17. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Business, Informational Book, Kira, NonFiction · Tags: ,

Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age by Steven Johnson, 272 pages, read by Kira, on 03/17/2015

fut perftI read Future Perfect because I was so taken with Steven Johnson’s paradigm-shifting book Everything Bad is Good for You, which made a compelling case for the internet actually making us smarter – contrary to popular knowledge.  This book is more nuanced.  Johnson argues for a peer-to-peer revolution, in both politics and economics.

He starts off comparing the French configuration of rail lines versus the Germans.  The French had a master-plan, where every rail line would follow a straight line, and every line would pass through the center of the world – that being Paris.  This is in contrast to the Germans rail lines, that were a hodge-podge of lines that followed the terrain, forming a lace pattern, with much duplication.  But during WWII, the German rails proved their superiority, as they were much faster at transporting soldiers to whichever front, compared to the French who faced the bottleneck of Paris. cartography,map,network,train,transportation-839c638d5f46b779eb80ae800beb4d61_hindex Johnson uses this metaphor of networks or peer-to-peer operations consistently outperforming top-down hierarchies.  Johnson then applies the model to problems the US faces in politics and economics.  Worthwhile to ponder this alternate model.

12. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Mystery, Teen Books · Tags: , ,

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry, 213 pages, read by Angie, on 03/10/2015

Cady wakes up on the floor of a cabin with no memory of who she is or why she is there. She hears someone talking about “taking care” of her and knows she needs to find a way to escape. What follows is Cady’s race to find out who she is and why these guys want to kill her. She faces danger along the way, but she also finds help from unexpected sources. She meets Ty at a McDonalds and he immediately sets out to help her find out what is going on even though the men chasing her seem to be closing in on her. They do eventually find out who Cady is, but the bad guys seem to have created a smear campaign where she is either crazy or a murderer or a crazy murderer.

I enjoy April Henry’s books and had the pleasure of meeting her last year at a conference. She writes fast-paced mysteries that suck the reader in to the very end. Cady’s story was certainly intriguing. You had no idea what was going on. Was she an escaped mental patient? Was she a murderer? Or was she just an innocent girl caught up in something beyond her control? I liked the relationship between Ty and Cady and was glad that it didn’t get all romantic right from the start which would have ruined the believability of the story. I did find the revelations at the end maybe just a bit too out there, but it made for great storytelling and an enjoyable read.

2015-16 Truman Award Nominee.

31. January 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: History, NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: , , , ,

Waiting for an Ordinary Day: The Unraveling of Life in Iraq by Farnaz Fassihi, 291 pages, read by Tammy, on 01/30/2013

waitingWall Street Journal’s Middle East correspondent, Farnaz Fassihi, relates her interactions and interviews with the citizens of Iraq and how they are dealing with the affects of the US/Iraq war since 2003. She relates stories mainly from the ordinary working and middle class people she mets while living in Iraq. See the war through their eyes, everyone from a middle class art gallery owner to taxi drivers to radical teenagers.