Archive for February, 2015

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I can hear Susan having fits over this one. Dear Rockstar, it’s called. And unless Rockstar is someone’s name, Susan’s having fits that are probably epic.

Rock Star. Two words.

Anyway, this one’s definitely Young Adult or New Adult or whatever. It’s got the angst: the best friend, the violent home life, the rock star obsession, the new boyfriend with secrets. Check it for yourself if you don’t believe me.

Sara is obsessed with rock star Tyler Vincent, and as she works to complete her senior year, she’s determined to find a way to meet him—although her best friend, Aimee, keeps telling her to find a different escape from her desperately violent home life.

Complications arise when Dale, the mysterious new transfer student, sets his sights on Sara, and she falls for this rock-star-in-the-making in spite of her better judgment. When Sara wins a contest, she is faced with a choice—travel to Tyler Vincent’s home town to meet him, or stay and support Dale in a Battle-of-the-Bands hosted by MTV.

Their triangulated relationship is pushed to its breaking point, but there is another, deeper secret that Dale’s been keeping that just may break things wide open…

Turn up your collar, feather your hair, and splash on some Polo, because we’re going back to the ‘80’s when MTV played music videos, there was no such thing as American Idol, and becoming a star meant doing nothing short of crazy for that one, big break.

I love the setting; I think writing about 80s hair bands is the new trend ’cause this isn’t the first one I’ve seen. But the relationship is triangulated because Sara loves a guy she’s never met? That’s some kind of sick I don’t want to get near!

But it’s also enough to make me curious. Can the author pull off this girl’s obsession? And what’s with the last line? “Becoming a star meant doing nothing short of crazy for that one, big break.” That opens up a whole lot of questions right there. Who’s doing the crazy? Is it this Dale, who shows up and puts a target on Sara (another form of crazy)?

Dunno the answers to any of it yet, but I’m sure curious to read.

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This one wins the “It might be really weird, but cool weird” award. Check it.

“Madness dances with brilliance” – a wild rock singer, a lonely white dolphin and other unworldly misfits emerge from their strange stories to challenge a young boy as to why. A gaunt tree leans wearily over them, like a guitar with too many strings. And the Angel leans on her gate, watching. – “Never seen anything quite like this”; “A unique & wonderful manuscript”.

“This is not a normal book with a normal story…”

It is the story of a rock singer and the unearthly
harmonies plucked from a strange 13-string guitar;
and of a bumptious yellow honeybee encountering a
strange little man on a planet that isn’t there;
and a tired, cynical old philosopher conducting
a strange debate with a stone in the woods.

It is the story of a shipwrecked sailor and his
pet egg that hatches into a strange seagull;
and of a worn-out, unworldly old lady dying
in a strange land where no-one dreams;
and a sad, downtrodden gardener tending
a Wise Woman’s strange, disquieting weed.

It is the story of a lonely white dolphin, and a tree –
curiously shaped like a guitar with too many strings.

And of a young boy who discovers
– with a little help from an Angel –
The Seven Gifts – that came to Earth

“A most unusual and beautiful story”
“This is a book to make you think”

Gotta see this one to believe it, I think. I can’t even wrap my brain around it, and that doesn’t happen often. I’m intrigued as hell.

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Lauren Dane has been a favorite of Susan’s for a long time now. Part of that is because Susan’s known Lauren online for a long time now. And part is because Lauren writes some really smoking hot stuff — or so she says. I haven’t had time until now to check it out. And I want to make time for this one!

Unexpected Desire…

It’s been ten years since clean-cut, sexy-as-hell police officer Todd Keenan had a white-hot fling with Erin Brown, the provocative, wild rocker chick next door. Their power exchange in the bedroom got under his skin. But love wasn’t in the cards just yet…

Now, life has thrown the pair back together. But picking up where they left off is tough, in light of a painful event from Erin’s past. As Todd struggles to earn her trust, their relationship takes an unexpected and exciting turn when Todd’s best friend, Ben, ends up in their bed–and all three are quite satisfied in this relationship without a name. As the passion they share transforms Erin, will it be enough to help her face the evil she thought she had left behind?

So it starts off pretty typical: the guy can’t forget the rocker chick he had a fling with.

Wait.

What?

The guy can’t forget the girl. That’s normal. We’ve seen a lot of that.

But the guy’s not the rocker. The GIRL is.

I like Lauren Dane already.

And then she goes and adds a threesome to the mix… what girl doesn’t want to have two men in her bed, answering her beck and call? (Okay, that’s rhetorical, so don’t flood Susan’s inbox with answers.)

This sounds like it’s more erotic romance than Rock Fiction, but there’s only one way to find out. Bring it. Fast, soon, and maybe even a little bit hot.

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This anthology’s got a cool twist to it: they’re using the sales to raise money for the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, which is a charity Susan used to support by doing the same thing. Using royalties as a charity donation has fallen out of favor. I’ve even seen bloggers say they think it’s rude to make readers buy a book in order to make a donation. If they want to donate, they’ll donate.

I don’t get that attitude. This is a great way to raise awareness of the need for music programs in our school. I read an article about a local school that’s talking about cutting music, art classes, and recess. Again. It’s an epidemic.

There are seven authors in this anthology, and some of them have been coveted over here before. And now that they’re together, I’m coveting them even harder because, hey, you gotta see how they stand up to each other, right? Similar themes. Which feed off each other. Which are good and which are great. (Notice I’m holding out hope that none of ’em suck.)

Here’s the books:
Renee Lee Fisher – Rock Notes
A.M. Madden – Back Up
Ahren Sanders – Surrendering
M. Stratton – After the Storm
Lisa Swallow – Summer Sky
Gina Whitney – Saving Abel
A.L. Wood – First Chance

Lots of familiar stuff here… I’m drooling…

Even if you don’t pick up the anthology, think about sending a few bucks to Mr. Holland’s Opus. Music in our schools teaches our kids so darn much. It’s so good for them and my own days playing clarinet is what led me to my current career, even. I loved music and wanted to be around it. So now I work in it, just not on the rocking side.

Give kids like me a chance, will ya? Pick up the anthology. Donate. I don’t care. Just make ’em stop cutting music in schools.

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Woot! Talk about a score (and don’t tell Susan, who’s bound to be jealous)! A NINE-BOOK SERIES. It’s one of those “each character in the band gets a book” (or two) themes, and that’s fine by me.

Book one, All Access, though, starts in a place we’ve been before. Oh, how many times: Jess doesn’t recognize the lead singer of Charing Cross. He’s just some stranger in a cafe who wants company (uhh, bring your security guy if you’re that recognizable? Why isn’t he mobbed? Where are the cell phones that’re being pointed at him? No one tells her she’s suddenly all over the place, with gossip mongers everywhere wondering who she is?)

The second book, Broken Sound, starts off just as familiar as the first, but it seems to deviate. Lead guitarist Davey finds out he’s a daddy. But then the story seems to take a left turn and the description doesn’t mention Davey as the father of Anna’s kid. So I’m confused on this one.

Book three, Bitter Farewell, is the “rock star goes in search of the girl from his past he left behind and shouldn’t have” storyline.

But Buried Notes, the fourth book? Now we’re talking. Secret marriage, time to sign the divorce papers. Of course, he can’t, but that’s okay.

Last Song is the dropout story. You know: the guy drops out of the band in search of something. In this case, it’s to quiet the “demons in his soul.” — Yeah, we’ve seen this one (most famously in Don DeLillo’s Great Jones Street, which is described as a satire, but somehow, I never read it that way). But it looks like James might take the story one step further and do good stuff with it.

Now, this is where it gets interesting. A Voice to Love is the sixth book in THIS series, but the first in ANOTHER. Wild, huh? Kinda confusing. But the fresh plots continue: this one’s got a rocker with a secret. Think Mick Mars, folks. We’ve moved into a different band now, too. One who was introduced in the dropout book.

And it goes on from there. Interesting stuff, and I like that James is taking chances with her plots. Yeah, some of them are familiar, but it looks like what she’s doing with them is new. And that’s what it’s about. Keeping the category new, keeping it fresh, pushing its boundaries.

I definitely gotta read these.

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Not only is Rock Fiction super hot right now, it seems Rock Fiction series are hot. When they’re good, when they can be good through all three (or however many, but I’ve noticed that three is the magic number), this almost better than good sex. Almost.

Today we’ve got the first in the Rock Star Romance series, Sophie’s Turn. Here’s the description:

Slapper? Slut? Adulteress? Sophie Penhalligan’s life and moral universe is turned upside down when rock star Dan proposes to her in full knowledge that she is already engaged. She has always loved Dan, in a remote-crush kind of way. She thinks she loves her fiancé, Tim. What is she to do?

It’s all happening because her past has come to tempt her. Nine years ago, she met her teenage idol and rock star extraordinaire, Dan Hunter, up close and personal. Well, almost!

Now Dan has crash-landed back in her life just as Sophie is happily embroiled in a relationship with Tim, her boyfriend of two years. Until recently, she was confident Tim would eventually propose. But while his persistent inaction is beginning to cast a cloud over their relationship, Dan’s sudden reappearance poses a whole new dilemma.

Having accompanied Dan’s band to Paris, Sophie suddenly finds herself engaged to Dan while her erstwhile fiancé Tim is… well, doing whatever it is Tim does back in London. Torn between the dream-come-true and the sensible-thing-to-do, Sophie concludes her inadvertent journey of self-discovery with an ending that surprises herself, and everyone around her.

Sophie’s Turn is a glamorous contemporary fairy tale that will make chick-lit and romance lovers laugh, cry and rock along every step of the way.

A new twist on a familiar trope! And it sounds like this is more about Sophie’s choice (har) than real Rock Fiction, but who knows? Maybe Dan’s got the charisma to lift this above a chick lit sorta read and bring the music.

Looking at the series, it’s really a sort of Sex in the City with a rocker as Mr. Whatever-his-name-was. Sophie loves Dan. Or does she? Will she come back to him? Why’s he waiting so patiently?

Lots of questions, and I’d love to see the answers. But the one that won’t be in the books is this one: Rockers today have super slick names. Devin. Magnum. But Dan?

Well, there’s Dan Spitz and Dan Lilker and Daniel Adair, and more, so it’s not unheard of. It’s just…

Bucking the trend. Again.

I may like this Nicky Wells. Would love it if she’d stop in for a guest post about why she named her man Dan.

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Melissa Wells clearly has Google alerts set because she found her book, Come Dancing, included on our overall list of Rock Fiction here at The Rock of Pages. She was kind enough to get in touch with me and send me a review copy. And I meant to send it on to Jett, I really did.

But some sixth sense interfered and before I knew it, I’d loaded it onto my Nook and was forty pages in.

My sixth sense is smart. Come Dancing took me back to my own past, to a New York I’d forgotten about.

In a nutshell, it’s the story of rocker Jack Kipling, who sees editorial assistant Julia Nash dancing the night away in New York’s famed Palladium. He’s smitten, even moreso when she doesn’t jump in his bed or play hard to get; she’s naturally cautious. Their relationship grows, it evolves, and most of all, Julia herself grows and learns to see what she’s capable of: in work, with her family, and with her relationships. She learns what she wants from life.

I loved this book. Yes, there’s that stroll down memory lane even though Come Dancing is set in an earlier era than the late 80s/early 90s when I was a frequent visitor. The garbage night treasure hunts, the Halloween Parade, the characters who made New York so colorful and vibrant… they were all there, teasing out memories I’d long forgotten. No wonder when I hit San Francisco in the early 2000s, I was nonplussed by what caught the attention of my travel buddies and friends. After that era in New York, nothing else compares.

But there’s more to love. It’s the slow unfolding, the way the reader gets to know Jack as Julia peels his layers away. At first, I didn’t much like him and thought he was transparent or thin as a character. But slowly, we see beyond the image to the man, a man with real struggles and a pain that a lot of Rock Fiction doesn’t go near. Jack is a broken man, in his own way, but he’s also working to overcome, and that’s admirable, indeed.

Julia, too, grows from her relationship with Jack, but even more from her friendship with the girlfriend of Jack’s bandmate and from two of her co-workers who know she can rise above the lecherous boss – oh, how I remember those, too! – and have her back when she most needs it.

A couple things bugged me, though. One was the stereotypic naked blonde in Jack’s bed. The entire situation was a cliché, to the point that when Julia made her impromptu decision, I knew what was going to happen, how the blonde had gotten there, and how disruptive to the storyline she was going to be. Okay, an early draft of my own Trevolution stories might have included this exact scenario – like I said, cliché!

The other thing that bothered me was that although you can’t help but root for Julia, she’s a bit of a wunderkid. She gives Suzanne the idea that becomes her artistic breakthrough. She edits best-selling books. She lands the memoir and triumphs over her too-perfect rival. She encourages Jack to overcome his issue, which I won’t spoil but really love how it’s handled (and yes, I picked up on the problem before Julia did). She’s the perfect dancer. Handles the lech of a boss and Jack’s idiot bandmate perfectly. It gets to be a bit much once you take a step back and analyze it, but at the time, it works.

Of course, she’s not perfect. But maybe she’s a bit too idealized. Even the breakthrough with her mother is a little too neat, a little too simplistic.

Still. This is one of those books I wish I’d edited, not because I could make it better so much as because it would have been great fun. Julia is from my neck of the woods, after all – although her mother seemed more West Virginia than Western PA.

One thing I struggle with is that a large number of other reviewers didn’t recognize that the book is set in the 80s. What a shame. It was a dead giveaway for me on page 2 (or 8 in my copy), with the first mention of the Palladium. I never made it there, hanging at (my favorite) The Limelight, CBGB’s, or the Cat Club, but believe you me, I knew the Palladium. I remember being sad when I heard it had closed. I suppose if you came into pop culture after 1991, you’d miss that cultural marker. Which is too bad; Leslie Wells captures the era like a pro. The last time I read a book that was so quintessential New York of my own past was Fat Kid Rules the World, which also remains as one of my all-time favorite Rock Fiction books.

Can’t wait to see what else Leslie Wells has up her sleeve. From the look of it, there’s two backlist books I need to track down – and rumor has it a sequel to Come Dancing is in the works, as well. I’ll go read the old stuff that while you go dancing with Julia and Jack.

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We’ve mentioned Anthea Lawson around here before. She writes historical romance that has a musical bent, leading to the question if she writes Regency Rock Fiction or not.

Check out this short story she wrote:

In this romantic Regency short story, widowed Lady Diana Waverly finds love and passion in the most unlikely of places when a new piano tutor arrives at her door.

Piano tutor. Says music, right? The question is how the piano is used. Is it part of the seduction? Do they come together over music? Does it keep them together?

A girl’s gotta wonder.

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So author Leslie Wells saw her name on the List page and dropped me a note. And just that fast, I had in my hands a review copy of her new novel, Come Dancing.

I had meant to edit Jett’s coveting post because … well, there’s no sense coveting a book with a pending review, right?

Except… well, poor Jett is still coveting the book. I kinda couldn’t help myself when the copy arrived and I started reading and … well, gosh darn it, as I said to Leslie, the book took me back to my own days at the radio stations and my crazy adventures in New York and my almost-career at a record label. From the second page, when The Palladium gets mentioned, man, I was there. Hard up on this book.

Which is a sneak peak into my review. I said to Leslie that this is one book I’d have loved to work on as her editor, not because it needed a lot of work (the woman’s a pro and it shows) but because it would have been so much fun.

There’s apparently a sequel in the works. Maybe I’ll let Jett read that one… maybe.

And huge thanks to Leslie Wells for being proactive and getting in touch. Now if Jett would send over some of the other reviews she owes me…

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It’s 1981. Twenty-four-year-old Julia Nash has recently arrived in Manhattan, where she works as a publisher’s assistant. She dreams of becoming an editor with her own stable of bestselling authors—but it is hard to get promoted in the recession-clobbered book biz.

Julia blows off steam by going dancing downtown with her best friend, Vicky. One night, a hot British guitarist invites them into his VIP section. Despite an entourage of models and groupies, Jack chooses Julia as his girl for the evening—and when Jack Kipling picks you, you go with it. The trouble is … he’s never met a girl like her before. And she resists being just one in a long line.

Jack exposes her to new experiences, from exclusive nightclubs in SoHo to the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood; from mind-bending recording sessions to wild backstage parties. Yet Julia is afraid to fall for him. Past relationships have left her fragile; one more betrayal just might break her.

As she fends off her grabby boss and tries to move up the corporate ladder, Julia’s torrid relationship with Jack takes her to heights she’s never known—and plunges her into depths she’s never imagined.

With a fascinating inside look at publishing, this entertaining story of a bookish young woman’s adventures with a rock superstar is witty, moving, and toe-curlingly steamy.

So we combine books and music in fiction! Winner winner chicken dinner!

I want to know why Jack chooses Julia in the first place. What’s the attraction? Is this a hidden Ugly Duckling story? And if she’s got Jack, why does she need to put up with the grabby boss? Not that a good man takes the place of a career you love — I had to learn that one the hard way — but having a good support system ought to help you come up with workarounds for problems like asshole bosses.

And since this is set in 1981, I want to know how many cans of AquaNet Jack goes through.