Author: Lauren Barnholdt
Published: August 10th, 2010 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Read: August 7th, 2010
Synopsis: 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 s...more 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? (from goodreads.com)
The book starts off with the main character, Shannon, in a dressing room attempting to put on a uniform for work that is too small. I was cracking up from that very beginning scene because I could most definitely relate. It was so funny to hear her thoughts about the stupid uniform and trying to shove her way into it, not wanting to tell her "boss" that it was too small.
"What the hell was that?" More pounding "There are customers waiting to be served!"
"Um, well," I say throwing my sweatshirt over my head and opening the door to the stall. My face is burning with embarrassment, and I'm sure there are two big red splotches on my cheeks. "The thing is," I tell Adrienne, "I have a problem with my uniform. It doesn't fit." I give a hopeful smile.
"You ripped it?" Adrienne asks, looking incredulous. She reaches out and fingers the material.
"Well, not on purpose, I would never do something like that on purpose...I thought it was vanity sized," I explain.
"You tried to shove yourself into it, and you split it?"
"Well, not shove exactly it was more like wedge."
I just have this awesome image of her trying to "wedge" her way into that little cocktail uniform and it almost brings tears of laughter to my eyes. It's classic!
I also think that Barnholdt brings an original side to this story of girl desperate for money who gambles it up to try and meet those needs. However, Shannon was a difficult character for me at times. I think it was because she was such a fickle creature in the way she acted, like sometimes she was strong and sometimes she was definitely not. Luckily by the end she had some excellent character development that really helped to bring out her dark side (so to speak). I do think she was well written and that so many of her actions were true to life and in fact I probably would have done the same thing in her position, but she was not my favorite of main characters.
Still, the book brought with it several characters that I found funny and wonderful and I even though the story line brought it's own bit of lovely to the book, however the smaller characters are what I really pushed forward to read. I just couldn't get enough of them.
Max, the ex-friend and love-interest was my very favorite. He seemed stunningly gorgeous with that strikingly genius portion of him that wove his way through the hard parts of life. He was honest and kind and gentle and truly one of the good guys. He is the reason that females have kept men around for so long *wink*.
Mackenzie the totally crazy and possibly a bit trampy friend and coworker is refreshingly wonderful. Her totally crazy self and the fact that she unabashedly never stops talking were two of my favorite things about her. She actually reminded me of some people I know which also could have been a part of it. I'm a sucker for crazy, what can I say.
All over, the book was fun and flowed nicely. The writing was surprisingly good and I enjoyed the book enough to finished it in about four hours. Plus, with an excellent description of poker, pit bosses, spilled cocktails, secret love affairs, illegal activity and a healthy dose of make out, it's the perfect book to lighten the day and bring on some not so legal thoughts of my own.
"Too risky," I say "Besides, I have tremendous willpower."
"Totally." I say, and then I look him right in the eye. "I'm somehow able to keep from kissing you aren't I?" The bell rings and so I calmly gather my stuff and head out of the library.