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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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review 2017-03-01 04:22
The Fifth Petal
The Fifth Petal: A Novel - Brunonia Barry

You know what I like reading about almost as much as plagues? Witches. I loved Brunonia Barry’s first book, The Lace Reader, so much that when I saw another book was coming out, I jumped on it. I am not generally a series reader, though I will often read the first one in a series and nothing else (yes, I’m a quitter, I admit it.) But Barry sucked me in last time, so this time I was a willing victim. I completely believed her tales about the lace readers, and honestly, I was stunned that she made everything up (sorry, spoiler alert). I was completely convinced, and I am telling you that so when she tricks you with her voluminous knowledge of old Salem and throws in a bunch of hooky, you will not feel bad like I did. You’re welcome.

 

So anyway, here’s what you need to know. Read this book. There is high drama, grave danger, horrible childhoods that need to be redeemed and reclaimed and also, witches. Did I mention that? What could be better? Nothing. It takes place in Salem and surrounding areas, so of course there are witches. There are also regular people, unfortunately, with all kinds of unmanageable, overwhelming problems. There are bad characters I kind of liked, and good ones who do the wrong thing, so basically, it’s perfectly balanced. And don’t worry if you didn’t read the first one – this one stands alone just fine. (But I’d read The Lace Reader anyway, because really, aren’t you better than that?)

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review 2017-03-01 03:31
Magruder's Curiosity Cabinet
Magruder's Curiosity Cabinet - Peter H. Wood

Wow. I never thought I would say this, but I am pretty sure this is another great book about the plague. Do you think it’s on purpose that my other favorite book on the topic, while wholly different and based on actual events, is called Year of Wonders? Both titles, weirdly, sound much more inviting than their actual topic.

 

I read a note from the author, and I have to agree that the cover and maybe even the title on this one do seem a little more middle grade than modern adult. I tend to read both genres, so when I picked this one up a while after I requested it, I honestly was not sure. The cover seems so perky for a book about class warfare played out through a plague quarantine. So, no, as my kids used to say, this would not be appropriate for them. Unless of course you don’t mind them reading about the death and mayhem of a plague epidemic running rampant through the carnival sideshow. Other than that, it’s just a tad risqué, but really, given the setting, how could it not be?

 

In any case, that’s just fine, because you will want to keep this gem all to yourself. There is an amazing cast of characters here, especially heavy on the character. Honestly, I loved them all. The setting itself looms large, offering an abundance of Coney Island trivia and a privileged glimpse of the old sideshow attractions. Wood has crafted a fine sense of community and morality in this strange and curious world. I loved this book.

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