Raves & Craves: 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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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.

Blog Tour: In the Neighborhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton

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Title:
In the Neighborhood of True
Author:  Susan Kaplan Carlton
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Release Date: April 9, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Historical
Source: e-ARC from publisher
Rating: ★★★★

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Synopsis:

A powerful story of love, identity, and the price of fitting in or speaking out.

After her father’s death, Ruth Robb and her family transplant themselves in the summer of 1958 from New York City to Atlanta—the land of debutantes, sweet tea, and the Ku Klux Klan. In her new hometown, Ruth quickly figures out she can be Jewish or she can be popular, but she can’t be both. Eager to fit in with the blond girls in the “pastel posse,” Ruth decides to hide her religion. Before she knows it, she is falling for the handsome and charming Davis and sipping Cokes with him and his friends at the all-white, all-Christian Club.

Does it matter that Ruth’s mother makes her attend services at the local synagogue every week? Not as long as nobody outside her family knows the truth. At temple Ruth meets Max, who is serious and intense about the fight for social justice, and now she is caught between two worlds, two religions, and two boys. But when a violent hate crime brings the different parts of Ruth’s life into sharp conflict, she will have to choose between all she’s come to love about her new life and standing up for what she believes.


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“If you want to fly, you have to ruffle some feathers.”

Set in the late 1950s, In the Neighborhood of True is an emotional novel that reawakens the reality of segregation and racism that darkened USA’s past and even haunts today’s America. As a very character-driven story, sixteen-year-old Ruth carries the reader through the heartbreak of losing her father and moving from New York to a Southern state where etiquette is inculcated through a pink book, her classmates fit the debutante mold, the boys are swoony, but her revelation of being Jewish is a dangled secret that puts her at risk from being part of the popular crowd. 

“Be strong when everything is going wrong.”

Ruth is a very quirky girl. She’s smart and straightforward, and the entire book is filled with her determination to be accepted by her pre-debutante-obsessed peers but also finding that strength and balance to honor herself, her family, and her religion. Ruth’s inner and outer dialogue is one of the most captivating mouthpieces I have a read in a long time. Her engaging voice and character development allows the novel to steadily unfold into a story of maturity, first love, and a teenage girl’s bravery to fight for social justice. 

“Imagine it and you can be it.”

In the Neighborhood of True was a constant page-turner of heartfelt characters and a main character that is not afraid to shake up her Southern town. The historical and fist-gripping hatred that is portrayed in this novel is heartbreaking, but like one of the characters points out to Ruth, “when hatred shows its face, you need to make a little ruckus. And you, dear Ruthie, made a very important little ruckus.”

Susan Carlton Credit Sharona Jacobs_HR
About the Author:

Susan Kaplan Carlton currently teaches writing at Boston University. She is the author of the YA novels Love & Haight and Lobsterland. Her writing has also appeared in Self, Elle, Mademoiselle, and Seventeen. She lived for a time with her family in Atlanta, where her daughters learned the finer points of etiquette from a little pink book and the power of social justice from their synagogue.

 susankaplancarlton.com | Twitter | Instagram

 

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Note: Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers for inviting me on the blog tour and providing me an e-ARC to read and review All statements and opinions are my own.  Please note that all quoted material is not final and may change in the final publication of the book.

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

 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg

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.


Serious Moonlight banner

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: 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 Lost Sisters by Holly Black

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Title:
 The Lost Sisters 
(The Folk of the Air #1.5)
Author: Holly Black
Publisher:
NOVL

Release Date: October 2, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Novella, Short Story

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Synopsis:

Sometimes the difference between a love story and a horror story is where the ending comes . . . 

While Jude fought for power in the Court of Elfhame against the cruel Prince Cardan, her sister Taryn began to fall in love with the trickster, Locke. 

Half-apology and half-explanation, it turns out that Taryn has some secrets of her own to reveal.

The Lost Sisters is a companion e-novella to the New York Times bestselling novel The Cruel Prince by master writer Holly Black.


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The Lost Sisters is an e-novella that provides Taryn’s , Jude’s twin sister’s, point of view of the events that took place in The Cruel Prince. And you guys, it feels so good to back in Elfhame even if it is through a handful of pages. I enjoyed this short story because we get another person’s perspective of the twisted dynamics that play between Cardan and Jude. And more importantly, we watch and understand the relationship that blooms between Taryn and Locke. UGH, and LOCKE! He is such a weasel. I hope his trickster ways finally catch up to him. 

I also liked that Taryn puts her heart and soul in this confession to Jude–we begin to understand Taryn’s motivations and heartache. But overall, even with Taryn’s actions explained, I still do not sympathize with her. 

Taryn, what happened to sisters before misters?!

Home fries before fae guys!

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Taryn, I swear, you need to get it together, because Jude doesn’t take betrayal too lightly!

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My Rating of :

4 star rating

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Note:   I bought this e-novella with my own funds, and was not asked to review it by the publisher. All statements and opinions are my own.

If It’s Not A Rant, It’s A Rave: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

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Title:
 Spinning Silver
Author: Naomi Novik
Publisher:
Del Rey

Release Date: July 10, 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Retelling

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Synopsis:

Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders… but her father isn’t a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has loaned out most of his wife’s dowry and left the family on the edge of poverty–until Miryem steps in. Hardening her heart against her fellow villagers’ pleas, she sets out to collect what is owed–and finds herself more than up to the task. When her grandfather loans her a pouch of silver pennies, she brings it back full of gold.

But having the reputation of being able to change silver to gold can be more trouble than it’s worth–especially when her fate becomes tangled with the cold creatures that haunt the wood, and whose king has learned of her reputation and wants to exploit it for reasons Miryem cannot understand.


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Spinning Silver is the second book I have read by Naomi Novik, and once again I fell in love with her characters and storytelling. You guys, I spent weeks savoring this book because I did not want it to end. Naomi Novik’s gift of writing is enchanting, mesmerizing, and overall, purely a magical experience. 

Told in multiple points-of-view, Spinning Silver weaves together the fairy-tale features of “Rumpelstiltskin” with a new tale of female empowerment. Multiple characters provide details of their surroundings but their narratives are intricately bounded and immersed into one main story. At times the storytelling can become so complex and dense that you have to pay attention to detail to acknowledge whose point of view you are reading. But overall the pacing is executed so well, which allows the narration to mirror a theatrical experience. 

In the end, I highly recommend that if you love fantastical fairy-tale retellings, you have to read Spinning Silver. I loved that there are multiple villains in this novel, and both of them are just as sharp and biting as the wintery setting. I admired the idea that romance and relationships are not taken lightly in this book; the fierce female characters make sure that love and respect are earned. Overall, Spinning Silver is a slow-burning fantasy that interweaves rich magic, cunning and bold female protagonists, and antagonists that teeter on being morally gray, and in all honestly, this book was a delectable morsel to read. 

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My Rating of :star rating

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Note:   Thank you to Del Rey and Netgalley for providing me an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Although I was provided a galley of the book, my review is of the final published copy of the book. All statements and opinions are my own.