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The Rules for Hearts (Battle Hall Davies, #2)
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The Rules for Hearts (Battle Hall Davies #2)

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3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  946 ratings  ·  58 reviews
Battle Hall Davies is sure of some things: she's going to Reed; she loves girls; and her older brother, Nick, is cooler than she could ever be. Nick ran away when Battle was in high school, and four years later, he's tracked her down. Now she's spending her summer before college in Forest House, the co-op where he lives in Portland. Battle is quickly swept into Forest Hous ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published April 5th 2007 by Viking Juvenile (first published 2007)
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Best YA Fiction with GLBTQQI themes / characters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,876)
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Hannah Laine
I was really looking forward to this book as a continuation of Battle and Nic's relationship.
With the end of summer camp and Battle's return to her parent's home I was hoping to see some sort of resolution for her relationship with Nic but instead we got an entirely new story that barely mentioned Nicola.
If I hadn't read the first book I would have almost never guessed that EoTW and TRFH were in anyways connected.
This book was quite a disappointment.
Mike
I can't say I'm surprised that I didn't like this. It was an unnecessary sequel to Empress of the World, a book that I was a little shaky about already. I had enjoyed it enough to give it a four-star rating, don't get me wrong, but as an LGBT novel published in 2001, it broke a lot of ground just by being honest, and I predicted that this book, unable to break ground in the same way, would end up being pretty boring.

Turns out, I was basically right. Man, was this book dull. Empress of the World
...more
Ab
After the first book by Sara Ryan, this book was disappointing. Battle is the angsty character, full of drama and not talking about anything she is pissed about, and she's frankly, sort of dull. So this book is from her P.O.V. and all about her summer before college, reconnecting with her slacker-of-a-brother, following him around like a puppy dog, even when he kicks her away; jumping in and out of bed with a woman who constantly tells Battle she's not really interested a whole lot, and that Bat ...more
Lauren
I read this book without having read its predecessor, Empress of the World. I'll have to go back and read that when I get a chance. The Rules for Hearts was a quick read, but the plot and characters haven't really stayed with me. I'm generally a fan of "quiet novels," but this one just didn't have enough meat in terms of character evolution and interesting language.

I did like, though, that the setting was something I hadn't seen in YA before. Main character Battle is a high school graduate, livi
...more
Sally
I did like this more than Empress of the World, not that that's really saying much because I wasn't exactly in love with that book either. Overall, I guess just not my sort of thing and not really my types of characters. I didn't like Battle much, but I think I was partially biased against her because her name is "Battle". Her brother's name by the way is just Nick. I feel irrationally annoyed and like I need a shelf for blatant Mary-Sueisms or something. I'd probably have been a lot more fond o ...more
Alicia
It tried to hard to be quirky, offbeat like the way Francesca Lia Block does it effortlessly. I think I was looking for more, I had high expectations because the cover was pretty, the subtitle was "a family drama", but there just wasn't much substance. A group of misfits living in a "forest" acting in local theater. Now, Battle is back with her brother who she thought the world of and who walked out on their family about five years before. Battle discovers he's not all he's cracked up to be and ...more
Kate
I enjoyed "The Rules for Hearts" quite a bit; right up until the end. The story lacks a real resolution, and I always find that frustrating.

I have to admit that Battle isn't my favorite character; I can't really empathize with the way that she almost never stands up for herself. The passive aggressive attitude, especially towards her brother, is aggravating.

Most likely would not read it again.
Donna
Apr 09, 2009 Donna rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: teens
While this book features a lesbian character in her late teens, its really a book about her dealing with her dysfunctional brother. Overall, the book takes WAY to long to decide what direction its going, and like the main character, the reader has to hang out with her brother's roommates until then.
Holly Rayl
Interesting sequel to Empress from Battle's point of view. More of a sequence of events than a real story, but not unenjoyable.
Caroline
Even though the book isn't a sequel strictly speaking (you can read this one without having read Empress Of The World), it is still set after Empress Of The World so I will try to keep the spoilers at bay, but be warned!

Battle has finished high school and the summer before going to college she goes to Portland to live in the cooperative house with her brother Nick. Nick left his parents' home at 16 and never gave any news to them, but he kept a bit contact with Battle. Battle loves her brother
...more
Amanda Macnaughton
The publisher summary for this book is a little misleading. It's not ABOUT the main character being a lesbian. In fact, people's sexual orientations are almost entirely irrelevant in this book. It's perfectly matter-of-fact that Battle likes girls and her brother Nick is bi. The real story here is the family drama of Battle and Nick, and the drama of their communal life in the theater-focused Forest House. I really enjoyed Sara Ryan's writing, and it didn't hurt that the book is set in Portland, ...more
Christina
SOME SPOILERS:
One thing I like about Ryan in both this the previous book is that Ryan hands sexuality as a very un-crazy thing. It's nice to have it be a factor within a YA book but not the defining factor. However, in Rules for Hearts, I actually thought there were some aspects of sexuality that should have been addressed because, sure, it may not be defining, but we can still have conversations about it. I'm referring specifically to the brother's storyline for this book.

I was also thrown a
...more
Zoe
Jul 10, 2014 Zoe added it
After reading Empress of the World I was expecting something more from The Rules for Hearts. Initially I was disappointed that there wasn't the same narrator analysis of character thoughts and feelings. But after a while I was glad that style wasn't rehashed. Battle doesn't talk about her thoughts and feelings. She observes and internalises what she's thinking. This book is very much a story told by Battle, using her voice.
Sarah Sammis
Dec 31, 2012 Sarah Sammis rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Sarah by: Bookshelves of Doom
The Rules for Hearts by Sara Ryan is the sequel to Empress of the World. It's not, though, a continuation of the summer romance between Nic and Battle. Rather, this is Battle's story of reuniting with her brother.

Battle has moved to Oregon to attend college. She has moved in with her brother and his thespian roommates. As the youngest and newest house member, she is the third wheel.

Like Empress of the World, the chapters are rather episodic — one challenge after another for Battle to face as she
...more
Paige [eastIndies.]
A good read, a quick story in between required books for AEGIS and mangas here and there. As a companion to Empress, I did enjoy seeing Battle's side of things. But I enjoyed Empress much more as a whole. I don't feel like the relationship issues with Meryl were concluded in this book. Maybe that was Ryan's point but usually when things are concluded in a book, it kind of turns me off from them. While I still appreciate certain aspects of this book, that was one thing I didn't necessarily think ...more
Zoe
Jun 21, 2007 Zoe rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: YA fiction readers, queers, Portlanders, Reedies
Shelves: 2007books
I was lucky enough to have lunch with Sara Ryan today so I could shower her with praise for her latest novel, The Rules for Hearts. Battle Davies drives across the country the summer before her freshman year of college to live with her brother, Nick, whom she hasn't seen in years. Ryan covers a lot of ground with this story, addressing issues ranging from romantic versus sexual love to teenager/adult friendships. Her writing is authentic and sentimental without being sappy and her treatment of ...more
Helen
I liked the main character's name: Battle Hall Davies. It's a good, strong name.

Was it this book with the annoying symbolism? I read three books one right after another, and now I can't recall. I think it was. So I will ignore the annoying symbolism.

Another unusual(ish) YA story in that the characters were not all obsessing about some upcoming school dance or the latest trends. I suppose the general themes of the book are not that unusual, but it was a change from all the Gossip Girl books I jus
...more
Kira Harp
A story of siblings and self-discovery, with a cast of interesting characters and unexpected twists. The narrator, Battle, is a believable and sympathetic teen girl who is out on her own for the first time. The book describes her summer before college, discovering what it means to be adult, learning to deal with a relationship with a girl who is not as uncomplicated or as sweet as Nic was in Empress of the World, and trying to try to track down the truths about the magnetic, conflicted and elusi ...more
Angie
Aug 24, 2007 Angie rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: teens
Shelves: teen
The main character, Battle Hall Davies, goes to to live with her brother, who she hasn't seen in four years, for the summer in a boarding house in Portland, OR. While there, she becomes involved in a play with the other house members, explores her sexuality and herself and finds out some family secrets.
I liked how homosexuality and bi-sexuality was a theme but the author didn't beat the reader over the head with it.
I enjoyed the tone of the writing all the way through. It was an enjoyable read
...more
Heatherblakely
This came really, really close to getting a four. The only reason it didn't was because most of my fours have had slightly more complicated stories. It's been a while since I read Empress of the World, but I vaguely remember taking Nic's side and not really liking Battle, so hearing her voice was interesting. I liked that this book was a companion book rather than a sequel; it takes place the summer after Empress of the World, but could easily be a stand alone book. The story was simple and cute ...more
Kristin
I read this book because the storyline sounded OK and it had a glowing green M for "mature" on the side of the library copy. After reading the book, I'm unclear why it deserved the M. Was it because there was both a lesbian and a gay relationship? Neither really seemed all that detailed. Was it the brother, Nick and his unpaid bills? A bit of drugs? I'm unsure. Books that DID and do deserve the M are "Jude" and "Split" ... particularly "Split" which did not have an M at all. Both of which I woul ...more
Wendy
To my surprise, I think I actually liked this better than EMPRESS OF THE WORLD. I thought the writing was smoother, and all the characters were more "real".

I can't decide if it's a bit derivative of GREENSLEEVES by Eloise Jarvis McGraw, or maybe a conscious homage/updating; it seems pretty likely that Ryan (being a Portland librarian) is familiar with GREENSLEEVES.

The only major issue I had was that I thought Battle came off more comfortable with sex than she really would be at that age (and aft
...more
A.
Sadly, this was disappointing -- I adore Empress Of The World, and I hoped this would live up to what that built, but it didn't -- the ending was especially disappointing, since it was even beyond abrupt. There wasn't any real climax to the book, and it sort of just slipped into being over. I love Battle Davies, as a character, and I was excited to get to know more about her, but I didn't feel like this told me anything I didn't know, and it actually left me with more unanswered questions than ...more
Schmerica
Good, but really unsatisfying. Stopping rather than ending, a climax without any climax, all that sort of thing.

Also, I have to admit, I get really excited when I start reading books set in Portland, because -- Oregon! Whee! I've been there! But even those this took place in Portland, it was disappointingly Generic Urban Setting #3. There was nothing that felt like Portland, or Oregon, or the Pacific Northwest. (Although, there was one local landmark thing featured that I could go I'VE BEEN THE
...more
Nick Fagerlund
Further adventures of Battle from The Empress of the World. I think I liked this one quite a bit better -- Battle is a better narrator than Nic, probably because she's terse by nature and not super-aware of what's going on in her own head.

Anyway, a likable and kind of refreshing book; very character-driven, and a good example of plenty of story with almost no plot. It was just what I was looking for when I read it, whenever that actually was.
Amandasueee Trujillo
About a year and a half ago I had read empress of the world and enjoyed it very much. So when I came across this book I was glad to be able to read it, but through out the story I Kept wondering when it was going to get better. Not that I did not completely enjoy it but I was not exactly happy with it. It never really had the reason why nick left home or anything like that so the only explanation I had for my self was that maybe nick left because he had relized he was bi and felt that his parent ...more
Kendra saunders
Not entirely sure what to write about this one.
I guess I did enjoy the book to a certain extent, it just sort of felt like it was trying to be emotional and deep but just not reaching that for me. I liked the characters but just not enough to care what happened to them in the end (which did seem to be a little rushed (the ending I mean)).
Not my favourite but definitely not a bad book.
Melody
Nicely plotted, however I found it a little tough to keep the multitudinous cast of secondary characters straight in my head without flipping back. There are some interesting things missing from this book, and their absence makes the whole stronger, I think. Explores relationships and trust in looping, meandering curves. Set in Portland, so it was also fun to try to pick out places I knew.
Robin
Not as good as Empress of the World. The characters are not as likeable, especially Battle's love interest, Meryl. A lot of the book deals with the characters getting ready for a Shakespearean Play, which is kinda boring. Ehh, It's an ok book, but I wasn't as interested in the plot, like I was in her first book. Although, if she did write another sequel I would definitely read it.
Ann
Kind of a yawner with less heart than Empress of the World. Didn't feel strongly connected to the characters. Ryan is still a talented writer but didn't connect with the reader in this effort. Disappointing companion novel. For a more engaging story of gambling, family, and - shall we say "progressive multigenerational households" - try Beginner's Luck by Laura Pederson.
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I write books and comics for teens and others. Reviews and star ratings make me anxious, but I'm reporting what I read here. I also have a couple of tumblrs: ryansara and badhousescomic.
More about Sara Ryan...
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“I know I have to stop. We all have to stop. Funny how knowing something's a bad idea doesn't make a difference.” 20 likes
“So now she and I are friends - not with benefits, but memories.” 18 likes
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