Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Review: The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes

Firstly, thanks to HarperTeen for this review copy <3

Date Read: April 2 - 4 2014
Release Date: May 20th 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Edelweiss
Genre: Contemporary
My rating: 

"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?"


“No one ever said war was easy.”

The Art of Lainey (hereafter referred to as Lainey) is a really fun and sweet read that is the perfect summer read. If you like fluffy books that make you laugh and swoon then this is the book for you (basically a book for everyone!)

When Lainey’s longtime boyfriend Jason suddenly dumps her in public, her best friend Bianca helps her devise a plan to get him back. Using the ancient Chinese war manual, The Art of War, the two adapt the teachings of military strategist Sun Tzu into various ways of making Jason realize what he’s given up. And ladies and gentlemen, we have The Art of Lainey.

Lainey herself is a soccer fanatic and other than Jason it seems to be only other thing on her mind – oh and fashion. I found her a bit ditzy to be honest and her near obsession with Jason in the beginning drove me crazy. She’s the kind of girl that would have left him 50 missed calls until he got back to her unless Bianca stopped her. Lainey was a bit na├»ve too at times, which, coupled with her ditziness, made her not very likable in the beginning for me. However, Stokes does character growth really well. I could see Lainey really mature throughout the book – she really grew into herself and realised what was important by the end. What I really loved about Lainey was how selfless she became – how she was willing to put Micah’s happiness before hers because she thought he was more deserving; the way she helped Micah’s sister and stood up to Kendall was a ground-breaking moment and I was just cheering so much for Lainey.

“And then I realise I’ve made this conversation all about me. I have a feeling I do that a lot.”

I loved the secondary characters Stokes included. She developed them all with great personalities and depth. The friendship between Lainey and Bianca was beautiful – in so many YA books, there is always some flaw with the best friend; they’re either too whiny or too out-going and the protagonist feels like they’re being outshone by the best friend. Bianca was the opposite. She may have seemed like the quiet type but she shone on her own – through her caring and observant nature, through the way she constantly supported Lainey. Bianca is extremely smart but she never bragged about it and without her, The Art of War wouldn’t have been used. I loved the way she interpreted the strategies into laymen terms for Lainey, but never made her feel dumb. There are lots of lessons about friendship, broadening one’s horizon and not judging people that many of the secondary characters (especially Kendall and Leo) teach which I thought added depth to the story.

“And that’s Bee. A watcher. A ‘think first and leap later’ girl.”

Micah was such a sweet guy and I think the perfect example of not judging someone by appearances. He’s a very considerate boy and surprisingly knowledgeable about Lainey’s habits but not in a creepy way! He’s just the kind of guy who observes and takes people’s feelings into account which I thought made him really wonderful. I enjoyed him heckling Lainey in the beginning and his witty/sarcastic comments. I love guys who are snarky but can be sweet because it really balances out.

The romance was so swoony and cute. I was biting my lip and smiling more often than not. Point, set and match to Stokes for no insta-love and developing the romance at the perfect pace! Stokes gave Lainey and Micah the perfect foundation (and history) for developing a friendship and grounds for furthering that. In their game, I noticed little slips of real emotion coming out. It was slow, hesitant and oh so sweet because neither party occasionally couldn’t draw the line between what was part of the game or what was reality. And then the pain of realising that it was all based on a game and what they were each willing to give up for each other’s happiness *swoon*

“His hands feel warm, even on my flushed skin. His fingertips linger on my jawbone.”

Stokes’ writing is great. The way she incorporated an ancient war strategy into a modern book for teens made me realise how it’s a great lesson on adaptations and how timeless some things are. Applying The Art of War to such a normal situation made it so realistic. There were so many great quotes about fighting battles that related to daily life, I loved the way they were phrased and how motivational they are. It was great how this developed slowly – Stokes makes it a point that nothing worth having comes easy. We must work for it, and even then, results aren’t instant, but take time and persistence. We’ll make mistakes along the way, and maybe we’ll realise that what we initially wanted changes as we grow.

“It’s about picking your battles, knowing when to fight, knowing exactly what and who is worth fighting for.”

Lainey is an extremely cute and sweet read. Perfect for summer, heartbreaks, or just when you want to feel good about yourself. Filled with great messages, a swoony romance and lovely characters that are well thought out, I think Lainey is a book anybody will enjoy.

“Wars aren’t fought in a day.”


  1. Yay, fluffy books! Every now and then you need a light book to take the edge off. And this certainly sounds like one. :)

    1. It definitely is! It's such a feel good book, very enjoyable and cute.

  2. This looks like a great fun read - and sometimes it's definitely nice to have some of those up your sleeve. Great review Jaz!

    1. It certainly was :D love these cute contemporaries. Thanks Eugenia (:

  3. The reviews have been amazing for this book so far, I don't know why, but when I first saw this book I didn't think that it would be for me. But it sounds like the cute and fluffy book that I would definitely enjoy! Also I'm glad that Lainey was able to win you over in the end! Lovely review Jaz!

    1. I know what you mean Jas. I was a bit worried going into this book because it sounded cliche but Paula and I talk a lot on Twitter so I decided to check it out. At first I gave it 3-3.5 but then when I stepped away from the book and later wrote my review I realised just how much I liked it and that there wasn't really anything wrong with it.
      If you do decide to read this, I hope you like it. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I definitely need to read this ASAP because it sounds so cute! I'll definitely have to read it this summer. Yay!

    Fab review, Jaz! Yayayayay! :D

    1. Yes it's the perfect summer read!

      Thanks Lucy c:

  5. I love the sound of how Lainey matures through the book. It’s not often you find YA books with such great character arcs, but I’m glad one was present here! :D

    The supporting characters sound absolutely wonderful as well! It’s definitely a tribute to the author’s writing skill that he or she is able to have such genuine supporting characters.
    I love the sound of Bianca and Lainey’s friendship as well. Strong, supportive female friendships in YA are hard to find – I agree – but I’m so glad that you found their friendship to be both realistic.

    And yeah for the romance! It sounds so wonderful and swoon-worthy! ;)

    Thanks for sharing Jaz! I’ll definitely keep this in mind for when I’m in the mood for something light and fluffy. Brilliant review! <3

    ~ Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

    1. Books without character growth just kill me - it's one of the things I look for in a great book. Same with secondary characters, it's sort of like how a supporting cast brings out the main character - without them they all lack substance.

      Thanks for your thoughtful and lovely comments as always Zoe.

  6. This sounds so clever! I think I'm going to order a copy right now!

    Mands @ The Bookish Manicurist

    1. The text was very well incorporated :D and YAY!

  7. I really want to read this book because it sounds totally adorable! I love how The Art of War is incorporated in it and Lainey and Micah are totally cute. Lovely review Jaz!

    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    1. Yes get it Jeann! Amidst all the dark dystopians something like this really lightens the heart.

  8. This book sounds tres cute, but I think for me I have to be in the right mood to read it since it's like fluff. :P I love that there are amazing supporting characters, they can really change a book for the better. Glad you enjoyed this one Jaz!

    1. Yeah save it for one of those rainy days where you need something happy like Anna and the French Kiss (: