Saturday, April 4, 2015

Review and Excerpt Tour: Giveaway for The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre

I'm having so much trouble finding the right words to write my review.  The book is that good! Check out the excerpt and the chance to win a signed copy of the book!


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…


The burners are already asleep, which leaves Shane and me alone for all intents and purposes. He digs into his backpack and produces the pink post-it I left him. I guess he's heard about the Princess.  
“You left me this?” he asks.  
I nod, feeling heat wash my cheeks.  
“When did you hear me play?” He studies me through those thick, curling lashes, giving me the I-see-you look. I could curl up in that expression like it's an afghan.  
“Just before last period.”  
“Explain to me why this was worth a tardy.”  
So he knows, then. It sounds stupid when I try to articulate it; my reasons come out in a whispered jumble, about making somebody's day better when things are total crap. I talk about silver linings and being the queen of bright and shiny things. He's listening, but I sound crazy. I know I do. It's pointless, possibly even pretentious, to think I could make a difference. I end my rambling recitation by saying as much.  
To my surprise, he shakes his head. “No way. I'm sure there are people who are glad that you pay attention to them, who need to know someone gives a shit.” 
“But not you?” I ask softly.  
“This is a cake walk compared to what I'm used to dealing with on a daily basis.” The moment the words are out, he looks like he wishes he hadn't spoken them, but it's too late.  
I'm left wondering what's so bad at home that being beaten up is a welcome change. His tropical eyes dare me to ask, dare me to pry into his business, but I'm not brave enough. If he wanted me to know more, he'd tell me, right? Otherwise it's just me being nosy.  
“My Aunt Gabby is pretty great,” I say. “But... it was bad before.”  
Shane makes a scoffing noise. “What do you know about 'bad'?”  
He sees the image I've cultivated for the last three years. I went to therapy; I learned how to be good, how not to be angry. But every day, there’s an underground river inside me, and I’m trying not to drown in it, every second of the day. This smile hides so much. It hides everything.  
Part of me wants to tell him the truth. But I don't. Instead I duck my head, dodging his slow realization that my life hasn't been sunshine and rainbows. I rarely let anyone see Shadow Sage; I've done my best to bury her. Now she’s just a thin hand reaching up from a fresh grave.  
“Hey.” He touches my forearm briefly, and in those scant seconds, I register the heat of his fingertips, the calluses on his skin. “I didn't mean to be a dick. I don't hold the trademark on crappy deals.”  
He's looking at me that way again, and the pretext of dispassion falls away. We're twin counterweights on a scale, hanging in a moment of perfect balance. I hardly dare to breathe for fear the air will shift, and the hunger I'm seeing in him will disappear. Though he’s pretending he doesn’t care, he wants somebody to notice him. I recognize it so fast because I’ve been there. Hey world, please acknowledge my existence. Please care. On my end, nobody has ever seen me before. Not like this.  
Until this moment, I didn't realize I was walking around all this time with a Shane-shaped hole inside of me.

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★★★★★ stars

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.

*Thank you to the publicist for providing a copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for them in any manner.*


About Ann Aguirre:
Ann Aguirre is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author and RITA winner with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. Ann likes books, emo music, action movies, and she writes all kinds of genre fiction for adults and teens, published with Harlequin, Macmillan, and Penguin, among others.


  1. If I could be in a YA novel, I'd love to be a student in a boarding school (I love those settings). I wouldn't be hunting ghosts or vampires or anything awesome like that, but just enjoying friendships, BOYS, dances, etc. Fun stuff!

    1. I agree Kristy! I'd like to be young and care free-ish again! I'd either like to be the really cool best friend, or the girl that saves the day!

  2. I would be the character who is making bad life choices but learning lessons in the end. A harmful relationship, too much drinking, perhaps? Followed by consequences. Thanks for the chance!

    1. Oooh! Way to keep it real! It sounds like that book would be one I'd like to read and the workings of a best seller! You're welcome and thank you for stopping by!



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