Cover Image: Stars, Hide Your Fires

Stars, Hide Your Fires

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Member Reviews

Yes, it's a Bonnie & Clyde trope in outer space however, it's a SUPER long, drawn out story. I didn't feel like we learned enough about each character, it just jumps in. This one didn't grab me like some other scifi stories have. maybe not enough action for my taste.
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Thank you to Netgalley for providing me an arc in exchange for an honest review. The following opinions are my own.

This book was fast paced and had a lot of action. Which is usually a good thing but I think there could have been moments where it slowed down and developed somethings. I will say I wasn't surprised when the murderer was revealed though. A positive is there is some good LGBTQIA+ representation.  But I didn't really like this book.
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i really really wanted to enjoy this book, the concept sounded great and i love to see more queer scifi. however i felt the story was a bit jumpy all over the place, and the characters sometimes fell a bit flat. however the worldbuilding felt good, and i enjoyed the represntation and exploration of gender
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This fantasy book is action packed, fast paced fun. The twists will keep you guessing who carried out the murder? And a nice bit of romance threads it’s way through the story. Well written, definitely worth a read. Thank you to Quirk books for the ARC. The views expressed are all mine, freely given.
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This is a quick lighthearted read despite it covering some heavy topics, it doesn’t ever make the book depressing to read! It’s a queer murder mystery inspired by Macbeth. I’ll be honest, the main reason I requested this was because I recognised the title as one of my fave Macbeth quotes but the description also intrigued me!

All the characters were fairly likeable which was a surprise. Especially when even the villain was hard to hate aha. Oh and there’s queer rep too!

But it was rlly fast paced & had me hooked from start to finish. I’ll admit I was slightly disappointed that I predicted the killer fairly easily, but I do read A LOT of mystery books so it’s probably more that than poor writing as I rarely get a book I don’t guess correctly now 😅 so yeah I wouldn’t let that fact prevent you from reading it if it sounds like your sorta story!
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The cover instantly drew Me in however the book for me fell slightly flat. I think overall the pacing was way too fast and jumpy that it definitely made it hard to keep up. The characters were mediocre and the ending was poor.
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Reduce Your Expectations to Zero: Stars, Hide Your Fires - An ARC Review

Stars, Hide Your Fires is a charming, feel-good science fiction story featuring a witty thief who finds herself caught up in an intergalactic murder, a political scandal and some fun, rebellious hijinks. Readers follow Cass as she drums up a plan to infiltrate the upcoming emperor’s ball and make away with as much riches as she can to make a better life for herself, her father and her found family of market vendors and band of miscreants. Along the way, she encounters Amaris, a rebel operative on a mission, who will allow nothing to stand in her way. 

Plot, Prose and Pacing: Great Plot, Poorly Paced

Stars, Hide Your Fires definitely oversold itself when it was marketed as Knives Out-inspired sci-fi. It has all of the charm and atmosphere but lacks the intricate details and inter-woven clues that makes a mystery so fun to solve. It follows more of Cass and Amaris as they find themselves in various hilarious situations as they try to solve the emperor’s murder all the while Stars, Hide Your Fires tries to push the Cassaris ship. In fact, you could say that it is a romance disguising itself as a sci-fi mystery and I wish the marketing had been more forthcoming about it.

And, this is made much more obvious due to the pacing. It is so fast-paced! Readers jump from moment to moment without any time to care about the characters and the plot. It worked in the beginning and I liked that there wasn’t a slow build up, typical of the sci-fi genre but once it hit the main plot, it went full speed all the way. This meant that there was a lot of superficiality in the details. The stakes felt almost comical, despite there being the threat of death and arrests, and problems were resolved too quickly. Honestly, it felt like a kid’s cartoon episode with the plot introduced and issue resolved in under thirty minutes. 

Characters: Needs More Room to Grow

Stars, Hide Your Fires’ does a disservice to its characters. We barely touch the surface of who these characters are, causing them to fall easily and get trapped in basic tropes. For example, Cass and Amaris can be classified as your classic grumpy-sunshine pairing. While it’s a fun and charming trope, it doesn’t quite work for me because the trope is so obvious and the characters are basically playing a role.

On the other hand, I rather liked our main characters as individuals and I wish they were given more space to grow and learn about themselves, their purpose and be more than just a trope pairing. Cass is an absolute darling! I don’t think she’s a character you can hate at all, mostly because she’s so full of heart. There’s something so wonderfully righteous yet naive about Cass’ character. Her heart is in all the right places but she’s just a little too dense which is perfect for a fun, science fiction read. I love how warm and at home she is with her little crew back at home.

Amaris, on the other hand, doesn’t quite stick out as much to me only because I feel we don’t get enough backstory of her as a person for me to know her ins and outs. But, that’s just me. And because she’s the grumpy part of the pairing, it’s a little hard for her to open up on page and to Cass. But I did love the bits about the rebellion and how she also has her own crew.

There are also a couple of interesting and charming side characters that weren’t quite expanded upon. It has all the makings and cast of a space epic.

Worldbuilding: Lacks Substance and Commitment to the Genre

Yet, Stars, Hide Your Fires remains solidly as a romance set in space. I definitely prefer my science fiction books more serious and this is typical of the YA genre. It’s very charming and fun, entertaining in a light-hearted way but hardly stands up to a lot of the more detailed science fiction works appearing on the YA market. If you’re looking for a space epic, don’t expect a fully-fleshed out interplanetary space adventure or interesting science fiction elements. I appreciated the futuristic and egalitarian take on gender and sexuality but I could not keep up with the multiple pendants and chains system and I’m not familiar enough with modern usages of pronouns and sub-pronouns. 

Ultimately, a lot of the science fiction elements were not unique to the world introduced by Stars, Hide Your Fires. I felt that the book merely took the concept of science fiction as a setting rather than a new world to be introduced. There are clones, some fun gadgetry but a lot of it doesn’t quite go in-depth. Readers are expected to know that yes, the book is set in space, there are some intergalactic people, some spaceships, energy doors etc. 

Did I Enjoy It: Conclusion

Stars, Hide Your Fires has a fantastic idea within its pages. I loved the entirety of the plot, the characters and the world introduced. It’s not the most unique story ever told but it has good bones. I just wished the author had taken their time to really develop the entire story. This is one instance where I will say that it could have been split into a duology or a trilogy.
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An interesting premise, but ultimately the novel is bogged down by underdeveloped characters and a barely coherent plot that jolts from event to event. A confusing read that was difficult to follow.
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Cass has a simple plan: arrive at the emperor's ball and steal from the wealthy to help herself and her sick father,  and quirky crew.   Cass becomes a suspect in the emperor's death and she must join forces with unlikely allies.  I enjoyed the dialogue and the plot in this novel.
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Thank you Netgalley and Quirk Books for providing me with an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

Jessica Best created one of my favorite podcasts, "The Strange Case of Starship Iris," so when I saw that she had also written a book, I was very excited to read it. Additionally, the fact that it was a mystery set in space with a sapphic romance was just wonderful to me, and in this it did not disappoint. It is an fun book, very quick to read and that immerses you in discovering the enigma that surrounds the story. I loved the two female leads and how their relationship grew throughout the novel.
On the other hand, I would have liked a greater development in terms of the other characters, because they felt somewhat flat and I wasn't really able to connect with them. I also think that the execution of the plot was too fast in certain aspects and did not allow the information to be processed, for example regarding the world in which the story is set.
Still, I really enjoyed it and I think there is potential for a sequel and hopefully see more of this universe.
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The book in question is set in a world where politics plays a significant role in the plot. While the idea may be intriguing for some, I personally had difficulties understanding the details and world-building the author tried to present.

Despite the author's efforts to describe different groups of characters and their backgrounds, I found it hard to follow the information and struggled to have a clear picture of the setting and people. I think my problem was that the author always ended chapters with something super dramatic that intrigued you to read the next chapter, but in reality, I found it boring to read.

However, it is important to note that taste in literature is subjective and what may not be appealing to some, may be fascinating to others. The book cover made me think it would be an entertaining read, but my experience was different.

Overall, if you enjoy complex stories with a political plot, this book may be suitable for you. If, on the other hand, you prefer a simpler read, this may not be the book for you.
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I can't say that I was a huge fan of this book. I think it was mostly the writing style--everything felt so rushed and some of the characterization was contradictory. Cass is described as "an expert thief from a minor moon", but in the first like 20 pages she misses a watch being a forgery. This isn't a huge deal but I do wish that her characterization was different. I also think that the pacing of this book was too fast. It felt like I didn't have enough time to truly know or understand the characters or their possible motivations. The setting, though, I do feel was pretty adequately described. I think that the mystery/killer aspect of this book was also....maybe too heavy-handed? It was pretty easy to guess whodunnit, pretty early in the story. 
One random gripe, too, is that I wish the author had leaned more into jewelry or something as a way to show how someone identified. In the very beginning of the story, Jax is wearing a blue bolt on a necklace to show that they're non-binary, which was pretty interesting, but then that's coupled with....tonal words? In English? Multiple times someone is said to have said "me" or "I" in the second or fourth conditions? To Indicate that they're female or non-binary or what have you. But, that just jarred me out of the story each time. It's not a great way to work gender identity into the story, imo, because it *requires* the author to say "they said [insert pronoun] in this condition to indicate xyz" (because this isn't a verbal medium) instead of like "they're wearing two red stones about their necklace" or "he's sporting a bright green stone around his neck". Idk, something that could be woven into the story better. English (the language that this is written is) also isn't really tonal (outside of certain memes, sometimes?). So, if that's...what the author meant by conditions and having Cass mimic the way the speaking character was saying the pronoun (so that the author had a reason to describe it), I think that is going to be lost on a lot of people. 

Overall, this was okay. I love love loved the idea for this book (Knives Out in space? Sign me the heck up) but the execution was just too surface level. I wanted more time to get to know the characters and the world, and I wish that the mystery was a little more subtle. I would definitely check out more by this author, though!
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well that was fun! if you're looking for a fast-paced, quick & easy, fun read, this is the book for you! i read it in one go and i enjoyed it very much. is this the greatest book? no. there aren't a lot of space for characters/relationships development and wordbuilding and the murderer was easy to guess BUT it was perfect for me when i read it. i plunged into it and enjoyed myself very much with the story and the characters, but it will probably not remind in my mind for a long time. so if you're looking for something fun and not intellectual at all (i do love to just Not Think sometimes) i think you will enjoy this book as i did.
(also! queer-normative space world!! love to see it)
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This was so fun! Sci-fi and mystery go so so well together, and Jessica Best fully delivered with this one. I thought the mystery was well-executed with a very satisfying ending. Cannot recommend this enough!
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1.5 Stars

'Stars, Hide Your Fires' is about a thief named Cass who lives on an impoverished moon named Sarn. Desperate to find a way to help her ill father, Cass plans to sneak into the emperor's ball. All of the richest people will be under one roof, which makes it the perfect opportunity for Cass to pick-pocket enough jewellery to change her life. Things don't go exactly to plan, however, as the emperor is killed - and Cass is the one the murderer is trying to frame. In order to clear her name, Cass must work with Amaris, a rebel operative who has her own reasons to want to solve the murder- but when it comes down to it, can Cass trust Amaris to keep her safe?

I never thought I would write this in a review, but my biggest issue with this book is that it was just too fast-paced. At first I thought this was a bonus, since we got into the action pretty much from the get-go, but then it just never stopped. With one thing happening right after another, we never got a break - we never got a moment to care about the characters or the plot. Also, even though there was always so much happening, the stakes never seemed particularly high, despite the characters facing the risk of death - and that's because whenever there were obstacles (and sometimes there weren't), they were always overcome without too much of a struggle.

The reveal of the murderer was both a surprise and not, but it still fooled me into thinking that the ending could be interesting. Instead, we, once again, hurtled through everything at break-neck speed just for things to be resolved because we wanted it to be - not because it was the logical conclusion based on the events that occurred. It seemed as if the author didn't know how to properly tie up all the loose ends in a way that made sense, so she just took the easy way out and didn't? I know this is vague, but saying more would be spoiling it.

The politics of this world play a considerable role in this book - but I didn't mention it in my synopsis at the start because, to put it simply, I don't understand it. Just like everything else in this book, I could not keep up with the worldbuilding info-dumping , so I simply have no real grasp on the settings or people. There are a few different groups of people mentioned in this book, and I assume that they're from different planets in a single galaxy, but I can't be too sure. I also have no idea what anyone is supposed to look like - which is fine, since I tend to picture characters however I want to anyway.

As I briefly mentioned before, I don't care about the characters. The ship feels very formulaic to me (one "silly" girl + one "serious" girl + "banter" = good ship?), and this probably arises from the fact that the characters lack any real depth. I can only think of one moment where I felt a modicum of emotion for anyone, which is what really doomed this book in my opinion.

One thing I think this book does do well is the representation. The fact that the characters are LGBTQ+ is not a big deal, which makes it feel less contrived. That being said, if you wanted to read a book for the rep, I feel like there are better books out there.

Overall, I really didn't enjoy this - but since it didn't actually make my blood boil, it doesn't get a lower rating.
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I received this ARC from NetGalley and Quirk Books. It was billed as Queer Knives Out in space. Knives Out is one of my favorite movies so I was really excited. This was fine but didn’t quite do it for me. I was able to guess the killer pretty quickly and it wasn’t nearly queer enough. I guess it’s YA but it still could have been a bit more overt. It’s worth the read but I wouldn’t re-read it. 

Thanks to Quirk Books and NetGalley for the copy.
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Loved this book!  A great cast of characters and fast-paced action.  So many fantasies and science fiction books that come across my desk lately are heavily descriptive in place and setting, and I appreciate that this one felt like "jumping right in"..I was thinking this story was giving me "Knives Out" vibes, and when I went back and checked the description, that's what it said!  I would add that I also got CInder (M. Meyer) vibes, which is never a bad thing.
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We begin with an impoverished pickpocket who lives with her family on the wrong side of the universe. Once she's come up with a plan for a quality heist, the action begins. There are disguises, chance meetings, murder, and intrigue. You'll probably guess who the murderer is pretty quickly, but the book is still a fun romp with a hint of sweet romance.
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Thank you for the digital review copy, Quirk Books.

In spite of the Knives Out comparison (I loathed that movie and the way it was both original and banal), I actually enjoyed Best's mystery novel. Definitely worth the read.
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I have no doubt this will be a beloved YA story. I just found the writing to YA for me. Everything happened very quickly and it was throwing me off which is a common occirsnce in a lot of YA. So it's purely a me problem and nothing with the actual writing or story.
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