Title: The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre
*Received this ARC as part of a blog tour in turn for an honest review
Publication Date: April 7th, 2015
Synopsis: Sage Czinski is trying really hard to be perfect. If she manages it, people won’t peer beyond the surface, or ask hard questions about her past. She’s learned to substitute causes for relationships, and it’s working just fine… until Shane Cavendish strolls into her math class. He’s a little antisocial, a lot beautiful, and everything she never knew she always wanted.
Shane Cavendish just wants to be left alone to play guitar and work on his music. He’s got heartbreak and loneliness in his rearview mirror, and this new school represents his last chance. He doesn’t expect to be happy; he only wants to graduate and move on. He never counted on a girl like Sage.
But love doesn’t mend all broken things, and sometimes life has to fall apart before it can be put back together again…
This week I thought I would take a foray into the world of Contemporary YA. Usually, when I read Contemporary Romance it’s in the Adult or New Adult section. With that being said, this year one of my goals is to diversify my reading habits, and when I saw the beautiful cover of this book I knew I had to read it. I’m excited to break my thoughts down on this one and also to feature it as what I believe is my first Contemporary YA Romance on this blog! (That could be wrong but I’m like 90% sure I have not featured another Contemporary YA unless it’s had paranormal aspects).
What I liked: Gosh was this book sweet and uplifting. I want to recommend it to all my female students because I adored Sage as a female MC. Usually, in books like these I notice that the female main character is what I like to call the outcast for the sake of being the outcast, but Sage revels in being different and has even carved a name out for herself in her somewhat cliche High School. Without a doubt my favorite part about this whole book was the concept of using Post-It’s to say nice things to people who need a little uplifting. I cannot even express how wonderful this whole concept is to me. Working with teenagers, I’ve seen how hard it can be to go through puberty in this day and age when social media makes it so easy to tear people down, and the concept of nice, simple Post-It notes is one I would love to see some of my students recreate. Outside of being the coolest, sweetest, most BFF worthy female MC ever, Sage is also very well rounded. Yes, she’s all of these nice things, but she also has a dark past which added an aspect to her character that makes her incredibly relate able. She’s not perfect and she knows it, in fact, I thought sometimes she was a little to down about not being a saint.
What I didn’t like: Honestly, I thought the book was great and it is one I will use in my lessons and recommend to my students. The one problem I had was overarching and really more of a personal thing. While I liked the book, I struggled to relate the the characters vernacular and the sometimes cliched High School depiction. Ten years ago I would have been all over this book and all over Shane and just in swoonsville, but as an adult I struggled to find common ground.
Overall, I think this is a great book, especially for lovers of Contemporary YA. It is a strong story with a great female character at it’s core. 3/5
The sophomores can’t hear us down the table, as it’s loud in here, but I pitch my voice low just in case. “Basically, Ryan was never my boyfriend. He just let people think we were together. Because I’m an idiot, I didn’t guess why.” Those last words come out bitter.
“So why did he do that?” I hear all kinds of nuances in his voice, questions, doubts.
Here’s where it gets tricky. “It’s complicated. He lied to me, though, and that’s what I can’t just get over. Maybe someday we’ll be friends again, but for now…” I shrug.
“Friends?” he repeats.
“So he didn’t break your heart.” He sounds relieved.
“Did you want him to?”
“I was afraid he had. That maybe you were talking to me…” His eyes cut away from mine.
“Because I was trying to make Ryan jealous? Not my style.”
I want to say, OMG, Shane, you think I’m a dude magnet? I’ve been Ryan’s sidekick, his not-girlfriend so long, that I have no idea what this is or what I’m doing. But I love it.
“I’m not looking for drama,” Shane tells me.
I understand the reason for the pronouncement immediately. Ryan’s watching us from across the cafeteria, but he won’t be shoving Shane into any doorjambs or cornering him in the boys toilet. In some ways, his silent, wounded eyes are worse. I can tell he feels horrible and that he misses me, but what am I supposed to do? After what I’ve learned, I don’t want to be his girlfriend, which is what he was shooting for when he made his big confession. I feel like I hardly know the guy, and that hurts most of all.
“There won’t be any.”
“I just… I can’t afford any trouble,” he says softly, not looking at me. “Any more, and I’m off to juvie until I’m eighteen.”
Possibly he thinks this will scare me off.But I have my dark side, too. The staff at the group home pulled me off an emotional ledge years ago, so I know what it’s like to feel completely out of control, doing stuff you know deep down is a terrible idea and yet you cannot stop. I study the rigid line of his shoulders. Did you put that post-it on my locker?” I ask.
He’s dead silent, but his eyes answer where his lips do not. I see the yes written in aquamarine.
In this moment, I want to kiss him so bad it hurts.
About Ann Aguirre:
Ann Aguirre is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author and RITA winner with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. Ann likes books, emo music, action movies, and she writes all kinds of genre fiction for adults and teens, published with Harlequin, Macmillan, and Penguin, among others.