Review: A Kiss in the Dark – Gina Ciocca

Review: A Kiss in the Dark – Gina CioccaA Kiss in the Dark by Gina Ciocca
Published by Simon Pulse
Published: March 6th 2018
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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.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The first time I read a book by Gina Ciocca was her debut, Last Year’s Mistake, in 2015. I enjoyed the book a lot. I really clicked with the writing. So when I saw Gina had another book, Busted, coming out in 2018 I was beyond excited. Read and loved that. And then there was A Kiss in the Dark. A book that sounded like equal parts romance and mystery mixed with a lot of teen angst. I was dying to get my hands on it. And when I did…loved! It was really everything I had built it up to be in my head and I’m so happy.

This book was the perfect mix of mystery and contemporary romance. As a reader what I loved is that I didn’t have the whole story from the beginning. You know that something happened. You know that friendships ended and hearts were broken, it you didn’t know why it happened and who was involved. All it took was one unforgettable kiss in the dark for Macy to go back to that year and unravel just what lead to it all falling apart and to figure out who kissed her and why. It was done really well. I had no clue what happened and how it lead to all the destruction until I was about 70% done, although I figured out the kiss early on.

On top of loving the mystery/romance aspect it helped that I loved the three main people involved, Ben, Joel and Macy. All three played a part in the mess that was their lives and it took a year for them to face it and to try and fix what they broke or missed completely. I highly enjoyed seeing their story unfold and the secrets they were hiding. Plus I admit to being a tad smitten with Ben. Sue me, he’s adorable.

All in all I think this was my favorite book by Gina Ciocca. There is something about her books that I just click with. Her writing style just gets me and I need more of her stories in my life. This is an author you need to check out and this is a book you need to read!

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Spotlight: Busted – Gina Ciocca {giveaway}

Spotlight: Busted – Gina Ciocca {giveaway}Busted by Gina Ciocca
Published by Sourcebooks Fire
Published: January 2nd 2018
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Catching cheaters and liars is a lucrative hobby—until you fall for one of the suspects. Perfect for fans of Veronica Mars, this new novel from the author of Last Year’s Mistake will steal your heart!

Marisa never planned to be a snoop for hire. It wasn’t like she wanted to catch her best friend’s boyfriend making out with another girl. But as her reputation for sniffing out cheaters spreads all over school, Marisa finds herself the reluctant queen of busting two-timing boys.

And her next case? It’s for ex-frenemy Kendall. She’s convinced her boyfriend, TJ, has feelings for someone else and persuades Marissa to start spying on him. But the more Marisa gets to know sincere and artistic TJ, the more she starts to fall for him. Worse yet, the feelings seem to be mutual. Marisa knows she needs to give up her investigation—and the spoken-for guy who may just be the love of her life. Then she uncovers new secrets about Kendall and TJ, secrets that take “cheater” to a whole new level…

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About Gina Ciocca

Gina Ciocca graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in English, but in her mind, she never left high school. She relocated from Connecticut to Georgia, where she lives with her husband and son. When she's not reading or writing, you can find her taking long walks around the lake in her neighborhood.

 

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Marisa’s Top 5 Tips For Sleuthing:

Hey there. Marisa Palmera, Private Eye here. Okay, so I don’t actually call myself that, and neither does anyone else. In fact, I never meant to become a sleuth-for-hire. But spend one night scaling your best-friend’s boyfriend’s house to take incriminating pictures, and suddenly everyone wants you to be something you’re not…and when they’re willing to line your sadly lacking pockets for it, it doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.

So, should you find yourself an unwitting Girl Friday (or even a witting one… Is “witting” a thing?) like I did, here are some tips that just may save your butt:

1. Always have a camera handy. Whether it’s your cell phone, or the fancy camera you borrowed from your school’s yearbook club, you never know when you’ll need to snap an evidence shot. Just, um, make sure you turn off the flash if said camera is aimed through a window into a dark living room. I may have learned this the hard way.

2. Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. Sounds ominous and dramatic, I know. But if someone gives you the vibe that they shouldn’t be let out of your sight? GO WITH IT.

3. Think fast. Suck at lying? Me too. Get over it, because you’ll be fudging the truth a lot.

4. But know when to say no. Weave enough white lies, and suddenly they’re a sticky, tangled web with you trapped inside. Know when it’s time to run, and do it like the flames of hell are licking your feet.

5. Don’t fall for the person you’re investigating. Yeah. You’re just gonna have to do as I say and not as I do on this one. Oops.

My eyes darted from TJ’s dark, furrowed eyebrows to the logo on the left breast of his shirt and I sat up straighter.

“Um, where’d you get the Maple Acres shirt?”

His expression didn’t change. “Maple Acres.”

I fought the urge to roll my eyes. “Right. I meant, do you work there?”

“Yup.” He sat back in his chair and pulled at the logo, stretching the white cotton away from his chest before turning his attention back to the computer screen.

“Long time now.”

As soon as he said it, my memory was triggered. I’d always thought he looked familiar but could never quite place where I’d seen him. As I thought back to every trip I’d taken to Maple Acres, twice a year since I was two years old, the image of a boy with dark curls stuffed beneath a knit cap and a heavy flannel coat that made him look like Paul Bunyan clicked into place. The farm stretched over two hundred and fifty acres, selling pumpkins and cider and offering hayrides and a corn maze in a fall, then Christmas trees that you cut down yourself in the winter. The place had a storybook quality to it that I loved, and I couldn’t believe it had taken me so long to figure out TJ was a part of it.

“We go there for our tree every year. I think I’ve seen you.”

TJ kept his eyes on the screen. “Probably. I’m usually bundling the trees or in the checkout area. Sometimes I drive the tractor for the hayrides.” He glanced over long enough to shoot me a half smile. “Maybe you’ve seen the back of my head.”

That would’ve been an occasion I definitely hadn’t noticed him. The one and only time I’d taken a hayride had been the lone trip I’d made without Charlie or my dad, both of whom are allergic to hay. I’d gone with Jordan. Superman himself could’ve been driving the tractor and I would’ve been too busy drooling over Jordan in his plaid button-down with the sleeves rolled up around his gorgeous forearms to notice.

Vom, vom, vom. I pushed the chunks down and forged ahead. “So, that thing you didn’t want to do the last time we talked, is that… still an issue?”

“Uh, no. That fell through, so my article should be good to go on Monday.”

He’s not making this easy for me, that’s for sure.

“Take your time, really. I hope you didn’t cancel your plans because of me.”

He glanced over and gave me a wry smile. “No.”

“So, um, the tree farm. I go all the time.” I mentally slapped myself. Twice a year is all the time? “Do you live nearby?”

“You know the green colonial across the street behind the barn?”

“Uh huh.”

He smiled again. “That’s my house.”

“Wait, I thought the owners lived there.”

“They do. We have for my whole life.”

“Your family owns Maple Acres?” I blinked a few times, dumbfounded by my own dumbness.

“Well, co-owns. Have you seen the guy with the white hair who sneaks free gourds to all the little kids at Halloween? That’s my Uncle Roger. He’s there all the time, but my dad does more of the financial stuff.”

My face lit up. “That’s awesome! I love that place! I took a picture of the white barn from the top of the hill once and tried to sketch it. All the trees had snow on them, the sky was this amazing gray color and the pond was reflecting it” – I remembered mid-babble that I’d veered off course and reigned myself back in – “anyway, let’s just say it was magical, but drawing isn’t my strong suit. So, um, if you didn’t move, then why did you switch schools?”

TJ’s eyes slid back to the computer screen and his shoulder tensed ever so slightly, as if I’d brought up something he didn’t really want to talk about. Now I was getting somewhere.

“Our property is right at the intersection of three town lines. Technically, I could’ve gone to any one of the high schools.” He stabbed a few keys with his pointer finger, eliciting three clipped clicks. Maybe my eyes were playing tricks on me, but I swore his jaw tightened. “I left Templeton because it was time for a change of scenery.”

“It must’ve been hard, though, transferring for your senior year.” And pretty odd, in my opinion. “I’m sure you had a lot of ties there.”
TJ’s fingers paused in mid-air over the keyboard and he looked at me. “Not that many.”

This time when he turned his attention back to the screen, I knew our conversation had ended. He ran a hand through his hair in a gesture that had a definite undertone of irritation. Whether it related to my question or some memory pertaining to the school, I couldn’t tell. But when I caught sight of the leather bracelet on his wrist, my desire to exclaim OMG THAT’S GORGEOUS WHERE DID YOU GET IT almost overruled my desire to ask what the hell his comment was supposed to mean. I’d been baiting him to say, “Yeah, my girlfriend goes there.” He hadn’t. What did that mean?

Maybe nothing.

But damn it all to hell, I suddenly had to know for sure.

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Backlog Review: Last Year’s Mistake – Gina Ciocca

Backlog Review: Last Year’s Mistake – Gina CioccaLast Year's Mistake by Gina Ciocca
Published by Simon Pulse
Published: June 9th 2015
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four-stars

Is there anything that electric chemistry can’t overcome? The past may be gone, but love has a way of holding on in this romantic debut novel told in alternating Before and After chapters.

The summer before freshman year, Kelsey and David became inseparable best friends—until the night a misunderstanding turned Kelsey into the school joke and everything around her crumbled, including her friendship with David. So when Kelsey’s parents decide to move away, she can’t wait to start over and leave the past behind. But David’s not quite ready to be left.

Now it’s senior year and Kelsey has a new group of friends, genuine popularity, and a hot boyfriend. Her life is perfect. That is, until David’s family moves to town. Old feelings bubble to the surface and threaten to destroy Kelsey’s second chance at happiness. The more time she spends with David, the more she realizes she never let him go. And maybe she never wants to…

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I’m a major sucker for best friend to love troupes in books. I don’t know what it is, but I’m drawn to them like nobody’s business. So when I read the description of Last Year’s Mistake I was instantly drawn in. It had exactly what I would want in a book. And I loved the idea of the story having a back story, a past. And I can happily report that it hit the spot.

I guess what I really liked about this book was the relationship David and Kelsey formed right away. They were both these awkward teenagers and they just clicked. They understood each other and I liked that. Kelsey wasn’t always my favorite person. I mean sometimes I questioned just what the heck she was doing, but I also understood her too. She was trying to do anything to be someone else. To reinvent herself in a way her old high school never allowed her to do, but she also wasn’t being true to herself at the same time. Now David I loved the whole time. There was something so swoony about him. Something that made you just want to be his best friend and crush on him at the same time. It was sure who he was and I loved that about him.

I did have 2 issues that I didn’t particularly enjoy which is why this book isn’t rated higher than a 4. I hated Kelsey’s boyfriend. He was a jerk so I didn’t understand why she was even with him. I mean I know he kind of had to be a jerk for the book to work for the most part, but I think he could have been written a little better. I also wasn’t too crazy about the “misunderstanding, school joke” thing from Kelsey’s old high school. It just didn’t seem like it should have been as big a deal as it was. I mean I know kids are cruel, but this just seemed a tad over the top even for young high school kids.

Even with those two things I really enjoyed Last Year’s Mistake. It was definitely my kind of book and I read it when I needed something just like it. Getting to know Kelsey and David and the inner workings of their relationship was fun. I’m excited to see what else Gina Ciocca has in store for us with her writing.

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