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.
When the battered body of a female jogger is found beneath the cliffs of an idyllic coastal community, these perfect neighbors suddenly don’t seem so perfect…
Lily Bradley is a respected psychotherapist married to a distinguished professor. They live in a dream house with their two children in close-knit Story Cove. Lily lives a well-ordered life. Or so it seems. As a therapist, she knows everyone keeps things hidden. Even her.
Then sensual and free-spirited Arwen Harper rolls into town in her hand-painted VW van, her sixteen-year-old son riding shotgun. Overnight, Story Cove’s secrets are no longer safe. Because Arwen might know her new neighbors better than they know themselves.
Now someone is dead, and it looks like murder. Brutal and personal. The death invites the shrewd eye of Detective Rue Duval. Rue’s job is to expose secrets. But she’s also an expert at keeping them.
As the lives of three women become inexorably entwined, one thing is clear: when it comes to survival, ordinary people can do the most terrible things.
I’ve been a fan of this author since her early days and she’s now an auto read. This is scheduled for release in March and is an audio review hopeful.
When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he really might be dead.
Instead of leading him directly to the afterlife, the reaper takes him to a small village. On the outskirts, off the path through the woods, tucked between mountains, is a particular tea shop, run by a man named Hugo. Hugo is the tea shop’s owner to locals and the ferryman to souls who need to cross over.
But Wallace isn’t ready to abandon the life he barely lived. With Hugo’s help he finally starts to learn about all the things he missed in life.
When the Manager, a curious and powerful being, arrives at the tea shop and gives Wallace one week to cross over, Wallace sets about living a lifetime in seven days.
By turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, this absorbing tale of grief and hope is told with TJ Klune’s signature warmth, humor, and extraordinary empathy.
I was all prepared to ignore this book but after reading the review by Suzanne @ The Bookish Libra, I had to have it! I’m in a short library queue for the audiobook.
Set in Constantinople in the 15th century, in a small town in present-day Idaho, and on an interstellar ship decades from now, Anthony Doerr’s gorgeous third novel is a triumph of imagination and compassion, a soaring story about children on the cusp of adulthood in worlds in peril, who find resilience, hope – and a book. In Cloud Cuckoo Land, Doerr has created a magnificent tapestry of times and places that reflects our vast interconnectedness – with other species, with each other, with those who lived before us, and with those who will be here after we’re gone.
Thirteen-year-old Anna, an orphan, lives inside the formidable walls of Constantinople in a house of women who make their living embroidering the robes of priests. Restless, insatiably curious, Anna learns to read, and in this ancient city, famous for its libraries, she finds a book, the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to a utopian paradise in the sky. This she reads to her ailing sister as the walls of the only place she has known are bombarded in the great siege of Constantinople. Outside the walls is Omeir, a village boy, miles from home, conscripted with his beloved oxen into the invading army. His path and Anna’s will cross.
Five hundred years later, in a library in Idaho, octogenarian Zeno, who learned Greek as a prisoner of war, rehearses five children in a play adaptation of Aethon’s story, preserved against all odds through centuries. Tucked among the library shelves is a bomb, planted by a troubled, idealistic teenager, Seymour. This is another siege. And in a not-so-distant future, on the interstellar ship Argos, Konstance is alone in a vault, copying on scraps of sacking the story of Aethon, told to her by her father. She has never set foot on our planet.
Like Marie-Laure and Werner in All the Light We Cannot See, Anna, Omeir, Seymour, Zeno, and Konstance are dreamers and outsiders who find resourcefulness and hope in the midst of gravest danger. Their lives are gloriously intertwined. Doerr’s dazzling imagination transports us to worlds so dramatic and immersive that we forget, for a time, our own. Dedicated to “the librarians then, now, and in the years to come”, Cloud Cuckoo Land
It would be easier to count how many of my Goodreads friends have not read and liked this book so when this was offered for audio review, I accepted.
The transition from President Donald J. Trump to President Joseph R. Biden Jr. stands as one of the most dangerous periods in American history.
But as number one internationally best-selling author Bob Woodward and acclaimed reporter Robert Costa reveal for the first time, it was far more than just a domestic political crisis.
Woodward and Costa interviewed more than 200 people at the center of the turmoil, resulting in more than 6,000 pages of transcripts – and a spellbinding and definitive portrait of a nation on the brink.
This classic study of Washington takes listeners deep inside the Trump White House, the Biden White House, the 2020 campaign, and the Pentagon and Congress, with vivid, eyewitness accounts of what really happened.
Peril is supplemented throughout with never-before-seen material from secret orders, transcripts of confidential calls, diaries, emails, meeting notes, and other personal and government records, making for an unparalleled history.
It is also the first inside look at Biden’s presidency as he faces the challenges of a lifetime: the continuing deadly pandemic and millions of Americans facing soul-crushing economic pain, all the while navigating a bitter and disabling partisan divide, a world rife with threats, and the hovering, dark shadow of the former president.
“We have much to do in this winter of peril,” Biden declared at his inauguration, an event marked by a nerve-wracking security alert and the threat of domestic terrorism.
Peril is the extraordinary story of the end of one presidency and the beginning of another and represents the culmination of Bob Woodward’s news-making trilogy on the Trump presidency, along with Fear and Rage. And it is the beginning of a collaboration with fellow Washington Post reporter Robert Costa that will remind listeners of Woodward’s coverage, with Carl Bernstein, of President Richard M. Nixon’s final days.
While I’m not consuming any political books these days, this is one that was on my must-read list. Robert Costa is one of those journalists who never succumbs to the pull from either side of the political landscape and I’ve always found his reporting to be on point, relevant and factual. And, I want to know who was a part of the the planning for the January 6 Insurrection, one of the worst days in our nation’s history.
Welcome to Wisewood. We’ll keep your secrets if you keep ours.
Natalie Collins hasn’t heard from her sister in more than half a year.
The last time they spoke, Kit was slogging from mundane workdays to obligatory happy hours to crying in the shower about their dead mother. She told Natalie she was sure there was something more out there.
And then she found Wisewood.
On a private island off the coast of Maine, Wisewood’s guests commit to six-month stays. During this time, they’re prohibited from contact with the rest of the world – no internet, no phones, no exceptions. But the rules are for a good reason: to keep guests focused on achieving true fearlessness so they can become their Maximized Selves. Natalie thinks it’s a bad idea, but Kit has had enough of her sister’s cynicism and voluntarily disappears off the grid.
Six months later, Natalie receives a menacing email from a Wisewood account, threatening to reveal the secret she’s been keeping from Kit. Panicked, Natalie hurries north to come clean to her sister and bring her home. But she’s about to learn that Wisewood won’t let either of them go without a fight.
I hadn’t heard of this book until I read a review by one of my Goodreads friends and got hooked. Another library audiobook hopeful.
Two identical twin sisters and former child actors have grown apart–until one disappears, and the other is forced to confront the secrets they’ve kept from each other in this twisty thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of Pretty Things.
“You be me, and I’ll be you,” I whispered.
As children, Sam and Elli were two halves of a perfect whole: Gorgeous identical twins whose parents sometimes couldn’t even tell them apart. They fell asleep to the sound of each other’s breath at night, holding hands in the dark. And once Hollywood discovered them, they became B-list child TV stars, often inhabiting the same role.
But as adults their lives have splintered. After leaving acting, Elli reinvented herself as the perfect homemaker: Married to a real-estate lawyer, in a house two blocks from the beach. Meanwhile, Sam has never recovered from her failed Hollywood career, or from her addiction to the pills and booze that have propped her up for the last 15 years.
Sam hasn’t spoken to her sister since her destructive behavior finally drove a wedge between them. So when her father calls out of the blue, Sam is shocked to learn that Elli’s life has been in turmoil: Her husband moved out, and Elli just adopted a two-year-old girl. Now she’s stopped answering her phone and checked in to a mysterious spa in Ojai. Is her sister just decompressing, or is she in trouble? Could she have possibly joined a cult? As Sam works to connect the dots left by Elli’s baffling disappearance, she realizes that the bond between her and her sister is more complicated than she ever knew.
I’ll Be You shows Janelle Brown at the top of her game: a story packed with surprising revelations and sharp insights about the choices that define our families and our lives — and could just as easily destroy them.
I might be doing well on my NetGalley diet but I’m not doing so well avoiding their emails and adding books to my shelf. Another library audiobook hopeful, scheduled for release in April.
A gripping thriller about a woman who must help cover the tracks of her serial killer sister – only to discover her sibling isn’t the only serial killer in town.
Carrie wants a normal life.
Carrie Lawrence doesn’t need a happily ever after. She’ll just settle for “after.” After a decade of helping her sister hide her victims. After a lifetime of lies. She just wants to be safe, boring, and not trekking through the woods at night with a dead body wrapped in a carpet.
Becca wants to get away with murder.
Becca Lawrence doesn’t believe in happily ever after because she’s already happy. She’s gotten away with murder for a decade and has blackmailed her sister into helping her hide the evidence – what more could a girl want?
But first, they have to stop a serial killer.
When 13 bodies are discovered in their small town, people are shocked. But not as shocked as Carrie, who thought she knew all the details of Becca’s sordid pastime. When Becca swears she’s not behind the grisly new crimes, they realize the town has a second serial killer who has the sisters in his sights, and what he wants is…Carrie.
I have a Goodreads friend who enjoys the same kind of crazy sauce I do and she pointed me to this title. I’m again hoping my library purchases the audiobook.
A musician facing the untimely end of his career. An end-of-life doula with everything, and nothing, to lose. A Star Is Born meets Me Before You in this powerful novel by the author of A Million Reasons Why.
As an end-of-life doula, Nova Huston’s job—her calling, her purpose, her life—is to help terminally ill people make peace with their impending death. Unlike her business partner, who swears by her system of checklists, free-spirited Nova doesn’t shy away from difficult clients: the ones who are heartbreakingly young, or prickly, or desperate for a caregiver or companion.
When Mason Shaylor shows up at her door, Nova doesn’t recognize him as the indie-favorite singer-songwriter who recently vanished from the public eye. She knows only what he’s told her: That life as he knows it is over. His deteriorating condition makes playing his guitar physically impossible—as far as Mason is concerned, he might as well be dead already.
Except he doesn’t know how to say goodbye.
Helping him is Nova’s biggest challenge yet. She knows she should keep clients at arm’s length. But she and Mason have more in common than anyone could guess… and meeting him might turn out to be the hardest, best thing that’s ever happened to them both.
The Next Thing You Know is an emotional, resonant story about the power of human connection, love when you least expect it, hope against the odds, and what it really takes to live life with no regrets.
This book is scheduled for release in March and it got my attention because of another NetGalley email. The comparison to Me Before You got my attention. A library audiobook hopeful.
Emily Birmingham has had it up to here with men.
Growing up with an overbearing father and then her brother inherits everything she’s worked her whole life to build. Now she’s living in her grandmother’s dilapidated house in the middle of nowhere Canada, jobless, and dealing with the most annoyingly sexy contractor on the planet. Exactly when did her life become an anti-Hallmark movie?
Cooper Merrick learned the hard way that love is definitely not worth the risk. He’s happy running the family contracting business alongside his well-meaning but overly-opinionated brothers…happy enough until polished and perfect Emily enters his world. Nothing prepared him for the ways she turns his life upside down and reaches the parts of himself he’s closed off from the world.
But when he finally gets up the nerve to ask Emily out, she says her next date will need to come with a written contract and some very particular ground rules. Yeah, it sounds crazy, but why does he find himself wanting to sign on the dotted line?
I love this author’s romances so when the audio version was offered for review, I was thrilled!
Told from alternating perspectives, an evocative and riveting novel about the. lifelong bond between two women, one Black and one White, whose friendship is indelibly altered by a tragic event – a powerful and poignant exploration of race in America today and its devastating impact on ordinary lives.
Jen and Riley have been best friends since kindergarten. As adults, they remain as close as sisters, though their lives have taken different directions. Jen married young, and after years of trying, is finally pregnant. Riley pursued her childhood dream of becoming a television journalist and is poised to become one of the first Black female anchors of the top news channel in their hometown of Philadelphia.
But the deep bond they share is severely tested when Jen’s husband, a city police officer, is involved in the shooting of an unarmed Black teenager. Six months pregnant, Jen is in freefall as her future, her husband’s freedom, and her friendship with Riley are thrown into uncertainty. Covering this career-making story, Riley wrestles with the implications of this tragic incident for her Black community, her ambitions, and her relationship with her lifelong friend.
Like Tayari Jones’ An American Marriage and Jodi Picoult’s Small Great Things, We Are Not Like Them explores complex questions of race and how they pervade and shape our most intimate spaces in a deeply divided world. But at its heart, it’s a story of enduring friendship – a love that defies the odds even as it faces its most difficult challenges.
This was offered for audio review and after reading the description, I got excited and quickly accepted!
Julie Tieu sparkles in this debut romantic comedy, which is charmingly reminiscent of the TV show Kim’s Convenienceand Frankly in Love by David Yoon, about a young woman who feels caught in the life her parents have made for her until she falls in love and finds a way out of the donut trap.
Jasmine Tran has landed herself behind bars – maple bars that is. With no boyfriend or job prospects, Jasmine returns home to work at her parents’ donut shop. Jasmine quickly loses herself in a cyclical routine of donuts, Netflix, and sleep. She wants to break free from her daily grind, but when a hike in rent threatens the survival of their shop, her parents rely on her more than ever.
Help comes in the form of an old college crush, Alex Lai. Not only is he successful and easy on the eyes, to her parents’ delight, he’s also Chinese. He’s everything she should wish for, until a disastrous dinner reveals Alex isn’t as perfect as she thinks. Worse, he doesn’t think she’s perfect either.
With both sets of parents against their relationship, a family legacy about to shut down, and the reappearance of an old high school flame, Jasmine must scheme to find a solution that satisfies her family’s expectations and can get her out of the donut trap once and for all.
I hadn’t heard anything about this book until it was offered for audio review. None of my Goodreads friends have reviewed it yet, either. But there was a consistency among others’ reviews that captured my heart.
Two lives. The one you wanted. The one that wanted you.
Her birthday should be like any other night.
One minute Kelly’s a free-spirited artist in Chicago going to her best friend’s art show. The next, she opens a door and mysteriously emerges in her Michigan hometown. Suddenly her life is unrecognizable: She’s got twelve years of the wrong memories in her head and she’s married to Eric, a man she barely knew in high school.
Racing to get back to her old life, Kelly’s search leads only to more questions. In this life, she loves Eric and wants to trust him, but everything she discovers about him—including a connection to a mysterious tech startup—tells her she shouldn’t. And strange things keep happening. The tattoos she had when she was an artist briefly reappear on her skin, she remembers fights with Eric that he says never happened, and her relationships with loved ones both new and familiar seem to change without warning.
But the closer Kelly gets to putting the pieces together, the more her reality seems to shift. And if she can’t figure out what happened on her birthday, the next change could cost her everything…
Another intriguing title that showed up at my library this week. Not only does it have high ratings from many of my Goodreads friends but the audiobook is narrated by one of my favorites, Nicol Zanzarella and that heavily tipped the scales.
An enchanted Christmas dress brings two generations of women together for the magic of the season in this delightful holiday story from New York Times bestselling author Courtney Cole.
One Dress. Two Women. The Magic of the Holiday Season.
When hopeful fashionista Meg Julliard must return to her hometown of Chicago to manage her late father’s apartment building, she thinks her dreams of making it in the fashion business are over. Add in her father’s eclectic roster of tenants who all need Meg’s attention (ASAP!), a host of building related disasters, and a handsome handyman she keeps embarrassing herself in front of, and this has all the makings for the worst Christmas she’s ever had.
Ellie Wade, one of the building’s longtime residents, is also not feeling the Christmas Joy this year. She is preparing to move into a nursing home (reluctantly), and is in the process of sorting through her belongings to downsize. Every corner of her apartment holds memories, some good, some bad. But there’s one dress she hesitates to pack up as it represents both the best and worst night of her life.
Ellie and Meg strike up an unlikely friendship and the story of Ellie’s dress comes out. Ellie gifts the gorgeous dress to Meg, hoping that it will bring her more luck, on the condition that she wear it to the building’s Christmas party.
The dress magically fits, and while it eventually leads to the best night of Meg’s life, it also acts as inspiration for Meg to follow a life-long dream of her own, a dream that will help save the crumbling Parkview West, and restore it to its former glory, and keep it as a safe home for all of the current tenants.
The dress and the magic of the holiday season helps both Meg and Ellie find their own happy endings.
I’m in the mood to begin my holiday reading so when this was offered for audio review, I grabbed it. I loved Cole’s earlier book, Mine, which was a masterpiece in storytelling
As comforting and familiar as a favorite sweater, Viola Shipman’s first holiday novel is a promise of heartfelt family traditions, humorously real experience, and the enduring power of love and friendship.
Sonny Dunes, a SoCal meteorologist who knows only sunshine and seventy-two-degree days, is being replaced by an AI meteorologist, which the youthful station manager reasons “will never age, gain weight or renegotiate its contract.” The only station willing to give the fifty-year-old another shot is one in a famously nontropical place—her northern Michigan hometown.
Unearthing her carefully laid California roots, Sonny returns home and reacclimates to the painfully long, dark winters dominated by a Michigan phenomenon known as lake-effect snow. But beyond the complete physical shock to her system, she’s also forced to confront her past: her new boss, a former journalism classmate and mortal frenemy; more keenly, the death of a younger sister who loved the snow; and the mother who caused Sonny to leave.
To distract herself from the unwelcome memories, Sonny decides to throw herself headfirst into all things winter to woo viewers and reclaim her success. From sledding and ice fishing to skiing and winter festivals, the merrymaking culminates with the town’s famed Winter Ice Sculpture Contest. Running the events is a widowed father and chamber of commerce director, whose genuine love of Michigan, winter and Sonny just might thaw her heart and restart her life in a way she never could have predicted.
I’m unfamiliar with this author but I love the aspects of this story so much that I accepted it for audio review. It’s not your typical holiday fare.
A smart, witty, crackling novel of psychological suspense in which a girl from a hardscrabble small town meets a gorgeous Instagram influencer from the big city, with a murderous twist that will shock even the most savvy listener.
Dark, deft, murderous, and witty, ‘NO ONE WILL MISS HER’ tackles the thorny issues of identity and belonging at the heart of women’s lives.
On a beautiful October morning in rural Maine, a homicide investigator from the big city pulls into the hard-luck town of Copper Falls. The local junkyard is burning, and the town pariah Lizzie Oullette is dead – with her husband, Dwayne, nowhere to be found. As scandal ripples through the community, Detective Ian Bird’s inquiries unexpectedly lead him away from small-town Maine to a swank city townhouse several hours south. Adrienne Richards, blonde and fabulous social media influencer and wife of a disgraced billionaire, had been renting Lizzie’s tiny lake house as a country getaway…even though Copper Falls is anything but a resort town.
As Adrienne’s connection to the case becomes clear, so too does her connection to Lizzie, who narrates their story from beyond the grave. Each woman is desperately lonely in her own way, and they navigate a relationship that cuts across class boundaries: transactional, complicated, and, finally, deadly. A ‘Gone Girl’ for the gig economy, this is a story of privilege, identity, and cunning, as two devious women from opposite worlds discover the dangers of coveting someone else’s life.
This was offered for audio review and I thought I should get it but then I saw the reviews by Kaceey & Susanne @ Books are a Girl’s Best Friend.com and then had to have it!
In this fast-paced thriller, Wanda M. Morris crafts a twisty mystery about a Black lawyer who gets caught in a dangerous conspiracy after the sudden death of her boss … A debut perfect for fans of Attica Locke, Alyssa Cole, Harlan Coben, and Celeste Ng, with shades of How to Get Away with Murder and John Grisham’s The Firm.
Everyone has something to hide….
Everyone has something to hide….
Ellice Littlejohn seemingly has it all: an Ivy League law degree, a well-paying job as a corporate attorney in midtown Atlanta, great friends, and a “for fun” relationship with a rich, charming executive – her white boss, Michael.
But everything changes one cold January morning when Ellice goes to meet Michael…and finds him dead with a gunshot to his head.
And then she walks away like nothing has happened. Why? Ellice has been keeping a cache of dark secrets, including a small-town past and a kid brother who’s spent time on the other side of the law. She can’t be thrust into the spotlight – again.
But instead of grieving this tragedy, people are gossiping, the police are getting suspicious, and Ellice, the company’s lone black attorney, is promoted to replace Michael. While the opportunity is a dream-come-true, Ellice just can’t shake the feeling that something is off.
When she uncovers shady dealings inside the company, Ellice is trapped in an impossible ethical and moral dilemma. Suddenly, Ellice’s past and present lives collide as she launches into a pulse-pounding race to protect the brother she tried to save years ago and stop a conspiracy far more sinister than she could have ever imagined….
I love legal thrillers so when this was offered for audio review, I was intrigued enough to give this new author a shot. I mean How to Get Away with Murder & The Firm? Enough said.
It’s been over two years since Effie’s beloved parents got divorced, destroying the image of the happy, loving childhood she thought she had. Since then, she’s become estranged from her father and embarked on a feud with his hot (and much younger) girlfriend, Krista. And now, more earth-shattering news: Greenoaks, the rambling Victorian country house Effie called home her whole life, has been sold.
When Krista decides to throw a grand “house cooling” party, Effie is originally left off the guest list—and then receives a last-minute “anti-invitation” (maybe it’s because she called Krista a gold-digger, but Krista totally deserved it, and it was mostly a joke anyway). Effie declines, but then remembers a beloved childhood treasure is still hidden in the house. Her only chance to retrieve it is to break into Greenoaks while everyone is busy celebrating. As Effie sneaks around the house, hiding under tables and peeping through trapdoors, she realizes the secrets Greenoaks holds aren’t just in the dusty passageways and hidden attics she grew up exploring. Watching how her sister, brother, and dad behave when they think no one is looking, Effie overhears conversations, makes discoveries, and begins to see her family in a new light. Then she runs into Joe—the love of her life, who long ago broke her heart, and who’s still as handsome and funny as ever—and even more truths emerge.
But will Effie act on these revelations? Will she stay hidden or step out into the party and take her place with her family? And truthfully, what did she really come back to Greenoaks for? Over the course of one blowout party, Effie realizes that she must be honest with herself and confront her past before she’ll ever be able to face her future.
Even though Kinsella can be hit or miss with me, I am always willing to try anything by her. The audiobook showed up yesterday at my library and I’m in a short queue.
What books did YOU add to your shelves this week?