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Aces Up Paperback – August 10, 2010

3.8 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up-High school senior and math-whiz Shannon Card gets accepted to Wellesley College, but can't afford to attend because her father was recently laid off. She tutors Max, her secret crush, hoping to secure a math scholarship from her school. She also gets a job waitressing at a local casino where she is invited by handsome bad-boy Cole to join a secret group of poker players. He promises her that Aces Up can help her make more than enough money for school. When waitressing proves less lucrative than she'd planned, and her relationship with Max gets complicated, Shannon succumbs to the temptations provided by Aces Up and Cole. As gambling hurts her relationships and grades, Shannon realizes that she is in danger of losing what is important to her and seeks redemption. The plot is strikingly similar to the movie 21, which is referenced in the book. Shannon is a quirky and earnest overachiever, and her account of her adventures is reminiscent of Bridget Jones's Diary. Her narration is peppered with pop-culture references and poker strategy, and her tendency to make lists is used to amusing effect. Her droll style maximizes the humor, which could undermine the serious theme. While Shannon is endearing and genuine, the rest of the characters are poorly developed. In addition to gambling, there is underage drinking and some strong language.-Erin Carrillo, formerly at Alachua County Library District, Gainesville, FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

About the Author

Lauren Barnholdt is the author of many books for teens and tweens, including Two-Way Street and The Secret Identity of Devon Delaney. She lives in Boston with her husband. Visit her Web site at www.laurenbarnholdt.com and say hello.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 750L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Ember; 1 edition (August 10, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385738749
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385738743
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #416,701 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
I've never actually read anything before this book by Lauren Barnholdt, but I can say after this book it is something I would definitely do again. This particular book was lent to me as part of the ARC Tour hosted by Miss Holly over at Good Golly Miss Holly and I am so excited that I got to be apart of it.

The book starts off with the main character, Shannon, in a dressing room attempting to put on a uniform for work that is too small. I was cracking up from that very beginning scene because I could most definitely relate. It was so funny to hear her thoughts about the stupid uniform and trying to shove her way into it, not wanting to tell her "boss" that it was too small.

"What the hell was that?" More pounding "There are customers waiting to be served!"

"Um, well," I say throwing my sweatshirt over my head and opening the door to the stall. My face is burning with embarrassment, and I'm sure there are two big red splotches on my cheeks. "The thing is," I tell Adrienne, "I have a problem with my uniform. It doesn't fit." I give a hopeful smile.

"You ripped it?" Adrienne asks, looking incredulous. She reaches out and fingers the material.

"Well, not on purpose, I would never do something like that on purpose...I thought it was vanity sized," I explain.

"You tried to shove yourself into it, and you split it?"

"Well, not shove exactly it was more like wedge."

I just have this awesome image of her trying to "wedge" her way into that little cocktail uniform and it almost brings tears of laughter to my eyes. It's classic!

I also think that Barnholdt brings an original side to this story of girl desperate for money who gambles it up to try and meet those needs.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I was trying to decide what book to read next last week, I decided to go with another light-hearted cute book and chose ACES UP by Lauren Barnholdt. I supposed because I've been watching the World Series of Poker Main Event each week on TV lately, I had poker on the mind when I gravitated toward this book.

The summary goes like this: high-school senior Shannon Card needs money for college tuition because her father lost his job and she's been accepted early-decision to Wellesley, so she gets a fake ID and to get a job as a waitress at a casino to make as much money as she can. But she discovers it's a little more difficult than she imagined carrying trays of drinks while walking in high heels, and then gets the mysterious invitation in her work locker to join Aces Up, a secret group of poker players who are really talented because of their math knowledge - and she's just the kind of player they need. Only one problem - she's underage and has never played poker before. As if all of that isn't enough, Shannon's dealing with Max, who used to be her friend until there was an almost kiss they haven't talked about, and Cole, the cute college guy trying to recruit her for Aces Up. All of that made me think this might be another fun book, and it pretty much was. But really, this book is about a girl who tries to take a quick fix for her problems, ends up getting into bigger trouble, losing herself in the process, disappointing those around her, and has to figure out how to work her way out of the mess she's created.

The thing I liked most about this book is the voice of the main character. Shannon has a great way of narrating in first person that at times seems as if she's talking to the reader in asides.
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Format: Paperback
When I found out that Lauren Barnholdt had an upcoming YA novel about a love triangle mixed in with a bit of poker, I knew it was going to be right up my alley. I really enjoyed reading Two-Way Street, also by Lauren Barnholdt, so I knew I had to read Aces Up.

Seventeen year old Shannon Card (I like how her last name fits with the theme of the book) needs to get a job to pay for college. Her father recently got laid off from his job, his car got repossessed and he had to sell his beloved boat. Needless to say there's no college fund waiting for her. Shannon doesn't just get any job, she gets a job at a casino as a cocktail waitress where she can make the big bucks. And because one would have to be 21 years old or older to work in a casino, Shannon has to get a fake ID.

Soon after starting her job, she gets an invitation to an exclusive club - Aces Up. She is sought out by Cole, the leader of the secret club, because of her amazing math skills. Shannon doesn't know how to play poker but Cole teaches her the basics and hones her craft using mathematical strategies.

Then there's Max, Shannon's best friend since they were little but the two have been divided after an awkward almost-kiss moment. Max has moved on with another girl and the friendship between him and Shannon is on hiatus. Then Max asks Shannon to tutor him in math but chemistry seems to be the topic at hand, if you catch my drift.

Shannon is making loads of money from gambling in the casino using her newly acquired skills but it's still not enough to get her into college. Cole wants her to join him and his crew in a poker tournament, where they will basically need to cheat in order to win.
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