Burn the Page: A True Story of Torching Doubts, Blazing Trails, and Igniting Change

Title: Burn the Page: A True Story of Torching Doubts, Blazing Trails, and Igniting Change

Author: Danica Roem

Series: N/A

Publication Date: April 26, 2022

Format: E-Book

Genre: Non-Fiction

Sub Genre(s): Memoir, LGBTQ


Summary: Danica Roem made national headlines when–as a transgender former frontwoman for a metal band and a political newcomer–she unseated Virginia’s most notoriously anti-LGBTQ 26-year incumbent Bob Marshall as state delegate. But before Danica made history, she had to change her vision of what was possible in her own life. Doing so was a matter of storytelling: during her campaign, Danica hired an opposition researcher to dredge up every story from her past that her opponent might seize on to paint her negatively.

In wildly entertaining prose, Danica dismantles all the stories her opponents tried to hedge against her, showing how through brutal honesty and loving authenticity, it’s possible to embrace the low points, and even transform them into her greatest strengths. Burn the Page takes readers from Danica’s lonely, closeted, and at times operatically tragic childhood to her position as a rising star in a party she’s helped forever change. Burn the Page is so much more than a stump speech: it’s an extremely inspiring manifesto about how it’s possible to set fire to the stories you don’t want to be in anymore, whether written by you or about you by someone else–and rewrite your own future, whether that’s running for politics, in your work, or your personal life. This book will not just encourage people who think they must be spotless to run for office but inspire all of us to own our personal narratives as Danica does. -From Goodreads


What I Liked: I enjoyed the conversational style way this book was written. Roem’s voice is unique, and it seems like the publisher let her just go for it and write what she wanted to write and tell any story she wanted to tell. She doesn’t hold anything back and I appreciated that. I particularly liked her insight into campaigning and how hers was successful, despite her opponent finding everything he could to use against her. She is very open about her past and her family without being intrusive and her advice to younger LGBTQ folks was touching. I think where the book excels is her openness about being Transgender and the difficulties she faced with coming out. These are the moments I wish bigoted people would read and learn from so they can know what it is like to not feel like you are being your true self.

What I Didn’t Like: I found myself skimming over a lot of the sections in this book about Roem’s love of heavy metal and her exploits with her band because most of it felt repetitive. I wouldn’t have minded this so much if I felt there was a point to some of the stories, but they didn’t connect well to what Roem was trying to say.  

Who Should Read It: Anyone interested in running for public office can learn from Roem’s story and would benefit from reading this book. Anyone struggling with their gender identity would also find Roem’s words heartening and inspiring.

Review Wrap Up: This is an important book because everyone should know Danica Roem’s story and how important it is to elect LGBTQ representatives. I enjoyed the insight into what it’s like to be a freshman legislator and how we can work together in this country for the better good. I liked that Roem was given free rein to write her story how she wanted to but I wish some of the stories had been tighter and fit more into the overall narrative.

Favorite Quote: “That is something we seem to have forgotten about as a population: it’s possible to be several things at the same time. You can think different thoughts and hold different identities and be fascinated by different things all at once. It doesn’t make you weak or distracted; it makes you human.”


thespinsterlibrarian
*Thank you to Netgalley and Viking for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review*

Fight: How Gen Z Is Channeling Their Fear and Passion to Save America

Title: Fight: How Gen Z Is Channeling Their Fear and Passion to Save America

Author: John Della Volpe

Series: N/A

Publication Date: January 18, 2022

Format: Hardcover

Genre: Non-Fiction

Sub Genre(s):  Politics


Summary: 9/11. The war on terror. Hurricane Katrina. The 2008 financial crisis. The housing crisis. The opioid epidemic. Mass school shootings. Global warming. The Trump presidency. COVID-19.

Since they were born, Generation Z (also known as “zoomers”)—those born from the late 1990s to early 2000s—have been faced with an onslaught of turmoil, destruction and instability unprecedented in modern history. And it shows: they are more stressed, anxious, and depressed than previous generations, a phenomenon John Della Volpe has documented heavily through decades of meeting with groups of young Americans across the country.

But Gen Z has not buckled under this tremendous weight. On the contrary, they have organized around issues from gun control to racial and environmental justice to economic equity, becoming more politically engaged than their elders, and showing a unique willingness to disrupt the status quo. -Goodreads


What I Liked: This book made me have hope not only for the future but for the future of our government and its institutions. Using real world examples, interviews, and surveys, Della Volpe managed to lay out exactly how Gen Zers view the world and the changes he believes they will bring about in the next 5, 10, even 30 years. One of the most fascinating parts of this book was his theory on the major events that shaped Millennials and Gen Z and the impact those events had on their lives. While this book is structured like a paper, it doesn’t read like one, and the ideas within are easy to understand. The moments in this book that had the most impact on me were the interviews he had with students about gun violence and how they live their lives in constant fear of dying, just by going to school.

What I Didn’t Like: While not the premise of this book, I would have liked some ideas or action items for how non-Gen Zers can help the younger generation.

Who Should Read It: Della Volpe clearly has a liberal bias (that’s not a bad thing) but it’s going to prevent the people who actually need to read this book from reading it. Despite this, I still feel like everyone would find something interesting or worthwhile in this book.

Review Wrap Up: What could have been a depressing book filled with horrifying statistics and disheartening anecdotes is in fact a very inspiring and hopeful book about the future. If you’re feeling down about the state of the world, this book will surely make you feel better.

Favorite Quote(s): “To this day, few moments in a focus group have had a greater impact on me than when I asked for an explanation of what older generations don’t get about Generation Z. Grace, a biology student about to turn twenty-one at the time told me: ‘an older generation would not understand walking into a classroom and thinking how easy it would be for someone to shoot it up. The same daily weight on an adult’s shoulders over bills or taxes is what children feel about living or dying.’”

“Zoomers yearn for a capitalism open to everyone and do not shy away from debating the merits of other political and economic systems. The data-driven outcomes from the modern Nordic version of market-driven social democracies-less poverty, more innovation, more family time, and overall a more relaxed, healthy and satisfied citizenry-are worth exploring and learning from, they tell me.”


thespinsterlibrarian

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.

Continue reading “Let the People Pick the President: The Case for Abolishing the Electoral College”

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.

Continue reading “A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear”

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.

Continue reading “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis”

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