The Wicked Deep

A Kiss in the Dark by Gina Ciocca

A Kiss in the Dark by Gina CioccaA Kiss in the Dark by Gina Ciocca
Published by Simon Pulse on March 6, 2018
Pages: 341
Goodreads
four-stars

When the lights go out at a Georgia high school football game, Macy Atwood finds herself in the arms of a boy who kisses her senseless – but is gone by the time the lights come back on. All she knows is that there was something special – and oddly familiar – about her mystery kisser.

Noah Granger, Ridgedale’s resident bad boy and newest transfer student, has no problem taking credit for the kiss, but Macy can’t shake the feeling that he’s lying. Especially since a photograph of Macy and former star football player Joel Hargrove resurfaced online moments before the blackout, a not-so random reminder of how hard she fell for Joel last year. And how doing so ultimately sent her lifelong friendships with Meredith Kopala and Ben Collins up in literal smoke.

Soon junior year’s wounds begin to reopen as Macy realizes the events that unfolded are somehow tied to her mystery kisser. Discovering how means finally facing what really went wrong with Meredith, Ben, and Joel – and finding out what Noah is covering up.

But the closer Macy gets to figuring it all out, the more she starts to worry that the boy who kissed her in the dark and the boy who is stealing her heart might be two very different people.

This was a cute, surprisingly non-soap-opera-y contemporary romance. Usually when there’s multiple teenage suitors in contemporaries it can get corny and over-dramatic. Thankfully the characters in A Kiss in the Dark were reasonably and refreshingly mature.

I really liked Macy. She’s always the first to befriend new students and the first to stand-up to bullies. Even though she had a tendency to cower when it came to her heart, she was always fearless when it came to protecting others.

It’s senior year when this book starts out, and during a football game, the stadium lights go out and Macy shares a kiss with a mystery boy. Macy spends her time in A Kiss in the Dark trying to figure out who the mystery kisser is, while also trying to process what led up to a falling out she had with three classmates junior year, two whom were good friends, and one who was a sort-of-almost boyfriend. I loved how Macy wasn’t one of those “poor me poor me” characters. She generally cares about her ex-friends and acknowledges that she played a part in the fall out.

This book flashes between the now (senior year) and the then (junior year). The swap back-and-forth was smooth and each timeline held my interest.

I couldn’t pick a favorite suitor, because I liked all the guys / potential mystery kissers. They were all wrapped in mystery and had secrets I was dying to find out. There wasn’t a single boring character in this book!

I’m not a fan of football, but strangely enough I loved the TV show Friday Night Lights, which this book reminded me of. A Kiss in the Dark is set in a quaint Southern town where football is life and the entire town comes together for spirit week and homecoming. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I wished I had grown up in a town like that. My high school didn’t even have school dances and this book made me so jealous.

This book was paced nicely in the beginning, and then halfway through it started feeling off. I think it could have done with 50 or so less pages. Towards the last quarter of the book I guessed where the ending was headed for the characters, and even though I was right, I was still pleased and impressed with the wrap-up

I’d definitely read another contemporary by this author.

four-stars
The Wicked Deep

Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson

Catch a Falling Star by Kim CulbertsonCatch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson
Published by Point on April 29th 2014
Pages: 304
Goodreads
four-stars

A deliciously charming novel about finding true love . . . and yourself.

Nothing ever happens in Little, CA. Which is just the way Carter Moon likes it. But when Hollywood arrives to film a movie starring former child star turned PR mess Adam Jakes, everything changes. Carter's town becomes a giant glittery set and, much to her annoyance, everyone is starry-eyed for Adam. Carter seems to be the only girl not falling all over herself to get a glimpse of him. Which apparently makes her perfect for the secret offer of a lifetime: playing the role of Adam's girlfriend while he's in town, to improve his public image, in exchange for a hefty paycheck. Her family really needs the money and so Carters agrees. But it turns out Adam isn't at all who she thought he was. As they grow closer, their relationship walks a blurry line between what's real and what's fake, and Carter must open her eyes to the scariest of unexplored worlds - her future. Can Carter figure out what she wants out of life AND get the guy? Or are there no Hollywood endings in real life?

I loved this audio book! It was captivating and thought-provoking. It explored the struggles that young adults experience before and after graduating high school, the uncertainties of the future, and the fear of making wrong choices.

Although it’s been nearly 10 years since I graduated high school, I was still able to connect with the characters in Catch a Falling Star. This book had me reminiscing about my own high school experiences, and pondering the decisions I made after I graduated. Funnily enough, lately I’ve been exploring and scrutinizing the decisions I made, and wondering where I would be now, if I had done things differently. Some days I feel like I made many wrong choices, and that I’ll never be able to correct them. This book really gave me hope, because it reminded me that there is still time to go places and do stuff that I’ve only dreamed about. This book made me realize that there’s still time to make sure I don’t live with regret, which is one of the big lessons the characters are trying to learn throughout the story.

I liked the ending of Catch a Falling Star, because it didn’t have a neatly wrapped bow. We don’t know for sure what the characters will do or where they’ll go. Towards the end of the book, the characters began to realize and accept that no one can predict the future, and sometimes you just have to take a chance and hope it pans out in the end. Anything is possible, and you shouldn’t be afraid to take a chance, because you think you might fail.

I liked the woman who narrated this book. She definitely sounded like a teenager, and was able to capture Carter’s no-nonsense attitude. On the other hand, the guy narrator, who I assumed played Carter’s best friend, Alien Drake, sounded like a 40-year old. This choice of narrator was awful and I was often removed from the story when he spoke.

I’m really looking forward to reading other contemporaries by this author, because she really understands the tribulations of teenagers. She doesn’t sugarcoat things. Not everyone had a happy ending in this book, because that’s how the real world works.

four-stars
The Wicked Deep

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. SmithThe Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
Published by Poppy/Little Brown on January 2nd 2012
Pages: 236
Goodreads
five-stars

Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. Having missed her flight, she's stuck at JFK airport and late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's sitting in her row.

A long night on the plane passes in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more?

Quirks of timing play out in this romantic and cinematic novel about family connections, second chances, and first loves. Set over a twenty-four-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.

Here’s a  quick and sweet review of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight.

This book has been around for a few years now, and I meant to read it long ago, but I kind of forgot it existed. I’m so glad I finally remembered, and went ahead and borrowed the audio book from my library, because it was just as good as fellow readers have said.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is an emotional story full of humor and heartbreak.

I got especially emotional when it tackled the strained relationship between Hadley and her father. I’ve got my own issues with my father, and because of how raw the author could describe feelings, I felt my own memories and emotions rising up. It was kind of painful. but so worth it. Jennifer E. Smith really understands despair, and it shows in her writing.

But don’t worry – this book isn’t all gloom and doom. Oliver and Hadley are so cute together!  I loved their witty banter, and how they slowly helped each other work through their own deep-seated issues. Sometimes when everything seems to be going wrong, those wrong things can end up leading you towards something very right. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is very much about the old saying “everything happens for a reason”.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is such a quick read/listen. I didn’t mean to finish it in one day, I was only going to listen to it during my work commute, but then I ended up falling in love too easily and quickly, and I listened at home. I actually did extra household chores after work just for an excuse to listen to the story more *ha ha*.

I don’t listen to many audio books so I can’t really remark on the quality of this one, but I was happy with the female narrator. Never once did I doubt that I was following the story through Hadley’s eyes and thoughts.

five-stars
The Wicked Deep

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

P.S. I Like You by Kasie WestP.S. I Like You by Kasie West
Published by Point on July 26th 2016
Pages: 330
Goodreads
four-stars

Signed, sealed, delivered…

While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her. Intrigue!

Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only, who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out…

I tend to start drafting reviews in my head while I’m reading a book. Obviously the final outcome changes because a story can get better, or in some cases worse. For instance, a few chapters in and I was already planning on giving P.S. I Like You a 2-3 star rating – the lowest ever for a West book! Why you ask? Well…

This story revolves around my new #spiritanimal Lily. Every word out of her mouth is hilariously sarcastic and so well timed. Most of the time her family, peers and even best friend Isobel, have no idea what Lily’s talking about. She truly lives in her own little indie-rock world. 
 
One day Lily scribbles music lyrics on her desk in Chemistry class, and then the next day some mysterious person (who we quickly find out is a boy) writes the next verse. Eventually these two start passing notes back and forth, first discussing how awesome indie-rock is, and then sharing personal items about their life. Isobel may be Lily’s best friend, but there’s parts of Lily that she doesn’t share with anyone, that is, until her mystery pen pal comes along. Both Lily and “he” are able to say in writing to a complete stranger, more than they’ve ever been able to share with anyone else. 
 
West tries to trick us by throwing in three different guys who could be Lily’s mystery pen pal, but the moment “he” was introduced I knew immediately it was him. I became angry because I was loving P.S. I Like You so much and I felt like West had let me down by making it incredibly too obvious.
 
So how did I end up giving this book 4 stars? Because the story became even juicer once “he” was revealed! When Lily finds out whom her letters have been going to, she freaks out. She’s afraid that once this individual realizes its her, he will be disappointed. For someone who wears whatever she wants and says whatever she wants, Lily has low self-confidence in herself and how the world perceives her.

This story was cute. Not the best West book in my opinion but maybe the best character building in terms of Lily? Not sure. I think West needs to write many more books so I can get a larger sample to compare. 😉

four-stars

That Summer by Sarah Dessen

That Summer by Sarah DessenThat Summer by Sarah Dessen
Published by Viking Books for Young Readers on April 6th 2006
Pages: 208
Goodreads
one-star

For fifteen-year-old Haven, life is changing too quickly. She's nearly six feet tall, her father is getting remarried, and her sister—the always perfect Ashley—is planning a wedding of her own. Haven wishes things could just go back to the way they were. Then an old boyfriend of Ashley's reenters the picture, and through him, Haven sees the past for what it really was, and comes to grips with the future.

With such a low rating you’re probably wondering why I didn’t DNF this book. Well, because of my own damn stubbornness, that’s why. Being my first “Sarah Dessen” book, I was determined to read it through. Dessen books seem to be very popular and well-known so I thought That Summer would be a sure thing. As they say: there’s no such thing as a sure thing.

Contemporaries are my least favorite YA genre type. I find that I quickly lose interest unless one of two things occur; epic romance and/or fantastic characters. I get the sense that That Summer is geared towards Middle Grade readers, which excuses this book from having no romance(s) to root for.

So then there’s the characters. What can I say about the characters? Well…. SNOOZE. I couldn’t connect or relate to a single one. That Summer follows Haven, a 15 year old girl who’s trying to stay the same while the rest of her world changes. She’s hitting puberty at a fast rate and she’s having trouble accepting it. This sounds like an interesting, albeit, usual coming-of-age story, unfortunately, the characters (including Haven), are lackluster, making the story even more sluggish and agonizing.

My own stubbornness saw me through to the end of That Summer. I really wanted to quit this book about 40 pages in. The only reason I gave this book one star is because the last 20 pages of That Summer was actually pretty good. The story finally went into hyper-drive and the climax supernova’d. I think if the characters had been quirkier and that more significant moments had occurred, I would have liked That Summer a whole lot more.

one-star