Posts Tagged ‘review’

I pick up every book intending to love it. I really do. That’s why this review saddens me. I don’t want to have to write reviews like this.

There is often a fine line between alpha male and abuser. Maybe it’s not that fine a line, come to think of it. After all, the sexiest alpha males have respect for their women or partners. Abusers? Not even close.

In Sweet as Sin, narrator Kat tells us she’s been in abusive relationships before and she knows what they look like. Yet she lets Nico manhandle her and even use non-consensual sex as a punishment. In fact, it turns her on.

This isn’t a character who is sincere that she’s done being abused. This is a character who gets off on it.

And so Nico pays off her mortgage without discussing it with Kat. He shows up uninvited. He ignores her when she says no.

And Kat loves it.

This is a kind of depravity that’s not for me. It’s not love; it’s abuse.

There’s nothing that can ever convince me that a story about an abusive man and the woman who loves to be abused is worth my time. Abuse shouldn’t be normed like this; the carnage left in its wake is too expansive and runs too deep. Of course, that’s not on the page. Carnage isn’t romantic.

But apparently, according to some, the abuse itself is.

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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.

Hi everyone! I’m back for another guest post. For those of you who know me, you know that my current WIP is rock fic. And my first book doesn’t follow a set of rich and famous abs, it follows a girl playing her drums on stages so small they sometimes aren’t stages at all. Which is why, when I saw a book called GIRL with a Guitar, I said, “Yes, please!”

Girl with a guitar

After Kylie’s dad dies in a freak accident, he leaves her with nothing other than her crazy stepmother, Darla, and the ability to play guitar. When Darla kicks Kylie out and she loses her job all in the same day, she hops a bus to Nashville determined to make her late father’s dreams come true.

Waitressing and saving her pennies to record a demo, her big break comes when she’s asked to join a tour going down the tubes with once platinum album-selling country music superstar Trace Corbin. But touring with Trace is hardly a dream come true since he’s pretty much drinking his career down the drain. If Kylie can’t pull Trace out of his rut, he’ll pull her and her dreams down with him.

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My rating: 4 stars

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The first thing that grabs me about a book like this is the love story, and Girl With A Guitar pulled me in right away. Kylie is a three-dimensional person who adores music and misses her daddy, and I loved her mixture of spunk, vulnerability and kindness. Trace shows up as a hot mess with a heart of gold, and never decended into cliché bad boy territory, which I was fully braced for. Instead, I spent the whole book flipping pages, hoping to get to know him better, just as Kylie was doing the same thing.

One of the things this book does so well is character. The whole cast was lovely, from Kylie’s waitressing friends to the managers (so many rock books forget the managers! They’re crucial!) to Kylie’s girlfriends and Trace’s sisters. So much girl power in one little book!

The characters alone would have had me rooting for the love story, but I did feel like the balance was a little off here—I could have used another scene or two of them together and clicking in order to justify all the time they spent apart and miserable.

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I read rock fic, I want to be wrapped up in the world of music. I want to smell the backstage funk and wave my hands in the front row, closing my eyes to get lost in the lead guitar line. This book put me right there…and it didn’t. On a macro level, the plot was great. The barriers to Kylie’s music career and relationship were intriguing and totally believable. It was all stuff that would happen in a music career, but twists you haven’t read thirty times before. That alone elevated this book to a higher star rating in my eyes. However, on a micro level, the music fell a little short. First, the author hit one of my major rock fic pet peeves by saying cords when she meant chords. Let’s hope it was a typo, but I’ve seen this typo in many rock fic books and it makes me crazy. Second, I really needed more time with Kylie on stage to FEEL her love for the music that she was always talking about. We see her song lyrics, but through most of the middle of the book, I was yearning for some stage time.

I did get some in the end, though, and this novel wrapped up sweet and nice, with a satisfying resolution for the love story, but enough room for the next installment of the series. Thank goodness for no killer cliffhangers here!

Overall, I had a wonderful time touring with the characters of Girl with a Guitar and Caisey Quinn is definitely an author I’ll keep an eye out for in the future. Four stars.

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Thanks for having me on, Susan and all my fellow rock fic readers! If you’d like to keep track of me, my reviews of other things, or hear more about my books, my links are below:

 

www.michellehazenbooks.com

https://twitter.com/michellehazen

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6559289.Michelle_Hazen

http://www.amazon.com/author/michellehazen

 

 

Hi everyone! Susan was kind enough to have me on for a guest post, so let me introduce myself. I’m Michelle Hazen, I’m an author, and a total rock fic junkie. My current Work In Progress is a new adult series that follows a rising rock band from bar rooms to the big time, so of course I love to read anything with rock and roll and romance together. The book I’m reviewing today is called Seduced and it is the prequel to a series very much like mine, following a band from their practice sessions in a laundromat to bursting into stadium sized shows later in the series. Let’s have a look at the description:

SEDUCED
BY
TARYN ELLIOT & CARI QUINN

Summary: Warning: get ready for a testosterone overload. The guys are in the driver’s seat in Seduced – and the ride’s gonna rock.

Twenty-three year old Nick Crandall has one focus in his life: Oblivion, the band he formed with his best friend Simon Kagan. With gigs coming up and the band members lacking focus after losing their drummer to rehab, they’re out of ideas. Until Oblivion’s bassist, Deacon McCoy, poses a surprising suggestion.
Bring in someone new. Two someones.

One YouTube video gone viral later, Oblivion is poised on the brink of stardom. With their new hot drummer chick — who comes in a package deal with a talented guitarist who happens to be head over pick in unrequited love with her – it seems like everything’s falling into place. Or will the band Nick and Simon have fought to keep together disintegrate before their eyes?

Four guys & one woman + more success than they ever bargained for = trouble, of the sexiest kind.
Get Seduced by this novel-length introduction to the band Oblivion. This preview occurs before the four forthcoming books about each of the band members. Sometimes getting lost means finding yourself…

Seduced (Lost in Oblivion)

Seduced

Now, mind you, Seduced isn’t actually a romance novel (though the rest of the series is), but I’m going to give you five reasons to read it anyway.

5. The music!
It is a sad, sad state of affairs that most musician romance novels use music as a setting, but don’t fill it out with appropriate details. In this book, you can feel the desperation of the characters’ love for their songs, and the drive they have to share them with the world. As for the songs themselves, while there aren’t a ton of lyrics, authors Taryn Elliot and Cari Quinn use creative and visceral descriptions in such a way that you can hear the pounding rhythm of the songs, sweeping you into the spell of a great performance, even as the pages of your Kindle actually remain silent.

4. The men are MEN.
Co-authors Elliot and Quinn can write the heck out of a male POV, so it feels like a real boy thinking, not a romance novel hero. These are guys that sweat and spit and think about getting laid, not falling in love. Which just makes it all the sweeter when the right girl starts to get to them. Some of the cruder moments just made me love this book more because I truly like a realistic perspective at all costs, and I adore an author who isn’t afraid to say that, yes, real boys see absolutely no conflict with periodically pounding the crap out of their best friend in a drunken brawl.

3. Drugs
Bet you’re not used to seeing THAT heading in the pro column… Seriously, though, the music world attracts all kinds of abuse of alcohol, tobacco, different kinds of drugs, and even caffeine. I love that this book dives into that headlong and without a soapbox in sight. Instead, the authors’ only agenda seems to be to show the realism of mind-altering substances in the lives of musicians: how they use them to boost their creativity, and to comfort themselves when they’re not performing or writing as well as they should and eventually how the substances grow a mind of their own, until addiction and rehab become part of the landscape alongside gigs and time in the studio.

I felt like Seduced was a balanced, honest look at this facet of the performing lifestyle. I feel confident that as series progresses, the variance in the characters’ approach to drugs will give the reader a glimpse at all the different roads you can choose when you’re rich, famous, and the rules (almost) don’t apply to you.

2. The sex.
This book made all my hormones perk up and take notice. I wouldn’t give the adult scenes in this book a 5-star rating, but they’re edging into 4-star territory. The sexual tension is eyeglass-fogging hot, and the main sex scene…well…without getting spoilery, let’s just say you don’t read that in a romance novel every day.

1. It ISN’T a romance novel.
There is love in this book, folks, and attraction aplenty. I’m already dying to see the completion of some of the love stories hinted at in this installment. But I adore the idea of this book because this is a start to a series that sets up all the characters and the friendships before anyone finds their soul mate. This made the world feel more real, and perversely, I was more satisfied with the story than I would have been with a straight romance, even though I adore those.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I have to add that the book wasn’t flawless. One of the band members really rubbed me the wrong way. He repeatedly refers to himself as an asshole, and um, I’m forced to agree. He had very little control over his emotions and made a lot of short-sighted, hurtful choices and while I felt for him in many of those situations, I didn’t frequently like him. The authors do a pretty believable job of redeeming him toward the end of the book, but he’s still not my favorite. Regardless, overall this was an outstanding read- a solid 4 stars. Plus, it’s 99 cents, which is the perfect price to sucker you into any great series. I’ve read most of the rest of the series already, and I can tell you that while they’re not perfect, they’re all super enjoyable reads. I love the continuing band dynamics, the peek into what it really takes to be rock stars, and the delicious music details. Plus, if you like lots of steam, this is your series!

Thanks for having me on today, Susan and everyone! I hope to be back to do some more guest reviews in the future, but in the meantime, if you’d like to keep track of me, my reviews of other things, or my books, my links are below:

Website
Twitter
Goodreads
Amazon Author Page

Susan says: Thanks for coming by, Michelle! Jett is crazy jealous you got to this before she did, but now it’s on her Must Buy Now list (assuming she ever looks at it). Can’t wait to see what else you share with us!

Rocktober3

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It’s the last time for another year that I can use the awesome Rocktober logo (designed by the awesome Magnolia Belle, herself an author of Rock Fiction, so please pick up her books and leave a review when you’ve finished them.), and that makes me sad. I love the Rocktober logo.

As always, it’s been a great month, with new authors and authors who’ve been here before, and books, books, books. Not just books. Rock Fiction.

Haven’t had enough? Well, here’s an offer for you. I’ll leave The Demo Tapes: Year 1 for free for a bit longer — like, whenever I go, “Hey, I should fix that!” — and Trevor’s Song at 99c. If you send me a link to a review you’ve posted at GoodReads, Amazon, B&N, or anywhere else (your blog?), I’ll send you whichever of my books you’d like next. The more reviews you write, the more free books you can earn.

I am hoping to have something brand new (but not Rock Fiction. The horror!) out in the spring. So yes, you can save your freebie for that one, too.

Read. Review. Get free books.

And remember… it’s Rocktober all year long here at the Rock of Pages. Want to write a guest post? Go for it. Post a review? Go for it. Cross-post a review? Go for it. Got something YOU want to covet? Go for it!

Drop Susan and Jett a note. We’d be glad to host you. It’s all about spreading the word of Rock Fiction.

(and to put my money where my mouth is, keep your eyes peeled for my review of Cherry Cox’s book coming soon!)

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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.