by Kate Morton
On Christmas Eve 1959 four members of the Turner Family, the mother and all of her children except the baby, are found dead at their picnic site in Tambilla, a small town near Adelaide, Australia. The baby is missing from her carrier. Their was no evidence of foul play and despite a lengthy investigation the crime remained unsolved.
Many years later in 2018, Jess is a struggling journalist living in London. She is looking for a “big story” to help her career when she receives an unsettling call. Her grandmother, Nora, has fallen after trying to climb into her attic and is in the hospital unconscious. Nora raised Jess after her mother was unable to care for her. Jess immediately gets on a plane to fly home to Sydney to be with her grandmother. When she arrives, her grandmother is still unconscious so Jess tries to settle back into her old bedroom so that she can be near her. When Jess finds a true crime book written about the Turner unsolved case that Nora has hidden, she is perplexed. Why did Nora have this book and more importantly, what was Nora going to do in the attic after she had repeatedly warned Jess to stay away from it?
Because Nora is unable to explain things, Jess begins her own search about the Turner deaths and what that case has to do with her grandmother. She might have found her “big story” but what will she find out about her family and the secrets they have been keeping?
Kate Morton has crafted another layered, family saga and despite the fact that it is a long book, I couldn’t put it down and read it very quickly.
Homecoming will be published on April 23, 2023. Add this one to your To Be Read list!
Thanks to Mariner Books and NetGalley for an advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review.
The Brightest Star
I’m a classic movie fan and have watched a few movies with Anna May Wong so this book intrigued me and I couldn’t wait to read it. And don’t you just love this cover!
Born in LA at the turn of the century, Anna grew up wanting to be in the movies. She would skip school to go to Chinatown to watch movies being filmed but became dismayed to find that Chinese parts in these movies were performed by Caucasians with yellow paint on their faces. As she began to get roles hoping to change this, she discovered that because of the miscegenation laws and disapproval from her own father, her options were limited and she had an uphill fight.
Despite this, Anna persevered and she became the first Asian American to become an international star and receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She also became the first Asian American to be celebrated by the US Currency when her likeness was put on a Women of Distinction quarter.
Anna May Wong’s life wasn’t easy but she broke barriers for women and Chinese Americans and has left a lasting legacy. The Brightest Star really brought Anna May to life and the author’s research is impressive. I didn’t know that Anna May started out in silent films and then went on to be in so many movies. I am going to look for more of her movies.
The Brightest Star will be published June 20, 2023. Thanks to Harper Via and NetGalley for the advanced reading copy of The Brightest Star.
Fifth Avenue Glamour Girl
by Renée Rosen
In 1938, Gloria Downing is struggling. Born to a life of privilege, everything changed when her father was arrested for bilking high society people out of their investments and is sent to prison. Because of the notoriety surrounding his case, Gloria changes her last name and tries to find a way to support herself even though she has never worked a day in her life. She ends up working as a shampoo girl in a beauty shop. There she meets a young woman named Estée Lauder who is trying to sell her face cream in the beauty shop. Estée is sure that her product is much better than the other big names in cosmetics, Elizabeth Arden, Charles Revson (Revlon) and Helena Rubinstein and she wants everyone to know this.
When they first meet, Gloria doesn’t care for her pushy manner and her continually upbeat personality but they eventually become friends as Estée takes Gloria under her wing and helps her find her way in this new world without money. Things aren’t perfect between them and they are both keeping secrets that will only come out years later but despite the ups and downs of their friendship the two women remain connected to each other. This is a fascinating glimpse into the cosmetic industry and the resilience of two women who are flawed but determined to forge careers and follow their dreams despite the difficulties they encounter.
I have read several of Renée Rosen’s historical fiction novels and have really enjoyed them. Fifth Avenue Glamour Girl is no exception and I really love the book’s cover. I also loved the author’s notes at the end explaining more about the events in this book. It will be published on April 25, 2023 so mark your calendars!
Thanks to Berkley and NetGalley for the Advanced Reading Copy.
The Block Party
by Jamie Day
The Alton Road cul-de-sac in the exclusive Meadowbrook neighborhood is to die for. Literally! The residents of this street are wealthy, smart, well dressed, educated and they all have secrets. Lots of secrets. The children have secrets too.
On the day of their annual Memorial Day block party a shot rings out. The Facebook page for this neighborhood is abuzz with the news. Who was shot on Alton Road and who did it? Everyone has a theory.
Before we can find out what has happened, the book flashes back to one year before and the reader is pulled into the lives of these Altonites as some people call the people in this cul-de-sac. This twisty story of revenge, secrets and murder with intriguing characters pulled me right in and I couldn’t stop reading this book.
The Block Party will be published on June 18, 2023. Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for an advanced reading copy.