ARC Review: The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett

The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: September 3, 2019
Source: ARC via publisher

The Last Magician meets A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue in this thrilling tale filled with magic and set in the mysterious Carpathian Mountains where a girl must hunt down Vlad the Impaler’s cursed ring in order to save her father.

Some legends never die…

Traveling with her treasure-hunting father has always been a dream for Theodora. She’s read every book in his library, has an impressive knowledge of the world’s most sought-after relics, and has all the ambition in the world. What she doesn’t have is her father’s permission. That honor goes to her father’s nineteen-year-old protégé—and once-upon-a-time love of Theodora’s life—Huck Gallagher, while Theodora is left to sit alone in her hotel in Istanbul.

Until Huck arrives from an expedition without her father and enlists Theodora’s help in rescuing him. Armed with her father’s travel journal, the reluctant duo learns that her father had been digging up information on a legendary and magical ring that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler—more widely known as Dracula—and that it just might be the key to finding him.

Journeying into Romania, Theodora and Huck embark on a captivating adventure through Gothic villages and dark castles in the misty Carpathian Mountains to recover the notorious ring. But they aren’t the only ones who are searching for it. A secretive and dangerous occult society with a powerful link to Vlad the Impaler himself is hunting for it, too. And they will go to any lengths—including murder—to possess it. 

Let me just start this review off by saying that The Lady Rogue was one of my most anticipated books for the entirety of 2019. Jenn Bennett is one of my all-time favorite authors (if not the favorite, I mean… just look at that drawing of me holding Starry Eyes below) and I basically devour everything that she ever writes. As much as it pains me to say it, The Lady Rogue and I did not click as much as I’d hoped.

Part of this, I think, is definitely me. It’s been a stressful few weeks in this household. Major life changes are coming and I’ve had very little time to read. I’ve been in the mood for something I can sit down and finish in one sitting, not a book that would take several hours of my time.

I picked this one up and put it right back down a few times in the past month because I just couldn’t get into it. But I threw this book in my backpack when I took a quick weekend trip to Tennessee, just on the off chance that I’d get a minute to read it, and ended up with a cancelled flight and, finally, a lot of time to read. And while it might have taken me several weeks to get into it, once I got into it, I finished it in a couple of hours.

All of this is to say that this is not a bad book. There is nothing inherently wrong with this book. And three stars is not a bad rating! It’s one of those it’s not you, it’s me kind of things.

I will explain.

First things first, what I liked. As always, I love Jenn Bennett’s writing style. She’s one of those writers that, once I get absorbed in the book, I can just go for hours without stopping. The action was steady, but never too much. I loved our main character, Theo, and her adventures traipsing around Europe in search of a mystical ring and her missing father.

Now, for what I wasn’t so sold on. I’ve spent a little bit of time sitting here thinking about why exactly I didn’t love this book as much as I’ve loved Jenn Bennett’s other work, and I think a lot of it comes down to the genre. I’ve had a hard time recently getting into this fantastical kind of adventure story recently (see The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy).

I also associate Jenn Bennett with cute contemporary romances (see Starry Eyes, Alex, Approximately, The Anatomical Shape of a Heart, Serious Moonlight) and although there’s the barest hint of a romance here, it felt kind of like an afterthought. Huck was definitely my least favorite of Bennett’s love interests and I really struggled to feel any chemistry between him and Theo. But, again, romance isn’t really the point of this book. The adventure is the point, and I kept having to remind myself of that.

I think, all in all, that The Lady Rogue is a really well-written, really fun YA historical fantasy. If you go into it knowing that’s what it is and are prepared for it to be very different from Bennett’s previous work, you’ll probably enjoy it. Even though it wasn’t my favorite of her work, I can still appreciate the good writing and the good story, and I’m so excited to read whatever she comes up with next.

#mm19: mode of transportation

Have you read The Lady Rogue? Is it on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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ARC review: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett
Rating: ★★★★★
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: April 16, 2019
Source: ARC via publisher

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.

If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you probably know that I’m obsessed with Jenn Bennett’s books. Imagine my surprise when I was offered an ARC of one of her books by the publisher! Thank you so much to Lauren at Simon & Schuster for getting this ARC to me!

There are two things found in every Jenn Bennett book that I really love: sex positivity and witty dialogue. Both of these are present and accounted for in Serious Moonlight, and, honestly, I couldn’t have been happier about it. I think it’s so important for teens to read about a safe, healthy relationship that just happens to include sex. I also love that Jenn Bennett’s witty dialogue never comes across as pretentious or forced.

If I’m honest, this is a slightly lower five than Starry Eyes or Alex, Approximately. The reason for that is partially me (I just kept getting distracted while reading) and partially the book (the mystery aspect didn’t pull me in as much as I’d expected and I guessed the ending pretty early on). But even with those small complaints, I still loved this book.

Jenn Bennett is one of my favorite authors and I don’t think she’s capable of writing anything less than an amazing book.

#ps19: a book featuring an amateur detective

Have you read Serious Moonlight? Do you love Jenn Bennett as much as I do?Let’s talk in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday: New-to-me authors of 2018

Happy Top Ten Tuesday! Today’s theme is new-to-me authors of 2018 and I have to say, I think it’s going to be a little difficult to narrow this down to ten.

Shaun David Hutchinson

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Alice Clayton


my review

Jenn Bennett

my reviewmy reviewmy review

Sarah J. Maas

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Emma Hart

my reviewmy review

Jay Kristoff

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Tara Sivec

my reviewmy reviewmy review

Maggie Stiefvater

my reviewmy review
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my review

Brian K. Vaughan

see all my Saga reviews here!

Erin Hahn


my review will be posted closer to publication!

Did you do your own Top Ten Tuesday post today? Feel free to leave your link in the comments and I’ll check it out! Have you read any of these books? Who’s the best author that you read for the first time in 2018? Let’s talk in the comments!

Book review: The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: AmazonTBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: November 3, 2015
Source: Purchased

Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she’s spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci’s footsteps, she’s ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Jack is charming, wildly attractive, and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in her family’s closet tear them apart?

It’s no secret that I had a huge reading slump in August. I hated just about everything that I read and it was just… the worst. I had purchased The Anatomical Shape of a Heart in one of my many book-buying binges of the summer, but I actually had no intention of reading it any time soon. Then my best friend started texting me. She promised me that I would like it, and seeing how we’ve been friends since 2001… I guess I kind of trust her opinion. And, okay. I liked it. It was no Starry Eyes, but I liked it.

It was pretty clear to me that this was Jenn Bennett’s first YA book. It doesn’t feel as polished as either Starry Eyes or Alex, Approximately, two of my absolute favorite YA contemporaries. Jack was a decently swoony character, but he had nothing on Lennon Mackenzie. Aside from being a handsome, rich artist, he didn’t really have that much going for him. Bex, on the other hand? I’m pretty sure both she and her art are way too cool for me.

As usual for a Jenn Bennett book, there’s a really frank discussion of sex between the two main characters. This is one of my favorite things about her writing — I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I wish that YA books would have been like this when I was an actual young adult.

Now that I’m all caught up on Jenn Bennett’s YA books, I’ll have to venture into her adult series. (And cry endlessly about being denied for an ARC of Serious Moonlight.)

Previously: Alex, Approximately • Starry Eyes

Have you read The Anatomical Shape of a Heart? Do you love Jenn Bennett as much as I do?
 Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book review: Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

⭐ Goodreads ⭐ Amazon ⭐

Bailey has been chatting with her online friend Alex for months. The two of them click perfectly, but when she finds out she’s moving to the same small town that he lives in, she just can’t bring herself to tell him — what if he’s a creep? What if he’s not even a teenage boy? What if she’s imagined their connection to be greater than it really is? She has a plan, though, she’ll use the hints he’s dropped to scope him out. If he seems okay, she’ll introduce herself.

When Bailey gets to town, her dad finagles her a job in a quirky museum. She spends the summer taking tickets, making friends, and alternately fighting with and making out with cute security guard Porter. But all the time, she feels like she’s betraying Alex. The two of them were never dating, but now Bailey’s spending all of her time with another guy. Worse yet, Alex seems to be pulling away. As the summer draws to a close, Bailey will need to make a decision — follow her heart to be with Porter or resume her original plan of finding Alex?

Continue reading

ARC review: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

⭐ Goodreads ⭐ Amazon ⭐ 

Future astrophysicist Zorie is a planner. She plans to attend an upcoming star party with her friend Avani. She plans to avoid her neighbors, the Mackenzies. She plans to help out her mom and stay out of her dad’s way. When her friend Reagan invites her on a spur-of-the-moment camping trip, all of Zorie’s plans are in disarray. Even though she hates disrupting her plans, drama with her parents helps her make the decision to go. The camping trip is nothing like Zorie’d expected – what was supposed to be a girls weekend ends up co-ed and it’s not long before Zorie finds herself stranded in the woods with Lennon Mackenzie, her former best friend turned biggest enemy.

I’ve never been a camper. I’m from Wisconsin, where camping is the thing to do and I’ve never even once slept in a tent. I can’t imagine making the decision to just rough it and hang out in the wilderness for a week, but apparently, this is a thing that people do! More power to them, but it’s not for me. Except… after reading this book, I kind of want to go camping in the middle of nowhere!

Jenn Bennett checked all of my boxes in this cute, swoony romance. We’ve got childhood friends who had a falling out. Enemies-to-lovers. Multiple friendships getting hashed out. Interesting, multilayered characters. Some family drama that is actually properly dealt with and not just swept under the rug. There’s also a healthy discussion of safe, consensual sex, which is always a plus for me (and something that I wish would have been more common when I was an actual Young Adult).

I really and truly loved this book and was legitimately upset every time I had to put it down. Luckily, I had downloaded it to my phone so I was able to sneak in a few pages here and there! I ended up finishing in less than 24 hours, just as I did with Alex, Approximately.

Jenn Bennett is an author to watch and Starry Eyes is sure to be one of my top books of the year.

Final rating: ★★★★★

I received a free advance copy of Starry Eyes from The Fantastic Flying Book Club in exchange for my honest review and participation in this blog tour. Thank you!

This review originally appeared on my Tumblr as part of the Starry Eyes blog tour.