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review 2018-07-29 23:03
Balance of Power (Op-Center #5)
Balance of Power - Tom Clancy,Jeff Rovin,Steve Pieczenik

With ethnic tensions suddenly boiling to the surface, Spain looks like it might go the way of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union or be kept together by a strong man in the image of Franco until Op-Center is put into the crossfire.  Balance of Power, the fifth book of the Op-Center series written by Jeff Rovin, ghosting for the titular Tom Clancy, once again finds Op-Center operatives in the middle of an international crisis but this time one of their own is set up with deadly consequences and vengeance is on everyone’s mind only to find that taken away by a man who allowed the attack to happen in an effort to forge Spain in his own image.


Sent to Madrid to help negotiate between two ethnic factions of the country, Martha Mackell is murdered by an assassin contracted by the very people she had been sent to help.  The men who ordered her assassination are then killed on the orders of the Spanish Chief of Staff who is looking to become the next Franco by inciting ethnic riots around the country, especially in his native Castile.  With one of their own killed and a NATO ally tilting between violently separating and a totalitarian regime, Op-Center must do everything in their power with the help of local Interpol officers to contain the situation.  Yet Director Paul Hood must also confront a situation in his marriage while Darrel McCaskey, Op-Center’s FBI liaison deals with his old love interest an Interpol agent who decides to take out the would be Franco herself which complicates things with Striker and McCaskey personally.


Released in 1998, Balance of Power uses the tensions in Spain which resonates today given the situation in Catalonia and effectively conveys the tensions in the country.  Unlike the previous book in which a character’s stupidity—General Mike Rodgers—basically drove the plot, it was conspiracies against conspiracies with independent human actors fighting for their country, honor, and more driving the plot which was a vast improvement.  Maria Corneja, McCaskey’s ex and Interpol agent, is the most prominent secondary character and while she was fine overall, yet if you had changed her name to Mario (Italian I know) and “she” to “he” nothing would have changed—save the romantic angle—but to say Corneja was a man with tits would be going too far.  While there were little things here and there that seem like tiny plot holes, nothing really stood out as completely awful but if I were to choose the worst part of the book, it’s once again Paul and Sharon Hood’s marriage which has been choreographed to be doomed since the first book.


Like several books before it, Balance of Power is another Op-Center book with an intriguing plot idea but for once Jeff Rovin writes the characters and narrative to carry it instead of undermining it like the three previous installments.  While it’s not the greatest action thriller, it’s a solid story with interesting characters which is considerably better than all the other books in the series maybe even including the original Op-Center.

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review 2018-07-26 19:31
Tyrant: Shakespeare On Power - Stephen Greenblatt

Greenblatt's studies on Shakespeare on "must reads" for me.  His discussion of the tyrants throughout Shakespeare's writings are thought-provoking in a way that I don't find anywhere else.  I particularly enjoy the discussion of Coriolanus, since that particular play is less performed and discussed than others.  I teach Coriolanus every year and students really love analyzing him so this book will add depth to our conversations around the motivations and thoughts of Caius Martius.  

Greenblatt makes it clear what his political leanings are and whether you agree with him or not, this study of the nature of tyrannical power is one well worth reading.

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review 2018-07-24 14:29
Absolute Power
Absolute Power (Mass Market) - David Baldacci

This book was Baldacci's debut novel and I loved it!  I'm so glad I finally read it because it was so much better than the movie.  In the movie they changed some of the details and leave out a big character.  I did like some of the changes since Clint Eastwood played Luther and it made sense with him.  It didn't have that thriller aspect like the book did though.  


Jack, who was a public defender but recently got a new job in a big law firm with a chance at becoming a partner.  He is engaged to the daughter of a billionaire and his life seems to be going really well.  He can't stop thinking about Kate though.  He and Kate were engaged to be married but she couldn't accept that he liked her dad, who was a thief.  She also couldn't deal with the fact that he defended criminals when he was a public defender.  Kate became a prosecutor and came down hard on people like her father.  She wouldn't have anything to do with him anymore since he ruined their family and she also cancelled her engagement with Jack.  


When Luther breaks into a mansion everything is going great until someone else comes in.  He has to hide in the vault hidden behind a mirror and wait until they were gone.  That's when he realizes the mirror is a one way mirror and he can see everything in the room.  He watches as the lady of the house is brutalized and murdered and then the scene is cleaned up to remove all traces of who had been there.  One thing was missed though and Luther saw it fall.  As soon as they left he came out and grabbed it and escaped through a window.  They soon realized what was missing and went back to find it but instead found it gone and a rope hanging out the window.  Luther knew he had to run for his life.  He got out of there and quickly left the country.  He knew no one would believe him if he went to the police with what he knew.  No one would believe who killed her.  He finally decided he had to go back and try to get justice but he knew it could mean losing his life.  

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review 2018-07-13 17:50
THE POWER by Naomi Alderman
The Power - Naomi Alderman

Wow! Imagine a world where the women take over. Men are controlled by women and women make the decisions. No man is permitted to do anything or go anywhere without a woman's approval. That's the premise of The Power.

I liked it. A lot. Roles are reversed. The thoughts and words have changed gender. Men control very little and only with the approval of women.

I was so into the story I forgot that it is a story that will be a novel of the time when the world changed from men leading to women leading. The set-up to and from the novel is done through letters from the author to a friend. Since he cannot tell the history as history, he does it as a novel. It works very well this way. I forgot it was a novel and was looking at it as ...hmmm, what if?

I liked how it is done by years and each year is seen from the main characters point-of-view. I liked Roxy. She's tough and a survivor. Allie started to believe her PR. So does Margot. I'm not sure whether the two of them become hinderances or return to the light. Allie's voice makes me wonder--serpent or angel. I also enjoyed Tunde and his male point-of-view of what is happening to the men and will they survive.

A well done novel that will make you question your beliefs. Lots of discussion points for book clubs. I know I'm recommending it for mine.

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url 2018-07-13 07:20
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