Posts Tagged ‘not my thing’

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Here’s the thing about Rock Fiction: if you don’t get the details right, you pretty much shoot yourself in the foot. The world building here matters because those of us in the know, those of us with industry background, will call you out.

And that’s the fatal problem with The Backstage Pass: The Complete Series (read as a box set and thanks to NetGalley for the chance to read it). The details of a touring band are so far off, it’s impossible to suspend disbelief for even a minute.

First off, I’ve never heard of any tour naming their tour busses. I even checked with a number of friends who currently have their hands in tours. Nope. That’s a new one.

The opening act is its own thing. It doesn’t travel as part of the band’s entourage. The headliner doesn’t pick up the expense of the opening act. Touring with a headliner is a privilege; why would the headliner pick up an expense they don’t need to? Profit margins on the road are slim enough as it is.

Band and crew doesn’t eat together. Not as one big happy family, anyway. There may be some overlap, but the two do such different jobs that… yeah, no. Besides, a band as big as this boy band is supposed to be is going to eat very differently than the crew. There are also no dressing room riders anywhere.

The authors of this series need to learn a thing or three about what a bunk in a tour bus really is. Sit up? Comfortable space for two? At first, I thought there were multiple busses, each with a bedroom in the back. It was the only explanation for how these so-called bunks would work.

I about threw my e-reader across the room when Ryder and his love interest spent the night at the arena, in their private dressing room. I still can’t get my brain around that. Spending the night in the arena?

Seriously. That one, right there, did it. Any authority the authors had flew out the window. You’re a headlining act and won’t extend the cost for a hotel room, especially when you do it at other times? Let me rephrase: you’re the headlining act.

Beyond the fact that spending the night in the bowels of an arena is creepy as hell, it’s crossed so far into fantasy that my brain keeps exploding, the more I think about it.

The worst part is that it kept going. We’re supposed to buy that the GED tutor—who herself is a teenager, which again stretches credibility—has this amazing voice and magically becomes an opening act, with no record, no label, no fan base, no manager, not even a demo?

And why does this tour feel like a dumping ground for teenage girls in sundresses who can’t be at home for the summer?

Then the daughter of the bodyguard gets stood up by her band member sorta-boyfriend and instead of reaching out to her father, who is with the band, just assumes the worst and runs away. Yeah. Real smart there, kid. And how about the fact that we never once see the father be fatherly? And then we learn that no, he’s the biggest victim in the family drama that’s kept him from being a good father, but he still doesn’t do a thing to try to fix his relationship with his daughter by, you know, trying to get to know her. Instead, all he does is issue edicts about how she’s not allowed to do this or that.

And, of course, the biggest signal of all: tour manager and manager are two entirely different jobs, and they don’t overlap for a very good reason. When I see that in Rock Fiction, I know right off that we’re dealing with someone who hasn’t taken the time to learn what needs to be learned. In this series, the manager is of course a slimy loser jerk. While there’s a reason the roadie nickname for tour manager is asshole, that doesn’t mean how the tour manager acts toward the band. It means how the tour manager acts on behalf of the band. At things like settlement after a show. Because, you know, the band is essentially his employer. And take note of essentially there. It’s a lot more nuanced than that.

Add in bad editing, both in each book—sorry, but “he ratchet his brain” isn’t even close—and across the series—if you’re going to italicize the stupid bus names in two of the books, do it in all of them—and… yeah. This reads more like Rock Fantasy, not Rock Fiction.

One last note: when I was Skyping with Susan and venting about the errors, her daughter came in the room and listened. “Sounds like every other Rock Fiction on Wattpad,” she said with a shrug. “That’s why I don’t read it.”
Sorry, folks. In a category where there’s so much good, this one’s a pass. If you want really good YA Rock Fiction, look to Sarra Manning’s Guitar Girl, or Nick and Norah, or Fat Kid Rules the World. And those are just off the top of my head. I bet if I searched the archives here at The Rock of Pages, I’d find more. I bet you would, too.

This was one we got via NetGalley, and if you can’t tell this is my honest review, well, I got nothing for you. It sucks when Rock Fiction lets me down in such an epic fashion. It really does.

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Maybe part of me was looking for heebie-jeebies when I said I’d read Tess Gerritsen’s Playing with Fire. And maybe part of me is disappointed at what I got.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This starts off creepy. Julia finds this music and every time she plays it, weird things start happening. Things that she blames on her daughter. And yeah, maybe this could be happening. It makes sense.
It’s not as creepy as I’d hoped. Or maybe wanted.

In fact, it’s kind of disappointingly familiar. We have the set-up in the present, then the flashbacks to the past, so we the reader get the full story behind this piece of music although the characters never do. And like a lot of books that follow this structure, the part set in the past is the stronger part.

The present-day story ought to be creepy. It ought to make us question what’s real, what’s possible. But it doesn’t make sense. Mom blames the kid for doing things. Mom and Dad subject the kid to a battery of tests even though no one believes the mom. And then, next thing, Mom is off, obsessed with finding the origins of the music while everyone around her decides she needs to be locked up in a mental facility because, hey, we put the kid through all these tests and she’s fine so Mom is clearly crazy. So Mom runs away with her friend, who winds up betraying her because hey, the whole world is stacked against our Julia. And things get violent, as they do when you’re trying to get someone to involuntarily commit herself, or maybe it’s as they do when you’re digging up a past no one wants you to remember. And then we find out what’s up with the music. Only it’s not the music at all.

Remember those tests they ran on the kid? Why the hell didn’t they run them on the mom and save us all the hassle?
So that brings us to the story of the past. This turns out to be a Holocaust story, with the main character, Lorenzo, a promising violinist whose career and life are cut short by the horrors that wind up unfolding. Pity, too, because he and cellist Laura had a real thing going.

As I said, that was the more interesting part of the book, but in the end, this one was a bit of a disappointment. Predictable. Kinda stupid, actually. And most upsetting, the promise of the premise, of this haunting piece of music with demonic abilities, never came to be.

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So this was billed as a serial about the events leading up to a fatal shooting at a rock (pop) concert. But the bigger tease in all this is the mystery: five people are killed, but only four “go on record.” (Quotes because I’m not 100% certain what that means. Public record? Official record of the event? Or are they recording this for a live album?)

THAT is the story I want to read. Why’s one person’s death covered up? What’s going on here? Who died? Which of the five is it, and why?

And that’s my question. If the author’s going to tease us with this, he’s got to produce something more that leads up to it. He’s got to tie the mystery into what he gives us. But other than the opening, which is pretty cool and – again – sets us up for a story about the shooting and the mystery of what’s happened, that’s not what we get. We don’t even get that rich atmosphere full of the expectation and anticipation that we’re building up to something.

What we get is a short bit about a bunch of different people, few who come alive on the page and rise above stereotypes.

And ten percent at the beginning is the author’s… it feels like a defense. Telling us how long the whole thing is when put together. And other babble that, frankly, I don’t care about. I don’t care about how he struggled to write this, or get it published, or any of that. Save it for the blog tour, man. Don’t put it in your book, and most certainly, don’t start with it.

So that’s the first ten percent. And then the installment ends at 88%, so that we can be teased for the second one. Which we gotta download and pay for. Seven installments at roughly two or three bucks a pop… well, that’s a pretty slick marketing trick.

Except that this one, doesn’t really earn its $1.99 price tag. After all I’ve just pointed out that 22% of the whole thing has nothing to do with the actual story at hand. It’s fluff. And while the opening scene focuses on the mystery, that’s all that does. Which means something like five or ten percent is the story we’ve been promised – the mystery of the shootings and which dead body doesn’t go “on the record.” (Again, still not sure what that means.)

And there’s not a mosh pit in sight. In fact, there’s almost zero Rock Fiction in here. These are ordinary people, doing ordinary things. Which is fine, but what’s it got to do with the mystery? And how about the title? What’s a mosh pit got to do with anything? Melting pot might be a better term to use here ’cause I don’t see any moshing going on, either.

Just… I gotta throw my hands up on this one. We don’t see a lot of Rock Fiction written by men, so I’d had high hopes. And the whole idea of a mystery dead person is really appealing, especially when you factor in the setting. Five people turn up dead at a concert, but who’s that fifth person… what’s their story? Their mystery?

I don’t know. Maybe this just wasn’t told the right way. Maybe it unfolds all wrong. I don’t know. All I know is that it’s not something I’m going to follow up on.

Review copy provided by NetGalley. Thanks for the chance to explore something new.

Edited: Jett had the price wrong, which Michael himself kindly pointed out. I’ve fixed it. –Susan

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Holy typos, you guys. I’ve heard Susan complain all the time that authors complain she’s too expensive, but you gotta hire someone or else be ready for me to make fun of you for thinking JACKAL AND HYDE is a thing. Like… wow.

And that’s not the sort of intro you want for a review, is it? But there it is. Just… wow.

Melody of Truth

This sucks because Melody of Truth gets off to a fantastic start (one that’s light on the typos, which actually get worse as the book goes along). I was totally into it.

Melody’s a documentary filmmaker, a famous one. Think Bruce Sinofsky famous. More famous than Penelope what’s-her-name, who did the Decline of Western Civilization movies.

And Melody gets hired to make a documentary about… a band? A solo artist? This winds up being the first of a lot of details that are either confusing or make no sense. But Melody’s there to make a film and she’s got this insta-lust with the drummer, Sean.

Brownie points for giving the rocker a normal name. Although is it normal, or is it abnormal, since what’s normal has turned into the bizarre names?

Anyway, Sean’s there. And so are other guys in the band. And then the focus is on him and Melody and their relationship and sometimes, I’m not sure if there’s a band happening and a movie getting made, or if it’s all just a convenient backdrop for this romance.

Now, if you’ve got issues about cheating, this book isn’t for you. Melody, it turns out, is engaged to this guy and from the get-go, it’s clear she’s not in love with him. She’s settling. And that’s okay at first. People settle.

But people also meet the partner who sets them on fire, and Melody finds that in Sean, and she’s got a dilemma, but not really because she wants Sean and she admits that nope, Marco doesn’t do a damn thing for her. And then, long after things start to smell, we learn that Marco’s pretty much a cliché and so we don’t really feel bad that Melody essentially cheated on him by sleeping with Sean when she was engaged to Marco.

Like I said, if you have issues, this isn’t the book for you.

I like the concept of finding a love who you just can’t stay away from, everything practical be damned. I love the opening. I just wish it had been more: more Rock Fiction, more documentary, more explanation about the band, more detail, even more originality where Marco was concerned. I mean, a poet? With no day job? Really?

I don’t know if I’m getting picky lately, or if there’s just been a streak of stuff that’s not doing it for me. Either way, I’m still hunting for more authors like Cecilia Tan for me and Jessica Topper for Susan. You know: the authors we rave about to anyone who’ll listen. Not that I corner people on airplanes when I see them with a book. Nope. Not me.

Grab yourself a copy. Got a different opinion of this book? Send your review and Susan will get it posted for you.
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I’d heard a lot of great things about Melissa Foster’s books, so when she wrote a potential Rock Fiction entry into one of her series, I was all over it.

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I’m not sure what the fuss is.

Now, if you like those books where things don’t ever really go wrong, where people communicate and work through small problems super easy, where it’s a love fest from the second new people meet and families come together, this is totally your thing.

And I’m not one of those people who wallows in angst, but I’d like a little bit of tension and darkness in my books, you know? But when even the truffles are described as delicious after we’ve watched more than one character talk about how good they are, you know this isn’t the world’s most realistic version of reality.

By the end, it totally grated on my nerves. And I couldn’t tell anyone apart in the huge families of Trish and Boone.
So here’s the deal: Trish is an actress who expects this version of Sid and Nancy to get her an Oscar. And she fully expects this despite the fact that she’s going to be starring opposite Boone, who’s never acted and comes off as more than a boor. We’re told he’s a rock star, but there’s nothing rock star about him, despite the fact that he plays guitar a few times. It takes more than that. More than never-voiced worries about how a rocker and an actress can make it work.

So it’s got no real conflict and it’s not Rock Fiction. We’re striking out here.

Except it’s readable and until the end, when it goes over the top in family insta-love for each other, it’s a fun and good read. Perfect for the beach or for a day in a hammock in the backyard (thanks for buying that, Dad) when you don’t want to think or do anything but go along for the ride.

Bring your own delicious truffles, though.

Pick up your copy, and as always, thanks to Rock Star Lit for the review copy. If you’ve read it and want to share your own views, drop Susan a line!

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Guess I’m 0 for 2 with this weekend’s set of blog tour reviews. Both books said they featured music-focused characters. Both wound up being characters who could have had any other job.

What a letdown.

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In Hiatus, we’ve got a story of a committed threesome. Cam and Theo are married. Rocker Nate is their pampered puppy—really, he seems like little more than that. He’s not an equal in this relationship and when Cam and Theo start to fall apart, they squeeze him out of… well, everything but their beds. This is problematic because the way the description’s written, you expect Nate to do whatever it takes to keep his lovers together. But he doesn’t. He’s not the catalyst for what happens to bring us to our HEA. Not even close!

So no Rock Fiction here. Nate could be any other guy with a job that takes him on the road.

And a story without enough at stake or enough reasons to care about Cam and Theo.

If you want to give it a try, go for it. Here are the buy links:

Available From


If you pick it up and read it, send a review on! Susan says she’s glad to post up to three reviews of a single book, so hold her to that!

Thanks to Rock Star PR for letting us be part of the tour. Wish Susan had better luck picking books for me!

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This isn’t the sort of book I’d have picked up, except Susan said there was a record producer character, and that means the possibility of Rock Fiction. So… here I am. Reading Susan Mallery, who is a best-selling romance author. And… I’m not sure why.

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Let’s start with Quinn, the record producer, since he’s the reason we picked this up. Like a lot of so-called music people, he could be anyone. He has a charisma, sure, but he’s sickly perfect. There are no rough edges to this guy, nothing that suggests he knows how to handle the egos who cross his path—even when a few do cross his path in the pages. He’s more like a shrink, able to read people and understand who they are and what they need. But as for him, his wants, his desires, his needs? We know very little except he’s got an insta-crush on Courtney, one of the three daughters of the bride.

So there’s a major disappointment, right off the bat. This ain’t Rock Fiction, despite the guy’s career. And, of course, there’s this magic timeline where Quinn comes to town, finds a property, buys it, outfits it, and has it up and running in the span of the days and weeks leading up to the wedding that’s in the title. Somehow, I don’t think it’s that easy.

Now, I read more than Rock Fiction, believe it or not. And I like a lot of books. But this one? Didn’t do it for me in the least. The first third was full of the story screeching to a stop so the author could inform us of stuff. Backstory, Susan calls it. Boring, I call it. And this isn’t the first big-name author I’ve seen doing this, either. I want to yell at these people to stop it. It’s boring as anything.

There are three sisters in this story, and for too long, it’s hard to keep them straight and tell them apart. But then the cliches begin. Sienna, who has a string of broken engagements, finds herself engaged to a buffoon who she has no feelings for. Good thing, too, because he’s teetering on abusive, making all sorts of assumptions about how she’s going to live once they are married, telling her she has cold feet and not real concerns about their relationship, and devaluing her work. Oh, and he picks a horribly inappropriate time and place for the proposal, effectively trapping her into saying yes so she doesn’t rain on her mother’s engagement party or have to turn him down in a public forum. Manipulative much? Like I said: bordering on abusive.

So is Rachel’s ex-husband, who decides he’s going to win her back by showing up unannounced, doing things without her asking him to, and then telling her exactly what’s wrong with her and how she contributed to their divorce. If he talks about the affair he had – other than protesting that it only happened once! – it’s certainly not to work through the issues they had that tore them apart in the first place. Nope, it’s all on Rachel to change. Rachel, who so easily starts walking and gets her great shape back, which she let go in the aftermath of the divorce. Like it’s that easy? I had the easiest divorce in the world. We both agreed we’d been wrong to get married. We had nothing to split apart, just a bed and a TV, really, and I still put on twenty pounds that it took forever to get off. It’s just not that easy.

I guess this is why I like to stick to Rock Fiction. That’s not to say that these other issues wouldn’t have bothered me if Quinn had lived up to his rocker promise. But it’s to say that I see a lot of Rock Fiction authors working really hard at what they do and this one, with its long explanations in the beginning and the bland characters and problematic men and easy solutions just seemed kinda phoned in.

Still, Susan says I’m one of almost 60 reviewers on this tour, and I bet I’m the minority. That’s fine. Someone’s gotta be.

If I haven’t totally turned you off, here are the buy links — and if you read it and disagree with me, send Susan your review! She keeps saying she’d be glad to post reviews that show another opinion, so make her put up or shut up.

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Thanks to Rock Star PR for this one. I’d really wanted to like it. I really had.

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Susan had liked Tommie Vaughn’s This Rock in my Heart, and she passed it on to me. I didn’t like it the way she did, and I hate to say that I liked This Roll in My Soul even less.

I’m not the uptight editor Susan is, but even these typos and the writing got me down. Everything is perfect, beautiful, amazing, incredible. Band names are still spelled wrong, and how the hell can anyone actually get the title of Bon Jovi’s classic “Wanted Dead or Alive” wrong? All I had to do was Google the wrong title Vaughn used and the band name and I got pages of the right song title.

Come ON. Just as we reviewers have to respect the authors, the authors need to respect the readers. That means making sure these simple things are done right.

So what’s the book about? To be honest, I’m not totally certain. It doesn’t seem to be about anything, really. It’s more like a diary, where things happen and there’s not really anything that ever goes wrong—the guy who winds up in rehab embraces it and all’s good; Frankie’s sorta love interest from the last book has a magical weekend with her and leaves it to the grapevine to dump her, but she’s okay with that. She’s professing love and wanting a future one second and being at peace the next. Even when Frankie’s friend Eva calls her, stoned and high and probably drunk and definitely ripe to be murdered by some psycho who’s spotted the world’s easiest mark, but hey, the girls have a heart-to-heart and Eva goes back to her hotel room and it’s all good!

This is real life. It’s not all good. Life is ugly and messy and people wear the wrong things and mistakes with their makeup don’t make them look beautiful and the sex isn’t always good and people don’t always pull back from doing the nasty just in the nick of time.

But that’s what Vaughn gives us. And it gets boring ’cause we don’t really care enough to keep reading. There’s nothing that’s important, nothing that keeps us up late turning the pages even though it’s two in the morning and we’ve got to get to work by nine.

I did a quick search to see if Vaughn has put anything else out—I’ve been sitting on this book long enough that something should be—but while I’ve seen mention of this being a three-book story (yes, taking three volumes to tell one plot), the third book doesn’t seem to have been released yet.

I hope that before she hits publish, the author will drop Susan an e-mail and have her edit it. I get what Susan liked. I don’t agree, but I get it. And that means I hope the author will raise her game and bring us a better story while still keeping Frankie optimistic and sunny. You can be both even in the face of big, ugly, scary problems. You really can be.

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Another catch-up book from Susan, and this time, she has no idea where it came from. Guess it just showed up one day.

I was glad to give this one a try and it’s very readable, but ultimately, I wasn’t sure what the point was. And with nothing really happening, nothing at stake, there’s no real reason to care. Which means there’s no real reason to keep reading.

I can’t even talk about how great this would have been as Rock Fiction because it’s not. Talking about what song is playing in the background, what band’s t-shirt you’re wearing, or who your favorite band is doesn’t make something Rock Fiction. Look at Nick and Norah. That one IS Rock Fiction because the way the music directly shapes the action and the characters. They do more than talk about music. It defines them.

So… on to the next. Sorry, Colin. All your talk of Jasmine, Jasmine, Jasmine just ain’t rocking and rolling.

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Here’s the thing about this one: it sounds like the two dudes who star in the book are in a band together. That sets off the Rock Fiction radar around here. But when you read the description, it doesn’t sound very rock and rollish.

Brian and Dylan have been best friends for years. They have no secrets between them, except for the ones they’re keeping from each other.

When Dylan lets himself into Brian’s apartment to drop something off, it couldn’t be worse timing—for Brian. He’s tied himself up to play out a kidnapping fantasy. He’s mortified, but Dylan is intrigued. He even offers to help Brian out next time he has an urge to be tied up.

No. That’s all Brian can think. No way. But the idea of someone else being in control overwhelms his thoughts—and self-bondage is suddenly a pale substitute for the real thing. He gives Dylan permission, on a trial basis, and comes face to face with a side of Dylan he’s never seen before. A really hot side.

As their games pick up steam, so does their relationship, along with Brian’s courage to go after the things he wants. Like, Dylan.

It might be happily ever after, but there’s one secret left, and it could ruin everything.

So I’m getting near this one pretty cautiously. M/m isn’t my favorite, and there’s really not a lot in here about a band… maybe it’s just an excuse for the two to be together. From some of the reviews — yes, I read them to see if I could figure out how important the Rock Fiction angle is — it sounds like it’s a reason for stuff to be at stake. As in: Brian needs to be careful so Dylan doesn’t quit the band.

If you’ve read it, let’s hear what you learned. Rock Fiction, or not?