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.
If you suspected your best friend, the person you were closest to in the whole world, was a murderer, what would you do? Would you confront her? Would you help keep her secret? Or would you begin to feel afraid? Most importantly, why don’t you feel safe now that she’s dead? From the author of The French Girl comes a novel full of secrets, suspense, and deadly twists.
Georgie, Lissa, and Bronwyn have been inseparable since dominating their college swim team; swimming has always been an escape from their own problems, but now their shared passion has turned deadly. How can it be true that Lissa, the strongest swimmer they know, drowned? Granted, there is something strange about Kanu Cove, where Lissa was last seen, swimming off the coast of the fabulous island resort she owned with her husband.
Lissa’s closest friends gather at the resort to honor her life, but Georgie and Bron can’t seem to stop looking over their shoulders. Danger lurks beneath the surface of the crystal-clear water, and even their luxurious private villas can’t help them feel safe. As the weather turns ominous, trapping the funeral guests together on the island, nobody knows who they can trust. Lissa’s death was only the beginning….
A Goodreads friend with very similar tastes gave this a thumbs up. I love a good locked room mystery.
New York Times best-selling author Mary Lawson, acclaimed for digging into the “wilderness of the human heart”, is back after almost a decade with a fresh and timely novel that is different in subject but just as emotional and atmospheric as her beloved earlier work.
A Town Called Solace–the brilliant and emotionally radiant new novel from Mary Lawson, her first in nearly a decade–opens on a family in crisis: rebellious teenager Rose been missing for weeks with no word, and Rose’s younger sister, the feisty and fierce Clara, keeps a daily vigil at the living-room window, hoping for her sibling’s return.
Enter thirtyish Liam Kane, newly divorced, newly unemployed, newly arrived in this small northern town, where he promptly moves into the house next door–watched suspiciously by astonished and dismayed Clara, whose elderly friend, Mrs. Orchard, owns that home. Around the time of Rose’s disappearance, Mrs. Orchard was sent for a short stay in hospital, and Clara promised to keep an eye on the house and its remaining occupant, Mrs. Orchard’s cat, Moses. As the novel unfolds, so does the mystery of what has transpired between Mrs Orchard and the newly arrived stranger.
Told through three distinct, compelling points of view–Clara’s, Mrs. Orchard’s, and Liam Kane’s–the novel cuts back and forth among these unforgettable characters to uncover the layers of grief, remorse, and love that connect families, both the ones we’re born into and the ones we choose. A Town Called Solace is a masterful, suspenseful and deeply humane novel by one of our great storytellers.
My Goodreads friend who reads quite a bit of literary fiction put this in front of me a few months ago and I vowed I’d grab it if and when it showed up at my library. Well, it finally did.
A chilling look into an alternate near future where a woman and her daughter seek refuge in a women-only colony, only to find that the safe haven they were hoping for is the most dangerous place they could be.
Miranda Reynolds always thought she would rather die than live in Femlandia. But that was before the country sank into total economic collapse and her husband walked out in the harshest, most permanent way, leaving her and her sixteen-year-old daughter with nothing. The streets are full of looting, robbing, and killing, and Miranda and Emma no longer have much choice—either starve and risk getting murdered, or find safety. And so they set off to Femlandia, the women-only colony Miranda’s mother, Win Somers, established decades ago.
Although Win is no longer in the spotlight, her protégé Jen Jones has taken Femlandia to new heights: The off-grid colonies are secluded, self-sufficient, and thriving—and Emma is instantly enchanted by this idea of a safe haven. But something is not right. There are no men allowed in the colony, but babies are being born—and they’re all girls. Miranda discovers just how the all-women community is capable of enduring, and it leads her to question how far her mother went to create this perfect, thriving, horrifying society.
I hadn’t heard of this book until I read the review by Susanne @ Books are a Girl’s Best Friend.com. Dystopia is one of my favorite genres and this intrigued me. Fingers crossed 🤞 my library buys the audiobook.
A literary thriller from stunning new talent Greg Buchanan, Sixteen Horses is a story of enduring guilt, trauma, and punishment, set in a small seaside community the rest of the world has left behind.
In Ilmarsh, England, local police detective Alec Nichols discovers sixteen horses’ heads on a farm, each buried with a single eye facing the low winter sun. After Veterinary Forensics expert Cooper Allen travels to the scene, a pathogen is discovered lurking within the soil, and many of those who have come into contact with the corpses grow critically ill.
A series of crimes comes to light—disappearances, arson, and mutilations—and in the dark days that follow, the town slips into panic and paranoia. Everything is not as it seems. Anyone could be a suspect. And as Cooper finds herself unable to leave town, Alec is stalked by an unseen threat. The two investigators race to uncover the truth behind these frightened and insidious mysteries—no matter the cost.
Marialyce @ yayareads added this to her shelf last week and, of course, I had to add it, too. Even better, the audiobook showed up at my library.
When it comes to personal training, Taylor Powell kicks serious butt. Unfortunately, her bills are piling up, rent is due, and the money situation is dire. Taylor needs more than the support of her new best friends, Samiah and London. She needs a miracle.
And Jamar Dixon might just be it. The oh-so-fine former footballer wants back into the NFL, and he wants Taylor to train him. There’s just one catch—no one can know what they’re doing. But when they’re accidentally outed as a couple, Taylor’s game plan is turned completely upside down. Is Jamar just playing to win . . . or is he playing for keeps?
I didn’t even realize the second book in this series was being released until I saw it featured by Kristin @ Kristin Kraves Books in her Amazing Books Coming Out in August post. Fingers crossed 🤞 that my library comes to the rescue again!
When investment banker Jessie Kim is laid off in a virtual meeting and then overhears why (“she’s already being overpaid anyway for a woman” and “Asians are worker bees, not someone who can drum up new deals”) she delivers an “eff you guys” speech and storms out.
After moving back home to Tennessee to live with her loving but meddling mother and father, she runs into her childhood nemesis – golden child Daniel Choi – at the local Asian grocery store. The smart, charming lawyer appears to have it all…while Jessie has nothing.
Jess begrudgingly accepts Daniel’s help to relaunch her long abandoned Korean cooking YouTube channel Hanguk Hacks, showcasing easy meal prep for busy professionals. But just as she discovers Daniel’s life isn’t as perfect as it seems and there’s more to him than meets the eye, he shows up for a life-changing business opportunity, and their rivalry is back on….
My library rocks! This came in, literally, one day before it was offered for audio review and I grabbed it. I love that it features a Korean cultural aspect.
Meet the trophy wives of Presidio Terrace, San Francisco’s most exclusive – and most deadly – neighborhood in this shrewd, darkly compelling novel from the ‘New York Times’best-selling author of ‘In Her Shadow’.
Mystery writer Brooke Davies is the new wife on the block. Her tech-billionaire husband, Jack, twenty-two years her senior, whisked her to the Bay Area via private jet and purchased a modest mansion on the same day. He demands perfection, and before now, Brooke has had no problem playing the role of a doting housewife. But as she befriends other wives on the street and spends considerable time away from Jack, he worries if he doesn’t control Brooke’s every move, she will reveal the truth behind their “perfect” marriage.
Erin King, famed news anchor and chair of the community board, is no stranger to maintaining an image – though being married to a plastic surgeon helps. But the skyrocketing success of her career has worn her love life thin, and her professional ambitions have pushed Mason away. Quitting her job is a Hail Mary attempt at keeping him interested, to steer him away from finding a young trophy wife. But is it enough, and is Mason truly the man she thought he was?
Georgia St. Claire allegedly cashed in on the deaths of her first two husbands, earning her the nickname “Black Widow” – and the stares and whispers of her curious neighbors. Rumored to have murdered both men for their fortunes, she claims to have found true love in her third marriage, yet her mysterious, captivating allure keeps everyone guessing. Then a tragic accident forces the residents of Presidio Terrace to ask: Has Georgia struck again? And what is she really capable of doing to protect her secrets?
I’m in the mood lately for pure, unadulterated fun in my reading these days and when I read the review by Jan & Marialyce @ yayareads, I had to have it. When the audiobook showed up at my library, I immediately jumped in the queue.
An eco-wellness retreat has opened on an island off the English coast, promising rest and relaxation—but the island itself, known locally as Reaper’s Rock, has a dark past. Once the playground of a serial killer, it’s rumored to be cursed.
Detective Elin Warner is called to the retreat when a young woman’s body is found on the rocks below the yoga pavilion in what seems to be a tragic fall. But the victim wasn’t a guest—she wasn’t meant to be on the island at all.
When a guest drowns in a diving incident the following day, Elin starts to suspect that there’s nothing accidental about these deaths. But why would someone target the guests, and who else is in danger?
Elin must find the killer—before the island’s history starts to repeat itself . . .
Call me crazy after all of my issues with The Sanatorium but I’m signing up for the second book in that series. It’s not scheduled for release until April.
Best-selling and award-winning author Megan Abbott’s revelatory and mesmerizing new novel set against the hothouse of a family-run ballet studio.
With their long necks and matching buns and pink tights, Dara and Marie Durant have been dancers since they can remember. Growing up, they were homeschooled and trained by their glamorous mother, founder of the Durant School of Dance. After their parents’ death in a tragic accident nearly a dozen years ago, the sisters began running the school together, along with Charlie, Dara’s husband and once their mother’s prized student.
Marie, warm and soft, teaches the younger students; Dara, with her precision, trains the older ones; and Charlie, sidelined from dancing after years of injuries, rules over the back office. Circling around one another, the three have perfected a dance, six days a week, that keeps the studio thriving. But when a suspicious accident occurs, just at the onset of the school’s annual performance of The Nutcracker – a season of competition, anxiety, and exhilaration – an interloper arrives and threatens the sisters’ delicate balance.
Taut and unnerving, The Turnout is Megan Abbott at the height of her game. With uncanny insight and hypnotic writing, it is a sharp and strange dissection of family ties and sexuality, femininity and power, and a tale that is both alarming and irresistible.
I was still pondering this one after it showed up at my library when it was selected as the August pick for the Today Show’s #ReadWithJenna Book Club. That pushed me over the edge and I grabbed the audiobook.
When Ruth, a wealthy divorcée, offers to host the Hillside Academy kindergarten meet-and-greet, she hopes this will be a fresh start for her and her introverted daughter, Marley. Finally, they’ll be accepted into a tribe. Marley will make friends and Ruth will be welcomed by the mothers. Instead, the parents are turned off by Ruth’s ostentatious wealth and before kindergarten even begins, Ruth and Marley are outcasts.
The last guest to arrive at the meet-and-greet is Gemma, a widow and a single mother to her daughter, Bee. Ruth sets her sights on the mother-daughter duo, and soon the two families are inseparable. Ruth takes Gemma and Bee on Aspen vacations, offers VIP passes to Cirque du Soleil, and pays for dinners at Michelin-starred restaurants. For Gemma, who lives paycheck to paycheck, Ruth’s largesse is seductive, but as the years go by, she can’t shake the feeling that she’s accruing an increasingly unpayable debt. When Ruth’s affair with a married Hillside dad is exposed, and she’s publicly shunned, Gemma uses it to sever ties with Ruth.
Six years later, when Gemma finds herself embroiled in a scandal of her own—Ruth comes to her defense. Their renewed friendship rehabilitates their reputations, but once again, Gemma starts to feel trapped as Ruth grows more and more obsessed with their relationship.
This sounds sinister and crazy! It showed up at my library and after checking friends’ reviews, I was sold and jumped in the queue.
When a teenaged girl disappears from an insular small town, all of the community’s most devastating secrets come to light in this stunningly atmospheric and slow-burning suspense novel—perfect for fans of Megan Miranda and Celeste Ng.
The town of Whistling Ridge guards its secrets.
When seventeen-year-old Abigail goes missing, her best friend Emma, compelled by the guilt of leaving her alone at a party in the woods, sets out to discover the truth about what happened. The police initially believe Abi ran away, but Emma doesn’t believe that her friend would leave without her, and when officers find disturbing evidence in the nearby woods, the festering secrets and longstanding resentment of both Abigail’s family and the people of Whistling Ridge, Colorado begin to surface with devastating consequences.
Among those secrets: Abi’s older brother Noah’s passionate, dangerous love for the handsome Rat, a recently arrived Romanian immigrant who has recently made his home in the trailer park in town; her younger brother Jude’s feeling that he knows information he should tell the police, if only he could put it into words; Abi’s father’s mercurial, unpredictable rages and her mother’s silence. Then there is the rest of Whistling Ridge, where a charismatic preacher advocates for God’s love in language that mirrors violence, under the sway of the powerful businessman who rules the town, insular and wary of outsiders.
But Abi had secrets, too, and the closer Emma grows to unraveling the past, the farther she feels from her friend. And in a tinder box of small-town rage, and all it will take is just one spark—the truth of what really happened that night—to change their community forever.
I hadn’t heard of this book until it showed up at my library. My Goodreads friends’ reviews run the gamut but it kept calling to me so I joined the queue.
Wilde has grown up knowing nothing of his family, and even less about his own identity . All he knows is that, as a young child, he was found living a feral existence in the Ramapo mountains of New Jersey.
He became known simply as Wilde, the boy from the woods.
Now Wilde has had a hit on the DNA website he has been researching. A 100% match. His father.
They meet up, and Wilde soon realises that his father doesn’t even know he had a son and is as mystified as Wilde is by his existence.
Undaunted, Wilde continues his research for his family on DNA websites where he becomes caught up in a community of online doxxers, a secret group committed to exposing anonymous trolls.
Then one by one these doxxers start to die, and it soon becomes clear that a serial killer is targeting this secret community – and that his next victim might be Wilde himself …
Made my day when a fellow Coben fan friend gave me the link to this new release, the second book in the new Wilde series, a follow up to The Boy from the Woods. I’d hoped for this and am also hoping to get it for audio review.
Klara and the Sun, the first novel by Kazuo Ishiguro since he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, tells the story of Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, who, from her place in the store, watches carefully the behavior of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass on the street outside. She remains hopeful that a customer will soon choose her.
Klara and the Sun is a thrilling book that offers a look at our changing world through the eyes of an unforgettable narrator, and one that explores the fundamental question: What does it mean to love?
Honestly? I’d taken a pass on this one when it was offered for audio review. But check out the review by Susanne @ Books are a Girl’s Best Friend.com and see if you can resist. I certainly couldn’t and my amazing library came through…again!
Emily is having the time of her life–she’s in the mountains of Chile with her best friend, Kristen, on their annual reunion trip, and the women are feeling closer than ever. But on the last night of their trip, Emily enters their hotel suite to find blood and broken glass on the floor. Kristen says the cute backpacker she’d been flirting with attacked her, and she had no choice but to kill him in self-defense. Even more shocking: The scene is horrifyingly similar to last year’s trip, when another backpacker wound up dead. Emily can’t believe it’s happened again–can lightning really strike twice?
Back home in Wisconsin, Emily struggles to bury her trauma, diving head-first into a new relationship and throwing herself into work. But when Kristen shows up for a surprise visit, Emily is forced to to confront their violent past. The more Kristen tries to keep Emily close, the more Emily questions her friend’s motives. As Emily feels the walls closing in on their coverups, she must reckon with the truth about her closest friend. Can she outrun the secrets she shares with Kristen, or will they destroy her relationship, her freedom–even her life?
When this showed up at my library, I put it on my wishlist. Then it was selected as the next pick for Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club. It’s now on hold.
Elsie and Ben are average twenty-somethings, but this is not your average love story. It begins bright and promising: the newlywed couple is head over heels in love, having eloped six months after they met. But it all shatters in an instant; Ben out riding his bike, is hit by a truck—and dies on impact.
Elsie hears the sirens outside her apartment, but by the time she gets downstairs, his body has already been taken to the hospital. When she arrives, Elsie is greeted by an unexpected visitor—her mother-in-law, Susan, whom she has never met and who doesn’t even know she exists.
Both are seared with grief; Susan is still mourning the death of her own husband several years earlier, and the loss of her only son is almost too much to bear. The two women immediately sour on one another, fighting over what to do with Ben’s belongings and how to fulfill his wishes. But as time goes by, Susan and Elsie both realize that despite the terrible accident that brought them together, they are now the only family they have left.
Interweaving Elsie and Ben’s charmed romance with Elsie and Susan’s healing process, Forever, Interrupted will make you laugh, make you cry, and remind you that there’s more than one way to live happily ever after.
I’m a devoted fan of Taylor Jenkins’ writing and her debut novel showed up at my library this week. Of course I grabbed the audiobook.
Little River, New York, 1994: April Sawicki is living in a motorless motorhome that her father won in a poker game. Failing out of school, picking up shifts at Margo’s diner, she’s left fending for herself in a town where she’s never quite felt at home. When she “borrows” her neighbor’s car to perform at an open mic night, she realizes her life could be much bigger than where she came from. After a fight with her dad, April packs her stuff and leaves for good, setting off on a journey to find a life that’s all hers.
Driving without a chosen destination, she stops to rest in Ithaca. Her only plan is to survive, but as she looks for work, she finds a kindred sense of belonging at Cafe Decadence, the local coffee shop. Still, somehow, it doesn’t make sense to her that life could be this easy. The more she falls in love with her friends in Ithaca, the more she can’t shake the feeling that she’ll hurt them the way she’s been hurt.
As April moves through the world, meeting people who feel like home, she chronicles her life in the songs she writes and discovers that where she came from doesn’t dictate who she has to be.
This lyrical, unflinching tale is for anyone who has ever yearned for the fierce power of found family or to grasp the profound beauty of choosing to belong.
As soon as I read the description I was intrigued. And then I read the rave reviews by so many of my Goodreads friends and got in my library queue. It’s also narrated by one of my favorites, Julia Whelan.
A breakneck procedural that is beautifully written and masterfully crafted, Erin Young’s The Fields is a dynamite debut—crime fiction at its very finest.
Some things don’t stay buried.
It starts with a body—a young woman found dead in an Iowa cornfield, on one of the few family farms still managing to compete with the giants of Big Agriculture.
When Sergeant Riley Fisher, newly promoted to head of investigations for the Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office, arrives on the scene, an already horrific crime becomes personal when she discovers the victim was a childhood friend, connected to a dark past she thought she’d left behind.
The investigation grows complicated as more victims are found. Drawn deeper in, Riley soon discovers implications far beyond her Midwest town.
I love a good procedural and this sounds great. I found out about it from a Macmillan Reading Insiders Club sneak preview and I plan to request it for review.
From debut author Stacy Willingham comes a masterfully done, lyrical thriller, certain to be the launch of an amazing career. A Flicker in the Dark is eerily compelling to the very last page.
When Chloe Davis was twelve, six teenage girls went missing in her small Louisiana town. By the end of the summer, Chloe’s father had been arrested as a serial killer and promptly put in prison. Chloe and the rest of her family were left to grapple with the truth and try to move forward while dealing with the aftermath.
Now 20 years later, Chloe is a psychologist in private practice in Baton Rouge and getting ready for her wedding. She finally has a fragile grasp on the happiness she’s worked so hard to get. Sometimes, though, she feels as out of control of her own life as the troubled teens who are her patients. And then a local teenage girl goes missing, and then another, and that terrifying summer comes crashing back. Is she paranoid, and seeing parallels that aren’t really there, or for the second time in her life, is she about to unmask a killer?
In a debut novel that has already been optioned for a limited series by actress Emma Stone and sold to a dozen countries around the world, Stacy Willingham has created an unforgettable character in a spellbinding thriller that will appeal equally to fans of Gillian Flynn and Karin Slaughter.
This was also included in that Macmillan Reading Insiders Club sneak preview but I prefer this on audio so I’m hoping my library purchases it.
Thanks to an accidental phone swap, two adorable rescue pups, and a coffeehouse clash, a holiday flirtation goes to the dogs and hilarity ensues, from New York Times bestselling author Julia London.
All Harper Thompson wants for Christmas is the huge promotion she’s worked so hard for–which she should get, as long as her launch of the hip new coffeehouse, Deja Brew, goes according to plan. Jonah Rogers is spending the holiday season trying to save his family’s coffee shop, Lucky Star, from going out of business, which will be tough with the brand-new Deja Brew opening across the street.
When Jonah and Harper meet for the first time after accidentally swapping phones, their chemistry is as electric as a strand of Christmas lights. He’s a tall, handsome, compassionate hunk of engineer, and she’s an entrepreneur whose zest for life is very sexy. They love all the same things, like running, scary movies, greasy food–and most of all, dogs. It’s a match made in heaven…until Jonah finds out that Harper’s the one about to put him out of business.
Only one coffee shop can survive, and a competition of one-upmanship ensues in a holiday battle of the brews. The paws really come out when the local rescue shelter has a fundraiser where local businesses foster dogs, and patrons donate cash to vote for their favorite pup. Harper takes in an adorable old bulldog on behalf of Deja Brew, while Jonah fosters a perky three-legged dachshund for Lucky Star. When one precious pup is crowned King Mutt, and a For Sale sign goes up in the other shop’s window, Harper and Jonah must decide if their connection was all steam or if they are the perfect blend.
Oh, this sounds perfect! I’m getting it for audio review.
When Lux McAllister and her boyfriend, Nico, are hired to sail two women to a remote island in the South Pacific, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. Stuck in a dead-end job in Hawaii, and longing to travel the world after a family tragedy, Lux is eager to climb on board The Susannah and set out on an adventure. She’s also quick to bond with their passengers, college best friends Brittany and Amma. The two women say they want to travel off the beaten path. But like Lux, they may have other reasons to be seeking an escape.
Shimmering on the horizon after days at sea, Meroe Island is every bit the paradise the foursome expects, despite a mysterious history of shipwrecks, cannibalism, and even rumors of murder. But what they don’t expect is to discover another boat already anchored off Meroe’s sandy beaches. The owners of the Azure Sky, Jake and Eliza, are a true golden couple: gorgeous, laidback, and if their sleek catamaran and well-stocked bar are any indication, rich. Now a party of six, the new friends settle in to experience life on an exotic island, and the serenity of being completely off the grid. Lux hasn’t felt like she truly belonged anywhere in years, yet here on Meroe, with these fellow free spirits, she finally has a sense of peace.
But with the arrival of a skeevy stranger sailing alone in pursuit of a darker kind of good time, the balance of the group is disrupted. Soon, cracks begin to emerge: it seems that Brittany and Amma haven’t been completely honest with Lux about their pasts––and perhaps not even with each other. And though Jake and Eliza seem like the perfect pair, the rocky history of their relationship begins to resurface, and their reasons for sailing to Meroe might not be as innocent as they first appeared.
When it becomes clear that the group is even more cut off from civilization than they initially thought, it starts to feel like the island itself is closing in on them. And when one person goes missing, and another turns up dead, Lux begins to wonder if any of them are going to make it off the island alive.
Oh, my! I’m going to be scared witless. This was also included in that Macmillan Reading Insiders Club sneak preview but I prefer this on audio so I’m hoping my library purchases it, too.
What books did YOU add to your shelves this week?