GOSH, it feels like just yesterday that I read Runaway Train and gushed the heck out of it. Now, I'm back with its sequel, and it's just as amazing. Thank you Xpresso Book Tour, Wise Wolf Books, and Lee Matthew Goldberg for letting me on this tour!
Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of eight novels including THE ANCESTOR and THE MENTOR, currently in development as a film off his original script, and the YA series RUNAWAY TRAIN. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the Prix du Polar. STALKER STALKED will be out in Fall ’21. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared as a contributor in Pipeline Artists, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Millions, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, LitReactor, Monkeybicycle, Fiction Writers Review, Cagibi, Necessary Fiction, Hypertext, If My Book, Past Ten, the anthology Dirty Boulevard, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, The New Plains Review, Underwood Press and others. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series and lives in New York City. Follow him at LeeMatthewGoldberg.com
I had stars in my eyes and I couldn't see around them...
The year is 1995 and my parents have finally allowed me to take the summer to tour in a VW van across the country with my boyfriend Evan and our band. Yes, my dream to be a singer became reality. Even with Clarissa, Evan's jealous ex-girlfriend, as the lead singer, it's my presence on stage that led us to a major record deal. There are moments you'll always remember in life, but I can't imagine anything more cool than hearing your song on the radio for the first time.
But being a Rockstar isn't as easy as it sounds. Using alcohol and drugs as coping mechanisms, nothing but tension surrounded me, hurting my still blossoming relationship, and continued grieving over my sister's death.
A love letter to the nineties and a journey of a girl becoming a woman, Grenade Bouquets charts the rollercoaster ride of a band primed to explode on the scene, as long as they keep from actually exploding.
Runaway Train is one of those books that stay with you. It had me up past my bedtime googling Kurt Cobain facts and led me into a dark hole of conspiracy websites, but I digress. I was young when Kurt died but I saw how it affected my older brother and others around me, so being there with Nico felt real. We get that same rawness with the sequel.
Nico is now an active member of Grenade Bouquets. She's still the same Nico, but with a rock star edge. Things at home with her best friend aren't going well and her boyfriend's ex, Clarissa, is causing trouble. When they're suddenly scouted and find themselves on the cusp of fame, things take a turn for the worst. Nico's brashness becomes that thrusts her into the spotlight. The rest of the band starts to resent her, and fame starts to turn her into a monster.
Nico's character...I can't quite put my finger on it, but maybe it has to do with her rage toward Clarrisa; it felt very unnecessary and her actions almost unforgivable. Nobody bats an eye because they're all fresh in their new world of rock and roll. She is not easy to love, but she is the same old angsty girl we got in book one and she's incredibly flawed AND that is why 99% of me agrees with her character choices. She's a teenager and she acts like one. Boy, when I was a teen I'd explode over everything.
I still do...
I won't stop gushing about this series. Not ever. The book is an ode to 90's grunge and the way the music industry changed after grunge took a nosedive. The ending sooooorta hints at a third book, but did wrap together nicely. I wouldn't be mad if there was another book. ;)
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐