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.
Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe meets Roswell by way of Laurie Halse Anderson in this astonishing, genre-bending novel about a Mexican American teen who discovers profound connections between immigration, folklore, and alien life.
It’s been three years since ICE raids and phone calls from Mexico and an ill-fated walk across the Sonoran. Three years since Sia Martinez’s mom disappeared. Sia wants to move on, but it’s hard in her tiny Arizona town where people refer to her mom’s deportation as “an unfortunate incident.”
Sia knows that her mom must be dead, but every new moon Sia drives into the desert and lights San Anthony and la Guadalupe candles to guide her mom home.
Then one night, under a million stars, Sia’s life and the world as we know it cracks wide open. Because a blue-lit spacecraft crashes in front of Sia’s car…and it’s carrying her mom, who’s very much alive.
As Sia races to save her mom from armed-quite-possibly-alien soldiers, she uncovers secrets as profound as they are dangerous in this stunning and inventive exploration of first love, family, immigration, and our vast, limitless universe.
As soon as I saw the title, cover and description, I knew I had to have this book and accepted it for audio review.
Eva Traube Abrams, a semi-retired librarian in Florida, is shelving books one morning when her eyes lock on a photograph in a magazine lying open nearby. She freezes; it’s an image of a book she hasn’t seen in sixty-five years—a book she recognizes as The Book of Lost Names.
The accompanying article discusses the looting of libraries by the Nazis across Europe during World War II—an experience Eva remembers well—and the search to reunite people with the texts taken from them so long ago. The book in the photograph, an eighteenth-century religious text thought to have been taken from France in the waning days of the war, is one of the most fascinating cases. Now housed in Berlin’s Zentral- und Landesbibliothek library, it appears to contain some sort of code, but researchers don’t know where it came from—or what the code means. Only Eva holds the answer—but will she have the strength to revisit old memories and help reunite those lost during the war?
As a graduate student in 1942, Eva was forced to flee Paris after the arrest of her father, a Polish Jew. Finding refuge in a small mountain town in the Free Zone, she begins forging identity documents for Jewish children fleeing to neutral Switzerland. But erasing people comes with a price, and along with a mysterious, handsome forger named Rémy, Eva decides she must find a way to preserve the real names of the children who are too young to remember who they really are. The records they keep in The Book of Lost Names will become even more vital when the resistance cell they work for is betrayed and Rémy disappears.
I passed this up when offered for audio review but grabbed it from the library after so many friends raved about it. I love historical fiction and obviously missed the boat the first time around.
At the height of her career and on the eve of her first Golden Globe nomination, teen star Grace Turner disappeared.
Now, tentatively sober and surprisingly numb, Grace is back in Los Angeles after her year of self-imposed exile. She knows the new private life she wants isn’t going to be easy as she tries to be a better person and reconnect with the people she left behind.
But when Grace is asked to present a lifetime achievement award to director Able Yorke–the man who controlled her every move for eight years–she realizes that she can’t run from the secret behind her spectacular crash and burn for much longer. And she’s the only one with nothing left to lose.
Alternating between past and present, The Comeback tackles power dynamics and the uncertainty of young adulthood, the types of secrets that become part of our sense of self, and the moments when we learn that though there are many ways to get hurt, we can still choose to fight back.
This was offered for audio review and I paused a bit before accepting but something about the description eventually pulled me in.
The stories in Emma Cline’s stunning first collection consider the dark corners of human experience, exploring the fault lines of power between men and women, parents and children, past and present. A man travels to his son’s school to deal with the fallout of a violent attack and to make sure his son will not lose his college place. But what exactly has his son done? And who is to blame? A young woman trying to make it in LA, working in a clothes shop while taking acting classes, turns to a riskier way of making money but will be forced to confront the danger of the game she’s playing. And a family coming together for Christmas struggle to skate over the lingering darkness caused by the very ordinary brutality of a troubled husband and father.
These outstanding stories examine masculinity, male power and broken relationships, while revealing – with astonishing insight and clarity – those moments of misunderstanding that can have life-changing consequences. And there is an unexpected violence, ever-present but unseen, in the depiction of the complicated interactions between men and women, and families. Subtle, sophisticated and displaying an extraordinary understanding of human behaviour, these stories are unforgettable.
I love a short story collection, especially when there’s a connecting character or theme. This was offered for audio review.
It starts with a family, a family which will mutate. For now, it is a father, mother and two sons. One with his father’s violence in his blood. One who lives his mother’s artistry. One leaves. One stays. They will be joined by others whose deeds will change their fate. It is a beginning.
Their stories will intertwine and evolve over the course of two thousand years – they will meet again and again at different times and in different places. From distant Palestine at the dawn of the first millennium to a life amongst the stars in the third. While the world will change around them, their destinies will remain the same. It must play out as foretold. It is written.
A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom is the extraordinary new novel from acclaimed writer John Boyne. Ambitious, far-reaching and mythic, it introduces a group of characters whose lives we will come to know and will follow through time and space until they reach their natural conclusion.
I became an instant fan of the author after listening to A Ladder to the Sky. The compelling description just boosted my interest and I quickly accepted this for audio review.
Two strangers start out saving animals and end up rescuing each other in this heartwarming romance from the author of Unbreak Me.
Mari Tucker is a wildlife biologist who scoops bunnies and endangered tortoises out of harm’s way on construction sites. Still haunted by her past, she takes the most remote jobs in the Mojave Desert to avoid people and hide from her ex. It’s a simple, quiet life filled with sweet animals and solar-powered baking until she ends up assigned to Jack Wyatt’s crew.
Construction foreman Jack Wyatt’s loud, foul-mouthed temper keeps even the most rugged of men on his crew in line. No mistake is overlooked, because out in the desert it could mean life or death. In his opinion, the job site is no place for sensitive biologists, especially one as shy as Mari. But instead of wilting from the heat and hard work, Mari wins over Jack and his crew one homemade brownie at a time.
Jack and Mari find a comfortable rhythm, building a friendship that’s rare for both of them. After Jack’s rocky childhood, they have more in common than they’d imagined. But even the Mojave sun can’t chase away the shadows when the past is determined to track them down…
There is something poetic about this story that tugged at me emotionally so I accepted it for audio review.
She’s part of the family now. For better–and for worse . . .
When Alex met Natalie she changed his life. After the tragic death of his first wife, which left him a single parent to teenage daughter Jade, he was desperate to leave the pain of his past behind.
But his newfound happiness is shattered when the family home is gutted by fire and his loyalties are unexpectedly tested. Jade insists she saw a man in the house on the night of the fire; Natalie denies any knowledge of such an intruder.
One of them must be lying, but Alex is faced with an impossible choice: to believe his wife or his daughter. As Natalie’s story unravels, Alex realizes that his wife has a past he had no idea about, a past that might yet catch up with her.
But this time, the past could be deadly . . .
One of my Goodreads friends raved about this book and after reading the description, I wanted to know more. Another one for audio review.
When his addict son gets in deep with his dealer, it takes everything Raymond Mathis has to bail him out of trouble one last time. Frustrated by the slow pace and limitations of the law, Raymond decides to take matters into his own hands.
After a workplace accident left him out of a job and in pain, Denny Rattler has spent years chasing his next high. He supports his habit through careful theft, following strict rules that keep him under the radar and out of jail. But when faced with opportunities too easy to resist, Denny makes two choices that change everything.
For months, the DEA has been chasing the drug supply in the mountains to no avail, when a lead–just one word–sets one agent on a path to crack the case wide open . . . but he’ll need help from the most unexpected quarter.
As chance brings together these men from different sides of a relentless epidemic, each may come to find that his opportunity for redemption lies with the others.
I was going to give this a pass but too many friends reviewed it and said things about the story that I found extremely appealing. New-to-me author, I accepted this for audio review.
Bridget and Will have the kind of relationship that people envy: they’re loving, compatible, and completely devoted to each other. The fact that they’re strictly friends seems to get lost on nearly everyone; after all, they’re as good as married in (almost) every way. For three decades, they’ve nurtured their baby, the Forsyth Trio—a chamber group they created as students with their Juilliard classmate Gavin Glantz. In the intervening years, Gavin has gone on to become one of the classical music world’s reigning stars, while Bridget and Will have learned to embrace the warm reviews and smaller venues that accompany modest success.
Bridget has been dreaming of spending the summer at her well-worn Connecticut country home with her boyfriend Sterling. But her plans are upended when Sterling, dutifully following his ex-wife’s advice, breaks up with her over email and her twin twenty-somethings arrive unannounced, filling her empty nest with their big dogs, dirty laundry, and respective crises.
Bridget has problems of her own: her elderly father announces he’s getting married, and the Forsyth Trio is once again missing its violinist. She concocts a plan to host her dad’s wedding on her ramshackle property, while putting the Forsyth Trio back into the spotlight. But to catch the attention of the music world, she and Will place their bets on luring back Gavin, whom they’ve both avoided ever since their stormy parting.
This showed up at my library and aside from me being intrigued by the description, my friends (bloggers and Goodreads) gave it high ratings. Of course, I have the audio version.
Best-selling and award-winning author and investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan delivers another twisty, thrilling cat-and-mouse novel of suspense that will have you guessing, and second-guessing, and then gasping with surprise.
We all have our reasons for being who we are – but what if being someone else could get you what you want? After a devastating betrayal, a young woman sets off on an obsessive path to justice, no matter what dark family secrets are revealed. What she doesn’t know – she isn’t the only one plotting her revenge.
An affluent daughter of privilege. A glamorous manipulative wannabe. A determined reporter in too deep. A grieving widow who must choose her new reality. Who will be the first to lie? And when the stakes are life and death, do a few lies really matter?
This showed up at my library and as soon as I read the description, I grabbed the audiobook. And, several of my Goodreads friends gave it the 👍
Ever since her true-crime podcast became an overnight sensation and set an innocent man free, Rachel Krall has become a household name – and the last hope for people seeking justice. But she’s used to being recognized for her voice, not her face. Which makes it all the more unsettling when she finds a note on her car windshield, addressed to her, begging for help.
The new season of Rachel’s podcast has brought her to a small town being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. A local golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping the beloved granddaughter of the police chief. Under pressure to make season three a success, Rachel throws herself into her investigation – but the mysterious letters keep coming. Someone is following her, and she won’t stop until Rachel finds out what happened to her sister 25 years ago.
Officially, Jenny Stills tragically drowned, but the letters insist she was murdered – and when Rachel starts asking questions, nobody in town wants to answer. The past and present start to collide as Rachel uncovers startling connections between the two cases – and a revelation that will change the course of the trial and the lives of everyone involved.
Electrifying and propulsive, The Night Swim asks: What is the price of a reputation? Can a small town ever right the wrongs of its past? And what really happened to Jenny?
Thanks to Eva @ Novel Deelights for this one. Her review had me racing to my library to recommend it for purchase, which they did…same day! I’m in a very short queue.
You meets Fatal Attraction in this up-all-night story of suspicion, obsession, and motherhood.
It all begins on an ordinary fall morning, when Kelly Medina gets a call from her son’s pediatrician to confirm her upcoming “well-baby” appointment. It’s a cruel mistake; her son left for college a year ago, and Kelly’s never felt so alone. The receptionist quickly apologizes: There’s another mother in town named Kelly Medina, and she must have gotten their numbers switched.
For days, Kelly can’t stop thinking about the woman who shares her name. Lives in her same town. Has a son she can still hold, and her whole life ahead of her. She can’t help looking for her: at the grocery store, at the gym, on social media. When Kelly just happens to bump into the single mother outside that pediatrician’s office, it’s simple curiosity getting the better of her.
Their unlikely friendship brings Kelly a renewed sense of purpose – taking care of this young woman and her adorable baby boy. But that friendship quickly turns to obsession, and when one Kelly disappears, well, the other one may know why.
How weird is this??? Deliciously so, I accepted it for audio review.
Daisy and Simon’s marriage isn’t what it seems….
After years together, the arrival of longed-for daughter Millie sealed everything in place. They’re a happy little family of three.
So what if Simon drinks a bit too much sometimes – Daisy’s used to it. She knows he’s just letting off steam. Until one night at a party things spiral horribly out of control. And their happy little family of three will never be the same again.
In Lies, Lies, Lies, the Sunday Times best-selling author Adele Parks explores the darkest corners of a relationship in free fall in a mesmerizing tale of marriage and secrets.
Had to have this so I got it for audio review.
Tate McGrath just didn’t get it. Why was Liz Scott, his best friend—and the person he relied on and trusted most—suddenly avoiding him! When he finally tracks her down, he finds her with a man he knows nothing about and she’s been dating for weeks. Suddenly, he can’t make himself ignore her tempting curves and deep green eyes, and all he wants to do is keep her all to himself. What was going on? Could he possibly be…jealous?
Liz had made the decision: stop carrying a torch for Tate and find a guy who wants to be her everything. Tate had always seen her as honest, dependable, smart, kind…Best friend, not girlfriend! And she needed to give up the dream of marrying the man she’d loved since preschool and move on.
But when Liz’s boyfriend turns dangerous, Tate steps up to help and soon realizes he’s the cowboy hero she’s been waiting for him to be all along.
I really like this author’s writing, especially romance with a bit of suspense. I was lucky to get it for audio review.
One September afternoon in 1999, teenagers Matthew, Zoe, and Duncan Lang are walking home from school when they discover a boy lying in a field, bloody and unconscious. Thanks to their intervention, the boy’s life is saved. In the aftermath, all three siblings are irrevocably changed.
Matthew, the oldest, becomes obsessed with tracking down the assailant, secretly searching the local town with the victim’s brother. Zoe wanders the streets of Oxford, looking at men, and one of them, a visiting American graduate student, looks back. Duncan, the youngest, who has seldom thought about being adopted, suddenly decides he wants to find his birth mother. Overshadowing all three is the awareness that something is amiss in their parents’ marriage. Over the course of the autumn, as each of the siblings confronts the complications and contradictions of their approaching adulthood, they find themselves at once drawn together and driven apart.
This is definitely out of my comfort zone but I liked the premise of the story so I accepted it for audio review.
Starting over is more about who you’re with than where you live…
Julia del Mar Ortiz is not having the best year.
She moved to Dallas with her boyfriend, who ended up ditching her and running back to New York after only a few weeks. Left with a massive—by NYC standards, anyway—apartment and a car lease in the scorching Texas heat, Julia is struggling…except that’s not completely true. Running the charitable foundation of one of the most iconic high fashion department stores in the world is serious #lifegoals.
It’s more than enough to make her want to stick it out down South.
The only monkey wrench in Julia’s plans is the blue-eyed, smart-mouthed consultant the store hired to take them public. Fellow New Yorker Rocco Quinn’s first order of business? Putting Julia’s job on the chopping block.
When Julia is tasked with making sure Rocco sees how valuable the programs she runs are, she’s caught between a rock and a very hard set of abs. Because Rocco Quinn is almost impossible to hate—and even harder to resist.
Kept trying to talk myself out of this one but couldn’t. Got it for audio review.
At the age of 12, Eve Black was the only member of her family to survive an encounter with serial attacker the Nothing Man. Now an adult, she is obsessed with identifying the man who destroyed her life.
Supermarket security guard Jim Doyle has just started reading The Nothing Man – the true-crime memoir Eve has written about her efforts to track down her family’s killer. As he turns each page, his rage grows. Because Jim’s not just interested in reading about the Nothing Man. He is the Nothing Man.
Jim soon begins to realize how dangerously close Eve is getting to the truth. He knows she won’t give up until she finds him. He has no choice but to stop her first….
Thanks to Amy @ Novelgossip for this one. I put it on my Audible wishlist!