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.

Vatican Diaries

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Vatican Diaries

by John Thavis

As you know, I tend to not read very much but, every once in a while, I spot a title of interest while I am browsing around the Legislative Library of British Columbia. Sometimes I wonder why certain books are in their collection because I thought their focus was on the history, politics and governance of our province, our writers, poets, journalists, inventors, actors, millionaires etc. I am not sure how a book about the Vatican fits into that roster but, nonetheless, this book is a great find. It takes you on a behind the scenes field trip to learn about the personalities and politics at the heart of the Catholic Church.

I have been to the Vatican and I have toured the grounds and the interior areas to which the general public has access. This book, however, covers not only that common stuff, but it brings the reader into the bowels of the empire. I was going to say the heart of the empire, but in using bowels as a metaphor, you can sense where this review is going.

The author is an insider. He is a Vatican-based journalist with press privileges only accorded to a select few. He befriended priests and cardinals and future popes, journeymen and janitors, maids and mistresses, kooks and cooks. The lining is torn between traditionalists and modernists; on the sexual abuse scandal, the wool is over the eyes of the very people who have the power to act, even a pope or two, all believing this too shall pass! As we all know, the crap doesn’t pass and the bowel line gets plugged, badly plugged, and regardless of how much Pepto they swallow, the bulge just won’t go away.

Fear of wrath or excommunication or isolation feeds the higher hierarchy with extreme power and a strong worldwide following. Faith in the men of the cloth, even within the Vatican, leading the way to salvation and heaven, blinds them from believing anything could be amiss. Victims are wrong; research is wrong; the diaries of the perpetrators are wrong; confessions are wrong.

The Vatican empire grows and grows; it functions under a veil of secrecy and even the factions within the empire work in isolation and hold secrets from each other. It is almost like mini revolutions take place, with a punch here and there, silent treatment, cover-ups, questionable powers, abuse of powers, and mayhem, yet, the hoards of people who stand in line each and every day to visit the Vatican, to tour a small portion of the grounds and of the buildings, to buy the paraphernalia, to take the pictures, to spot the Pope – they have no inkling of the pain and sadness, the darkness and scariness of the working lives and personal lives of the people on the payroll – a payroll banked by the contributions of Catholics around the world, all so innocently ignorant.