Coming Attractions: The Art of Lainey

Coming Attractions is inspired by The Perpetual Page Turner's Save The Date. Coming Attractions showcases a book that is not released for a while that I've read, and gives you a sneak peek (like a pre-review, if you will) as to what I thought about the book, since I can't post the review until closer to the release date.

The Art of Lainey
Paula Stokes
Series: Standalone
Release Date: May 20th, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: 3.5 stars
Word rating: surprising and impressive
Reviewed by: Ellis

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Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is used to getting what she wants, and when her boyfriend Jason breaks up with her for no reason, what she wants is to win him back before the start of their senior year. Lainey and her friend Bianca check the interwebz for tips and tricks, but the online dating advice is all pretty lame.

Then the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. Didn't someone once say that love is a battlefield? Jason isn't going to stand a chance once Lainey and Bee go all Zhou Dynasty on him...

Old school strategy and subterfuge meet modern-day dramarama in the story of a girl who sets out to win at all costs and ends up discovering what's really worth fighting for.

People. Seriously. This book. I was not ready. I started reading The Art of Lainey during one of my study breaks because nothing like an adorable contemporary to relax a studious brain, right? This went way beyond adorable. I also went way over the time limit I allow myself to take a break from studying. Totally worth it. The Art of Lainey genuinely is one of the most honest and realistic novels I've read in a while. Let's just say that I could write a 2000-word essay on what I loved about this book. (Probably 3000 because character limits are more of a guideline for me. Seriously, I need help.)

This didn't work for me: 

I have a few issues with some of the characterisation. First there is Bianca, Lainey's best friend. Her racial heritage is communicated to the reader by Lainey noting how Bianca "shakes out her thick Latina hair". That is a really awkward way of introducing a character as a POC. You don't see anyone talking about Lainey as having "Caucasian hair", so I was not thrilled to see that. Lainey also makes a flippant remark about someone "turning lesbian", which made me cringe. 

Then there is Kendall, Lainey's other friend. Her introduction is tricky, because she's in New York for most of the story. The problem is that we get a massive info-dump about her character when Lainey first mentions her. I'm very big on showing instead of telling, but in this particular case, I understand why showing might not have been possible.

This absolutely worked for me:

Where do I even start? 

THE FRIENDSHIP between Bianca and Lainey is probably what impressed me the most. The conversations they have are talks I can see myself having with friends. I probably already have. These are friends that can talk about anything. They could be discussing their day one moment and they'll be talking about sex the next. It's refreshing how completely normal this pattern is for them. They are open and honest with each other. They know each other's weaknesses. Bianca is not just there to talk up Lainey to the reader. She is a person in her own right and treated as such. At a certain moment, Lainey has a soccer match and she knows Jason will be there. While Micah promises to stop by so she won't be alone, she still goes to Bianca to ask if she'll come with her, because Bianca's presence would make her less nervous. At the end of the day, Bianca is the person Lainey relies on most. My feels. I could not.

THE AUTHENTICITY of the characters. I don't think a single one of them is one-dimensional. Even Jason, who, frankly, wins the Asshole of the Year award for stopping by his girlfriend's workplace just to dump her, is not a stereotype. I don't like the guy or anything, but there are moments when you can see he genuinely cares. Lainey is another character I didn't instantly take a liking to, but oh, how she grew on me. She has her flaws and can be extremely dramatic, but she knows it. She's so self-aware I wanted to hug her. She has her forever alone moments, which I personally found hilarious, because I've been there. Lainey is such a relatable character that I took the liberty of mentally renaming this book The Fabulousness of Lainey.

THE ROMANCE is so realistic I want to hug Paula Stokes. I know I'm doing a lot of hugging here but this book put me in the mood. Insert that's what she said joke here. That is exactly how their dynamic goes. Let me illustrate:

Micah: "Something something."
Lainey: "Ah, something something."
Micah: "Yes, something something."
Lainey: "Hey, can I ask you something?"
Micah: "Sure."
Lainey: "Why were you suddenly acting weird just a moment ago?"
Micah: "Uh. You sure you want to hear this?"
Lainey: "Yes."
Micah: "That thing you did back there? It kind of turned me on."
Lainey thinks: No way!
Lainey: "Oh, cool."
Micah: "Yeah."
Lainey: "So. Something something."

Etc. For a romance that is based on the faking it trope, their interactions read surprisingly sincere. There are no make-overs. They let each other be themselves. They gradually grow closer and come to care for one other. Their relationship is built on friendship and respect and they're not afraid to admit their attraction to the other. When Lainey sees Micah, she's not assaulted by dramatic swarms of butterflies. Instead, she notices that she automatically smiles when he's in the vicinity. Maybe it's just me, but I recognise myself in that. Oh, and Micah has forever won me over with this:

"Those cookies smell amazing." My stomach growls.
Micah snaps the nearest cookie in half. "Oh, look, I broke one. Can't sell that." 

Isn't that the most adorable thing you've ever seen? Who needs big, showy declarations of love anyway? They are cheesy. Not these two. They show their affection in subtle but completely believable ways. I love it.

The Art of Lainey is so much more than just the cute contemporary I expected it to be. It's funny, sex-positive, and sincere, with some of the best and most true-to-life relationships I've ever encountered in fiction. I, for one, am buying myself a physical copy when it releases. 

Full review to come on the blog in April.


  1. Yesssssss. I just started this last night and probably should've waited to read your review until I finished but oh well. While I can see Lainey's potential, I'm glad to hear that she grows on you because I am not totally relating right now (personal problems, she's hit a few of my buttons mostly relating to things I think she's going to grow out of over the course of the book).

    Also, MICAAAAAHHHH! He's only just becoming a presence and omg I already love him. Your quotes? Fabulous. I can't wait to see more.

    Anyhoo, I like everything about it so far aside from some of Lainey's issues so thank you for giving me hope.

    1. Ha, only the cookie quote is real. I made up the conversation but it's very close to something that actually happened. I can see where you'd have issues with Lainey. Trust me, it took me some time to warm up to her. I think the issues I have with her were consciously written into he character. She really grows a lot through the course of the novel. This isn't just about Lainey trying to win her boyfriend back. It's just as much, if not more, about her finding herself and what she really wants in life.

      Yesss Micah. He's so sweet. There are (spoilery) moments we must discuss when you've finished. What I love about him is that he reads like a real person. The way he shows how much he cares about people isn't showy or idealised. AND JUST SERIOUSLY THE COOKIE MOMENT. I COULD NOT. In the best way possible.

    2. THE TURN ON WAS TOTALLY REAL (okay the something something bits were made up, but OMG THAT SCENE WAS SO CUTE) Also yes to Lainey growth. I officially 180ed on Lainey. (heeeeeeey, that kind of rhymes)

    3. Wheeeeee, yay to rhyming! Yay to warming up to Lainey! I'm so glad you had the same experience with her that I had, Meg. I want to applaud Stokes for taking a risk with her character. Hahaha, the turn on was totally real. It's one of the parts I clearly remembered about that conversation. For the rest I was like "let me paraphrase this real quick and get to the good stuff". Nailed it :D


  2. Ahhhhh this sounds adorable! I do have an e-galley of it so I am really looking forward to reading it but I won't be able to touch it for a while. Good thing you mostly liked it though because I hate when early reviews are negative. Now I can't wait to finally get to it.

    1. Oh, that's so wonderful to hear! It is EXTREMELY adorable. Lainey isn't the most likeable character but OMG Micah. I'll let you find out for yourself, of course, but OMG Micah :D Early reviews make me nervous because what if everyone else hates it? Not that I think this will happen here, but still. I hope you like it, Kara! I will be stalking updates when you get to it ^_^

  3. I have a feeling that this is a really adorable quirky read! I remember hearing about this book somewhere but not thinking much of it (maybe the cover was a bit off putting in all honesty) but now im pretty excited for it to be released!
    Lily @ Lilysbookblog

  4. During my 6-year stint as a restaurant cook, I may or may not have "accidentally damaged" a metric ton of delicious baked goods for my friends :) Thanks for featuring LAINEY!

  5. YES, I agree completely! I adored the strong friendships in this one and the romance was wonderfully authentic as well. One of my favorite components was the fact that Lainey was so aggressive for a heroine but she is still treated as a beautiful girl worthy of affection despite her anger and confused feeling. Stokes never belittles what she feels which I loved. Wonderful post! :)


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