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Pretty Crooked

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Overview

Pretty Little Liars meets Heist Society in this exciting and flirtatious book about a high school girl whose innocent game of Robin Hood spirals way out of control.

At first, Willa’s plan to take from the rich kids at Valley Prep and give to the poor ones seems easy. Her daredevil stunts are thrilling. And keeping secrets helps her play hard-to-get with Aidan Murphy, Prep’s most notorious bad boy. But when the cops start investigating and her ...

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Pretty Crooked

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Overview

Pretty Little Liars meets Heist Society in this exciting and flirtatious book about a high school girl whose innocent game of Robin Hood spirals way out of control.

At first, Willa’s plan to take from the rich kids at Valley Prep and give to the poor ones seems easy. Her daredevil stunts are thrilling. And keeping secrets helps her play hard-to-get with Aidan Murphy, Prep’s most notorious bad boy. But when the cops start investigating and her friends begin to seek revenge, Willa realizes her walk on the wild side is just beginning.

Fans of Sarah Mlynowski, Ally Carter, and Sara Shepard will love the feisty heroine, clever heists, and playful romance in this series. 

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Editorial Reviews

Melissa de la Cruz
“A pretty twisted, modern-day Robin Hood story.”
Sarah Mlynowski
“Packed with romance, humor, and adventure, Pretty Crooked will steal your heart.”
Tera Lynn Childs
“Filled with mystery, high-tension heists, and flirting with an enigmatic bad boy, Pretty Crooked kept me hooked right up to the action-packed ending.”
ALA Booklist
“Tantalizing. For fans of Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars books.”
Booklist
Tantalizing....[for] fans of Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars books.
Publishers Weekly
When 15-year-old Willa’s mother, an artist, sells some paintings for major money, they move to Paradise Valley, Ariz., and are quickly absorbed into a privileged new life. Down-to-earth Willa is shocked by the displays of affluence at her new school, especially among the Glitterati—three popular girls who bring her into their circle. Willa spends her mother’s savings on designer clothes, but when she finds out that the Glitterati is behind a malicious blog making fun of “The Busteds” (kids who are bussed in from poorer neighborhoods), she seeks revenge by pickpocketing the rich and secretly buying gifts for the Busteds (“I wasn’t just a thief.... I was an equalizer”). Meanwhile, she contends with her crush on a classmate and her mother’s strange behavior. First in a planned trilogy, Ludwig’s debut uses its familiar fish-out-of-water premise to take aim at classism and mean-girl bulling, with Willa’s Robin Hood–style behavior lending the story some freshness. A (potentially frustrating) cliffhanger ending suggests Willa’s troubles will be far more serious in the next installment. Ages 13–up. Agent: Leigh Feldman, Writers House. (Mar.)
Lauren Henderson
"Pretty clever, pretty funny, pretty adorable. I loved it!"
Booklist
"Tantalizing....[for] fans of Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars books."
VOYA - Stacey Hayman
Fifteen-year-old Willa Fox and her mom have moved once a year, every year, for as long as she can remember, but none of their previous cities or houses have been anywhere near this rock-star fabulous. Now that her mom finally sold one of her larger paintings, the Fox women are living large in Paradise Valley, Arizona, and Willa is attending the exclusive Paradise Valley Preparatory School. The beautiful grounds and outstanding academic curriculum mask the ugly side of Paradise Valley, but once Willa finally sees the massive divide between the students with money and those without, she starts to feel uncomfortable. After learning the rich girls are harassing the scholarship girls anonymously on a gossip blog, Willa decides she is going to learn how to steal from the wealthy kids to provide trendy outfits to the poor kids, hopefully improving the self-esteem of the scholarship kids. The name dropping of flashy brands and use of popular teen phrases will alert readers that this is meant to be a light, fun read with a hint of a moral message. There is also an attempt to show multicultural students, but the stereotyping of ethnic backgrounds and financial solvency remain—the three scholarship students are Hispanic, and the girls with cash look down on the poorer kids. There is a fun romance budding for Willa and a mystery surrounding her Mom's sketchy background, but it is the cliffhanger ending that will encourage teens to pick up book two in the series. Suggest it to fans of the Gossip Girl, A-List, or Clique series. Reviewer: Stacey Hayman
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Willa feels like a bit of a misfit when she starts a new school in the aptly named town of Paradise Valley-until she becomes friends with a group of wealthy, popular girls known as the Glitterati. They seem too good to be true, and of course they are. Once Willa discovers that they are the creators of a nasty blog that mocks and demeans the school's less affluent students, she vows revenge via a redistribution of wealth-or, as she puts it, she begins "kickin' it Robin Hood-style." She embarks on a binge of thievery followed by shopping, and then anonymously delivers designer clothing to the girls targeted by the Glitterati's cyberbullying. It's a fun premise, and a decent first-novel attempt, but the book leaves a few things to be desired. The tone is light and the language is peppered with preppy slang and name-dropping, which gives it a certain zing but also a distinct transience. Most frustrating is that the superficial nature of Willa's campaign is not addressed. It never comes up that the scholarship girls upon whom she bestows her gifts probably have more elemental needs, rendering her upscale charity pretty insensitive. She realizes, in a basic way, that what she's done is wrong (stealing is bad!), but that's as far as her reflection goes. The action careens to an abrupt conclusion, leaving loose ends that seem like a deliberate setup for a sequel. The question is whether the material is compelling enough to merit one.—Emma Burkhart, Springside School, Philadelphia, PA
Kirkus Reviews
This debut keeps readers zooming along as a formerly poor girl plays Robin Hood when she strikes it rich. When Willa's artist mom makes some sudden, highly lucrative sales, the two move to a ritzy Arizona neighborhood, complete with a fancy private prep school where Willa worries that she won't fit in. The opposite happens, however, when Willa meets Cherise, who inducts her into the popular "Glitterati" crowd on her first day. Willa revels in the attention and the expensive shopping trips to Neiman Marcus. However, her new friends bully the school's poor scholarship girls to such an extent that it sickens Willa. She decides to even things up by stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. She learns how to pick pockets and locks and then spends her ill-gotten gains on fancy new outfits that she delivers anonymously to the poor girls. But can she get away with her scheme without consequences? Meanwhile, even as Willa tries to avoid the rebellious, superrich, highly attractive Aidan, readers will suspect she'll eventually succumb. Ludwig portrays the school and wealthy neighborhood convincingly. Her characterizations for the most part hit their target, although Willa comes across as smarter than the actions she takes. The story ends with a major mystery unsolved, opening the way for sequels. A solid debut. (Suspense. 12 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062066077
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/18/2014
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 966,489
  • Age range: 13 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Elisa Ludwig enjoys writing about teen outlaws, even though she herself has never been one. Pretty Sly is her second novel and the sequel to Pretty Crooked. She lives in Philadelphia, where she is hard at work on the third installment of Willa Fox's adventures.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 16 )
Rating Distribution

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(5)

4 Star

(3)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 22, 2012

    There were some things I liked and didn't like in Pretty Crooked

    There were some things I liked and didn't like in Pretty Crooked. It was an interesting plot idea, a modern day Robin Hood. I don't think Willa came across as noble as Robin Hood though which maybe wasn't the intent or moral of the story anyway. Robin Hood was back in Medieval Times right? He was kind of like a police office in a corrupt monarchy. Willa, on the other hand, is a modern teenager trying to give retribution to girls that definitely deserve it, but breaking the law really isn't the best way to do it.

    Willa is interesting. I'm not sure if I like her that much. She makes some really dumb decisions. She's been through a lot so it's understandable that she's having a hard time. Willa and her single mom had a good relationship until they moved to the rich neighborhood, and her mom got secretive and busy. The biggest pull for me to read the next book in the series is to find out more about her mom's secrets, very intriguing.

    This book brings up the modern issue of cyber bullying. This definitely wasn't a problem in my day. (Which, by the way, I'm not ancient or anything. My 10 year reunion is coming up soon. Hmm maybe that does make me ancient.) I'm sure this happens in high schools all over, and it's truly appalling. Willa definitely had her heart in the right place when she tried to help these girls being bullied for being the scholarship kids at a rich private school.

    Content Ratings:
    Sexual Content: moderate
    Language: moderate
    Violence: none
    Other: cyber bullying, teen party drinking, teen drinking and driving

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 30, 2014

    A modern female Robin Hood, Pretty Crooked is a light read. Howe

    A modern female Robin Hood, Pretty Crooked is a light read. However, the writing was a little flat, and none of the characters stood out for me. I did enjoy reading the book, but it wasn’t very memorable. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2013

    Anonymous

    I hate Robin Hood like people like Willa. It is nit her job to steal from other people and give away their parents hard earned money to other people. Their are other things she should have done to help them. What a stupid child.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2013

    Loved it

    Great book

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  • Posted May 26, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Charming new mystery

    Pretty Crooked falls between Heist Society and Populazzi – it has a cute story concept with fluffy adorability, but I wanted a little more finished business at the end of the book and less of a traitorous cliffhanger. Granted, I am definitely on board for the sequel to find out what happens – but I felt that Pretty Crooked could have gone a little differently. I think it was trying to set up enough background for a sequel as she introduced Willa, Aiden, Glitterati, and company in the current Robin Hood-styled story. As it turns out, I was MORE interested in the set-up for the sequel and read on to pursue that plotline before realizing that I would not get any answers until Book 2. By itself without all the trimmings for the sequel, Pretty Crooked has a likeable character with admirable intentions to equal out the have-lots and the have-nots. If Elisa Ludwig continues to write with such charm and wit in addition to providing more answers in Pretty Sly, I think we may another Ally Carter on our hands – and quite frankly, I am more than excited!

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  • Posted May 11, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Willa, our protagonist was a character that I liked but I did ge

    Willa, our protagonist was a character that I liked but I did get quite frustrated with her sometimes. I think she didn't always make the best decisions but the important thing was that she learned from her mistakes. Willa moves to Paradise Valley with her mother and what was a nice change was the fact that Willa wasn't the awkward new girl and actually became friends with the popular girls, known as the Glitterati. At first she thinks everything is great but eventually she sees the darker side of her new friends. She sees the way they look down on and make fun of some of the kids who don't have money like they do and don't fit in with the popular crowd. Willa attempts to make things right by going all Robin Hood and stealing from the popular kids and giving to the poorer kids. In a way I understood why Willa was doing it but on the other hand I felt it was kind of juvenile and risky and I don't think she was going about serving justice the right way at all. I did feel bad for Willa though because she was only trying to do what she thought was right but it ended up getting all messed up.

    Willa makes friends very quickly with the popular girls or the Glitterati which consists of Kellie, Nikki, and Cherise. Kellie is basically the ringleader, she's the one that throws the parties and is probably the meanest one out of the girls. Nikki, while not much better than Kellie is basically just a sheep. She just follows Kellie's lead and agrees with whatever Kellie says or wants. Cherise is the only one out of the Glitterati that showed promise. Cherise was uncomfortable with the way Nikki and Kellie treated some of the kids at their school and she while she herself didn't partake in their antics she still cared a bit too much about what they thought of her to break away from them. While I was a little disappointed in Cherise I can see that she's a good person and hope to see her change even more in the future.

    Aidan was a great love interest for Willa. He wasn't like the other people that go to their school, even though he has money he doesn't act the way they do and is very separate from them. I loved the banter between Aidan and Willa at the beginning of the book, somewhere around the middle though Aidan started to retreat from Willa a bit, though it was very obvious he still liked her it just seems that he lost some of his spark that he had in the beginning. We never find out why he starts acting this way so I'm definitely interested to see if we find out what Aidan's keeping from Willa in the next book.

    I think Willa being all Robin Hood like was a fun idea. It was definitely unique and different. Besides this plot though there was also this side plot having to do with Willa's mother that I would have liked to see more of. Willa's mother had her own secrets and we never found out what she was hiding either but again I hope we find out in the next book. This book ended in kind of a weird place, I felt like maybe there should have been a few more chapters. I felt that the ending was very abrupt and I was left with a lot of questions. My hope for the next book would be that hopefully my questions get answered.

    *An extended version of this review is also posted on my blog and my other social media profiles.

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  • Posted April 21, 2012

    Pretty Crooked is a fun-filled, quick read. The characters are

    Pretty Crooked is a fun-filled, quick read. The characters are well developed and the story is filled with humor and compassion. I love Elisa Ludwig's writing style, which keeps the story flowing and the readers engaged. This would make a great tv series or movie. I can't wait to read the next one.

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  • Posted April 18, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    This review also appears on my blog, What Makes YA Beautiful. Mi

    This review also appears on my blog, What Makes YA Beautiful. Minor spoilers ahead.

    Despite the fact that it suffers from DPS (disappearing parent syndrome) that&rsquo;s rampant in YA lit today and a terribly misguided &ldquo;Robin Hood&rdquo; theme, <i>Pretty Crooked</i>
    is, as its cover implies, a quick and humorous read that may or may not have a troubling subtext, depending on how you see it.

    I love the way Willa is written! These days, most YA books use first person POV as a way to make it easier to connect with the reader, but it&rsquo;s rare to one that makes you feel as if you&rsquo;re seeing inside the character&rsquo;s head. Kudos are in order for Elisa Ludwig for the great writing chops.

    Despite this, I don&rsquo;t detect any character development. This book is, at best, a high-school drama rollercoaster that should have spat out a Willa who is nothing like what she is before, and yet I find nothing to show that she develops as a character. Perhaps the fact that there&rsquo;s no <i>real</i>
    retribution for her crimes plays a part here.

    Another thing is that there&rsquo;s no originality in her, or any of the other characters in this book. Don&rsquo;t get me wrong, the snarky dialogue and great comebacks surprised a laugh out of me more than once but other than that I can&rsquo;t find anything in Willa or anyone else that makes them stand out from the multitude of YA protagonists.

    The love interest is meh. Having had my fill of contemporary YA romances, Aidan is nothing new. In fact, it&rsquo;s actually quite funny how Willa&rsquo;s reaction is to spaz out whenever he&rsquo;s close to her. The first time is kinda-maybe-sorta believable but after the fifth time it deserves a healthy dose of eye-rolling. I felt there was no need for it, especially the parts that describe her as being unable to talk because she definitely has no problem articulating her thoughts when he&rsquo;s around.

    Before I rewrote this review I actually went on a rant about how sickening the Robin Hood angle is. I&rsquo;ll summarize it by saying it&rsquo;s a misguided idea that&rsquo;s terribly insulting and damaging not only to the foreign students that Willa is &ldquo;helping&rdquo; but to society&rsquo;s young generation as well.

    Admittedly I might be taking this too seriously because <i>Pretty Crooked</i>
    is supposed to be a light and easy read, but there&rsquo;s no denying the white man&rsquo;s syndrome thing that&rsquo;s going on. In politically correct terms, &ldquo;white man&rsquo;s syndrome&rdquo; is defined as privileged Westerners helping disenfranchised and destitute foreigners without considering that these foreigners may be insulted by the fact that these Westerners believe they actually <i>need</i>
    help.

    Being a Chinese Cypriot who has experienced and seen this too many times to count (the latest one being the farce that is Kony), I&rsquo;m bothered to no end by this because it&rsquo;s almost as bad as racism. Obviously <i>Pretty Crooked</i>
    is nowhere near that level but it deals with the same idea.

    I wouldn&rsquo;t recommend you <i>not</i>
    to read this book if you&rsquo;ve heard of it before, but suffice to say that it wouldn&rsquo;t be at the top of my recommendations list. I&rsquo;ll be reading its sequel because it&rsquo;s undoubtedly well-written (<i>only</i>
    by way of its prose) and it seems the stint of Robin Hoodness has passed. And thank goodness for that.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 27, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Willa Fox has never had the privilege of being one of the popula

    Willa Fox has never had the privilege of being one of the popular kids at school and she's honestly not sure she's finding it all that great. She hates the way that they treat the less fortunate kids at school and decides that she's going to do something about it. In short, she's going to steal from the rich kids to give to the poorer ones. Every time she takes something she ups the stakes just a little bit until she's practically addicted to the adrenaline rush of stealing.

    I liked Willa pretty much from the get go. While I thought her plan was a little underdeveloped, her heart seemed to be in the right place and she was an amusing character to follow. I had fun reading about her training sessions with Tre and her various antics. Speaking of Tre--did anyone else want HIM to be the love interest? I understand (kind of) her physical attraction to Aidan, but I didn't really get why she was so fascinated with him. Honestly, the romance doesn't play a huge role, but since there was one at all, I think I would have liked it to go a different direction. Who knows--maybe Aidan will be able to change my mind in book two.

    The secondary storyline with her mom left me feeling really confused. We never get a good feel for what's going on with that aspect of the story and I felt really drawn to the mystery. I kept hoping that we'd get more information as the book went on, but there was nothing! The ending was left open (I suppose for a series), but it felt TOO open for me. You still don't have ANY idea what was happening and I would have liked something--some kind of elaboration.

    In the end, this book left me wanting a little bit more. The writing is good and the storyline and characters make for an amusing read, but ultimately, the connection wasn't lasting. If you're looking for a fun, quick read, this is one you might want to pick up, and there are plenty of reviews out there that would disagree with my take. While I'll more likely than not read book two to find out what's up with her mom, this story simply didn't quite live up to my expectations.

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  • Posted March 15, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Who here is a big fan of Robin Hood? I was super excited when I

    Who here is a big fan of Robin Hood? I was super excited when I found out that a young adult novel is inspired by Robin Hood! A modern day Robin Hood but with style! I couldn't wait to start reading Pretty Crooked! But while this was cute, I really did not like the protagonist, Willa, at all! The first fifty pages showed me her spunk and how she was a total rebel at heart. Living the poor life, her mother finally gets a lucky break with her paintings and they move states to a luxuries neighborhood and gets enrolled in a top notch private school.
    Unfortunately as soon as she steps inside the school and gets accepted into the Glitterati (think the mean girls in the movie Mean Girls) her whole attitude changed. She seemed so desperate to me at times, just to gain their approval. She even witnessed straight on bullying and barely said anything to the girls, afraid to lose her status, to me, that is really cowardly and I just couldn't stand her anymore!
    When Willa finally takes her eyes off all those designer clothes she's been buying and finally thinks for a minute, she finally admits to herself that what the Glitteratis are doing needs to be stopped. She gets an idea, and it is to rob the rich and buy DESIGNER CLOTHES to the scholarship girls at the school to even out the score. CLOTHES? and DESIGNER at that? REALLY? what a genius idea *sarcastic tone*. I just found that idea absurd, and wanted to smack her to reality, because that is one of the stupidest ideas I have ever heard. So I laughed, I totally enjoyed reading how she learnt to steal and to try and &quot;even out the playing field&quot; and the writing is definitely superb which is why I stuck through it, even with the absurd plot. Add in a hot boy in the mix, Aidan, and i'm happy; though I hoped he had more page time (screen time but in book language), I still really loved his charm. I'm a sucker for guys with the witty charm.
    While I might have had some major problems with the protagonist and idea, i did enjoy the book, it was funny, cute, and a great contemporary. This is only the first book, so make sure to check out the second book because this one ended in a cliffhanger!

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  • Posted March 13, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Willa and her mother have finally set down roots and for the fir

    Willa and her mother have finally set down roots and for the first time Willa is attending private school. A very elite private school where they serve sushi and bake wood fire baked pizzas in the brick pizza oven. The campus is on 200 acres, though the school is on only a small portion of that land. And the kids that attend are among the richest of the rich, CEO's children, trust fund babies, the works. But then there are the scholarship kids. The ones just trying to get a good education.

    Willa is lucky enough to get accepted by the Glitterati, the &quot;it girls&quot; of the school and she thinks they're nice. We all know the story and eventually she sees them for who they truly are. She decides if she evens the playing field, they won't have anything to be mean about. So she steal from the rich (Glitterati) and gives to the poor (scholarship). Only it doesn't quite work out the way she planned.

    As for the relationship she has with her mother, they've always been close. Her mother had her young and its always been just the two of them. But here, her mother has become secretive. She sleeps all day. She's gone all night. Locks herself in her room and cries. She won't tell Willa who the man is that keeps trying to approach them. And Willa certainly keeps her life secret.

    The romance isn't very much in this book and only takes off towards the end of the book which is where the book changes dramatically. Instead of modern day Robin Hood and a girl in high school, the book becomes very serious and dangerous. Their is peril and danger and strange things happening and Willa finds herself turning to the boy that she thought she'd least likely turn to for help. Be forewarned this is a series, or at least there is another book, something I wasn't expecting and it definitely threw me off at the end. I found this to be an enjoyable book, though a little confusing with the switch up at the end, but I'll definitely be getting the next book!

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  • Posted March 13, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Way too superficial to even be compared to Robin Hood

    1.5 Stars

    I really wanted to love this book even like it but not the case for me. This is described as a modern day Robin Hood, personally after reading this novel to even say it's anything close to what Robin Hood did is an insult.

    Willa was so misguided and shallow to think that she can solve the problems of the poor minority scholarship kids at her school by stealing from her wealthy popular friends and giving fancy clothes to the disadvantaged kids would make them accepted by the Glitterati. When in reality common sense will tell you that they would be the first people who would get the blame, especially when all of a sudden with all these thefts going on they come to school wearing three-four hundred dollar outfits. So instead of making things better she only made it worse for these kids who were getting bullied. Also it was pretty obvious these kids were not being picked on because of what they wore although that added to it.

    I would have thought Willa a more likable and stronger character if instead of secretly doing all this she had stood up to the Glitterati which she had become a part of and to actually become real friends with the "busteds" (the name the poor kids were given). But she didn't want to give up being popular.

    Also there were way to many stereotypes, and I'm going to leave it at that.

    What did keep me reading was my curiosity about Willa's mom and her secret. She is definitely hiding something and I was hoping it would be revealed but instead it was used as a setup for the second book in the series. And unfortunately as much as I would like to know what is the deal with her mom it's not enough for me to pick up the next book.

    There is a love interest but besides Willa and Aidan having a romantic interest in each other we don't know much about Aidan at all. One thing that bugged me again was the secrecy, he got kicked out of Valley Prep and we have no clue why.

    Overall this novel sounded very promising but fell short. In the end this was too superficial for my likes.

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  • Posted March 13, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Pretty Crooked is full of heart, and a Chick-Lit novel that also

    Pretty Crooked is full of heart, and a Chick-Lit novel that also deals with a serious subject and hard consequences. Even if the intentions were for good. Elisa Ludwig has written a beautiful heart-felt story about those who are less fortunate and the cruelty of others who seem to have more than their fair share. Elisa Ludwig also adds humor and romance that gives this serious storyline a lot of laughs.

    Willa and her mom have had a hard life with her mom being a single mom, but their luck has just changed after her mom, who is an artist, sells her painting for big money. Now they move to Arizona, a beautiful house with a pool, and Willa goes to Valley Prep High School. Yeah, Willa and her mom are living the good life, and for first time Willa is hanging with the Glitterati&mdash;the &quot;mean rich girls&quot;. Willa&rsquo;s conscience starts to bug her when she realizes she can't be like the Glitterati who bully the girls who don't wear the expenses clothes, and who got into Valley Prep by scholarship. Willa wants to make those who have less become equals with the rich Glitterati girls, So Willa becomes the Valley Prep Robin Hood. Willa soon learns good intentions are not good enough and they will lead her down a road with no U-turn.

    Aiden is the utterly hot rich guy, and Willa can't help falling him, but she is tough on Aiden. I felt really sorry for him. But Aiden is proof you shouldn't judge a person by what you see on the outside, he has his own good intentions for being a bad boy.

    Pretty Crooked ends on cliffhanger that had me screaming, NO! don't end now. But Aiden sure did give this novel an awesome ending, and so did Elisa Ludwig. She definitely will have me do a repeat offence for the next book. I recommend Pretty Crooked as a must read.

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    Posted May 3, 2012

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    Posted March 23, 2014

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    Posted May 11, 2012

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