Welcome to my stop on the Art of Lainey blog tour!
About The Art of Lainey:
The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes
Published May 20, 2014
Published by HarperTeen.
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?
Since this is the beginning of the Canadian blog tour for Lainey, I'm going to do this review a little differently. But don't worry, I'm still going to talk about the reasons I adored The Art of Lainey and the reasons you should definitely get yourself a copy.
Five Major Reasons Why You Should Read The Art of Lainey:
Lainey's Growth:Not going to lie, Lainey starts out as... well, not the kind of girl you'd really be too keen to be friends with. And she doesn't have a good reason for it, either. She's a little overdramatic, pretty snobby, and very judgmental, but she has it very good in life. She kind of deserves a little knock upside the head because she comes across as a bit of a brat. However, she's not a terrible person and you do see some good qualities come through. Possibly the biggest element of this novel is the way Lainey grows both on her own and thanks to the people around her -- especially her fake boyfriend Micah. By opening up to new experiences and new people and by being surprised (and surprising herself), Lainey really changes a lot about her views and the way she treats people. While she retains some of the fun qualities that she had early on, her refined, more likeable and positive outlook and personality show her growing up and coming into a more mature but still fun person. I loved Lainey's growth arc because it felt very realistic. A lot of the flaws she has are quite typical of your average teenager and it's not like she changes overnight or into a totally different person. Over the course of the novel she just becomes a more mature version of herself, which was a great way for her to develop.
Micah:Oh, Micah. A little rough around the edges but a sweetheart deep down, Micah is the perfect person to push Lainey beyond her limits and make her see past her preconceived judgments. It's easy to immediately put him in a box based on his mohawk, tattoos, piercings and slight criminal past, but Stokes makes it so that Micah is not so "box-able". He isn't traditionally extraordinary... he doesn't have a fancy accent or an undeniable talent. He is an average guy struggling to deal with some difficult parts of his past. But he is also snarky, sweet (though don't point it out to him), and genuine. He loves what he loves and he's eager to bring Lainey into his world, especially if it makes her ever so slightly uncomfortable, but he's also a man of his word and therefore willing (if grudgingly) to try out what Lainey loves as well. Even his family only brings out more great qualities in him. His sister, Trinity, is a wonderful addition to the story on her own but also as she showed me where Micah's heart really is and what a caring person he is for the ones he loves. Micah is so much more than he first appears and ends up being an endearing character and a fantastic complement to Lainey.
The Romance in General:As rocky as their start is, Lainey and Micah make for a great, if a little unconventional couple. Their banter is so entertaining and as they get to know each other they come to have some pretty undeniable chemistry. They both judge each other at the start and think they can classify one another in a stereotype. Once they share their passions, though, they both open up a lot more and begin to see that there is more to someone than what their favourite thing defines them as. Lainey is more than just a soccer playing jock and Micah is more than just a musically-oriented bad boy, despite how they come off at first. The way the two of them bring out different sides of each other and introduce one another to things they may never have tried otherwise makes for what is actually a very mature relationship and really fantastic potential. I could tell that the one thing these two would never be when together is bored, and that made it all the more fun for me to read about.
Bianca:Hello awesome best friend! Bianca is Lainey's lovely Latina bff and their friendship is absolutely wonderful. I really loved the way the history of their friendship is established clearly and effortlessly. You can tell from the way Stokes writes their friendship that they truly have each others' backs and love each other with all their hearts. They support each other but aren't afraid to give a little tough love, which gives them great balance. They are each others' support system, which makes a big difference for Lainey as she deals with the entire Jason situation. Despite having different interests, they really care about each other. I also really loved that Bianca was made to be a character in her own right. Sure, in the story she is Lainey's best friend, but she is developed and given passions and insecurities so that she shines apart from Lainey as well. Bianca is not a throwaway friend for Lainey - not in the context of Lainey's life nor in the context of the book - which makes her such a wonderful addition to the story.
Plot Shenanigans:The "fake" dates Lainey and Micah go on? The Art of War tactics Lainey and Bianca try to employ? The Jason drama? All of these make for a very entertaining novel. While the characters are certainly what shine here, a lot of them comes out through the various places they go and things they do. By alternating the driving force behind the dates between Lainey and Micah and by giving Bianca and even Jason some say in the plot as well, Stokes has really made for a novel that feels fresh in its execution, even if the overall story arc isn't totally unpredictable. I was certainly never bored by the crazy things Lainey got up to and that's what made this book such a fun ride and just the kind of thing I look for in a contemporary romance.
So should you read The Art of Lainey? Do you love anything of the things I mentioned above? Then yes, you absolutely should.
Now for a very fun guest post from Paula:
Lainey and Bianca’s First Date Tips
Take some fear out of first dates with these tips from my favorite fictional females! (With handy sports metaphors, for Reasons.)
Lainey: Plan your outfit and hairstyle beforehand and do a practice run getting ready. Maybe it seems like a waste of time, but my friend Kendall does some modeling and she says they sometimes do this at fancy fashion shows. If that epic dress you bought has a rip somewhere or those perfect shoes hurt so bad you can’t walk in them without limping, you’re going to want to know more than ten minutes before game time.
Bianca: Come up with two or three possible conversation starters, just in case things start to feel awkward. Don’t fill your brain with more than that, or you’ll just get confused. Think of something about a class you share in school or a movie that just came out. Don’t rehearse exactly what to say, because no one wants to sound like a programmed robot.
Lainey: Oh, and also think of an escape route, just in case. Maybe you’ve set a time limit on this date because of your curfew or other plans. Maybe a sibling or trusted friend is going to check in with you mid-date and suddenly “need” your help if things aren’t going well. This might sound sketchy to you, but it’s not like you’re planning for a bad date, you’re just covering the bases. And you’ll be less freaked out from the start if you know you’re not trapped with someone for hours and hours.
Bianca: But, don’t activate Operation Escape Route just because you’re feeling nervous. It takes time to get to know someone. I went on a first date not too long ago and it was a little awkward at first, but once we started talking we realized we had a ton in common. You wouldn’t want to pass up a good thing because you didn’t give it a fair try.
Lainey: Finally, set your limits beforehand. Are you okay with a goodnight kiss or are you going to wait a little longer (like oh, I don’t know, 250+ pages…) before you lock lips for the first time? You can always change your mind mid-date, but if you know at the start what you’re comfortable with, it’ll be easier to stick to your guns.
Bianca: Pick at activity that gives you a chance to talk, but also keeps you doing stuff so that you don’t have to talk a lot if you’d rather not. Dinner is kind of a high-pressure way to go for a first date because it’s just the two of you staring at each other. A movie is better, because you’re both busy watching, and then afterward if you’re feeling it you can go grab coffee or food and talk about what you liked and didn’t like.
Lainey: Other things that would be cool are a sporting event, a concert, a play, an amusement park, or maybe something like hiking or paintballing! If you pick an activity that you would enjoy on your own or with friends, chances are you’ll enjoy it on your date.
Bianca: You hate hiking. And I’m fairly certain you would hate paintball too. It hurts.
Lainey: Whatever. It’s not all about me, Bianca! These people know what they like. You know what’s funny? You and I both did the dinner thing on our most recent first dates. We should probably take our own advice! Not that we’ll need it anytime soon since our guys are epic. Okay next, try not to check your phone every five seconds while you’re out. It’s kind of distracting…and rude. Maybe leave it in your purse or pocket and sneak away mid-date to the bathroom if you just can’t help yourself.
Bianca: Listen, don’t just plan what you’re going to say next while the other person is talking. Don’t be too quick to judge your date. He or she might not have our awesome dating tips and therefore might be really nervous. Don’t be too quick to judge yourself, either. There’s no need to appear perfect.
Lainey: Try to just be yourself, and have fun!
Bianca: There’s nothing wrong with a little post-date analysis with a trusted friend, but don’t blab the minute details of your time together across the whole school. It’s no one’s business what you did or didn’t do.
Lainey: If you had a great time, it’s okay to call or text and say so. You don’t have to wait for the other person to initiate contact. You don’t have to wait three days or whatever the internet tells you in order to look cool. There’s nothing uncool about liking someone.
Bianca: But at the same time, don’t be a stalker. If you call or text two or three times and the other person doesn’t respond, maybe it’s not meant to turn into a relationship. That stings, but he’s not the right guy for you unless he thinks you’re the right girl for him. Or vice versa. You’re a varsity dater—a starter, at that, not a benchwarmer.
Lainey: If the first date leads to a second date to a third date and then maybe to trespassing on federal property, repeat all of the above until you’ve got so much game you no longer need our help. And if the romance fizzles out before the ref blows the whistle, no big deal. Look at yourself in the mirror (no, don’t fixate on that red spot that might be a zit) and remind yourself of why you’re awesome. Maybe it’s your welcoming smile, your quick wit, or your big heart. Or in my case, all three ;-)
Bianca: *cough* Or maybe it’s how you’re extra humble.
Lainey: Hey, no one is perfect. Right, reader-person? Keep that in mind if your date ends up less than fairytale-like. The real world can be a little trickier than the book world, but just as magical. Maybe there’s someone better—a tatted up, mohawked prep cook of your very own—just waiting for a shot at winning your heart.
Love it! These girls are so great. Thanks Paula!
Paula Stokes is half writer, half RN, and totally thrilled to be part of the world of YA literature. She grew up in St. Louis, Missouri where she graduated from Washington University and the Goldfarb School of Nursing. When she's not writing, she's kayaking, hiking, reading, or seeking out new adventures in faraway lands. Paula loves interacting with readers! Find her online at www.authorpaulastokes.com or on twitter as @pstokesbooks.
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Buy the book:Amazon US / Amazon Canada / B&N / Chapters Indigo / The Book Depository
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