BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small #blogtour

Hello and welcome to my little stop of the Bright Burning Stars blog tour! A huge thanks to Brittani Hilles for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. There was just something about the blurb of this story that caught my attention right away and I have been excited to read it. And while it turned out to be not entirely my cup of tea, I’m having a feeling the right reader will fall in love with it. Please join me while I share my thoughts on Bright Burning Stars!

Title: Bright Burning Stars
Author: A.K. Small
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
First published: May 21st 2019
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Finished reading: May 10th 2019
Pages: 304

“Marine, notre monde, this world of ours – the stage and studios and barres – is intense and lonely. There is no space for friendship, love, or even an old and perhaps sacred bond between twins. Nothing shadows the art of dance. It’s a union of body, mind, and music. Classical dance is known for being ruthless.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Algonquin Young Readers in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

myrambles1reviewqqq

Like I said before, there was just something about the blurb of Bright Burning Stars that caught my attention right away and I have been excited to finally read it. It’s true that it turned out to be not entirely my cup of tea, but I do believe the right reader will enjoy this story immensely. Fans of more gritty and slow-paced YA contemporary romance will be in a treat with this ballet-inspired story mainly set within the Paris Opera Ballet School.

Why wasn’t Bright Burning Stars a good fit for me personally? It’s hard to put my finger exactly on the why, but I think part of the reason has to do with the sheer amount of cliche drama relating to both competition, jealousy, romance and friendship. All this drama made it hard for me to stay focused and I confess it took me longer than expected to actually reach the final page. On top of this we have what you can call multiple love triangles and more jealousy and drama resulting from that… And you all know by now how I feel about those pesky love triangles in the first place. I’m sure romance fans who don’t mind a cliche or two will react different to this part of the story though. Another thing I didn’t like was the fact how they skimmed over abortion and basically make it seem like you can just go to the pharmacy, get a little something as if you were buying a cure for a headache and solve your problems that way. I’m not going into the whole abortion discussion, but I do feel this gives the wrong message to teenagers about safe sex and having to face the consequences of your actions and mistakes. Trigger warnings are also in place for other sensitive themes including eating disorders, suicide and drugs. I understand the ballet world is brutal and unrealistic (and basically unhealthy) demands are made of the bodies of the dancers, and I do think this is well portrayed in Bright Burning Stars, but it can potentially trigger more sensitive readers so you’ve been warned.

The story is told with the help of a dual POV, where we get to know Marine and Kate and learn more about how the constant competition has changed their relationship and how their final year once again puts a lot of pressure on both their bodies and their minds. I’m not sure I actually liked them, especially since their is a lot of teenage drama, boy stuff and jealousy involved, but they do help address various issues related to the ballet world. Bright Burning Stars is mostly a character-driven story where we follow the development of Marine and Kate. The pace is considerably slow at times, but shouldn’t be problem for those who enjoy this kind of story. I did wonder about the use of random French words in the text, as they didn’t seem to add anything substantial to the story… And with a Paris setting aren’t they speaking French all the time anyway in the first place? Instead of the French words, I think I would have liked to see more dancing and more descriptions of Paris and the school. But that could have been just me. Overall this was still a solid read, and while not my cup of tea, I can see how others could fall in love with Bright Burning Stars.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A.K. Small was born in Paris. At five years old, she began studying classical dance with the legendary Max Bozzoni, then later with Daniel Franck and Monique Arabian at the famous Académie Chaptal. At thirteen, she moved to the United States where she danced with the Pacific Northwest Ballet for one summer in Seattle and with the Richmond Ballet Student Company for several years. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary and has an MFA in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts. When she’s not writing, she spends time with her husband, her puppy, and her three daughters, and practices yoga. Bright Burning Stars is her first novel.

SOCIAL LINKS

aksmallwords.com
Twitter: @aksmallwords 
Instagram: @aksmallwords 


signature

You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. InstagramFacebookBloglovin’.

WWW Wednesdays #222 – May 15th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m trying to work through my ARCs so I can take the month of June off and read mostly my own books… I’ve been trying to resist new ARCs and so far things are looking up if I can only get through the current ones (about 8 left with these included; whoops?). I’m currently reading The Wisdom Of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan even though it’s a June ARC, mostly because I’ve been wanting a break from the mystery genre… It’s still early days so we’ll see how things go. I’m also starting with Breakers by Doug Johnstone, which I should try to finish quickly since my blog tour post is due next week. I’m really excited to be reading it though!

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Circe by Madeline Miller (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 16/05
I loved this story just as much as the gorgeous and shiny cover! If you enjoy (Greek) mythology retellings, Circe definitely is a must-read. Madeline Miller uses Circe’s immortal character to weave in a variety of different myths and stories about Gods and famous mortals alike. This is done exceptionally well and in a way that makes the story flow naturally. It’s true that time passes slower or more quickly at times and sometimes decades or centuries pass in a blink of the eye. But for me it only demonstrated the immortality of Circe and the way passes differently for her. I can see why Circe wouldn’t be for everyone, but if you enjoy Greek mythology retellings and don’t mind a slower pace at times, you will most likely enjoy it as much as I did.

2. Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small (3/5 stars) REVIEW 17/05
Look out for my thoughts on Bright Burning Stars during my blog tour stop on Friday!

3. The Vanishing Season by Dot Hutchison (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 
The Vanishing Season has definitely succeeded in making this series go out with a bang. Things are going to get very personal and cold cases are going to get mixed with a current kidnapping case in a way you won’t be able to guess easily. There are twists and turns involved to mislead you and while you may get some details right, it will be impossible to imagine the full truth about the who, how and why until the very end. And you won’t be able to keep it dry by the time you reach the final page either… I found myself flying through the pages as I was dying to discover how it all ended; I literally couldn’t put down my kindle until I got there. I liked how everything wrapped up nicely and I was more than satisfied with this final book of the series. The Vanishing Season and The Summer Children are now tied for series favorite!

4. The Dead Girls Of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 21/05
I’ve enjoyed Katie Alender‘s books in the past so I was excited when my TBR jar thought it was time to pick up this title. I admit I was expecting something a little more creepy than what I found. There are elements of suspense and there are some creepy moments and secrets hidden in Hysteria Hall, but overall I found most of them to be cliche. I also didn’t find the main character Delia strong enough to carry the story; for example Maria came over as a considerably more interesting character to follow. There are a lot of cliche involved in general, related to both ghosts, family drama and even a love triangle… On the other hand it was still quite a fun and fast read; just don’t expect to be scared away, as for a haunted house story it’s surprisingly light on the horror.

5. Trouble Makes A Comeback by Stephanie Tromly (3/5 stars) REVIEW 21/05
I think I had the same issues with this sequel as with the first book… I should have checked that review better before deciding to read Trouble Makes A Comeback. I ended up having mixed thoughts about this story. It’s true the story reads superfast and there are entertaining parts. BUT. I had huge doubts about the credibility of it all and the fact that you are constantly reminded of THE love triangle is beyond annoying. In fact, it’s more than a triangle; a square maybe? Anyhow, this story is packed with high school and romance cliches and between those and the lack of credibility of the plot I had a lot of eyebrow raising going on.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

As I said before, I’m trying to get through my May and June ARCs ASAP so I can start reading my own titles for a while… I’m really excited to read Dead Inside by fellow blogger Noelle Holten though! And I enjoyed Nathan Ripley’s other story Find You In The Dark last year, so I’m having high hopes for Your Life Is Mine. The only reason I didn’t read Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech yet is that I’ve been reading ARCs and was in the mood for something lighter in between… I’m picking it up soon though. And I have a new TBR jar pick! The Problem With Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout… Isn’t that cover gorgeous?! I’m not sure if the story itself will be for me, but I’m looking forward to find out either way.


signature

You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. Instagram. Facebook. Bloglovin’.

WWW Wednesdays #221 – May 8th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading Circe by Madeline Miller, a book I’ve been meaning to pick up for a while and I’m really excited about. I’m also starting Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small as my blog tour stop is getting pretty close.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 12/05
Sweetheart has definitely reconfirmed my love for this series. What a delightfully disturbing and twisted read! I always love it when we get to see a serial killer up close and Gretchen Lowell is without doubt one to reckon with. This story has twists, turns and a healthy dose of action and suspense as well as an insight in the psychological aspects. You’ll be having a hard time putting this one down before you find out what happens, and the cliffhanger will most definitely leave you wanting for more.

2. Middlegame by Seanan McGuire (DNF at 41%; 0 stars) REVIEW 
First of all I have to stress that I feel really bad about the decision to DNF, especially since I almost never have to resort to such a drastic decision and Middlegame is such a highly anticipated title. Trust me, I haven’t taken this decision lightly,and I have really tried to overcome my initial feelings and warm up to the story. But after a second, third and fourth chance, I had to throw in the towel at 41%. More about why I took the decision to DNF in my review.

3. Alice In Zombieland by Gene Showalter (1,5/5 stars) REVIEW 12/05
Unlike what you might guess from the pun in Alice In Zombieland, this first book of a series actually has very little to do with the original story. Wait, this isn’t a retelling? Nope, I would never consider calling it that. Why? Well, apart from the main character being called Alice and a white rabbit cloud appearing repeatedly, there are no references to or similarities between the classic and this concoction. Instead, we have a story about zombies where we encounter a different kind of unread this time around; they are basically spirits and a lot more difficult to fight than your regular brain eaters. This could have been a premise for a very bloody and disturbing read, but sadly the fighting scenes and horror have been taken over almost completely by an overdose of cheesy and sappy romance scenes, a very frustrating love triangle and a whole lot of high school drama.

4. The East End by Jason Allen (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 09/05
Look out for my thoughts on The East End during my blog tour stop tomorrow!

5. The Death Of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW  16/05
Finally a story that managed to convince me again! I’ve been meaning to read more Ruth Ware for a while now and I’m definitely glad I picked up my copy of The Death Of Mrs. Westaway. What a creepy and suspenseful read! The house in Cornwall is such an excellent setting for this story filled with secrets and lies… I admit I saw part of it coming, but I never guess the full truth.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I have a final May blog tour book I need to get to, which is also a title I’m really excited about: Breakers by Doug Johnstone. I also need to pick up my ARC of The Vanishing Season by Dot Hutchison,  which is another highly anticipated title. And my copy of Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech finally arrived! I can’t wait to read this story, so I’m probably going to ignore my May TBR and pick up this one ASAP. My latest TBR jar pick is still The Dead Girls Of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender.


signature

You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. Instagram. Facebook. Bloglovin’.

WWW Wednesdays #220 – May 1st

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I never thought I was going to be typing this, but I’m really struggling with Middlegame by Seanan McGuire. So far I’m feeling mighty confused and nothing much is making sense… There are so many 5 star reviews already that I’m almost wondering if I’m reading the same story. I confess I’ve been picking up other titles instead… Including my long pending TBR jar pick Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain, which I’ll most likely finish  first as well.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Murder On The Links by Agatha Christie (4/5 stars) REVIEW
I really enjoyed spending more time with Hercule Poirot. He is such an interesting character! I love the way he investigates by using what he calls using his grey cells, and deducts and discovers the truth by noticing things others might overlook. The writing makes it very easy to fly through this classic, and I had an excellent time trying to discover the hidden clues along with Poirot. Mr. Hastings can get quite annoying, but I tried not to focus on that and enjoy the investigation instead. I had a great time with this second book and I will definitely be looking forward to see more of Hercule Poirot in the future.

2. Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 
the story definitely lived up to expectations… What a read! After a string of reads that failed to blow me away completely, I finally found myself fully absorbed in a story again and posponed all plans until I had reached the final page. Before She Knew Him is well written, suspenseful and has an enormous plot twist bomb towards the end that will leave you with your mouth hanging wide open. I love it when a story is able to mislead me so well I actually yelled ‘WHAT?!?!’ when I stumbled across the reveal. If you enjoy the genre, Before She Knew Him is definitely a story not to miss.

3. These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner (2/5 stars) REVIEW
There is one thing that is certain, and that is that These Broken Stars is oozing with sappy romance scenes. What I hoped would be an interesting science fiction story set in space, soon turned into a survival story on a foreign planet after only a few chapters… The survival angle could have been interesting enough once you get over the fact you won’t be getting more space actions or a true explanation behind the crash, but to be honest I was rather bored instead most of the time. For such an interesting setting, nothing much was actually happening. The story instead focuses almost completely on Lilac and Tarver and their complicated relationship. Romance fans who enjoy a forbidden romance story with a space setting will probably appreciate this first book of the Starbound series a lot more though.

4. Romanov by Nadine Brandes (4/5 stars) REVIEW
This retelling mixes historical facts and magic in an expert way and gives us a whole new take on the events set in 1918 Russia. While Romanov can mostly be considered and in fact mainly reads like a historical fiction story, there are also magical elements incorporated that give the story a little something extra. I enjoyed the writing style, although I do have to admit that the pace is considerably slow and this might be a turn off for those who don’t enjoy slower and more character driven historical fiction. Romanov focuses mostly on the characters and their development, and only gives you a healthy dose of action and magic more towards the ending.

5. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (1/5 stars) REVIEW 04/05
It’s true I wasn’t sure if this one would be for me, but I needed a graphic novel for my BTB Bingo challenge and my TBR choices were limited. I enjoy reading memoirs and the idea of reading a memoir in graphic novel form intrigued me. Sadly, I wasn’t able to connect to the tone or writing style of the author. The many many references to classic literature for me were, instead of an unexpected bonus, rather a hint to feelings of self-importance and superiority. I wasn’t a fan of how the whole lgbt aspect was handled nor how characters were portrayed. I honestly wish I would have just taken the decision to DNF, because I had a really hard time reaching that final page. This definitely wasn’t a story for me, although I should note others have highly enjoyed it so it could have been just me.

6. Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 04/05
I’ve been wanting to read this one for a while, especially since I want to watch the movie adaptation some time soon as well. The first thing that stood out for me was that this story has that The Fault In Our Stars and Everything, Everything vibe down to the terminal illness and cheesy romance. I’m still deciding whether that is a good or a bad thing, but there is one thing for sure: you will find yourself flying through this story. I literally finished it in less than a day, and a lot of this has to do with the writing style. I appreciated the focus and insight in CF and the impact of this disease on someone’s life. BUT. I’m not sure up to what point some aspects of the plot are exactly credible. More in my review, but it has to do with the unnecessary risk taking (something similar happened in Everything Everything). The romance itself was cheesy, but somehow I found myself liking it anyway. A story that will both make you smile and make your eyes water… Perfect if you enjoy the genre and don’t mind a pile of cliches and some inconsistencies.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I have a few May blogtour reads I need to get to ASAP, and The East End by Jason Allen and Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small are up first. I’m also finally picking up my copy of Circe by Madeline Miller (it’s already waiting for me next to my reading chair!). I’m having high hopes it will finally give me another 5 star read. I also have a new TBR jar pick! The Dead Girls Of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender… I have really enjoyed her books so far, so I’m definitely looking forward to this one.


signature

You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. Instagram. Facebook. Bloglovin’.