Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small (Blog Tour Review + Excerpt)

“Compulsively Readable” The best description I’ve seen so far of this book!

Remember that Natalie Portman movie Black Swan? That was my first glimpse into the intense competition that goes on in the ballet world. Picture that level of competition, obsession, and desire to be the best – but add in being a teenager and dealing with boys? A whole nother level of insecurity, desperation and ambition!

Marine and Kate are among the best of the best at the Paris Opera Ballet School and also the best of friends. Just before they are to embark on their final year – a student is found dead and it leaves them struggling to grapple with the ultimate question: How far would they go to win? To be the best? To be number one?

The competition aspect of this story is INTENSE. Ballet on it’s own is an extreme sport in my opinion – the toll it must take on the mind and the body – is nothing short of extraordinary. Throw in the desire to be the best of the best, and how few make it to the top – and you can imagine the stress and the pressure put on these dancers.

Just reading as each competition and trial and performance for rankings/selections took place had me anxious and on my toes! I was riveted by the process, the fierceness and felt ALL the emotions.

Also throw in the hardest parts of being a teenager – dating boys, agonizing over weight and appearance, and trying to hang on to your best friend, the ONE person who gets you, but is also your rival – this story had me feverishly turning each page to find out where each dramatic twist and turn would take Marine and Kate.

The buildup was extremely exciting – and I felt the pressure along with each character as they pushed themselves to the limit to dance their very best. But for some – these limits may ultimately be sacrifices they’ll have to live with for the rest of their lives.

A riveting story from start to finish!

An lucky you! You can read the first chapter here: Bright Burning Stars_Chapter 1

Many thanks to Algonquin Young Readers and A.K. Small for the opportunity to read and review this book.

The book is available now! And you can grab your own copy here.


  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers (May 21, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616208783
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616208783

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About the book:

Best friends Marine Duval and Kate Sanders have trained at the Paris Opera Ballet School since childhood, where they’ve formed an inseparable bond forged by respective family tragedies and a fierce love for dance. When the body of a student is found in the dorms just before the start of their final year, Marine and Kate begin to ask themselves what they would do to win the ultimate prize: to be the one girl selected to join the Opera’s prestigious corps de ballet. Would they die? Cheat? Seduce the most talented boy in the school, dubbed the Demigod, hoping his magic would make them shine, too? Neither girl is sure.

But then Kate gets closer to the Demigod, even as Marine has begun to capture his heart. And as selection day draws near, the competition—for the prize, for the Demigod—becomes fiercer, and Marine and Kate realize they have everything to lose, including each other.

In Bright Burning Stars, debut author A. K. Small pens a stunning, propulsive story about girls at their physical and emotional extremes, the gutting power of first love, and what it means to fight for your dreams.


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About the author:

Angela Small credit _Becky Thurner BraddockA.K. Small was born in Paris. At five years old, she began studying classical dance with the legendary Max Bozzoni, then later with Daniel Franck and Monique Arabian at the famous Académie Chaptal. At thirteen, she moved to the United States where she danced with the Pacific Northwest Ballet for one summer in Seattle and with the Richmond Ballet Student Company for several years. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary and has an MFA in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts. When she’s not writing, she spends time with her husband, her puppy, and her three daughters, and practices yoga. Bright Burning Stars is her first novel.


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