Cover Image: Astrid Sees All

Astrid Sees All

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Member Reviews

The eighties in New York City filled with clubbing and drugs is depicted through a fortune telling wannabe writer and her equally eccentric friends. Warhol and Jagged are just a couple of figures that are used to represent the history of influences of the era. Colorful characters and a subplot of missing young women add to the storyline. 

Copy provided by the publisher and NetGalley
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NYC in the 80s is a fascinating, exciting, dark, biting setting for this novel about Phoebe at 22 years old. The city was like another character in the book with its own fascinating personality and life and dark side. 

I never had a moment while reading where I rooted for or related to a character. Some storylines dragged on whereas others flew by leaving me confused and unsatisfied. It was a fast read and I loved the glimpses of NYC in the 80s. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Atria Books for a copy of this book. I’m so grateful.
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Phoebe moves to New York City after college to pursue a fabulous life with her friend, Carmen. Essentially she wants to be Carmen because she is cool and has great friends. Carmen ignores Phoebe for the most part. Then Phoebe has an affair with an older man, Ivan, thinking Carmen will find that exciting but she ends up getting $1000 from him and decides she has to pay him back. She takes a job as a fortune teller in one of the hottest clubs in the city, Plutonium, wearing a blue turban and calling herself Astrid. While she is saving money to pay him back she buys new clothes, drinks and smokes and does a bunch of Coke but is three months behind on her rent. She is as fiscally irresponsible a character as the Shopaholic. I'm not a fan of Phoebe/Astrid. I couldn't identify or care about the character. Some of the things she did I mostly just wanted to give her a good shake.

Carmen was a little less defined. She loved a junkie, Atti, and did her best to take care of him. She would often ask Phoebe for help with Atti but Phoebe was disgusted by his condition.

The writing is good. It shows the glittery and gritty side of New York City in the early 1980's with the bright lights, the drinking and doing lines of Coke in bathroom stalls, all sounding so glamorous but really kind of sad and frantic. At the same time there were a bunch of young girls that were missing, they referred to them as the Amelias after Amelia Earhart. The building they lived in was definitely on the gritty side with a bathtub in the kitchen, cats they inherited from the previous tenant and clothes and take out containers strewn all over the place.

The story was very readable. I was waiting for a big wake up call for Phoebe but I'm not sure she got one. I found the ending a bit odd. As I started the last chapter I felt like the story took a turn into something different.

I want to thank Netgalley and Atria for the opportunity to read this story.
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If I were to picture a novel that portrayed the excess and dangers of stereotypical 1980s NYC, it would be Astrid Sees All.

Drugs. A little rock & roll. Clubs. A random serial killer, because, why not?

Yes, it was a lot and a bit over the top. Did I still enjoy it? I think so. I couldn’t put it down. I found myself rooting for Pheobe and loving her a little more with every page. Was the perfect? Nope. She was flawed and real
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Astrid Sees All
By Natalie Standieford

This is a story about friends Phoebe (Astrid) and Carmen in New York in the 80's with lots of parties, clubs, drugs and mayhem. Phoebe works as a fortune teller as Astrid while Carmen waitresses and both struggling while trying to live in the moment and spread their wings in New York from a small town. This is a character driven novel, many intriguing characters, some celebrity appearances, and the gritty underbelly of New York back then where drugs are rampant. 

It was quite the interesting read that I found to be entertaining.
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I feel like I need to say first and foremost that I had A LOT OF FUN reading this book and I gobbled it up in less than a day. I have a few quibbles with it, but I would definitely still recommend this as a fun book to bring on a beach trip. Or better yet- a book to pick up when you need something that you don’t have to think too hard about, because I promise- this book is a lot of fun as long as you don’t stop to think about it too much.

Quick summary: Friends from college Phoebe and Carmen party HARD in New York surrounded by an eccentric and lovable group of friends and a LOT of drugs. 

There’s a ton going on in this story- grief over the death of a parent, abortion, personal drug abuse, a heroin epidemic, an affair with a married man, celebrities, swanky college parties, a love triangle, a serial killer, cats, dogs, a rooster, nightclubs, imposter syndrome, fortune-telling (I absolutely loved this storyline- fortune telling with movie ticket stubs- genius), social-ladder climbing, amnesia, mama drama, stalkers, baseball, and John-John. New names cropped up frequently and without much preamble. I kept wondering if I had missed something, but the same people also left the story quickly so it didn’t seem to matter a whole lot. 

While the writing was mostly smooth and easy, making this a quick read, there were a few clunky and cringey metaphors that weren’t inaccurate, exactly, but felt forced- such as “taut as guitar strings” and, “The day was clear and peppermint bright.”

So….it’s hard to classify what this book is trying to be, exactly, with all that goes on in less than 300 pages. At a certain point, I was fairly sure the book was going to end up saying something concrete about the 80s heroin epidemic and girls missing and young people ODing. Or maybe the AIDs crisis would make an appearance. But all of a sudden, I stopped to ask myself, “When exactly did this book become a thriller?” And the answer is- at the end.

Which leads me to the wrap-up. An odd and much too neatly tied up ending. I’m not sure what I can say without spoiling it, but there’s a thing about potatoes and a severed finger, and a miracle cleanup by a landlady fairy godmother, and a miraculous new job. However, the part I found most unbelievable was that Phoebe’s mother decided she was doing just fine in New York and left her to it. And that’s saying something- because there was a lot of unbelievable stuff at the end. 

So- TL/DR? A fun read, just please suspend your disbelief and enjoy the ride. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Atria books for the review copy!
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Astrid Sees All is a perfectly fine book.  It's a perfectly fine book that feels character driven yet I don't feel like I really knew the characters all that well and there was very little growth.  

Our main character, Phoebe Hayes, is a try hard that follows around popular gal Carmen like a lost puppy.  I felt through the whole book that Carmen could barely stand her but Phoebe seems to think they are best friends.  Phoebe tries so hard to be Carmen, that it just annoyed me and mad me feel sorry for her.  Even at the end of the book she was doing all she could to be Carmen and to also get Carmen's approval.  

The part of the book I liked the most was the chapters where Phoebe was reflecting on the lose of her father and what happened right after that event.  That's when she felt the most real, that's when I was the most interested.  

I think the setting of the book is really interesting, New York in the early 1980s.  There was a lot of celeb spotting and hints at what was to come.

The big climatic scene towards the end of the book happened far to fast for me.  It really rushed through that and its aftermath far too fast.  I could have lived in that part of the story for longer.

I didn't really connect with this one but I can see why others would really enjoy it.

Thank you NetGalley and Atria Books for the eARC of Astrid Sees All in exchange for an honest review.
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In 1984, twenty-two year old Phoebe Hayes sets out in NYC to make her own way in the world. She craves excitement and adventure after her father passed away suddenly. While in New York, she meets Carmen, an eccentric new friend who knows her way around the nightlife scene. Hard up for money, Phoebe becomes Astrid the Star Girl, telling fortunes in a well-known night club. She uses a box of movie tickets to answer clients questions. Every night, the girls are out looking for sex and a high to get them through to the next party and Phoebe becomes a bit obsessed with Carmen. In an attempt to be like Carmen, Phoebe ends up betraying her. This causes Carmen to leave and go down her own spiral. During this time, there is a backdrop of young women going missing weekly all over the city. Phoebe is extremely worried about Carmen and looks for her everywhere she goes. But in order to find her, Phoebe must face her own demons. I enjoyed the 1980’s nostalgia and inclusion of famous icons. It was really interesting to learn about the nightlife and the way famous people lived during that time. Although most of the book was a slow burn, the ending was very exciting. It really wrapped up everything and gave it meaning.
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Astrid Sees All is a fast-based fun novel set it the drug-hazed setting of 1980s New York City. It's full of complicated characters, but it's a fun and quick read. I connected a lot of Astrid's desire to belong, particularly during her college experience flashbacks.

Thank you to Atria Books and Netgally for the electronic advanced reader's copy.
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So this book started off so strong. The first chapter was emotional and powerful and sucked me right in. But then the next hundred pages seemed to lose their way? (And honestly didn’t seem totally relevant to this story.) And that’s when I stopped connecting with this.

The first hundred pages (after the first chapter) felt like such a random hodge podge of information. I didn't really feel like that background was totally relevant. At least not then. If the timeline had been a little different, I think it would've worked better? But I hated the random hundred page flashback when it felt like the story had already moved beyond that and didn't need to backtrack.

But I think I also wanted this to focus more on Phoebe's grief. Because it honestly felt like it swept that under the rug? Phoebe's dad dies in the first chapter (not a spoiler) and then he's barely mentioned again until the last few chapters. I get that running back to New York was her ~coping mechanism but because of the weird timeline, I honestly forgot he even died.

And even though I had so many problems with this one, there were a few things that I liked. The main character is a fortune teller but she uses old movie tickets instead of tarot cards which I thought was incredibly cool. And the setting was PHENOMENAL. The dark and gritty New York of the 80s was so well written, I could feel it in my bones as if I’d actually been there. I think I loved the setting most of all. It was honestly the most ~developed part of this story.

But. I think my biggest problem with this was this book was written by a YA author and pitched as the first adult novel by the author. And although this has some adult themes, it is definitely still a YA. And I don’t tend to connect with YA as much anymore. Plus going in with a misleading premise leads the reader to expect things they won’t find. Which is exactly what happened here. I wouldn't have picked this up knowing it was YA because there's only a small chance that I'd actually like it. So I went into it expecting and adult novel but got YA and, surprise surprise, I didn't like it.

I also could not stand the main character. She is incredibly annoying and has exactly zero self awareness. She made so many laughably bad choices and didn’t learn from them?? And most of her choices were incredibly juvenile. Plus the story itself was pretty straightforward with no big shocks. Almost like it was written for a younger audience or something....

So overall, I didn’t really enjoy this. I mostly just wanted to be done and moving on to other things. I finished feeling very underwhelmed and I know this isn’t a book that will stick with me. Mostly I think I was the wrong audience for this. (I also feel like I should point out that I didn't apply for this book. It just showed up in my inbox with a NetGalley link. So this wasn't really a book I would've picked out for myself in the first place???? It honestly isn't a genre I generally read.)

But, anyway. Thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an honest review!
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This novel tells the coming of age story of a young woman trying to find her way in New York after experiencing familial loss.  It started off with such promise, but it just sort of meanders about with very little of a sequencing of events for the characters.  Phoebe aka Astrid’s questionable choices add some excitement to the book, but the story just did not flow together.  There have been some comparisons between this book and “Sweetbitter” (which I did not enjoy) and for me, the similarities appear to be not much of an extensive plot existing.  Still, I found this to be a bit more intriguing than “Sweetbitter”, but would have enjoyed it more had the characters actually experienced more scenarios and there been more storytelling in “Astrid Sees All.”  3 stars ⭐️.  Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advanced copy.
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A most unusual story..  I was fascinated with the characters and the details of the life they led during a short period of time.   It I have to say it isn’t a book I see many people of my generation (old) reading and enjoying. It’s loaded with drug addicts, people trying to be someone important, looking for love, etc..   I do think it could be of interest to younger adults.
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This is so different from the books I normally read and it started off with an interesting backdrop in NewYork in a different times. With all the characters heavily flawed and not that likeable, it was slightly difficult to relate. It was a plot where I would suggest to go ahead without reading summary or reviews and get surprised. I did like Phoebe's journey and the way she tried to face identity crisis and showed grit. NYC in 80s is definitely glamorous and that pulled me in though there were absolutely unbelievable circumstances.
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2.5 stars

***TRIGGER WARNING***

This was just a mess. I felt like there were a lot of false starts with different storylines. I'm all for unreliable and unlikable narrators, but Phoebe was pretty unbearable. The thing I did enjoy though, was the atmosphere. I really felt like I was in NYC in the '80s. Through the writing, you could almost taste the gritty rawness of that time period, with sex, drugs, and mystery.
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3.5 Stars. After going to Baltimore for her father’s funeral, twenty-two-year-old Phoebe Hayes longs to return back home to New York City. She moves to the East Village with her friend Carmen, and is quickly thrown into a life of drinking, drugs, junkies, and clubbing in the 1980s in NYC’s gritty underworld.

I absolutely loved the setting of New York City in the 1980s, and the author’s descriptive writing makes you feel fully immersed in the scenes. The novel is on the shorter side {under 300 pages}, which makes for the perfect, quick weekend read! I thought the plot was a bit all over the place, but that may have been intentional to match the artsy, trippy vibe. Overall, it was definitely an unconventional and offbeat story, but an interesting and fast read. 

Thank you so much to Atria Books for my gifted copy, as well as NetGalley for a digital advance copy, in exchange for my honest review.
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To be fully honest, I could not figure out the point of this book. The characters were all so limp. There was nothing compelling about them, and it made it impossible to connect/care about any of them. They had no real interior lives, and were poorly developed. The writing style was incredibly simple, & the time jumps were convoluted, & didn’t add to the story. The plot is almost non existent until the end, which was unsatisfactory.
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This book!

Yes, it's a bit of a kitchen sink but you know what- it works and I loved every over the top moment!
It's fun ,wistful, gritty and I rooted for and cheered Phoebe on the whole way. Maybe I loved it so much for the 80's setting which is practically a character here itself.

I don't want to say too much without giving things away but again, I really enjoyed this one!
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I was kinda disappointed by this one. Seeing the description and that it takes place in the 80's I was interested but unfortunately this one just didnt click for me. I didnt care much for any of the characters and the plot just seemed to drag. Sorry.
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Astrid Sees All by Natalie Standiford is a story of a young woman’s search for purpose, for meaning and an identity in New York City It’s New Year’s Eve 1983, Phoebe Hayes returns to the city after her father’s funeral, despite her mother’s protests. Phoebe wants to chase the glamorous life that only New York City can provide as well as confront the older man who wronged her. With her best friend, Carmen Dietz, she finds her niche as Astrid the Star Girl, the fortune teller in an East Village nightclub. Her friends and neighbors are the artists, It Girls and lost souls trying to party their pain away in the underworld of the East Village. Everything seems to go her way until a mix of sex and drugs leads Phoebe to betray Carmen, who wants nothing to do with Phoebe and disappears. Phoebe is left to descend into the darkness surrounding her. Can Phoebe find Carmen and make it right? Will she be able to stop the seemingly downward spiral she’s on?
Astrid Sees All is described as “a love letter to the gritty 1980s New New York City” and the story is gritty. It is brutally honest in its description of the lives of those who filled the underworld. I read with interest as I wonder where the underworld life would lead Phoebe. When I finished, I was in a daze. I wasn’t sure how I felt. There is no real hero or heroine. It certainly wasn’t a happy, feel-good book with a satisfying ending. It was an realistic look at life in New York City and an honest ending as a young woman must come to terms with her actions and must decide where to go from there. It was a book that held my interest. I was able to finish it in one day. The book was filled with an eccentric cast of characters. Some you hate, some you sympathize with and some will shock you. Overall, it is a book worth reading. I recommend Astrid Sees All. 

Astrid Sees All will be available April 6, 2021 in hardcover, eBook, and audiobook.
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In ASTRID SEES ALL, Natalie Standiford tells the story of Phoebe, grieving daughter and estranged lover, who lives the heady brew of New York City in the early 80s, at its most glamorous and dangerous, full of possibility for glory and heartbreak. Drawn into a world of connections, money, power, and fame by her closest friend Carmen, Phoebe negotiates this strange world as Astrid, a beautiful visionary who creates stories in psychic readings as she comes to terms with her own dreams, losses, and self. This story drew me in and held me breathless, tearing through the pages as I explored a fascinating time and place with compelling and well-drawn characters, so vivid I felt I knew them. Ultimately, the story was about coming of age and finding yourself -= and doing so in a seductive world of the willfully and happily lost. I received an advance reader copy of this novel from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for my unbiased review.
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