Thursday, July 25, 2019

Truly Madly Guilty (Liane Moriarty)

I've said before that author Liane Moriarty has a wonderful knack for surprising the reader in her books. Even when you think you can breathe because you know the whole story, Moriarty still offers even more surprises. This is the case with Truly Madly Guilty, which unfolds like one big puzzle.

On paper, the story sounds incredibly ordinary. Six adults and three children attend a barbecue. Wow. But we begin with one of those adults, Clementine, giving a talk about something that happened on that day and how she wishes she could go back to change things. We don't actually find out what happened until well into the book, and Moriarty goes back and forth between the day of the barbecue and the weeks after it. So what seems like just an ordinary get-together turns out to be anything but.

The actual event wasn't quite what I expected, and to be honest, it was a little anti-climactic for me. However, the fallout from it was massive, and as I said, the surprises just kept coming. I enjoyed piecing together this 1,000-piece puzzle.


Friday, July 19, 2019

It's the Manager (Jim Clifton and Jim Harter)

It’s the Manager from Gallup's Jim Clifton and Jim Harter offers a concise set of principles to manage a workplace. Besides offering opinion polling and research into popular culture and political topics, Gallup provides significant resources to corporations into workplace dynamics, employee performance, and how “engaged” an employee is with their work. 

If you are in the business world, this book will probably not shatter or change any preconceived notions. Many who have worked in the corporate space believe that a manager makes or breaks it for employees on the job and that a bad manager can contribute to a toxic workplace or a culture that makes it absolutely miserable to go to the office. It’s pretty likely that we all have had a horrible boss at some point. Clifton and Harter offer over fifty topics on how your organization can improve performance. None of the suggestions are incredibly difficult to implement on their own but all require some change in the organization’s culture. In addition to these topics, the book has over 150 pages of research into personality types, workplace surveys, and analytics to help tie everything together. 

Clifton and Harter impress upon the reader that with Millennials and Generation Z taking over as the largest part of the workforce, businesses need to improve their understanding of what these workers want in their relationship with management. As someone who is a proud Generation Xer, I am apt to argue that it is not just about Gen Z and the Millennial - the tips and suggestions that are made in the book can transcend generations and help your business (and you, the manager) perform better. 


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

What Alice Forgot (Liane Moriarty)

What would happen if suddenly an entire decade of your life was erased? One ordinary day, you fell at the gym and hit your head. When you woke up, the person you thought you were married to is now divorcing you and the child you were pregnant with is now ten (not to mention the fact that you now have two additional children). This is the original premise of bestselling author Liane Moriarty's What Alice Forgot.

Alice Love is close to turning thirty. She is in a wonderful marriage with Nick and pregnant with her first child. Until the day of the fall that is. Now, she must come to terms with the fact that her marriage is ending, she has no memory of any of her three children, and she is actually turning forty. Moriarty tells Alice's story of piecing her memories back in many different ways, through the journal entries of her family members and through Alice herself.

Moriarty's writing is top-notch and what I loved about this book was that I was surprised by the turn of events in many instances. Sometimes what you think is going to happen doesn't, and that's the hallmark of a talented author when he or she can do that.


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

A Stranger on the Beach (Michele Campbell)

I've reviewed and enjoyed Michele Campbell's It's Always the Husband and She Was the Quiet One in the past. What I like about her books is that they are original mysteries and are just as great for reading on vacation as they are next to the fireplace in the dead of winter. Her latest, A Stranger on the Beach, is no exception.

We begin with Caroline, who just bought a beautiful new beach home with her husband. After suspecting her husband of cheating on her, Caroline begins an affair with Aiden, a stranger she has spotted staring at her house a few times. As readers, we start off believing everything that is told to us, but then begin to suspect that we are in the hands of unreliable narrators. In my opinion, this is the best type of novel -- when we aren't 100% sure what is going on until later in the book.

As has happened before with Campbell's novels, the ending fell flat for me. But the process of getting there was a pulse-pounding ride! I love this author's writing and always look forward to seeing what she has in the pipeline next.


Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The High Season (Judy Blundell)

It took me a little while to write this review because I needed to get my thoughts together. I also had to figure out why Judy Blundell's The High Season intrigued me some but also rubbed me the wrong way.

Ruthie Beamish is the owner of a lovely house in a quiet village near the Hamptons. Not wealthy by any means, she (along with her ex-husband, Mike) inherited the house from an old relative, and it was quite the fixer-upper. They were still married as they worked diligently and creatively to fix the home on a budget. Now, the family can only afford to stay there the rest of the year if they rent it out the entire summer season. This particular year, the house is being rented by Adeline Clay and her stepson. Once they get there, mayhem ensues.

Blundell is a good storyteller, but I found many of the characters so unlikable that I didn't care most of the time what the end result would be. There were also so many characters (most of them rich beyond belief), and almost every one of them did something outlandish (or criminal even) that had me shaking my head. I finished it, but I have to wonder if I wasted my time doing so.