Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

Single mother Kate didn’t have it easy-she struggled daily to balance between her maternal responsibilities and the demands of her career as a successful lawyer. She thought that her daughter Amelia was weathering the strain fairly well, her grades had been good and she never seemed to have behavioral problems. Her private school was one of the best and she had long lasting friendships. Everything seemed ok.

But one day Kate gets a phone call from the school and her life is forever changed. Kate suddenly finds herself desperately trying to pick up the pieces of Amelia’s secret life and get answers to explain the tragedy that took her life.

Strange text messages from a boy Kate had never heard of before, anonymous threatening messages, provocative photos online… Kate is beginning to learn that her daughter was much more troubled than she had ever let on… Not to mention, the school is covering up something serious and the police may be corrupt, too.

Can Kate reconstruct her daughter’s life and figure out what really happened to her? Reconstructing Amelia, by Kimberly McCreight is a mystery/suspense novel of the Girl on the Train persuasion, where nothing is as it seems and people have many secrets. Pick it up today if you like dark, suspenseful mysteries.

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Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

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.

Swimming in the Moon by Pamela Schoenewaldt

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The year is 1904, and Teresa and her daughter, Lucia, are servants in the grand villa of a count and countess on the Bay of Naples. Lucia’s beginnings were shady, she doesn’t know who her father was, only that her mother was assaulted on the shore while working at a masquerade ball many years before. Still, they have a peaceful life, for the most part, cleaning the villa and keeping to themselves. One day, however, everything changes. Her mother aspires to sing opera, and who should appear before her but a famous male opera singer. She confronts him in effort to make him listen to her beautiful voice and she is cast aside and humiliated. News about the episode travels over the island, and the incident appears to be all the Count needs to escalate his poor treatment of Teresa, and to turn it’s terrible focus onto Lucia. Suddenly, the young woman and her mother are fleeing Italy and headed to America to find a new life.

Early 1900s America was a bustling place, full of opportunity and modern ideas…But life is not so wonderful as families in Italy were led to believe. Sweatshops fill the cities and immigrants are treated badly. Racism is powerful and there is no love lost between the Italians, the Polish, the Irish… All are competing for work and suspicion runs rampant. Still, Teresa gets a job and Lucia is allowed to learn English and go to school, and things go quite well for some time…But Teresa struggles, trouble finds them, and they must find a new path. Teresa decides to chase her dream and finally gets work as a performer in a vaudeville show. Lucia is finally able to graduate, but she receives terrible news about her mother, and her life and plans are put on hold…Maybe forever. Will Lucia ever find the life she wants, or will she continue to be beaten down, time and again?

Once in a while, an avid reader finds a novel like Pamela Schoenewaldt’s Swimming in the Moon and is thrown a little off-kilter by it’s originality and deep emotional pull. Many of us get trapped in genres, Paranormal Romance, or Historical Romance, or Fantasy, or ChickLit, and we never venture outside of our comfort zone. Swimming in the Moon is the type of book that takes you out of your comfort zone, although I would categorize it as women’s fiction because it outlines one of the greatest challenges faced by many females: the mother-daughter relationship. If you enjoy fiction with a lot of drama and feeling, you won’t want to miss Pamela Schoenewaldt’s Swimming on the Moon.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

Bernadette Fox is kindof a mess. She doesn’t seem to get along with the other parents at her daughter’s school, her house is falling apart, her husband is never home, and she hates dealing with strangers so badly that she has decided to hire a personal assistant in India to make all of her appointments and take care of all of her duties. You may think that these things sound like issues that every woman deals with, but things are about to get even WORSE for Bernadette. The neighbor lady has a vendetta against her and things are about to come to a head in a major way. Her daughter has decided that for her reward for getting perfect grades in middle school, they should all make a trip to Antarctica to see the penguins….And Bernadette gets unbelievably seasick.

One day, Bernadette just disappears, and her daughter decides to follow the clues to figure out just who her mother really was, and what happened to make her go away. She refuses to believe that her mother would just leave or take her own life. But what happened to Bernadette? Following a trail of letters, emails and receipts, the middle schooler has decided the grownups have made a mess of things, and it’s up to her to put things right.

Any woman who has ever wondered if they were going to have a nervous breakdown and go completely bonkers will LOVE this novel, which takes you down Bernadette’s humorous path to possibly lunacy with perfect timing and character. Where’d You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple, is an easy read, and the audiobook format by Hachette Audio is perfection. If you ever venture into the world of audiobooks, add this one to your list.

If you enjoy books like What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarty, which delve into parenting, marriage, sanity, and the politics of the PTA, this novel is right up your alley.