The Dry by Jane Harper

the-dry-by-jane-harperSo. Good. I didn’t want to put down Jane Harper’s suspense novel, The Dry, until the mystery was solved. Set in a small town in rural Australia, this chilling whodunit novel follows multiple unexplained deaths spanning 20 years.

Aaron Falk fled from his hometown 20 years ago when Ellie Deacon, one of his close friends, was found dead. The kicker? A note with Falk’s name and the date of her death was in Ellie’s pocket. When Aaron couldn’t provide an explanation, he was pegged as a killer. In response, he avoids the town for years, that is until his childhood best friend, Luke, and his family are found dead. Only then does Aaron finally return. Despite his best efforts to leave, he’s pulled back into this secret-filled town.

The small town setting (where everyone knows everyone else’s business and memories span decades) really contributed to the development of the story. When Aaron returns to the town, it’s experiencing a serious draught, which contributes to the high tensions. Through Harper’s vivid descriptions, I could almost feel the dry air and heat. I mean seriously, I felt like I needed a water bottle while reading.

the-dryI was surprised by the ending in a way that only a good mystery novel can evoke. The writing style was interesting as well. For the most part, the book is written in third person from Aaron’s perspective with scene snippets from other characters’ perspectives throughout the last 20 years. I thought this was a great touch because it gave the audience visibility beyond what Aaron was experiencing.

I really enjoyed The Dry and would happily recommend it!

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.”

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:
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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)!

Untethered by Julie Lawson Timmer

Untethered by Julie Lawson TimmerAre families made up of the people we’re related to by blood or the people that we choose to be with? Untethered by Julie Lawson Timmer shines a light on this issue by highlighting both “first families” and “blended families” along with the unspoken rules that come with being a guardian, but not a biological parent.

When Charlotte’s husband dies, she quickly realizes that she doesn’t have custody of her beloved stepdaughter, Allie. Charlotte and Allie have always had a good relationship, but it’s thrown for a loop without the connecting link of Bradley. As they grieve, they must face the emergence of Allie’s flaky biological mother and Allie begins to act out for the first time in her life. The only person keeping Allie balanced is Morgan, the young girl she tutors. When Morgan faces trouble, Charlotte and Allie are brought together to help her on a wild journey.

UntetheredWhile reading I noticed that there are long stretches of monologue, especially from Charlotte, which was a bit unusual compared to other books I’ve read lately. Although the story was both touching and thought provoking, I would have liked to feel a stronger sense of urgency. Don’t get me wrong though, I enjoyed this book.

Overall, Untethered is a well-written story about the family we’re born into and the family we choose.

Results May Vary by Bethany Chase

Results May Vary by Bethany ChaseWhat would you do if everything you based your life on turned out to be a lie? This is the struggle that Caroline goes through in Results May Vary by Bethany Chase.

For Caroline Hammond, almost everything has gone according to plan including a beautiful home in Massachusetts, marrying her high school sweetheart, and working at an art museum. That is, until she discovers that her husband has been having an affair with a man. This forces her to reconsider everything she had once believed to be true and she must decide whether to save her marriage or move forward on her own. The story discusses the idea of what people hide about themselves, even from the ones they love most.

Besides the complex relationships, I really appreciated the rich descriptions of the scenic Massachusetts countryside setting so I may just have to book a trip out there.

On the other hand, there were times when I felt that the dialogue was a little bit forced and overly dramatic, but I liked the characters and the flow of their relationships.

Results May VaryBlurbs from letters were at the beginning of each chapter, which was a nice thoughtful touch. Results May Vary has a light tone, perfect for summer, and was a quick read for me.

A few of the quotes that stood out to me include:

“Before we were married, people used to regularly mistake us for siblings on a regular basis. I used to like it. Now, even my own face was a reminder of his betrayal.” 

“How silly of me to have thought that I’d reached the border of my heartbreak; just look how much more room there was out here.”

“The cruelty of living could steal your breaths sometimes,”

The Girls by Emma Cline

The Girls by Emma ClineI’ve been eyeing the debut novel from Emma Cline, The Girls, for a while now. Striking is the first word that comes to my mind when describing this story. It’s powerful and intense with a surprising amount of insight into what it means to be a girl.

As a young teen living in northern California during the 1960’s, Evie Boyd wants to be accepted and noticed. When she sees a group of carefree girls who embody everything that she wants to be, she’s absolutely captivated.

Evie’s not only drawn to the group, but becomes nearly obsessed with one of the leaders, Suzanne, for her wild spirit. She quickly plunges into their group, which turns out to be a cult. Readers are brought along many of the dark moments that Evie goes through and what led some of the members to commit horrendous crimes.

The GirlsMy copy of this book was filled with sticky notes because so many quotes struck me. Here are my favorites:

“I looked up because of the laughter, and kept looking because of the girls.”

“All that time I had spent readying myself, the articles that taught me life was really just a waiting room until someone noticed you – the boys had spent that time becoming themselves.”

“Girls were good at coloring in the disappointing blank spots.”

“Poor girls. The world fattens them on the promise of love.” 

“Later I would see this: how impersonal and grasping our love was, pinging around the universe, hoping for a host to give form to our wishes.”

“That was part of being a girl – you were resigned to whatever feedback you’d get.”

“I’d always been aware of Peter, in the way I liked any older boy at that age, their mere existence demanding attention.”

I hope you all enjoy The Girls! I really recommend it.