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

Daughter of the Siren Queen (Daughter of the Pirate King #2) by Tricia Levenseller

Daughter of the Siren Queen (Daughter of the Pirate King #2) by Tricia LevensellerDaughter of the Siren Queen (Daughter of the Pirate King, #2) by Tricia Levenseller
Published by Feiwel and Friends on February 27, 2018
Pages: 352
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Alosa's mission is finally complete. Not only has she recovered all three pieces of the map to a legendary hidden treasure, but the pirates who originally took her captive are now prisoners on her ship. Still unfairly attractive and unexpectedly loyal, first mate Riden is a constant distraction, but now he's under her orders. And she takes great comfort in knowing that the villainous Vordan will soon be facing her father's justice.

When Vordan exposes a secret her father has kept for years, Alosa and her crew find themselves in a deadly race with the feared Pirate King. Despite the danger, Alosa knows they will recover the treasure first . . . after all, she is the daughter of the Siren Queen.

The good:

We learned a lot more about sirens. We got to deeply explore the mind of a siren when Alosa started practicing her abilities with Riden’s help.

We learned more about the women and men in Alosa’s crew. There wasn’t a lot of details, and we didn’t learn about all of them, but we did get little tidbits on a few crew members, their backstories and what skill they possessed that caught Alosa’s eye.

The reality and acceptance of death. These are ruthless pirates. They may be a family on the ship, Ava-Lee, but there’s still plenty of villainous pirates in the pirate king’s crew who show no remorse or hesitance in cutting a person down. This book may have many lighthearted and funny moments, but it’s still about murderous pirates. Characters die even ones we care about.

The bad:

The story moved too damn fast! Months at sea consisted of a few pages. I wish Alosa’s journey to Isle of Canta had taken longer with more emphasis on crew life.

Riden and Alosa… facepalm. Will they or won’t they. Alosa spends this book, once again, questioning Riden’s motives. Why does he compliment her, why does he want to protect her, why does he stare at her like she’s the only girI in the world. I was so over Alosa’s angst after the first 100 pages of this book. I started not even caring if they would end up together which was super depressing, because their relationship sizzled in book one.

In conclusion:

I’m glad this series is a duology because the story played out as far as I think it could have gone. Book one was great and book two was “okay”. I look forward to any new books this author publishes in the future.

 

three-half-stars
The Wicked Deep

Defy the Stars (Defy the Stars #1) by Claudia Gray

Defy the Stars (Defy the Stars #1) by Claudia GrayDefy the Stars (Defy the Stars, #1) by Claudia Gray
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on April 4, 2017
Pages: 503
Goodreads
two-stars

She's a soldier -- Noemi Vidal is willing to risk anything to protect her planet, Genesis, including her own life. To their enemies on Earth, she's a rebel.

He's a machine -- Abandoned in space for years, utterly alone, Abel's advanced programming has begun to evolve. He wants only to protect his creator, and to be free. To the people of Genesis, he's an abomination.

Noemi and Abel are enemies in an interstellar war, forced by chance to work together as they embark on a daring journey through the stars. Their efforts would end the fighting for good, but they're not without sacrifice. The stakes are even higher than either of them first realized, and the more time they spend together, the more they're forced to question everything they'd been taught was true.

I’m really sad that I didn’t enjoy Defy the Stars. The concept sounded really cool and when I realized it was kindred to a favorite show of mine, Battlestar Galactica, I was even more psyched.

I had a hard time getting into this book. Defy the Stars threw a lot of heavy information at me all at once. I had a hard time understanding the setting, the character’s casual use of unique words and phrases, how the controls on an intergalactic ship work. I was discouraged right from the beginning.

My favorite character was the ‘mech’ Abel, a human-looking robot built with machinery and organic material (just like the Cylons!). Even though there are 26 different mech models Abel is one-of-a-kind. He is the only model A mech. He stands above the other mechs, because he has the combined abilities of all models, like strength and medical experience. Abel was also equipped with the capability to feel emotions, to come to his own conclusions, and make his own decisions. This programming is unheard of in any other mech models. Abel’s journey to understanding human emotions, as well as his own, was fascinating. I loved his inner dialogue, how he learned to analyze the motives and emotional responses from the humans around him, as well as his own.

I hated Noemi. She was my least favorite character. She was bland and boring and I dreaded when the POV switched to her. Noemi says people call her miserable, a “rain cloud”, so I expected her to be sardonic, argumentative, or even snappy, but she wasn’t any of those things. She was lifeless, and I didn’t care about her at all. I just wanted more Abel.

The plot was interesting but Noemi kept ruining it for me. I wanted to see how her and Abel’s relationship would continue to grow, to see how Abel would react and start to understand why he was feeling certain ways about her like caring and even lust. I thought that once Abel acknowledged those thoughts, that this book would be amazing, but I despised Noemi so much that I couldn’t even enjoy that aspect of the story.

I read the first 50% of Defy the Stars, skipped 40%, and then read the last 10% because I wanted to know how book one would end. Minus Noemi, I really liked the last 10%. I can’t bring myself to read that missing 40% which means I’ll be passing on book two.

two-stars
The Wicked Deep

Unravel Me (Shatter Me, #2) by Tahereh Mafi

Unravel Me (Shatter Me, #2) by Tahereh MafiUnravel Me (Shatter Me, #2) by Tahereh Mafi
Published by HarperCollins on February 5th 2013
Pages: 461
Goodreads
five-stars

It should have taken Juliette a single touch to kill Warner. But his mysterious immunity to her deadly power has left her shaken, wondering why her ultimate defense mechanism failed against the person she most needs protection from.

She and Adam were able to escape Warner’s clutches and join up with a group of rebels, many of whom have powers of their own. Juliette will finally be able to actively fight against The Reestablishment and try to fix her broken world. And perhaps these new allies can help her shed light on the secret behind Adam’s—and Warner’s—immunity to her killer skin.

The first third of Unravel Me bored me. There wasn’t much action and Juliette just puttered around in the underground anti-establishment community she joined at the end of Shatter Me.

Juliette barely spends any time with Adam in Unravel Me. Whenever they do it’s always for short periods of time like breakfast. Adam started to annoy me in this book. One minute he’s deflecting Juliette’s feelings and then the next he’s eyeing her like he wants to spread her on top of the table in the dining hall and ravish her.

If we never got the novella Destroy Me, if we never got a glimpse into Warner’s mind and heart, I wouldn’t have minded Juliette and Adam’s angst as much. But ever since Destroy Me, I couldn’t stop thinking about Warner and Juliette and how their pairing would be so much better, hotter. This sounds totally harsh, but I didn’t even care what Adam’s problem was in this book. I just kept thinking Warner Warner Warner. When are we gonna see Warner again? When is Juliette gonna Shatter (haha see what I did there) Warner’s dark exterior and see the light within.

When Warner and Juliette finally see each other again it’s pure magic. They connect on a deep level that Juliette can’t reach with anyone else, especially Adam. Juliette tells Warner things that she hasn’t and is too afraid to say to anyone, even to Adam. Juliette feels like she’s a monster. and since she thinks Warner’s a monster too, she doesn’t fear telling him what’s in the deepest, darkest part of her heart.

This review is basically a love letter to Warner. Adam and Juliette’s romance in book one was sweet, tender, and romantic. But once Warner opened up and shared what was in his heart I was so bored with Adam and was praying he’d just disappear. Yes, once again I sound and feel horrible, but Juliette and Warner have a connection that is so deep, electric, and sexy, a connection that doesn’t even come close to what she has with Adam.

I also liked Unravel Me because Juliette grew a lot. Her time away from Adam was good. She spent her life ostracized, depressed and withdrawn until Adam came along. Adam was the first person to be able to touch her. He was the only one who ever cared about and remembered her. I felt like  Juliette used him as a crutch in book one and most of book two, and that she wasn’t able to start working through her own issues until they had time apart. In Unravel Me Juliette begins to feel confident in herself and her extraordinary powers. She learns how to trust and connect with others.

I read this book in one sitting. All 400+ pages. #sorrynotsorry #noshame

five-stars
The Wicked Deep

Destroy Me (Shatter Me #1.5) by Tahereh Mafi

Destroy Me (Shatter Me #1.5) by Tahereh MafiDestroy Me (Shatter Me, #1.5) by Tahereh Mafi
Published by Harper on October 2nd 2012
Pages: 109
Goodreads
five-stars

In Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me, Juliette escaped from The Reestablishment by seducing Warner—and then putting a bullet in his shoulder. But as she’ll learn in Destroy Me, Warner is not that easy to get rid of. . .

Back at the base and recovering from his near-fatal wound, Warner must do everything in his power to keep his soldiers in check and suppress any mention of a rebellion in the sector. Still as obsessed with Juliette as ever, his first priority is to find her, bring her back, and dispose of Adam and Kenji, the two traitors who helped her escape. But when Warner’s father, The Supreme Commander of The Reestablishment, arrives to correct his son’s mistakes, it’s clear that he has much different plans for Juliette. Plans Warner simply cannot allow.

Set after Shatter Me and before its forthcoming sequel, Unravel Me, Destroy Me is a novella told from the perspective of Warner, the ruthless leader of Sector 45.

When I read Shatter Me I was disgusted by Warner. He was demanding, cruel, and a bit crazy. He seemed to have this sick infatuation with Juliette and I was so happy when Juliette and Adam finally escaped his evil clutches. Warner was the villain in book one.

I actually read this novella, Destroy Me, 5 years ago, but I barely remembered what transpired. I vaguely remembered that at some point I stopped seeing Warner as the villain. I actually started falling in love with him but I couldn’t remember when or why. It was in Destroy Me!

Because of his ruthless and abusive father, the supreme of the Reestablishment, Warner has spent his entire life pretending to be heartless. The supreme saw any act of kindness or hint of vulnerability as a weakness, and quite literally, beat it out of his son. I’m not going to lie, Warner has done some pretty horrible things, but I think you need to go to the core and see why he is the way he is before you judge him. I’m a super fan of redemption, so Destroy Me gave me hope that Warner could change. He can’t erase the evils of his past, but he can try and do good in the future.

Warner spends the majority of Destroy Me reading the journal Juliette accidentally left behind during her escape. Warner’s shocked to find out that they both share a sense of sadness, confusion, fear, and helplessness. Warner’s anguish breaks my heart and I started shipping him and Juliette so hard after I finished Destroy Me.

five-stars