Cover Image: Stars and Smoke

Stars and Smoke

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Member Reviews

Stars and Smoke by Marie Lou

This novel puts a superstar and a young, hotshot spy on a collision course with danger and Cupid’s arrow in a new series - perfect for young readers looking for adventure.  

This novel was excellent.  Spies, criminals, murderer, international - it had the, all.  You didn’t find out the true picture until the very end.  Fantastic characters.  This novel surely lives up to its total ==lots of smoke and stars.  I recommend this book.

Thanks to Net Galley for sending me an advanced reader’s copy for my review.
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I really like this story I am the spying on was really fun. The only downside is that it could be a little predictable at times. It would keep you on your toes at some points, but other times you would see it from a mile away.
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This might be my favorite Marie Lu book to date! I loved the spy angle of this story. Okay, maybe YA spy stories are my weakness—still Lu pulled off a great story that had me glued to my Kindle until the end!
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Thank you Netgalley for providing me with an Arc of this book.

Im am honestly conflicted... giving it 3 stars is me being nice but I honestly think it would be fair since I am not the correct age range for this novel.

It's quite predictable, and the plot twists weren't really shocking at all... and the romance is a bit unbelievable.

Also, there is so much telling and a lack of showing. The action scenes in her Legends Trilogy was written so much better than in this book... I couldn't visualize anything that was happening.

The audiobook was nice to help speed the book along... yet listening it to it at 3x speed just tells me more how I wanted the book to be over.
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Another Marie Lu phenomenon 👏🏽🙌🏽 
The action and sci-fi theme pulled me and kept me interested, it was very fast paced & enjoyable
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A super fun book! Very classic Marie Lu. I will say I feel like I was missing something in the book, I'm not quite sure what. I do think I just wanted more out of the plot? It felt like it went by too quickly.
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This is my first novel by Marie Lu.  I LOVED IT!  It pulled you in from page one all the way to the end.  Non-stop action.  I found it extremely entertaining and quite the page turner.  I did not want to put it down.  So much action in this spy thriller!  Twists and turns and danger and romance!  I can't wait to see what comes next!  I absolutely loved the author's note at the end thanking her readers and hoping to meet on the road one day.  Thanks for a wonderful escape!  To the Author and to #Netgalley for the ARC!
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A thrilling spy novel for fans of Alias, BTS, and of course, Marie Lu!  Not only do you get spy-in-training action but you also get romance, humor, and the promise of more adventure.
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Marie Lu has been my favorite author since I was a preteen and even in my adulthood that still holds true, There hasn’t been a single book of hers that I haven’t loved; Stars and Smoke was no exception to that. The execution of the plot was fantastic; it was just the right amount of action-packed while maintaining a lighthearted tone that makes it incredibly fun and easy to navigate. The YA approach suited this story very well. The cast of characters is well-fleshed out and explored throughout the book, which made for great character dynamics. And speaking of character dynamics, I absolutely could not get enough of Winter and Sydney! I don’t know that I would pitch their relationship as enemies-to-lovers, I think it’s a little more nuanced than that. Not to mention that they weren’t exactly enemies to begin with. Having said that, whatever it was that they had going on (labels and tropes aside) had me giddy and giggling; the witty banter, their constant back and forth, their caring for each other but desperately trying to pretend otherwise…it was *chef kiss* and I still think about them on a regular basis. I can’t recommend this book enough and I can’t wait to see where Marie takes this series!
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Stars and Smoke by Marie Lu was the read I didn't know I needed but so glad I did! It was the perfect blend of intrigue, laughs, romance, and fun. Partner all that with a cast of characters that are so realistic you just feel like they have been all over your trending feeds and Marie Lu is secretly paparazzi. Can not wait for the fan art!
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~stars and smoke review~
I love marie lu and this one sounded like it was gonna be fun! sometimes something silly and exciting like this is the perfect escape! 
+pop star shenanigans 
+i’m actually such a sucker for the bodyguard trope
+silly “i’m a spy tshirt” 
+i love imagining the performances i can somehow picture them exactly in my head 
+lmao i did not see that coming bonus points for that 
+they’re both lowkey obsessed with each other i kind of love it 
+why do they keep staring at each other STOP THAT
+nursing the other back to health 
+being able to tell it’s not the other person because of how they text 
+i <3 WINTER
+what a tease i didn’t realize this was a series 
-i love enemies to lovers but only when they’re actually enemies. they can’t just be mean to each other for no reason. 
-family trauma (hurts me too much)
-not the biggest fan of one of the plot twists 
i will fully admit i had to put this down for a little bit because my last semester of college was intense for a second there, but i enjoyed this one! it was fun and i can see people enjoying winter and sydney. i think the next book will be fun too!
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Book Summary:

Winter Young is an international pop sensation – and that's not an exaggeration! His fans adore him, perhaps a little bit too much at times. His life is perfect, as far as his fans can tell. Yet his world is about to be thrown into the cause.

Enter Sydney Cossette. She's part of a covert ops team and will be infiltrating Winter's organization as his bodyguard. All because a crime boss' daughter is one of Winter's many adoring fans. Unfortunately, Winter and Sydney couldn't be more different, which will make things challenging...

My Review:

I have enjoyed Marie Lu's works in the past, so I didn't hesitate to dive into Stars and Smoke. As the first in a series go, this book isn't bad. It's sometimes a little on the nose, especially in the romance department. But really, that isn't a bad thing, especially if you're looking for a relaxing read!

I have to give credit, though; there is WAY more depth to Winter and Sydney's characters than one might think, especially based on the description of this book. It made the story more compelling, to say the least.

Oh! Let us not forget the action. Marie Lu is so good at portraying lots (and lots!) of action. So if you love action stories with a lot of flirting, Stars and Smoke is the perfect book.

First in a New Series
Enemies to Lovers
Fantasy & Romance
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Stars and Smoke was a fun book, and this adult even enjoyed diving in to read some YA fiction thanks to good storytelling and great characters.
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A fun adventure that young people will devour. It was perfect for reluctant readers and had diversity intertwined in such a natural way. I always love Marie’s writing and am excited for what is to come next for Winter and Sydney.
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"Many people were objectively gorgeous, but then there were those few, the stars with some undefinable quality so searingly bright that they birthed obsession. Once the world got a glimpse of them, it would move heaven and earth just to see them again."

"There was no one else here, and yet, even now, he looked like a star, like he couldn’t help but burn so bright that even the air was drawn to him, that the moon yearned to illuminate him."

Winter is a polished and amazingly gorgeous international pop star...with a very complicated family dynamic when the spotlight is off, leaving him yearning for something he cannot define, in spite of all his star power and perks. That is until the night he leaves a concert and ends up in the wrong car - or is it the right car? Until the night a top secret agency named Panacea wants to recruit him to run a mission to bring down a crime kingpin. All he has to do is accept a request to do a private concert for the kingpin's daughter's birthday extravaganza.

No problem so far. Until he gets paired with a prickly junior agent named Sydney for a partner. Sydney is convinced he'll be nothing but a burden, and that she doesn't have nearly enough time to train him properly before they go on their mission. Winter just has to prove her wrong. Especially once things start happening that quickly send their cut-and-dry mission spinning sideways.

This book is a fun little action romp with some romance on the side. I always enjoy Marie Lu's writing and she doesn't disappoint here. True to form, her prose is magical and expressive - just see the above quotes for examples. This is the first time I've seen Ms. Lu plunge into this particular genre, her previous efforts have been mostly sci fi.

I noticed that in spite of some action tropes and spy cliches, she seems like she really had fun writing this. It ran quite a bit like a movie. I can imagine the Mission: Impossible theme playing somewhere in the background while the author was writing (please tell me this is actually true.) There were a couple of twists and a few plot conveniences where I had to work to suspend my disbelief, but those bits aside, it was a fun book. I enjoyed it, and I imagine that, as it's the first book in a series, I'll be enjoying further missions with Winter and Sydney soon. Thank you to Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, Roaring Book Press, and Netgalley for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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I love both spy books and the bodyguard trope, so mixing them both together in this book was **chefs kiss**. I loved how Sydney and Winter interacted together and how we also go both perspectives. While the plot twist was something I “seen” I also didn’t fully see it coming. I love Marie Lou’s writing and hopefully we get to see more of these characters going forward.
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A good stand alone action/romance by Marie Lu is something I’ll never say no to. And neither will my students, so I’m glad this story was met up to my hopes and expectations. Yes, the story was somewhat predictable but in the best of ways. I kept reading with a sense of just knowing I’d be satisfied at the end. Nicely developed characters and an action packed plot made for a great weekend read.
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This was really enjoyable! I was a little hesitant in the beginning as I wasn't sure it was really for me, but the story sucked me in from the very first page. The plot was great and the characters enjoyable. I'm excited for the next installment!
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First, let me say that I love this author's stories. This is a bit different but equally as entertaining. The author combines the world of spies and covert operations with super stardom. Take the most unlikely character, a pop star, and ask him to help with a dangerous operation. Add in a bit of romance and danger to create a story that will keep you reading. I will be recommending it. Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
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Winter Young is an international pop star, selling out stadiums to rabid fans. Sydney Cossette is the youngest spy to join a covert ops group, with no time for romance. But a major crime boss gifts his daughter a private concert with Winter for her birthday, Sydney becomes Winter's bodyguard so she can investigate the organization. Winter is now the newest spy recruit, but Sydney is unaffected by his charms. Or is she?

This book is billed as Kingsman crossed with the Bodyguard, and we have our moments with the experimental spy gear early in the story as well. Winter has his own moments where you feel sorry for him: his older brother died years ago, his mother can barely look at him, and he has the love and admiration of fans but no real close friendships. Sydney had opted to join the group to get out of her small town, the alcoholic father who had been abusive, and the dying mother.  Both are highly competent nineteen-year-olds, and the moments of physical attraction are eclipsed by the seriousness of the job: the man they're looking to investigate trafficks in weapons, people, and all kinds of illegal goods, and may be shipping a material that would make an incredibly dangerous bomb that could wipe out Europe. Definitely the high stakes worthy of a spy novel.

Winter has his own powers of observation, which had been honed from being ostracized when young as well as being a star that had been attacked in the past. He isn't the shallow musician type, and I really liked the chapters from his POV. He was all in and eager to help. Sydney is prickly and harder to get to know, which is very deliberate on her part. Even so, I didn't feel too distant in her part of the book at all. We had enough twists along the way, with the mission getting compromised and people not being exactly who we thought they were.  I don't want to spoil it, but it's such a fun ride to get through, I kept reading while trying to move around the house doing something else at the same time because I had to know what happened next.

Marie Lu has written many fun and engaging series, and this book is no different. I hope we see more of the Panacea group, and that this is the start of a new series.
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