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Author, actor and rock-and-roll savant, Lisa Peers penned the best book I've read this year. Love and Other B-Sides is a fun rock-and-roll romance that grabs hold of the reader and doesn't let go until the last page.
Stee Walsh is the seventh most successful American rock musician still performing today. Toting a gut, a sobriety chip and a crushing case of writer's block, he's long overdue to deliver the album that will crown his musical legacy. He decides to search for inspiration in Virginia and, while sorting out some painful family business, trips over Connie Rafferty, a newly minted fan of his music.
Connie is restless in Richmond, raising a teenager while processing her anger over her philandering husband's death. When Stee hires her to direct a music video she jumps into the project, unaware that she'll be expected to manage all the problems in his personal life as well. Their unanticipated romance puts Stee back on the path to rock and roll glory, but when the album's done and the music stops, will Connie stay stuck on Stee?
Love and Other B-Sides was inspired by Peers' own immersion in classic rock while producing a corporate video that required a solid rock-and-roll soundtrack. Her experience began with Tom Petty and culminated in an intense crash course in hundreds of rock songs and artists, making her an insatiable fan, not only of Petty's music but the entire genre. One thing led to another and Peers found herself discovering a newfound passion for live concerts, rock documentaries and all things rock and roll.
Peers started wondering what a day in the life of a rock star might actually be like. A chance sighting of Carlos Santana picking up his dry cleaning near her Marin County, California home led to the next logical thought: Does Bruce Springsteen pump his own gas? If a non-musician were to become involved with a rock star, could she (would she) continue to do the 9-to-5 thing at a normal job? Or would it be necessary to give all that up to follow the band?
Peers notes that there is something undeniably romantic about the relationship between performer and fan. In her blog, LPon45, the author deftly brings to light the nuances of how music touches our souls, changes our lives, and colors each experience depending on our own personal soundtracks. Her features center around current pop culture and rock music, including musings on the frequent concerts she attends - hey, all in the name of research!
A Harvard graduate and Virginia native, Lisa Peers has acted professionally and worked as a speechwriter and TV/radio producer for companies in San Francisco and metro Detroit. Her short fiction earned award recognition in the 2014 Detroit Working Writers competition. Apparently one of those people who seem to live several lives, Peers' background in theater is extensive. In San Francisco, she was a two-time winner of the Bay Area Theater Critics Circle Awards, and also received the Dean Goodman award twice for her one-woman cabaret act. She performed in several Sondheim musicals in Bay Area as well. Peers received her MFA in acting from the American Conservatory Theater. Additionally, she and her partner Dani Kurepa produced several shows in the city, including the drag musical version of Whatever Happened to BB Jane, the drag (non-musical) version of Hush Up, Sweet Charlotte, and Joe Orton's Loot. Peers now resides in Birmingham, Michigan where she is happily at work on her next novel.
The Desired Effect, the author's current work in progress, focuses on a workaday actress in 1970s San Francisco cast in her first film role as the beloved of the God of Love, Eros. Her onscreen romantic lead has a backstage crush on her, but his mother - playing Aphrodite herself - is a diva of mythic proportions.
Find Lisa Peers:
Find the book: http://tinyurl.com/LoveAndBSides
Lisa and I will also be at the Arts, Books and Brews Pub Crawl at the end of this month!
My review (remember when I said I love this book?):
Rock and roll references are liberally scattered in all the right places, and Connie and Stee felt like friends of mine as I got into the story. I enjoyed the well developed, multi-dimensional characters, the realistic issues set against a wildly exciting premise, and the authenticity of the worlds in which these two unlikely soulmates reside. Can't wait to read more from Lisa Peers!
Fate couldn't have planned it better. Blue Frog Books opened its doors a little over a year ago in my town -- a town sorely lacking a great indie bookstore. When my first book was published six months later, the Blue Frog welcomed this new author with open arms, happily showcasing my work and scheduling a signing. The thing is, the proprietors of Blue Frog Books extend this attitude to everyone. Walk through the Tardis entry door into an inviting oasis filled with books of all genres, unique gifts and trinkets with local and literary flavor, and a smiling face behind the counter.
The atmosphere inside on the other side of that Tardis door is a book lover's dream. Looking for that new bestseller? Right here. What about the limited release graphic novel by that author you love? Over there. Obscure literary fiction for your kid's accelerated English course? They'll order it and call you in a few days when it's in. Rob and Penny, the proprietors/owners, are friendly without being overbearing. They are helpful when you need them and scarce when you don't, as it should be. There's even a cozy sitting area in the back, just right for taking a little extra time to leisurely peruse your options.
Blue Frog Books is the product of owner Penny Coleman's avid reading habit and dream to open a bookstore, and Investor/Manager Rob Vedro's small business experience. The location is the halfway mark between Penny's and Rob's hometowns, with the actual store perfectly positioned proximal to downtown Howell in a growing commercial business strip mall. Getting the shop up and running was a hands-on project, with friends and family pitching in to help. Penny Coleman still works as a pharmacist, necessary in today's world of book selling and publishing. Rob Vedro lends his 25 years of photo industry expertise to the printing and photo side of Blue Frog Books, a nice added perk the store offers. This includes photo services such as scanning, restoration, art creation, stretched canvas prints, large format Epson photo printing, and custom designed stationary cards for all holidays and occasions.
Blue Frog Books brings a cohesive feel to the arts and literary scene in the area. The owners have their finger on the pulse of what the consumer wants, hosting frequent author signings, story time, music nights, poetry nights and book clubs. There's even a summer reading bingo program with a prize drawing at the end. This month, Blue Frog Books will be on hand for the fun Arts, Books and Brews Pub Crawl (more on that in next week's feature!). A really cool thing happens when a much needed new business opens in a small town. Especially when the enthusiasm and gratitude emanating from the proprietors is so apparent, as is the case with this bookstore. The community embraces the effort. Vedro notes that as the best surprise in the endeavor: the overwhelming support. "We still have people pulling up to get their selfies in front of the store. Everyone seems very excited to have a bookstore back in town."