ARC Review: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

Synopsis

serious moonlight.jpgMystery-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.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free digital advanced reader’s copy of this book from Simon and Schuster UK. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on April 16 in the U.S. and May 16 in the UK.*

I became a fan of Jenn Bennett when I read Alex, Approximately and absolutely fell in love with her writing. The way Bennett writes romance and handles various different issues from mental health to familial conflict with a gentle touch, I can never get sick of her writing and that remained true with Serious Moonlight.

At first I was worried I wouldn’t be able to fall into this book like I had with her other books because I wasn’t connecting with the main character, Birdie, but that changed pretty quickly. The novel begins with Birdie getting ready for her first day—night, actually—of work at a hotel. This is Birdie’s first real job, because her grandmother, who recently passed away, was incredibly strict. Birdie has lived a pretty sheltered life since her mother died when she was 10 and she went to live with her grandparents on an island near Seattle. However, Birdie is ready to put herself out there…kind of.

She may have gotten a little excited the first time she discovered freedom when she was looking for a job a little while before where the novel begins. It was then that she met Daniel Aoki at the Moonlight Diner. Instantly attracted to him and feeling daring, she ended up losing her virginity to him in the back of his car. Naturally, as soon as it was over Birdie freaked out and she ran, determined to never see him again. That was until she realized the guy driving the van during her shift at the hotel was Daniel himself. Awkward.

Though Birdie wanted to do everything but talk about that night or even interact with Daniel at all, Daniel had different plans. Knowing that Birdie was obsessed with mysteries he enlists her to help him solve a mystery at the hotel. Unable to resist, Birdie agreed to be partners with Daniel and sleuthing ensued. Together, they looked for clues about a mysterious guest at the hotel and along the way Birdie was forced to confront her feelings for Daniel and what they did in the back of his car.

Thankfully, Birdie had the help of her Aunt Mona, who wasn’t really her aunt but her mom’s best friend, and her Grandpa to help her figure out the mystery as well as her relationship, or lack thereof, with Daniel. Still, figuring out what she wanted was one thing, but actually doing something about it was something totally different.

Besides the adorable romance in this novel and the mystery, I was fascinated by Birdie’s struggles with undiagnosed narcolepsy. I can’t remember ever reading a book about someone, particularly a teen, struggling with narcolepsy and I thought Bennett handled it perfectly. In addition, Bennett also discussed mental health issues in a way that I would love to see more of. I won’t go into it because spoilers, but I really liked how everything was discussed between the characters.

All in all, this was another win for Bennett in my book. She has yet to disappoint me and at this point I doubt she ever will. Make sure to pick this book up when it’s released.

Borrow or Buy: Buy it, obviously!

Stars:

4 stars

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ARC Book Review: One Small Thing

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Synopsis

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author duo of The Royals and When It’s Real comes a sensational new novel about a girl falling for the one boy she should never have met…

Beth’s life hasn’t been the same since her sister died. Her parents try to lock her down, believing they can keep her safe by monitoring her every move. When Beth sneaks out to a party one night and meets the new guy in town, Chase, she’s thrilled to make a secret friend. It seems like a small thing, just for her.

Only Beth doesn’t know how big her secret really is…

Fresh out of juvie and determined to start his life over, Chase has demons to face and much to atone for, including his part in the night Beth’s sister died. Beth, who has more reason than anyone to despise him, is willing to give him a second chance. A forbidden romance is the last thing either of them planned for senior year, but the more time they spend together, the deeper their feelings get.

Now Beth has a choice to make—follow the rules, or risk tearing everything apart…again.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free digital advanced reader’s copy of this book from Harlequin Teen. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel was released on June 26, 2018.*

I loved Erin Watt’s When It’s Real so when I heard they were releasing another contemporary romance novel I knew I had to have it, and it did not let me down. Unlike When It’s RealOne Small Thing is told in only one POV that of Beth, who’s sister, Rachel, died three years ago. After Rachel died, Beth’s parents became overly protective of Beth in suffocating ways. They wouldn’t let her go out with her friends and her mom took her college applications out of the mail, refusing to let her go to school out of state. Additionally, they still acted as if Rachel was still alive. For example, Rachel’s room looked exactly the way it did when she died, Beth’s mom got mad at her for putting her stuff on “Rachel’s bench,” and Beth wasn’t allowed to get a pet because Rachel was allergic.

It was a lot and I was on Team Beth from the very beginning, and was throughout this novel, even when she developed feelings for Chase, the one boy everyone wanted her to stay away from. Every one in Beth’s town hated Chase, including Rachel’s former boyfriend, Jeff, who also recently returned to town. Despite everyone telling her to stay away, Beth just couldn’t and neither could Chase. The friendship they developed gave me all the feels and I was rooting for them throughout the story, wanting Beth to honestly give the finger to everyone who told her it was wrong.

However, as the novel went on the author did a good job of showing all sides of this situation, and I did end up feeling sympathy for Beth’s parents, though they still made a lot of mistakes. What I loved most about this novel, was how it surprised me. There were of course things I expected from the novel, but there was plenty that truly surprised me.

Watt did an excellent job of drawing me into this story and looking at grief, forgiveness, and guilt. The novel also looked at issues of class and abuse. In sum, though this book isn’t large it tackled a lot of topics in a way that never felt heavy handed, but instead pushed the story forward, so much so that I read it one sitting. So definitely pick this book up if you’re looking for a quick read that will tug on your heart strings, and also infuriate you a little because really I just wanted Beth to catch a break throughout the whole novel and punch a few people in the face. Just saying.

Honestly though, do yourself a favor and get this book today, because it’s now on shelves. You won’t regret it. Trust me!

TW: Sexual assault

Borrow or Buy: Seriously? Buy this book! Do it, now!

Favorite Line:

“Rachel’s gone. And I have to let my broken heart heal instead of pretending I’ve been fine.”

Stars:

5 stars

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ARC Book Review: Save the Date

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Synopsis:

Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait—for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster—all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect.

The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster.

There’s the unexpected dog with a penchant for howling, house alarm that won’t stop going off, and a papergirl with a grudge.

There are the relatives who aren’t speaking, the (awful) girl her favorite brother brought home unannounced, and a missing tuxedo.

Not to mention the neighbor who seems to be bent on sabotage and a storm that is bent on drenching everything. The justice of the peace is missing. The band will only play covers. The guests are all crazy. And the wedding planner’s nephew is unexpectedly, distractingly…cute.

Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book while interning at Simon & Schuster Children’s. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on June 5, 2018.*

I haven’t read all of Morgan Matson’s books yet, but I’ve read enough to feel confident saying this is her best novel to date. I couldn’t put this book down no matter how hard I tried (and I had a 17 page paper to write so I definitely tried).

The novel follows Charlie Grant during the weekend of her sister, Linnie’s, wedding. Although Charlie wants this to be the perfect weekend with her family, especially now that her parents are selling their house and her mother’s popular comic strip, Grant Family Station, is coming to an end, everything that could go wrong does.

First, Charlie’s estranged brother, Mike, actually accepts his invitation to Linnie’s wedding and his plus one is his best friend, Jesse, who Charlie has a huge crush on and kissed, though she doesn’t want Mike to know about that. From there, everything begins to fall apart from the wedding planner being AWOL to a missing wedding suit. As hard as Charlie tries, her hopes for a perfect weekend slip further and further away and it becomes clear that her life isn’t exactly like the life her mother depicts in her comics.

Charlie quickly realizes that her family is more flawed than she thought and she’ll have to figure out how to deal with the truth that sometimes things change and the only thing you can do is continue to move forward. Unlike Matson’s other novels, I’d say this one is really more about family than romance, though the romance is certainly there. That being said, it was the family that really hooked me.

I loved all the Grant siblings, though J.J. was certainly my favorite. Additionally, Matson did a great job of showing just how close this family was with all their quirks, shared secrets, and games. I also really liked the character of Brooke, the girlfriend of Charlie’s oldest and favorite sibling, Danny, and Charlie’s best friend, Siobhan. As always, there are also cameos from characters in Matson’s previous novels, which I absolutely loved, and honestly they may have made this book even more special to me.

So if you couldn’t already tell, I absolutely loved this book and highly recommend it. I can honestly see myself reading it again when it comes out. It’s just that good.

Borrow or Buy: Buy it!

Stars:

5 stars

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Book Review: The Light We Lost

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Synopsis:

He was the first person to inspire her, to move her, to truly understand her. Was he meant to be the last?

Lucy is faced with a life-altering choice. But before she can make her decision, she must start her story—their story—at the very beginning.

Lucy and Gabe meet as seniors at Columbia University on a day that changes both of their lives forever. Together, they decide they want their lives to mean something, to matter. When they meet again a year later, it seems fated—perhaps they’ll find life’s meaning in each other. But then Gabe becomes a photojournalist assigned to the Middle East and Lucy pursues a career in New York. What follows is a thirteen-year journey of dreams, desires, jealousies, betrayals, and, ultimately, of love. Was it fate that brought them together? Is it choice that has kept them away? Their journey takes Lucy and Gabe continents apart, but never out of each other’s hearts.

This devastatingly romantic debut novel about the enduring power of first love, with a shocking, unforgettable ending, is Love Story for a new generation.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

I wanted to love this book. I really did. I thought the premise was great and I’m a sucker for a tragic love story. But unlike Will and Lou in Me Before You, I found Lucy and Gabe to be totally unlikable characters.

The novel is told in the point of view of Lucy, who’s telling the story to Gabe. The story is of their love, beginning with how they met on September 11, 2001 and all the events that followed. I think anyone who was alive on that day, especially if they lived in New York City, remembers where they were on 9/11. It’s just something you can’t forget. So in this way, I could see why Lucy and Gabe felt such a strong connection to each other. On a day that was filled with such darkness, they were able to find light with each other. It’s truly a romantic idea.

However, I don’t think their intense connection excused their actions. I tried desperately to feel sympathetic, or rather, empathetic, towards the two of them but I just couldn’t support their decisions, beginning with the way Gabe informed Lucy he was leaving New York to be a photojournalist in the Middle East. I don’t want to spoil it, but it was the worst possible time for him to tell her that, but he was too selfish to care. Similarly, Lucy was too irrational to think through her decisions later on, whenever it came to Gabe.

There were definitely some nice moments in this book that I enjoyed and the writing itself was definitely beautiful, but overall, I was disappointed with this novel. If you’ve read The Light We Lost, let me know your thoughts on it below!

Borrow or Buy: Borrow!

Stars:

3 stars

Favorite Line:

“He said not only would he not break you, that he’d help put you back together.”

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10 Books I Did Not Finish (DNF) (Guest Post)

*This is a guest post written by Kattiah RichardsonIf you would like to do a guest post for To Borrow or Buy, please email me at toborroworbuy@gmail.com*

Hello Bookdragons and Bibliophiles….Wait, this isn’t my blog…. Ah! I am super ecstatic to be writing a guest blog post for one blogger I have read before I even made mine. *gasps and fangirls* When this opportunity arose, I jumped onto it let me tell you. Zakiya is so kind and sweet, and if y’all haven’t followed her yet, do so now. Anyway, my top 10 book DNFs.

When a book lover hears “DNF,” some gasp and scream at the horror of those letters, while others shrug it off because it’s a part of the reading experience. If you don’t agree with the second kind of reader, let me tell you one of my greatest pieces of advice: Life’s too short to struggle through a book you hate just so you don’t have to put it down. There are too many good books in the world to read one that is not your type of book. This thinking brought me to my blog post today…

1. Red Queen Series by Victoria Aveyard

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This book just did not do it for me at all. I found the characters irritating, the story familiar, the pacing slow, and there was a love triangle I was just not here for. I know many people love this series and as much as it is disheartening to say and hear, I will be getting rid of it and have no plans to read this in the future.

2. The Maze Runner by James Dashner

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Ah, this book…. I couldn’t handle it. I was not a fan of the characters or the writing. I think I might have tried to pick it up again if it were not for James Dashner’s writing. I did not enjoy his writing for reasons still unknown to myself. I am willing to possibly try this again, but only if my life depended on it. It doesn’t, so I won’t be picking this up again any time soon.

3. The Finisher by David Baldacci

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I could not stand this book. I got to page 57 (I still have my bookmark in it for some reason) and I could not deal with the author’s writing, style, or word choice. Also, the characters seemed flat and one dimensional. The premise was not my cup of tea. Overall, younger Kattiah could not pick a book correctly.

4. How to Meet Boys by Catherine Clark

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If you know anything about me, you know I love contemporaries as long as they are developed well and not a morally wrong concept. My mistake picking this up. I knew the friend would be attracted to her best friend’s ex, but as the story progressed, it didn’t stop. I thought it would be a situation where she would explain herself and swear off boys or whatever, not sneak behind her best friend’s back like a coward. Why would you do that?

5. Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

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This book. I can’t.  First of all, the writing is terrible. Secondly, the characters are terrible to each other. I had to force myself to read this book. Not good. .000001/10 recommended. Enough said.

6. The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

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The Fifth Wave, book one in this series, was great! I really loved it. Then I got this one, started it, and wanted to cry. It was terrible. It definitely has a case of middle book syndrome. I couldn’t even finish it even though the last book was supposedly epic. I’m sad the relationship between me and this book did not work out, but you live, let go, and learn!

7. Where She Went by Gayle Forman

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I tried really hard (twice) to read this book, but I could not do it. It was worse that any word to describe bad. Times ten. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first book, If I Stay, but I thought the sequel might be worthwhile. Haha, no. The characters changed. It was much moodier. It was terrible. DNF!

8. I, Emma Freke by Elizabeth Atkinson

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This was my first DNF book and so I cannot remember, specifically, why I stopping reading, but I do remember not clicking with the main character.

9. I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

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Not. A. Fan. To be honest, I did not really give it a shot, but I just didn’t like it. It seemed too millennial for me. Some love it, I did not.

Book Ten: Hoot Carl Hiaasen

10. Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

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Ah, don’t shoot me! I know this is a beloved book by many and that it clearly won an award. I, however, did not like it. At. All. I thought the writing was bad and the beginning didn’t suck me in like I had hoped. I am sorry to say, but this book is not a personal favorite.

If you are still reading then you have been here through all of my minor hate on these books, but these are my personal opinions as we are all entitled to our own. PLEASE follow this blog and like this if you liked it and if you want to see more of my writing head over to my blog here! You can also follow Zakiya’s bookstagram here and mine here! Thank you so much for reading. Bye!!


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Book Review: When It’s Real

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Synopsis:

Under ordinary circumstances, Oakley Ford and Vaughn Bennett would never even cross paths.

There’s nothing ordinary about Oakley. This bad-boy pop star’s got Grammy Awards, millions of fangirls and a reputation as a restless, too-charming troublemaker. But with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley needs to show the world he’s settling down—and who better to help him than Vaughn, a part-time waitress trying to help her family get by? The very definition of ordinary.

Posing as his girlfriend, Vaughn will overhaul Oakley’s image from troublemaker to serious artist. In return for enough money to put her brothers through college, she can endure outlandish Hollywood parties and carefully orchestrated Twitter exchanges. She’ll fool the paparazzi and the groupies. She might even start fooling herself a little.

Because when ordinary rules no longer apply, there’s no telling what your heart will do…

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

I haven’t read The Royals series by Erin Watt, but I’d seen When It’s Real floating around Instagram for a while so when I was browsing the Strand, I impulsively decided to buy a copy, book buying ban be damned. Thankfully, it was totally worth the buy because I absolutely could not put it down and when I finished it I reread it again. Yeah, it’s that good.

The story is told in the alternating POVs of Oakley and Vaughn, beginning with Oakley. As is unfortunately the case with a lot child stars, Oakley has now become known more for his outrageous parties and the revolving door of women entering his bedroom than his music. It’s been a few years since he released his last album and his manager informs him that the only way he’ll be able to work with the best producer in the biz is to change his image.

What better way to do that than to date an average nice girl? Enter Vaughn. Her elder sister just happens to work at the management company that reps Oakley and when Oakley’s manager sees a pic of Vaughn, he believes she’s the perfect girl for the job. There’s only one problem, she has a boyfriend. And also, she doesn’t want to do it.

But Vaughn is then made a offer she can’t, in good conscience, refuse. Thus begins her fake relationship with Oakley. Typically, it takes a lot for be to behind a fake relationship story. There has to be a good enough reason for it, and in this case I thought there was.

What I loved about this fake relationship story was although I figured Vaughn and Oakley would end up together this didn’t feel like an insta-love story to me. You actually get to see Oakley and Vaughn slowly realize there’s more to each other than the other realized. Additionally, I liked that this wasn’t really a love triangle kind of story either. I won’t spoil it, but I’d be surprised if you find yourself rooting for Vaughn’s boyfriend.

Overall, I really enjoyed everything about this story. Vaughn was super relatable and I loved her family. Oakley was totally swoonworthy and the steamy scenes were perfect. Also, the plot was really well done and I loved how this story ended because it did surprise me a little bit. So if you haven’t read this book yet I highly recommend picking it up.

Borrow or Buy: Buy it!

Stars:

5 stars

Favorite Line:

“The good ones put your character to the flame and burn away all the rest of the shit until you come out a better you. She’s one of the good ones.”

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Book Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper

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Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

The story’s shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling, #1 New York Times bestselling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

I’d heard a lot about this book, mostly on bookstagram, but didn’t decide to give it a try until I received an ARC of it’s sequel, Hunting Prince Dracula. Unfortunately, as hard as I tried to get into this story I just did not enjoy it. The story follows Audrey Rose, a young woman in high society who is fascinated with cadavers. Thankfully, her Uncle Jonathan is a scientist who also enjoys exploring dead bodies but Audrey Rose’s father doesn’t approve. Thus, Audrey must sneak around to do her scientific work, which gets more and more difficult as she begins to get invested in solving the Jack the Ripper case.

The main premise, or mystery, of the story is of course, who is Jack the Ripper? While I hoped the answer would be surprising, I guessed who it was pretty much right away. Maybe I’m just a naturally suspicious person, but I didn’t trust this person from the get go and all the false leads were such obvious red herrings that they just confirmed to me my suspicions were right. So yeah, the mystery didn’t thrill me and the “twist” left me feeling meh.

Additionally, I could’ve done without all the gross descriptions of dead bodies, but that was too expected in this novel. However, if you’re squeamish I highly wouldn’t recommend this book. It literally begins with Audrey cutting into a body.

The best part of the novel was the bit of romance between Audrey and her uncle’s student, Thomas. The two work together to solve the case of Jack the Ripper and of course they fall for each other, because that’s what happens when you stick two teens in a room together for too long. Sorry, my sarcasm just slips out sometimes. I really did enjoy their scenes together and they pretty much got me through this book.

Even so, as cute as I think Audrey and Thomas are together, I actually don’t really care about them or any of the other characters. Nothing about the story made me want to know more or keep reading, and so I felt the story dragged. I began skimming towards the end just I could finally be finished with the book. Because of this I’ve decided not to read the sequel, though I did give it try. I just can’t get into this story. Maybe it’s just not right for me, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow!

Stars:

2 stars

Favorite Line:

“Roses have both petals and thorns, my dark flower. You needn’t believe something weak because it appears delicate. Show the world your bravery.”

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