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text 2016-04-04 17:14
Once was a time
Once Was a Time - Leila Sales

by Leila Sales

age range: middle grade novel


Lottie Bromley and Kitty McLaughlinare are 10 years old, live in Bristol in 1940, and are best friends for ever. Lottie's father is a promising scientist working very hard to understand how time travel works. His research is specially important at this moment, since time travel could be such an important weapon during the war. And of course it can be dangerous too. Kitty, Lottie and her father confirm this when they are kidnapped by Nazi officers who are sure Mr. Bromley has revealed time travel's secret. Just when Lottie and Kitty are going to be shot by the Nazi officers, something absolutely incredible happens, Lottie sees a portal. She knows she is the only one who noticed it, and she has to decide what to do. There's not enough time to take Kitty with her. Lottie decides to go trough the portal, and ends in Sutton, Wisconsin, 2013.

A new huge challenge begins for her. She has to adapt to a new life, accept the idea she has lost her family and friends for ever, and live with the guilt of having left her best friend behind. She knows all of these are the consequences of her decision of going through the portal, but there's only one thing she is not going to give up. She will find Kitty. This plan is brought to a completely new level when a card from Kitty reaches Lottie's hands. She will find her friend even if that means travel to a different time and place.


This story has action and heart warming moments. Although time travel is a component, it is not the most important of them. That's the reason I'm not labeling it as science fiction. I think the author uses time travel as an excuse to tell a beautiful story about friendship, perseverance and the difficulties of adapt to a new situation after a life changing event.

The characters are well traced, and both, Lottie and Kitty, are really easy to relate with. The plot is smartly weaved. Along the book I found many thing that look like inconsistencies, but everything comes to place at the end.


And talking about the end, it deserves its own paragraph. I would say it is a happy end, but the bittersweet-happy ending type. They exist. Believe me. :) It's a hard task to explain this without giving away spoilers. Let's say it is not the "everything-is-perfect-now" type of ending, but it's a consistent and surprising end, which makes perfect sense with the whole story.


In the overall a great middle grade novel. It's my first book by this author. I know her previous novels are YA, so probably won't read them (I'm a bad YA reader, sorry), but I'd be interested in future middle grade novels by Sales. And again, don't let the time travel stuff prevent you form picking this story. It's not a science fiction book.


I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2015-10-31 18:49
This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
This Song Will Save Your Life - Leila Sales

I really enjoyed this YA contemporary. It was light, fun and full of a great mix of characters, not to mention the fact that it helped reawaken my love for music.


The story is told from the P.O.V of Elise, a smart and funny sixteen year-old who is trying her hardest to become popular at school. She’s sick of constantly wandering the halls of her high school on her own and wants friends to share her school days with. When we meet her she’s studying-up on all things mainstream, like fashion and pop-culture. She hopes that if she learns all this stuff she’ll finally be able to join in with her peers. In actuality Elise hates all things mainstream and would far rather be hanging out in her grungy clothes, listening to the Muse. Elise’s dislike of all things mainstream is one of the reasons I liked her. I’m not one for anything mainstream myself and would much rather be listening to some metal with big chunky riffs and blistering guitar solos. You’ll never catch me in a pair of heels either, for that matter! Screw style, I go for comfort! It’s easy for me to say these things though, I’m not stuck in the drudgery of school life like Elise is. She just wants the loneliness to stop and is prepared to sacrifice who she really is to make it so.I don’t want to give too much of the story away so I’ll just say that things don’t quite work out like Elise had planned, but she accidentally stumbles on something even better.


For such a short book, a lot was covered. A lot of issues were touched upon, such as loneliness, bullying, love, but the central issue was identity and how self-abandonment is so often pursued, but ultimately results in an inauthentic life. So many of us are uncomfortable in our own skin and strive towards something we’re not just to fit in. What this showed is that once we accept who we are, life becomes infinitely easier and more fun.


I would have loved it if this went into a little more depth and expanded on some themes. A little less directness would also have been appreciated as, at times, it felt like things were being shoved in the readers face. I guess what I’m trying to say is a bit more show rather than tell would have been good. Another great choice, though, if you want something light.

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review 2015-10-10 01:32
This Song Will Save Your Life
This Song Will Save Your Life - Leila Sales

I think the most amazing thing about this book is how many personal stories it's inspired to be written by reviewers on GR and Booklikes. It's just as heartbreakingly realistic as I thought it would be, and although I wasn't a bullied kid in school, I think the story of trying to find your identity, of trying all your life to follow the rules only to find out that the key to life is making your own rules, is about the closest to a universal human experience anything can possibly get.

Sometimes, in spite of all my bookish tendencies, I forget why I even read in the first place. Then I realize that I don't really have to search that hard, because any story, if it's well and authentically told, has the power to resonate with many different types of people regardless of what your literary preferences are. This is one of those books.

Other than that, I think everything that could possibly be said about this book has already been said.

Ok, apparently not! One criticism I've seen for this book is Elise's hypocrisy as a first person narrator. Personally, I saw that as what happens when there is too much of a disparity between the way others perceive you and the way you perceive yourself. The knowledge of knowing deep down that you're a worthwhile human being, conflicting with the environment that's constantly trying to tear you down. Of course Elise is going to look down on her schoolmates even as she craves her acceptance, because that's how the zero-sum games of school environments tend to work. There's no room to realize who you are until you find that room for yourself. And Elise does, ultimately in a way I think is pretty realistic and inspiring as coming-of-age stories go...

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review 2015-09-16 16:52
Review: Tonight The Streets Are Ours
Tonight the Streets Are Ours - Leila Sales

I received a copy from Netgalley.

I really don't know what to make of this one. On the one hand, I simply loved the main character. And the writing is done in such a brilliant way it so easy to identify with Arden and understand where she's coming from. However, the whole randomly deciding to track down some random guy who's blog you love. I just can't get my head around that at all.

Never, ever, under any circumstances is it okay to just randomly show up at someone's place of work or home because you found their blog! Even if you loved the blog, and like the person who writes it...it's still creepy! You like the blog? Email the blogger, tweet them. Start a dialogue. Don't just show up because you decide they need you!

Rant over, for the most part, this was a pretty damn good book.

Arden is a fairly average teenager with a nice boyfriend, she's a good student, has nice friends, though her best friend is something of a wild child and it's Arden who often picks up the messes. Starting off with a suspension for her BFF's drugs found stashed in Arden's locker. Arden takes the blame because she knows bad things will happen to her friend who's already been in a lot of trouble. Arden's level of loyalty is sweet, but ridiculous at the same time.

She's the girl who's always there, always reliable. The sensible one, the smart one who listens to everyone else's needs but when she needs people, they rarely seem to listen to her. Which leads her to the discovery of Peter and his blog, Tonight The Streets Are Ours. Peter seems like nice guy, works in a bookshop, in love with a beautiful unattainable girl. Jock for a best friend, family drama.

Arden is hooked. At its easy to see why she gets so fascinated by Peter's blog. Peter's words are fun, he's intelligent. She identifies with his trouble. Arden has her own boyfriend, drama club star, Chris. Though they've been together for a while, he's nice enough, but seems obsessed with his theater stuff. So it's not surprising when Arden is captivated by Peter.

When Chris blows off their anniversary, Arden is moping with BFF Lindsay, and at the same time reading Peter's blog, she decides Peter is just like her...the giver who never gets the love he deserves. So she and Lindsay go to find him. Just like that.

I don't get it. I really don't. For the most part, the writing i s captivating and the story is pretty gripping, even becoming attached to Peter's blog. But the going to find him was where I started...not loving the book less really. I just don't. Get. Why. Anyone. Would. Do. That!

Of course when Arden arrives in New York where Peter lives, nothing is what it seems. She has a crazy night of fun, but not without its drama. Ugly truths comes out and Arden finally explodes and lets out what she's been holding back. Drama with Lindsay, trouble at home...it all comes pouring out. Peter is not the sweet quirky guy she thought he was.

Though things are wrapped up, its not exactly in a romantic way. Its again, sweet, but oddly, believable and easy to understand why it happened that way. Truths come out and things are finally out in the open to be dealt with. Arden's character growth is pretty amazing.

So while I may not have got some of the plot, I did really love Arden. While I didn't like all the characters, I think they worked extremely well for the way the story was told.

Thank you to Netgalley and Pan Macmillan for approving my request to view the title.

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review 2015-09-05 13:38
Tonight the Streets Are Ours - Leila Sales

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

Confession: I never read This Song Will Save Your Life, so I had no idea what to expect when I read this book. Let me tell you, the hype surrounded Leila Sales is not a lie. She is a fantastic writer and also a fantastic story teller.

For starters, this book features a main character who is a person of color. YAY! I adored the diverse set of characters but my favorte part about the characterization was that none of the characters were casted as the 'bad guy'.With the kind of situation Arden was in, it would be so easy to make someone the villain of her story so that she could be the hero but Sales never did that. People make mistakes, things happen, but that doesn’t always make people despicable. Even Arden, the main character, isn’t perfect. She makes mistakes and sometimes she doesn’t always see what is right there.

Arden feels under appreciated. She feels like she always supports her friends and boyfriend but no one wants to be there for her. She is tired and fed up of feeling this way and when she discovers a blog called Tonight the Streets are Ours, she feels like someone finally understands.

This book could probably be classified as a coming of age story because this book primarily deals with Arden’s growth. Arden’s development over the course of the book was a joy to read. She is a realistic, relatable character that you cannot help but cheer for.

Is this book perfect? No. Sometimes Arden did bother me (even though she was realistically portrayed) and there were some things that never added up, but I still managed to enjoy the book and  loved the way things wrapped up.

Fair warning though, don’t pay attention to the blurb. The blurb is basically a spoiler. Arden doesn’t go to New York until the second half of the book and while her time in New York is a major catalyst for various realizations about herself, a lot of this book focuses on Arden’s initial struggle and those aren’t explored in New York but rather resolved.  I would have liked if more of the book took place in New York, especially since that is what I went in expecting. I felt like there was all this built up to her trip to New York and not much happened there (in terms of actual physical events.)

At the end of the day though, this was a fantastic read and I think there is much to be learned from Arden’s struggle.  Her story was beautifully told and I absolutely adored getting to be a part of it for the 300 pages or so. This is a book I wouldn’t fail to recommend for someone looking for a thought provoking coming of age tale.


Note that I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review

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