2019 FAVORITE READ: Serious Moonlight Review & Inspired Recipe

36511805._UY2114_SS2114_Summary (from the publisher): 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.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts: 

Between Alex, Approximately and Starry Eyes, Jenn Bennett stole my contemporary-loving heart in 2018. Her latest novel, Serious Moonlight, is and now was my most anticipated release of 2019, thanks to its swoon-worthy synopsis. Swoon-worthy for the romance, and swoon-worthy for the fact that this book follows a mystery book-loving girl working in a hotel and trying to solve a mystery with her swoon-worthy co-worker. So basically any (okay, my) fangirl’s dreams!

It may be no surprise, but I seriously adored Serious Moonlight. I loved just about every element in this book. From the atmospheric setting to the relatable characters to the romance, Serious Moonlight is a new favorite read of mine.

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Serious Moonlight is set in Seattle. While I plan on travelling to the West Coast one day, this book solidified my goal to visit the city. Jenn Bennett made this book feel so atmospheric, from Pike Place to the Cascadia (the hotel where Birdie and Daniel work) to the Space Needle. My favorite spot was probably the Moonlight Diner, and I promise it’s not just for the pie. But seriously, this book made me break out my apple pie recipe! I’d love to try and recreate a few of the Moonlight’s pie of the days!

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REREADING FAVORITES & SERIES: 2019 Reread Goals

Us book bloggers (okay, ME) always talk about books that we need to reread.

I am definitely someone who’s been working on her rereading over the past two years -yes, my TBR still scares me, but we’re working on our relationship. I intend to reread the following books  at some point this year, either for revisiting a favorite read or necessary for continuing a series.

FAVORITES REREADS

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Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian

Stay Sweet was the type of book I went in expecting to love and I thankfully did. Siobhan Vivian has become one of my favorite contemporary authors. I’m really hoping her next book comes out this year, but nevertheless, I want to revisit Stay Sweet to re-experience those ice cream and summertime feels.

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The Anna and the French Kiss trilogy by Stephanie Perkins: Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, & Isla and the Happily Ever After

The Anna and the French Kiss trilogy is such a YA staple. I often reference these three book in Top Five Wednesday or recommendations posts, so I think it’s time to re-learn why I love this series so much.

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WEST COAST WANDERLUST: Alex, Approximately Review

Summary: Bailey “Mink” Rydell has yet to meet someone who loves classic movies as much as she does IRL. At least she has her fellow witty film geek and online friend Alex, who she may or may not have a crush on. The two live on opposite sides of the county anyway, until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as Alex. Faced with fear that her online relationship is too good to be true face-to-face, Bailey decides not to tell Alex that she’s moved to his hometown. Besides, she’s too busy working at the local tourist-trap museum, where she’s tormented daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter. Porter is supposed to be Bailey’s archenemy, her villain – until Bailey begins to feel something for him that’s not exactly hate. 

My Rating: 4.25/5 Stars

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My Thoughts:

A congratulations or two OR TWENTY is in order for so many of my blogger friends and fellow bloggers for convincing me to finally pick up Jenn Bennett’s Alex, Approximately. After being a bit obsessed with Starry Eyes earlier this summer, I’m happy to say that I really enjoyed Alex Approximately– yay to being able to add another fun summer contemporary to my read pile!

In my opinion, Alex Approximately was a unique YA read for a few reasons:

  • Bailey, Grace and Porter’s workplace. The Cave isn’t the most normal of museums, but Bailey and Grace had so much fun working in the Hot Box together (for the most part)
  • There’s a ton of old school movie love between Bailey, Alex, and Porter
  • -Bailey and Porter both have traumatic experiences before the start of the novel. I’m not sure how I exactly feel about Bailey’s situation yet (I know that fiction gets to be fiction, but it felt a little bit left field still), but I understand its purpose for the connection between her and Porter.
  • Alex Approximately has one of the best YA contemporary covers ever. Reminder to pick up a movie screen and cute string lights for my backyard ASAP.
  • There’s intimate romance done right! AKA no cringe-moments! I loveeeeeeeee YA contemporary with all of my heart, but often romance scenes can be a bit cringe. However, I think Jenn Bennett wrote the intimate/sexual scenes so well (I also noticed this in Starry Eyes). Bailey and Porter also both come off as really mature characters.

Speaking of characters, I loved so many of the side characters in Alex, Approximately, including Bailey’s dad, Mrs. Roth, Grace and Pangborn. I think we’ve gotten to a point in YA where parents and family members are present and ARE AWESOME. Bailey’s dad and Porter’s parents are no exception.

If there’s one thing that was frustrating me as a reader of books’ covers, IT’S THAT ALEX, APPROXIMATELY’S REAL BLURB SORT’VE SPOILS THE BOOK! Warning: if you want to go into Alex, Approximately with zilch idea of who Alex could be, DO NOT READ THE BLURB ON THE PHYSICAL COPY. Even though halfway through the book it’s not hard to figure out Alex’s real identity, next time please save my non-spoiler wishing self.

Overall, Alex, Approximately is perfect for any movie-loving, especially You’ve Got Mail, YA readers. I’m highly anticipating Jenn Bennett’s 2019 release, Serious Moonlight, and I just added The Anatomical Shape of a Heart to my TBR.

 Have you read Alex, Approximately? What’s your favorite Jenn Bennett book? Share in the comments!

Review: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Summary: Ever since last year’s homecoming, best-friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have done everything to avoid each other. It’s a bit hard though when you live in the same small town and your families are the modern-day Montagues and Caputlets. But when a camping trip goes a bit unexpected (besides Lennon being there, much to Zorie’s dismay), the two find themselves stranded in the wilderness alone together. As the two travel through northern California’s backcountry, with plenty of jabs and insults in tow, Zorie and Lennon’s hidden past and secrets resurface. Maybe they aren’t Romeo & Juliet after all?

 My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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My Thoughts:

My craving for summer contemporaries continued in June with Jenn Bennett’s Starry Eyes. After seeing everyone’s love for Alex Approximately, I knew that it was time to pick up Jenn Bennett’s latest book.

Zorie was such a fun main protagonist because she was such a unique YA character! I loved her interst in astrology and I really need to raid her eye glasses collection! I really enjoyed her relationship with her stepmother, especially because stepparents and teens tend to be pitied against one another in most YA cases. Also, I’ve never met a character named Zorie?? And guessing by Lennon’s moms’ interest in music triva, I think it’s safe to assume that Lennon is named after a Beatle.

The book is spilt into three parts, and I admit that I was nervous that we would get both Lennon and Zorie’s perspectives. This is not to say that I disliked Lennon because I did really like him as a character and romantic interest, but I wanted to see everything from Zorie’s point-of-view. I think we wouldn’t have gotten to fully experience Zorie’s first time in the real great outdoors and her indesiveness over her relationship with Lennon.

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Can we also get more YA novels about camping trips and hiking??? While I love being outside, I never really considered hiking, but Jenn Bennett has totally inspired me to do so. Minus the camping part and having to deal with bears and mountain lions. I’ll take a day hiking with Lennon and Zorie, but let me come home to a book and a new episode of The Bold Type, please! It was fun to see Lennon, a wildnerness extraordinaire, and Zorie, a wildnerness un-extraodrinaire, jusxtaposed against one another, and I liked seeing Zorie warm up to this setting. The glamping campground was also fun, yet understandly short-lived. I especially loved when Zorie and Reagan go shopping for glamping supplies, and Zories refers to a yurt as yogurt.

Overall, I really enjoyed Starry Eyes for its unique story and setting, and yes my contemporary romance fans, there’s plenty of romance in this gem! It was more steamy than I expected, but everyone needs a fun summer romance!

Have you read Starry Eyes? Share in the comments!