After You by Jojo Moyes

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Image from www.jojomoyes.com

After You picks up on the events that happened after Will Traynor’s death, which took place in the first book, Me Before You. Louisa Clark is still trying to find her way back into the real world, one without Will in it, but with all of his memories everywhere. She goes through life on autopilot; working her crappy pub job at the airport to pay the bills and buy the groceries, living in a colorless and lifeless London flat, and attending a grief support group called Moving On Circle once a week.

Everything in her life feels like a major letdown, and for once, she’s glad that Will is no longer around to see what has become of her. If that’s not depressing enough, she suffers a freak accident right in her own home, forcing her to stay with her parents in her hometown of Stortfold where more family drama awaits. Lou is so ready to accept her fate; that this is as good as it gets, and that she’s simply just not that person Will was convinced she could be.

And then one day, someone from Will’s past turns up at her door. Someone who could’ve possibly been one more reason for Will to want to live, if only they had met sooner. But this someone is even more messed up than Lou, and she finds herself asking: What would Lou have done?

For the first time in a long time, Lou finds a purpose.

What follows next is a rollercoaster of emotions as major life problems unravel and then get sorted out, families break up and make up, and broken hearts are mended and made whole again. Lou finally understands that she need not live in sadness and misery to keep Will alive in her heart forever.

Me Before You was what made me a big Jojo Moyes fan. It’s beautiful, sad, and heartbreaking, and I will forever remain a fan of Will and Lou’s love story. It was such a great book that didn’t need any follow-up book. However, if you know a second book exists out there, you just can’t ignore it. You can’t just not read it.

Overall, After You is not quite as beautiful as Me Before You, but it’s still a nice and entertaining read. For something that deals with grief and moving on, it didn’t feel dark and depressing. It’s actually light, positive, and even laugh out loud funny. Thank you to Ambulance Sam and the guys at the Moving On Circle. They pretty much saved this book for me. I loved the whole flirtation game with Ambulance Sam, and he’s just the kind of man who can get someone like Lou to start loving again.

The sudden appearance of that new major character plus the Clark and Traynor family drama just felt contrived, so I wasn’t too happy about those. I think this plot twist is just tired and too convenient. I would have enjoyed reading a story told from Will Traynor’s point of view, possibly his life before the accident, or his life while with Lou. That would have been loads better than this plot twist straight out of a daytime soap opera. This, however, doesn’t make me less of a Jojo Moyes fan.

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Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes

 

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After the harrowing and unforgettable events that happened in the past few months, Joe Goldberg can finally say that his broken heart has healed. He can finally say that he has moved on from the beautiful but troubled Guinevere Beck.

Because now, he has found the perfect woman to love, in the person of Amy Adam.

Meeting Amy was nothing that he orchestrated, nor was it something straight out of a romantic comedy. She was purchasing a rare book using a stolen credit card.

But Joe knew she was something special just by her choice of book, which she had to buy even if it meant blowing her cover. He knew just by her intoxicating beauty and biting wit. He knew that they belonged together, and that he will fall harder than he fell for Beck.

However, just when Joe was starting to feel the first stirrings of love, Amy disappears like a thief in the night. Along with his money and some rare and highly valuable books. When it dawns on him that she had been playing him all this time, something in Joe snaps. He vows to find her and teach her a very hard lesson.

But unlike Beck who had been on Twitter all of the time, and who had written emails like her life depended on it, Amy Adams is off the grid. No social media accounts, no emails, no credit cards, and no permanent address. Locating her will be a challenge. Challenging, but not impossible.

Joe picks up on a lead he finds on his very own laptop. Without any second thought, he packs all of his things and moves to sunny California, where he sets out on a mission to crush Amy’s dreams of being an actress, and eventually keep her silent for good.

Is it freaky to admit that once again I hoped for a happy ending for this psycho killer with good intentions? It felt kind of weird how much I wanted to remind Joe that he has a woman to find and kill, so enough with the Hollywood parties already.

“Hidden Bodies” is less creepy and less suspenseful than “You”, but enjoyable and thrilling all the same. Obviously, there’s less stalking involved, but it still boasts of annoying characters you will want to murder yourself. Thus, the body count here will still leave you feeling strangely satisfied.

Hollywood has different plans for our good-looking, smart, and charismatic Joe Goldberg. In his search for the elusive Amy Adam, he meets plenty of colorful characters along the way. Some I genuinely liked, hated, and fell in love with. That killer ending will leave you wanting for more. You will find yourself rooting for Joe, and hoping that he can get away with murder. And just like me, you will feel helpless and frustrated, because all you can do is wait until Caroline Kepnes churns out the third book.

Before I Go by Colleen Oakley

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Like a cruel twist of fate, on the eve of what should have been her third year of being cancer-free, twenty-seven-year-old Daisy Richmond finds out that her cancer is back, and there’s lots of it. It’s not good. The cancer has spread to different parts of her body in a very rapid and aggressive manner. Doctors break the news that her stage four cancer will give her about four months. But the clinical trial can give her more, if she agrees to participate.

Having cancer, or dying of cancer, does not terrify Daisy anymore. She did everything to make sure the cancer did not come back, but still it did, so surely this must be her life’s course. It’s out of her hands now. What truly haunts her every waking moment is the thought of leaving her husband Jack behind.

Who will make sure that he’s eating right, that his dirty socks don’t pile up by the foot of the bed, that he gets the windows caulked, and that he doesn’t lose his keys? Who will hold his hand, kiss his face, and keep his bed warm? Who will make sure that he will finish his doctorate and graduate on time? These are the thoughts that keep Daisy awake at night and sick to her stomach. She cannot leave her kind and brilliant husband to his own devices. Jack will come apart at the seams when she’s gone. Daisy’s certain of it. And that’s the last thing she wants to happen.

It’s time to find him a new wife.

Daisy’s search for the perfect new wife will leave you feeling conflicted. At first, I thought it would be a cheesy drama with lots of hysterical tears in the end. There were tears, yes, but they were both happy and sad tears. Colleen Oakley’s “Before I Go” succeeded in striking a balance between heartbreak and hope, and joy and sadness. I didn’t bawl my eyes out, but I felt like there was something lodged in my throat most of the time, and I was blinking away hot tears before anybody could notice. It’s not your first choice of a book to read because of its gloomy subject, but the author had written the story in a way that is light, funny, and heartbreakingly real. More than the cancer, it focused on how this disease eats away at relationships, and how this disease can also bring people together. I loved that the book didn’t feel like a death sentence, but more of a bittersweet, melancholic, and thoughtful journey of a young and courageous woman, and it felt just right.

The Comfort of Lies by Randy Susan Meyers

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Tia is a young woman who fell in love with a charismatic, intelligent, but unavailable man. Their connection had been intense, and they were good together. But when it came right down to it, he couldn’t give her the happy ending that she desperately wanted. The love affair ended, and Tia was left to fend for herself and the baby inside her. She had no family, and she could barely take care of herself. How could she even raise an innocent little girl?

Caroline’s life had always been about her career as a pathologist and as a wife to her hardworking and successful entrepreneur husband. Theirs was a quiet and happy marriage. But as time went by, she realized that her husband wanted more. He wanted to have a child. Despite her uncertainty over her capability of raising a child, Caroline and her husband adopted Savannah to give her the good life that she deserved. A good life that her young, heartbroken, and messed up mother Tia clearly couldn’t.

Juliette had always been perfectly content to be a wife and a supermom, with a booming business on the side. But deep inside, she is still coming to terms with her husband’s infidelity. She thought she had forgiven him for his transgression, but there are just some things you could not let go that easily. Especially after you just opened a letter addressed to your husband with a photo of the little girl he had no idea was his daughter.

Three women whose lives are turned upside down by one man’s moment of weakness. Do they dare go take the path of least resistance and live in the comfort of lies? Or do they accept the painful reality and do the right thing, even if it breaks their families apart?

It was a good and okay story, which basically translates to “You can skip reading this book altogether and just grab yourself a suspense thriller that is this year’s Gone Girl”. Sadly, I’ve read too many ensemble stories like this one. I don’t like ensemble stories that much because more often than not, the characters are one-dimensional or just plain annoying. Just like the women in this book (especially Tia!). Instead of sympathizing with them for every heartbreak, and cheering them on for finally making the right decision (which they should have done years ago!), I really just wanted to show up at their doorsteps and wring their necks. They are the book characters that can really drive you to fling the book across the room in frustration.

These women are thrown into a whirlpool of conflict, but it was very hard to connect with them on an emotional level. I felt like an outsider the entire time, looking in like a nosy neighbor, wanting them to hurry up already and just get to the ending. We don’t want that! We want to be right there in the middle of the action, right inside those people’s heads. The Comfort of Lies is okay when it should have been emotional, and lukewarm when it should have been heartbreaking.

Wayward Pines Trilogy by Blake Crouch

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Ethan Burke drives down to Wayward Pines, Idaho, to search for two fellow FBI agents who disappeared there without a trace a year ago. Their last known whereabouts were this small and quiet mountain town that looks too beautiful to be true. What Ethan Burke doesn’t know is that once you enter Wayward Pines, you will never, ever leave. Not because you don’t want to, but because you just can’t.

In Pines, the first book in the trilogy, a man struggles to find answers about Wayward Pines, what lurks outside the electrified fences, and the secret terror that seems to fill the lives of each Wayward Pines resident. In the second book, Wayward, Ethan Burke finally gets his answers and is now coming to terms with the reality of his situation, and how he and his family will survive in such extreme and horrifying living conditions. The third book, The Last Town, is the culmination of the horror that is Wayward Pines, and the most frightening book in the trilogy. My head is still reeling.

It’s quite difficult to give a book review without giving away too much about the story and what Wayward Pines is all about. But let me stress that Wayward Pines the television show has deviated so much from the books, and the show had a totally different ending. I liked the ending in the books much better. I watched the TV show first but felt extremely unsatisfied by the ending, so I had to read the books to find some sort of consolation. I’m so glad I did!

Fans of horror will enjoy this trilogy very much. Blake Crouch is a masterful storyteller. He writes in short, vivid, and powerful sentences that leave you gripped with fear and holding your breath. You don’t want to put it down. I think I finished the three books in just two days. I love how he painted this world so bleak and monstrous, each character struggling to keep what’s left of their humanity. It’s every man for himself now. But what happens to the entire species if they will not start working together to survive? What if death is the release, and life is the prison sentence? Will you give up the fight, or soldier on for as long as you can?