Non-Fiction Textbook Book Review – Adobe InDesign CC Revealed

  • Title: Adobe InDesign Creative Cloud Revealed
  • Author: Chris Botello
  • Subject: Graphic Design, Adobe InDesign, Software
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 04/08/2015

This was my textbook for a recent class in Adobe InDesign, at a local Community College. I liked the textbook, and I’ve bought two more in the series. The book starts with the very basics of InDesign – the workspace and adaptable panels, and precedes, chapter by chapter, to go through major features.

Each chapter includes numerous project-type examples you can do with the software (if you have it) and learn along with the book. The end of each chapter has a Skills Review – usually assigned as homework in my class, for practicing the skills explained in the chapter, a Project Builder – one or more more involved exercises, that can be added to a student portfolio, and the Design and Portfolio Project – which are further examples for building a portfolio or discussion-provoking questions about a design. In order to successfully complete any of the skills reviews, Design Projects, Portfolio Projects, or Project Builders, you must be able to download and access the data files for the textbook. For me, these were found on the school server, from the path my instructor gave me. However, going from the other books in the series, there are publicly-accessible websites from the publisher for downloading zip files of the data files.

The chapters included good information, and the skills review and other exercises reinforced the knowledge of each chapter.

There were a few things to watch out for, however:

  1. Sometimes instructions referred to skills one hasn’t learned yet, and were in the subsequent chapters – this happened rarely, but was annoying when it did.
  2. Following the skills reviews step-by-step often involved using different methods to accomplish the exact same goal. Though I understand why multiple techniques towards the same end might be taught, it often became either annoying or boring (who wants to do the same thing three times using slightly different methods?); on rare occasions it even became confusing (I thought I did X by using tool Y – now you’re telling me to use tool C?).
  3. Format of the book/skills review. Sigh. It’s a rectangler book, which opens on the skinny side – depending on your desk, it can be hard to work with, compared to a standard portrait-style book. (Try picturing a landscaped Excel spreadsheet verses a standard Word doc). The font in the skills review sections is a bit too small to read comfortably.
  4. Every once in awhile the printed instructions and the pictures did not match. My guess is the text was revised but some illustrations weren’t updated.

Finally, just for me, personally, I would have liked at least some chances to do more creative things, rather than blindly following instructions. I mean, I did try various things out anyway, but when someone hands you a playbox – it’s a shame when you can’t creatively use the toys.

Overall, a great textbook, and, like I said – I ordered two other books in the series. Recommended.

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Book Review – The Severed Streets

  • Title: The Severed Streets
  • Author: Paul Cornell
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 07/29/2014

The Severed Streets is Paul Cornell’s sequel to London Falling but whereas London Falling started slow because there was a lot of set-up, The Severed Streets jumps right in. It’s a brilliant novel that I highly recommend, but I also don’t want to spoil it. Simply read this novel.

The plot is three-fold: due to government cuts to salaries and personnel the London Metropolitan Police are threatening an illegal but justified strike. Fed-up with the Coalition government cuts to necessary services, “flash mobs” in Toff masks and costumes are showing up all over London, raising havoc and slowly becoming more and more violent. And, in the midst of all this, James Quill’s special unit is called to investigate supernatural murders in impossible places that superficially resemble the crimes of Jack-the-Ripper.

The novel draws you in to its world and moves fast. Reading the book kept me up late for several nights because I could not put it down. And it’s been awhile since I’ve read a book that was that engrossing.

This is a somewhat depressing book – but it’s a story with hope too. At it’s heart it’s more of a Supernatural mystery or crime story than fantasy – James Quill and his unit are cops – cops with special abilities, which they acquired in an accident in the first novel in the series, London Falling. And, yes, by the end of the novel, like in all crime stories, the crime is solved. But in no way is the story predictable, there was only one detail where I could have predicted something would happen that did – and it happened in an unpredictable way (and my reaction was more along the lines of how series fiction works than anything the author telescoped unnecessarily).

The book was awesome, and the last line is an “OMG!” moment that stuck in my head for days. I highly recommend this novel, and I dearly hope there will be another book in the series.