Saturday, January 28, 2012

Aces Up by Lauren Barnholdt

Aces UpHarry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter, #4)Genre:Young Adult-Contemporary
Source: Paperback from Library
Series: No, Standalone
Buy It: The Book Depository, The Dolphin Bookshop (Shop Indie!)
Challenge: Free Reads
First Line: "I will not freak out, I will not freak out, I will not freak out."

Seventeen-year-old high school senior Shannon Card needs money. And lots of it. She's been admitted to Wellesley, but her dad just lost his job, and somehow she has to come up with a year of tuition herself. But Shannon's dream of making big bucks waitressing at the local casino, the Collosio, disappears faster than a gambler's lucky streak. Her boss is a tyrant, her coworker is nuts, and her chances of balancing a tray full of drinks while wearing high-heeled shoes are slim to none. Worse, time is running out, and Shannon hasn't made even half the money she'd hoped.
When Shannon receives a mysterious invitation to join Aces Up, a secret network of highly talented college poker players, at first she thinks No way. She has enough to worry about: keeping her job, winning the coveted math scholarship at school, and tutoring her secret crush, Max. But when Shannon musters up the nerve to kiss Max and he doesn't react at all, the allure of Aces Up and its sexy eighteen-year-old leader, Cole, is suddenly too powerful to ignore.
Soon Shannon's caught up in a web of lies and deceit that makes worrying about tuition money or a high school crush seem like kid stuff. Still, when the money's this good, is the fear of getting caught reason enough to fold?
This fun, sexy, recession-proof story is a bubbly summer read with surprising depth—great for fans of Sarah Mlynowski.
     I first saw this book on one of Katie's IMMs.  I fell in love with how adorable the cover was and that's actually what draw me to the book.  I was soon pleasantly surprised by the interesting plot, fun characters, and lightness of the book!  By lightness, I mean that Aces Up was not a heavy dystopian read or a high fantasy; it's the perfect summer read and has a nice feel to it.  It was definitely a breath of fresh air compared to what I've been reading lately!
     I loved the concept of the book.  I mean, who wouldn't want to read about a secret poker society?!  The idea behind the book was definitely fun and enjoyable.  Aces Up did have it's flaws, though.  It was definitely predictable and I did think that Aces Up should have been described more.  Towards the beginning, Cole made Aces Up sound very exclusive but, it didn't seem that way when Shannon was actually in the club.    Cole also told Shannon that no one could know about Aces Up but, she told a lot of people and he didn't seem to mind (I can't say who.  No Spoilers!).   It also bothered me that Cole never said "Shannon" it was always "Shannon Card."
     I really liked Shannon's character.  I'm not sure why but, I feel like her name suited her character.  Although she was predictable, she was very relatable.  I was able to connect with a lot of her decisions although, I felt the opposite for some of her other decisions.  I also felt like in the middle of the book, she and Mackenzie seemed like they had switched personalities.  I also felt the same with Shannon and Parvati.  Overall, I liked Shannon a lot but, I can't really explain why :) .  I really liked Mackenzie's "Best Friend" role in the book.  I liked seeing her grow as a person and learn from her mistakes.  I also thought she was funny.  Max was a great character.  I really loved him!  He was just such a casual character but, was always there for Shannon.  He was a really sweet guy.  Robyn was a great sister role in the book and I loved her personality.  She was always trying to do the right thing but, was still trying to help out Shannon.  I hated Cole but, I think that was the point.  He was always so stiff and uninteresting.  It seemed like all he cared about was money and that bothered me.  I guess that was supposed to bother me anyway.
     One thing I definitely liked about Aces Up was that I learned something from reading it.  I've always wanted to learn Poker.  I was once taught a variation of it but, I've always wanted to learn traditional poker.  Although Aces Up didn't go far into the depth and different hands of the game, I really liked learning the basics!  It reminded me of when I read The Cardturner by Louis Sachar; I learned how to play bridge when I read that one!
     Overall, I really liked Aces Up.  Although it did have several flaws, it was just what I needed.  I felt like I'd been reading a lot of Fantasy, Sci Fi, and Dystopian and Lauren Barnholdt pleasantly surprised me with Aces Up, a bubbly contemporary novel!  Definitely check this one out if you're getting tired of  reading a certain genre, looking for something that's been on the shelves for a while, or are just looking for the perfect summer ( or anytime really) read!

Final Grade:

I'm kind of borderline between B+ and A but, I'm giving it a B+ because of the flaws.


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