March 27, 2019

Friends with ARCs | The Girl He Used to Know + Serious Moonlight

Annika Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois, who prefers the company of books and the solitude of chess over any social interaction that causes anxiety over her confusion in interpreting people’s behavior. Jonathan Hoffman comes into her life through chess club, and eventually, they end up romantically involved. But when tragedy strikes, the relationship falls apart. Now it’s ten years later, and fate has them crossing paths yet again. They’re both in different places in their lives and are no longer the same boy and girl they were back then. But will it be enough to let their second chance romance have a chance at surviving the obstacles in their way?

I did end up liking The Girl He Used to Know. It’s my first experience with a Tracey Garvis-Graves novel, and I feel strongly that it’s not going to be my last either! There were a number of things about this one that I would file in the ‘positives’ column, including: the narrative choice to switch between present day and flashbacks (which gave me a slight The Last Five Years vibe), and the depiction of Annika on the autism spectrum (though I can’t speak to that rep). I did feel somewhat distanced from the main characters and only mildly invested in their relationship, but that’s not what threw me about this one. What ended up really affecting my overall thoughts is the last fourth this book, just because it felt like all the big, emotional events were thrown into the story all at once. It felt extremely jarring to me as a reader, both jolting me out of the experience and feeling a little rushed and underdeveloped. Still, I can certainly appreciate how this book was written and I read this one very quickly, so I would still recommend checking it out for yourself if the premise intrigues you. 

Are you still in contact with your first college roommate? I only had one set of roommates in college - Bianca (who is my second cousin and has also been my best friend since the fourth grade), Rachel (who was classmates with me since the fourth grade) and Mutya. We’re all still very much best friends even though we live in different places, and I think that’s not something that will ever change, no matter how many years pass us by.

The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves | Publisher: St. Martin's Press | Publication Date: April 2, 2019 | Source: ARC received from the publisher (Thank you!)

Mystery-loving Birdie Lindberg has secured a summer job working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel. She never imagines that the job will ensure she crosses paths with Daniel Aoki (with whom she had an awkward first encounter weeks before), or that it will drop a real-life mystery right in her lap (regarding a famous reclusive writer who has mysterious meetings at the hotel). Daniel and Birdie team up to solve the case, but will Birdie be able to figure out how to manage the feelings that arise during their investigation – both the romantic ones for Daniel and the complicated ones regarding herself and the people in her life?

Whenever I read a Jenn Bennett novel, I expect a young adult contemporary that includes the following elements: a main character with unique personality traits, supporting characters that are equally interesting, complex relationships (including a romance that is sweet, but not without its complications) and a setting that comes to life off the page. Serious Moonlight delivers on each of these elements! As with all her other work, it’s all too easy to get invested in the main character and find your interest piqued by their story, the setting and the other characters too. It was enjoyable to get to know Birdie, her family and her friends; Birdie is someone I particularly felt drawn to even though we’re not all that much alike. I also liked that the relationships in this one felt complex in a very realistic way, and that the plot was not just focused on the mystery (even though I do think that it takes a much more dramatic turn than I expected, and I wasn’t 100% behind that). But, truly, the best part of this novel for me was the setting! Reading about Seattle made me want to plan a visit of my own so that I could see some of the places and do some of the activities mentioned in the novel. I really enjoyed Serious Moonlight, and I think that any fans of YA contemporary or Jenn Bennett (or both) will enjoy it too!

Favorite female detective? I’m going to cheat when I answer this question, because I truly cannot bring myself to pick between two ladies that I have a special soft spot for. First, I must give a shout out to my girl Nancy Drew. I grew up reading all the books (the classic ones, the newer spin-offs), still love playing the computer games and went through a phase where I wanted to be a detective because of her. But I also really love Phryne Fisher, who is the star of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. I love that she’s older, with more life experiences and relationships informing her keen eye and investigative skills, and I think she’s an excellent example of what I aspire to be like (in some ways) when I get older.

Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett | Publisher: Simon Pulse | Publication Date: April 16, 2019 | Source: Downloaded from NetGalley (Thank you!)


  1. I also love the Nancy Drew games, though I think I've only completed two of them, because puzzles are not my forte. I'm more into the mystery/adventure game aspects.


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