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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, Wednesday, and Friday. 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. 🙂

June 2017: TBR

Like May, June will also be a bit busy. However, this time it’s not really due to new releases. This time it’s due to the several birthdays and anniversaries my family and friends have to celebrate, and therefore probably trips and less reading time. I also hope to get a job, so there’s that…

Anyway, there are a total of ten books I hope to get to (realistically maybe only eight), so here they are in no particular order:

June Releases

Five new releases coming out this month! I actually only had the first two books on this list, but then remembered the other three were coming out as well. So glad I double-checked!

Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity, #2)

 

1. Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab

Why I’m Interested: FAVORITE AUTHOR + COMPLEX, LOVABLE CHARACTERS + THE WORLDBUILDING. I’m sad that this is the last time we will see these characters (maybe one day Victoria will have more stories to tell?), but I also can’t wait to see how it all ends for August and Kate. I have definitely missed the two of them after reading This Savage Song last year. Will definitely be reading this one as soon as it comes out!

Now I Rise (The Conqueror's Saga, #2)

 

2. Now I Rise by Kiersten White

Why I’m Interested: I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this one, but I definitely will be purchasing the UK edition to match the first one that I own! I’ve only been able to read the first few chapters so far, but I can’t wait to see what’s in everyone is up to in this And I Darken sequel. I hope we get to see more war and political disputes in this one, but I also hope there’s a reunion in store for Lada and Radu–one in which the two finally understand each other.

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue

 

3. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Why I’m Interested: SETTING + (DIVERSE) CHARACTERS + PLOT + HYPE. I don’t know too many of the specifics on this one, as I generally try to keep it that way with hyped up books, so I don’t end up being letdown. Nevertheless, I have high hopes for this one! It does come out pretty late in the month (on the day after my birthday), so I may not get to it until July, but I can’t wait to start it!

Thief's Cunning (Assassin's Heart #2)

 

4. Thief’s Cunning by Sarah Ahiers

Why I’m Interested: Again, I was super lucky to get an ARC of this companion novel/sequel to Assassin’s Heart through a giveaway Sarah hosted on Twitter–thank you again so much, Sarah! I actually just finished this one today! It’s amazing to be revisiting AH‘s characters and the world they belong to. Review to come!

Want (Want, #1)

 

5. Want by Cindy Pon

Why I’m Interested: PREMISE + SETTING + DIVERSE CHARACTERS. Like Gentleman’s Guide, this book is also surrounded by so much hype, so again I don’t know too much about it and plan on keeping it that way. This one comes out on my dad’s birthday, so I may not get to it immediately, but will start it as soon as possible! (It also depends on if I’ll be able to pre-order it or not… ODD is the only book I have pre-ordered so far, as I’m a bit low on cash and still have plenty to read.)


Other Books (Already Released)

Most of these are books I already own or have started and can’t wait to get back to, so here they are, again, in no particular order:

The Darkest Part of the Forest

 

6. The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

Why I’m Interested: I actually started listening to the audiobook in May, but had to put it on hold for newer releases. I think I’m about halfway through and so far I’m liking it! It’s my first Holly Black read and though I expected it to be weird, it still surprised me just how weird it is. I love weird though, so I’m not complaining!

 

The Serpent King7. The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Why I’m Interested: After Katie (@bkstrblogger on twitter) recommended this to me I actually put it on hold on the Overdrive app. After a while, the audiobook finally became available (yay!), and although I’m enjoying the narrator and the story (I love these characters so much, Katie!), I’m worried I’ll miss something. Plus, I can usually read a book like TSK in a few hours as opposed to listening to the 9-hour long audiobook. SO, I finally traded for a physical copy on #booksfortrade, and it should be here within a week! I can’t wait to pick up when it finally gets here! Thanks again, Katie!Radio Silence

 

8. Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

Why I’m Interested: THE CHARACTERS + THE PLOT + JUST EVERYTHING. I actually already started this one as well, but I had to put it on hold, as a friend wanted my ARC. I will definitely be picking this back up as soon as I get the finished copy she’s sending me. The characters are so lovable and I can just tell this story will have a huge impact on me. I’ll be counting the days until it gets here!

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2)

9. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Why I’m Interested: After Six of Crows, who wouldn’t want–daresay I, need–to read this sequel?! The Grisha trilogy may not have been my thing (although I’m 100% going to give them another go after loving SoC, plus the new covers that are being released are GORGEOUS) but SoC is an all-time favorite of mine. The multi-layered characters, the promising world-building, the suspense, action-packed plot–nothing compares.

Eliza and Her Monsters

 

10. Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Why I’m Interested: I pre-ordered this one on a whim after loving Zappia’s debut Made You Up (although I did have some issues with it…) and haven’t had the chance to start it yet since it arrived on Tuesday. Of course, like the other hyped-up new releases, I don’t know too much about it, but I hope to start it soon!

 


Realistically, I know I probably won’t get to all of these. Last month was awful with all of the migraines I’ve been having as of late, and this month probably won’t be any different, but a girl can dream! I’m actually trying some new methods to prevent them, so fingers crossed that they work!

– Taylor

May 2017: Wrap-Up

In the month of May, which I knew was going to be a busy one for me, I managed to read a total of eight books (well, seven and one graphic novel). Not too shabby, and I’m proud to say I stuck to my TBR! I read everything on it except for Now I Rise, which hopefully I can finish just in time for its release date!

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3)

1. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas (3.5/5 stars)

Quick Overview: Though I may not have liked the majority of ACOTAR, its ending made me read its sequel, which was a game-changer for me; a lot of the problems I had were cleared up in ACOMAF, and I could see there was clearly a lot more at work than it first appeared. (Kind of like Sarah’s Throne of Glass series, and how it has also grown so much with every book.) As you could probably tell by my rating, I have mixed feelings about ACOWAR. On the positive side, there was sooo much to love and Sarah has finally provided us with some clarification on the things we’ve been wondering since book one, but on the negative side, this was–subjectively–a terrible wrap-up for Feyre and Rhys’ arc in the world of Prythian. I have a lot to say about this one, so expect both a review and a spoiler-filled book talk coming soon!

Spindle Fire (Spindle Fire #1)2. Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer (DNF–No Rating)

Quick Overview: I was initially attracted to this book, because I heard it was a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, except that it focuses on Aurora’s overlooked and underappreciated half-sister, Isabelle. Unfortunately, the execution was just so incredibly disappointing. If you’re looking for a good Sleeping Beauty retelling, I instead recommend Neil Gaiman’s The Sleeper and the Spindle or Stacey Jay’s Princess of Thorns. The former is a short illustrated story, and in place of a prince to saving the day, the heroine does. The latter, isn’t groundbreaking or anything, but I liked it much, much more than Spindle Fire. For specifics, you can read my review here!

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)3. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (5/5 stars)

Quick Overview: Laini Taylor never ceases to amaze me! Though I was a bit saddened when she pushed back the release date of this one, I knew it would be for the best; if Laini said it wasn’t ready for the world, I was happy to wait until she decided it was. ☺️ I, of course, wanted to see her at her best. Now I don’t know what changes she made during the extension, but I’m positive she made the right call, because this book was perfect. (It’s definitely my favorite of 2017 so far, and it’s probably an all-time favorite as well!) I don’t know that my review could ever do it justice, but feel free to check it out here!

Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist, #1)4. Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh (4.5/5 stars)

Quick Overview: Renée is one of my auto-buy authors and even though my hopes were high after The Wrath and the Dawn quickly became a favorite of mine, this new release did not disappoint. It took a while to really hook me, but once it did, it never let go! The characters were all distinct and entirely lovable, even if flawed (isn’t that what makes characters great anyway?), and the romance found in the book easily rivals Shazi and Khalid’s–which is no small feat! Review for this amazing book coming soon!

Archie, Vol. 1: The New Riverdale

 

5. Archie, Vol. 1: The New Riverdale (No Rating)

Quick Overview: Okay, so my best friend is obsessed with the Archie comics. She’s loved them ever since she started reading them as a kid, so I decided it was about time I checked them out, especially after I watched and loved the new show, Riverdale. Archie has been around since 1939–for 78 years–so I didn’t really want to get into those hundreds of issues. However, this series of issues is new and still being published, so I went for it, figuring I’d be able to keep up with each new issue if it was something I liked. That being said, I did like it, but I’m not sure just how much. I may read a few more issues and do a review once I have more solid opinions on the series as a whole.

A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic, #3)6. A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab (5/5 stars)

Quick Overview: Once again, a five out of five–maybe more like 4.75, but I can’t stand to give it an official rating any less than the max! I’m so sad to say goodbye to these characters and the world(s) they live in, but hopefully this is just a small arc out of a longer story, as Schwab has hinted! 🤞All in all, it was a great wrap-up of the trilogy, and I can’t wait for Schwab’s next release, Our Dark Duet! No review for now, but I may do one on the trilogy as a whole someday soon.

Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices, #2)

 

7. Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare (4.5/5 stars)

Quick Overview: 2019. 2019. Two years until the next installment??? I am so devastated. 😭 And this is coming from someone who never thought twice about Lady Midnight until the high-praise reviews started rolling in. I am so glad I decided to read this trilogy; there is just as much to love in it as TMI and maybe even TID. And TID is my all-time favorite. In all honesty, if it wasn’t for the characters in this book (three specific ones actually), it would have only deserved 3.75 stars, as it did lag and it feels like some pages should have been cut, but the way these characters affect me is unreal and definitely bumps up my rating.Assassin's Heart (Assassin's Heart, #1)

 

8. Assassin’s Heart by Sarah Ahiers (no rating yet)

Quick Overview: Just read this one tonight, so it counts! I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of Thief’s Cunning–the sequel/companion novel–through Sarah’s generous giveaway on Twitter (thank you, Sarah!), so you can probably expect a review on them both coming soon! 😉

 


So, those were all of the books I managed to finish this month, but there are also a few that I picked up and had to put down temporarily. Those, I plan to finish in June, and here they are:

The Darkest Part of the Forest Radio Silence The Serpent King

All of these so far have been amazing and unique reads, and I plan to pick them back up ASAP!


How did your TBR work out this month? Did we read any of the same books? I’d love to know, so leave a comment if you want! See you on Friday! 🙂

– Taylor

Short Hiatus Announcement

I meant to announce this on Friday, but apparently my scheduled post (this post) didn’t go up as planned, so I’m just counting it as today’s post (and therefore I have missed my first post ever 😩). 

Sadly, I suffer from migraines, and recently I’ve had way more than normal. 😥Unfortunately, they’ve put me behind on my posts, so I’m going to go on a short hiatus in hopes that I can catch up and be back on track again with my regular posts.

This Week’s Plan: On Wednesday (May 31st) I will post my May 2017: Wrap-Up, followed by my June 2017: TBR on Friday (June 2nd).

However, after this week I will go offline for probably about two weeks–unless I’m able to get ahead significantly faster than planned (which would be great)!


I hope to be back as quickly as possible and feel awful that I’m already going on my first hiatus, but hopefully it will allow me to stay ahead and plan better! See you guys soon!

– Taylor

3 Great Audiobooks

First off, it must be mentioned that I have not read too many audiobooks. I almost always have at least one checked out from my library, but more often than not, I don’t have the time to listen to them. (I read faster than it usually takes to finish an audiobook. I guess that might be a negative I forgot to include in my last post–whoops.) 

Assuming you’ve read my post from Monday, you will know my thoughts on audiobooks, and why I’ve finally come to love them, but for the most part, I still have not listened to probably more than fifteen.

A lot of the audiobooks I have listened to were just okay. Nothing too amazing or phenomenal, but as I started to think more on it, I realized there are 3 in particular that I love either just as much as the book or possibly even more
Without any further ado, here are those audiobooks and what I loved about them:
Continue reading “3 Great Audiobooks”

Books vs. Audiobooks

This week, two of my three regular posts will focus on audiobooks, as they are something I have wanted to talk about for quite a while now, and I have so many thoughts I’d love to share and discuss.

Until maybe two years ago, I was that person who claimed people who liked audiobooks weren’t “real” readers. I also didn’t understand people who had no real way of organizing their books on their bookshelves or people who preferred ebooks over the real thing.

I fully regret feeling that way now, but that’s just what I thought back then. Books were my territory and anyone who dared to venture into it had better share my beliefs. Basically, I was an angsty teen, haha.  

Now, I’ve done a complete 180 and color code my bookshelves, listen to audiobooks whenever it’s the more convenient option, and prefer ebooks for easy reading at night.
Continue reading “Books vs. Audiobooks”

Unpopular Opinion: An Ember in the Ashes Series by Sabaa Tahir

So, shortly after I wrote my review for A Torch against the Night, I uploaded it to Amazon. After a few days of it being up, someone marked it as “unhelpful,” which is totally fine, as everyone is allowed to have their own opinions! (Who knows–maybe I wasn’t thorough enough for them. *shrugs*) It especially didn’t bother me, because they probably only down-voted it since I didn’t enjoy their favorite book.

This did, however remind me of the many unpopular opinions I have, and I decided I should more fully explain my feelings on this series (through lists of pros and cons like last time):

**potential small spoilers from here on out**

Continue reading “Unpopular Opinion: An Ember in the Ashes Series by Sabaa Tahir”

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor: Book Review

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)

Title: Strange the Dreamer

Author: Laini Taylor

Series: Book one of the Strange the Dreamer Duology

Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton (UK edition)

My Rating: 5/5 stars

Format/Source: UK edition from Bookdepository

(Side note: Just putting it out there that I don’t know if it was only for the first editions, but my UK hardcover came with a title page signed and illustrated by Laini herself as well as blue-stained pages. You need this in your life)

Where, oh where, to begin with this striking, unforgettable story Laini has given us?

Like with her Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, Laini’s unrelenting and unparalleled talent for seamlessly weaving words together as if they were magic has once again offered us a remarkable, spellbinding world full of its own unique mythology/history and rich characters that you are bound to adore.

Continue reading “Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor: Book Review”

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir: Book Review

A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes, #2)

Title: A Torch against the Night

Author: Sabaa Tahir

Series: An Ember in the Ashes

Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin Books)

My Rating: 2/5 stars

This review may be shorter than my others, but by my rating, you can probably tell how I felt about this one, and I hate to go on and on about books I disliked when everyone else loved them–for that, you can choose to check out my Unpopular Opinion post coming soon. 😉

“So long as you fight the darkness, you stand in the light.”

So I should start this off by saying that those who were enthralled with An Ember in the Ashes will probably enjoy this sequel. I never quite loved Ember as much as everyone else seemed to, but I did really like it and bought my own copy after borrowing it from the library. (As someone with limited shelf space, this says a lot.) I also really liked the idea of a duology. Maybe it’s just because this is now part of a four-book series, but Torch suffered some serious second-book syndrome; it definitely felt like a filler book. I was highly disappointed.

A Torch Against the Night picks up pretty much immediately after its predecessor, with Elias and Laia escaping Blackcliff with the objective of reaching Kauf prison. There they plan to free Darin, Laia’s brother, whose knowledge might be key in leading a successful rebellion against the Empire.

Helene is now Blood Shrike and must obey newly-crowned Marcus, who tasks her with capturing Elias, whereupon his return he will be executed. As if choosing between serving the Empire–which she has planned and trained for all her life–and saving her best friend’s life wasn’t already hard enough, Helene must also consider her family whom Marcus is using as leverage to ensure her loyalty.

Continue reading “A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir: Book Review”

GEMINA by Amie Kaufman + Jay Kristoff: Book Review

Gemina (The Illuminae Files, #2)

Title: GEMINA

Authors: Amie Kaufman + Jay Kristoff

Series: THE ILLUMINAE FILES

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers (Random House Kids)

“Patience and Silence had one beautiful daughter. And her name was Vengeance.”

GEMINA picks up briefly after ILLUMINAE--like as in about five minutes after–but this time our setting is Jump Station Heimdall. Which also just so happens to be where the surviving characters of the previous book are currently headed. *wink wink*

But before they arrive, we get an entirely new story starring some of the characters currently living on Heimdall, and featuring, yet again, another invasion both of the human variety and of the… not-so-human variety. (Haha, you’ll see what I mean when you start reading.)

First and foremost, we are again lead by both a male and female protagonist.

There’s Hanna, daughter of the station’s commander, Charles Donnelly. Upon first impression, she’s your basic privileged white girl, but once you see her in action, she puts all “dumb blonde” stereotypes to rest. She is a strong, intelligent, and resourceful heroine, just like Kady from ILL.

And then there’s Nik, a juvenile delinquent and also… Hanna’s drug dealer. His family, the Malikovs, are members of the infamous gang they call House of Knives, of which Nik begrudgingly is a part of. They’re pretty hardcore. And though she may have a boyfriend, that doesn’t stop Nik from trying to charm his way into Hanna’s life.

Other than Hanna’s boyfriend, Jackson, there are a lot of side characters. There’s another genius hacker–Ella, Nik’s fifteen-year-old cousin, and there is also a large number of “bad guys” that the protagonists and us readers unfortunately get to know. Also, if you remember from ILLUMINAE, a certain someone’s dad lives on Heimdall. 😬

Continue reading “GEMINA by Amie Kaufman + Jay Kristoff: Book Review”

Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer: Book Review

Spindle Fire (Spindle Fire #1)

Title: Spindle Fire

Author: Lexa Hillyer

Series: Book 1 out of 2 in the Spindle Fire duology

Publisher: HarperCollins

Format/Source: DISCLAIMER–This is a review of an ARC I received through #booksfortrade on Twitter, so there may be differences from its finished copy.

My Rating: No rating (DNF)

Spindle Fire is a brand new, inventive retelling of Sleeping Beauty that also borrows elements from Alice in Wonderland. (Sounds perfect so far, right?)

It focuses on Princess Aurora of the kingdom of Deluce and her half sister, Isabelle. Though extremely close, the two are, of course, polar opposites–both physically and characteristically.

Aurora is petite and girly, where Isbe is tall and awkward. Aurora is devastatingly gorgeous with sun-kissed hair and skin, while Isbe is pale with dark, contrasting features. Aurora is reserved and perfect as a princess should be, and though Isbe is brave and headstrong, she has always been cast-aside and overlooked; unloved and under-appreciated. After all, she is only kept around out of common courtesy, as she is the illegitimate daughter of Deluce’s late king.

Oh, and there’s another thing: both of the girls are missing key senses after being tithed of them at a young age. Aurora was tithed of her sense of touch as well as her ability to speak, while Isbe was tithed of her sight.

All of their differences aside, the two have always been inseparable. The strong bond between them is all they have left in the world, so when Aurora and the rest of her kingdom falls victim to a strange, ominous sleeping curse, of course Isbe is willing to do whatever it takes to save her beloved sister.

Continue reading “Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer: Book Review”