Aces Up

Author: Lauren Barnholdt
Pages: 288
Publisher: Delacorte Books
Format: Paperback
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads)
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 n
o 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?

My Summary
: Math wiz Shannon Card has been accepted into the university of her dreams. The only problem? Her dad lost his big-shot banking job a few months ago, and not having saved any money for college means that Shannon needs to come up with a years worth of tuition in a few months. Impossible, right? Shannon doesn't think so; she forges some paperwork and gets herself a job waitressing at the local casino. She knows that if she can work her butt off for the next couple of months, she'll have what she needs for college.

But work turns out to be a living nightmare for Shannon, who definitely wasn't meant to carry around heavy trays of drinks while wearing four-inch heels. On the verge of being fired, she's a tad bit surprised when she's contacted by the leader of an underground poker society called "Aces Up" - a group that relies on their math skills to win big at the tables. Fed up with the way everything is unraveling around her, Shannon accepts the invitation - and finds herself risking it all to try and win it big.

My Thoughts: I enjoyed this book. It was light and sweet - nothing too deep, but still interesting and engaging. I really liked the concept (it's pretty unique) as well, and the fact that it wasn't too long that it dragged but not too short that you feel like it was rushed. I liked that the author didn't shy away from the consequences of what Shannon was doing - I mean seriously, there was no way she could maintain a 90-something average on three hours of sleep a night, right? - and that the people around her were really worried about her well-being. 

All in all, it was a pretty solid read. I've been a fan of Lauren's writing for a while now, and I really liked the way she showed Shannon's thoughts alongside her dialogue - it made her seem like a more believable character (who was, I gotta say, pretty badass).

Final Thoughts: I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys chick lit and lighter contemporary literature. It has some romance and a lot of laugh-out-loud moments, so I definitely recommend it if you're in the mood for some fluff. 

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