BLOG TOUR: Smash and Grab by Amy Christine Parker - Guest Post + Review + Giveaway

Title: Smash & Grab
Author: Amy Christine Parker
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Release Date: July 19th 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
Synopsis: Ocean’s Eleven meets the star-crossed lovers of West Side Story.Grab some popcorn and get ready for an adrenaline-filled heist!
LEXI is a rich girl who loves a good rush. Whether it’s motorcycle racing or BASE jumping off a building in downtown Los Angeles, the only times she feels alive are when she and her friends are executing one of their dares. After her father’s arrest, Lexi doesn’t think twice about going undercover at his bank to steal the evidence that might clear his name. She enlists her hacker brother and her daredevil friends to plan a clever heist.
CHRISTIAN is a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. The local gang has blackmailed him and his friends into robbing banks, and he is desperate for a way out. When the boss promises that one really big job will be the last he ever has to do, Christian jumps at the chance for freedom. In fact, he’s just met a girl at the bank who might even prove useful. . . .
Two heists. One score. The only thing standing in their way is each other.
Told in alternating points of view, this caper is full of romance and fast-paced fun. Hand to fans of Perfect Chemistry, The Conspiracy of Us, and Heist Society.
“These moments are the only times I ever feel truly alive.”
When I read the synopsis for Smash and Grab, I was SO excited! I own all of Amy Christine Parker’s other books but I haven’t read them yet. (See BookDragon Phenomenon #21: Own 12093430923 books, but never read them)

I rarely ever find young adult books about heists and adrenaline and just the thrill of being a criminal. And so, when I got approved for this one on NetGalley, I was ecstatic!

And now, just a bit after finishing the book, I realise I have no strong feelings about the heist, or the characters, and that just disappoints me.

Let’s break this down, yeah?

Lexi is a rich kid. Lexi’s dad was arrested for mortgage fraud, making her whole life implode. Lexi and her friends are a bunch of daredevils, looking for the next big thrill, be it drag racing or jumping off a high rise in the middle of the city.

Christian is the polar opposite. Living under the control of the Mexican Mafia in Florencia Heights, he’s forced to do unlawful things (aka rob banks) just to keep his family safe and pay off his father’s gambling debts. 

Under normal circumstances, these two would never have been friends, but with a twist of fate, a bank robbery and a makeover later, here they are. Planning a heist that will be worth over 50 million dollars, and the possibility of clearing someone’s name. What can go wrong?
“I think it’s better if we keep this strictly professional,” she says. I laugh. “Baby, there is nothing professional about what we’re doing.” Her mouth quirks up. “Okay, so we keep it strictly criminal then.”
While the idea behind Smash and Grab was brilliant, and the characters were brilliant as well, the execution just wasn’t done well enough, on Lexi’s side. I love the criminal and the rich girl storyline, the overprotective brother, the gay best friend, the abused other friend and everyone else. When it was Lexi’s point of view these otherwise amazing characters were barely given thought to, and I wish there was more of them and their personalities in the book, because they seemed really awesome.

When it came to Christian, however, his side of the crew, their families and their motivations were REALLY well done. I supposed they needed it more too, but still. I would have love more secondary character depth.

That would have all been acceptable too, if I had, even once after the first chapter, FELT THE ADRENALINE. There was a fifty million dollar heist going on, and I was feeling NOTHING.

All in all, I just wish this book was MORE, but I did like it because it was definitely different.

Three stars. 
The Best Part of Publication

The single best part of publication is meeting readers. Seeing your book on shelves is heady stuff, but it can’t compare with hearing from readers who love your book or were inspired by it in some way. I’ve been lucky enough to have some pretty cool reader experiences so far. Here is just a sampling:

1.       Gated, my first book, has been used in a program that counsels nonviolent juvenile offenders using literature to help them make better choices. It’s called Reading for Life. They invited me to go visit the kids in a juvenile detention center. Hearing their thoughts on the book and what it meant to them in terms of making better choices was the coolest, most touching thing ever. You can find out more about this program and how to support it here.

2.       A trio of teen writers hired me through my agent to come do a writer’s retreat with them. They actually went together to cover my expenses to meet with them and talk writing and my books. They even made me a certificate afterwards!

3.       Getting emails from people who were actually in cults who related to my first two books and felt like they captured some of their personal experiences. That was amazing and gratifying. I hoped to get it right and it’s nice to know that they felt I did.

4.       Visiting schools and having kids confide in me about their own writing and how something I wrote inspired them.

When you are writing a novel, it’s so solitary. You deal with so much doubt even if you’ve been published before, maybe especially if you’ve been published before. Having my stories available to a wide readership from around the world who sometimes benefit in a positive way from it despite my misgivings during the writing process is mind blowing. I will never get used to it! I’m really looking forward to getting out to see Smash & Grab readers in the next several months. 

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AMY CHRISTINE PARKER writes full-time from her home near Tampa, Florida, where she lives with her husband, their two daughters, and one ridiculously fat cat. Visit her at and follow her on Twitter @amychristinepar.

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