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Answering 911 Life in the Hot Seat

Answering 911  Life in the Hot Seat by Caroline Burau

Caroline Burau acknowledges the general public's fascination with her job.  As a 911 dispatcher she fields calls from people in danger as well dangerous people.  We follow her from her first day on the job, to on-the-job training, through her rotation at multiple stations within the call center.  
I empathized with her back story.  She had been through drug addiction and come out on the other side.  I also thought that being a 911 operator might be the worst job for a recovering addict in regards to being exposed to triggers on a daily basis.  But I was optimistic, I was cheering her on.

The 911 calls themselves are the most fascinating.  I suppose it is my voyeuristic nature.  However, I quickly became annoyed at Burau's attitude towards her newly adopted stepdaughter.  Burau doesn't express many motherly concerns but then makes comments like an exasperated mother. She brushes her stepdaughter off because she doesn't make trouble and gets good grades, but she is annoyed that she talks too much.  This insight into Burau's nature was the first to rub me the wrong way.

As she settles into her job responsibilities, she becomes hard.  One can expect this from any high stress job, but Burau's evolution from naive to judgmental was the final straw.
I laughed when I read one of her first call responses:
"I've just been robbed!"
"With a gun?"
I had no more empathy or sympathy when her responses became more like "This person doesn't want justice, he wants validation.  Sometimes I have that to give.  Sometimes it feels like too much to ask.  Maybe that's what burnout is.  When you've run out, entirely."

The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro

When I watched "The Thomas Crowne Affair" (1999 version) I was fascinated with  Esther Canadas' character, Anna.  Beautiful and mysterious, she's a major player in Crown's world of art reproductions and forgeries.  She oozes sex appeal and she....paints for him?  There was a whole storyline we weren't given.  

Until now.
B.A. Shapiro builds on the largest unsolved art heist in history.  Centered around the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Shapiro takes readers into Anna's world by way of Claire Roth. 

After being blacklisted by the Boston art community, Claire legally reproduces famous paintings for an online retailer to make ends meet.  She is the stereotype of the starving artist with no concern for schedules or a proper bed.  When Aiden Markel offers Claire her own show at the museum in exchange for reproducing a Degas that may or may not be a forgery, Claire accepts his conditions.  She soon begins to doubt the painting's origins and her investigations uncover a long ago hidden romance that will rock the art world and support her theories.  In a mental game of three card monte, Shapiro keeps you on your toes trying to figure out which paintings are real, which are reproductions, and which are forgeries.  Be warned:  Do not read this book if you have plans because you will not be able to put this page-turner down. 

To see the paintings that were stolen click here.
To watch a documentary on the theft check out Stolen.

Pursuing the Times by Lauren Baratz Logsted

Pursuing the Times by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Mercury Lauren is frustrated with the injustice of genre classification.  She will tell you that she writes satire...which is generally categorized as chick-lit.    Voicing the opinion of many women authors, Mercury repeatedly points out the unfairness of "classifying any book by women or about women"  as chick-lit. 

While successful in her "genre," her nagging inner pessimist is in search of an objective read.  Convinced of getting her work into the hands of Frank D’Arcangelo, Editor-in-Chief of the New York Times Book Review, Mercury manages to make a fool of herself at the National Book Awards ceremony, a yoga retreat, and on a golf course.  

Logsted provides a humorous main storyline filled with literary jargon and relatable mis-steps.  Who hasn't had a breath-stopping editing mistake like the one Mercury makes?
"It was then that I noticed the page counter in the lower left-hand corner of my computer had changed from 349 to 1. I hit Word Count: instead of 82,073, that said 1 too. My 349-page book, that I’d been working on for months, was now reduced to – gasp! – a single em-dash."
With a cast of characters including literary agents and their secretaries, unethical book reviewers,  unexpected houseguests, and...Donald Trump?  the story is well-rounded with a realistic amount of romances, steamy sex scenes, and family dramas.

As a book lover and aspiring novelist, Mercury Lauren is the most relatable character I have read in ages.  She's not perfect or glamorous, but she is defiant and determined that one label cannot be applied to all work written by or for women.  I'll be thinking of Mercury the next time I encounter a sexist literature snob. I'm going to quote her when I roll my eyes and tell him:
"Ohhh...go read some Hemingway."