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Search tags: netgalley-books
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review 2017-05-31 01:53
Paper: Paging Through History
Paper: Paging Through History - Mark Kurlansky

This was my first Kurlansky book, but my husband has read and loved his others, (and still quotes from Salt), so you can appreciate that I would choose this just so I could throw some facts back at him. In any case, as a graphic designer and a book lover, of course I am a fan of Paper, so this book had my name written all over it. Kurlansky, I think, has a reputation like Michener — if he is going to tell the story of paper, he is pretty much going to start at the beginning of time and work from there. This is great if, like me, you have an almost unnatural devotion to paper, but I'm guessing this is probably not a huge target audience. Oddly enough, since I got the book from NetGalley, I read a book all about paper on an electronic device, which seems kind of thoughtless and uncaring. But I do care about paper. Maybe not as much as Kurlansky, but a lot.  


Veering off his topic, Kurlansky goes deeply into paper production techniques, the economies of mill towns, and all sorts of interesting bunny trails, but sometimes, this makes the almost 400-page book feel a bit longer. The paper industry was huge in my early career, so this book was nostalgic for me. There was a time when I would pray to be asked to design a paper sampler — an elaborate, no holds barred presentation used simply to show off the qualities of different types of paper to potential customers — because it offered complete freedom and exceptionally large budgets. But, like Kurlansky, I digress.


Here's the thing: Kurlansky is a master at choosing a subject and then letting it consume him. There is, I think, no stone left unturned here. If you're up for the challenge, this is your book.

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review 2017-04-17 05:54
We Are Still Tornadoes
We Are Still Tornadoes - Michael Kun,Susan Mullen

Compared to the book I read before this, I have to say that the blurb that accompanies this book dramatically undersells it. Honestly, looking at it now I cannot imagine what inspired me to choose this from NetGalley, but I am certainly glad I did. I understand that this is a YA title, but for people like me who actually lived through the 80s, this is a fond trip down memory lane. I especially loved that the novel was written entirely in “letters” sent back and forth between the two protagonists; letters that have a date on top, and acknowledge things like crossing in the mail, instead of the to-the-minute time stamp of an ordinary email. Do YA readers even understand this? Ink, paper, stamps, envelopes, all of it? As someone who still has letters from her siblings, parents and friends sent during college, I hope that they at least have a sense of it. The letters here come in a range of sizes — from the dashed off note to the long, meandering, angsty questions that only a college student can ask.


I loved every cheesy detail of this book (especially the title origin), and it made me laugh, out loud, embarrassingly. The characters were clever and endearing, and even though the plot sometimes crossed the line of believability, it did not take away from my enjoyment. If you are a Rainbow Rowell fan (of any age), this book will have a place on your shelf. And if you aren’t (wait, really, you’re not?) try it anyway. Don’t read the blurb, just trust me.  

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review 2017-04-17 05:04
First Comes Love
First Comes Love: A Novel - Emily Giffin

I sometimes feel like I live under a rock. Granted, it’s a nice, comfy rock, and there are plenty of books to keep me company and the light is surprisingly good, but I cannot deny missing the boat on some popular trends. I picked this Emily Giffin book because how can you not know her name? Her books are beloved bestsellers, and when I saw this one on NetGalley I thought, she certainly does not need me to help her sell them — how nice of her to offer them to us!


But this book was just not for me. As a mother who came to that in the traditional way, but also as a woman who has been lucky enough to pursue her passion in work, I could not relate to these women and their many regrets. The courses they pursue seemed unrealistic and contrived, sometimes for shock value alone. I will admit, the book was well-written and, in some ways, compelling, but the characters just did not appeal to me. I will take issue with the blurb I read — I was promised “dazzling”, “emotionally honest and utterly enthralling”, but these are not the words I would have chosen. But hey, almost 24,000 people on Goodreads feel differently than me on this one, so clearly this was just a miss on my part. If you are a fan, don’t listen to me, just have at it and I’ll catch you next time.

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review 2017-03-29 05:15
Before the Fall
Before the Fall - Noah Hawley

This book was positioned as a thriller, but it didn’t really fit into that genre for me. While it seemed a bit “ripped from the headlines”, it was written with an intelligence that belied the occasional celebrity tell-all feel. To me, it was more intriguing than gripping, but while the conclusion seemed inevitable and unsurprising, this did not really detract from the story. Hawley is terrific at crafting his wealthy characters, but I found the ordinary, flawed ones more interesting. I especially appreciated that the artist living on Martha’s Vineyard is poor and relatively unknown despite living in what would normally be considered a high-end vacation spot. Hawley is deft at contrasting the flashy tabloid news with the human side of the story, and I found just as many parts deeply moving as completely despicable.


One reviewer ranted on and on about how bad this cover is – but as a graphic designer (who frequently judges a book by its cover), I am weighing in on this one. I was attracted to the type that was at once bold and ethereal; accurately, I think, evoking the tragedy and uncertainty to come.

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review 2017-03-28 03:27
You Know Me Well
You Know Me Well - Nina LaCour,David Levithan

I thought this book was well-written and the plot moved along at a brisk pace, but honestly, even considering the fact that I am not a YA reading this, I found it unrealistic. There is endless talking and pining for love in this story (I found all the over-analyzing more like college students than high school, but maybe that’s just me) and yay, it’s a story of so many under-represented gay teens, but aside from that, not a whole lot happens. Well, actually, a lot happens in the span of just a few days, but I didn’t find it very believable. Having said that, I will admit that I loved the banter between the friends — I found it smart and funny and the authors established a nice rapport among them; but it was all smart and funny, barely an awkward pause despite the fact that most of them had only just met. I mean I get the whole fast friends thing, but there was a lot of that here – not just one relationship.


LaCour and Levithan had their hearts in the right place, but I thought the story that unfolded had the potential to be so much more.

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