The Clasp by Sloane Crosley These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik

If I Could Turn Back Time by Beth Harbison

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Publisher: St Martin's Press
Source: Netgalley
Rating: 3/5
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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?
As I said earlier in the week, I've recently read two books with similar main characters and little gimmicks to differentiate from the crowd. 

The hook for If I Could Turn Back Time was the main character going back in time to her eighteenth birthday. I LOVE 13 Going on 30, 17 Again, Freaky Friday and all those other switcheroo films so as soon as I saw this, I knew I had to read it. Also, the title is my second favourite Cher song (Believe is my favourite. You can't beat a vocoder).

If I Could Turn Back Time was witty and fast paced (but in a good way). It's the type of book that can be devoured in one sitting on the beach or a nice book for the commute. As with Love and Miss Communication, it opened strongly. In fact, it was very funny and I couldn't help but picture (and hear) Elizabeth Banks as Ramie.

Given the premise, this book could've been very predictable (you know - go to prom, get your own back on the mean girls, get the guy etc.) and whilst some of those elements were there, it was handled differently. We all romanticize our teenage years and think we were completely different people back then but one thing Ramie learns is that she's not that different at all and I suppose that's true - you can change little quirks but you really can't change your character. 

I loved all of the characters and especially loved Ramie, which is always good where the main character is concerned! Her parents were really well written - especially her dad, those scenes were very heartfelt - and she only had one best friend, hooray! Her relationship with her then boyfriend was very sweet too and it was nice that she got the chance to appreciate it even more. 

If I could Turn Back Time really made me think and I'm sure it will do the same to you. Would you go back in time if given the chance? What stage in your life would you revisit? I think I would like to go back to being 18 again just so I could appreciate it more. There were lots of quotes that stood out for me in this book - for example, at one point Ramie thinks about all of the selves we lose as we grow older or the fact that once you lose someone close to you, unexpected phone calls produce panic rather than excitement. My only criticism is that I would've liked the alternative reality part of the book to play out a little longer if only to really hammer home the fact that the grass isn't necesarily greener on the other side. 

Overall, I really like this book. It was very funny in places - there was bite to it, which I hadn't expected for some reason - and had some extremely heartfelt moments. I always wanted to read When In Doubt, Add Butter but never managed to get hold of a copy, so I'm glad I can finally say I've read a Beth Harbison book and I'll definitely look into getting some more. 

Love and Miss Communication by Elyssa Friedland

Monday, June 22, 2015

Publisher: William Morrow & Company
Format: Paperback
Rating: 3/5
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Evie Rosen has had enough. She's tired of the partners at her law firm e-mailing her at all hours of the night. The thought of another online date makes her break out in a cold sweat. She's over the clever hashtags and the endless selfies. So when her career hits a surprising roadblock and her heart is crushed by Facebook, Evie decides it's time to put down her smartphone for good. (Beats stowing it in her underwear--she's done that too!) And that's when she discovers a fresh start for real conversations, fewer distractions, and living in the moment, even if the moments are heartbreakingly difficult. Babies are born; marriages teeter; friendships are tested. Evie just may find love and a new direction when she least expects it, but she also learns that just because you unplug your phone doesn't mean you can unplug from life.
Last week I read two very similar books featuring single women in their mid-to-late thirties going through the "last call" panic. Both were entertaining with little gimmicks to separate them from the pack.

Love and Miss Communication's USP was the main character giving up the internet after her constant emailing and Facebooking resulted in dire consequences. I'm sure many people will be grabbed by this premise in this day and age considering the amount of time we spend attached to our smartphones and tablets and whatnot. 

The opening was really strong. I laughed out loud and chucked through at least the first 30-40 pages. However, once Evie gave up the internet, I feel like it started to lose some of it's spark a teensy bit. Although, this could've been down to the fact that Evie herself went through a period of feeling lost and unsure. It can be hard to bring the tone down to something more serious in a romantic comedy without losing the liveliness. It also became a little bit predictable - which I suppose isn't a bad thing when it comes to a good summer read. I don't know, I suppose the grass is always greener but it always seems like in these types of books, the successful professional woman wants to give it all up to become an artist/designer/children's book illustrator.

Still, the characters were nice. Evie was the dutifully ditzy yet highly capable lead that we've all come to expect from rom-coms. The friends were all variations of her but I think it might've been nice if she only had one or two best friends and they were featured more throughout the story. Edward was refreshingly normal for the love interest (I don't think that's a spoiler - you know what you're getting with a book called Love and Miss Communication) but Jack was a bit of a straw man. There wasn't really anything within his character to show why Evie was so hooked on him. The star of the book is most definitely Evie's grandma Bette. Many of the zingy one liners belong to good old Bette.

The main lesson that can be learnt from this book is you can enjoy everything in moderation but maybe it's good to detox sometimes. Evie learnt a lot about herself during her hiatus from the internet and managed to be more present in her family life. However, she also realised that times have changed and in order to keep up with your friendship circle social media is necessary. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing...I like to write these reviews on here (although I haven't been so good at it lately), I go on Facebook to speak to friends and family abroad, and I like to snoop around on Twitter sometimes. However, I don't have Instagram or Snapchat or the other popular apps and I don't feel like I'm missing anything. Perhaps it's an age thing - do you feel you need to be on social media to keep up with friends?

Overall, Love and Miss Communication is a nice read with an interesting hook. If you like a good rom-com be sure to give it a go this summer. 


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Finally taking the plunge and joining Katy Upperman and others with the biweekly 'Currently' posts.


My post holiday glow (which is quickly disappearing thanks to the wind and rain). Anyway, there was a lot to love about where I went. I spent last week and the week before in lovely Florida so I'm still in Disney mode. We usually go to the same place in Orlando and then do some mini trips to Sarasota or Miami. This time we stayed in Orlando the whole time but did some exploring. We fell completely in love with Winter Park! We had dinner at Prato after our boat tour and Bosphorus over Memorial Weekend and went to a great independent bookshop - Writers Block Bookstore. Of course, we did some parks. We had a fun day at Universal Studios and saw the new part of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We also enjoyed Star Wars Weekend at Hollywood Studio.


The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll. At the point of writing, I've still got a hundred or so pages left but this is definitely one of the best books I've read all year. It might all go pete tong in the end so I'll hold off on recommending it just yet but I'm almost certain I'll be writing a glowing review.

Whilst on holiday, I finished Fall of Giants by Ken Follett, which was rather epic. I also read the oh so cute Sweet Girl by Rachel Hollis, which is the sequel to Party Girl. I really like the tone of those books and I'm desperate to find something similar.


I finally got round to watching Exodus: Gods and Kings on the plane. It was okaaaay. Christian Bale was a really good Moses, which surprised me for some reason but it was a bit too long (and then rushed at the end - he got theTen Commandments pretty quickly!) and some of the changes to the story weren't my cup of tea.

I also watched two book adaptations on the outbound flight - Love Rosie and This Is Where I Leave You - both of which were very good. I loved both books and loved both films, so couldn't ask for more. We also watched Pitch Perfect 2 whilst on holiday. There wasn't as much of a story as the first one but it was much funnier. Also, the other cinema goers were extremely enthusiastic - whooping and singing and laughing loudly - which made all the difference. I wish our cinemas were that lively. After all, it's a collective experience. If you want peace and quiet, you'd watch the film at home, no?

TV wise I didn't watch as much US TV as I wanted to (I planned to take advantage of the Netflix change in location but only got as far as Parenthood season 1, episode 1) because I got hooked on the HGTV channel. I'm currently experiencing withdrawal symptoms and can't help but go around the house thinking 'if we just knocked that wall through there...'


Mumford and Sons (especially Broad-Shouldered Beasts), Django Django, Miranda Lambert, and the Flashlight song from Pitch Perfect. Oh and Save Me by Remy Zero. Smallville was the best.

I've also been on a bit of a John Williams trip as well thanks to all the promotion for Jurrasic World and that iconic theme played so hauntingly at the end of the trailer (although the new film is scored by Michael Giacchino - YESSSSS) plus the Harry Potter and Star Wars music being continually piped through the speakers at the parks.


Well, now that holiday is out the way I don't really have anything to countdown to anymore. I function better if I know things are on the horizon, so I'll have to think about planning some interesting bits and pieces for the summer. On a greater level, I am getting a little bit antsy. I never did the whole gap year/gap yah thing and I wasn't able to do study abroad at university so my feet are itching. Everyone needs a change now and then...


Ok, well I do have two things to look forward to this month. The Space Spectacular concert (featuring the music of John Williams - hurrah!) at the Royal Albert Hall and The Audience (starring Kristin Scott Thomas, who I now have an even softer spot for after learning people mistake her shyness for coldness - lady I know how you feel).


I would love to have spent a few more weeks in Florida. I just really needed the sunshine and could do with a little bit more. Even when it gets hot here, it's not HOT. It's sort of a cold sunshine if that makes sense? Let's put it this way - the last time I wore shorts in England was at a music festival in 2013.


Possibilities. Anything could happen (well so Ellie Goulding says anyway).

What's happening in your world right now? Let me know!