Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Book Review: Wild Cards (Wild Cards #1) by Simone Elkeles

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Wild Cards
Wild Cards #1
By:  Simone Elkeles
Published:  Oct. 1, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA 
Source:  Publisher

GR's Summary:

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?

 Lindy's Thoughts:

I read Simone Elkeles' Perfect Chemistry Series a while back, and absolutely fell in love with it.  So, when I saw that she had written a new book, I was really excited.  I've noticed that this story has gotten a lot of mixed reviews, and this made me even more curious to read the story, and see what it was all about.  17 year old Derek, is known for being a bit of a prankster, and not taking life too seriously.  His mother died of Cancer when he was younger, and his father is often away at sea for long periods of time, because he is in the Navy.  Derek ends up getting expelled from his prestigious private school when he takes the sole blame for performing a prank.  He has to live with his new stepmother, and is very upset when he is informed that his stepmother, little stepbrother, and him are moving from California to Illinois.

Ashtyn is madly passionate about one thing in her life; football.  She hopes to get a division one scholarship and play football in college.  She is a highly talented kicker, and had to pay her dues in order to gain the respect of her team mates.  She is dating the star quarterback, Landon.  When the Football Team votes on Team Captain, and Ashtyn is chosen instead of Landon, their relationship suddenly takes a turn for the worse.  Then, Ashtyn's older sister, Brandi, comes to live with her and their father, bringing along her son Julian, and stepson, Derek.  Ashtyn and Derek are instantly attracted to one another, but get off to a bad start.  These two end up spending a lot of time together.  Derek enjoy's pushing Ashtyn's buttons, while she does her best to ignore him, but the two of them end up getting under each other's skin.

Wild Cards was predictable, but I still enjoyed it.  My heart broke for Derek, when he would reflect on memories of his mother.  I felt his pain, heartbreak, guilt, and wish for just one more moment with her.  I also felt badly for Ashtyn. She had been abandoned by her mother as a child, then her sister left without any contact for years, and she was left with a father that paid her very little attention.  She had abandonment issues, and learned early on that the only one that she could count on was herself.  These two were broken characters, but when they spent time together, they both eventually discovered how to heal, by supporting one another.

There was a lot of push and pull in the romance aspect of this story.  Ashtyn and Derek were each drawn to each other, and would act on it, then push each other away for different reasons.  I desperately wanted to see them both let down their guard, and take a chance on love.  I loved the secondary characters in this story.  The guys on the football team were fun, and a cohesive, close knit group of friends.  I loved how protective and loyal they were of each other, and especially of Ashtyn.  Julian was such a cute little boy.  I loved the special bond that Derek and Julian shared.  Surprisingly, one of my favorite character's ended up being Derek's grandmother.  She was from Texas and a bit of a wealthy snob.  At first, I didn't really care for her, but then she grew on me, when I saw that she genuinely loved Derek, and wanted the best for him.  Plus, she ended up forging a relationship with Ashtyn, and the rest of her family.

My Rating:

If your in the mood for an entertaining Y.A. Contemporary Romance, this is a good one.  It was pretty fast-paced and I really enjoyed reading about the strong and spirited Ashtyn, as well as the gorgeous, talented, and broken Derek.  I give Wild Cards, by Simone Elkeles, 3.5 Prank-Loving, Sweet, and Romantic Stars!

My Favorite Quotes:

"When I met Ashton, I had no clue what she'd do to me.  Every time I'm near her, I want to push her away and pull her close at the same time."  (eARC, Loc. 2838)


"I never believed in love at first sight, until I met Derek.  It's all consuming and delicious and wonderful and exciting.  At the same time, it makes me nervous and self-conscious and emotional.  Love exists.  I know it does, because I'm madly, deeply, hopelessly in love."  (eARC, Loc. 2842)


Mikki's Review:

Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles was a fun, fast-paced, sweet, romantic read. I don’t read many YA books, but I have a few authors that write YA novels that are on my top favorite list, and Simone Elkeles is one of them :) I loved her Perfect Chemistry series. Those Fuentes brothers are HOT!!!! I was extremely happy to see that she was writing Wild Cards and I was looking forward to reading it. I love sports romance books, and this book had the perfect balance of it. 

After a prank gets him in trouble, Derek is forced to leave his hometown and move to Illinois with his stepmom Brandi, who is a few years older than him, and her son, Julian, who he loves and cares for. Since his dad is away for work and he has no family that he could turn to, he has no choice but to follow his stepmom. When he arrives in Illinois, he gets a cold shoulder from Brandi’s dad and an unforgettable first meeting with Brandi’s sister Ashtyn. From the moment they meet they get under each other’s skin. Ashtyn is used to being alone. Her mom left, her sister left and her dad is almost non-existent in her life. Football is the only thing that brings peace to her life. She’s the only girl in the team and she’s damn good! Her ultimate goal? Catch the eye of a recruiter and achieve her dream of playing football in college. Ashtyn has her place in the team and the players respect her. She even gets the prestigious C on her jersey, a gesture that her boyfriend Landon, the star QB of the team, has a difficult time accepting.  As time goes by, Derek and Ashtyn develop feelings for each other. Both afraid to take a step towards each other, they are faced with obstacle that pull them further apart. The only way to meet in the middle is to embark on this journey full force.

I really enjoyed this book! Derek and Ashtyn are great together! Their banter is funny and flirty. Even if you could feel their chemistry from the first time they met, they had to work hard to express what they felt for each other. They both are pretty stubborn!!! That got me nervous!!! Kids get your act together … lol!!! I love when the two MC can’t stand each other. It makes for an entertaining story. They had me LOL a couple of times and everybody knows that there is a thin line between love and hate. It was a really cute story with characters that were going through a lot of things in their personal lives. Derek abandoned his dream of playing football after his mom died and Ashtyn was fighting by herself because everybody that she loved left her. Both of them had to work towards their ultimate goal and with each other’s help they achieved those goals. 

I really liked the other characters in the book. Ashtyn’s teammates and friends are exactly the kind of people she needs in her life. Everybody would be blessed to have such amazing friends like that. The boys respect her and look out for her.  I had a bit of trouble getting used to Derek’s grandmother, but she did end up catching my attention by the end of the book. I hope that the next installment of this series will be about Jet, one of Ashtyn’s teammates. He’s a bad boy who does not believe in love. Ashtyn told him that one day he will fall hard for a girl that will break his heart … I’m very curious to see who this girl will be ;)

My Rating:

I give, Wild Cards, by Simone Elkeles 3.5 sweet, romantic, flirty, entertaining stars! If you are in the mood for a feel good YA sports romance, this book is exactly what you are looking for!

My Favorite Quotes:

"You own a piece of me," he murmurs as he holds me afterward. ''Good,'' I tell him. '' And just so you know ... I'm never giving it back.''  (eARC, Loc. 2901)

~Derek & Ashtyn

"He's my best friend, the one who taught me that I'm worthy of being loved."  (eARC, Loc. 3013)


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About Simone Elkeles:

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.


  1. I read this one a while ago but really liked it. I love Simone Elkeles but Perfect Chemistry is still my favorite :)

    1. The Perfect Chemistry series is one of our favorites too! Thanks for stopping by Nereyda ;)

  2. I liked this book, I really need to check out her other series.


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