Posts By: Rashika

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Not Bennett’s Best: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

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Not Bennett’s Best: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett
Serious Moonlight
Jenn Bennett
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Publication date: April 16th, 2019
by Simon Pulse

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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.
-A copy was provided by Simon Pulse for review-

I didn’t think I’d ever read a Jenn Bennett book I didn’t love but… unfortunately… Serious Moonlight just didn’t do it for me. It isn’t that it isn’t enjoyable but over the past five years, I’ve come to expect a lot from a Jenn Bennett book and Serious Moonlight just didn’t live up to those expectations for me.

I think, a big part of the problem was that I didn’t love the characters as much and therefore wasn’t as invested in their relationship. While Birdie’s personality and trust issues make sense given her extremely sheltered upbringing, it really started getting on my nerves when we were almost 400 pages in and still dealing with her trust issues. I also thought it was super weird that Birdie didn’t have a single friend???? I get that she is sheltered but… ummm… she was allowed out of the house. She can talk to other people even though she is a bit awkward sometimes.

Love interests in previous Bennett books have always had a significant presence and usually read like main characters but Daniel??? Daniel felt like a secondary character, playing a supporting role in Birdie’s life. I found it really hard to connect with him even though he seemed great on paper. I also felt really uncomfortable when in two separate instances, he blocked an exit and demanded Birdie give him an answer before he let her out. It seemed really off brand given his chill vibe and felt icky.

I was also sad that the secondary characters didn’t have a bigger presence? I wanted to get to know the people at the hotel better (or really, get to know them AT ALL!!!!), spend more time with the fams, and enjoy seeing Birdie and Daniel interact with people who weren’t each other. I did really enjoy the little time we spend with the fams and honestly, the fams made the book for me more than anything else.

The way Bennett incorporated Birdie’s experience with narcolepsy into this book, was also really cool. It felt authentic and well researched (which, I should warn that I don’t have any experience with narcolepsy so this observation is based on my instincts.)

While Bennett’s books tend to be romance driven, there is usually an exciting plot to follow that drives interactions and causes character development. I was so excited when it seemed like Daniel and Birdie would spend time solving a mystery but, the mystery gets forgotten about pretty quickly and makes a hasty reappearance right before the end.

This book is so so so centered on Daniel and Birdie’s emerging relationship that we just don’t get a feel for anything else in their world except for a lot of great sounding pie. We don’t get major secondary characters (except Daniel who is sort of a secondary character himself), we don’t get a feel for their workplace or other favorite places… we just don’t have much to work with to help us ground ourselves in the world of Birdie and Daniel.

Honestly, we don’t even get much reasoning because this book felt like a bunch of loose coincidences tied up in a nice bow. I think coincidences are sometimes necessary to drive forward plots but when every plot point is based on a coincidence, that’s a bit too much for me.

I realize that most of my review has been negative but I do think that Serious Moonlight is not inherently a bad book. I was still invested in outcomes even though I didn’t love the main characters as much as I wanted to. Bennett still writes really well and somehow manages to keep my attention for 400+ pages. Ultimately, even if I didn’t love Serious Moonlight, many many many people will because even at her worst, Bennett writes better than most people out there.

3 Stars
3 Hot Espressos

Gritty Characters: Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

Gritty Characters: Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

Posted by on 04/09/2019 • 1 Comment

CW: Self-harm and manipulative romantic relationship

I was told Wicked Saints would destroy me but I still didn’t realize what that would mean until I read the last couple pages of this book. If you enjoy happiness at all, you will stay far away from this book. If you love gritty characters, none of whom are particularly good (and some who might just be PLAIN EVIL), you will love Wicked Saints.

Right off the bat, we are pushed into the middle of a war with an opening scene where one of our MCs has to watch as many people important to her are murdered. So no, there are no rainbows and puppies in this book. Honestly though, having such a powerful scene was helpful to me because I’ve been struggling…

2019 Books with Heists and Thieves

2019 Books with Heists and Thieves

Posted by on 04/05/2019 • 1 Comment

If you don’t live under a rock, you’ve probably noticed that there have been a surge in books about heists and thieves this year. As someone who is always on the lookout for a book about some good old fashioned thieving, I thought I’d make a list for anyone else who loves heists as much as me and missed any of these books. 

Note: this list includes two books that came out December 2018 (WHICH COUNTS, IMHO) as well as a book I didn’t personally love but that shouldn’t stop other people from loving it.

1. Death Prefers Blondes by Caleb Roehrig 

Kickboxing drag queens performing heists? HELL TO THE FUCKING YEAH. 

2. The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

ITS SET IN PARIS in 1889. ’tis enough. Also…

Atmospheric With Well-Written Characters: The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

Atmospheric With Well-Written Characters: The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

Posted by on 04/04/2019 • 1 Comment

The Devouring Gray is a book that requires patience. There is no getting around it. It’s slow, and for the first quarter of the book I could not tell you what the fuck was going on except that the kids were sad, felt betrayed, maybe were trying to take each other down, it was a mess. I stuck with it though because my friends loved it and it turned out to be absolutely worth it.

Violet is new in town, Justin and Harper used to be bffs but Justin betrayed Harper, Issac is a soft boy with a world of hurt inside him. Together, the four of them make up the new generation of the founding families of the Four Paths and are sworn to protect the town from the…

The Beginning of An Exciting Family Saga: The Takeover Effect by Nisha Sharma

The Beginning of An Exciting Family Saga: The Takeover Effect by Nisha Sharma

Posted by on 03/26/2019 • 0 Comments

I absolutely adored My So-Called Bollywood Life when I read it last year so when I found out that Nisha Sharma was writing another book, specifically an adult romance, I was all aboard. When I found out the series would follow a wealthy Sikh Punjabi-American family, I WAS EVEN MORE EXCITED (which I didn’t know was possible but whatever.)

The Takeover Effect is a quick read. The pages just sort of fly by. That said, it did take me more than half the book to actually be invested in the characters and the plot. I don’t know if I can even point out a specific reason why this was but I didn’t really click with the book until shit hit the fan.

And when shit hit the fan, IT HIT…

An Emotional Rollercoaster: Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

An Emotional Rollercoaster: Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

Posted by on 03/22/2019 • 0 Comments

Rick Riordan Presents is probably the only imprint I can say I want to read EVERY SINGLE BOOK FROM. I saw the synopsis mentioned a raw chicken inside a locker and was immediately sold. I WANTED IT and I READ IT and YEAH. I am not really sure if Sal and Gabi Break the Universe has mythology vibes??? But what I can say is that it is truly a work of art.

There is a good chance I’ve said that about another book or two before but I don’t know how else to describe how truly well written this book is. Carlos Hernandez knows how to pace a book, he knows how to pull at your emotions and he knows just how to crack and build tension. There were so many…

Matriarchal Society Gone Corrupt: Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera

Matriarchal Society Gone Corrupt: Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera

Posted by on 03/20/2019 • 1 Comment

I honestly didn’t know that Lilliam Rivera had a new book coming out until earlier this year which just shows you where publishing’s priorities are in terms of marketing. In my eagerness to read anything Rivera writes, I actually forgot to read the summary and it wasn’t until a while later that I realized Dealing in Dreams was a proper dystopian novel. If you read my review for We Set the Dark on Fire, you will know I don’t do dystopia anymore but given that I’ve technically now read two dystopian novels for the first time in literal years, I THINK IT’S SAFE TO SAY I am doing dystopia again. BUT, to be clear, I am only doing dystopia written by POC.

Dealing in Dreams starts off super slow….

Three Pride & Prejudice Retellings You Cannot Miss in 2019

Three Pride & Prejudice Retellings You Cannot Miss in 2019

Posted by on 03/18/2019 • 6 Comments

1. Unmarriageable by Sonia Kamal

Pride and Prejudice set in modern-day Pakistan.

2. Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev

Gender-flipped P&P retelling that follows an Indian-American family descended from royalty. Set in San Francisco. 

3. Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

P&P set in Toronto! Follows the adventures of a large, boisterous Muslim family.

Bonus Emma Retelling: Polite Society by Mahesh Rao

Emma, with a touch of Crazy Rich Asians, set in Delhi.