Sunday, September 29, 2013


Wild Cards (Wild Cards, #1)Series: Wild Cards #1
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 10/1/13
Format: eARC
Pages: 288
Source: Received from publisher for review
Rating: 3 stars

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?


I've never read a Simone Elkeles book before, but had heard really great things about her Perfect Chemistry series. When everyone started going bananas about Wild Cards being available on NetGalley, well, I naturally jumped on the bandwagon, excited to read the first book in a hopefully fabulous new series.

I liked Wild Cards, but didn't fall in love with the story like I'd hoped to. Derek and Ashtyn were good characters, and I found them both to be worthy of a deeper story than they were given. I felt as if the writing skimmed the surface, sometimes beginning to truly dig into the real heart of the story, what Derek and Ashtyn were going and had gone through in their lives, and what they might find together. This didn't happen, though. Just when I felt the story was really going to go there, the moment was gone.

The first half Wild Cards was so good. I was getting into the characters and their story. I could feel the big "hook" coming, but that never happened. It was like the second half of the story was rushed. Derek and Ashtyn had a very antagonistic relationship, and I couldn't see why, not that teens really need much of a reason. (Or at least, I never did.) But these two went from "I hate you. Stay away from me. Why are you even in my space. I hate you."  to "I love you." without a big moment to connect the dots. If there was a moment I was supposed to feel the change, I must have missed it. I could see it coming, but I didn't feel the heart behind it.

Something else that felt off to me was the secondary story with Derek's estranged grandmother. It started off nice and complicated by past hurts, very angsty, but turned into something entirely different, almost comical, but I felt like I was missing the joke. I'm still not even sure what was going on there. It was like the author started in one direction, lost motivation, then headed in an easier path. I just didn't get it.

For me, Wild Cards just didn't dig deep enough. It didn't pull me hopelessly in and win my heart. I enjoyed Elkeles's writing style, there were a lot of moments that had me smiling, and I flew through the pages. Despite the convenient and slightly over the top ending, I did appreciate Derek and Ashtyn's story. Even though I didn't love Wild Cards, I will likely continue the series.

Favorite Quotes:

  "Seriously, Ashtyn, I bet my left nut you wouldn't even notice if I got your dog fixed."
  "Your left nut?" I ask. "Why not your right one? Guys never say they'll bet their right nut, only their left. Why is that?"
  "Because all guys know their right nut is the dominant one, so bettin' the left one is a safe choice. Now don't change the subject and answer my question."   ~eARC, 46%

  "You want to break the rule?"
  He nods slowly. "Yeah."
  "Because I'm tryin' to push you away when all I want to do is hold you. I know you say you don't want a hero, but damn I'd like to be that guy who'll save you from spiders and whatever and whoever else hurts you."   ~eARC, 66%

Purchase Wild Cards

About the author
Simone Elkeles is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of novels for teens. Simone’s books have won many awards including being YALSA Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, being named to the YALSA Popular Paperbacks and Teens Top Ten lists, and added to the Illinois “Read for a Lifetime” Reading List. Simone also won the coveted RITA award from the Romance Writers of America for her book Perfect Chemistry. Simone is especially proud of the fact that the Illinois Association of Teachers of English named her Author of the Year.

Simone was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, where she still lives today. Simone went to the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and received her Bachelor’s of Science there in Psychology in 1992. She continued her education at Loyola University-Chicago where she received her Master’s of Science degree in Industrial Relations while working for a manufacturing company creating diversity programs for their employees.

She loves animals (she has two dogs – a labradoodle and a German Shepherd), kids (she also has two of those) and her family. In her spare time she’s the Hockey Mom for her kids hockey teams and is an active Girl Scout leader specially trained in outdoor education. She also spends time mentoring other teen and adult authors. (She also loves sushi, which you can probably tell by reading her books.) Simone writes about teens because she was a teen in the 80’s (when spiked hair and blue eye shadow were “rad”) and she loves writing about those exciting teen relationships and romances.

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  1. I'm still not sure what changed - I as a reader or Simone's writing. I loved Perfect Chemistry and they were probably my fave contemporary books in a while but I probably wouldn't love them as much now. For this book I have heard mostly same things - I wish that it went deeper and that the second part wasn't rushed. Too bad.
    Great review Andrea.

  2. Oh look we are review twins today! lol

    Honestly though, I liked Perfect Chemistry so much more than I did Wild Cards. I enjoyed Wild Cards but it just lacked that little bit something extra in my opinion. Plus I had a tough time with Ashtyn,.. she was a but too abrasive for me. Great review Andrea!

  3. I liked the story too, but can def see how it isn't as encompassing as others

  4. I didn't enjoy this as much as her other novels but I did have some fun with it. Ashtyn and Derek got on my nerves at different times, first Ashtyn and then Dereek. Upon looking back on this story, I think I was a little easy on the rating. :/ wonderful review, Andrea. :)

  5. I'm sorry Wild Cards didn't win you over, Andrea. I hope it won't keep you from reading Ms. Elkeles' other novels. (maybe it's a good thing you read this one first) Yes, her Perfect Chemistry series is fabulous! But I really, really loved her Paradise series - well, it's only 2 books. I'll still read Wild Cards because I'm a fan but it'll be interesting to compare it to her other books. Thanks for a fantastic and honest review!

  6. It happens quite often that the story isn't just deep enough and the switch seems too simple .

  7. I had this on my list, but sadly most reviews I have read had the same issues with this one. Wonderful review :)

  8. I read another review recently where the reviewer felt very similar to they way you did, and it was a reviewer whose opinion I trust. I still need to read this, but I am no longer excited about it. It will be my first Simone Elkeles book also. I am still planning to read Perfect Chemistry, because I have heard that is really good. Thanks for the honest review.

  9. I am a little surprised! I have read other books by Simone Elkeles and absolutely loved them. It's too bad this one wasn't a hit for you. It is always a shame when we have such have high hopes for a book & can see the potential in a story/characters but it isn't fully developed. Bummer, but love the honest review :) Would love to hear what you think ofher other books, I definitely recommend you give them a try :)
    Have a great week
    Elizabeth @ Blue Eyed Book Reviews

  10. I hate it when I'm one of the select few who didn't like a book that most people loved. Way to keep things in perspective, hopefully her next book will win you over.

  11. I've been hearing similar things around the blogosphere regarding this one, so I will probably wait to pick it up and try Perfect Chemistry first. That stinks the last part of the book felt rushed and you had trouble connecting with their relationship. I don't like those types either, where boom they don't like each other and then wham they do. I need to see the change/shift to really get it. Great review girl!

  12. awwwe, bummer. I'm glad this wasn't my first read by her then.. I passed on requesting it. Everyone seems to be talking about that Perfect Chemistry, I'll try that one instead.

    Sorry it didn't blow you away. :( it seemed like in the beginning you were really liking it from your goodreads status's but then it went to the pooper.

    Aubrey said poop is a bad word.

  13. I've been seeing a lot of less than stellar reviews for this so I've set it aside for now since I'm so overwhelmed anyway. I do like Simone Elkeles so I'll give it a try, I'm just waiting for now. It's really disappointing that it starts out strong but ends on a weak note.

  14. I'm sorry your first Elkeles book wasn't such a hit with you, Andrea. I didn't like this one too much either. Like you said, at some point it turned almost comical and I never connected on any level with the characters.
    I did like the Perfect Chemistry book 1 and the How to Ruin series. Those were well-written and had great characters.
    Great honest review, Andrea.

  15. Well, we talked about this one over the weekend and I'm having trouble getting into it. It wounds me to say that too, because I love The Perfect Chemistry series and I had high hopes for this one. I'm going to try again before I give up.

  16. Awww, I'm sorry to hear that friend. I have this one for review too, so at least now I know what to expect going in to it. I hope you end up reading her Perfect Chemistry Series, because I really enjoyed that one. Great Review!

    Lindy@ A Bookish Escape

  17. Sounds like I can put this one off. I have it from BEA and have been thinking I should get it on the list. Now I'll wait. Great review.

  18. I loved the Perfect Chemistry series but I agree with everything you mentioned about this one which is such a shame because it held so much promise and could have been amazing.

    A great review Andrea :-)


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