Thursday, February 13, 2014

Wild Cards are now my favorite type......

Book:  Wild Cards
Author:  Simone Elkeles
Publisher:  Walker Books for Young Readers (Bloomsbury)
Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
Date:  Now available
My grade:  A+ with extra credit for swoon

After getting kicked out of boarding school, bad boy Derek Fitzpatrick has no choice but to live with his ditzy stepmother while his military dad is deployed. Things quickly go from bad to worse when he finds out she plans to move them back to her childhood home in Illinois. Derek’s counting the days before he can be on his own, and the last thing he needs is to get involved with someone else’s family drama.

Ashtyn Parker knows one thing for certain--people you care about leave without a backward glance. A football scholarship would finally give her the chance to leave. So she pours everything into winning a state championship, until her boyfriend and star quarterback betrays them all by joining their rival team. Ashtyn needs a new game plan, but it requires trusting Derek—someone she barely knows, someone born to break the rules. Is she willing to put her heart on the line to try and win it all?
Initial reaction
I am now and forever a Simone Elkeles believer!!

Cover story
Everyone who reads this blog knows how I feel about kissing covers.  Blech!  I like the colors and I like the models, but I hate the kissing pose.  If I were reading a real copy of this book, I would have to put War and Peace or something on the outside of it.  Just sayin’……

What’s the Story?

So, Derek is sort of a bad boy sort and gets kicked out of his private school.  His dad is in the Navy and is currently on a submarine.  So Derek is stuck with his very ditzy, very young and apparently newly pregnant stepmom.  Who has decided to go back home to Chicago.  What she fails to tell Derek is that she has been estranged from her father for about 10 years and she left behind a younger sister who is now Derek’s age.  See where this is going?

I’m not sure how she did it, but Simone Elkeles made me feel something for every damn character in this book.  I even felt some pain for the distant father and the snooty grandmother.  For reals.  Any author that can make you sympathize with every character in the book is gooooooood.  And believe me when I tell you that Simone Elkeles is good!

At first I was afraid that this was going to be a Catching Jordan 2.0, but it wasn’t like that at all.  For one thing, there are many more issues being dealt with in this novel.  Deaths of parents, people running away, broken relationships.  This book was a lot more serious.  Yet, I never felt bogged down in angst or anything.  It was just enough serious stuff to make for good tension in the novel without feeling like I was reading a tragedy.  Or a Nicholas Sparks novel.

Now, let’s face it.  One of the reasons people love Simone Elkeles is because girlfriend knows how to write steamy.  Holy cold showers!  This one was steamy.  I think I could actually see steam rising from my Nook as I read it!  It wasn’t as explicit as an adult romance novel, but I would definitely steer older teens to this one.  I’m pretty sure this is one of the reasons that Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction have become hot items in my library since they first came in to my library a few weeks ago.  Yeah, Simone Elkeles has it going on in the romance department.

But this story was so multi-faceted with all the different family and relationship dynamics going on that it would have been fabulous even without the hottie bad boy. (But don’t ever take out the hottie bad boy please, Simone, kay?)  It’s always wonderful to see families heal and reconnect and I was in love with the whole family by the time this was finished.

There was also a really cool twist at the end that I loved and even though the ending seemed a little far-fetched, it wasn’t nearly as much of a stretch as say, a half-vampire mutant baby, so I was ok with it.  By that point, I just wanted to see some happily ever afters, ya know?

I loved this book and I think I’m going to have to follow the advice of the girls who come into my library and check out Elkeles’ first series of books.  But I should probably go buy a small fire extinguisher first.

The Soundtrack

Poison and Wine by The Civil Wars

Beautiful Disaster by Jon McLaughlin

Better Man by James Morrison

Come Home by One Republic ft. Sara Bareilles

Kiss Me by Ed Sheeran

The Final Grade
My final grade for this book is an A+.  I’m going to go all fangirl now whenever I see a new Simone Elkeles novel!

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