by Jessica Martinez


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Now is not the time for Carmen to fall in love. And Jeremy is hands-down the wrong guy for her to fall for. He is infuriating, arrogant, and the only person who can stand in the way of Carmen getting the one thing she wants most: to win the prestigious Guarneri competition. Carmen's whole life is violin, and until she met Jeremy, her whole focus was winning. But what if Jeremy isn't just hot...what if Jeremy is better?

Carmen knows that kissing Jeremy can't end well, but she just can't stay away. Nobody else understands her—and riles her up—like he does. Still, she can't trust him with her biggest secret: She is so desperate to win she takes anti-anxiety drugs to perform, and what started as an easy fix has become a hungry addiction. Carmen is sick of not feeling anything on stage and even more sick of always doing what she’s told, doing what's expected.

Sometimes, being on top just means you have a long way to fall....

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442420533
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: 09/18/2012
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 292
Sales rank: 1,200,308
Product dimensions: 5.64(w) x 8.06(h) x 0.86(d)
Age Range: 14 Years

About the Author

Jessica Martinez lives in Orlando, Florida, with her husband, her two children, and her violin. She spends her days writing, running, and teaching her children to be music lovers. She is the author of Virtuosity, The Space Between Us, and The Vow. Visit her at

Read an Excerpt


  • Carmen, stop staring. You can’t force him to appear with your eyes,” Heidi said.

    She was right. But I couldn’t risk missing him either. The backstage door of the Chicago Symphony Center was frozen shut, and it had been for at least a half hour. He had to be coming out soon.

    “Trade you,” she said.

    I took a quick glance at my dessert, a miniature chocolate cake with a molten center oozing out and a dollop of whipped cream on top. Then I looked at Heidi’s, a lemon drop cupcake nestled in an unnaturally yellow cloud of spun sugar. Both were missing one bite.

    “What’s wrong with yours?” I asked, eyes back on the target.

    “Nothing. It’s just too tart for me. Look at it, though. Isn’t it pretty?” She poked it with her fork.

    “Um ...” I didn’t really care. Where was he?

    She smiled, sensing victory, and tucked her silky blond hair behind her ears. “I’m just in the mood for something richer.” She glanced at my plate again. “And you love lemon, right?”

    “I guess.” I pushed my plate toward her. I didn’t hate lemon.

    “You’re the best,” she said, her fork already sinking into my cake.

    “I know.”

    I took a bite of her dessert. The lemon curd was tart, especially after that bite of chocolate cake, but the frosting was painfully sweet. Elegant and trendy, like everything else on Rhapsody’s menu, but not something I actually wanted to eat.

    I took one more bite, then slid the cupcake out of my way and propped my chin on my hands. I had selected the patio’s corner table specifically for its view of the backstage entrance to Symphony Center. We were close enough to see the paint peeling off the door, but sufficiently hidden by Rhapsody’s hovering gold umbrellas and the fat green leaves sprouting from planters. Perfect for hiding.

    “Remind me what I’m looking for again.” Heidi licked a chocolate smudge from her thumb.

    “Blond hair, violin case.”

    “Right. Now remind me why you’re stalking this mysterious albino violinist.”

    “He’s not an albino and I’m not stalking. Stalking implies some kind of romantic interest.”

    “Sheesh. Lighten up,” she teased. “A little crush doesn’t have to be such a big deal.”

    I wanted to ignore her, but she was just too far off. “Again, Jeremy King is not a crush. I’ve never even met him. He’s the competition.”

    “But here’s the part I don’t get: Why do you need to see him? You’re a violinist. It’s not like you’re going to arm wrestle him. What is a visual going to tell you?”

    “Nothing. I’m just curious.” I pulled my hair up and tried to smooth the mass of unruly curls into a ponytail. “Everybody is talking about this guy.”


    I didn’t have to look at her to know she was smirking. My everybody was not her everybody. Occasionally I forgot that the rest of the world didn’t exist exclusively in the realm of classical music.

    “I think this competition is finally getting to you,” she said. “It’s so bizarre to see you worried. You never worry.”

    “I’m not worried,” I said. “I just want to see him. And I’ve been preparing for the Guarneri Competition for four years now. There would be something wrong with me if I wasn’t getting a little freaked out.”

    Heidi’s eyes widened. “Are you going to make a Jeremy King voodoo doll? Is that why we’re here?” Then before I could glare at her, she gave me her signature sweet smile.

    Heidi’s cuteness was her greatest weapon. She used it to win people over, and then, knowing she was too adorable to hate, said and did whatever she felt like. I loved her like a sister, but she drove me nuts. And I had to wonder, if I had baby blue eyes and butter-yellow hair (yes, Heidi was essentially Barbie minus the sexy pout), would I get the same free pass? It’d be nice to be brutally honest, even act like a brat occasionally. But my dark, curly hair and brown eyes just didn’t cast the same spell. The slightly oversize nose probably didn’t help either.

    “No voodoo dolls,” I said, “but just think how much more interesting this is than physics or French, which is what we’re supposed to be doing right now.”


    “Although, I guess that’s what my mom is paying you for.”

    She sat up straight and looked around the patio, as if Diana might actually be lurking behind an umbrella.

    “Looking for someone?”

    Heidi shrugged. “Nope. Just a reflex.”

    “We’ll do physics and French tomorrow. I’m almost finished anyway.”

    Heidi couldn’t argue with that. They were my last two high school courses. I’d left physics to the end because I hated it, but my test scores were good. Not that it mattered. And French had been an afterthought. It wasn’t a GED requirement, but during my European tour last spring I’d fallen in love with the sound of the language, the way the words rolled around and tumbled out.

    “You’re right,” Heidi said. “Spying on lover-boy is more fun anyway.”

    “I hate you.”

    “No, you don’t.” She smiled and ate the last bite of my cake. “I’ve got an interview, by the way.”

    “For what?” I asked, without breaking my stare on the door.

    “A real job. No offense.”

    “None taken.” I paused. “That’s great,” I added, trying to sound sincere.

    Heidi getting a real job was the inevitable. She had been tutoring me for six years, but now I was almost done, going to Juilliard in the fall. Of course she was interviewing. But for what? She had a degree in art history and I was her work experience.

    “What kind of job?” I asked.

    She shrugged. “Human Resources at OfficeMax.”

    I nodded.

    She nodded.

    Neither of us had to say it, but we both were thinking it: She should have gone to dental school.

    The server came with a new soda for Heidi and refilled my water.

    “Anything else I can get you?” she asked.

    Heidi shook her head no, and the server left. My eyes never left the backstage door. It didn’t budge.

    “So how do you know he has blond hair if you’ve never seen him before?” Heidi asked.

    “His picture,” I said. “It’s next to his bio in the Carnegie Hall program.” I pulled the booklet from the crocheted bag on my lap. The hemp purse was a souvenir I’d bought from Camden Market in London on the last day of my British Isles tour. It was stuffed with CDs—an array of the Bach Violin Sonatas and Partitas recordings. Yuri had sent me home with them after my lesson to listen and dissect.

    I handed Heidi the Carnegie Hall program, which flipped open to the exact page. “Diana brought it back from New York.”

    “She heard him play?”

    “No. The program is from a year ago. She just picked it up for me.”

    “And did she bring it home from New York with the spine split open to this page, or did you do that?”

    I ignored the bait. She was either suggesting that Diana was a pressuring stage mom or that I was obsessed with Jeremy King. Neither was entirely true.

    Or false.

    Heidi examined the picture. “Cute kid. Dimples, curls, he’s like a male Shirley Temple. How old?”


    “No way.”

    I shrugged. “That’s what his bio says.”

    “More like twelve.”

    I checked my watch. 1:37. “His rehearsal should have ended at one fifteen. Maybe we missed him.”

    “How do you know when he rehearses?”

    “I saw the CSO rehearsal schedule last week. I had yesterday’s noon slot, he was supposed to have today’s.”

    But the door still hadn’t opened. At least not since we’d sat down thirty minutes ago, which meant Jeremy had to be still inside.

    Heidi picked up the program again and brought the photo closer to her face. “He can’t be your age.”

    I shrugged and looked back at the door. Maybe it was locked, I reasoned. Maybe he’d gone around to one of the front exits, but that was tricky from the backstage dressing rooms if you weren’t familiar with the hallways and side entrances and tunnels. No, it would be this door.

    Suddenly, the door swung open. I inhaled sharply before I realized it wasn’t him. It was a tall, lanky guy wearing jeans, a T-shirt, a baseball cap. A stage hand, maybe. But there, slung over his shoulder, was a violin case. I squinted into the glare. Why hadn’t I brought sunglasses? Blond hair curled up around the back edge of his hat, and under the shadow the bill cast over his face, I could see the dimples that creased his cheeks.

    Jeremy King.

    My stomach fell. That could not be Jeremy King. That was not the boy in the photo or the picture I’d seen online. Unless those pictures were old.

    Really, really old.

    I forced myself to take a slow breath. If that was Jeremy King, he wasn’t a child prodigy. At least not anymore.

    The guy in the cap—a Yankees cap, I could see now—glanced right and left, trying to orient himself. Then, without warning, he turned and stepped in the least likely direction. Toward me. I had been counting on him cutting through the parking lot and across Wabash for the El station. Instead, he walked along the side of the building over the crumbling parking blocks, toward Rhapsody. He was whistling, and the fingers of his right hand trailed along the red brick as he walked. Long, slow strides propelled him closer and closer to me. I sat frozen, hypnotized by his fluid movement.

    I should have looked away. If I’d been thinking, I would have pretended to drop something or I could have at least rooted around in my purse with my head down. But of course I wasn’t thinking.

    And then he looked right at me. His eyes locked into mine like two magnets. His face held the blank expression people give strangers in elevators or on sidewalks.

    I still could have looked away, while his face was still empty, in that moment before it happened. But I was too stunned. This was Jeremy King.

    That’s when his face changed. His eyes narrowed and his mouth formed a smug grin.

    Before I could think, my head jerked down and my hand shot up to cover my face.

    “What are you doing?” Heidi hissed.

    I’d forgotten she was even there. “Nothing. I don’t know.” What was I doing? “I don’t want him to see me.”

    “Too late, genius,” she said.

    “Is he still looking at me?”

    “Yes. And just because you can’t see him doesn’t mean he can’t see you. Move your hand.”

    “But he’ll know I’m spying on him.”

    “Trust me, he already knows.”

    She reached over, took my wrist, and pushed my hand into my lap. I forced my eyes up.

    He was still staring at me, not more than ten feet away now, but the grin had become a full-blown sneer. And just when he was close enough that I could have reached out and grabbed his arm, he lifted his hand and saluted me.

    I did nothing.

    He walked by and was gone.

    Heidi and I sat in silence. My stomach churned and I wondered whether those few bites of bitter lemon drop cupcake would come up. Why hadn’t I taken my medication? I should have known I would need it.

    Heidi spoke first. “Wow.”

    I heard myself groan.

    “That was bad,” she added.

    “How did that happen? How did he see me? How did he recognize me?”

    Heidi shook her head. “Really, Carmen? I mean, it was bad luck that he happened to walk this way, but not that surprising that he recognized you.”

    “But he’s never met me before!”

    “Maybe not officially.”

    “No, not at all,” I insisted.

    “I could walk into any music store in the country, probably the world, and find a stack of CDs with your face on the cover. Do I need to remind you that you won a Grammy last year? Of course he knows what you look like.”

    I could barely hear her. My heart was still thundering in my ears.

    “Think about it,” she continued. “You’re scared of him. He’s probably scared of you.”

    I put my cheek on the tabletop and closed my eyes. I needed an Inderal. Why hadn’t I brought the pills in my purse? “I’m not scared.”

    Across the street the El thundered by, making the table buzz beneath my cheek. Even with my eyes closed I could feel Heidi’s stare, sense her harshness melting into concern.

    “It’s just a competition, Carmen,” she said softly.

    But it wasn’t just a competition. Heidi couldn’t grasp that and I didn’t expect her to. I didn’t expect anybody to understand. I wasn’t just scared of Jeremy King. I thought about him constantly, googled his name and read his reviews, listened to his CDs, and studied that stupid outdated photo from the Carnegie Hall program. If I wasn’t practicing or thinking about music, I was thinking about Jeremy King. I was obsessed, and I had every reason to be.

    Jeremy King could ruin my life.

  • Customer Reviews

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    Virtuosity 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 reviews.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Personally I thought this book was a good book with a interesting story line. You do not see a lot of young adult books about music, and that really intrigued me. To be honest the first part of the book was a little slow and took me a while to get into. But once you get closer to the middle it starts to pick up. I thought the relationships between the characters were developed nicely and seemed realistic rather than fairy tale. It has depth, action, mystery, and romance. It's really interesting to see a different side a the music world, especially that it's classical music not modern. Overall, I think it was a nice book and a great read for the summertime.
    dayzd89 More than 1 year ago
    I feel torn writing this review. There are a lot of elements that I enjoyed about this novel and a lot that I didn't like. I used to play the viola when I was younger so it was really awesome to read about a girl playing a string instrument. You don't see a lot of that in YA fiction, right? Some parts in this novel are really beautiful. I really like the part toward the end when Carmen is sitting on the beach, gazing out at the colorful horizon. I love the amount of detail the author put into her scenes. It made me visualize everything without trouble. The attention to detail really propels the story forward, especially when Carmen is playing violin. The romance is so-so for me. I was more interested in Carmen's growing confidence in herself and her ability to stop taking the medication. That takes a lot of courage and strength. The ending is extremely satisfying, too, proving that she experienced a huge change from beginning to end. She is no longer that little girl who is coddled and bossed by her authoritative mother. However, I had a really hard time connecting with the main character. I've read other reviews that have shared this opinion, so I know that it's not just me. There was a scene early on in the novel that made me dislike her so much, which is on page 55: "In less than two weeks I'd be facing Jeremy King and the Guarneri. Scared? I stared at the pregnant girl in the ad. She had no idea." Really? Perhaps I am too sensitive or taking it too far, but that really upset me. Carmen is a privileged girl. She doesn't have to worry about food, a home, a bed, or money, among other necessities in life. It really rubs me the wrong way when people compare hardships in life. I am not perfect, but I try my best to not compare life situations like that. While I can understand why she is comparing this competition to being pregnant, it just rubbed me off the wrong way. Having an unexpected pregnancy is one of the scariest experiences in the world, especially when it comes unexpectedly and you are not prepared emotionally and financially (and physically, too). Competition is extremely scary, too, but why in the world should it be compared to realizing that you're pregnant and being completely lost as to what to do? The privileged fact was another reason why I felt distant from the novel. There are examples of lavish living everywhere, from Gucci to expensive hotels. I'm tired of reading about rich people. Not everyone in this country is rich. Actually, most of us are struggling. That's another reason why I found it hard to connect with the story. Even though the details were great, I felt that Virtuosity isn't really for me. I was too disconnected from the main character to really connect to the story, and ultimately that affected my reading experience greatly. 2.5 stars, which rounds to 3 stars.
    krystal_osmond on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Virtuosity was an alright book. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it either. It was nice to read a book like this in between some others. No major love trinagle, no paranormal/undead/anything else like that, so it was a little refreshing in that sense.The book starts off with Carmen holding her $1.2 million violin over a building railing. We have no idea why, or what's happening other than she wants to kill off her instument! It was an intruiging way to start the book because right away the reader wants to continue reading and find out the story behind Carmens actions. We go on to find out that Carmen is this child prodigy, violinist, grammy winning superstar who is on her way to winning the Guarneri - THE ultimate violin championship. But she isn't the only one who will do anything to win it - anything inlcudes taking inderal, a prescription the Carmen has taken for so long to help her perform on stage. Jeremy has his own plans on winning this award, and though he and Carmen appear to be falling for each other, we can't be sure it's genuine. Because of that, readers are eager to continue.The characters in Virtuosity were good characters, though I had a hard time relating to Carmen. This is probably due to the fact that I'm not a star performer, I wasn't home schooled and I've never been on a strict practice schedule. But that's fine, because I wasn't expecting to relate to the characters because of that.Jessica Martinez is a decent writer. To be honest, I just read this book for what it was and didn't think too much into it and didn't try to visualize too much of it. I got what I got out of it, nothing more. I do think it's a good book to have on hand, or borrow from the library when you want a change of scenery though.
    booktwirps on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Carmen Bianchi has accomplished more in eighteen years than most teens her age do in a lifetime. She¿s a Grammy award-winning, violin prodigy and in the fall she will attend Julliard. There¿s just one more thing she has to do ¿ win the prestigious Guarneri competition which will give her career a final boost. The only person standing in her way is Jeremy King, a British violin prodigy, and her biggest competition. When Carmen spies on Jeremy one day, she doesn¿t expect to get caught, nor does she expect him to contact her afterward. As the competition draws closer, Carmen finds herself attracted to Jeremy, despite the warnings from her overbearing mother. Is Jeremy really into her, or is he just trying to throw her off before the competition? Should Carmen follow her mind, or her heart?I was surprised by this book. Typically I¿m weary of romance books, mainly because the main character falls in love too quickly. That wasn¿t the case here. Ms. Martinez does a great job of pacing the romance aspect to make it feel believable. I also liked that the attraction between Carmen and Jeremy wasn¿t the main focus. Ms. Martinez does a wonderful job of portraying the life of a competitive musician. I felt the pressure that Carmen¿s mother and teacher put on her, and I sympathized with her and was able to understand her reluctance to take the anxiety medication her mother forced on her before performances. The writing is electric, and the story is engaging, my only problem was with the last couple of chapters. While I was happy with the outcome, I wasn¿t sure I totally believed it. Still, this is a great read and one I would recommend.(Review based on an Advanced Reader¿s Copy courtesy of the publisher via Simon & Schuster¿s GalleyGrab)
    l_manning on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Carmen is a child prodigy on the violin. She's had world tour, CDs, even a Grammy. The last thing she needs to really make it is the prestigious Guarneri prize. She really only has one person to worry about beating her, and when she hears him play she becomes quite worried. However, when Jeremy, the other violin player, e-mails her out of nowhere, things take an interesting twist. Soon Carmen and Jeremy are spending more time together, and Carmen's mom is not pleased. Carmen will have to decide who she's playing for and why she plays. Her decisions could change her life forever.I enjoyed this book a lot! I found the contrast between Carmen and Jeremy fascinating. Who has it better? The one who has more natural talent but has everything handed to them? Or the one who has to fight for everything because of their passion for music? Somewhere in the middle of becoming violin famous, Carmen has forgotten about her love of music. I wanted so much for her to be able to rediscover her passion for playing. Although Jeremy was competitive, he was still very nice. Not perfect by any means, but someone who will certainly have readers swooning.I was honestly surprised with where the plot ended up going. There were some twists and turns that made the book even more exciting. Through it all you really feel the author's passion for music. This was translated so well throughout the book. I highly recommend this book. It's an interesting study on music, competition, romance, and true motivations.Galley provided for review.
    yabotd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    When I decided to read Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez, I knew almost nothing about it. I had a picture of the cover and a one sentence summary from Simon & Schuster. That's it.I was pleasantly surprised to find out this book is about music. As a former band geek, it always excites me to read about music. Since I no longer play an instrument, reading about characters who are so intensely drawn to and involved in music reminds me how much I loved it when I did play. It brings me back to the music in a comforting way.So, the one-liner from Simon & Schuster made me think this would be a quick romance from a debut author. This is an extremely biased view (and I'm kind of embarrassed to admit it), but I assumed this would be a decent love story with enough plot to get buy on and decent enough writing, but nothing stellar.Man, do I love it when I'm wrong.The writing was great. Definitely made me envious while I was reading. :D The story was very interesting and different than I expected. There was a romantic thread throughout the book, but it wasn't a head-over-heels, falling-madly-in-love type of book. Honestly, if I were to pick the strongest theme in the book, I'd say it was self-discovery. Carmen has to figure out how to manage music in her life and if her future career, goals, and lifestyle are what she wants or are what others expect of her.The romance was nice too. It was a very realistic portrayal, which I think has become unusual in young adult books. There was a steady back-and-forth between Carmen and Jeremy. Also, they weren't meeting one minute, then trying to desperately claw each other's clothes off the next. I like that type of book too sometimes, but this was a nice, healthy change. :DOverall, a nice change from the paranormal/fantasy/romance-y type books I'd been reading lately. You don't have to be a big contemporary book fan to like Virtuosity, but it might help if you're into music or like romance (again, not the hot and heavy stuff though).Final thoughts: Worth a read. Borrow or buy (depending on your preference for contemporary books).
    BookDivasReads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Carmen Bianchi is not a typical teenager. She is a virtuoso violinist and her entire life revolves around the violin. She is preparing to compete in the most prestigious violin competition in the world. But at age seventeen, Carmen has always been a "good girl" and done exactly as told, until now. At the top there is nowhere to go but down. Will Carmen crash and burn? Will she find herself and uncover love in the most unlikely person? These questions are asked and answered in Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez.Carmen's mother used to sing opera before a botched surgery scarred her vocal cords. She now functions as Carmen's manager. Carmen has never known her father other than an occasional phone call or birthday/holiday card and gift. Her father's parents are also mysteriously absent from her life until she becomes a violin virtuoso. Her grandparents then invest in her future by purchasing a Stradivarius violin for her to use. Carmen feels pulled and torn. She loves music and the violin but she has also become anxious about performing, especially after her disastrous performance in Japan. Of course her mother has the solution and promptly takes Carmen to a doctor for a prescription for pills to help with performance anxiety. The pills work, but Carmen finds herself taking more than one to ease her anxiety. The doctor says they aren't addictive but she thinks he may be wrong. Enter Carmen's only true competition, a teenage male violin virtuoso. Jeremy King appears to be everything that Carmen isn't, self-assured and totally independent. Jeremy and Carmen begin as enemies and become friends. Can they ever be more than friends? Needless to say Carmen's mother feels that Jeremy is out to sabotage Carmen's chances in the competition. It is a cruel thing for her to say but is it possible she's right? And what is going on with the secretive phone calls in the middle of the night? Carmen knows that there is more going on than meets the eye with her mother. When she uncovers the truth, will she be able to take a stance for what is right? Is it possible that Jeremy only wants to throw her off-guard so he can win the competition? Carmen goes through a lot of self-discovery in a very short period of time. This isn't a story of typical teenage rebellion, nor is a typical coming-of-age story, although these are components to Virtuosity. Ms. Martinez has provided a heartfelt story about doing what is right no matter what and standing up for yourself despite the consequences. Carmen doesn't want to disappoint her mother, her stepfather, her grandparents or her violin teacher, but she ultimately must not disappoint herself and her sense of integrity. Although Virtuosity is classified as a YA book, I feel it can be read and appreciated by readers of all ages.
    nlsobon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    To be honest, I wasn't sure I would like "Virtuosity" as much as I did...but the first few pages were able to pull me in almost instantly. The way Jessica Martinez described that entire scene, it'd be hard to not want to keep reading."Virtuosity" is the story of Carmen,a 17 year old violin prodigy. Her mother, Diana, is constantly pushing her to do better so that she'll be able to win the prestigious Guarneri competition. But things don't go as planned. When she meets Jeremy, her competition, she begins to fall for him. Martinez could've easily taken the easy way out with the story, but she didn't. As the relationship begins to unravel between Carmen and her mother, you don't find yourself feeling bad for Diana what so ever. Its the growth that Carmen experiences that makes the entire story."Virtuosity" is a beautifully crafted story of a young girl finding out who she is and the struggles she faces along the way. I would definitely recommend picking this up when its released in October.
    DamarisGCR on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I¿ve read a lot of mixed reviews about Virtuosity, and to be honest, it did sort of turn me off. I wasn't sure if I really wanted to read it or not. So for a while I would look at it sitting on my bookshelf and just keep pushing it to the side. Of course now I am little upset at myself for waiting so long to read it. I loved it! I have learned that reading reviews before reading a book is probably not such a good idea for me. I am easily turned off, and I would have missed out on a great story.Carmen basically has it all, but the one thing she loves the most is her music career. It means everything to her and more. There is a new competition coming up and only the best will win, and Carmen will do anything to win. She starts off by pretty much stalking her opponents and learning every little thing about them. What she didn't count on was how one meeting with Jeremy would turn her world upside down. They are both after the same thing, but only one will be left standing. You know that saying "Curiosity killed the cat"? That fits perfectly for Jeremy and Carmen. Only no one dies in this story. There really isn't much I can say without giving the whole story away, but it's pretty much girl falls in love with boy, boy falls in love with girl, but can it really work? Can they really still want to be with each other after ONE of them wins the competition? Virtuosity was a definite page turner for me. I was just so curious and loved being inside Carmen's world. Her life went from being on track, to completely derailing. I felt so bad for her at times and then so happy for her. Even though I loved the relationship between Carmen and her mother, it was so sad how at times her mother would forget that they were family. She became so blindsided by Carmen's career, that when Carmen needed her the most, she really wasn't there for her. Virtuosity was written so well and runs so smoothly, you can easily finish it in one sitting. The outcome to the story was well thought out and I was very happy with it. There isn't one thing I can say about Virtuosity that I did not like.5 out of 5 stars!
    titania86 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Carmen Bianchi is a famous virtuosic violin player stressing over the life changing Guarneri competition. This includes obsessively practicing (as usual) and checking out the competition, which looks a lot like stalking. She is caught stalking by her main rival Jeremy King and they begin their love/hate relationship. They start sniping at each other through emails, but when they finally meet in person, they treat each other like people and actually get along. The competition is usually in the forefront of Carmen's mind, but her budding friendship/romance with Jeremy pushes it aside. Everyone in her life except her stepfather just care about her success and would do anything to get her there. They are even accepting and even encouraging about her dangerous addiction to anti-anxiety drugs. As Carmen wrestles with who she should trust, the competition draws closer. Although Jeremy seems to be the only person in her life who cares about her, is it only a facade for trying to get her to throw the competition?I was first drawn to Virtuosity because the focus is on music performance. There haven't been a lot of recent teen books about the subject. Some authors include it as a minor detail to flesh out characters, but they never return to it again. (I'm looking at you Hush, Hush.) The author is very experienced in the field, being a teen star violinist herself, so her characters and their conflicts feel authentic to me. In the novel, she captures the reasons why I didn't choose to go into music performance when chose my music major focus in college: the cut-throat attitudes, the competition taking over the performer's life, and especially making music a joyless endeavor. I play the flute because I enjoy it and if that enjoyment was taken away, I wouldn't want to do it anymore. Carmen no longer enjoys making music because there is so much riding on each individual performance and there is pressure on her from all sides.The most interesting aspects beyond music are the way she is treated by the people in her life. Her stepfather is the only person who really cares about her as a person and does things with her that are fun and outside her work. Her mother is incredibly intense and doesn't even acknowledge that she is still a teenage girl. At first, she seems really caring about Carmen and has her best interests at heart, but as the book goes on, it's clear that she just cares about her success and the money she brings. What shocked me the most was her lack of confidence in Carmen and her encouragement of Carmen's dependence on the anti-anxiety medication. Her teacher is horrible and doesn't care about her emotions or her wellbeing. Jeremy is her only real friend, but she is constantly struggling with her opinion of his motivations. I was a little disappointed that their relationship was the focus of the novel instead of Carmen's own personal journey. Most teen books focus on some sort of romance, but it would be nice to see more that don't.Overall, I enjoyed Virtuosity. It provided a realistic look into the music performance industry. The descriptions of the performances were beautifully written. I would love to read whatever Jessica Martinez comes out with next.
    the1stdaughter on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    With everything riding on a single competition there¿s nothing Carmen can risk, least of all her heart. When Jeremy, the young and overwhelmingly arrogant violinist not to mention ¿the¿ competition, suddenly enters her realm of thought beyond simply crushing him with her ability to play the violin she begins to question everything¿starting with her anxiety medication. Given to her by her overbearing and competitive mother, Carmen can¿t help but question her mother¿s motives as well as her own desires. Is drug addiction and the lies that lead to a path of ultimate success worth it or could there possibly be a happier, more loved version in the end?From the moment I read the synopsis for Virtuosity I knew it would either be an instant hit or a sad disappointment. Fortunately for me it was a stunning success that I couldn¿t put down! My reason for wavering before my actual reading of the full novel had everything to do with the music element of it. Being a musician myself I can¿t help but nit pick books that try to pull off a character like Carmen who¿s every hope and dream revolves around her love-hate relationship with music. Obviously I¿m no Grammy winning artist like Carmen, but I¿ve taken a turn or two on the musical roller coaster and lived through it. So finding a character like Carmen and an author like Jessica Martinez(herself a musician also) who tells a story you simply can¿t forget is something I value very highly.Obviously you can guess the aspect I valued most in the story was Carmen¿s struggle to balance her love of the music that fills her soul with the domineering power of her mother¿s demands. Carmen¿s career is everything to her mother and along the path to success Carmen soon forgets that it wasn¿t always her career that had her playing in front of countless audiences. She once played because she loved it, everything about it, until one fateful mishap. Being that my own mother never pushed me to the point of drug addiction, it¿s hard to relate to that part of Carmen¿s life but the anxiety certainly is. Never wanting to fail, always wanting to play your best and never disappoint those around you¿stressful is an understatement at times. It was wonderful to see that range of emotions in Carmen, from her yearnings to her competitiveness you could almost hear the music weaved throughout her story.As for Carmen¿s relationship with Jeremy, her ¿competition¿ and potential love interest, it was perfect. Not only did their relationship conflict balance perfectly, but Carmen¿s decisions at the latter part of the book regarding not only her and Jeremy but the competition were exactly what I¿d hoped for. Jeremy was fabulous! His snarky behavior in the beginning to his support during the last half of the book made him a guy that girls everywhere will swoon after.Mentioning that Jessica Martinez is a debut author seems ludicrous. Her writing is as beautiful as the notes her characters play in Virtuosity making it nearly impossible to believe this is her first novel. This is a story about finding your own path and becoming who you truly want to be. Virtuosity is a coming of age novel that sings to it¿s readers and one that I¿ll certainly be recommending for some time to come. Be on the look out for Jessica Martinez though, as I¿m certain Virtuosity isn¿t the last we¿ll be hearing from her!My original review was posted at There's A Book.
    renkellym on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Virtuosity is a vibrant contemporary debut about music and becoming independent. Jessica Martinez¿s writing is just as lyrical as the pieces that Carmen plays on her violin, and the storytelling is borderline perfect. Virtuosity manages to balance introducing the technicalities of competitive violin playing with expressing the scary emotions a young woman goes through as she tries to think independently of her controlling mother.Carmen is truly a joy to read about. Though she¿s famous and has won a Grammy, she doesn¿t act pompous. In fact, Carmen is incredibly easy to relate to despite her success; she struggles with things that we all struggle with. Because of this, it¿s easy to root for her to overcome all the obstacles she faces (although Carmen doesn¿t need much encouragement; she¿s a very, very strong person).Virtuosity doesn¿t offer much in terms of side characters, but the book does introduce a fabulous love interest. Jeremy is cocky and self-assured, but he¿s also genuinely nice. And he¿s a tease, which is very entertaining. The dynamic between Jeremy and Carmen is excellent, and it eventually offers more than one would expect.Virtuosity will thrill readers with its emotional rollercoaster ride, but it will also bring a feeling of fulfillment, as if you yourself have just finished performing. Virtuosity is perfect for fans of slightly edgy contemporary YA¿it incorporates some tougher elements, like drug addiction and manipulation¿but it will capture the hearts of anyone who reads it. Highly recommended for music lovers as well!
    Bookswithbite on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    As I began this book, I really loved the feel of the book. The passionate music flowing between the fingers of the strings of the violin, but also the great competition in between. The reader begins with two great musicians, yearning for a fantastic prize of fame and fortune. What starts off with an exchange of fighting words slowly becomes something beautiful.The plot line of this book blew me away! I loved reading about music. Both characters were so passionate about it. The strive to be the best, the uphold a family legacy, had me reading pages faster and faster. I adored watching both Carmen and Jeremy push and pull each other. See there love blossom between the aches and pains of music is very nice.The characters Carmen and Jeremy felt real enough to the reader, that you felt every ounce of stress, nausea, anxiety when it came to performance time. I guess you can say I have had a taste of this cause I too was in band. I played Clarinet and when it came to competition time, it was on! I liked that Carmen and Jeremy face a road of obstacles. Though it did not bring them down, it made them stronger. Stronger in themselves, as well as a couple.I also adored the betrayal in the story. it may not seems like a big one to some people, but when you are that passionate about something like that, it comes off as a low blow. You are no longer what you claimed to be. You are now a fraud. I adored that the character took steps in the right direction to correct the matter, but I also felt for the pain of loss they had to endure.Virtuosity is a great book about two amazing musician coming to term with who they are. With passionate music, a burning love and a betrayal that will make everything different, this book I loved.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Carmen pulled me in. Relatable and engrossing this is definitely something to be read. Especially if you have a background in orchestra. And even if you've never played before you can still feel the same elation as that characters. Most easy description i will give of thus book... alive.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I absolutely loved this book! So sweet and cute! With a couple twists in the book it keeps you confused on who to trust! The author is very detailed and i suggest if you like this book try reading her other book the space i between us
    Vicky13 More than 1 year ago
    This book was good as a first read however it was seriously lacking depth and in some parts I had to re-read a couple of times to understand. I finished this book quickly really without enjoying almost every aspect of it like I try to do my best with all others but, this book although wasn't hard to get into; I just couldn't picture the movie in my head. I love that this book was about violins and a serious violinist the events which led to her downfall weren't as severe as the main character makes them out to be. With everyone in this book having problems its very hard to see hers as the most extreme of the all.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    But i suspect great things from Martinez. From the blurb,I noticed that there may be drama/Romance/Comedy/(and of course)MUSIC!! Marti?ez we expect great things from you in the near future.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    MissPrint More than 1 year ago
    Carmen Bianchi should have one thing and only one thing on her mind right now: winning the Guarneri competition. Technically, the Guarneri violin competition has already been on Carmen's mind for years. She has fame, she has a Grammy. But victory at the Guarneri has always been the final target--the last step to confirm her ascent from talented prodigy to a true virtuoso, a real talent. Except Carmen is losing focus. Carmen's mother channels all of her own career aspirations into managing Carmen's professional life while micro-managing her personal life. That used to be fine. But now Carmen isn't so sure why she is playing. Struck with painfully acute stage fright isn't even sure she's good enough. Not after she hears Jeremy King play. With the Guarneri finals fast approaching, both Carmen and Jeremy know the real competition is between two violinists: them. Carmen has every reason to hate Jeremy, every reason to stay away from him. She knows that. She also knows she can't stay away when Jeremy is the one person who might really understand her. As what should be her finest hour approaches, Carmen has to decide if a win playing the violin is worth more than finding her own voice in ¿Virtuosity (2011) ¿by Jessica Martinez. ¿Virtuosity ¿is Martinez's first novel. Martinez began playing the violin herself at the age of three. She has worked both as a symphony violinist and as a violin teacher. With a book so grounded in the main character's passion there is always the risk of getting lost in technical jargon or simply atmosphere, particularly when the author is already an expert in the field. One of the biggest strengths of ¿Virtuosity¿ is that the story remains centered around Carmen as a character instead of Carmen as a violinist. With snappy prose and competitive passion, ¿Virtuosity ¿is an interesting story about the difference between fostering a talent and quashing it. There are no easy answers for Carmen and the choices she faces throughout the novel which is part of what makes this book ¿such a gripping read. Martinez's characters are well-drawn and authentic from their talents and wants right down to their flaws. Virtuosity is as complex as it is engrossing. Possible Pairings: ¿Catalyst¿ by Laurie Halse Anderson, Prom and Prejudice¿ by Elizabeth Eulberg, Bunheads by Sophie Flack, Where She Went by Gayle Forman, An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach, ¿Rx¿ by Tracy Lynn
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Kapri More than 1 year ago
    I was not expecting to like this book as much as I did. I thought it would just be a quick read (which it was) but it was so much more. I really felt like I could relate to the subject matter as playing an instrument myself. Although I play the cello instead of violin and I'm nowhere near as talented as Carmen is. But I do think that those who don't have a musical background can also enjoy this book. Carmen was my favorite part of this book. I loved watching her grow throughout the book. She learned how to decide for herself what she wants and what she does. She was a little weak in the beginning, which was a tad bothersome, but she grew and became a stronger person, which I liked that about her. Virtuosity is a fantastic debut--one that I wasn't expecting to like so much. Even with its short length, there is an addictive quality to it and wonderful character.
    KimballSK More than 1 year ago
    As you no doubt read in the blurb, Carmen is a world-renowned violin virtuoso. I found it interesting to read about her life and the inevitable pressures that come along with such talent and fame. Carmen, for all of her world travelling and access to unique circles of people, is still a very sheltered teen thanks to her mother, Diana. Although, I'm sure, Diana's intentions were pure in the beginning of Carmen's career, she has now become a stage mother of all stage mothers (hello, Mama Rose!) and the central source of Carmen's growing anxiety. Enter stage left: Jeremy. Jeremy is Carmen's cheif rival for an upcoming all-important competition and (natch) her love interest. I liked the way their relationship developed and loved the mystery that made me question his motives almost until the end. The only drawback for me was the end. I promise not to ruin it for you, but Carmen's choices in the last chapter had me questioning girl power in the modern world. My faith was restored in the end, but just barely. Overall, I really enjoyed Virtuosity. I loved peeking behind the scenes of such a glamorous, yet stressful life and Martinez shares the details like an insider.
    BookPortrait More than 1 year ago
    I love books about musicians. Granted, I may be slightly biased, but I think that serious musicians, especially in high school, aren't always understood well and are often shunned by others who aren't as serious about music. I think it is great that books like this can help show others what life is like for them. Carmen is a child prodigy and one of the best violinists in the world. She has toured the globe, played in some of the best concert venues, and even been homeschooled so that she can devote more time to practicing and performing. But one disastrous performance led her to Inderol, an anti-anxiety drug that she takes to get through her performances...and her lessons. Soon she's relying on these much more than she should. Enter Jeremy, the arrogant but oh-so-hot competition. They wind up talking one night, and Jeremy's description of performing causes Carmen to begin to question many things about her own musical life. As the prestigious Guarneri competition grows closer, Carmen finds herself more drawn to Jeremy and more inclined to rebel against her mother the manager. When an unexpected event calls the entire competition into question, Carmen must make an important decision - what is she willing to lose in order to win? Virtuosity has a little bit of everything YA - the struggle to define yourself, the question of what do you really want from life, striving for independence from parents, and romance - blended together in a fresh and engaging way. I found Carmen's character incredibly easy to relate to. But even if you're not a musician with performance anxiety, we all have things that we dread. No matter what profession we're in or what our hobby is, there is always somebody who is better. This book explores those issues. And I loved the budding romance between Carmen and Jeremy. The cynicism of Carmen's mother Diana toward their relationship sounded just like the doubts that we all let ourself have. Virtuosity embarks on an emotional roller coaster that doesn't stop until the last page. The feelings, struggles, and situations were incredibly vivid, which made for a very intense (in a good way!) read. There were a few things about this book that I found frustrating, however. Carmen's mother, for instance. She is your classic overbearing, controlling mother (not to mention she's Carmen's manager), and I wanted to defy her right along with Carmen. Even still, I couldn't hate her completely - unfortunate circumstances forced her to give up her dream, and so she shifted the pressure of success onto Carmen. Then there was something that Jeremy did. While some people may find it endearing, I was actually very annoyed with it. So, if you are like me, keep reading - you will be glad you did. You do not have to be a musician to appreciate the depth of this book. Complete with the butterflies and beauty of first love and the quest of one girl to find her place in the world, Virtuosity is a debut not to be missed!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I love the story it was great and i loved how i could relate to it as a teenager. I thought the ending was sweet but i do wish the book was a tad bit longer....hence the 4 stars....overall great read if your looking for a contempoary read:)
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago