Madam Vice President by Julian Mann is an exciting story about Victoria Pierce, a very ambitious girl who flees her home in Oklahoma, escaping her strict parents, and moves to San Francisco where she enlists in the United States Marine Corps. She is very patient and determined, persevering and works her way up the ranks till she becomes the Brigadier General.
She gets into a dreaded love affair with the United States Senator Sam Eagan throughout her career development phase and they manage to keep it a rendezvous from everyone except one anonymous stalker. She goes ahead and joins politics where she befriends Grace Brandon who gets suspicious of Victoria’s past and poses a threat that could change Victoria’s future in politics when she is elected president.
Author Julian Mann bases this riveting story on real-life situations that are based on a real 25th amendment law that raised his concern. He uses his writing to connect with a larger audience and the vivid way the story is written makes it more relatable to readers. The flow of events creates suspense at the end of each chapter; this made it very hard for me to pick a place to set the book down. The story is filled with rich, believable, dialogue that feels engaging throughout this novel; which is important because this is a character focused drama.
The fact that the author has managed to write the book in an agrarian setting and still bring out women empowerment throughout the growth of Victoria’s career increases the book’s appeal (at least to me it does) and is a role model for strong female protagonists.
The friendship between Victoria and Grace would have been a good one if not for Grace’s envy which sparks curiosity, raising eyebrows that make her poke into Victoria’s past. Despite the bad decisions she made, the young Vera Ochman still fights against all odds to become successful.
Madam Vice President by Julian Mann has a seemingly endless flow of intriguing events that ratchets up the suspense in this dramatic political fiction novel. I think this novel will appeal to anyone looking for an engrossing political thriller that knows how to build compelling characters.
Pages: 297 | ASIN: B08TK9GM3H
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White Lies Matter explores the deceptions and cynicism of America while exploring the “alt- facts” that permeate contemporary society. Why was this an important book for you to write?
Years ago, noted art critic Robert Hughes lamented the fact that America had never had a Goya. That notion apparently remained in my subconscious because by 2013, I realized that my art was focused more and more on revealing the lies and misconceptions that were abundant in American history.
In addition to that motivation, my education includes minors in mathematics, foreign language and art history. And, my professional background goes well beyond teaching classes in art and art history. I have also taught in the University of Florida College of Engineering, created and taught in the Master of Business Administration degree program in UF’s College of Business Administration, and taught Art Law at UF for fifteen years along with Distinguished Service Professor of Law, E. L. Roy Hunt. And, for more than ten years, I worked with Professor of Medicine, Dr. James Cerda studying and writing about the health hazards affecting actors, artists, dancers, and musicians. I was also made quite aware of all of the issues beyond the arts that face our society through my founding of the nation’s first arts policy center, the multidisciplinary UF Center for the Arts and Public Policy and its many subsequent diverse programs.
There was a lot of history you covered in the book and examined in different ways. How much research did you undertake for this book?
It took eight years to complete the book, and every part of it was researched in depth over and over again. As an artist, I was convinced that it was imperative for me to take greater pains than a historian to ensure the accuracy of the text.
What is a common misconception you feel people have about the modern American political system?
As I researched material for the art images, I re-learned a great deal about American history. It also became apparent to me that far too many Americans did not know, did not understand, or did not believe our history. I first noticed this in the 1990s with the polarization of students in several of the art law classes. A significant number of the third year law students were politically to the far right, espoused Evangelical Christianity, and even admitted that they were studying art law in order to learn how to better censor art. In the early 2000s, I created an art class titled Drawing, Politics and Graphic Propaganda focusing on the editorial cartoon. For the several years that I taught this class, students literally split into two separate, polarized, opposing groups. This situation was most apparent during the class critiques when students presented their completed editorial cartoons. Half of them––literally––lined up on the right side of the room, the other half on the left. And that division was completely reflected by the views they espoused during the critique session.
You convey facts with metaphors and various storytelling devices. Was this intentional or incidental to your writing style?
I attempted to inform the viewer-reader both visually and through my written analysis. I recognized that the small slate was the chalkboard of education in the nineteenth century, but it also reminded me of today’s iPad. This double interpretation was important as I began to utilize the image of a small slate as the vehicle to “educate” viewers about this dilemma. The written accompaniment to this digital art series was inspired by a former student of mine, Patrick Grigsby, who observed––during one of my New Year’s Day celebrations with many friends––that when I talked about my digital art accompanied by the images of the slates on my computer monitor, people could begin to understand it.
As far as either the written and art style is concerned, it is quite eloquently summed up in art critic Peter Frank’s 2003 essay on my work entitled “How you see it, how you don’t.” Frank wrote, “Like an opera singer who has carefully cultivated a dramatic stage presence as well as a golden voice, and who has done so in part to be able to pass on such crucial ambidexterity as part of his or her legacy, O’Connor trains us by showing us by example–example that has not been dumbed down, but cleaned up. He entices us into his intellections not by making them less elusive (or for that matter allusive), but by making their elusions (and certainly their allusions) more inviting. If Americans can learn to eat spicy food, they can learn to ‘read’ art.”
Author Links: Website
Artist/art professor John A. O’Connor characterizes his series White Lies Matter: Decoding American Deceptionalism as “a history of American hypocrisy.” Using the image of the slate as a consistent base, White Lies Matter ranges across historical and contemporary America, touching down at flashpoints of inequality, misunderstanding, and conflict. From the gradual decay of national institutions to more immediate political crises, O’Connor’s project traverses a list of illegalities and cover-ups, oppressions and suppressions, tracing links between individuals and institutions in positions of influence. It begins with Christopher Columbus and the First Thanksgiving—mythologies that crumble very easily by now—and moves on through the contradictory and belated embedding of religion in the nation’s founding documents, to the calamitous installation of Donald Trump as its 45th president. White Lies Matter: Decoding American Deceptionalism reveals the deceptions, lies, and cynicism of America and the “fake news” and “alt- facts” that permeate contemporary society. Note: Michael Wilson is a New York-based writer and editor and the author of How to Read Contemporary Art: Experiencing the Art of the 21st Century (New York: Abrams, 2013).
Posted in Interviews
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1 Law for All – Gator is the third installment of a Billy Angel’s political thriller series. This book is a suspenseful crime fiction story set in modern times. There are two storylines that this book follows; Dominica and her upcoming nuptials, as well as the Fair and Freedom Foundation, which is an organization consisting of mostly millennials who fight against voter fraud. They have sought help from the 1 Law for All Foundation as the organization has drawn attention from dangerous people. With the backdrop of a wedding and the action-packed dangers of the political waters, Gator country is in trouble.
There is a lot to unpack in this book thrilling book. It felt like an alternate timeline to our current situation in the U.S. There was great detail put into the the plan to tamper with the election by the Democrats in this high stakes political thriller. They were heavily involved with having votes changed by various nefarious means, Russians were involved, and there was even mention of Clinton conspiracy theories at one point. All are uncanny portrayals of the extreme views both sides take in todays turbulent political climate and that same tension is successfully reflected on the page in Billy Angel’s riveting thriller. I appreciated how well thought out the plan was to commit election fraud as it made it feel real, which allowed me to get further invested in the story and the characters. This story utilizes right-wing conspiracy theories to great affect. Those theories in our current political climate can be dangerous and delegitimize our democracy, but Billy Angel, like any good fiction writer, asks the question of ‘what if’ and sets his story on a path that is entertaining.
1 Law for All – Gator is an intriguing fictional take on election fraud, even introducing nanobot technology at one point, which having a bit of science fiction infused in the story was surprising but welcomed. It was this futuristic take on how to change the votes that I enjoyed. Fans of political thrillers that like complex storylines and well orchestrated action scenes will enjoy this well written book.
Pages: 335 | ASIN: B08HVG8PT1
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In Resilience – The Ultimate Sustainability, Aris Papadopoulos extensively writes about natural disasters, the environment, buildings, and construction. The author uses statistics to explain his points and why he arrived at certain conclusions. He goes through several disasters, talking about their causes, the damages they brought, and lives lost. Reading about recent disasters is an agonizing experience as the author makes one feel the impact of the disasters as if they happened in real-time. You can tell that the author has studied and extensively researched the topics he writes about. Reading Aris Papadopoulos’s book is not only eye-opening but also an educative activity.
The author starts by talking about major disasters that marked recent U.S history. He starts by discussing various hurricanes, the effects they caused, and how whatever remained after the damage was salvaged. When talking about a particular state or town, the author first makes the reader familiar with the area, giving general data of the state or city and highlighting common elements associated with the place. His narration of the events leading to the disasters is excellent. He touches on the administrative structure and how the federal government comes in, as they make the reader aware of different communities.
Every chapter talks about something different. You are assured of learning something new with every page. Aris Papadopoulos is blunt with the truth and not shy of exposing the flaws where the system failed. This book should be read by everyone in any executive post or position of power. There is a lot to learn not only for those who are admins but also for people who are in various sectors like, engineering, construction, environmental conservation, meteorology, and anyone else involved in making policies. I found the author’s text to be helpful as he uses a language everyone can understand even when talking about resilience and responsibility. Since some disasters are unexpected, the author advises everyone to be alert.
Resilience – The Ultimate Sustainability is not just about disasters that impact America, the author goes global and discusses different countries. One can learn multiple lessons from the countries mentioned given how they handle the disasters that affect them. This book makes you understand how politics is pivotal in every aspect of life. Bad politics and governance mean that the masses get to experience mediocrity. Aris Papadopoulos’s book will enlighten you on the value of upright politicians and why the stability of certain sectors is better for the economy among other things.
Pages: 194 | ISBN: 978-0986181610
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And the Last Trump Shall Sound consists of three novellas depicting a chilling imminent future for the U.S. How did this anthology come about?
The book was the brainchild of Shahid Mahmud, who runs a small press called Arc Manor out of Rockville, Maryland. He invited me into the anthology back in October of 2019, explaining that he’d already lined up Harry Turtledove and Cat Rambo.
I believe the project crystallized in Shahid’s mind when he observed the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, which he thought captured in microcosm what was happening to this country on both the public level—an unbridgeable chasm between Democrats and Republicans—and the private level: families split into warring camps over the
Donald Trump phenomenon. Shahid sensed that we’d become divided to the point of acute instability, and he wanted to do a book that would somehow address the crisis.
Three amazing writers penned the stories in this anthology. What was your collaboration process like?
The essential premise, a string of Republican White House victories leading to the secession of the three West Coast states, emerged from conversations between Shahid and his friend Harry Turtledove, one of sf’s premier practitioners of alternative history. When Shahid proposed that I join the project, an early draft of Harry’s novella existed, and I was expected to pick up where “The Breaking of Nations” left off.
At first I turned Shahid down. The mere idea of a second Trump term followed by eight years of Mike Pence depressed me so profoundly I couldn’t image wanting to write within such a universe. But I couple of days after Shahid approached me, I remembered a detail from his pitch: when “The Breaking of Nations” opens, Trump is already in his grave. I thought it would be fun if Pence got the idea—reinforced by an adult-movie star masquerading as his spiritual counselor—that with the help of Heaven he could bring Trump back from the dead.
So I emailed Shahid and was delighted to learn the slot hadn’t been filled yet. I penned most of my contribution during a Christmas visit in Denver with my wife’s side of the family, including my intended climax: Trump’s resurrection in the Washington National Cathedral—not a miracle but a feat predicated on a robot doppelgänger.
Shahid passed my first draft on to Cat Rambo, who then faced the formidable challenge of writing a novella that would give readers a self-contained narrative that stayed within the parameters of “The Breaking of Nations” and “The Purloined Republic.” Cat came through in spades with a dystopian vision titled—from the Stephen Crane poem—“Because It Is Bitter.”
All of which is a complicated way of saying that And the Last Trump Shall Sound was not so much a collaboration as a round robin experiment in freewheeling extrapolation.
What is the main thing you hope readers will take away from the book?
I hope that Harry, Cat, and I might help readers understand that the American experiment, with its roots in sophisticated political philosophy and the 18th-century Enlightenment, is in dire jeopardy right now. They won’t come out and admit it, but the men at the top—Trump, Pence, Mitch McConnell, and so on—obviously no longer believe in this experiment. The President would like to see our republic become a monarchy, Pence would like to see it become an evangelical Christian theocracy, and McConnell is doing everything in his power to sustain the kleptocracy.
That said, And the Last Trump Shall Sound is not a counsel of despair. It’s a warning, not a prophecy. All three novellas, I feel, leaven their darkest moments with a certain buoyancy and between-the-lines affirmation. As I often say, pessimism can be its own sort of naivety, cynicism its own sentimentality. There is still a common good.
What are you are working on now?
Way back in 1986, an editor at Henry Holt, Marion Wood, bought a manuscript from me called Those Who Favor Fire. At the last minute we changed the title because it had just appeared on an sf novel by Marta Randall, and we wanted to avoid confusion (though titles cannot be copyrighted). My nuclear-war comedy ultimately rolled off the presses as This Is the Way the World Ends.
Thirty-four years later, I am applying Those Who Favor Fire to my satire-in-progress. It’s an absurdist take on the climate crisis, spun from the notion that the Hollow Earth theory is correct. It turns out that our surface world is mirrored by Quondonia, a subterranean civilization menaced by global freezing. The conceit is ridiculous, of course, but I’ve found that if I live long enough with my premises—I’m a slow writer—I actually start to believe them at some level, and I come to imagine the reader will too.
Posted in Interviews
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Scented: The Status Quo by Richard E. Bonostro is an intriguing science fiction book. The story follows Evan a Commissioner of Surveyors tasked by the Senator to destroy Ma’at, an all powerful woman. Evan discovers that his wife Marla is apart of the Mantle, an all female group determined to take capture political power and use it to create equality. This is at odds with The Rune Party, which is an all male society. This turns the story into the ultimate battle of the sexes. The senator is determined to keep the status quo and will do anything to stop the mantle from taking over. Will Evan be able to stop Ma’at, especially when he has so many eyes on him?
It is a little jarring to imagine in order to become fully mature one must have the scent of a woman rather than combining the DNA of a male and female to create a living and breathing human being. Even though the concept is odd I still found the idea to be unique. It was interesting to see women superior to men in this society. Richard E. Bonostro uses this twist to comment on society and put his characters in provocative situations that were consistently riveting.
Scented is an emotional roller-coaster that eloquently combines political issues, corruption and exploitation. Bonostro does a fantastic job building up compelling characters in this story that are authentic and grounded. I was able to immerse myself in the story and understand each side of opposing parties because the character were believable. This book is a fast paced read with rare moments that are held up by exposition. Otherwise, Scented is a riveting dystopian science fiction novel.
Pages: 163 | ASIN: B08FBH2F1G
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Humphrey Hawksley’s journalistic career, when paired with his fiction-writing expertise, make for excellent non-fiction writing. Asian Waters is a really comprehensive and digestible read, despite its extremely weighty content. Hawksley’s tone and choice of language remains simple yet informative throughout, despite becoming increasingly complex in terms of content matter. Hawksley also manages to maintain a sense of pace and excitement with his writing, as if it were a novel rather than a non-fiction guide, especially when delving into and combing through actual history, geography and social science.
Though there is a hefty scope to cover when it comes to the Asia-Pacific conflict, the South China Sea, Chinese expansion and the territory dispute associated, Asian Waters covers everything you would want to know about the topic without it feeling as if you are being overloaded with information.
You may be tempted to read it as an almanac for the specialist topic it covers, or perhaps as an academic accompaniment, but it also doubles up as a travel book and is arguably best consumed in this way. Asian Waters was fascinating in itself, just for my own interest’s sake, so I imagine that it would be particularly enlightening to consume whilst travelling the very area it covers.
The focus on political tension between the countries of the Asia-Pacific is unpacked with great skill and tastefulness, but without wavering on the hardy facts. This is where Hawksley’s experience as a BBC foreign correspondent is most prominent – his understanding of the dynamics at play remains at the forefront of his writing.
Asian Waters is not simply a retelling of the history and politics which have been at play for years, or solely the facts and information which led to the current situation. There is also vital contextualisation that allows the reader to understand where these issues sit at the time of reading, understanding how a Trumpian government impacts the conflicts, or how the relationship between Moscow and Beijing influence the rest of the world.
Asian Waters connects all the branches of knowledge and intellect to give a clear retelling of the reality, including social influence, historical action which has taken place, and the geographical layout that facilitates as much. As well as clarifying the past and contextualising the present, it focuses on the future. The book predicts how the implications of what has happened and is happening will affect what is to come for Asia.
Pages: 304 | ASIN: B07MXDFQK1
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