Kiss & Make Up by Katie D Anderson
3.5 out of 5 stars
Sometimes I feel like I need a better rating system...this book was not a 4 star book, but it was still above average. Arg whatever. :) Kiss & Make Up is a cute book probably best suited for lipgloss-obsessed 12-14 year olds. It does have some kissing (obviously) and there is some minor talk of a suicide, so keep that in mind if suggesting it to someone. There is also a mystical element to this book, which I'll talk about more below the spoiler owl. (Also, be warned if you don't want to know what that element is, Goodreads does spoil it in their summary.) It's only available as an eBook right now and looks like it is $3.99 on Amazon (I got it as one of the free daily deals and no, I was not asked to review it) or free with the Prime.
The book starts out with 14 year old Emerson desperate for her first kiss. When her preoccupation with her aunt's latest make up line (think Mary Kay or Mark) causes her to miss out on a game of Spin the Bottle at her BFF's house, she is understandably upset, but she does end up getting that first kiss. Is it everything she dreamed of? No. Do weird things happen? Yes. Fast-forward two years and Emerson is still pining for that perfect first kiss and is still a major lipgloss-aholic. My sister shares this addiction, it's sick I tell you. ;) Emerson lives with her aunt and older sister and she is having major problems at school, mostly just not "applying herself". Her aunt threatens to take her out of the private school, because it is obviously a waste of money, but Emerson begs for another chance and decides to do whatever it takes to get her grades up. Enter the mystical element, but I'll get to that in a minute.
There are a lot of boys in this book and a lot of characters in general that I don't think got the attention they deserved. I don't really know how eBook pages compare to physical book pages, but this seemed short and I think it could benefit from being a longer book. Her sister, Piper, and Aunt Arch both had interesting side stories that didn't get fully resolved by the end. The neighbor boy, Luke, who is supposedly like a brother, gets so few lines that when he finally does show up at the end, I was wondering who he was. I did love the male protagonist though, I thought he was very well done.
Okay, the magic bit? Emerson can see into a person's mind when she kisses them or they kiss her. I thought it was pretty interesting, especially when we learn that she most likely inherited the gift/curse from her mother before she killed herself. Although, if that's what drove her mother to suicide, why would she give it to her daughter? Weird. Emerson's first kiss is kind of a disaster when she reads the boy's mind and sees that he's a pyromaniac who likes to kiss lots of girls. So you can kind of see why she abstained after that lol.
But when her aunt tells her to get her grades up or else, Emerson decides to use her gift to her advantage...by kissing unsuspecting nerds. Yep, she's doing what pretty girls have done for hundreds of years, using their goodies to get better grades. I am being sarcastic here, of course. I'm sure lots of hunky guys have used their muscles on limp-haired girls too. ;) Anyway, when Emerson realizes that she gets an insta-brain with just one lip-lock, she makes up a "study" schedule to conquer all of her classes. Hilarious near-kisses & misses ensue, she suddenly becomes a smartie-pants, and she even falls for one of the so-called nerds.
Just when she's at the top of her game, everything comes crumbling down, as they so often do. Emerson's maturity in dealing with all the fall-out is something I greatly admired in this book...she tells the truth, comes clean to her aunt about everything, and drops the decathlon because she feels she cheated to get in. Of course, after that she realizes that she just needed to buckle down and actually study, so she gets those good grades and the sweet, funny, cute, nerdy guy in the end still. Awww...she also passes her "gift" on to her sister at the very end of the book, which I thought was neat and would make a fun sequel.