Looker by Laura Sims

Looker by Laura Sims is the story of a woman whose life becomes shattered and she begins to spiral out of control after she separates from her husband after years of being unable to conceive a child. Her mind slowly dissolves as she begins to obsess and emulate a famous actress who lives across the street.

The woman whose name we never learn. narrates the story. Through her eyes we see her begin to lose her mind as she tries to rationalize the anger at her soon to be ex-husband and his cat which she will not return, her poor choices as a Humanities professor and especially her sickening obsession toward the actress known in the story only as “The Actress”. As she watches the actress and her family relentlessly from the stoop in front of her house she creates envious imaginary scenarios about them and she begins to sink deeper into madness.

We watch, as the reader, as this troubled woman finally breaks from reality at the annual neighborhood block party where the actress has finally noticed her, only to have her soon to be ex-husband appear and humiliate her in front of everybody. And then we watch, trying in our own mind, to look away, embarrassed for her, as we feel her desperation as she begins to succumb to the madness.

Looker will give your heart palpitations from beginning to end. I highly recommend this book. It will be out January 8. Thank you for the advanced copy #NetGalley #Simon&Schuster #Looker

Ghosted by Rosie Walsh

Ghosted by Rosie Walsh is a very sad love story. But read it anyway!!

The story begins with Sarah meeting Eddie during a walk. They end up spending the week together and begin to fall in love. Then something happens. We don’t know what and neither does Sarah.

When their time together ends Eddie disappears. He disappears from social media, and Sarah’s life. She knows something has happened because he would never intentionally block her…would he? Her friends think she just needs to let him go and move on but Sarah just can’t.

Then their world’s collide making their love impossible.

There are so many twists and turns to the story and the reader is constantly feeling they know where this is going only to be shocked when it moves somewhere else.

Ghosted was a little slow to start but stick with it. I promise you will be glad you did!

Once Upon a River: A Novel by Diane Setterfield

Diane Setterfield’s first novel, The Thirteenth Tale has to be one of my favorite books, so when I heard she had written another novel I was overjoyed! Although Once Upon a River is very different from Setterfield’s first novel, it was still very good and quite enjoyable…only in a different way.

The main character in the story is the Thames River which is a very windy river with villages on either side. The other characters are the residence of some of the villages and how a river can somehow bring out the best (and worst) in people.

The story begins with an injured man and a dead young girl collapsing at the doorstep of a local watering hole in one of the small villages adjacent to a riverbank late one night. Hours later the child who had been pronounced dead by the local nurse/doctor suddenly awakens to everyone’s surprise. She is mute and no one knows who she is or where she has come from.

Locals from towns along the river believe her to be, well, who they want her to be. A child who has gone missing. A married couple who’s daughter was kidnapped years prior believe her to be their missing daughter. An older woman believes her to be her young sister who she believes had died.

But this young girl cannot be everyone’s missing person. So who could she possibly be? And how do they decide just whose she really belongs to?

This novel has romance, sadness, many mysteries and is quite suspenseful with a conclusion worth waiting for.

Once Upon a River is a fairytale carpet ride down a magical river and along its special water. I enjoyed the ride very much!

Thank you #NetGalley #Once Upon a River #Atria/Emily Bestler Books. The book will be out in December.

The Only Woman in the Room By Marie Benedict

A powerful historical story which takes place during Hitler’s reign where women were meant to be seen but not heard.  And where women had no opinions. But one woman who was there only listened and was able to change our world as we all know it today.
This story is about an actress from Austria whose life could have been satisfied by just her fame, fortune and beauty, but because of what she witnessed and could not forget inspired her to be more and do more. This strong woman who faced hardship and loss rose above it all and was able to better the world by changing it.
This little known story is of actress Hedy Lamarr who was born in Austria to Jewish parents, a talented stage actress in Austria, Lamarr marries Fritz Mandl who has ties to Mussolini and Hitler. While entertaining leaders in her lavish castles she is able to gather information on how the Nazi’s planned on invading countries.  Being the only woman in the room, no one took her for anything other than hostess.  But she understood much more than she ever let on.
After fleeing to America and with the War still raging on, she, along with a musical composer no less, are able to take what she had heard and with her scientific knowledge  create a system where torpedoes could go undetected and would be able to hit their target. Yes this is true.  This woman who is known as one of the most beautiful actresses of her time actually had a patent!
Although no one took her seriously because she was a woman she never gave up to get them to listen to her. This truly is an empowering story for all women as well as a testament to their treatment during the 1940’s and 50’s.
I would highly recommend all women and girls (and men) read this enjoyable,  unbelievable account of Hedy Lamarr and her truly incredible life.
The Only Woman in the Room will be on sale January 8.  Special thanks to Bookreporter.com for the advanced copy.

Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li

Number One Chinese Restaurant is Lillian Li’s first attempt at a novel.

The story follows the family who own the Duck House, the best Chinese restaurant in Rockville, Maryland, as well as some of the staff who have worked there for years.

The matriarch father has died and sons Jimmy and Johnny have taken ownership of the restaurant along with their mother who since her husband’s death has lost her desire for life.

Jimmy and Johnny each have troubled lives which include addictions and unhappy marriages. Their mother belittles both of them as much as she can and treats them both as employees of the restaurant rather than her children. Johnny has a teenage daughter Annie, whom he was once close to but finds little time for now that he is in charge of the Duck House. Annie misses her father and has sunk into a deep depression.

Jimmy decides to open his own restaurant which he believes will rival his father’s and will perhaps finally make his mother respect him. But he needs the capital for his plan to succeed.

Then we have the staff members Nan and Ah-Jack who have worked at the Duck House for decades and have been best friends from the moment they laid eyes on each other. Nan has a teenage son, Pat who has been expelled from school for setting a fire. Ah-Jack has a wife, Michelle, who is recovering from cancer and never leaves the house.

Although employer and employees, these people are all family and what affects one affects them all. The sense of desperation and sadness in their lives is palpable.

Although a good read, I felt a bit frustrated at the ending, feeling not every character had the closure I expected (or perhaps I needed). I don’t think I would recommend this book, but perhaps it just wasn’t my cup of tea.