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: Brightly Woven

Title: Brightly Woven 6580510

Author: Alexandra Bracken

Publisher: EgmontUSA

Publication Date: March 23, 2010

Summary: The day the rains came was like any other, blistering air coating the canyon in a heavy stillness….

Just as the rains come after ten long, dry years, a young wizard, Wayland North, appears, to whisk Sydelle Mirabil away from her desert village. North needs an assistant, and Sydelle is eager to see the country – and to join him on his quest to stop the war that surely will destroy her home. But North has secrets – about himself, about why he chose Sydelle, about his real reasons for the journey. What does he want from her? And why does North’s sworn enemy seem fascinated by Sydelle himself?

Through a journey that spans a country, magic and hard-won romance are woven together with precision and brilliant design by a first-time novelist.

 

 

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I am a huge fan of Alexandra Bracken’s Darkest Minds books and thought that I should probably read her first novel. And I’m really glad that I did. This was a really cute, adventurous, fun read that I found myself thoroughly enjoying.

Sydelle is living in a dry, dusty little village, where a drought has been going on for years. The day it starts raining, a young wizard, Wayland North, shows up in her village and whisks her away to travel arcoss the country in an attempt to stop a war. She isn’t sure why North takes her with him, but it soon becomes apparent that they need to stop the war that could destroy her land. But it becomes clear that while Sydelle isn’t a wizard, she might have some power of her own, power that several people seem very interested in using for their own gain.

Sydelle was a fairly likable character. She seemed whiny and over dramatic at times, but unlike most annoying, bitchy teenage girls, she actually had a good reason to be that way, and I found myself feeling sympathetic. She was basically sold off by her parents, taken away from her home only to watch it overrun and nearly destroyed, then forced to travel by foot across the country with a man she doesn’t even know, assaulted by other wizards and never getting any answers. I think she is entitled to a few tears. But, she was also very strong, laying down the law with North, being persistent and stubborn about her opinions. I loved how she was tough with North when she needed to be, but so soft and caring on the inside.

The real winner for this book was Wayland North. Snarky, adorable, stubborn Wayland North. I love that in this fairly short book, the author was able to create a complex character like this. North is both sweet and and bitter, stubborn and hopeless, kind and self destructive. I love that he is so tormented inside, by his pain and insecurities, but so funny and caring. For those of you that haven’t realized this by now, I have a weakness for snarky boys and North constantly had my giggling with his smart ass comments. The whole mystery surrounding him was so sad, I just wanted to pull him into a big hug, but I loved how Sydelle just took all of them in stride and tried to help him, tried to mend his poor broken soul with lovin’s.

I really liked that the romance kind of took a backseat with this. It was never overwhelming, I always felt like the plot came first and the romance felt natural and not forced. It was such a breathe of fresh air to see two characters working towards a goal, fighting through the challenges they ran into, falling in love as this all went on, instead of cheesy insta-love love being the main story line. Now, there were some sappy romance spots of course, but they were just sweet and never seemed out of place. Seriously, I NEED more Sydelle and North lovey time.

As for the plot, I really liked the interesting way that magic is used in this land, with their talismans and what all the different colors mean, it was fascinating and very effective in this story. The whole jinx situation was unexpected but I loved how it created so much conflict, but in the end, everyone came to turns with it. I’m being cryptic on purpose so I don’t spoil anything. I liked how all the wizards have to be ranked and how they are really the only ones that fight. The religion aspect of this story was interesting, seeing how Sydelle had so much blind faith in her goddess and the warring beliefs of the other country. Plus, the political intrigue was fun, just because everyone was plotting behind each others’ backs and trying to fuck each other over. Who doesn’t love a bit of good back stabbing?

The problems I had with this book was mostly that the writing was a little hollow and bland. This was Alexandra Bracken first novel, and I’ve definitely seen how she’s improved. It’s just an easy, simple read with a writing style that wasn’t anything extraordinary. This shows through in some of the one dimensional secondary characters and flat dialogue. On top of that, I wish there was so much more. I want to know more about the land and magic and the other countries and it just felt like there could have been so much more meat added on and it wouldn’t have made the book boring. I would call this a relaxing rainy day read.

Also, if Alexandra Bracken just so happens to read this, I NEED a sequel. Seriously, that ending was so unsatisfying and there was enough world building in this book that you could easily make a second one. I’m being haunted by thoughts of what happens after the end of this book. Just whip it out and publish it… For me.

RATING: