Sage Czinski is trying really hard to be perfect. If she manages it, people won't peer beyond the surface, or ask hard questions about her past. She's learned to substitute causes for relationships, and it's working just fine . . . until Shane Cavendish strolls into her math class. He's a little antisocial, a lot beautiful, and everything she never knew she always wanted.
Shane Cavendish just wants to be left alone to play guitar and work on his music. He's got heartbreak and loneliness in his rearview mirror, and this new school represents his last chance. He doesn't expect to be happy; he only wants to graduate and move on. He never counted on a girl like Sage.
But love doesn't mend all broken things, and sometimes life has to fall apart before it can be put back together again. . . .
|Product dimensions:||8.10(w) x 5.40(h) x 1.10(d)|
|Age Range:||12 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Ann Aguirre is the author of the New York Times-bestselling Razorland series (Enclave, Outpost, Horde) and of Mortal Danger. She lives in Mexico with her husband and their children.
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The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things
By Ann Aguirre
MacmillanCopyright © 2015 Ann Aguirre
All rights reserved.
I know what they call me. The Goth girls started it, all ripped black fishnets and heavy kohl, with chipped black nail polish and metric tons of attitude, like any of that makes them cooler than anyone else. It so doesn't, but high school is full of people who think what they wear matters more than who they are. But I should talk. Before I came to stay with Aunt Gabby, I was worse than those girls. But she's taught me a lot in the years I've been living with her, mostly how to stop being angry about things I can't control.
Like my mom. My dad. And especially the nickname.
It echoes as I walk past the burners, which is what I call the pot and pill heads, who cluster near the emergency exit. They disable the alarms after each inspection, so they can slip in and out for a smoke. A bleary-eyed guy who's failing to rock a soul patch says, "What up, Princess?" and holds up two fingers in what's supposed to be a victory sign ... or maybe peace, I dunno.
I ignore him, though it's not easy. There's always a part of me that wants to make people sorry when they piss me off, but I've swallowed her whole, wrapped the shadow me in plastic, and I'm waiting for her to stop breathing. I walk on, brightening my smile through sheer determination. I've heard if you pretend long enough—or maybe wish hard enough—faking normal becomes real. I'm counting on that. Until then, I'll carry on.
Everybody at JFK has a thing. For the drama dorks, it's huddling up in the auditorium, singing or running lines every chance they get. They all have big Broadway dreams, fattened by watching Glee. Since we're also in a podunk Midwestern town, they figure the show speaks directly to them. I don't mind the concept, but it's ironic that they get twenty-five-year-olds to play high school students. Which explains why all the performers have such poise and polish. I'd like it more if they looked real, if they occasionally had zits or bad hair.
The burners take pride in not doing anything. Most of them have a 1.2 GPA, barely attend class, and are heavily into recreational drugs. The preps are all about grades, sports, and pretending to be awesome in front of adults. Ironically, they also drink the most; a few of them do it binge style and suffer from blackouts on a regular basis.
I fit in with the crunchy granola do-gooders. I'm involved in eco-related clubs, partly because it looks good on your college application, and I don't intend to stay in a crappy Midwestern town. When I graduate, I'm getting out of here, where everything feels small. Maybe that sounds like I don't appreciate Aunt Gabby, which is the opposite of true, but I can love her without thinking this is the best place ever.
"Is she ever gonna stop with that?" one of the goth girls asks.
"Whatever. Let Princess Post-it do her thing," says a dude with a safety pin in his ear.
I wish they'd listen to him; it's not like I'm hurting anyone. Basically, my thing is this—and it started freshman year—I had a pack of pink Post-it notes with me on the first day of school because I was so scared I'd forget something important. Before I started at the junior high here, it had been years since I attended a normal school, and I felt pretty sure that junior high wasn't the same as high school. So yeah, reminders. Inside my locker. On my notebooks. Everywhere.
There's this girl, Becky, who has great hair, bouncy and red, but she's ... big. Not like me, with a small chest and a big butt, but all over large. So that day, first day of freshman gym, they didn't have shorts or a tee that would fit her. So she's sitting in the bleachers in her school clothes, red-faced, shiny-eyed, fighting tears while she hears people saying stuff like "orca" and "lard-ass" as we run laps. I can tell by watching her that she's about to cry, which will just make her humiliation complete. But the bell rings before she breaks, and we go back to the locker room. The other girls treat her like she's invisible, and I see her register that this is how high school is going to be; her place in the social strata is already cemented from one bad day. And I couldn't change that. So I don't know why I did it—just an inexplicable impulse—but later that afternoon, I wrote You have amazing hair on a pink Post-it and stuck it on her locker, where everyone could see it.
I waited for her to read it, and after she did, Becky looked around to see if somebody was punking her. So I made eye contact to be sure she knew I meant it, smiled, and gave her a thumbs-up. Maybe it was stupid; maybe it didn't help at all, but from the way she lit up, I feel like it did. She gave me two thumbs back, and we went our separate ways.
However, I liked the feeling. I enjoyed cheering her up. High school is hell and I'm trundling around passing out ice water. Maybe it doesn't end the torment but if the nice balances out some of the crap, then I feel like it was worth my while. So that's how Post-its became my thing. Hence the nickname.
I do this daily, scope for somebody having an awful day, and look for a bright side. Sometimes it's lame, but at least I'm trying. Aunt Gabby says if you put positivity out into the world, it will come back to you tenfold. I don't know if that's true, but I want it to be. I'm trying so hard to build up good karma, like when you can't see how furiously a duck is paddling beneath the placid surface of a pond.
Aunt Gabby is actually my half aunt because she was my dad's half sister. Apparently she and Dad weren't raised together; they have the same father, and he was the kind of guy who thought it was awesome to impregnate multiple women and then wander off. I don't remember my grandma. She passed on when my dad was young ... and he died when I was seven. That doesn't bode well for my potential lifespan, I suppose. But bad ends run in my blood, not genetic disorders or congenital health problems. So whatever goes wrong, at least it'll be quick.
"Sage!" My best friend, Ryan, wanders out of Mrs. David's classroom, falling into step. "You going to Green World tonight?"
That's our eco-awareness group. Supposedly, we'll come up with ways to save the planet, brainstorm green technologies, and sponsor community cleanup projects. So far, one month into the school year, we've only managed to order pizza and screw around.
"Yeah. I hope we actually do something soon."
"Ditto that. I signed up to pad my college apps, but this failure to launch is becoming problematic."
"You sound like you already work for NASA," I say.
Ryan is over six feet tall with black hair that refuses to lie down, regardless of how it's cut or combed, and he's a total string bean. He wears hipster glasses to disguise how much of ginormous dork he is, but so far, this strategy has fooled no one. Not that it matters to me how he looks.
He was the first friend I made when I moved here three years ago. That day, I forgot my lunch; I was a huge mess, and I sat down in the corner of the cafeteria at a broken table, or at least, it was half broken, because it almost collapsed when I leaned my elbows on it. Everyone else at the school knew not to sit there, but after I plunked down, I was too nervous to move. To this day, I have no idea why Ryan came over. I had terminal new-kid disease, which can be mad contagious, but I guess Ryan was vaccinated—or lonely. That day, he gave me half a peanut butter sandwich and the courage not to drown myself in the girls' toilet. We've been inseparable ever since.
"Seen anyone who needs a pick-me-up?" I've got my Post-it pad in hand, purple glitter pen at the ready.
It's super girlie, I know, and faintly ridiculous, but I was into that two years ago, and since that's what I did the first time with Becky, who has since lost weight and joined the volleyball team, I'm still doing it. I don't claim I'm the reason she got motivated to change her life, but I believe in the power of ritual. So if I have any positive mojo to give to people who need it, maybe it comes from my pink Post-its or the purple glitter pen. Also, this is how people know the message comes legit from the Princess herself.
Occasionally, there are pretenders.
Ryan groans. "Are you seriously doing that again this year?"
"I'm doing it until I graduate. There are plenty of people who go around being dicks. Not enough go around being nice."
"That much is true." He hugs me around the shoulders, then dashes into history class.
This period, I have Mr. Mackiewicz for math. The Mackiewicz math class is the ninth circle of hell, and I'm currently failing. Everyone thinks I'm super smart, but I can't get geometry. This was a huge revelation, as prior to this year, I skated through the rest of my classes. I made dioramas and participated in discussions; I did extra credit and gave my all in group projects. I'm a good test taker, too. I don't get nervous or anything, have no trouble memorizing stuff.
But geometry? It's a foreign language. So the first test of the year is still in my bag. I haven't been brave enough to show Aunt Gabby yet, but that big circled F haunts me. If I close my eyes, I can see it, along with the smear of red sauce and the grease stain at the edge of the paper. I suspect Mr. Mackiewicz was eating pizza when he graded my exam. Somehow that makes it worse. He's cramming cheese and dough into his face while decreeing my epic failure? So uncool.
I trudge to the back of the class, wishing somebody would write something nice on a Post-it and stick it on my locker for a change. The classroom hasn't been updated in forty years, I bet. The globe probably still has Persia and Constantinople and other places that were dissolved prior to 1900. The math trivia cards that have been posted around the room are yellowed at the edges, starting to fray. Mr. Mackiewicz's desk is crooked.
The jocks have a bet going—every day, they nudge it back an inch, and they're running a pool to see how long it takes for Mackiewicz to notice that it's majorly askew. So far that's half a foot. It doesn't speak well of the cleaning crew that it stays that way, even less of Mackiewicz that he hasn't spotted a problem. But the guy's fairly myopic: thick bifocals, a white monk fringe, and a wispy mustache. If that doesn't sound enticing enough, he's also all about baggy cardigans, plaid, and corduroys.
I take my seat, wondering if this is the day when math lightning strikes, and suddenly all of the theorems will make sense. Since fakery seems like the only answer, I get out all my supplies, notebook, pencil, iPad. One cool thing about JFK, we aren't using textbooks anymore. They're all available electronically, and the school subsidized iPads. Of course that meant cutting metal shop and drivers ed from the budget. Doesn't affect me, as I refuse to drive on principle until affordable electric cars are widely available as an alternative; I'd prefer a solar one, but Ryan says I should keep dreaming. As for metal shop? Well, I tried to build a birdhouse in eighth grade. It didn't end well. God only knows what would happen if I attempted to weld.
I'm fiddling with my supplies when Mackiewicz shuffles into the room. He's wearing the gray sweater with the red stain. People reluctantly settle down, folding into their desks like grumpy origami dolls. Geometry is the only class where I sit near the burners, who slouch in the back, letting sunglasses and hair hide their bloodshot eyes. Most of them, I suspect, doze off before Mackiewicz sits down at his crooked desk.
The bell rings. Anyone who enters at this point is officially tardy.
Before the teacher can numb my brain with an hour of droning, the door creaks open, and a new kid slides in. New Kid is kind of a big deal because people don't move to Farmburg, Illinois, by choice; you can guess what's around here by the name of the town. He's almost as tall as Ryan with a mop of brown hair, not curly, but messy and hiding most of his face. Though it's late September, he's got on an old army surplus jacket, which pretty much hides any sense of chest and shoulders. His legs are long, though, feet encased in battered boots. They're not Docs, more like something soldiers would actually march in. His jeans are faded, torn up and down one leg, but in his case, I don't think it's a fashion statement. You can tell intentional grunge from pure wear. He keeps his head down as he hands a slip to Mackiewicz.
The math teacher skims it, then drops it on his desk. "Please welcome Shane Cavendish, transferring in from Michigan City. Take any empty desk."
What Mackiewicz hasn't told New Kid Shane is that he'll be stuck wherever he sits for the rest of the year. I wish I could warn him. Shane never looks up entirely, his shoulders hunched like this is a horrible ordeal. Though I was thirteen when I first hit JFK, I still remember that awful feeling, like a pit in my stomach, because starting over just sucks so hard, especially when other stuff is bad, too.
Shane skims the room and then he's coming down the aisle one over from me. He drops into the desk with the uneven leg. It rocks a little, making it annoying to write, but he doesn't move even after he discovers the fault. It's like he just wants to disappear, but people watch him get his supplies out like it's fascinating.
Finally, Mackiewicz gets started on the lesson, and I tune out. Fifty minutes later, my brain switches back on. My notebook is empty. As the bell rings, I scrawl the assignment, which I'll make a mess of, into my work diary. I'd like to say something to the new kid, but before I can, he's up like a shot. At the door, Dylan Smith, one of the jocks, shoulder slams Shane into the jamb, and his buddies do the same on the way out. Yeah, I guess they've decided where he fits in the pecking order. Because he doesn't have the right haircut or the right clothes, he's an auto-reject? It totally sucks.
"You all right?" I ask, but if he heard the question, he's ignoring me.
He doesn't turn. I tell myself it's because if he acknowledges my concern, then the bad junk is real. To face the day at the new school, he told himself, This time it'll be different. You can lie to yourself about all kinds of things. Until you can't, anymore. Until reality pounds a hole through your fantasy castle and the reality check must be cashed.
But he must be fronting because nobody ever wants to be lonely. You just pretend not to care if anyone talks to you because otherwise, you're the desperate loser begging for friends. Whatever, Shane's gone, long strides eating up the hallway, and he's not even rubbing his shoulder, like he's used to pain.
For some reason, that bothers me.CHAPTER 2
After school, I stick a post-it on Emily Franklin's locker. Seeing as she dumped her lunch tray everywhere in the cafeteria, I figure she could use an ego boost. I don't always stick around to watch people read like I did that first time. Sometimes I have places to be.
I unlock my bike from the rack out front. My house is two and a half miles from school, not an easy distance, but I'm determined. Riding five miles daily should keep me fit, but it's bulked up my thighs while doing little for my butt. There are probably other exercises I should try, but I don't care enough. Pedaling doggedly—while responding to the occasional greeting—carries me home.
Aunt Gabby is still at work when I arrive. She manages a new age place, where they sell healing crystals and hand- dipped candles. You'd think there wouldn't be much market for that in a small Midwestern town, and mostly, you'd be right. Which is why she spends a lot of time filling Web orders. There's a light walk-in business, but mostly she parcels things up and takes them to the post office.
Home is a two-bedroom bungalow, the exterior painted a cheerful robin's egg blue. The house has pine-green shutters and a fanciful menagerie of statues in the front yard. Now, in early fall, the garden is bright with orange and yellow mums, an explosion of color curling around the side of the house. The lawn itself is browning around the edges, as we're in a bit of a drought.
Excerpted from The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre. Copyright © 2015 Ann Aguirre. Excerpted by permission of Macmillan.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A Fun & Quirky YA Contemporary Romance w/ Serious Undertones Note: This review contains NO spoilers The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things, by Ann Aguirre, is a fun and quirky Young Adult novel that focused a lot on the ups and downs of teenagers, especially when starting over again. And, that's just the story for Sage, with a past she wants to leave behind, she starts a bright new life in a small quaint town...until she meets Shane. Of course, Sage learns that she's not the only one that has a past that wants to be kept hidden. Ann Aguirre has created this cute and fun story of teenage life with some serious undertones. I loved her character development. The personalities of her characters had many layers and depth creating that realism of your average teenager in high school. Pretty witty of Ann to create that high school atmosphere with your typical cliques...which made me feel like I was in high school...again!?! Whoa! Those high school memories...lol! And...the story development! Ann wrote an interesting story of teens dealing with the everyday issues of high school and relationships. Although Ann intertwined several serious issues, she integrated these issues into the storyline with realism and respect...without over dramatizing it. However, about the second half of the book, the story dragged a bit, but didn't take away from the story itself. Told in Sage's point of view, I enjoyed how the book read like a journal or as if I was "seeing" and "hearing" through her eyes. From beginning to end, I enjoyed "watching" Sage grow and see her confidence/self esteem develop. As with all the characters, Sage and her fellow schoolmates each are multi-layered, complex personalities steering through growing up. I also liked going through Sage and Shane's developing romance. It wasn't sappy or mushy...a "slap in your face" love at first sight deal. I really enjoyed reading the slow and awkward romantic progress between these two characters. Well, all in all, The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things is a fun and quirky tale of growing up...with a taste of a reality of some serious and sensitive issues that many teens deal with everyday. I would have to say that this would be a good read for both parents and teens. Ann Aguirre created an incredibly realistic young adult story worth reading.
I've read my first book by Ann Aguirre and it was wonderful. It felt like waking up on your birthday, knowing today was going to be extra special and that's because she's got an extensive back list of books I'm get to read. The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things is a masterpiece and it really took me back to high school. I can't believe how well written this book is. It's young adult, but the issues Sage and Shane face are some of the same I did while I was growing up. I adored Sage and I adored Shane. These two and perfect for each other. Sage saw Shane on his first day of school and recognized something in him that called to her. She saw a little bit of herself and she didn't let him hide. I absolutely loved what she did with the post-it notes. Leaving a positive message to brighten some one's day is a brilliant idea. Especially when you're struggling with who you are, want to be, life in general, etc. It really showed the best of the old and new her. My heart broke for her and everything she'd experienced in her short life. I also admired her determination, which border lined on stubborn. She had her principles and she stuck to them. She was also willing to do things to protect the ones she loved and cared for. That made her even more amazing in my eyes. I loved Shane too. This is a boy who had to grow up before his time. He made sacrifices that he shouldn't have had to made and he was dealing with a situation he shouldn't be in. His pain was tangible, but I loved seeing him happy with Sage. He might have been hurting more than any bullying by Dylan and his friends did, but he didn't let it bother him. After all his pain was much bigger than a bunch of bullies in a small fish tank. It still infuriated me though. This story is fast paced and gripping. Between Shane and Sage's romance, their activities trying to improve their environment, the drama between Sage and Ryan (her best friend), and Dylan and his bullying, there was a lot going on. Thankfully everything meshed together flawlessly. I laughed while reading this book, and definitely said, "Awww," a couple of times. Of course I sobbed while reading this book too. You see I felt like I was part of this book. I was so invested in what was happening, I didn't even realize I was crying. It was an instinctive reaction. I will say this, Sage thought by being the "Princess of Post-It Notes", a title she hated, she was buying good karma in a way, and she was. My most favorite scene in the book is when that good karma comes back her way. There's so much more I want to say about this book or talk about, but I can't because it'd giveaway plot points and ruin the story. I've never been so happy to read a book by a new author because like I said earlier, there's a bunch of books Ann Aguirre's already written that I can read at a moments notice. Reading this book has made my day. I hope it makes yours too.
I'm beginning to suspect that if Ann Aguirre started writing copy for soup cans, I'd be seeking those cans out a the grocery store just so I could give them a read. I really enjoyed The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things. Sage was such a quirky heroine, with her Post-It note habit (she leaves one pink Post-It note with a purple sparkly pick-me-up note written on it on the locker of someone who needs a boost each day at school--why wasn't there someone like that at my high school?), her refusal to ride in a car, and her environmental club. She might have seemed too good to be true if we hadn't seen everything from her point of view and therefore knew just how conflicted and scared she really was on the inside for much of the book and how she constantly struggled not to let her darker side come out. Shane is a swwon-worthy YA hero. He's mature beyond his years thanks to a difficult family situation, and is essentially on his own for much of the book, trying to pull his life together and finish high school. He's inherited musical talent from his mom and plays the guitar and sings like a dream, so, yeah, he's one of those boyfriends--Lucky Sage. But his entire situation is very precarious, and everything could be taken away from him in a heartbeat. When it is, who will be there to help him? The book takes place over the course of Sage's junior year, which ends up being a year of changes and revelations for her. A friendship she thought was solid ends up not being what she thought it was, and she's challenged to go out and broaden her circle. She has to deal with bullying and makes some questionable choices as she does so, a few that have far-reaching consequences. Other people start leaving Post-It notes on her locker for a change--some are hurtful, others are hopeful, and still others are absolutely awesome. Her big secret is revealed publicly, and I have to admit that though it is pretty bad, that part of the story felt like it was swept away and forgotten easier than it might have been in real life. Still, though, that is really my only complaint about the whole book--except to ask for sequels. So many characters here--Lila, Ryan, even Dylan--could be worthy of having their own stories told as well. The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things confirmed my belief that Post-It notes and sparkly pens are awesome, and having people that care about you can make all the difference. Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A- I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
Read on March 19, 2015 BOOK Info ebook, 336 pages Expected publication: April 7th 2015 by Feiwel & Friends ISBN 1250078105 (ISBN13: 9781250078100) other editions (2) Source:Netgalley EARC Book Buy Links Amazon B&N BOOK SYNOPSIS Sage Czinski is trying really hard to be perfect. If she manages it, people won't peer beyond the surface, or ask hard questions about her past. She's learned to substitute causes for relationships, and it's working just fine. . . until Shane Cavendish strolls into her math class. He's a little antisocial, a lot beautiful, and everything she never knew she always wanted. Shane Cavendish just wants to be left alone TO PLAY guitar and work on his music. He's got heartbreak and loneliness in his rearview mirror, and this new school represents his last chance. He doesn't expect to be happy; he only wants to graduate and move on. He never counted on a girl like Sage. But love doesn't mend all broken things, and sometimes life has to fall APART before it can be put back together again. . . . My Thoughts Others have talked about how sweet they have found this story to be, it is but it is also so much more and done in such a way you cannot help but devour pages to learn more. At a focal point where getting CLOSE to secrets from Sage's past start coming to light, my anxiety for her was off the charts and my curiosity was killing me too. I thought that Sage and Shane’s traumatic pasts were handled well, the information was not overwhelming nor were their respective mistakes dragged on and on as part of the story line but rather disclosed and than we moved on. The awful angst that both characters felt about sharing their pasts with each other was clearly dealt with as well, the fact that they could find it in their hearts TO OPEN up to each other and start finally healing was a wonderful aspect of this story that is actually something I expect in YA but sometimes do not find fully realized for the main characters. The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things is a unique addition to YA, it combines many traits that make it a part of the genre but it also incorporates unusual aspects that make it stand out from the pack for me. One such aspect is the lack of a love triangle and EVEN BETTER the lack of an abrupt cliffhanger ending, both these things help to make this a much more pleasurable read than expected. Be still my heart what a beautiful ending for two endearing young people. I am sorry to be finished but grateful to have enjoyed this one from start to finish! [EArc from Netgalley in exchange for HONESTreview]
Where does one begin with this book? It is truly AMAZING, it made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made believe that love just might exist. This book sets the bar for what every relationship should be and it does it without being the cliche high school romance that I loathe. The characters are phenomenal, and even the antagonist isn't all that evil. I can only hope that I one day find the Shane to my Sage.
This is the type of book that tugs at your heartstrings in unexpected ways. I didn't know what to expect going into this one, and I was very pleasantly surprised at what an emotional journey the book took me on. What Fed My Addiction: A sweet romance. I wasn't sure at first how much of a connection I was going to feel between Shane and Sage. Sage was so instantly drawn to Shane that I was worried we were going to get instalove. But it didn't feel that way at all. Sure, Sage was interested in the mysterious new boy, but Aguirre took plenty of time to develop their relationship in ways that made sense. Shane was quiet and a little withdrawn and Sage had to draw him out a bit before he was willing to take a chance on even a friendship, much less a romance. In the end, these two were incredibly sweet together---just what I hope for in a teen romance. Troubled pasts. Both Sage and Shane suffer from past hurts that make them wary. For Sage, that manifests in her constant desire to be perfect. She doesn't ever want to mess anything up because she's afraid that might be the tipping point---the thing that makes her aunt decide she just isn't worth all the trouble. Shane's past hurts make him incredibly cautious, and he has trouble trusting people. Both Shane and Sage fear that their worlds could come crumbling down around them if they make a wrong move. They have to learn to find freedom in their lives and to learn to trust that others will be there for them, even when things go wrong. Family dynamics. The actual biological parents in this book are non-existent for various reasons, but Sage's aunt is a wonderful parental figure. Her unconditional love is inspirational---there is one scene where her support of Sage actually made me cry. The Post-It Princess. Sage is known as the Post-It Princess because she leaves words of encouragement on post-its on people's lockers. She honestly tries to brighten someone's day---every day. Imagine if we all did that? How much better would the world be? I also loved Sage's environmental activism! What Left Me Hungry for More: Bullying handled in not the best ways. This is a me issue, I think. I never like it when bullying is dealt with via retaliatory bullying or with physical confrontation, and that's basically what happened here. I get why Sage, Shane and Lila (Sage's best friend) were pushed to the point where they just broke, but I couldn't get behind their responses completely. Was it justified? Yeah, probably---but this just never sits well with me. So, despite a few flaws, I really enjoyed this one! I give it 4/5 stars. ***Disclosure: Nicole received this book from the publisher via RT 2015 in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
This book was cute! Sage and Shane seem destined to be together and I feel like that is pretty obvious when we first meet them. They develop a strong bond throughout the book as Sage uncovers secrets about Shane and Shane defends Sage to the end because of her own secrets. They seem like the perfect couple and really embody what a great romantic relationship would be like. This was a heartwarming read and I am glad to have picked up a copy!
The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre is a feel good book portraying how one person really can make a difference. Sage and Shane both have some major underlying issues. Sage covers hers by trying to be this perfect little hippy chic. She had deep seeded anger that she keeps letting build up. Shane is trying to turn over a new leaf and start over, by trying to stay under the radar in his new school. I loved Sage's post-it idea. I wish I would have thought to do something like that and had the guts to do it in high school. Some days all it takes is a happy little note like that to make a difference. Sage and Shane came a long way withing this story, but they still have a ways to go. The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things touches on some sensitive issues, but it manages to keep the reading light and even a little cheesy at the same time.
The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things was an engrossing read for me, as it quickly captured my attention with Sage's personality and internal struggles. I really liked her character and wanted to find out more about her - bu unfortunately, it wasn't a book that left a lasting impression on me. Reasons to Read: 1: Sage's intentional kindness: Sage makes a conscious effort to be kind and encourage those around her. And while this should not be uncommon, it is both in real life and in books. It's uplifting to read about a character who desires so strongly to see the best in those she meets in life and to encourage them when they need it most. It's more than the fact that Sage shares kind words with others - it's that she witnesses their pain and acknowledges it. And then she takes that a step further by meeting them where they hurt and trying to turn it into something good. 2. The depth of the characters: Yet Sage is more than a one-dimensional kind person. She also harbours her own pain and struggles to come to terms with her past. It's interesting to see how this plays out in her life, as she chooses to be kinder to those around her. But she still has her own issues. Similarly, Shane and Ryan also have their own problems and I appreciated that their stories were also given time and thought and played a role in the story. The main problem for me is that the story didn't seem to have an impact on me. I came back to write this review later and found I couldn't recall much of the story or the details. I admire Sage's character, but the story lacked some of the excitement I typically look for in books. So in that sense, it wasn't the best fit for me. I think much of that comes from the fact that we really only see the other characters from Sage's perspective and Sage is so willing to simply accept people as they are. So there was less struggle and development there than I think the story could have used. I really liked that this book wasn't over the top, and felt very realistic. It's a story that many readers will likely be able to relate to, which I feel is particularly important for a contemporary book. ARC received from publisher for review; no other compensation was received.
She’s thoughtful, her eyes observing the world around her, watching for those who are treated unfairly. Leaving post-its every day for individuals who need a pick-up, this random simple gesture reveals so much about the character of Sage. She’s caring, she likes to fix things and make things better for others. But deep inside, she is the one who is hiding behind a deep secret that she would rather bury than have anyone discover. Passing around happy words of encouragement, it’s as though she’s trying to remind herself that it is possible to have this type of outcome. She doesn’t except anything in return for her actions: not a friendship to emerge or a thank you, it’s just what she does. When a new face shows up at school, Sage’s has a new mission. Shane just wants to be left alone for he has something he would rather not have anyone know about but Sage, she sees something in him. She wants to help him, for that is what she is good at but Shane doesn’t want that, he doesn’t want to become a “case”, someone for her to fix. I could relate to Sage and her tendency to jump in and “help.” There is a fine line between helping and being there for others. You can’t control others but offering to help is an option which Sage needed to understand. I really was excited to read this novel and was hoping for a fantastic read. I think the relationship with Sage and Shane was great, but the other issues that were occurring were just alright.
The premise for The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things at first sounded to me like your typical love story. Good girl meets bad boy. They fall in love. The end. Boy, was I wrong. The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things is a novel that takes readers beyond just romance. It delves into secrets kept by teenagers to maintain their lives and what happens when these secrets are in jeopardy. Beyond that, we’re also given a story about an unlikely pair falling in love when everything else around them has fallen apart. Sage Czinski is known around her school for her usage of post-it notes. Whether it’s to leave herself reminders or to leave reminders for her peers of their positives, the post-its have defined her since she started high school. A member of the school’s eco-group and an expert at keeping people from asking her the right wrong questions, Sage has done well at keeping everything at bay from looking too closely at her. All that changes when Shane Cavendish appears at her high school. The new boy, Shane, is everything that Sage isn’t but he’s also incredibly irresistible. From his grunge-but-not attire to his indifferent attitude to his perfect face, everything about Shane entrances her. And slowly, as the two begin to grow closer together, Sage learns just who Shane is beneath the surface and discovers that like all other teens, everyone has their secrets. Throughout The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things we are left wondering who Shane’s character is and how Sage’s character might develop him. There are so many differences and similarities between the two. I’ll admit, come the beginning of the novel, I was hesitant towards their relationship as it does develop at an insanely fast rate—but once they fall in love the novel is nothing but cute. The interactions between Shane and Sage are heartfelt and emotional. The two of them discover what it means to have another person who cares for you in this world, and to find somebody willing to share your world with them. I think a lot of readers will enjoy Sage’s character in that she isn’t your typical perfect teenage protagonist. She isn’t the popular girl. She isn’t beloved by all. Sage is a character who sweeps her way along, moving along with the crowd. Constantly remaining observant and containing her secrets and past. Sage’s love for the environment was refreshing and her attitudes and personality are something that many young female readers will be able to relate to. Not to mention her evolving crush on Shane holds many familiar scenarios that are faced in high school on the daily. What I enjoyed most about The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things was the amount of secrets woven into the plot. Secrecy and rumors play a huge role in the story. First with Sage’s group of friends, ex-friends, and with Shane. There are always disturbances in the plot to keep things interesting and the major plot twist nearing the end of the novel involving Sage and Shane had me shocked. Readers who are fans of teen drama set in a high school setting will eat The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things right up. Aguire’s writing is clear and concise, giving readers an exact idea of what is going on in the plot and how Sage feels about it. We see her views towards Shane and the storyline on an emotional level and are never left wondering her opinion or thoughts. Moreover, Aguire’s writing is fast-paced and incredibly realistic at times. I would recommend The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things to readers who are fans of contemporary novels. Readers who are looking for a love story that isn’t slow-burn and readers who are looking for a story that will keep them on their toes are sure to devour this read.
This was a touching and enjoyable book about high school students. The two main characters, Sage Czinski and Shane Cavendish, have both experienced way more than their share of pain and suffering. For their young ages, they both have heavy baggage. They were both surprisingly innocent in ways, given all they'd been through, and that made the story come across as tender and sweet. I was rooting for both of them, and wanted good things for both of them. I enjoyed the storyline, and it kept me interested from cover to cover. Sage Czinski is an upbeat teen, given to altruistic causes and encouraging others. No one would guess the dark secrets from her past. This girl, known as "Princess" around school, believes that she is suppressing her true nature so that she won't be hated, or sent away by her aunt, who has given her a home. When Shane Cavendish moves to town, he and Sage feel an almost immediate connection. Shane has dark secrets of his own, and moving to Farmdale is his last chance to stay out of juvie after going off the rails upon his mother's death. As Sage and Shane try to navigate the pitfalls caused by their pasts, a high school bully threatens the happiness they have found by being together. I really liked the characters and the story that this book tells. Sage was a very quirky, yet likable character, and Shane was troubled, yet sweet and protective. I liked Sage's persistence and her dedication to her values. Her Aunt Gabby made a great secondary character. My favorite part of the story was when Sage was having a very difficult time and all of the high school students who had received encouraging notes from her over the last several years, put inspiring notes on her locker. This book had some angst, yet it was balanced by hope and sweetness.
4 heart-melting, healing, courageous, sweet and romantic stars! I don't read many YA novels, but when I do I want them to be just like The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things. This story was fun, beautiful, emotional, sweet and romantic. Ann Aguirre did a fantastic job at writing Sage and Shane's story. It was a memorable reading escape! Both of these characters have a difficult and heartbreaking past. Life has not been easy for them. Sage is living with her aunt Gabby and Shane is left on his own to build a home for himself. From the moment that Shane walks into math class, Sage is mesmerized by him and what hides behind those beautiful blue eyes. As days go by, they get closer and they start to open up about their pasts. Sage and Shane embark on a journey that neither of them expected. What they find along the road is a learning experience that will change their life. This story was very well written. I could feel all kinds of different emotions while reading this book. Sage and Shane were such fantastic characters to follow! It was easy to cheer for them. They are so freakin' adorable!!! Their chemistry was great and I loved to see them grow. The Sage and Shane that I read about in the beginning are far from the people that ended the story. They have come such a long way and I am so very proud of everything that they have accomplished! The courage that they had was remarkable. It was not an easy road for them. It was filled with many ups and downs. They found the courage to overcome whatever was thrown their way, and they did it with such a determination that I was left speechless! I did not expect Sage to turn out to be such a strong and determined heroine. I had no clue what to expect of this story, but I have to admit that it kept me glued to my seat from beginning to end. I loved how they slowly fell in love. I got butterflies in my stomach and it made me smile big time! Shane is amazing! *Swoon* I was not expecting him to be so romantic. I loved how his layers started melting away and how he opened up about his past to Sage. Overall, this was a memorable reading journey. It was amazing to see Sage and Shane fight for what they believed in. My heart broke for them in so many occasions. I loved how together they grew stronger. I loved how the whole idea of the post-it notes was intertwined in this story. I am so happy to see this included in a story. I have been on the receiving end of one of those post-it notes. There is a person at my gym that does that all the time!!! I was so happy when I saw that the post-it notes that Sage left behind changed so many lives. They really do! When you least expect it, somebody will turn things around and make you smile :) I give, The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things, by Ann Aguirre, 4 heart-melting, healing, courageous, sweet and romantic stars!
Loved it! Troubled teens, bullying jocks, budding friendships across high school heirarchies, tender romance, this book has all the elements of a typical YA novel, but it's done with the attention to plot and characterization that only an experienced author can bring to the genre.
I almost didn't even read this book, as I didn't think it was really my type of book. I've actually been in quite a reading slump, so I picked this one up on a whim, and ended up enjoying it so much. I loved Sage. This is definitely a character-driven novel, so it's even more important that the characters were done well, and I definitely think they were. Sage is quite interesting. She has a dark past, that she is trying to cover up by being perfect. She doesn't have many friends, except for her best friend Ryan. She lives with her Aunt Gabby. She has been nicknamed Princess Post-It by her classmates, thanks to the post-its she leaves on kids' lockers to help cheer them up. But what I found most interesting about her was the person inside that she was covering up. Sage was very level-headed and logical when it came to pushing that person down, not letting anyone see the other side of her. She refused to get angry, or even upset, from fear that she dark shadow in her would come rising back up. She did everything she could to hide her true self away from her peers, and so that her aunt wouldn't send her away. Then she meets Sage, a lonely, antisocial musician who is just trying to make it through high school without any more issues. He just wants to be done so he can get out. I thought Shane was a very well-rounded and fleshed out character. We got to see into him, the puzzle pieces that make up his life. I'm usually not one for angst or romance. But while this book was heavily focused on Sage and Shane and their budding romance, it was also about more. I loved reading about the two together, but they both have really deep, dark stuff hidden in their past. We get to see the two open up, make friends, and find out who they really are. Sage realizes that she's not alone, and starts to make some new friends, and find out what she wants from life. Shane starts to realize that he's not alone. I loved the supporting cast, from Lila to Aunt Debby, to the sophomores, and Ryan, even when he messed up. Of course, everything has to hit the roof before it can settle down with a happy ending, but I thought it was handled really well. I like that we got to see multiple sides of the story and the characters, even the "villain". While some might consider this "just" a romance story, I thought it was so much more than that. There were parts where I teared up, and I never tear up at books. It was such a deep, powerful coming-of-age story that I think will resonate with readers, even if your past isn't hiding things quite as dark as our MC's.
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre Publisher: Feiwel & Friends Publication Date: April 7, 2015 Rating: 4 stars Source: ARC sent by the publisher Summary (from Goodreads): Sage Czinski is trying really hard to be perfect. If she manages it, people won’t peer beyond the surface, or ask hard questions about her past. She’s learned to substitute causes for relationships, and it’s working just fine… until Shane Cavendish strolls into her math class. He’s a little antisocial, a lot beautiful, and everything she never knew she always wanted. Shane Cavendish just wants to be left alone to play guitar and work on his music. He’s got heartbreak and loneliness in his rearview mirror, and this new school represents his last chance. He doesn't expect to be happy; he only wants to graduate and move on. He never counted on a girl like Sage. But love doesn't mend all broken things, and sometimes life has to fall apart before it can be put back together again… What I Liked: Gosh, this book was sweet. Sweet in a good way. Sweet in a way that I needed to read, from Young Adult literature. We all know how much of a black-hole-mess my romantic life is at the moment. It's sweet books like these that give me hope - maybe I won't end up forever alone, the crazy book lady (I hate cats, so it's books instead). Sage is known as the "Post-It Princess", because she writes nice things on Post-It notes and sticks them on people's lockers, when she sees that someone is having a bad day. Sage is sort of okay with this nickname, because it's better than everyone at her school knowing what she did before she came to the school/town three years ago. Now, it's someone else's turn to be new. Shane Cavendish is quiet and reserved, and doesn't want people to look at him or notice him. He wants to be invisible, play his guitar, go through the motions. But little by little, Sage wears him down with her Green World club promotion and her caring attitude when he doesn't come to school. It's not long before Sage learns about Shane's broken past, and Shane learns about hers. Neither of them expected the other, but both of them need each other more than they realize. I have a lot of trouble with tough-issue contemporary novels, so I was wary of this one. But I love Aguirre's books, and so I decided to give this one a shot. The "tough issues" didn't overwhelm the story like I expected, but they were present and definitely an important part of the book. Both Shane and Sage have extremely crazy pasts. Both of them had to live in difficult situations (foster homes and whatnot), so it was hard NOT to sympathize. I wanted to hug them both. I liked Sage. I'm a lot like her, minus the troubled past (okay, that's a HUGE difference, but still). We're both super organized, structured, contained - icy, almost. We both try to do nice things for random people (I don't do the Post-It thing, but I literally go up to people and TELL them nice things, like their shirt is cute or their hair looks nice). We differ in academics - Sage sucks at geometry and chemistry (basically the math/science worlds). We're both super into environmental health and living the green life. I could relate to Sage in many ways, and it made it easy for me to like her, to understand her decisions. I liked Shane a lot, too. He's quiet and almost innocent, but he's got a fire and a temper. But mostly he's sweet and reserved. He doesn't like handouts or people helping him without him asking for it, which gets Sage into trouble a few times, because she always wants to help him, and sometimes, he gets irritated because he doesn't want her help (pride is a strange thing, people). I love the two of them together. They make each other laugh, they understand each other, they have similar temperaments and attitudes. Shane will do just about anything to make Sage happy, and Sage will do just about anything to help Shane and make him happy. It's sweet. The romance is so sweet. I thought there would be a love triangle, because Sage's best friend Ryan likes her (he didn't realize it at first, but he does). But Sage doesn't like him like that, and is only interested in Shane. So nothing ever happens between her and Ryan. And in the end, Ryan moves on, also in a sweet way. No insta-love for anyone, in my opinion. The story is kind of sad and uplifting at the same time. Sage defends her new friend Lila, from Lila's ex-boyfriend Dylan. Dylan gets pissed, and he wants to retaliate. Sage is worried that Dylan will shell out her dark past - which he does. It's terrifying, having your life revealed to the whole school. You'll have to read the book to see what happens. I really felt for Sage - and Dylan, too. The ending has a bit of justice for everyone, and I love how this book ends. Aguirre hits on so many plots, and wraps them all together. Overall, I'm really pleased with this book. The "tough issues" weren't so cliche and obnoxious that I was rolling my eyes or in danger of throwing the book. The romance wasn't insta-love-y or cliche either. I really liked this story. It was, as I said, sweet. I like sweet. What I Did Not Like: I don't necessarily have anything negative to say about the book. It's a four-star read though. Would I Recommend It: I liked this one a lot, so I would recommend it! In general, any of Aguirre's ten thousand books are good stuff. She writes adult, New Adult, Young Adult - and within those age levels, paranormal, contemporary, romance, etc. She's a very talented writer, and I've loved everything I've read by her! Rating: 4 stars. An excellent, heart-warming standalone! I don't always enjoy contemporary, but when I do, I usually LOVE them. I'm so glad this one worked for me! Now, I'll take my own guitar-playing cutie, pleaseee!
I realize it's only early April, but I have no doubt this will go down as one of my top ten favorite books of 2015, and possibly in the top five of my favorite young adult books of the year. It's definitely my favorite so far in any genre. Everything from the plot, to the writing, the the characters is flawless. The story centers around sixteen-year-old Sage, who has more quirks than all of the squinterns from Bones combined, and newcomer Shane, who tries hard to fly under the radar. They each have a dark past and secrets they would rather to keep buried, convinced the other would reject them if their true selves were ever revealed. The two begin an unlikely friendship that evolves into something more, but there is no easy path to happiness. Between their broken pasts and their uncertain futures, there is a lot standing in their way. Not the least of which is school bully, Dylan, with a reputation to protect, one Sage has threatened. While on the surface this sounds like a typical teen romance with flawed characters, it's so more than that. The characters are what really makes this story shine. Every character from Sage and Shane, to Dylan, Shane's father, Sage's aunt, and even Dylan's mom, are fully developed, deep, intriguing characters that transcend every stereotype. There's so much to love in this book though, I don't want to say it's all about the characters, because it's not. The writing is amazing and the plot is solid. This is the first book I've read in awhile, where I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen next. This is also my first Ann Aguirre novel, but now I feel as if I need to go buy and read everything she's ever written. Plot The plotting is impeccable. The main story centers around Sage and Shane's relationship, but there is strong subplotting involving Sage's relationship with her best friend, Ryan, her relationship with her Aunt Gabby, her developing friendships with a broader student population, Sage's backstory, Shane's backstory, the Shane/Sage/Dylan dynamic, and more. Although that sounds like a lot, Ann Aguirre weaves it all together seamlessly, driving the main plot. World Building Small town middle America is well represented in The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things. I'm sure the town was named, but it doesn't stick with me, and I don't think it matters. It could be any midwest farm town. The settings come alive through Sage's eyes in fluid form. Characters The characters are simply amazing. They are three-dimensional in every sense. I can not only picture what they look like, I understand them. They're living, breathing figments of the author's imagination, but she allows us to really know them. Sage is complex. She has a bright and shiny exterior, affixing Post-It notes on the lockers of fellow classmates who need an encouraging word (as an employee of 3M, I really love the use of Post-It Notes BTW). As a member of the Green club at school devoted to perfecting the environment, her refusal to ride in a personal vehicle is so endearing. Not many teens (or adults for that matter) would stick by that conviction when convenience is only a car ride away. Shane is deep, wounded, sweet, caring, loyal, everything a book boyfriend should be. The fact that he's also beautiful is irrelevant in this case. It wouldn't matter if his eyes weren't as blue as a summer sky, because his heart is as big as the midwest plains. I love that Ryan, the best friend and potential love interest, isn't the bad guy. Sure he screwed up royally, but I didn't hate him. There was always a part of me pulling for him to find his own happiness. It's even hard to truly hate Dylan, the antagonist, once I understood his motivations. There is some seriously messed up stuff going on with that boy, and I hope we learn more about him in a future novel. Top Five Things I Loved About The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things 1. Post-It Notes. Yeah, I know, my retirement is in part tied up in 3M stock, but even so, just the idea of someone writing words of encouragement on a 3x3 scrap of paper and sticking to a locker is amazing. 2. Aunt Gabby. She's everything an aunt and a parent should be. 3. Reflector Tape. I love that Sage does what it takes to give her aunt peace of mind, even if she knows she looks ridiculous doing it. 4. Sage's Tenaciousness. Man, she's like my dog when he's got the end of rope. She just won't let go. She growls, and pulls harder, never giving up, even when it appears there is no way to win. 5. Shane. There is so much to love about him. The way he gets Sage, the way he appreciates her, sacrifices for her, loves her. He's pretty much the perfect book boyfriend. Bottom Line My favorite book so far of 2015, and definitely one of my top ten of all time young adult reads. Disclaimer I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.