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Title: Bluff
Author: Julie Dill
Rating: 4/5

Blurb (taken from Goodreads):

Seventeen-year-old Chelsea Knowles is surrounded by the privileged. Michael Kors gym bags and designer shoes are part of her daily scene, but the talented cheerleader has a secret: she and her dad can barely pay the bills. Broken by his wife walking out on their family, Chelsea’s father ignores his responsibilities. Between cheer costs, grocery bills, electricity, and other regular financial burdens, it’s no surprise when a cut-off notice arrives in the mail. Chelsea knows it’ll be up to her to keep the lights on.

With the deck stacked against her, Chelsea decides to bet their future on the dubious poker knowledge she learned from her father before he gave up on parenting. Nervous but determined, Chelsea heads to a casino with very little security and wins big. Thrilled by her win, she’s quickly drawn to the casino again and again. She risks it all, especially when the attractive, young pit boss takes an interest in her.

Chelsea’s life, no longer filled with cheerleading, school, and hanging out with her friends, is now consumed by smoky casino floors and the ups and downs of a gambler’s life. True gamblers know when to fold, but Chelsea keeps betting long after her needs are met. The complicated web of lies soon begins to spin out of control, threatening to expose everything. Will someone see through her bluff?



There’s something about a casino that you can’t quite find anywhere else. It’s all about the glamour, the possibilities of getting rich, and the incessant sounds and lights. Then, when you take a step back, you also see how dangerous it can become, and how quickly it can ruin a life. In this novel, Julie Dill meshes the unpredictable live of a gambler with the simplicity of being a high school student. Cheerleading practices, movie dates with a best friend, and shopping excursions are thrown into contrast with the thrill of walking in a casino, of leaving with ten times the amount of money one entered with, of the glitz of being rich — even if it’s just for a moment… and then the book hits you with the dark despair that accompanies a heavy loss.

The protagonist of this story, Chelsea, is unfortunately faced with the hardship of trying to manage a household at a young age. She chose to gamble in order to pay off some outstanding bills, but the gains are never enough to also help her maintain the lifestyle she wanted to have for herself. Every time she entered that casino, I would hold my breath and pray this would be the last one. I think that the author portrayed the addiction quite realistically and explores the unfortunate truth that an addiction can ruin many things.

This is a very fast read – I finished it within just a few sporadic hours. It’s not very complex, and I found that some depth could have been added to most of the characters… To be fair, it’s targeted perfectly for a high school student, or even middle school crowd, so take this with a grain of salt.

I loved the final page, though. It’s a final page that will stay with me for a long time. For those readers who read the last few lines before starting the book, do yourself a favour and make this one an exception!

I’d like to thank Amberjack Publishing, as well as Netgalley, for the free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Keep an eye out for this book as it will hit the shelves on February 7th, 2017!