State of Terror

I’m a huge Louise Penny fan (both of her writing and of her!) so when I heard she was not only writing a book outside of her Inspector Gamache series, but her co-author was Hillary Clinton, I was excited. I assumed I would like the book but how would her writing translate from a cozy style to a more thriller-esque mystery? While I had some minor issues, overall I enjoyed this book and I would read another one by her and Clinton if they decide to continue their collaboration.

As far as thrillers go, State of Terror succeeded in keeping me in suspense, anticipation, and excitement with a compelling story and interesting characters, despite the story being based on real events and characters clearly based on actual politicians. The story starts with several bombs being detonated in cities across the world, with the implication that these attacks are only the beginning of a wave of increasingly larger and more deadly attacks. Tasked to investigate and stop the terrorists is the new Secretary of State, Ellen Adams who has surprisingly accepted the position despite President Douglas Williams being her political rival. On the surface, this seems like a shrewd move by Williams and an attempt to heal the divide in their party, but Adams knows the truth-he wants her to fail so all the blame will fall on her when he can’t repair the damage the former President inflicted on the country and the world. Penny and Clinton don’t attempt to hide that the former President in this book is based on our actual former guy, just as Secretary Adams is based on Clinton herself. While I understand why they chose to do this, I sometimes found this distracting because I couldn’t stop thinking about the real people these characters were based on. (As it turns out, there were several more characters based on real people, as revealed in the acknowledgements at the end but they are minor so I didn’t notice). The original characters, and there were a lot, added to the story in ways that made sense and I was given time to get to know them so when they found themselves in dangerous situations, I found myself caring about what happened to them. There’s nothing worse in a thriller than not caring when you should because that takes you right out of the story. It could have been confusing with so many characters but the decision to change the points of view frequently helped me to not forget who each person was and kept me invested in each person’s storyline.

Where this book really excels is the story, which manages to avoid playing into stereotypes while being accurate to the real threats the world is facing right now. You can tell this was Clinton’s time to shine and her expertise shows. The threats in this book feel real and that must be thanks to Clinton’s knowledge in foreign affairs. My main issue with this book, and honestly with most thrillers, is that it was just too long. Pages could have been cut without sacrificing the story and it still would have been a hefty size.

This was a decent thriller written by a great writer and a woman with exceptional government knowledge. The story kept me engaged the whole time and I thought it wrapped up well. I think most people would find it an easy to read, enjoyable book and I recommend it.

Authors: Louise Penny and Hillary Rodham Clinton

Release Date: October 12, 2021

Rating: 4 Stars

Let the People Pick the President: The Case for Abolishing the Electoral College

No one, no matter your political affiliation, can deny we are living in a divisive time for American politics.  There is not much we seem to agree on, and the fighting seems to never end.  This would seem to be the worst time for this book to come out, but I would argue there is no greater time to advocate for the end of the electoral college. Jesse Wegman lays out a very succinct argument for ending this misunderstood process while providing well-researched historical context for this archaic and anti-democratic system.  Every American citizen should read this book.

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A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear

Fair warning: I feel like I should get this out of the way right off the bat: I really can’t stand Libertarianism as a concept or ideology nor can I put up with Libertarians in general so I fully admit that I was hoping for some schadenfreude while reading this book.  While my beliefs about libertarianism didn’t change, this book was nothing like I thought it would be and I found myself moved by several of the townspeople’s stories and left with a feeling of sadness about the world that I didn’t expect.  The story told in this book is also humorous, irreverent, and timely in a way that I don’t think Hongoltz-Hetling could have imagined when he began to write it.  I would recommend this book for both political and non-political book fans.

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Party of Two

It has gotten to the point where Jasmine Guillory can do no wrong in my eyes.  Her books aren’t the most original romances out there but they are always charming and fun and the stories are delightful. This book is no different.  I will pick up any book she writes based on her track record and I cannot wait for her next release.

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Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

I am very torn in regards to this review.  I read Hillbilly Elegy because I wanted to practice what I preach…that is, to read and try and understand different political views from my own.  I can’t say that J.D. Vance changed my mind on anything but I can appreciate that he tried to show his side of things in a well written and eloquent manner.  My main issues with this book are not that I don’t agree with much of what he thinks or believes but that he discusses the issues “hillbillys” have in the United States today but doesn’t offer any solutions for how to overcome the obstacles that exist within this group.  I wanted more of a guide than he offered.

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