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The Rules for Hearts (Battle Hall Davies #2)

3.61  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,161 Ratings  ·  66 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
Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 5th 2007 by Viking Books (first published 2007)
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Hannah Laine
Nov 11, 2009 Hannah Laine rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Oct 13, 2010 Ab rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-ness, queer-lit
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
Jan 07, 2010 Lauren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
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
Jun 02, 2012 Sally rated it liked it
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
Jan 01, 2011 Alicia rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Jan 10, 2016 Alarra rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, gblt, coming-of-age
Battle, a little older and just about to start at college, decides to move into her estranged brother Nick's share house for the summer, and learns a little more about life and the world and its people. Although ostensibly a sequel, it departs a fair way from Empress of the World, leaving nothing familiar for the reader but Battle. She's still a most likeable and sympathetic protagonist, but it's tough to see her care and hero worship Nick the way she does when we only ever see him being a lying ...more
Apr 09, 2009 Donna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 12, 2011 Caroline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtqia, young-adult
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
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
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
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 really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 27, 2015 Lydia rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-read, ya-lgbt
Battle Hall Davies is about to enter Reed College, but not before spending the summer with her brother Nick, who ran away from home four years before. Nick now lives in Portland with a group into Shakespearean theatre and has learned to survive on his own, no longer the brother she once knew.

This is one of the most inane pieces of writing I have encountered in quite some time. The plot is thin; the writing simplistic and dull. The story lacks any intrigue. The characters basically run away from
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
Jun 21, 2007 Zoe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 15, 2016 Vanellope rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So cute and really honest! It's easy to relate to Battle and feel everything she's feeling. And I'm pretty sure I missed Nic as much as she did. So yeah, good book!
Jan 04, 2008 Helen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kira Harp
Jan 29, 2012 Kira Harp rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 24, 2007 Angie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Certainly not as good as Empress, but if you don't compare it, it's actually a pretty fun and accurate portrayal of hipster culture.
Feb 21, 2015 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not as good as her other book, "Empress of the World." Like that Battle and Nick were reunited and she had closure with her brother.
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
Sep 06, 2011 Kristin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
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
Jan 07, 2008 Wendy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 26, 2007 A. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, young-adult, 2007
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
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
Yeewei Cheo
pleasant. I like how it ended
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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...

Other Books in the Series

Battle Hall Davies (2 books)
  • Empress of the World (Battle Hall Davies, #1)

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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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