FINE REVIEW: In Search of the Next POTUS (President of the United States): One Woman’s Quest to Fix Washington, a True Story

In Search of the Next POTUS (President of the United States): One Woman's Quest to Fix Washington, a True StoryIn Search of the Next POTUS (President of the United States): One Woman’s Quest to Fix Washington, a True Story by Judy Frankel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Alas, in the United States we now have an electorate easily distracted by glittering celebrity. Drawn easily to the trivial and seduced by nonsense, typical voters are more engaged in Bieber’s latest shenanigans (in reality these have no impact on their lives) than focus on the important stuff that in reality do profoundly impact the quality of our daily lives; specifically the rampant gerrymandering and corruption in the halls of government. But there’s nothing typical about author and master gardener Judy Frankel. As an activist (especially related to food issues) as she has selflessly manned the barricades (as so acutely documented and captured in this book’s subtitle, ‘One Woman’s Quest to Fix Washington”). Indeed she has championed our collective interests, while the rest of us have ignored her warning, complacent in the belief that the truth is best found on Entertainment Tonight and The View.

Witnessing Ms. Frankel’s political journey in the pages of POTUS, and the unremitting struggle and disappointments she faced along the way, concerns me. Clearly as a collective we are not prepared to extend ourselves personally, to make the effort to dig through the clutter in pursuit of forthright answers; and then do something about it.

By the way, Ms. Frankel does her best to avoid the customary tropes of attributing all ideological wisdom and political purity to solely one side of the debate, and is happy to point her earth-stained fingers (remember she is a master gardener) at all those that have dirtied their hands. The cast of villains is considerable: big business, unions, lobbyists, special interest groups, and both parties, the merry men and women inhabiting the house, and even the White House that persists in shoveling fetid fertilizer into our naïve faces. Just that we’ve all been so distracted that we haven’t noticed nor really cared. But that’s the thing, Ms. Frankel does care and should be revered for her Quixotic crusade, which would become considerably less speculative if more folks read this fascinating book—and chose to become engaged in the process to preserve our nation at the ballot box, on the basis of being truly well-informed.

I’m not claiming Ms. Frankel has all the correct solutions (though I take her view on food-related issues very seriously) but I’m thrilled to say in this book I’ve found evidence of “intelligent life,” someone not distracted by glitter, and with a demonstrative track record of being engaged up to her elbows on the earnest matters that affect ourselves and the future of our children.

I cannot deny this is a complex process, the vision Ms. Frankel has outlined, but I found it to be a compelling read. The author’s ability to take so many moving parts–all of them complicated–and reduce them down in a cogent fashion is mighty impressive. The fact she shares her personal story so frankly, makes this book so much more of an entertaining, human story. With 2016 just around the corner, I recommend “In Search of the Next POTUS” as both a timely and important read.

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FINE REVIEW: “THE LAST LION: Defender of the Realm” by William Manchester & Paul Reid. Hazard of Writing in the Footsteps of A Master

The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965 (The Last Lion, #3)The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965 by William R. Manchester
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The great biographer William Manchester had the ability to transport the reader back to a period of history with the lust and vigor of great fiction. Unfortunately, due to Manchester’s untimely death–and despite his already in-depth research on Churchill, in the hands of journalist Paul Reid this third volume of “The Last Lion” is merely dry and factual. I’ve never been overwhelmed by the size of large tomes, but this book has been difficult to navigate due to the fact that it seems to be “just about the facts” and fails to bring these larger than life characters that dominated the WWII stage back to life.

I still give it four stars because these same facts are meticulously documented, and for the sake of history this facet of a most momentous task—documenting Winston Churchill’s war years was well accomplished. Alas, the presentation is sterile and uninspired–unlike the two previous volumes in the trilogy.

To be fair there was but one William Manchester. And it is only fair to acknowledge that Paul Reid had an unenviable task trying to write in the footsteps of a great master; this he failed to do with the élan and grace of Manchester, but in the end I would rather have read this less-than-stellar book than had no Volume 3 at all. Finally, to have had Churchill’s war years neglected due to the mortality of a great author would have been a sad loss; my gratitude to Paul Reid for leaping into the breach and endeavoring to do his best to set the record straight.

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FINE REVIEW: “THE OLYMPUS PROJECT” by Ted Tayler ~ A Thrilling Read of Espionage and Vigilantism.

The Olympus Project (The Phoenix, #1)The Olympus Project by Ted Tayler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Author Ted Tayler is generous to his readers with dynamic characters and intricate plots. Redemption alone is a powerful force to shape a compelling story. But author Ted Tayler is generous to his reader, and adds a substantial dose of vigilantism, a lead character drowning in past vices, and a privately-funded secretive spy / counter terrorism group to the already charged mix. Cleverly he avoids a cast of mere caricatures, but devotes a chapter each, to fleshing out the motivations and scars of the principal characters driving the Olympus Project (we get to know their real names, but Colin Bailey will only know them by their pseudonyms….a nice touch).

Bailey comes to the task well skilled in eliminating people, but under the direction of his new masters his nihilistic instincts are more productively applied; disposing in creative ways those in positions of power that prey on the weak. And then the sub rosa efforts to provide crucial intelligence and counter terrorism support to Great Britain’s official security apparatus (without them knowing about it!). Needless to say creative solutions are required, and this makes “The Olympus Project” immensely more intriguing than conventional spy/vigilante faire.

But these well laid plans may be in jeopardy due to the temptations of a sensual but troubled female, which brings a new level of spice to an already boiling pot. So I look forward to reading next “Gold, Silver, and Bombs”– author Ted Tayler’s sequel in his Colin Bailey “The Phoenix Series.”

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FINE REVIEW: “A Fine Balance” by Robyn Cain ~ It’s a fine read :)

A Fine BalanceA Fine Balance by Robyn Cain

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A bald-headed psychopath returns to his neighborhood and the body count rises. He’s the nebulous face, the deadliest kind, of corporate espionage. An equal opportunity killer, incapable of remorse, uncaring whether his victims are family or foe. The opening sequence is startlingly dramatic as we witness the callous actions of this despicable individual. The scene is now set to unravel the full extent of this multi-layered plot.

Enter Jenny; clearly a beautiful and intelligent woman. She is also a revered employee at the company. Yet, rather than live a complete independent life, she merely exists; living a less than privileged life. Jenny’s circumstances add to the growing mystery. We then meet Matt who is travelling incognito, being the millionaire investigating those responsible for harming his company. Matt is a sudden and unwelcome guest in Jenny’s modest residence in order to best maintain his cover. With him impinging on her space, well, needless to say the sparks fly; first the feisty repartee, then the questioning passion.

However, at its heart this is a novel about family and the blood bond that binds–the best that family represents: love, selflessness, sacrifice, loyalty, tradition–and the worst: hatred, corruption, manipulation, betrayal and greed. A fine read. I’m certainly looking forward to reading more of Robyn Cain’s writings.

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