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.

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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?

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

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Women would willingly tear off their limbs just to live the kind of life Ani FaNelli lives. Ani (pronounced Ah-nee) has the beauty and the elegance that can stop traffic; the poise and the attitude that make people wonder what she does for a living and who she is in a relationship with, the fashion sense that not every woman can pull off, and the cutthroat determination to make it to the top no matter the cost.

You think you know Ani FaNelli, but you truly don’t. Not a lot of people do. Because before Ani became the most sought-after sex columnist for New York City’s The Women’s Magazine, before she became the blushing bride-to-be of the very eligible, the very handsome, and the very moneyed Luke Harrison, and before she secured that posh and exclusive Tribeca zip code, Ani FaNelli was TifAni FaNelli, a young and innocent girl who lived through an ordeal so horrifying that no fourteen-year-old high school girl should ever have to.

This close to her wedding day, Ani finally decides that she’s ready to talk about what happened that year at The Bradley School. Agreeing to be interviewed for this documentary, on her own terms, sounds just like the perfect arrangement. It’s time to heal old wounds and finally start over with a clean slate, with a powerful new last name and an influential new husband.

But there are just some things you can never really run away from, no matter how much you think you’re doing well in life, and how much you think you have all the things you thought you had always wanted.

Surprisingly, I enjoyed reading Luckiest Girl Alive, but not without thinking it was a waste of time at first, or that this bitch heroine should just die a slow and painful death. So glad I stuck around to finish it, though. Just imagine a present-day Carrie Bradshaw, only cold, narcissistic, ruthless, and always hungry, minus the tacky blond hair and the cigarettes. Ani FaNelli cracked me up with her snarkiness and self-loathing, and the cynical way she viewed life, love, sex, husbands, and food. But this book burns like acid, and you’re in for some really shocking slew of scandal and secrets. You will love-hate Ani and face palm yourself through every bad decision she makes. She will keep you on your toes, have you gritting your teeth, and shaking your head. She will hurt you and break you, and even make you feel just a bit sorry for her. It’s something I couldn’t really put down, but it’s far from perfect. I guess it succeeded in hooking me to the story long enough to get to that ending, which was okay, but not really.

Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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Twenty-nine-year-old Hannah Martin has lived in more cities than a normal twenty-nine-year-old woman would in her lifetime. Too many cities to count, and with no solid roots formed or real memories to cherish. It had to take an affair with a married man and a lashing from his vicious wife to convince her to just move back home to Los Angeles. It would be wonderful to reconnect with everybody. Especially with best friend Gabby, and her parents who practically raised Hannah when she was in high school. The idea did not sound so bad at all. So move back to L.A. Hannah did.

One beautiful night in the town, out with old high school friends and one very special high school ex-boyfriend that she never really stopped loving, Hannah finds herself at a crossroads of sorts. She has no clue how this is about to change everything.

The repercussions of Hannah’s seemingly simple decision are laid out in alternating chapters. Two storylines occurring simultaneously: one, had Hannah chosen to leave the party early, and two, had Hannah decided to stay behind and spend the night with Ethan.

In both alternate realities, Hannah comes to terms with her decisions and deals with the consequences for her and the people in her life. She is forced to grow up, build a home, and make a life for herself, whether she likes to or not. And along the way, she finally finds the real meaning of what it’s like to really be home.

From the same author that gave us “Forever, Interrupted” and “After I Do” comes another delightfully different, soul-crushingly romantic, smart and intriguing love story. It’s about parallel universes in the most unscientific, most romantic, most feel-good way possible.

Like her two previous novels, “Maybe In Another Life” is brilliantly crafted, emotional, and thought provoking. It’s an honest portrayal of life and love, and all of their certainties and uncertainties. Reading it felt like there’s a life coach talking in there, hiding somewhere between the pages. You will love Hannah, as well as the people she loves, even possibly share her obsessive love for cinnamon rolls and messy hair buns. It’s a happy tale that tells you that no matter which road you take, what decision you make, or which guy you choose, love and happiness are possible. Everything is a possibility.

“Everything that is possible happens. That means that when you flip a quarter, it comes down heads and tails. Not heads or tails. Every time you flip a coin and it comes up heads, you are merely in the universe where the coin came up heads. There is another version of you out there, created the second the quarter flipped, who saw it come up tails. Every second of every day, the world is splitting further and further into an infinite number of parallel universes, where everything that could happen is happening. There are millions, trillions, or quadrillions, I guess, of different versions of ourselves living out the consequences of our choices. What I’m getting at is that I know there may be universes out there where I made different choices and they led me to somewhere else, led me to someone else. And my heart breaks for every single version of me that didn’t end up with you.”

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

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Lara Jean Covey is no longer pretend-in love with Peter Kavinsky. As much as she tried to deny it, she has fallen head over heels in love with the handsome and enigmatic lacrosse player. Had someone told Lara Jean this weeks before, she would’ve asked what sort of medication they’re on. She might have liked Peter Kavinsky in seventh grade, but that was years ago, and Lara Jean is all grown up now. And besides, everybody at school knows that Peter and Genevieve are practically an institution. They break up but they always get back together.

By a quirky twist of fate — mainly brought on by Lara Jean’s secret love letters being mailed out to the five boys she loved in the past — Peter and Lara Jean conspired to make it look that they’re in a relationship. It’s to make Peter’s ex-girlfriend Genevieve jealous, and also to convince Josh Sanderson, Lara Jean’s older sister’s ex-boyfriend, that she’s no longer in love with him. Pretending to be in love with Peter got easier and easier, until one day she woke up and no longer needed to pretend.

But being Peter Kavinsky’s official girlfriend comes with its own challenges. There’s Genevieve, the ex-girlfriend, who can’t seem to let go and still contacts Peter like they’re still together. There’s the video circulating online that threatens to destroy Lara Jean’s reputation and put her future in jeopardy. And then there’s John Ambrose McClaren, another boy who received her love letter, who’s back in her life and wants more than just her friendship.

This is Lara Jean’s crash course in falling in love and breaking up, moving on and starting over, going for what you want and setting limitations, and putting yourself out there to experience life. It’s one awkward, exhilarating, heartbreaking, tear-filled, and confusing journey, but Lara Jean won’t have it any other way.

Before reading the sequel, I had to re-read the first book, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, to refresh my memory on the events that transpired. Like I was expecting, I fell in love with Peter and Lara Jean all over again. I loved the first book, and I loved the second book even more. It doesn’t matter that it’s a teenage high school romance. I always love a book that can make me smile and giggle and make my heart hurt. It’s a really enjoyable, satisfying, and happy love story. Oh, please let there be a third book. Oh, and please let the film adaptation of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before be better than the book.