1) The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. 3/5 stars. I know I'm in the minority that I'm not a huge fan of TJR, but I did like this book. It's mostly the story of movie star Evelyn Hugo's career, and many marriages, from the 1950's through the 1980's. I enjoyed the first half of the book in the old-time Hollywood era more than the second half which also started to feel repetitive. I applaud TJR for tackling a subject that does not get nearly enough attention in popular fiction.
2) Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan. 2/5 stars. I really like the premise of this book: New mom Ashley Keller is struggling to adapt to being a stay-at-home-mom in "the world of Pinterest-perfect, Facebook-fantastic, and Instagram-impressive mommies." It was funny at times but a bit too farcical for me, with all the characters as parodies rather than being true to life.
3) The Widow's House by Carol Goodman. 3/5 stars. This is a ghost story set in a big old mysterious house in upstate New York. I can't resist the big old mysterious house setting! It's creepy and atmospheric in just the right way for me (aka: doesn't keep me up at night) although the plot as a whole is pretty far-fetched even for a ghost story.
4) The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We've Lost in a World of Constant Connection by Michael Harris. 3/5 stars. This book is interesting and thought-provoking although a bit slow at times. As with many nonfiction books I think it would have been sufficient to be a long article in an intelligent magazine. It's specifically aimed at those of us who remember life in our childhoods and early adulthood without the internet, social media, and cell phones. I was heading in this direction anyway but it further inspired me to take another step back specifically that I've started to do internet-free weekends and to leave my phone behind more and more often.
5) The Finishing School by Joanna Goodman. 3/5 stars. Do you think boarding schools are as dysfunctional in real life as they are portrayed in fiction? This book goes back and forth between past and present as Kersti tries to unravel the secrets behind a tragic event that occurred twenty years ago when she was at an exclusive boarding school in Switzerland.
6) From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. 4/5 stars. This is a charming middle-grade book, originally published in 1967, about two kids who manage to run away from home to hide out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC for a week. I know I read it when I was a kid but I didn't remember it that well. Interestingly to me, in this era of social media over-sharing, an important idea to the book is that having a bit of secret knowledge can make you feel special and different inside in a powerful way.
7) Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy. 3/5 stars. This book is about three families on a cruise together in South America whose six children aged 6 to 16 go missing during a zip line excursion. The point-of-view alternates between the parents and the children as they try to make their way back to each other. I'm not sure exactly why not but I couldn't really get into this one. The characters didn't seem very well developed and there's so much going on in the background (the attitude of Americans abroad, illegal immigration, the devastating effects of drug cartels) that it was hard to focus.
Also this month I had two DNF's which is pretty rare for me. I might have liked The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti at another point in time but I just wasn't in the mood for grim and gritty. And I picked up The Muralist because I liked B.A. Shapiro's first book, The Art Forger, but the art in this one is Abstract Expressionism, which I don't love, and there's also a sad WWII story, which - I've decided to take a break this year from the sad WWII story.