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.
Sometimes a yacht, a bold bucket list, and a kiss with a handsome stranger are all a person needs to dive into the deep end of life.
For the last year, yacht stewardess Jo Walker has blogged her attempt to complete a bucket list of 30 things before her 30th birthday. She has almost everything she’s ever wanted: a condo on the beach (though she’s the youngest resident by thirty years), an exciting job (catering to the whims of wealthy strangers), and a loyal best friend (who forced her into creating the list after a bad break-up).
But after Jo’s nephew is killed in a tragic accident, her list and blog fall to the wayside as she struggles to keep her grief in check. When her two teenage nieces show up on her doorstep unannounced and with plans to stay for the summer, they discover her list and insist on helping. Though the remaining eight items (which include running a marathon, visiting ten countries, and sleeping in a castle) seem impossible to complete in less than three months, Jo takes on the challenge, hoping to distract the girls (and herself) from their collective grief.
As the list shrinks, so does Jo’s confidence in what she wants from the next chapter of her life. When she completes item #5 – kiss a stranger – she meets Alex Hayes, the hot single dad who ends up being less of a stranger than she’d hoped. As her feelings for Alex intensify and her nieces’ grief threatens to unleash her own, Jo must learn to quit playing it safe with her heart before she loses the people who matter most.
This showed up at my library and after checking reviews by trusted Goodreads friends, I added the audiobook as I was drawn to the description and the narrator. I’m in a short queue.
Bridgerton meets Gossip Girl with a dash of Jane Austen, in this Regency-era historical romantic comedy with a deliciously feminist twist, from a hilarious new British voice, Lex Croucher.
Abandoned by her parents, middle-class Georgiana Ellers is spending the summer with her stodgy aunt and uncle at their home in the English countryside. At a particularly dull party, she meets the enigmatic Frances Campbell, a wealthy member of the in-crowd who delights Georgiana with her disregard for so-called “polite society”.
Lonely and vulnerable, Georgiana quickly falls in with Frances and her wealthy, wild, and deeply improper friends, who introduce her to the upper echelons of Regency aristocracy, and a world of drunken debauchery, frivolous spending, and mysterious young men. One, in particular, stands out from the rest: Thomas Hawksley, who has a tendency to cross paths with Georgiana in her most embarrassing moments. Sparks fly, but Thomas seems unimpressed with the company she is keeping. And soon, Georgiana begins to wonder whether she’ll ever feel like she fits in – or if the price of entry into Frances’ gilded world will ultimately be higher than she is willing to pay.
Set against a backdrop of lavish parties, handsome men on horseback – and in a time when one’s reputation was everything– this edgy, hilarious romantic comedy explores sex, consent, belonging, and status through the eyes of an unforgettable heroine for whom Austen herself would have cheered.
I wanted this immediately after seeing it in the Sunday Post by Tessa @ Tessa Loves Books. It was included in her NetGalley haul and I’m hoping my library purchases the audio version. It’s scheduled for release in April.
A delight for readers of Where’d You Go, Bernadette and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, this blockbuster debut set in 1960s California features the singular voice of Elizabeth Zott, a scientist whose career takes a detour when she becomes the star of a beloved TV cooking show.
Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel–prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with—of all things—her mind. True chemistry results.
But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (“combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride”) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.
Laugh-out-loud funny, shrewdly observant, and studded with a dazzling cast of supporting characters, Lessons in Chemistry is as original and vibrant as its protagonist.
This was also included in the same Sunday Post by Tessa @ Tessa Loves Books. I love the sound of this one, another library audiobook hopeful scheduled for release in April.
A Thousand Steps is a gripping thriller, an incisive coming-of-age story, and a vivid portrait of turbulent time and place by three-time Edgar Award winner and New York Times best-selling author T. Jefferson Parker.
Laguna Beach, California, 1968. The Age of Aquarius is in full swing. Timothy Leary is a rock star. LSD is God. Folks from all over are flocking to Laguna, seeking peace, love, and enlightenment.
Matt Antony is just trying get by.
Matt is sixteen, broke, and never sure where his next meal is coming from. Mom’s a stoner, his deadbeat dad is a no-show, his brother’s fighting in Nam . . . and his big sister Jazz has just gone missing. The cops figure she’s just another runaway hippie chick, enjoying a summer of love, but Matt doesn’t believe it. Not after another missing girl turns up dead on the beach.
All Matt really wants to do is get his driver’s license and ask out the girl he’s been crushing on since fourth grade, yet it’s up to him to find his sister. But in a town where the cops don’t trust the hippies and the hippies don’t trust the cops, uncovering what’s really happened to Jazz is going to force him to grow up fast.
If it’s not already too late.
NetGalley emails strike again! This sounds SO good, another library audiobook hopeful, scheduled for release in January.
A wry and bold debut novel, which is at once an irresistible catastrophe waiting to happen and an unflinching exploration of how we narrate the stories of our lives, as an aspiring novelist finds herself stalking—and writing about—her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend.
“I can’t help but compare our worth as writers, as lovers, as women. Is anything solely mine, or will I always dwell in someone else’s shadow?”
Twenty-four-year-old bookseller and New Yorker Naomi Ackerman, desperate to write a novel, struggles to find the right story to tell. When, after years of disastrous Tinder dates, she meets Caleb—a perfectly nice guy with a Welsh accent and a unique patience for all of her quirks—she feels she’s finally stumbled onto a time-honored subject: love. But then Caleb’s ex-girlfriend, Rosemary, enters the scene.
When Naomi learns that Rosemary is not safely tucked away overseas as she’d assumed but in fact lives in New York and works in the literary world, she is fundamentally threatened and intrigued in equal measure. On paper, Rosemary sounds like a better version of Naomi—but if they both fell for the same man, they must have something more essential in common.
Determined to figure out how their stories intertwine, Naomi’s casual Instagram stalking morphs into a full-blown friendship under false pretenses. She can’t seem to get herself to quit Rosemary, in whom she discovers an unexpected confidant—and she can’t stop writing about her either, having now found a more interesting subject for her nascent novel. As her lies and half-truths spiral out of her control, and fact and fiction become increasingly difficult to separate, Naomi manipulates the most important people in her life—her family, her friends, Caleb, Rosemary, and, perhaps most devastatingly, herself—in pursuit of her craft. Ultimately, she’s forced to decide who and what she’s willing to sacrifice to write them all the perfect ending.
Thanks to BuzzFeed’s newsletter for putting this on my radar. Another library audiobook hopeful scheduled for release in March.
A by the book literary agent must decide if happily ever after is worth changing her whole life for in this insightful, delightful new novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Beach Read and People We Meet on Vacation.
Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.
Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.
If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.
Another discovery from that BuzzFeed newsletter. Henry is an auto read and this is also a library audiobook hopeful, scheduled for release in May.
A troubled young mother yearns for a shot at redemption in this heartbreaking yet hopeful story from #1 New York Timesbestselling author Colleen Hoover.
After serving five years in prison for a tragic mistake, Kenna Rowan returns to the town where it all went wrong, hoping to reunite with her four-year-old daughter. But the bridges Kenna burned are proving impossible to rebuild. Everyone in her daughter’s life is determined to shut Kenna out, no matter how hard she works to prove herself.
The only person who hasn’t closed the door on her completely is Ledger Ward, a local bar owner and one of the few remaining links to Kenna’s daughter. But if anyone were to discover how Ledger is slowly becoming an important part of Kenna’s life, both would risk losing the trust of everyone important to them.
The two form a connection despite the pressure surrounding them, but as their romance grows, so does the risk. Kenna must find a way to absolve the mistakes of her past in order to build a future out of hope and healing.
That BuzzFeed newsletter was full of riches! Hoover is an auto read and I’m hoping to get this for audio review, scheduled for release in January.
Joey Green has returned to Beaufort, South Carolina, with its palmettos and shrimp boats, to look after his ailing father, who is succumbing to dementia, while his overstressed mother takes a break. Marshall Green’s short-term memory has all but evaporated, but, as if in compensation, his oldest memories are more vivid than ever. His mind keeps slipping backwards in time, retreating into long-ago yesterdays of growing up in Beaufort as a boy.
At first this seems like a blessing of sorts, with the past providing a refuge from a shrinking future, but Joey grows increasingly anxious as his father’s hallucinatory arguments with figures from his youth begin to hint at deadly secrets, scandals, and suspicions long buried and forgotten. Resurfacing from decades past are mysteries that still have the power to shatter lives – and change everything Joey thought he knew.
Especially when a new murder brings the police to his door . . . .
Both suspenseful and deeply moving, Carolina Moonset is an engrossing novel about family, memories both golden and terrible, and secrets too dangerous to stay hidden forever, from New York Times bestselling and Emmy Award-winning author, Matt Goldman.
This is one of the books that was featured in the Macmillan Readers Insiders Club email. I’d prefer to listen to this one so I’m hoping they offer it in that format. It’s scheduled for release in July.
Fresh out of rehab, Mallory Quinn takes a job in the affluent suburb of Spring Brook, New Jersey as a babysitter for Ted and Caroline Maxwell. She is to look after their five-year-old son, Teddy.
Mallory immediately loves this new job. She lives in the Maxwell’s pool house, goes out for nightly runs, and has the stability she craves. And she sincerely bonds with Teddy, a sweet, shy boy who is never without his sketchbook and pencil. His drawings are the usual fare: trees, rabbits, balloons. But one day, he draws something different: a man in a forest, dragging a woman’s lifeless body.
As the days pass, Teddy’s artwork becomes more and more sinister, and his stick figures steadily evolve into more detailed, complex, and lifelike sketches well beyond the ability of any five-year-old. Mallory begins to suspect these are glimpses of an unsolved murder from long ago, perhaps relayed by a supernatural force lingering in the forest behind the Maxwell’s house.
With help from a handsome landscaper and an eccentric neighbor, Mallory sets out to decipher the images and save Teddy—while coming to terms with a tragedy in her own past—before it’s too late.
This is another one of the books that was featured in the Macmillan Readers Insiders Club email. I’d prefer to listen to this one, too, so I’m hoping they offer it in that format. It’s scheduled for release in May.
A woman who wants nothing to do with love or friendship finds both in the unlikeliest ways in this hilarious and heartwarming debut by Kerry Rea.
Once upon a time, Willa Callister was a successful blogger with a good credit score, actual hobbies, and legs that she shaved more than once a month. But after finding her fiancé in bed with her best friend, she now spends her days performing at children’s birthday parties in a ball gown that makes her look like a walking bottle of Pepto Bismol. Willa dreams of starting fresh, where no one knows who she used to be, but first she needs to save up enough money to make it happen.
Maisie Mitchell needs something too: another bridesmaid for her wedding. After a chance encounter at a coffee shop, Maisie offers to pay Willa to be in her bridal party. Willa wants nothing to do with weddings–or Maisie–but the money will give her the freedom to start the new life she so badly desires.
Willa’s bridesmaid duties thrust her into Maisie’s high-energy world and into the path of hotshot doctor Liam Rafferty. But as Willa and Maisie form a real friendship, and Liam’s annoyingly irresistible smile makes her reconsider her mantra that all men are trash, Willa’s exit strategy becomes way more complicated. And when a secret from Maisie’s past threatens to derail the wedding, Willa must consider whether friendship–and romance–are worth sticking around for.
Thanks to Suzanne @ The Bookish Libra for her five-star review. I love everything about this and it’s another library audiobook hopeful.
I don’t need a description to add this one. I’m obsessed with this series and it’s an audio review hopeful.
They’ll fake a relationship for the social media exposure, but can they be more than a hashtag?
Here’s how things are going so far for me in Chicago:
Messed up my attempt at asking out the gorgeous woman next to me on the plane.
Couldn’t catch up to her at O’Hare.
I’m hoping she finds me on Twitter.
Maybe if she sees this, we can split another cheese plate sometime.
It doesn’t take long for Luke Murphy’s tweet to go viral. So it also doesn’t take long to reconnect with Audrey. Nailed it. But at what cost? His network has put his whole career as a TV home renovations carpenter on the line. A midair meet cute is exactly what they want.
After recovering from the shock, Audrey Whitaker can see the benefits of faking a relationship for social media exposure. She’ll get the publicity to launch her photography business—her lifelong dream—and she’ll get to spend time with a man who can, as his fans say, “really fill out a plaid shirt.”
Luke and Audrey agree to spend the summer together to get what they each need, then say goodbye. And to keep it professional, they’ll follow all the rules…except the “no kissing” one. And maybe the “no sex” one, too! But with so much on the line, they definitely can’t fall in love.
I accepted the request for review from the author, which I rarely do these days but this hooked me immediately.
After falling in love in the last years of the 1970s, Eleanor and Cam follow their dream of raising three children on a New Hampshire farm. Theirs is a seemingly idyllic life of summer softball games and Labor Day cookouts, snow days and skating on the pond. But when a tragic accident permanently injures the family’s youngest child, Eleanor blames Cam. Her inability to forgive him leads to a devastating betrayal: an affair with the family babysitter that brings about the end of their marriage.
Over the decades that follow, the five members of this fractured family—and the many others who make up their world—make surprising discoveries and decisions that occasionally bring them together, and often tear them apart. As we follow the family from the days of illegal abortion and the draft through the early computer age, the Challenger explosion, the AIDS epidemic, the early awakenings of the #MeToo era, and beyond, through the gender transition of one of the children and another’s choice to cease communication with her mother, we witness a family forced to confront essential, painful truths of its past and find redemption in the face of unanticipated disaster.
With endearingly flawed characters and a keen eye for detail, Joyce Maynard transforms the territory she knows best—home, family, parenthood, love, and loss—into the stuff of a page-turning thriller. In this achingly beautiful novel, she reminds us how great sorrow and great joy may coexist—and frequently do.
I’ve resisted adding this audiobook for weeks but finally did after so many of my Goodreads friends kept posting glowing reviews. The audiobook was available from my library.
Kim felt sickness sweep over her as she watched little Grace dust off her dirty hands. Blonde curls tumbled around her face. Then, Grace disappeared into the crowd. Kim wanted to pause the recording, run outside, and grab her to stop what was about to happen.
One August afternoon, eight-year-old Grace Lennard skips into the garden of the childcare center she attends and vanishes into thin air. Rushing to the scene of Grace’s disappearance, Detective Kim Stone finds a chilling piece of evidence: the engraved heart bracelet belonging to Melody Jones – the little girl who was taken from a playground exactly 25 years ago.
Hours before, Steven Harte had walked into Halesowen police station and confessed to having information that would lead Kim to Melody. And he told Kim she’d have a more urgent problem to deal with first. Now Kim must play Steven’s twisted game if she’s to find Grace alive.
With only 24 hours to make every second of Steven’s interrogation count, and scan his behavior for hidden clues, Kim and her team soon link Steven to the abduction of several vulnerable girls – two were kept for a year and then released, unharmed – but where are Melody and the others?
Then small bones are discovered in the grounds of a local park, and Kim fears the worst.
Kim may think she’s close to convicting a killer, but the case is about to get even more complex. Steven is hiding one final explosive truth, and he’s not the only one. Dr. Alex Thorne – the evil woman Kim did her best to keep behind bars is about to reveal a shocking secret to Kim that will hit her where it hurts the most. Kim knows she must put aside her own demons to save Grace and find the other missing girls in time. But can Kim untangle Steven’s web before any more innocent lives are lost?
An edge-of-your-seat thriller that will leave your heart in your mouth. You will be totally hooked on the utterly addictive, number one, multimillion-copy best-selling Detective Kim Stone series.
I cannot believe I’ll be caught up in this series with this book, scheduled to be read by my Goodreads group next month. I’ve loved my listening journey and used an Audible credit for this release. It’s a bittersweet purchase.
An epic Vegas heist. A high-octane international romance. A charismatic thief forced to orchestrate one final, treacherous job to save his family.
When Alex Cassidy and Diane Alison meet at a party in Princeton, New Jersey, the chemistry between them is instant and undeniable. She’s a single mother, local fixture, and owner of a successful catering company. He’s a single father and weekend homeowner – and leader of an armed-robbery crew that just pulled off a record-breaking precision jewel heist in Las Vegas. Neither one realizes that their lives have overlapped before and that the shared history they uncover will threaten everyone they love.
Swept up in their burgeoning relationship, Diane joins Alex at his beach house in Tulum, where Alex decides to leave his life of crime behind. It begins as a postcard-perfect weekend until an entanglement with a powerful cartel forces Alex to mastermind one final and unthinkably dangerous job. What ensues is an explosive, adrenaline-soaked journey through the moneyed landscapes of Mexico and Europe, where ghosts from the past collide with unexpected perils in the present. As Alex and Diane fight for their lives, they discover that they’re not the only ones with secrets – and that those closest to us pose the greatest danger of all.
Propulsive, deeply suspenseful, and layered with mesmerizing twists, Love and Theft is a sophisticated thriller about the illusion of control and the high price of past transgressions.
This audiobook showed up at my library and I immediately grabbed it.
Tracy Brown’s Single Black Female is a taut, edgy, deftly spun novel about four friends grappling with the dramatic twists and turns of life, love and what it means to “make it” in America..
Ivy Donovan is a successful stylist, entrepreneur, and single mom who has been loyal to her sons’ father, Michael, who’s serving a lengthy prison sentence. But life has gotten lonely over the years, and Ivy wants more for herself. Michael, however, isn’t about to lose his family.
Coco Norris is well-off, single, childless, and struggling with her allegiance to emotionally unavailable men. When she finds a man who seems like he can give her everything she has ever wanted, Coco soon discovers that she has taken on more than she can possibly handle.
Deja Maddox is a real estate agent who is married to Bobby, a police sergeant with the NYPD. They have assimilated, looking down on anything that doesn’t fit their buttoned-up, polished life. But Deja isn’t as satisfied as she would like everyone to believe. When Deja’s past returns with a vengeance, she’s forced to face herself as her “perfect” life begins to crumble.
Nikki Diamond is a savvy, self-made businesswoman and social media darling who lives large and with no regrets. She’s also Deja’s little sister and thinks her sister can have so much more than her ho-hum marriage. And Nikki is all too happy to lend a “helping” hand to make that happen.
Things come to a head when Ivy’s youngest son, Kingston, is caught up in a polarizing encounter with the NYPD. Everyone must figure out where they stand, including Bobby, who suddenly has to decide if his “blue life” matters more to him than his Black life and the Black lives of those he loves.
Single Black Female highlights the nuances of Black love, the often tested bonds of Black families, what it means to face the world as a Black man and the joy and pain of being a Black woman.
Another library audiobook discovery this week! I hadn’t heard of this title until it showed up and this promises to be interesting.
In a boarded-up house on a dead-end street at the edge of the wild Washington woods lives a family of three.
A teenage girl who isn’t allowed outside, not after last time.
A man who drinks alone in front of his TV, trying to ignore the gaps in his memory.
And a house cat who loves napping and reading the Bible.
An unspeakable secret binds them together, but when a new neighbor moves in next door, what is buried out among the birch trees may come back to haunt them all.
Thanks to the plethora of blogger friends who featured and recommended this book. I finally caved and got the audiobook from my library, despite my discomfort with the genre. Fingers crossed 🤞
What books did YOU add to your shelves this week?