Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Review : Aces Up

Title: Aces Up
Author: Lauren Barnholdt
Published: August 10th 2010 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers (first published 2010)
Details: Paperback, 288 pages
Source: Arc courtesey of Around The World Arc Tours

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old high school senior Shannon Card needs money. And lots of it. She's been admitted to Wellesley, but her dad just lost his job, and somehow she has to come up with a year of tuition herself. But Shannon's dream of making big bucks waitressing at the local casino, the Collosio, disappears faster than a gambler's lucky streak. Her boss is a tyrant, her coworker is nuts, and her chances of balancing a tray full of drinks while wearing high-heeled shoes are slim to none. Worse, time is running out, and Shannon hasn't made even half the money she'd hoped.

When Shannon receives a mysterious invitation to join Aces Up, a secret network of highly talented college poker players, at first she thinks No way. She has enough to worry about: keeping her job, winning the coveted math scholarship at school, and tutoring her secret crush, Max. But when Shannon musters up the nerve to kiss Max and he doesn't react at all, the allure of Aces Up and its sexy eighteen-year-old leader, Cole, is suddenly too powerful to ignore.

Soon Shannon's caught up in a web of lies and deceit that makes worrying about tuition money or a high school crush seem like kid stuff. Still, when the money's this good, is the fear of getting caught reason enough to fold?

Thoughts: Aces Up, in so many words, is a really, really cute novel. Think of a high school version of the movie 21. That's really the best way to describe. And don't worry, it's okay if you don't know anything about poker. The main character, Shannon, didn't know anything about poker either. As the story progesses, she begins to learn more and more, thus teaching you.

Just like the movie 21, the main character, Shannon, can't afford to go to college. She purchases a fake ID and begins working at the local casino. Then, one day, she receives an invitation to join Aces Up, a secret group of elite poker players. Shannon has never played poker before. Would she be any good at it? Is it hard? Plus, she's already working illegally at the casino. This just doesn't seem like a good idea.

Soon after receiving the invitation, her life begins to fall apart. Her dad can't find a job, her sister is having personal problems, and her mom's working long shifts at Starbucks. At this point attending Wellesley in the fall just seems impossible. On top of all this, Shannon sneaks a kiss in with her long time crush, Max. The thing is, his reaction to the kiss is the exact opposite of what she wanted. What's a girl to do? Join Aces Up! Besides, Cole, the ring leader, is super hot and actually shows interest in Shannon.

Everything seems great. Shannon was made for poker. But Aces Up has other plans in mind for Shannon. Lets just say they're more complicated and illegal than fake IDs.

Something I really enjoyed about this book is, it takes a male dominated sport such as poker and transforms it into this co-ed event, where the girls seem to rock more than the guys! Woo, girl power! I also loved how the author explains the game of poker (they're playing Texas Hold 'Em!) using Shannon's POV. A lot of people, especially young adult females, don't know how to play poker, so that was a nice touch.

While Shannon herself is a fun character, the girl I personally loved was her co-worker and trainer. She is intense, honest and hilarious! Also, I must mention the boys. Ladies, there are two. First, there's Cole. He's the bad boy aka the mysterious poker hottie with a killer smile. Then, there's Max. Sweet, smart, Max who used to be Shannon's best friend, but blew her off for another girl. Both boys are flawed and charming in their own way. Out of the two, Max is my favorite. It's hard to explain why without ruining the story. I'll just say he's a good guy, but (like most boys) can be a jerk.

Overall, I think Aces Up is a fun summer read. It's addicting, cute, funny and fun. If you're looking for an enjoyable, laid-back read, I would recommend checking out this book.

Rating: 4.25


  1. Sounds awesome! I'm going to add it to my list. Great review!

  2. Sounds like a great book. Love your blog :)

  3. Oh, I love Lauren's other book, Two-Way Street, so I can't wait for this one :D

    Glad to see it's good!

  4. I've never read this author, but I have seen 21. Great review! I'll have to add this one to my TBR pile. Looks like a fun read.

  5. Thanks, you guys!

    *hugs all around*

    @Maggie- I saw Two-Way Street at the bstore the other day. Now I know to check it out!

  6. Fab review, will note this one! Thanks girl :)

  7. Ugh. I know Ben Mezrich, the guy that wrote Bringing Down the House that 21 was based off of. This sounds like a complete rip off of it, and I'm annoyed on Ben's behalf. Even if some details are changed, like you said, it's just like 21.


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