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About The Stars Who Gaze Back

Here you will find all things related to books, books, and books–from regular book reviews and hauls, monthly TBRs and wrap-ups, to popular book tags and even book recommendations.

The name of this blog comes from a quote found in Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass:

“Still, the image haunted his dreams throughout the night: a lovely girl gazing at the stars, and the stars who gazed back.”

For some reason, this quote really stuck with me, and I think about it almost daily, so it seemed an appropriate title. (It also reminds me of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust, which I adore.)

Thanks for checking out my blog! I hope to post every Monday and Friday as well as Wednesdays every now and then. I also post on Mondays over at Reviews Cubed. Keep scrolling to see my most recent posts, and feel free to follow this blog or comment somewhere, so I know who you are! I’d love to follow your blog as well. 🙂

Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller: Book Review

Mask of Shadows (Untitled, #1)

Title: Mask of Shadows

Author: Linsey Miller

Series: currently book one of an untitled duology

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

My Rating: 3–>3.5/5 stars

Source/Format: e-ARC from Netgalley (DISCLAIMER: This is a review of an ARC, so there may be differences from the finished copy.)

**My first approval on Netgalley! 😄🎉 Thank you so much for accepting my request, Sourcebooks Fire!**

Mask of Shadows follows Sal, our gender-fluid protagonist, who at only eight years old was forced into a life of thievery. A life that Sal resents. A life that could have been avoided had Nacea, their homeland, not been destroyed as collateral damage in the recent war between the North and South. The only comforting thoughts Sal has are of one day exacting revenge on the noblemen directly responsible for Nacea’s ruin.

An opportunity soon presents itself when Sal learns that the Queen is holding auditions to replace the recently deceased member of the Left Hand–the Queen’s most trusted group of assassins.

Only thing is, it turns out that it is not so much of an audition as it is a fight-to-the-death competition.

But if Sal wins, it will give them immediate access to the nobility, therefore bringing Sal closer to achieving their ultimate goal of vengeance.

Continue reading “Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller: Book Review”

The New Disney Princess Book Tag

Huge thanks to Darque Dreamer Reads for tagging me! This was so much fun to do!


The Rules:

  • Mention where you saw the tag/thank whoever tagged you!
  • Tag Zuky’s and Mandy’s posts (the awesome creators of the tag) so they can check out the wonderful Princess fun throughout the blog world (Mandy @Book Princess Reviews & Zuky @ Book Bum)
  • Play a game of tag at the end!

The Tag:

❆ Snow White ❆

This Book (like the Movie) Started It All
Favorite Debut Book From an Author

Legend (Legend, #1)

I thought of several books but kept realizing they were not in fact debuts. Fail 😂 It’s hilarious to me that for most authors I’ve read all of their books except their debuts. Anyway, after a bit of thought, I’m going with Marie Lu, as I have literally followed her since the release of Legend. Warcross is one of my most anticipated reads of 2017. As a side note, I’m only now realizing that I’ve never liked any of Lu’s covers… A perfect example of why you should never judge a book by its cover; I can’t imagine not having these books in my life, no matter how heartbreaking the endings always seem to be. 😭💔

✬ Cinderella ✬

A Diamond in the Rough
Just Like Cinderella, You Either Didn’t Expect Much Out of This Character in the Beginning But They Turned Out to Be a Total Gem

The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2)

I hate to use the same authors and books across tags, but it has to be Ronan Lynch from Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle. I was indifferent towards him in The Raven Boys, as I didn’t know enough about him to form a real opinion, but I adored him in The Dream Thieves and haven’t stopped adoring him since. Though I wasn’t happy with the conclusion to TRC, I can’t wait for Ronan’s sequel trilogy!

 Aurora ❧

Sleeping Beauty
A Book That Makes You Sleepy, or Just Could Not Hold Your Attention

Mask of Shadows (Untitled, #1)

I have to go with Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller for this one. The night I received my e-ARC, I immediately read the first nine chapters. It’s been weeks now, and I still have not finished it; I’ve only been able to read one chapter at a time. :/ I’m trying to stay positive though; I think it is starting to pick up now. Hopefully. **Update: a few days later, I’m already liking it much better, but it’s true that the book just could not hold my attention for a while.**

⎈ Ariel ⎈

Under the Sea
A Book With a Water/ Ocean Setting

Drown

Naturally, I have to choose Drown by Esther Dalseno–a fantastic yet dark retelling of The Little Mermaid, perfect for fans of Pan’s Labyrinth. I’m dying to read her second novel, Gabriel and the Swallows, as it sounds like something only she could come up with and actually pull off–yet another hauntingly beautiful story with fairy tale-like qualities.

⚘ Belle ⚘

Beauty and the Books
Name A Book With The Best Bookworm/ Booklover

Pride and Prejudice

So the first characters that come to mind are Matilda, Cath from Fangirl, and Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice. I’m sure you know whom I picked what with the usage of the bold font, so yeah… I hadn’t read P&P until last year when I instantly loved it, and once again my love for it has been rekindled after acquiring DVDs of both the 1995 and 2005 adaptations. Also, I clearly need to find more books with protagonists of the booklover variety! Why can I only come up with three characters??? (Also, I’m not mentioning Celaena or Dorian, since I just don’t even know what to say after Empire of Storms…)

✰ Jasmine ✰

The Thief and the Princess
Name A Book With An Unlikely Love Story (Either in Terms of Romance, or a Book You Didn’t Expect To Love So Much)

Where She Went (If I Stay, #2)

I never expected to love Where She Went as much as I did. Gayle Forman‘s If I Stay was good, but for such an emotional story, oddly enough, it didn’t really affect me. On the other hand, Where She Went hit me right in the feels, over and over. It may have something to do with the fact that I listened to the audiobook and really enjoyed the narrator that was chosen. He perfectly brought Adam’s character and story to life. Anyway, even if you’re like me and didn’t enjoy If I Stay, I highly recommend its sequel!

✵ Pocahantas ✵

The Real Life Princess
Name A Book That is Based On a Real Life Person You Want to Read or Have Read

The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story

The first book that really got me into reading biographies is Hyeonseo Lee’s The Girl with Seven Names–a book more people need to read. This year, I have really developed a love and passion for autobiographies and memoirs, and this book just affected me in a way I thought nonfiction never could. Much like The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (which I also enjoyed deeply), but on a whole other level of terrifying, it was an eye-opening read that perfectly exemplified why I’ve become interested in nonfiction, why I want to learn more about the world. Different from your typical memoir, TGWSN focuses on what life is like for those living in North Korea and what trials those who are lucky enough to escape must face, as Hyeonseo herself is a North Korean defector.

❈ Mulan ❈

The Princess That Saved Her Country
Name the Fiercest Heroine You Know

And I Darken (The Conqueror's Saga, #1)

I’m happy to say that this a hard one to answer! I’ve met so many wonderful heroines throughout my life. Fiercest, though? I’d be lying if I didn’t say Lada from Kiersten White’s The Conqueror’s Saga. I mean, she’s literally a female version of Vlad the Impaler.

♥ Tiana ♥

The Princess With the Coolest and Most Diverse Crew
Name A Diverse Book, Whether it is a Diverse Set of Characters (Like Tiana’s Group of Naveen, Louis, Ray, and More)or Just Diverse In General

The Six of Crows Duology Boxed Set

I have to agree with the majority on this one–the Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo! Like DarqueDreamerReads wrote, the characters are diverse not only through their races but also through their varying personalities, beliefs, strengths/weaknesses, and pasts. It’s amazing to see a group of characters so different all in the same book, working together.

❁ Rapunzel ❁

Let Your Longggggg Hair Down
Name the Longest Book You Have Ever Read

A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3)

According to Goodreads, the longest book I’ve ever read is A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin. 1000% worth the hours it took to finish. Though I love Game of Thrones, it will never compare to my love for the books, A Song of Ice and Fire. The books are always better; movie/TV adaptations are simply a quicker way to revisit some of my favorite moments.

✦ Merida ✦

I Determine My Own Fate
A Book Where There is No Love Story/ Interest or Isn’t Needed

This Song Will Save Your Life

I just realized that I’ve never mentioned This Song Will Save Your Life here on the blog before, and that is a huge mistake. It may be the only book I’ve read by Leila Sales, but it is my second most favorite and my second most relatable coming-of-age novel. Second only to Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta, which nothing will probably ever beat, so it’s pretty much my favorite.

❆ Elsa & Anna ❆

Frozen Hearts
A Book in a Winter/ Cold Setting

Wintersong (Wintersong, #1)

Well, this was enlightening. I literally scrolled through my entire Goodreads “read” shelf, and only found a handful of books that fit the bill. Only problem is that I didn’t like the majority of them, so through process of elimination my answer is Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones (review here)–the only book I enjoyed that takes place partially in a Winter setting. Very atmospheric and perfectly fit the tone of the book. Especially when combined with my playlist; it really impacted my reading experience.

❀ Moana ❀

How Far I’ll Go
A Character That Goes On a Journey

Daughter of the Forest  (The Sevenwaters Trilogy, #1)

Well, considering I almost exclusively read only fantasy, this applies to almost every book I’ve ever read. The first one to come to mind that I love immensely and have read for the first time last year is Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier (my review here). Sorcha’s journey is probably the most intense, powerful, and emotional one I’ve ever come across.

**Note: The header image was made by the creators of the tag.**


I Now Tag:

I started tagging people and realized I was basically just tagging all of my mutuals, so I tag anyone who is reading this and wants to be tagged! I will gladly add links to your posts. ^-^

Taylor

 

Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi: Book Review

Beasts Made of Night

Title: Beasts Made of Night

Author: Tochi Onyebuchi

Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin Random House)

Source/Format: e-ARC from First to Read (DISCLAIMER: There may be some differences in the e-ARC from the final copy.)

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

“Balance is supposed to be the principle that governs us. Sin and sacrifice. Night and day. Death and life.”

Seventeen-year old Taj is an aki. A sin-eater. And in the city of Kos–a society literally ruled by sin, or rather the lack thereof–this means he is fated to bear the sins of others; fated to endure a life of injustice in which he will always be looked down upon and used whenever those rich enough to afford it wish to be cleansed of their sins.

“Sin-beasts are shadows, beasts made of the night. And an aki is like a ray of sunlight that comes down from the sky and shatters the sin, kills the shadows.”

Even worse, being an aki isn’t something you can hide; it’s literally written all over you. Sins, after being summoned by Mages, manifest themselves as dark, inky beasts called inisisa. After the dangerous and painful process of defeating and then Eating them, the inisisa then appear as a tattoo on the aki’s body. For most, these markings disappear with time, but not for Taj. He has always had the same ones, as they have never faded.

“It’s nonsense to think that I would ever be accepted here, or that someone like me could be treated with respect here. An aki’s duty is to Eat until they can’t Eat anymore. That’s what we’re here for. Sins are written on our bodies until the pain comes too much and we go mad.”

Throughout Beasts Made of Night, we follow Taj as he makes his way through everyday life and soon discovers everything is not quite as it seems.

Continue reading “Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi: Book Review”

August 2017: TBR

Last month I failed to stick to my TBR, so I think I’m going to do my TBRs a little differently from now on. I’m no good at setting a list for myself and planning out my month, as my reading tastes change all the time.

So. I’m going to split my monthly lists into 1) the books I absolutely have to read/am obligated to finish and 2) the books that I don’t necessarily have to read now but want to, and I’m not going to let myself get start the books I’ve deemed “optional” until I’ve finished the “mandatory” ones.

And I know it sounds like I’m taking the fun out of reading by saying “books I’m obligated to read,” but that phrasing just gives me the push I need to start reading and then hopefully the book will do the rest for me.

So yup, that’s my new plan, and without any further ado…

August TBR

Continue reading “August 2017: TBR”

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee: Book Review

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue

Title: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue

Author: Mackenzi Lee

Series: Technically a standalone; however, a companion novel called The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy is set to be released in 2018.

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins)

Source/Format: US hardcover

My Rating: 3/5 stars

“We're not courting trouble," I say. "Flirting with it, at most.” 

Eighteen-year old troublemaker Henry Montague, more affectionately referred to as Monty, has been given one final year–one last hurrah–before he must get his act together and officially take over his family's estate. Before then, Monty is to embark on a Grand Tour of Europe, as is common for most young men of his privileged status.

Joining him on this trip is his younger sister, Felicity, and his best friend, Percy. Percy, whom just so happens to be the one Monty, our bisexual protagonist, has been harboring a crush on for quite some time.

So not only does Monty have to worry about what he's going to do when his time is up, but he also must come to terms with whether or not Percy reciprocates his feelings; and even if he does, could they ever make the leap from being best friends to a couple?

“The great tragic love story of Percy and me is neither great nor truly a love story, and is tragic only for its single-sidedness. It is also not an epic monolith that has plagued me since boyhood, as might be expected. Rather, it is simply the tale of how two people can be important to each other their whole lives, and then, one morning, quite without meaning to, one of them wakes to find that importance has been magnified into a sudden and intense desire to put his tongue in the other's mouth. 
A long, slow slide, then a sudden impact.” 

Continue reading “The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee: Book Review”

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare: Book Review

Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices, #2)

Title: Lord of Shadows

Author: Cassandra Clare

Series: Book 2 of The Dark Artifices trilogy (a Shadowhunters series)

Publisher: McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster)

Source/Format: US Hardcover (B&N exclusive)

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

***SPOILER WARNING for Lady Midnight below!***

“Sometimes the most ruthless heart speaks the most truth.”

Lord of Shadows picks up two weeks after Lady Midnight. Despite our characters still reeling with emotional turmoil from recent events, they have bigger fish to fry. No seriously–ever since Malcolm’s death, there has been an odd surge in the number of sea demons coming ashore and wreaking havoc on the world.

As if that wasn’t worrisome enough, a group of Centurions, elite shadowhunters who train at the Scholomance, are on their way to the Los Angeles Institute. Once there, they plan to investigate Malcolm’s death–more specifically to confirm his death–but it also seems some of them have their own ulterior motives.

This of course proves to be a challenge for Julian. Arthur Blackthorn is nowhere near qualified to run the LA Institute, and as we now know, he hasn’t been. Julian has been stepping in for him and hiding this fact for years. But he is used to only having to hide this from his family, not Centurions–highly trained shadowhunters, the best of the best.

And of course, there’s that pesky parabatai bond. >.>

“Those who cannot love do not understand it.”

Julian has always been able to do what needs to be done for his family, but he has always had Emma at his side. Now, after Emma’s recent “confession” that she does not share Julian’s romantic feelings and is now dating Mark, their relationship is strained and awkward, leaving Julian stranded to deal with everything on his own.

Continue reading “Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare: Book Review”

Mid-Year Freakout: Book Tag

Whoops, initially I forgot to put an intro here… I guess what I would have said is that I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone by. I moved to Florida at the end of September last year, and I keep thinking we’ve only lived here a few months when actually we’ve almost lived here a full year. Crazy. So much has happened and yet it still feels like 2017 has just begun.

Without any further ado, here’s my Mid-Year Freakout tag! (I tried to only use a book once by the way, even though a lot were contenders for multiple categories!) Enjoy, and link me to yours if you want!

Continue reading “Mid-Year Freakout: Book Tag”