Personal, Reviews

Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia

Can I confess something? In a revelation sure to surprise no one, I was in the band. I played the clarinet and later the oboe. Just in case you thought you had seen the peak of my nerdiness, I thought I would add this bit to it. Like Alice in Kate Racculia’s Bellweather Rhapsody, I also attended the prestigious state competition twice (this was New Hampshire). I still have the medals I won. I attempted to find them, but they’re buried in the moving boxes I’ve yet to unpack from when I moved three years ago. That’s totally normal, right? The moving boxes, not holding on to sentimental childhood awards that now essentially mean nothing.


As far as Alice and Betram “Rabbit” Hatmaker are concerned, those music awards mean everything – or to Alice, at the very least, who has big plans to be famous (she’s already writing her memoir). They are the musically talented twins of their hometown – Alice is a gifted singer and Rabbit is an equally talented bassoonist. They’re competing at a prestigious music festival at a formerly prestigious hotel. Fifteen years earlier, there was a gruesome murder-suicide in Room 712. This happens to be the room Alice is assigned – and so the tale of music, murder, and haunting begins.

Bellweather Rhapsody is easily one of the most delightful novels I’ve read this year. I hate to call it a beach read, because that’s not what it is by colloquial standards, but it would be perfect for a vacation. You’ll want the uninterrupted reading time. While murder-suicide, angst-ridden melodramatic teenagers, and ghosts may sound a bit dark, Racculia’s dry wit and wonderful characters make this book – a cross between The Shining (the book) and Camp (the movie) – a must read. She absolutely nails the apathy and the irony of the teenage voice, as well as their self-importance. I loved it. You needn’t have been a band geek to enjoy it, even if I was. 4.5/5.

You know how much I love a good playlist, so I was quite pleased to learn that not only had the author created a playlist to accompany this book, she had created a good one. Some of the highlights include: Garbage’s #1 Crush, R.E.M.’s Crush With Eyeliner, The Bangles’ Eternal Flame, Nine Inch Nails’ Kinda I Want To, and Sam Cooke’s Having a Party. For the full list, go here.

What’s on your beach/vacation reading list for the summer? This is the book I’ll be recommending to everyone.

*I received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Annabel Smith

    This sounds pretty-damn awesome.

    No beach-reading here 🙁

    My by-the-fire reading recommendation is going to be This bright River by Patrick Somerville.

    • Rory

      If it’s any consolation, I’m only dreaming about beach reading as well. We got about 6 inches of snow yesterday. I found it incredibly depressing to have to pull my winter gear back out and shovel.

      This book is so fun without being fluff – a hard balance to find.

      I’m so pleased that you love This Bright River, you’re the only other person I know that has read it.

  • Heather

    I was also in the band–I played clarinet and later the bassoon. Heh.

    And I also have boxes that have remained unpacked…from when I moved in here almost 7 years ago.

    • Rory

      Based on the comments, clarinet players unite.

      And let’s be honest, in four years, I will be in that exact same position.

  • Shannon @ River City Reading

    High five, band geeks. I was totally a clarinet player and drum major – holla! I can’t wait to get my grubby little hands on this one, so I’m super excited that it gets your stamp of approval.

    • Rory

      Haha, clarinet players for the win. I thought it was going to be good based on the playlist alone (because I totally came of age on ’90s music), but I was pleasantly surprised by how fun the different voices were.

  • Naomi

    This sounds like a fun book! And, this is the first I’ve heard of it. Also a band geek. In fact, I still am- I play flute, but I started on oboe. I think there may be a lot of us…:)

    • Rory

      Books and music, the best things go together – thus band geeks and book nerds make total sense.

  • Kate @ booksaremyfavouriteandbest

    Sounds good. Hopped straight over to Netgalley and put in a request.

    • Rory

      Book pushing success.

  • Lianne @

    Ooh, this sounds like a great read! 😀 Also, I wished I had continued with the clarinet in some way; my high school lost its instrumental teacher and never replaced him so I never got a chance to continue.

    • Rory

      Oh that’s so sad, I always find it a little depressing when I hear about music programs falling by the wayside.

      If anyone else is a clarinet player, we’re going to be able to start a clarinet player book blogger club. So very exclusive.

      • Kate @ booksaremyfavouriteandbest

        Ha! My brother played the clarinet and I played the flute (American Pie was very bad for the reputation of the flute). I stopped learning the flute when I was about 17 (no regrets, I didn’t love it) but my brother kept going – he loves playing music (I just like listening). He sings and plays clarinet, saxophone, guitar, piano and bass. Clearly I was hiding behind the door when the musical genes were handed out.

  • Acid Free Pulp

    Thanks for this. I haven’t heard of this one, but your review makes it sound like a good read. Hopefully, it picked you up a little out of your recent book slump.

    • Rory

      It is, I’m hoping it starts to get a little more publicity. It’s a fairly light read without being fluffy.

      And it did help, I’m currently reading Young God, which just might fully pull me out of the slump.

  • Rebecca @ Love at First Book

    I Just finished this one and my review is coming out tomorrow, actually. I also looooooved the songs listed in the book. I was singing along half of the time. And even as a non-band person, I totally could still get into this book and relate to it.

  • Charleen

    I love that the character plays bassoon… it’s just so not your typical instrument. (It’s also one of my favorites.)

  • tanya (52 books or bust)

    I didn’t realize she had a play list too. There had better be some Weezer on it!

  • C.J. @ ebookclassics

    Wow, I keep hearing about playlists to accompany books lately. Is this becoming a thing? I love it!

  • Laura Frey

    #1 Crush!!!! That was my song when I was 16. Yes, I was goth, why do you ask? (Not in the band.)

    This sounds delightful!

  • Words for Worms

    Rory. I played the oboe in middle school. I’m delighted by this coincidence. I also want to read this book quite badly. It sounds lovely!

    • Rory

      Katie, we’re soulmates!

      It’s realllly good.

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  • Melinda @ The Book Musings

    Sounds like an awesome read! I’ll keep this one in mind

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  • Catherine

    I am so late to the game on this one, but I finished it this morning and it was an absolute delight. I was not a band member (no talent, no patience) yet still loved everything about this novel. It was exactly what my beat-down-how-am-I-going-to-make-it-through-4-years-of-this-hell mind needed.

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