Capitol Hell Book Review

Title: Capitol Hell

Author: Jayne M. Jones & Alicia M. Long

Genre: Political Fiction

Publisher: Beaver’s Pond Press

Release Date: September 2012

Format: Kindle/Paperback

Pages: 328 pages

About the Book:

When recent college graduate Allison Amundsen, a small town girl from South Dakota, lands the highly sought-after job of scheduler to the newly-elected and rising star of the United States Senate, Senator Anders McDermott III, she initially thinks she is on the fast track to success. However, she quickly learns that crazy co-workers, a high maintenance boss, the boss’s over-the-top demanding family, and an unexpected Presidential bid make Capitol Hill seem even more dysfunctional than it looks on TV. In fact, it is Capitol Hell.

This off-beat, hilarious novel captures what it is like to work in the United States Senate. Find out how it feels to be a hot young staffer on Capitol Hill when you step into Allison’s hot pink high heels, and catch a glimpse of what life is really like ”inside the beltway.”

AmazonMy Review:

I loved reading about Washington D.C. from the point of view of a wide-eyed 22 year old.  I have never been to D.C., but the writers’ sassy descriptions helped me to understand the ins and outs of an everyday staffer’s life a little better.  Allison describes her second day on the job, and her walk to work:

DC sidewalks aren’t the sensible sidewalks found in South Dakota or Minnesota.  They’re uneven bricks grouted together with large, heel-grabbing gaps in between.  After five blocks I’d already lost the fight with the sidewalk three times.  First, my shoe would get stuck in a sidewalk crack, which would cause me to trip.  Luckily, I was just clumsy enough to have had plenty of past experience in balance recovery.

This paragraph reminded me of how many times I tripped on a crack in the sidewalk (even in flats) and also of the time I wore brand new heels to college  and after walking around for a couple of hours, had another student approach me and whisper that I was bleeding from my heels and leaving a trail of blood behind me.  What we won’t do for fashion when we’re young!!

The character of Allison is smart and sassy.  I felt for her because she didn’t want to take a lot of the crap that her boss and other staffers were dishing out, but she felt like she had to in order to be able to advance in the political world. Her friend Janet is her perfect counterpoint, shy, sweet and deferential, but with very dirty mind!!  They find themselves in the middle of one minor catastrophe after another, but using creative problem solving, always manage to come out on top.

The political story line is creative and funny (If this book and the TV show Veep are any indication, it would appear that most members of Congress are, to be polite, more than a little eccentric).  I think older women would enjoy looking back on their idealistic youth and younger women would identify even more closely with Allison and Jane.  I would not recommend this book for most men – it’s pretty firmly in the “chick lit” category.

I give Capitol Hell four pink high heels.  It’s interesting, funny and sassy.

About the Authors:

Jayne Jones, a graduate of William Mitchell College of Law, left Capitol Hill to work for the Minnesota House of Representatives, where she was the Executive Assistant to the Speaker of the House.

Following her drive and compassion to teach others about the legislative process and drafting legislation, Jayne is starting a summer academic program for teens to master public policy and the legislative process. Additionally, Jayne teaches political science at Concordia University.

Jayne’s students have gained national attention and praise for their legislative activities and involvement. Her students drafted, advocated for and passed the Kyle Herman Bill of 2010 and worked hand-in-hand with state and federal elected officials on state and federal legislation to curb child abuse in the classroom—especially special education classrooms. This year, Jayne’s students tackled eliminating state legislator immunity from impaired driving with their legislation, “No Boozin’ and Cruzin.”

Jayne is a member of the Concordia University Advancement Committee and a former inner city Girl Scout troop leader and live-in nanny.

Jayne is proud of her work with Margaret’s Missions, ensuring travelers with disabilities have access to see the world and enjoy life’s greatest adventures!

Jayne is full of life and loves reality television. She wholeheartedly believes in living each day to the fullest and loves a great sale for funky jewelry and skirts under $20. She thrives on meeting current and former United States Presidents, cheering for the University of North Dakota Sioux hockey team, catching Alaskan halibut, securing emergency medical visas for orphans and aiming to win her family’s salsa making contest!

Jayne prefers bright colored shoes, trendy handbags that can be used as briefcases, and not missing an episode of the Young and the Restless.

On her bucket list: being on the Wheel of Fortune, going to happy hour with Kelly Ripa, and figuring out how to boil corn-on-the-cob for that oh-so-darn-good buttery taste.

She is currently planning her wedding on a shoestring budget and resides in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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Alicia Long is originally from Hartford, South Dakota, a small town just outside of Sioux Falls.  In 2003, she received her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.  Upon graduation, she moved to Washington, D.C. to work on Capitol Hill.  While working on Capitol Hill, she served for United States Senators Norm Coleman (MN), John Thune (SD) and George Allen (VA).  She also served in various capacities, including scheduler, legislative correspondent, legislative aide, intern coordinator and caseworker.    While working on the Hill, she became proficient at mastering the metro system, crashing the nearest receptions, and acting as a tour guide for friends and family.

In 2007, Alicia returned to the Twin Cities to pursue her J.D. at the University of St. Thomas School of Law. She worked as a law clerk in the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Minneapolis City Attorney’s Office.  Upon graduation in 2010, she joined the Department of Justice as a Presidential Management Fellow and spent nearly a year working as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Columbia.

Alicia is board member of the D.C. Chapter of University of Minnesota Alumni Association and is also a member of the University of St. Thomas School of Law Annual Giving Committee. She is also a former inner city Girl Scout troop leader.  In her spare time, Alicia enjoys working on her golf swing, cheering on the Green Bay Packers, and reading everything from “In Touch” magazine to “The Great Gatsby.”

Alicia loves finding good deals on fashion, funky high heels, and opts for wearing Calvin Klein dresses and a blazer in lieu of a suit any day.  You can often find her out to happy hour with friends, checking out local shops or at the beach.
Her bucket list includes: going sky diving, traveling the world, mastering the New York Times crossword puzzle and marrying Green Bay Packer Quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Alicia currently resides in Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia with her German Shepherd/Black Lab mix, Sarge.

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I was given a complimentary copy of this book for the purposes of review.  All opinions are 100% my own.


Death By Bourbon Book Review

Title: Death by Bourbon

Author: Abigail Keam

Genre: Mystery

Publisher: Worker Bee Press

Release Date: September 2012

Format: Kindle/Paperback

Pages: 196 pages

About the Book:

Charming and handsome Addison DeWitt takes a sip of bourbon at an engagement party and falls into a fit a few minutes later. Josiah thinks it was murder, but no one believes her except for her friends, Lady Elsmere and Meriah Caldwell, the famous mystery writer. The three of them try to outsmart the suspected murderer, but the killer is always three steps ahead of them in this fast-paced, witty and fun who-dun-it! Death By Bourbon is the fourth installment in the award-winning Josiah Reynolds mystery series. Josiah Reynolds is a retired art professor who keeps honeybees as a hobby. She lives in an iconic house called the Butterfly designed by her now deceased husband. An amateur sleuth, Josiah lives in the glamorous world of Thoroughbreds, oak-cured bourbon and antebellum mansions, struggling to uncover the truth in the Kentucky Bluegrass, which keeps its secrets well.

Amazon My Review:

As my loyal readers know, I am a big fan of stories with strong women.  Josiah Reynolds and her friends are definitely that. Over the previous three books Josiah has been thrown off a cliff; her husband left her, taking off with all of her money; and her daughter became a professional thief.  But she is a survivor and manages to keep going and keep her Southern bearing through everything that life tosses at her.

The first few chapters of Death by Bourbon were very confusing to me because the author does not give a lot of backstory but seems to assume the reader has read her previous books.  By chapter four, and after re-reading the first three chapters, I was able to figure out who was who and what was going on.  The plotline is typical mystery fodder, but it is the characters and the Kentucky upper class lifestyle that really make the story come alive.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the book:

Sometimes right and wrong look the same in the daylight, but opposite in the reflection of moonbeams.

and here’s another:

It must be in our genes to possess beauty, whatever form it comes in.

If Agatha Christie and Lilian Jackson Braun had a few too many drinks at Churchill Downs and a seventh grader transcribed their notes, this book might be the result.  it’s a fun read, but it could have been better written.

I give Death by Bourbon 3 1/2 shots.

About the Author:

Abigail Keam is an award-winning author who writes the Josiah Reynolds mystery series about a beekeeper turned sleuth.
Death By A HoneyBee won the 2010 Gold Medal Award for Women’s Lit from Reader’s Favorite and was a Finalist of the USA BOOK NEWS-Best Books of 2011.

Death By Drowning won the 2011 Gold Medal Award for Best Mystery Sleuth and also was placed on the USA BOOK NEWS-Best Books of 2011.

Ms. Keam is also an award-winning beekeeper who lives on the Kentucky River in a metal house with her husband and various critters.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for review from First Rule Publicity from the author as part of a virtual book tour. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”