If I Could Turn Back Time by Beth Harbison

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If I Could Turn Back Time

by Beth Harbison

Published by St. Martin Press

July 28, 2015 release date

I received an advance review copy of this book from the publisher through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

My Review

Ramie Phillips is celebrating her 37 birth day with friends on a yacht and thinks she has it all.  Single, wealthy and successful, she has never regretted the decisions she mad that led her where she is.  The joyful pregnancy announcement sends Ramie reeling and she proceeds to get good and drunk.  When she her drunken dive winds up smashing her head on the boat, Ramie wakes up- not 37, but 18 and in high school.  As she relives the days leading up to her high school graduation, she begins to second guess her big choices- what  and where to study in college, breaking up with her high school sweetheart, etc.

This was a fun, fast book that I really enjoyed.  I loved the beginning and the end, but felt the middle  became bogged down with too much “reflection” that really didn’t tie into the story or the main character.  It felt like it disrupted the flow of the story in order to make it major meaningful.  Once past that, it was really terrific, and I loved the ending (no spoilers).  I love the idea of revising major life decisions and possibly seeing the aftermath of the path not taken.

Summary

Thirty-seven year old Ramie Phillips has led a very successful life. She made her fortune and now she hob nobs with the very rich and occasionally the semi-famous, and she enjoys luxuries she only dreamed of as a middle-class kid growing up in Potomac, Maryland. But despite it all, she can’t ignore the fact that she isn’t necessarily happy. In fact, lately Ramie has begun to feel more than a little empty.

On a boat with friends off the Florida coast, she tries to fight her feelings of discontent with steel will and hard liquor. No one even notices as she gets up and goes to the diving board and dives off…

Suddenly Ramie is waking up, straining to understand a voice calling in the distance…It’s her mother: “Wake up! You’re going to be late for school again. I’m not writing a note this time…”

Ramie finds herself back on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, with a second chance to see the people she’s lost and change the choices she regrets. How did she get back here? Has she gone off the deep end? Is she really back in time? Above all, she’ll have to answer the question that no one else can: What it is that she really wants from the past, and for her future?

 

 

 

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The Wife, The Maid, and the Mistress- She Reads Book Club Selection

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The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress

by Ariel Lawhon

published by Doubleday

2014

I received this book as a digital ARC from the publisher through Net Galley in return for an honest review.

Summary

A tantalizing reimagining of a scandalous mystery that rocked the nation in 1930-Justice Joseph Crater’s infamous disappearance-as seen through the eyes of the three women who knew him best.

They say behind every great man, there’s a woman. In this case, there are three. Stella Crater, the judge’s wife, is the picture of propriety draped in long pearls and the latest Chanel. Ritzi, a leggy showgirl with Broadway aspirations, thinks moonlighting in the judge’s bed is the quickest way off the chorus line. Maria Simon, the dutiful maid, has the judge to thank for her husband’s recent promotion to detective in the NYPD. Meanwhile, Crater is equally indebted to Tammany Hall leaders and the city’s most notorious gangster, Owney “The Killer” Madden.

On a sultry summer night, as rumors circulate about the judge’s involvement in wide-scale political corruption, the Honorable Joseph Crater steps into a cab and disappears without a trace. Or does he?

After 39 years of necessary duplicity, Stella Crater is finally ready to reveal what she knows. Sliding into a plush leather banquette at Club Abbey, the site of many absinthe-soaked affairs and the judge’s favorite watering hole back in the day, Stella orders two whiskeys on the rocks-one for her and one in honor of her missing husband. Stirring the ice cubes in the lowball glass, Stella begins to tell a tale-of greed, lust, and deceit. As the novel unfolds and the women slyly break out of their prescribed roles, it becomes clear that each knows more than she has initially let on.  (from Goodreads)

My Review

From the author Ariel Lawhon, a co-founder of She Reads, comes this wonderful tale based on the true story of the disappearance of Judge Joseph Crater in the 1930s.  Once called “the missingest man in NY”, Judge Crate disappeared into a cab one night and seemingly vanished into thin air.  The author takes us into a world of speakeasies and jazz clubs to imagine what really happened to the judge through the eyes of the women who knew hime best- his socialite wife Stella, his showgirl mistress Ritzi, and his maid Maria.  The story moves along nicely as we get to know these women and the kind of man the “honorable” judge was.  Then about 3/4 of the way through-BAM!  Awesome twist that makes you turn the pages even faster.  I love books set in this era, especially those set in NY.  What makes this even better is that it is based on a true story, which always makes me want to look up all the facts that I can on it.  The author does a terrific job of weaving in what might have happened to the judge, while creating very vivid female character to tell her story through.  Wonderfully written and evoking a spellbinding time in our history, I would definitely recommend this book.

Go over to She Reads to see more reviews of this book.

To learn more about the disappearance of Judge Crater-

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/joseph-force-crater-becomes-the-missingest-man-in-new-york

http://www.prairieghosts.com/crater.html

About the Author

Ariel Lawhon is the co-founder of the popular online book club She Reads (www.shereads.org). A novelist, blogger, and life-long reader, she lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart. Her next novel, THE WIFE, THE MAID, AND THE MISTRESS, will release from Doubleday in February of 2014.

The Divorce Papers- a review

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The Divorce Papers

by Susan Rieger

published by Crown

March 18th, 2014

I received this book as a digital ARC from the publisher through Net Galley in return for an honest review.

Summary

Twenty-nine-year-old Sophie Diehl is happy toiling away as a criminal law associate at an old line New England firm where she very much appreciates that most of her clients are behind bars. Everyone at Traynor, Hand knows she abhors face-to-face contact, but one weekend, with all the big partners away, Sophie must handle the intake interview for the daughter of the firm’s most important client. After eighteen years of marriage, Mayflower descendant Mia Meiklejohn Durkheim has just been served divorce papers in a humiliating scene at the popular local restaurant, Golightly’s. She is locked and loaded to fight her eminent and ambitious husband, Dr. Daniel Durkheim, Chief of the Department of Pediatric Oncology, for custody of their ten-year-old daughter Jane—and she also burns to take him down a peg. Sophie warns Mia that she’s never handled a divorce case before, but Mia can’t be put off. As she so disarmingly puts it: It’s her first divorce, too.  (from goodreads)

My Review

This is one fun read, though I must say that I now know way more about divorce law than I ever wanted to.  The main character in The Divorce Papers is Sophie Diehl, a 29 year old criminal law associate who enjoys her job.  She is hesitant when asked to help out with an intake interview for a divorce, but since it is for the daughter of a very important client, she does it.  Much to her dismay, she winds up stuck on the case when the client, Mia Miekljohn insisted she wants Sophie as her lawyer.  What comes next is a hilarious, often cringeworthy look inside a divorce.

Susan Rieger has written a debut novel that is new and refreshing.  Her characters are well written, especially Sophie.  The story is told all through correspondences- personal letter, emails, office memos, and legal papers.  While I found the legal papers very confusing and a bit boring (as I find ALL legal papers), it kept the story moving along and very interesting.  I would recommend this book- it was fun and a quick read for me!

My Rating

4 out of 5

About the author

Susan Rieger is a graduate of Columbia University Law School. She is also a former Associate Provost for Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action at Columbia University. The Divorce Papers is her debut novel.