7 Feb 2022


Its always a honour when an author approaches you to share your thoughts on their novel, that that author should then entrust you with their second novel, well its truly humbling. 

And on that note I'd like to welcome back author Michele Kwasniewski {see my review of her first novel in the Dani Truehart series, Rising Star, here} with my review of her new novel, the second in the Dani Truehart series, Burning Bright.

Fresh off the debut of her EP, sixteen-year-old Dani Truehart is flying high on a string of number one hits. After locking down her first full-length album in record time and furiously preparing for her world tour, Dani is torn between leaving her loved ones behind and embracing her burgeoning stardom.

Dani's fame and fortune explode as her tour moves across the globe. Elated when two of Hollywood's hottest young actors, Kayla Spencer and Trey Connors, befriend her, Dani finds herself living life in the fast lane and recording her second album as she tours. Constantly dogged by the paparazzi, Dani basks in the adoration of The TrueHart Nation, her loyal super-fans who are ready to follow her around the world and go to war with anyone who dares dis their favorite pop star, whom they've dubbed "The Queen of Harts.

"With her ego growing as fast has her fame and fortune, a string of platinum hits and her jealous mother desperate for a piece of her wealth, sixteen-year-old pop sensation Dani Truehart navigates the glamor and perils of stardom as scandal threatens to ruin her and everyone who helped make her a star. ... Back Cover Blurb

I can't believe this is my life! ... First Sentence, Chapter 1

The car stops. Alexi hops out, snappinmg open a large black umbrella. He's joined by several more guards with umbrellas who appear out of nowhere. They create a protective pod for me to step into, shielding me from the flash of cameras, but not the intensity of the deafening screams.

I blindly shuffle as best I can, inching my way through the throng. The whole experience is frightening. I know all these people are here because they love me, but their hysterical screams have me questioning if they want to hug me or rip me apart. The urge to run away is almost primal, and my breath runs ragged as sweat pours down my face. ... Memorable Moment, Pgs 121/22

My Thoughts ... At a push Burning Bright could be read as a standalone novel but, in my opinion, its without a doubt best read after its predecessor, book one in The Dani Truehart series, Rising Star, if you are to get the best out of what is after all the continuing journey of latest teen sensation, Dani Truehart as she sings and dances her way around the globe, learning {and not always the easy way} about herself, her family and friends, love and life along the way.

First met as a fifteen year old on the brink of stardom, in this, the second novel, we get to once again follow the {ever so slightly} older but {not necessarily} wiser sixteen year old Dani whose life is something of a dream come true ... but at what cost?

A life many teenagers dream of, yes, there's the glamour; the clothes, the make-up, the getting to see the world, the heady adulation of fans ... the list goes on but, as Dani comes to learn all too well, there's also the gruelling schedules, the endless hour after hour spent perfecting songs and dance routines, there's the endless travelling, there's the separation from those who truly love and care for you, there's the whole media circus intent on prying into every aspect of your life

Far from portraying what to many teens is the magical life of a singing sensation, the author does an amazing job portraying the realistic 'warts and all' world of a teenager who, her childhood controlled by what I can only describe as her fame hungry, narcissistic mother,  is signed over to a manager/production team, their goal, to make an international star of her. Dani {a character obviously close to the author's heart and one she obviously enjoyed penning} is hugely readable but then as a whole Burning Bright is full of well rounded, memorable characters that I could not do other than invest in.

Looking forward to the next instalment {and not just because of that cliff-hanger ending though, if I'm being totally honest, that in itself would have me scanning online for the next book in the series}, I'm longing to know what life has in store for Dani {and co} next.

About Michele Kwasniewski ... After graduating from Loyola Marymount University with a BA in Technical Theater, Michele Kwasniewski spent over fifteen years in film and television production. Starting out as a film set assistant on movies such as INDEPENDENCE DAY, FACE/OFF, PRIMAL FEAR, and EVITA, she worked her way up to production manager on TV shows including BIG BROTHER, ADOPTION STORIES, EXTRA YARDAGE and MEET THE PANDAS. She is also a proud member of the Producers Guild of America. Michele’s colorful experiences in the industry inspired her to write THE RISE AND FALL OF DANI TRUEHART series. Michele lives in San Clemente, California with her husband, their son, and their disobedient dachshund. RISING STAR is her first novel.

Follow Michele Kwasniewski ... ~ Website ~ Twitter ~ FaceBook ~ Instagram ~


Kelly said...

I'm glad you enjoyed this second novel. You make it sound appealing, just as you did the first book. If this one ends in a cliffhanger, I think I'll waiting until the final book (will it be a trilogy or full-blown series?) before giving it a shot.

nightwingsraven said...

The second book sounds definitely
compelling. With what you said about
Dani and all the other memorable
characters, the teenage perspective of
life, the portrayal of the music
scene or the dark sides of fame.
But I would start with the first book.
And thank you for your enthusiastic
and excellent review.

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

I have read and enjoyed a few YA stories over the years, but I have to say that this probably wouldn't be one of them, which on looking back, is probably why I never left a comment on your review of the first book!

I am so not into the world of pop stardom, or the lifestyle it often engenders, so despite both of your really thoughtful reviews, I'll probably leave this series on the shelf for someone else.

If nothing else, I also dislike cliff hanger endings. Even if a book is part of a series, I like each individual episode to be wrapped up neatly, giving me the option to either read on with the series, or treat a book as a stand alone story.

Thanks for sharing and I hope that all is well with you two :)

Gina said...

Definitely appreciate the note about it being best to start at the beginning...you can lose so much from the experience sometimes! Thanks for sharing!

Literary Feline said...

This sounds really good! My daughter enjoys dance and theater quite a bit and I am always checking in with her to make sure it's something she really wants to do for herself. I don't ever want her to feel pressured by my husband and me. Of course, she's just part of a small studio--nothing fancy or big. I don't know how I would feel about her being in the spotlight. I can't say I would want that for her.

DMS said...

Glad to hear you enjoyed the second book so much. Sounds like the two books are the start to a great series. Thanks for sharing. :)