Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

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Maud may hold the only clues to the case of a missing woman… But she suffers from dementia, and the clues fade in and out of her consciousness. No one seems to want to help her find her best friend Elizabeth and no one believes her when she tells them the woman has gone missing.

But things are not all as they seem in Maud’s world, and the past keeps stirring up into the present. Maud’s sister disappeared decades ago and was never found. Can the two mysteries be related in some way? Why do specific images and memories keep coming to her mind, so close but then sliding back out of reach before she can connect the dots? Does the truth about the missing women live inside a grandmother with advanced dementia who will stop at nothing until the truth resurfaces for once and for all?

Elizabeth is missing by Emma Healey was a special read for me because I too have loved a grandmother who suffered much like Maud. The unreliable narrator tests your patience brutally, and the choppy stream of consciousness is highly irregular for a mystery novel. But if you love women’s fiction and suspense novels, and you think you have what it takes to follow endearing, sassy, confused Maud through her story, I highly recommend the book.

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

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The Boston Girl, by Anita Diamant, came up as a recommendation on one of my many booklover sites (I believe it was librarything.com but it could have been goodreads.com). I read The Red Tent a year or two ago and found it gripping and heart-wrenching, so I approached The Boston Girl, by the same author, Anita Diamant, with caution. I thought it was likely that I would love the book but I was afraid of the commitment. Am I the only one who has that problem sometimes? The struggle is real.

Anyways, I buckled down and read The Boston Girl, and it was just as enticing and upsetting as I expected. Addie Baum is an elderly woman dictating the story of her life growing up in Boston to her granddaughter. The third daughter of Jewish immigrants in the early 1900s, her path was a rocky one, but full of sweet memories, love and good friends.

The Boston Girl addresses the struggle of immigrant families, the nuances of growing up Jewish during a tumultuous time, the difficult relationships between mothers and daughters and sisters, the shocking introduction of men and dating for a very naïve young woman, and the pain of loss followed by the warmth of togetherness shared by kindred spirits. If you love books that deal with women’s issues and focus on the feminine, The Boston Girl is a wonderful example…If you think you can handle it. And if you have a box of Kleenex by your bedside. The Boston Girl is not a fun summer vacation read, and not light reading by any standard…But I loved it. And some of you might love it, too.

The Lake House by Kate Morton

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One little boy disappears in the night. The family is devastated. Alice Edevane is a budding teenager with a flair for mystery fiction writing and she’s concocted the perfect crime. When it appears to have come to fruition in real life and the gardener has gone missing, the weight of what she might have put into motion weighs heavily on her for the rest of her life.

Decades later, a young London detective named Sadie Sparrow is taking some time off after she makes a terrible career mistake. She heads to Cornwall and the mystery of the disappearance of the little boy calls to her, piquing her curiosity and prompting her to fill the long days with investigation into what might have truly happened. Two plucky heroines meet in a crossing of paths as they find they both have an interest in whatever happened to the Edevane baby that night at the Lake House party…And the plethora of family secrets held in the walls of the estate are more than anyone could have ever expected from the private, respected family.

The Lake House, by Kate Morton, does not disappoint. I waited years for the release of the author’s most recent novel and as always, I adored the novel. Kate Morton is a genius in all things secretive and long buried, and she crosses time periods so perfectly so the past has no choice but to slowly resurface, creating perfect page-turning intrigue that will leave you reading deep into the night. If you read The Forgotten Garden, The Secret Keeper, The House at Riverton, or The Distant Hours (or in my case, all of the above), you will not want to miss The Lake House. Kate Morton takes long-buried secrets and mysteries to the deepest, and most intricate levels, leaving readers feeling drained and bereft by the end of her novels…And craving more.

If you are a regular follower on my site you probably already expected me to adore The Lake House. If you have the time and energy for a book that will rob you of all your reserves, you will want to pick up The Lake House today. If you don’t…. Too bad for you.

The Invisibles by Cecilia Galante

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Nora, Ozzie, Monica, and Grace were four teenage girls who met when their home lives fell apart and they found themselves at the Turning Winds Home for Girls. They found comfort in one another and learned many powerful lessons about life and love and friendship, but when they were old enough to be on their own, the four young women went off on their separate paths.

Now they are grown women, and Grace is in trouble. She needs her friends again. The four women come together again and learn that you’re never too old to need a friend…And maybe they can all learn something from one another again, before it’s too late for all of them to remember who they really are, and where they came from.

The Invisibles, by Cecilia Galante, is a novel about growing up, and about female relationships in all their complexity. If you like women’s fiction, The Invisibles will pull your heartstrings and maybe even make you pull out the Kleenex box. If you’re looking for your next cry, The Invisibles is for you.

 

Sit! Stay! Speak! by Annie England Noblin

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Addie Andrews is chasing answers, but she isn’t quite sure what the question may be. She is hoping that Eunice, Arkansas, will provide some answers…Or at the very least, give her a reprieve from her sad story. Recovering from heartbreak and tragedy, Addie decided to take solace in the home of her deceased Aunt, fixing it up to sell so she can get her life back in order.

Out for a walk one day she stumbles upon a poor, sad little Pit Bull puppy, left for dead. She rushes to the local veterinarian’s office and sets into a motion a whole new life for herself–but not everyone is happy that Addie has fallen into life in Eunice. Some local characters are decidedly less than welcoming, and some are downright unsavory… One local man seems to turn up wherever she goes, and he wakes up feelings in her she thought she had lost forever…But why does he keep running away from her whenever they start to get close?

A town mystery, local politics, romance, friendship in the oddest places, and the love of a sweet, innocent puppy make this story unique and fresh. Sit! Stay! Speak!, by Annie England Noblin, is an interesting read if you want to read something a little outside the box this summer….And who can resist a story about a puppy?

 

 

A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor

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A Memory of Violets, by Hazel Gaynor, is definitely making it onto my top 10 books for 2015. Anyone who knows me is aware that I have a penchant for long, descriptive stories full of mystery and family secrets. Kate Morton and Katherine Webb are my favorite authors of all time. Who didn’t love The Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCullough? I was surprised when Hazel Gaynor’s latest novel sucked me in, right away, and I had a feeling right from the beginning that I was in for a ride.

A Memory of Violets is about two girls born into poverty in the 1800s, into a life of selling flowers on street corners. Flora and Rosie barely have food to live on, but they have one another. One horrific day they are separated in a crowd and the never see one another again. Flora spends the rest of her days looking for her baby sister-and Rosie, too young to know how to get back home, must adapt to a new life.  Years later, Tilly Harper finds the journal of Flora when she starts a job at Mr. Shaw’s Training Homes for Watercress and Flower Girls-and she feels compelled to find out just what happened to Flora, and what happened to her lost baby sister Rosie.

If you read The Painted Girls, by Cathy Marie Buchanan, or , or you have a taste for novels that tear brutally at your heartstrings but come together in the end with perfect closure and new beginnings for much-loved characters, you won’t want to miss A Memory of Violets, by Hazel Gaynor. This reviewer couldn’t put it down.

Stella Bain, by Anita Shreve

 

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A woman is found wandering, lost, confused and ill during World War I. A kind and generous couple takes her into their home and nurses her back to health, realizing with time that the self-named Stella Bain actually has no idea who she is, and has no place to go. The couple observes only that she has been serving in the war, based on her uniform, and that she has an American accent.

Stella must overcome her amnesia and get her life back-but how long will it take? Does she have family and friends who are worrying about her? Why can’t she push away the nagging guilt that arises whenever she tries to remember who she is? What if she doesn’t want to know the truth about her past?

Suddenly, it all comes back to Stella, and she must decide what to do with the rest of her life and rediscover who the real woman inside her wants to be.

Stella Bain is very historical fiction/women’s fiction in genre. The tone is very serious and rich in description and sentiment. I found it to be an excellent audiobook to hear at work- but I also have a special weakness for historical fiction set during the Great War-I just think it was a great time for women to start showing the world what they were made of, don’t you?!

 

Three Souls by Janie Chang

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China, 1935…a young woman named Leiyin wakes up one day at her own funeral. Accompanied by her three souls-her Yin, her Yang, and her Hun-she must look back on her life and learn why she is still floating among the living, not crossing over. Her journey is painful. She relives all of her mistakes and sees, from the outside looking in, the pain she has caused others in her own pursuit of happiness.

The living still need her help, and she learns she must do what she can to put things right, even after death. But how does a spirit reach out to the living? They don’t seem to feel her, even when she reaches out to touch them, and her family needs her more than ever before.

Three Souls is not the first novel I’ve read this year dealing with Eastern philosophy on the afterlife, death, traditions in respect to the spirit world-and I have to say I’m glad for this little popularity surge. I tend to be pretty morbid, in general, and I’m fascinated by world views on the more macabre subjects. This novel is beautifully written, and it’s a history lesson on the advent of communism in China, while managing to truly be about a woman not so different from any of us. Mostly self-centered, but with good intentions and a lot of love and caring for people who don’t hear it enough. This novel made me wonder what, if anything, my own actions have set forth in other people throughout the course of my life. If you like this type of read, you will really enjoy Three Souls, by Janie Chang.

Two Sisters by Mary Hogan

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Muriel Sullivant was the third child in her family. Her older sister, Pia, was a picture of perfection, especially in her mother’s eyes. Her older brother had an impenetrable relationship with her father. She always felt like the chubby, messy, hopeless tagalong. Now that she is an adult, she still struggles to have a deep conversation with her father, and her mother still disapproves of her diet, her job, her apartment, her lack of a love life. She can’t help but wonder why she has always felt so displaced.

One day, her sister Pia shows up at her house and she is bombarded with a horrible truth. Her sister is dying, and she wants Muriel to make sure that her funeral wishes are carried out. Muriel is blown away, but she cannot deny her sister a final wish…Then comes the biggest blow…She also wants Muriel to keep it a secret that she’s dying, from everyone…Including their mother. Muriel assents to her sister’s request, but the pressure of the situation leads her to dig a little deeper into her family’s past and secrets. And what she discovers after her sister dies is life-changing.

Two Sisters, by Mary Hogan, is ripe with growing pains and the usual emotions on the journey of sisterhood, but if you are hoping for something cozy and sweet and “girl-power”, this novel will not take you there. Two sisters is raw and heart-wrenching, and takes the reader to sadder places. Muriel finds resolution-the truth sets her free. Bring your tissue box if you think this one sounds like your next read…And maybe some chocolates too.

The Wedding Bees by Sarah-Kate Lynch

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Sugar Wallace is a well-mannered southern gal who makes a hobby of traveling the world, spreading warmth and cheer with her very own honey, from her very own bees. Sugar likes to bring out the best in people around her, and her new apartment building is about to have a total transformation of it’s own. But Sugar has her own secret, dark past, and despite the joy she spreads among everyone around her, she is very much alone. She never wants to love again…So when a sexy Scotsman named Theo appears in her life and just doesn’t want to go away, Sugar must truly learn to practice what she preaches…And find a love of her own.

The Wedding Bees, by Sarah-Kate Lynch, is a warm novel of the women’s fiction genre. If you want something simple and sweet, be sure to pick up The Wedding Bees today.