I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

There has been a lot of buzz about I’ll Give You the Sun in the book blogosphere. I’ve seen bloggers who received review copies of this, raving about the book. I read Jandy Nelson’s debut novel The Sky is Everywhere back in 2010 and I have fond memories of it even if I barely remember the details since it’s been so long. I’ve been looking forward to I’ll Give You the Sun and it made me happy that I had an added reason to bump it up when it got chosen for our book club discussion.

I'll Give You the Sun

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways… until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else — an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah’s story to tell. The later years are Jude’s. What the twins don’t realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

I found I’ll Give You the Sun an absorbing read. It was easy to get into and kept me interested until the end. It reminded me of some of the Aussie YA contemps that I’ve loved because it has a similar feel and tone. It’s a novel filled with flawed characters who have experienced difficult situations, who are trying to live life one day at a time. Jude and Noah are teenage twins, both filled with a lot of artistic potential. Noah paints and draws the world as he sees it. Jude creates sand sculptures of women, and also designs and sews dresses, which she learned how to do from their grandmother. The narrative changes from Noah’s point of view when the siblings are 13 years old to Jude’s 16-year-old perspective. These two have such strong personalities and it was fun to read their narration. They’re super close at the start of the story but drift apart later on. I kept reading because I wanted to know the events that led to the emotional distance between two people who were previously inseparable. I also wanted to see them heal their brokenness together. This leads me to one point that kept me from truly loving the book. I felt like there was a lot of grief, hurt and pain in I’ll Give You the Sun and yes, there was also hope, forgiveness and healing but I don’t think there was enough to create a balance. Maybe it would have been better if the ending was extended a bit? I don’t know if that would have worked but I just felt like I wanted more from the story. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed reading I’ll Give You the Sun. There’s a lot to like in this book – such as the complex relationships between family members, the slow burn romance, the quirky narration and all the descriptions of art. I think most readers of contemporary YA would enjoy reading this. I will definitely be watching out for Jandy Nelson’s next book.

The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

I became aware of The Distance Between Us when my good friend Nomes posted a glowing review of it on her blog Inkcrush. I always look forward to reading good contemporary YA novels, which is why this one got bumped up the TBR pile. I had other titles lined up but then I tried a sample of this and just couldn’t stop reading after that.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

The Distance Between UsSeventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she’s beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out — she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.

You might think that The Distance Between Us is a classic love story of rich guy meets girl from the wrong side of the tracks, and you would be right but only up to a certain extent. I feel like how the story was executed made it enjoyable and unique in its own way. What drew me to this book was Caymen and the idea that she grew up helping her mom run a doll store, catering to the wealthy people who lived in their area. I imagine that doll store as a quirky establishment located in a quaint street. Caymen’s mom got pregnant as a teenager, was abandoned by her dad and disowned by her grandparents so the store became their primary source of income. It sounds like Gilmore Girls, if Lorelei opened a doll store instead of an inn and Rory had to help out in selling dolls instead of concentrating on her Ivy League goals. And Caymen’s sarcasm is also reminiscent of the Gilmore Girls banter that I’m such a big fan of. The romance is definitely a focus in this book but I like how it took time to form – how Caymen and Xander got to know each other better through breakfast that consisted of blueberry muffins and hot chocolate (a dietary choice that I approve of). The attraction was there but they refused to acknowledge it, leading to tension and uncertainty that made the book hard to put down. Check out this sample:

“His grandma says something that makes him smile. The smile. What is it about that smile anyway? Maybe it’s his perfectly straight and white teeth that make it so amazing. But it’s more than that. It’s a little crooked, one side going up more than the other. And once in a while his top teeth bite his bottom lip. It’s a very unguarded smile, unlike the rest of his appearance, which is a fortress.”

I really enjoyed reading details like that, seeing the little things that one character notices about another. One other section that I liked was this:

“Two doors down from our doll store is a dance studio, and I’m surprised to see the lights all on this late at night. wide-open windows on a dark night make everything inside as clear as on a movie screen. There is a girl inside, probably my age, dancing in front of a wall of mirrors. The graceful movements of her body prove she’s been studying for years. I wonder why some people seem to be born knowing what they want to do with their lives and others – mostly me – have no idea.”

Figuring out what they want to do with their lives become a theme for Caymen and Xander and they spend “career days” together instead of calling them dates. It’s funny how I’ve been out of high school for YEARS but I could still relate to the feeling that you’re not sure what it is that you’re meant to do with your life. If I could talk to Caymen and Xander, I’d tell them that it takes a lot of time to get to a point in your career (or even your life) when you feel like you’re headed in the right direction. As much as I liked the swoon-worthy moments between the two MCs when they’re by themselves, I think it was nice that I got a clearer picture of what they’re like through how they interacted with family and friends. For both Caymen and Xander, their personalities are largely influenced by their relationships with their relatives. I had so much fun reading this one, as evidenced by the fact that I gobbled it up in one day. Recommended for fans of contemporary YA, it reminded me a little of The Reece Malcolm List and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight.

Other reviews:
Inkcrush
The Nocturnal Library
Anna Reads
GReads

Amplified by Tara Kelly

Amplified by Tara Kelly was one of the first few books that I borrowed from the library. I’m glad I was able to borrow a copy because I’ve heard good things about this contemporary novel. I think it can be classified as either YA or New Adult since Jasmine just graduate from high school and is exploring her options.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

When privileged 17-year-old Jasmine gets kicked out of her house, she takes what is left of her savings and flees to Santa Cruz to pursue her dream of becoming a musician. Jasmine finds the ideal room in an oceanfront house, but she needs to convince the three guys living there that she’s the perfect roommate and lead guitarist for their band, C-Side. Too bad she has major stage fright and the cute bassist doesn’t think a spoiled girl from over the hill can hack it…

I had almost forgotten what it was like to devour a book because it’s so very easy to get into. I started reading this on a Sunday and the buzz was good enough to make me NOT dread Monday. So I should just make sure that I’m reading a good book at the start of every work week to make things easier for me. It’s funny how easy it was for me to relate to what Jasmine was going through because I’m not a musician. I would love to be able to play an instrument but piano and guitar lessons when I was a kid didn’t work out. I do have stage freight though. People think that because I’m so talkative and expressive, I enjoy public speaking. But no, I’m terrified of speaking in front of too many people – I get nervous even in big meetings. So I can totally get how Jasmine freaks out at the idea of performing in front of a live audience. I do admire how spunky she is for someone who has never performed in front of a live audience. She was willing to delay going to Stanford for college (Can you imagine? Would love to get admitted in a school like that) to see if she can live her dream of becoming a musician. I can’t talk about Amplified without mentioning how much I enjoyed the slow burn romance depicted. Here’s one of the snippets that I really liked:

“He studied me like I was a complicated book. All intensity, no hint of a smile. Which could be good or bad. Some books are intoxicating, while other get thrown across the room.”

There are definitely some swoon-worthy scenes in this book. That’s probably one of the reasons why I enjoyed reading this. I know I always say this but I’m a fan of romance that doesn’t happen out of the blue – I like the tension and the teasing around between characters before they even realize that they’re attracted to each other. I also think it’s amazing how Tara Kelly was able to write about making music in such a way that a non-musician like me would still understand. I’ve always wondered what it’s really like to play an instrument so I enjoy novels that paint a clear picture of how that feels like. It’s funny because even though Amplified doesn’t have a cliffhanger ending, I thought that I would have liked it better if the ending was a bit longer. Then I discovered that Tara Kelly is writing a sequel so yay, I look forward to reading that. I hope it’s just as good as this one. Amplified is a good read if you’re feeling a bit slump-ish because of how engrossing it is. Music lovers would probably be able to relate to it more. I feel like a lot of contemporary YA novels focus on music nowadays. Some of the ones that I’ve read and enjoyed are Saving June by Hannah Harrington and If I Stay by Gayle Forman. And I’m planning to check out Audrey Wait by Robin Benway and Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John. Any other suggestions?

Other reviews:
Steph Su Reads
The Reading Date

Back to Back Great Reads: Seraphina and Such A Rush

I miss blogging! I think this is the longest that I’ve gone without a post. Hopefully, I’ll have more time to blog once things have settled down – I’m still trying to get used to so many aspects of the move. Anyway, I read and loved two titles recently: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman and Such A Rush by Jennifer Echols. Since I wasn’t sure if I could write a full review for both anytime soon, I thought it would be a good idea to talk about both titles in one post.

Here’s the summary of Seraphina from Goodreads:

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

Seraphina is a lovely book. I remember rushing to a bookstore in Manila to grab a copy of this on its release day because I’ve heard such good things about it and I couldn’t wait to read it. I was disappointed in the books that I read before Seraphina so it was a pleasant surprise that I found a YA fantasy that I could really sink my teeth into. Seraphina is exactly the kind of character that I love, one who possesses admirable inner strength. I’m also a fan of the world that Rachel Hartman created, where there’s a tenuous peace between humans and dragons. I liked how distinctly different humans and dragons are – the latter sees the former as a weaker race, prone to emotional decisions that aren’t always logical whereas dragons are more detached and analytical. And I found it intriguing that dragons can take human form. I really liked how subtle the romance was, it wasn’t the focus of the story and they started out as friends. There were so many details to love in this novel and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel – I wonder how long do I have to wait to read it? Here’s a quote from the book that I loved:

“The world inside myself is vaster and richer than this paltry plane, peopled with mere galaxies and gods.”

From fantasy, let’s move on to contemporary. It has never been my dream to become a pilot. I was briefly interested for a time but then I found out that there’s a height requirement and I wouldn’t make it. I have the utmost respect for pilots though – I think what they do is amazing. And I’m a big fan of strong women so I think lady pilots are awesome. It’s funny because I wasn’t actively seeking to read novels that feature women as pilots but I’ve ended up loving two such titles this year: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein and now Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols.

Here’s the summary of Such a Rush from Goodreads:

High school senior Leah Jones loves nothing more than flying. While she’s in the air, it’s easy to forget life with her absentee mother at the low-rent end of a South Carolina beach town. When her flight instructor, Mr. Hall, hires her to fly for his banner advertising business, she sees it as her ticket out of the trailer park. And when he dies suddenly, she’s afraid her flying career is gone forever.

But Mr. Hall’s teenage sons, golden boy Alec and adrenaline junkie Grayson, are determined to keep the banner planes flying. Though Leah has crushed on Grayson for years, she’s leery of getting involved in what now seems like a doomed business — until Grayson betrays her by digging up her most damning secret. Holding it over her head, he forces her to fly for secret reasons of his own, reasons involving Alec. Now Leah finds herself drawn into a battle between brothers — and the consequences could be deadly.

Jennifer Echols’ Going Too Far was one of the first contemporary YA novels that I fell in love with. I’ve read the rest of her books after that, hoping that they’d be just as good but they didn’t live up to Going Too Far. Until Such A Rush came along. Now I have another Jennifer Echols novel that I can enthusiastically recommend. I felt so bad for Leah – her story made me realize that not everyone who lives in a first world country has a good life. It made me sad that she didn’t have access to so many things that we all take for granted – internet, cellphones, buying groceries and take out whenever we need to. I’m amazed at how she took control of her own life because she doesn’t want to be stuck in a trailer park her whole life. I also loved the tension between Leah and Grayson, with all the ambiguity of their relationship. Jennifer Echols sure knows how to build up a slow burn romance. I was rooting for the two of them to get together even if they had to work through so many issues. Highly recommended for fans of swoon-worthy contemporary YA.

What about the rest of you, have you read and loved any books lately?

Retro Friday: Life Without Friends by Ellen Emerson White

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie over at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc.

It seems fitting to review an Ellen Emerson White title for Retro Friday because it was Angie who first introduced me to this author. Life Without Friends is a sequel to Friends for Life. I believe both titles are out of print and sadly, I wasn’t able to get a used copy of Friends for Life. I don’t think it matters though because I enjoyed reading Life Without Friends even if I haven’t read its companion novel. I hope those titles aren’t too confusing!

Here’s the summary from Ellen Emerson White’s website:

A lot of bad things happened to Beverly last year. Now she’s living a life without friends. It’s a lot easier that way. Then Derek comes into her life, just by chance. Bit by bit, Beverly opens up to Derek, and begins to trust him. She can tell him anything. Or almost anything.

There’s just last year standing between Beverly and Derek — the one thing he said he couldn’t forgive. Maybe it will ruin everything if she talks about it. And maybe it will ruin everything if she doesn’t.

Beverly has been through so much – she dated a guy who was involved in a lot of drugs and was part of the wrong crowd in school. To cope with the horror of the past year, Beverly has decided that it’s better for her to avoid everyone and keep to herself. Her father requires her to attend weekly psychiatrist sessions but even during those private moments, Beverly is afraid to open up. Poor Beverly! I really felt bad for her at the start of the novel. The title of the book – Life Without Friends – seemed really appropriate for her because she didn’t have any friends that she could turn to. I can’t imagine what that must have been like for her. Here’s a fairly spoiler-free snippet from early on:

“Alone again, Beverly relaxed somewhat. It was hard to believe that life could get any worse than this. More than once lately, she had thought about killing herself, erasing the fact that she had ever existed. It would be so easy, so—except that she wouldn’t. She didn’t respect people who committed suicide.”

It’s a good thing Derek unexpectedly appears in Beverly’s life and he’s determined to be friends with her. I think Derek is really a great guy – he’s thoughtful, friendly and does his best to make Beverly laugh. A tentative kind of relationship forms between these two. Derek is hesitant because he’s worried that he’s not good enough for Beverly, while Beverly doesn’t want Derek to know the horrible things that happened in her school. This book reminded me a bit of the Love Stories series published by Bantam Books and I devoured those when I was a teen. I think the romance in this novel is really sweet but Life Without Friends is more than just a love story. It’s about Beverly coming to terms with everything bad that happened in her life – from her mother passing away five years before to her getting involved with the worst kind of guy. I also enjoyed watching Beverly interact with the people in her life – her father, her stepmother, her younger brother and even her psychiatrist. I found the conversations during her weekly psych sessions funny. Sometimes, it’s nice to read something like this and remember a time when we didn’t have cellphones or the internet. Beverly reminded me so much of Meg from the same author’s President’s Daughter series – both of them intelligent young women experiencing difficult times in their lives. I kind of wish they got to meet in the last Long May She Reign. I’m hoping that Ellen Emerson White will release another book soon, I’d love to check it out if that happens.

Other reviews:
Angieville
See Michelle Read

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller

Trish Doller’s debut novel, Something Like Normal, is one of my most anticipated releases this year. I read the excerpt and immediately wanted to read the book, I probably would have if it was already available at that time. I’ve also chatted with Trish on Twitter and I keep liking and reblogging her Tumblr posts. I was really excited when I finally got my hands on a copy of her book and I read it as soon as I could.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

When Travis Stephenson returns home from Afghanistan, his parents are on the brink of divorce, his brother has stolen his girlfriend and his car, and nightmares of his best friend getting killed keep him completely spooked. But when he runs into Harper Gray, a girl who despises him for trashing her reputation with a middle school lie, life actually starts looking up. As Travis and Harper see more of each other, he starts falling for her and a way through the family meltdown, the post-traumatic stress, and the possibility of an interesting future begins to emerge.

I love reading older YA or new adult novels and I believe Something Like Normal falls under these categories. Sure, Travis is just 19 but I think being a Marine makes him a more mature character. He’s seen and experienced the atrocities of war and is suffering from the loss of his best friend, Charlie. Now I’ve never been a teenage boy so I don’t exactly know how they think. But I do have guy friends and I feel like Travis has a realistic voice for a guy. He’s far from being perfect and he makes stupid mistakes throughout the course of the novel but I believe he’s a decent guy who genuinely wants to get his act together. It’s just that he’s messed up from everything that he’s been through – failing his father’s unreasonable expectations, signing up to be in the military to escape and heading off straight to serve in an unfamiliar country. Also, I know next to nothing about Marines but I found Travis’ experiences intriguing.

Trish Doller’s debut is something that I wholeheartedly recommend to everyone, even those who don’t usually read contemporary YA because I feel like it has crossover appeal for many readers. It’s refreshing in the sense that it doesn’t focus on a high school setting, isn’t just about the romance and is the first novel that I’ve read with a teen main character in the military. Something Like Normal is very easy to fall into. It’s the kind of novel that you read within one day because you can’t get enough of Travis and his complicated relationships – his issues with his dad and his brother, how he tries to be a better son to his overly supportive mother, how he interacts with his Marine buddies and how he gets to know the girl he’s always had a crush on. While I don’t think the romance is the main focus of the novel, there was plenty of swoon that kept me more than satisfied. I like that Travis and Harper have a history that dates back to middle school. Harper is just the person Travis needs in his life – she’s smart, fun to be with and knows exactly how to handle him. Here’s a spoiler-free snippet from early on:

“Do you need help?” a female voice from behind asks.

I’m about to throw an offended no over my shoulder when Harper comes up alongside me, all green eyes and tousled hair. I could probably look at her forever and not get tired of that face. “If I say yes will you think less of me?”

She shrugs, but I can see a smile at the corner of her mouth. “I already do think less of you.”

Doesn’t that make you curious? Like I said, I love Trish’s Tumblr so I thought it would be fitting to include some of the images that she’s posted in this review. These images actually remind of Travis and Harper. 🙂

Something Like Normal will be released June 19, 2012 and I know this review is ridiculously early but I couldn’t help but spread the word about this novel. I have a feeling a lot of readers will fall in love with Travis’ story. Can’t wait to see what Trish writes next.

Other reviews:
A Good Addiction

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Anna and the French Kiss last year and I’ve been looking forward to its companion novel, Lola and the Boy Next Door, since last year. I pre-ordered my copy from the Book Depository and I’ve been waiting for it to arrive once I got the notification that it was dispatched. It didn’t help that so many reviews kept popping up in the blogosphere, which made me more curious about this book so I dived right in as soon as my copy arrived.

Here’s the summary from Stephanie Perkins’ website:

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion… she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit — more sparkly, more fun, more wild — the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket — a gifted inventor — steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

I like how Stephanie Perkins writes contemporary YA – they’re light, fun and easy to fall into but are more complicated than what you’d initially expect. While Lola and the Boy Next Door wasn’t as swoon-worthy as Anna and the French Kiss, it has its own merits. Can I just bring this up real quick: “lola” in Filipino means grandmother although it’s pronounced differently, with a short vowel “o” instead of a long one. Just found that funny. 😛 Anyway, I think it’s awesome that Lola expresses herself through her daily outfits. She’s passionate about her costumes and she wants to continue doing that kind of thing for the rest of her life. That kind of enthusiasm and determination is always admirable. I also enjoyed reading about Lola’s dads because I think they’re really cool parents. And Anna and St. Clair were minor characters in this book too, they didn’t just have cameos. However, my favorite character in Lola and the Boy Next Door is Cricket Bell. A cute, nerdy, thoughtful guy who dresses well? My kind of guy! Cricket is someone who I can totally root for. It doesn’t hurt that he’s into science and inventing things. I used to say that I love science and math but they don’t love me back, otherwise, I wouldn’t have such a hard time with them. So yay Cricket for being smart in those fields. I love that Stephanie Perkins’ male leads have been nice guys so far, I hope that’s something that will carry over in her next novel.

All is not well in Lola-land when the Bell twins move back in the house next door. She’s not in good terms with Calliope, and Cricket broke her heart right before they left. And she shouldn’t even be concerned when it comes to Cricket because she’s currently in a relationship with someone else: Max, who plays in a band and is five years older than she is. Okay, I get why Lola fell for Max. He has that bad boy, older guy appeal and he was willing to exert effort for their relationship to work – he put up with her dads’ rules like having brunch with them every week. But still, I didn’t really feel like the things that he did for Lola were enough. I think that if he really loved her, he would have been willing to do so much more. One of the themes of this book that I really liked is love requires energy and effort but it should be easy if you’re with the right person. So was it a bit frustrating that it took a while for Lola to figure out that she wasn’t with the right guy? Yes, but everyone makes mistakes and falling for the wrong person is one of the most common out there. Did I want her to break up with Max so Cricket can bring on the swoon for her? Yes, but I think that Lola’s relationship with Max and her confusion about her feelings for Cricket made Lola and the Boy Next Door more realistic. Overall, I still had fun reading this book even though I had issues with it. I recommend this to fans of contemporary YA. I will still be looking forward to Stephanie Perkins’ next novel, I’m hoping I’ll like it just as much as her debut.

Other reviews:
Book Harbinger
Angieville
The Crooked Shelf
Good Books and Good Wine

Past Perfect by Leila Sales

So glad that a galley of Past Perfect by Leila Sales became available in the Simon and Schuster GalleyGrab because I’ve been curious about the author. Plus, I’ve heard nothing but good things about her debut novel, Mostly Good Girls, so I jumped at the chance to read this. I finished reading this a couple of weeks ago but I wanted to post my review closer to the release date, October 4.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

A summer job is exactly the distraction that Chelsea needs in order to finally get over Ezra, the boy who dumped her and broke her heart to pieces just a few weeks before. So when Chelsea’s best friend, Fiona, signs them up for roles at Essex Historical Colonial Village, Chelsea doesn’t protest too hard, even though it means spending the summer surrounded by drama geeks and history nerds. Chelsea will do anything to forget Ezra.

But when Chelsea and Fiona show up for their new jobs, they find out Ezra’s working there too. Maybe Chelsea should have known better than to think a historical reenactment village could help her escape her past… or will this turn out to be exactly the summer that Chelsea needed, after all?

Don’t you just love that cover? Everything about it is cute – from the chalky raindrops to the pink font to the girl wearing a green rain coat and a flower clip. It’s kind of weird that the novel is set in summertime but the cover depicts a rainy day. Also, I don’t think the cover represents the historical village where Chelsea works for the summer. It still looks fun though and I wouldn’t be surprised if readers are encouraged to buy the book based on just the cover design. The contents of the book go well with the cover in terms of being light and fun. It’s all about Chelsea’s summer vacation and how she spends it by working at the historical village of Essex. Her parents are full-time employees of Essex so she’s been working there ever since she was a child but she was never really that into it. This year is different because it’s the first time that Chelsea’s best friend, Fiona, will be with her. Even though Chelsea would rather work at the mall like a normal teenage girl, she thinks being at Essex won’t be so bad with Fiona there. Her ex-boyfriend Ezra unexpectedly turns up as well. To complicate matters, Chelsea gets nominated as the Lieutenant in their war games against the teen employees of the other historical village in town.

I liked that Past Perfect is set in a historical village because that’s something different. I don’t think we have anything like that here in the Philippines? If we did, I’d enjoy visiting it. Even though I’m not that familiar with American history, I didn’t have any problems with the historical facts thrown around in this book. I guess I just wasn’t able to appreciate them as much as an American reader would be able to. I think it’s great that history was portrayed as something a bit nerdy but still fun. The reenactors in both camps take their jobs very seriously. The war games between the two sites was also interesting and I thought of it as a less intense version of the turf war in Jellicoe Road. I would have liked the romance to be more developed, it felt like there weren’t enough swoon-worthy scenes for me to be totally on-board. Overall, I enjoyed reading Past Perfect and would recommend it to fans of contemporary YA but I didn’t fall in love with it like I was expecting. I think I’m in the minority I’m still curious about Mostly Good Girls though.

Other reviews:
Good Books and Good Wine
The Allure of Books