Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Review: The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes

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

Review: The Art of Lainey by Paula StokesThe Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes
Published by HarperTeen on May 20th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Source: HarperCollins
Buy on Amazon

Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is gearing up to spend an epic summer with her amazing boyfriend, Jason, when he suddenly breaks up with herโ€”no reasons, no warning, and in public no less! Lainey is more than crushed, but with help from her friend Bianca, she resolves to do whatever it takes to get Jason back.

And thatโ€™s when the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. With just one glance, they're sure they can use the book to lure Jason back into Laineyโ€™s arms. So Lainey channels her inner warlord, recruiting spies to gather intel and persuading her coworker Micah to pose as her new boyfriend to make Jason jealous. After a few "dates", it looks like her plan is going to work! But now her relationship with Micah is starting to feel like more than just a game.

What's a girl to do when what she wants is totally different from what she needs? How do you figure out the person you're meant to be with, if you're still figuring out the person you're meant to be?

The Art of Lainey is a cute, heartwarming book with a genuine love story that gives the finger to insta-love. This is just a happy-making kind of read that leaves you with a smile on your face and butterflies in your stomach!

Lainey’s boyfriend just broke up with her, and like any teenage girl she feels as if it was the end of the world. She takes on her friend’s advice to follow The Art of War strategies and get him back. It’s a fun premise and being familiar somewhat with The Art of War I thought it was interesting to have that be a part of the story. It gave it this extra layer of depth that I appreciated. As for Lainey herself, though, she could be very frustrating at times, but I have to give kudos to the author for crafting a very realistic teenage girl with a broken heart. Still, as a reader, I couldn’t help but feel irritated towards her way of thinking, not just from her shallow thoughts or comments (“Everything I own is hot” – Le sigh), but also how she saw herself by believing she’s nothing if she’s not Jason’s girlfriend. She had this perfect senior year planned out, and now she acts as if her being single makes her unworthy – a nobody. Her confusing happiness with acceptance and popularity made her blind to how better she was than this. Though I don’t fault her as this is something many teenage girls would feel in her situation, where high school can be more about who you are with than who you are. Fortunately, there is amazing character growth throughout the story where we see Lainey turn into who she never could be with Jason – her real self she never even knew herself. It’s as much of a love story as it is a finding oneself journey.

While going on fake dates to try to win her ex back, this is where we get to know Micah; the complicated, sometimes rude, often funny, and outspoken tattooed boy with a tragic past and a heart of gold. This is the real love story of this novel, and it’s a wonderful butterfly-inducing romance that progresses at the perfect pace between frustrating second guesses and fleeting, swoon worthy moments. I especially loved how different they were from each other, yet somehow fit so perfectly together. They – especially Lainey – start to see their differences as a source of growth rather than obstacles; opening yourself up to new experiences is really how you find out who you truly are. Still, it was definitely not love at first sight, and their initial dislike makes for some amusing, yet endearing banter. Their rivaling sense of humours do make them the perfect pair, even then, however.

This novel is not all about romance, and this is what I loved the most about it. Lainey’s friendship with Bianca is authentic, and even though it takes a while to truly grasp the strength of their bond, I loved how real, how honest, they were with each other. Kendall you will want to slap – often – but she has an important role to play in this novel in showing Lainey that this self-involved, hideous personality is not what she should be choosing. While it’s left unintrusive, family is a part of this story as well: Lainey’s mother is especially great, and we also meet Micah’s mother and sister who bring even more heart into the mix.

Friendship, love, family, music, sports, and self-discovery is what you will find inside The Art of Lainey. The range of emotion matches the depth of this story, giving us an all-around excellent contemporary novel.


4 Hot Espressos

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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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21 Responses to “Review: The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes”

  1. Maddy @Symphony of Words

    I’ve been hearing a lot about how this novel is amazing because of the bond that the two friends have each other. That’s really good to know because a lot of YA books these days (most of them) are focused only on the romace of the protagonists. I’m going to try this out, because, well, what’s more realistic than having a best friend whose got your back and doesn’t get thrust into the background every time a hot new brooding boy comes along?

  2. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    I have to agree with you, Giselle. Although I know that most teenagers would probably behave like Lainey, I was very much frustrated with her for over 70% of the book. It annoyed me how obsessed she was with Jason and how she refused to see herself away from him. I did really love Micah though. He was such a charmer. And yes, her friendship with Bianca was the highlight of the book for me.
    Lovely review, Giselle.

  3. Aimee @ Deadly Darlings

    I didn’t love Lainey as a character, but I loved how she treated her friends and how family is so important here. And I definitely LOVED Micah, of course. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Glad you enjoyed it–awesome review, Giselle!

  4. Juhina

    I couldn’t get past her way of thinking.. like you mentioned.. how her starting senior year single and not as Jason’s girlfriend is the worst thing that could ever happen to her… she was such a bad example to all the girls out there.. and i feel the only way she let go of this is because she got a NEW boyfriend.. so i personally don’t see where her development went.. sigh. I did love Bianca though! i think i liked the non-romance parts of this novel much more than the romance ๐Ÿ˜›

    great review!
    Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

  5. Pili

    What a fantastic review, Giselle!
    I’m so very happy to hear that this book is about so much more than just the romance! I have it preordered and reviews like yours make me even more excited about finally getting to read it!

  6. Sophia @ Bookwyrming Thoughts

    I thought this was another book… whoops! Like Letters to Boyfriends or something… I know I got the title wrong as well, LOL.

    Although now I’m curious about Kendall. I’m sure I sound weird, but at least it’s not about insta-love completely. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. Tiffany (AboutToRead)

    I’m actually uploading my review to my blog and YouTube right now ๐Ÿ™‚

    I agree with you on this one. It was adorable. It really bothered me that Lainey thought she was nothing without Jason, but it was awesome to see how much growing up she did.

    And I just adored Micah!!

  8. Aylee

    Gives the finger to insta-love haaha!! Got to love that. And also got to love the fact that this one isn’t just a love story, but also about self-identity. This is so not my usual kind of read, but you’re making me want to read it anyway! Great review.

  9. Jessica @ Rabid Reads

    This sounds adorable. Even with Lainey’s sometimes superficial perspective, the idea of getting a boyfriend back by using principles from The Art of War . . . *snorts* My husband wanted to know what I was cackling about, so I told him, and he thought was a terrible idea, LOL. Something about killing a soldier to build an army . . . AND I love it when the IT girl falls for the tattooed, rebellious type ๐Ÿ˜‰ Strongly emphasized friendships are also a favorite–WIN all the way around.

    Wonderful review, Giselle.

  10. Lauren

    I have a review copy of this and am SO excited to read it after reading your review! I love that Lainey goes through significant growth and that there is also a swoonworthy romance and great friendships. I love the premise of using the Art of War to get her boyfriend back, and that she learns she doesn’t need him in her misguided attempts. Awesome review!

  11. Vi

    Oh, I like the sound of this. Originally, I was intrigued, but not enough to really wanna read it. I like that it’s about more than the romance, which is def what I need nowadays. Great review!