Because who can afford books in this economy?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Review: Aces Up by Lauren Barnholdt

Title: Aces Up
Author: Lauren Barholdt
Published: August 2010
Source: Won
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.

After thoroughly enjoying Barnholdt's Two-Way Street I had high expectations for this book. Sadly, it didn't live up to them. Shannon was a character that I couldn't seem to connect to, and the situation was just too out of this world for me to believe. It did have its moments though, and is good if you're looking for a book that's not too serious.

All of the characters fell a bit flat for me, especially Shannon. I definitely understood her motives for working illegally at the Collosio, and even for gambling there. What I don't understand is how such a smart girl could put herself in the dangerous situations that she did. Being alone in a hotel room with a complete stranger is not smart, it's downright idiotic. The fact that nothing terrible comes of it really doesn't set a good example.

Another thing that I didn't like about the book was how completely unlikely everything was. Shannon was out until the early hours of the morning almost every night without her parents noticing. She was out until long after midnight frequently on school nights, and yet managed to get through her days at school and go to work that night. The only negative thing that happened was that her grade in math slipped to a C. Show me someone who can do that and not completely fail out of school and I'll bow to them.

It definitely wasn't all bad. If you can suspend reality for a while you'll probably enjoy it. It has some cute scenes and a few suspenseful parts. The scenes between Shannon and her sister are cute, and her friend MacKenzie is really funny. I think that I chose the wrong time to read this, because I might have enjoyed more in the summer.

Basically, it wasn't my cup of tea, but it has its moments and if you can suspend reality while you read it you'll probably enjoy it.

Characters: 7/10
Writing: 8/10
Originality: 8/10
Plot: 7/10
Ending: 8/10
Overall: 39/50 C+
Cover Comments: Really cute cover! The title is also cute, and relevant.


  1. It sound from your review that suspending disbelief is a prerequisite for this one, which is too bad a clear message could have been involved. Thanks for such an honest review.

  2. Aww I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this one as much. I actually really liked Shannon and the idea of the underground poker club.

  3. Too bad you didn't enjoy this book as much as you'd hoped.


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