…On The Fine Art of Truth or Dare {+ Guest Post} by Melissa Jensen

Posted June 3, 2012 by Asheley in Uncategorized / 20 Comments

The Fine Art of Truth or Dare
by Melissa Jensen
Published by Speak
Publish Date: February 16, 2012
380 Pages
Source: Borrowed from Tara at Hobbitsies
(You can read 
Hobbitsies’ review HERE)

Ella is nearly invisible at the Willing School, and that’s just fine by her. She’s got her friends – the fabulous Frankie and their sweet cohort Sadie. She’s got her art – and her idol, the unappreciated 19th-century painter Edward Willing. Still, it’s hard being a nobody and having a crush on the biggest somebody in the school: Alex Bainbridge. Especially when he is your French tutor, and lessons have started becoming, well, certainly more interesting than French ever has been before. But can the invisible girl actually end up with a happily ever after with the golden boy, when no one even knows they’re dating? And is Ella going to dare to be that girl? –(summary excerpt from Goodreads)

The Fine Art of Truth or Dare 

by Melissa Jensen 

My ThoughtsThe Fine Art of Truth or Dare is a very cute, very quick read that is compared to a John Hughes movie, which I think is fairly accurate. There are likeable main characters, awesome best friends, a budding romance, and super mean girls. There is a fun Italian family that functions normally, actually loves each other, and treats their children well. (What? In YA? No, really. I’m serious.) There is also an interesting and a little bit odd friendship/crush between the main character, Ella, and a famous artist that died way back in 1916 – I know, it sounds a little bit strange, but you just kind of have to go with it.

Ella Marino is a sweet, shy, pretty, and unpopular girl that happens to go to a very expensive private school. The problem? 1) She isn’t rich. 2) She kind of loves Alex Bainbridge, who is dreamy and super popular. Her best friends Sadie and Frankie sit and listen while Ella talks about Alex and stares at him during lunch, all the while knowing that guys like him never fall for people like them. Plus, Alex is dating pretty much the meanest girl in school – she treats Ella like dirt. Ella basically has no chance with the boy of her dreams.

But wait! She gets her chance one day in the form of Alex acting as her French tutor. Annnddd….there you have the cute secret romance…which hurts Ella’s best friends because it is a secret and causes some drama…and then more stuff happens that is, well, very much like a John Hughes movie. (And we’re back to the comparison, which is not a bad thing in this case. If you don’t know them, you should look them up and watch them.)


Here are some things that I liked about this book: Ella has a secret – a secret that is so big to her that it affects basically everything she does AND has made her the way she is. Ella is a great girl, but when she learns to let down her walls and start trusting people outside her protective little circle, she starts to develop more as a character, which I always love. Her best friends are awesome. Sadie is a wealthy-but-unpopular girl who is also a very shy and insecure singer. Frankie is the gay-guy-best-friend that is – like Ella – not wealthy. The three of them are very tight and supportive of one another, until they realize that Ella has been keeping secrets. This happens all the time in real life and the way it works itself out is very real and fun to read. And of course, I loved Alex Bainbridge and his romance with Ella.

There is art in the book and there is also music in the book. I like this very much. (hello, any other Avett Brothers fans out there?)

I think fans of cute, non-heavy YA contemporary romance books are the ones who will like this one best. It reads fast and works very well between heavy books or longer books.

The Fine Art of Truth or Dare will appeal to fans of:

YA Contemporary
Books Containing Art & Music

The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen
is currently available for purchase.




Author Melissa Jensen was gracious enough to send me two music playlists to share with you guys! She said “The first one is the soundtrack I would choose for The Fine Art of Truth or Dare. Some of the songs are actually featured in the book; others just fit. The second is just the most recent from my mad mind (and iTunes)–what I’m listening to today.”

Playlist #1: from The Fine Art of Truth of Dare

Must I Paint You a Picture – Billy Bragg

It’s Only Time – The Magnetic Fields
Mambo Italiano – Dean Martin
Let My Love Open the Door – Pete Townshend
Airplanes, Pt II – B.o.B feat. Eminem & Hayley Williams
Itchin’ on a Photograph – Grouplove
You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me – Dusty Springfield
The Way You Look Tonight – Frank Sinatra
Take on Me – A-ha
Tu vuo’ fa’ l’americano – Renato Carosone
Slight Figure of Speech – The Avett Brothers
I Can’t Make You Love Me – Bon Iver

Playlist #2:  from the ‘mad mind’ of Melissa Jensen

You Know I’m No Good — Amy Winehouse
I Think I Need a New Heart — The Magnetic Fields
Faith — George Michael
Came Up — G-Side (feat S.L.A.S.H)
Train in Vain — The Clash
Rumour Has It — Adele
I Useta Lover — The Saw Doctors
Mr. Jones — Counting Crows
No Love — Eminem
Talkin’ Bout a Revolution — Tracy Chapman
Clang of the Concrete Swans — Comet Gain
Rapture — Blondie


Have you read this book?
Is it on your to-read pile? 

What is your favorite song
from these playlists?
(HELLO again, Avett Brothers fans! Holla.)


About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


20 responses to “…On The Fine Art of Truth or Dare {+ Guest Post} by Melissa Jensen

  1. This sounds like a really cute book, and I'm more curious about it after seeing the songs on the playlist. I'll be adding this to my to-read list!

    • It IS really cute, Christin. It's one of those easy cute fun books that is exactly like the movie Pretty in Pink, which I've seen it compared to quite a bit. If you like YA Contemp romance, you'll probably love it. 🙂

  2. I do have this book on my to-read list and am hoping to pick it up this summer as I love to read cute funny well-written contemps during the summer.

  3. I didn't love this one, partly because I never fell for Alex, and I loathed his best friend Chase (wish Alex had defended Ella to him). I loved Sadie and Frankie, though! Fun playlists too.

    • You know what? YES! I forgot about Chase – he was horrible! Not awfully written, just an awful person. I liked Alex, but I do remember not liking that there were a few times that he didn't defend Ella when I thought he should have. I had forgotten about that! – Particularly around those girls that were SO mean and his friends, which were pretty crummy too. Thanks for making me remember.

      The crush on Willing was a little odd to me. I wasn't really sure what to do with it, so I sort of just accepted that it was there and moved on. I wonder if I missed a big detail in the beginning or smething. But other than Willing, I liked it okay.

      Sadie and Frankie were so great, and even Daniel (Frankie's brother). Great secondary characters.


      Okay, the more I think about Alex, the more I don't like him. I agree about the standing up to his friends thing. I also thought it was his idea to keep their relationship a secret, but then he got mad at her when she questioned him about it??? And I wish he'd been a bit more compassionate when she finally revealed her scar. I just didn't get him.

      I think realistically about my book characters, and I don't see Ella and Alex working in the future. His friends are horrible and he doesn't want to give them up. Also their worlds are so different and I saw nothing to show how they'd navigate that aspect. Basically, he wouldn't ever be my choice.

      I agree that the Willing thing was weird, especially when they had 'conversations.' My background is in museums (schooling and work), so I thought her going to the archives to research him was pretty interesting. The rest seemed unnecessary.

      And I liked Daniel as well! Better than Alex, I think.

      I know you've stated that you don't like contemporaries. I am careful with them because so many many follow the same plot flow (those issue books). But there are some great ones out there, though this isn't one of them (IMO).

    • Great points again.

      Thinking realistically about book characters is a bit new to me since contemporary is a bit new to me. But I'm getting there. These thought processes are just not the same as the ones that I have when I'm reading paranormal, fantasy, or even some dystopians, ya know? I love what you're saying to me because you're kind of teaching me a thing or two here.

      The thing about me and contemporary and our budding love (haha) is what is so great about me doing this contemporary month: I'm absolutely reading outside of my safe zone. I will say that I have read some great ones that are upcoming (for example, I read Small Town Sinners and Unbreak My Heart, both by Melissa Walker – and I LOVE them both even though I tend to stay away from issue books). So, yeah, with contemporary, I think it is a broad range and you just have to test around and see what kinds you like. Adam has recommended a few by way of his blog – and I've liked them but they've been kind of heavy. And then some of the lighter ones I've liked too, but they're all just different. I have a whole month of entirely different contemps planned out. (I'll totally be ready for some good dystopian or sci-fi/fantasy or something like that when July gets here. Trust me!)

    • Well often I think realistically about characters’ relationships in dystopian and fantasy (keeping in mind the confines of their world). HA. So possibly this is just something that I do.

      I’m excited about your month of contemporary. Great idea. I’ll definitely be back to check it out. I’ve not read anything by Melissa Walker, so already a recommendation!

      And I also try to stay away from anything too heavy, especially if I suspect it isn’t going to have a happy ending. If the people I’m reading about are going to experience pain, I want them to at least end up in a good place (there are always exceptions to this, of course).

  4. I read this book a few months back and also had issues with Ella and Alex's relationship (I just didn't feel it and Alex kinda bugged me) and the whole Ed Willing aspect (which I thought I would LOVE because I have an art history background) fell flat for me as well. Though like Lola I did find the researching in the archives parts fun:) But the saving grace for this book (and it saved it enough for me to rate it 4/ 5 stars) was Ella's family. I LOVED that big, loud, nosy Italian family, especially her dad and nonna. It's rare to find a family unit, and a positive unit at that, play such a big role in YA today. Most often the parent's are terrible role models, absent, or ignored altogether. Had it not been for all those wonderful talks Ella had with her dad and grandmother (very reminiscent of Molly Ringwald's relationships w/ her dad in Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink) I would've had a harder time reading it. Like them or not, I think Melissa Jensen is great at fleshing out her characters though and I'd read more of her books in the future.

    I'm loving this contemporary month Asheley, nice job!

    • I totally feel the same way about the families in YA. I liked the way Ella's family interacted too, particularly opposed to the way Alex's mother was never around. And I had forgotten about Alex's friends until LoLa reminded me (in her comments above).

      This is a different type of contemp than I would typically go for, I think, when I pull from them in the future, but I'm glad I read it. I loved Sadie, Frankie, and Daniel and the music in it (of course, as if you couldn't tell, ha!). This one would make a great outside summer book for by the pool or beach or something like that, I think.

      I fully trust Tara @hobbitsies wholeheartedly and whatever she throws at me, I'll read. So when this was in the top of the box she sent me with a sticky note on it, I didn't hesitate to pick it up and read it. I'm glad I did. It's very much like the John Hughes movies, which I go bananas over.

  5. Was this one in verse, or am I confusing it with Love and Leftovers? I'm scared of books in verse!

    I lurv books with playlists though! And I highly approve of any containing George Michael's Faith and Mr. Jones. =)

    • Hey Heidi – No, this wasn't verse! I think you're thinking of Love and Leftovers, which I really want to read. I LOVE verse. (Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams is verse! I'm excited about that one.) You should really give them a try – Lisa Schroeder is a great place to start or if you'll wait a few days I'll let you know about Waiting. 🙂 They're not all as hard-core as Ellen Hopkins, although I have MAD LOVE for Ellen, believe it or not.

      Yes, the playlists! How awesome, right? I'm partial to my Avett Brothers, and they make a small appearance in the book as well. Happy Asheley. 🙂

  6. Great review! This one has been on my to-read for awhile but I haven't been motivated to pick it up yet. It does sound super cute, and might be a good summer read. 😀

  7. I have heard about this book and read about this book on every single blog that I have been on lately, it seems. And every time I do, I go back and forth on whether or not to read it. I have only gotten into the Contemporary genre within the last 6 months or so and while I have loved some, I have also just not liked some. I think it may be because I am almost 30 and some things just don't sit well with me anymore. I think though, after seeing so many positives on this one, I may just have to give it a chance. Hopefully, it will live up to its reviews!

  8. I loved Ella's family and Daniel (Frankie's brother).
    I thought it was kind of cowardly of Alex to not defend Ella sometimes, but in PiP Whats-his-name also didn't defend Andie from his jerk friends so I expected it.

    That's why the MC should ALWAYS chose the Duck*. Always.

    As in, Duckie Dale <33

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