ARC REVIEW: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett 💭Mystery, Romance, & Like 400 Pages of It

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Title: Serious Moonlight
Author: Jenn Bennett
Pages: 432

Release Date: April 16th 2019
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Format: Hardcover

Genre: Contemporary
Goodreads Rating: 4.16 (of 254 ratings)

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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.

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Disclaimer: I received this ARC courtesy of  Simon Pulse. I am grateful for the opportunity to review an ARC for my readers, but this will not influence my final rating. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and based solely on the book. 

Last year, I absolutely devoured Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett, and when I discovered this book, I was screeching to anyone that could listen that I needed it. The premise sounded amazing: hotel, mystery, and a romance! Put altogether it sounded like it could be something really amazing, and I knew Bennett could do amazing since Starry Eyes ended up as a favorite.

This book was…well, it wasn’t Starry Eyes, for sure. It wasn’t terrible, but honestly, it dragged so long and felt like I was stuck in a time loop that I really lost a lot of the excitement that I felt with Bennett’s previous novel. There were definitely cute moments and some good writing, but I definitely got a bit lost through the repetition and dense material.

Birdie and Daniel are our two main characters. Birdie is a mystery novel fiend and is just starting a new job working the graveyard shift at iconic Seattle hotel. She’s excited to step out of the house and start a new chapter in her life, but two things immediately go wrong: her narcolepsy is getting worst with these late hours and her one night fling that she ran away from is now her new co-worker. When a mystery presents itself in the form of a mysterious hotel guest who just might be an elusive novelist, Daniel and Birdie team up.

There are quite a few different plots going on. There is the search for the identity of the mysterious hotel guest who might be the famed mystery novel; there is the romance between Daniel and Birdie; Birdie’s fight with controlling her narcolepsy; Daniel and Birdie’s self journeys; and more. Honestly, for me, the best storyline was the mystery aspect. I was most intrigued with Birdie and Daniel sleuthing moments and trying to guess where this was going. However, by a certain time in the novel, I honestly forgot that was going on, because it had fully slipped back into full on contemporary and we were kind of lost in a bunch of different subplots. There is a really good twist in that particular plotline, and I didn’t see it coming – but it was nicely done. However, I did get bored with some of the other plots.

The pacing was a little slow, too. 400 page contemporaries are always a hard sell. If it’s a fantasy novel, 400 pages are a lot easier to read since there is so much world building and action/adventure scenes. With 400 pages in a contemporary, there is honestly so much you can do. There were definitely moments that I felt could have been taken out and didn’t think that 400 pages was necessary since it started going so slow and drawn out. The beginning was fantastic, though, I think her setup of everything was just wonderful. Definitely the middle part was the hardest part to get through.

I did pretty much like the characters. There were some interesting characters. Birdie and Daniel were intriguing characters. I didn’t fully connect with them, but they were definitely realistic and messy and pretty likeable. They both brought amazing rep that I haven’t seen done in YA at all or not often. The only side character that really stood out was Aunt Mona, and I did love Birdie and her relationship. They had such chemistry, and I loved reading them together. I would have loved if hotel guests or more side characters had popped up since I had thought it would come more into play.

The romance was…like, it was cute but it got exhaustingggggg. It seemed like Birdie and Daniel would be on the same page for like 2 seconds and then there would INSTANTLY be doubt that they liked each other and wanted to be with each other and then they would be on the same page and THEN instantly back with the doubt and rinse, wash, and repeat. I get we were having tension, but dear gosh, I wanted to shout at the novel, like, YOU LIKE EACH OTHER. GET IT TOGETHER. DO I HAVE TO SING “KISS THE GIRL” BECAUSE MY LITTLE MERMAID ALTER EGO IS KING TRITON, NOT SEBASTIAN. They definitely had cuteness but dear gosh, I’m just tired thinking about the cycle.

The setting was a lot of fun. Bennett did an amazing job of placing us in Washington’s atmosphere, and I loved it. I’m all about the mood, and I felt so much mood from this story.

Overall, it was just okay. There were great things and so-so things. I guess I just wanted a bit more since Starry Eyes was so much perfection.

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belle
Belle is here for all the murder mysteriessss love.

rating: 3 crowns and a Belle rating
representation: narcolepsy, Asian love interest, hearing impaired love interest
content warnings: overdose/suicide attempt (not shown but discussed), there was a joke regarding it

three-stars

What do you think? Let’s discuss in the comments below!

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17 thoughts on “ARC REVIEW: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett 💭Mystery, Romance, & Like 400 Pages of It

  1. I am seriously torn on Jenn Bennett at the moment. Everyone and their mother has been recommending me Alex Approximately since I joined the community. I haven’t read it yet but I have it. So Starry Eyes was my first book by her and I liked it? But I didn’t like, love it. Actually, the more I thought about it, the more problems I had with it, which is why I gave it to my BFF and she’s been reading it with her friends and loving it. So I just don’t know if I should try this one, you know? I have seen a lot of “it was okay” reviews for it and I just don’t know, maybe she just isn’t an author for me? Did you read Alex?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel like the more I see about Bennett, the more people are totally torn on which books they liked by her and what books they didn’t. I’ve read Starry Eyes and The Anatomical Shape of a Heart. I was a big fan of Starry Eyes, DNF’d Shape, and really just felt super okay about this one. However, I haven’t read Alex, but people have been pushing that one at me as well. I definitely think she is one that has a lot of books that go super up and down for some people. I think Alex and Starry Eyes are her most celebrated books tho.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I was just mentioning that I feel like Bennett is an author that has a lot of ups and downs with her books in regards to people enjoying them. The setting and mystery plot were really fun and it had such a cool atmosphere. It was just exhausting with the romance. XD

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorry this wasn’t a hit. I liked it a lot. I was so in love with the characters. I absolutely adored Daniel and his personification of sunshine did a lot for me. Lengthwise, her last two books clocked in at about 400 pages too. My sweet spot is between 300 – 400 pages, but I adore her writing so much – the characters, the humor, etc, that I don’t tend to notice the length (though I did with this book, because I was reading a PDF – boo!)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s so hard when popular authors aren’t edited enough. I can’t stand a draggy contemporary. I admit I like mine more fluffy. I do enjoy mystery plots but the page number is hard to get over especially since you didn’t love every minute of it. Great review Mandy. thanks. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I like my contemporaries short, sweet, fluffy and to the point! I’m sorry this one was a little up and down for you Mandy, but I am glad you enjoyed some of it. I remember you yelling at me to read Starry Eyes…it has yet to happen, but summer is fast approaching and that”s my contemp season.

    Liked by 1 person

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