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When privileged 17-year-old Jasmine gets kicked out of her house, she takes what is left of her savings and flees to Santa Cruz to pursue her dream of becoming a musician. Jasmine finds the ideal room in an oceanfront house, but she needs to convince the three guys living there that she's the perfect roommate and lead guitarist for their band, C-Side. Too bad she has major stage fright and the cute bassist doesn't think a spoiled girl from over the hill can hack it. . .

In this fresh new novel by critically acclaimed author Tara Kelly, Jasmine finds out what happens when her life gets Amplified.

293 pages, Hardcover

First published October 25, 2011

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About the author

Tara Kelly

10 books401 followers
Tara Kelly adores variety in her life. She’s an author and one-girl-band by night, and a graphic designer, video producer, and photographer by day. She lives in Sin City with her beloved guitars, sound design master husband, and a fluffy cat named Maestro.

Ratings: I give honest ratings, even if I like you. I'm extremely picky with quirky tastes and many books (even well written books) don't connect with me. Anything 3 stars and above means I LIKED it, and it's a compliment. If a book ends up on my 'mythang' shelf, it means I found it especially memorable for one reason or another.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 410 reviews
Profile Image for Limonessa.
300 reviews508 followers
April 14, 2012
4.5 stars

So I guess I might have a thing for books with music in them.
Might it be because I can actually hear it like a soundtrack, just like in a movie and it makes it more vivid? Maybe. Might it be because musician are always irrevocably hot? Yeah, that's probably more like it.
Come on, who wasn't mesmerized at some point in their life by the guy playing the guitar in front of a bonfire during a hot summer night? Only me? Ok, FINE. Moving on.

My expectations for Amplified were middle to low. The past two YA contemporary books I read were pretty disappointing and I was sort of expecting this one to follow the lead. So what a pleasant surprise it turned out to be, I'm so glad I was proven wrong.

The beginning, to be honest, wasn't really promising.
We meet Jasmine being kicked out of the house by her father with her car broken down in front of an auto shop. Her father is one of those quite oppressive types and Jasmine wants to defer her enrollment in Stanford. Because she wants to play the guitar. Of course he doesn't agree, hence the kicking out. She's left with no car, no job, no place to stay, very little money, two guitars and one kick-ass amplifier.
Anyway, at the beginning, she was coming out as a bit of a spoiled brat and I could smell clichés from a mile away.

When she gets the chance to become part of an industrial rock group which incidentally includes also the chance to rent a room in a shared house, she jumps at the occasion even if she has to fake it; they ask for someone with stage experience and she has none.
Between the hysterical/weird/grumpy guys populating the house, the job at a psychic shop, her father not talking to her, rehearsals and her first live performance looming, Jasmine's life becomes hectic to say the least. Will she be able to fake it until she makes it or disaster is just around the corner?

Oh, how I wish all my vanillas were along the lines of this one. I haven't quite understood yet what it is that makes me despise some contemporary YA books and love other ones... I mean, the formula is pretty much always the same, right? Girl with problems/estranged from her parents meets cute boy who is taken/oblivious, enter mean girl, coming of age, bla bla bla...
So what is it? Well-developed characters? Yes. Witty, clever dialogue? Duh. Hot guys and sexual tension? Preferably. A morale, a message? Yes!
But what else?
I guess I need to feel something, that's all. Sentiment. The X factor that makes me long to be in the story, be part of it, be friends with the characters. If it's people I'd like to be friends with, then I'll probably like the book.
Amplified made me feel connected to Jasmine in such a way. Not only it's an extremely fun book - snarky, witty, clever exactly up to right level - but I really felt for Jasmine in her endeavor to chase her dreams and do something she really wanted to do. I kept on thinking, you go girl!
It's really hard out there for young people at the moment, especially in my country. Today I was listening to the radio in the car while taking the kids to school and they were interviewing some kids in a program. This girl, 17 I think, who was asked: "what are your dreams for the future?" replied: "None for the moment".
I almost swerved. How can you not have ANY dreams at 17, for crying out loud? This shocks me and makes me extremely sad. If our kids have no dreams, what kind of hope do we have for the future?
I think we need more books with kids who strive to do something with their lives. But I digress.

The romance in the story was also very much to my taste. It develops slowly and it ends in a very believable and logic way, and kudos to Tara Kelly for managing it that way, I totally bought it.
The only reason why I took away half a star to this incredibly worthy book is Amy. While the other characters were really cool - especially Veta and Bryn - Amy is way too cliché, too mean girl. She might as well have grown some horns, got a pitchfork and the portrait would have been complete.

I also might add that some readers - me - might find the music parts a tad too technical. What the heck is a wah?!

Anyway, for all my friends who like "vanillas", I think you need to check this out because it's a keeper.

Also appears on The Nocturnal Library.
Profile Image for Ariana.
936 reviews1,302 followers
April 11, 2019

Help! I can't get this stupid grin off my face! :D

Yeah, this means that I loved this story!
And no, I don't really want it off - I kinda look cute with it.

Now back to our story..
There are books with deep messages that touch the bottom of my heart, but there are also books like this one, with simple meanings but with a great power to make me laugh, to make me dream, to make me hope, to fill my sleepless nights.

I love them all the same - some for making my heart ache, some for making my stomach flutter.
They all seem to bring to the surface all my deepest desires. They all seem to bring back lots of memories; all seem to make me feel like stepping back in time. They make me want to tell to my younger self: see, you could have done that, be that kind of person, done those crazy things.. let's do them now!

Yes, sometimes I wish I could go back in time.. Be young again, have no worries, do something reckless, fall in love for the first time, make new friends, watch the ocean (not that I know how that feels), sing until someone begs me to stop, drop everything for a silly dream, fight for something I want with all my heart, maybe get drunk and kiss some boy I might like and not even be sorry when I'm sober.

You know what?...
I like books about following dreams and making them true no matter how many bumps you get in your road.
I like the optimistic vibe they give me, the hope that fills my heart, the sweet hum that fills my mind.. it's like music to my heart.


This is a simple story, about a girl that all her life has been following the path her father had shown to her. Until one day when she wanted to try something different, be someone different.. be herself for the very first time.

Off course this now means that she has to find a place to live, a real job, and try not to upset (too much) her new friends to whom she has to lie to befriend in the first place.

Here we use to say something along these lines: that the lies have short legs and the truth catches up sooner or later. Not sure how do you say it in English but I am too lazy to search for it now, so my rough translation must do.
Same for the story..  if you lie that you are an experienced musician, you can't expect people not to notice the truth at some point.. And what starts with a lie is a bit to shaky for you to feel like stepping on safe ground anymore.
"Sure, I had pretty high expectations. [...]
But I had nowhere to go but up. Why not aim as high as possible?"


Jasmine - What can I say about her?

She is stubborn, ambitious, witty, funny, strong at times but also vulnerable.
She needs love, friends, she needs to be accepted for what she really is (I might add that she needs some money now that she is on her own).

At the beginning we find her kicked out of her home because she wants to play music and not go to college - in fact I think that she was the one leaving just to make a point. Too bad that she has not enough money, no friends in sight (her only best friend is far-far away) and her car just broke down.

This leads us to her meeting the C-Side, a band searching for a guitarist. Wouldn't be awesome if she found a place to stay and a band to make her dreams come true?

As a side note, I couldn't hate her father, because even though he was a jerk with her, there were things that he teached her that I found usefull. Yes, I can't imagine how could he sleep at night knowing that his daughter is in debt, on the street, but I simply couldn't hate him even though I wanted to so much.
"Maybe I was being naive. Even stupid. I mean, who would trade Standford for being homeless? [...] But I had to know if I was meant to be a musician. Otherwise I'd spend the rest of my life regretting it. Asking myself... what if?"

Sean is heartbroken and he holds it against the whole world.
I wanted to shake some senses into his cold heart, but I figured that it was quite numb to even feel it.

He wasn't what I would call a jerk, but he was a bit rude at times, mostly with Jasmine whom caught him on the wrong foot. Still it felt like they both had this unspoken understanding and they could make fun of each other without getting mad. They were so cute I could have kissed them, I loved their moments, loved their friendship, loved them both.

Back to Sean I cared for him all through the story - I understand that it is hard to get over past loves. I wanted him to be stronger and get over it for once, but this kind of healing takes time, and this book makes it pretty clear.

What I loved the most was the interaction between him and Jasmine. From the very beginning they kept teasing each other, but you could see them enjoying it - a smile would appear on their lips or some shining in their eyes. They fell one for the other slowly, even though the attraction was there from the very beginning. I like this kind of rocky relationships that start with them pretending that they don't give a rat's ass about the other, but even they don't believe it.
"Do yourself a favor princess. Work it out with Mom and Dad."
"You know nothing about me or my situation."
He leaned closer. "I'll take a guess. Your parents wanted you to be someone you aren't, so you've come here to express yourself and get that butterfly tatoo you've always wanted."
His eyes didn't move from mine. "Am I?"
"Completely." I shoved past him. "I hate butterflies."

The band

Bryn - was at times a bit of a perfect jerk, but I understand him. He has a lot to deal with regarding the band, he needs to make the best decisions and to have an escape route for every failure. He needs to keep them all together and look for the good of the band as an unit, so even though he seemed to have it agains Jasmine, he was only trying to do what was the best for the C-Side.

Felix - was a bit reserved on some ways but he kept speaking his mind in a cute, innocent king of way. He didn't pamper anyone - if he had something to say he just let it go.

Veta - was nice and honest and a good friend and sister. She was beautiful, had a great voice and she knew it. She lived her mother and sister and she right-away considered Jasmine a friend of hers. Their bond was quick but strong, and it was great to see their friendship grow, even in the hard moments they went through with the band.
Also she got a bit involved in the relationship between her brother and Jasmine, but that only because she didn't want any of them to get hurt, not after what happened between Sean and her old best friend (Amy).

More characters:

Even Zoe was a great addition to this book. Her first boy-crush was so damn cute, and her comments were priceless. I wish there had been more scenes with her.

Tina was one hell of a mother.. in the best possible way. She rocked. She was open minded and caring, and even though I didn’t' buy the mind-reading I really loved her and her part.

Jason, Jasmine's best friend, was was really nice too. I liked their phone conversations and I caught myself laughing too many times to count. They've been friends since the beginning of time, and distance was not getting between them which was really great. We should all have some great friends to make us feel better at our worst and/or to enjoy with them our happy moments.


This story was cute, cute, cute!
It's more around 4.5 stars (the ending was a bit..not sure, it gave me hope, but I wanted more), still I'll make it 5 because this book made me laugh like crazy ;)) Enjoy it!

Check my book boyfriend here:

And my Book Girlfriend here:

(because I've been asked for this feature for a while, and I just managed to keep my promise)

This review can also be found at ReadingAfterMidnight.com

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Profile Image for Katrina Passick Lumsden.
1,779 reviews12.8k followers
July 24, 2012
I made one note of this book while reading. It was as follows:

"Jasmine is judgmental, close-minded, insecure, negative, gullible, inconsiderate, entitled, incompetent, spoiled, proud, deceitful, and uptight."

I wanted to like this book. When I read the synopsis, I thought, hell, yeah, 'cause, you know, who among us didn't once harbor a fantasy of running away to join a band? Hell, I still habor that fantasy. But this book? You know what, I'm just going to do this list style.

1. Jasmine is an ass (see above notes)
2. Jasmine's father is an ass.
3. The people Jasmine meets in Santa Cruz and befriends are all asses.
4. Jasmine is 17 (and an ass), and her father (ass), who is unbelievably controlling, never once calls the police to report her as a runaway.
5. The characters think they're being snarky, when really they're just being...well, asses.
6. Not once did I laugh. Not once.
7. The constant dropping of band names! The Cure and Massive Attack and Nine Inch Nails, oh my.


8. The romance was not in any way fulfilling.
9. What are the odds that a girl who runs away from home will a) have car trouble and conveniently end up in front of the shop where the bassist for the exact band she later auditions for works, and b) find a place to stay and a band to join only one day after leaving home?
10. Jasmine conveniently gets a job, too, only a day after leaving home!
11. It's a veritable grab-bag of stereotypes (the homosexuals are super duper nice, the cross dresser is always so passive and "cute" and "adorable" and gag me, the ex-girlfriend is slutty and mean, the rival guitarist is cocky, obnoxious, and petty, etc.).
12.Sean (who's an ass) is in college (majoring in marine biology). How is he going to continue attending classes when he's touring?
13. Awful song lyrics.

"High thrust, low rev. Slick roads, back woods. Take me anywhere. My traction adapts."

"Lost in pictures. Writhing with conviction. You walk among the phantoms you breed."

Billy Zane is reflecting on his role in the song.

14. The ending was open-ended and failed to resolve anything other than Jasmine's band getting to go on tour with some superdouche band they idolize.
15. It's pretentious.
16. I disliked it. A great deal.
17. Duh, right?

So why two stars instead of one? Because I've read way, way worse. This book isn't terrible in its own right, and I'm sure there are people out there who will enjoy it. It just wasn't for me. The characters were wooden, the plot weak, the obstacles (what obstacles?)...the angst was overdone, the situations not even close to believable, and at the end of the book, you're basically right back where you started.
Profile Image for Glass.
643 reviews4 followers
August 20, 2012
I already know what will be the biggest "don't like" for some of the readers - ending of this novel. But that's just what was turning point in my decision to give Amplified five stars instead of four. Author didn't give in to the temptation of the usual happy endings - girl gets the boy, daddy and mommy are my biggest fans after all and so on... And this girl knows how to use the words and not make them pathetic and cheesy.
I have to admit that I didn't completely understand all those music terminology - I googled a little bit about it and Tara's "background" - she is writing from her personal experience which is in my opinion one of the best quality in my favourite author. Yes, she goes on my fav list!:)
One more thing - as soon as I read word Placebo and Meds, I knew she would me my kind of a girl!
I can't wait to read Harmonic Feedback and everything she'll write in the future.
Profile Image for Steph Su.
943 reviews452 followers
January 4, 2012
Thank you, Tara Kelly, for reminding me of what a well-written contemporary YA with a flawed but still strong female protagonist can do for me and a relaxing reading night. AMPLIFIED was my unexpected but wholly gratifying pick for the type of evening I was worried I had lost forever: several hours of relaxing into Jasmine’s ultra-cool, exciting, and satisfying musical world.

I wish this book could have somehow come with a soundtrack: Tara Kelly’s descriptions of Jasmine’s mindset as she plays guitar is the kind that you want to experience, to live, yourself. To feel the thrill of being utterly absorbed in the act of artistic creation—reading AMPLIFIED made me all the more determined to practice guitar more or get back into writing!

There was something satisfyingly right about the tone of Jasmine’s narration. It could’ve been easy for her to go over-the-top dramatic with her reactions to everything going on in her life, but I loved that the writing was so smartly controlled. This means that we are allowed to sympathize with both Jasmine and her father as they battle it out epically over letting her scrabble uncertainly on her own or following his well-intentioned path to success. It means that we can connect with every member of the band: Veta with her admirable “badassness” yet kind heart; the utterly adorable Felix (no elaboration necessary, you really just have to read the book for this); Bryn’s well-intentioned anal-retentiveness; and Sean’s snide remarks masking a creative and sexy soul.

Indeed, all of the characters, from major to minor, were well drawn, believable, and easy to empathize with. Some—like Sean and Veta’s younger sister, Zoe, with her thousand-page fantasy epics and cute-to-die-for crush that she so determinedly denies—are easier to like than others—Sean’s vengeful ex—but when it comes down to it, there are no stereotypes in AMPLIFIED, which made for an thoroughly absorbing read.

Contemporary YA authors may have a more difficult time finding an audience fueled on hype and flashy premises, but in the long run, they, in my opinion, often gain the more devoted fans. And as Tara Kelly’s sophomore novel was no less well-written and music-filled than her first, Harmonic Feedback, you can bet that I will be hovering through the Internet, waiting for news of her future books.
Profile Image for Eunice.
255 reviews529 followers
February 29, 2012
3.75 stars

I was instatntly hooked the first time I read the blurb of this book and decided I have to read this. Well, becuase like Jasmine, I once dreamed of joining a band when I was in high-school and just like her again, I wanted to be a lead guitarist. The difference is just that I stopped having guitar lessons when I turned sophomore year and got caught up with all school stuffs and teenage-stuffs. So you know, when I started reading it I was like, wow this girl's just like me and I liked Jasmine right away.

This was a lovely and enjoyable read especially since it's a music inclined story and you know, I'm really such a sucker for that. I really loved playing guitar (though I didn't get to be any good. lol) so I can pretty much relate to Jasmine. Jasmine Kiss was an admirable and adorable character. I loved her determination and how sure she was of what she really wants for herself. But what I loved about her the most was her great passion towards music and playing guitar. Yes, she's flawed and she could be really frustrating at some point but she always manage to stand up and fixed things. It was great to see how she developed, learned things, trust herself and gained confidence.

Sean, the cute bassist of the band Jasmine had joined in was likable too. He and Jasmine makes a really cute couple and could make some really swoony and pretty steamy scenes too. However there was this time that made me a little disappointed in him but thank goodness he was able to regain himself on me. Other character like the memebers of the band - C-side - Veta, Felix and Bryn were funny and adorable too though sometimes they could be a little weird and harsh but still they were good and likable.

The ending was great though I would admit I'm not that satisfied because I'm a sappy person who loves sweet sweet ending and needs to be reassured that the guy and the girl really did end up with each other which in this story was left pretty vague. Though I really liked to think that they did and spent most of my time after reading it mentally editing the book. lol. But still, it was a really wonderful and enjoyable read and I would still recommend this to you guys!

This review is also posted at Book Overdose
Profile Image for Bailey (IB Book Blogging).
254 reviews55 followers
September 12, 2011
AMPLIFIED is a one-of-a-kind and outstanding YA that I cannot stop thinking about!! Seriously, I was so engaged in the characters and their lives that I was stuck thinking about them long after I had finished. AMPLIFIED is so honest, raw, and mesmerizing. I don't have a single complaint about it at all. You have to pick this one up when it hits shelves!

Jasmine, to quote Kari from A Good Addiction, is so spicy! She doesn't back down from anything and is determined to make a niche for herself in the band. The whole situation with her controlling dad really made an impact on her and she just had to get away after graduation. I can definitely understand how she feels. When you have just had it with the world, you will go to extreme lengths to get away from all the pressure and the stress.

I just loved Jasmine's attitude. She is tough, but she also has a softer side that comes out during the perfect moments. I don't know anything about music, but I could feel her raw passion for it. I wanted so badly for her to have her moment in the band. But it isn't at all easy for her. She has major stage-fright which causes quite a few problems with her and C-Side. Especially Bryn, the uber delicious drummer and self-appointed leader of the band. Oh, and she also has to deal with the brooding and yummy Sean who has a few problems of his own. Jasmine does have a rough time of it, but I was so proud of her by the end.

I cannot brag enough about all of Kelly's characters. Even though they each have their darker sides, I came to care for them all. Sean is my absolute favorite. He is snarky, intense, and has so much chemistry with Jasmine. I really don't know how to describe their relationship with each other. It is rough, slow but oh-so sweet. There is just one teensy tiny complication that had me wanting to pull my hair out, though!

Bryn is such a jerk, but I adored him. He is a bit of a player and he can be brutally honest, but he has just as much passion for music as Jasmine does. Vita is amazing! Props to her for owning who she is and never doubting it. Her friendship with Jasmine really made the whole story. Felix is a bit of a teddy bear. He is such a sweetheart and lightened the mood when it was needed.

AMPLIFIED is definitely going on the list of my favorite YA novels. It is so powerful and gorgeous. Kelly has become an auto-buy for me!
Profile Image for Kristy.
592 reviews84 followers
November 10, 2011
street corner November read.

The good vibes:
1. The cover, I adore color-covers! Especially the Yellow, orange or green variety!
2. This is a "music book" and it actually has a lot of music included. It's not just trying to be about music, it actually is.
3.The Sexual tension between 2 of the main characters.
4. ^ Their banter.
5. Sean, the latter half of the book especially
6. The author actually is trying to give us a look into a trying to get a job musician's world.
7. The story could have happened. Nothing is too far fetched.
8. Jasmine and her dad's struggle, while not entirely pleasant to read was very real.
9. The pretty music notes at the beginning of the chapters, it's all in the little details!!!!

The Sour notes:
1.There is just too many characters. Some of them have a hard time standing out. Some seem out of place. Some just seem plain not needed.
2. this is definitely a "scene" book. While that is not a completely bad thing, for me it made it harder to get into.
3. The whole Veta/Tina psychic shop thing. Again, not a bad thing in general, some people will find it quirky. I kind of found it distracting and out in left field.
4. Jasmine's Dad and the fact that he is a world class a-hole. Seriously, what kind of parents do that to their kid over not wanting to go to college right away?!!?!?
5.Bryn's character at times was soooo annoying. He had a role to play, but sometimes it needed to be dialed down a notch.

3.5 stars

I do have a lot of positive things to say about this one, but I can't give it a higher rating. Something just didn't click the way I wanted to. I wasn't in love with the story. Something is just missing for me and i can't put my finger on it.

Rec for music lovers that like YA.

Profile Image for Isamlq.
1,578 reviews710 followers
February 10, 2012
Normally I’d be all a-gush over this music filled novel, of a girl coming into her own as well as a boy to die for… but something was missing because I’m not (gushing, I mean) . It’s an OK book though with Jasmine Kiss who’s more than a music loving, guitar playing girl. She WAS daddy’s little girl. She TRIED her best in school, but she really loves music and wants more of it. SO she makes time and gets leaves home- all this in the first couple of chapters.

Here’s what I did like. They all know their music, from Veta, Sean, and Bryn and yes even Jasmine. I say this even if some of their lyrics sounded corny. But what’s better is that some of them were more than the music. Veta in particular, going out of her way to make Jasmine be OK, then showing different sides of her that ranged from bitchy rabid protective to being all psychic and what not. Or Jasmine for that matter; it’s her and her going after what she wanted despite the lack of support, that rang true to me, with her passion that was so obvious, I couldn’t help but be hopeful for her even if I was a bit meh for her in general.

HOWEVER, everyone else could be practically swept aside. Take Sean who’s the sort-of bad boy, the once been burned, love interest. There’s really nothing new to him, though he did make moments with her very interesting. Bryn too could have brought in so much more. There’s mention of him and his past, just not as specific as I’d have wanted (And I wanted.)

Have I mentioned the corny lyrics? Sorry, I simply can’t get over it.
Profile Image for Lauren.
1,179 reviews316 followers
December 23, 2011
Seventeen year-old Jasmine ‘runs away’ (she’s a high school grad) from home and her father’s wishes for her life in order to work on her music. She ends up renting a room in exchange for joining a band, except she has no prior stage experience. I know practically nothing about guitar playing, industrial rock or its culture, and that took up a large part of the book. Even so, I enjoyed the story and the subject matter was fairly interesting, even though the author used a lot of details in describing Jasmine’s guitar playing and, in my opinion, it got to be tedious at times. But my major problem with the story centered on the romance of the book.
Profile Image for Mary .
196 reviews44 followers
April 4, 2012
I love it since the first page.

Tara Kelly would be my next favorit author.
Warning!! It's the kind of book that would suck your time, it even worthed sacrificing my bedtime.

Amplified is a story of a girl who risk everything to find ways into her passion. And music is her passion.

Jasmine is a music talented girl who runaway from her luxurious house and life to take time for playing guitars on a band. Fortunately she found a group band that suits her good enough, only that she hides one little fact that she had never played either on stage or in front of any audiences.
Unfortunately, her first performance was suck. But she soon wake up and working up on her nervousness.

I love Jasmine immediately. She's a fine girl who always hard in taking compliments. I love this character side of her. I'm amazed by her humble expressions about herself. I'm pretty much sure her friends saw and appreciated her way more than herself.
And I really love her view about her music. Oh, I can play some instruments, but I hardly a musician. But her naration about her feeling when playing guitars was so intense it really got onto me. I really wish I could play like her.

One good quote when describing about working out on her falling risk:
"The thing about the edge was, it wasn't so scary anymore. I knew what would happen when I hit the ground. What I needed to figure out was how to jump off and stay afloat."

After Jasmine hit the lowest ground (failing and humiliated on her first performance) and still could stand and working up, she would anticipated the fall and find a way to stand back higher on the next performance. I appreciate this part very much and I'm happy that she could enjoy her playing on the stage

The love story is quite good also. Though I don't appreciate Sean's weakness toward his ex-girlfriend (and really want to knock his head repeatedly), I think I could understand him in such level. Thankfully, he hardly a man-whore, prefered using his brain than his hot body, and very much appreciate Jasmine's playing and personality.
The romance ending is pretty good and real. Not pushing things immediately, but I really would appreciate more of them (hopefully you would satisfied us on your next book??? wink..wink..).
And I love how Jasmine finally shining on her own. It's really a good feeling to end a book with this glory.

Overall, Amplified is rock!!!
Profile Image for K. Lincoln.
Author 16 books89 followers
March 15, 2012
I think I'm a confirmed Tara Kelly fan now. I loved Harmonic Feedback so much; the immersion in music, the development of Drea's character that I was reluctant to pick up Amplified in case it was disappointing or (gasp) boring.

Shouldn't have worried. Kelly took me back to the Santa Cruz boardwalk culture, complete with serious and earnest psychics, annoying tourists, and an arts culture both pretentious and cool.

Jasmine has decided to leave the perfect life her Dad has mapped out for her and instead of going to Stanford she's going to at last follow her heart; music.

She has no idea how she's going to make money or if she's good enough to play live (she's only played with her best friend Jason in the garage before) and she makes naive mistakes all the time, but she's going to go through with this.

But then her car breaks down. And her last chance audition is a band that says "guys preferred."

I love the Jasmine is strong, but breaks down and tries to borrow money from her Dad. I love that their realistic fights center on both's insecurities about love and trust and how Jasmine's absent mother affects them both.

It was very, very painful watching Jasmine's first live gig, so much was I invested in her doing well. But true to real life, we fail and we pick up and move on and try harder. Jasmine makes several major mistakes and does just that; moves on.

And then there's the romance. Sean's in the band, been cheated on by his girlfriend, and seems to have nothing but criticism for newbie Jasmine. Watching him take care of her anyway in small ways was lovely. While my romance heart cringed that they were hooking up despite the fact he was just out of a major relationship and they played in the band together, I think it was entirely realistic, entirely "teen caught up in major life moments" kind of expression of Jasmine's physical self-knowledge.

The icing on the cake is Jasmine's love of music. Like Drea in Harmonic Feedback, Jasmine's utterly compelling knowledge of music and name dropping of bands and musical styles takes you into the music in a way most amateurs can never know.

Tight, compelling, and utterly fun to read.

This Book's Snack Rating: An array of tasty treats from the Santa Cruz boardwalk; cotton candy for the sweet, melt in your mouth sweetness of Jasmine and Sean's feelings to the oily goodness of fried artichokes for the way band culture (and it's accompanying drama) drenches the book.
Profile Image for Marla Mei.
537 reviews293 followers
August 16, 2014
My Actual Rating: 3.75 stars

I was about to give in to the small voice inside my head telling me to just give this a four-star rating already. But then, though I really liked the book, I didn't get hooked to it until I was about 20% percent through it. And it certainly wouldn't be fair to all those books that I've rated four stars which had got me gushing just from the very first page.

Okay, so Amplified..

I loved the musicality that was incorporated in it. It gave me the ambience like I was also part of the band. I admit that I got quite a bit confounded with the musical terms used but this just truly shows that Tara Kelly really knows her music well. And she bestowed that knowledge she has for music to the book's characters. Her characters really are true musicians. They not only passionately LOVE music, they confidently KNOW music.

I can't say the same with the lyrics though. The lyrics were totally corny and cringe-worthy and I couldn't help feeling embarrassed for Kelly. I guess this just proves that Kelly won't be rocking poetry any time soon.

I'm glad that there will be a sequel. There were so many issues that were left unsolved and undealt with that I knew right after I finished this book that there will be one. So I didn't really feel that dissatisfied with the ending. I'm contented with how it ended but not contented enough to not wish for a sequel.

Profile Image for Vicki.
2,153 reviews84 followers
October 26, 2020
I thought this was a super cute YA book. It is my first Tara Kelly book and I plan to read more. If there is anything I taught my children and have tried to teach my grandchildren, it is to try to find something they are passionate about! If you have something in life you're passionate about and find a hobby or launch a career via that passion, life will be so much better than without. That's one thing I love about Jasmine. She is really talented, but she ran away from home to fulfill her passion. That made me feel bad that she had to go that route. She had passion and I could "see her eyes light up" whenever she talked about her guitar playing. And, if you like romance, there's some of that for you!

Profile Image for Mundie Moms & Mundie Kids.
1,952 reviews204 followers
June 12, 2012
Music, romance and the quest for independence are just a few of the things that made Amplified a surprisingly engaging read for me. Tara did a lot of fabulous things with her story that kept me hooked, and had me wanting to know what would happen next. I enjoyed the different vibe with this story, as it's not one I've personally read a lot of in YA books, and that's the musical element. Tara did an incredible job at making me feel apart of the musical world that makes up this story. From the band's relationships, to the music scene, the music itself and the instruments. Plus I love a short girl who can pack a surprisingly powerful punch, which Jasmine does via her awesome guitar playing.

One of the other things I admired about what Tara does in this book, is she allows her character Jasmine to grow, make realistic, and relatable mistakes. She gives her real life situations and very real consequences. I totally respect an author who does that. Though I didn't experience the same things Jasmine did, I still felt I connected with her on a few levels, because I related to the wanting to do things on my own, learning from stupid choices, and learning to pick yourself up and keep going. I have to say I started off admiring Jasmine for wanting to do it on her own, which readers come to understand why in the book, was a little disappointed in her for some of the pour choices she makes and went back to admiring her for owning up to things and trying to make things right again, as well as proving her worth, so to speak.

This strong, stubborn girl doesn't get off the hook so easy, and her biggest challenge isn't with earning her place in the band, it's her romantic counter part, Sean. Oh wow Sean. I seriously loved getting to read about him. This broken hearted, tough guy sure calls it like he sees it, and he definitely sees more than he lefts on, especially with Jasmine. I loved the way these two grew closer together. There are times I laughed out loud from the things they say to each other the attitudes they have with one another, and then there's times I want to sigh over a few of their moments together. Huge kudos to Tara for creating a refreshing, realistic romance in this story. I seriously wanted to yell "FINALLY" while reading this. The way in which Tara executed this part of her story was brilliant! While there was an attraction between the two, and plenty of down right fabulous snark, there wasn't a love at first site, which was wonderful! This relationship was one that made sense, was a little sigh worthy at times and left me feeling hopeful for the future of Jasmine and Sean.

Tara's writing is seriously what kept me reading this book. Her words flowed beautifully, her story came to life for me, and everything about the music world in Amplified was intriguing to me. I liked the conflict, and uncertainty that takes place through out the book, especially given the fact this story takes place right after Jasmine's high school graduation. That phase of life is a bit uncertain, it's a little scary, and it's definitely a whole new world after high school. I personally felt that Tara explored those thoughts and feelings well with what Jasmine is going through. This is a book I surprisingly enjoyed, especially given the fact that I usually enjoy more paranormal/fantasy books. Slowly but surely I've been branching out and reading more coming of age/contemporary books, and I'm surprised with how much I'm enjoying them now.

I would like to mention that there is some language, a few uses of the f-word, mentions of sex, and some underage drinking in this book. Given the music scene and all that goes on in this book, I will say that Tara did a great job handling all that, and these are things I had expected to read about in this book.
Profile Image for Elizabeth Drake.
431 reviews91 followers
April 25, 2012

This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes

Cover Impressions: The cover is simple, but fitting. I like the incorporation of the title as part of the amp and the use of the often overlook, puke-green color.

The Gist: Jasmine Kiss has fled the stifling world of academia and an overbearing father for the streets of Santa Cruz and the chance to lose herself in her music. When the perfect opportunity of a place to stay and a spot in an up and coming band lands in her path, Jasmine has to fight her way in and convince both the band, and herself, that she belongs.

Review: Jasmine is the kind of character you want to hug, hand a cup of tea and tell "oh sweetie, you are so young". She comes from a privileged background and, at the beginning, comes off as a 17 year old princess who doesn't realize how good she has it. I will be honest, I sympathized with the father. You have hopes and dreams for your children and then they turn around and make the choices that you think will lead them into pain and trouble. Of course, as the story wore on and I learned more about dear old daddy (particularly him telling Jasmine she was lucky to be plain looking) I began to see where she was coming from. This is not a story of action and suspense, it is a story of friendship and growth. I felt honored to watch Jasmine learn some life lessons and come into her own as a musician.

This is the type of novel that smacks of REAL. The characters have major flaws, they make real, teenage mistakes and (sometimes) own up and learn from them. The love interest made my heart flutter and remember how exciting those exploratory days were, when excitement and nerves melded together and made butterflies dance inside your stomach. There were no real "villains" but even the characters that I disliked could be seen as having bigger issues at play. I was particularly glad that, while Jasmine does learn and grow from her experiences, she does not change into a whole new person and we know that she still has a ways to go.

The one thing about this book that I could not relate to was the music descriptions. I know NOTHING about music, I am a casual listener at best and I found myself skimming some of the sections where the band played and Jasmine's each and every move on the guitar was recorded. This is a personal issue, I know. I can, however, imagine those to be the favorite parts of someone who does "get" music and understands the lingo. I do wish this book could have somehow been bundled with a soundtrack so that I could have connected what I was reading with what I was hearing.

This book should appeal to budding musicians and anyone that enjoys well-drawn characters with a dash of romance. It should be noted (as described below) there are some scenes and language that may not be appropriate for those on the younger end of the Young Adult spectrum.

Teaching/Parental Notes:
Age: 16 and up
Gender: Will probably be more appealing to girls.
Sex: Spoken about, alluded to, but not actually described.
Violence: None
Inappropriate Language: Douches, Jacking Off, Giving Head, Fucking, Pricks, Bitch
Substance Abuse: Smoking, underage drinking
Profile Image for Princess Bookie.
960 reviews97 followers
November 30, 2011
My Thoughts: Wow, what a novel! I loved Harmonic Feedback so I was so excited to read this one! Amplified was an amazing novel! I didn’t even have it in my possession for a week before I just had to dive in. It was calling my name, I tell you!

We are introduced to Jasmine Kiss who just recently moved out of her father’s house. She is following her own dreams and wants to play music. She deferred her enrollment to Stanford for a year and her father is furious. All he has ever wanted was for her to go to college and she has always done what he wanted so she wants to do what she wants for a change.

On the first day out of her father’s house her car breaks down. Right in front of an auto shop. All she has on her is a little savings, some clothes, a toothbrush, and her lifeline; her music equipment. Really, Jasmine is in for a rude awakening. She’s always had money and never really had to worry about things. Her dad is a cardiologist.

She ends up taking her car into the shop and meets a boy there. He’s quite the smart ass. But he’s also very cute. She leaves her car overnight and starts on foot on her way to look for an apartment. She has enough money to rent a place but that’s about it, she needs to get a job as soon as possible.

She ends up seeing an AD for a live in guitar player for C-Side. Perfect opportunity? I think so! She shows up at the house at the same time as another guy named Dave to audition. She’s never played live before or around anyone besides her best friend so this will be quite a step up.

The catch of the ad? It says guys wanted. It’s a house full of guys so of course they don’t want a girl living with them.

We end up meeting all the crew and there is a house full of guys alright, and a girl who lives upstairs.

She plays, ends up finding a place to live and a job! Bonus, hot guys!

The plot was pretty sweet! I loved the music angle, I loved the guys. I’m glad that Jasmine wasn’t perfect, she struggled, she played music, she had problems, and on top of it all she found some romance.

Overall: Amplified was pretty amazing. Its one of a kind. It’s sweet, romantic, and full of dreams and wishes.

Cover: Love it! Love her boots and her amp! The yellow background looks neat too.

What I'd Give It: 5/5 Cupcakes
Review Based On Hardcover Edition

Taken From Princess Bookie
Profile Image for K.
358 reviews7 followers
January 23, 2012
Worthwhile. I really enjoyed this one.

Jasmine has a bit of an early life crisis after graduating high school. Her emotionally distant, by-the-books father fully expects her to start at Stanford in the fall. She can’t imagine much worse. She’s done everything according to his plan and still seems to disappoint him constantly. When her friends start planning for the summer and getting excited about life in general, Jasmine decides she’s had enough. This is the summer she makes something happen with her music. So with what little she was able to grab after her father cut her off and threw her out, she heads to nearby Santa Cruz to find a band to join.

Jasmine made me cringe. For a lot of the book, she doesn’t have much power. She’s at the mercy of (seemingly) megalomaniacal band/room mates. She’s proven inadequate at every turn and seems pretty weak. But she keeps going. She gets defeated but still manages to get back up every time. She’s not coddled and a lot of the time she decides to keep going as a “screw you” to her many naysayers—but, hey, whatever works. I can root for that. It wasn’t easy or soft around the edges and I liked that about this book.

The music, setting, and characters were all pretty great. A huge thanks to the author for band mate Felix, I never see that character in books and I thought he was awesome to have around. The music that was mentioned made me want to wade back through my itunes history to the base of my musical memories. And that last C-Side show? I wanted to be there.
Profile Image for luce (tired and a little on edge).
1,417 reviews3,412 followers
April 27, 2017
Rating: 2.75

I had really high hopes for this one but towards the middle it turned out to predictable.
The first few chapters were really enjoyable,I liked how feisty Jasmine was but after we discover that it's kind of obvious what follows.

The story itself was "nice",I really liked the parts were Jasmine plays.
The thing that made this book not so enjoyable for me was the romance.I was hoping for something different.
For example Sean for half of the book acts like a total tw*t towards Jasmine.And no I don't "feel" for his broken heart it's not an excuse.Another thing that bugged me was how soppy Jasmine became in any scene involving Sean,okay we get it he's hot.

The other members were kind of typical too,plus their characterization was quite poor.
Last but not least I didn't care for the whole "family drama" revolving Jasmine parents.
Why do I get my hopes up?

Profile Image for Softreflection.
203 reviews1 follower
March 31, 2012
LOVED IT! The book was amazing and kind of a break from all the crap I've read till now. Now I have to go on about the parts I did not like in the book. It's a pain in the ass, but it has to be done. I couldn't understand Jasmine that much. She kept going back from a hard core kick-your-ass kind of chick to a scared little girl. It was kind of confusing, trying to find out which was her real rhythm. I HOPE there is a second book, because, frankly, it was too short. The book could've had more and I found it to have a cliff hanger ending. I don't know why they put Jason in the book, it could have gone well without him. I don't mean to say it was a bad decision to put him there, I just mean it wasn't necessary. The whole thing with Sean seemed rushed. She went from hating him to noticing how cute he was to kissing him. She didn't really say she liked him that much. It wasn't until she kissed him that I got the feeling she liked him (How could you not?) But it was a good read and I loved it.
Profile Image for ★Ruth★.
1,074 reviews
February 5, 2013

I've had this on loan from a friend for ages but just never got around to it. I'm so glad I finally sat down with it.

It was great to read a story where the girl is the potential rock star. The romance was sweet and the ending was realistic IMO.

I thought the surrounding characters were well fleshed out and I had a real sense of who they were.

My only problem was the music detail was a bit heavy, I have never played the guitar so therefore have no understanding of the terms that were used so those parts (and there were quite a few) went completely over my head and I found myself skimming these sections.

Other than that I really enjoyed this & would certainly read the next if ever there is one.(apparently the author got dropped by her publishing company which I can't understand considering some of the complete drivel that is out there! - rant over)

This does have an ending, no cliffhanger so it is safe to read even if another book isn't published.
Profile Image for Mimi Cross.
Author 2 books94 followers
November 26, 2012
Pitch Perfect.

Tara Kelly doesn't miss a beat in this story about a teenage girl who joins a band and affirms her identity through music. If you're a musician of any age, you have to read AMPLIFIED. You'll fall in love, laugh, and miss your old band mates if your band is no longer together. If you haven't been in a band yet, you'll want to start one!

Tara Kelly has a real gift for describing music, something that's not easy to do. The reader can imagine the sound of the songs featured in AMPLIFIED and practically hear the bass lines and vocal parts. The relationships in AMPLIFIED are believable and nuanced, the romance is tender and lovely.

I don't have time today to write the review that would do AMPLIFIED justice, really, you just need to go get yourself a copy.
Profile Image for oliviasbooks.
772 reviews512 followers
December 8, 2011
After reading 105 pages and some thorough snooping ahead I can safely say 'It's not the book. It's me.' Because the story and the characters seem rather real, the heroine's voice is pretty funny and likable and there is alll that music stuff and a hard-to-get boy. But I felt no joy reading Amplified. Maybe because cringing too often does not go well with my stomach or my general wish to feel well. I stop at this point and have already a vague idea about how to find a good new home for the hardcover.
Profile Image for Trish Doller.
Author 11 books1,810 followers
November 18, 2011
The thing about Tara Kelly's writing is that it never lets me down. I loved Harmonic Feedback, but I think I might have loved Amplified a wee bit more.
Profile Image for Maru.
86 reviews28 followers
September 15, 2013
Ok now here's a book desperately calling for a sequel. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for open endings, but when I enjoy a story so much I like to have some closure, in Amplified there were many realistic lose ends, that I hope we'll get to come back to soon. I liked the book a lot, the plot, the story, and I loved the characters too, so I really want to know what happens to them and how their lives progress.

This book is about Jasmine, a great guitar player who, before starting college, decides to take the year off and see if she can focus on her music. Her dad, furious, decides that if that's what she chooses to do then she has to get out of the house and should not expect any help from him. Jasmine then joins a band, living with the three male band members and tries to figure out where her life will take her.

I really liked the book because it deals wonderfully with the period of time when you are done high school, you have to figure out what to do with the rest of your life, and you are just eighteen years old, so basically you have no idea. This definitely happened to me, in fact I'm almost done college and it's still happening to me (haha) so I could definitely identify with Jasmine. On top of that she's trying to figure out who she is outside of her family, a family that has had many issues and she wants to define herself, to be her own person. The book follows Jasmine as she becomes more comfortable with who she is, as she starts learning more about herself, loosening up and it does this with a great deal of music references and fun band scenes. PERFECT FORMULA.

The heart of the book is in the dynamic of C-Side, Jasmine's band. I loved reading about their interactions, all the characters were very real, and all the situations were totally realistic. Everything, and I really mean everything that happened in the book can definitely happen in real life, in fact I'm sure it has happened to many new bands trying to make it. I loved reading about Jasmine trying to interact with them, learning how to be friends with them, etc.

However, like I said, the ending is too open. Again, I do like open endings, but this one has little closure, so it leaves you desperate for more. There's just too much stuff left unresolved, and while it makes sense that it is unresolved, I mean she's obviously not going to solve all life problems in a month, I still really would want to see some more resolutions. Sequel, maybe? *fingers crossed* From what I've seen so far it doesn't seem like there was any idea for one *tears*. Here's everything that was not resolved and I want to know more about (it's a long list):

So you see, basically every issue that was opened did not get closed. I will say that Jasmine did indeed grow throughout the book, and that was very satisfying to read, especially her awesome solo in the last show, but it wouldn't hurt to have had some closure on at least ONE other issue. There's just so much to deal with here... I mean a girl living with three other guys, and all of them being part of a band? That's a seriously good idea for a TV show, I mean think of the possibilities for weekly drama haha. A network should pick this up. So anyway, while I really liked the book, thought it was completely realistic, it was a treat to read and a very accurate picture of that moment in our lives when we don't know who the hell we are or what the hell we are supposed to do with our lives, and I really enjoyed the characters, I wanted just a little bit more closure. Hopefully we'll get it in some way, if not I'll just put my imagination to serious work.

I do recommend this book. It's a very nice YA contemporary, keeps things interesting, everything and everyone in the book is realistic, likeable and easy to relate to. Plus, the music in it doesn't hurt - a great one for music lovers like myself.
Profile Image for Fred.
271 reviews301 followers
December 1, 2011
When 17 yo MC Jasmine tells her domineering doctor dad that she'd like to defer her entry to Stanford for a year to pursue her dream of a musical career, he doesn't take it so well. In fact, when she doesn't back down, he gives her 15 minutes to "get her stuff and get out," all the while insisting that "he's not the bad guy here." Jaz heads to Santa Cruz, just over the hills from the snooty suburb where she's never really fit in. While desperately (and wildly unsuccessfully) searching Craigslist for a place to stay, she sees an audition notice for a guitarist in C-Side, an industrial rock band that seems perfect for her intense and atmospheric guitar playing. So perfect that it even includes a room in a cool oceanside house, and a chance to actually make friends with Veta, the band's awesome girl singer. Only a few obstacles stand in Jasmine's way - like, she's never actually played in public, except for the infamous "Cornflake Girl," incident which still haunts her stage fright nightmares; her house mates are three guys with strong personalities, who seem reluctant to accept her as a player and a person; and perhaps most importantly, one of them is that total dick from the auto shop where her car broke down on her way into town (not a good day all around, long story). Yep, that guy who, just when she was at her lowest (so far, uh oh) had to mock and humiliate her seemingly just because he could. And doggone it, he would have to be the hot one, too.

One of the things I liked about this book was the realistic way that many of Jasmine's problems are somewhat self-inflicted. Understandably, she's not very forthcoming with her thoughts and feelings, and that causes no end of problems for her. I say "understandably," because her dad is a relentless and harsh judger/belittler, and although it's not clear whether he blames her for her mother abandoning them when Jaz was five, or just sees too much of her mother in her, the ghost of her mom, and Jasmine's attempts to exorcise it by doing everything her dad's ever wanted has brought her to the point of feeling ... well, not very much. So, since opening up is her big bugaboo, it's so great that she goes to work for a psychic whose whole focus is on opening and reading people's thoughts and feelings. Just what the doctor (well, not her dad, haha) ordered, right? Well, no, not that simple, since the lonely, determined to be self-reliant Jasmine resolutely resists the effort. So a great part of the story is Jasmine learning to trust and open up. It's sweet and touching and feels tentative, painful and real.

Another part of the story that is really awesome is the music (ok, prob not a big surprise, given the title and all). The author really brings C-Side to life - the lyrics are poetic, ambiguous, intense and dreamy. She describes the music so well, it really is like you are listening, in the sense that it gives you that emotional rush that good music does. And Jasmine believes in the power of music so much - it's transcendent for her, it's where she finds and expresses those feelings she works so hard to deny the rest of the time, and that only makes it all the more powerful, for her and the reader. So it's especially painful when her struggles extend even to the one area where she's so invested and where so much is riding on her tough, but still vulnerable, cute little shoulders.

This is a story about a lonely girl finding friendship, a green girl growing up, the healing magic of music, the sweet scariness of new romance (though it's not a romance), and about hanging tough even after you've been hung out to dry. Really, you should read this book, it's pretty wonderful!

For music geeks, there's lots of fun and juicy details of gear, guitars and amps. Clearly written with affection by someone who knows what she's talking about. Jasmine's rig? Awesomesauce!

While this is Jasmine's story, almost every character comes to life. They are all multi-faceted, real feeling and complex. It's hard to see even the "bad guys," without seeing that maybe there's more to them, and that they are people too (except her dad, what an a-hole, I don't blame her mom one bit!)

So, all in all, a great, fun read, with real emotions, fun and intense, seriously, you should read it!

Profile Image for Keertana.
1,126 reviews2,161 followers
March 22, 2012
I started reading Amplified on whim, delving into it without expecting much of nothing. Needless to say, I was shocked and pleasantly surprised by the simple plot, deep message, and rich characters.

Jasmine's life looks perfect from the outside. Her father is rich, she's grown up with everything she could possibly want and she got accepted into Stanford. So when Jasmine leaves her life behind to find music, no one can be more surprised than her father. But there is more to Jasmine than he thinks. Jasmine can't fathom the idea of learning music through theory, of sitting through another four years of lectures in a stuffy classroom. All she wants to do is play guitar and experience it - raw, rich, live. So, when she meets a band looking for a guitarist, she seizes the opportunity - needing not only their music, but also a place to stay. Yet, she can't help but butt heads with Sean, the bassist who also worked to fix her car when it broke down. Sean is hurting, still recovering and moving on from a nasty break-up with his ex-girlfriend, Amy, who cheated on him with his best friend. Sean doesn't see Jasmine for anything more than a snobby rich girl, a "princess" as he calls her. But Jasmine has more secrets than anyone can possibly imagine and the journey to fulfilling her dreams is a lot more challenging than Jasmine could have ever anticipated.

I loved Jasmine from the very first page. I loved her independence, her courage, her determination, and most importantly, I loved that she was able to cope with her mistakes, fix them, and move on. Yet, the quality that truly made me love Jasmine was her inability to trust people easily. Jasmine isn't one of those characters who opens up easily. She has her secrets and although we see only Jasmine's perspective throughout the novel, even we, as the reader, don't know all the secrets she holds. I fell in love with how she tried to cope with her struggles and managed to rise above them. Her relationship with Sean was amusing at first, slowly turning into something sweet and adorable. The ending was unexpected; definitely something most readers wouldn't like, but I admired Kelly for choosing to end the novel so realistically. It made the entire story that much more believe-able. However, Jasmine and Sean's relationship seemed to be mostly based on lust. That's not to say there wasn't understanding there, because there was. There was also friendship and deep like, but no love. Beyond their understanding of each other and friendship, all that was left was chemistry and lust. Nevertheless, I like to think that their time apart from each other physically will allow them to grow closer, seeking true love. There is definitely potential - another aspect which made the novel so realistic.

Tara Kelly develops Jasmine very well throughout the story, showing her character growth and maturity. Yet, she gives the same amount of attention to the secondary characters. I loved every member of the band - they were not afraid to question each other or point out their flaws, but they were also the best of friends. They were a close-knit family of their own and Jasmine's transition into their group was a change that they all coped with in their own unique way. The chemistry between each member of the band and their kinship for each other was mesmerizing. Most readers prefer to read about romance, but unbreakable bonds of friendship are just as important, if not more, and Kelly captures that perfectly.

Amplified may have a simple story, but it carries a deep meaning - one that I'm sure will resonate with every reader in some way or the other. Tara Kelly writes from her heart - she truly writes based off of her own experiences. This makes her novel flawlessly realistic, emotionally gripping, and incredible. It was also surprisingly funny, making me laugh throughout the progression of the story. I loved Amplified and I'd definitely recommend it to all readers. One thing's for sure - I'll definitely be reading more of Tara Kelly(;
Profile Image for Alexa.
350 reviews286 followers
November 7, 2011

My review can also be found on my blog Collections.

I knew there was a reason why I added Tara Kelly to my favorite authors list back in 2010. Her debut novel Harmonic Feedback was a favorite read of mine that year, and her second novel Amplified became one of my most anticipated novels for 2011. Just like with her debut, once I started reading Amplified I couldn't stop! I stayed up very late and finally went to sleep when I had only about 20 pages left to read. I loved Amplified as much as Harmonic Feedback, and it was another authentic coming-of-age and music novel by Tara Kelly.

I admit, when I first read the summary of Amplified, it sounded like it would be a cute and light read. I don't believe the summary reveals enough of the depth that can be found in this novel. It would have been so easy for the author to make the main character Jasmine's situation and her relationship with the other characters simple and convenient to resolve. But she didn't make it easy for Jasmine or the rest of the characters, and I loved that. It felt true and real. Including the music, which was another aspect I loved about the novel.

What I loved about Jasmine was how deep her passion for music and playing guitar was. She believed in her ability to create music, but she tended to be awkward around people and had some issues when it came to performing in front of crowds. She was pretty stubborn though and determined to prove herself. I found Jasmine to be such an easy character for me to relate to, and it was her awkwardness and determination that made me root for her. She really had to work hard to overcome her fears and prove that she deserved a chance.

My heart also went out to Jasmine because of the difficult situation she was in. Not only did she have to prove herself to the band, but her strict father kicked her out for postponing college. She basically had no money and decided not to say anything to her new band-mates because she doesn't quite trust others nor does she want to burden anyone with her problems. It would have been easier if she had spoken up, but I know the feeling of not wanting to let anyone know if something is wrong. There's shame and embarrassment involved, so I completely understand why she felt the need to keep it to herself.

Her band-mates were all interesting people, but I want to just focus on one of them, the bassist Sean. When Sean first appeared, he really wasn't nice to Jasmine. I assumed he would be one of those bad boys, but once Jasmine got to know him, he's actually a smart and good (and cute!) guy who's not perfect. I really adored his character, and it was great reading how Jasmine's relationship with him gradually changed and developed as the story progressed. I loved their moments together, but like I mentioned, the author didn't take the easy route with these characters. Once Jasmine and Sean's relationship started getting a bit serious, it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows from there, which to me made it that much more realistic.

Like Harmonic Feedback, Amplified was such an authentic, relatable, and wonderful read. Tara Kelly is definitely an author to look out for! (Also, I know I'm being biased, but I have to say that out of all the authors I've read books by, Tara Kelly is the one with the best taste in music!) I'm so looking forward to reading her next novel. And I really hope there are sequels to Amplified in the works because these characters all have their own stories that should be told. But whatever novel comes next, I just know I won't be disappointed.
Profile Image for Alyssa.
135 reviews152 followers
March 6, 2012
Originally posted at Redhead Heroines.

While there is certainly a lot to like about Amplified, the book fails to offer something new, interesting, or valuable to the genre.

Despite the personal quirks that make Jasmine a successful protagonist, her personal situation is one giant cliché. Privileged daughter of a rich but distant, critical, and disapproving father decides to throw her amazing opportunities to the wolves in order to pursue a dream that seems frivolous and impossible. While there is a slight twist in the story involving Jasmine's mother, the overused plot device is not appreciated.

Jasmine's naive character and extreme self-consciousness are outweighed only by her determination to not give in to her father's expectations, essentially equating her with a petulant three year old who refuses to eat her vegetables just because someone told her to.

This affects the rest of the novel greatly, as it is difficult to feel compassion for a protagonist who is stubborn simply for the sake of being stubborn. In other words, rather than feeling she is justified for her actions, the reader is forced to view Jasmine's actions as reactions to what is expected of her by others around her.

The plot of Amplified revolves on Jasmine's ability to assimilate into the life she thought she wanted. There is a great pace to this story, with plenty of tension created between Jasmine and the other characters. On the surface, Amplified is a very successful YA contemporary novel: it is entertaining, contains a clear-cut message, and provides memorable characters.

However, where Amplified fails is in its ability to merge all of these elements together in a way that is not plagued by cliché and predictability. Because the premise for the entire novel is a cliché, the book seems to be doomed from the start.

Despite these rather large pitfalls, the book is carefully written, which prevents it from receiving a far lower rating than it does here.

A note on the setting of the novel: Amplified portrays Santa Cruz in a very balanced, but almost caricatured version of itself.

I grew up just a half hour from Santa Cruz and spent a large portion of my time there. I have ridden the unnamed rollercoaster at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk that frightens Jasmine to death in the beginning of the novel, the Giant Dipper, and let me tell you: that rollercoaster is just not scary. Even for a ten year old.

Yes, there are a lot of weirdos in Santa Cruz. A lot of eccentric, tattooed musician-types, surfer hippie dudes, and everything in between. But not everyone there is like that, which is what Amplified seems to portray in descriptions of the locals.

For those looking for a very entertaining and quick surface-read, Amplified is a great choice. But for readers who need less cliché and more meaning, their time will be better spent with another book.
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