Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

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For a gripping page-turner, choose Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll. This is one of the first books I think of when I’m asked for a reading recommendation this summer. The sharp humor and twisting plotline kept me so engaged that I didn’t realize the story was over when I had turned onto the last page. The Luckiest Girl Alive is the story of Ani, a woman living the perfect life in New York City, with the fiancé of her dreams and an editor’s position at a fancy woman’s magazine. If you think that this sounds too good to be true, then you would be correct. Ani has spent her entire life trying to fit into a mold of perfection while simultaneously despising the people who she so desperately wants to fit in with.

From childhood flashbacks, we learn that Ani’s life of cunning ambition has been fueled by horrifyingly traumatic experiences at her expensive prep school full of bullies and hormones. Knoll does a fantastic job of illustrating the inner turmoil and pressures that Ani, and so many other women, feel to “have it all” while simultaneously appearing effortless.

Luckiest Girl Alive has the dark and twisted feel of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn combined with the dramatic school moments of Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight and popular TV series, Gossip Girl. Through Ani’s tough exterior and go get ‘em attitude, Knoll has created a character that was just trying to fit in all along.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants an exciting and unpredictable mystery about a desperate woman living a lie.

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Tiny Little Things by Beatriz Williams

After reading four books by Beatriz Williams, I am still surprised that she isn’t a better-known author. I went into a local bookstore this afternoon and was shocked to find that none of her work was on the shelf. Williams is a brilliant author with a skill for drawing in the reader quickly and wholeheartedly. When reading her books I find myself completely engaged in the story as though I am living it alongside the lifelike characters.

The latest work of Williams, Tiny Little Things, is the story of Tiny, a girl who has always done what is expected of her. That is, until now. Her marriage to an up and coming political figure paired with her picture-perfect appearance catapult her into the world of politics and power. This spot in the limelight brings trouble for Tiny as she is blackmailed, comes face to face with a man from her past, and realizes that the wealthy family she has joined has their own share of dirty secrets.

I highly recommend this one and my only complaint with Tiny Little Things is that it isn’t long enough.

One last treat, Williams has intertwined her stories so that characters from each one appear in other books, a surprise that is just subtle enough to go by unnoticed.

Single, Carefree, Mellow by Katherine Heiny

In her first book, Katherine Heiny brings us 11 short stories focused on the lives of women as both individuals and family centers. These aren’t your everyday short stories though; Heiny gives importance to the lives of ordinary women dealing with everyday challenges. From love affairs to doctor visits to children’s birthday parties, Heiny’s characters are candid in their experiences.

In a review that I think really hits the nail on the head, Lena Dunham writes that Single, Carefree, Mellow, “ …gives women’s interior lives the gravity they so richly deserve – and makes you laugh along the way.”

Overall, these short stories are a quick and engaging read for the summer.