If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne

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Title:
99 Percent Mine
Author:  Sally Thorne
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: January 29, 2019
Genres: Fiction, Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Source: Bought e-book on Amazon
Rating: ★★★★

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Synopsis:

Crush: a strong and often short-lived infatuation, particularly for someone beyond your reach…

Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend. Despite Darcy’s best efforts, Tom’s off limits and loyal to her brother, 99%. That’s the problem with finding her dream man at age eight and peaking in her photography career at age twenty—ever since, she’s had to learn to settle for good enough.

When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon as the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade.

Suddenly Darcy’s considering sticking around to make sure her twin doesn’t ruin the cottage’s inherent magic with his penchant for grey and chrome. She’s definitely not staying because of her new business partner’s tight t-shirts, or that perfect face that’s inspiring her to pick up her camera again. Soon sparks are flying—and it’s not the faulty wiring. It turns out one percent of Tom’s heart might not be enough for Darcy anymore. This time around, she’s switching things up. She’s going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers.


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A few weeks ago, I saw the e-book of 99 Percent Mine on sale for $1.99. I have been on a contemporary romance kick since February . . . and you guys, I think I’m addicted to swoons and happy endings . . . it won’t stop and I won’t stop. Anywho, I immediately snagged the deal, because 1) It was $1.99 and I am all about those steals and deals, and 2) I love a good friends-to-lovers story. I crave that slow burn romance, the built up chemistry and angst, and me shouting, “GAAHHHH . . . just kiss already.”

And guess what: after reading this book, enjoying the hell out of it, and then rating it at 4 stars on Goodreads, I was definitely caught off guard by a majority of the low ratings/reviews I scanned over on Goodreads. I honestly felt like I did not read the same book as these reviewers and I am mind-boggled about a lot of their statements. Their analyses of the characters and their love story did not match anything I read. Maybe I was just in the right mood and the story fell at the perfect time in my life, so the book read differently to me. So I am going to tell you now . . . if you adore friends-to-lovers stories, a feisty but all over the place female lead, and the swooniest male lead who has the cutest little dog, then reader, this book is for you. 

99 Percent Mine is not a sugarcoated contemporary romance. It touches upon a lot of serious issues. But even though it is not dripping with sweetness, the relationship between Darcy and Tom was still so romantic and cute. Darcy is flat out honest about everything and has no filter; I thought her defensive and flighty attitude was going to annoy me, but I could honestly relate to a lot of Darcy’s choices. She is not naive and she is in a constant battle with everyone around her trying to protect her like she’s fragile china, but in all honesty, she is a determined hardass. Tom tends to put a lot of people before himself, but he is not overbearing or overprotective–he’s simply cautious. He is often stuck between choosing between two people, particularly Darcy and her brother Jamie. But Tom is a reasonable guy and analyzes every side of a story before he reacts. Yes, these two characters make mistakes, especially when it comes to their friendship or when they are trying to read each other, but in the end, I love that they have a true and meaningful connection. 

Lastly, one of the best parts I loved about 99 Percent Mine was the characters reliving memories of the grandma who treated Darcy differently than her other overprotective family members and made Tom feel like he was part of the family. The grandma instilled life’s magic into a lot of the scenes. She left them this huge project to renovate her home after she passed away, and that type of close proximity worked wonders on making this story truly authentic.

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Note: I bought this book with my own funds. I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review; I reviewed it at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

Raves & Craves: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

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Title:
Serious Moonlight
Author:  Jenn Bennett
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: April 16, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: Physical ARC from publisher

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Synopsis:

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.


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That’s right, you guys, it’s my third post regarding Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett. Hashtag sorry not sorry! Today I am bringing you one of my favorite blog memes I love creating, the Raves & Craves post, where I always pair a short, raving review with a snack of some kind. And today, we have PIE!

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As I gushed about in several posts before (REVIEW HERE and MOOD BOARD HERE), I adored Serious Moonlight. There’s awkward teenage angst, pie for breakfast (well, basically pie at anytime of the day), a swoony boy, real-life mystery and sleuthing, a murder-mystery dinner date, and so many diverse relationships that make my heart so happy. This book will make your heart ache in the best ways. 

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You guys, this was the first ever pie I made that wasn’t a “frozen pie in a box that you just pop in the oven.” It was so intimidating because I wanted this pie to turn out perfectly. Hopefully, below, I can simplify this pie baking the best that I can, so you don’t have to make everything from scratch.

Ingredients:

  • Pie crust – I highly recommend using a pre-made pie crust that is already inserted in a pan. Or you can even buy the pre-made roll out pie crusts to save time.
  •  Strawberries (I used one pint)
  • Frozen cherries
  • Half a cup of sugar
  • 2/3 cups of flour
  • A lemon
  • 1 beaten egg

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cut up your strawberries into bite size pieces.
  3. Place the strawberries and frozen cherries in a sauce pan and cook at medium heat.
  4. Squeeze a whole lemon into the pan with the fruit and stir.
  5. Once the fruit cooks down, add the sugar, and stir.
  6. Once the fruit starts boiling, I added a 1/3 cup of flour to help thicken the juices. After 5 minutes turn off the burner and let the fruit cool down.
  7. Use the left over flour to help roll out and flatten your pie crust. Don’t make the crust too thin. You do you!
  8. Make sure that you line a pie pan with the crust, if you don’t already have a pre-made pie crust already in a pie pan.
  9. Add the fruit as the filling to the pie.
  10. Then add the top layer of pie crust over the fruit. Be sure to cut slits in the pie for the fruit/pie to vent. Note: When I was rolling out the pie crust, I went ahead and cut out stars in my top layer of crust.
  11. Brush the beaten egg over the top of the crust.
  12. Place the pie in the oven and cook it for 25 minutes or until golden brown at the top.

I call this tasty beauty, the “Best GD Cherry ‘Star’berry Pie”

serious moonlight raves and craves

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Note: A huge thank you to the Simon Pulse/Simon Teen for providing me an ARC to read and review. All statements and opinions are my own.

Mood Board: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

36511805
Title:
Serious Moonlight
Author:  Jenn Bennett
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: April 16, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: Physical ARC from publisher

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Synopsis:

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.


Mood Board banner Serious Moonlight

I’m back! And it is my second week in a row to gush and RAVE about Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett. 

While reading Jenn’s amazing book (you check out my full review HERE), I jotted down a few images, words, and passages that stuck out to me, and voilà: a mood board that conveys my love for Serious Moonlight.

MOOD BOARD -SERIOUS MOONLIGHT
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Note: A huge thank you to the Simon Pulse/Simon Teen for providing me an ARC to read and review. All statements and opinions are my own.

If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: Review of Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

36511805
Title:
Serious Moonlight
Author:  Jenn Bennett
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: April 16, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: Physical ARC from publisher

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Synopsis:

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.


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Hi, my name is Cassie and I am a Jenn Bennett book addict . . . I mean fanatic.

If Jenn Bennett writes it. I will read it.

And I’m going to be completely honest with you right now, in the next few weeks, I will probably have multiple posts about Serious Moonlight on my blog. Yes, this post here serves as my official review, but do not fret, I will definitely be posting my favorite quotes and a possible “Raves & Craves” post, which will involve pie . . . yummy, yummy pie.


So what did I love about this book, you ask?


1. Birdie and Daniel’s awkward, sweet, cute, and witty banter. There is an undeniable connection between these two characters, and I really enjoyed how naturally their friendship grew from a “missed connection,” being co-workers, detective work, and their reserved ability to confess their insecurities and establish trust between each other.

2. I adored the most heartwarming relationship between Birdie and her late-mom’s best friend who Birdie calls Aunt Mona. Birdie and Aunt Mona are so enjoyable to read on the page. They are so hilarious and flipping fantastic. You know how in Pretty in Pink, Andie discusses so much of her life’s troubles with her amazing manager, Iona, and their banter is so grown up and funny? That is Birdie and Aunt Mona in a nutshell. I freakin’ love it.

3. There is a date that involves a murder mystery dinner, and GD it it’s so thoughtful and cheesy. This chapter is truly worth the muscle-aching cheeks from all the happy grinning and swooning.

4. Pie. Cherry pie. Breakfast pie. All the pie. 

5. Jenn Bennett’s approach to teen issues is always so gut-wrenching, realistic, and truthful. She handles and approaches issues like teen sex, insecurities, familial problems, mental illness, anxiety, suicide, grief, and depression in Serious Moonlight so well. Jenn’s characters and stories are so honest and relatable, and I look forward to gifting a finished copy of this book to my 16-year-old niece.
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Note: The HUGEST thank you to the Simon Pulse/Simon Teen for providing me an ARC to read and review. All statements and opinions are my own.

If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: Review of When the Sky Fell On Splendor by Emily Henry

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Title:
 When the Sky Fell on Splendor
Author:  Emily Henry
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: March 12, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis:

Almost everyone in the small town of Splendor, Ohio, was affected when the local steel mill exploded. If you weren’t a casualty of the accident yourself, chances are a loved one was. That’s the case for seventeen-year-old Franny, who, five years after the explosion, still has to stand by and do nothing as her brother lies in a coma.

In the wake of the tragedy, Franny found solace in a group of friends whose experiences mirrored her own. The group calls themselves The Ordinary, and they spend their free time investigating local ghost stories and legends, filming their exploits for their small following of YouTube fans. It’s silly, it’s fun, and it keeps them from dwelling on the sadness that surrounds them.

Until one evening, when the strange and dangerous thing they film isn’t fiction–it’s a bright light, something massive hurdling toward them from the sky. And when it crashes and the teens go to investigate…everything changes.

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You guys, where do I even start. Emily Henry wrote one of my favorite books in the world, A Million Junes, and I could not wait until her next book to knock me off my feet. And here it is–When the Sky Fell on Splendor–another Henry book that takes the strong elements of the contemporary genre and splashes in frames of science fiction and fantasy. As supernatural elements are spread throughout the pages, the characters are thrown into strange phenomenons as they are dealing with cracked remnants of grief etched by loss.

When the Sky Fell on Splendor is a constant page-turner illuminated with small-town, Midwestern vibes, the disarray of a tragic event, and a group of teenage misfits. About five years ago a local steel mill explosion failed to spare well-loved neighbors, family members, and local heroes. Each character is internally processing the events that rattled their lives, and as summer unfolds their lives are suddenly changed again when they witness the crash of an unidentified flying object.

I really enjoyed When the Sky Fell on Splendor because the book focuses a lot on friendships and love. The book has the atmosphere and nostalgia of 1980’s movies, bringing in a close-knit group of friends (and a cute dog) who often engage in the exploring legends and unexplained events. Each of these teens are going through the motions of grief, loss, growing up, and self-acceptance. Overall, I loved getting lost in this story of amazing weirdos who one night are tossed into an eerie, unexplained event of bright lights, a glowing humanoid, special powers, and “what the hell is going on with the cows?”  

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Note: Thank you to good friend Emma at Miss Print for gifting me an early copy of this book. 

If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell

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Title:
 Kindred Spirits
Author:  Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin’s Giffin
Release Date: April 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary

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Synopsis:

‘Everybody likes everything these days. The whole world is a nerd.’
‘Are you mad because other people like Star Wars? Are you mad because people like me like Star Wars?’
‘Maybe.’

If you broke Elena’s heart, Star Wars would spill out. So when she decides to queue outside her local cinema to see the new movie, she’s expecting a celebration with crowds of people who love Han, Luke and Leia just as much as she does.

What she’s not expecting is to be last in a line of only three people; to have to pee into a collectible Star Wars soda cup behind a dumpster or to meet that unlikely someone who just might truly understand the way she feels.

Kindred Spirits is an engaging short story by Rainbow Rowell, author of the bestselling Eleanor & ParkFangirl and Carry OnKindred Spirits has been specially produced for World Book Day.


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If you’re in the mood for a cute and quick contemporary read, I highly recommend Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell. In this short story, I love that Star Wars is the main incentive that brings all of these characters together. I found the story to be so sweet and the characters very realistic. Rainbow has a very unique way of allowing her characters and side characters to shine brightly on the page with smart and witty banter. And if you’re a fan of Star Wars, like me, you will laugh along with the nerdy references and jokes that play between these characters.

Because the story is extremely short, I don’t want to give too much away. But I must say even though each characters’ secrets and flaws unravel throughout the pages, the friendships that develop in this story are cute and memorable.

4 star rating
Note: I received this book as a “freebie” on World Book Day from my local independent bookstore.  All statements and opinions are my own. 

If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

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Title:
 The Prince and the Dressmaker
Author:  Jen Wang
Publisher: First Second
Release Date: February 13, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Graphic Novel, LGBT, Historical

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Synopsis:

Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:

Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!

Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend? Jen Wang weaves an exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art, and family. A fairy tale for any age, The Prince and the Dressmaker will steal your heart.


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The Prince and the Dressmaker
is a heartwarming graphic novel about hope and being yourself. I didn’t know what to expect from this book but I am so glad I read it. The positive message to be proud and happy with who you are and always shoot for your dreams will make your heart ache (in a good way). I loved watching the dynamics grow between Sebastian and his dressmaker Frances, the two main characters. Their friendship is so adorable and heartwarming. Additionally, 
the illustrations in The Prince and the Dressmaker are so gorgeous and match perfectly with the style of the Sebastian’s alter ego, Lady Crystallia, a true fashionista. Definitely give this graphic novel a read for both the colorful illustrations and the cute, positive story. 

4 star rating
Note: Thank you to First Second for providing me an ARC to read and review for free in exchange of an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.