Over the years, Daron’s Guitar Chronicles has had some wonderful reviews from bloggers, book reviewers, and readers, and it seemed like a good idea to collect some of them here, along with miscellaneous guest blogs, interviews, and other bits & bobs! (Surely we’ve missed many of them, so this is just some. If you’ve seen — or written — a review you think we should know about, please email daron.moondog AT gmail DOT com.)

Love Bytes LGBTQ Book Reviews banner
“Only very rarely do we come across a character that is truly unforgettable. To the point of where you wonder, sometimes several times a day, what this person would think about something you’re experiencing. A character that feels so true to life, you wonder why they aren’t in your phone’s contact list. In my adult life I have only met two such fictional characters and the only one relevant to this genre is Daron Marks from Daron’s Guitar Chronicles.”
Love Bytes Reviews (m/m reviews)

There’s also an interview by Lena up on Love Bytes as well.
Lena: “Why choose to write about an undersized, introverted guitar prodigy full of self-hate?”
ctan: “I don’t think I chose Daron. I think he chose me.”
And a review of the volume 4-5 omnibus.

The Novel Approach banner
Full review here:
“Cecilia Tan has done with Daron what every author hopes to do—she has disappeared inside her character. Ms. Tan didn’t write this book. Daron Marks wrote this book and used Cecilia Tan as the vessel through whom he tells his story. There is no discernible trace of the author’s voice in this series, the writing so skillfully engaged and executed that it’s impossible to believe Daron doesn’t exist somewhere in this world, and the level of detail in the music, the music business, and the insights into Daron himself—his thoughts, feelings, relationships—never once feel manufactured for the sake of simply telling a story. Daron lives, eats, and breathes music, and it’s through his narrative and lyrics that we learn of his pain, his fear of not only his own sexuality but also his fear of others discovering he’s gay.”
“Daron is nothing less than a phenomenal character.”

Guest Post at The Novel Approach
“Not-So-Historical Romance: Writing the 1980s” by Cecilia Tan
My long-running series Daron’s Guitar Chronicles carries the tag line “coming out and coming of age in the 1980s.” We joke that it’s “historical romance,” but actually it’s sometimes as more challenging to get the settings and details right in a 1980s romance as it is in the Regency. For one thing, it’s challenging because a lot of us are still alive to remember it, so if I get something wrong, someone is bound to call me on it! I use many real venues and locations in the book, from Madison Square Garden to small underground clubs, restaurants, bookstores, in cities like Boston, New York, and San Francisco. The difficulty is upped by the fact that Daron’s Guitar Chronicles, following the life and times of a rock musician, sometimes changes setting every chapter. When Daron is on tour, it’s a new city and new venue every day… Continued at The Novel Approach

Character on the Couch Guest Post banner
“Character on the Couch: Ziggy”
Cecilia Dominic is a therapist and romance author who does interviews with other authors about what it would be like to send their characters to therapy. Here’s Ziggy as the character on the couch:
“It’s always interesting to see how people act when they first enter my office. Do they immediately go for my chair, hesitate before sitting anywhere, flop on the couch, etc.? What would your character do?”
“Ziggy saunters in like he owns the place, full of self-possession, and even smiles because he wants to seem friendly. He’s optimistic as he shakes hands: he wants help, and he loves talking about himself, so this should go swimmingly, right? He kicks off his electric blue boots and sits crosslegged on the couch in a half-lotus.”
Read the whole interview at:

Indeed this is a Volume One of a chronicle that needs to be read in its totality; in volume one we barely have the chance to know Daron, and he is still in his formative years, experimenting with life, and that means also with sexuality.

Even if he doesn’t want to admit it, Daron is gay; in less than a year, he will have three different partners, all of them men, plus a not so hidden interest in a fourth one. It’s only that we are in 1986 and being gay is still a stigma, especially in the music rock world Daron is trying to enter. Another point that is important to highlight is that this is the 1986, just one years before AIDS became the plague we all know. And unfortunately, Daron is only worried about being gay for what it means to his career, not to his life: Daron is having unprotected sex with many partners, something that will become very dangerous very soon and very dramatically.

Something that is probably important to say is that this is not an erotic romance; Daron is having sex, but most of the time the reader is not invited inside the bedroom, we only know that something happened.

This installment reads smoothly and quickly, and it entices you to go and buy the next volume in the chronicles.

From LGBT book reviewer Elisa Rolle on Live Journal

When I ran into this story on its website, I started reading... and didn't stop until I faceplanted two hours past my bedtime. And then I woke up the next day and did it again until I got to the end. That probably tells you everything you need to know right there. -_- But more extensively: this is a first-person narrative set in the 80s, told by a 19-year-old musician trying to make it in the rock scene. He's got a problem family, no money, and if that wasn't enough of a challenge, he's also gay. In the 80s. I have to be honest... I'm kind of over coming-of-age stories. I may at one point be excited about them again, but for now I'm really tired of the pinhole perspective of self-involved teens. But Daron's Guitar is missing that "this universe is populated solely by teens" feeling. Tan fills Daron's world with adults at every stage in their life, from the grizzled music veterans, the failures and the tired agents to their daughters, Daron's schoolmates and the hopefuls in the music industry. Daron observes them all; sometimes he lacks the life experience to understand them, but we know that they have a life outside Daron's limited perspective and Tan paints that very well. This world feels real: like our world, like we could run into Daron today and this will all have had happened. Not only that, but the music details are just fabulous. This is someone who really knows her stuff. I actually laughed out loud when Daron made a reference to Jon Anderson when snarking about a former roommate who was trying to get weird/experimental. If that wasn't enough, every chapter title... is an 80s song. Not just a trip down nostalgia lane for those of us who lived through them, but an impromptu soundtrack and pretty darned clever. Finally, I'm really impressed by the portrayal of Daron's relationship difficulties (such as he can be said to have them, given the circumstances). His struggle between the typical teen hormonal highs and lows and his need to have a meaningful tie with someone... it's poignant and deftly evoked. Such a great loneliness, conveyed so powerfully and yet without preaching. This is incredibly skillful writing and a compelling story. Pick it up in this format, or get it off the website... you won't be disappointed either way.

A review from Smashwords (full text in the alt)

The strength of Cecilia Tan's fiction has always been her characters. She can write delightfully wicked villains that you can't help but love to hate. She can pen a cad with the best of them. But in my opinion, she shines the brightest when her she writes a character who is simply heartwrenchingly sweet, especially when that character seems to hope beyond hope that this wasn't true of them. The protagonist of this story is one of those characters. Rock guitarists are supposed to be thick-skinned and effortlessly charming cads. Daron isn't this at all: Daron is...well, he's real. It's 1986 and Daron isn't even 20 yet and he's already well on his way to being a future rock god. Unfortunately instead of being a womanizing sweet-talker he's an averagely awkward 19-year old who just happens to be gay (even though he can't even bring himself to say the word.) He doesn't know anything yet about who he really is, or what he needs in a partner, or even if he wants a partner at all. All he knows is that in his business “faggy,” “queer,” and “gay” are the most viciously insulting words there are. There is a fantastic scene early on the in the book in which Daron is walking around the East Village in NYC with Carynne, a girl his age who is desperately trying to sleep with him while he is desperately trying to come up with excuses not to without confessing that he's gay: ***I kept my own eyes ahead, trying not to stare at the graffiti splashed across the steps ("Queer By Choice") trying not to hear the conversation of the two men coming the other way, trying to shut it all out. My hands felt damp as they brushed against my jeans. Everything here was a signal, a secret handshake, a subliminal image, and I wondered how long it would take Carynne to see right through me. What would I do that would give myself away? Even I had no way of knowing.*** The author does a fantastic job throughout the book of generating empathy for her lead character without provoking pity. We as readers can feel his hurt and his confusion, and share his victories and regrets. Being gay is an integral part of who Daron is, but Ms Tan doesn't fall into the trap of allowing his sexuality to become his identity entire. He is a well-rounded sympathetic and delightful character in a charming, at times poignantly sad but always engaging book. Rock on, Daron, rock on!

Another from Smashwords in 2010

Blow Pops Book Reviews banner
“If you like reading books about gay men in the music industry, you’ll probably like this book. I’m ambivalent both on the topic of the music industry and gay men but can definitely enjoy one or both of them. The way that one of the songs was described I felt like I could practically hear it which is a new thing for me when it comes to books. And was definitely a good thing.” – Blow Pops Books

I ‘m left with a feeling of having lived a few days in the past with this character and his friends. It is very much a period piece, very evocative of that era when computer and cell phone are just beginning to have an impact on the music business and on the making of the music. I am left reflecting
on how some of Daron’s problems would be much different in present day. Recommended.


Some favorites from Goodreads:

Zeitgeist. The sense of the eighties is tangible, from the smokey IHOP to the spandex wearing cover bands. The story is first person and is told exclusively from Daron's point of view. He keeps you close with the confidential tone while you travel with him.
Take the word 'chronicles' literally. This is the saga of one young man's life in professional music, extending now through more than 10 installments, each novel-sized. There is no strong HFN to each book, really, just ups and downs, successes and failures, friendship and difficulties, a little sex and drugs, and a whole lot of music.
I think I might have fallen just a little bit in love with a guitar genius who could be classed as an emo of the 80's. I have no idea how this kid got under my skin, but he really did. Daron is filled with inner angst, insecurities, self doubt, self loathing, and loneliness and hiding in his closet behind his guitar and too long fringe. So how the hell did this sad git worm his way into my heart?! It doesn't matter, he's there. Daron's intimate matter of fact chronicles is a trip. You've just got to love the 80's, who doesn't? The lycra pants(with additional sock in crotch - lol), string vests, big hair, cassette players and David Lee Roth! Non-smokers where eccentric and we had pay phones on the wall and life was a mobiles free zone! Ahh good times...
How do you decide to read a book? It's just a curiosity, seriously, how do you decide, to read or not something?
I follow friends reviews, listen to friends recommendation and in some rare cases it's by chance.
This book is a example of something I cross by chance. Call it serendipity, fate, destiny anything... sometimes it happens.

So I saw this free kindle book and well, it's for free, so why don't try it?

I'm glad I did... because I start it, and couldn't stop before the end.

Another question: have you ever read a book and felt an immediate connection to the main character (and first person narrator)? Well, again I must admit it's rare. Who read many gay novels probably will say authors like Josh Lanyon, Jordan C Price, Aleksandr Voinov... well, Cecilia Tan is someone I really had never heard before and what a delight discover this writer! It's immediate, after just a few chapters I could heard and feel Daron (the main character) beside me, telling me his story. This book is all in first person narration and that will give you a quite amazing view of Daron.

Some from Apple Books (formerly known as iBooks or the iBookstore):
Great series
This is a really enjoyable series of books and the first one lays the groundwork for all that's yet to come. It's designed to play out over the entire series, so sit back and enjoy the ride. The one star reviews of this book unfarily ding it for exactly the traits that make it a great read.
Great beginning to a fantastic story
I cannot say enough about how fantastic these books are. This one started off a little slow, but once it got going it did not disappoint. This entire series is a must read. I've grown to really love and care about all the characters in this book. Give this series a chance, you'll be very happy!