Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Night Owls by Jenn Bennett: Review, Author Interview & Giveaway

Title: Night Owls
Author: Jenn Bennett
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Buy the book: Amazon (UK) / Amazon (US) / Book Depository
Feeling alive is always worth the risk. Meeting Jack on the Owl - San Francisco's night bus - turns Beatrix's world upside down. Jack is charming, wildly attractive... and possibly one of San Francisco's most notorious graffiti artists. But Jack is hiding a piece of himself. On midnight rides and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who this enigmatic boy really is. 
Reviewing this book is going to be so hard because all I want to do is scream at you about how absolutely fantastic it was. This book just completely amazed me and I have fallen a little in love with it. It instantly topped my top reads of the year list and became a firm favourite of mine. So I am going to try my best in this review to explain all of the reasons why this is an incredible read that you have to read! I also just want to take a moment to explain that this has a different title and cover in the US. There the title is The Anatomical Shape of the Heart, so make sure to keep and eye out for it and buy it at the first opportunity you get!

This is one of those books where I know that I won't be able to review it well enough to do the book justice, but I am going to try my hardest. I have so much I want to say about this book, but no idea where to even begin. I don't want to overwhelm you with all of my thoughts, but I do want to adequately express and explain why this book became an instant favourite of mine and why you should run out and buy it. I feel like the best way to do this is in LIST FORM! Yes, time for a good old list.

Reasons Night Owls is one of the best books I've ever read:


1. It's filled with fantastical, diverse characters: It's literally jam packed with wonderful, interesting, unique characters. I would have been happy if this book was three times longer, just so I could have gotten to know the secondary characters better. This book contains a whole host of characters, who are diverse and feel so real. This is how all books should be and need to be, chock full of characters who are as diverse as the world is in real life. They need to be filled with characters of different ages, races, sexualities, religions and with different views on the world and everything in it.

Bex: I found our main character absolutely fascinating. I've never come across a character before who has a passion for anatomical art. It's not really something I've come across in books before at all and that side of Bex really did fascinate me. It fascinated me because it was something that I couldn't  immediately understand. I love how strong she is and that she knows what she wants to do and isn't afraid to work hard to do it.

Jack: Jack is the mysterious guy that Bex sees for the first time on the Owl bus. He's a total flirt, completely charming and it's easy to see why Bex would be attracted to him. He's also very funny, witty and I loved his sense of humour. He also shares Bex love of art, just a very different kind. He's described as having the style of Marlon Brando in Wild One, and looking like the love child of David Beckham and James Dean.

And then he was kissing me like we were both on fire and he was trying to put the flames out, and I kissed him back like an arsonist with a pocketful of matches. 

2. LGBT characters: I feel it's so important that more YA books have LGBT characters, and as secondary characters and not just lead characters. It makes the book feel more real to me because the world we live in is so diverse and filled with many different people. I love that LGBT characters are a lot more common and prominent in YA fiction. This book contains some brilliant LGBT characters.


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3. Sibling relationships: Who doesn't love seeing wonderful sibling relationships in their books? I know I do, even if it does make me rather envious. I spent most of my childhood fighting with my siblings, even though we are close now. This book has great sibling relationships, they love and support each other and help each other.


4. Mental health themes: A brilliant point was made on the mental health panel at LFCC, and that is the fact that we must remember that we all have mental health, not just something that effects those who are struggling with it. It's great to see a book that deals with mental health issues so openly. It is dealt with very realistically in this book, but it also educated me on aspects of mental illnesses that I didn't even know about. At the YALC panel they also discussed how years ago mental health wasn't explored or talked about openly, it was a very taboo subject. This book explores not only mental health, but also how different people handle and react to it.

"I've spent the last three days at the Zen Center trying to get back on my feet, and you just pull me up like it's nothing."

5. Sex positive: More YA books could do with promoting a more open and positive attitude towards sex. There are moments in this books where characters are judged for their sexual activity, but it's used to teach about the hypocrisy between how men and women are treated differently in regards to that. But this book promotes a very positive attitude toward sex. Our characters are actually mature enough to have sex because they are willing to have actual conversations about it and discuss protection. I really wish more books handled teenage sex as well as this does.


6. The art: Bex wants to be an anatomical artist, and is planning to spend her summer drawing cadavers. Jack is a graffiti artist who spray paints words throughout the city of San Francisco. I loved all the art in this book, but also both characters passion for it. I was absolutely fascinated by Bex's love and appreciation for anatomical art. I'm an incredibly squeamish person who gets nauseous just writing about blood, veins and organs (typing this is making me want to vomit!), so I could think of nothing worse than spending my summer holidays studying the organs of a corpse and then drawing it in detail. But Bex's love for it is contagious, so much so that I found myself googling images and gaining my own love and appreciation for the exquisitely detailed art I found. I'd never realised that something that I would brush off as ugly could be made to look so beautiful. but it does.

"What do I want?" His fingers brushed over loose strands of hair near my temple. "I want to call you every five minutes. I want to text you goodnight every night. I want to make you laugh. And I want you to look at me like you did that first night on the bus."

7. Slow build romance: There is no hint of the dreaded insta love in this book, although there is definitely attraction between the two right from the very beginning. These two get to know each other over the course of the book and their feelings grow over time as they connect over shared interests and help each other through difficult times. This is the slow burn kind of romance that I love, where there is sexual tension and a ton of chemistry between the two characters that grows and builds over the course of the book. This has so many swoony moments and I was rooting for these two from the very beginning. Jenn Bennett is also amazing at writing the more sexy scenes too. Jack is most definitely worth of book boyfriend status and I'm sure readers will fall for him right along with Bex.

We were both frantic and fevered, and it was the first kiss I'd ever had that felt like a fight. And the way he made my body ache made me think I'd been doing it all wrong until now.

PERFECTION

This is a book for anyone who loves contemporary. Or swoon worthy romance. Or mature YA characters. Or characters with a passion for art. Or a book that's filled with diverse and wonderful characters. This is a book for anyone. It should be devoured and loved! This read will leave you with the biggest smile on your face because the romance between our to main characters is just absolutely adorable. 


* I received a copy of this book through LoveReading4Kids in exchange for an honest review. 

I loved this book so much that I couldn't resist asking Jenn Bennett if she would be willing to let me interview her for the blog. She was absolutely lovely and was more than willing to provide an interview. I tried no to squeal too much when she said yes, but I just could not stop myself.

1. First, I'd like to start by asking you to share a little bit about yourself.
Thanks for having me on your blog! I'm an artist and an American author. I live in Atlanta, Georgia, which you may know as the birthplace of Coca-Cola (yes, our gift to the world is diabetes: you're welcome!) and the home of the busiest airport in the world. It's also extraordinarily hot. I'm obsessed with all things vintage, which is a nice way of saying I Like old junk, and I collect weird things like old postcards of redwood trees and 1930s theatre prints. My mother is a Viking, I've lived in a million places (I was born in Germany), and have travelled around the world. I'm married to a film geek. We have two evil pugs.

2. Although the book is titled Night Owls here in the UK, the US edition is titled The Anatomical Shape of the Heart. So, whilst both are relevant to the story, why the change? Which title came first? And do you have a preference?
The U.K. publisher kept my original title, NIGHT OWLS, which was a nod to the San Francisco late-night buses (Owls), and a description of my lead characters' nocturnal activities: Beatrix is trying to sneak into a university lab to draw medical cadavers (she's obsessed with anatomy, a la Leonardo da Vinci) and Jack is an anonymous graffiti artist. The U.S.publisher wanted to focus on the anatomy side of the story. I like both titles, but I won't lie: I'm partial to my original. (Ten points to the U.K.!)

3. Night Owls is your YA debut, but it's not your debut novel as you have quite a few adult fiction books. What made you want to write a YA novel and how have you found the experience different to writing an adult fiction book?
My fantasy series has a teen character, Jupe, who is sort of this fan-favorite character of mine, and a lot of readers often told me I should write him as the hero of his own series. That never happened, but somewhere along the way, my agent suggested I try my hand at writing YA. She thought I had the right voice for it. I was nervous to try it, worried that I would screw it up, that I wouldn't sound authentic. But when I started writing, it just felt... right. I have it when authors say that books "write themselves", but this one nearly did. The words just flowed. I enjoyed every second of it. It was a joy.

4. Are you working on any more YA novels? And if so, can you tell us anything about it?
Yes, I just finished writing my second YA novel and sent it my agent. I can say that it's a standalone romance, contemporary, with new characters, and it takes place down the coast from where NIGHT OWLS is set. Also, I love it just as much as I loved this book. (Maybe more!)

5. What did you find the easiest and hardest about writing Night Owls?
The easier part was writing it. The hardest part was waiting for my U.S. publisher to set a publishing date, which was two years after my agent sold the book. Two years is a looooong time to wait. Long enough that you start to wonder if you ever really wrote the book at all of if it was just a strange memory and you really just ate some bad shellfish.

6. Night Owls is a book that I feel really celebrates diversity and the differences between people that make us all unique. Was that important to you when writing this book?
That is always important to me when writing any book. I write what I see, and my world is diverse. Just on my block alone, I can look outside my window and see a gay couple talking to a Jewish elderly woman across the street, a disabled man fixing a car, two Latino kids riding bikes, and an African American war veteran jogging. All of that is beautiful to me.

7. Bex has a love of anatomy and draws anatomical art, with dream of becoming an anatomical artist. Did you have to do a lot of research for this? Or is it something you also have a passion for?
I studied art college and have a Bachelor in Fine Arts, so I did a lot of anatomical studies, though it was never my passion. But I can understand how someone with Bex's mind could be obsessed with the human body, because it's so complex and amazing. For the book, I did a little research, yes- especially on the Willed Body lab, which is an existing lab at a university hospital in San Francisco. I also watch a lot of cadaver dissection video footage, which had quite the same effect on me as they had on Bex in the book: namely, they made me lose my lunch. (Shudder.)

8. What books or authors first inspired you to start writing?
You know, it wasn't a particular book, but rather something a former boss of mine said at my last (boring) corporate job. He asked all of us what we'd be doing if we weren't working there, and out of nowhere, I blurted, "I'd be an author." And I'd never even thought of it consciously before. Never written one single word of a book. Two years later, I was signing my first contract with a NYC publishing house. So the moral of this story is this: If your subconscious is trying to tell you somehting, listen.



I absolutely LOVED this book and I can't help but want to share it with as many people as possible. Jenn Bennet was lovely enough to not only provide an interview, she also worked with her Simon & Schuster UK publishers to organise a giveaway. One UK winner can win a copy of the book from S&S. But I will also be giving someone else the chance to win a copy, and this giveaway will be international. 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

38 comments:

  1. Okay, okay you have convinced me. This sounds fabulous.

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  2. Oh man, I've had this one on my TBR since forever. I'm totally excited to get to it. Makes me even more because of your love of it.
    Happy reading!
    Brittany @ This is the Story of My(Reading) Life

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  3. Ah, I didn't know this one had another name and title to it! I have heard of the white one, with the mention of hearts in it but I had never heard of the Night Owl version! I just requested this one for review, so fingers crossed there because I actually really want to read it and have added it to my TBR! As well as that, I love the sound of diverse characters. Sign me up! Mental health issues being handled well and sex positive pulls me in all the more.

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    1. I know, it took me a little while to realise it had two titles. This one amazed me and I am so happy I got to read it :)

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  4. My favorite quote is: “I didn't fall in love with you. I walked into love with you, with my eyes wide open, choosing to take every step along the way. I do believe in fate and destiny, but I also believe we are only fated to do the things that we'd choose anyway. And I'd choose you; in a hundred lifetimes, in a hundred worlds, in any version of reality, I'd find you and I'd choose you” from The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White :D

    I found an uncorrected ebook of this entitled The Anatomical Shape of a Heart and yes, just like your review, I think it's perfect too ♥♥♥ Thanks for the chance! I want to own a copy of this *keeping my fingers crossed*

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    1. That's a beautiful quote. And it makes me want to read that book myself. Good luck for the giveaway :)

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  5. When I first opened up your review I can't help but admire the cover, then I realized "Why haven't I heard of this book before?" but then you mentioned that the US title is The Anatomical Shape of the Heart so I'm like OH. Okay, wow. That version, I'm aware of. Anyway, I love your review!! I am sooo convinced to pick up this book now. I like the fact that it has diverse characters, deals with mental health realistically, and is sex-positive. I am really looking forward to reading it!

    Here's one of my favorite quotes:
    “I’m attracted to people.
    To the words they speak, to the actions they take, to their full-bodied mannerisms and soulful gaits.
    I am attracted to people.
    To impassioned hearts that beat out of sync, the ones that skip a measure, heard in hushed places and violent spaces – I am attracted to people.”

    -- Fuel the Fire, Krista and Becca Ritchie

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    1. Lovely quote. I am glad I have made you want to read this one, it was a truly wonderful read and I absolutely loved it!

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  6. I just reviewed this one too Charnell and I absolutely couldn't agree more. I fell head over heels in love with it. It reminded me so much of Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley. It was just so incredible lovely, their budding friendship, the intrigue and how they were both well developed as characters separately, but together, Ohhhh I swooned! We're lucky to have the UK cover as the Aussie edition over here too, I'm really glad our markets didn't change it too, it's far catchier and the cover is divine! So glad you enjoyed this so much too and amazing interview! Thanks for sharing <3 <3

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    1. YAY!!! So happy to see so many others who absolutely loved it. I had to get an interview after finishing it, I wanted the chance to talk to the author. And I had to know about the name change as well. I love the UK title and cover more too, it's simple but beautiful.

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  7. AHHH I JUST FINISHED IT YESTERDAY AND LOVED IT. <3 I'm not even a big romance fan but ajfdlkas it was so adoable and shippable! I've seen some reviews shelving it as "insta love" but it wasn't. Yes, insta-attraction. But that's not at all unrealistic, right?! And then they took the time to get to know each other and fall in love and FOR GODS SAKE he actually went to a family dinner before kissing her. xDXD (Omg, I love family dinner scenes. How are they so endlessly entertaining??!) And I love the siblingness and the art. SO THIS BOOK WAS BASICALLY JUST SO MUCH WIN FOR ME. I loved the interview! I was wondering about the title difference so thanks for asking about that. ;-)

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    1. Attraction can be instant, that is definitely realistic. This was not insta-love at all though. They got to know each other over a long period of time. And didn't proclaim their love for one another after two minutes. I loved the family dinner scenes, so cute!!!!! I had to, the title difference was bugging me!!!

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  8. One of my favourite book quote is: “Anyone can betray anyone.” ― Victoria Aveyard, Red Queen. Thanks for the giveaway! (Valentina B. -on the raffle)

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  9. 'The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive.' From looking for Alaska!

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  10. “And we are quotation marks, inverted and upside down, clinging to one another at the end of this life sentence. Trapped by lives we did not choose.”
    ― Tahereh Mafi, Ignite Me

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    1. That's a wonderful quote, I still need to start the Shatter Me series.

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    1. It was a really amazing read, I highly recommend it!!! :)

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  12. This sounds brilliant! Reading your review and interview has definitely given me the push I needed. There's no doubt this is a book I need to check out! Thanks for the chance to win a copy, too!

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    1. This book is one of my absolute favourites now, I highly recommend it!!! :)

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  13. Has to be the opening line from Pride and Predjudice!!

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    1. I've never read it, but it's something I have been meaning to do for years.

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  14. You've totally convinced me to READ THIS BOOK!! Honestly, you had me at "sibling relationships", but I'll take the other positives too. :)

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    1. I really hope you read it and love it, it's one of my favourites!!! :)

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  15. “The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
    This book sounds beyond amazing, hope to read it as soon as possible.
    Thanks for the giveaway! :)

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  16. This is the 3rd review I've read in the past two weeks that absolutely raves about Night Owls! Will definitely have to check it out and thank you for the giveaway! As for my fave book quote? Well, there are many! But this one resonates a lot much:

    “When I was little, I used to go to the local ice-skating rink. In my mind, I always felt like I could twirl and jump, but when I got out onto the ice, I could barely keep my blades straight. When I got older, that's how it was with people: In my mind, I am bold and forthright, but what comes out always seems to be so meek and polite. Even with Evan, my boyfriend for junior and most of senior year, I never quite managed to be that skating, twirling, leaping person I suspected I could be. But today, apparently, I can skate.” - Gayle Forman, Just One Day

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  17. “People make their own reality.A hundred people can witness the exact same event,and give two hundred and three different accountings of it.”
    Styxx by Sherrilyn Kenyon

    Fantastic review! :)

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  18. I love the quotes "Imperfections define Perfection" from Slammed by Colleen Hoover, and "The Loudest Words are the ones we Live" from Archer's Voice by Mia Sheridan.

    Betul E.

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    1. YES!!! LOVE Slammed. So many wonderful quotes can be found in that book.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to comment, it always makes my day! Because of time restraints, this is now an award free zone but thanks so much for considering me! Feel free to leave a link to your own blog and I will come visit.