Posts Tagged ‘DNF’

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I don’t DNF a book often. And to DNF a work of Rock Fiction? Yet that’s exactly what I did with Jennifer Echols’ Dirty Little Secret.

The problem isn’t the story. Much.

Okay, let me try again. The problem isn’t that it’s not Rock Fiction. This most certainly is: Bailey’s sister has a music deal. Bailey’s not allowed to perform or do anything that would draw attention to herself and therefore away from her sister. In short, the label is trying to erase Bailey, and Bailey’s parents are okay with that.

But her grandfather, who she’s living with, has other ideas and he gets her a job as a member of a mall performance troupe, doing covers of old-time country artists. Lucky Bailey gets to dress the parts and play with different people every day.

So having a set of parents who are willing to basically disown their daughter while promoting the other isn’t enough to make me stop reading. Parents in fiction have been horrible clear back to the days when fiction was made up of stories passed down, generation to generation, at the nightly cooking fires. You know: Cinderella? One of the oldest tales of all time.

As a parent, and as a person, what Bailey’s parents do is pretty reprehensible to me. But nope, we’re still not at the reason for my DNF.

It’s Scott, the romantic interest.

At first, he comes off as a Ferris Bueller type, charming and able to get away with everything. Not just charming, but charmed. At first, you can’t help but like the guy. He is, after all, Bailey’s savior, at least at the onset.

But if you’re familiar with the deeper undertones of my buddy Ferris, you’ll see that he’s got some deeper problems. Ferris isn’t a character to emulate or even want to be around.

Nor is Scott.

And when Bailey starts getting into his head, anticipating his needs, and modifying her own behavior… well, she’s bought into his narcissistic behavior. She’s feeding it, she’s the provider of the supply.

This happens within pages of Scott being her savior, mind you. Don’t get me wrong; it’s well done. I’d wager that author Echols knows pretty darn well what she’s writing about, because she’s got it down cold.

Maybe too cold. Because the PTSD came roaring back and I had to set the book down and walk away.

So there ya go. A work of Rock Fiction with a DNF attached to it.

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Years ago, author Richard Sharp really wanted Susan to review his book, The Duke Don’t Dance. It was, she says, a usual claim: it’s Rock Fiction ’cause the characters are shaped by the music of the Sixties.

People, it takes more than that for a book to be Rock Fiction. Music has to somehow shape the story, the events. The book has to throb with it. Because otherwise, every book that had a character singing along to “I Love Rock and Roll” would be Rock Fiction. It just doesn’t work that way.

Susan wanted my take on the book because it was a DNF for her. And… I gotta say, I didn’t do much better about it. I don’t know what her reasons were, but my main reason was that the whole thing feels told to us. We’re never there in the action; it’s all removed. And that made for a boring read.

Susan said the author was very nice. But it’s books like this that made her quit reviewing: she hates telling a very nice author she didn’t much care for his book. Lucky me to get the gig doing that.

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Susan sent this on to me with her notes about the first entry in the Jukebox Heroes series, The Hand of Fate. I just looked over the site, and I guess she never wrote the review, but her notes said it was cute and had potential but wasn’t a favorite.

She sent over all the books at once and I guess I should have looked them up because what I thought was the next book, which is actually the first because that first one Susan read was actually a prequel or something… Confused yet? I am.

Always put your series number in the book title, if not on the cover, okay? Avoid this confusion.

So I picked up Everything You Are and started reading.

People, this isn’t a standalone. It’s about some whiny girl who’s in a bad relationship with a rock star and she knows she ought to cut him loose, but it’s like she’s more caught up in the fact of who he is than being treated right.

So she finds a group in a nearby bar who accept her, but she’s too caught up in her own drama to pay much attention to them.

And then there’s mention of some paranormal or extra special stuff. I think we’re supposed to know what’s going on because it’s never fully explained, or why the rock star boyfriend has to go on this hunt for someone who doesn’t seem to want to be found by him.

You know where this one is heading: DNF. Not enough backstory, and a heroine I couldn’t care less about. And that rocker? He’s self-absorbed in ways that were new to me, but I sure didn’t like him, either.

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Start with the book description ’cause it pretty much sums everything up.

It is London and the year 1972. A charismatic anarchist called O’Connell dies of an overdose, leaving his artist boyfriend, Pearson, and fellow activist Nina in shock. It also leaves a spare room in their squat. So Pearson moves in Sweet Thing, a streetwise yet vulnerable young rent boy he initially picks up but then tries to help. Pearson isn’t the only one who’s interested though – glam rock star Johnny Chrome is on the brink of a breakdown and is convinced that Sweet Thing is the only one who can bring him back. As Sweet Thing gets drawn further into Johnny Chrome’s dangerous orbit, Pearson and Nina discover that O’Connell was not all he seemed. In this tautly paced, highly evocative novel Jake Arnott once again combines brilliant storytelling with a flawless portrait of a changing era, when the optimism of the 60s was giving way to the anger and bombs of the early 70s.

Who’s Johnny Chrome? Where does he come from? What’s going on here? How does he have a darn thing to do with O’Connell? WTF?

Maybe this is atmospheric but it sure didn’t work for me. Another DNF.