Saturdays at the Café is a weekly feature hosted here to talk about and discuss the books I’ve discovered during the past week, added to my shelf and am excited about reading. They may be new/scheduled releases I’ve seen on NetGalley, at the library, or from publishers or they may be older titles my friends have reviewed and shared on Goodreads or blogs.
Evvie, Maggie, and Topher have known one another since college. Their friendship was something they swore would last forever. Now years have passed, the friends have drifted apart, and they never found the lives they wanted–the lives they dreamed of when they were young and everything seemed possible.
Evvie starved herself to become a supermodel but derailed her career by sleeping with a married man.
Maggie married Ben, the boy she fell in love with in college, never imagining the heartbreak his drinking would cause.
Topher became a successful actor, but the shame of a childhood secret shut him off from real intimacy.
By their thirtieth reunion, these old friends have lost touch with one another and with the people they dreamed of becoming. Together again, they have a second chance at happiness…until a dark secret is revealed that changes everything.
I’m a recent new fan of the author and like the premise of this one for audio review.
Nothing bad can happen at the Ritz; inside its gilded walls every woman looks beautiful, every man appears witty. Favored guests like Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Coco Chanel, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor walk through its famous doors to be welcomed and pampered by Blanche Auzello and her husband, Claude, the hotel’s director. The Auzellos are the mistress and master of the Ritz, allowing the glamour and glitz to take their minds off their troubled marriage, and off the secrets that they keep from their guests–and each other.
Until June 1940, when the German army sweeps into Paris, setting up headquarters at the Ritz. Suddenly, with the likes of Hermann Go�ring moving into suites once occupied by royalty, Blanche and Claude must navigate a terrifying new reality. One that entails even more secrets. One that may destroy the tempestuous marriage between this beautiful, reckless American and her very proper Frenchman. For the falsehoods they tell to survive, and to strike a blow against their Nazi “guests,” spin a web of deceit that ensnares everything and everyone they cherish.
But one secret is shared between Blanche and Claude alone–the secret that, in the end, threatens to imperil both of their lives, and to bring down the legendary Ritz itself.
After reading so many glowing reviews, I finally agreed to get this for audio review. It didn’t take much convincing.
Solving the case will avenge her sister—unless the killer finds her first.
It’s been fifteen years since Claire Calderwood’s sister, Rachel, was brutally murdered in their small hometown in Maine. Claire has finally carved out a life for herself as a homicide detective in Detroit, but the past comes calling when the local police back home ask for her help with a murder eerily similar to Rachel’s.
Still haunted by Rachel’s cold case, Claire returns home, hoping to solve the crime and finally put her grief to rest. As she starts investigating, the last thing she needs is tenacious journalist Noah Washington asking questions she’s not ready to answer. But like her, Noah won’t give up until he finds the truth—and Claire reluctantly finds herself relying on him more and more when disturbing new details about Rachel’s death come to light.
When the killer strikes once again, Claire knows he’s not done. Now he’s set his sights on Claire, who will have to find the courage she needs to survive a deadly confrontation years in the making.
This was one of the month’s Amazon Prime free to read offerings. Sounded really good so I decided to add. And, it will be $1.99 to add the Audible edition when I’m ready to read.
Valencia, a timid debt collector with crippling OCD, is afraid of many things, but the two that scare her most are flying and turning thirty-five. To confront those fears, Valencia’s therapist suggests that she fly somewhere—anywhere—before her upcoming birthday. And as Valencia begins a telephone romance with a man from New York, she suddenly has a destination in mind. There’s only one problem—he might not actually exist.
Mrs. Valentine is an eccentric old woman desperate for company, be it from neighbors, telemarketers, or even the funeral director (when you’re her age, you go to a lot of funerals). So she’s thrilled when the new cleaning girl provides a listening ear for her life’s story—a tale of storybook love and incredible adventures around the world with her husband before his mysterious and sudden disappearance.
The stories of Valencia and Mrs. Valentine may at first appear to have nothing in common…but then again, nothing in life is as straightforward as it seems.
Another Amazon First Read that’s compared to Eleanor Oliphant. I was definitely attracted to these two characters.
Oscar Boatwright, a disenchanted philosophy professor, receives terrible news. His mother, on her way home from Hawaii with Oscar’s father, has died midflight, her body cooling for hours until the plane can land.
Deeply grieving, Oscar feels his life slipping out of his control. A seemingly innocuous one-night stand with a woman named Dawn becomes volatile when, on the first day of classes, he realizes she is his student, and later learns that she is a fledgling campus drug lord. To make matters worse, his family is in debt, having lost their modest savings to a self-help guru who had indoctrinated Oscar’s mother by preying on her depression. Desperate to help his family, Oscar breaks with his academic personality—he agrees to help Dawn with a drug run.
At first, I didn’t think I’d have any interest in this story but Kyra @ Roots & Reads selects really interesting titles so of course I was going to read her review. That was a pivotal decision because this was now a book I couldn’t pass up. I’m hoping to get it for audio review!
A revelation shared between two privileged teenagers from very different backgrounds sets off a chain of events with devastating consequences.
On the surface, Niru leads a charmed life. Raised by two attentive parents in Washington, D.C., he’s a top student and a track star at his prestigious private high school. Bound for Harvard in the fall, his prospects are bright. But Niru has a painful secret: he is queer—an abominable sin to his conservative Nigerian parents. No one knows except Meredith, his best friend, the daughter of prominent Washington insiders—and the one person who seems not to judge him.
When his father accidentally discovers Niru is gay, the fallout is brutal and swift. Coping with troubles of her own, however, Meredith finds that she has little left emotionally to offer him. As the two friends struggle to reconcile their desires against the expectations and institutions that seek to define them, they find themselves speeding toward a future more violent and senseless than they can imagine. Neither will escape unscathed.
In October, our library system is coordinating a city-wide group read and selected this title. My face-to-face book club is participating and, of course, this is available from my library.
A woman on the run finds refuge in a motel at the edge of the woods, with plenty of vacancies. Check in for the night with New York Times bestselling author Lisa Unger.
Eve has a fake ID, a .38, and a violent lover receding in the rearview mirror. He’ll never find her at the isolated motel, and its kindly manager is happy to ease her fears. But if Eve is the only guest, whom does she keep hearing on the other side of the wall? Eve won’t get a good night’s rest until she finds out.
I love short stories, especially creepy ones (thank you Alfred Hitchcock!). Yvo @ It’s All About Books reviewed this story, which is part of a collection of seven by bestselling authors, and I couldn’t wait to add this. And! It’s free with Amazon Prime😍
When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.
What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.
Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.
It was everything.
She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.
Thanks to Carol @ Bookaria, I learned the author has this new book scheduled for release in August! I’ve collected all of her books and want this one, too.
For as long as she can remember, Bronx-born Naomi Powell has had one goal: to prove her worth among the Upper East Side elite—the same people for which her mom worked as a housekeeper. Now, as the strongminded, sassy CEO of one of the biggest jewelry empires in the country, Naomi finally has exactly what she wants—but it’s going to take more than just the right address to make Manhattan’s upper class stop treating her like an outsider.
The worst offender is her new neighbor, Oliver Cunningham—the grown son of the very family Naomi’s mother used to work for. Oliver used to torment Naomi when they were children, and as a ridiculously attractive adult, he’s tormenting her in entirely different ways. Now they find themselves engaged in a battle-of-wills that will either consume or destroy them…
I took a pass on reviewing this for audio and soon regretted it after reading the review by Stephanie @ Stephanie’s Novel Fiction. Now I’m at the mercy of my library.
Mary Shields is a moody, acerbic probation offer, dealing with some of Glasgow’s worst cases, and her job is on the line.
Liam Macdowall was imprisoned for murdering his wife, and he’s published a series of letters to the dead woman, in a book that makes him an unlikely hero – and a poster boy for Men’s Rights activists.
Liam is released on licence into Mary’s care, but things are far from simple. Mary develops a poisonous obsession with Liam and his world, and when her son and Liam’s daughter form a relationship, Mary will stop at nothing to impose her own brand of justice … with devastating consequences.
A heart-pounding, relentless and chilling psychological thriller, rich with deliciously dark and unapologetic humour, Worst Case Scenario is also a perceptive, tragic and hugely relevant book by one of the most exciting names in crime fiction.
Deanna @ Dee’s Rad Reads and Reviews featured this for Goodreads Monday and it sounds good enough to put on my Audible wishlist.
Caleb Zelic, profoundly deaf since early childhood, has always lived on the outside – watching, picking up telltale signs people hide in a smile, a cough, a kiss. When a childhood friend is murdered, a sense of guilt and a determination to prove his own innocence sends Caleb on a hunt for the killer. But he can’t do it alone. Caleb and his troubled friend Frankie, an ex-cop, start with one clue: Scott, the last word the murder victim texted to Caleb. But Scott is always one step ahead.
This gripping, original and fast-paced crime thriller is set between a big city and a small coastal town, Resurrection Bay, where Caleb is forced to confront painful memories. Caleb is a memorable protagonist who refuses to let his deafness limit his opportunities, or his participation in the investigation. But does his persistence border on stubbornness? And at what cost? As he delves deeper into the investigation Caleb uncovers unwelcome truths about his murdered friend – and himself.
Alexandra @ Wry Writer says this author is on her list of top favorites so I thought I’d start with her debut novel, which she also includes as one of her five unputdownable reads.
Max and Pip are the strongest couple you know. They’re best friends, lovers–unshakable. But then their son gets sick and the doctors put the question of his survival into their hands. For the first time, Max and Pip can’t agree. They each want a different future for their son.
What if they could have both?
A gripping and propulsive exploration of love, marriage, parenthood, and the road not taken, After the End brings one unforgettable family from unimaginable loss to a surprising, satisfying, and redemptive ending and the life they are fated to find. With the emotional power of Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper, Mackintosh helps us to see that sometimes the end is just another beginning.
I enjoyed one of this author’s previous titles and was intrigued by this new one, enough to add it for audio review.
Rumor has it that a notorious killer, a woman who has been released from prison years after her brutal crime, is living under a new identity in Joanna’s seaside town. So who is the supposedly reformed murderer now living in their neighborhood? Suspicion falls on everyone.
As Joanna becomes obsessed with the case, her curiosity will expose her son and his father to a heartless psychopath who has killed—and may kill again. And she will learn how dangerous one rumor can become . . . and just how far she must go to protect those she loves from harm. She is going to regret the day she ever said a word. . . .
Even though the reviews for this are mixed among my friends, it clicked for me and I loved the audiobook sample.
On the day a black truck rattles past her house and a Klan flyer lands in her front yard, ten-year-old Beth disappears from her Simmonsville, Georgia, home. Armed with skills honed while caring for an alcoholic mother, she must battle to survive the days and months ahead.
Seven years later, Imogene Coulter is burying her father–a Klan leader she has spent her life distancing herself from–and trying to escape the memories his funeral evokes. But Imogene is forced to confront secrets long held by Simmonsville and her own family when, while clearing out her father’s apparent hideout on the day of his funeral, she finds a child. Young and alive, in an abandoned basement, and behind a door that only locks from the outside.
As Imogene begins to uncover the truth of what happened to young Beth all those years ago, her father’s heir apparent to the Klan’s leadership threatens her and her family. Driven by a love that extends beyond the ties of blood, Imogene struggles to save a girl she never knew but will now be bound to forever, and to save herself and those dearest to her. Tightly coiled and chilling, Gone Too Long ensnares, twists, and exposes the high price we are willing to pay for the ones we love.
This was offered for audio review and I jumped at the chance to listen to it, written by a two-time winner of the Edgar Award. It sounds incredible.
Paris, 1938. Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli (“Schiap”) are fighting for recognition as the most successful and influential fashion designer in France, and their rivalry is already legendary. They oppose each other at every turn, in both their politics and their designs: Chanel’s are classic, elegant, and practical; Schiaparelli’s bold, experimental, and surreal.
Lily Cooper, a recently widowed American teacher, travels to Paris to visit her brother, Charlie, and try to move on from the loss of her husband. On her first day there, Charlie insists on buying her a couture dress for her birthday–a Chanel. Lily reluctantly agrees but wants a Schiaparelli, not a Chanel. Charlie’s girlfriend, Ania, one of the most beautiful and prominent women in Paris, begins wearing Schiap’s designs as well, and soon much of Paris is following in her footsteps.
Schiap takes an interest in Lily and offers the budding artist a job at her shop. Suddenly, Lily finds herself increasingly involved with Schiap and her personal war with Chanel. And as their fierce competition reaches new and dangerous heights, another war is looming on their doorstep and getting closer every day….
I almost took a pass on this but then realized it was something different and unique. Plus, it includes one of my favorite designers as one of the subjects. I’m taking the plunge!
Ayesha Shamsi is a secular Muslim who lives with her boisterous extended family in Toronto. She wants to be a famous spoken word poet, but dreams won’t support family or pay off debts. So she takes the stable (but boring, as her friend Clara reminds her) path of substitute teaching. She’s never had a boyfriend, and though she’s lonely, she wants no part of an arranged marriage. But when she begins working with Khalid, a conservative, handsome young Muslim man, on a fundraiser for the mosque, she has to deal with both her attraction to him and her irritation with his complacency. Once her gorgeous young cousin becomes engaged to him, however, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and her suspicions about his wealthy family. Taking it upon herself to investigate rumours about them, she finds she has to deal with not just what she discovers about Khalid, but also the truth of what she realizes about herself.
Khalid Mirza yearns for less complicated times. Before he was asked to organize a singles mixer at his local mosque. Before he was put in charge of the website for a lingerie company. Definitely before he fell for the electrifying poet he accidentally first met at a bar that he didn’t want to be at in the first place. He misses the old days, when everyone puzzled over his traditional clothes, and assumed, rightfully, that his super-controlling mother was arranging his marriage. It’s no wonder he stumbles on the path paved for him by tradition . . .
Always in search of interesting multicultural stories, I was delighted when Jennifer ~ Tar Heel Reader featured this one and it showed up the next day as an opportunity for audio review!
In a small town in Maine, recently widowed Eveleth “Evvie” Drake rarely leaves her house. Everyone in town, including her best friend, Andy, thinks grief keeps her locked inside, and she doesn’t correct them. In New York, Dean Tenney, former major-league pitcher and Andy’s childhood friend, is struggling with a case of the “yips”: he can’t throw straight anymore, and he can’t figure out why. An invitation from Andy to stay in Maine for a few months seems like the perfect chance to hit the reset button.
When Dean moves into an apartment at the back of Evvie’s house, the two make a deal: Dean won’t ask about Evvie’s late husband, and Evvie won’t ask about Dean’s baseball career. Rules, though, have a funny way of being broken–and what starts as an unexpected friendship soon turns into something more. But before they can find out what might lie ahead, they’ll have to wrestle a few demons: the bonds they’ve broken, the plans they’ve changed, and the secrets they’ve kept. They’ll need a lot of help, but in life, as in baseball, there’s always a chance–right up until the last out.
After reading this synopsis, I knew I had to have this one. It will be a nice detour from my darker reads and I got it for audio review.
Lost letters have only one hope for survival…
Inside the Dead Letters Depot in East London, William Woolf is one of thirty letter detectives who spend their days solving mysteries: Missing postcodes, illegible handwriting, rain-smudged ink, lost address labels, torn packages, forgotten street names – they are all the culprits of missed birthdays, broken hearts, unheard confessions, pointless accusations, unpaid bills and unanswered prayers.
When William discovers letters addressed simply to ‘My Great Love’ his work takes on new meaning. Written by a woman to a soulmate she hasn’t met yet, the missives stir William in ways he didn’t know were possible. Soon he begins to wonder: Could William be her great love?
William must follow the clues in Winter’s letters to solve his most important mystery yet: the human heart.
I didn’t think I’d have any interest in this book (yes, I judged it by the title) until after reading the review by Jennifer ~ Tar Heel Reader and learned it was completely different from my initial thinking. I KNOW I’m going to enjoy this story. Hoping to see it show up as an audio review opportunity.
Despite considerable press coverage and a lengthy trial, the full story of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints has remained largely untold. Only one man can reveal the whole, astounding truth: Sam Brower, the private investigator who devoted years of his life to breaking open the secret practices of the FLDS and bringing Warren Jeffs and his inner circle to justice. In Prophet’s Prey, Brower implicates Jeff in his own words, bringing to light the contents of Jeffs’s personal priesthood journal, discovered in a hidden underground vault, and revealing to readers the shocking inside world of FLDS members, whose trust he earned and who showed him the staggering truth of their lives.
Prophet’s Prey offers the gripping, behind-the-scenes account of a bizarre world from the only man who knows the full story.
I’ve long wanted to learn more about how this vile man convinced so many to participate and protect his disgusting cult so when Ren @ What’s Nonfiction? recommended this book, I immediately added it and found the audiobook at my library.
In a London slowly recovering from the ravages of World War II, two very different women join forces to launch a business venture in the heart of Mayfair-The Right Sort Marriage Bureau. Miss Iris Sparks, avuncular and unmarried, and Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge, practical and widowed with a young son, are determined to achieve some independence and do some good in a rapidly changing world.
But the promising start to their marriage bureau is threatened when their newest client, Tillie La Salle, is found murdered and the man arrested for the crime is one Dickie Trower, the prospective husband they matched her with. While the police are convinced they have their man, Miss Sparks and Mrs. Bainbridge are not. To clear Trower’s name-and to rescue their fledging operation’s reputation-Sparks and Bainbridge decide to investigate on their own, using the skills and contacts they’ve each acquired through life and their individual adventures during the recent war.
Woo hoo! Thanks to Jennifer ~ Tar Heel Reader, I have a new historical mystery series to explore! It’s one of my favorite genres.
A runaway bestseller in France, But You Did Not Come Back has already been the subject of a French media storm and hailed as an important new addition to the library of books dealing with the Holocaust. It is the profoundly moving and poetic memoir by Marceline Loridan-Ivens, who at the age of fifteen was arrested in occupied France, along with her father. Later, in the camps, he managed to smuggle a note to her, a sign of life that made all the difference to Marceline–but he died in the Holocaust, while Marceline survived.
In But You Did Not Come Back, Marceline writes back to her father, the man whose death overshadowed her whole life. Although her grief never diminished in its intensity, Marceline ultimately found her calling, working as both an activist and a documentary filmmaker. But now, as France and Europe in general faces growing anti-Semitism, Marceline feels pessimistic about the future. Her testimony is a memorial, a confrontation, and a deeply affecting personal story of a woman whose life was shattered and never totally rebuilt.
Thanks to Ren @ What’s Nonfiction? for featuring this holocaust memoir by a woman who didn’t ever recover emotionally from the experience. It’s short but so important.
Tonight is the night for secrets…
Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and her killer hasn’t been caught.
Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers.
Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after twelve years. She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father …
What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station … who says he knows who killed Victoria, and has proof.
Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything…
With echoes of the chilling Play Misty for Me, Call Me Star Girl is a taut, emotive and all-consuming psychological thriller that plays on our deepest fears, providing a stark reminder that stirring up dark secrets from the past can be deadly…
Yet another book where I thought I’d have zero interest but trusted bloggers convinced me otherwise. Read the review by Yvo @ It’s All About Books and see if you can resist. I dare you. It’s on my Audible wishlist.
Tru Blue is a sexy, dark, standalone novel written in the same loving, raw, and emotional voice romance listeners have come to love, and the deeply emotional literary prose women’s fiction listeners have come to expect, from New York Times & USA Today best-selling, award-winning author Melissa Foster.
He wore the skin of a killer, and bore the heart of a lover.
There’s nothing Truman Gritt won’t do to protect his family – including spending years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. When he’s finally released, the life he knew is turned upside down by his mother’s overdose, and Truman steps in to raise the children she’s left behind. Truman’s hard, he’s secretive, and he’s trying to save a brother who’s even more broken than he is. He’s never needed help in his life, and when beautiful Gemma Wright tries to step in, he’s less than accepting. But Gemma has a way of slithering into people’s lives and eventually she pierces through his ironclad heart. When Truman’s dark past collides with his future, his loyalties will be tested, and he’ll be faced with his toughest decision yet.
It wouldn’t be a good week without one romance title. This author sponsored a giveaway in one of my groups and one of the winners who has similar book tastes wrote a rave review. I’m intrigued so I added it to my Audible wishlist.