Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Reading Roundup - July 2017

Book Day! I read more books than usual this month so I won't waste any time - Here's what I read in July:


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.


8) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling. 5/5 stars. I couldn't resist this beautifully illustrated new Harry Potter edition. So far only the first two are out with the third coming this fall but chances are I'll collect them all. Obviously I'm very familiar with the HP world but I realized it has been quite some time since I read the books. This one was just as charming and magical and addicting as the first time I read it 17 years ago. [Fun Fact: My very first ever purchase from Amazon was HP#1 in May 2000.]

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.


That's all!

18 comments:

  1. oh bummer about the twelve lives of samuel hawley! it wasn't my favourite but i definitely enjoyed parts of it. i also really loved evelyn hugo, but i think i'd like anything by TJR lol

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  2. Mixed-Up Files is one of my favorite books of all time.

    I also tend to think that most nonfiction books could be condensed into an elongated article. I wish they were, I'd be more apt to read them.

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  3. I loved The Mixed-Up Files! Need to add that to the list of books to buy the little one :)

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  4. I've read all of the Harry Potter books multiple times as well, but I can't resist the illustrated copies either! They're so beautiful and a new way to experience that amazing story!

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  5. I love HP but have not checked out the illustrated versions because I won't be able to resist them! :D I really enjoyed Evelyn Hugo. It was my first TJR book, so I'm curious to see how I feel about her other books since this one was apparently a bit different from her other books.

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  6. I also didn't love Samuel Hawley but I was able to finish it and call it done. I think I gave it a C rating last month?
    I felt the same way about Evelyn Hugo. It was good enough but not my favorite of TJR's.
    I adore The Mixed-Up Files.

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  7. I really liked Evelyn Hugo. Really didn't like Samuel Hawley as well. I think I might try The Finishing School!

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  8. I want to read Evelyn Hugo, have heard many good things about it, and I've actually never read a TJR book. The Widow's House sounds fascinating. I like a good ghost story, but also like NOT being awake all night scared haha. I want to collect those illustrated HP books badly.

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  9. I always look forward to reading your reviews and seeing what you've been reading. I was just looking at the illustrated copy of the Sorcerer's Stone and really want to pick it up too. I've always felt like I'm the only person who isn't a mega TJR fan-- I've only read 2 of her books and liked one, and didn't care for the other so I'm not in a huge rush to read anything else by her, though I am definitely intrigued by your review of Seven Husbands.

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  10. Sorry you didn't really love Confessions of a Domestic Failure - I thought it was a quick, fun read, but I can also see how it would be a bit annoying.

    Yay for reading the illustrated HP. It's beautiful! I have the second to read ASAP and I can't wait for the third because it's my favorite in the series.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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  11. I have the first two illustrated Harry Potter books and love them - I think they will be great to read to my girls in a few years to keep their interest a bit more :) I have 12 Lives of Samuel Hawley from the library right now but not sure if I am in the mood for it or not. I loved Evelyn Hugo, but it is not my favourite by her...I think that still goes to After I Do or One True Loves.

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  12. Oh, some of these are already on my list but I am definitely adding that End of Absence one!

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  13. Confessions of a Domestic Failure sounds like it could be the title of my life haha.

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  14. Not finishing books is rare for me too! I haven't actually heard of a lot of these you read. Some sound good! Lots of lovely covers in here too :)

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  15. I'm not that interested in Evelyn Hugo. I know everyone was freaking out that it came out, but it just doesn't sound like my thing. Glad you enjoyed it more than you expected based on TJRs other books. I'm looking into the Widow's House and the B.A. Shapiro novels. I love anything related to art history. Great reading month for you! :) XO - Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

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  16. I actually really liked Do Not Become Alarmed, but I think varying POVs is my thing (as long as it's done well). Great roundup though - you read a ton!

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  17. Heck yes to the Harry Potter perfect score! I'm collecting the illustrated books, too. And I LOVE From the Mixed Up Files... My third grade teacher read that to us and I've loved it (and re-read it) ever since.

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  18. I also remember enjoying From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler as a kid. Thanks for the memory of this book!

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