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.
Brothers Tony, Sean, and Ned had the perfect upbringing, but now that they are grown up, real life is starting to get in the way. Tony’s dealing with divorce and a weight problem. Novelist Sean is up against a serious case of writer’s block and a shock announcement from his “perfect” new girlfriend. Their parents have a new lodger, Gervase—why is Bernie, their mother, so keen to give this unsavory waif a home? And what is the real reason for kid brother Ned’s surprise return from his travels in Australia?
Yet another title from Jewel’s backlist showed up at my library. I’ll give it a try.
1942. Sadie Gault is eighteen and living with her parents amid the horrors of the Kraków Ghetto during World War II. When the Nazis liquidate the ghetto, Sadie and her pregnant mother are forced to seek refuge in the perilous sewers beneath the city. One day Sadie looks up through a grate and sees a girl about her own age buying flowers.
Ella Stepanek is an affluent Polish girl living a life of relative ease with her stepmother, who has developed close alliances with the occupying Germans. Scorned by her friends and longing for her fiancé, who has gone off to war, Ella wanders Kraków restlessly. While on an errand in the market, she catches a glimpse of something moving beneath a grate in the street. Upon closer inspection, she realizes it’s a girl hiding.
Ella begins to aid Sadie and the two become close, but as the dangers of the war worsen, their lives are set on a collision course that will test them in the face of overwhelming odds. Inspired by harrowing true stories, The Woman with the Blue Star is an emotional testament to the power of friendship and the extraordinary strength of the human will to survive.
Thanks to Yvo @ It’s All About Books for pushing me over the line to add this book. I grabbed it when it showed up at my library.
One year later, a writer moves into a cottage on the edge of the woods that border the same estate. Known locally as the Dark Place, the dense forest is the writer’s favorite area for long walks, and it’s on one such walk that she stumbles upon a mysterious note that simply reads, “DIG HERE.”
Could this be a clue toward what has happened to the missing young couple? And what exactly is buried in this haunted ground?
With her signature “rich, dark, and intricately twisted” (Ruth Ware, New York Times best-selling author) prose, Lisa Jewell has crafted a dazzling work of suspense that will keep on the edge of your seat until the final moment.
Woo hoo! A new Jewel title, scheduled for release in September. An audio review hopeful.
Jade and Cam Lasky are by all accounts a happily married couple, with two adorable kids, a spacious home and a rapidly growing restaurant business. But their world is tipped upside down when Jade is confronted by a masked home invader. As Cam scrambles to gather the ransom money, Jade starts to wonder if they’re as financially secure as their lifestyle suggests, and what other secrets her husband is keeping from her.
Cam may be a good father, a celebrity chef and a darling husband, but there’s another side he’s kept hidden from Jade that has put their family in danger. Unbeknownst to Cam and Jade, the home invader has been watching them and is about to turn their family secrets into a public scandal.
I signed up for the blog tour in December and will be reviewing the audio version. I’m a big fan of the author.
Violette Toussaint is the caretaker at a cemetery in a small town in Bourgogne. Casual mourners, regular visitors, and sundry colleagues – gravediggers, groundskeepers, and a priest – visit her to warm themselves in her lodge, where laughter, companionship, and occasional tears mix with the coffee she offers them. Her life is lived to the rhythms of their funny, moving confidences.
But her routine is disrupted by the arrival of the local police chief, who insists on scattering the ashes of his recently deceased mother on the gravesite of a complete stranger. Soon it becomes clear that his inexplicable gesture is intertwined with Violette’s own difficult past.
With Fresh Water for Flowers, Valérie Perrin has given listeners an intimately told story that tugs on the heartstrings about a woman who believes obstinately in happiness, despite it all. A number-one best seller in France, it is a heartwarming and tender story that will stay with listeners long after they finish it.
When this showed up at my library, I checked the reviews and was surprised to see so many of my trusted friends giving it 5-star ratings. Everyone of them describing the story as beautiful.
The year 1920 comes in with a roar in this rousing and suspenseful novel by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sandra Brown. Prohibition is the new law of the land, but murder, mayhem, lust, and greed are already institutions in the Moonshine Capitol of Texas.
Thatcher Hutton, a war-weary soldier on the way back to his cowboy life, jumps from a moving freight train to avoid trouble . . . and lands in more than he bargained for. On the day he arrives in Foley, Texas, a local woman goes missing. Thatcher, the only stranger in town, is suspected of her abduction, and worse. Standing between him and exoneration are a corrupt mayor, a crooked sheriff, a notorious cathouse madam, a sly bootlegger, feuding moonshiners . . . and a young widow whose soft features conceal an iron will.
What was supposed to be a fresh start for Laurel Plummer turns to tragedy. Left destitute but determined to dictate her own future, Laurel plunges into the lucrative regional industry, much to the dislike of the good ol’ boys, who have ruled supreme. Her success quickly makes her a target for cutthroat competitors, whose only code of law is reprisal. As violence erupts, Laurel and—now deputy—Thatcher find themselves on opposite sides of a moonshine war, where blood flows as freely as whiskey.
One of my mystery newsletters gave me the heads up on this upcoming book by Brown, scheduled for release in August. I’ve recommended the audiobook for library purchase.
But what if you had no choice?
It would be easy to underestimate Chloe Sevre…. She’s a freshman honor student, a legging-wearing hot girl next door, who also happens to be a psychopath. She spends her time on yogalates, frat parties and plotting to kill Will Bachman, a childhood friend who grievously wronged her.
Chloe is one of seven students at her DC-based college who are part of an unusual clinical study of psychopaths – students like herself who lack empathy and can’t comprehend emotions like fear or guilt. The study, led by a renowned psychologist, requires them to wear smart watches that track their moods and movements.
When one of the students in the study is found murdered in the psychology building, a dangerous game of cat and mouse begins, and Chloe goes from hunter to prey. As she races to identify the killer and put her own plan for revenge into action, she’ll be forced to decide if she can trust any of her fellow psychopaths – and everybody knows you should never trust a psychopath.
I’m always intrigued by something different or unusual and this story seems to have both. I signed up for the blog tour in September and will review the audio version.
“If the women of Big Little Lies were the moms of East Coast high schoolers, they’d be right at home in The Mother Next Door—a witty, wicked thriller packed with hidden agendas, juicy secrets, and pitch-perfect satire of the suburban dream.”
—Andrea Bartz, author of The Lost Night and The Herd
Never show their feelings.
Never spill their secrets.
Never admit to murder.
The annual Halloween block party is the pinnacle of the year on idyllic suburban cul-de-sac Ivy Woods Drive. An influential group of neighborhood moms—known as the Ivy Five—plans the event for months.
Except the Ivy Five has been four for a long time.
When a new mother moves to town, eager to fit in, the moms see it as an opportunity to make the group whole again. This year’s block party should be the best yet… until the women start receiving anonymous messages threatening to expose the quiet neighborhood’s dark past—and the lengths they’ve gone to hide it.
As secrets seep out and the threats intensify, the Ivy Five must sort the loyal from the disloyal, the good from the bad. They’ll do anything to protect their families. But when a twisted plot is revealed, with dangerous consequences, their steady foundation begins to crumble, leaving only one certainty: after this year’s block party, Ivy Woods Drive will never be the same.
From award-winning author Tara Laskowski, The Mother Next Door is an atmospheric novel of domestic suspense in which the strive for perfection ends in murder.
The last of my blog tour sign ups for the week. This one is scheduled for October and, of course, I’ll be reviewing the audio version.
Jude Andrews is famous. Well, at least on Instagram. Her brand is clean eating, good vibes, Pilates, and casually looking like a sun-kissed goddess. In real life, however, she’s a total disaster. She has a strained relationship with her fame-hungry mom and her latest bad decision emptied out her entire savings account.
Lauren Turner had a plan: graduate medical school and become the top surgeon in the country. But when she became unexpectedly pregnant, those plans changed. And when her fiancé left her, they changed again. Now navigating the new world of coparenting, mom groups, and dating, she decides to launch a mommy podcast with all the advice she wishes someone had given her.
Jude and Lauren don’t have much in common, but maybe that’s why they’ve been best friends since the third grade. Through ups and downs, they’ve been by each other’s sides. But now? They’re broke, single, and do the only thing that makes sense–move in together, just like they talked about when they were teenagers. Except when they were younger, the plan didn’t include a five-year-old daughter and more baggage than their new townhouse can hold.
*sigh* NetGalley emails did it to me again. Yes, I’m holding out for the audio version, recommending it for library purchase when it’s released in September.
For as long as Rae can remember, it’s been her and Mum, and their dog, Splinter; a small, deliberately unremarkable, family. They have their walks, their cooking routines, their home. Sometimes Mum disappears for a while to clear her head but Rae is okay with this because Mum always comes back.
So, when Rae wakes to Splinter’s nose in her face, the back door open, and no Mum, she does as she’s always done and carries on. She tends to the house, goes to school, walks Splinter, and minds her own business – all the while pushing down the truth she isn’t ready to face.
That is, until her grumpy, lonely neighbor Lettie – with her own secrets and sadness – falls one night and needs Rae’s help. As the two begin to rely on each other, Rae’s anxiety intensifies as she wonders what will happen to her when her mother’s absence is finally noticed and her fragile world bursts open.
A Million Things transforms a gut-wrenching story of abandonment and what it’s like to grow up in a house that doesn’t feel safe into an astonishing portrait of resilience, mental health, and the families we make and how they make us in return.
I’m recommending this for library audiobook purchase after a whole passel of trusted Goodreads friends all gave it 5 stars. They also said it’s gonna break my heart. It’s scheduled for release in August.
Brecken Hill in Upstate New York is an expensive place to live. You have to be rich to have a house there, and Fred and Sheila Merton certainly are rich. But even all their money can’t protect them when a killer comes to call. The Mertons are brutally murdered after a fraught Easter dinner with their three adult kids. Who, of course, are devastated.
Or are they? They each stand to inherit millions. They were never a happy family, thanks to their vindictive father and neglectful mother, but perhaps one of the siblings is more disturbed than anyone knew. Did someone snap after that dreadful evening? Or did another person appear later that night with the worst of intentions? That must be what happened. After all, if one of the family were capable of something as gruesome as this, you’d know.
Lapena is an auto read and this is scheduled for release next month. Another audiobook I’m recommending for library purchase.
In March 2015, Denise Huskins and her boyfriend Aaron Quinn awoke from a sound sleep into a nightmare. Armed men bound and drugged them, then abducted Denise. Warned not to call the police or Denise would be killed. Aaron agonized about what to do. Finally he put his trust in law enforcement and dialed 911. But instead of searching for Denise, the police accused Aaron of her murder. His story, they told him, was just unbelievable. When Denise was released alive, the police turned their fire on her, dubbing her the “real-life ‘Gone Girl'” who had faked her own kidnapping.
In Victim F, Aaron and Denise recount the horrific ordeal that almost cost them everything. Like too many victims of sexual violence, they were dismissed, disbelieved, and dragged through the mud. With no one to rely on except each other, they took on the victim blaming, harassment, misogyny, and abuse of power running rife in the criminal justice system. Their story is, in the end, a love story, but one that sheds necessary light on sexual assault and the abuse by law enforcement that all too frequently compounds crime victims’ suffering.
I watched the Dateline episode dedicated to this story and was outraged. What law enforcement put this woman and her fiancé (now husband) through was criminal in itself. When I learned she was releasing a book, I thought the least I could do was hear her voice her own story. Thanks to my library for the audiobook.
What books did YOU add to your shelves this week?