A review by readclever
The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes, by Xio Axelrod

challenging emotional informative reflective sad tense slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated


What happens when an act of luck brings fame when all a singer wants to do is stay behind-the-scenes?

Antonia "Toni" Bennette is a woman on a mission. Make enough of a name to get steady temp gigs, gain some traction to help create a solid music rep, and avoid the spotlight. Sounds easy, right? Not so much when music industry trauma seeps into every corner of childhood, especially parental abandonment and addiction to fame. I really appreciated that Toni had goals, saved for a future, and wanted to walk that dangerous line. Her arc was pretty captivating.

Sebastian "Quick" Quigley is another character all together. As a love interest, he left a lot to be desired. In the eight years since he abandoned Toni, he began to build an industry name and worked as co-creator of the Lillys. Unfortunately, constant refrains of self-loathing didn't really match up to the clear arc that Toni needed him to be on. I couldn't buy him in the romance.

The book is slow to get into with a lot of backstory in the beginning. Yet the power of an all-woman rock band was very, very intriguing. Most well-known leader singers like Debbie Harry front a band with men. The Runaways with Joan Jett are an exception full of issues and traumas of its own. Riot grrl music of the 90s featured a lot more all-women bands but it's been a minute. And Xio Axelrod knows all this when you read the book. Her knowledge and capital power of the industry and genre are extremely helpful in navigating how the Lillys work together.

Overall, I really enjoyed the parts with the band the most. Felt more organic and genuine than the romance. A better genre fit may have been women's fiction with romance elements. Will I read more in the series? Of course! I enjoyed Axelrod's knowledge and skill. The book just needed more tweaking and some removing/reworking of plot points.

Three stars from me. Thank you NetGalley and Sourcebooks Casabalanca for providing an advanced copy for an honest review.

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