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.
While on her normal daily walk with her dog in the forest woods, our protagonist comes across a note, handwritten and carefully pinned to the ground with a frame of stones. “Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn’t me. Here is her dead body”. Our narrator is deeply shaken; she has no idea what to make of this. She is new to area, having moved her from her longtime home after the death of her husband, and she knows very few people. And she’s a little shaky even on best days. Her brooding about this note quickly grows into a full-blown obsession, and she begins to devote herself to exploring the possibilities of her conjectures about who this woman was and how she met her fate. Her suppositions begin to find echoes in the real world, and with mounting excitement and dread, the fog of mystery starts to form into a concrete and menacing shape. But as we follow her in her investigation, strange dissonances start to accrue, and our faith in her grip on reality weakens, until finally, just as she seems be facing some of the darkness in her own past with her late husband, we are forced to face the prospect that there is either a more innocent explanation for all this or a much more sinister one – one that strikes closer to home.
A triumphant blend of horror, suspense, and pitch-black comedy, ‘Death in Her Hands’ asks us to consider how the stories we tell ourselves both guide us closer to the truth and keep us at bay from it. Once again, we are in the hands of a narrator whose unreliability is well earned, only this time the stakes have never been higher.
What have I signed up for? This is going to scare me silly. I passed it up for audio review but it showed up at my library so I’m taking a risk.
Babysitting a handsome, arrogant neurosurgeon isn’t how I imagined my first day at Miami-Dade General Hospital. This is supposed to be the start of my dream career—something I’ve worked hard to achieve after the tragic loss of my husband. Dr. Jason Northrup isn’t going to mess up my plans, even if he makes my lady parts stand up and say hello. Especially since the surgeon sends up every kind of red flag. However, my heart—and other parts—seem intent on ignoring those signs…
I have more important things to do than bail out an attractive new colleague, but I need her. Carmen is my only hope in convincing the Miami-Dade board to overlook my tarnished reputation—and she makes me feel optimistic again. Romantic entanglements are the last thing I can afford, but Carmen isn’t an entanglement. She’s a beautiful breath of fresh South Florida air. My feelings for her are quickly becoming the best kind of scandal.
It’s a new series by Marie Force so of course I’m in.
Recipe for a Boston Classic Cocktail: one part finance geek, one part starving actor, two shots of stubborn and a healthy squeeze of passion. Shake well and serve in a vintage glass.
When Kate Bishop walks into Boston’s famous Bull and Finch pub, all she’s looking for is one guy from her investment firm that she can trust to have her back—a tall order. With a salesman at her side, maybe stage fright won’t paralyze her completely when she presents her meticulously prepared research to clients. And maybe she can save her job.
Romance is the last thing on her to-do list, but a meet-cute with a Shakespeare-quoting bartender has her speculating on the value of diversifying her life portfolio.
Will Talbot is not a fan of the slick financiers who cram into his bar after each day’s closing bell. With their calls for Harvey Wallbangers and their Hermès ties, they’re all the same.
Except for a certain beautiful, buttoned-up brunette with fire in her eyes and a storm in her heart. They’re totally wrong for each other. He should be focusing on his upcoming audition, not coaching Kate on how to act like she’s a bona fide member of the Gordon Gekko club.
Problem is, they can’t seem to stay away from each other.
The course of true love never did run smooth, but in this 1980’s sweet-and-sexy rom-com, returns on love can’t be measured on the S&P 500.
This is the pseudonym of the famed audiobook narrator Karen White and her first book. She chose a new name so as to not confuse her with the already esteemed author with her same name. I have this for audio review.
Graham and Annie have been married for nearly 30 years. A golden couple, their seemingly effortless devotion has long been the envy of their circle of friends and acquaintances. Graham is a bookseller, and a big, gregarious man with large appetites – curious, eager to please, a lover of life, and the convivial host of frequent, lively parties at his and Annie’s comfortable house in Cambridge. Annie, more reserved and introspective, is a photographer. She is about to have her first gallery show after a six-year lull and is worried that the best years of her career may be behind her. They have two adult children; Lucas, Graham’s son with his first wife, Frieda, works in New York. Annie and Graham’s daughter, Sarah, lives in San Francisco.
Though Frieda is an integral part of this far-flung, loving family, Annie feels confident in the knowledge that she is Graham’s last and greatest love. When Graham suddenly dies — this man whose enormous presence has seemed to dominate their lives together — Annie is lost. What is the point of going on, she wonders, without him?
Then, while she is still mourning him intensely, she discovers that Graham had been unfaithful to her; and she spirals into darkness, wondering if she ever truly knew the man who loved her.
I was going to give this a pass but one of my Goodreads friends implored me to read it. I have it as an audio review hopeful and it’s currently available on NetGalley in audio format!
On the night her single mother is taken to a mental hospital after a final psychotic break, eight year-old Francie is staying with her babysitter, waiting for uncle to come take her to Los Angeles to live. There is a lovely lamp next to the couch on which she’s sleeping, the shade adorned with butterflies. When she wakes, Francie spies a dead butterfly, exactly matching the ones on the lamp, floating in a glass of water. She drinks it before the babysitter can see.
Twenty years later, Francie is compelled to make sense of that moment, and two other incidents – her discovery of a desiccated beetle from a school paper, and a bouquet of dried roses from some curtains. Her recall is exact – she is sure these things happened. But despite her certainty, she wrestles with the possibility the memories yet may signal she’s subject to her mother’s madness.
As Francie conjures her past, and reduces her engagement with the world to a bare minimum, she begins to question her relationship to reality.
Told in lush, lilting prose, The Butterfly Lampshade is a heartfelt and heartbreaking examination of the sometimes overwhelming power of the material world, and of a broken love between mother and child.
This was offered for audio review and I accepted after reading a strong review by a trusted Goodreads friend and being intrigued on my own. It didn’t hurt that the narrator is Julia Whelan, in my top ten of favorites.
Readers of Lisa Jewell and Simone St. James will delight in this haunting, touching story of mothers, daughters, and belonging–and the devastating lies families tell themselves in order to survive.
One of Bustle’s Most Anticipated Books for Summer 2020
One of PopSugar’s Best Books of July
An isolated forest estate.
A family with a terrible secret.
The discovery that changes everything.
England, 1970. On the one-year anniversary of the Harrington family’s darkest night, their beautiful London home goes up in flames. Mrs. Harrington, the two children, and live-in nanny Rita relocate to Foxcote Manor, ostensibly to recuperate. But the creeping forest, where lost things have a way of coming back, is not as restful as it seems. When thirteen-year-old Hera discovers a baby girl abandoned just beyond their garden gate, this tiniest, most wondrous of secrets brings a much-needed sunlit peace, until a visitor detonates the family’s tenuous happiness. All too soon a body lies dead in the woods.
Forty years later, London-based Sylvie is an expert at looking the other way. It’s how she stayed married to her unfaithful husband for more than twenty years. But she’s turned over a new leaf, having left him for a fresh start. She buried her own origin story decades ago, never imagining her teenage daughter would have a shocking reason to dig the past up–and to ask Sylvie to finally face the secrets that lead her back to Foxcote Manor.
I love these stories that have shifting narratives between timelines and this one sounds SO good! I have it for audio review.
2015. A gifted and reclusive ghostwriter, Alice Lovett makes a living helping other people tell their stories. But she is haunted by the one story she can’t tell: the story of, as she puts it, “the things that happened while I was asleep.”
1999. Nick Brothers and his lacrosse teammates return for their senior year at their wealthy Maryland high school as the reigning state champions. They’re on top of the world–until two of his friends drive a passed-out girl home from of the team’s “legendary” parties, and a rumor about what happened in the backseat spreads through the town like wildfire.
The boys deny the allegations, and, eventually, the town moves on. But not everyone can. Nick descends into alcoholism, and Alice builds a life in fits and starts, underestimating herself and placing her trust in the wrong people. When she finally gets the opportunity to confront the past she can’t remember–but which has nevertheless shaped her life–will she take it?
An inventive and breathtaking exploration of a woman finding her voice in the wake of trauma, True Story is part psychological thriller, part fever dream, and part timely comment on sexual assault, power, and the very nature of truth. Ingeniously constructed and full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the final pages, it marks the debut of a singular and daring new voice in fiction.
Totally out on a limb here with a new author and a story out of my comfort zone but something about this feels complex. I’ve got it for audio review.
There is a book for everything . . .
Somewhere in the vast Library of the Universe, as Natalie thought of it, there was a book that embodied exactly the things she was worrying about.
In the wake of a shocking tragedy, Natalie Harper inherits her mother’s charming but financially strapped bookshop in San Francisco. She also becomes caretaker for her ailing grandfather Andrew, her only living relative—not counting her scoundrel father.
But the gruff, deeply kind Andrew has begun displaying signs of decline. Natalie thinks it’s best to move him to an assisted living facility to ensure the care he needs. To pay for it, she plans to close the bookstore and sell the derelict but valuable building on historic Perdita Street, which is in need of constant fixing. There’s only one problem–Grandpa Andrew owns the building and refuses to sell. Natalie adores her grandfather; she’ll do whatever it takes to make his final years happy. Besides, she loves the store and its books provide welcome solace for her overwhelming grief.
After she moves into the small studio apartment above the shop, Natalie carries out her grandfather’s request and hires contractor Peach Gallagher to do the necessary and ongoing repairs. His young daughter, Dorothy, also becomes a regular at the store, and she and Natalie begin reading together while Peach works.
To Natalie’s surprise, her sorrow begins to dissipate as her life becomes an unexpected journey of new connections, discoveries and revelations, from unearthing artifacts hidden in the bookshop’s walls, to discovering the truth about her family, her future, and her own heart.
I’m still not sure about this one but so many of my friends enjoyed it so when it showed up at my library, I decided to take the leap.
Maggie, Eliza, and Tricia Sweeney grew up as a happy threesome in the idyllic seaside town of Southport, Connecticut. But their mother’s death from cancer fifteen years ago tarnished their golden-hued memories, and the sisters drifted apart. Their one touchstone is their father, Bill Sweeney, an internationally famous literary lion and college professor universally adored by critics, publishers, and book lovers. When Bill dies unexpectedly one cool June night, his shell-shocked daughters return to their childhood home. They aren’t quite sure what the future holds without their larger-than-life father, but they do know how to throw an Irish wake to honor a man of his stature.
But as guests pay their respects and reminisce, one stranger, emboldened by whiskey, has crashed the party. It turns out that she too is a Sweeney sister.
When Washington, DC based journalist Serena Tucker had her DNA tested on a whim a few weeks earlier, she learned she had a 50% genetic match with a childhood neighbor—Maggie Sweeney of Southport, Connecticut. It seems Serena’s chilly WASP mother, Birdie, had a history with Bill Sweeney—one that has remained totally secret until now.
Once the shock wears off, questions abound. What does this mean for William’s literary legacy? Where is the unfinished memoir he’s stashed away, and what will it reveal? And how will a fourth Sweeney sister—a blond among redheads—fit into their story?
By turns revealing, insightful, and uproarious, The Sweeney Sisters is equal parts cautionary tale and celebration—a festive and heartfelt look at what truly makes a family.
I had to pass this up for audio review (my list was already too long) so when this showed up at my library, I leapt!