Author: Jenn Bennett
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication date: April 16, 2019
Source: ARC from Simon & Schuster Canada (thank you!)
Buy It: Indigo.ca | Amazon.com | The Book Depository | iBooks
After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately.
Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.
In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.
To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.
Review: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett
Serious Moonlight was a very cute romance with a lot of hidden depths from the wonderful Jenn Bennett. This is my second Jenn Bennett book – the first was Alex, Approximately, which I absolutely loved. Compared to that book, this one was enjoyable, but a bit scattered.
Birdie Lindberg is a sheltered 17 year old who is obsessed with mysteries and who is dealing with a lot of complex feelings about her family. Her mother passed away ten years ago, she’s lived with her grandparents ever since, and they had a lot of rules – mainly her grandmother, who home-schooled her and basically forbade her to have friends, date, or really, see anyone other than her godmother, the flamboyant artist Mona.
Now, her grandmother has passed away as well, and Birdie has completed high school. She’s starting her first job at the Cascadia, a vintage boutique hotel in downtown Seattle, and is both excited and terrified to break free. This is all exacerbated by an encounter she had with a stranger at her favorite cafe, the Moonlight Diner. In her excitement over possibly getting a job, she opened up to a cute boy, and they ended up sleeping together in his car – and then Birdie ran away.
So imagine Birdie’s surprise when it turns out they’re working together at the Cascadia, and she has to face up to her possible feelings for Daniel. It’s especially important since Daniel has uncovered a mystery at the Cascadia – one that he’s invited Birdie to help him solve – and she can’t resist his charm or the lure of the case.
I enjoyed Serious Moonlight a lot. The writing was compelling, the setting of Seattle was captivating, and Jenn has a way of bringing in her vintage sensibilities to her characters without them seeming old. Between Birdie’s obsession with cozy mysteries, her flower in her hair to emulate Billie Holiday, her godmother’s costume-y style, and Daniel’s love of magic, there’s just a real feeling of an old curiosity shop in this book. I loved the style of the book, and the writing and dialogue really reflected this cute, old-timey vibe. Birdie lives in an old house on Bainbridge Island, which is a ferry ride across to Seattle, and that ferry also adds to the quaintness of the book. It’s all very twee and sweet and you think this is just going to be an adorable book, but both characters are hiding a lot.
What was missing in this book was a tighter throughline. There are individual pieces that really worked, like Birdie’s grief and complex feelings for her family, and her slow burn attraction to Daniel. Without a doubt, the best part of this book was the relationship between Daniel and Birdie, and the honest, sex-positive conversations they have. I also loved Birdie’s relationship with her godmother – it was very Gilmore Girls-ish, and I liked how much Mona was both a guardian and a friend to her.
Meanwhile, Daniel is sort of half manic pixie dream boy (he’s ALWAYS available), and half really complex character with his own issues of grief, loss, and finding himself. His family life is also really interesting. Taken as pieces, the book is good, but somehow, they weren’t quite tied together right. One thing didn’t seem to flow into another. I couldn’t tell whether I was reading a book about sex positivity, about mysteries, or about grief. I think Jenn Bennett was trying to pull off a misdirection with the layers of the actual mystery covering up the true issue – the characters trying to understand each other – but it never felt like it went far enough. The themes just seemed muddy.
I think the main issue with this book is that Birdie’s sexual escapades with Daniel in his car – happens off-camera. We don’t get to see it happen at all, and we can’t picture it of the shy, awkward Birdie. The book never really shows us how Birdie managed to bring herself to sleep with Daniel, and you don’t expect it of the respectful Daniel, who is all about consent and patiently waiting for Birdie. It’s completely out of character and we’re left questioning how it even happened. And it’s what’s holding Birdie back for at least half the book!
That said, it’s hard to say I didn’t enjoy Serious Moonlight. I did. I definitely fell for Birdie and Daniel, and even though I’m not super into mysteries, the characters were full of depth, and I appreciated that this was a YA contemporary with a really unique style. Is it my favorite Jenn Bennett? Nope, but that’s not to say it’s not worth reading. A library read for sure.You'd Be Mine
Author: Erin Hahn
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: April 2, 2019
Format: eARC from publisher (thank you!)
Buy It: Indigo.ca | The Book Depository | iBooks | Google Books
"If you’re still obsessing over A Star Is Born (because, same) you’ll love this new romance novel by Erin Hahn." - Cosmopolitan
Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things.
But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic death, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen.
Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk.
Erin Hahn’s thrilling debut, You’d Be Mine, asks: can the right song and the perfect summer on the road make two broken hearts whole?
"Witty and charming, with an off-the-charts, irresistible blend of romance, humor, and characters who steal your heart from page one. Erin Hahn is an author to watch." - Karen M. McManus, New York Times bestselling author of One of Us Is Lying
Review: You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn
I wanted to like You’d Be Mine so much more than I did. It has a lot to like about it – compulsively readable prose, a group of characters that are both fun and take care of each other, and the perfect concept – a country music tour with a headliner who’s a cocky charmer and a opening band with country royalty who has real, raw talent. I really did like Clay and Annie together and I enjoyed the cute moments of this book, from their best friends getting together, to the camaraderie they create on tour.
I think the issue is that You’d Be Mine is YA that reads like a New Adult book – full of angst and dark emotion – but you never get the payoff of an NA with the romance. I wanted it to go a lot further than it did physically, and I also wanted the romance to feel as intense and passionate as the rest of the book does with its themes of abandonment, death, and grief. It just…never really rang as true with the romance as it did with the grief, and that’s where it failed. But for a quick, addictive read, it was enjoyable and full of country music call outs. A decent summer book for people looking for the intensity of new adult without the sexuality of it.Opposite of Always
Author: Justin A. Reynolds
Publication date: March 5, 2019
Source: ARC from Harper Collins Canada (thank you!)
Buy It: Indigo.ca | Amazon.com | The Book Depository | iBooks
“One of the best love stories I’ve ever read.” —Angie Thomas, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Hate U Give
“Read this one, reread it, and then hug it to your chest.” —Becky Albertalli, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Debut author Justin A. Reynolds delivers a hilarious and heartfelt novel about the choices we make, the people we choose, and the moments that make a life worth reliving. Perfect for fans of Nicola Yoon and John Green.
When Jack and Kate meet at a party, bonding until sunrise over their mutual love of Froot Loops and their favorite flicks, Jack knows he’s falling—hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends, Jillian and Franny, and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack.
But then Kate dies. And their story should end there.
Yet Kate’s death sends Jack back to the beginning, the moment they first meet, and Kate’s there again. Healthy, happy, and charming as ever. Jack isn’t sure if he’s losing his mind.
Still, if he has a chance to prevent Kate’s death, he’ll take it. Even if that means believing in time travel. However, Jack will learn that his actions are not without consequences. And when one choice turns deadly for someone else close to him, he has to figure out what he’s willing to do to save the people he loves.
Review: Opposite of Always by Justin A Reynolds
Opposite of Always BADLY needed an edit. It’s a time travel romance featuring Jack, a chronic nice guy who never really wins – but did win when he got to date Kate. Except that Kate is sick and dies. And then Jack goes back in time to when they first met and it all starts over again, Groundhog-Day style.
Wow, was this one long. Every time I thought Opposite of Always was ending, we got another iteration. I was this close to not finishing. But apparently I’m a glutton for punishment because I kind of liked the characters, even though the situations got more and more intolerable with each iteration. Kate and Jack were cute together, even though Jack made some pretty silly mistakes. I also really liked Jack’s friends and his parents. Seriously, this book gets an extra star for somehow having decent characters, strong diverse rep, and yet…I just didn’t care by the fourth iteration. I skimmed the last two iterations and almost threw the book across the room at the final one, the one that was supposed to make me see how it all turns out…and then, for me, the author just basically phoned it in.
I don’t want to give anything else away, but this is definitely a library read if you choose to read it – and get ready for a very, very long ride.
Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett, You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn, and Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds are out in bookstores now. Have you guys read any of these recent releases? Thoughts? Good/bad/indifferent? Always dying to hear other opinions and chat!