If you read our blog you know that we love Jenn Bennett’s YA books. Five out of six are contemporary romance, while one is a historical fantasy. We plan to update this list when Bennett releases more books. The next one, Always Jane, will be released in 2021.
Have you read any of these books? Let us know in the comments.
1. Alex, Approximately
Bailey Rydell moves from the east coast to California to live with her dad. Her dad also happens to live in the same town as her friend from an online chatroom for movie buffs, Alex. Only Bailey is too scared to meet Alex in person and see if she can find him without him knowing who she is.
Meanwhile, Bailey gets a job at the local museum and makes some friends…and one enemy. Bailey hates to be around Porter Roth, who is equal parts hot and obnoxious. But after a few chaotic events, Bailey and Porter grow closer and realize maybe they both misjudged the other. Then there is also Alex, who Bailey is more confused over than ever. What’s a girl to do?
Alex, Approximately was our first book from Bennett and will probably always be our favorite. From the characters and their witty banter to the creative plot, we were hooked from page one. Bailey and Porter will leave you laughing (and swooning)! If you’re looking for a YA contemporary with lots of chemistry and Laugh Out Loud banter, then this is the Jenn Bennett book for you.
T2. The Anatomical Shape of a Heart
Beatrix (Bex) is determined to spend her summer drawing cadavers at her local hospital’s anatomy lab. She needs the experience to enter a museum-sponsored art contest and win scholarship money for college so that she can get one step closer to becoming the next da Vinci. Except her mom (a nurse at the hospital) explicitly tells Bex that she is not to try and get into the anatomy lab. One night, after a failed attempt at sneaking in, she misses her metro train and ends up on the night bus, where she meets the enigmatic Jack, who changes her summer completely.
Jack may be charming and extremely attractive, but he also is one of San Francisco’s notorious street graffiti artists. As Jack and Bex grow closer, she starts to tear down his walls and discovers his family’s secrets. While navigating her own family issues, Bex begins to realize that there is a lot more to Jack, and her own family, that there appears.
We thoroughly enjoyed The Anatomical Shape of a Heart for its unique plot and amazing chemistry! Bex was a great MC and we liked her narration– she was fun and witty. In typical Jenn Bennett fashion, Jack was the swoon worthy love interest with a bit of a rough edge due to his family issues. We loved watching Bex and Jack break down each other’s walls.
The mystery behind why Jack was graffitiing the streets of San Francisco left us wanting to know more. And more importantly, this book lacked the usual “gigantic miscommunication at the end of the book leads to the couple imploding but finding their way back to one another” plot. Though, yes, they had some issues in the beginning, Jack and Bex’s relationship proved to withstand their respective family dramas. Our only gripe was that we thought Bex’s mom kind of over-reacted and made things worse, but we will let it slide because she came to her senses later on.
T2. Chasing Lucky
When Josie Saint-Martin returns to her childhood home of Beauty, Rhode Island, she intends on only sticking around for a year. After all, a year seems like a long time when you’ve been moving from city to city with your mom for the better part of your childhood. Beauty may not be so bad this time around: Josie’s crazy grandma has moved to Nepal for a one-year tour with the Peace Corps, and Josie plans on snagging a summer internship at Beauty’s premier magazine to boost her photography resume. The internship is Josie’s one-way ticket out of town before her grandma comes home and instigates World War III between the Saint-Martin women. Josie’s hoping her photographs will wow her famous photographer father into giving her an apprenticeship at his fancy LA studio.
Too bad the Saint-Martin women are cursed. Just when she starts to doubt the curse, she runs into her former (and hot) childhood best friend Lucky Karras, who suddenly has turned into an outsider, rebel, and the town’s resident “bad boy.” When family secrets come to light at an ill-fated party, Josie sets out on a revenge plot that goes awry— with Lucky taking the fall. Desperate to figure out why Lucky covered for her, Josie devises elaborate plots to repay him. As the two grow closer, they realize that their friendship (and chemistry) may not be just platonic. But with Josie planning to leave in a year, the clock is ticking. Will Josie finally break down Lucky’s invisible wall?
Chasing Lucky is one of the Jenn Bennett books that we loved from the moment we picked it up! In true Bennett form, the characters were well-developed and had big personalities. Josie and the Saint-Martin women were a little crazy, but in the best way possible. All of them were truly unique and we enjoyed seeing them grow closer over the course of the book— despite the Saint Martin curse! Bennett has a knack for writing complex family dynamics. Josie went through a lot with her absent father and her mother’s constant desire to move. But, Josie learns a lot better herself during the summer and some long hidden family secrets come out.
Bennett is the Queen of YA banter and Lucky and Josie were no exception! Their chemistry was strong and we enjoyed how their relationship did not develop too quickly. One of our pet peeves is when characters with a past fall into a relationship 100 pages in. Instead, Josie and Lucky spent a good portion of the book reconnecting, with Josie really trying to break down Lucky’s mysterious persona. In the end, we find out why Lucky is guarded and took the fall for Josie after the revenge incident. We really enjoyed that this book was set in New England. Christy has close ties to the region and we like that Bennett switches up the settings of her YA contemporaries!
4. The Lady Rogue
Istanbul, Turkey, 1937. Theodora Fox’s tutor has just quit, running off with her money and any hope of leaving this godforsaken city. To top it off, she’s alone and hasn’t heard a peep from her father in days, even though he promised to be back by now. When she arrives back at the hotel after an unfortunate mix-up involving the Turkish authorities, a surprise is waiting in her room. A surprise named Huck Gallagher. The boy who left without a word last year. The boy who broke her heart. The boy she’d never thought she’d see again after a terrible event she now calls “Black Sunday.”
Turns out, her father had not only been in contact with Huck since that fateful Sunday, but also lured him into joining his idiotic adventure in Turkey— without a word to Theo on the subject. When Huck returns to Istanbul without her father in tow, Theo realizes something is wrong— really wrong— and that her father is in trouble. Honoring his word, Huck promises to take Theo to the planned meeting place in Romania— but nothing goes to plan. Armed with her father’s journal, Theo must decipher his notes and piece together the details of his secret adventure to track down the ring of Vlad the Impaler. But on the way to Romania, things don’t go as planned and the truth about the rings may be darker and more surprising than Theodora thought possible.
Regular readers know we love Bennett’s YA contemporaries, but we also loved her debut into historical fiction. The Lady Rogue is non-stop excitement with a plot that moves at a rapid pace. You’ll quickly be cheering Theodora on as she discovers history’s hidden secrets before anyone else. Bennett did an excellent job of weaving in historical context throughout the book, and we were captivated by her engaging writing style.
Also, Theo and Huck had hilarious banter and their chemistry was palpable. Their romance gave us major Alex, Approximately vibes in this respect. The side characters and plot development were also fabulous. We came to sympathize with Theo and really understood her complicated relationship with her father, who is not always present in her life. The side characters include a witch, occultists, and creepy twins who run a traveling antiquities store. You don’t want to skip out on this gem of a book!
5. Starry Eyes
Zorie and Lennon used to be best friends, but last year everything changed. After an event called The Great Experiment goes awry, they do not speak for a year. That all changes when the two are forced on a glamping trip together with a group of friends. Friends is a loose term, considering their group gets them kicked out of the glamping sight and ditches Zorie and Lennon in the middle of nowhere. Now the two former friends have to deal with the unresolved issues of the past, while surviving in the wilderness.
Starry Eyes is a nightmare scenario. Pretty much all the minor characters are terrible people, but that’s the point! We like how Zorie and Lennon were forced to face their problems head on and admit that maybe both of them made mistakes last year. We loved Zorie’s mom, who is one of the best parents in YA. Plus Zorie is a great MC, she’s funny and her passion for astrophysics is admirable. Both Lennon and Zorie had unique, quirky personalities and we loved them for it.
While we enjoyed the chemistry and the romance, camping just isn’t our thing. Plus, the scene with snakes had Claire turning the page as quickly as possible. It’s a creative book, but beware of the minor characters and intense outdoor scenes. The family drama was enough to irritate us and tainted the book a bit. We wish her dad hadn’t been such a jerk, a lot of the miscommunications could’ve been avoided. Luckily, the book was salvaged by Zorie and Lennon’s adorable banter and chemistry.
6. Serious Moonlight
Serious Moonlight follows Birdie Lindberg on a journey to find herself…and maybe love along the way. Her grandfather finally let her get a job in downtown Seattle and Birdie can’t wait to get out of the house and experience life. Her first night on the job, she runs into fellow hotel employee Daniel Aoki. Only, she’s met him before at the Moonlight Diner and she may have already hooked up with him.
The two discover a mystery at the hotel: a famous author who has never been seen in public might be a guest. Birdie and Daniel go undercover to learn more about this guy and the secrets he’s hiding. Only, his reasons for being in Seattle are stranger than Birdie ever imagined.
This is our least favorite Jenn Bennett book. It’s not a bad book and her writing, as always, is fantastic. However, we had a lot of problems, especially with Birdie and Daniel’s relationship. Daniel lies a lot to Birdie and in our opinions, shouldn’t be forgiven so easily. Also, the resolution to the mystery was kind of a let down. If you want a cute contemporary, read Bennett’s other books instead. We will admit the cover is stunning, though.