Posts Tagged ‘not Rock Fiction’

Rocktober3

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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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Okay, let’s be up front about this. It’s not Rock Fiction, for all that Grace’s father is a rocker. In fact, the few times we see Jer, as Grace calls him, he’s not much more than a name on a page, a vague character of a person. Neither is Grace’s mother, the typical model/actress/ambitious snob who can’t put her own control issues aside and see her daughter for who she is.

But if Grace’s parents are vague or stereotypic, Grace herself is the absolute opposite. Sure, it’s probably a huge stereotype that she’s the bohemian child who opposes her mother at almost every value. The biggest surprise about her is when she puts on the Reality Star Wardrobe and remarks how familiar and comfortable it is, even though she knows that the role she had been playing was nothing more than that – a role. This is an insight that transcends these stereotypes. It’s a welcome one.

On the flip side is Marc, Marcus, our buttoned-up, staid businessman type who has probably forgotten how to smile, if he even ever knew. He’s almost the third side of this trinity of who are you – the extravagant showman, the hippie chick devoted to her causes, the buttoned-up dude who’s buttoned down his personality and his life so that people like Grace and her family can’t disrupt the boat.

Enter one dog. One Great Dane, to be specific. Dogs in general aren’t going to work in Marc’s life. But a big Dane that needs room to run and is pretty much Grace’s totem animal?

Now, we all know where this is headed: Grace has to make peace with her family and their reality show life. They need to accept her and actually see that her painting talent goes beyond a hobby. She needs to accept that using the resources offered by their reality show isn’t selling out; it’s smart. Marcus needs to learn how to joke and laugh, how to unbutton not only his suits but himself, as well.

And of course they all do these things. This is a romance, after all, and there’s never any doubt what’s going to happen in it. It’s the getting there that is all the fun, and believe me, this is fun. Over the top fun. Crazy fun. Larger than life, if-this-happened-in-reality-no-one-would-believe-it fun.

Pineapple lamps and fires and activists and birds and dogs and Grace’s odd naïve trust in people despite the reality show and lens of fame she’s grown up in. It all figures in. There are assumptions and people who get too angry with each other to speak and work it out like adults. And there are unravelings of the assumptions and happy endings and love and respect. And big dogs.

I wish more books were this much fun.

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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!

Amazon Kindle
Amazon Paperback
B&N Nook
Kobo
iBooks
Google Play
Smashwords

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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.

Amazon
BN
iBooks
Kobo

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

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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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Susan loved DJ Butler’s Hellhound on my Trail. Just loved it. She sent me a copy of it along with her copy of the next two in the series, Snake Handling Man and Crow Jane.

I loved Hellhound, too. Couldn’t say anything her review didn’t, though.

So I got excited to read Snake as I try to catch up on our backlog.

My first question is this: Where’s the rock and roll? Snake’s all about the band as they battle, for the length of the novella, one giant enemy. That’s it. That’s the whole plot.

It was a little… long of tooth. Pardon the pun when we’re talking about snakes who have fangs and all, but… yeah. It just kinda went on and on and there wasn’t nearly enough rock and way too much battling. And I’m not like Susan. I don’t hate this trend where all the latest movies are one long car chase. I don’t even agree with her that the movies are all one long car chase.

So… let’s see what Crow Jane’s all about. Hopefully we’ll get that band back on stage and the music’s important again ’cause Butler’s concept is pretty darn cool and I want to see the original scenario of this band of misfits who use music to save the world come be important to the next book. Or books. There’s seven of them now.

Susan and DJ are friends… wonder if he’d send the others in the series if I start loving them? One review copy to go… hope you redeem yourself, buddy…

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Back in Rocktober, Susan Griscom sent me a review copy of her two Beaumont Brothers books, Beautifully Wounded and Beautifully Used. Took me awhile to get through them, and I already reviewed Beautifully Wounded. I think the fact that it’s not Rock Fiction had me dragging my heels about getting Beautifully Used read … and then reviewed. I finished it awhile ago. Like a month or so.

But I take good notes. So let’s get to it:

Beautifully Used is the story of one of the minor characters in Beautifully Wounded, Jackson’s brother Brodie. Brodie’s your classic male slut and although I kept wondering why word never got out in this small town they purportedly live in about what a slut he was, the girls kept coming around. I don’t know. I’ve never been the type to seek out the easy lays, and it’s not like Brodie had the freedom to go chase tail: as a bartender, he’s pretty much locked into a fixed location. That’s why I wonder why word never got out about him.

And then, in the first book, he meets Gabrielle, the best friend of his brother’s girl. For Brodie, it’s lust at first sight, of course. Gabrielle isn’t so sure.

Which is why Lena and Jackson push them repeatedly into close quarters as they wind up essentially being the last-minute go-fers for Lena and Jackson’s wedding. Lena’s so glad to have her friend around, but in her pre-wedding Bridezilla self-obsession doesn’t spend that much time with her friend. Jackson, likewise, is absent. So it’s Gabby and Brodie and yeah, there’s no hope for them. We know they’ll be together.

The conflict comes in a way that’s too similar to the first book, too. Stalkers, confrontations in the woods, almost deaths. Brodie’s habits are less of an issue than this stalker-dude, and Gabby’s horrific past is dealt with way too easily.

While there’s more music in this one — the band goes on the road for a show, in a pretty implausible way (but it’s still fun — I have stress that. It’s fun) — it’s still not Rock Fiction. There’s not enough music, not enough of the right elements that push these people from being people into being stars. They’re just people who make music.

So. Lots of negatives here. And yeah, there are. But like the first book, this is a fun, easy read. It’s perfect for a day on the beach, a time when you want to escape into someone else’s life and see that they have it as tough, if not tougher, than you do, but at the same time, their problems aren’t insurmountable.

Not every book has to be lofty, not every book has to tackle the big issues. Sometimes, easy breezy is the way to go, and with that, Griscom delivers in spades. It’s a good escapist couple of hours, and I’m glad I read these.

Huge thanks to Susan Griscom (as opposed to our site owner, Susan) for sharing her books.

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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.

Author MJ Kane was kind enough to send me a copy of A Heart Not Easily Broken, even though she insisted it’s not Rock Fiction.

And despite some waffling on my part, she’s right. But it’s close, especially because there’s no way Brian could have any other career.

Let me back up. A Heart Not Easily Broken is the story of Ebony, a black woman who is very driven to succeed in life, and Brian, a white man who is very driven to succeed in life, on his own terms. I like these people. They work hard, they are focused and dedicated.

At first meeting, Ebony makes it clear she’s not interested. Brian’s not her type – he’s not black, he’s not beefy. But he’s … something. And it’s that something that catches her interest that he picks up on. He pursues her, even when she keeps saying no. But he’s cute about it, totally not threatening, and showing up on her front doorstep is truly kismet. How can she resist?

It’s nice to see a couple who are so good for each other – and to each other. And to their friends, family, and coworkers, too. This is wholesome, heartwarming stuff, and it doesn’t shy away from the sexy, either. What a great balance. I like Ms. Kane’s worldview.

But then Brian’s creepy roommate decides to lord his power over Ebony. Because let’s face it: that’s what rape is. It’s not about sex. It’s about power, and Javan may be a player, but there’s a line between a player and disturbed, and he crosses that line with Ebony. And, like every person drunk on his own power, he’s convinced nothing bad will happen to him.

Other reviewers commented that the book didn’t seem real at this point. I disagree. I thought Ebony’s reaction was very real. I could relate to her, to her need to keep things a secret, her fear that this one event would ruin so many lives.

It was when she finally told Brian that I began to have a problem. That’s because he doesn’t believe her, even though he has known Javan for years. I can understand if there was shock and an unwillingness to believe the entire scenario – no one wants to hear something so heinous about a person they have such a long history with, and that the woman they love has had to endure something so life-changing. But once Brian comes around, I bought back in.

The next snag I hit was over Javan’s personal fallout. It was too easy, and the statement that he knew how to manipulate people because he was a psychologist just hit me the wrong way. I don’t doubt there are people who do behave this way, but in Javan’s case, I think his issue is that he’s just a sociopath. The dude has problems, and as with every other character in the book, he’s not all bad. He’s a fleshed-out character, by and large, and his mental issues are well drawn.

So… in the end, this is a great read. The publisher could benefit from a better copy editor; there were too many mistakes to overlook, and not mistakes of the stylistic kind, either. Some misused words, semicolons that had no business being there… it’s a shame when a publisher doesn’t make an author look her best, and MJ Kane is an author worth making look good.

I’m grateful to MJ for sending me a review copy. Rock Fiction it ain’t, but it’s a rockin’ good read.

Want to see what you think? I’ve still got those two copies to give away, thanks to MJ. Leave me a comment and I’ll draw a winner.