along smoothly. I also felt like I was right there because of the great use of detail. However, I felt like it was overkill to always describe everything each of the supporting characters was wearing. That part could have been simplified a bit. 

The only concern I had was that I felt some characters didn't receive consequences that were due to them. And when one of them did, it felt minor in comparison to what they deserved. 

Hazel Fine Sings Along is available now, so pick up a copy right away! I hope Katie will write more novels like this one, perhaps featuring some of the other characters (i.e. Bella, Zoey, etc.). 

(Trigger warning at the bottom of this post.)

Movie casting suggestions:
Hazel: Kaitlyn Dever
Benji: Darren Barnet
Nick: Theo James
Bella: Sofia Carson
Zoey: Amandla Stenberg (It can be a Dear Evan Hansen movie reunion with Kaitlyn too!)
Georgia: Gwyneth Paltrow
Kate: Julianne Hough
Martin: Jack Davenport

Thanks to Wattpad for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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TW: Sexual harassment

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