Monday, July 8, 2013

Saved by the Music Book Review and Guest Post

eBook Publication Date: May 13, 2013

The last place fifteen-year-old Willow wants to spend her summer is on a run-down former coffee barge, which her aunt is converting into a floating concert hall. In Saved by the Music, Willow thinks she’s alone until she meets Axel, an older teen who lives isolated from the world on the sailboat docked nearby. An unlikely romance sparks as the two grapple with their darkest secrets and bond through shared pain and laughter. It is a summer where music must do more than just soothe the soul.

Saved By The Music: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

Guest Post
“I turned to get my iPod so I could chill outside for a while, but suddenly there was this low, kind of haunting music coming from somewhere. It was deeper than a violin. Someone was playing a cello. A classical piece—don’t ask me what, because I couldn’t have told the difference between Bach and Beethoven if someone had held a gun to my head—whatever it was, it was nice. Soothing. It rolled over the waves, like the ocean was singing a love song. A sad love song.”
-Excerpt from Saved by the Music

Music plays such a crucial role in my book, it’s almost a character in itself. It appears twofold: Willow listens to Jim Morrison and The Doors (and is a fan of rock in general), while Axel and Aunt Agatha play classical music. This is not so different from reality. The book is based on real-life experiences helping my aunt Olga Bloom build her floating concert hall Bargemusic, which has been providing the world with beautiful music for over thirty years. I loved rock and roll (including and especially Jim Morrison), and when I came to concerts on my aunt’s finished barge I’d wear a t-shirt purchased in the parking lot of my most recent rock concert (I averaged about one a week.)

In the book, Willow learns to appreciate classical music:

“I woke to the sound of Axel’s cello. Maybe it was my mental state, but I thought it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever heard. So pure . . .
I kept my eyes closed and let the music come for me. It was the first time I’d ever felt completely taken away by classical music. I’d always kept a little cynical piece of me in reserve, like a skeptic leaning against the wall with arms folded, saying, “Whatever.”
Now the music lifted me—all of me—to another place. A happy place.
Go figure.
The music stopped. The cello thunked as it was settled into its case, and then the latches clicked shut.
“Willow?” Axel was next to me. He touched my face. “Willow, you awake?”
I opened my eyes.
“I thought I saw you moving around. You feel any better?”
I shrugged. “I liked your music.”
“Vivaldi,” he said. “It’s soothing. You were having a nightmare earlier...I just wanted to calm you down. So I figured a little Vivaldi might do the trick. To me, he’s always been the bridge between the conscious and the unconscious, the conductor to sweet dreams.”
-Excerpt from Saved by the Music

In hindsight, I think one of Axel’s roles in my book is to bridge the way for Willow to embrace Aunt Agatha’s style of music. In real life I wanted to, but always held something back. Maybe it was teenage rebellion, maybe it was more personal. Who knows? But I do feel badly about not telling my aunt I appreciated her music. So, in the book, I do (or at least, the character representing me does.)

“The next thing I knew, it was morning. Aunt Agatha and Axel were playing music together again. So I took a chance and opened my eyes, and it really wasn’t so bad. It helped not being on that horrible couch, and with the side doors of the barge both open, the place was flooded with morning sunlight that brightened the entire chamber. What a difference light made.
And there was that beautiful music; it cleansed me and soothed me as it swirled through my soul.
I got up and maneuvered my way over to them. It was awesome how they made something so difficult seem so effortless, their playing so perfectly meshed. For an instant, I regretted giving up the violin, but only for an instant; I knew I could never do what they did—let the music flow like that. I just didn’t have it in me, couldn’t feel what they did.
I loved watching their expressions as they bowed: they went from smiling to deep concentration to sheer amazement—like they discovered something new as they played.
But even more than that, I envied the partnership they shared. They were on a musical journey together, a thrilling ride I couldn’t share.
“Good morning, dear heart,” Aunt Agatha boomed when the last notes faded and I’d applauded their work.
“Hey,” Axel said with a sly smile.
“Morning, guys,” I said.”
-Excerpt from Saved by the Music

There’s a lot of truth is this passage. I felt like an outsider when I watched Aunt Olga play. Back then, I felt like I just couldn’t belong. Now I think that I could have, if I’d made the effort.

I don’t regret giving up my violin lessons. I was born to be a writer, and when I was doing anything else but holding a pencil, I was miserable. I just wish I could’ve embraced the soothing and healing qualities of classical music more publicly.

Thanks to this book, I have.

Mini Play-List:
Willow’s favorite Doors song:
Break On Through


Some songs that helped me get through the tough parts of writing this book:

Billy Joel’s All About Soul

I’d like to believe in this kind of love, which is like what Willow and Axel have. And there’s even some violin & cello included!


The Counting Crow’s She Don’t Want Nobody Near

I identify so strongly with this song that I used to listen to it over and over while writing and while driving. I don’t even mind the double negative, which normally would drive me nuts!


R.E.M.’s Losing My Religion

Mentioned in the book – “That’s me in the corner.” I’ve often felt that way, as does Willow.


Train’s Calling All Angels
I listened to this song on my iPod while walking to The New School, where I was workshopping the book.

My Opinion
Saved By The Music is a really sweet story. I love knowing that even though the story is fiction some of it is based on the author's life. Aunt Agatha is a lot like the authors Aunt Olga. I think that is very interesting to know. The story starts off with Willow coming to stay with her Aunt Agatha after her mom gets a new boyfriend. While she is there she meets Axle and they become best friends. They trust each other right away and share all their family problems with each other. They also help each move on from their horrible past. Willow, Axle and Aunt Agatha love music and reading so there is a lot about songs and books in this story. Willow and Axle have a great relationship and even though it seemed to take for ever I was glad when they finally admitted they were in love. I especially liked Aunt Agatha but I'm not really sure why. I enjoyed reading this book and would definitely recommend it.


Selene Castrovilla is an award-winning teen and children’s author who believes that through all trends, humanity remains at the core of literature. She is the author of Saved By the Music and The Girl Next Door, teen novels originally published by WestSide Books and now available digitally through ASD Publishing. Her third children’s book with Calkins Creek Books, Revolutionary Friends, was released in April. Selene holds an MFA in creative writing from New School University and a BA in English from New York University. She lives on Long Island with her two sons. Visit her website for book excerpts and more information!

Author links: Website | Facebook | Twitter| Tumblr | Goodreads
Winner's choice between iPod Nano or Kindle Fire (or Paperwhite) + SAVED BY THE MUSIC ebook (US only), and 10 second prize winners will receive an ebook copy of SAVED BY THE MUSIC (International).
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1 comment:

  1. I haven't heard about this author before but I'm always looking for new authors to get to know. Thanks for sharing. Books sounds interesting. Thanks for the giveaway!