Once Upon A Gif: Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes

Once upon a gif is a feature by Hafsah and Asma at Iceybooks, where a pre-review is written with gifs. My full review of LIARS, INC. will come out on February 20th, 2015. 

liars, inc. by paula stokes

For fans of Gone Girl, I Hunt Killers, and TV’s How to Get Away with Murder.

Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell forged permission slips and cover stories to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money and liven up a boring senior year. With the help of his friends Preston and Parvati, Max starts Liars, Inc. Suddenly everybody needs something and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative?

When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice about hooking him up. Until Preston never comes home. Then the evidence starts to pile up—terrifying clues that lead the cops to Preston’s body. Terrifying clues that point to Max as the murderer.

Can Max find the real killer before he goes to prison for a crime he didn’t commit? In a story that Kirkus Reviews called “Captivating to the very end,” Paula Stokes starts with one single white lie and weaves a twisted tale that will have readers guessing until the explosive final chapters.

Description taken from Goodreads.


LIARS, INC. impressed me from the very beginning. It wasn’t stand-and-shout-to-the-world-how-much-you-love-this-book good, but it was exciting, well-written and with great descriptions.

so beautiful much nice Gandalf gif

Max is one of the more out-of-the-box characters I’ve read. There were so many times when I felt bad for him, or I cheered him on, or he completely disgusted me. For the most part, he was a hero that.. isn’t really a hero at all. Someone could/should do a complete post on the many faces of Max Cantrell. It’d be worth reading. Despite that fact, Max still very much retains who he is at the core (not in a Rob Swanson way, but in a Max way) and it was something I loved about him throughout LIARS, INC.

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I loved how flawed each of the character in this story are, and it was easy to keep track of the cast because not too many people show up in this story.

small crowd gif not being social

Stokes take us into a world spun of lies and everything that leads up to Max in a cabin in the middle of the woods facing two FBI agents. The world-building is beautifully done and everything is well organized so that the mystery remains a mystery but it’s easy to understand.

And the romance. I will say, Parvati isn’t my favorite YA girl. Far far away. Like where Shrek lives far away. But at the same time, I did like her at times, and I didn’t hate her in the end. In fact, I rather liked her romance with Max, and I LOVED how this book turned out. Parvati tries to act tough and cool in the beginning, but as time went on I began to see more of a different side of her. It took way longer than Preston and Max and the other characters, but I came to like her. When she does show vulnerability eventually, it makes it more important to the story.

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Then everything blew up. Not literally, but quite figuratively. The villain was definitely not who I thought they were, and I got so confused (in a good way!) about who was what. Things get more and more messed up, and I came to finally see how perverse it all is.

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Then something happened that truly threw me over the edge, something I wrestled with for awhile and debated not reviewing this book over.

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Check back on February 20th to see my full review!

pg count for the hardback: 368

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Novella Review: Infinite Repeat by Paula Stokes

infinite repeat cover by paula stokes

Seventeen-year-old Micah Foster is looking forward to the return of his girlfriend, Amber, who’s been away in Los Angeles recording an EP with her band. But when Amber returns home on the anniversary of Micah’s dad’s death, something feels different and Micah pushes her away.

Over the next week, as Micah tries to repair his relationship with Amber, he relives the events of the past few years and recognizes a pattern. His friends and family are right–he self-destructs every April, right around the time his dad died, hurting people he cares about in the process. Will Amber be this year’s casualty? Or can Micah escape his past in time to fix his present?

Description taken from Goodreads. 


So, first things first (and trust me, this is the at the very beginning).

infinite repeat book dedication

This is shot from my kindle of the dedication of INFINITE REPEAT. And yes, if you look closely, that Eli is me.

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I AM SO HAPPY THIS IS SO COOL gif

A while back, while #TeamLainey was up and running, the amazing Paula Stokes ran a publicity contest–the prize being able to design characters in her next book. Stacee @ Adventures of a Book Junkee and I were both winners of the contest and so we got to design characters (both under our own names) in INFINITE REPEAT, and that’s just more incentive to buy this amazing book. If you need more reasons, here’s a small list by Micah himself.

I loved this book. Not only did I get a better look into Micah’s mind, the things he went through and how he got to the point that he did to get to THE ART OF LAINEY, but I also got a better look at Lainey and Trinity especially. INFINITE REPEAT provides an in-depth look at many of the minor characters in LAINEY and fleshes them out more, which is exactly what a novella should be. It didn’t feel too short, an issue I oftentimes have with novellas. In fact, it did feel a little long, but I didn’t mind that as much due to the ending finishing off pretty well.

I’ll be perfectly honest. There were times in THE ART OF LAINEY where I really disliked Lainey, but that was okay. It was okay because Lainey grew so much over the course of the story. In this case, it wasn’t that I disliked Micah from the start, but I came to appreciate him a lot more after seeing what he went through and how he had to get over his dad’s death and his own guilt.

I have to say I did feel that what happened in the end with Amber was brushed over a little bit. As for Amber and the music itself, I wasn’t a huge fan of Amber by the end of the story. I thought that she wasn’t put in a very positive light for me by the end of the story because I understood Micah’s point of view completely and their inevitable break up made sense to me, but I didn’t love it because I felt like there was still more for Amber.

When it comes to the music, I love the playlist for this book.

Pearl Jam, The Killers, Nirvana, now that’s where it’s at. I think I understood a lot more about Micah and his affinity for music by the end of INFINITE REPEAT. I also really liked his descriptions of the music that Lainey eventually listens to in THE ART OF LAINEY. I’ve never been able to fully put into words what I love so much about music (a problem that I’m trying to fix while I’m writing my contemporary) but Stokes does it perfectly.

Overall, I thought this book was an amazing companion to THE ART OF LAINEY and for anyone who loved LAINEY, I really recommend reading this awesome story. I was also really happy with my character and it was really cool to see Stacee’s. 4.5 stars.

Add to Goodreads.

Be one of the cool kids: Buy on B&N for just $1.99

Be one of the even cooler kids: Buy on Amazon for just $1.99.

Waiting on Wednesday #9

Waiting on Wednesday is a popular weekly meme that was started by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. It’s where you spotlight a book that you’re really excited for and are eagerly anticipating. So what am I dying for this week? It’s about a gritty, intense contemporary novel about

liars, inc by paula stokes cover

Liars, Inc by Paula Stokes

Publication Date: February 2015

It all starts with one little lie…

Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell lies to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money and liven up a boring senior year. With the help of his friends Preston and Parvati, Max starts a business providing forged permission slips and cover stories for the students of Vista Palisades High. Liars, Inc. they call it. Suddenly everybody needs something and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative?

When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice about hooking him up. Until Preston never comes home. Then the evidence starts to pile up—terrifying clues that lead the cops to Preston’s body. Terrifying clues that point to Max as the murderer.

Can Max find the real killer before he goes to prison for a crime he didn’t commit? Paula Stokes starts with one single white lie and weaves a twisted tale that will have readers guessing until the explosive final chapters.

I’ve never been the biggest fan of contemporary romance. Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t like the genre. I’ve been exploring it a little bit more recently, and I’ve found a lot of books I’ve really liked. In November 2013, I heard about the YA Valentines and it’s extraordinary cast of authors. Among these was Paula Stokes, author of The Art of Lainey and, under the pseudonym Fiona Paul, wrote the Secrets of the Eternal Rose series. But LIARS, INC is said to be more intense and dark.

I love intense contemporary. The gut-wrenching stories of devastating losses, incredible triumphs, defeat and power are what really break through to me in contemporary so I CANNOT WAIT FOR THIS BOOK. Besides, it’s Paula Stokes. She won’t disappoint. :D

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tbr

Add LIARS, INC Goodreads

What’s your waiting on pick this week? If you did one, leave your link in the comments below and I’ll make sure to check it out!

Cover Reveal: Liars, Inc by Paula Stokes

The moment is here. Liars freaking Inc. Liars, Inc. That name has been on my mind for the last couple months days and I was so excited when Paula Stokes asked me to help reveal the cover for LIARS, which will be released in February 2015. Here’s more info about the book:

liars, inc by paula stokes blurb

And now it’s time for the AMAZING cover.

liars, inc by paula stokes cover

 

I love it. So much. It could very well become my lock screen background. The swag for this book is going to be epic, and I can’t wait to see it out in stores. I’ve been in a thriller-esque, mystery mood lately due to a few blogger friends so I’m really excited for this book. BUT WHY 2015? While I’m busy dying (the cover is the only thing keeping my Paula-Stokes-books-loving heart still beating here), here’s a little more info from Paula:

OMG, I’ve been flailing about the awesomeness of this cover since April. I saw it and was basically like

HOLY COVER LOTTERY!! :D

I’ve talked about how LIARS, INC. is very different from THE ART OF LAINEY, and this cover really highlights that. LIARS has first-person narration, a bit of romance, and similar fast-paced dialogue to LAINEY, but that’s where the major similarities end. This book is a dark mystery for fans of I HUNT KILLERS, PRETTY LITTLE LIARS (the TV show, because I’ve never read the books), or old-school Christopher Pike novels. I hope you love it, because if it does well I might get to write a companion novel, and I’m seriously not ready to let go of these characters. Max is a little aloof and slackerish so it might take you time to warm up to him, but his girlfriend Parvati is totally badass and fun, and both of them really grow and change over the course of the novel. (You know how I love me some character development!) And no worries, this is a total standalone book, plotted and written as a solo novel.

What do you think? Do you like this cover? Enter this giveaway for a chance to win a signed, personalized ARC of LIARS, INC!

Find Paula and keep up to date with all things The Art of Lainey and Liars, Inc: Ξ Twitter Ξ Facebook Ξ Website Ξ Goodreads Ξ

The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes: A Win Read For Any Contemporary Fan–Or Even If You Aren’t One

the art of lainey cover by paula stokes

Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is gearing up to spend an epic summer with her amazing boyfriend, Jason, when he suddenly breaks up with her—no reasons, no warning, and in public no less! Lainey is more than crushed, but with help from her friend Bianca, she resolves to do whatever it takes to get Jason back.

And that’s when the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. With just one glance, they’re sure they can use the book to lure Jason back into Lainey’s arms. So Lainey channels her inner warlord, recruiting spies to gather intel and persuading her coworker Micah to pose as her new boyfriend to make Jason jealous. After a few “dates”, it looks like her plan is going to work! But now her relationship with Micah is starting to feel like more than just a game.

What’s a girl to do when what she wants is totally different from what she needs? How do you figure out the person you’re meant to be with if you’re still figuring out the person you’re meant to be?

Description taken from Goodreads.

"Maybe if I'd paid more attention to my mom and her tea leaves, I would have seen it coming. Instead, all I see is Jason, my boyfriend of two and a half years."

Oh, THE ART OF LAINEY. I just stood outside in front of my mailbox hugging this book for a long time after I got it. The cover is incredibly familiar to me but just to be able to really see it and hold it was awesome. But getting to the actual words part of it, there is no other way to describe this book that an amazingly pleasantly surprising read.

Right from the start, you can list of Lainey’s traits. She’s dramatic and acts like a total girl even though there is a lot of toughness underneath her makeup and pretty dresses. One thing I didn’t like about her at times was her sensitivity or lack of sensitivity about certain things. However, one thing that I loved about Stokes’s characters is how real they are. They’re blunt and kind and annoying and make me smile. They’re just people, in the best way possible. Oh yes, and they’re hilarious.

"Are you some kind of weird who gets off on girls crying?" I wipe my eyes on the collar of my shirt. THe teal fabric comes away with eye makeup. Micah laughs softly to himself as he slides the binder back onto the shelf.
"I hope you don't really think of me that way." Something in his expression stings like lemon juice poured directly on my heart. Pity. I hate pity.

In a way, Lainey almost reminds me of Cricket in Summer on the Short Bus by Bethany Crandell, which I also loved. Bethany is nothing short of the best and I was talking to her recently about what makes blunt characters appealing. I was wondering because I noticed how one MC I read about I hated, while I loved Cricket–even though they could both be profiled as extremely rude, crass and downright mean at times, especially in the beginning of SHORT BUS. Bethany said something about no matter who your characters are, you have to know them as a writer and portray them–the good and the bad. I think Stokes does an amazing job of this.

I smile a goodbye to Micah's mom over my shoulder as he practically drags me out of the apartment. I stare at his mohawk as we head down the steps and out of his building. Individual tufts of his hair lean to the left in the warm breeze. I can't help wondering what his hair feels like. Is it soft? Is it prickly? I could touch it if I wanted to. I mean, he was going to touch my hair before I pulled away. I think about it for a moment, but then decide against it. I wouldn't want to give him the wrong idea.

The characters really drove this story, which impressed me, but that isn’t all there is to the plot. Stokes drives a great story that was unpredictable and well paced. The romance is also extremely well done, each step of the plot thought out and not rushed at all.

no instalove thank god

It’s really the little things that really impressed me with this book, and a combination of the big things, but there were so many things I was impressed by. One of those things was the themes. I loved the nature snippets, the soccer and baseball bits, the friendship dynamics between Leo and Lainey and Bianca and Lainey, the Art of War excerpts, all of that was great. It really enforced what Stokes said and made her word believable in the story. There were also some great quotes that I loved. I’ve learned everything I know about soccer from my best girl-friend and soccer animes, so it was nice to see that knowledge come in handy. Even before Micah and Lainey started to see each other in a different way, their friendship was both heartwarming as they turned to each other and their banter was a lot of fun. I would love to be friends with Lainey, Micah and Bee. Plus, I would love to go Mizz Creant’s House of Torture (and Pancakes) sometime.

Overall, I loved this story. There’s a lot of room if Stokes ever wanted to expand on this story, but for right now I’m pretty happy with the ending. My only regret is that I didn’t get to see more of Bianca and a few other characters. I’m definitely looking forward to Stokes’s next book, Liars, Inc., now that I’ve gotten a taste of what her writing can be like. And I’m even more psyched to be a part of #TeamLainey. LAINEY is a win read if I ever saw one, and a book that could make me change my mind about contemporary romance. There were so many things I loved here, and I would recommend it for any contemporary fan–or even for those of you who don’t usually love it. 4.5 stars.

pg count for the paperback: 384

The Art of Lainey Spotlight

the art of lainey by paula stokes book blast book nerd tours

I did not automatically have a great love for contemporary when I started reading books. In fact, I only ever started reading contemporary a few years ago, and I’m still exploring exactly what it can do. I, personally, can’t wait for this book and it’s been amazing being a part of #TeamLainey. Totally stoked for it’s release!

the art of lainey cover by paula stokes

Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is gearing up to spend an epic summer with her amazing boyfriend, Jason, when he suddenly breaks up with her—no reasons, no warning, and in public no less! Lainey is more than crushed, but with help from her friend Bianca, she resolves to do whatever it takes to get Jason back.

And that’s when the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. With just one glance, they’re sure they can use the book to lure Jason back into Lainey’s arms. So Lainey channels her inner warlord, recruiting spies to gather intel and persuading her coworker Micah to pose as her new boyfriend to make Jason jealous. After a few “dates”, it looks like her plan is going to work!  But now her relationship with Micah is starting to feel like more than just a game.

What’s a girl to do when what she wants is totally different from what she needs? How do you figure out the person you’re meant to be with, if you’re still figuring out the person you’re meant to be?

Find THE ART OF LAINEY: Ξ Book Depository Ξ B&N Ξ Amazon Ξ

About Paula Stokes

paula stokes

 

Paula Stokes is half writer, half RN, and totally thrilled to be part of the world of YA literature. She grew up in St. Louis, Missouri where she graduated from Washington University and the Goldfarb School of Nursing. When she’s not writing, she’s kayaking, hiking, reading, or seeking out new adventures in faraway lands. Paula loves interacting with readers! Find her online at www.authorpaulastokes.com or on twitter as @pstokesbooks.

Find Paula: Ξ Twitter Ξ Facebook Ξ Website Ξ Goodreads Ξ

Giveaway

Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter

giveaway book nerd tours paula stokes

 

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Guest Post with Paula Stokes, Author of The Art of Lainey

Hi everyone! Recently, I got the chance to work with Paula Stokes, author of the fabulous THE ART OF LAINEY–which is being released on May 20, 2014. She was nice enough to do a great guest post about the characters and their names behind THE ART OF LAINEY. Check out the book below!

Art of Lainey cover web res

Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is used to getting what she wants, and when her boyfriend Jason breaks up with her for no reason, what she wants is to win him back before the start of their senior year. Lainey and her friend Bianca check the interwebz for tips and tricks, but the online dating advice is all pretty lame.
Then the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. Didn’t someone once say that love is a battlefield? Jason isn’t going to stand a chance once Lainey and Bee go all Zhou Dynasty on him…
Old school strategy and subterfuge meet modern-day dramarama in the story of a girl who sets out to win at all costs and ends up discovering what’s really worth fighting for.

Learn More: 

Ξ Goodreads Ξ Amazon Ξ Website Ξ Twitter Ξ Facebook Ξ Pinterest Ξ

Paula Stokes: The Art of Naming Characters and Learning About Them

Hi! Paula Stokes here, author of THE ART OF LAINEY. Eli invited me to the blog to talk about names—specifically, how I go about naming characters. This is actually something no one has ever asked me before, so I am going to share with one of my biggest secrets:

Most of my characters name themselves.

Seriously! I didn’t pick Lainey from a list or a song or another book (though I do love Laini Taylor’s books—who doesn’t?) I just envisioned a character and she told me her name was Lainey. I didn’t consciously think about her looks either. She entered my head with freckles and strawberry blonde hair. I knew she played soccer and was tall and had muscles, and that she compensated for what she perceived as a lack of natural femininity by wearing lots of makeup and super-girly clothes. Don’t judge her yet, okay? She figures out what matters throughout her story.

As the story unfolded, I learned more about her name—that Lainey was a derivative of Elaine and that Lainey had adopted it in high school because she thought it sounded more fun. I realized her real name was Glinda and that Elaine was a middle name, but that Lainey never told anyone that because she found it humiliating that her mom named her after the good witch from The Wizard of Oz. I know all of this because Lainey told me, and if that sounds vaguely schizophrenic, well, I think this is how things happen for most writers.

So that what about the exceptions, the characters who don’t tell me their names. Like every girl who doesn’t like her real name very much, I have a list of names I’d rather have. Some of these are Sydney, Simone, Yvette, Piper, Fiona (*cough*), Parvati, Trinity, and a few others I am jealously hoarding because I plan on using them in future books. I will occasionally assign one of my favorite names to a character only if:

1. It fits the character and the book.

2. There aren’t 17 other more famous books out using the same name.

There is a character named Trinity in The Art of Lainey. This name works perfectly because Trinity is one of my favorite characters, and therefore deserves the name of one of my most beloved fictional heroines. Also, the book comes out in 2014 and Trinity is 14 years old. Which means if her mom saw The Matrix back in 1999 or 2000 and liked it as much as I did, this is perfect timing for her to name her daughter Trinity. There is a character named Parvati in Liars, Inc. She is half-Indian and Parvati is one of my favorite Indian names. I don’t know the actual meaning, but to me that name says “beautiful and fierce” and this fits my character.

There are also a few instances where I will force a name change.

1. If I inadvertently make two or more names that sound similar. The Art of Lainey had a Micah and a Michaela at one point. And then a Ken and a Kendall. Those both went away.

2. If the name or spelling is distracting for no reason. The Art of Lainey had a character named Jayson, who got the Y in his name from a rapper he liked. When I cut the line about the rapper in revisions, I also cut the Y because I figured to have it for no reason might seem grating. Maybe it’s just me, but books full of distracting names or weird spellings sometimes detract from my reading experience. As much as I love The Hunger Games and understand the reasoning behind the author’s naming conventions, Peeta will always sound like a space alien to me.

3. If I negatively homage a friend. Liars, Inc had a character named Crystal who wasn’t very nice and met a not very nice end. But then I met a lovely blogger named Crystal who became my friend, so I changed that name. Obviously if the book was already at the printer, I wouldn’t have been able to do that. Most books have villains who are going to share names with at least a few of your readers, and that’s just life.

What about you? Are you a writer? If so, how do you name your characters? If not, what is your favorite character name of all time?

Thanks so much to Paula Stokes for doing this guest post and I’m really looking forward to her books!

Paula Stokes is half writer, half RN, and totally thrilled to be part of the world of YA literature. She started out writing historical fiction under a pen name and is now branching out into other YA genres. When she's not writing (rare), she's kayaking, hiking, reading, or seeking out new adventures in faraway lands. She's petted tigers, snuggled snakes, snorkeled with stingrays, and once enjoyed the suction-cuppy feel of a baby elephant's trunk as it ate peanuts from her palm. Her future goals include diving with Great White sharks, learning Krav Maga, and writing a whole slew of novels, not necessarily in that order.

Paula Stokes is half writer, half RN, and totally thrilled to be part of the world of YA literature. She started out writing historical fiction under a pen name and is now branching out into other YA genres.
When she’s not writing (rare), she’s kayaking, hiking, reading, or seeking out new adventures in faraway lands. She’s petted tigers, snuggled snakes, snorkeled with stingrays, and once enjoyed the suction-cuppy feel of a baby elephant’s trunk as it ate peanuts from her palm. Her future goals include diving with Great White sharks, learning Krav Maga, and writing a whole slew of novels, not necessarily in that order.