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review 2017-03-29 05:15
Before the Fall
Before the Fall - Noah Hawley

This book was positioned as a thriller, but it didn’t really fit into that genre for me. While it seemed a bit “ripped from the headlines”, it was written with an intelligence that belied the occasional celebrity tell-all feel. To me, it was more intriguing than gripping, but while the conclusion seemed inevitable and unsurprising, this did not really detract from the story. Hawley is terrific at crafting his wealthy characters, but I found the ordinary, flawed ones more interesting. I especially appreciated that the artist living on Martha’s Vineyard is poor and relatively unknown despite living in what would normally be considered a high-end vacation spot. Hawley is deft at contrasting the flashy tabloid news with the human side of the story, and I found just as many parts deeply moving as completely despicable.


One reviewer ranted on and on about how bad this cover is – but as a graphic designer (who frequently judges a book by its cover), I am weighing in on this one. I was attracted to the type that was at once bold and ethereal; accurately, I think, evoking the tragedy and uncertainty to come.

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review 2017-03-28 03:27
You Know Me Well
You Know Me Well - Nina LaCour,David Levithan

I thought this book was well-written and the plot moved along at a brisk pace, but honestly, even considering the fact that I am not a YA reading this, I found it unrealistic. There is endless talking and pining for love in this story (I found all the over-analyzing more like college students than high school, but maybe that’s just me) and yay, it’s a story of so many under-represented gay teens, but aside from that, not a whole lot happens. Well, actually, a lot happens in the span of just a few days, but I didn’t find it very believable. Having said that, I will admit that I loved the banter between the friends — I found it smart and funny and the authors established a nice rapport among them; but it was all smart and funny, barely an awkward pause despite the fact that most of them had only just met. I mean I get the whole fast friends thing, but there was a lot of that here – not just one relationship.


LaCour and Levithan had their hearts in the right place, but I thought the story that unfolded had the potential to be so much more.

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review 2017-03-21 02:37
New Thoughts on Innovation
The Power of Little Ideas: A Low-Risk, High-Reward Approach to Innovation - David Robertson,Kent Lineback
Mapping Innovation: A Playbook for Navigating a Disruptive Age - Greg Satell
The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World - Brad Stone

I'm reading for my July-August review in Global Business and Organizational Excellence and these titles pretty much run the gamut on innovation. From a core product that needs some new life to a disruptive, groundbreaking, category-changing idea, there are some excellent insights offered in each of these new books.

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review 2017-03-21 02:19
The Children
The Children: A Novel - Ann Leary

I chose this book from NetGalley because I loved Leary’s previous book, The Good House. While these books do not share a setting (though I think both could be Connecticut), they share a certain penchant for an oddball cast of characters, not always likable but always interesting. This is no easy task — for the most part these people are seriously flawed, or at the least, in serious denial about some of the realities of their lives.


The beauty of The Children is that Leary offers up a family that at first seems low-key and light on drama, only to reveal a dark edge, and deeply felt animosities among the “loving” members of this sprawling family. In a place where everyone seems to know everyone else’s business, there is remarkably little they really share. I think Leary has a gift for this type of character-driven story, where the plot is not nearly as compelling as the motley crew propelling it forward. They carry with them all manner of secrets – some more obvious than others – but regardless of this you will want to stick around to see how it all works out in the sometimes-bitter end.

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review 2017-03-07 03:26
Under Rose-Tainted Skies
Under Rose-Tainted Skies - Louise D. Gornall

When I first started this book, it reminded me of Everything, Everything. Except in this story, it is not the Mother keeping the daughter inside the house; its 17-year-old Norah, whose crippling anxiety has made it impossible for her to leave.


There is a lot to come to grips with in this book. Norah suffers from a multitude of fears and phobias, brought on by agoraphobia and OCD. Luckily, she lives with a compassionate, loving mother with unflinching patience, and a caring doctor who caters to Norah’s changing needs. Of course, it is Luke, the new boy next-door (an overdone plotline, maybe, but it still works for me) who makes Norah rethink her world, and, in the same way, Luke’s worldview changes dramatically because of her.


It is not all sunshine and lollipops when Luke moves in, however. While the intense drama that followed later bordered on the implausible for me, I understood the necessity of the device to allow Norah to come to grips with her life. Despite the implicit danger the author contrives, in some respects I thought, ah, if it were only this easy.


I like that this is almost an ordinary teen romance; while it is an important theme, mental illness is only one of the facts of Norah’s life, not her whole story. Instead, this is a story about two new friends getting to know one another and finding their place in the world, and it is told with empathy, compassion, and grace.  

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