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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.

 


Performed docuseries style by a star-studded full cast including Santino Fontana, Shelby Young , Marin Ireland, JD Jackson, Dan Bittner, Vikas Adam, Gabra Zackman, Fred Berman, Darrell Dennis, Oliver Wyman, Jonathan Davis, Hilary Huber, and Lisa Flanagan

For fans of riveting true crime docuseries a la Serial and Making a Murderer, The Anatomy of Desire is a modern tale of crime and punishment exploring unbridled ambition, blinding passion, and the dark side of desire


Claire Griffith has it all, a thriving career, a gorgeous boyfriend, glamorous friends. She always knew she was destined for more than the life her conservative parents preached to her. Arriving in Los Angeles flat broke, she has risen to become a popular fitness coach and social media influencer. Having rebranded herself as Cleo Ray, she stands at the threshold of realizing her biggest dreams.

One summer day, Cleo and a woman named Beck Alden set off in a canoe on a serene mountain lake. An hour later, Beck is found dead in the water and Cleo is missing. Authorities suspect foul play, and news of Cleo’s involvement goes viral. Who was Beck? An infatuated follower? Were she and Cleo friends or lovers? Was Beck’s death an accident . . . or murder?

Told in the form of an immersive investigative docuseries, L. R. Dorn’s brilliant reimagining of Theodore Dreiser’s classic crime drama, An American Tragedy, captures the urgency and poignance of the original and rekindles it as a very contemporary and utterly mesmerizing page-turner.

Full cast performances are my catnip and add to that a docuseries and a crime? Helpless to resist when it was offered for audio review.


Born on a plantation in Charles City, Virginia, Pheby Delores Brown has lived a relatively sheltered life. Shielded by her mother’s position as the estate’s medicine woman and cherished by the Master’s sister, she is set apart from the others on the plantation, belonging to neither world.

She’d been promised freedom on her eighteenth birthday, but instead of the idyllic life she imagined with her true love, Essex Henry, Pheby is forced to leave the only home she has ever known. She unexpectedly finds herself thrust into the bowels of slavery at the infamous Devil’s Half Acre, a jail in Richmond, Virginia, where the enslaved are broken, tortured, and sold every day. There, Pheby is exposed not just to her Jailer’s cruelty but also to his contradictions. To survive, Pheby will have to outwit him, and she soon faces the ultimate sacrifice.

This seemed like too tough a story to read so I gave it a pass. But my friend Marialyce @ yayareads wrote a fantastic review that had me rethink everything. I have it on library hold.


A true crime podcaster. A retired detective. A case they can’t let go.

True crime podcaster Trinity Scott is chasing breakout success, and her new serial looks like it will get her there. Her subject is Clayton Jay Pelley. More than two decades ago, the respected family man and guidance counselor confessed to the brutal murder of teenage student Leena Rai. Why he killed her has always been a mystery.

In a series of exclusive interviews from prison he promises to tell Trinity the truth about what happened that night beneath Devil’s Bridge. What Clayton says shocks the Pacific Northwest town of Twin Falls to the core. But is Clayton lying now? Or was he lying then?

As ratings skyrocket, Trinity is missing a key player in the story: Rachel Walczak, the retired detective who revealed Pelley’s twisted urges and put him behind bars. She’s not playing Clayton’s game–until Trinity digs deeper and the podcast reverb widens. Then Rachel begins to question everything she thinks she knows about the past.

With each of Clayton’s teasing reveals, one thing is clear: he’s not the only one in Twin Falls with a secret.

Is Trinity finally getting to the truth? Or falling victim to a killer’s sick game?

A Goodreads friend gave me the heads up that this is currently free on Amazon First Reads. I’m a fan of the author, dating back to her debut novel and am secretly hoping I can get the audio version for review.


In the summer of his seventeenth year, Sam­uel Sooleymon gets the chance of a lifetime: a trip to the United States with his South Sudanese teammates to play in a showcase basket­ball tournament. He has never been away from home, nor has he ever been on an airplane. The opportunity to be scouted by dozens of college coaches is a dream come true.

Samuel is an amazing athlete, with speed, quick­ness, and an astonishing vertical leap. The rest of his game, though, needs work, and the American coaches are less than impressed.

During the tournament, Samuel receives dev­astating news from home: A civil war is raging across South Sudan, and rebel troops have ran­sacked his village. His father is dead, his sister is missing, and his mother and two younger brothers are in a refugee camp.

Samuel desperately wants to go home, but it’s just not possible. Partly out of sympathy, the coach of North Carolina Central offers him a scholar­ship. Samuel moves to Durham, enrolls in classes, joins the team, and prepares to sit out his freshman season. There is plenty of more mature talent and he isn’t immediately needed.

But Samuel has something no other player has: a fierce determination to succeed so he can bring his family to America. He works tirelessly on his game, shooting baskets every morning at dawn by himself in the gym, and soon he’s dominating everyone in practice. With the Central team los­ing and suffering injury after injury, Sooley, as he is nicknamed, is called off the bench. And the legend begins.

But how far can Sooley take his team? And will success allow him to save his family?

Grisham can be hit or miss for me these days but his books are always a guarantee for a good reading time. I got the audiobook from my library.


From New York Times bestseller Tess Gerritsen and acclaimed thriller writer Gary Braver comes a sexy murder mystery about a reckless affair and dangerous secrets.

Taryn Moore is young, beautiful and brilliant…so why would she kill herself? When Detective Frankie Loomis arrives on the scene to investigate the girl’s fatal plunge from her apartment balcony, she knows in her gut there’s more to the story, especially after the autopsy reveals that the college senior was pregnant. It could be reason enough for suicide-or a motive for murder.

To English professor Jack Dorian, Taryn was the ultimate fantasy: intelligent, adoring, and completely off limits. But there was also a dark side to Taryn, a dangerous streak that threatened those she turned her affections to–including Jack. And now that she’s dead, his problems are just beginning.

After Frankie uncovers a trove of sordid secrets, it becomes clear that Jack may know the truth. He is guilty of deception, but is he capable of cold-blooded murder?

I loved Gerritsen’s Rizzoli & Isles series and keep hoping she’ll add more books. In the meantime, I’ll settle for this upcoming July release with a new writing partner. An audio review hopeful.


 

Jennifer Barnes never expected the shocking news she received at a routine doctor’s appointment: she has a terminal brain tumor—and only six weeks left to live.

While stunned by the diagnosis, the forty-eight-year-old mother decides to spend what little time she has left with her family—her adult triplets and twin grandsons—close by her side. But when she realizes she was possibly poisoned a year earlier, she’s determined to discover who might have tried to get rid of her before she’s gone for good.

Separated from her husband and with a contentious divorce in progress, Jennifer focuses her suspicions on her soon-to-be ex. Meanwhile, her daughters are each processing the news differently. Calm medical student Emily is there for whatever Jennifer needs. Moody scientist Aline, who keeps her mother at arm’s length, nonetheless agrees to help with the investigation. Even imprudent Miranda, who has recently had to move back home, is being unusually solicitous.

But with her daughters doubting her campaign against their father, Jennifer can’t help but wonder if the poisoning is all in her head—or if there’s someone else who wanted her dead.

Ooh, ooh, ooh! I didn’t even know McKenzie had a new release scheduled. I got this for audio review.


A lone astronaut must save the earth from disaster in this incredible new science-based thriller from the #1 ‘New York Times’ bestselling author of ‘The Martian’.

Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission – and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish.

Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.

All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company.

His crew-mates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, he realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Alone on this tiny ship that’s been cobbled together by every government and space agency on the planet and hurled into the depths of space, it’s up to him to conquer an extinction-level threat to our species.

And thanks to an unexpected ally, he just might have a chance.

I was on the fence about this one, even though I loved The Martian. But, after reading great reviews by Tessa @ Tessa Talks Books and Robin @ Books of My Heart within minutes of each other, I figured that was my sign. I’m gonna have to use an Audible credit for this one.


Chief of Police Kate Burkholder races against the clock to find a missing child in this new original short story from New York Times bestselling author Linda Castillo.

As a violent thunderstorm rages in Painters Mill, Kate Burkholder receives a call from a frantic young Amish woman: her two-year-old son is missing. Kate and her officers brave the downpour to search for the toddler, fearing he may have been swept away in the rising creek waters. But an explosive family secret leads Kate to believe this disappearance may be more complicated than anyone is letting on. Can she find the boy and uncover the truth before darkness falls?

One of my Goodreads groups is reading the Kate Burkholder series, which I started and collected a few years ago, resuming where I left off this month. This recent novella release showed up at my library and I grabbed it.


Meet Chrissie…

Chrissie is eight and she has a secret: she has just killed a boy. The feeling made her belly fizz like soda pop. Her playmates are tearful and their mothers are terrified, keeping them locked indoors. But Chrissie rules the roost — she’s the best at wall-walking, she knows how to get free candy, and now she has a feeling of power that she never gets at home, where food is scarce and attention scarcer.

Twenty years later, adult Chrissie is living in hiding under a changed name. A single mother, all she wants is for her daughter to have the childhood she herself was denied. That’s why the threatening phone calls are so terrifying. People are looking for them, the past is catching up, and Chrissie fears losing the only thing in this world she cares about, her child.

Nancy Tucker leaves the reader breathless as she inhabits her protagonist with a shocking authenticity that moves the reader from sympathy to humor to horror to heartbreak and back again.

New-to-me author but this sounded too good to pass up when offered for audio review.


 

Set in rural, poverty-stricken North Carolina, this funny, painful, and very wise novel follows two young women—best friends—as they struggle to free themselves from opioid addiction, perfect for readers of Julie Buntin’s Marlena.

Irene, a lonely nineteen-year-old in rural North Carolina, works long nights at the local pool hall, serving pitchers and dodging drunks. One evening, her hilarious, magnetic coworker Luce invites her on a joy ride through the mountains to take revenge on a particularly creepy customer. Their adventure not only spells the beginning of a dazzling friendship, it seduces both girls into the mysterious world of pills and the endless hustles needed to fund the next high.

Together, Irene and Luce run nickel-tossing scams at the county fair and trick dealers into trading legit pharms for birth-control pills. Everything is wild and wonderful until Luce finds a boyfriend who wants to help her get clean. Soon the two of them decide to move away and start a new, sober life in Florida—leaving Irene behind.

Told in a riveting dialogue between the girls’ addicted past and their hopes for a better future, Bewilderness is not just a brilliant, funny, heartbreaking novel about opioid abuse, it’s also a moving look at how intense, intimate friendships can shape every young woman’s life.

If the story doesn’t grab you that cover will! I couldn’t let this go when it was offered for audio review.


Teacher Wanted At the Edge of the World

Una wants nothing more than to teach, but she has been unable to secure steady employment in Reykjavík. Her savings are depleted, her love life is nonexistent, and she cannot face another winter staring at the four walls of her shabby apartment. Celebrating Christmas and ringing in 1986 in the remote fishing hamlet of Skálar seems like a small price to pay for a chance to earn some teaching credentials and get her life back on track.

But Skálar isn’t just one of Iceland’s most isolated villages, it is home to just 10 people. Una’s only students are two girls aged seven and nine. Teaching them only occupies so many hours in a day and the few adults she interacts with are civil but distant. She only seems to connect with Thór, a man she shares an attraction with but who is determined to keep her at arm’s length.

As darkness descends throughout the bleak winter, Una finds herself more often than not in her rented attic space – the site of a local legendary haunting – drinking her loneliness away. She is plagued by nightmares of a little girl in a white dress singing a lullaby. And when a sudden tragedy echoes an event long buried in Skálar’s past, the villagers become even more guarded, leaving a suspicious Una seeking to uncover a shocking truth that’s been kept secret for generations.

I’m determined to start this author’s series but in the meantime, I grabbed this standalone audiobook, which showed up at my library.


In trouble and on the run…

After she discovers her sister Tanya dead on the floor of her fashionable New York City townhouse, Letty Carnahan is certain she knows who did it: Tanya’s ex; sleazy real estate entrepreneur Evan Wingfield. Even in the grip of grief and panic Letty heeds her late sister’s warnings: “If anything bad happens to me—it’s Evan. Promise me you’ll take Maya and run. Promise me.” So Letty grabs her sister’s Mercedes and hits the road . . .

With a trunkful of emotional baggage…

and her wailing four-year-old niece Maya. Letty is determined to out-run Evan and the law, but run to where? Tanya, a woman with a past shrouded in secrets, left behind a “go-bag” of cash and a big honking diamond ring—but only one clue: a faded magazine story about a sleepy mom-and-pop motel in a Florida beach town with the improbable name of Treasure Island. She sheds her old life and checks into an uncertain future at The Murmuring Surf Motel.

The No Vacancy sign is flashing & the sharks are circling…

And that’s the good news. Because The Surf, as the regulars call it, is the winter home of a close-knit flock of retirees and snowbirds who regard this odd-duck newcomer with suspicion and down-right hostility. As Letty settles into the motel’s former storage room, she tries to heal Maya’s heartache and unravel the key to her sister’s shady past, all while dodging the attention of the owner’s dangerously attractive son Joe, who just happens to be a local police detective. Can Letty find romance as well as a room at the inn—or will Joe betray her secrets and put her behind bars? With danger closing in, it’s a race to find the truth and right the wrongs of the past.

Another  new-to-me author that I’m giving a try, solely based on this book’s description and a couple of good reviews on Goodreads. The audiobook showed up at my library.


Situated in a beautiful setting abutting the Balarang waterways and located on an acre of natural bushland, this three-bedroom country home is full of promise, character and potential. Featuring private access to the many splendours of Balarang Creek, this idyllic property is perfect for anyone seeking fresh air and serenity.

Nostalgic for childhood summers a world away from his manic Melbourne life, Dave Johnson purchases a secluded house in a postcard-perfect coastal town. A savvy investment, he convinces his wife. One year on, and his seaside dream has turned into one big headache, with his tenants not paying rent, and now simply vanishing into thin air, leaving all their belongings behind. Summoned back to the house to inspect the abandoned property, Dave and his wife Lisa become trapped in the isolated spot after their car breaks down. Spooked and alone, they become lured into investigating what really happened to their mysterious tenants.

This short audiobook is free if you’re an Audible Plus member. A Goodreads friend found it very entertaining.


One of the most important stories of World War II, already optioned by Steven Spielberg for a major motion picture: a spectacular, searing history that brings to light the extraordinary accomplishments of brave Jewish women who became resistance fighters–a group of unknown heroes whose exploits have never been chronicled in full, until now.Witnesses to the brutal murder of their families and neighbors and the violent destruction of their communities, a cadre of Jewish women in Poland–some still in their teens–helped transform the Jewish youth groups into resistance cells to fight the Nazis. With courage, guile, and nerves of steel, these “ghetto girls” paid off Gestapo guards, hid revolvers in loaves of bread and jars of marmalade, and helped build systems of underground bunkers. They flirted with German soldiers, bribed them with wine, whiskey, and home cooking, used their Aryan looks to seduce them, and shot and killed them. They bombed German train lines and blew up a town’s water supply. They also nursed the sick and taught children.

Yet the exploits of these courageous resistance fighters have remained virtually unknown.

As propulsive and thrilling as Hidden Figures, In the Garden of Beasts, Band of Brothers, and A Train in Winter, The Light of Days at last tells the true story of these incredible women whose courageous yet little-known feats have been eclipsed by time. Judy Batalion–the granddaughter of Polish Holocaust survivors–takes us back to 1939 and introduces us to Renia Kukielka, a weapons smuggler and messenger who risked death traveling across occupied Poland on foot and by train. Joining Renia are other women who served as couriers, armed fighters, intelligence agents, and saboteurs, all who put their lives in mortal danger to carry out their missions. Batalion follows these women through the savage destruction of the ghettos, arrest and internment in Gestapo prisons and concentration camps, and for a lucky few–like Renia, who orchestrated her own audacious escape from a brutal Nazi jail–into the late 20th century and beyond.

Powerful and inspiring, The Light of Days is an unforgettable true tale of war, the fight for freedom, exceptional bravery, female friendship, and survival in the face of staggering odds.

I’m a bit picky about stories involving the Holocaust so when a really trusted Goodreads friend recommended this book in the most eloquent of terms, I immediately looked for it at my library. It’s on hold.


Forget the truth.

Remember the lies.


He wakes up on a deserted beach in Maryland with a gash on his head and wearing only swim trunks. He can’t remember who he is. Everything—his identity, his life, his loved ones—has been replaced by a dizzying fog of uncertainty. But returning to his Maine hometown in search of the truth uncovers more questions than answers.

Lily Reid thinks she knows her boyfriend, Jack. Until he goes missing one night, and her frantic search reveals that he’s been lying to her since they met, desperate to escape a dark past he’d purposely left behind.

Maya Scott has been trying to find her estranged stepbrother, Asher, since he disappeared without a trace. Having him back, missing memory and all, feels like a miracle. But with a mutual history full of devastating secrets, how far will Maya go to ensure she alone takes them to the grave?

Shared fates intertwine in a twisty, explosive novel of suspense, where unearthing the past might just mean being buried beneath it.

Offered for audio review, this book has multiple narrators along with the sinister plot. Can’t wait!


 

Living in a tiny Queens apartment, Rebecca and her husband Mickey typify struggling, 30-something New Yorkers—he’s an actor, and she’s a freelance journalist. But after the arrival of their baby son, the couple decides to pack up and head for sunny, comfortable Palm Beach, where Mickey’s been offered a sweet deal managing the household of a multimillionaire Democratic donor. 

Once there, he quickly doubles his salary by going to work for a billionaire: venture capitalist Cecil Stone. Rebecca, a writer whose beat is economic inequality, is initially horrified: she pillories men like Stone, a ruthless businessman famous for crushing local newspapers. So no one is more surprised than her when she accepts a job working for Cecil’s wife as a ghostwriter, thinking of the excellent pay and the rare, inside look at this famous Forbes-list family. What she doesn’t expect is that she’ll grow close to the Stones, or become a regular at their high-powered dinners. And when a medical crisis hits, it’s the Stones who come to their rescue, using their power, influence, and wealth to avert catastrophe. 

As she and Mickey are both pulled deeper into this topsy-turvy household, they become increasingly dependent on their problematic benefactors. Then when she discovers a shocking secret about the Stones, Rebecca will have to decide: how many compromises can one couple make?
 

I was iffy about this one when it was offered for audio review so I checked out several Goodreads reviews. There were several that expressed the same misgivings I had and were pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be something different and special.


A mesmerizing and suspenseful coming-of-age novel about an orphan hiding within the walls of her former family home – and about what it means to be truly seen after becoming lost in life

Eventually, every hidden thing is found.

Elise knows every inch of the house. She knows which boards will creak. She knows where the gaps are in the walls. She knows which parts can take her in, hide her away. It’s home, after all. The home her parents made for her. And home is where you stay, no matter what.

Eddie is a teenager trying to forget about the girl he sometimes sees our of the corner of his eye. But when his hotheaded older brother senses her, too, they are faced with the question of how to get rid of someone they aren’t sure even exists. And as they try to cast her out, they unwittingly bring an unexpected and far more real threat to their doorstep.

This was offered for audio review and, again, I had to check out the Goodreads reviews because I’m unfamiliar with the author and the description sounded too good to be true. Several of my friends with similar reading tastes rated it 5 stars so I took the plunge.



What books did YOU add to your shelves this week?

 

18 thoughts on “Saturdays at the Café”

  1. I am curious about Project Hail Mary as well. Of course, it is always tricky to live up to a success like The Martian and I wonder if there will be too many similarities or whether the author can come up with something new and original? Fingers crossed, it will be good!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really want that Catherine Mackenzie audiobook. I listened to Newcomers and I enjoyed it. I also listened to The Light of Days. It was okay, but I found the presentation was a bit dull at times. I hope you enjoy it more than I did. Nice list here Jo. I know I would love to listen to some of these, but my TBR is already so long.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It was a learning experience for sure, and I hope you enjoy it. I just finished listening to Three Ordinary Girls: The Remarkable Story of Three Dutch Teenagers Who Became Spies, Saboteurs, Nazi Assassins–and WWII Heroes
        by Tim Brady and really liked it. It is non-fiction, but told in a more interesting way.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. You are going to be so glad you used your Audible credit for Project Hail Mary. Be prepared to become a Rocky fan (and I’m not explaining – you’ll just have to listen to the story). Also, The Newcomer is awesome! My review is coming out this week and I loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a great list, Jo. Personally, I’m not a Grisham fan, but Sooley sounds good. Andy Weir’s new book is one I’m looking forward too. So many excellent reviews! Loved The Martian as well.

    Hope you enjoy them all. Happy reading! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So glad you have included Yellow Wife on your book list, Jo! I started Project Hail Mary and so did my husband and we just could not get through it. Wasn’t the right time I think. The Light of Days is definitely on my list and I am on line at the library for Sooley (a very long line indeed!).
    I added Ariadne by Jennifer Saint.
    Have a great rest of the weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

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