From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein

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My Review:

Twenty something Beck is living in DC, enjoying time with her boyfriend, working a part time teaching job and part time at Lululemon, trying to make ends meet, when she answers an ad for a job as a stenographer at a law firm on Craigslist.  They ask for her resume and cover letter and Beck, thinking nobody even reads her cover letters, omits it.   She hears back with a request for the cover letter and feeling discouraged from her ongoing job search she tells them in an email that her resumé speaks for itself.  But then she was invited to come in and take a test, which she does, and enjoys it – it is not a typing test as she expected, but a multiple choice and analogy test.  Beck, having done well on the test, is called back again for an interview. She agrees to go but misses it due to Lululemon training.  She has no interest in working as a stenographer but feels she needs interview practice so she makes a halfhearted effort. Feeling apathetic but with some vague sense of responsibility, she writes to apologize and gets this message back:

Hi Rebecca,

I understand you’re busy.  For transparency’s sake, I wanted to let you know this is a job at the White House, and you’d be traveling with the President on his domestic and international trips.  Let me know if this changes things.

Bernice”

And this very email changes Beck’s trajectory in life and in love as she embarks on a crazy journey with the White House staff and President Obama’s team.

I really enjoyed this memoir, From the Corner of the Oval;  Beck is not unlike any young adult fresh out of school and focused on herself, her friends and her love life.  Her boyfriend shenanigans and drinking escapades are typical and par for the course, fun to read and reminiscent of the good ol’ days in the big city for me, but her job was a once in a lifetime opportunity that gives this memoir an extended life, great interest and that un-put-downable quality!  Author Beck Dorey-Stein shares tidbits of insight and glimpses of President Obama and his staff through her eyes as she tells her personal story of struggles and growth, personal and professional, with this incredible, little known insider view as the colorful backdrop.

If you enjoy memoirs, if you have an interest in hearing about what is is like to travel the world with the President of the United States, or if you want to read about one young woman’s journey to find herself and happiness, Beck Dorey-Stein’s From the Corner of the Oval is for you!

 

Goodreads Summary

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About the Author:

Beck Dorey-Stein is a native of Narberth, Pennsylvania and a graduate of Wesleyan University. Prior to her five years in the White House, she taught high school English in Hightstown, New Jersey; Washington, D.C.; and Seoul, South Korea.

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Action Packed novels: I Am Pilgrim and A Harvest of Thorns

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Summary as seen on Goodreads:

A breakneck race against time…and an implacable enemy. An anonymous young woman murdered in a run-down hotel, all identifying characteristics dissolved by acid. A father publicly beheaded in the blistering heat of a Saudi Arabian public square. A notorious Syrian biotech expert found eyeless in a Damascus junkyard. Smoldering human remains on a remote mountainside in Afghanistan. A flawless plot to commit an appalling crime against humanity. One path links them all, and only one man can make the journey. Pilgrim.’

My Thoughts:

I Am Pilgrim is so good!  A suspenseful thriller that’s difficult to put down, author Terry Hayes takes us into the world of espionage, spanning many countries with complex character development and shocking revelations.  Medical and political aspects add to the twists in the plot and the storytelling is intelligent and well written.  For me, Pilgrim is reminiscent of James Bond; a superb crime novel.

Published May 2014

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Terry Hayes began his career as a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald, when as foreign correspondent in the US he covered Watergate and President Nixon’s resignation, among many major international stories. He then went on to become a successful screenwriter, having written the screenplays for Mad Max 2, Dead Calm, Bangkok Hilton, Payback and From Hell. He lives in Sydney with his wife and four children.

 

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Summary as seen on Goodreads:

A beloved American corporation with an explosive secret. A disgraced former journalist looking for redemption. A corporate executive with nothing left to lose.

In Dhaka, Bangladesh, a garment factory burns to the ground, claiming the lives of hundreds of workers, mostly young women. Amid the rubble, a bystander captures a heart-stopping photograph—a teenage girl lying in the dirt, her body broken by a multi-story fall, and over her mouth a mask of fabric bearing the label of one of America’s largest retailers, Presto Omnishops Corporation.

Eight thousand miles away, at Presto’s headquarters in Virginia, Cameron Alexander, the company’s long-time general counsel, watches the media coverage of the fire in horror, wondering if the damage can be contained. When the photo goes viral, fanning the flames of a decades old controversy about sweatshops, labor rights, and the ethics of globalization, he launches an investigation into the disaster that will reach farther than he could ever imagine – and threaten everything he has left in the world.

A year later, in Washington, D.C., Joshua Griswold, a disgraced former journalist from the Washington Post, receives an anonymous summons from a corporate whistleblower who offers him confidential information about Presto and the fire. For Griswold, the challenge of exposing Presto’s culpability is irresistible, as is the chance, however slight, at redemption. Deploying his old journalistic skills, he builds a historic case against Presto, setting the stage for a war in the courtroom and in the media that Griswold is determined to win—both to salvage his reputation and to provoke a revolution of conscience in Presto’s boardroom that could transform the fashion industry across the globe.

My thoughts:

A Harvest of Thorns is an eye-opening story about global business, responsibility, factory outsourcing and worker safety. The storyline idea sparked from a real fire in a factory in Bangladesh where many people were injured and died while making clothing for Walmart. Well researched and informative; I highly recommend this novel!

Published January 2017

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Corban Addison is the international bestselling author of A Walk Across the Sun, The Garden of Burning Sand, and The Tears of Dark Water, which won the 2016 Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Award.  His novels have been published in over 25 countries.  An attorney, activist, and world traveler, he is a supporter of humanitarian and social justice causes around the world. He lives with his wife and children in Virginia.  Learn more at his website corbanaddison.com.