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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.

 


 

1940. As England prepares to fight the Nazis, three very different women answer the call to mysterious country estate Bletchley Park, where the best minds in Britain train to break German military codes. Vivacious debutante Osla is the girl who has everything—beauty, wealth, and the dashing Prince Philip of Greece sending her roses—but she burns to prove herself as more than a society girl, and puts her fluent German to use as a translator of decoded enemy secrets. Imperious self-made Mab, product of east-end London poverty, works the legendary codebreaking machines as she conceals old wounds and looks for a socially advantageous husband. Both Osla and Mab are quick to see the potential in local village spinster Beth, whose shyness conceals a brilliant facility with puzzles, and soon Beth spreads her wings as one of the Park’s few female cryptanalysts. But war, loss, and the impossible pressure of secrecy will tear the three apart.

1947. As the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip whips post-war Britain into a fever, three friends-turned-enemies are reunited by a mysterious encrypted letter–the key to which lies buried in the long-ago betrayal that destroyed their friendship and left one of them confined to an asylum. A mysterious traitor has emerged from the shadows of their Bletchley Park past, and now Osla, Mab, and Beth must resurrect their old alliance and crack one last code together. But each petal they remove from the rose code brings danger–and their true enemy–closer.

I finally caved to the host of friends’ recommendations for this book. I’d given it a pass when offered for audio review so when it showed up at my library, I gave in.


Two tales of murder and betrayal from the Lucy Kincaid and Maxine Revere series

Spiral (Lucy Kincaid, #12.5)

Sean Rogan and Lucy Kincaid are enjoying their honeymoon in a remote cabin outside Vail, Colorado. They sorely need the quiet time alone—a break from the murder and violence that has defined so much of their lives. And for one blissful week, they are in paradise.

But they should have known that their idyllic peace would come to an end. When their reclusive elderly neighbor disappears, the police find no evidence of foul play, but Hank would never leave his beloved Golden Retriever out in the cold all night. With the help of the faithful dog, Sean and Lucy retrace Hank’s steps and learn a dangerous truth that may turn their honeymoon into their funeral.

Retired (Max Revere, #0.1)

Nothing gets under investigative reporter Maxine Revere’s skin like someone getting away with murder, especially when the victim is a harmless elderly woman. So when 82-year-old Lois Kershaw contacts her about a suspicious death at the posh Del Sol Retirement Community, Max agrees to go undercover as Lois’s granddaughter.

Max is willing to go along with Lois’s wild theory — up to a point. Proving an octogenarian died of anything but natural causes is next to impossible, and soon Max wonders if the lonely widow is creating an elaborate mystery for attention. But as she digs deeper into the history of Del Sol, Max uncovers a dark secret and realizes that Lois—and other Del Sol residents—are in grave danger. Finding the truth will take all of Max’s cunning and street smarts—and a little help from her new friends.

I’m reading the Lucy Kincaid series with a Goodreads group and noticed that I didn’t have this upcoming book. My library to the rescue, again.


In the vein of The Other Woman, Sandie Jones’s explosive new novel The Guilt Trip will have listeners gripped to the very last chapter.

Six friends.

Rachel and Noah have been friends since they met at university. While they once thought that they might be something more, now, 2 0years later, they are each happily married to other people, Jack and Paige respectively. Jack’s brother Will is getting married, to the dazzling, impulsive Ali, and the group of six travel to Portugal for their destination weekend.

Three couples.

As they arrive at a gorgeous villa perched on a cliff-edge, overlooking towering waves that crash on the famous surfing beaches below at Nazaré, they try to settle into a weekend of fun. While Rachel is looking forward to getting to know her future sister-in-law Ali better, Ali can’t help but rub many of the group up the wrong way: Rachel’s best friend Paige thinks Ali is attention-seeking and childish, and while Jack is trying to support his brother Will’s choice of wife, he is also finding plenty to disagree with Noah about.

One fatal misunderstanding…

But when Rachel discovers something about Ali that she can hardly believe, everything changes. As the wedding weekend unfolds, the secrets each of them hold begin to spill, and friendships and marriages threaten to unravel. Soon, jumping to conclusions becomes the difference between life and death.

Thanks to a NetGalley email, I learned about this upcoming release, due out in August. A library audiobook hopeful.


Recently separated Amelia Buxton, a dedicated journalist, never expected that uncovering the biggest story of her career would become deeply personal. But when she discovers that a cluster of embryos belonging to her childhood friend Parker and his late wife Greer have been deemed “abandoned,” she’s put in the unenviable position of telling Parker—and dredging up old wounds in the process.

Parker has been unable to move forward since the loss of his beloved wife three years ago. He has all but forgotten about the frozen embryos, but once Amelia reveals her discovery, he knows that if he ever wants to get a part of Greer back, he’ll need to accept his fate as a single father and find a surrogate.

Each dealing with their own private griefs, Parker and Amelia slowly begin to find solace in one another as they navigate an uncertain future against the backdrop of the pristine waters of their childhood home, Cape Carolina. The journey of self-discovery leads them to an unforgettable and life-changing lesson: Family—the one you’re born into and the one you choose—is always closer than you think.

From “the next major voice in Southern fiction” (Elin Hilderbrand, #1 New York Times bestselling author), Under the Southern Sky is a fresh and unforgettable exploration of love, friendship, and the unbreakable ties that bind.

I was hoping this audiobook would show up at my library and it did! It has four fabulous narrators.


Lila Bruce Breedlove never quite felt at home in Wesleyan, Georgia, especially after her father’s untimely demise when she was a child. Both Lila and her brother, Henry, fled north after high school, establishing fulfilling lives of their own. In contrast, their younger sister, Abigail, opted to remain behind to dote on their domineering, larger-than-life mother, Geneva. Yet despite their independence, Lila and Henry know deep down that they’ve never quite reckoned with their upbringing.

When their elderly mother dies suddenly and suspiciously in the muscadine arbor behind the family estate, Lila and Henry return to the town that essentially raised them. But as they uncover the facts about Geneva’s death, shocking truths are revealed that overturn the family’s history as they know it, sending the pair on an extraordinary journey to chase a truth that will dramatically alter the course of their lives. The Sweet Taste of Muscadines reminds us all that true love never dies.

So many of my friends give this book high marks but I was still waffling over it, even after putting it on hold at my library. But, the review by Lorilin @ Bug Bug Book Reviews made me hold on. FYI, my husband loves muscadines.


On paper, Jazmine, Judith, Erin and Sara have little in common – they’re very different people leading very different lives. And yet at book club meetings in an historic carriage house turned bookstore, they bond over a shared love of reading (and more than a little wine) as well as the growing realization that their lives are not turning out like they expected.

Former tennis star Jazmine is a top sports agent balancing a career and single motherhood. Judith is an empty nester questioning her marriage and the supporting role she chose. Erin’s high school sweetheart and fiancé develops a bad case of cold feet, and Sara’s husband takes a job out of town saddling Sara with a difficult mother-in-law who believes her son could have done better – not exactly the roommate most women dream of.

With the help of books, laughter, and the joy of ever evolving friendships, Jazmine, Judith, Erin and Sara find the courage to navigate new and surprising chapters of their lives as they seek their own versions of happily-ever-after.

I’ve wanted to read a book by Wendy Wax for some time so when this was offered for audio review, I took advantage of the opportunity. This looks like a great one for which to start and it has multiple narrators to handle a pretty big cast of characters.


As a Korean adoptee, Hara Wilson doesn’t need anyone telling her she looks different from her white parents. She knows. Every time Hara looks in the mirror, she’s reminded that she doesn’t look like anyone else in her family—not her loving mother, Ellen; not her jerk of a father, Pat; and certainly not like Pat’s new wife and new “real” son.

At the age of twenty-five, she thought she had come to terms with it all, but when her father suddenly dies, an offhand comment at his funeral triggers an identity crisis that has her running off to Seoul in search of her roots.

What Hara finds there has all the makings of a classic K-drama: a tall, mysterious stranger who greets her at the airport, spontaneous adventures across the city, and a mess of familial ties, along with a red string of destiny that winds its way around her heart and soul. Hara goes to Korea looking for answers, but what she gets instead is love—a forbidden love that will either welcome Hara home…or destroy her chance of finding one.

This story tugged at my heart the moment I read the description so I of course accepted it for audio review. FYI, reviewers warn this is more contemporary fiction with romantic elements instead of contemporary romance.


It’s Halloween night on a pastoral East Coast college campus. Scantily costumed students ride the fine line between adolescence and adulthood as they prepare for a night of drinking and debauchery. Expectations are high as Leda flirts with her thrilling new crush, Ian, and he flirts back. But by the end of the night, things will have taken a turn.

A mysterious young woman in a swan costume speaks with Leda outside a party—and then vanishes. When Leda later wakes up in Ian’s room the next morning, she is unsure exactly what happened between them. Meanwhile, as the campus rouses itself to respond to the young woman’s disappearance, rumors swirl, suspicious facts pile up, and Leda’s obsession with her missing classmate grows. Is it just a coincidence that Ian used to date Charlotte, the missing woman? Is Leda herself in danger? As Leda becomes more and more dangerously consumed with the mystery of Charlotte and questions about Ian, her motivations begin to blur. Is Leda looking for Charlotte, or trying to find herself?

This was offered for audio review and I was intrigued even though it might sound familiar. But, the publisher classifies it as contemporary fiction, not a mystery or thriller.


A stunning debut novel about an immigrant Vietnamese family who settle in New Orleans and struggle to remain connected to one another as their lives are inextricably reshaped–and in the process, discover a new meaning of home.

When Huong arrives in New Orleans with her two young sons, she is jobless, homeless, and worried about her husband, Cong, who remains in Vietnam. As she and her boys begin to settle into life in America, she continues to send letters and tapes back to Cong, hopeful that they will be reunited and her children will grow up with a father.

But with time, Huong realizes she will never see her husband again. While she copes with this loss, her sons, Tuan and Binh, grow up in their absent father’s shadow, haunted by a man and a country trapped in their memory and imagination. As they push forward, the three adapt to life in America in different ways: Huong takes up with a Vietnamese car salesman who is also new in town; Tuan tries to connect with his heritage by joining a local Vietnamese gang; and Binh, now going by Ben, embraces his burgeoning sexuality. Their search for identity–as individuals and as a family–tears them apart. But when disaster strikes the city they must find a new way to come together and honor the ties that bind them.

This sounds haunting and extremely interesting so I accepted it for audio review. That cover is provocative.


Set in Alabama in the early ’80s, Family Law follows a young lawyer, Lucia, who is making a name for herself at a time when a woman in a courtroom is still a rarity. She’s received plenty of threats for her work extricating women and children from troubled relationships, but her own happy marriage has always felt far removed from her work. When her mother’s pending divorce brings teenaged Rachel into Lucia’s orbit, Rachel finds herself captivated not only with Lucia, but with the change Lucia represents. Rachel is out-spoken and curious, and she chafes at the rules her mother lays down as the bounds of acceptable feminine behavior. In Lucia, Rachel sees the potential for a new path into womanhood. But their unconventional friendship takes them both to a crossroads. When a moment of violence–a threat made good–puts Rachel in danger, Lucia has to decide how much her work means to her and what she’s willing to sacrifice to keep moving forward.

Written in alternating voices from Lucia and Rachel’s perspectives, Family Law is a fresh take on what the push for women’s rights looks like to the ordinary women and girls who long for a world redefined. Addressing mother daughter relationships and what roles we can play in the lives of women who aren’t our family, the novel examines how we shape each other and how we make a difference. The funny, strong, and yet tender-hearted female leads of Family Law illuminate a new kind of timeless Southern fiction–atmospheric, rich, and with quietly surprising twists and nuances all its own.

I like courtroom drama and am drawn to the subject. Though reviewers are critical of the abrupt ending, I still accepted it for audio review.


In the lonely town of San Padua, Anne Marie can never get the sound of the ocean out of her head. And it’s here – dog-walking by day, working bars by night – where she tries to forget about her ex-husband, Cal: both their brief marriage and their long estrangement.

When Cal shows up on Anne Marie’s doorstep one day, clearly in trouble, she reluctantly agrees to a drink. But later that night, a gun goes off in a violent accident, and the young couple are forced to hit the open road together in escape.

Crammed in a beat-up car with their broken past, so begins a journey across a vast, mythical American landscape, through the dark seams of the country, toward a city that may or may not represent salvation.

Highway Blue is a story of being lost and found – and of love, in all its forms. Written in spare, shimmering prose, it introduces the arrival of an electrifyingly singular new voice.

I almost gave this a pass when offered for audio review but then looked at it more closely. I can’t wait to get to this short story.


When a fake relationship between scientists meets the irresistible force of attraction, it throws one woman’s carefully calculated theories on love into chaos.

As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships–but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.

That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding…six-pack abs.

Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.

Suzanne @ The Bookish Libra featured this in her Can’t Wait Wednesday post and I was hooked, immediately. It’s scheduled for release in September and I’m hoping to get it for audio review.


After years of struggling to write after the deaths of his wife and son, English professor Connor Nye publishes his first novel, a thriller about the murder of a young woman.

There’s just one problem: Connor didn’t write the book. His missing student did. And then she appears on his doorstep, alive and well, threatening to expose him.

Connor’s problems escalate when the police insist details in the novel implicate him in an unsolved murder from two years ago. Soon Connor discovers the crime is part of a disturbing scandal on campus and faces an impossible dilemma–admit he didn’t write the book and lose his job or keep up the lie and risk everything. As the murders pile up, Connor must clear his name by unraveling the horrifying secrets buried in his student’s manuscript.

This is a suspenseful, provocative novel about the sexual harassment that still runs rampant in academia–and the lengths those in power will go to cover it up.

I really do stay away from NetGalley these days but they send me emails with great titles in them! I’m holding out to see if I can get it for audio review.


Maya and Rebecca Ward are both accomplished physicians, but that’s where the sisters’ similarities end. As teenagers, they witnessed their parents’ murder, but it was Rebecca who saved Maya from becoming another of the gunman’s victims. The tragedy left Maya cautious and timid, settling for a sedate medical practice with her husband, Adam, while Rebecca became the risk taker.

After a devastating hurricane hits the coast of North Carolina, Rebecca and Adam urge Maya to join them in the relief effort. To please her husband, Maya finally agrees. She loses herself in the care and transport of victims, but when her helicopter crashes into raging floodwaters, there appears to be no survivors.

Forced to accept that Maya is gone, Rebecca and Adam turn to one another – first for comfort, then in passion – unaware that, miles from civilization, Maya is injured and trapped with strangers she’s not certain she can trust.

This showed up at my library, an older title by the author who is close to becoming a favorite. I was drawn by the description, too.


In 1977, pregnant Genevieve Russell disappeared. Twenty years later, her remains are discovered and Timothy Gleason is charged with murder. But there is no sign of the unborn child.CeeCee Wilkes knows how Genevieve Russell died, because she was there. And she also knows what happened to the missing infant, because two decades ago she made the devastating choice to raise the baby as her own. Now Timothy Gleason is facing the death penalty, and she has another choice to make. Tell the truth, and destroy her family. Or let an innocent man die in order to protect a lifetime of lies…

This also showed up at my library along with the book noted above. The reviews are strong and the description hooked me.


Sparks fly when a runaway heiress bargains with a devilish rogue to escape a marriage of convenience.

No one would guess that beneath Violet Crenshaw’s ladylike demeanor lies the heart of a rebel. American heiresses looking to secure English lords must be on their best behavior, but Violet has other plans. She intends to flee London and the marriage her parents have arranged to become a published author–if only the wickedly handsome earl who inspired her most outrageously sinful character didn’t insist on coming with her.

Christian Halston, Earl of Leigh, has a scheme of his own: escort the surprisingly spirited dollar princess north and use every delicious moment in close quarters to convince Violet to marry him. Christian needs an heiress to rebuild his Scottish estate but the more time he spends with Violet, the more he realizes what he really needs is her–by his side, near his heart, in his bed.

Though Christian’s burning glances offer unholy temptation, Violet has no intention of surrendering herself or her newfound freedom in a permanent deal with the devil. It’s going to take more than pretty words to prove this fortune hunter’s love is true….

I got this second book in The Gilded Age Heiresses series for audio review!.



What books did YOU add to your shelves this week?

 

24 thoughts on “Saturdays at the Café”

  1. That’s quite a list you have there, Jo! I do like David Bell so definitely that is one I have my eye on. Things We Lost To The Water is one of the BOTM choices so I am eyeing that one up too! Just waiting for Jan to get The Sweet Taste of Muscadines and then we are buddying up on that one. Honestly, they all look good.

    I added The Other Emily by Dean Kootnz, The Playdate by Victoria Jenkins, Doctor on Call (about the first doctor to arrive at Chernobyl) by Alla Shapiro, and Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner. and The Music of Bees by Eileen Garvin.

    Have a terrific Saturday!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good morning, Marialyce💜

      Oh, that book by Alla Shapiro sounds fascinating. I’ve a particular interest in what happened at Chernobyl so am looking forward to your review. I don’t know how I passed up Crying in H Mart but it’s now at my library. Sounds interesting, as does The Music of Bees, which I was still pondering. Think I’ll take a chance.

      Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So many of these look and sound wonderful. Jo. I am adding several to my wishlist (CeeCee Wilkes, Kill All Your Darlings, Family Law, Heart & Seoul, The Break-Up Book and Muscadines) and hoping my library will get the audiobooks down the road. I hope you enjoy them all and I will watch for your reviews as you listen or read them all.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What an amazing list! I love Diane Chamberlain. Like you, I try not to scroll through NetGalley much either, or I get myself in trouble. Hope you love all these, Jo. 💜 Happy Reading.

    Liked by 1 person

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