Review: Starlight Nights

Review: Starlight NightsStarlight Nights by Stacey Kade
Published by Forge on January 9th 2018
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 384

“I’d never understood why people called it ‘falling’ in love. You either love someone or you don’t, like an on/off switch. End of story. But in that second, I get it. Because suddenly it’s not the floor tilting anymore, it’s my whole world. And I’m sliding helplessly toward feelings that are way bigger than I am.”

FINAL DECISION: Choices, mistakes, second chances. Calista and Eric do not have an easy uncomplicated path to one another and I loved it. They are flawed and struggling and they don’t figure everything out by the end of the book and that was perfectly okay with me. I loved this book almost as much as 738 DAYS.

THE STORY: Calista Beckett has lived a lot in her twenty-three years. After a wildly successful stint as a teenager on the show Starlight, she fell into a heroine addiction. Now sober, she is trying to build a new life for herself as a student at a midwestern college. Eric Stone comes back into her life wanting her to star in his new web series based on a book that Calista loves. Eric played Calista’s brother in Starlight but there has been something between them since Eric gave Calista her first kiss at her audition for Starlight. She fell in love with him that day but their relationship has ended up giving her nothing but pain.

OPINION: Sometimes books and characters just capture my attention despite flaws that might otherwise make me dislike them. Eric and Calista are definitely flawed characters. Their romance is rocky and before the epilogue, I was barely convinced that they would be able to overcome the years of mistakes that they had made with one another.

For people so young, history weighs heavily on these two. This book is all about second chances. About how choices and mistakes can overwhelm and how love is not always something positive. Yet by the end of this book, I felt the distance the characters had traveled and the welcome epilogue shows that they finally found a way to deal with one another in a positive affirming manner.

Calista is a young woman who has already made many mistakes and is threatened by an overbearing mother who uses her love to keep her under her thumb. Calista has become the breadwinner for her family and the mother is desperate to keep things together. Torn between wanting to live her own life and her responsibilities to her mother and sisters, Calista has to learn to assert herself even when she will disappoint others.

Eric also has family problems. Abandoned by his mother, dealing with a father who wants to control and crush him, Eric struggles with abandonment issues. These are a pair that seem destined to be at cross purposes: Calista fears control; Eric fears loss.

These characters are flawed and make very human mistakes. They backslide. They succumb to their fears and the easy way out. They are definitely not perfect. Some readers might find this a difficult read because the flaws and failures of these characters are on full display. They struggle and sometimes flail in their relationship with one another and with others. Yet this is the very reason that I ended up loving this book. The journey of these characters gave me a sense of their accomplishment by the end of the book.

As I began this book, I wasn’t sure that I was going to be able to like these characters. Eric, especially, seemed at times arrogant and a jerk; Calista seemed weak. But as I got to see these characters change and fail and succeed and determine their path, I found myself liking not only them but the possibilities of their relationship.

This is a book that will be on my keeper shelf and along with 738 DAYS be one that I will revisit again and again.


WORTH MENTIONING: For fans of 738 DAYS, the epilogue of this book is definitely worth reading.

CONNECTED BOOKS: STARLIGHT NIGHTS is the sequel to 738 DAYS. It is not necessary to read that book first as this operates as a standalone. However, readers of 738 DAYS will get to see what is going on with Amanda and Chase.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to prepare a review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.


Review: 738 Days

Review: 738 Days738 Days by Stacey Kade
Series: 738 Days #1
Published by Forge Books on June 7th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 432

“Oh yeah, she’s definitely not ready.  And neither am I.  This is such a bad idea.”

FINAL DECISION:  A powerful, angst filled story that retains a great amount of charm and humor, 738 DAYS is the story of two people who are rebuilding their lives and find inspiration in each other to become their better selves.

THE STORY:  Amanda Grace was abducted at the age of 15 and held for 738 days until she was rescued.  In the small room where she was held there was a poster of teen heartthrob Chase Henry which Amanda credited for helping remind her of home.  Now at the age of 20, Amanda is struggling to get her life together.  She fears that life will never consist of anything but her fears and her difficult relationships with her family members.  At 24, Chase is washed up.  A recovering alcoholic after experiencing the excesses of Hollywood, Chase is trying to pick himself up again.  When his publicist suggests surprising Amanda with a personal visit and the opportunity to go to the set of the movie Chase is working on, Chase believes it is a chance for him to get some good publicity.  Instead, things go horribly wrong. Despite that beginning, Amanda and Chase strike a deal.  Chase will get some good publicity and Amanda will get a chance to experience life away from her family. These two survivors don’t expect the growing connection between them.

OPINION: 738 DAYS is the story of two people who have experienced so much pain, mistakes and heartbreak in the young lives. As the two struggle to rebuild their lives, I especially liked that they don’t make one anther better rather each makes the other want to be a better version of themselves.  The story shares the truth that we cannot change for someone else, but we can become better to be worthy of those we love.

I was enthralled and mesmerized with this book which I couldn’t put down. The personal journeys of both Amanda and Chase were painful and yet redemptive. I especially loved that two people with so much pain in their lives had such a sweet and gentle love between them.  They have a difficult road and this book doesn’t shirk from that reality.  But their relationship is also funny and innocent and something quite beautiful. That reality is which compels them to chance their lives.

Told in alternating POVs, this book really digs into the emotional and mental journeys of Amanda and Chase.  Both begin the book allowing others to dictate their lives.  As the story continues, each learns to seize control of their lives and accept responsibility for their actions.  The dual POVs are important here where Chase could have otherwise come off as a serious jerk.  Because I could understand how he allows things to get away from him, I had more sympathy for him than I would have otherwise.

These two lost souls are bound together before they even meet and their journey is one of getting to know the real person beyond the headlines.  I think that focusing on the reality amidst the tabloid media gives the relationship between Amanda and Chase an intimacy, a focus and a reality that makes their story grounded rather than being a Hollywood fiction.

This book has a lot contained in it.  Both Amanda and Chase have individual redemption stories and then there is their romance along with some drama and mystery to push the story forward.  What is surprising is that everything gets resolved in a thoughtful manner.  By the time the book ended, I wanted more because the story was so good and I could read about these characters for hundreds of pages more.  Leaving readers satisfied but wanting more is a great accomplishment.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This is not a book I normally would have picked up.  Recommended in the Washington Post, I was intrigued by the blurb. Sometimes trying something new and unusual is greatly rewarded. For me, this was one of those occasions.

CONNECTED BOOKS: 738 DAYS is a standalone.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 5 stars.