Posts Tagged ‘young adult’

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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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Yes, you see the right avatar. I shoved Jett out of the way because this one’s set in Pittsburgh and that immediately disqualified Jett from writing about it. It’s Rock’n Tapestries, the first book in Shari Copell’s series of two. The books came out in 2013-14, so I’m doubtful we’ll see more entries. In fact, Ms. Copell leaves a note on the description for the second book, Wild Angel, that she was going for a standalone with it. And the second one may not be set in my favorite stomping grounds; if it is, it doesn’t explicitly say. And no, that quote at the start doesn’t tell us much of anything. How many bands have opened a show with that same phrase?

That’s a bummer.

Here’s the description of Rock’n Tapestries:

“Asher Pratt had been a drug for me, and I wasn’t sure I wasn’t still addicted.”

Chelsea Whitaker works as a waitress at Tapestries, a trendy Pittsburgh bar. She’s doing her best to avoid Asher Pratt, the Pittsburgh rock legend who shattered her heart years ago.

When he takes a job at Tapestries just to be near her, Chelsea has some decisions to make.

She soon discovers that some things never change. It’s all she can do to keep a tight hold on her heart as Asher takes her for another wild ride.

As she struggles to gain some perspective on their relationship, she learns that he’s never needed her more. She must put the past aside for the sake of the future.

I am DYING to know what bar this is modeled on. Is it one I used to hang out in? Or is it straight out of the author’s imagination? Is the author herself from here? A current Yinzer?

But back to the book. It’s a familiar trope, no? The “Loved him when she was younger” trope — do we ever get over those early loves?

And then here’s the description for Wild Angel:

“Hello, Pittsburgh! You ready to rock?”

Nicks Sorenson, guitarist extraordinaire for the band Wild Angel, has a lot going on during her last year of high school. In fact, she sometimes wonders if someone has painted a bull’s eye on her forehead.

Stone Jensen, lead guitarist for the band Heavy Remedy, shows up everywhere she plays despite the bad blood between them. The high school principal is targeting her with endless detentions for some reason. And she’s starting to wonder if her mother is losing her mind.

Life soon spins into chaos for the Sorenson family. It began when Nicks learned the name of the dead musician who’d willed her his four guitars. Then came the dreams of a man shrouded in mist. She doesn’t recognize him, but he seems to know her.

As the strange occurrences escalate, Nicks goes on an unexpected—and painful—journey into the past.

She’s about to learn what you don’t know can hurt you.

Umm… wow, this is a departure! Why are these two books in the same series? They seem totally unrelated beyond the fact that they’re going to be pretty hard to challenge for their Rock Fiction qualities. What am I missing?

Like Jett so often says, I need to read this to see for myself. All of it: the setting, the stories, the whys and hows of this two-book series.

If you’ve read it and have a review you’d like to share, send it on. I’m always glad to post reviews for anything Rock Fiction.

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This one’s penned by a guy. A GUY.

You know, Rock Fiction might be one of the few areas where men authors are scarce. Think they’re too busy making music and the fantasy to actually write about it?

Catherine Summer Carlson knows how to manage bands like a professional – she’s a student at the PopArts Academy at Mount Hope High, where rock legends Allegiance to North got their start. The never-skipping-class Catherine part of her knows, though, that falling for the lead singer of her latest band is the least professional thing a manager can do. But Caleb Daniels isn’t an ordinary band boy – he’s a hot, dreamy, sweet-singing, exiled-from-his-old-band, possibly-with-a-deep-dark-side band boy. And he can do that thing. That thing when someone sings a song and it inhabits you, possesses you, and moves you like a marionette to its will.

Over tacos on lunch dates to far-off outlet-mall planets and during practices at the Hive with their new band, Dangerheart, Catherine – no, Summer – falls in love with Caleb.

She also finds herself at the center of a mystery she never saw coming. When Caleb reveals a secret about his long-lost father, one band’s past becomes another’s present, and Summer finds it harder and harder to be both band manager and girlfriend. She knows what the well-mannered Catherine side of her would do, but she also knows what her heart is telling her. Maybe it’s time to accept who she really is, even if it means becoming an exile herself…

Kevin Emerson’s Exile is a witty and passionate ode to love, rock and roll, and the freedom that comes in the moment when somebody believes in you, even if you’re not quite ready to believe in yourself.

Yeah, yeah, here we go again. The manager falls for the guy in the band she’s managing. REAL professional there, sweetheart.

I need a break from this one, but it seems that authors are still feeling it. I get it: it’s easy. It’s convenient. It’s a way to get them in the same orbit and make it believable. Except… it kind of isn’t. Because professionalism.

And then we have a bit of an ugly duckling story mixed in, too, and those, I like. So for that, bring it. But enough with the unprofessional managers already.

Band managers everywhere are plotting a revolt, you know. They’re offended that they keep getting portrayed as only there to screw the band because let’s face it: no matter how they deny it, that’s what they are doing there.

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I’m just not sure this is really Rock Fiction, or if it’s going to deliver a glancing blow and leave me wanting more of the biz. If you’ve read this one, we want to hear what your thoughts are!

Madison Daley’s father has concealed the truth from her for seventeen years…

Raised on a Kentucky farm, Madison is stunned when a conversational slip reveals her father Michael is a famous ’90s rock star known as the Grim Weeper. Michael left the spotlight and his mansion behind when Madison was dropped off on his doorstep by a woman in a black mask. A dark past is revealed, and the only thing Madison isn’t allowed to know is her mother’s name.

The answers Madison needs can only be found in Beverly Hills…

Though she does hope to persuade her dad to return to the stage, Madison’s real mission is to discover the identity of her mother.

But she is slightly distracted—literally—by the boy next door. Giovanni Abate’s father is an action film star, his stepdad is a major designer, and Gio has his own claim to fame. Madison catches the handsome, young Italian actor’s eye, and their mutual attraction makes for a hotter summer than she ever could have imagined.

Madison hasn’t set foot in California since infancy, but a lot of people are certain she has…

After Madison has a makeover, people are sure they’ve seen her somewhere before, and she is extremely curious about the identity of her supposed doppelganger. As she looks into this strange situation, she’s unaware that Gio is hiding a potentially devastating secret.

Could finding the answers she seeks change Madison’s life forever?

Or will it just lead to more questions to fill the…

Diary of a Rocker’s Kid

It comes down to how much of her identity is truly about being a rocker’s kid (or if this is a cute way to spell DORK in the series title). And there’s only one way to find out…

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This series screams Rock Fiction in the first book’s (Bring Me You) description. It comes out and says Mia is a musician. Pretty good clue, there. But when I look at the second (Still Into You) and third (Never Over You), it seems to pale. And maybe that’s okay. It’s hard to tell because it looks like some demon Mia’s hiding takes over and rules the three-book series.

Which makes me even more curious, even though I’m supposed to be all Rock Fiction, all the time. Maybe her demons are what fuels her music and her need to be involved with it. Maybe the only way she can deal with demons is to make music.

Oh, the possibilities are endless.

Bring this series ON, man. I gotta find out how music and demons go together. Because let’s face it: rock and roll is made for a demon or three.

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Sonnenblick. That’s a cool name. It sounds good rolling around in my brain.

Know what else is a cool name? This book (and series, of course!) title: Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie. How the hell can pie be dangerous? I suppose if you eat too much of it…

Here’s the description:

From first-time novelist Jordan Sonnenblick, a brave and beautiful story that will make readers laugh and break their hearts at the same time.

Thirteen-year-old Steven has a totally normal life: he plays drums in the All-Star Jazz band, has a crush on the hottest girl in the school, and is constantly annoyed by his five-year-old brother, Jeffrey. But when Jeffrey is diagnosed with leukemia, Steven’s world is turned upside down. He is forced to deal with his brother’s illness and his parents’ attempts to keep the family in one piece. Salted with humor and peppered with devastating realities, DRUMS, GIRLS, AND DANGEROUS PIE is a heartwarming journey through a year in the life of a family in crisis.

So… maybe this isn’t Rock Fiction. It’s definitely YA, which is sorta nice to see since we run into so much Rock Fiction romance.

I’m curious where the rest of this series could be headed. Will it stay focused on Steven? What will happen to him? What can happen that can be more compelling than a potentially dying little brother?

As always, inquiring minds… and this mind wants to know how much Rock Fiction there is, or if all these drums are merely to catch my attention.

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This one probably doesn’t make the cut as Rock Fiction, but it’s hard to tell. Check it out:

There’s a drawer I never open. It holds a picture I never look at. It reminds me of a day I hate to remember, but I’ll never forget.

I’d give anything to be like the other girls on campus. Going to parties, flirting with boys, planning for a future. But that’s not me. And hasn’t been since the day my parents died. The only thing that got me through was Griffin. Even though I didn’t have my family, I always had him. Only, now I’m not so sure I do.

It’s not just the eleven hundred miles separating us now that I’m at college. And it’s more than his band finally taking off, and all the gigs and girls suddenly demanding his time. It’s like everything is different—the way we talk, the way we text . . . the way he looks at me and the way his looks make me feel.

Griffin has been the only good thing in my life since that horrific day. I can feel our friendship slipping away—and I’m terrified of what will be left in its place…

I don’t know. To me, it sounds like it’s a story of a young woman grappling with changes in her life, and the fact that her man (friend? Boyfriend? Support system?) is a rocker is something convenient to get him off the page. Why a rocker? Because it’s sexier than a salesman, which would accomplish the same thing.

On the other hand, the rock lifestyle changes people, and relationships can be hard to maintain. I mean, hello? Have you seen the number of songs written about just that?

So it’s hard to tell what’s going on here, which means only one thing: gotta read it to find out.

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I never worried much about being a good girl. I was pretty normal in that, from what I’ve learned talking to my coworkers. Having fun and living life was more important than people thinking we were perfect little angels. I mean, there’s all that about lying and how you shouldn’t do it, right? So why pretend to be a good girl?

That’s important in today’s Coveted book:

Amber Vaughn is a good girl. She sings solos at church, takes care of her baby nephew after school, and spends every Friday night hanging out at her best friend, Devon’s, house.

But when Amber learns about an audition at a prestigious arts school, she decides that her dream—to sing on bigger stages—could also be her ticket to a new life. Devon’s older brother, Will, helps Amber prepare for her one chance to try out. The more time Will and Amber spend together, the more complicated their relationship becomes . . . and Amber starts to wonder if she’s such a good girl after all.

Then, in an afternoon, the bottom drops out of her family’s world—and Amber is faced with an impossible choice between her promise as an artist and the people she loves. Amber always thought she knew what a good girl would do. But between “good” and “bad,” there’s a whole world of possibilities.

Maybe this is more morality tale than Rock Fiction. Only one way to find out, right?

But I like the idea behind this. It comes near the whole idea of selling your soul for rock and roll success, right? And it puts Amber at a crossroads, even if it’s not an actual one.

I’m curious how this gets pulled off, and how strong the Rock Fiction angle is. Bring it!

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Susan and I are having a debate about this one. She says it’s Young Adult. I say it’s New Adult. She says it sounds like it could be, but a sixteen-year-old protagonist means it’s Young Adult. I ended it by telling her it ultimately didn’t matter. Both YA and NA are tailor-made for Rock Fiction.

She didn’t argue.

Here’s what we’re arguing about:

Sixteen-year-old Lily O’Brien has one goal in life—to sing. Her dream is to get into a topnotch college vocal program, but the summer before her junior year, her high school cuts their awarding-winning vocal ensemble. She might as well kiss her dreams goodbye.

When the snobby new neighbors move into their mansion up the hill, Lily is positive summer can’t get any worse, and she’s determined to hate and ignore them—until she meets Aiden.

He’s broken and beautiful, and they become reluctant friends. Through her newfound friendship, she finds the strength to step outside the comfort of her plan and follow her dream.

But when Lily’s family is about to lose their home, she puts her wishes aside and finds the answer to save their generations-old ranch in the last place she expected.

 

I like that Lily wants to sing. She doesn’t want to be a star. She wants to sing, and she’s going to go to school and learn how to do it the right way. But what’s that cliche? Something about life happening when you’ve made plans?

A few more cliches — the teenager rescues the family. Look, it wasn’t that long ago that I was a teen, convinced I could save myself if I saved the world first (hello my first marriage). Crappy self-esteem that others magnify. I get it. I do. I was that kid, too.

I guess I’m looking for something that breaks out of the usual mold.

The early reviews on this one were pretty good, so I’m curious to take a look for myself. YA Rock Fiction is probably my favorite of all the genres the category (see? I’m using Susan’s terms the right way for once) covers, so I’m already halfway a fan. I just wish it wasn’t the same thing, book after book.

This review was originally posted at West of Mars. It is being posted here, at its new permanent home.

I’d told myself I wasn’t going to do it. I wasn’t going to grab any books I saw in the library, no matter how tempting they were.

Which, of course, explains why I walked out of there with a copy of Heavy Metal and You, a 2005 novel written by Christopher Krovatin while he was a student at Wesleyan University.

His age shows, and not in a bad way. Heavy Metal and You rings with the authentic voice of a teenaged boy, trying to figure out who he is and what it’s all about.

That’s pretty much the entire plot. Sam meets Melissa, asks her out, and falls head over heels, only to find out she doesn’t like his friends, he doesn’t like hers, and she’s trying to change him in ways that, fundamentally, he’s not thrilled about. He likes going out and getting drunk and stoned and stupid with his friends. And okay, he realizes cigarettes don’t taste that great, but darn it, it should be his choice if he wants to smoke or not, not hers.

If anything, this book reminded me a bit too much in tone and voice of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Adventure, a book I loved the first time around. Not so much when it feels like I’m reading a rehash, which is really unfair to this particular book. It should be able to stand on its own. An interesting note is that Nick and Norah co-author David Levithan is thanked for being an editor and friend. Coincidence? No way!

As a work of Rock Fiction, this stands up – and so does what, for me, was the penultimate scene. It is so achingly real, it transported me back to my own youth.

Melissa, wanting to experience Sam’s world, had joined him at a general admission Deicide concert. This probably wouldn’t have been my first choice to expose a newbie to the scene, but Sam was so over the moon with his woman that it’s easy to forgive him this slight – and the one that comes next.

Hyped on the music, the adrenaline, the possibilities, and the scene, Sam grabs Melissa’s hand and pulls her into a very rough mosh pit. They are separated and by the time Sam finds Melissa again, she has been thoroughly traumatized.

Anyone who’s been in a situation where someone is a willing participant in a world that is ridiculed by most will relate to Sam and his headlong enthusiasm.

It’s the best part of the book.

Heavy Metal and You. Recommended, just for that one scene.