Tag Archives: Leila Sales

Past Perfect – Leila Sales

Past Perfect – Leila SalesTitle: Past Perfect by Leila Sales
Publishing Info: May 1, 2012 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Estelle
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: July 11, 2014
Related Posts: This Song Will Save Your Life

   All Chelsea wants to do this summer is hang out with her best friend, hone her talents as an ice cream connoisseur, and finally get over Ezra, the boy who broke her heart. But when Chelsea shows up for her summer job at Essex Historical Colonial Village (yes, really), it turns out Ezra’s working there too. Which makes moving on and forgetting Ezra a lot more complicated…even when Chelsea starts falling for someone new.
Maybe Chelsea should have known better than to think that a historical reenactment village could help her escape her past. But with Ezra all too present, and her new crush seeming all too off limits, all Chelsea knows is that she’s got a lot to figure out about love. Because those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it…


I had my eye on PAST PERFECT for a while so I was so excited with Estelle from Rather Be Reading got it for me as a Secret Santa gift this past Christmas! I knew I wanted to read it at the right time and I started it on the 4th of July when I was looking for a cute summery book and lo and behold, there’s a whole 4th of July chapter so that just worked perfectly!

PAST PERFECT was an excellent book. It follows the story of Chelsea during the summer before her senior year of high school working at the local historical reenactment village… mainly because her parents work there and that’s pretty much always been her summer job (even before she was technically allowed to work). I just loved the historical reenactment angle of the book. I mean, how original is that!? It was so much fun to read about too, especially when sabotage with anachronisms started to pop up!

The atmosphere of the book was really one of my favorite things about it. I’ve actually visited a historical reenactment village with my family on vacation but I was also about… seven years old or so (pictures below!) so I had a bit of a past connection to the setting (not like I remember a LOT of it but knowing I was somewhere like that was cute) and it was just so much fun to experience. I could really picture myself in the story and I could picture the characters there. The overall feel just felt so real and genuine.



The romance was JUST ADORABLE and the forbidden romance is another one of my favorites. Once the rival reenactment village is introduced, don’t you just KNOW that the love interest will be one of those guys. (And also, colonial versus Civil War. I just love it.) I just loved the way the romance developed and unfolded. The two characters had great chemistry and I couldn’t wait for them to finally get together.

I also really connected a lot to Chelsea and her boy situation. She ends up working at the historical village again after deciding specifically not to because her best friend really wants to and Chelsea’s ex-boyfriend also happens to end up working there too… High school drama abound! I could relate to Chelsea though. She wasn’t head over heels for her ex but after the relationship is ended and on less than favorable terms, Chelsea had a hard time letting it go. I could totally understand where she’s coming from too. I’ve had a few crushes gone bad that totally seemed like I lost something huge when things didn’t work out but after a different perspective from friends and giving it some time, I could tell that it just wasn’t meant to be and was never that amazing in the first place.

Basically PAST PERFECT was adorable. I had so much fun reading it and I really made a connection with the characters and the setting. I was surprised that it actually had some really great analogies that led to some really fantastic messages and lessons. I absolutely loved the ending and how everything wrapped up so well.


I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

Screen Shot 2014-08-02 at 8.41.45 PM


Chelsea // Character Obsessions: Ezra, historical accuracy.
Chelsea was a really fun many character! She felt like a normal girl despite her quirky job and I really felt like I understood her on so many different levels. She just felt like a normal teenager with her teenage woes and it was really great to see her have a few revelations thoughout the course of the book. She really matured a lot by the end.
Dan // Character Obsessions: The Civil War, family.
Dan was the perfect love interest. He was cute, awkward, funny, and of course… the enemy! But whereas some of the kids took their roles within their communities really seriously, Dan didn’t as much. It was still important for him to do his job well but when it came to real life or the war, he chose real life and other kids got caught up in their war games. I really liked him a lot. He did do one thing where I was like, “That’s super duper NOT cool” but I guess for the sake of the overall picture, I can overlook that.


Kept Me Hooked On: Historical elements. I had so much fun with the reenactment aspect of this book! It was so much fun to see the characters working there and the “behind-the-scenes” part of it as well! Not always as glamorous as it seems, either!
Left Me Wanting More: Family moments. The only thing I really wanted more of was probably a better family connection. Chelsea seems to really not like her dad and find him mostly annoying. I guess not all kids will love their parents and they do have a really nice heart-to-heart at the end of the book, but sometimes it felt a bit harsh the way she described her dad.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This was such a fun book with so many original elements too. It was perfect for summer but really is cute for any time of the year! Thanks to Estelle for the gift and I hope other people enjoy this one as well!



(Click the cover to see my review!)

 The Chapel Wars Lindsey Leavitt    The Trouble With Flirting

This Song Will Save Your Life – Leila Sales

This Song Will Save Your Life – Leila SalesTitle: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
Publishing Info: September 17, 2013 by Macmillan
Source: BEA 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Music, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: March 2, 2014
Related Posts: Past Perfect

Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.
    Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, Leila Sales' THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.


I feel like I’ve been finally catching up with a lot of books that have received a lot of hype lately and THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE was definitely one of them. I picked up the ARC at BEA, having Leila Sales sign my copy, confident that I would fall in love with the book and this would be one I wanted to keep. Then with all of the hype about the book, praising how honest and amazing it was, my confidence didn’t wane, but the hype did start to allow doubt to set in just a tiiiiiny bit considering my recent track record.

Well, the good news is that I definitely still enjoyed it! Right from the beginning, I connected with Elsie, who has always felt like an outsider in her own life. She’s never been good at making friends, has never been the popular one, and somehow even after trying, she still doesn’t manage to fit in with really anyone at all. I felt so bad for her and just couldn’t grasp what exactly was wrong with every single kid at her school and why Elise couldn’t manage to get in good with anyone. In a way, I totally related to her. I wasn’t ever one of the popular girls in middle school (or high school, but I had stopped caring by then) and in a class of only twenty-four kids for pre-school through eighth grade, it was glaringly obvious when you weren’t a part of the “in” crowd and that was something I struggled with for a long time. That fact alone allowed me to connect with Elsie on many levels so I really appreciated that character connection and directly tapping in to my personal experiences.

I finished THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE in two days. I almost finished it in one afternoon but you know… Life got in the way. Anyway, I was utterly captivated and reading about Elsie’s story was both incredibly interesting and heartbreaking… But unfortunately for me, this just wasn’t a book that really stuck with me. I was totally sucked in as I was reading but only those pivotal moments in the beginning of the book really stuck with me after I finished and sitting here writing my review weeks later, I don’t feel the magic with me still that many other fans of the book did.

I think my lack of feelings towards the book may be because I didn’t connect with the rest of it as much. You see, Elise falls in love with a DJ but more so, she falls in love with DJing. It’s something she never even considered doing but she does love music and once she starts this new craft, she completely throws herself into it, determined to be the best she can be. I certainly know a thing or two about that having spent much of my time in high school perfecting the crafts that I could. I absolutely loved how much Elise loved music and I also loved the music featured and the bands that were named dropped (I even begged Twitter to let me know if there was a playlist. There is!!), but I just didn’t connect with the whole underground club scene and I wasn’t a huge fan of Elise’s new friends that she met there. I didn’t dislike them, but I wasn’t a huge fan of Pippa and the whole quasi-triangle thing between Elise, Char, and Pippa. I didn’t have major issues while I was reading, but it seems like the more things I think about as I review, the more things I notice that I just didn’t quite connect with.

I loved the message that this book sends and I absolutely could have used a book like this when I was in junior high or high school. I went through so many of the same things that Elise did — maybe not as extreme, but I had plenty of friend issues and especially in junior high, the constant wonder of the arbitrary system of who’s popular and who isn’t — and I think it’s definitely an important read if you’ve gone through anything like this (chances are, you have). I really loved how the book wrapped up and seeing Elise go through so many personal changes and revelations. For me, I think the hype monster did get me just a little bit. It’s hard to go into a book when everyone else raves about it and while I did enjoy it a lot, I’m not sure it’s sky-rocketed to a favorite for me.

I love how this book made me think back on my own history and it sort of brought a personal peace. I’ve already made peace with these things a while ago, but it’s always nice to have that reassurance that being popular or having a ton of friends doesn’t necessarily equal personal success. It’s about the quality of friends. The importance of family. The level of enjoyment you allow yourself to have in life. Most of all, THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE tells us all that be whoever you are, no matter who that person is. Your dreams are so much easier to follow when you’re true to yourself and life is just so much more fulfilling that way.


“The View from Goodreads” is a new featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!


Ew, typo in the first status update. Guess I was just too excited! Also, where was this supposed to take place? There was a mention of the Illinois fair but no such town exists in IL. HMMM.


Elise // Character Obsessions: Music, researching popularity, DJing.
I felt so bad for Elise, mostly because I had been in her shoes. I feel like so many people, especially girls, can relate to Elise’s experiences. Sometimes it’s hard not to be popular or to have a lot of friends and for Elise, it wasn’t almost more scientific at times than actually a strong desire to be popular. Elise just didn’t want to be alone anymore. Didn’t want to be made fun of. Her story was heartbreaking and yet uplifting and I really loved seeing her go through the various changes and the road of self-discovery throughout the book.
Char // Character Obsessions: Music, DJing, girls.
Char was… confusing. It was hard for me to really understand him and I think that was the point. I was always worried for Elise and what her relationship with him might become and I was afraid of his potential to hurt her. I actually ended up disliking him a lot, if we’re just being honest here, and I was very protective of Elise whenever he was in the picture! I am happy for his willingness to teach her how to DJ though.


Kept Me Hooked On: The unexpected. Who would expect a book about a teenage DJ to be such a success? I love how the readers were introduced to something so extraordinary and uncommon and making it something amazing. I loved that the book wasn’t entirely smashed in the city too. Elise lives a suburban life… And yet somehow ends up in this hidden underground world of music, dancing, and nightlife.
Left Me Wanting More: Emotion. Oh, there were plenty of things to be emotional about in this book, but I felt like Elise herself was more calculating and scientific about things at times than emotional. I think I always connect with a more emotional side because I’m really able to just lose myself.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This is definitely a book that even though it didn’t end up as a total favorite, I’d still recommend to everyone to read. It’s an important journey regarding self-worth, family, friendships, and following your dreams. I think most of us have gone through was Elise did in one degree or another and it’s definitely something that helped me reflect on my own past and come to a certain peace about how things went down in junior high and high school, even more so than I thought I already had.


(Click the cover to see my review!)

        Confessions of an Angry Girl       Wild Awake