Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Art of Lainey #1

The Art of Lainey

Rate this book
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?

376 pages, Paperback

First published May 20, 2014

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Paula Stokes

14 books1,154 followers
*** Please contact me via the contact information on my website: authorpaulastokes.com ***

Paula Stokes is half writer, half RN, and totally thrilled to be part of the world of YA literature. She started out writing historical fiction under a pen name and is now branching out into other YA genres.

When she's not working (rare), she's kayaking, hiking, reading, or seeking out new adventures in faraway lands. She's petted tigers, snuggled snakes, snorkeled with stingrays, and once enjoyed the suction-cuppy feel of a baby elephant's trunk as it ate peanuts from her palm. Her future goals include diving with Great White sharks, learning Krav Maga, and writing a whole slew of novels, not necessarily in that order.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
1,254 (27%)
4 stars
1,485 (31%)
3 stars
1,261 (27%)
2 stars
426 (9%)
1 star
216 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 570 reviews
May 22, 2014
“Don’t talk about school.” For a second, I imagine going back as someone other than Jason Chase’s girlfriend. My heart starts to race. Who would that girl even be?
This book would have been more appropriately titled Overly Attached Lainey.

Love is a battlefield! What could be better than an epic strategy of using Sun Tzu's The Art of War to get back a lost boyfriend? How could one possibly go wrong? For starters, have the main character be the most pathetic, clingy, desperate 17-year old in the whole world whose only identity in life is that of being someone's girlfriend. And then have her refer to said master, Sun Tzu, as "Dead Chinese Warlord" for the rest of the book.

Sun. Motherfucking. Tzu. It's not a hard freaking name. It's silly, it's disrespectful. It's like me calling George Washington as that Dead White General. Sure, you can do it, sure, it's technically correct, it's entirely your prerogative to call the man who wrote one of the most famous manuals on war Dead Chinese Warlord. Just don't expect me to fucking like you for it.

This book had quite a few faults, in my opinion:

- The main character is the equivalent of the Overly Attached (ex)Girlfriend meme. She has no personality. Her only identity is in being so-and-so's girlfriend, in being so-and-so's friend and shadow

- The book is about 100 pages too long. Almost nothing relevant happens in the second half of the book.

- It mocks alternative lifestyles and makes a lot of jokes about whores and sluts

- There's no true female friendship. Her one awesome friend tends to disappear until it's convenient for her to appear again. Her other best friend is almost nonexistent for most of the book, and only serves as a bitchy, cruel, slutty foil to the angelic (if desperate) main character

- There's a love triangle that is expected, but is completely lacking in chemistry, as in all of a sudden OMG I WANT TO KISS HIM

The Summary:
It’s not like my whole world ends every day.”
Micah glances back at me as he slides out of the office. His face twists into a mixture of sympathy and disgust. “That douche bag was your whole world? I feel sorry for you.”
Glinda Elaine Mitchell (aka Lainey) is a 17-year old whose entire world revolves around her boyfriend of 2.5 years, Jason Chase. At the beginning of summer, Lainie gets unceremoniously dumped by Jason in front of her family's coffee shop.
Sobs force their way out of my throat. I feel like I’m trapped in a disaster movie where everything is shriveling into darkness and ash. Sunflowers are being uprooted. Puppies are being trampled. Whole cities are crumbling to dust.
Lainie's entire identity rests on being Jason's girlfriend. She is a school soccer superstar, she's good at school, she's one of the more popular kids---but Lainie feels she is nothing without Jason. Lainie can't stop thinking about him, worrying about him, making up imaginary scenarios about him.
A few days later, I have a dream about Jason lying in a ditch, calling out to me for help. It’s four o’clock in the morning when I sit up suddenly in my bed, positive he’s in some kind of trouble. I should call him. I mean, what if he’s really hurt somewhere?
Thankfully, she's got a good friend, Bianca (sometimes "Bee") who tries to give Lainey some good advice.
“Don’t do it, Lainey.” Bee yawns. “Nothing says pathetic like a middle-of-the-night text message.”

With Jason, life was bliss. Lainey is nothing without Jason.
“It’s more than that, though. I can’t imagine my life without him. It’s like I try, but nothing makes sense. Everything was perfect, and now everything is crap. I need him back. I need everything to go back to the way it was.”
Lainey goes crazy when Jason doesn't answer her texts. Because that's sort of the point in breaking up with someone.
“You know what? I’m going to text him.” Before Bianca can stop me, I’ve got my phone out and I’m rattling off an “Is this about your dad?” text.
Thirty seconds. Forty-five seconds. A minute. There is no way Jason is not going to answer me. He always answers me.

Lainey wants to talk to Jason by any means necessary. Including stalking him.
"I know he has a ride-along shift so I can catch him if I go by his dad’s place in the morning.”
Bee leans against a tree and starts stretching her hamstrings. “You don’t think that’s a little stalkerish?”
“I think he shouldn’t have given me his schedule for all of June if he was going to break up with me at the beginning of the month,” I say.
And despite all this, she doesn't think she's clingy. Is she?
"You need to stay away from him at least for a few days, give him space, don’t be clingy.”
“I am not clingy,” I snap. At least I don’t think I am. Crap, now I’m having doubts about everything.
Bianca tells Lainey to stay away from Jason. It's a good strategy. Give him some time to think things through, miss her, want to get back together with her. Lainey can't stay awau because Jason is her life.
A strangled sound works its way out of my throat. “Three weeks without any contact from Jason would seem like several lifetimes. No way."
Because of her breakup with Jason, her summer is absolutely ruined. Hell, the next year is ruined.
The only thing that’s kept me sane without Jason the past couple of weeks is all the plotting and scheming in the name of getting him back. I try to imagine what my life would be like if it doesn’t happen. Days spent watching him from afar in the hallways, agonizing about whether to run toward him or away from him. Nights at home alone, wondering who he’s with.
Finally, Bianca has a brilliant idea. All's fair in love and war, therefore, it's perfectly reasonable to use war strategy to win Jason back. Enter Sun Tzu's The Art of War. She will use the book and the strategy within and recapture the enemy---Jason.
“It’s by a Chinese military strategist named Sun Tzu. It’s mostly about war, but people have applied it to all kinds of scenarios—business, law, college, sports, relationships.”
I squint at the cover. It figures brilliant Bianca would turn to some dusty schoolbook for advice. “You think a dead Chinese guy can help me get Jason back?”
Yeah, apparently dead Chinese dude can help. She employs the strategy, while finding an unexpected ally in Micah the mohawked bad-boy who works in the coffeeshop. He wants something, too. Micah has recently been dumped by his girlfriend, Amber. They're going to pretend to date each other to get their exes back.

And they absolutely have to succeed, because Lainey can't imagine a future without Jason.
How am I supposed to explain to him I won’t be okay if our plan doesn’t work? That without Jason I’m not even sure who I’d be anymore.
But in the process, will Lainey fall for Micah instead?! Fighting off the Mongol hordes is easy by comparison to the battles of the heart!111!1 Har har har.

There’s nothing wrong with my life. Well, there won’t be once I win Jason back. Most girls would trade places with me in an instant.
Pathetic. Desperate. Sad. Lifeless. No self-esteem. Her entire fucking identity is caught up Jaaaaaaaaaason, and this book was so painful to read. For half of the book, it's JASON JASON JASON then all of a sudden, BOOM, Jason, Micah, Jason. Yay.

Lainey is annoying. She doesn't stop talking. She's the kind of girl who "talks nonstop" and feels the need to constantly fill in the silence. People fall for her, and I just don't get it. This is one of those cases where I look at Jason who dumped her, and I roll my eyes and give him an understanding nod, saying "You got yourself out of here just in time, man, that chick is craaaaaazy."

She is a good student, she is a soccer star. She is awesome! And yet Lainey sees no other identity to herself besides that of being a popular guy's girlfriend. She makes fun of people. She mocks the goth/punk/alt kids at the coffee shop and at the other venues she goes to. She constantly calls people hookers and sluts, and she thinks the sun shines out of Jason's anal sphincter.

I purse my lips. “Jason isn’t a dick. He just found some other girl he likes better.”
Micah runs a hand through his mohawk. The humidity has mostly flattened it. “And then he dumped you at your job, in front of your friends.”
“He probably figured it was the one place I wouldn’t make a scene.”
Oh, do tell me again how Jason's not a dick? Jason is a fucking loser. He's a handsome guy, but he's a douchebag. He starts sleeping around the second after they break up. He ditches class. He's a terrible student. But Jason could be a serial killer and Lainey would still excuse him for it.
Jason is a bad-boy poster child. Cheats on tests. Skips class whenever he wants as long as it’s not soccer season.” She pauses. “Gets caught with weed in his locker?”
Okay, so maybe Jason is a little rough around the edges, but it makes him more interesting than someone who follows all the rules.
And knowing that Jason is such a motherfucking douchebag just makes me despise Lainey even more for being such a doormat for him.

The Romance:
“You’re like this punk-rock baker,” I say, shaking my head.
While Lainey is busy trying to win back the elusive Jason, she's finding time to fall in love with Micah. Micah, the asshole mohawk-wearing-chain-smoking-juvie-convict-coffeeshop-hipster-pierced-gangsta who listens to music that sounds like...
"...a bunch of cats being crushed by a steamroller"
Who, naturally, has a heart of gold. Their attraction is so completely lacking in chemistry, and I cannot understand Micah's attraction to Lainey unless it's one of those opposites-attract thing, and even then, WHY, MAN?!
“You’re about as alternative as skim milk, Lainey.”
She's clearly obsessed with a guy who's no good. She's an idiot who has no appreciation for anything that's not mainstream pop culture. She's an idiot, and their attraction to each other is so completely out of the blue for me.

And Micah? He's not exactly Prince Charming, he's a douche in disguise.
“Does he think I’m a hooker?”
Micah’s eyes flick momentarily to the hem of my miniskirt. He coughs into his hand. “Why would he think that?”
HOOKER HOOKER HOOKER: There is a whole lot of slut jokes in this book, and I found it completely unacceptable. People casually refer to each other as whores, sluts, hookers, they make references to pimp. Lainey calls people sluts, and in turn, is called a slut for the way she dresses.
“Nice dress, Lainey.” She rolls her tongue ring across her lower lip. “How are things on the corner?”
Final notes: The book mocks people with alternative, goth lifestyles. One of her coworkers is shamed by Lainey for her baldness (a choice). People with an interest in dominatrix/punk lifestyles are mocked and they refer to everything in submissive/dominant vocabulary. Pretty girls are assumed to have fake boobs and hair. It's altogether an offensive portrayal of anything that's not main-stream pretty.
Profile Image for Giselle.
990 reviews6,357 followers
May 19, 2014
The Art of Lainey is a cute, heartwarming book with a genuine love story that gives the finger to insta-love. This is just a happy-making kind of read that leaves you with a smile on your face and butterflies in your stomach!

Lainey's boyfriend just broke up with her, and like any teenage girl she feels as if it was the end of the world. She takes on her friend's advice to follow The Art of War strategies and get him back. It's a fun premise and being familiar somewhat with The Art of War I thought it was interesting to have that be a part of the story. It gave it this extra layer of depth that I appreciated. As for Lainey herself, though, she could be very frustrating at times, but I have to give kudos to the author for crafting a very realistic teenage girl with a broken heart. Still, as a reader, I couldn't help but feel irritated towards her way of thinking, not just from her shallow thoughts or comments ("Everything I own is hot" - Le sigh), but also how she saw herself by believing she's nothing if she's not Jason's girlfriend. She had this perfect senior year planned out, and now she acts as if her being single makes her unworthy - a nobody. Her confusing happiness with acceptance and popularity made her blind to how better she was than this. Though I don't fault her as this is something many teenage girls would feel in her situation, where high school can be more about who you are with than who you are. Fortunately, there is amazing character growth throughout the story where we see Lainey turn into who she never could be with Jason - her real self she never even knew herself. It's as much of a love story as it is a finding oneself journey.

While going on fake dates to try to win her ex back, this is where we get to know Micah; the complicated, sometimes rude, often funny, and outspoken tattooed boy with a tragic past and a heart of gold. This is the real love story of this novel, and it's a wonderful butterfly-inducing romance that progresses at the perfect pace between frustrating second guesses and fleeting, swoon worthy moments. I especially loved how different they were from each other, yet somehow fit so perfectly together. They - especially Lainey - start to see their differences as a source of growth rather than obstacles; opening yourself up to new experiences is really how you find out who you truly are. Still, it was definitely not love at first sight, and their initial dislike makes for some amusing, yet endearing banter. Their rivaling sense of humours do make them the perfect pair, even then, however.

This novel is not all about romance, and this is what I loved the most about it. Lainey's friendship with Bianca is authentic, and even though it takes a while to truly grasp the strength of their bond, I loved how real, how honest, they were with each other. Kendall you will want to slap - often - but she has an important role to play in this novel in showing Lainey that this self-involved, hideous personality is not what she should be choosing. While it's left unintrusive, family is a part of this story as well: Lainey's mother is especially great, and we also meet Micah's mother and sister who bring even more heart into the mix.

Friendship, love, family, music, sports, and self-discovery is what you will find inside The Art of Lainey. The range of emotion matches the depth of this story, giving us an all-around excellent contemporary novel.

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.

For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads
Profile Image for Ari.
940 reviews1,314 followers
December 27, 2014
Beautiful, adorable, unexpectedly cute – the right amount of fluff matching the perfect amount of emotion.


“The Art of Lainey” is one of my favourite romantic stories in 2014, it has everything I want in a book: lovely & witty characters, great friendship development, a cute love story that builds slowly and a plot that can make me smile, even giggle like a kid in a front of a jar full of candies.

Fun, fun, fun and then some more fun – that’s all I’ve been having while reading it; there were butterflies dancing happily in my stomach and my face hurt a bit from so much smiling, and I can’t really ‘complain’ because that’s exactly what I’ve been looking for.

The art of heartbreak …

Lainey was the typical teenage girl – you know, the one that feels like the world will simply stop spinning if she loses the love of her life. But what I really think is that she didn’t like change in general; she was scared and insecure and she didn’t know who she was outside the protective shell of her old love story. She had the perfect future already planned and she didn’t know how to deal with the unknown.

It was a bit frustrating to see how little she thought of herself and how highly she thought of Jason (her ex-boyfriend) – though somehow understandable -, but we did get to see her grow through the story and that makes her flaws more real, more authentic and so it gives her a lot more depth.

The art of friendship …

Thankfully, Lainey shares a cute and honest friendship with Bianca (aka Bee), someone that sees her for who she really is, and even though she doesn’t agree much with Lainey’s lines of thoughts, Bee tries to help her the best she can. And she comes up with the perfect solution for Lainey – the art of war. All they need is to win a few small battles and Jason will be hers again. If only things would ever be that simple.

The art of winning back your love …

Meet Micah – full of contradictions, nothing like a guy Lainey would ever fall for, he helps her in the quest to win back their exes through the art of jealousy.

They fake a few dates and discover that there is more to them both, more to war than strategy, more to life then trying to build your future based on a broken past. Making rules and then breaking them, taking one step further and 2 steps back, they build from scratch a cute friendship, they help each other and enjoy doing so, they play a game of pretend until the lines between what’s true and fake blur and they realise that the world never stopped spinning – at all.

The art of Lainey:

One heartbroken girl:

A bit of war knowledge:

An unexpected ally:

A few cute dates:

And nothing will ever be the same again...

“I go through memory after memory, looking for reassurance that nothing has changed,
but it's like flipping through a book of stories I've outgrown.
Everything has changed.”

This being said, this is a brilliant contemporary story, with absolutely adorable (main and side) characters, a sweet love story, a fun intake on the Art Of War (which I am not actually a big fan of, but still worked wanders here), beautiful dialogue AND an honest, witty writing style that went straight to my heart.

Happy midnight reading!

*Find the complete review at: ReadingAfterMidnight.com


Blog (EN) | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Bloglovin' | Blog (RO)
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,631 reviews34k followers
July 29, 2016
Super cute and fluffy and fun, with one of the best BFFs that I've ever come across in YA. The references to Art of War didn't really interest me that much (ironic, since that's probably part of what sold the book), but the narrative voice is very fresh.

A little bit like a funnier Dessen Sarah, or like Catherine Gilbert Murdock. Definitely interested in this author's previous books with PLL now, as well as her upcoming ones.
Profile Image for Paula Stokes.
Author 14 books1,154 followers
July 15, 2016
Hi GR :) I wrote this book in early 2011 at the same time as my first historical book. As much as I enjoyed writing for Paper Lantern Lit, this is different. If those books are my writing trussed up in a corset and being all businesslike, this book is my writing in scrub pants and a Soundgarden tee shirt. This book, and those that follow, are much more ME.

So if you liked the historicals and also read contemporary stuff, I hope you like this one too. And if you didn't like the historicals, I hope you give my new stuff a chance, because it's totally different.

If you're into books with heart, humor, hot boys, and happy endings, I think you'll enjoy THE ART OF LAINEY. If fun and fluffy is not your thing, hold out for LIARS, INC. Much darker. Much more twisty and unpredictable.

Profile Image for Fafa's Book Corner.
513 reviews305 followers
May 10, 2016
Review posted on Fafa's Book Corner !

Beware spoilers ahead!

I had heard about this book through GR. It sounded really sweet! After a few weeks of contemplating I decided to add it to my shelf. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it!

The book begins with Lainey working at her family's coffee shop. As she's getting a girl's order ready she notices her boyfriend Jason coming. Once the girl's order is ready Lainey goes over to Jason. Something is screaming in her brain that Jason is off. But she ignores these voices and continues to talk to him. When it becomes clear that there is really something wrong with him she asks him what's bothering him. He says that he needs a break and basically breaks up with her in her family's store.

Lainey is in absolute shock and heartbroken. She goes to take a break so that she can have a minute to herself. One of her coworkers Micah comes in the office to get a recipe. He attempts to comfort her. Lainey being in a bad mood brushes it off. Eventually she has to get back to work.

Lainey and her best friend Bianca 'Bee' go to Lainey's house after work. Lainey contemplates for awhile as to why Jason broke up with her. Freaking out Lainey texts Jason asking if he broke up with her because of his father coming back. Bianca tells Lainey that she can't text Jason. The two of them pull up some websites and find that the best thing to do is ignore him for a week. Lainey doesn't think that she can do it but tries anyways.

Bianca also suggests using The Art of War for some strategies to help win Jason back. Lainey is completely against the idea. But keeps the book anyways. Surprisingly Lainey does continue to read The Art of War thinking it might actually help her.

A week has passed since Jason broke up with Lainey. Thanks to Bianca Lainey was able to avoid stalking him and texting him. The two of them plan for Lainey to 'run' into Jason with the purpose of returning his DVD's. Lainey gets all dressed up and brings some food with her. When she reaches her destination she sees Jason with another girl. At first she thinks that the girl is carpooling, but then she sees them kiss.

Lainey shares the news with Bianca and the two of strategize using The Art of War. Bianca realizes that in order for this plan to work Lainey will need to date someone to send the point home. Lainey mentions yet again that she doesn't want to date anyone as that would be leading said guy on. Bianca then suggests that Lainey needs to find a fake boyfriend. Just then Micah and another coworker pass by. Lainey then remembers that Micah mentioned breaking up with his girlfriend. Lainey asks Micah to be her fake boyfriend and tells him this will benefit him as well. After a week Micah agrees and they make a plan.

I am so happy that I enjoyed this! I was scared that I wouldn't like it considering how rude and judgmental Lainey was in the beginning. The book is written in first person in Lainey's point of view. I liked the writing style. It was also really cool how every chapter there was a quote from The Art of War.

I loved the friendship between Lainey and Bianca! It's nice to read about awesome female friendship. I also loved the tibits of the family. Micah was very close with his sister Trinity and his mother. Lainey's mom read tea leaves! This is literally the only book in which the parent can read tea leaves. Her mother would give predication's every now and then. Lainey also emails her brother and gets advice from him. Her father doesn't come in that much but whenever he does he's always nice.

I found it interesting how the author tied The Art of War aspects into the 'Get our exes back' plan. While it was probably obvious what they would need to get and how they would do it, I still looked forward to the progresses in their plan. It was also nice that Lainey and Micah had a lot of help.

I really enjoyed reading about Lainey's character development! She really grew throughout the book. In the beginning Lainey was popular and judgmental. She judged her coworkers based on the fact that they had tattoos and how one of them was bald. She was your typical popular girl who only thought about herself. Lainey wasn't always like that though.

When she was younger she was friends with Micah. But then she met Kendall and her brother Jason. Kendall made her popular and Lainey never wanted to feel invisible again. While Kendall is away filming a show and Jason has broken up with her, Lainey now has some time to think about who she wants to be. She realizes that she doesn't like who she was earlier and now wants to change. Micah contributed to some of that change.

Micah stopped being friends with Lainey after his father was killed in a convenience store. Micah blames himself for what happened because he asked for a drink. Then of course Lainey became popular and he had his own life to deal with.

I enjoyed reading the relationship between Micah and Lainey. I liked how Micah teased her and in the end understood her better than Jason did. Despite Micah continuing to tease Lainey he did care for her. It was a slow burn romance. And definitely one of my favourites.

I loved how every character was realistic! Even characters like Kendall who was the mean girl of the book. While yes at times Lainey was annoying she was realistic as you do meet girls like her in life. I also liked the ending. I felt that it was a good conclusion to everything.

I didn't have any problems. I simply didn't love it which is why I rated it 4 stars.

Overall this was a fun book! I recommend it to contemporary fans and fans of the fake relationship trope.
Profile Image for Tiff.
581 reviews536 followers
June 16, 2014
Review originally posted at: http://mostlyyalit.blogspot.ca/2014/0...

It was hard for me to like this book. I was really expecting a sweet and fun spring romance, and this book ended up having a lot more to it that that...which is actually a good thing!

But, guys...you will kind of hate Lainey at the beginning of this book. She's one of those perfect girls that you knew in high school: beautiful, a jock, super-popular, dresses great, has hot boys falling at her feet. She has a perfect life, and she thinks she's entitled to it. So right from the start, you're kind of not really on Lainey's side.

Even when Jason, her ex, breaks up with her, you don't feel bad for her because the things she believes about their relationship are so obviously SHALLOW. And the thing is, she doesn't mean to be, and she doesn't see anything wrong with that. It's an interesting take on a YA character - and it's very clear that it's deliberate because the themes in this book - being yourself and learning about who you are versus who other people want/expect you to be - were done REALLY well. They weren't subtle, but I believed in Lainey's journey.

And that's the thing: Lainey's transformation throughout the novel is SO real - it's slow, steady, and it takes quite a few twists and turns. It's painful and hard for her to change, and it takes a lot to force a moment of crisis with her...and that is one of the best parts of the novel because it feels so true to life. I'm honestly somewhat amazed that I did end up liking her and rooting for her at the end. She really learns a lot more about herself and that was a big and important part of why this novel came together.

It did take a long time to come together. Two things kept me reading: 1) the writing, which was sharp, witty and superb in dialogue, and 2) the secondary characters. I'm pretty sure I would have put down the book if Lainey hadn't had great, fleshed-out friends who kind of balanced out her whininess. Micah, in particular, saved this book for me. His voice was so much like teen boys I remember, without losing the sensitivity and uber-cool bad-boy-ness. See the bonuses for more details.

If I have a criticism, it's that the pacing of the book felt a little chaotic, and it kept throwing me for a loop - I had to stop reading a few times because I just couldn't connect with Lainey and with the actual plot. Even though Lainey is doing something pretty universal - trying to get back an ex - I felt strangely disconnected with the plot and with her. The pacing always picked up with Micah, then would slow down again, and I felt, like Lainey, that I was discovering her in fits and starts. I'm not sure if that's what the author intended, but it felt a little bit jarring to me.


Fully Developed Secondary Characters: What I really liked about this book is how much the secondary characters weren't just cliches. Everyone gets the full treatment as a character, and there's no one who's a device. Even Kendall, Lainey's super-snobby friend, really gets a storyline that makes her bitchiness make sense. And Jason, Lainey's ex - you kind of get why Lainey liked him in the end. No one is perfect in this novel.

Adorable Side Romance: This kind of falls in line with the developed secondary characters thing - I love it when characters have a romance on the side and it works out. This one came about very naturally and I was grateful for the added layers to the story.

Kind of reminded me of Save the Last Dance?

Your Atypical Hot Boy: Ok, so Micah. I loved him. He's not perfect or typical: he smokes (but is trying to quit, ugh); he has a mohawk but isn't a bad boy; he really cares about his sister and mom, and he wants to be a pastry chef. He doesn't fit into the boxes that Lainey keeps carving out for him, and every time they interact, she's always teetering on the edge of uncertainty - it's great, and it just makes their relationship feel authentic.

The Final Word:

The Art of Lainey is not what I expected it to be: it has a really unlikeable MC, and a lot more twists and turns and self-discovery than I expected. But it's kind of like medicine - it's not easy, but sometimes you need to choke down something that tastes just a little bit gross in order to get better. I felt like the ending of the book rewarded me with that clean bill of health, and the sweet romance that I deserved.
589 reviews1,029 followers
January 4, 2015
VERRAH ADORABLE. Celine and I fangirled (in a professional way, of course *wink wink*) about The Art of Lainey on the blog here.

Things we talked about:
- Micah
- More Micah
- The romance (Micah)
- Lainey and her awesomeness
- Lainey and her equally awesome best friend
- Micah
- More Micah

You get the point.
509 reviews2,414 followers
June 8, 2014

Let's be honest here. When I first read the blurb, the first question that popped into my head was: How will Paula Stokes incorporate The Art of War into the story without making it tacky and unrealistic? That's right--I wasn't very curious about the romance. I was curious about The Art of War.

Now that leads to my first problem. The girls' usage of The Art of War to win back Lainey's ex felt really forced to me. It was just as if her friend came up to her saying, "Hey! Let's use this ancient book with totally usable tips to win back your ex!" Um, okay then. I get that her friend had a reason to use it, but it didn't feel realistic at all.

Now that I finally got that off my chest, let's talk about Lainey. While I did find it easy to connect with Lainey, it took me a while to actually like her. She was kind of petty and a bit of a brat at first. A bit shallow, even. By the end of the book, her character did grow, and it's always great to see some character development throughout the book.

But of course, Lainey did have some redeeming qualities. For example, she admitted to things that most of us wouldn't, but we all know are true. If you don't get what I mean, take this quote as an example:

"But the reality is that everyone cares about what some people think."

Let's get into the love interest, which I know you're all pretty curious about. The love interest in this one is Micah, who I found to be totally different from most of the other heroes we encounter in YA. For one thing, Micah smokes. And he has a mohawk. Now, while I did love how unique Micah's character was, I found him to be just a tad bit boring. He was sweet sometimes, sure, but I wasn't sold on his character.

The actual romance was pretty cute and had a slow build up which I really appreciated. Lainey and Micah were both so shippable (don't judge my poor wording) with their adorable banter and interactions.

The best part of the book would have to be the friendship between Lainey and her best friend, Bianca. Really, this is how best friends should act. No matter how many stupid choices Lainey made, Bianca stood by her and even helped her accomplish her stupid plans. There was so much love and support between them that I was surprised neither of them have exploded with support overdose or something.  I mean, look at this:

"Any crisis of mine is a crisis of hers, and vice versa. That's just how we roll."

Paula Stokes also had this very easy to get into writing style that made the book flow smoothly for me. But if we're being honest, I didn't really get a lot of feels from this book.

So basically, if you're up for a cute read and wouldn't mind how badly The Art of War was incorporated into the story (from my viewpoint, at least), you should give this one a shot. Seriously, it was fluff overload.
Profile Image for Keertana.
1,127 reviews2,172 followers
April 18, 2014
After varsity soccer play Lainey Mitchell gets dumped by her popular boyfriend, Jason, in front of her co-workers no less, Lainey resolves to get him back, no matter the cost. With the help of her best friend Bianca, the two scout the internet for tips - to no avail. The Art of War, however, an ancient Chinese text referred to when fighting battles, seems to perfectly suit their needs. And thus, Lainey launches an all-out war to win back her ex-boyfriend, employing Micah, one of her co-workers, to help her out. As Micah recently broke up with his girlfriend, the tattooed teen agrees to fake-date Lainey in an effort for them both to win back their respective significant others. As their charade heightens, however, Lainey begins to realize that she has always wanted may not necessarily be what she really needs...

The Art of Lainey, from the get-go itself, is a refreshingly feminist novel. Ever since Lainey fell into the popular crowd in high school, she has stopped being tomboy Lainey and started being the girlfriend of Jason, her best friend's older brother. In fact, the two have been dating for so long that Lainey can't even imagine life without him by her side. In short, from the time span between middle school and high school, Lainey has been living as Cinderella; the girl who went from nothing to something. After her unexpected break-up with Jason, however, Lainey is more concerned with facing her day-to-day life than her reputation. Like any teen, Lainey is loathe to embrace change and break-ups are difficult, drawn-out affairs that force individuals to realize that not only do they crave the simplicity of their lives prior to the break-up, but they also are simply unprepared for the possibilities that change brings. Instead of running back to Jason, though, or moping in silence, Lainey forces herself to get up, get out, and get her man.

For a second, I imagine going back as someone other than Jason Chase's girlfriend. My heart starts to race. Who would that girl even be?                                                                           I don't want to find out. 

While I'm not a fan of the fake boyfriend/girlfriend trope, I really appreciated the fact that Lainey is portrayed as an aggressive heroine. Not only is she extremely tall and muscular, to the point where she can be considered "buff", but her tumultuous feelings - anger, disappointment, shock, fear - are never suppressed. Instead, Stokes writes Lainey for the confused and complicated young woman she is and, by doing so, has unapologetically created the type of protagonist I scourge the pages of books trying to find. First and foremost, it is practically impossible to stick Lainey into any type of preconceived box. If we weren't given a description of her appearance, her narration would read just like any other popular student. Instead, however, her physical description forces her to stand out from the Mean Girl-esque Barbie dolls that plague our mind when we think of popularity in high school. Additionally, her close friendship with Bianca, a curvy young girl who has been Lainey's friend since childhood, is a far cry from the majority of childhood friendships which seem to fizzle out after high school is hit. Yet, perhaps most importantly, Lainey's aggressive stance regarding her boyfriend's behavior is never chided or looked down upon. In fact, everyone from her friends to her co-workers support her in her endeavor, despite its unconventionality. For me, the fact that Stokes gives her heroine free rein over her life, no matter the results or the morality of the situation or just the unprecedented nature of the event, is a large stepping stone in presenting a sensible, rational, but independent type of modern-day teenager.

Admittedly, Lainey's narration starts off rather shallow. After having been with only one clique for the majority of her teen years, she comes in with a slew of preconceived notions about Micah whose mohawk, tattoos, and jail sentences spell him out as the complete opposite of Jason. Gradually, though, as the story wears on, Lainey begins to change. Stokes times this impeccably, giving Lainey an ample amount of time to see the world around her in a new light, argue her own perspectives, and then come to understand and appreciate the views of others around her. In fact, the evolution of values that Lainey holds dear change so slowly that she herself doesn't even realize the extent to which she has altered as a person until she attempts to ingratiate herself back into her old lifestyle. As Lainey embarks on her "war" to win back Jason, though, she also allows herself to open up to new experiences she hadn't considered before and, as a result, is a far cry from the fearful teenager she starts out as, unwilling to let go of her past.

Micah, too, grows and changes from his friendship with Lainey, their relationship affecting them both in different ways. Once again, the build-up of emotion between these two is subtle and quite minimal, in fact, as they are both rather determined to win back their exes, but their relationship is a strong one precisely because they challenge one another. Instead of forcing Lainey to accept his lifestyle or vice versa, Lainey and Micah introduce each other to different aspects of their respective lives. And perhaps best of all, Micah isn't intimidated by Lainey, willing to dish it right back to her when she is too stubborn or simply acting too shallow to notice obvious facts staring her in the face. Thus, Stokes does away with so much unnecessary drama and angst, instead introducing both Lainey and Micah to an equal footing in their strange - and undefined - relationship.

What else does Stokes perfect? Friendships. I've already mentioned how Bianca and Lainey's continued support of one another from childhood to the teenage years isn't a relationship that is seen too often in Contemporary YA, but it truly only gets better from there. For one, Bianca and Lainey are already considering their future-lives after high school. Bianca, for instance, dreams of attending medical school while Lainey hopes to be scouted and later recruited to play soccer for the university she attends. It is all too common to hear of athletic guys contemplating their college choices or nerdy guys figuring out which Ivy League to attend, but the exploration of the college process for young females is sadly absent from literature (excluding the Dairy Queen Series, but then again, those books break a lot of classic molds). As such, the realistic conversations between these two were a pleasant surprise. Moreover, Bianca and Lainey have each others' backs in a way only true friends do. While Lainey often feels lonely because Bianca is busy and she no longer has a boyfriend to hang out with, I felt that the separation between these two girls was also a realistic issue, as is the strength of their friendship despite not spending every waking moment together.

"Do you want him back?"                                                                         I lower my voice. "I do. Is that terrible? We've spent the last two and a half years together, Bianca. I don't even know who I would be without him."                                                     "You would be my amazing friend, Lainey," Bee says vehemently. "The same person you've been since second grade. Seriously. You don't need Jason to define you."

The Art of Lainey combines a lot of classic elements - slow-burn/opposites attract romance, fake boyfriend/girlfriend trope, growth of a "popular" heroine - with a lot of not-so-classic ones such an aggressive heroine who isn't portrayed as bitter, strong sustainable friendships, and a love story whose foundation is based upon equality. And yet, it's the smaller instances that make this novel such a memorable one from the involvement of Lainey's parents in her life - minimal, but still there - to the three-dimensional quality of all the characters in this book, even Jason. Best of all, for me at least, is the fact that not all of Lainey's difficulties are solved in this volume. Granted, the main story line is satisfied, but niggling issues such as her friendship with Jason's sister or even Jason himself are kept unfinished. For me, this isn't so much a negligence of a plot thread but rather a subtle acknowledgement of the fact that relationships mend themselves and change over time. Just as Lainey's whirlwind romance with Jason was once a romantic tale, so is this one right now and perhaps a different one in the future, so these minor loose threads give this novel a sense of timelessness, not finality, which I appreciate. The Lainey we encounter by the end of this book isn't the same as the Lainey in the beginning and nor will she be the same as the Lainey ten, fifteen, or twenty years down the line.

It is for this reason, really - this subtle acknowledgement of time and growth and change - that The Art of Lainey is such an incredible novel. Not only is it realistic to a flaw, but it isn't afraid to portray teenage girls as complicated, emotional beings. While being a "teenage girl" always carries with it an unfortunate negative connotation, as does the statement "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned," Stokes combines both of these age-old adages and destroys them with her debut novel for Lainey is no weak, silly, or angsty teenage girl and neither is she an embittered and vengeful girlfriend. Instead, she is smart, talented, and best of all, determined. And it is Lainey's determination - her drive to achieve her goals, no matter the obstacles that stand in her way - that make this novel remarkable feminist, inspirational, and, truly, timeless.
Profile Image for Sara Raasch.
Author 15 books5,813 followers
February 26, 2014
I got to read an ARC of this through the YA Valentine's ARC tour, and WOW. So adorable! Lainey's character is brilliant, and she develops in such an organic way that you're rooting for her from start to finish. And then there's Micah. ALL THE RUMORS ARE TRUE ABOUT THIS BOY. Hotchacha x infinity.

Basically, read this book if you like spunky MCs, soccer, coffee, pancakes, punk rock stuffs, cute boys, BFF relationships, adorable sisters, or being thoroughly entertained and delighted.
Profile Image for Debby.
589 reviews539 followers
April 17, 2021
4.5 stars

When I first saw The Art of Lainey pop up on Edelweiss, I thought it sounded good and cute, but I wasn't immediately sold. I put it in the back of my head to check out later. THANKFULLY, the author kept me from making the grievous mistake of passing up on the chance to read this early. She emailed me, asking me to review it, saying that she thought I would like it based on books I had loved, like Meant to Be. Oh man. She's good. She got me right then and there. And she was not wrong. I loved Meant to Be and I loved The Art of Lainey.

So The Art of Lainey is about a girl who gets dumped and wants to win back her boyfriend using tactics from The Art of War. Right away, I was struck with the refreshing tone of the novel. The writing style is fluid and entertaining. The main character, Lainey, is awesome. And I don't use such words lightly. How often have we had main characters who are the shy, bookwormy types? The new girl, the loner outcast? Lainey is not that. In fact, she's pretty popular. She actually doesn't like reading. She's good at sports, goes to parties, has many friends... But she still has her own issues to deal with. Seriously, it was so refreshing to have a main character like that in contemporary YA.

Not only is the main character a breath of fresh air, but the entire cast of characters was refreshingly realistic. They are honest. They have flaws and make mistakes. They grow. The relationships are beautiful - not just the romance, but the friendships and families as well. It just created this beautiful full picture that I could completely relate to.

But this is contemporary romance, guys, so you know what's up. The Art of War is all about sneaky tactics, deceiving your enemy and making him weak. With the coaching of her awesome bff, Bianca, she comes up with a plan. She gets Micah, a rebellious-looking coworker, to pretend to be her boyfriend. Oh. Hell. Yes. Guys. I don't know if I've told you this before, but "fake" relationships are one of my favorite romantic tropes in the world. So many shenanigans and teasing and pushing boundaries and stuff and then those feelings become REAL!?!


The two are freaking gold together. I absolutely adore Micah. He's rough around the edges, and he has his own issues. He comes from a very different walk of life compared to Lainey, so when they start hanging out, people are concerned. However, they just have so much fun together, and along the way, Lainey starts discovering parts of her she never even really knew. This is how I like my relationships guys. Relationships are all about having fun, being yourself, and making each other grow, be happy, and be confident. And then the chemistry! The tension! SWOONING. SWOON ALERT.


I was majorly invested in this romance, to the point where I was reading it on the train and the hour and a half just FLEW by. This book is damn addictive. I had to FORCE myself to look up every once in a while to make sure I hadn't passed my stop. I haven't had that with a book in forever. I was ignorant of the whole world. Nothing existed except me and this book, and we were meant to be together, because it was making me so damn happy.

Summing Up:

You guys know I love my fluffy books, and The Art of Lainey is right up there with the best of them. It was a refreshing voice bringing a super entertaining and romantic story. I swooned and flailed and giggled, and all my worries were left far behind me. Are you a fan of sheer happiness? You should read this book. So before I go off now to pre-order my copy (because yes this book will be re-read), I want to thank Paula forever for making sure I didn't miss out on this absolute beauty. This book and I were meant to be (hey-o), and I can't wait to check out your other books! :)

GIF it to me straight!


Recommended To:

Fans of HAPPINESS (*cough* okay or fans of Lauren Morrill, Kody Keplinger, or Kasie West)

*ARC received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of the review. PINKY SWEAR!
Profile Image for starryeyedjen.
1,663 reviews1,231 followers
May 13, 2014
Oh, wow. I enjoyed this even more than the Secrets of the Eternal Rose series. So much fun! And I've never been more attracted to a guy with a mohawk in my life...even if he is fictional. =)

Full review TK.

An ARC of this title was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This review can also be found at The Starry-Eyed Revue.

Funny story...I was in a bookstore the other day and they have these gorgeous leatherbound editions of classic books, and I sort of have a collection of them going, so I decided to peruse their selection. Lo and behold, what should I come across but The Art of War? I'd already read The Art of Lainey at this point, so I almost picked it up for that reason alone. I mean, you never know when something like that might come in handy, right? But honestly, I'd rather read about girls using this book of strategy and war tactics for winning back -- or getting back at -- their ex...it's way more fun. No, this isn't the first time I've seen The Art of War used in a story in this way, but it is by far my favorite. While Lainey and Bee's plan to win back Jason starts out juvenile enough, the book delves deeper into Lainey's psyche as she discovers that what she thought she needed may not be what she wants after all.

I'm just going to say it: I loved this book. I knew it was going to be cute, and I knew I was going to like it because I'd liked the author's previous work (under her pseudonym), but I had no idea how much I was going to enjoy this story. If you're going to use a romance trope, you can't go wrong with the fake boyfriend scenario in my book. It makes the love triangle aspect worth it, and I love seeing how it plays out: who falls for who, what lengths someone will go to to be seen by another character, how it changes people's perceptions. It's all in good fun...until someone gets hurt.

And there is plenty of heartbreak in this story. But Lainey isn't your typical weeping willow protagonist. She's strong (physically and mentally), capable, and fairly aggressive in her attempt to win back the love of her life. Break-ups are hard, but Lainey doesn't take hers lying down, even if the way in which Jason broke up with her was more than a little callous. We see from the get-go that this guy probably isn't worth the effort, but at that age and at that stage of heartbreak, it's difficult to see something like that on your own.

Good thing Lainey has an awesome support system. Lainey's brother Steve who is studying abroad for the summer isn't even physically present in the novel, but through emails and texts, he is a great sounding board for his wayward sister. I liked that Lainey's mother was open and honest with her, that she felt like my idea of a real mom -- one who means well but tries a little too hard to be the "cool" mom. Lainey's family owns the coffee shop that she, Bee, Micah, and Leo all work at, and I appreciated the fact that although Lainey's father was a little timid when it came to the kitchen staff at the shop, he didn't discount that they were hard workers or good people, just because of the way they looked or dressed. A lot of the characters seem outwardly stereotypical, but they are far from being what you'd expect, making some of them favorites of mine.

And that includes Micah and Bee, but I'll get to Micah in a minute. Strong female bonds that don't completely revolve around boys are hard to come by in young adult novels these days. And though a lot of time is spent discussing Lainey's plan to win back her ex, Lainey and Bee do talk about other interests and focus on their friendship in the meantime. They discuss college choices, what the next year and after will bring for their friendship, and they build each other up but are also honest with each other. At first, I was afraid that their friendship was a little too perfect, meaning a betrayal was surely on the horizon, but Stokes is boss at creating a realistic, lasting friendship. Looking back on Lainey and Bianca's friendship, you can see that it has it's ups and downs, that there are periods where Lainey is lonely, where Bee is out doing her thing and Lainey is missing her ex, but you're also witness to the not-quite-jealousy that Bee feels toward Kendall, the friend that essentially elevated Lainey's status at school and stole her away from her childhood friend. While Jason's out of the picture and Kendall is away all summer, the girls reaffirm their friendship, proving that some bonds are just impossible to break.

Micah, with his strokable mohawk, isn't your typical love interest. He's not even the typical "bad boy" character. Because he's actually a really sweet, caring guy. He and Lainey were actually childhood friends, as well, until something tragic happened to his family and he pushed everyone away. He was probably always destined to rock the mohawk based on his family background, but tragedy probably made him the deeper, more soulful person he appears to be in the story. And I liked that, I liked those hidden depths, especially as we see them unearthed by Lainey as their friendship/relationship evolves.

When Micah and Lainey first strike their deal to win back their exes, they're not really even friends. Neither is particularly fond of the other, but that's because they don't know each other anymore and are going off the perception they have of each other. As they spend more time together on their fake dates, they begin to see what they'd been missing, but they're also each changing themselves and each other. Micah makes Lainey question everything she'd thought about herself: who she is, what defines her, who she wants to be. They force each other to step outside of their comfort zones on these fake dates and they find themselves having a lot of fun with each other while doing so. They were on even footing in this way, at least until feelings got in the way and complicated everything.

The Art of Lainey may have started out with a simple win-the-ex-back plot, but it quickly developed into a story of self-discovery, full of character growth and realistic portrayals of teenagers and heartbreak, and it grew into a story that was so much deeper and thought-provoking than I had expected. I am in complete adoration of the characters Paula Stokes has created from her own story of heartbreak, even the ones that don't deserve my affection, because they were all so genuine and they all had their layers and issues to work through. This is the novel that young women need to read: to experience Lainey's determination, to be inspired by a friendship that stands the test of time, to realize that they are not alone in their heartbreak and that it does get better, and to open their eyes to possibilities and not limit themselves. This was such an incredible novel, and I can't wait to read more from this author. Especially more of Micah's story in Infinite Repeat! #YayMicah

GIF it to me straight:

And to that Micah novella:

I can't flipping wait!!!!!!!!!
Profile Image for Rashika (is tired).
976 reviews710 followers
June 11, 2014
Actual Rating 3.5

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

This book is difficult to review because while it was fun and immensely adorable, it is also pretty forgettable. It didn’t blow my mind and it failed to have an impact on me, but at the same time it was so cute. It was the perfect read for me at the time and it put a smile on my face and even made me laugh (A LOT).

One of the things that really makes it hard for me to say that I loved this book was Lainey. Lainey is a very…bothersome character at times. When I first started the book I hated her. She was shallow, judgemental and it seemed like she wasn’t defined by much. When her boyfriend dumped her, she had no idea who she was anymore she wanted him back just so her life would make sense again and it bothered me. Especially since her boyfriend was clearly a douche-bag. He gave her no explanation and dumped her at the place she worked for all her co-workers to see. Yet that didn’t seem to click for her, instead of being enraged (like I would have been and I WAS for her) she had a breakdown. But after reading around 60 pages, I stopped letting this bother me. It was there at the back of my mind but once I stopped letting her annoyingness get to me, I started enjoying the book. I was laughing and smiling and having SO MUCH FUN! It was the right decision to make because in the end, Lainey grew as a character. She stepped outside of her box and saw that things were a lot different than she had always imagined them to be and she didn’t need to be defined by what her best friend and boyfriend had imagined her to be.

Micah takes (or in this case BAKES) the cake though. He is one of the cutest love interests ever and he has a Mohawk! A MOHAWK I TELL YOU! And while that was one of the reasons I was so freaking excited to meet him (no one ever said I cannot be shallow occasionally) there is so much more to him than just that. He has a great sense of humor, has a heart of gold… and wait for it… he wants to go to cooking school which I am going to take to mean that he wants to become a chef. A boy after my own heart.

I think one of the things that make this book incredibly special is the array of wonderful relationships and great secondary characters. Bianca, the other best friend, is wonderful. She always has Lainey’s back and helps her no matter what. I am a little disappointed by Kendall, who was the ‘bad’ best friend because I had kind of hoped that she would have played a bigger role and perhaps a more positive one instead of … well... being a bitch.

One of the things that really made me happy was the inclusion of positive relationships between parents and siblings. Lainey had a great brother, who although didn’t really play any huge role in the book, it was very obvious that the two were close and supportive of each other. The relationship Lainey had with her parents, and her mom specifically was so normal and healthy. They respected each other and her mother made it clear she was there for her and really isn’t that all any kid wants?

Micah also had a wonderful sister, Trinity, and it would be a pity if I didn't mention her. She doesn't play a large role in this book either but I really enjoyed seeing her relationship with Micah and she was just so ADORABLE.

The romance, as Giselle, puts it, gives the finger to insta-love. The romance is the kind you want from a high school romance book. It isn’t about falling head over heels and declaring your love. It’s about genuinely liking the other person. It’s about respecting the person. Micah and Lainey don’t like each other very much as the beginning of the book but as they get to know each other better, they start liking one another and it’s so fun to watch their relationship progress. My only qualm is that WHY WAS LAINEY SO DENSE? Seriously.

One of the things that really initially grabs your attention to this book is the inclusion of  The Art of War. I was interested into seeing how that would be incorporated into the book and was slightly disappointed by that aspect. I was glad to see their techniques worked but I wanted something else which I cannot really say without mentioning minor spoilers. I have to say though, reading this book kind of made me want to read The Art of War.

Even with my minor issues with the book, it’s a quick read. I flew through it and I had a lot of fun and I would recommend this to anyone looking for a light summer read. It won’t fail to cheer you up. 
Profile Image for Victoria Scott.
Author 52 books2,908 followers
September 9, 2013
This book is one of those timeless gems that will resonate with anyone who is a teen, or has ever been a teen. I adored Lainey because she has a story to tell that's painfully similar to one we've all experienced. I loved Micah because he was real and a uniquely unexpected divergent in Lainey's romantic life. And Bee. Oh, Bee, you are the best friend every girl dreams of having. In fact, one of my favorite parts of this book was Lainey and Bee's friendship. It was so refreshing and true and warm. Also, The Art of War was one of my favorite required reads in school, so the tie-in was phenomenally cool to me!

This book has it all: romance, friendship, humor, and a highly relatable story. I couldn't stop reliving my own breakups while reading this book, and I think every reader will see a piece of themselves in what Lainey experiences. Loved, loved, loved!
Profile Image for Christina (Ensconced in Lit).
984 reviews287 followers
October 29, 2013
I received a preview copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. I'll admit it upfront. Paula Stokes is a good friend of mine, so take everything I say with a grain of salt. But also unfortunately for my author friends, I'm brutally honest, so the best you can get from me is for me not to say anything if I don't like your book. Fortunately, I LOVE LOVE LOVED The Art of Lainey, and you are totally missing out if you don't pre-order it right this second.

The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes is her first book with her real name (she is also Fiona Paul of the Venom trilogy). Lainey is a soccer player and she's just gotten dumped. Instead of wallowing in grief, she decides to take matters into her own hands and with the assistance of her good friend Bianca, she uses the ancient book The Art of War to find a way to win Jason back. Along the way, she meets some great friends, and a very cute guy, Micah, who helps her with her devious plans. Will she get Jason back or will she realize that maybe that's not what she wants after all?

I'm not sure that I have the right words to do this book justice-- the issues that the characters deal with are just so universal. I found myself admitting that the way Lainey dealt with her breakup was very similar to the way I've dealt with previous ones-- embarrassing as it is. Lainey is a terrific character, and her growth is so clearly delineated through the book. This is more than just a cute contemporary romance (which it totally is as well), it's a coming of age story and hits all of the right notes. I love how Lainey is also an awesome soccer player, not just a girl that cheers from the sidelines. The other characters are just as wonderful. Micah and Bianca both add wonderful and necessary balance to Lainey as she goes through her arc. In particular, there is a moment late in the book with Bianca that left me shouting out loud "YES!" as my husband looked at me in confusion. Even Jason is a great character; Stokes could easily have made him two dimensional, but she sidesteps that trap. Instead, he's just as three dimensional as the rest. I also loved how Lainey's parents were realistic, fun, supportive and present unlike most YA parents these days. The use of Art of War as a plot device was clever and added another layer to an already complex and wonderful book. It's unusual for a YA book to incorporate such an ancient writing, but I have a feeling a lot of teens who had never heard of the book will be clamoring to read this classic. It takes a special book to get kids enthusiastic about reading other books-- this is one of them.

I always have a section in my reviews for what I thought could be improved or what I would have preferred to see. This is one of those rare books that I don't have any comments like that-- just gushing praise.

I also want to add a note about this being Paula's first book under her real name. I loved the Venom series, don't get me wrong. But I definitely feel like as she's grown as a writer--her voice comes out clear and strong in this book, and I'm dying to see what she has up her sleeve next. There is no doubt in my mind that she's the next big thing in YA literature, and I'm proud to call her friend.

Overall, a wonderful contemporary book about a girl who realizes that maybe her original way of thinking is not the right one. Add in my new book boyfriend and an ancient text, you get a win win situation. Paula Stokes is only getting started.
Profile Image for Christina.
423 reviews29 followers
October 3, 2015
Five out of five Death-by-Chocolate-Moose Brownie Points!

Who would've thought a book written a century ago could be applicable to Lainey's relationship? The Art of Lainey was inspirational and memorable. The use of Sun Tzu's Art of War was very creative and most importantly, it worked!

This book is told in first person from the viewpoint of Lainey. Micah appeared quite indecipherable for the majority of the book and we weren't given much explanation of what happened to his father and why he went to Juvie, which is why the prequel Infinite Repeat should definitely be picked up first! Given insight to his past, I was looking forward to his appearances, which did not disappoint. There was a playful boyish side to him that I adored in this book.

Lainey was a slightly difficult character to like, being the naive and stubborn girl who would do anything to get her boyfriend back. It frustrated me that Jason 'defined' her and I found her weak for that. However as the story progressed, she got her head on straight and saw through the fog that clouded her mind. Her friendship with Bianca was just the best! It's always lovely to see such strong friendships in books which earns extra Brownie points! A highly recommended YA contemporary!
Profile Image for Jaime Arkin.
1,432 reviews1,324 followers
February 12, 2014
Lainey Mitchell has it all… She’s a star on the high school soccer team, she has an amazing and popular boyfriend, she has an equally amazing and popular best friend and she’s got her whole senior year planned out. Soccer games and dances and class VP… but all that changes when that amazing boyfriend of 2 ½ years shows up at her job and dumps her in front of everyone. With no reasons.

Lainey refuses to sit around and take it though. She’s determined to win Jason back and with the help of her second best friend Bee she uses the Art of War by Sun Tzu as a guide for getting him to realize his mistake.

As with books like this (ones that have to do with needing to be the popular girl), I struggled to identify with Lainey and at the beginning I found myself really disliking her. A lot. I suppose that is the point though… she’s flawed and superficial and a bit insecure with who she is and who she should be. But then I got to know her… and she grew on me in a good way. For so long her identity was wrapped around the person she was to everyone else. The best girlfriend, the best best friend, the best soccer player… the popular girl. But her actions make her realize that she has to start figuring things out for herself. The things she always thought she wanted, maybe aren’t the things she needs. I really enjoyed the evolution of her character and by the end I think Lainey and I could have been friends.

The secondary characters in this book were so wonderfully done. Lainey’s parents weren’t some faint idea in the background, they were involved in her life and supportive… Bianca… Bee, is the best friend every girl needs in their life. She’s a rock for Lainey and wonderful and she’s just who she needs in her life.

Now Micah… I have a total crush on him. Piercings, tattoos and a mohawk… all things that Lainey has judged him for over the years make him unique and interesting. Add in the fact that he wants to go to culinary school and my crush was solidified. He’s also determined to win his ex back and so two people who don’t quite make sense to an onlooker, start becoming friends with a goal to make their exes see how much they miss them. Only that isn’t exactly what happens of course.

What I enjoyed most about this book was that we get to see Lainey become someone new and discover some very important things about herself. It’s a totally well done coming of age story and the addition of elements of The Art of War was a unique and clever way of making the story stand out among a sea of contemporary YA.

If you’re looking for a fun, sweet and refreshing contemporary YA romance… a book that has drama, friendship and romance but does it in a funny and lighthearted way then you need to pick up The Art of Lainey when it arrives in May.

Thank you to Harper Teen and Edelweiss for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Nomes.
384 reviews373 followers
December 27, 2014

I coveted The Art of Lainey for a while. I was after a contemporary YA with plenty of swoon and fun and easy/predictable drama that did not require much of me but to go along for the ride. Also -- it did not escape my notice that this title was getting consistently favourable reviews from trusted sources.

Here's what you should know:

Swoon -- definitely, yes and yes

Drama -- high school style (although set over the summer break) with one of those toxic best friends that really bug me (why can't the protag see through all that and move on?) (but also features another best friend who is one of the best kinds...)

Predictability -- the blurb gives it away a little, you know where it's headed, but you don't know the details along the ride. It's a fun predictability where you will be rooting, swooning and holding your breath for the slow burn pay-off. Also -- some of the popular-style crew were pretty shallow and one dimensional. Are people really like that?

The MC -- Lainey is a little hard to take at the beginning (persevere!). Definitely her character arc: snobby, insecure and self-indulgently shallow -- she wrestles with teenage immaturity and identity-- reminiscent of teens I know, haha -- but she comes out all right, guys ;)

Fun -- so many dates and cool scenarios, a cool cafe setting, and breaking free of a whole peer group and discovering something so much cooler instead.

Micah -- I already mentioned the swoon. I am mentioning it again because it was my main covetous motivation and this contemp YA brought the goods, and I was one smiley, happy reader.

The gang -- I love when assorted misfits end up gathering and getting all BFF through time with these awesome in-jokes and grin-worthy banter and fun. So, there's that :)

The verdict -- This was a good fun read with a hot YA guy to crush on. It was exactly what I ordered. And I am most definitely looking out for more Paula Stokes :)
Profile Image for Brandy Painter.
1,632 reviews250 followers
August 5, 2016
I really enjoyed this. I'm all about these light fun contemporary YA reads right now. I liked how Lainey acts like a typical teenage girl. Her post break-up self is full of drama and overreactions and a little bit selfish. All of us who have been there and lived that can relate and know how it feels. I like when books for teens have real teens in them, and not adults masquerading as teens. This book does a good job of that. I thoroughly enjoyed the banter between the romantic leads in it too. I loved the best-friendship between Lainey and Bianca as well.
Profile Image for Tandie.
1,481 reviews227 followers
July 19, 2015
I really didn't like Lainey for the first third of the book. Selfish, whiny, must-win-back-ahole-boyfriend Lainey & her nasty friend Kendall grated on my nerves. Not sure why I kept reading.
Okay, that's a lie. It was Micah. But Lainey showed surprising character growth and ended up likable after all. 3.5 stars of cute, fun, fluffiness.
Profile Image for Jen (Pop! Goes The Reader).
109 reviews684 followers
September 11, 2015
Did you find this review helpful? Find more of my reviews at Pop! Goes The Reader!

“You can’t just show up at my job and break up with me. Who does that?”
What I mean is, things like this are not supposed to happen when everything else is perfect. In April, I got picked out of over a hundred girls to star in a commercial for Hazelton Forest University. In May, I scored a winning goal at the state soccer championships. And the summer was shaping up to be truly epic.
What the hell happened?

All’s fair in love and war. At least, that’s what Lainey Mitchell decides after her boyfriend of two and a half years, Jason, dumps her in public and humiliating fashion in the middle of her family’s coffee shop. Determined to get to the bottom of their unexpected and unexplained break-up and win Jason back, Lainey enlists the help of her best friend, Bianca, and the ancient wisdom of Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu. After all, love is a battlefield. Using The Art Of War as her guide and her lovelorn co-worker, Micah, as her partner in crime, Lainey embarks on a summer-long quest to win back her ex. As tactics are discussed, strategies are employed and loyalties (and feelings) are tested, however, Lainey will be forced to question what exactly it is she’s fighting for and whether what she wants is truly what she needs.

I’m Lainey Mitchell, varsity soccer star. I have my own freaking commercial. I’m not a loser. I rock – I know it. And underneath whatever is going on with Jason, I’m sure he knows it too. All I have to do is figure out a way to make him remember.

Paula Stokes is an author whose views I respect, whose blog I enjoy, and whose novels have long held a place on my toppling to-be-read list. It wasn’t until I was given the opportunity to read an early draft of Paula’s forthcoming 2016 novel, Girl Against The Universe, however, that I fell in love with the author’s prose and made quick work of investigating her backlist of previously published titles. While I had some initial misgivings regarding The Art Of Lainey – the cover, in particular, leaves much to be desired – these feelings were quickly cast aside as I couldn’t help but devour Stokes’ charming 2014 contemporary debut in a single sitting and was quick to recommend it to family, friends, and strangers alike.

My reading generally consists of soccer and gossip magazines, so struggling through The Art Of War is going to feel like self-mandated summer school. But hey, at least it’s short. And if it works for armies and athletes, maybe it can work for me. I’m a girl who believes in fighting for what she wants.

Since The Art Of Lainey‘s publication in May 2014, opinions regarding Lainey Mitchell have been as vigorous as they have been varied. Some readers have categorized Lainey as vain and shallow, a label not altogether inaccurate, particularly at the outset of the novel. After all, Lainey is concerned with her tan (or lack thereof), her hair, and the unfortunate smattering of freckles on her forehead in the shape of New Jersey. But to characterize her as such would be to only tell half the story. Lainey is also confident, pretty, popular, and athletic and, to the outsider observer, would appear to have it all. In what becomes a underlying theme in the novel, however, there is far more to Lainey’s character than initially meets the eye. In the wake of her break-up with Jason, Lainey is forced to confront a host of difficult (and often unpleasant) truths about herself, most notable of which is how intrinsically her sense of self has become linked with her relationship. Without this, Lainey is lost and uncertain. Who is she, if not Jason’s girlfriend? Lainey’s subsequent quest for self-discovery reminds us that it is never too late to reinvent ourselves and warns against the dangers of allowing another person’s perception to define us. Her hidden insecurities – about her looks, about her relationships, and about her future – are sure to resonate with any reader who has ever struggled to find their way. It is this compelling internal conflict and Stoke’s subtle yet masterful grasp of Lainey’s development over the course of the novel that make The Art Of Lainey a truly spectacular accomplishment.

…Micah’s eyes are still closed, his body loose. He has no idea my eyes are skimming their way down the lines of his body. His cheekbones. His beard stubble. The ridge of muscle connecting his jaw to the centre of his chest. The faintest trace of sweat glistens where his neck meets his right shoulder. I want to touch my lips to it.

The Art Of Lainey has a great deal to recommend it in addition to its effervescent, eponymous heroine. There is, for example, Lainey’s wonderful support system, composed primarily of her smart, ambitious and independent best friend, Bianca, and her academically-minded mother, an involved parent who takes an active interest in her daughter’s life and educates Lainey about safe sex practices – both of which were also welcome surprises! There is also the issue of world-building, a consideration not typically discussed in relation to novels with a realistic, contemporary setting, but worth mentioning in this particular case. Stokes’ sense of setting is superb, creating vibrant, three-dimensional environments, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the author’s description of Denali, the quaint, eccentric coffee shop owned by Lainey’s parents where much of the action in the novel takes place. This café was presumably based largely on ‘Wiliker’s Restaurant’, an establishment which the author mentions in the book’s acknowledgements, and this personal connection is evident in each detail and anecdote that Stokes relates. The author’s use of evocative description extends to every single location in the novel, from settings as benign as a high school pool party and the local dance club to Mizz Creant, a bizarre, whimsical restaurant that acts as the setting for Lainey and Micah’s first “date”, complete with macabre dishes and a dungeon down below. While the novel doesn’t reinvent the wheel in regard to plot, it doesn’t need to. The Art Of Lainey follows a predictable romantic comedy formula that will be familiar to (and beloved by) many. From enemies to lovers to a fake relationship Stokes employs the tropes synonymous with this genre to best effect, creating a compulsively readable comedy of errors complete with a heart-warming happily ever after.

I’m worried about everything else – about messing things up, about getting hurt, about hurting him. But I have to try. The way I feel in this moment, that’s worth fighting for. All those lines in The Art Of War about choosing one’s battles wisely suddenly make sense to me. Not everything is worthy of great risk and possible sacrifice.
Micah is.

Sweet, funny, and endlessly charming, The Art Of Lainey reminds us that we need not always read the latest releases to have an immense amount of fun. Paula Stokes' impecable attention to detail – to her characters, to her settings, and to the genre which she is so lovingly honouring – is a tribute to both the author and the work in question. Lainey’s antics, and the exuberance with which Stokes relates them, made this novel a vibrant, vivacious, irresistible delight that this Clueless-quoting, When Harry Met Sally-watching, Nora Ephron-adoring romantic comedy addict couldn’t help but fall hopelessly, unapologetically in love with. Then again, I’m just a girl, standing in front of her readers, asking them to read this book.
April 23, 2014
I was excited when I got an ARC of this because I loved the premise of the story. But, I was attempting to be a good blogger (I have my moments) and save this closer to the release date. But when I saw the guest post Paula Stokes did on Sara’s blog about writing flawed characters (you guys know how much I love those!) I put this at the very top of my TBR. I ended up reading straight through it in a day. I was hooked from the first page and wanted to re-read it as soon as I was done. I loved this book!

When Lainey’s boyfriend of two years breaks up with her out of the blue (in the middle of her parent’s coffee shop and in front of her coweorkers), Lainey is shocked to say the least. She goes through the typical teen stages of a breakup: my life is over, what did I do wrong?, am I not pretty enough?, is he seeing someone else?, should I call him?, etc. Lainey doesn’t know why, but she knows she needs to get him back. She doesn’t know who she is without Jason since they’ve been together so long (high school years are like dog years). When her best friend, Bianca, manages to calm Lainey down, they come up with a plan to get Jason back using the methods from The Art of War. At first, Lainey isn’t so sure how ancient war techniques can help get Jason back, but she’s willing to give it a shot. First step is to make Jason jealous, and the best way to do that is to pretend date her coworker Micah. *cue the fangirling*

Micah and Lainey don’t have the best relationship. They are both quick to judge each other based on appearances, which they both find out pretty fast how wrong they are about each other. I loved the progression of their relationship, not only the romance but their growing friendship was pretty fucking amazing too. The banter, OMG, the banter between these two was perfection! I had a hard time picking my favorites quotes to share below. Eventually, the lines between pretending and reality start to blur and Lainey isn’t even sure if she still wants Jason back. Just when she starts wondering if what she’s feeling for Micah might be real, her plan starts to work out…

The fact that Lainey is so heartbroken and desperate to get her loser boyfriend back might not make her sound like such a likable (or smart) person. But that’s just it, she’s a teenager. Jason was her first love and she also lost her virginity to him. No matter much of a douche he was for dumping her the way he did, something like that is hard for any girl to forget. I loved Lainey and all her flaws! Paula Stoke captured exactly what I love about flawed characters while giving Lainey plenty of likable and redeemable qualities to counter her flaws. This was more than just a love story. I loved that this was also about Lainey finding out who the ‘real Lainey’ is and what kind of person she wants to be. And big props to Paula for making Lainey’s relationship with Jason seem realistic. It’s briefly mentioned that they’ve had sex, but it’s never a ‘thing.’ This is one of the things I hope to see more of in future YA books because like I discussed in my Sex in YA post, teens have sex.

In case you couldn’t tell, I adored this book! It’s just one of those feel-good contemporaries. The fact that it has great characters and an awesome slow building romance with so much chemistry, tension and swooniness, makes this one of my favorite contemporaries. I’ll definitely have to buy a finished copy for my shelves! A birthday gift for myself since it’s out a day after my birthday. I’m already looking forward to Paula’s upcoming book! And I also moved up her other series (written as Fiona Paul) higher up on my TBR. Guys, you won’t wanna miss out on this one!

5 out of 5 stars!

Read full review & more of my reviews at Mostly YA Book Obsessed
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,736 reviews711 followers
February 14, 2015
This book was a lot of fun. I love the idea of using war strategies to win back an ex and Paula executed this plot perfectly.

I did have a problem with Lainey in the beginning. She's a bit shallow and sort of an ass, but her growth throughout the book is obvious and I really enjoyed the person she became at the end.

Micah. Gah. Don't get me started on him. He's swoony in a completely normal way, if that makes sense. He's blunt and honest and has a mohawk. Oh and he teases in a falsetto and dotes all over his baby sister. Are you swooning yet?

This book is completely different from Paula's other books [written as Fiona Paul]. I could *hear* Paula in this book and I loved it.
Profile Image for jasmine.
102 reviews5 followers
May 14, 2015
If you're a fan of Anna and the French Kiss, How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True, or Amy & Roger's Epic Detour, or just contemporary YA books in general, I would definitely suggest this book. Paula Stokes' second full length novel, Liars, Inc. is worth checking out too, even though it's probably as close to the polar opposite of this book as it could be.

A full, up-to-date review of this book can be found on Lacey and I's book blog, Booky Berries!
Profile Image for Kristen Lippert-Martin.
Author 2 books125 followers
January 17, 2014
OMG. This book is the only book I can think of that manages to be edgy and adorable at the same time. And if you don't think punk-rocker boys with mohawks are your type, you're going to revisit that policy after you meet Micah. Put on a pair of safety pin earrings (or three), line your eyes with way too much midnight kohl, and READ IT the first chance you get.
Profile Image for Heidi.
1,395 reviews158 followers
February 16, 2014
Four Stars: A positive, realistic book about self discovery and an unexpected romance.

Lainey plans on having the perfect summer before starting her senior year. Soccer, hanging with friends and most of all spending time with her boyfriend Jason. Everything comes crashing down when Jason stops by her work and informs Lainey in front of everyone that he needs a break from their relationship and then walks out. Lainey is crushed but determined to get him back. Bee, her best friend, has a battle plan and it involves following the tactics of an age old book: The Art of War. Quickly, the pair think up a battle plan that involves making Jason jealous. Lainey recruits her fellow co worker, Micah, to be her fake boyfriend. Micah wears a mohawk and tattoos, and he is certainly not the type of boy that Lainey would normally hang with, let alone date. Micah is also trying to win back his ex. Hopefully, their fake dating will make their exes jealous and everyone will be back together and happy before the start of senior year. Lainey doesn't realize that perhaps Jason isn't right for her and that love can come at the most unexpected time. Will Lainey win the battle and woo Jason back to her side?

What I Liked:
*The Art of Lainey is a cute, feel good romance that is all about self discovery, growth and an unexpected new romance. I liked that this book features a teenage girl who undergoes an identity crisis when her boyfriend dumps her without warning. I think many of us can relate to the pain of a crushing breakup and floundering as we try to make sense of the relationship's demise while looking to win back what we once had. Along the way, change and growth occur, and then we realize breakups often happen for good reasons. This is what happens to Lainey during this book.
*I loved watching Lainey transform during the book. At first she is wrapped up in her boyfriend, friends and popularity. When Jason dumps her, Lainey begins to see things differently especially while hanging out with Micah. By the end of the book, she is an entirely new girl able to stand on her own two feet and think for herself. I especially liked when she sees her fellow classmates without her rose colored glasses, and I enjoyed watching her learn to see beyond labels and prejudices. I was pleased when she decided to stop worrying about what other people think and just be herself. I admired the girl she became and applauded her decisions. I loved that this not only was a book about transformation and self discovery but also about learning to be true to yourself, which we all know as a teenager is a huge challenge.
*The romance is sweet and perfect. Micah and Lainey are a case of complete opposites attracting. They even poke fun at their differences while together. Micah is the troubled bad boy with piercings, tattoos and a shady past. Of course, there is so much more to him than meets the eye. Underneath his bad boy persona, there is a kind, caring, hardworking, artistic, misunderstood young man who has overcome tremendous adversity and heartache. He is absolutely wonderful. I loved watching their relationship build, and I was ecstatic that it didn't involve either of the characters changing who they were for the sake of the romance. This is a slow building romance that starts out as an unexpected alliance that moves into something more. I love that the romance is about self discovery as both Micah and Lainey learn to experience new things. It is a relationship that builds with some unanticipated feelings, a shoulder punch, several awkward moments, to a touch that elicits heat, to that heart melting moment of the first kiss. This a romance that builds and builds until it hits that perfect high note. No insta love or lust or believe it or not love triangles.
*Aside from Micah and Lainey, there were some terrific secondary characters such as Bee, Lainey's loyal and shy best friend, Leo the bashful smart boy who is also trying to win back an ex, and I even liked Jason the ex boyfriend. I thought Ms. Stokes did a great job with Jason the supposed villain. She refrains from making him a complete slime ball. He is a teenage boy under the thrall of his hormones, unable to consider his relationship with Lainey anything more than hooking up, which is realistic. I was pleased with the way things worked out between them at the end.
*I appreciated that Lainey's parents played strong roles. Lainey's mother is quirky but she is involved. I liked that she even discussed sex with Lainey, much to Lainey's dismay.
*Finally, I liked that this was a YA contemporary that refrained from heavy drama and angst. It tackles some realistic issues while keeping the story light and fun. This is a feel good romance with a positive message that is perfect for spring and summer reading.
And The Not So Much:
*While I liked that this book portrays teens realistically, I wasn't a big fan of all the drinking. There is a scene toward the end where Lainey's friend Kendall even drives drunk with no repercussions, she basically gets away with it. Yes, I realize that underage drinking is part of being a teenager, but I didn't like that one of the characters drove drunk and it wasn't a big deal. The drinking is the one aspect of this book that would cause me to refrain from recommending this romance to teens under sixteen. I was pleased though with the way Ms. Stokes handled the sex. So word of caution this is a book with teen drinking and discussions of sex, so it is best suited for more mature teenage readers.
*I liked all the characters except for Kendall. I thought she was a nasty, self absorbed mean girl who had no redeeming qualities. I was hoping that she would come through, but like in real life, that doesn't always happen.
*The story line is predictable from the beginning. There aren't any big twists or surprises. You pretty much know from the get go how it is going to play out, so if you are looking for original and fresh, you may be disappointed, but this is certainly worth the read for the cute romance that is just right.
*Even though I loved how the book ended, I wanted just a bit more since it ends abruptly on a high note. I would love to have see how things played out down the road a few months, but I shouldn't complain it was a satisfying resolution without cliffhangers or a bunch of loose ends.

The Art of Lainey is an excellent book about self discovery, seeing things through different eyes and an unexpected romance. I loved the positive messages in this one, and I thought that it was realistic and fun. This is a perfect romance for summer. I highly recommend getting your hands on this one when it releases in May 2014.

Favorite Quotations:

"I'm surprised you like this group," I say. Pianos? Violins? I thought you only listened to hard-core punk and screaming death metal. You know, music to murder by.”

“It sounds lame, like I care what everyone else thinks. But the reality is that everyone cares about what some people think. “

“Sometimes it’s easier to fight for the wrong thing than to recognize it’s time to let go.”

“Standing up for yourself is about more than flinging barbed-wire insults around. It’s about picking your battles, knowing when to fight, knowing exactly what and who is worth fighting for.”

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.

Posted@Rainy Day Ramblings.

Profile Image for Michelle.
1,312 reviews52 followers
November 29, 2014
This past summer, I headed off to the bookstore, and came back with a book that changed my life forever. Now, you must be thinking that this sounds like the most cliché situation that I could possibly be put in, but I'm telling you—it changed my life. You want to change my life and make me even happier? Hand me a book that Paula Stokes wrote. She's honestly my new and most favourite author. Her words hit you hard and they impact you.

Looking back at my reaction of this story and Lainey's quirkiness, I was so inspired. This book wasn't an one-time event that comes and goes. This was a story that will tend to stay with you forever because it's just so damn real and if I look outside my window, I can see Lainey and Micah falling in love. This was one of the most realest contemporaries I've ever read, and probably the best book I've read this year. It's on my TOP TEN, people. If you know me, I have thousands of favourites. 5 star ratings come and go, but this book zapped me out of my depressing 3 star-state.

"Why do you care?" He glances over. "You afraid of me now?" "No," I say quickly. And it's true. Even if he carries a switchblade and pretends to be badass, he doesn't seem much different from the kid I knew in fifth grade. "I'm just trying to... get to know you again."

That's what this book did to my heart. NO, not set it on fire, but think of the fire-crackling sound. That warmth, that beauty, yeah that's it. I'm still left without words because this book poisoned me with love. It was like looking outside your window and looking at the first snowfall of the season, which I actually am doing at the moment. It was a whole new experience, and I officially have lived another experience with a bunch of gorgeous and memorable characters.

As you begin reading this book, you'll probably be thinking that this is your average contemporary story. Well, IT'S NOT. Lainey Mitchell is living the perfect life—she has awesome friends, a mega-hot boyfriend, and is super-popular and gets invited to the best parties around. And then, everything falls apart when her boyfriend, Jason, breaks up with her. She is unbelieved, and wants him back. But the way she tries to get him back creates a war, and this is something crazily crazy. Teaming up with Micah, the guy who works at her parents coffee shop (did I mention that he's completely gothic and has piercings?) she pretends to date Micah so she can get Jason back, and Micah can get his old girlfriend back as well. But what happens when the unthinkable and impossible happens? Lainey and Micah fall in love instead? But of course that leads to not thinking straight and everyone not knowing what they really want in the end.

This was straight up the cutest story that I've ever read. I must admit, I was a little late onto reading it, and now I feel guilty for not picking it up sooner, and finding out about Paula's amazing writing even sooner. The buzz is correct, the general public is correct! And I'm very happy to say that my expectations were correct, but they were still blown off the wall because it was even better than what I expected. Can't I give this a thousand star rating instead?

I wish that I was able to finish this book in one sitting. But I began it late and I had school the next day and had to study, so it turned into a three-day period. But as I continued reading this book during the three days, I devoured it slowly, more slowly than I would've ever imagined. Everything flowed together perfectly, and I found that this was the way a true and real love story was supposed to be written. Not any other way. Paula Stokes can easily become the next Jane Austen or Shakespeare, she mastered it so easily, at least it seemed that way.


Micah was perfect. He is easily the hottest YA male character in contemporary history. UGH COME TO ME. I love him so much and am totally jealous of Lainey, but hey, she totally deserves him and his gorgeousness.

"You're like this punk-rock baker," I say, shaking my head. "What's wrong with that?" "A bit of a contradiction, don't you think?" I wipe the sweat from my forehead, running my hand over my hair to tame the flyaways. I can feel it starting to frizz. Micah looks hard at me for a moment as we reach the cars. The sun catches his hazel eyes, reflecting ribbons of green and gold through the warm summer air. "Most people are."

I guess you've probably got enough of me talking. But the important catch here about Lainey and Micah is that they're total opposites—but they match and are perfect for each other. Their romance and love was beyond expectations, and it was slow and devouring, unlike many other stories I've read in the past. Romeo and Juliet definitely have competition, I must announce.

I got everything I wanted and more from this book. When I finished reading, I sat there like an idiot, smiling and praising myself for choosing to read this. The plot was gorgeous, the idea was gorgeous, MICAH was gorgeous, and the art that Lainey provided for us was witty, hilarious, and true. By the end, you will feel like you've witnessed a true work of art.

This review can also be found on A Thousand Lives Lived, check it out for more reviews!
Profile Image for C.P. Cabaniss.
Author 5 books96 followers
May 4, 2015
This review can also be found on my blog: www.courtneysreads.blogspot.com

I read the prequel novella Infinite Repeat in March and decided that I wanted to give this novel a try. I really liked Infinite Repeat and loved Micah. I picked this book up and now here are some of my thoughts.

First, let me tell you the main thing I disliked about this novel: Lainey. Yes, I know, the novel is told in first person and Lainey is the main character, but I had a hard time learning to like her. I understood in the beginning that she was somewhat shallow and needed to grow up, but I had a hard time connecting with her complete dependence on her friends to define who she was. When her boyfriend broke up with her she freaked out and didn't know how to define herself anymore. She did grow throughout the novel, but I felt like too much of it was toward the end and not developed enough.

I'm not even going to get started on Lainey's friend Kendall. She just made me so mad. I could rampage about that for hours.

Onto things that I did like.

Micah and Lainey. They start out fake dating so that he can get his ex-girlfriend back and she can get her ex-boyfriend, but then they actually start to get to know each other. I loved the development of their relationship, because it wasn't really sudden. They already knew each other somewhat and when they started hanging out they just became friends before their were any deeper feelings. They were themselves around each other (which Lainey needed) and they actually cared about what the other was feeling, even when it had nothing to do with them. It was just a really well done progression for me.

I also loved Micah and his sister Trinity. We got more of them in Infinite Repeat, but what we get here was great. It was nice to just see two siblings and how much they love and support each other. He even made being nice to Trinity a rule for fake dating Lainey, which was so sweet. They were just adorable. Lainey and her brother Steve were a nice touch as well.

Watching Lainey discover herself and make new friends was nice. She realized that not everything about her old life was really as great as she thought it was. It's better to be true to yourself than be someone you're not. Leo and Bee were two of my favorites. She was already friends with Bee, but I think she actually learned to appreciate her. And Leo was just such a nice guy. I really would like more with these two.

Overall I thought this was a really fun read. Parts of it really annoyed me and I think there is room for improvement, but it was fun and most of the characters were enjoyable. Or hateable. Take your pick.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 570 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.