Author: Leila Sales

Book Review – Once Was a Time by Leila Sales

Posted April 7, 2016 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Middle Grade, Read in 2016 / 0 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review – Once Was a Time by Leila SalesOnce Was a Time by Leila Sales
Published by Chronicle Books on April 5th 2016
Pages: 272
Genres: Historical Fiction, Contemporary, Time Travel
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Also by this author: This Song Will Save Your Life


In the war-ravaged England of 1940, Charlotte Bromley is sure of only one thing: Kitty McLaughlin is her best friend in the whole world. But when Charlotte's scientist father makes an astonishing discovery that the Germans will covet for themselves, Charlotte is faced with an impossible choice between danger and safety. Should she remain with her friend or journey to another time and place? Her split-second decision has huge consequences, and when she finds herself alone in the world, unsure of Kitty's fate, she knows that somehow, some way, she must find her way back to her friend. Written in the spirit of classic time-travel tales, this book is an imaginative and heartfelt tribute to the unbreakable ties of friendship.

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“What do you do when you learn, without a doubt, that you’ve lost everyone you love and you’re trapped by time forever?”

Charlotte “Lottie” Bromley has been raised to believe in time travel. Her father is an illustrious scientist who has been tasked with learning the secrets of time travel in hopes of gaining a leg up in the war. The year is 1940 and ten-year-old Lottie and her best friend Kitty are kidnapped by Nazis in an effort to coerce the secret of time travel from her father. When a shimmering portal appears in front of Lottie, she takes advantage of an opportunity that might never present itself again, even though that means leaving Kitty behind. Lottie finds herself in a place called Wisconsin in the year 2013 clad only in her pajamas. Her only desire is to find some way to return to Kitty and hope that her and her father survived after she escaped.

Once Was a Time intrigued me from the very beginning with the portrayal of a war-ravaged England through the perspective of a ten-year-old girl. Add in a scientist researching the existence of time travel and I was more than ready for an adventurous and entertaining story. Unfortunately, that feeling was tragically short-lived. I am ready and willing to read anything to do with time travel, however, in looking at the time travel books I have read and loved, there was one similarity between them all: the characters were time traveling to a fascinating time and place. Alas, Wisconsin circa 2013 does not scream fascinating to me.

The numerous genres also made this a difficult one for me. We’re introduced to this as historical fiction upon which it’s given a dash of science fiction and mystery. As soon as you’ve got comfortable with this interesting blend, the reader is then thrust into a contemporary, coming-of-age setting where Lottie is adapting to a modern age where everything is unknown. It was an interesting switch from what you typically find in time travel books, where a modern person is forced to adapt to the past but her dealing with mean girl cliques was too much. She makes friends with these girls even though she never seems to actually care for them because of she believes she doesn’t deserve to have good friends because she left her best friend behind with the Nazis. I could understand her mindset, it just ended up being far too long and drawn out for a meager 272 pages. The pacing picked up speed and seemed to be making a comeback at the end but seemed to lose control making the ending feel avoidably rushed.

I fell in love with Leila Sales’ writing after her novel This Song Will Save Your Life. Yes, that story touched on personal experiences so of course, it would be special to me but it was so passionately written, personal experiences or no, it was an incredible story. Unfortunately, I think it set the bar astronomically high for any future read I picked up from her. That spark that made that such an incredible story seemed to be absent here and while I loved the concept of it all, it could have been so much more than it was.


Early Review – This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Posted August 9, 2013 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013, YA / 5 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila SalesThis Song Will Save Your Life on September 17th 2013
Pages: 288
Format: eARC


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, THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.

‘…I also felt like an eggshell that had gotten a tiny crack. You can’t repair something like that. All you can do is hope that it sticks together, hope that the crack doesn’t grow until all your insides come spilling right out.’

Elise Dembowski is the unpopular girl in school. She’s that girl that eats her lunch in the bathroom. She’s the one that never gets asked to the school dances. She’s the one that shuffles along silently down the halls, never saying a word, never making eye contact with anyone. The invisible one.

Elise decides she’s going to spend the entire summer leading up to the new school year learning how to be just like all the popular kids so that this year can be different. But it’s not. It ends up being just as disastrous as all others, but everything changes the day she goes home and decides to commit suicide.

“I had once thought that I wanted to get revenge by dying. But getting revenge by living, and living well, was much, much sweeter.”

I love how this book has been the conduit for so many shared personal stories. It resonated deep with me too, so I can’t but share my own tale.

The first half of this book I couldn’t seem to connect with Elise’s story and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why. I thought about it, discussed it with others and it finally hit me that the reason was due to how much I could relate and that I was unconsciously trying to emotionally disconnect. While I know I wasn’t the most tortured kid in school, my early school days are not filled with memories that I look back on fondly. I dealt with bullies at the bus stop and being teased for my choice in fashion for years. But what resonated the most with me was that intense desire that Elise had to just be noticed by the popular group of kids. I remember the day the popular group of kids at school finally talked to me, asking me for a quick favor, just to keep something in my backpack for them… saying no never crossed my mind. I remember being called to the principal’s office, having him search my bag and finding pot… apparently my “new friends” had been caught and had quickly decided to pawn it off on someone and I ended up being the perfect one to take the fall.

It took me a long time to understand the full extent of what those girls did to me that day. That incident made me realize that there are some people in this world that may put on a happy face and pretend to be your friend but they don’t have your best interests at heart. They don’t care what happens to you. And they are most certainly not people you want/need to have in your life.

Even if you can’t relate to Elise’s story, I’m sure you’ve known an ‘Elise’ type at some point in your life. But this can truly be a life lesson for everyone, whether you relate or not, because everyone is misjudged at some point in their life. This Song Will Save Your Life is a novel of self-discovery. It’s about finding good people to have in your life that will treat you with kindness and respect. It’s about finding what makes you happy in life. It’s about being shamelessly you… and realizing there isn’t a damn thing wrong with that.

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