The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things
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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. . . .
From Publishers Weekly
© Publishers Weekly
This book made my day!
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.
Sweet and Touching Story!
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.
It’s no secret that I love kids’ books. Well, not the ones with lessons about eating your vegetables, but certainly the ones about characters who aren’t old enough to vote or drink. However, many of the young adult and new adult books I come across don’t quite feel authentic and are filled with characters and scenarios that are simply too mature to be real teens. It’s the literary equivalent of adult actors playing teen characters on television, and while it may be enjoyable, it’s certainly not memorable. The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things, however, misses that trap by a few million miles.
Sage has nearly perfected the persona of the ideal teenager. She’s friendly, responsible, studious, trustworthy, and kind. She’s also trying desperately to hold onto that facade in the hope that one day she’ll be as good as the mask she wears. She’s getting a second chance after a truly horrible beginning to her life, and she’ll do anything to smile through each day and leave the past behind. It’s taken her a few years of normal to come out of her shell enough to find a best friend, but she’s finally coming into her own and living the life she should have had all along.
Shane, on the other hand, doesn’t care much what people think of him. He has to keep his nose clean after getting into a little too much trouble in his past, but he doesn’t have to play up the perfect student act the way Sage seems to be doing. He’s a loner, content to avoid notice when possible and quickly singled out by the jocks who have nothing better to do than pick on the new guy. It’s a situation that immediately catches Sage’s attention and has her pulling out her trusty pad of Post-Its to add some light to his day.
Sage and Shane at first seem like complete opposites. He’s not the most social guy, not interested in the high school hierarchy or popularity politics, even as Sage is hellbent on reflecting perfection. He’s gorgeous but distant, surprisingly vulnerable, and beautifully loyal. But they both have some darkness in their pasts, and as they begin to confide in and depend upon each other, their lives converge in a way they never expected. They’re simply two rather normal teenagers trying to make up for things that were never in their control to begin with, and it perfectly highlights the pains of small-town living and the luck-of-the-draw social structure that is high school. Sage is kind and quirky but lives in fear of losing the good she’s found in her new life, while Shane is just trying to get through it. They find comfort and camaraderie in each other, and the relationship that develops is incredibly sweet.
I’ll admit that at first I was a little bored and thought maybe I’d picked something too young for me to really appreciate. Sage wasn’t someone I could identify with — or so I thought — but before I knew it, I was so invested that I snacked my way through dinner rather than put down the book for the few minutes it would have taken to heat up leftovers. Once Sage’s mind was more clearly revealed, she was incredibly easy to understand and even more likable than I expected. In fact, I loved all the characters. From Sage’s amazingly awesome aunt to the UPS guy to the freshmen to the older woman that Ryan (Sage’s best friend) should never have been involved with. Even the class bully had a little good shine through.
Some of you know that the dark past bit usually sends me running in the opposite direction, but somehow The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things manages to do it without being overly angsty or frustratingly depressing. I was rooting for Sage from the get-go, and then Shane won me over just as soon as she got to know him better. What they go through together is heartbreaking and healing, and I can honestly say it’s one of the few YA novels that is both appropriate for younger readers and thoroughly entertaining for those of us who are beginning to forget what those younger years felt like. While the characters’ backgrounds aren’t exactly fluffy, somehow the story reflects hope and genuine friendship alongside first love and growing up. And how perfect is that cover?! Now that I know what Ann Aguirre is capable of, I have no doubt more of her books will be showing up in my reviews here, and I’m definitely recommending this one to everyone.