Monday, February 2, 2015

Early Review: The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre

The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things 
by Ann Aguirre
Read: January 19 - 20, 2015
April 7, 2015 by Feiwel & Friends
Source: Macmillan (Thank you!)
Category: YA, Contemporary, high school, romance

Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

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…

I enjoyed The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things! Here are my thoughts in 5 points. 

1) Sage is known as the post-it note girl. She puts them on lockers to encourage the kids in her school. Because of that, and the cheerful and put together personality she shows the world, she's nicknamed princess at school. I thought the post-it note plot was a little cheesy at first, but it ended up being one of the most poignant moments in this book for me. I appreciated that the idea was born from Sage's own history and inherent understanding that just one person seeing you can be a huge encouragement and even potentially life changing. 

2) I was worried this book was going to be a "you complete me" in high school storyline. Sage and Shane have instant attraction and there's some talk about filling each other's 'holes', but I ended up loving watching their relationship grow slowly. It is incredibly sweet, but they also had a bond that made sense based on their pasts and who they are in the present. I could understand why they fell for each other. But I also appreciated the perspective they gained on their relationship and themselves over time. 

3) Shane was not what I expected. At first I thought he was going be a carbon copy of the rude-aloof-bad-boy-with-a-reputation, but that visible shell broke almost immediately. In many ways Shane is actually incredibly vulnerable. Under her shiny exterior, Sage is too. I love watching them learn to show those sides to each other. I don't want to share Shane's secrets because it's more fun to discover his character for yourself, but I fell hard for this boy. 

4) Thankfully, there was a low amount of angst in this book. Most of the drama also came from the outside. I did think the story dragged in the third quarter, when it seemed like several of the chapters were just passing time though a list of events. But overall I had a great time watching Sage and Shane fall for each other and their tentative relationship start slowly and gain strength and swoon as they figured out how to be together. 

5) I was surprised at how many layers were built into these characters and this story. This includes strong messages such as learning to be comfortable with yourself even with your flaws, the idea that things do get better, that people can change for the better and one person really can make a difference. I went to such a small high school that I struggle to connect to these schools with cliques when everyone has their group and the football stars are above it all. However, as The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things continued and we got to know the characters - especially Sage, Shane, and Sage's friends Ryan and Lila, I saw the complexity within the tropes. Even the bad guy had much more under the surface than what it appears at first. 

Embarrassingly enough, The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things is actually the first book by Ann Aguirre that I've read. Clearly I'm missing out!  

Love Triangle Factor: NONE
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone 


  1. I have this one for review, Lauren, and I'm really excited that you enjoyed it so much! :) I have a feeling that I'll enjoy it too. I love the sound of Sage already. She sounds like a sweet girl, especially with the post-its. I'm also happy to hear that Shane proved you wrong. I'm sick of those rude bad boys! -_-
    Lovely review, Lauren!

  2. LOL A "you complete me" storyline. (I don't mind that in adult romances but kind of annoys me.) I like the post-it idea! Yeah, I can see it as cheesy...

  3. Yay! I'm so glad you enjoyed this book Lauren. <3 I loved it SO MUCH. Sage and Shane were both so so adorable :D I loved reading about their romance. <3 It was the sweetest. Sigh. This book was just all kinds of perfect. Thank you for sharing your thoughts sweetie. <3

  4. Lauren, Aguirre's adult books--her Sirantha Jax series, the Perdition trilogy, and her Bronze Gods series--are all some of her strongest works. I wasn't a fan of her YA trilogy (though I was in the minority concerning that) and her New Adult series has been good, but not necessarily great. Still, I'm looking forward to this and am so glad that you found it to be a read with depth and little angst as I have little patience for drawn-out drama. Lovely review, dear! :)

  5. "4) Thankfully, there was a low amount of angst in this book."

    THANK GOD! I'm definitely tired of relationship angst at the moment and was hoping this would be low in that department. I love when the drama comes from outside the relationship rather than within it and that is clearly the case here. I hope you do try her other books, I'm a huge fan of hers, I think she writes some truly amazing characters!

  6. Lovely review, Lauren! You've highlighted so many reasons why I adore this book! I loved the way the romance develops and how we get to spend so much time with them as a couple. I agree, the last part drags a bit, but ultimately it's such a sweet story. And Shane is super adorable!

  7. I've had this book on my wish list for the longest time Lauren, so I'm thrilled to see that you really ended up loving it. I'm not normally a fan of books that tend to go down the typical route either, so I'm glad to see that Aguirre brings something different with this one! Fab review!

  8. I loved Ann Aguirre's Razorland trilogy, but I've been less impressed with her NA books. This one sounds cute, though. Since you fell for the guy, low level of angst, and there's complexity within the tropes, I'm going to have to check this one out. Great review! ~Pam


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