Magan: Smart Girls Get What They Want by Sarah Strohmeyer

Smart Girls Get What They Want by Sarah Strohmeyer [website | twitter]
Publication Date
: June 26, 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 352
Format read: ARC won from Goodreads giveaway.
Keywords: high school, first dating relationships, overcoming fears

Summary: Gigi, Bea, and Neerja are three brilliantly smart girls destined for Ivy league colleges and great futures. However, an unexpected finding makes them realize that maybe being smart isn’t everything. They attempt to be smart girls and become actively involved in their school. Gigi has to face her fear of public speaking, Bea joins the ski team (despite her parents wishes), and Neerja tries out for Romeo and Juliet.

Gigi, Neerja, and Bea reminded me a lot of the kind of girl I was in high school. I grew up in a tiny, tiny town and knew that the only way to leave was to make good grades so I could go to college and move on. My friends were smart, semi-dorky girls, too. (Looking back, I don’t think we thought we were dorky, but we kind of were. HA!) I related to Gigi’s feelings of overwhelming, long nights of homework. When she and Mike, a goofy athlete, are assumed to have cheated on a hard test, this leads Gigi to run for student representative to the school board. She’s forced to spend extra time with Mike working on a project and she has to go up against the new cute boy, Will, during the student rep elections.

There was a LOT that I really, really loved about this book. However, I almost gave up on it. The parts that I loved came after I hit the 130-ish page mark. In the beginning, there are a ton of secondary stories converging and sometimes the information felt a little unnecessary. I wished that some of this would have been edited out because I absolutely could not put down the book once I got to the heart of the story. Smart Girls Get What They Want made me realize that there are two types of young adult books – those that are absolutely written for teens and those that are written about teenagers but are for a slightly more mature audience. Smart Girls was the former – the language was for a younger audience (i.e. uses of IMHO or other acronyms that Gigi thought) and more details that I do feel younger teenage girls would find interesting. To me, these details seemed a little superfluous, especially in the first third of the book.

Smart Girls is entirely founded on conflict. Gigi is infatuated with manipulative, deceptive Will, but standing protectively to the side is Mike. She’s faced with difficult choices when it comes to choosing boys or her friends. She has to overcome her fear of public speaking to stand up for what she believes in. The biggest conflict is her internal struggle between trying to be the smart, bright girl with a future and living her life. Can she do both, or is it one or the other?

While I did have my issues with the beginning of the book, I am definitely glad I pushed through and continued to read Smart Girls Get What They Want. The overall lessons Gigi learned were great for teenage girls – the takeaway is definitely worth it.

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Estelle: The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Catherine Hapka

The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Catherine Hapka
Pages: 272
Target Audience: Young adult
Release Date: October 7, 2008
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Format: Nook eBook
Why I read it: Looking for something to read during the holidays.

Summary: After three years of dating Cam, Lexi is convinced their lives are going in different directions. She’s focused on college, a career, and leaving Claus Lake and he just wants to stay near home and open his own restaurant. But instead of breaking his heart, she decides to do the next best thing: make Cam fall in love with someone else. Will her plan backfire?

As a huge Christmas fan, I was ecstatic to discover this book while surfing the B&N bookstore on my Nook. That being said, I was mostly a fan of Claus Lake, the setting, then the actual story. A place where people actually start preparing for Christmas in September and gladly overlook Halloween. Sounds like my kind of place! The plotline, though, is pretty unbelievable and made me wish it was a cute ABC Family movie instead of a YA novel. (In fact, I felt, at times, too old to be reading this one.)

Lexi is an ambitious girl. But it’s a little ridiculous for her to want to pawn her long-term boyfriend into the arms of another. Who in their right mind would do that? (Some might call it heartless.) I mean, if she just decided to tell him the spark was gone and they wanted different things for their future, there would have been no story. So you have to take it for what it is.

Once you do, it’s a fun, heart-warming silly story with a bunch of characters. One of my favorites was Allie, Lexi’s best friend, who concocts all these “theories” about relationships. (Keep in mind, she is single herself.) Most are ridiculous but it’s her “12 Dates” rule that gets the ball rolling on another one of Lexi’s big ideas. This isn’t much of a spoiler since it’s in most book descriptions. After Cam and Lexi break up and he moves on with Jaylene (who is always wearing little to no clothing) Lexi (surprise!) decides she must get Cam back. So instead of just talking to him… she decides she needs another plan.

If it wasn’t so lighthearted, this story would almost qualify as some sort of farcical, Lucy-esque comedy. Unfortunately, it’s not that sophisticated or unpredictable. But it is fluffy and full of holiday spirit, which are two things I can’t deny loving when it comes to taking a book along on the commute, and when life gets stressful during the holidays and you need an escape!

Just a note: The Nook version of this eBook wasn’t the best. The spacing between scenes was off most of the book.

Also being paired with Jennifer Echols’ The Ex Games in a collection called Winter’s Kiss — releasing Tuesday, January 3.

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