Mundie Moms

Sunday, June 29, 2014

New To My Shelves #177 - Exciting Summer Reads Edition

Happy Weekend! Welcome to this week's edition of New To My Shelves (previously known as In My Mailbox (IMM) / Stacking the Shelves (STS) or My Weekly Round Up in the Stacks. This week's posts features the goodies that have recently arrived, or I've purchased this past week. You can check out all the goodies that have arrived via my Instagram account. 

I'm really excited about this week's book arrivals. I received an exciting variety of children's book, MG, YA and new adult. I'll be featuring my children/MG ones tomorrow on Mundie Kids. There are a lot of exciting reads coming out this year. 

For Review

  • City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare, Target edition w/ the comic *I'm not sharing a picture of it, because it's spoilery
  • City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare, the UK edition, *I'm not sharing of it, because it too is spoilery
With Jennifer Mathieu, Julie Murphy, Kristen Rae & Lindsay Cummings

*On Friday night I moderated a YA panel at Book People that had these fabulous 4 Texas debut authors on it! Jennifer Mathieu (The Truth About Alice), Julie Murphy (Side Effects may Vary), Kristen Rae (I Wish You Were Italian), and Lindsay Cummings (The Murder Complex). It was so much fun. If you didn't make it to the event, Book People does have signed copies available and they do ship world wide. 

Disney Hyperion, Bloomsbury, Harper Teen, Simon Teen, Amulet, Harper Collins, Fierce Reads, Tor Teen, Sophie & Em for this week's fabulous reads.

What goodies have you recently received? 

The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes, Book Review

By: Paula Stokes (also writes as Fiona Paul)
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: May 20, 2014
Source: eARC from publisher
Purchase: IndieBound | Book Depository | amazon | Barnes and Noble
The Art of Lainey

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars - the story showed promise...

Synopsis: "A satisfying and sweet story." -Publishers Weekly

Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is gearing up to spend an epic summer with her amazing boyfriend, Jason, when he suddenly breaks up with her—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 that’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 Lainey’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?

First a disclaimer, I didn't know that Paula Stokes is also Fiona Paul (author of the Venom series), and I haven't read her historical series, Venom, yet. I read this story because I love the plot device of using The Art of War as a way to get back an ex-boyfriend. I wanted this book to be a little more like  Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall. Lainey and Samantha are so similar -- both popular girls ruling the realm of their high school. Neither one are likable characters, at all, but the differences in how the authors handle the characters is dramatic.

It's tough to write an unlikeable character that is relatable, and there are few authors who do it extremely well (I'm thinking of Holly Black's Gavriel in The Coldest Girl in Coldtown although he's more of an anti-hero). As a reader, I admit, I have a tough time understanding these characters. And Lainey is just that character -- wrapped up in her popularity, her success as a soccer player, whining about not being able to get into a Division1 school (because her mother works at a college where the tuition would be free and incidentally Lainey did a commercial, that everyone loves, for that very college…Lainey needs my "money doesn't grow on trees, kids" lecture) and on and on and on. Lainey is perfect. Everyone (including her) tells us that over and over again, so why does her equally popular boyfriend dump her? I wanted to know, I really did, but in the end, there just wasn't enough tension holding that thought in place.

I confess that I almost didn't finish the book. Lainey's best friend and her co-worker/pretend boyfriend were such flat, two-dimensional characters that I kept reading because I thought, surely, there will be a  twist explaining why they even bother to hang out with the obnoxious Lainey. Sadly, there is no twist. What I did get was a sweet moment or two with the fake boyfriend's sister that were genuine and true. Really sweet moments. I wish there were more of those with the other characters.

I think my own expectations of what should happen to Lainey's character made me want to walk away from the story. What would have made me increase the rating was if I saw the always manipulative Lainey grow or even suffer for some of her mistakes and biases. The story never gave me that feeling of satisfaction, and it never explored the shades of gray in these very black and white characters.

For more favorable reviews, check out Wendy Darling's (The Midnight Garden) and Tiffany's (Once Upon a Twilight).