‘NetGalley’ Category

  1. 2017 books part 1 – January-July

    July 1, 2017 by Angie

    Last year I read 27 books. That was my record since I started keeping count in 2007.

    July 1 is the halfway point for 2017 so here’s a recap of what I’ve read so far this year. I’m not including cookbooks, pattern books, travel guides, and the like in this list – only real novels, short story collections, and heftier nonfiction books make the cut.

    Noteworthy stuff so far:

    My favorite: The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

    Five star winners: Anything is Possible; Sisters; Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City; The Snow Child

    My least favorite: Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

    The longest: Three Sisters, Three Queens at 556 pages

    The oldest: The Yellow Wallpaper, published in 1892

    Nonfiction: 3

    Fiction: 12

    Here is the list in the order I read them. I’ve included reviews for some and ratings on a scale of 1 to 5 stars for all.

    1. Information Now: A Graphic Guide to Student Research by Matt Upson – work – 3 stars

    2. Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory – 2.5 stars

    I didn’t enjoy this as much as the other books in this series. It was slow and felt repetitive. I might have learned something though.

    3. Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout – NetGalley – 5 stars

    “Anything is Possible” is a collection of interconnected, short stories related to Strout’s previous book, “My Name is Lucy Barton”. Strout is in the running for my favorite living author so I was very excited to read her latest book. I was not disappointed. Strout gives us more stories about characters we met or heard about in “My Name is Lucy Barton”. She explores small town life, poverty, family, relationships, loneliness – her usual themes that I enjoy so much. The collection is artfully written, connecting people, places, and backstories.

    4. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead – 4 stars

    5. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett – 4.5 stars

    Nearly perfect! I kept thinking about this book and the characters long after I finished it.

    6. All That’s Left to Tell by Daniel Lowe – NetGalley – 3 stars

    I wanted to love this book because it was recommended by Elizabeth Strout in an email I received and I love Elizabeth Strout. I enjoyed reading the novel while I was reading it, but when I reflect on the story, I’m not sure it was worth my time or that the story-within-a-story plot worked well in this case. Very little actually happens in the book. A man is kidnapped in Pakistan and spends the book talking with one of his captors, an American woman. He gives her information about his life and his recently deceased daughter. She weaves that information, along with what she found online and learned through a phone call with the kidnapped man’s mother, into a pretty weird story about the life the captive man’s deceased daughter might have had if she had not been killed a few months earlier. I’m all for a good story-within-a-story plot (a la “The Blind Assassin”), but this one fell short. Too much of the book was speculation, so the “real” parts and characters were not fleshed out. I couldn’t relate to the captive man much at all because I didn’t know him. The big reveal at the end about the captive man didn’t impact me. I cared about the story being told within the story more, but less than I would have if it had been the book itself because I knew it wasn’t “real”. I didn’t really get to know any of the characters, aside from the fictional versions of potential futures for the main character and his dead daughter. The American captor seems to weave her younger, partially fictionalized self into one of the stories as well. Then there is the bizarre sex stuff which was also mostly not “real”. The book is a bit of a mess to be honest. I gave it three stars because I liked the writing.

    7. Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance – 4 stars

    Stereotypes are bad, obviously. This book explores hillbilly culture. I didn’t feel it was stereotypical and was, in fact, helpful to me as someone who knows/is related to white people from Appalachia. I get it now. Thank you, J.D. Vance.

    8. Sisters by Lily Tuck – NetGalley – 5 stars

    “Sister” was my introduction to Lily Tuck. I loved this brief novel, which feels much more like a short story belonging in a collection. When I reached the end, I wished for another one. It reminds me of Lorrie Moore’s amazing short stories and those found in “No One Belongs Here More Than You” by Miranda July. 

    The narrator is her husband’s second wife. The focus is on what it’s like to join a family after another woman has left, but remains a part of everyone’s life (as a mother and a co-parent) except the narrator’s. She is constantly wondering about the first wife and marriage and how she and her marriage measure up.

    The novel is dark, modern, and a little funny. Tuck’s writing forces you to read between the lines, but in doing so you find a full story. Without much history, I completely understood the second wife’s feelings of insecurity, jealousy, and curiosity about the previous wife and marriage. Some of the references were over my head, but I caught the apt Manderly mention referring to “Rebecca”, a classic novel all about the first wife. This is a quick read, but don’t breeze through it or you’ll miss all the subtle, implied content. FIve stars – I’m looking forward to reading Tuck’s other works.

    9. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind – book club – 2 stars

    10. The End We Start From by Megan Hunter – NetGalley – 3 stars

    “The End We Start From” is a dystopian novella narrated by a woman who gave birth to her first child amidst a catastrophe that caused London to completely flood, displacing all of its residents. I’m a big fan of this genre so I was predetermined to enjoy this short novel. I appreciate dystopian fiction that considers the unique vulnerability of women in a world after society and law and order have broken down. Hunter adds to that the challenges of being a new mother. 

    While I enjoyed it, the book is so brief that it lacks something. The sparse writing style appears intentional and, in a way, works well with the context of disaster and isolation. There’s something about the writing and the brevity of the book that makes the story feel incomplete, however. I wanted to know more about the origins of the disaster and where the husband was and what he experienced during much of the story. It is enjoyable, unique, and worth reading, but not at the top of my list for books in the dystopian genre.

    11. The Party by Robyn Harding – NetGalley – 3 stars

    I breezed right through “The Party” racing to the end. It was an enjoyable read, but not outstanding. There are two things I can put my finger on that I did not like. The first is the description of the characters. The author describes the wealthy, tech company executive and his perfect homemaking wife and the yoga and meditation addicted mother of their daughter’s friend so clearly I could very easily call up all the stereotypes about these kinds of people and get a good feel for these characters. The stereotype part of that is concerning and I think the descriptions are very “on trend” causing them not to age well. There were too many mentions of current brands, technology, and fads utilized in painting the picture of the kinds of characters in the novel. The second thing I did not love is the ending of the novel. It felt anticlimactic. It tries to give the reader the opportunity to speculate about where the story will go after the book ends without providing enough information to create an interesting or thought-provoking cliffhanger that would leave readers wondering what specific choices the characters will make.

    12. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond – 5 stars

    The sheer amount of work, time, and research put in to this book! I’m so impressed. Also, man, can he write. “Evicted” is a thoughtful and thorough investigation of an economic and social epidemic facing our country.

    13. American War by Omar El Akkad – 3 stars

    14. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey – 5 stars

    15. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman – a single short story – 4 stars


  2. flapper’s delight

    March 31, 2017 by Angie

    This is the second cocktail recipe I’ve made from the book, How to Drink French Fluently by Drew Lazor and Camille Ralph Vidal, that I got from NetGalley. I can’t just read the cookbooks, I have to make the recipes – for delicious, boozy research purposes.


    I changed it up a little because I forgot to buy limes, I do not like gin, and I wanted to reduce the amount of sugar in the simple syrup. The slightly altered recipe follows.

    Ingredients

    8-10 mint leaves
    3/4 oz simple syrup
    1 1/2 oz vodka (or gin, if you’re 100 years old)
    1/2 oz St-Germain
    3/4 oz lime or lemon juice
    Club soda, to fill
    Ice cubes

    Instructions

      1. If you don’t already have some, you can, and I would argue you should, make your own simple syrup. Boil a cup of water and add a cup of sugar unless you think that sounds like diabetes, then up your water to sugar ratio.
      2. Get a rocks glass. Put half of the mint leaves in there then pour in the simple syrup. Crush it up with a spoon so that the mint releases its mintiness into your drink.
      3. Add the vodka, St-Germain, and juice. Stir.
      4. Add the ice cubes. Pour in club soda until your glass is full.
      5. Garnish with a mint sprig.
      6. That drink looks good on you!

    flapper's delight with vodka


  3. St-Germain cocktail

    March 15, 2017 by Angie

    OMG, you guys. It’s been a minute.

    Life has been crazy nuts. But this week is SPRING BREAK. Therefore, so many drink recipes.

    I received and read a great, new cocktail recipe book from NetGalley, How to Drink French Fluently by Drew Lazor and Camille Ralph Vidal. There are four recipes I’m dying to try and can afford/find the ingredients to make. I made two tonight. The first is the St-Germain Cocktail.

    Ingredients

    1 1/2 oz St-Germain

    4 oz cava (prosecco, champagne, whatever you got just make it brut)

    2 oz club soda

    Instructions

    Easiest recipe ever. Get a champagne flute. Pour the ingredients in. Stir. Boom, you have a delicious champagne cocktail.

    SPRING BREAK 2K17!


  4. 2016 books

    December 31, 2016 by Angie

    I broke my record for books read in a year. Twenty five was the most since I started keeping track in 2007. This year I made it to 27! I realize many people consistently read much more than that, but for me it’s a biggish deal.

    I joined a book club, I read some of these books for work, and I started receiving eBook ARCs this year from NetGalley and Edelweiss. All of that brought more books to me than usual but I’m still apt to fall asleep if I’m not standing up so my reading time is still limited. I read and reviewed cookbooks, pattern books, and travel books on Goodreads this year but did not include those in my count.

    2016 Reading Challenge

    2016 Reading Challenge
    angeleen has
    completed her goal of reading
    15 books in
    2016!
    hide

    My favorite: Idaho by Emily Ruskovich – expected publication date is February 16, 2017

    Five star winners: The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, Brother, I’m Dying by Edwidge Danticat, Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, and Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

    My least favorite: Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

    The longest: Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy at 433 pages

    The oldest: also Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy originally published in 1874

    Nonfiction: 5 (I’m counting a memoir.)

    Fiction: 22

    Here is the list in the order I read them. I’ve included reviews for some and ratings on a scale of 1 to 5 stars for all.

    1. The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood – 2 stars

    I should probably give this a 2.5. I read the first novella which eventually became part of this book. I just was not feeling it. I’m very sorry, Margaret. I still love you.

    2. Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy – work – 3 stars

    3. Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger – 4 stars

    4. Rising Strong by Brene Brown – book club – 3 stars

    5. MLA Handbook, Eighth Edition by The Modern Language Association of America – work – ? stars

    I realize this is a style manual, but I read it six times this summer and fall so it makes the list!

    6. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro – 5 stars

    7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – 4 stars

    8. Tampa by Alissa Nutting – book club – 3 stars

    9. The Vegetarian by Han King – 4 stars

    10. Teaching Information Literacy Threshold Concepts: Lesson Plans for Librarians by Patricia Bravender – work – 4 stars

    11. Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald – 2 stars

    12. The Girls by Emma Cline – 3 stars

    It is a decent book, but the level of hype surrounding it is unwarranted. My favorite part is the way the author understands young women and puts that understanding into words via the thoughts of the main character. I especially liked her thoughts about the girlfriend who is abandoned at the house she’s staying at in real time (when she’s an older woman). For a book about a murderous cult, there was very little happening.

    13. Brother, I’m Dying by Edwidge Danticat – work – 5 stars

    I’m not much of a memoirs person, but I really enjoyed this book. Danticat’s writing style makes the book flow more like a really touching, fictional story than an autobiography. I knew shockingly little about Haiti before reading this and, while I’m sure I still know basically nothing, I know more than I did and am eager to learn more.

    14. The Winter of our Discontent by John Steinbeck – book club – 3 stars

    The pet names and “conversations” with the groceries drove me crazy. It’s Steinbeck so it was occasionally very good. I felt that the story was too drawn out. I don’t understand why the main character needed not one, not two, but three get rich quick schemes. I get that Steinbeck was saying something about materialism and morality and I appreciate that. I feel he could have said it much more succinctly. If you want a moral lesson, I recommend reading The End of the Affair by Graham Greene instead.

    15. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant – book club – 4 stars

    16. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch – NetGalley – 5 stars

    I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    I really liked this book! I’m not much of a science fiction or mystery reader, but this book features my favorite aspects of the best books/films/shows of those genres with great, “literary fiction”-style writing.

    Dark Matter is a book I couldn’t put down. I raced to the end. Once or twice, I thought I guessed the ending, but I believe Crouch wants readers to realize certain plot twists just before they are presented outright. There were more coming, so the book stayed intense and unpredictable. The physics and philosophy sprinkled throughout intrigued me and taught me some things I didn’t know. I enjoyed the questions this novel asks us to ask ourselves, particularly about identity and choices.

    Recommended for fans of not-so-cozy mysteries (a la Gone Girl), spooky/cerebral science fiction, and shows like The Twilight Zone and Black Mirror.

    17. Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach – book club – 3 stars

    18. The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison – NetGalley – 4 stars

    I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

    The Book of the Unnamed Midwife is a thought-provoking, post-apocalyptic, page turner for the rest of us! In the tradition of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, this is the end of the world from a female perspective. Just about every kind of person was represented by a complete character in this book: a gay couple, a bisexual woman, a sex worker, some LDS church members, young women, young men, people who decided to fight for their lives and people who chose to die. At no point did the book feel like a diverse checklist. Every character felt real and helped the plot along. If you like post-apocalyptic fiction like Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven then The Book of the Unnamed Midwife is for you.

    19. The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff – work – 2 stars

    20. Bird Box by Josh Malerman – 4 stars

    21. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier – 4 stars

    22. Idaho by Emily Ruskovich – NetGalley – 5 stars

    I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

    I read more books than usual this year and Idaho is possibly the best of them all. I love Emily Ruskovich’s writing. She wove music, and one song in particular, throughout the entire book without it ever being cheesy or cumbersome. The song held the non-linear story together as we learned details out of order from a number of characters. I love that it’s a mystery and a love story. It shows characters capable of extreme violence and cruelty but also uncommon compassion and kindness. I think it’s really unique that one chapter was dedicated to a bloodhound’s experience while searching for the missing daughter.

    Idaho is one of the best novels I’ve ever read. I’m glad I didn’t skip this one and hope Emily Ruskovich’s future works are this great.

    23. My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout – 4 stars

    24. The Mortifications by Derek Palacio – NetGalley – 3 stars

    The characters have a lot of strongly held convictions that change too often and are too ambiguous for strongly held convictions. I enjoyed reading the book for the most part, but nothing really happened and I never became invested in any of the characters.

    25. The Futures by Anna Pitoniak – NetGalley – 3 stars

    I enjoyed this book, although it was very predictable. I graduated in 2008 like most of the characters in the book. It was a hard time to enter the real workforce. I liked the way Anna Pitoniak expressed, through the main female character, Julia, how difficult that time in life can be. The path to success is pretty clear up until graduation when things get confusing and young people are very much on their own to find work and their adult identities. The period just after graduation can be rough, even for the wealthy apparently. Much of the book is building up to a major event that I saw coming a mile away. As soon as I got the male characters’ absurdly white, Anglo-Saxon, protestant names (Jake Fletcher, Evan Peck, Adam McCard) sorted out, I knew what was going to happen. The predictability and then the slow build to a not-much-of-anything ending make this book just okay in my opinion.

    26. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman – 3 stars

    27. The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout – 3 stars