Lightning Reviews: A Holiday Romance Novella & Two Nonfiction Books

Ready for more Lightning Reviews? All three of the below books received favorable grades. We have two nonfiction titles that are quite different from one another. And, of course, we have a romance novella that features a grumpy heroine.


    Bad Blood

    author: John Carreyrou

    Bad Blood will officially be known as the slump-breaker. Sometimes, I need a break in my romance reading. If I read too many books—back to back—in the same genre, I hit a wall. After my lovely roommate patiently listened to my whining about having nothing to read, despite owning 500+ books, she suggested Bad Blood. She knew I had wanted to read it and a coworker had just lent her a copy.

    I devoured it.

    I don’t read a lot of nonfiction, though perhaps it’s all about finding my niche. If my enjoyment of Bad Blood is any indication, my niche is bonkers-level “truth is stranger than fiction” nonfiction.

    If you are unfamiliar, Bad Blood is about the biotech startup, Theranos, and its implosion after the company’s multi-billion dollar technology was found to have been nonexistent. My knowledge of both medical engineering and the startup world is extremely limited, but author, John Carreyrou, does a fantastic job making the environment approachable to any layman. There is, however, a revolving door of employees at Theranos and some sort of flowchart would have been helpful in keeping the hires and fires straight.

    Content warning: suicide and bullying

    I do want to note that due to the pressures of working with Theranos, one of its employees does commit suicide and the relationship between that employee and Theranos, and the work pressures that led to his suicide, are researched in the book. Take care while reading.

    Aside from that, there are also multiple instances of bullying and intimidation by Theranos’ founder and upper management.

    A bulk of the book is about how Theranos began and how it brought in many famous, rich, and male investors. Things abruptly end at the big reveal, where people begin to learn about Theranos’ duplicity. I was disappointed that it seemed to pull up short, as I wanted to have a more satisfying resolution, but with the SEC currently investigating Theranos, there isn’t really an end just yet.

    At times unbelievable, this book will definitely have you yelling in frustration, “Are you fucking kidding me?” It’s truly a testament to how much someone can get away with when they have money, connections, and charm on their side.


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    The Connector’s Advantage

    author: Michelle Tillis Lederman

    I learned about this book through an email group, and wasn’t entirely sure it applied to me, as some business books don’t exactly fit what I do (this is understandable; I made up my own job in a few ways). This book ended up addressing a lot of what I already do on a macro level and inspiring ideas to do more of it, and also inspired me to re-examine my own connections and colleagues across different industries and, more importantly, to ask what more I can do encourage and help them.

    The Connector’s Advantage is mostly about being a connector – a person who, basically, connects with other people, or connects people who might help one another. The last line of the book (sorry) is probably the best explanation of the difference: “Networking is what you do; a Connector is who you are.” Years ago, I figured out, as an example, that the ‘mission’ of the site and the business behind it was ‘to connect romance readers around the world with one another, and with the books they want to read.’ So the topics addressed in this book were germane to my interests. More specifically, the book itself was already ensconced in the comfy chair inside my wheelhouse, which I always image as a house shaped like a wheel in which I do a lot of reading.

    Anyway. Relevant book is relevant to what I do.

    The parts of this book I found most edifying were the chapters on reframing scarcity as abundance, which I sometimes need reminding of, and the degree to which being confident in myself and in accepting exactly who and how I am (weirdnesses and all) is part of making authentic, genuine connections with other people. While there is a fair amount of what I think of as contemporary business jargon (leveraging! value! creating value! something about a proposition! some more leveraging! etc!) there were many specific examples and questions that I found extremely interesting. I did a lot of highlighting.

    I particularly liked the sections on examining my own self confidence, on interacting with people with a purpose in mind but not allowing that purpose to obscure or obfuscate my ability to hold a conversation, and on examining ways I can help connect others and help those with whom I have a connection. There are also sections on strategic use of LinkedIn, addressing when you screw up and how to apologize effectively, how to build and rebuilt trust and authenticity, and on making sure the connections I make avoid homogeneity on various levels.

    I appreciated in particular the sections that highlighted different ways to gather or connect with people online and off that aren’t intimidating, stifling, overstimulating or (and this is a big one for me) too dang loud for me to hear what anyone is saying. With conference season in the genre starting soon, the suggestions and recommendations were extremely timely, too.

    The part that resonated most wasn’t explicit in the text: I realized that I often don’t reach out to colleagues or acquaintances I’ve met in various places because I don’t want to bother them. The message of this book is that as a person who does connect people with other people (and, you know, with books) my reaching out is likely not bothersome, and is more apt to be beneficial. So I’ve adjusted my to-do list accordingly, and I’m very glad I read this book.

    SB Sarah

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    Dance All Night

    author: Alexis Daria

    The holidays are over, but if you’re in the mood for a short, sexy contemporary romance with an emotionally-fluent hero, then I recommend Dance All Night by Alexis Daria.

    The novella opens up with professional dancers Jess Davenport and Nik Kovalenko meeting at a New Year’s Eve party and sharing an explosive midnight kiss. Nik is looking for more, but Jess is firmly settled in LA and he’s about to go on an off-Broadway tour. A year later Nik is back in LA, runs into Jess, and realizes that he’s been pining for her (and social media stalking her) for a year.

    Jess is hesitant to date Nik because she doesn’t want a life on the road, and she’s not certain she believes that he actually wants to settle down. Nik asks her to go on three Christmas-themed dates with him so he can prove he’s serious, and if she isn’t convinced by New Year’s, they’ll go their separate ways.

    There isn’t a ton of conflict in this book other than that Jess isn’t really ready to trust Nik yet. Nik fits the bill for a pining hero, so if that’s your thing, then definitely pick this novella up. Nik is also emotionally fluent and self-aware which is also a nice change for a hero. He actually brings condoms, lube, and a little bullet vibrator to their first overnight date just in case, and I can really appreciate a man who plans that thoroughly (and who is aware of the need for clitoral stimulation).

    I thought the black moment was a little abrupt due to the light conflict, but overall my love for Nik and for the sheer, sweet fun that was Dance All Night made up for it.


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