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Star-crossed by Minnie Darke Preview Reviews

March 22, 2019

Our latest Preview title is Star-crossed by Minnie Darke. In this sparkling romantic comedy, a young journalist tampers with her magazine’s horoscopes to win her friend’s heart – and sets in motion an unpredictable and often hilarious ripple effect…

‘I’m not a believer in astrology at all, the concept seems incredibly nonsensical tome, but so are a great many things that humans believe in, so never mind. That being said, this never requires you to believe, just to understand and accept that some people do. The characters took a bit of bedding in for me, there was a lot of waiting to recognise names and personalities and working out who was going to be important but that settled down after a wee while and I found the main characters especially relatable and loveable and fun to spend time with. I did finally come around to thinking “does it really matter” if characters believed in astrology but I struggled with the sheer number of people that seemed to know vast amounts about astrology as nobody I know could pick the order of the zodiac, never mind ascribe personality traits to each sign. In the end, a decent, fun love story, possibly a bit crowded with extraneous characters but an enjoyable way to pass the time.’ – Richard, VIC

‘Star-crossed by Minnie Darke is a delightful and poignant romantic-comedy about the power of horoscopes. Justine, a Sagittarius with Virgo-rising, is an astrological naysayer who finds herself in charge of the horoscope section of her local newspaper The Alexandria Park Star, when she unexpectedly runs into Nick, her childhood crush, and avid horoscope-believer (a typical Aquarian). What follows is an entertaining and ever-more chaotic cascade of events as Justine’s efforts to influence Nick not only make her own life spiral in unexpected ways, but also ripple out to impact an ever-growing circle of strangers throughout the town. Darke’s leads Justine and Nick are sweet and charming, their faults making them ever-more endearing to the reader. Justine is a particularly delightful character, a rampant grammar-correcting pixie in vintage clothing who can recite from heart all the classics and yet cannot express to Nick her true feelings. Darke’s vignettes of various townspeople within the greater Alexandria Park region are sometimes touching, often hilarious and always entertaining. The prose is light and decorative, bringing the book to life with vivid descriptions of all the colourful people (and dogs) of the town. Star Crossed is a magical and addictive novel about the inexorable connection between people and the effervescent power of dreams.’ – Eloise, NSW

‘What a fantastic read! I loved the way that Minnie was able to weave the characters of Justine and Nick alongside the ‘Cusp’ chapters which introduced the reader to other standalone characters which in the end seem to blend together. At first I was not sure how I would go reading about Astrology, but the more I read the more I loved finding out about all the star signs. I cannot say enough about how much I loved this book except to say that I am in the process of purchasing Danielle Wood’s novels aka Minnie Darkes’ alias. Loved her storytelling and rhythm.’ – Katarzyna, VIC

‘Right from the start the characters took me by the hand and led me into a charming and whimsical story and as the tale unfolded my imagination was grabbed and held by the plot and characters that brought the story to life in a very vivid way and held my attention to the very last page.’ Rosanne, VIC

‘“Star-crossed” is a cleverly constructed novel, with many subtle connections between characters. And it’s glorious. Emotionally wise, very funny, and very relatable. Regardless of whether you believe in astrology or not, you’re likely to enjoy this novel. It’s a light and easy read despite the often serious subject matter, and great fun to read. The main characters are highly relatable and empathetic. Justine and Nick are both trying to make their marks in their careers; Justine with more success than Nick. She doesn’t believe in astrology and he does – he guides his life by the astrology column in the magazine Justine works for. Justine is more than a little attracted to Nick, but needs to get his attention. And so she begins to tinker with the horoscopes… just a little… Darke depicts quite a number of characters whose lives are affected by Justine’s tinkering. Most of them Justine doesn’t know directly; the subtle connections between them were one of the delights of this novel for me. While this is an amusing novel, it’s also one that cares about its characters. Darke isn’t truly unkind about anyone. I really loved this novel; it’s one of the most enjoyable I’ve read recently.’ – Lorraine, ACT

‘This is a great summer beach read. The characters are funny and relatable. If you’re looking for a book to make you smile this is the one :)’ – Amy, VIC

‘Star Crossed by Minnie Darke has a very engaging opening chapter leaving the reader wanting more. Following the star signs for a year the lives of principle characters Justine Carmichael, Sagittarius and cadet journalist, and Nick Jordan, Aquarius and promising actor, unfold. Having been childhood friends and a one night romance as fourteen year olds, they reconnect when they accidentally meet in the city. Soon Nick is living in an adjacent apartment block and their comfortable friendship resumes. Justine having earned a promotion at the local magazine finds herself editing the horoscope for printing. This is too much of a temptation for her and she starts to alter the stars for Aquarians to help nick make the right decisions re his acting and romantic life. This has unintentional consequences for those Aquarians who regularly read the stars and also for nick who doesn’t necessarily read into what Justine had intended. The result is humorous and downright hilarious when Nick finds himself in the middle of Shakespeare in the Park. The characters are interesting and well developed and the plot is well crafted. Although I don’t read the stars I found the use of the star signs as breaks in the story worked really well. You do not need to be into astrology to enjoy this book. This is an amusing, entertaining novel that I recommend to all. It is easy to read and holds the readers interest throughout the entire story.’ – Annette, ACT

‘What a fantastic story! The story of Justine and Nick is a romantic comedy influenced by the stars. This is such a fun, unpredictable story to follow along with, always needing to read on to find out what is going to happen next. Not only do we fall for the main characters, but there is an added bonus of getting to meet all the other Aquarians. I would highly recommend this book!’ – Daneka, QLD

‘I have totally enjoyed reading Star-Crossed. Although I don’t follow astrology I have thoroughly enjoyed discovering how people include it into their lives. I have enjoyed following the characters and seeing how their lives are entwined. There were several times when reading that I had to find out what was going to happen next. I would recommend this book and look forward to reading more from Minnie Darke.’ – Therese, NSW

‘Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Edenvale where we lay our scene. Star Crossed lets us escape into a world that could be that of any of us. The hero of the day is Brown Houdini- Malarky, and his mischievous ways of defying death, only to help the stars align in perfect symmetry.’ – Maryanne, NSW

‘I absolutely loved reading ‘Star Crossed’ by Minnie Darke. A charming rom com, set in our own Australia. I fell in love with the novels main character, Justine Carmichael, from the beginning, but truly found a sweet spot for her meddling ways and oblivious lack of consideration for other Aquarians, except her childhood crush, Nick Jordan. Minnie’s crafty way with words made this a delightful easy read, which I did not want to put down. I enjoyed being a part of not only Justine’s personal and professional journeys, but also Nick’s too. Either, if not both, could be living next door to any of us!’ – Rebecca, TAS

‘With a copy of “Star Crossed” in your hands, Minnie Darke has given you the opportunity to while away a glorious weekend with a smile permanently affixed to your face. So grab yourself a cuppa, curl up and enjoy. I’ll admit when I first started I was a little frustrated with the seemingly endless new strings being added to the main plot, and just when we thought we’d settled again with Justine in her next quest, we’d meet another person whose future may or may not have been influenced in some small way by Justine’s various well intentioned actions. So persevere, keep turning those pages and the only sad thing you will find is that alas you’ve come to the end, and you can sit and watch all those strings that had been floating off amongst the stars will mysteriously entwine with sometimes the most delightful results.’ – Jane, NSW

‘Meet Nick Jordan, Aquarius, budding actor and boyfriend of law graduate and model Laura Mitchell. Justine Carmichael, Stagittarian, budding journalist and single. Brown Houdini-Malarky, cusp, street-smart rebel and a loner. Minnie Darke’s ‘Star-crossed’ is a delightful Australian tale of friendship, love and rejection, dirty deeds and mixed messages. She weaves her way through modern Sydney-town with an entourage of likeable supporting characters including astrologer Davina Devine, singer Blessed Jones, florist Fern Emerson, retired grandmother-in-waiting Patricia O’Hare and even grumpy old Len Magellan. Meander your way through markets and magazines, Shakespeare and op-shops, and a variety of ‘homes’ and even have a naughty little eaves-drop into the main character’s internal dialogue. A fun read, and I challenge you to pick only one favourite in this tale of star-crossed lives!’ – Amanda, SA

‘I was excited to receive this book but was a bit frustrated with the way it flowed. The side stories made it hard for me to follow, especially as I found this wasn’t a book that I wanted to sit and read in one go. Aside from that though, it was a lovely rom-com style novel and it all came together nicely in the end and it was easy for me to read a little bit here and there. The writing is easy to follow and the characters (while frustrating at the time – but that shows how good the writing is) are relatable. Definitely worth a read!’ – Natalie, VIC

‘Star Crossed is a modern day romance relatable to us all…it follows the life of Justine Carmichael, an aspiring young journalist for the Alexandria Park Star, who by chance bumps into her childhood sweetheart, Nick Jordan, an aspiring albeit struggling actor. Nick (Aquarius) is a devoted astrology follower who makes life decisions based on the newspaper’s regular horoscopes and Justine is suddenly given an opportunity to tinker with the horoscopes in an attempt to sway Nick towards her. However Nick is not the only Aquarius making life decisions on the horoscopes with many comical sub-stories all interwoven in some way and decisions being made based on Justine’s altered horoscopes. Star-Crossed is a light hearted and refreshing romance which reminds us that life and love will find their own way no matter how messy it can sometimes become. This is a book that keeps you smiling throughout and one to have in your tote bag for the holidays, in your handbag to read on the train going to work or to enjoy on a lazy Sunday at home.’ – Trina, NSW

‘Warm, light-hearted, charming. Minnie Darke’s first fiction novel takes you back to that first childhood love gone astray. With its interwoven themes, reminiscent of ‘Love Actually’, Star-Crossed takes its audience on a journey that many can relate to. Although at times predictable, the story line brings together many unforgettable characters, from the daydreaming diviner to the telepathic stray dog. Star-Crossed is ultimately a feel good novel. Justine, our central heroine, resonates with fans of ‘Offspring’, with her internal dialogue and her thoughts. You find yourself at times cringing at Justine’s decisions, particularly the decision to mess with the horoscopes, while still rooting for the introverted lead character, and hoping that everything will work out for her in the end. Whether or not you are a believer in the fortune telling of astrology, many will have wanted to change their stars at some point! Although we love Justine, there are times where her lack of empathy for those who are wholly invested in their stars, shows her to be a little selfish, as we go on a journey through the lives of others affected by her meddling. Will the star-crossed lovers find their way through the external forces that be?’ – Brooke, VIC

‘Star-crossed is an entertaining Aussie novel. The main character, Justine, is likeable and as a reader we are drawn into her story & her quest for love & career success. Justine’s childhood crush remains strong; my hairdresser recently suggested I look up a childhood crush on Facebook and be shocked at the result (side note, my GOD she was right!). Star-Crossed keeps the childhood crush alive! It’s an easy, feel good read, and if you’re into astrology, this is the book for you! Light entertainment at its best, a great holiday read! Were the stars right? Or did Justine tweak them just that little too much and Captain Karma paid her a visit? It’s written in the stars!’ – Jacinta, NSW

‘Star Crossed by Minnie Darke was for me a fabulous read with lots of things going for it. First and foremost it was soooo Australian and so quintessentially so – but from such a different angle. Using star signs as the base line for each individual instead of what they do, where they work, who they are, was so refreshing and made (for me anyway) the pace fast and edgy as you just had to know what was going to happen next. Minnie Darke just hit the spot because don’t we all manipulate to a degree all of our relationships. And it was so FRESH and the Aussie humour just shone through. We all have a story to tell of wanting loving rejections and blowing it with the wrong words, actions, and advice, and Justine just grabs her opportunity and goes with it. I loved the support characters as they moved through all their ups and downs ALL because of the stars and even though you may sometimes miss a few pages in a book because you know how it is going to end, for me there was no time to think about that because with all the machinations going on I was engrossed and laughing all the way through! It is certainly written in the stars that this book will be a hit. Thank you for giving me the chance for my first review. I asked for it because of the title, as my maiden name was Starr and I was curious and I am glad I did because it was truly a rom com romp.’ – Natalie, QLD

‘As a lover of star signs, I couldn’t help but be drawn to this gorgeous story. The first chapter draws you in perfectly and keeps hold from then on (friendly tip: don’t start this as a bedtime read). Darke paints her leading characters beautifully and doesn’t let you down on the surrounding characters. Every character has such a strong personality and not one is wasted. A clever and refreshing addition to the chick-lit genre! Can’t wait for more from this Australian author.’ – Emma, VIC

‘My favourite type of story is one where the characters are so interwoven, you don’t know what’s coming next. This gorgeous story weaves the characters into each other’s lives so seamlessly, giving you the opportunity to really get to know each of them. As an Aquarian, I was fascinated with each new horoscope and learnt a thing or two about my own character. The main character, Justine, is a strong lady (lives on her own, has career goals, loves her family and friends) who is far from perfect, but it was refreshing to know that she wasn’t a damsel in distress, or a ‘Bridget Jones’ type figure. She’s not the ‘need a man’ type – but she knows how to go after what she wants. Minnie Darke is very talented and restores my faith in Australian writers – what she does better than some of the others is she writes long sentences. A strange observation but one that meant so much to me – I’d recently read another Australian female writer and my problem with her writing was it was short and juvenile. Minnie is in another realm. I will definitely be adding Minnie Darke to my list of favourite writers.’ – Nicole, NSW

‘“Star-crossed”, by Minnie Darke, is based around the question of how much of our lives is determined by fate. The book follows the journey of one central character, Justine, a journalist who tempts fate in the interests of romance, but also introduces us to a wide range of other individuals. There is a danger that a novel with many characters will be convoluted and irritating for the reader to follow, but Minnie Darke beautifully weaves together the various narratives, leading to lightbulb moments as the pieces of the jigsaw fall into place. I began reading “Star-crossed” with the expectation of a light and easy reading experience. The book delivered in this respect, but also provided so much more. “Star-crossed” is engaging, entertaining and somewhat quirky, but I also found myself pondering some of the deeper mysteries of life. Just how much of our journey is pre-determined? Can we change our destiny? “Star-crossed” was a wonderful and surprising find, a gem of a book, with relatable characters, for whom I truly cared. This book really did capture my heart and imagination.’ – Alison, QLD


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