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Saturdays at the Café

Saturdays at the Café - Body

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.


In Five Years

Where do you see yourself in five years?

When Type-A Manhattan lawyer Dannie Cohan is asked this question at the most important interview of her career, she has a meticulously crafted answer at the ready. Later, after nailing her interview and accepting her boyfriend’s marriage proposal, Dannie goes to sleep knowing she is right on track to achieve her five-year plan.

But when she wakes up, she’s suddenly in a different apartment, with a different ring on her finger, and beside a very different man. The television news is on in the background, and she can just make out the scrolling date. It’s the same night—December 15—but 2025, five years in the future.

After a very intense, shocking hour, Dannie wakes again, at the brink of midnight, back in 2020. She can’t shake what has happened. It certainly felt much more than merely a dream, but she isn’t the kind of person who believes in visions. That nonsense is only charming coming from free-spirited types, like her lifelong best friend, Bella. Determined to ignore the odd experience, she files it away in the back of her mind.

That is, until four-and-a-half years later, when by chance Dannie meets the very same man from her long-ago vision.

Brimming with joy and heartbreak, In Five Years is an unforgettable love story that reminds us of the power of loyalty, friendship, and the unpredictable nature of destiny.

I was offered this for audio review and lured in once I read the synopsis. Can’t wait and Serle is a new-to-me author.

 


These Ghosts are Family

Stanford Solomon has a shocking, thirty-year-old secret. And it’s about to change the lives of everyone around him. Stanford Solomon is actually Abel Paisley, a man who faked his own death and stole the identity of his best friend.

And now, nearing the end of his life, Stanford is about to meet his firstborn daughter, Irene Paisley, a home health aide who has unwittingly shown up for her first day of work to tend to the father she thought was dead.

These Ghosts are Family revolves around the consequences of Abel’s decision and tells the story of the Paisley family from colonial Jamaica to present day Harlem. There is Vera, whose widowhood forced her into the role of single mother. There are two daughters and a granddaughter who have never known they are related. And there are others, like the house boy who loved Vera, whose lives might have taken different courses if not for Abel Paisley’s actions.

These Ghosts Are Family explores the ways each character wrestles with their ghosts and struggles to forge independent identities outside of the family and their trauma. The result is an engrossing portrait of a family and individuals caught in the sweep of history, slavery, migration, and the more personal dramas of infidelity, lost love, and regret. This electric and luminous family saga announces the arrival of a new American talent.

This sounds fascinating! If not offered for audio review, I’m not sure I would have ever discovered it.

 


The Girl in White Gloves

A life in snapshots…

Grace knows what people see. She’s the Cinderella story. An icon of glamour and elegance frozen in dazzling Technicolor. The picture of perfection. The girl in white gloves.

A woman in living color…

But behind the lens, beyond the panoramic views of glistening Mediterranean azure, she knows the truth. The sacrifices it takes for an unappreciated girl from Philadelphia to defy her family and become the reigning queen of the screen. The heartbreaking reasons she trades Hollywood for a crown. The loneliness of being a princess in a fairy tale kingdom that is all too real.
Hardest of all for her adoring fans and loyal subjects to comprehend, is the harsh reality that to be the most envied woman in the world does not mean she is the happiest. Starved for affection and purpose, facing a labyrinth of romantic and social expectations with more twists and turns than Monaco’s infamous winding roads, Grace must find her own way to fulfillment. But what she risks–her art, her family, her marriage—she may never get back.

And she’s back…Jennifer ~ Tar Heel Reader that is. I loved her review! I became a big fan of Grace Kelly after seeing her iconic performance in Hitchcock’s Rear Window. Fortunately, I was able to get this for audio review.

 


Wedding at the Riverview Inn

An emotional tale of a magical inn, a wedding gone terribly wrong and a woman searching for a second chance.

Alice has hit rock bottom. Once a Michelin-starred chef, she is now drowning in debt, working the line at a chain restaurant and drinking too much. The last person she ever expected to come knocking with a job offer and a fresh start is her ex-husband, Gabe.

Gabe built The Riverview Inn with his dad and brother. Now, the grand lodge in the Catskill Mountains is nearly ready for the opening event—a society wedding for 500 guests.

The only thing missing is a chef. That’s where Alice comes in.

The deal Gabe offers Alice is too good to pass up: help him get through this wedding and he’ll get her out of debt.

But nothing is simple at The Riverview and soon she’s dealing with a bridezilla, pink swans, a series of mysterious letters and a teenage delinquent. Through it all, one thing is clear—her feelings for Gabe burn as bright as they always have.

When the wedding is over, will Alice walk away for good? Or will The Riverview work its magic on Alice and Gabe?

O’Keefe is one of my most favorite authors. This is a reissue of one of her older works from back in the day when she worked for Harlequin. It showed up as a Kindle freebie and is the first in a trilogy. I loved everything I have read by her so I pounced.

 


Heft

Former academic Arthur Opp weighs 550 pounds and hasn’t left his rambling Brooklyn home in a decade. Twenty milesaway, in Yonkers, seventeen-year-old Kel Keller navigates life as the poor kid in a rich school and pins his hopes on what seems like a promising sporting career-if he can untangle himself from his family drama. The link between this unlikely pair is Kel’s mother, Charlene, a former student of Arthur’s. After nearly two decades of silence, it is Charlene’s unexpected phone call to Arthur – a plea for help-that jostles them into action.

This showed up on the fabulous Meggy @ Chocolate ‘n’Waffles blog as one of the books she added to her shelf in February. Intrigued by the cover, I checked it out and got more interested. When I learned my library had the audiobook, that sealed the deal.

 


Would Like to Meet

In this charming, feel-good debut novel, a cynical assistant at a screenwriting agency must reenact the meet-cute scenes from classic romantic comedy movies in order to help her #1 client get his scriptwriting mojo back–but can a real-life meet-cute be in store for someone who doesn’t believe in happily ever after?

After seven years as an assistant, 29-year-old Evie Summers is ready to finally get the promotion she deserves. But now the TV and film agency she’s been running behind the scenes is in trouble, and Evie will lose her job unless she can convince the agency’s biggest and most arrogant client, Ezra Chester, to finish writing the script for a Hollywood romantic comedy.

The catch? Ezra is suffering from writer’s block–and he’ll only put pen to paper if singleton Evie can prove to him that you can fall in love like they do in the movies. With the future of the agency in jeopardy, Evie embarks on a mission to meet a man the way Sally met Harry or Hugh Grant met Julia Roberts.

But in the course of testing out the meet-cute scenes from classic romantic comedies IRL, not only will Evie encounter one humiliating situation after another, but she’ll have to confront the romantic past that soured her on love. In a novel as hilarious as it is heartwarming, debut author Rachel Winters proves that sometimes real life is better than the movies–and that the best kind of meet-cutes happen when you least expect them.

Even though the reviews by my Goodreads friends are all over the place, this still appealed to me so I got in the library queue for the audio version. My number came up this week. Fingers crossed 🤞

 


New Waves

Set in the New York City tech world, a wry and edgy debut novel about a heist gone wrong, a secret online life exposed, and a young man’s search for true connection….

Lucas and Margo are fed up. Margo is a brilliant programmer tired of being talked over as the company’s sole black employee, and while Lucas is one of many Asians at the firm, he’s nearly invisible as a low-paid customer service rep. Together, they decide to steal their tech start-up’s user database in an attempt at revenge. The heist takes a sudden turn when Margo dies in a car accident, and Lucas is left reeling, wondering what to do with their secret–and wondering whether her death really was an accident. When Lucas hacks into Margo’s computer looking for answers, he is drawn into her secret online life and realizes just how little he knew about his best friend.

With a fresh voice, biting humor, and piercing observations about human nature, Kevin Nguyen brings an insider’s knowledge of the tech industry to this imaginative novel. A pitch-perfect exploration of race and start-up culture, secrecy and surveillance, social media and friendship, New Waves asks: How well do we really know each other? And how do we form true intimacy and connection in a tech-obsessed world?

This is so far out of my comfort zone it’s in the red. But, isn’t that the point of living and reading? When offered for audio review, it took me quite some time to decide. Hey, I’m going for it!

 


Smoke Bitten

Mercy Thompson, car mechanic and shapeshifter, faces a threat unlike any other in this thrilling entry in the #1 New York Times bestselling series.

I am Mercedes Athena Thompson Hauptman.
My only “superpowers” are that I turn into a thirty-five pound coyote and fix Volkswagens. But I have friends in odd places and a pack of werewolves at my back. It looks like I’m going to need them.

Centuries ago, the fae dwelt in Underhill–until she locked her doors against them. They left behind their great castles and troves of magical artifacts. They abandoned their prisoners and their pets. Without the fae to mind them, those creatures who remained behind roamed freely through Underhill wreaking havoc. Only the deadliest survived.

Now one of those prisoners has escaped. It can look like anyone, any creature it chooses. But if it bites you, it controls you. It lives for chaos and destruction. It can make you do anything–even kill the person you love the most. Now it is here, in the Tri-Cities. In my territory.

It won’t, can’t, remain.

Not if I have anything to say about it.

I started this series many years ago and it was my very first urban fantasy novel. I picked one of the best out there, thanks to the wisdom of several Shelfari friends. This is the 12th book in the series, which I plan to resume reading after a long hiatus. Of course, I’ve switched to audio.

 


The Keeper

When Katie Straw’s body is pulled from the waters of the local suicide spot, the police are ready to write it off as a standard-issue female suicide. But the residents of the domestic violence shelter where Katie worked disagree. These women have spent weeks or even years waiting for the men they’re running from to catch up with them. They know immediately: This was murder.
Still, Detective Dan Whitworth and his team expect an open-and-shut case–until they discover evidence that suggests Katie wasn’t who she appeared. Weaving together the investigation with Katie’s final months as it barrels toward the truth, The Keeper is a riveting mystery and a searing examination of violence against women and the structures that allow it to continue, marking the debut of an incredible new voice in crime fiction.

At first I was daunted by the description of this book, fearful it would be too dark. After reading the review of one of my highly respected Goodreads literary friends, I quickly added it. I have it for audio review.

 


Love Lettering

In this warm and witty romance from acclaimed author Kate Clayborn, one little word puts one woman’s business—and her heart—in jeopardy . . .

Meg Mackworth’s hand-lettering skill has made her famous as the Planner of Park Slope, designing beautiful custom journals for New York City’s elite. She has another skill too: reading signs that other people miss. Like the time she sat across from Reid Sutherland and his gorgeous fiancée, and knew their upcoming marriage was doomed to fail. Weaving a secret word into their wedding program was a little unprofessional, but she was sure no one else would spot it. She hadn’t counted on sharp-eyed, pattern-obsessed Reid . . .

A year later, Reid has tracked Meg down to find out—before he leaves New York for good—how she knew that his meticulously planned future was about to implode. But with a looming deadline, a fractured friendship, and a bad case of creative block, Meg doesn’t have time for Reid’s questions—unless he can help her find her missing inspiration. As they gradually open up to each other about their lives, work, and regrets, both try to ignore the fact that their unlikely connection is growing deeper. But the signs are there—irresistible, indisputable, urging Meg to heed the messages Reid is sending her, before it’s too late . . .

I took a pass on this when it was first offered for review. I later changed my mind when I noticed the narrator, who is on my top ten list of favorites, and I realized it involved a mature couple.

 


Deacon King Kong

In September 1969, a broken-down former church deacon known as Sportcoat shuffled into the courtyard of the Cause Houses housing project in South Brooklyn, pulled out a .45, and in front of everybody shot the neighborhood drug dealer at point-blank range.

The reasons for this burst of violence and the consequences of it lie at the heart of Deacon King Kong, James McBride’s new novel. In Deacon King Kong, McBride explores the lives of the people touched by the shooting: the victim, the neighbors who witnessed it, the cops assigned to investigate what happened, the members of the church where Sportcoat was deacon, and Sportcoat himself. It soon becomes clear that the lives of these characters overlap in unexpected ways, and as their stories unfold, McBride reveals that what’s secret needn’t be hidden forever, and that the way to grow is to face change without fear.

I’d decided to pass on this for audio review but then…it’s James McBride!

 


The Guest List

A wedding celebration turns dark and deadly in this deliciously wicked and atmospheric thriller reminiscent of Agatha Christie from the author of The Hunting Party.

The bride ‧ The plus one ‧ The best man ‧ The wedding planner ‧ The bridesmaid ‧ The body

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

I almost missed this but went back and read the review by Jules @ One More Word. That was enough for me to add it. Another audio review hopeful.

 


The Seventh Victim

Imagine receiving a letter from your son’s murderer. Imagine starting to trust him.

What if the only person who can help you find your son is the man in prison for killing him?

A child taken. A mother on the hunt for the truth.

Twenty-five years after her son Zachery disappeared without trace, Diane Marshall receives a letter that overturns her world once again. The man convicted of killing 13 boys, Zachery among them, finally confesses to it all – except the murder of her son.

Armed with this new information and determined to discover the location of his body, Diane and the former DI in charge of the case start investigating. Somewhere out there, her son’s killer is waiting as the reckoning draws nearer. Sooner or later, the terrible truth – buried and undisturbed for a quarter of a century – will out.

Thanks to Nicki@ Secret Library Book Blog for convincing me to not only add this to my shelf but also spend an Audible credit for it. Meggy @ Chocolate ‘n’ Waffles gave me an extra shove.

 


One Last Time

I’m getting really good at cutting my losses.

First, the husband. Divorcing him was the best decision I ever made. But between single-parenting and job-hunting, I can’t catch my breath. When a celebrity blogging position falls into my lap, I’m determined to succeed.

That is, until I get my first assignment and actually see Noah Frazier for the first time . . . practically naked and dripping wet. My heart races and I forget how to form complete sentences. His chiseled abs, irresistible smirk, and crystal blue eyes are too perfect to be real. So, what do I do? Get drunk and humiliate myself, of course.

I’m ready to forget the awkward night, yet Noah has no intention of allowing me to move on. Instead, he arranges for me to write a feature on him, ensuring a lot more time together. One embarrassing moment after another, one kiss after another, and before I can stop myself, I realize—I’m falling in love with him.

But when the unthinkable happens, can I even blame him for cutting his losses?

What I wouldn’t give for just one last time . . .

I won this! Thanks to Angel’s Guilty Pleasures and Books of My Heart for sponsoring the February 2020 Library Love Challenge. This is the second book in a series I have on my shelf.

 


Tell Me Lies

Psychologist Margot Scott has a picture-perfect life: a nice house in the suburbs, a husband, two children and a successful career.

On a warm spring morning Margot approaches one of her clients on a busy train platform. He is looking down at his phone, with his duffel bag in hand as the train approaches. That’s when she slams into his back and he falls in front of the train.

Margot’s clients all lie to her, but one lie cost her family and freedom.

A fast-paced psychological thriller for fans of The Silent Patient, from one of the most exciting new voices in crime thrillers.

This was one of the Audible Originals offered for free in February. Hard to resist!

 


My Dark Vanessa

2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.

2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed?

Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of Room, My Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself.

Now this is truly dark. Reviews by Goodreads friends warn that it may be the darkest they’ve ever read. But still, I’ve gotta try it. Got it for audio review. Wish me luck!

 


The Sea of Lost Girls

A story set in a prestigious prep school in which one woman’s carefully hidden past might destroy her future.

Tess has worked hard to keep her past buried, where it belongs. Now she’s the wife to a respected professor at an elite boarding school, where she also teaches. Her seventeen-year-old son, Rudy, whose dark moods and complicated behavior she’s long worried about, seems to be thriving: he has a lead role in the school play and a smart and ambitious girlfriend. Tess tries not to think about the mistakes she made eighteen years ago, and mostly, she succeeds.

And then one more morning she gets a text at 2:50 AM: it’s Rudy, asking for help. When Tess picks him up she finds him drenched and shivering, with a dark stain on his sweatshirt. Four hours later, Tess gets a phone call from the Haywood school headmistress: Lila Zeller, Rudy’s girlfriend, has been found dead on the beach, not far from where Tess found Rudy just hours before.

As the investigation into Lila’s death escalates, Tess finds her family attacked on all sides. What first seemed like a tragic accidental death is turning into something far more sinister, and not only is Tess’s son a suspect but her husband is a person of interest too. But Lila’s death isn’t the first blemish on Haywood’s record, and the more Tess learns about Haywood’s fabled history, the more she realizes that not all skeletons will stay safely locked in the closet.

Yep. Jennifer ~ Tar Heel Reader got me again, immediately after reading her review. And, I was able to get it for audio review.

 


What books did YOU add to your shelves this week?

24 thoughts on “Saturdays at the Café”

  1. Going to make sure I eventually get to read In Five Years but I am seriously afraid to read My Dark Vanessa. I have a few gr friends who said they wish they had not read it. Yikes. Enjoy all your additions, Jonetta! I added Ken Follett’s prequel to his Pillars of the Earth series, entitled The Evening and the Morning.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I started out thinking I wasn’t interested in any of your haul because I am devoted to the Gaslight mysteries currently but I only have a couple of those left so.. I’m reading Smoke Bitten, I also plan to try to get The Guest List and I’m looking hard at The Sea of Lost Girls for the same reason. I’m glad you got one you wanted from the Library Love Challenge. I own that one and some of the others in the series. I hope to read it this month since one I have through Audible Escape and my deal ends this month. Also the last 2 are Shane East!!!

    Happy reading! Anne – Books of My Heart

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I hope you love all your new reads, Jonetta! I especially can’t wait to hear what you think of New Waves (I was giving it hard consideration!) and Love Lettering! Thanks so much for the shoutouts too. P.S. I’m listening to The Mountains Sing via Libro.fm. HIGHLY RECOMMEND. ♥️

    Liked by 1 person

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