The Assistants by Camille Perri

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The Assistants will be published by Penguin on May 3, 2016. Alright! Something other than the primary election to look forward to!

This book is hilarious and fun. Imagine being a 30 something, overqualified assistant to a media mogul with more money than you would ever even dream of having. What if there was an honest mistake, and a $19,000 reimbursement check came across your desk. It would completely pay off your student loans, so that you might be able to save a little money and move out of your tiny, dumpy apartment where rats run in the walls and the ceiling leaks.

Meet Tina Fontana. This is her story. Her boss, Robert Barlow, is the CEO of Titan Corporation, and he lives and breathes money. She makes a decision to use money to pay off her student loans, which snowballs into a major mess as more and more assistants find out about it and want in on the benefits. Her boss spends thousands of dollars on a pair of socks without even a thought. He would never catch on to their scheme…or would he? The stress of trying to keep the secret and to keep from getting caught is turning her into a worried mess. Meanwhile, Kevin, the hottest guy in her building, whom she is scared to speak to and ogles from afar, starts to take an interest in her. As they start dating, she finds it even harder to keep things from him. Especially since Kevin works in the legal department at Titan. The group of women that Tina, who used to consider herself an island, becomes close to are quite hilarious and unique. Probably my favorite is Emily, Tina’s new best friend and roommate. Emily’s wit and sarcasm are enough to drive Tina mad, but she comes to love her anyway. As the women become more involved in their robin-hood like scheme, they realize that something has to give at some point, and it’s only a matter of time before the cat is out of the bag. The ending is not what I expected, but it’s great!

I found myself laughing out loud at the way the must mundane scenes and objects are described in this novel. Just wait until you read how Emily describe the rain bubble on Tina’s apartment ceiling! Also, the description of Margie, another employee at Titan is priceless. And, not to be forgotten, how Tina describes Robert when he props expensive shoe up on her desk.

Well done, Camille. I can’t wait to see what other stories you come up with in the future.

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The Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris

I had never read anything by this author before, but I had read an early review about this book and was intrigued at the mention of  Alcatraz Island being the setting for a missing girl, in a situation w9780758281180_ad6c3here only one prisoner knew the truth of her whereabouts. It sounded like a great story line, and I enjoyed the book though it started out a bit slow. As it turned out, the story details the life of a young Irish boy named Shanley Keegan, with the missing girl portion of the plot only revealed at the very end of the book.

As a child of 12, Shan is living in Dublin under the care of his abusive Uncle Will, an alcoholic with not much parental guidance or care. Shan’s parents had both passed, and he only recently found a letter to his mother from an American musician, who it turns out is actually Shan’s real father. Shan decides to go to to New York to find his father and try to find a better life than that in Dublin, where he performs vaudevillian acts in nightclubs to scrounge up enough money for a square meal every now and then. Most of the money he earns is snatched up by Will and spent at the local pubs.

On the ship en route to America, Shan happens to be in the right place at the right time to help break up a fight between an Italian American named Nick Capello and some other young lads. Capello, who Shan will find out is quite the ladies’ man, was keeping company with the other young lads’ girls. To thank Shan for his help, Nick repays the favor, helping Shan through immigration in New York, allowing him to pretend to be Tommy Capello, Nick’s little brother. As it turns out, the real Tommy Capello was a sickly child and died at a young age. Nick’s family takes Shan in as part of their own. After many attempts and no success, Shan decides to give up the search for his real father, and assume the role of a Capello. The story progresses until we found adult Shan, now in the wrong place at the wrong time, but also while trying to help Nick. He ends up in Alcatraz, where good behavior earns him the role of gardener for the warden’s greenhouse. Here he meets a little girl who will forever change his life.

I won’t give away any more plot details, because there are some major events that occur which must be read to be fully enjoyed and understood. Readers can’t help but root for Shan, as hard times continue to befall him, and his attitude and outlook remain positive. Even as a prisoner in Alcatraz, he tries to find good in others, concentrating on serving the time without any trouble so he can go “home” to the Capellos. One of my favorite things about the story is the strong family bond between Shan and the Capello family, even though he wasn’t born a Capello, they took him in and he was loved as if he were. I think, perhaps, this is how Shan had the strength to make it through so many of the hardships in his adult life.

Fans of historical fiction would love this story. It reminded me some of The Green Mile, without the fantasy bit.