Must-reads for Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day Weekend readsWhether you’re heading out for a beach getaway this Memorial Day or enjoying a stay-cation buried under the covers, I’ve got a list of great reads for the holiday weekend!

Eligible

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld is a modern remaking of the classic Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, with a play on the hit reality TV show The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. A bit cheesy and slightly raunchy, the comical tone of this book is completely entertaining and I was amused by the outlandish characters and their bizarre behavior. Filled with delightful surprises, this is a definitely a fun read!

I Let You Go

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh is one of the rare mystery novels that I want to re-read because the plot twist is absolutely fantastic and I really connected with the characters. The story begins on a rainy afternoon when a woman is walking her young son home from school. When he runs ahead to get out of the cold, a car hits him out of nowhere. The child dies on impact and the car speeds off without a trace. Right from the start, with this dark and eerie prologue, this book consumed me and I can tell you that that the plot twist is EXCELLENT.

A Hundred Summers

I’m a huge fan of Beatriz Williams and am constantly recommending her books to friends and family. This is a book that I recommend to both my bookworm friends and self-proclaimed non-reader friends and they have all loved it! A Hundred Summers begins when Lily Dane leaves New York City and comes face to face with her ex-best friend, Budgie, and ex-fiancé Nick in Seaview, Rhode Island. The story switches between 1938 and 1931 as we try to discover how Lily’s world turned upside down. I adored these characters and I hope you do too!

Big Little Lies

Liane Moriarty writes wonderful stories that combine the lightness of a beach read with the twists and turns of a gripping story. Her novel, Big Little Lies, follows three women whose children attend the same school. As readers we learn from interview clips that something bad happened at a school event and I couldn’t put the book down until I found out what it was. Catch up on this one before the new HBO series based on the book airs staring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, and Alexander Skarsgård!

The One That Got Away

I just started this debut novel by Leigh Himes and I’m totally hooked by the fast pace and engaging characters. With a similar tone as Freaky Friday (anyone else a fan of the Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis movie?), the story is one of a switched identity. When Abbey wakes up from a fall down the Nordstrom escalator, she finds that she is married to a man who isn’t her husband. Abbey is overworked and underappreciated as she juggles parenting her children, managing their house budget, and handling her job. In this alternative world, Abbey is the wife of a successful congressional candidate, a man who she had met and turned down years before, and now she realizes the life she may have had if she had chosen differently….

Happy reading! xoxo

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The 100 Year Miracle by Ashley Ream

The 100 Year MiracleI’ve been reading at a faster pace this year than I ever have before so needless to say, I’ve read quite a few books so far in 2016. The 100 Year Miracle by Ashley Ream is one of the best books on that list! Set in the Pacific Northwest, a place I call home, I am particularly drawn to this story that centers around a mystical glow that appears off the coast of Washington state.

Once in every 100 years, a bay around an island off the coast of Washington glows green for six days. The sea creatures causing the dazzling glow are a mystery, but are believed to cause hallucinations, ease pain, and connect people to the spirit world by the Olloo’et tribe. For Dr. Rachel Bell, these sea creatures, known as Artemia lucis, represent a possible solution for her terrible pain and suffering. When her team of researchers goes to Olloo’et Bay to study the creatures, she will do anything to prove her theory as the clock winds down….

Elsewhere on the island, Tilda and Harry, a divorced couple, come back together as Harry faces the final stages of his debilitating disease. They must come to terms with a horrible accident that rocked their family years ago and learn how to finally move on just as the green glow appears outside of their windows.

The 100 Year Miracle Not only is the idea behind the story really interesting, the characters are humorous and endearing as well. In particular, Rachel’s abrupt and forthright manner (which broke many common social courtesies) and Harry’s charming and gruff wit were quite entertaining.

I find a story to be compelling when it not only urges me want to read, but inspires me to write as well, which The 100 Year Miracle did for me. I definitely recommend this one!

Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica

Dream by Day book review of Don't You Cry by Mary KubicaToday I’m sharing my review of Don’t You Cry, the newest psychological mystery novel by Mary Kubica, the bestselling author of The Good Girl. I was lucky enough to have the chance to interview Mary about her books and writing practices, which you can see here!

Don’t You Cry begins when Quinn realizes that her roommate, Esther Vaughn, has disappeared from their apartment in Chicago one night. With no word from Esther, Quinn scrambles to find a trace of her. Instead of finding Esther, Quinn rifles through her room and finds many clues that indicate that she may not know best friend as well as she thought she had…

In a small town outside of the city, a mysterious woman appears who strongly resembles Esther. Alex Gallo, an intelligent and lonely guy, lives in the town and quickly becomes infatuated by the woman. The more obsessed he gets, the more he realizes that she may be more dangerous that he could have imagined.

Dream by Day book review of Don't You Cry by Mary KubicaThroughout the story, each character’s perspective is quite straightforward as though they are writing in a journal or talking directly to the reader. There was a lot of transparency in their thoughts so we really got a sense of how they were feeling.

Don’t You Cry really picked up for me in the last 50 pages and had me staying up late into the night. Happy reading!

Author interview: Mary Kubica

Mary KubicaI can barely contain my excitement for this post. Today I’m sharing an interview with Mary Kubica, bestselling author of The Good Girl.

Mary, welcome to Dream by Day and thank you so much for joining us!

Can you tell us a bit about your latest novel, Don’t You Cry, for those who aren’t already familiar with the story?

Don’t You Cry begins in Chicago when a young woman named Quinn awakens one morning to discover her roommate, Esther, missing. While snooping through Esther’s room in search of clues that might help her find Esther, she comes across some questionable items that lead her to wonder how well she really knows her roommate. Meanwhile, in a small Michigan town about seventy miles outside of Chicago, a teenage boy named Alex discovers a mysterious young woman in the café where he works – one bearing a striking resemblance to Esther. He’s taken with her at once and the two becomes fast friends, though as Quinn starts to uncover the secrets behind Esther, we wonder what Alex, seventy miles away, is getting himself into.

Where did you get the inspiration for Don’t You Cry?

I was initially intrigued by the juxtaposition of a woman’s disappearance with the mysterious appearance of a woman in a different locale. When I began the novel there was much I had yet to figure out: who would tell these stories, whether this was one woman or two, and how the lives of all involved would eventually intersect. But I was excited to explore the idea on the page and see how the story unfolded over time.

Were any characters easier to write than others? Why do you think that is?

I find it more difficult to write any of my characters when I first begin a novel, whether male or female, young or old. They’re new and I’m unfamiliar with them, and the dialogue or their inner thoughts and voice are sometimes hard to discern. But after a few chapters, I begin to grasp who they are and the process of bringing them to life becomes easier. That said, there are always characters who resonate with me more deeply, or who tug a bit more on my heartstrings. In Don’t You Cry, that’s certainly the character of Alex, who is a reliable and whip-smart kid who’s stuck at home caring for his alcoholic father after his friends have graduated from high school and left for college. He’s alone and lonely, and easily smitten with the mysterious new arrival to town, a woman he nicknames Pearl for a bracelet she wears. I believe Alex is the type of special character who will stick with readers after they finish the book and leave an indelible mark on their hearts as he has mine.

What drew you to the mystery thriller genre as an author?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, though my first published novel, The Good Girl, was the first manuscript I wrote that had any sort of suspense element to it. I focused on women’s fiction before that time, though not very successfully. I’d start with an idea I thought was brilliant and then lose interest in the manuscript partway through. Something was missing, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. And then I got the idea for a kidnapping tale, and though I didn’t go into The Good Girl with a concerted effort to make it more of a thriller than my previous works, I knew right away when those twisty elements fell into place that all along this is what my other manuscripts were missing. I’ve been writing thrillers ever since and adore the genre.

Do you have any particular practices that help you write? Can your share your process with us?

I wake up early every morning and begin writing around 5am. It’s my favorite time to write, and the time when I feel the most clear-headed and focused. I find that I’m easily distracted by noise, and so have to be certain the TV and radio are off when I write, and that my husband and kids are either asleep or off to work and school. Other than that I don’t need much to write, though caffeine comes in handy – that and the company of a few cats.

You have published three novels; do you feel particularly attached to any of the characters you’ve created in particular?

Each novel has one character I feel particularly attached to. In The Good Girl, it was Colin. In Pretty Baby, Willow, and in Don’t You Cry, it’s Alex. These are the characters who have the most moving stories for me, who are feeling lonely, neglected or abused. They’re the ones who keep me up at night, worried for their happiness and safety, and who stay with me long after I finish getting their stories down on the page.

Do you have any knew projects in the works?

I’m just finishing up my fourth novel which begins when a young father is killed in a car crash with his four-year-old daughter in the backseat, completely unharmed. The crash is ruled an accident until the coming days when the little girl starts having nightmares about a car following and pushing them from the road, and the man’s widow sets off to find her husband’s killer. This one is still untitled, but keep an eye out for it in 2017 – more details coming soon!

What are you reading when you’re not writing?

My favorite genre to read is also suspense. I’m a big fan of Megan Abbott, Kimberly McCreight, Carla Buckley, Lisa Scottoline, Heather Gudenkauf and SJ Watson, amongst others.

To learn more about Mary Kubica and her books, you can visit her website here!

Major book haul from the library sale!

Book haulI love the library. The aisles of books, the audiobooks for on-the-go listening, and even the occasional DVD, fill me with happiness. The Seattle Public Library held it’s biannual book sale, hosted by The Friends of the Seattle Public Library, and I walked away with one of the largest book hauls I’ve ever gotten. When each book was only $1 or $2, I couldn’t resist! My haul includes stories that I have already read, a couple books I already own, and many books on my TBR list. Here’s the haul:

  • People of the Book – Geraldine Brooks
  • Love Water Memory – Jennie Shortridge
  • The Alphabet House – Jussi Adler-Olsen
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
  • Luckiest Girl Alive – Jessica Knoll
  • The Third Angel – Alice Hoffman
  • The Dressmaker – Rosalie Ham
  • Dollface: A Novel of the Roaring Twenties – Renee Rosen
  • Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty
  • The Secret Life of Violet Grant – Beatriz Williams
  • The Light Between Oceans – M.L. Stedman
  • Wicked – Janet Evanovich
  • The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller
  • Spring Fever – Mary Kay Andrews
  • Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  • After the War is Over – Jennifer Robson
  • The Forgotten Garden – Kate Morton
  • Faithful Place – Tana French
  • Still Life – Louise Penny
  • The Butterfly and the Violin – Kristy Cambron
  • The Secret Keeper – Kate Morton
  • The Other Boleyn Girl – Philippa Gregory
  • The Orphan Master’s Son – Adam Johnson
  • The Good Girl – Mary Kubica
  • The Bat – Jo Nesbo
  • Who Do You Love – Jennifer Weiner
  • Still Alice – Lisa Genova
  • Nineteen Minutes – Jodi Picoult

Now that I’ve got these great books on hand, I just need to schedule a month-long vacation to read them all!

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

Sleeping GiantsI think that it’s good to go outside of your reading comfort zone every once in a while in order to dip your toes into the water of another genre. That’s what reading Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel, a science fiction novel, was like for me.

The story begins when Rose, a young child, is riding her bike one evening and falls into a square shaped hole in the earth. She wakes up in the palm of a giant metal hand. As an adult, Rose becomes the physicist that leads the team researching the huge mysterious hand, where it came from, and whether there are other artifacts out there. The more the team learns about the hand, the more they question what the artifact means for humanity.

The story is made up entirely of interviews, journal entries, and news clippings. I thought this was an interesting approach to writing and although I felt oddly disconnected as a reader I didn’t dislike it. The same mysterious figure conducts each interview during the book and I felt quite curious about the character. We don’t know much about him besides the fact that he’s got powerful connections and is a bit of a bully. There were a lot of political components to Sleeping Giants as well, both within the United States and between the governments of countries across the globe.

Sleeping Giants On a disappointing note, the flow of the plot seemed a bit scattered to me and it was a bit challenging to keep up with the timing. I thought some of the plot decisions (don’t worry, no spoilers here!) were random and unnecessary as well.

Although Sleeping Giants wasn’t my favorite read, I enjoyed the tone and the idea behind the plot. I also enjoyed reading a book outside of my typically preferred genres to mix things up!

Now it’s your turn! Do you typically stick to one genre while reading?