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.
Aspiring clothes designer Victoria Scott spends her days working in a bar in Chelsea, and her evenings designing vintage clothes, dreaming of one day opening her own boutique. But these aspirations are under threat from the new department store opening at the end of her road. She needs a Christmas miracle, but one is not forthcoming.
Oliver Russell’s Christmas is not looking very festive right now. His family’s new London department store opening is behind schedule, and on top of that his interfering, if well meaning, mother is pressing him to introduce his girlfriend to her. A girlfriend who does not exist. He needs a diversion. Something to keep his mother from interfering while he focuses on the business.
When Oliver meets Victoria, he offers a proposition: pretend to be his girlfriend at the opening of his store and he will provide an opportunity for Victoria to showcase her designs. But what starts as a business arrangement soon becomes something more tempting, as the fake relationship starts to feel very real. But when secrets in Victoria’s past are exposed will Oliver walk away, or will they both follow their hearts and find what neither knew they were looking for…
I have Carla @ Carla Loves to Read to thank for this one! I’d given it a pass when it was first offered for review, leery of it being narrated by the author. But she gave the author a thumbs up on her performance.
For more than forty years, Katie Couric has been an iconic presence in the media world. In her brutally honest, hilarious, heartbreaking memoir, she reveals what was going on behind the scenes of her sometimes tumultuous personal and professional life – a story she’s never shared, until now. Of the medium she loves, the one that made her a household name, she says, “Television can put you in a box; the flat-screen can flatten. On TV, you are larger than life but smaller, too. It is not the whole story, and it is not the whole me. This book is.”
Beginning in early childhood, Couric was inspired by her journalist father to pursue the career he loved but couldn’t afford to stay in. Balancing her vivacious, outgoing personality with her desire to be taken seriously, she overcame every obstacle in her way: insecurity, an eating disorder, being typecast, sexism…challenges, and how she dealt with them, setting the tone for the rest of her career. Couric talks candidly about adjusting to sudden fame after her astonishing rise to co-anchor of the ‘Today’ show, and guides us through the most momentous events and news stories of the era, to which she had a front-row seat: Rodney King, Anita Hill, Columbine, the death of Princess Diana, 9/11, the Iraq War… In every instance, she relentlessly pursued the facts, ruffling more than a few feathers along the way. She also recalls in vivid and sometimes lurid detail the intense pressure on female anchors to snag the latest “get” – often sensational tabloid stories like Jon Benet Ramsey, Tonya Harding, and OJ Simpson.
Couric’s position as one of the leading lights of her profession was shadowed by the shock and trauma of losing her husband to stage 4 colon cancer when he was just 42, leaving her a widow and single mom to two daughters, 6 and 2. The death of her sister Emily, just three years later, brought yet more trauma – and an unwavering commitment to cancer awareness and research, one of her proudest accomplishments.
Couric is unsparing in the details of her historic move to the anchor chair at the ‘CBS Evening News’ – a world rife with sexism and misogyny. Her “welcome” was even more hostile at ’60 Minutes’, an unrepentant boys club that engaged in outright hazing of even the most established women. In the wake of the MeToo movement, Couric shares her clear-eyed reckoning with gender inequality and predatory behavior in the workplace, and downfall of Matt Lauer – a colleague she had trusted and respected for more than a decade.
Couric also talks about the challenge of finding love again, with all the hilarity, false-starts, and drama that search entailed, before finding her midlife Mr. Right. Something she has never discussed publicly – why her second marriage almost didn’t happen.
If you thought you knew Katie Couric, think again. ‘GOING THERE’ is the fast-paced, emotional, riveting story of a thoroughly modern woman, whose journey took her from humble origins to superstardom. In these pages, you will find a friend, a confidante, a role model, a survivor whose lessons about life will enrich your own.
I’ve never been able to figure this journalist out and when her audiobook showed up at my library, I decided to get it after watching her interview with Savannah Guthrie. I’m particularly interested in her thoughts about her long-time co-anchor Matt Lauer.
When Mira flies home to spend Christmas with her mother in Pittsburgh, a record-breaking blizzard results in a cancelled layover. Desperate to get to her grief-ridden mother in the wake of a family death, Mira hitches a ride with a group of friendly college kids who were on her initial flight.
As the drive progresses and weather conditions become more treacherous, Mira realizes that the four other passengers she’s stuck in the car with don’t actually know one another.
Soon, they’re not just dealing with heavy snowfall and ice-slick roads, but the fact that somebody will stop at nothing to ensure their trip ends in a deadly disaster.
This is the Big Library Read selection for November and it sounds chilling!
Sonya used to perform on stage. She attended glamorous parties, dated handsome men, rode in fast cars. But somewhere along the way, the stage lights Sonya lived for dimmed to black. In their absence, came darkness—blackouts, empty cupboards, hazy nights she could not remember.
Haunted by her failed career and lingering trauma from her childhood, Sonya fell deep into an alcoholic abyss. What kept her from losing herself completely was Tommy, her son. But her love for Tommy rivaled her love for the bottle. Addiction amplified her fear of losing her child; every maternal misstep compelled her to drink. Tommy’s precious life was in her shaky hands.
Eventually Sonya was forced to make a choice. Give up drinking or lose Tommy—forever.
This was offered for audio review and I know that I’m in for an emotional listening experience.
After a devastating break-up, celebrity-obsessed lawyer Zara Patel is determined never to open her heart again. She puts her energy into building her career and helping her friends find romance through the wedding season. She’s never faced a guest at the singles table she couldn’t match, until she crosses paths with the sinfully sexy Jay Donovan.
Former military security specialist Jay has no time for love. His life is about working hard, staying focused, and winning at all costs. When charismatic Zara crashes into his life, he’s thrown into close contact with exactly the kind of chaos he wants to avoid. Worse, they’re stuck together for the entire wedding season.
So they make a deal. She’ll find his special someone if he introduces her to his celebrity clients. But when their arrangement brings them together in ways they never expected, they realize that the perfect match might just be their own.
I took a really quick peek at NetGalley and saw this title. Of course, I’m holding out for the audio version, a library hopeful.
The Montoyas are used to a life without explanations. They know better than to ask why the pantry never seems to run low or empty, or why their matriarch won’t ever leave their home in Four Rivers—even for graduations, weddings, or baptisms. But when Orquídea Divina invites them to her funeral and to collect their inheritance, they hope to learn the secrets that she has held onto so tightly their whole lives. Instead, Orquídea is transformed, leaving them with more questions than answers.
Seven years later, her gifts have manifested in different ways for Marimar, Rey, and Tatinelly’s daughter, Rhiannon, granting them unexpected blessings. But soon, a hidden figure begins to tear through their family tree, picking them off one by one as it seeks to destroy Orquídea’s line. Determined to save what’s left of their family and uncover the truth behind their inheritance, the four descendants travel to Ecuador—to the place where Orquídea buried her secrets and broken promises and never looked backed.
Alternating between Orquídea’s past and her descendants’ present, The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina is an enchanting novel about what we knowingly and unknowingly inherit from our ancestors, the ties that bind, and reclaiming your power.
I passed on this when it was offered for audio review but when it showed up at my library, I reconsidered at the urging of so many of my Goodreads friends. I’m a big fan of magical realism.
Two teenagers, a Greek Cypriot and a Turkish Cypriot, meet at a taverna on the island they both call home. In the taverna, hidden beneath garlands of garlic, chili peppers and creeping honeysuckle, Kostas and Defne grow in their forbidden love for each other. A fig tree stretches through a cavity in the roof, and this tree bears witness to their hushed, happy meetings and eventually, to their silent, surreptitious departures. The tree is there when war breaks out, when the capital is reduced to ashes and rubble, and when the teenagers vanish. Decades later, Kostas returns. He is a botanist looking for native species, but really, he’s searching for lost love.
Years later, a Ficus carica grows in the back garden of a house in London where Ada Kazantzakis lives. This tree is her only connection to an island she has never visited – her only connection to her family’s troubled history and her complex identity as she seeks to untangle years of secrets to find her place in the world.
A moving, beautifully written and delicately constructed story of love, division, transcendence, history and eco-consciousness, The Island of Missing Trees is Elif Shafak’s best work yet.
This is the latest selection by Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine book club. She’s yet to steer me wrong and I’m in a short library queue.
Martin and Peggy Chance believe love should last a lifetime. With their fiftieth wedding anniversary on the horizon, they’ve modeled a beautiful relationship for their three grown children. But to their dismay, that lesson hasn’t quite caught on—the three siblings just can’t seem to take a chance and find love in their own lives.
There’s Ford, the eldest, devoted to his work and resistant to romance…or so he claims. Cooper, the middle child, can’t get past his divorce—until he reconnects with a feisty baker from his past. And Palmer, the baby of the family, is the free-spirited world traveler who always pictured herself with someone otherthan a handsome small-town family doctor.
When the Chance siblings come together to plan the ultimate anniversary party for their parents, they’ll have to navigate romantic entanglements, sibling rivalries, and the definitive end of their childhood. Whatever happens, The Reunion promises to be a fun, flirty, wild ride.
Can’t resist family drama! Suzanne @ The Bookish Libra strikes again with her Can’t Wait Wednesday post. A library audiobook hopeful.
Jewel Jackson has pined for Bobby Brandon for years. He’s been “with his soulmate” since high school, so pining was all she ever expected. However, when he returns home to help out with his family’s stock contracting business, he shows up sans fiancée and suddenly looking at Jewel in a whole new light. As they work together to ensure the Brandons’ star bull has the best season of his career, sparks between the two of them begin to take on a whole new light. Could an easy summer fling inspire something more? And will either of them be willing to change their entire life to make it so?
Read the standalone prequel to the Wildes of Birch Bay series and fall in love with all things Montana today.
I have all the books in this series and this new prequel was free for one day. I learned about it from the author’s newsletter.
Britta Colby works for a lifestyle website, and when tasked to write about her experience with a hot new body-positive fitness app that includes personal coaching, she knows it’s a major opportunity to prove she should write for the site full-time.
As CEO of the FitMe app, Wes Lawson finally has the financial security he grew up without, but despite his success, his floundering love life and complicated family situation leaves him feeling isolated and unfulfilled. He decides to get back to what he loves—coaching. Britta’s his first new client and they click immediately.
As weeks pass, she’s surprised at how much she enjoys experimenting with her exercise routine. He’s surprised at how much he looks forward to talking to her every day. They convince themselves their attraction is harmless, but when they start working out in person, Wes and Britta find it increasingly challenging to deny their chemistry and maintain a professional distance.
Wes isn’t supposed to be training clients, much less meeting with them, and Britta’s credibility will be sunk if the lifestyle site finds out she’s practically dating the fitness coach she’s reviewing. Walking away from each other is the smartest thing to do, but running side by side feels like the start of something big.
The audiobook showed up at my library and I was immediately smitten, also bolstered by strong reviews from several Goodreads friends.
You trying to kill yourself, or are you just stupid?
Marcie Malone didn’t think she was either, but when she drives from Georgia to the southwestern shore of Florida without a plan and wakes up in a stranger’s home, she doesn’t seem to know anymore. Despondent and heartbroken over an unexpected loss and the man she thought she could count on, Marcie leaves him behind, along with her job and her whole life, and finds she has nowhere to go.
Herman Flint has seen just about everything in his seventy years living in a fading, blue-collar Florida town, but the body collapsed on the beach outside his window is something new. The woman is clearly in some kind of trouble and Flint wants no part of it–he’s learned to live on his own just fine, without the hassle of worrying about others. But against his better judgment he takes Marcie in and lets her stay until she’s on her feet on the condition she keeps out of his way.
As the unlikely pair slowly copes with the damages life has wrought, Marcie and Flint have to decide whether to face up to the past they’re each running from, and find a way to move forward with the people they care about most.
One of my most trusted Goodreads friends who is also an audiobook lover wrote the most beautiful review of this story (she had a backstory that connected her to one of the characters). I’m hoping my library purchases the audiobook.
In this beautifully written and propulsive memoir, Huma Abedin—Hillary Clinton’s famously private top aide and longtime adviser—emerges from the wings of American political history to take command of her own story.
The daughter of Indian and Pakistani intellectuals and advocates who split their time between Saudi Arabia, the UK, and the United States, Abedin grew up in many worlds. Both/Andgrapples with family, legacy, identity, faith, marriage, and motherhood with wisdom and sophistication.
Abedin launched full steam into a college internship in the office of the first lady in 1996, never imagining that her work at the White House would blossom into a career in public service, nor that the career would become an all-consuming way of life. Still in her twenties and thirties, she thrived in rooms with diplomats and sovereigns, entrepreneurs and artists, philanthropists and activists, and witnessed many crucial moments in 21st-century American history—Camp David for urgent efforts at Middle East peace in the waning months of the Clinton administration, Ground Zero in the days after the 9/11 attacks, the inauguration of the first African American president of the United States, the convention floor when America nominated its first female presidential candidate.
Abedin’s relationship with Clinton has seen both women through extraordinary personal and professional highs, as well as unimaginable lows. Here, for the first time, is a deeply personal account of Hillary Clinton as mentor, confidante, and role model. Abedin cuts through caricature, rumor, and misinformation to reveal a crystal-clear portrait of Clinton as a brilliant and caring leader a steadfast friend, generous, funny, hardworking, and dedicated. Both/And is a candid and heartbreaking chronicle of Abedin’s marriage to Anthony Weiner, what drew her to him, how much she wanted to believe in him, the devastation wrought by his betrayals—and their shared love for their son.
It is also a timeless story of a young woman with aspirations and ideals coming into her own in high-pressure jobs, and a testament to the potential for women in leadership to blaze a path forward while supporting those who follow in their footsteps. Both/And describes Abedin’s journey through the opportunities and obstacles, the trials and triumphs, of a full and complex life. Abedin’s compassion and courage, her resilience and grace, her work ethic and mission are an inspiration to people of all ages.
It took me a while to decide about this memoir after it was offered for audio review and showed up at my library. Abedin is highly lauded by just about everyone, which made her decision to stand by her toad of a husband even more inexplicable. So, I’m going to try and find the answer for myself as she finally breaks her silence and moves forward out of the background.
Sue Keller is lost. When her father dies suddenly, she’s orphaned in her mid-20s, her mother already long gone. Then Sue meets Annie. It’s been 20 years, but Annie could never forget that face. She was Sue’s live-in nanny at their big house upstate, and she loved Sue like she was her own.
Craving connection and mothering, Sue is only too eager to welcome Annie back into her life, but as they become inseparable once again, Sue starts to uncover the truth about Annie’s unsettling time in the Keller house all those years ago, particularly the manner of her departure – or dismissal. At the same time, she begins to grow increasingly alarmed for the safety of the two new charges currently in Annie’s care.
Told in alternating points of views – Annie in the mid ’90s and Sue in the present day – this taut novel of suspense will keep you turning the pages right up to the shocking end.
This was offered for audio review and I seem to not be able to resist these type stories.
For readers of Lisa Jewell, Liv Constantine, and Megan Miranda, a lightning-paced psychological thriller about two women, a tragedy that connects them as teenagers, and the terrible reckoning that will decide their fates a decade later.
Jane Ellison is a “super recognizer” able to identify strangers by the slightest facial details—the curve of a head, the arch of an eyebrow. When she spies human rights activist and heiress Bella Valencia in a crowded Boston airport, Jane’s convinced she’s found the person responsible for her sister Kit’s disappearance and presumed death eleven years earlier. But her attempt to detain the suspect ends with Jane herself fired and humiliated.
As Bella prepares to marry Will Pease, scion of the uber-wealthy, influential, and ruthless Pease family, famous for their wholesome wellness and lifestyle brand, on their private Cape Cod island, she grows increasingly anxious that her dire secret will be revealed and used against her by—of all people—the man she loves.
She has reason to fear: Jane is ready to risk everything for the chance to publicly expose Bella’s crimes at her upcoming celebrity wedding. But the more she digs into what happened that night, the more she questions her own assumptions.
Combining magnetic, wise-cracking narration and a skillfully layered plot, Do I Know You? is a gripping psychological thriller and tale of redemption that reveals the power of a sister’s love.
Another book offered for audio review and I was curious about what a “super recognizer” might be.
Newly retired from the Marine Corps, Delaney is looking for somewhere to start over. It’s not going to be easy, but when she finds the perfect place to open her dream motorcycle shop, she goes for it. What she doesn’t expect is an abandoned pit bull to come with the building. The shy pup is slow to trust, but Delaney is determined to win it over.
Detective Sean Callahan is smitten from the moment he sees Delaney, but her cool demeanor throws him off his game. When her late father’s vintage motorcycle is stolen from Delaney’s shop, Sean gets to turn up in his element: chasing the bad guy and showing his best self to a woman who’s gotten under his skin in a bad way.
Delaney isn’t used to lasting relationships, but letting love in—both human and canine—helps her see that she may have found a place she belongs, forever.
Oh, a little something sweet to add to all this mayhem! I got this for audio review.
First Rule: Make them like you.
Second Rule: Make them need you.
Third Rule: Make them pay.
They think I’m a young, idealistic law student, that I’m passionate about reforming a corrupt and brutal system.
They think I’m working hard to impress them.
They think I’m here to save an innocent man on death row.
They’re wrong. I’m going to bury him.
Whoa! Didn’t think twice when this was offered for audio review.
Set in a wealthy Parisian suburb, an emotionally riveting debut told from the point of view of six women, and centered around a group of au pairs, one of whom is arrested after a sudden and suspicious tragedy strikes her host family – a dramatic exploration of identity, class, and caregiving from a profoundly talented new writer.
Paris, 2015. A crowd gathers outside the Chauvet home in the affluent suburban community of Maisons-Larue, watching as the family’s American au pair is led away in handcuffs after the sudden death of her young charge. The grieving mother believes the caretaker is to blame, and the neighborhood is thrown into chaos, unsure who is at fault – the enigmatic young foreigner or the mother herself, who has never seemed an active participant in the lives of her children.
The truth lies with six women: Géraldine, a heartbroken French teacher struggling to support her vulnerable young students; Lou, an incompetent au pair who was recently fired by the family next door; Charlotte, a chilly socialite and reluctant mother; Nathalie, an isolated French teenager desperate for her mother’s attention; Holly, a socially anxious au pair yearning to belong in her adopted country; and finally, Alena, the one accused of the crime, who has gone to great lengths to avoid emotional connection, and now finds herself caught in the turbulent power dynamics of her host family’s household.
Set during the weeks leading up to the event, The Caretakers is a poignant and suspenseful drama featuring complicated women. It’s a sensitive exploration of the weight of secrets, the pressures of country, community, and family – and miscommunications and misunderstandings that can have fatal consequences.
This was offered for audio review and though it’s a little out of my comfort zone, it sounds provocative and intriguing.
A captivating debut novel about the tangled fates of two best friends and daughters of the Italian mafia, and a coming-of-age story of 20th-century Brooklyn itself.
Two daughters. Two families. One inescapable fate.
Sofia Colicchio is a free spirit, loud and untamed. Antonia Russo is thoughtful, ever observing the world around her. Best friends since birth, they live in the shadow of their fathers’ unspoken community: the Family. Sunday dinners gather them each week to feast, discuss business, and renew the intoxicating bond borne of blood and love.
But the disappearance of Antonia’s father drives a whisper-thin wedge between the girls as they grow into women, wives, mothers, and leaders. Their hearts expand in tandem with Red Hook and Brooklyn around them, as they push against the boundaries of society’s expectations and fight to preserve their complex but life-sustaining friendship. One fateful night their loyalty to each other and the Family will be tested. Only one of them can pull the trigger before it’s too late.
I’m not a fan of these mafia stories so when it was selected by the Today Show’s Read with Jenna book club for November, I explored it, even sampling the narration. When it showed up at my library, I got in the queue because I was hooked after five minutes of listening.
On the verge of realizing her dream of being a doctor, Preeti Patel should be ecstatic. But between the stress of her residency, trying to find a job, and managing her traditional, no-boundaries family, Preeti’s anxiety is through the roof. Relationships and love aren’t even an option. Fortunately, Preeti’s finally found a new place to stay . . . only to discover that her new roommate is her ex.
Preeti never quite got over Daniel Thompson. Super-hot, plenty of swagger, amazing cook—the guy is practically perfect. And if it weren’t for their families, there might have been a happily ever after. But it’s hard to keep her sanity and libido in check when the man of her dreams is sleeping mere feet away. Can Preeti and Daniel find a way to stand up and fight for each other one last time . . . before they lose their second chance?
This showed up at my library and it’s my kind of story!
Eudora Honeysett is done with this noisy, moronic world—all of it. She has witnessed the indignities and suffering of old age and has lived a full life. At eighty-five, she isn’t going to leave things to chance. Her end will be on her terms. With one call to a clinic in Switzerland, a plan is set in motion.
Then she meets ten-year-old Rose Trewidney, a whirling, pint-sized rainbow of color and sparkling cheer. All Eudora wants is to be left alone to set her affairs in order. Instead, she finds herself embarking on a series of adventures with the irrepressible Rose and their affable fellow neighbor, the recently widowed Stanley—afternoon tea, shopping sprees, trips to the beach, birthday celebrations, pizza parties.
While the trio of unlikely BFFs grow closer and anxiously await the arrival of Rose’s new baby sister, Eudora is reminded of her own childhood—of losing her father during World War II and the devastating impact it had on her entire family. In reflecting on her past, Eudora realizes she must come to terms with what lies ahead.
But now that her joy for life has been rekindled, how can she possibly say goodbye?
I let this get by me a year ago when it was offered for audio review so I jumped in the library queue after the audiobook showed up.
Eight cryptic words.
Lifetimes of ruin.
Wayland Maynard is just eight years old when he sees his father kill himself, finds a note that reads I am not who you think I am, and is left reeling with grief and shock. Who was his father if not the loving man Wayland knew? Terrified, Wayland keeps the note a secret, but his reasons for being afraid are just beginning.
Eight years later, Wayland makes a shocking discovery and becomes certain the note is the key to unlocking a past his mother and others in his town want to keep buried.
With the help of two friends, Wayland searches for the truth. Together they uncover strange messages scribbled in his father’s old books, a sinister history behind the town’s most powerful family, and a bizarre tragedy possibly linked to Wayland’s birth. Each revelation raises more questions and deepens Wayland’s suspicions of everyone around him. Soon, he’ll regret he ever found the note, trusted his friends, or believed in such a thing as the truth.
I Am Not Who You Think I Am is an ingenious, addictive, and shattering tale of grief, obsession, and fate as eight words lead to lifetimes of ruin.
This audiobook also showed up at my library and I was on the fence until I saw that Steven Weber is the narrator. I’m in a short queue.
What books did YOU add to your shelves this week?