Cover Image: Stars and Smoke

Stars and Smoke

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Member Reviews

Thank you, Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, Roaring Brook Press, for allowing me to read Stars and Smoke

This was a perfectly fine read, nothing to scream about though.
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5 stars

Marie Lu has created another wonderful book yet again. There are spies, pop stars, danger, and romance, some of my favorite things in books. The plot twist was chef’s kiss, and I hope that we get more content with Winter and Sydney.

Thank you to NetGalley for sending me an e-ARC of this book!
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She’s a secret agent and he’s the superstar assigned to be her new partner in a dangerous undercover mission that might have more at stakes than just taking down a criminal.... and a little bit with finding love. Winter Young is a rookie backup dancer turned global pop star. He’s handsome, talented, and the ultimate pop star and his biggest fan just happens to be the infamous criminal tycoon Eli Morrison’s daughter, Penelope. When a covert ops organization known as the Panacea group notices this, they recruit Winter as they know he will be invited to do a private concert for Eli’s beloved daughter... and he’ll be the perfect way in to take down Eli. To parter with Winter is Sydney Cossette, Panacea’s youngest spy who also happens to be the only person alive impervious to Winter’s charms. Despite their rocky start, both Winter and Sydney have more in common than they think and spending so much time together in a charged environment... the tension between them might not just be because of the mission but also because of the growing feelings between each other. Yet those feelings are impossible since they come from two completely different worlds. They’ll have to learn to trust one another and work together if they want to make it out of this mission alive and then face the greatest risk of all, their hearts. This was a pretty cute story about spies and romance. The ending is definitely left open ended and I kind of wish there was a more definite ending but I do get why it was ended like that and how it would work for the book. The book was a fun read and I think it would make a great time for anyone looking for a fun romance read.

*Thanks Netgalley and Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, Roaring Brook Press for sending me an arc in exchange for an honest review*
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An equally balanced duo takes the lead on a very modern take on the spy genre full of tech-y gadgets and a twisty secret mission.

Give me a lady who can kill paired with a dude who can lie, and I'll show up. Seriously, I've started building a shelf to hold my favorite plot conceit of all time. The thing about the shelf is that it's mostly fantasy novels with very few modern additions (to date). Stars and Smoke is a much more modern (maybe even slightly futuristic) take, with internet viral videos, global news, and hyper advanced spy gadgets all featuring heavily. The plot takes full advantage of this setting and time period, relying on tech and the power of the internet for several of its many juicy twists. Other markers from the spy genre are also present - clandestine parties, car chases, mysterious organizations, and a deadly chemical compound with a confusing name that is never fully explained (I am aware this is a personal hangup, but darn if I'm not hung up on it).

The two leads are both given equal attention, with strong back stories and fleshed out personalities, and I immediately found myself caring for both of them. Although they snipe at each other at the beginning, there's also a fairly immediate attraction between the two that leads to plenty of steamy thoughts, but no overt spice. I prefer my romances to move at a slower pace, but the endgame for our heroes absolutely sticks the landing.
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I absolutely loved this - full of action and suspense and wonderful characters I found myself rooting for! 

Can't wait for the next in this series to see where Winter and Sydney take us! 

Thank you for the early copy - I've already pre-ordered this one to add to my Marie Lu Collection!
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This book has a serious identity problem. Is it campy but different James Bond before the reboot? Is it tortured artist meets star crossed lovers? Am I really supposed to believe that any teenager anywhere exists with this much power and lack of real supervision? Still, fun sometimes, so.
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Easiest five stars I've given a book these past six months.I simply couldn't stop reading it. It was mind-blowing and thrilling at the same time. The way the story was composed was brilliant – there were so many elements you could tell it took a lot of time and thought, and it came together seamlessly. Every scene had a purpose and added to the snowballing journey to one heck of an ending. I enjoyed the concept, the plot-line and the characters immensely! I'm so excited to see where these characters go next!

Special thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan Children's Publishing Group for an ARC in exchange for an honest review
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My rating: 3.5/5

First of all thank you NetGalley for the ARC! I was so excited when I got it because I've been a big fan of Marie Lu since Legend and I've read all her books so far!

This story is about a superstar named Winter Young and how he gets recruited by this spy agency to help them out on a secret mission to capture Eli Morrison with the help of their own agent Sydney Corsset as his bodyguard. They don't start off in the best of terms but soon make a pretty good team as the story progresses.

The story overall was so much fun almost felt like a netflix show, and who does'nt love that! The characters were great and well developed. What I had an issue with was how Winter and Sydney started falling for each out of nowhere and had no progression in their relationship. I would have liked to have seen more vulnerable moments between them, where they actually talk about their past and bond more.

Also loved the twist that I surprisingly did not see coming. Overall all I really enjoyed the new side of Marie Lu's writing, and also this world in particular that she created and hopefully she will bring back these characters.
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I've been a fan of Marie Lu for a while now, and am always excited to read more from her. This was a unique concept for a spy novel and I was invested in what was going on around it. The story worked well and I was invested in what was happening to the characters. It had what I enjoyed from Marie Lu and it was a joy to read. I'm excited to read more from the author.

“Is he feeling okay?” Winter had muttered to Claire as he stood before one of Eli’s cars. “Don’t worry about your boys,” Claire had told him. “They’ll have their own fun.” Then she’d given him an encouraging well done! look before sending him off. Now only Sydney was heading down two steps behind him, her silver pants swishing against her legs in a shimmer of fabric with every move she made."
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When one of my favorite fantasy authors decides to create a new novel in different genre like Ya action packed spy thriller meets romance, I can only say “bring it on!” And honestly I’m truly intrigued by Bodyguard meets Mission Impossible theme blended in my favorite trope; enemies to lovers!

  Great thing about this book is not only its fast pacing, riveting, ultra exciting, unputdownable, captivating action scenes or twisty, surprising, heart pounding progression of the story! The characters are also amazing. 

Winter Young is a superstar global Chinese American pop phenomenon at the age 19, still grieving his hero step brother, dealing with his emotional unbalanced mother. 

When he’s approached by secret organization called Panacea for a secret mission to take down infamous criminal mogul Eli Morrison, he says no to the agents till he finds out his brother is also secret agent of this organization and if he accepts their offer, he can finally learn  the truth about how his brother died. 

  Eli Morrison is just about to hire him for special concert for his daughter Penelope’s 19th birthday where a several of European politicians, elites, wealthy business man will be also invited. The concert will take place in London. During the occasion, Winter has to seduce Penelope to get closer to Eli’s inner circle, delivering a gift that contains tracking gadget to his right hand man/ secret lover of his daughter. 

Of course another secret agent will accompany Winter as his bodyguard during the mission. But he never guessed he would be paired with a badass, ice queen who was successfully resisting his charms!

  Sydney left her old life behind after dealing with loss of her mother and mistreatment of her abusive father. She started from scratch to build a new and lonely life. The agents : Niall and Sauda  become her real family, accepting her as she is. They even supported Sydney for treatment of her kleptomania. 

 Sydney is also 19, coming from completely different background from Winter and she is already prejudiced  and unhappy about babysitting a pop star. But she realizes he’s more than meets the eye.  Even though they’re like moon and sun that cannot share the same space at the same time, they have to find a way to work out their differences for the sake of their important mission. But the sparks already fly between them. Sydney has to stay in the shadow as Winter is aim to live in the spotlight. Even though they achieve to complete their mission, how could they stay away from each other against all odds?

  This book makes you breathe heavily, squirming in your seat, keeping you on your toes as you hurrying your head into your e- reader! ( let’s rephrase: you just keep hitting your head to your e-reader screen with full of excitement) 

I loved it so much! And I loved those characters! I want them back! I hope dear Marie Lu brings them back sooner with another breathtaking, exciting adventure! Fingers are already crossed! 

Special thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group/ Roaring Book Press for sharing this amazing digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest thoughts.
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#StarsandSmoke #NetGalley Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this novel. I encourage you to check this one out! Really solid read.
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