The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

The Couple Next DoorI’ve been looking for a quick mystery novel that isn’t too dark or gory; The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena was just the book I was in the mood for.

Marco and Anne Conti, new to parenthood, go to a dinner party at the house next door and leave their infant baby behind with a baby monitor. During the span of the party an awful crime is committed and as the story progresses, readers learn exactly what happened that night and what role everyone played, however unexpected.

What interested me the most in this book was the way that people can spiral out of control and dig themselves into a deeper and deeper hole in an effort to save their own skin. Situations in this story drive people to commit acts they never thought they were capable of.

Each chapter flowed smoothly into the next, the whole story only spanning a week or so. The book is told in third person from the perspectives of many different characters. The narrator seemed very removed from the characters and I noticed that each of the characters’ names were used a lot, almost so much so that it started to distract me. This style of writing isn’t a favorite of mine, but I thought it worked for this book.

The Couple Next DoorFor me, The Couple Next Door is a plot driven novel, rather than character driven, and a quick one-time read.

Here’s a quote I marked from the book:

“She knows how judgmental mothers are, how good it feels to sit in judgment of someone else.”

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

A Gentleman in MoscowA beautiful piece of literature, A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles is a book that deserves to be savored line by line. Towle’s first book, Rules of Civility, is a favorite historical fiction of mine so I’d been anticipating his next book for years and it arrived in the form of A Gentleman in Moscow.

In 1922, The Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol Hotel in Moscow, Russia by the Bolshevik tribunal. He lives in a small cramped room in the attic and is forbidden from stepping foot outside the hotel. Although the story is told from within the walls of the hotel (for the most part) it’s not a small story. A Gentleman in Moscow spans over 4 decades of Russian history.

I couldn’t help but be charmed by this novel and the Count. Witty and extremely perceptive, he is the ultimate surveyor of the details in life. Throughout the story, we’re introduced to the various personalities of the people who live and/or work within the hotel. This includes Sofia, the child who ends up on the Count’s doorstep (or in this case, the hotel lobby). The interactions between these characters are fantastic dialogue. I was intrigued by the charming and the quirky characters alike, and was excited to see where the various personalities met.

For me, this wasn’t a quick read. I took my time and enjoyed the smaller details that eventually build up to the final scenes of the story when the Count’s life changes forever.

A Gentleman in MoscowI absolutely recommend A Gentleman in Moscow and hope that you enjoy it as much as I did! Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book so that you can get a taste of the story for yourself:

“’A king fortifies himself with a castle,’ observed the Count, ‘a gentleman with a desk.’”

“But imagining what might happen if one’s circumstances were different was the only sure way to madness.” 

“But time and tide wait for no man.”

“That sense of loss is exactly what we must anticipate, prepare for, and cherish to the last of our days; for it is only heartbreak that refutes all that is ephemeral in love.”

“…the thousand-layered complications of their hearts.”

“For what matters in life is not whether we receive a round of applause; what matters is whether we have the courage to venture forth despite the uncertainty of acclaim.”

Still Life by Louise Penny

still-lifeStill Life by Louise Penny is one of the books that has been waiting on my shelf for months and months. I finally had a chance to pick up this mystery detective novel and I’m happy that I did.

The story begins in the small town of Three Pines near Montreal when a well-liked woman is found dead in the woods. With an arrow wound on her chest, there’s no denying that her death wasn’t an accident…

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is the lead detective investigating the murder and I was impressed by his intelligence and perceptiveness. As many great detectives do, Gamache has the uncanny knack for finding the hidden pieces of the puzzle and fitting them together. He brings his team to the small town of Three Pines to get to the bottom of what happened.

Still Life is well written and kept me curious throughout the story. I will definitely read more of Louise Penny’s books!

My favorite quote from the book:

“Oscar Wilde said that conscience and cowardice are the same thing. What stops us from doing horrible things isn’t our conscience, but the fear of getting caught.”

Of Light and Darkness by Shayne Leighton

of-light-and-darknessIt’s a world much like the one we know today with one small exception… There are vampires, witches, and elves (among other creatures) lurking nearby. These supernatural beings hide themselves from humans and are governed by the regime, a body made up of elves that don’t hold love for vampires. The story focuses on Charlotte and Valek, a 18 year old human girl and the vampire who found her as a baby. Valek has cared for Charlotte all her life and now must go to the ends of his means to protect her and the entire vampire population against oncoming danger from the regime.

I guess you could say I’ve been on a bit of a fantasy book kick lately and Of Light and Darkness by Shayne Leighton definitely falls into that category. I listened to the story as an audiobook and the story flowed nicely.

A few aspects of this book stood out to me in particular. Because the book is filled with fictional beings, I thought that some references were a bit on the cheesy side, but I almost think that’s to be expected. I was interested to see that the book of-fang-and-shadowassociates darkness with the good guys and light with the bad guys, which is the reverse of many other stories I’ve heard. On another note, the relationship between Charlotte and Valek is a complicated one that begins as guardian and warden and seems to be leading somewhere else entirely….

It took me a bit of time to get into the story, but once I did, there were sections that I enjoyed. The third book of the series, Of Fang and Shadow, releases soon!

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. SchwabI’ve been in the mood to read a fantasy book for a while now and I’m happy to have started with A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab.

In this story, there isn’t only one London, but instead there’s four. First there’s Grey London, a dull and plain version of the city without magic. Next there’s Red London, a city filled with vibrant life, color, and magic. White London is fraught with a ruthless magical war. Lastly, there’s Black London, a place whose doors have closed forever.

Kell is one of the last and only magicians who can travel between the worlds and he serves as a messenger for and member of the royalty of Red London. Unbeknownst to the King and Queen, Kell secretly (and illegally) smuggles items from each of the worlds back into his own. When he accidentally smuggles an artifact from Black London that is dangerously powerful, he realizes that he’s in huge trouble. As Kell does his best to dispose of the stone, he meets Lila Bard, a bold and incredibly capable thief, who joins him on this adventure.

A Darker Shade of MagicLondon is one of my favorite cities in the world and I was excited to see it brought to life in multiple different worlds. I thought that Schwab did a wonderful job creating extremely interesting and likable characters. I especially admired Kell’s honor and the Lila’s bravery throughout the story.

I really enjoyed this fast-paced adventure and am already looking forward to opening up the next book in the series, A Gathering of Shadows.

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane MoriartyI could not put down Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty! I’ve read (and loved!) many of Moriarty’s books so I had high hopes for this one and I’m happy to say that the book lived up to my expectations.

Liane Moriarty is a brilliant writer who weaves stories with these wild plot twists and bizarre characters. Her books are really fun, but at the same time they share difficult and relatable situations. I especially admire the way Moriarty slowly peels back the layers of each story, giving enough detail to engage and withholding enough to keep you hooked. She is definitely an auto-buy author for me!

This book centers around an ordinary BBQ on an ordinary afternoon with 6 adults and 3 children. Somehow this typical BBQ turns into a nightmare for these families and readers are led on a fast-paced journey to get to the bottom of it all.

Truly Madly GuiltyI was fascinated by the relationship between Erika and Clementine, who are now adults and have been friends since childhood. They don’t seem to particularly like each other, but their shared history is a strong bond. It’s a relationship that feels almost like a strained sisterhood, and in a way, it is. Erika grew up with a hoarding mother and was quickly taken under the wing of Clementine’s family.

Truly Madly Guilty is filled with wacky characters, witty dialogue, and unexpected twists!

Book of the Month Club

Book of the month clubCheers to the weekend everyone! It’s been a busy week and nothing makes me happier than finding book mail on my doorstep after a long day. Today I’m sharing a book subscription service that has quickly become a favorite program of mine!  Book of the Month Club is a great online community to engage with and has fun themes each month (hint: they sent wine coozies for August) and above all else, the book selections are fantastic.

August picks are here and they are GOOD! I’ve read Circling The Sun and The Paris Wife by Paula McLain (and enjoyed both!) and a few of the others are on my TBR list. If you want to join the club, you can use the code DREAMBYDAY to get your first month of subscription for $5! If that’s not a fantastic deal for a hardcover book I don’t know what is. August selections include:
  • Circling The Sun – Paula McLain
  • The Woman In Cabin 10 – Ruth Ware
  • Dark Matter – Blake Crouch
  • All The Ugly And Wonderful Things – Bryn Greenwood
  • Siracusa – Delia Ephron
If you have any questions, definitely feel free to reach out! Click here to sign up (or learn more)!