Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 12 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

I’ve been reading a lot of mystery/thrillers of late, so I was really looking forward to a bit of fun romance and Star-Crossed sounded like it was going to tick all the boxes but…

I had a few issues, for starters, with the main thrust of the plot. Our heroine, Justine, works at a magazine and decides to alter/edit the horoscopes before publication so that her friend/childhood sweetheart, Nick, will, after reading them, be persuaded by their messages so much that he'll realise he should become romantically involved with Justine. Whilst this seems to backfire spectacularly month after month, her new readings do, however, unintentionally influence a plethora of minor characters. Yes, my big issue is that I can’t really imagine anyone taking readings in a magazine so seriously. I mean, really, who takes anything they read in a magazine seriously? Yet, our leads, along with a dozen or so supporting characters, make major life decisions based on a horoscope column.

The stories featuring these supporting characters are interspersed throughout and unfortunately they did not have as much of an impact on me as I felt they should. Most were a little bland; I never laughed out loud, nor did I well up with tears. Each short story was okay but that was all. In fact, when one of the most interesting characters is a dog (especially when I loathe fiction written from an animal’s point of view), you know you’ve lost me.

The main characters, too, were not as likeable as I would have liked and Nick and Justine really lacked chemistry. When Drake threw in another character, effectively creating a love triangle, I must admit I wasn’t sure who was going to win out in the end.

I did like Drake’s descriptive passages. I liked the pacing of the interspersed stories, effectively giving them a rom-com movie feel. Maybe it would work better as a movie though because I did sometimes get mixed up with who was who. Maybe the characterisation was not as great as it should have been; or the plots were too weak. Drake also tried to add in too many twists with the supporting stories. Maybe less could have been more?

The same could be said for much of the book. It’s definitely too long. Maybe 100 pages less and some of the boredom I felt could have been skipped. Then there was the repetition of the which character was which star sign, and which rising sign, and how their personality was influenced by these signs and what reading was relevant to them etc etc etc. It got a bit much.

I will say I believe in the stars; definitely in the personality traits that are assigned to a person once they’re born under a certain star. Even as a believer, I struggled. If you think it’s all a load of rubbish, you will be in real trouble.

So, Lee, Capricorn, who should have guessed a book which gives such prominence to an Aquarius would never be her thing, gives Star-Crossed 2 and ½ [Scorpio rising] stars.
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Thanks to Transworld and NetGalley for the Advance Review Copy in exchange for an honest review.
I have honestly no memory of requesting this book so apologies for the late review, I am rather confused. The promotional blurb suggests “Star-crossed is a perfect love story for fans of Marian Keyes, Sophie Kinsella and Josie Silver” I am so absolutely not a fan of any of those novelists, so I am doubly confused. I think horoscopes are the biggest load of nonsense ever conceived by humanity, so I am triply confused. 

This is a chick-lit romance novel essentially. Justine, a journalist meets her adolescent crush Nick, an actor. You know where things go from here. We are supposed to believe that a grown man relies on an astrology column to guide him in life. Ok then. 

Justine, who is strangely not put off by this revelation, decides to start modifying Nick’s (and hundreds of millions of other peoples….) horoscopes in order to get his attention and…well you know where this is going. It’s saccharine sweet, it’s cute, it’s harmless. If you like this kind of thing then you’ll probably like this one too. 

My rating is entirely based on my own enjoyment of the novel and not an indication of how this competes against other books in this genre. I can't make a fair assessment as it is not a genre I am familiar with.
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An Aquarius and a Sagittarius. Childhood best friends. Torn apart by distance. Brought together through chance. The story is delivered through the twelve signs of the zodiac. Little short stories that compliment the main plot and show how life is all chance and possibility and the connections we make with one another. And the one eyed dog perspective was adorable and I'm not a dog person. Liked Fleur's story and the china of Princess Di and Charles. This story has so many levels and is cleverly executed with lovely descriptions and great writing. Best romance I've read in a long time. Would highly recommend. Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for letting me review this book. Will look out for more books by Minnie Darke.
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Minnie Darke writes a lovely piece of romantic contemporary fiction set in Australia. Justine Carmichael and Nick Jordan's mothers are best friends and the two grew up together in Edenvale until Nick's parents moved away. Sagittarian Justine, obsessed with making sure words are spelt correctly, works at the Alexandria Park Star, general dogsbody and runner for 2 years, dreaming of becoming a journalist and securing a cadetship, but the current writers have been in post for a long time, and her prospects look bleak. Justine bumps into Aquarius Nick for the first time in years, he is an actor, struggling to succeed in his chosen career, recently broken up with glamorous model girlfriend, Laura Mitchell. A smitten Justine sees possibilities for her and Nick to be together, and whilst she is a sceptic when it comes to astrology, for Nick, he is far more open, addicted to reading his stars in Justine's news magazine. 

Justine sees the opportunity to tinker with reclusive Leo Thornberry's astrological predictions for Aquarius with a view to smoothing the path to her and Nick becoming an item, even though it threatens her professional position. Her meddling has unintended consequences for numerous Aquarian characters with life changing decisions, often resulting in a comedy of errors, but some have considerably more serious consequences. For Justine herself, she finds that her path to true love with a confused Nick is strewn with obstacles as he often fails to interpret his stars in the way that Juliet so desperately wants him to, as he makes decisions that drive her to despair. Will the star crossed lovers ever find their way to each other?

Darke writes a smart and funny novel that will have you rooting for Justine and Nick, whilst at the same time getting caught in the various Aquarius characters that are affected by the repercussions of Justine's tampering with the horoscopes. Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet motif is strong throughout the narrative with two productions of the play, where Nick plays Romeo in one of them, his last ditch attempt to make it in his chosen profession. There were occasions when I was faintly exasperated that Nick and Justine just could not just be straightforward and upfront with each other, but then this delightful novel would not have been written for us to savour. No doubt for many readers, it is written in the stars that they are destined to read this book. Many thanks to Random House Transworld for an ARC.
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I loved this book so much! A dreamy rom-com with an astrology twist., it somehow avoids being both cheesy and judgemental and strikes the perfect note; you'll be drawn in whether you read your horoscope or not...

When Justine runs into her childhood friend Nick, she realises that he might need a gentle nudge in the right direction. She starts tinkering with his horoscope at the paper she works for, but soon she's changing more lives than she realises... and the stars have more in store for her than she expects. Interweaving a colourful cast of characters, and beautifully written with warmth and wit, this is a truly delightful read.
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Loved this!
Who would think that tampering with horoscopes would cause such confusion? And it makes you wonder if we all end up where we are supposed to be?
Justine works for a well known magazine, as a general dogsbody, awaiting a promotion to writer. When a colleague moves on to another job, Justine finds herself in charge of the magazine’s horoscopes which are submitted via fax from the hermit astrologer. 
Done with the best of intentions to help her former teenage crush Nick realise that his chosen career of acting is the correct one, despite his girlfriends opinion, Justine manipulates his horoscopes over a few months - affecting several other characters in the book too. Of course, things don’t go the way she intends, and eventually her deceit catches up with her.
Warm, funny, addictive, I couldn’t put it down.
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5 Word Review: Astrology, friendship, deception, connections, love.
I quite liked the way that the story played with astrology and lent so much sway to it. The story did have a bit of a written-in-the-stars feel, especially with the way so many smaller stories converged.

I loved Justine. Her character is so steadfast and hardworking, eagle-eyed and smart. I really loved her duplicity and the way that once she knew she wanted to get closer to Nick she started to engineer it. It didn't come across as manipulation in the story, which it so easily could have done.

The writing is gorgeous and full of description. I would say that it's almost overly flowery at times, but it suits the story so well that it doesn't seem fair. It's lyrical, vibrant, and rich. When I was reading Star-Crossed I felt more like I was watching something play out rather than reading it, and it meant that I finished it quite quickly.

Star-Crossed is deeply romantic, almost like a rom-com, so full of love and misunderstandings and unexpected yet fun consequences.
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What a terribly cliched book. It was not for me and it was incredibly predictable all the way through.
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Witty, mischievous, intelligent and delightful. 

With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC (I was enjoying it so much I went out and bought a hard copy!)
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I wanted to love this story. I assumed from the description that it would be a nice light read about friends who fall in love, with a handful of horoscopes thrown in for interest. However, the book was so focussed on the astrology element that I found myself confused and bored. 

The two main characters were well written and came across well, but there were so many supporting/side characters that, again, I found myself confused trying to remember who they were and what their role was. 

I think those who love a more involved story, or those who have a real interest in astrology will adore this story, but for me it was hard work.
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Star Crossed is an incredibly heart-warming love story between two people, Justine and Nick, intertwining astrology which gives it an extra spark of magic. 

The story line itself is impeccably relateable, and as a female reader I connected well with the character of Justine. Working hard, paying her way in a young adult life, and mostly, getting home and eating toast for dinner because you don’t wanna even try and think about making anything different. Plus for the most part, we’ve all had a silly crush on someone we’ve known forever! 

The writing itself is captivating, everything you would know about astrology and horoscopes is enough to be able to follow the information in the book, and I did enjoy the inserts of different peoples lives and how they were affected by Justine’s meddling of the papers horoscopes. 

However, the only thing that bothered me slightly was the way in which Justine goes about getting Nicks attention, she changes the horoscopes. By doing this she literally jeopardises her job and her career. Most people might go to a different supermarket hoping they might bump into someone they’re crushing on, but it’s just a little bizarre that in 2019 we’ve got what would be a perfectly relatable character doing something, I hope, no one would do for the attention of a crush. 

Despite this the book as a whole is a light hearted, fun and easy reading novel that does leave you wondering whether it really is all written in the stars?
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[To be published March 25th on The Nerd Daily]

If astrology and friends-to-lovers tropes are your jam, or if you’re a bit of a sucker for a romantic comedy, then it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Star-Crossed by Minnie Darke.

When Justine Carmichael (Sagittarius, grammar nerd, and journo) bumps into old childhood friend Nick Jordan (Aquarian, aspiring actor, and very much a true believer in all things stars) after more than a decade, she finds herself saddled with a crush she thought she’d gotten over years ago. While reconnecting, Nick reveals that he still guides his life according to the astrology section of the magazine where Justine just so happens to work. At first, Justine finds this information an amusing throwback to the boy she knew as a teenager. But when Nick fails to call her, she uses it to her advantage and begins to tweak the monthly Aquarius predictions to open up Nick’s eyes, and his heart. But as we soon discover, Nick isn’t the only Aquarian who uses The Alexandria Star to influence their decision…

If I could describe this book in one word, it would be ‘cute’, followed closely by ‘sweet’, and, well, you get the idea really. Star-Crossed was fun, soft, and decently interesting, and to be honest, it was something that I didn’t entirely expect it to be: smart. Darke managed to find a decent line between science and pseudoscience to balance on and the humour, dry and sarcastic, kept me amused while I read.

Authors can tread a fine line when writing romance novels, and to me, keeping that bit of bite in amongst all the inevitable sap, kept Star-Crossed from becoming tooth-achingly sweet.

Star-Crossed follows mostly Justine’s POV and we spend about a year in her life (as told by star signs), following her quirky and refreshing personality as she navigates the long-buried crush she has on Nick, her working life, and her other interpersonal relationships. However, what makes Star-Crossed a little more interesting than average are the ‘cusp’ sections, which is where we get insight into the lives affected by Justine's meddling. It’s an interesting change to an otherwise fairly stereotypical storyline, and while eventually, we see the cyclical nature of  these ‘cusp’ stories, and how they all wind together, what makes these sections shine is that not all the people we read about are changing for the better.

Justine as a main character is incredible relatable, I enjoyed her sarcastic nature, and the fact that she has an ongoing war with a fruit and veg vendor at the local market. But what makes Justine so incredibly real as a character is the fact that over the course of the novel, we watch her struggle with love, family, her career and being a twenty-something that doesn’t have it all figured out. It was super refreshing to read from the perspective of someone who finished work and makes a Vegemite sandwich for dinner because she’s too lazy to do anything else.

Nick as well follows along these lines, his chosen career path is an actor, and he’s not anywhere close to being successful at the age of 28. It speaks to the millennial mindset of dreaming big, and then having to keep on dreaming, because to give up would destroy your soul a little bit.

While for the most part, I enjoyed the plot, if I’m being honest, parts of this storyline didn’t sit too well with me. The idea of Justine jeopardising her job, and her integrity, to convince the guy she likes to give her a chance seems borderline crazy, and more than a little manipulative. While I can see why that could fall under the banner of personal preference more than anything else, at times, it did throw me out of the story, and it would take a little bit of trudging to get back into it again.

In terms of writing style, Star-Crossed is surprisingly intelligent and it’s the wittiness and banter between characters that really kept it interesting. Darke doesn’t fall victim to plot line or prose, but rather, she has chosen to let her characters drive the plot forward, and it’s that feature what makes this a spectacularly easy book to fall into and read. As a little aside, I will point out that this book is incredibly Australian, both in landscape but also in language. It’s absolutely full of colloquialisms and shorthand that are bound to trip you up unless you’ve already got a solid understand of the land down under.

The acknowledgements at the end of Star-Crossed say that Darke wrote this book to amuse herself, and you, the reader, and I think that perhaps nothing describes it better than that. Nothing thing about Star-Crossed is difficult to read, unless you don’t understand Australian idioms, and it is exactly as advertised: a sweet and easy rom-com perfect for a weekend afternoon read.
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I thought this would be a very light, fluffy story with a tiny hint of astrology and that the characters would laugh about the silliness of it all... But instead I found this book to take astrology far too seriously and in many ways attempted to bestow it with credibility. Astrology has been proved to have no scientific validity and therefore is categorised as a pseudoscience. And therefore I found it hard to relate to any of these characters that believed so strongly in it. Perhaps if the book had contained more humour or some crazy laugh out loud moments I could have found something to empathise with. But sadly this book just turned out to not be to my personal taste. 

I would recommend the book only to people who placed some merit in astrology as any one else I feel would find themselves as frustrated as I was with this story. 

*An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher, Bantam Press / Random House UK Transworld Publishers, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*
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I found the concept interesting and wanted to love the book but..I couldn't. I felt the story should have been more about Justine and Nick. There were so many side characters that it drew me away from the story.  

I lost my interest somewhere along but I think many will enjoy this cute and quirky story. 

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the review copy.
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I voluntarily read and reviewed this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 
This book has a lot of content, and I feel very lucky to have been given a chance to read it! As well as the main story line, it has additional characters who make real life-changing decisions depending on their horoscopes. Done expertly well, these story lines meld and merge to form a plausible ending, and a satisfied reader. 
It is highly entertaining, with many lessons on life, self-worth and love, (and what you'd do to get it). The main characters are extremely likeable, faults and all, and you can't help but hope they get together. 
4.5 stars
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Really enjoyed reading this book.
Funny, interesting and entertaining. 
Although there were a lot of characters it was easy to keep track of what was going on.
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