This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

I read and review many wonderful books, but it’s not often that I want each and every one of you to read one book in particular. What’s this stunning, eye-opening novel that I think everyone should read? This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel!

Before I dive into why I think this book is so important, I’ll share an overview of the story. Rosie and Penn live in the Midwest with their five lively, adorably chaotic and curious boys. Meet Claude, the youngest son who loves to bake and listen to fairytales. When he grows up he wants to be a girl. Claude’s parents and siblings are supportive and want him to be happy. However they’re not sure how to support him in a world that doesn’t seem to understand. To protect their family, a secret unfolds and grows until it becomes so large that it threatens to suffocate them all.

One of the most important impacts of reading (besides enjoying the stories) is how it fosters empathy. This book makes that very clear. In a heartwarming tone, This Is How It Always Is discusses a topic that a lot of people aren’t familiar with in a very eye-opening and relatable way. I wholeheartedly recommend this book and would love to hear your thoughts if any of you have read it!

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

you-will-know-me“She turned and, for the first time ever, he looked at her like he knew she was lying. Which she was, though she wasn’t sure why. But in that look, his eyes dark and sad, she knew something had ended, that great parental loss, the moment they realize you’re not perfect, and maybe even a little worse.”

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott is one of the Book of the Month Club December selections. This story is about the Knoxes, a family that revolves around the gymnastics career of the daughter, Devon, who has dreams of going for Olympic gold. While Devon spends countless hours training for this dream, her family spends just as many transporting her to and from practices, events, and more. It’s a huge commitment and because of this, the gymnastics community is tight knit and gossip-filled. When a member of this group dies, it sends the community spiraling and threatens to ruin everything that Devon, and her family, has worked for….

Filled with lies, rumors, and betrayals, You Will Know Me is a fast-paced chase to find out how a man died and whether Devon has what it takes to make it to the top.

you-will-know-me-by-megan-abbottDespite the interesting dynamic of the ultimate gymnastics dream, this book underwhelmed me in the end. It was a quick read, which I appreciate in mystery novels, but the plot twists were a bit predictable and most of the characters (besides the youngest Knox child, Drew) were unlikeable to me. Overall, You Will Know Me is a quick-paced mystery from a unique perspective, but it wasn’t one of my favorites this year.

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:
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  • 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)!

A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams

A Certain AgeDazzling. Captivating. Smart. These are just a few of the words that come to mind when describing Beatriz Williams’ new book, A Certain Age.

Whenever I start a new book, I make predictions. Sometimes my predictions are right, but oftentimes they aren’t. In the case of A Certain Age, the guesses I made at the beginning of the book definitely shifted as Williams wove a story of intricate relationships and surprising twists.

The book revolves around two female characters during the roaring 1920’s in New York City. The story begins with Theresa, a mature high society woman, and she’s got a fun habit of talking to the reader directly as she shares her journey. She’s sophisticated, charming, guarded, and at times, a bit wicked. On the other hand, Sophie is on the brink of adulthood and she is passionate, innocent, and unguarded, the opposite of Theresa in many ways.

Sophie’s father is the inventor of a successful engineering solution that quickly propels their family into New York high society. With this new wealth comes the interest of many for Sophie’s hand in marriage, including Theresa’s brother Jay. Sophie soon realizes that the type of love she had always dreamt of (with a man that looks like Jay) might not be what she actually wants.

Each chapter begins with a quote from Helen Rowland, the journalist who wrote the column “Reflections of a Bachelor Girl” a century ago for the New York World. This was a perfect touch and I loved the sharp wit of this woman. Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

  • “Never trust a husband too far, nor a bachelor too near.”
  • “In love, somehow, a man’s heart is either exceeding the speed limit, or getting parked in the wrong place.”
  • “The woman who appeals to a man’s vanity may stimulate him, the woman who appeals to his heart may attract him, but it is the woman who appeals to his imagination who gets him.”
  • “And verily, a woman need know but one man well, in order to understand all men; whereas a man may know all woman and not understand one of them.”
  • “When a girl marries, she exchanges the attentions of many men for the inattention of one.”
  • “Marriage is like twirling a baton, turn handsprings, or eating with chopsticks. It looks easy until you try it.”

Delicious, consuming writing! I cannot recommend A Certain Age (or any of William’s books) enough.

Sunday’s on the Phone to Monday by Christine Reilly

Sunday's on the phone to monday“An extrovert, friends with everybody and nobody at the same time.”

This is one of the lines that I marked with a post-it while reading Sunday’s on the Phone to Monday by Christine Reilly. In a book that has been described as a family love story, we are taken on a journey with the Simone family through the ups and downs of life and we see how loved ones move apart and come together during tough times.

Claudio and Mathilde find each other in New York City as newly minted adults and quickly discover that they each are just what the other one needs. The story follows them as they grow into a family of five with three daughters, Natasha, Lucy, and Carly. Soon they face mental and physical illnesses along with money troubles and I was touched by the gestures of familial love.

“…Mathilde had probably seen his face more times in his life than he had. Wasn’t that something?”

Sundays on the phone to mondayI almost felt like I was reading a series of poems. This was a very unique writing style, which at times felt quirky, but also felt choppy during others. Although the style is different from books I typically read, it was a nice change of pace.

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!

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One by Ernest ClineWhat does it mean when you’re flight’s delayed? This past weekend it meant that I had more time to read! With the extra time, I was able to dive into Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, a sci-fi novel set in the year 2044.

USA Today describes the story pretty perfectly:

“Enchanting…Willy Wonka meets The Matrix.” – USA Today

In this story, Earth has plummeted into decay and Cline paints a horrifying picture through his “stacks”, trailers that are stacked up on top of each other and are only stabilized by weak metal pipe structures.

People escape this harsh reality through Oasis, a virtual world where people can be whoever, or whatever, they want. The creator of Oasis, James Halliday, has passed away and left behind the challenge of a lifetime. Whoever can solve his highly complex scavenger hunt filled with puzzles, video game challenges, and 80’s pop culture trivia, will win Halliday’s fortune and control of Oasis. Wade Watts, an anti-social teenager, finds himself catapulted into fame when he finds the first piece of Halliday’s puzzle.

As someone who is not very savvy in video game jargon, I thought Cline did a pretty good job of keeping technical descriptions straightforward. Despite a few scenes where my mind wandered in the face of ultra-detailed descriptions, I was able to keep up for the most part.

I don’t read a lot of sci-fi books, but I enjoyed Ready Player One. The story was interesting, the dialogue was entertaining and the topics were relatable. Cline brought depth to the story by touching on issues that the world is dealing with today, including global warming, pollution, monopoly power, and the risks that technology presents to overpower our lives so much so that we forget to live in reality.