A Book That Makes Me Like Camping (Or Reading About It): Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

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Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.

But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.

What could go wrong?

With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.

And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?

Source: GoodReads

Jenn Bennett is officially on my favorites list.  This book sort of solidified it for me.  Starry Eyes took a topic I really didn’t think I’d like-camping-and turned it into an interesting foot popping story.

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Because really Bennett is the master of ships.  I adored Zorie and Lennon and all of their love hate-ness.  And despite being an extremely ship book, here were a lot of things about this book that resonated with me.  It was a book that I could really identify with because I shared a similar experience to what Zorie dealt with this book when I was roughly her age.

The emotions that Bennett has her going through throughout the book was something that I could identify with.  How a parent’s betrayal can have ramifications on not only their significant other but their kids as well.  I thought that Bennet did a good job showing this.

If I had to fault the book, I think what bothered me is the drama did get a little over the top at times.  Especially the fall out with Reagan.  Honestly,  I didn’t even get why Zorie was friends with Reagan.  It seemed so forced.  She more or less existed as a plot point to get Zorie and Lennon stranded-which by the way happens much later in the book than I thought it would.  But anyway, back to Reagan and her friends they really were just pointless.  When they abandoned Zorie and Lennon I was glad, I was like finally….

While Reagan annoyed me, I did like some of the supporting characters which is better than a lot of YA books.  I thought Lennon’s family was pretty well fleshed out and I did like Zorie’s mother.  Her dad though was a douche.  But I have to say the depiction was pretty much spot on, living through a similar situation the dad character did make sense to me.

As I mentioned earlier, I was pleasantly surprised with the whole how lost in the wilderness thing was handled.  I’m not an outdoors girl.  I freak out when there is even a fly in my house.  Honestly, I don’t even like reading about the outdoors.  Yeah, there was that one somewhat interesting Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys super mystery  where she goes camping, the Hardy boys pop out of nowhere-they always popped out of nowhere in the super mysteries-, Nancy and Frank almost make out again and their chased by the mob who apparently their trail guide owes a lot of money too but….not your typical outdoors book.  No, when I think of outdoorsy type of books I think about that stupid Literature and Culture class I took where I had to read that book about that guy who went to Alaska to live in a bus and die, oh and write a stupid paper about my local park that used to be the site of a Confederate powder mill.

Ah, memories that the blog reader does not  know or care about…

Weird discretion that probably has you confused aside, I think it shows just how good and enjoyable a book is when they can make a subject you find meh at best enjoyable.  Not that I’m planning on going camping anytime soon, but after reading Starry Eyes I don’t think I would mind so much reading it.

If you like love-hate romances, second chance romances, have an interest in the outdoors, or for that matter astronomy you should definitely give Starry Eyes a try.  Bennet is definitely on my to buy list now.  And it seems I have a bit of a backlist to get too.

Overall Rating: An A-

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Like TCM Lite : Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

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The one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

Source: GoodReads

Okay, the blurb completely ruins the book because it pretty much reveals the entire plot of the book. And that is annoying.

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Sigh.

Also, is it just me or was it annoying that this book got all these You’ve Got Mail comparisons when a good chunk of the book deals with old movies and in turn the comparison should’ve been made to The Shop Around the Corner-which for all you non-classic film buffs, is the movie that You’ve Got Mail based itself on.

In fact, it’s sort of referenced in the movie.

Okay…so I probably watched that movie and too many old movies way too much but oh well.  I’ll have to say reading this book and all its old film references, was exciting to me.  It was like finally meeting with someone who shared your weird old hobby and this book did with its love for old films.  And wasn’t even TCM  snobby about it which was great.

As far as The Shop Around the Corner reduxes go, this one is pretty good.  Both characters are surprisingly well fleshed out and have imperfections.  I also liked the sleepy beach town setting for the novel.  I thought it fit appropriately with the tone of the novel, and the town had enough quirks about it where it was sort of a character of its own.

The romance is so of slow burn, and it really worked for me.  It takes awhile for Porter and Bailey to tolerate each other, let alone like each other and the growth of the relationship is enjoyable to see with its gradual evolution.   On the flip side, we also get to see how their online relationship grows as well.  And I’ll be honest I sort of love the hate to love trope when done right.  Especially when they finally admit that they want to be together despite all the  obstacles.

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One thing that did annoy me, was that the dad character wasn’t at least a little freaked out about the fact his daughter had a quasi boyfriend online.  Given all the shit that happened to Bailey in the past, you would think he’d be at least skeptical.  And for that matter, maybe it’s one too many Lifetime movies (for yours truly) AND being an extremely paranoid person I would really have issues if I had a teenage daughter who randomly met some dude who was trying to get her to fly across the country online.

I mean, that’s reality talking.  And normally, I would sort of give it a pass.  But given the ultra dramatic back story that this book has, it sort of had me raising a couple of eyebrows.

Another problem I had with this book was the random dramatic backstory.  It felt a little bit out of place, and in all honesty I felt like it served no purpose other than to describe why the main character was scared of guns.

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Um, because they’re guns. That’s why.

But really, that and a couple of the dramatic side plots could’ve been cut out and the book may have been better for it.  Honestly, I was sort of on the fence about it.  Which is why I rated this book lower than five stars on GoodReads.  Still though, it was a very enjoyable read.

Overall Rating: An A-