Showing posts from June, 2016

audiobook review: The Assistants by Camille Perri

narrated by Jorjeana Marie The basics: The Assistants, Camille Perri's debut novel, is the story of Tina Fontina, a thirty-year-old who serves as the executive assistant to Robert Barlow, the CEO of Titan, a media conglomerate. What begins innocently soon spins a big scheme to falsify expense reports to pay off the student loans of assistants throughout the company. My thoughts: As I wrote the basics above, I kept trying to come up with a description that made it sound like a book I would actually want to read. I didn't know much about this novel when I downloaded the audiobook from my library, and I think that's the way to go into it. It's a quick listen, and I found it entertaining, funny and surprisingly insightful. In that way, the book sneaked up on me. I was enjoying the story, as it was clearly diverting from reality into delightfully reckless fictional insanity, when I found myself wowed. Perri has absolutely written an entertaining novel, but it packs a wo

book review: Chronicle of a Last Summer by Yasmine El Rashidi

The basics: Yasmine El Rashidi's debut novel is set in Cairo in three pivotal summers in modern Egyptian history: 1984, 1998, and 2014. My thoughts: I admit, most of what I know about contemporary Egyptian politics comes from watching the documentary The Square, which is harrowing and amazing. El Rashidi has the daunting task of writing a novel about a time and place readers may or may not be familiar with. She attempts to address this problem through her narrator. We meet her in 1984 when she is a child trying to filter the different things she hears from friends and family members to make sense of them. Child narrators don't often work for me, but this one was successful. She served as a filter for the reader to learn the state of things, and this section also sets the stage to offer contrast to the coming sections (if you know anything about Egypt, that is not a spoiler.) The second section was my favorite. I partially attribute it to the fact that the narrator, and per

book review: Blood Defense by Marcia Clark

The backstory: I thoroughly enjoyed Marcia Clark's prior mystery series, featuring Los Angeles prosecutor Rachel Knight: Guilt by Association , Guilt by Degrees , Killer Ambition , and The Competition . Blood Defense  is the first in a new series featuring Los Angeles defense attorney Samantha Brinkman. (It also signals a change in publishers for Clark.) And yes, as her Twitter handle says , she's that Marcia Clark, who is still most famous for prosecuting O.J. Simpson for murder. The basics: Blood Defense  introduces Samantha Brinkman, a defense attorney struggling to make a name for herself. She appears as a defense expert frequently on a new talk show, but her office is in the heart of gang territory, and she lacks high profile, paying clients. That changes when she takes the case of Dale, an LAPD detective charged in the double homicide of Chloe, a starlet and his girlfriend, and Paige, Chloe's roommate. My thoughts: The mystery at the heart of this novel is who kil

Sunday Salon: Two Weeks in Review

Hello from hot and sunny Orlando! I'm here for the American Library Association's Annual Conference, which is once again proving to be an exciting and exhausting mix of work, fun, networking, book events and reading. My schedule calms down considerably tomorrow, so I hope to spend time drafting some of those reviews I keep meaning to write. What I Read Last Week The Last Two Weeks 1. Since my last week in review,  I finished Blood Defense  by Marcia Clark. I am impatiently awaiting the second book in this series, Moral Defense,  but I'm excited it's out in November. Two books a year? Yes, please! 2. I also finished The Assistants by Camille Perri on audio, which was entertaining and perceptive. It surprised me. I keep pondering it--in a good way. 3. I picked the new novel from one of my favorite authors, Ann Patchett, to read on the planes to Orlando, and I'm so glad I did. Commonwealth  isn't out until September, but it is a masterpiece. 4. I'm curre

Sunday Salon: Introducing The Week in Review

Hi, there! It's been awhile. I'm reading some, listening to audiobooks more, and writing reviews not at all. I've also been pondering some new ideas for this space I love. As I've shifted away from prize list reading to reading whatever strikes my fancy, I find I'm almost always reading books not yet out or books published in the last month. I love this impulsive reading, but when publishers ask you to hold reviews, there's been a disconnect between when I read the book and when the review posts. I don't want to stop doing reviews, but I do want to find a way to talk about things as I'm reading them. I do some of that on Twitter, but I want to find a way to carve out more of me in this space. Thus, today I'm launching The Week in Review, which is inspired by Maris Kreizman's The Maris Review (you should subscribe to this Tiny Letter. It's awesome.) I like the idea of keeping track of books, tv, movies (in theory), articles I've read,