ARC Review: The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes

The Art of LaineyGenres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Release Date: May 20th, 2014
Publisher: Harperteen
Source:  ARC from Publisher
Check out on GOODREADS

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?


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. 


Interested? Well, we’re giving our lovely readers a chance to win a copy of this book! Check out the giveaway here

Rating Report
Overall: 3.6
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Rashika is a mysterious creature who likes to hide in the shadows. It's impossible to get to know her but if you must know, she is a huge bookworm. She also happens to have a huge sweet tooth so you can always lure her over the dark side by offering her something sweet (or bribing her with books).


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    • Rashika says

      There are some contemporaries that have stuck with me but I think it’s a lot harder for a contemporary to impress me the way books in other genres can.

      Micah is all over the place ;) we all love ’em. :D

    • Rashika says

      That’s definitely one of the biggest plus points of this book! No insta-love and a believable relationship! :D Those seem to be becoming rare in YA .-.

      Thanks Jeann! :)

    • Rashika says

      I don’t think this is the kind of book to disappoint. You may not love it but it’ll still be cute and fluffy although hopefully, you’ll LOVE IT even if I didn’t ! :)

    • Rashika says

      Ha for me that’s half the time, I am always in need for brain candy (although a lot of genres classify as brain candy for me :P).

      This would make the perfect pool side read though and I am sure you’ll have fun if nothing else! :)

    • Rashika says

      Micah was adorable :P I am sorry you didn’t like him more .-.
      Lainey is a troublesome character but I got used to her… I am a little worried though, I hope not everyone thinks teenagers can be that shallow (she does grow up but still!)…

    • Rashika says

      I’ve actually seen a lot more positive reviews for this one, mostly 4 stars and above but I am glad to see I am not the only one who felt that way!

      You SHOULD give it a try! :D It’s a nice fluffy funny read and I am sure you’ll enjoy it! :)

  1. says

    Yay! So glad you enjoyed this one, Rashika. I agree with you that Lainey was such a bothersome character with her decisions and her attitude at times, but at least she did grow. Also, Micah!! P.S He’s mine, so no swooning over him allowed! ;) (Ask Siiri, how possessive I am of book boyfriends. I’ve managed to scare her away from one guy she loved that I loved too! :P )
    But yes, Bianca was a shining star in this book and I wish we had seen a little more of her.
    And LOL at the giving the finger to insta-love comment. That is so Giselle! :D
    Great review, Rashika

    • Rashika says

      ME TOO! In the beginning when I wasn’t liking it, I kept thinking of you and was like ‘Nick said it got better.. Nick said it got better’ so I carried on thinking that and it did get better! :D

      I am very possessive.. ask my mom and my sister.. I SCREAM… and I seem nice (and usually am) BUT then.. yeah..

      I KNOW RIGHT? It’s totally like her :P I laughed so much when I saw it :P

      Thanks Nick! :D

  2. says

    Yeah, Lainey definitely isn’t a character for everyone. I had trouble with her at first too, but really appreciated her by the end. I’m glad you had fun with this overall! Where are all the Micahs of the world, huh? We need more mohawked bakers around. ;) And I’m glad you mentioned Trin. I loved her relationship with Micah, too. Great review, Rashika!
    Sam @ Realm of Fiction recently posted…Review: (Don’t You) Forget About Me by Kate Karyus QuinnMy Profile

    • Rashika says

      I KNOW. The Micha’s of the world need to step up and announce themselves so that we can take them and hide ’em in our closets (is that healthy?).

      And if not in real life, there need to be more mohawked bakers around in books. I bet it would make plenty of us happy :D

      Me too! She is so adorable.. especially that one scene at the end… she was being so silly :P

      Thanks Sam! :D
      It’s nice to see you around…we all miss you *tackle hugs* .-.

  3. says

    Ah girl this sounds amazing. I must say that love or romance here sounds so good. I don’t think I can take some insta-love right now. Also Micah sounds like someone we’ll fight over, right. Oh I’m so going to read this!! It’s a bit sad this story is forgettable but then again I don’t think that we’ll forget about it soon. Great review, Rashika :)
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    • Rashika says

      It’s more of a light romance so no love or any of that bs (you know when they look at each other in the eyes after knowing one another for a week and declare their love? Yeahh.. none of that :D)

      We fight over half the guys :P it’s all good :D Nothing knew about it! :D

      Thanks Tanja!! :D

  4. says

    This sounds absolutely adorable and sweet – a great light read for summer! It’s unfortunate that – as good as it was – it was a tad forgettable. :(

    I’m really liking the idea of Lainey. Even if you didn’t quite like her in the beginning of the story, I’m glad she eventually grew on you! Definitely a great sign of character growth right there! And yeah for great secondary characters!

    And the romance sounds AWESOME! Full of swoons I hope, right? ;)

    I love how you mentioned the sibling and parent relationships, as well as the friendships. Those are some things that aren’t explored in YA nearly as much as I would have hoped, so it’s great to hear they’re explore here!

    Thanks for sharing Rashika, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3 Definitely going to give this a try when I'm in the mood for a light, fluffy read! :D
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    • Rashika says

      Good character growth is the best! :D I don’t mind unlikeable characters so long as they are done well or if there is great character growth (none of that personality transplant business!).

      Totally full of swoons ;) I promise. Micah will make you swoon ;)

      I think some books do have great relationships (not going to lie, I’ve encountered wonderful ones) but for the most part YA seems to be lacking in positive relationships between friends and family .-.

      YAY! I hope you love it Zoe! :)

      THANKS! :)

  5. says

    Ha yeah Lainey is not the most likeable at first huh? She was so full of herself, man. OMG! I rolled my eyes more than once. I’m glad she finally realized she wasn’t nothing without Jason, too, but I do know some girls who were like that in high school so she was definitely painted as a realistic teenage girl. AND YES FOR MICAH AND ALL HIS CAKES!! Bahaha this sounds so dirty! But hello, cake is my true love! (Sorry husband!). I’m glad you liked him, too! :D Just take your hands off my cake or I keeel yuuuu! And yay for Bianca she was the best! I also agree about her brother I love it when books add familial relationships of any kind as they’re often completely missing. My husband actually has the Art of War book but dude I can’t read that sh*t! Like, it reads as if I was supposed to be Einstein. He uses it for gaming LOL!

    Oh and thanks for the shout-out, yo!!
    Giselle recently posted…Review: Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn DolamoreMy Profile

    • Rashika says

      I know some teenagers are like that too but for the most part since I do dislike people ‘like that’ it took me forever to warm up to her (and hardly any time to warm up to Micah ;)).

      LOLOLOLOL. I am sure your husband would understand though, after all, the way to a woman’s heart is through her stomach (MORE BAKED GOODS FOR ME PLEASE). AND NO! You back off *shoo’s you away* THE CAKE IS MINE!

      I know!!! I wish families would be closer and would actually talk. Teenagers can be hard but there are quite a few who talk to their parents.

      BAHAHAHAHA for gaming. That made me laugh more than it should have. He must be a hard core gamer… :P

      That’s exactly why even though I am interested, I won’t read Art of War, not smart enough *sigh*

      Yo, you don’t need to thank me, you should just get well soon and get your ass back on the internet where we all miss you.

  6. says

    I absolutely adored this book! Lainey didn’t bother me so much because I saw potential on her even if she was rather oblivious at first and I felt like shaking her once or twice! More than with the bf that seemed more or less normal that she felt like that with how it defined her… What irked me so much was how Kendall treated her and how Lainey tolerated it!
    I guess this book was very much therapy for me and made me feel oh so very happy, cause I’m also going through a break-up even if it’s completely different from this one. I laughed, I cried a little bit and it made me look to the future a little more hopefully!
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    • Rashika says

      I KNOW RIGHT? I wanted to shake her so much!

      That really got to me too. I hated how she viewed Kendall as this amazing person when she was not…. and what irked me even more was that the author chose to portray her this way.. I was hoping Kendall would be a more positive character :/

      It was like therapy! :D It was all cute and fluffy and so so fun! :)

      I am definitely looking forward to more of Paula’s stuff! :)

  7. says

    Rashika, you KNOW how much I hate love triangles, and I can bet that I will want to hit Lainey a few times throughout this book, but the fact that you compliment her character growth and you ended up loving the book gives me a whole lot more confidence that I’ll feel the same way. Micah sounds so adorable and swoony – I can’t wait to meet him! I just wish it wouldn’t take so long for Lainey to come to her senses about him!
    I think this has been a great year for Contemporary YA, and hopefully I’ll feel the same about Lainey. :)
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    • Rashika says

      This isn’t so much a love triangle as it is, ‘GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR ASS’. :P She is definitely someone you’ll want to shake on more than one occasion but you’ll warm up to her as she grows :)

      Same here! Then he could have baked more cakes ^_^.

      I hope so too! :)

  8. Melanie (YA Midnight Reads) says

    Still cannot get over how adorable the new look is >.< Anyhoo, YES THIS BOOK! Micah was most definitely the highlight of this novel and I love how he isn't stereotyped for his mohawk; he's just so SWEEEEEET. And as for Lainey, she was a little hard to like but I clicked with her pretty quickly.

    Brilliant review, Rashika! <33

    • Rashika says

      ME EITHER! I LOVE IT SO MUCH. All polkadots and blueee :’)

      ME TOO! I loved how he was so normal even though he had a mohawk and smoked! He wasn’t some badass dude who ran hot and cold! :)

      I am glad you liked Lainey more than I did! :) It took me a while to warm up to her .-;.

      Thanks Mel!!! :)

  9. says

    I’m glad you . . . kind of liked this one, LOL. It’s one of the few YA contemporaries that I actually have on my list, and it’s purely for the Art of War aspect. Or it WAS purely for the Art of War aspect. Now it’s kinda for the MOHAWK too. I do love a good mohawk. Secondaries that are also cool and good family relationships are also bonus ;) Great review, dollface!
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    • Rashika says

      I KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN! That was basically what I was excited for when I picked this book up, a guy with a mohawk! You just don’t see that in books (or I haven’t .-.).

      Thanks Jess <3

    • Rashika says

      It would have been a DNF for me too if it hadn’t been for the fact that I knew a lot of friends had problems with Lainey and still ended up liking the book. I continued hoping it would get better and it did! :)

      I am sorry it didn’t work out for you though :(

      Thanks Rachel!! :)

  10. says

    A love interest with a mohawk? YES PLEASE RASHIKA! That has me sold right there:) I’ve read some widely varying reviews on this book and on Lainey in particular, but I’m glad to see you enjoyed her and this book overall even if they didn’t blow you away. I always like to have a stockpile of quick, fun reads for those days where I just want to be entertained, and this sound like that kind of book for sure. Fabulous review:)
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    • Rashika says

      That’s what sold me too ;) Positive reviews aside, a guy with a mohawk …. is rare so the book definitely had my attention when I found that out :P

      This is definitely that kind of reads, I speeded through it and had so much fun! :)

      Thanks Jenny!! :)

    • Rashika says

      I like that comparison! :D It’s actually perfect for this book ;)
      I do hope you get a chance to read it soon and end up enjoying it! :)

  11. says

    I’m not really into books with this type of premise. I have a tendency to stop reading the book all together and never pick it up again when I find the main character shallow, but reading your review made me realize that sometimes characters are like that at the beginning because the experiences they will have will make them grow. That’s the case in some, but not all though unfortunately, I’m glad that was the case in this book, maybe I’d pick this up on days I want something lighthearted to read.

    • Rashika says

      I know what you mean… this isn’t something I would normally pick up either but I was really curious :)

      I hope you do pick it someday and end up liking it as well! :)

  12. Larissa says

    Still haven’t read this one, even with the hype it’s gotten hehe. It’s somewhere in my massive TBR, I swear lol. I suppose I’m saving it for summer, it really does seem to fit that light summer feel. It does suck that it was forgettable but I suppose it’s almost excepted. It can be hard to create a light and fun book but make it memorable at the same time, especially when it’s a YA contemporary.

    It sounds like Lainey was a character who was quite dependent on a guy, but I’m glad to see that she goes through some great character development c: Omg Micah sounds like a love interest I can truly adore. I love to bake, he does too. He has a mohawk?! Plus a killer sense of humor? I’m sold (: Kendall on the other hand sounds like she’d annoy me. I hate static bitchy characters that are simply bitchy with no development or explanation. Bianca sounds great though, I’m glad to see a positive light displayed on friendship there. I’m also impressed by the family aspects, they sound super realistic and cute.

    Ahhh the romance also sounds wonderful <33 Gotta love slow burn ones. Lol I totally can tell that I'll be yelling at the book though, going crazy on how Lainey doesn't notice how much Micah loves her [;

    The Art of War aspect would probably go over my head as I haven't read that book lol :p But I'm intrigued to see how it'd tie in with the story-line.

    Lovely review Rashika. You've totally made this one move up in my TBR mountain lol . c:

    • Rashika says

      HA I read it in summer too and it was just perfect for when I read it :) I second that, only a handful of contemporaries have had a profound effect on me and even fewer have gotten 5 stars .-.

      She is totally dependent on her boyfriend. It’s really bothersome but she grows and it’s why I tolerated her for as long as I did :P AND YES MICAH IS PERFECT. What kind of girl wouldn’t swoon over a guy who can bake and has a mohawk? ;) Kendall is definitely a static bitchy character and was kind of a foil to Lainey’s other best friend Bianca who was amazing! :)

      Slow burn romances FTW! I am pretty sure everyone who read this book yelled at Lainey at some point because she could really get on your nerves :P

      HA neither have I but it was pretty interesting! :D

      HA TBR mountains are scary *hides in her caves*


  13. says

    Glad to know Lainey shapes up and grows as a character, if she had stayed like that for a majority of the book it would have been frustrating for sure. This one sounds like a fun and easy contemporary read that I will have to keep in mind if I ever need a fluffy book. Plus you’ve sold me on the romance, it sounds amazing.
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    • Rashika says

      She did stay like that for the majority of the book though *cries* She didn’t start growing up until around the 75% mark .-.

      The romance was amazing :)

      I hope you enjoy this one whenever/if you get around to reading it :)

  14. says

    I’m glad you enjoyed this one overall, Rashika! So awesome about that mohawk. :D I liked Bianca so much, too, and I think their friendship was my favorite thing about this book.

    It’s interesting that you were annoyed by Lainey at first, though, and that you wanted more ART OF WAR. I was trying to think what could have annoyed you about her, hah, and I actually couldn’t have cared less about the AOW stuff, hee hee. So interesting how we all respond differently to the same book! But at least she grew, and grew on you.
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    • Rashika says

      I KNOW RIGHT? The mohawk was a selling point for me… I can be shallow like that :P

      I think what annoyed me about Lainey was how dependent she was on other people, we’re in the sameish age group and at that period of time I was just a different person than she was… and perhaps that made it a lot harder for me to enjoy her character :/

      It is isn’t it? :D It’s probably what makes the bookish community even funner! :)

  15. says

    I want to read this book purely to meet Micah. Surely that’s allowed right? *bats eyelashes* He sounds like such a sweetie, and who doesn’t want a chef as their boyfriend?! GIMME ALL THE FOOD NOM NOM NOM. I found the incorporation of The Art of War a huge selling point, but it’s sad to hear from bloggers that it doesn’t exactly play a HUGE role in the book. But then again, can it really in a contemporary romance. I have a feeling how it will play into the plot though. Wonderful review as always Rashika xx
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    • Rashika says

      IT IS! That’s totally what I did. I know right? That would totally be me if I landed a Micah!

      That’s true, I mean the bits incorporated were actually pretty interesting and a lot more than I expected considering the fact it was a contemporary! :P

      Thanks Joy!! :)