Review: Rebel Belle

Title: Rebel Belle (Rebel Belle #1) 8475505

Author: Rachel Hawkins

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile

Publication Date: April 8th, 2014

Summary: Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper’s destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can’t get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she’s charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper’s least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him—and discovers that David’s own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y’all beg for more.

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You might not know this about me, but I’m actually not a huge girly girl. I don’t really like pink, I don’t wear makeup, I wouldn’t dream of casually wearing heels, and I think beauty pageants are just ridiculous. Instead, I usually rock jeans and a nerdy t-shirt, spend my time reading fantasy books or gaming with my guy friends, and I swear worse than my sixteen year old brother. So just looking at this cover had me a little hesitant, and when I read the summary, I was ready to chuck this book in the fire. But, through the sheer power of will and the overwhelming fear of being murdered by my reader friends if I didn’t finish this book, I started the first page. And didn’t put the book down once. Yeah, you heard me. I busted this book in a few hours, finishing at about one in the morning, very alarmed to see it was that late because I hadn’t even noticed the time passing. I liked this book. I liked this book with it’s pink cover and perky heroine and silly dresses and lighthearted magic stuff. It was actually kind of… cute.

In Rebel Belle, we meet Harper, the sort of girl that I probably would have avoided in high school. She’s head of practically every club or leadership related thing in the school, she says cutesy little things instead of swear words, she spent over a thousand dollars on her Homecoming dress and she keeps her lips perfectly glossed at all times. Right off, I did not like Harper one bit. But as the pages flew by, she started to grow on me. Under that perfect, perky exterior, Harper had a tough, loyal, fun side to her that I adored. She ends up getting super Paladin powers from her janitor, and suddenly she can kick ass. Like, really kick ass. Like, she stabbed someone in the throat with her heel. Suddenly, girly shoes became a lot more interesting to me. She was fierce and strong and confident, and I love how self sufficient she was. This girl doesn’t need anyone, and I loved it. Harper actually had more layers than I expected, an unending arsenal of witty comebacks, and a whole lot of spunk.

Then we meet David, the boy that Harper is supposed to protect with her new-found powers. Because he may or may not be very very special. The only problem is, they absolutely despise each other. I mean, they hate each other with a fiery passion. David is the hipster guy that wears corduroy pants and writes stories for the school newspaper, occasionally pointing out bad things about Harper, which is unacceptable. But when they are forced to work together, she realizes that David might not be so bad after all. I adored David. Let’s just say that it takes a special kind of guy to deal with Harper. And he is such a cutie, I almost couldn’t handle it. Did I mention that he likes Doctor Who and Lord of the Rings and probably a plethora of other adorable nerdy things? Cue the wistful sighing. Anyways, David has some secrets of his own, but most importantly, under those layers of v-necks and striped sweaters, he has a big heart of gold.

One of the only problems I had with this book was the big fat love-triangle that was determined to drag itself out through the whole book. Harper of course, starts to deal with some questionable feelings about David, all while she is dating the most perfect boyfriend possible, Ryan. And Ryan is a good guy and a pretty awesome boyfriend, I’ll give him that. The things is, as far as love triangles go, this is probably the type that I find to be the most acceptable. Where the girl has a steady boyfriend then meets the new guy and starts to like him. That’s an okay thing to happen and a lot less annoying then two guys suddenly taking an interest in a girl and fighting to the death over her. No thanks. The problem in this book though was that it just went on and on. And I get that Harper has this weird thing with having to be the best and keeping things perfect, so possibly not liking her perfect boyfriend is scary and all, but she should have dropped him from like page one. Watching her run back and forth between the two of them got frustrating after like the first ten times it happened.

As far as the plot goes, it was really cutesy and fun. Rachel Hawkins really has a way of making her books just an enjoyable, lighthearted read while still making you care about the characters and I love it. Since I adored the characters and their interactions, it made the book a million times better. The only problem was that not a whole lot really happens. The beginning took right off with Harper getting her powers and killing a guy, then finding out what all she could do and a few things including a car chase. I mean, it was a great start and it really draws you in. But then, things start to slow down. Now I obviously loved this book and raced through it, but once I was done, there was kind of that moment where I looked back and realized not a whole lot actually happened. Most of the book is just character interaction and trying to solve a few mysteries and a few bad guys trying to do bad stuff, but not a whole lot besides that.

Also, the whole Paladin, while original, was a little lacking. I enjoyed it just because it was a new thing I’d never read about, but there just wasn’t really anything about it to make it unique or memorable. Basically, Harper being a Paladin just meant that she has super fighting skills now and a strong urge to protect David from harm. So while I did like the magic elements in this book, everything seemed kind of mashed together with no clear connection. We are given some back-story to the whole Paladin thing, but it wasn’t really a strong mythology and seemed a little discombobulated. But by the end of this book, it feels like there are still lots of things that Harper and David don’t know yet, so maybe we will get more explanations in the next book, and hopefully it can bring the mythology together a bit better.

The thing about this book though is that despite the few things that I didn’t like, I still had a great time reading this book. I was giggling and cheering and covering my eyes at the embarrassing parts. I loved Harper and David and their friends and the little Southern town they live in and all the people in it. This book is definitely a cutesy book, but it still won me over purely because it is so cute and fun. Honestly, if you have any girly bone in your body, something about this book will probably appeal to you, as long as you can deal with the few technical issues.

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Review: Sweet Peril

Title: Sweet Peril (The Sweet Trilogy #2) 15768191

Author: Wendy Higgins

Publisher: HarperTeen

Publication Date: April 30, 2013

Summary: Anna Whitt, the daughter of a guardian angel and a demon, promised herself she’d never do the work of her father—polluting souls. She’d been naive to make such a vow. She’d been naive about a lot of things.

Haunted by demon whisperers, Anna does whatever she can to survive, even if it means embracing her dark side and earning an unwanted reputation as her school’s party girl. Her life has never looked more bleak. And all the while there’s Kaidan Rowe, son of the Duke of Lust, plaguing her heart and mind.

When an unexpected lost message from the angels surfaces, Anna finds herself traveling the globe with Kopano, son of Wrath, in an attempt to gain support of fellow Nephilim and give them hope for the first time. It soon becomes clear that whatever freedoms Anna and the rest of the Neph are hoping to win will not be gained without a fight. Until then, Anna and Kaidan must put aside the issues between them, overcome the steamiest of temptations yet, and face the ultimate question: is loving someone worth risking their life?

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That’s right you guys, book two of The Sweet Trilogy. More of angel Anna and her relentless pursuit of Kai, the smoldering British lust bomb. More of that super awkward love triangle thing going on between the two of them and poor Kopano. More jealousy and cheating and all that wonderful high school drama that we’ve all come to love. Woo hoo.

In some ways, I actually liked this book more than Sweet Evil, and in some ways I liked it less. Something that I did like was seeing Anna kind of coming out of her shell a little bit. Don’t get me wrong, she was still sweet little Anna on the inside, but she was a bit more confident and sassy and fun on the outside and I liked that. In the first book, it didn’t seem like she was ever going to go through any sort of personal growth, but in this book, we at least get little hints of it. She still has internal struggles about being forced to do these things that she doesn’t want to do, being a party girl and drinking so much, but a small part of her still enjoys it and she doesn’t quite know how to handle that.

Another thing that I liked was seeing more of the other Nephilim. Anna and Kopano are going on a sort of quest around the world to try and gather allies in a fight that they know is coming, due to Anna potentially being some savior in an ancient prophecy. Yes, it is as cliche as it sounds. But it was cool to finally meet some new kids and see exactly how their powers work and how they use them to do naughty things. We get introduced to a daughter of the Duke of Hatred, which was really interesting and kind of sad to see how she used herself to make men hate her, then allowed herself to be punished for it. She was a really interesting character because she seemed entirely hopeless and resigned to her fate. We also get to spend a bit more time with Kopano, who I really liked but we didn’t get to see much of him in the last book, so it was interesting to see the contrast between him, a Nephilim who doesn’t have to work and is basically sin-free, and the other kids who are forced to do their parent’s work.

The main problem I had in this book was that there was the dreaded love triangle of death. As in, it kills any books it’s present in. The whole situation was pretty ridiculous just because everyone was beyond stupid and annoying. Kai would ignore Anna for months, tell Kopano to go for Anna because he doesn’t care, then get all jealous and bang other girls in revenge once Anna and Kopano kiss. Then innocent little Anna would get all smoochy with poor Kopano, knowing that she doesn’t like him in that way, then get all butt hurt when Kai turns to other girls to fill the gaping Anna-shaped hole in his heart. The only one that’s really not at fault is Kopano, who in turn gets the short end of the stick by having his friend mad at him and the girl he wants rejecting him. It’s all so aggravating.

I have to say though, something that I really like about these books is that the author isn’t afraid to talk about sex. These are YA books and most of what I read seem to stay within smooching and maybe a little tentative touching, or just very very implied sex. Which is totally fine, since it’s YA. But I really like that this author is not afraid to have teenagers talking about their sex lives, making sexual jokes, and other realistic things that peverted young men would talk about. And I like that Anna and Kai have to struggle with not having sex, since they are obviously attracted to each other and would go a little further than kissing. I guess I just admire Wendy Higgins by not really caring and writing some super steamy make out scenes where things are constantly on the edge of going to the next step.

As far as the plot went in this book, I found it more engaging than the first one, just because I was very intrigued by the other Nephilim that Anna and Kopano were trying to find. While I found the whole prophecy thing to be cliche, I am interested to see how everything goes down. I like it just because the idea that these kids are kind of screwed no matter what happens, since they are going to hell when they die no matter what, it seems so hopeless and kind of sad. But I like seeing them finding hope that they can be free of their parents and at least have a life worth living before they go to hell. While I’m not a huge fan of these books in general, I do really like that concept because it’s both bleak and hopeful at the same time.

I obviously enjoyed this book a bit more than the first one, so I have high hopes for Sweet Reckoning. And not to spoil anything, but I found the ending of this one to be ten times better than the last one, just because some things were resolved. I will say though, if there’s magically some more hot and cold crap going on in the next book between Anna and Kai, I’m going to pitch a fit. Sweet Peril was still and fun, easy read, but I enjoyed the darker undertones and new characters we got introduced to, and I’m excited to see the part everyone plays in the next book.

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