Customer Reviews: Outsmart The Unexpected: Grow Your Creativity The Edge-Of-Your-Seat Way
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on September 22, 2009
It is an interesting concept for a book and it encourages readers to use their imaginations. The situations the characters find themselves in can sometimes seem very dire and in some cases I found myself thinking, "Oh no! This cannot end well", but the beauty of the book is that if you like happy endings, it is up to you to use your creativity to find one.

The book encourages you to ask questions and analyze the various scenarios from different angles. What are the issues? What significant information is omitted? What reasonable solutions (or unreasonable solutions) are possible? This book is a fun activity for an evening home with friends (game night for critical thinkers). You can read the book out loud and discuss the possible outcomes. It is interesting to see what conclusion other people draw and their reasoning. The discussions can lead to some very stimulating conversations and your friends may even surprise you with the conclusions they draw. You may even gain some new insights into your own creativity and critical thinking skills.
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on March 3, 2009
This book was fun to read I especially love the suggestions made in the appendix. I love to play the game of chess where I'm constantly solving problems over a game board. As a chess hobbyist and enthusiast, I love anything that allows me to exercise my analytical gears. This book pushed me to ask the right questions in order to shed light on each described situation. The beauty is that there really are no wrong or right solutions - you can be as rational or irrational as your mood dictates. Therefore, anyone who depends on their creativity at work or play should read this book as a way to allowing their creative juices to gush.

Various problematic or unresolved scenarios are described in the form of short stories while clues are sprinkled along the way about the scenarios and the characters. The question is then posed which essentially asks: How would you solve this problem or what would you do in this situation? The resulting mental exercises encourage us to use our imaginations and creative skills to analytically determine the best or most creative solutions based on mental prowess, understanding of the problem, personal values and personality.
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on December 9, 2009
In this debut effort the author presents us with bite-size stories that stop just short of the climax leaving the reader to ponder " what happens?" . In fact, that's our task - to determine the answer to that question based on how we've understood the stories and read the clues. There are no right or wrong conclusions just different ones depending upon the readers interpretation, imagination and creativity. It's like having a friend present you with a dilemma , tell you how he's thinking of attacking it and asking for your advice and when you give it, you find out he had something else in mind altogether. Or being confronted with a situation at work that you've never before encountered requiring you to think on your feet and find a workable solution. It's even a bit like wondering what will happen next Fall when your favorite show leaves you hanging after this season 's finale. Do the police catch the murderer? Does the wounded character survive? As a viewer, you have all kinds of theories about how the situation will be resolved and presented when the show returns, but the producers may come up with something else entirely. It just proves that there are many ways to skin the proverbial cat.

In this book the reader only gets the highlights of the situation that the character is facing and has to work with information that is often "sketchy" or "sparse", as she points out, so you don't just have to come up with an ending, you have to fill in the gaps along the way. By supposing what's in those gaps, you have more information to help you arrive at a logical conclusion and help the character out of his fix. You may have an "aha" and come up with a solution right away and other times you'll have to let things marinate a little before you settle on your answer, but however you reach your conclusion, it will tell you a little about how you solve problems. The stories provide avid puzzlers with some brain exercise that requires analysis and deduction and by extension asks them to consider the consequences of their proposed outcomes.

The book challenges us to look beyond the ordinary, because as much as we're weighing alternatives all the time when we see things play out around us, we don't often come across the kinds of situations we see in her book, but they are good training to help us hone our decision-making skills. From mystery to mayhem and anywhere from 1 1/2 to 5 pages in length, these stories are just long and involved enough to get your creative juices bubbling without bogging you down with a lot of extraneous detail. It's a fun, entertaining way to spark your inner artist.

Outsmart the Unexpected would make great material for a book club discussion or a terrific teaching aid for a writing class, similar to books like The Artists Way which asks the reader to build a story around an ordinary object randomly placed . It can make for some very active discussions without any reprecussions for making the "wrong" decision.

We've all heard that keeping the mind active and exercised will help keep it healthy so if your're looking for something besides crossword puzzles and Sudoku, Outsmart the Unexpected is a good tool to add to your repetoire.
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on December 28, 2009
Yes, you have a chance to make your own happy ending, be your own hero and stretch your brain with the various scenarios in this quirky little book. Not a parlor game but then again it would really enliven any party as several short problematic scenarios are presented. You are asked to solve them. I took this to my office and we spent several lunch hours going over the possibilities. It is really fascinating to see others flex their comfort zones to come up with answers using creative problem solving skills. There are no right answers. You are on your own to work with the facts presented. Not just fun or thought provoking, it leaves you wanting to go through the entire book. Meanwhile you are using your creativity, decision making chops and critical thinking skills to solve problems you hope you never encounter.
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on January 3, 2013
This book is a great opportunity to work with a teen program on thinking quickly. I thought of several book talks or teen reading programs (that's the librarian in me) where I used this book to engage students in thinking quickly about tense, crazy situations, and how to best get out of a bad situation. I'm glad I received this e-book. I intend to reread it for future activities.
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on August 10, 2013
"Outsmart the Unexpected" was more than exciting to read. Each story had it's own little twist that the reader was forced to question themselves with. With every situation, one will find out more about themselves which is inspiring and a a touch unnerving.

What an interesting and creative way to analyze things. Plus, it would be great fun for a party.
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VINE VOICEon December 14, 2009
Initially I thought I would complain about the lack of solutions. I expected an appendix full of them or at the very least a pointer to a website with possible outcomes. As I got further into the book, however, I realized that explicit solutions are unnecessary, because the vignettes stand on their own as short (but still very, very scary) horror stories.

I enjoy classic sci-fi/fantasy and it seems to me that some of these stories could be fleshed out into screenplays in the style of Twilight Zone or Tales from the Crypt. Perhaps that's not what the author intended, but that's how I enjoyed it. If you are able to come up with some creative solutions to the characters' predicaments, more power to you!

Either way, I wonder if there is an online forum for discussing these creepy conundrums? Some are more believable than others but all do a good job of creating anxiety and uneasiness. Certainly I would be curious to see what kind of answers the author came up with herself. And not that it's a contest, but my own (hopeful) explanation is that they are all simply nightmares!

The cover might lead some potential readers astray, an editor could probably tighten things up, and I would have welcomed more of the "textbook" information from her website (i.e., Fluid intelligence). Still, great creative writing.

For another take on thinking outside the brain box, try Test Your Lateral Thinking IQ. It also couches puzzles in narrative form, but it provides a rather more concrete means of evaluating your thinking. On the downside, it requires a friend and a stopwatch!

[The reviewer was provided with a complimentary copy of the book.]
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on September 6, 2013
I received this from Library Thing to read and review. The concept behind this book is an interesting one. However, I think this is a book that will bet be used by groups. I am not convinced that one person, reading this book will really go through the exercise as the author probably hoped. The situations the author presents, though interesting, are pretty far-fetched. I had difficulty imagining someone actually going through situations as described and developing creative solutions. I think it might have helped the book if the author had included some discussions about possible solutions. The appendix lists some possible ways to use the book, but, until I reached that point in the book, I missed something because I had not realized the author expected this book to be more than something one reads and tries to develop some sort of solution for. The book will stimulate thought and/or discussions, but, while some of the situations were realistic, many were way beyond that and not as appealing to me.
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on June 25, 2010
This captivating and enjoyable book challenges your way of thinking and seeks you to apply your imagination and reasoning abilities in coming up with a solution for each dilemma presented. I work in the computer development field and am always endeavoring to find new ways to help keep my thinking in tiptop shape. I found this book to be a great tool for bringing out your own originality when looking for solutions. The stories are very entertaining and generally keep you riveted. Working my way to a solution really made me flex my mind and I had lots of fun trying to find a remedy for the muddles the characters found themselves in.

This book is enthusiastically recommended for anyone desiring to expand their ability to think creatively and become more sharp-minded.
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on December 20, 2009
Outsmart the Unexpected consists of a series of entertaining mini-mysteries that force you to write your own ending. Like some difficult real-life situations, we aren't presented with neat options to choose from. This book really will help you work your creative muscles.

As other reviewers have said, the book's story dilemmas could be treated as a creative writing exercise, but are really meant to make you feel and think as though the situation is happening to you and as such, should be solved seriously. If you like open-ended questions, you should like this book.
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