UNHINGED by Omarosa Manigault Newman

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When I first heard about this new insider’s account about the life and times within the Trump White House, I immediately contacted my local library to get my name on a list to borrow the book once it came into the Collection. It didn’t take long; I got it on August 26th and started reading it right away.


Once I got past the prologue and introduction, I felt like I had frozen in time. I stopped to think about the title and about what I had just read, and about what the pundits had been saying about the book, and then felt like I had been lured into an Ashram of followers wanting me to sing from the same song sheet. I was both perplexed and amazed not only about the egocentric protagonist, but about the egocentric author. This book didn’t seem like much more than an opportunity to be noticed.


As I read on, musical lyrics popped through my head like “you gotta do things my way, or no way at all” except the ending would be “or else”.  Fear and anxiety, shock and dismay, coveted the White House staff. Everyone is always in damage control, but nobody seems to know how to handle the damage. The loudest voice wins.  Winging it from the West Wing becomes the norm. Even the spin is out of control and hearing the whole world laugh, doesn’t seem to matter.


None of this is new. We hear it every night on the news so what is this book about? It is really about an election in the USA and the rising of a different kind of president tantamount to a volcanic eruption. Unexpected; unprepared; unpredictable; out of control, yet self controlled. If you look in that mirror, as the lava flows, you will also see shades of Omarosa page after page after page.


Don Trump is Omarosa’s hero and mentor. She wanted to be just like him and once she got there, she couldn’t really let go. Even though she is no longer on the White House payroll, she continues to emulate  herself and her mentor. Someone asked me if I mean like a Frankenstein clone? I said “well you read the book and let me know.”


So this book doesn’t really give the readers any new insight into what is going on within the White House or into the persona known as DJT. We have already heard it all before through other books and via the media. It does give great insight into the personalities of the two protagonists however.


It becomes an easy book to put down.


Charming Predator

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The Charming Predator, Book written by Lee Mackenzie


When I first saw Lee Mackenzie as a TV news anchor, I immediately thought there is a story there. She looked either shy or sad, and after reading her book entitled The Charming Predator, I have concluded she is both shy and sad, but also her own hero.


Shy people are quiet by nature and tend to not be first in line, enthusiastic or quick off the mark. They stand back rather than step forward and that, I think, is what made Lee Mackenzie blind and vulnerable when a charmer crossed her path and changed her life forever.


Her story is her story, told from the perspective of a shy and sad woman. Her pain and her shame are mostly hidden between the words and within the lines of most of her book, until near the end when she finally throws caution to the wind and explodes in the face of the mad man she had long since divorced, and tells him what he needs to hear and what she needs to say.


The expression of her rage and disappointment in him and in herself, becomes the ultimate of therapy, finally slamming the door on the slippery slope that brought her from hope and promise to despair and disappointment.


Ultimately hidden beneath her shyness and her sadness, we see emerging the inner strength that she needed to stand back up on her own two feet, to step forward (not back) with a feeling of self confidence -- something that lay idol for most of her life. Her personal traumas opened her eyes and her mind, giving her a new lease on life and readers an enlightening account of the shocking life of an incredible woman.


Mike Duffy, stardom, senate, scandal

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Duffy: Stardom to Senate to Scandal
Author: Dan Leger
This is a delightful, easy to read, easy to follow, hard to put down book that clearly lays out the life and times of disgraced Senator Mike Duffy.  He is portrayed as a man who thrived on being on the inside and ends up being in the depths of the outside – so far removed that he can’t even peak in. Ostracized, humiliated, caught. His once bold, bright, charming public persona becomes as extinct as the cod fishery of the Maritimes, never to be resurrected regardless of court battles and expulsion decisions that are still pending.

Party Of One

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A different kind of book review

Party of One
Author: Michael Harris

Those of you who know me well, know that I am not an avid reader. But, at times, I do spot a book with a title and a sleeve that attract my attention.  Because of my line of work, this particular book caught my eye so I went to the Legislative Library and signed it out using my staff card.

The book sat at my desk for a few days before I actually opened the cover and read the synopsis. I was instantly intrigued and began to read. It did not take long before my eyes spotted a grammatical error – page one and first line of Sign of the Times – an unnecessary comma. Eight lines later – same error and then a long dash that looks more like a hyphen.  Long dashes are not hyphens. Long dashes separate a thought from the main subject. They need a space after the main thought and before the sub-clause begins and then again after the sub-clause ends and the sentence gets back to the subject of the main clause. Sounds complicated; but, it is actually quite straightforward and logical. Unfortunately, few people care.

Grammatical and sentence structure errors are detractors and, unfortunately, the book loses its appeal to people like me. Nevertheless, since I have only arrived at page 11, I decide I best set the disappointment aside and continue reading.

The gist of the book is basically that Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada, was born with an inquiring mind. He is a person who always questioned the status quo and subtly let his views be known through announcements, policy changes and legislative amendments that are presented as though acquired democratically. He is a complex or perhaps hidden person who doesn’t understand the distinction between working as an individual and working as a team player. It is either that or he simply does not believe in team work. I find this perplexing as he apparently loves to play hockey, the ultimate of team sports, and regularly watches hockey games. He also plays a musical instrument, in a band – a band that apparently is quite good. A band can only be good at the mercy of its musicians.

This book portrays Mr. Harper as a loner and a dictator masked in democratic clothing. His work persona is a personality that does not play well with others. With that demeanor, it is hard to understand how he has held on to the leadership of his party and been Prime Minister of Canada for so long.

As I read through the pages I developed an impression that lying and cheating is okay as long as you don't get caught. If you are caught, don't expect the boss to stand up for you and don't expect the boss to take ownership. Do whatever you have been directed to do and wear the consequences. The book cites several examples such as the Senate Scandal, the Auditor General investigations, First Nations litigation, abandoning Kyoto and devaluing scientific research. The Prime Minister is portrayed as a master or masterminded, almost czar-like and Caspar at the same time. Whenever the sky falls, he always seems to stand high above the tangled web or be completely out of sight.

When I turned the final page of this book, the first thought that came to mind is Democracy -- what is that exactly?

For people who are curious about the complex composition of the work ethic and spin within the world of politics, this would be a good reference source. Although I had trouble getting through the first dozen pages of the book for other reasons that relate to me and my passion, I did manage to put that aside and read all of it with significant interest.


The Tulip Eaters

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By Antoinette van Heugten

If you have ever wondered about what it might have been like to live in The Netherlands during World War II, you can get some pretty good insight in this book. It is the saga of the unknown. What I mean by that is that a lot of what happened during those years is unknown to subsequent generations and in this book a terrible saga unfolds highlighting the negative impact of no communication or bad communication. At the same time, the story exposes the human sacrifices of soldiers and civilians during the War and post-War, with future generations breaking through the silence in order to get at the truth. The story includes love, tragedy, kidnapping, murder and reconciliation. The plot is intriguing and, at times, confusing; but, in the end, it all comes together for a very interesting and enlightening reading experience.