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.
At the break of dawn, Caroline Shelby rolls into Oysterville, Washington, a tiny hamlet at the edge of the raging Pacific.
She’s come home.
Home to a place she thought she’d left forever, home of her heart and memories, but not her future. Ten years ago, Caroline launched a career in the glamorous fashion world of Manhattan. But her success in New York imploded on a wave of scandal and tragedy, forcing her to flee to the only safe place she knows.
And in the backseat of Caroline’s car are two children who were orphaned in a single chilling moment – five-year-old Addie and six-year-old Flick. She’s now their legal guardian – a role she’s not sure she’s ready for.
But the Oysterville she left behind has changed. Her siblings have their own complicated lives and her aging parents are hoping to pass on their thriving seafood restaurant to the next generation. And there’s Will Jensen, a decorated Navy SEAL who’s also returned home after being wounded overseas. Will and Caroline were forever friends as children, with the promise of something more…until he fell in love with Sierra, Caroline’s best friend and the most beautiful girl in town. With her modeling jobs drying up, Sierra, too, is on the cusp of reinventing herself.
Caroline returns to her favorite place: the sewing shop owned by Mrs. Lindy Bloom, the woman who inspired her and taught her to sew. There she discovers that even in an idyllic beach town, there are women living with the deepest of secrets. Thus begins the Oysterville Sewing Circle – where women can join forces to support each other through the troubles they keep hidden.
Yet just as Caroline regains her creativity and fighting spirit, and the children begin to heal from their loss, an unexpected challenge tests her courage and her heart. This time, though, Caroline is not going to run away. She’s going to stand and fight for everything – and everyone – she loves.
I would never have given this book a second look without the help of my friend Anne @ Books of My Heart. After reading her review, I had to have it and my library came to the rescue!
Everything changes in a single moment for Dawn Edelstein. She’s on a plane when the flight attendant makes an announcement: prepare for a crash landing. She braces herself as thoughts flash through her mind. The shocking thing is, the thoughts are not of her husband, but a man she last saw fifteen years ago: Wyatt Armstrong.
Dawn, miraculously, survives the crash, but so do all the doubts that have suddenly been raised. She has led a good life. Back in Boston, there is her husband, Brian, her beloved daughter, and her work as a death doula, where she helps ease the transition between life and death for patients in hospice.
But somewhere in Egypt is Wyatt Armstrong, who works as an archaeologist unearthing ancient burial sites, a job she once studied for, but was forced to abandon when life suddenly intervened. And now, when it seems that fate is offering her second chances, she is not as sure of the choice she once made.
After the crash landing, the airline ensures the survivors are seen by a doctor, then offers transportation wherever they want to go. The obvious option for Dawn is to continue down the path she is on and go home to her family. The other is to return to the archaeological site she left years before, reconnect with Wyatt and their unresolved history, and maybe even complete her research on The Book of Two Ways–the first known map of the afterlife.
As the story unfolds, Dawn’s two possible futures unspool side by side, as do the secrets and doubts long buried beside them. Dawn must confront the questions she’s never truly asked: What does a life well-lived look like? When we leave this earth, what do we leave behind? Do we make choices…or do our choices make us? And who would you be, if you hadn’t turned out to be the person you are right now?
It’s been a long time since I read Picoult but when my friend Marialyce @ yayareads told me she was adding this, I decided to check it out and liked the sound of it. An audio review hopeful.
Northern Ireland, spring 1981. Hunger strikes, riots, power cuts, a homophobic serial killer with a penchant for opera, and a young woman’s suicide that may yet turn out to be murder: on the surface, the events are unconnected, but then things–and people–aren’t always what they seem. Detective Sergeant Duffy is the man tasked with trying to get to the bottom of it all. It’s no easy job–especially when it turns out that one of the victims was involved in the IRA but was last seen discussing business with someone from the loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force. Add to this the fact that, as a Catholic policeman, it doesn’t matter which side he’s on, because nobody trusts him, and Sergeant Duffy really is in a no-win situation. Fast-paced, evocative, and brutal, The Cold Cold Ground is a brilliant depiction of Belfast at the height of the Troubles–and of a cop treading a thin, thin line.
One of my blogger friends (was it you?) recommended this series months ago and the first audiobook in the series finally freed up at my library.
Everyone knows the story of “the girl from Widow Hills.”
Arden Maynor was just a child when she was swept away while sleepwalking during a terrifying rainstorm and went missing for days. Strangers and friends, neighbors and rescue workers, set up search parties and held vigils, praying for her safe return. Against all odds, she was found, alive, clinging to a storm drain. The girl from Widow Hills was a living miracle. Arden’s mother wrote a book. Fame followed. Fans and fan letters, creeps, and stalkers. And every year, the anniversary. It all became too much. As soon as she was old enough, Arden changed her name and disappeared from the public eye.
Now a young woman living hundreds of miles away, Arden goes by Olivia. She’s managed to stay off the radar for the last few years. But with the twentieth anniversary of her rescue approaching, the media will inevitably renew its interest in Arden. Where is she now? Soon Olivia feels like she’s being watched and begins sleepwalking again, like she did long ago, even waking outside her home. Until late one night she jolts awake in her yard. At her feet is the corpse of a man she knows—from her previous life, as Arden Maynor.
And now, the girl from Widow Hills is about to become the center of the story, once again, in this propulsive page-turner from suspense master Megan Miranda.
After reading the description, I wanted to know more. Another audio review hopeful.
Sheriff Sunshine Vicram finds her cup o’ joe more than half full when the small village of Del Sol, New Mexico, becomes the center of national attention for a kidnapper on the loose.
Del Sol, New Mexico is known for three things: its fry-an-egg-on-the-cement summers, its strong cups of coffee—and a nationwide manhunt? Del Sol native Sunshine Vicram has returned to town as the elected sheriff–an election her adorably meddlesome parents entered her in–and she expects her biggest crime wave to involve an elderly flasher named Doug. But a teenage girl is missing, a kidnapper is on the loose, and all of it’s reminding Sunny why she left Del Sol in the first place. Add to that trouble at her daughter’s new school and a kidnapped prized rooster named Puff Daddy, and Sunshine has her hands full.
Enter sexy almost-old-flame Levi Ravinder and a hunky US Marshall, both elevens on a scale of one to blazing inferno, and the normally savvy sheriff is quickly in over her head. Now it’s up to Sunshine to juggle a few good hunky men, a not-so-nice kidnapping miscreant, and Doug the ever-pesky flasher. And they said coming home would be drama-free.
I’d decided to take a pass on this new book by the author of the Charley Davidson series. That’s until too many of my trusted friends kept recommending it. My number in the library queue for the audiobook came up this week so we will see.
Her own past could be a reporter’s biggest story in this twisting thriller about murder and family secrets by the New York Times bestselling author T.R. Ragan.
Plagued by traumatic childhood memories, crime reporter Sawyer Brooks still struggles to gain control of her rage, her paranoia, and her life. Now, after finally getting promoted at work, she is forced to return home and face her past.
River Rock is where she’d been abandoned by her two older sisters to suffer alone, and in silence, the unspeakable abuses of her family. It’s also where Sawyer’s best friend disappeared and two teenage girls were murdered. Three cold cases dead and buried with the rest of the town’s secrets.
When another girl is slain in a familiar grisly fashion, Sawyer is determined to put an end to the crimes. Pulled back into the horrors of her family history, Sawyer must reconcile with her estranged sisters, who both have shattering memories of their own. As Sawyer’s investigation leads to River Rock’s darkest corners, what will prove more dangerous—what she knows of the past or what she has yet to discover?
This was offered for audio review and sounded interesting so I accepted. It’s the beginning of a new series from a new-to-me author.
The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?
Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.
Offered for audio review, this is appealing on so many different levels. Definitely need to find out how this story ends.
She’s borrowed your life. But what if she decides to keep it?
Glamorous Margot Jones is the fashion editor at glossy magazine Haute. Pregnant with her first child, Margot’s carefully curated life is the object of other women’s envy—who wouldn’t want her successful career, loving husband, beautiful house, and stylish wardrobe?
Maggie, a freelance journalist, certainly knows she doesn’t measure up. But when she gets the temp job covering Margot’s maternity leave, Maggie seizes the chance to live a flashier life—even if it’s only for a few months.
But the simultaneous arrival of Margot’s baby and a brutal end to her oldest friendship sends Margot into a spiral of insecurity and suspicion; normal preoccupations of new motherhood turn into dark and frightening paranoia. Who is the vicious online troll mocking Margot’s facade of perfection and threatening to expose a dark secret she’s spent years concealing? Are Maggie’s newfound ambitions and plucky enthusiasm as innocent as they seem? And what happens when Margot is ready to return to her old life—especially if Maggie doesn’t want to leave?
I confess that this has all the makings of a delicious crazy sauce and I want a taste. Yes, I snapped it up when offered for audio review.
Crazy Rich Asians meets Bridget Jones’s Diary in this funny and irresistible debut novel about the pursuit of happiness, surviving one’s thirties intact, and opening oneself up to love.
At thirty-three, Andrea Tang is living the dream: she has a successful career as a lawyer, a posh condo, and a clutch of fun-loving friends who are always in the know about Singapore’s hottest clubs and restaurants. All she has to do is make partner at her law firm and she will have achieved everything she (and her mother) has ever worked for. So what if she’s poised to be the last unmarried member of her generation of the Tang clan? She doesn’t need a man to feel fulfilled, no matter what her meddling relatives have to say about it.
But for a dutiful Chinese-Malaysian daughter, the weight of familial expectations is hard to ignore. And so are the men life keeps throwing in Andrea’s path. Men like Suresh Aditparan, her annoyingly attractive rival for partner and the last man she should be spending time with, and Eric Deng, a wealthy entrepreneur whose vision for their future is more lavish than she could have imagined. With her workplace competition growing ever more intense, her friends bringing dramas of their own to her door, and her family scrutinizing her every romantic prospect, Andrea finds herself stretched to the breaking point. And she can’t help but wonder: In the endless tug-of-war between pleasing others and pleasing herself, is there room for everyone to win?
Anytime I can read a good fictional story about another culture, I’m in so I accepted this for audio review.
Jenny Harris always expected that she’d fall in love, get married, and have a baby–in that order. Now, very pregnant and not quite married, she actually doesn’t mind that she and her live-in fiancé, Dean, accidentally started their family a little earlier than planned; she’s happy to have so much to look forward to. But Dean–whom Jenny loves enough to overlook his bad facial hair, his smoking habit, and his total commitment to a cheesy cover band–is acting distant, and not in a pre-wedding-jitters kind of way. The night he runs out for cigarettes and just doesn’t come back, he demotes himself from future husband to sperm donor.
And the very next day, Jenny goes into labor.
In the months that follow, Jenny plunges into a life she never anticipated: single motherhood. At least with the sleep deprivation, sore boobs, and fits of crying (both hers and the baby’s), there’s not much time to dwell on her broken heart. And things start looking up. She learns how to do everything one-handed, makes friends in a mommy group, and even manages to give dating tips to her sweet, clueless father–who’s trying to court her sassy mother again, fifteen years after their divorce. She also gets to know a handsome, helpful neighbor–with a knack for soothing babies–who invites her out dancing. But Dean is never far from Jenny’s thoughts or, it turns out, her doorstep, and in the end Jenny must choose between the old life she thought she wanted and the new life she’s been lucky to find.
A spirited debut novel with a terrifically appealing voice, a fantastic sense of humor, and a lot of heart, The Bright Side of Disaster reminds us that sometimes it takes the worst-case scenario to show us the best in everything.
I’m a recently converted fan of the author and this is her first novel, being offered on audio for the first time. Got it for audio review.
Defense attorney Mickey Haller is pulled over by police, who find the body of a client in the trunk of his Lincoln. Haller is charged with murder and can’t make the exorbitant $5 million bail slapped on him by a vindictive judge.
Mickey elects to defend himself and must strategize and build his defense from his jail cell in the Twin Towers Correctional Center in downtown Los Angeles, all the while looking over his shoulder–as an officer of the court he is an instant target.
Mickey knows he’s been framed. Now, with the help of his trusted team, he has to figure out who has plotted to destroy his life and why. Then he has to go before a judge and jury and prove his innocence.
Mickey Haller is back! I was afraid we’d seen the last of him and I can’t wait to listen to this one. Recommending for library purchase.
Time Traveler’s Wife meets Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in a wondrous novel exploring the burdens of time, the endurance of love, and the timelessness of family.
Just because life might be out of order, doesn’t mean it’s broken.
It’s new years eve 1982, and Oona Lockhart has her whole life before her. At the stroke of midnight she will turn nineteen, and the year ahead promises to be one of consequence. Should she go to London to study economics, or follow her heart and remain at home in Brooklyn to be with her boyfriend? As the countdown to the new year begins, Oona feels lightheaded, woozy, and it’s not from the champagne. At the stroke of midnight Oona is torn from her life and everyone she loves, finding herself in her 51 year old body thirty-three years into the future. Greeted by a friendly stranger in a beautiful house she’s told is her own, Oona learns that will with each passing year she will leap to another age at random. Still a young woman on the inside, but ever changing on the outside, who will she be next year? Philanthropist? Club kid? World traveler? Wife to a man she’s never met?
Hopping through decades, and a lifetime Oona Out of Order is a surprising, magical novel that explores the power of love, the bonds of family, and the wonders of life.
I’m still not sure this is for me as I’m not a fan of time travel stories but the audiobook became available at my library and friends who have read it praised it. So, fingers crossed 🤞
Ruth Cooperman arrives in beautiful beachside Provincetown for her retirement, renting the perfect waterfront cottage while she searches for her forever home. After years of hard work and making peace with life’s compromises, Ruth is looking forward to a carefree summer of solitude. But when she finds a baby girl abandoned on her doorstep, Ruth turns to her new neighbors for help and is drawn into the drama of the close-knit community.
The appearance of the mystery baby has an emotional ripple effect through the women in town, including Amelia Cabral, the matriarch who lost her own child decades earlier; Elise Douglas, owner of the tea shop who gave up her dream of becoming a mother; and teenage local Jaci Barros who feels trapped by her parents’ expectations. Ruth, caring for a baby for the first time in thirty years, even reaches out to her own estranged daughter, Olivia, summoning her to Provincetown in hopes of a reconciliation. As summer unfolds and friends and family care for the infant, alliances are made, relationships are tested, and secrets are uncovered. But the unconditional love for a child in need just might bring Ruth and the women of Provincetown exactly what they have been longing for themselves.
Thanks to my friend Jennifer ~ Tar Heel Reader, I’ve found a new author and what promises to be a lovely story. I’ve recommended the audiobook for library purchase.
Marin Bishop has always played by the rules, and it’s paid off: at twenty-eight she has a handsome fiancée, a prestigious Manhattan legal career, and the hard-won admiration of her father. But one moment of weakness leaves Marin unemployed and alone, all in a single day. Then a woman claiming to be Marin’s half-sister shows up, and it’s all Marin can do not to break down completely. Seeking escape, Marin agrees to a road trip to meet the grandmother she never knew she had. As the summer unfolds at her grandmother’s quaint beachside B&B, it becomes clear that the truth of her half-sister is just the beginning of revelations that will change Marin’s life forever. The Forever Summer is a delicious page-turner and a provocative exploration of what happens when our notions of love, truth, and family are put to the ultimate test.
Though it’s not connected as a series, this story is set in Provincetown, the same town as Summer Longing (see above) and precedes it. I’m sure there will be connections. Thankfully, my library had the audiobook.