I love the graphics for this book so much. Ugh <3
Anyways, if you read my blog, you would already know that I did a review for this book already here. But if you don't, then here is some info on the book, COIN HEIST by ELISA LUDWIG.
The last place you’d expect to find a team of criminals is at a prestigious Philadelphia prep school. But on a class trip to the U.S. Mint—which prints a million new coins every 30 minutes—an overlooked security flaw becomes far too tempting for a small group of students to ignore.
United by dire circumstances, these unlikely allies—the slacker, the nerd, the athlete, and the “perfect” student—band together to attempt the impossible: rob the U.S. Mint. The diverse crew is forced to confront their true beliefs about each other and themselves as they do the wrong thing for the right reasons. Told from the revolving perspectives of four teens, each with their own motive for committing a crime that could change all of their lives for the better—that is, if they can pull it off.
Sounds cool right? I love heist stories so much and this was really no exception! It's toted as a story that's The Breakfast Club meets Ocean's Eleven (both things that I love), and this book really does have both those elements in it!
So before we get to the good stuff, here's some information that you should know:
This book will be free to download on iBooks and Amazon from June 7th to 9th. You can spread the word on twitter using the hashtag: #StealThisBook
Also, there will be a twitter chat with Elisa Ludwig on June 8th @ 8PM EST hosted by Mary at BookHounds, otherwise known on twitter as @maryinhb
Anyways! Into the good stuff! Here's a sneak peek from COIN HEIST by ELISA LUDWIG:
My advisor Mrs. Diamond rushed into homeroom like a white lady tornado, right in the middle of video announcements. She was usually just there, waiting for all of us to file in, like it was her house or something, and we were her guests. Now she brushed past our desks, her jacket swishing.
“Sorry, everyone. Sorry I’m late.”
Grumbles. It was too early for more than a grumble.
Meanwhile, on the smart board screen, two kids in ties who were way more awake than the rest of us talked about the weather.
Thirty-one degrees today with a chance of snow… kinda mediocre. Davis? Back to you.
It’s like that now, Cody, so get used to it.
It was like that now. Mediocre all over. The video announcements used to be a full half hour and now it took about five minutes. No more sports announcements, ’cause no teams were playing. No plays. No pep rallies or meetings or events. Not even the nerdy guy talking about Science Club. I hadn’t realized how much I liked watching that little dude until now.
Mrs. Diamond set her bags down on her desk and went about taking attendance, mumbling names to herself as she went. When she got to mine, which was the last one, of course, (Y's represent!) she looked up. “There you are. Benny, I need to talk to you. Do you have a moment?”
“Sure,” I said, a little worried but glad to have a reason to get out of my seat. Now that the announcements were over, the rest of homeroom was usually just sitting around alone and listening to everyone else gossip. Talking about their weekends and how much beer they drank and who hooked up with who. Stuff I didn’t need to know, because I didn’t know any of these people.
Mrs. Diamond was pushing sixty and she had dyed blond hair cut real short. I slouched up to her desk and waited to see what kind of trouble I was in, but then she looked up at me with a smile that made me even more nervous. The last time an old lady smiled at me like that was when my grandmom took me shopping at the end of the summer and told the salesperson at Kohls that I needed nice school clothes.
“Benny, I just had a meeting with the bursar’s office, and I'm afraid I have some… uhh… unfortunate news. They said that with everything that’s happened, they’re having trouble making ends meet for the financial aid program next year.”
“But I’m—I'm on scholarship,” I blurted out. It was meant to be a secret. The teachers knew, but supposedly no one else did.
Now her smile faded some. “The future of the D.M. Jamison athletic scholarship is unclear, actually. We lost that money in the, um, situation.”
Situation? Sounded more like a big hustle to me. “What about the other scholarship I got, from the state?”
“That was only five percent of your funding. You can keep it, but it’s not going to be enough.”
Goddamn. Was she for real? They were getting rid of my money now? They could do that to me, basically the only poor kid here? “Is there another scholarship I can apply for?”
“You should talk about it with the bursar. It’s too late for next year. The state deadlines were in January.”
“What the hell?” I didn’t mean to curse in front of a teacher, but I was freaking out. How would I break the news to my grandmom, after everything we did to get me here? She’d start crying, talking about my poor mom, her terrible story. How they came over from Mexico when she was a teenager, how she started working as a mushroom picker to help make ends meet. How she met my dad around the way, and they had me when she was too young. How she got an injury on the job and started popping pills because they wouldn’t send her to the doctor. How she OD’ed three months later. How my dad was deported back to the D.R., leaving me with my grandparents. I was four years old and I’d lived with them ever since. Corazoncito, my job is to protect you, my grandmom would say. And your job is to make us proud.
No, this would crush her into pieces. I had to graduate from HF, be the first in my family to go to college, actually have a career instead of a job. They were depending on me. “What am I supposed to do? I’ve been busting my butt trying to keep up my GPA. I had a great season.”
“I honestly don’t know, Benny. I’m trying to get more information. You’re not the only one in this situation.”
“I’m the only kid bussed in from North Philly.”
“There are plenty of others, from other neighborhoods, kids who needed a little help to be here. They’ll be in the same boat.”
I knew who she was talking about. Secret or no, all you had to do was look closely. A Chinese kid whose parents owned a restaurant in East Falls. A girl with a single mom from Conshohocken. Another guy whose parents lost some money in the stock market. He was from the mean streets of Ardmore. Ardmore. They had a Porsche dealership in that town. All of these people were rich compared to me, and they all lived in clean safe neighborhoods. Besides, even if they weren’t, pretty much, we were all screwed.
“I’ll let you know what I find out, okay?” She gave me a wink and my head spun with rage. Don’t get cutesy with me. This is my life we’re talking about. My one break.
If there was no money, I’d be back at Jansen. I’d be back with my homies, yeah, but I’d have no future. Might as well shoot me, because my life was over anyway.
Later, as we filed into art class, Rankin handed back our Mint projects. I’d made a blueprint of the production floor we'd seen on our field trip, with all the machines and everything. I'd been pretty proud of it—we had only spent an hour there, but I'd been able to recreate the entire place from memory. On my paper was a pink Post-It note—Rankin didn’t like writing on our “work”—with a red C. A stinking C? Under it he wrote, This is a great rendering, Benny, but next time, try to use your imagination.
It was the first C I’d gotten at HF, and it was one more slap in the face.
I didn’t need my imagination, I wanted to tell him. I was a mechanic, and I could fix a car in my sleep. Nothing imaginary about that. And by the way? All of this art stuff was bullshit.
But what did it matter now? I was leaving. I’d never see any of these people again. Maybe that was for the best.
Instead of relief, though, I was just worried. I still had no idea how I was going to tell my grandparents. Maybe if I waited long enough, the school would call and do it for me. Even then, they’d still be devastated. This was their dream—they were getting old and they didn’t have much else—and it was about to be smashed.
I sank down in the first empty seat I saw and stared into space, thinking. If Rankin thought I was gonna pay attention to his lectures about lines and fonts now, he was crazy. I could barely even enjoy looking at Dakota, I was so low. You know times are desperate when a girl in tight jeans can’t fix it.
“I don’t think that would work,” whispered this little girl with glasses sitting next to me. She was tiny, looked like she was twelve or something, and she always had some crazy hat on. I’d seen her around the halls, but we didn’t have any other classes together. I think her name was Alicia, or Alice, or something. “You’d need at least three people. One to work remotely, and two for the haul. And, to be frank, I don’t understand why you’re so obsessed with this.”
The guy she was huddled with was the headmaster’s kid. Jason. He shrugged. “I just think it’s interesting that it could be done. I think there’s potential there.”
“Potential for what?” she asked quietly.
“I don’t know. To get some money, funds, for whatever we need.”
My ears perked up.
“You’re serious,” she said. She was smiling this funny half-smile.
Were they talking about pulling some job? Something illegal? These two? That was hi-larious.
“It’s a victimless crime,” he said. “No one will lose anything, because that money wouldn’t technically exist. It’s not really stealing—it’s more like adapting it for our needs.”
“But isn’t that what fundraising is for?”
“Yeah, well, it’s worse than you think,” he said. “What’s happening here. I happen to know some stuff, and it doesn’t look good.”
Her voice dropped to an even lower whisper, but I could still hear her. “So you’re saying you want to try it. For real. The Mint. For HF.”
Time to make myself known. “So what’s the scheme?”
They both whipped their heads around guiltily. The headmaster's kid grimaced, his mouth a tight little line. “No scheme. I’m kidding,” he said. “It’s a joke. Ha.”
“You sounded pretty real to me,” I said.
He looked surprised, maybe because I was Invisible Man and they hadn’t even realized I was there. I probably should have just kept quiet, because now they were both freezing up.
“It’s a hypothetical situation,” the girl said. “We’re just talking it through. Like role-playing?”
“Okay, well, if it’s just hypothetical, then let me role-play, too.” I’ll admit I was mostly testing them, to see how far they were gonna take it. I was willing to bet this skinny kid was all talk. But the other chick, Alice, was staring at him with her big eyes. Super-serious.
“Yeah?” Jason said, checking me out. “And what can you do? You’d need to have some skills. Alice’s really good at hacking. I’m good at leading and planning.”
I thought about it for a moment. “I can fix cars. Or anything mechanical, really.”
“Huh.” He looked doubtful.
My eyes traveled around the room and locked on Dakota, who was standing nearby, wearing these sexy-ass boots. Was she listening in, too? Nah, she was probably just deep in thought about her project.
“And IDs,” I added. “I can make any kind of ID.” I’d been doing that for years around the neighborhood. You might think it was for buying booze, but it was actually to help kids that already had a record. The police were always coming through and stopping people and some of these guys just wanted to avoid more trouble. A new identity would do that for you.
Alice’s eyes lit up. “That could help, Jason. We could use IDs.”
So maybe it was a game, like one of those things kids did with the magic cards or some shiz, but it was fun. Rankin left us alone to work on our next project so we spent the rest of the period talking about it, the ins and outs. Who would do what, and how it would all work.
As we kept going I started to think: Maybe, if we could get enough money to save this school, they’d bring back my scholarship, and I could stay here next year and go to college like my grandparents wanted me to. Then someday, I could open my own business and make enough money to pay them back for all they’d done for me. Maybe even buy my grandparents some things they needed, like a new fridge, railings on the stairs. And a new AC unit. Send my dad in the D.R. a cut.
It was the best time I ever had in any class at HF. To the point that by the time the bell rang and we grabbed our stuff for the next class, and Jason asked if we wanted to meet at lunch the next day, I actually said I would.
And then I was out in the hallway, head spinning. It was a game, wasn’t it?
If it wasn’t, what the hell did I just agree to?
Oooooooo. Things are about to get interesting! The next exclusive excerpt will be posted on BookHounds tommorrow!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Elisa always knew she wanted to be a writer, when she was nine, she founded her own newspaper, The Elisa Bulletin, which she printed on her dot matrix computer and sold for 10 cents. She covered a range of stories from the Rubik Cube trend to reviews of Duran Duran albums. Her focus changed when she took a creative writing course in college and she was able to hone her craft of “making stuff up”. During a workshop, the author Julia Glass recognized Elisa’s innate ability to channel the teen experience and suggested she write YA. Since then, she’s never looked back and couldn’t be happier. Aside from writing, Elisa enjoys making ice cream, biking, Cape Cod, Scrabble, and flea markets. She lives outside Philadelphia, PA. For more information on Elisa and her books visit: http://www.elisaludwig.com
And as always, happy reading!