Reviews of the Week: with Chloé Esposito, S. D. Sykes, Jeffrey Tambor, and More!

Every weekday, we feature a different review on Booklist Online that highlights starred reviews, high-demand titles, and/or titles especially relevant to our current issue’s spotlight. We’ve collected the reviews from May 15 through 19 so that you can revisit the week’s best books.


May 15

Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama, by David Garrow

Garrow makes some unusual stylistic choices in this biography of the 44th president. He begins on Chicago’s Far South Side and details the economic downturn that would eventually lead Obama to enter public service there as a community organizer. Though interesting history, it stops the narrative before it starts, at least for readers who came for Obama’s story rather than those of displaced steel workers. Garrow ends the book with a choppy, rushed chapter that covers the years of the Obama presidency.



May 16

Are You Anybody? by Jeffrey Tambor

Actor Tambor’s charming memoir opens with a series of letters he wrote to the book editor and his reps, who were trying to convince him to pen his life story. Obviously, his answer was yes, as he goes on to recount his youthful struggles, his lifelong passion for the theater, and his film and television work, from his indelible role as Hank in HBO’s The Larry Sanders Show. Tambor is candid about the unhappiness of his childhood as well as his own missteps.


May 17

 City of Masks, by S. D. Sykes

The first two mysteries in the Somershill Manor series focused on fourteenth-century rural England following an outbreak of the Great Plague. This third installment, still starring Oswald de Lacy, who became a too-young and too-unprepared Lord Somershill after his father and two older brothers died in the plague, follows Oswald to Venice in 1358, as he travels through Europe to try to outrun the mental darkness that has consumed him for years.




May 18

 The Devil’s Muse, by Bill Loehfelm

New Orleans rookie cop Maureen Coughlin faces a new challenge: Mardi Gras. An NOPD patrol cop’s first Mardi Gras is a rite of passage like no other, and Coughlin’s is no exception. First a man, clad only in pink tights and very high on something, throws himself on the hood of a car and promptly turns catatonic. Then shots are fired somewhere in the crowd.


May 19

 Mad, by Chloé Esposito

Alvina Knightly has lost her job and her apartment in London on the same day. Her identical twin sister, Beth, has been begging her to visit her in Sicily, so with nothing holding her back, Alvie goes. Armed with her dildo—which almost gets confiscated at airport security—Alvie boards the plane, arrives, and is picked up by Beth’s hot husband. It turns out that Beth has an ulterior motive, wanting to swap places with Alvie for one night. However, the evening ends with Beth dead in a pool, leaving everyone under the impression that Alvie is Beth.

About the Author:

Eugenia Williamson is the former Associate Editor of Digital Products at Booklist.

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