Past Perfect

Past Perfect by Leila SalesPast Perfect by Leila Sales
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Number of pages: 322
My copy: ebook review copy from Galley Grab

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….

* * *

Oh how this cover lies. This cover has absolutely nothing to do with the story, no matter how cute it looks. I know covers are really for sales, and I may be able to forgive this if the book gets more sales because of the cover. Still, I can’t see any connection.

But anyway, in Past Perfect, Chelsea is stuck in the past — literally and figuratively. Chelsea is back to work for the summer in the Essex Historical Colonial Village, where she dresses up as a colonial woman named Elizabeth Connelly, and it was really the last place she wanted to be. She wanted to get out even more when she finds that her ex-boyfriend and first love, Ezra, is also working in Essex. And she’s far from getting over him. But when Chelsea falls for a guy from the Civil War Reenactmentland next door who has been at war with Essex for as long as they can remember, it makes Chelsea’s summer a little more complicated than what she expected.

Past Perfect is my first Leila Sales read, but I’ve been curious about her other book, Mostly Good Girls, because of the good reviews it has been getting. I was really glad that Galley Grab had this up in their list. :) I love that the book is set in a historical village — I’m not too fond of history back in school, but if I had the chance to visit places like this, I probably would like it a lot more! I’m not sure if we have a historical village here in the Philippines. I think the closest we have of one is in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, but I don’t think it’s even close to what Chelsea had at Essex.

Chelsea is a real darling in this novel, and she’s someone I would like to be friends with. She’s funny, witty and honest — far from perfect as she makes some pretty stupid decisions in the book, but all in good faith and she learned from it in the end. I liked how even if she didn’t really like working in Essex, she still considers her friends there as family, at least even for the summer. I wasn’t able to get any summer jobs when I was in school because summer was really just for lazing around or attending YFC activities, but I also do know the feeling of having a “summer family”. I also really liked Fiona, Chelsea’s best friend. She seems like a really good friend and one of those who will definitely have your back even if she seems flighty at first. The supporting characters were also quite stellar, and I think the thing that made them so fun was the war. I don’t think I could ever be a part of a war like that. I have no competitive bone in my body. I loved reading about the strategies and the intimidation and such, though. :D

I also liked how the idea of moving on is tackled in this book. It’s true: sometimes we tend to idolize certain experiences or people because they’re the only things we can hold onto when it’s all over, but when you really think about it, these moments in history aren’t always the shining, shimmering, splendid moments we thought they were. We tend to wear rose-colored glasses over some things and people, and when it’s time to move on, we need to remove it and see things as they really are and not as what we want it. I liked how this lesson was juxtaposed with the actual historical setting that the characters worked in. It made what Chelsea learned more resonant somehow.

I didn’t exactly fall head over heels in love with this book, because the “I could relate to this!” factor was kind of low. However, it is a very fun novel, and I can’t think of anything that I disliked about this. Now to get myself a copy of Mostly Good Girls. :)

Rating: [rating=3]

Other reviews:
Chachic’s Book Nook



Good Books and Good Wine
Forever Young Adult


Clean by Amy ReedClean by Amy Reed
Simon Pulse, 288 pages

You’re probably wondering how I ended up here. I’m still wondering the same thing.

Olivia, Kelly, Christopher, Jason, and Eva have one thing in common: They’re addicts. Addicts who have hit rock bottom and been stuck together in rehab to face their problems, face sobriety, and face themselves. None of them wants to be there. None of them wants to confront the truths about their pasts. And they certainly don’t want to share their darkest secrets and most desperate fears with a room of strangers. But they’ll all have to deal with themselves and one another if they want to learn how to live. Because when you get that high, there’s nowhere to go but down, down, down.

When I decided to read Clean by Amy Reed, I was fresh from finishing Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson, so the entire setting felt a little bit familiar. Clean however is far from the mixed genre that Ultraviolet was — this is contemporary YA through and through, something that deals with something I haven’t really quite read about much but means a lot right now: addiction and rehab.

Clean is about five teenagers Olivia, Kelly, Christopher, Jason and Eva, who formed a little group in the rehabilitation center they all landed in after they made very bad choices in their lives. Olivia is the girl who strives to be perfect in every way and ended up being OCD and anorexic. Kelly is the beautiful, popular girl who has an addition to cocaine and alcohol, and in some ways, sex. Christopher is the church kid who somehow got into meth. Jason is an alcoholic who is guilty about something he did to his family. Eva is addicted to painkillers, thinking it would numb the pain of her mother’s death. Away from cutting tools, drugs, alcohol and bad influences, the five form an unusual friendship that would help them through their time inside rehab. The book is told in Kelly and Christopher’s POVs, interspersed with dialogues and essays they had and submitted to their therapist.

While I was reading this, I was also watching an episode of If You Really Knew Me (the same show I referenced in my review of Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers). I found that show relevant to this book too, probably because Clean involved teens coming to terms with who they are, only in a bigger scale. The teens in this book are truly messed up because of so many things that anyone can experience. The books shows that no one is exempt to the temptation of addiction, or at least, looking for an escape from life. Sometimes even the most unexpected people will provide the means for addiction — like parents, for instance. I can’t help but feel bad for the characters in this book, especially Jason. His tough exterior is really just brought about by the equal and possibly more terrifying toughness of his military dad. Even if it was only told in Kelly and Christopher’s POVs, the other characters never lost any of their voices. The in-between therapy sessions and essays gave us a pretty good view on what the other characters were thinking, and I think Kelly and Christopher were effective in sharing the spotlight.

This book doesn’t really have a big climax. It’s not necessarily boring — there was a part that got me really worried for one of the characters, but the ending made up for it. The story flows from one event to the next, making readers root for our little group and wishing them strength to overcome their trials, all leading to a hopeful ending. Clean is contemporary at its core, and while it isn’t an easy to novel to read, it’s definitely an important one.

Oh, and I really like the cover on this one. I wonder how it would look like in the wild. :)

Clean by Amy Reed will be available in hardcover from Simon Pulse on July 19, 2011. Thanks to Simon and Schuster’s Galley Grab for the review copy.

Rating: [rating=4]

My copy: e-ARC from Simon and Schuster’s Galley Grab

Cover and Blurb: Goodreads

Other reviews:
All of Everything

The Day Before

The Day Before by Lisa SchroederThe Day Before by Lisa Schroeder
Simon & Schuster, 320 pages

Amber’s life is spinning out of control. All she wants is to turn up the volume on her iPod until all of the demands of family and friends fade away. So she sneaks off to the beach to spend a day by herself.

Then Amber meets Cade. Their attraction is instant, and Amber can tell he’s also looking for an escape. Together they decide to share a perfect day: no pasts, no fears, no regrets.

The more time that Amber spends with Cade, the more she’s drawn to him. And the more she’s troubled by his darkness. Because Cade’s not just living in the now—he’s living each moment like it’s his last.

This is a book
written in verse.
My second one.
And I thought
it would be a nice writing exercise
to write a review the same way.

The Day Before was about a girl named Amber
who seemed to have ran away to the beach
to spend one day for herself.
The circumstances were mysterious,
and I was kept in the dark
for most of the time.
Amber meets Cade.
There was attraction.
But there was something about Cade
that disturbed Amber.
Like he had a dark secret.
Amber didn’t want to destroy their moment,
but she also didn’t want to lose him.

This book reminds me of several things.
A Walk to Remember is one.
It had that kind of vibe,
and I was ready to scoff.
How overused is that story?
But I was pleasantly surprised.
It wasn’t like that.

Amber and Cade had problems of their own.
Fears, really.
Unusual circumstances that
people their age shouldn’t deal with.
But they had to.
The problems and situations were real
and scary.
But there was hope.
And it was beautifully done.

The verse writing made it easier to read.
The pop culture references made it fun.
Like Amber and Cade,
I want to listen to Matt Nathanson on a drive.
Although instant attraction is never my thing,
The Day Before made it seem almost sweet.
Like anything was possible.
And I liked that.

The Day Before left me smiling.
This review doesn’t really do it justice.
I’m not even sure if this attempt
is the least bit poetic.
Lisa Schroeder does it so much better,
and I look forward
to getting lost
in her other worlds of verse. :)

Rating: [rating=3]

My copy: e-galley from Simon and Schuster’s Galley Grab

Cover and blurb: Goodreads

Other reviews:
Chachic’s Book Nook
Book Harbinger


He’s So Not Worth It

He's So Not Worth It by Kieran ScottHe’s So Not Worth It by Kieran Scott
She’s So/He’s So Trilogy # 2
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Number of pages: 360
My copy: ebook from Galley Grab

Ally Ryan, come on down to the Jersey Shore and forget your troubles!

Have you recently been humiliated in front of your friends and family at your former best friend’s birthday party? Was your almost boyfriend partly responsible for that humiliation by withholding some vital information about where your estranged father is? Did you come home to find said estranged father sitting on your stoop?

If so, then it sounds like you could use a vacation! The Jersey Shore is the place to be. Your mother may be living with her boyfriend of only a few months, but at least the stunt Shannen pulled has put some of your friends back in your court. Even so, you’re still angry and what better way to get over Jake than to blow off some steam with local guy, Cooper? People will hardly recognize your new attitude, but the old one wasn’t getting you anywhere, so who cares!

Jake Graydon, an exciting opportunity is waiting for you in the service industry!

Are your grades so low your parents have grounded you for the summer? Did you the girl you really like unceremoniously leave you behind? Would you rather eat dirt than see your friends again? Then a job at the local coffee shop is just the ticket! Surprisingly, Ally’s father is the new manager so you get to be reminded of her nearly every day. Maybe it’s time to start flirting with your best friend’s ex or even taking school a bit more seriously. Especially when you finally see Ally and she’s hanging around with some loser and it’s couldn’t be more clear that she is over you.

Have a great summer!

* * *

She’s So Dead to Us was one of my favorite reads last year. It was a different kind of contemporary novel, almost like a guilty pleasure because of how I was able to take a peek into rich kids’ lives. But more than that, I was able to sympathize with the characters, and the author made the villains three dimensional that I was curious to know their motivations. They weren’t just plain mean girls and boys — they were doing that because of something, even if it wasn’t fair for Ally. The ending of the last book was such a cliff hanger that I had no idea what could happen next, so I was positively thrilled when I saw that the next book, He’s So Not Worth It was available in Galley Grab.

Spoilers from She’s So Dead to Us up ahead.

Ally’s dad shows up again, exactly after she was embarrassed by Shannen during her birthday party. Ally was hurt, confused and angry, especially at Jake, who knew where her dad was all along. Now Ally is faced with a choice between an entire summer with the Cresties at the beach or with her dad in Orchard Hill (who isn’t being chased by debt collectors, thankfully). Jake is also having a miserable summer, as he not only lost Ally, but he was grounded for the summer. Instead of partying with his friends at the beach, he had to go to college classes and work for Ally’s dad. Ally ends up going to the beach just to avoid Jake, where she meets a cute local guy named Cooper. If only her mom wasn’t being such a pain, then maybe her summer would be at least better than she expected.

He’s So Not Worth It is still enjoyable in the sense that it was fun reading about the Orchard Hill Cresties and Norms. The setting was solid, and I was able to sink back into the world with no problem. I also loved that part of this was set in the beach — I haven’t been able to go to the beach this summer, so reading about beaches is the next best thing, I guess. This makes for a good beach read, with the infinite possibilities of summer for the reader and the characters.

Another thing I really liked in this book is the relationships of the characters. They’re far from perfect, but boy do they feel real. Just like in the previous book, I thought the group had their own personality other than the individuals. I liked how even if they’re not exactly friends anymore, somehow old ties bring them back together, even if it did not mean well for the other characters.

That being said, however, I felt that He’s So Not Worth It is not as gripping as its predecessor. As real as these characters and their dynamics felt, I was frustrated at all the stupid decisions they keep on doing. I know being young allows us to do them, but these kids in this novel just upped it. There is drama everywhere! I was constantly annoyed at Jake for his stupid and rash decisions. Ally was no better, too, and she was actually matching Shannen in the first book for the bitch factor. I think the only character that felt a little bit normal in the book was Annie, if you don’t count her field notes and Crestie- stalking (which was very entertaining, and helped readers see what Jake and Ally weren’t seeing). It almost felt like I was watching a Gossip Girl episode, which is enjoyable, but not in too much doses for me.

While this feels a little bit of a sophomore slump for the series, it did end in another cliffhanger, which makes me wonder what would happen next. I admit that I am still curious, so I will still read the next book. :) He’s So Not Worth It isn’t really disappointing; I just think it’s not as good as She’s So Dead to Us. I wonder how the author will wrap this series up — I sure hope there’s a happy ending somewhere down the road for Jake and Ally and everyone else.

Rating: [rating=2]

Other reviews:
Good Books and Good Wine

Between Here and Forever

Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth ScottBetween Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Number of pages: 256
My copy: ebook from Galley Grab

Abby accepted that she can’t measure up to her beautiful, magnetic sister Tess a long time ago, and knows exactly what she is: Second best. Invisible.

Until the accident.

Now Tess is in a coma, and Abby’s life is on hold. It may have been hard living with Tess, but it’s nothing compared to living without her.

She’s got a plan to bring Tess back though, involving the gorgeous and mysterious Eli, but then Abby learns something about Tess, something that was always there, but that she’d never seen.

Abby is about to find out that truth isn’t always what you think it is, and that life holds more than she ever thought it could…

* * *

Totally honest moment? This is one book I judged by its cover — the sunflower on the cover called me the moment I laid my eyes on it. I squee over anything with sunflowers and stars (if it’s not obvious with my header image), so the giant sunflower on this cover is a big plus on me. I’m just not sure where this really fits in the story, though.

Between Here and Forever is a story of sisters and family. Abby has always lived under the shadow of her popular sister, Tess. Everyone loves Tess, and Abby never felt like she could measure up to her. So she lives in that way — always putting her sister first, always saying Tess is better, Tess deserves more, even after Tess gets into an accident that puts her in a coma. On a mission to bring back Tess, Abby involves Eli, the mysterious guy she meets in the hospital who visits Tess, the only guy who isn’t wearing nursing scrubs. But as Abby tries her hardest to bring Tess back, she finds out things that she never knew about her sister, the truth that she never even thought was possible for her beautiful sister.

Elizabeth Scott is kind of a hit-or-miss author for me. I really liked Stealing Heaven and Grace, but Perfect You and Bloom were just so-so for me. Unfortunately, Between Here and Forever fell in the “miss” category. It’s not that the story or the writing is bad — I just had a hard time relating to the characters or the story. I did think the characters were all fleshed out, especially Abby. I felt bad at how low her self-esteem was after living in the shadow of her sister, and I felt happy for her when she’s finally standing up for herself. And even in a coma, Tess’ presence was palpable in the entire story – which is the way is should be since the story is all about her too.

But maybe that’s why I had a hard time connecting with this. I only have an older brother, and I never really had close girl cousins that I could almost consider as sister. While I did have some inferiority issues back in high school with some close girl friends, it was never in the way that Abby was with Tess. Maybe it was just that, the lack of common ground that made me a bit distant with this novel.

So if you’ve read this and you have a sister — tell me, did this book feel more real to you? I’d like to know. But even if I didn’t like Elizabeth Scott’s newest release, I’m still going to read her other books. She’s one YA author who has grown on me. :) Did you see her next book? Not only is the cover curious, but the premise sounds very interesting, too.

Thanks to Simon & Schuster Galley Grab for the e-galley of this book. Now where can I find a sunflower that big without going to Baguio again?

Rating: [rating=2]

Other reviews:
Good Books and Good Wine
Lauren’s Crammed Bookshelf