Cover Image: The Girl With Stars in Her Eyes

The Girl With Stars in Her Eyes

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Loved this audiobook thank you!!! I loved the narrators and characters. I love all things music so I especially love books centered around bands. Great book.
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Antonia "Toni" Bennette grew up in dive bars with parents that did not pay attention to her or her well-being. So instead, Toni found comfort in her guitar. She met Sebastian, that also struggled with family and his upbringing so they instantly became best friends and promised each other they would get out of the small town and make a name for themselves until Seb leaves without an explanation.

Years later Toni is making a name for herself in Philadelphia as a musician. One of her friends encourages her to try out for an up-and-coming girl band The Lilly's and she gets the part. The only problem is Seb is their manager.

I enjoyed Toni and her story as an underdog in the music industry. She was a fighter throughout the entire book and had to earn everything in her life. The romance part of the novel was a little too much for me.  I would have enjoyed more of the music and band.  I listened to the audio version and enjoyed the narrators. #NetGalley
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Really cute romance with some good old fashioned rock and roll in the background.  Really like both narrators.  Looking forward to more from this author.
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This book was very different than what I expected. I’m happy I read it on audio but I think I wouldve also liked it as a physical book and I didn't think I would have. Its a cute rock and roll romance and the characters had a lot of depth which I enjoyed.
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I loved this book so much that I bought the physical copy! I love stories about the music industry, they always end up being my favorite books. I loved the characters in this one, especially Seb. I loved the romance between Seb and Toni - the unexpected steaminess was WELCOME! I loved seeing them reconnect and find their way back to what they used to be and so much more. I was also wishing I could hear the Lillies songs!! They were so well described that I felt like I could hear them in my head. My favorite part of the book was that it was set in Philly! I am from Philly and I always get excited when a book is set in my city. 4 stars!
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**Thank you to Netgalley and Dreamscape Media for this copy in exchange for a review**
I love reading about rock and roll and I love it even more when there are powerful female leads, so I got the best of both worlds here! 
This story follows Antiona 'Toni' Bennett through her journey with her music career. She finds her love of music through her estranged mother. You first meet her as a young teenager and her struggles with neglect/abuse from her parents. As the story goes on you get to watch Toni fall back in love with her childhood friend, Sebastian. 
Watching Toni grow and become even more confident in her career was heartwarming because she was set up to fail at a young age. She has successfully managed to achieve her dreams and then some, as well as see her seem to start connecting with her father (especially towards the end of the story).
I can't wait for Lily #2, even though I felt this ended perfectly for a standalone as well.
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My second book about a rock band in as many weeks.

Antonia "Toni" Bennett is a talented guitarist with an aversion to the limelight. She just dreams of a life behind the scenes as a session musician or running a recording studio. Then she gets an invite to audition for the spot of temporary replacement guitarist for a hot new pop-rock girl group called The Lillys. Their regular guitarist, Candy, has gone off the rails with drinking and drugs and the band is asking her to get sober. Toni lands the gig but it turns out her high school bestie and secret crush Sebastian works with the band. They left off on a bad note when Sebastian disappeared after high school.

What I loved: a strong but kind of shy BIPOC protagonist who is proud but humble. Toni is estranged from her parents but has a small circle of friends who have her back. There are definitely messages of female empowerment in here. And, as always, I love all of the music references. Alternating perspectives between Toni and Sebastian gave us multiple ways of digesting what was going on.

What missed a bit for me: Some of Toni and Sebastian's backstory fell a bit into the "huh" category for me. I was able to get over it and go along for the fun musical ride.

I listened to the audiobook which had different narrators for the parts of Toni and Sebastian. The narrators seemed to have a lot of fun with it.

What to listen to while reading...
Here's a playlist created by the author: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6CA...
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Very entertaining story of a very determined girl. I loved the settings, other characters, and the inside look at the music industry. Very enjoyable!
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This was ok.   It was entertaining but it wasn't something that I just couldn't put down.

Would I read it again? Probably not.
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The Girl With Stars in Her Eyes by Xio Axelrod is such a fun read that really pulled me in! The story follows Toni and Seb, who were once close childhood friends who bonded over music and troubled families. Eight years later, they meet again, each pursuing professional music careers. They reunite when Toni auditions for The Lillys, an all-female rock band, Seb manages. I ended up loving the story and learning about Toni and Seb and their shared history. It was well-paced and I really liked the music plot line. I listened to the audiobook, which was narrated by Tamika Simone and Alexander Cendese. I loved Simone as Toni and thought Cendese was okay as Seb. A perfect beach read and I can’t wait to read the next book in this series! 

Thank you Dreamscape Media and NetGalley for providing this audiobook ARC.
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A ROCK ‘N’ ROLL FAIRYTALE! I was fortunate enough to get to host an IG live with Xio Axelrod, she told me her friend describe the book as a rock ‘n’ roll fairytale so I decided I was going to steal it! It is a perfect description of this fabulous story!A sweet second chance romance set in the music world. Xio’s Love and knowledge of music really came through on the pages of this book. I’d venture to say it was almost a love story to music and the second chance romance took a backseat to that. Toni had a tough childhood, a mother who was obsessed with fame and a father who didn’t know how to deal with a teenage daughter. The one bright spot in her teenage years was her best friend Seb. Seb and Toni shared a passion for music and were planning to get out of the small town where they lived as soon as they could. But then Seb up and left without a word and Toni was left picking up the pieces. Years later Toni is working as a studio musician and performing in small venues when she once again crosses paths with Seb.

   If you love music and love strong female characters then you’re going to love this book! Toni finds herself temporarily filling playing guitar in an all girls band and this was a major focus of the book. This also was probably my favorite part of the story. I really loved the dynamics and banter between the bandmembers. And I am super excited that this is part of a series and all the other band members will be getting their own stories! The audiobook was narrated by Alexander Cendese and Tamika Simone. I loved the dual narration and thought they did A fabulous job. I particularly loved Alexander’s version of Candy’s voice. This was a fabulous story with a lot of heart!

*** Big thank you to Sourcebooks Casa & Dreamscape Media for my gifted copy of this book. All opinions are my own. ***
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I listened to the audiobook version of this book. This is kind of billed as a romance but I would say is more of a contemporary with a heavy romance subplot. It is about the lady main character is a guitarist has been kind of struggling going from gig to gig, having difficulty because the music world is very sexist and racist, and her former childhood friend who ghosted her and left town who is the manager of a about to be very successful girl band, and how they run into each other after a lot of years. And a lot about the running of this band, and how they kick out a member, add a new member the politics and the money and the
managing of an image that goes on around that. And then the romance between these two characters was a big part but there was a lot of band business that took up a lot of it. And I didn't mind because it was a really interesting band and really enjoyable, more found family dynamics. It was an audiobook with two narrators, one for each perspective, and the male narrator, or the narrator for the male character's part, did the women's voices weirdly. It wasn't just a normal falsetto. He made the voices very nasal and gave them a super LA accent, and it made them all sound that stereotype of the shallow caddy woman. Whenever it was his portion he read the main character's voice in a totally different way from the way the her perspective's narrator did it. And I don't know why he was so bad at doing women's voices, and there was no differentiation between the way he did all the voices. Like for one of the characters that voice would have worked but he did it for all of the characters. It kind of pulled me out of it and also made me confused about who was talking. So for this one maybe go for the physical or ebook versions.
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4.5

As a young child, all Antonia "Toni" Bennett knew was the love of music passed down begrudgingly from her mother who, for years, was trying to make it big as a rockstar. When her mother unceremoniously leaves Toni with her father without even a backward glance, Toni comes to the acquaintance of Sebastian Quick. Toni and Sebastian form a fast friendship over both of the love of music. They make a pact to save up enough money to one day leave their small town together. But when Sebastian disappears on Toni, she realizes the only person she can truly count on is herself. 

Now, years later and Toni is scraping by as a solo act in Philadelphia, and sitting in on studio sessions as an extra player when she's able. When she's offered her dream job of buying into one of Philly's most well-regarded recording studios as a partner, Toni almost can't believe her luck, but things come crashing down when she realizes she doesn't have the money to put up for it. When an opportunity arises for Toni to audition for an up and coming female rock band, she's all in. But doing so brings her face to face with Sebastian. She can't let her unresolved feelings for Seb get in the way of her dreams, but there's no denying that there's still so much left between them. 

I have never read anything by Xio Axelrod before, but the whole rock n roll premise of the book hooked me. I wasn't quite as prepared for how much romance would be in the story, so that was an unexpected, happy, surprise as well. 

Getting to listen to the audiobook I always love it when we get dual narrators. In this case we have Tamika Simone narrating for Toni and Alexander Cendese narrating for Seb. I thought both of them did a great job of really making their own characters come to life and almost how seamlessly things moved from one narrator to another (after I got used to both of their voices of course). 

The thing about the book for me is that even though we get Seb's point of view and learn about his life and his feelings, the book still feels dominated by Toni. 

I immediately liked that we actually get to have female characters that are part of a rock group and not relegated to pop or something softer. Not that those are bad things, I just feel like I've read that story before. I enjoyed reading about these women weaving themselves within a male-dominated field of the music industry. I kind of wish the book had touched on this topic a bit more than it did. 

As I said, this is Toni's story, so a lot of it deals with her rise in the music world. How hard she has worked to get where she's at and her complete love for all things music which is helped along by her natural talent. She's still relatively new in the industry and I kind of appreciated the fact that she's in it for more than the fame. She is actually not looking to be famous at all, she genuinely wants to make great music. I loved seeing how the group, The Lillys, comes together and forms this cohesive unit. You can totally feel their vibe, how much coordination and trust has to be between them in order for the music to come through. Within this structure of the group, it's also a time for Toni to become more confident in herself. I mean she knows she can play, but she's never really been given the opportunity to full express herself with her music on her own terms. In getting to the end of the story I like thinking back to where Toni was at the beginning to where she ends up. It's a magical journey. 

And within this journey you have Toni and Seb. I loved all of their interactions and I'm always a sucker for a second chance romance (although there was not really any first time romance as Toni's young feelings for Seb were unknown). They had that bond and Seb broke it. I just glom onto the ideas of people coming back into our lives for a reason. They were meant to be with us in some capacity. 

So while this is definitely Toni's story, there are quite a few threads left open in regards to the other members of The Lillys - specifically Lilly herself whom I hope will be the next book in this series. I cannot wait to spend more time with these women as they take the world by storm!
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3.5 stars

This was fine. Part of me enjoyed being able to hear from both points of view of Tony and Seb, a larger part wishes this was only from Tony's perspective and we got more of her struggle coming up before The Lilys. The flashbacks of the couple during childhood could still have been there to show their dynamic but I don't think Seb's perspective added much to the overall story. 

For how long it was, it moved pretty slow and just had issues with pacing in general. I felt like we were stuck in the first few days of rehearsals for forever and then all of a sudden we were at the showcase. I also think there were some missed opportunities plot wise that could have been interesting to have explored like Tony's estranged mother or her time before The Lilys

ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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At first, this story lost me I didn't care about anything it seems like a girl who just wants to make it big in music and another band needing a fill in the blank here, But it so much more with this story their family, friendship, love and all those things and more. Toni isn't a spoiled rich kid trying to make it she had to earn her way her whole life. Toni is relatable to anyone who has family problems or who is trying to make it from nothing. So with all that said I gave this book 4 stars I enjoyed my listen but it not a new fave and it had a bit of a slow start.
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Antonia "Toni" Bennett has not had an easy path in life, her mom shipped her off to live with her dad so she could chase the elusive fame as a musician.  Her dad wasn't much to her, but at least she found Seb in the little town in Pennsylvania.  They had grand plans to escape their small town life when they got old enough but Seb bailed early and never looked back.

Years later Toni dreams of success in the music industry, behind the scenes.  She never wants to be like her mother, giving it all up to chase the stardom.  However, when she gets the chance to be a partner at a recording studio she will do anything to be able to make that dream come true....even if that means having to work with long-lost Seb once again.

The Lillies are an up and coming girl rock band, the next big thing, and their lead guitarist Candy is on the rocks with her bandmates and a bit of a train wreck.  They need a temporary fill-in to make it to the next stage in their rise to fame.  The band was my favorite part of this book.  The relationships, the camaraderie and the banter were great.

If you like music-centric books this one has a lot of passion for the music.  Everything from auditions to record labels and contracts to the live shows are in the book.  The author, Xio Axelrod, has a background in the industry and it comes through in this book.  

My biggest complaint of this book was the narration on the audiobook.  I adored Tamika Simone as Toni, her voices for other characters were okay.  Alexander Cendese as Seb was something I would pass on in the future, hearing him voice the female characters, especially Candy, was cringeworthy and I found myself not enjoying his chapters in large part due to the narration.  This is one of those books that may be better to read rather than listen to in my opinion.
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I received an audiobook advance copy through NetGalley. The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes is an angsty second chance romance that centers around Antonia Bennett, music and a complicated all female band. As a fan of Daisy Jones and the Six I could not wait to read an other book centered around music and this one delivered on that. The story was vivid and had just the right pace the entire time. The story was told in the point of view of both Antonia and a male who was once very important to Antonia. When it comes to the audiobook unfortunately the male narrator was not the best fit. He weaken the  dialog and did not do the best job of bringing the story to live. In the case of this story I would recommend the book however not the audiobook.
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Antonia ("Toni") has always been alone, with music all she had to keep her company. Living in a small town isn't what Toni wants to do with the rest of her life, so when she meets Sebastian, and they click, it seems like that may just be her ticket out of the small town life. They fast become great friends, and all seems right in Toni's life, until Sebastian becomes an adult and sails off into the sunset without Toni. A few years later, Toni is alone, pursuing her passion for music in Philadelphia, trying to catch her first big break. She auditions to become part of a new popular band, but her ambitions now rest on the whim of none other than Sebastian. Can Toni keep her cool and rise like the star she knows she can be, or will Sebastian tear her heart out once more, just as he did back then in their old small town?

I really enjoyed this book! You could feel the passion and knowledge about music and the love of music throughout the story. I am not a musical expert, but you can tell that the author did a lot of research or has personal musical experience because of the musical nuance found here. The overarching theme of the story is female musicians who are trying to navigate and deal with sexism in a male dominated business. These women want to choose how they are portrayed, but the bean counters want to control their musical careers, showing them off and treating them as if they are candy. They think that their efforts should be about the music itself, and not about being the latest pieces of meat to ogle over.

As for Toni, she is a talented guitarist, basically a prodigy, and is able to play other instruments also. She is fierce, and portrays a very strong and confident attitude to the outside world, but also deals with insecurities and anxieties. When she was younger, her mother sent her to live with her father, an abusive man who she barely knew, and that's why Sebastian's friendship meant the world to her. That's also why, when he left, it shattered her, and now these lingering insecurities are holding her back from her true potential. This is why I love the friendship between Toni and Yvette. When I think of an awesome best friend, it's Yvette, someone who is supportive and encouraging, while at the same time calling you out on your crap when you need to be told some harsh truths. Sometimes we get in our own way, and good friends can help us push through that.

While the primary focus is on Toni and her journey into the music industry, there is some romance. Toni and Sebastian can't help but to rekindle their old friendship, but now that they're older, they feel the rhythm of something more. It's a little clunky, and Toni is right to be a bit leery of Sebastian after he ditched her years ago, but it's nice that they don't let the past control them in the present. In any case, the romance here remains rather tepid, so expect a slow burn with more heart than steam.

I enjoyed this story in audiobook format, and while I enjoyed it, I was not a fan of Sebastian's narrator. I loved Toni's narrator, but I didn't think that Sebastian's narrator had good vocal chemistry with Toni's narrator, and that combined with erratic emotional tone held back the presentation. This was my experience, but aside that, I did enjoy the audiobook. The Girl With Stars in Her Eyes is an engaging, lyrical read about women in the music industry, and one girl's dream to reach for the stars. I recommend it to lovers of music, stories from the small town to the big city, and anybody who's ever had a dream they felt was worth chasing, no matter how far.
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Xio Axelrod is a musician and singer and you can tell--in a good way--when reading The Girl With Stars in Her Eyes. The main character, Toni, is a singer, guitarist, session musician and aspiring producer, but she's been trying to stay out of the spotlight since her mother abandoned her to chase that dream. In a twist of fate, she's reunited with her former best friend and crush, Seb, when the lead singer of the band he's managing, The Lillys, brings her in to temporarily replace a hot mess band member. TGWSIHE is told in dual POV, with Seb and Toni each working through their conflicted relationships with fame and family as they find their way back to each other. It's a little odd that it's in dual POV, however, as so much of the story is about Toni's journey. The romance is definitely there, but I think I would have been disappointed if I hadn't known in advance that it was going to lean a bit more toward commercial fiction than genre romance. PS: If you're looking for high heat, this isn't going to be your jam. I think the first kiss is somewhere around 70% but there are a couple of on-page sex scenes.

For readers who want a story about a Black musician finding success and love with lots of behind-the-scenes music stuff, this will be a winner.

As for comparisons to Daisy Jones & The Six? Sure. Lots of band drama! But this has an HFN/HEA, it's modern and the band is multiracial. So if you weren't into Daisy Jones I encourage you to give this a shot.

Audio Notes: This was a solid audiobook. I recognized the prolific male narrator's voice from several other romance audiobooks and he's not my favorite (sorry to Alexander Cendese, but I'm sure you have many many fans), but Tamika Simone was a good fit for this book. I especially appreciated the way she embraced all the times when Toni is playing or thinking about how to make a song just a bit better. Too much technical speak and jargon can really weigh down a story, but Axelrod and Simone found a balance.

I read a review copy of this audiobook courtesy of the publisher (Dreamscape) via NetGalley.

CW for child neglect, child abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, misogyny, misogynoir
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This was an adorable story! Antonia Bennett “Toni” has always been around the music scene. Early in her life, her mother abandons Toni so she can go off and pursue her musical dreams and attempt at her big break. Instead of this event making Toni into a pushover or a wimpy girl, this made her stronger. I love strong women represented in stories, and this one definitely had it. Toni was a great, she was sure of herself, despite all she had been through while attempting to pursue her dreams. There is a love story sprinkled in throughout but it wasn’t the main focus – which I liked. The writing was easy to follow and kept me engaged. I wanted to keep reading and find out what Toni would do next. I also loved the setting in Philadelphia focusing on Philadelphia’s Indi music scene. It looks like this is the first in a series Lily #1, I can’t wait to find out what happens in Lily #2!
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