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.
Miranda Fitch’s life is a waking nightmare. The accident that ended her burgeoning acting career left her with excruciating, chronic back pain, a failed marriage, and a deepening dependence on painkillers. And now she’s on the verge of losing her job as a college theater director. Determined to put on Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well, the play that promised, and cost, her everything, she faces a mutinous cast hellbent on staging Macbeth instead. Miranda sees her chance at redemption slip through her fingers.
That’s when she meets three strange benefactors who have an eerie knowledge of Miranda’s past and a tantalizing promise for her future: one where the show goes on, her rebellious students get what’s coming to them, and the invisible, doubted pain that’s kept her from the spotlight is made known.
With prose Margaret Atwood has described as “no punches pulled, no hilarities dodged…genius,” Mona Awad has concocted her most potent, subversive novel yet. All’s Well is the story of a woman at her breaking point and a formidable, piercingly funny indictment of our collective refusal to witness and believe female pain.
Somehow this title got by me until Marialyce @ yayareads added it to her shelf. After reading the description, I was all in😏 My library came through with the audiobook.
A woman receives an unexpected visitor during a deadly snowstorm in this chilling thriller from New York Timesbestselling author Heather Gudenkauf
She thought she was alone…
True crime writer Wylie Lark doesn’t mind being snowed in at the isolated farmhouse where she’s retreated to write her new book. A cozy fire, complete silence. It would be perfect, if not for the fact that decades earlier, at this very house, two people were murdered in cold blood and a girl disappeared without a trace.
As the storm worsens, Wylie finds herself trapped inside the house, haunted by the secrets contained within its walls—haunted by secrets of her own. Then she discovers a small child in the snow just outside. Bringing the child inside for warmth and safety, she begins to search for answers. But soon it becomes clear that the farmhouse isn’t as isolated as she thought, and someone is willing to do anything to find them.
I was unaware the author had another book scheduled for release until I read the wonderful reviews by Kaceey & Susanne @ Books are a Girls Best Friend.com. I’m hoping to get it for audio review.
At eighteen, I walked away from Willow Creek Valley for good.
I was young, scared, and stupid, and it cost me the love of my life—Grayson Parkerson.
Fourteen years later, a crash sends me back home to recover.
Back to where we met, fell in love, and planned a future.
The one he’s now living as a single dad to his daughter.
Working at The Park Inn together gives us a chance to reconnect, and seeing him with his little girl makes me long for the days when he was mine. One look in his gorgeous blue-green eyes, and it’s like I never left. One kiss, and my world is upside down. One night together, and I know without a doubt, in his arms is where I belong.
I’m not the girl I was—intimidated by his wealthy family and desperate to escape our small town. I can imagine a new life for us here.
But he’s learned to guard his heart, and trust won’t come easily.
How can I convince him to give first love a second chance?
I subscribe to the author’s newsletter and discovered this is free on Amazon (and still is!).
FIVE BRAND NEW HOLIDAY STORIES
Hot Item by Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward
Getting into a fight with a sexy stranger over the last hot toy on the shelf was not the way I intended to spend Christmas Eve. And I certainly didn’t plan on spending hours more trying to win a contest to decide who would get to buy it. But when our time is up, would the toy be the only hot item I wanted to take home?
One Night Only by Lucy Score
After a Christmas Eve concert mishap, divorced Brooke finds herself snowed in with the silver fox retiring rocker she’s been trying to interview. Will it take a Christmas miracle to get him to open up to her or does the tattooed bad boy of punk rock have other ideas on how to pass the time?
A Kellan Holiday by Tijan
Humans are so simple with their holiday traditions.
They are ignorant of the powerful and majestic creatures among them, like me.
I am the most powerful demon above the surface.
Nothing can stop me…except, well, some stupid prophecy.
Holiday Swing by Kennedy Ryan
For our five-year wedding anniversary, my husband decides he wants another woman.
The traditional gift is wood, but okay.
After trying everything with little improvement, our marriage counselor suggests we experiment to reignite our sex life. A swing party is my husband’s adventure of choice.
Once inside, I can’t go through with it. Seeing him walk off with someone else, I realize we want very different things. Our marriage is over, and I have no intention of having a random hook up with a stranger.
But then away from the noise and revelry, I find him.
It’s one illicit encounter. A night with no names and no inhibitions.
I don’t hold back, knowing I’ll never see him again.
And I don’t…until my parents’ Christmas party…
Nochebuena by Marie Force
Nochebuena is the Cuban community’s Christmas Eve celebration, and in this short story, the cast of Marie Force’s Miami Nights Series comes together to mark the holiday after a year of change that’s touched nearly every member of the family. Catch up with the characters from How Much I Feel, How Much I Care and How Much I Love and get a sneak peek at the couple that will headline book 4, How Much I Want. If you haven’t read the books yet, you’ll still enjoy this short story set in the Miami Nights world!
This is only available via download if you subscribe to at least one of the authors.
The first in a new historical rom-com series, a handsome earl hires a fake fiancée to keep his matchmaking mother at bay, but hilarity ensues when love threatens to complicate everything.
The last thing Hugh Standish, Earl of Fareham, ever wants is a wife. Unfortunately for him, his mother is determined to find him one, even from across the other side of the ocean. So, Hugh invents a fake fiancée to keep his mother’s matchmaking ways at bay. But when Hugh learns his interfering mother is on a ship bound for England, he realizes his complicated, convoluted but convenient ruse is about to implode. Until he collides with a beautiful woman, who might just be the miracle he needs.
Minerva Merriwell has had to struggle to support herself and her two younger sisters ever since their feckless father abandoned them. Work as a woodcut engraver is few and far between, and the Merriwell sisters are nearly penniless. So, when Hugh asks Minerva to pose as his fiancée while his mother is visiting, she knows that while the scheme sounds ludicrous, the offer is too good to pass up.
Once Minerva and her sisters arrive at Hugh’s estate, of course, nothing goes according to his meticulous plan. As hilarity and miscommunication ensue, while everyone tries to keep their tangled stories straight, Hugh and Minerva’s fake engagement starts to turn into a real romance. But can they trust each other, when their relationship started with a lie?
This showed up at my library and I love the description. I’m unfamiliar with the author but several of my Goodreads friends have given this one a thumbs up.
The beloved New York Times bestselling author reflects on home, family, friendships and writing in this deeply personal collection of essays.
“Any story that starts will also end.” As a writer, Ann Patchett knows what the outcome of her fiction will be. Life, however, often takes turns we do not see coming. Patchett ponders this truth in these wise essays that afford a fresh and intimate look into her mind and heart.
At the center of These Precious Days is the title essay, a suprising and moving meditation on an unexpected friendship that explores “what it means to be seen, to find someone with whom you can be your best and most complete self.” When Patchett chose an early galley of actor and producer Tom Hanks’ short story collection to read one night before bed, she had no idea that this single choice would be life changing. It would introduce her to a remarkable woman—Tom’s brilliant assistant Sooki—with whom she would form a profound bond that held monumental consequences for them both.
A literary alchemist, Patchett plumbs the depths of her experiences to create gold: engaging and moving pieces that are both self-portrait and landscape, each vibrant with emotion and rich in insight. Turning her writer’s eye on her own experiences, she transforms the private into the universal, providing us all a way to look at our own worlds anew, and reminds how fleeting and enigmatic life can be.
From the enchantments of Kate di Camilo’s children’s books to youthful memories of Paris; the cherished life gifts given by her three fathers to the unexpected influence of Charles Schultz’s Snoopy; the expansive vision of Eudora Welty to the importance of knitting, Patchett connects life and art as she illuminates what matters most. Infused with the author’s grace, wit, and warmth, the pieces in These Precious Days resonate deep in the soul, leaving an indelible mark—and demonstrate why Ann Patchett is one of the most celebrated writers of our time.
I don’t read a lot of essays so I gave this a pass until one of my trusted Goodreads friends convinced me otherwise. I’m in a short library queue for the audiobook.
Serving a ten-year sentence in a Nevada prison for armed robbery, Ethan Lockhart hopes that he can one day become a productive, law-abiding member of society. But society has other plans for Ethan. When he’s given a forty-eight-hour furlough to attend his sister Abby’s funeral, he learns that her body was never found—just enough blood to declare her dead instead of missing—and he begins to suspect that there’s more to her death than was reported. Ethan decides to use his forty-eight-hour window to find out what happened. But to get to the bottom of the mystery, he’ll have to return to his unsavory past.
Ethan teams up with his sister’s best friend Whitney in a search for the truth. United in their shared grief, their chemistry—both emotional and physical—also begins to heat up. But romance goes on hold as the suspects mount. Ethan’s old boss, Shark, a mid-level loan shark now heads a criminal empire. As Ethan and Whitney uncover more clues, they become convinced that Shark is responsible for the murder, but they have no proof.
If Ethan is going to solve his sister’s murder in forty-eight hours, he will have to become the criminal he swore he’d never be again.
Thanks to Kristin @ Kristin Kraves Books for bringing this one to my attention. I’m hoping my library purchases the audiobook.
Spinning off from the bestselling Dream Man and Rock Chickseries, this is the emotional and steamy contemporary romance fans of the Dream Team series have been waiting for!
He’s perfect—but he can’t be hers.
Pepper Hannigan is determined to keep any romance off the table—and out of her bedroom—while her daughter Juno is still young. Sure, a certain handsome commando is thoughtful, funny, and undeniably hot, but Pepper’s had her heart broken before, and she won’t let it happen again. Not to her or her little girl, even if this hero could melt any woman’s resolve.
Augustus “Auggie” Hero can’t deny his attraction to beautiful, warm-hearted Pepper or how much he wants to make a home with her and her little girl, but Pepper’s mixed signals have kept him away. That is, until Juno decides to play matchmaker. Her efforts finally bring Pepper into his arms, but they expose the danger Pepper is in. To protect Pepper and Juno, Auggie will have to live up to his last name and prove happy endings aren’t just for fairy tales.
This showed up at my library and I immediately jumped in the queue. I’m reading the Rock Chick series now and one of these characters is introduced there.
The Sunrise Cove Series by Jill Shalvis
Beloved New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis begins a new series—Sunrise Cove—set near beautiful Lake Tahoe, with a heartwarming story of found family and love.
During the snowstorm of the century Levi Cutler is stranded on a ski lift with a beautiful stranger named Jane. After strong winds hurl the gondola in front of them into the ground, Levi calls his parents to prepare them for the worst…but can’t bring himself to say goodbye. Instead, wanting to fulfill his mother’s lifelong wish, he impulsively tells her he’s happily settled and Jane is his girlfriend—right before his phone dies.
But Levi and Jane do not.
Now Levi’s family is desperate to meet “The One.” Though Jane agrees to be his pretend girlfriend for just one dinner, she’s nervous. After a traumatic childhood, Jane isn’t sure she knows how to be around a tight-knit family that cherishes one another. She’s terrified, and a little jealous. But an unexpected series of events and a host of new friends soon show Jane that perhaps this is the life she was always meant to have.
As Jane and Levi spend more time together, pretend feelings quickly turn into real ones. Now all Jane has to do is admit to herself she can’t live without the man she’s fallen in love with and the family she has always dreamed of.
New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis returns to Sunrise Cove with another moving story about a young woman on a quest to find the truth about her unknown father and learns about the meaning of true love along the way.
Alone in the world, Tae Holmes and her mother April pretty much raised each other, but as Tae starts asking questions about the father she’s never met, April, for the first time in her life, goes silent. To make matters worse, Tae is dangerously close to broke and just manages to avoid financial meltdown when she lands a shiny new contract with an adventure company for athletes with disabilities and wounded warriors.
Her first big fundraiser event falls flat, but what starts out as a terrible, horrible, no-good night turns into something else entirely when Tae finds herself face-to-face with Riggs Copeland. She hasn’t seen the former Marine since their brief fling in high school, and while still intensely drawn to him, she likes her past burned and buried, thank you very much. Hence their friendship pact.
But when April oddly refuses to help Tae track down her father, it’s Riggs who unexpectedly comes to her aid. On a hunt to unlock the past, the two of them find themselves on a wild ride and learn a shocking truth, while also reluctantly bonding in a way neither had seen coming. Now Tae must decide whether she’s going to choose love … or walk away from her own happiness.
It’s been a while since I’ve read anything by the author who is one of my favorites. I’m looking forward to getting both of these for audio review.
A strikingly original novel in the vein of Daisy Jones and The Six meets Riley Sager, True Crime Story twists together transcripts, emails, and documents into an investigation of a missing college girl, also weaving in the mysteries of how the narrator, “Joseph Knox”, came to be in possession of these files and what fate befell the original author, as well as why Knox might not be telling us everything he knows.
Zoe Nolan disappeared from Manchester University in 2011. Her story was sad, certainly, but hardly sensational, Joseph Knox thought. As a crime writer, he felt that dead girls were everywhere, and the missing ones just didn’t cut it. He wouldn’t have given her any more thought were it not for Evelyn Mitchell.
Another writer struggling to come up with a new idea, Evelyn attended one of Joseph’s publicity events, and she was wondering just what happened to all the girls who go missing. What were the stories there? What happened to Zoe? So Evelyn began investigating herself, and sending Joseph emails with chapters of the novel she was writing with her findings. Uneasy with the novel’s corkscrew twists and turns, Joseph pays closer attention to the real story….
True Crime Story is an ambitious, sharp exploration of our obsession with all things true crime, from a former crime book seller.
I took one look at this when it was offered for audio review and snapped it up. I’ve been obsessed with true crime for many years but not this current fascination with amateur podcasters. They scare me.
Once, Sarah Bingham’s biggest challenge was making her students pay attention in class. Now, after rescuing a wounded stranger, she’s landed in the middle of a battle between corrupt vampires and powerful immortals who also need blood to survive. Roland Warbrook is the most compelling man Sarah has ever laid hands on. But his desire for her is mingled with a hunger he can barely control…
In his nine centuries of immortal existence, no woman has tempted Roland as much as Sarah. But asking her to love him is impossible—when it means forfeiting the world she’s always known, and the life he would do anything to protect.
It’s rare for me to read paranormal romance these days (I burned out on them a few years ago) but I’m participating in a Goodreads group challenge and needed to select something by this author. This got my attention primarily because of the narrator (Kirsten Potter) but the description is also appealing.
In this funny and poignant novel, two strangers learn that their soul mate might be both as close as breath and as distant as a star, from British Fantasy Award recipient Sarah Lotz.
Bee thinks she has everything: a successful business repurposing wedding dresses, and friends who love and support her. She’s given up on finding love, but that’s fine. There’s always Tinder. Nick thinks he has nothing: his writing career has stalled after early promise and his marriage is on the rocks, but that’s fine. There’s always gin. So when one of Nick’s emails, a viciously funny screed intended for a non-paying client, accidentally pings into Bee’s inbox, they decide to keep the conversation going. After all, they never have to meet.
But the more they get to know each other, the more Bee and Nick realize they want to. They both notice strange pop culture or political references that crop up in their correspondence, but nothing odd enough to stop Bee and Nick for falling hard for each other. But when their efforts to meet in real life fail spectacularly, Bee and Nick discover that they’re actually living in near-identical but parallel worlds. With a universe between them, Bee and Nick will discover how far they’ll go to beat impossible odds.
It wouldn’t be complete today without a book from Suzanne @ The Bookish Libra and her Can’t Wait Wednesday post. This sounds amazing and is a library audiobook hopeful.
A popular sorority girl. An unsolved murder. A campus podcast with chilling repercussions.
Lucas Vega is obsessed with the death of Candace Swain, who left a sorority party one night and never came back. Her body was found after two weeks, but the case has grown cold. Three years later while interning at the medical examiner’s, Lucas discovers new information, but the police are not interested.
Lucas knows he has several credible pieces of the puzzle. He just isn’t sure how they fit together. So he creates a podcast to revisit Candace’s last hours. Then he encourages listeners to crowdsource what they remember and invites guest lecturer Regan Merritt, a former US marshal, to come on and share her expertise.
New tips come in that convince Lucas and Regan they are onto something. Then shockingly one of the podcast callers turns up dead. Another hints at Candace’s secret life…a much darker picture than Lucas imagined – and one that implicates other sorority sisters. Regan uses her own resources to bolster their theory and learns that Lucas is hiding his own secret. The pressure is on to solve the murder, but first Lucas must come clean about his real motives in pursuing this podcast – before the killer silences him forever.
If you follow my blog, you probably know that I’m a fan of this author. This is a new book unconnected (for now) to any of her current series. I’m getting it for audio review.
When Special Agent Nikki Hunt is called to the Boundary Waters near Stillwater, Minnesota, it’s not just the cold that shocks her to her core: the body of a young woman has been found frozen beside a remote lake. Nikki is devastated to see the victim is her childhood friend Annmarie, and she recognizes the velvet ribbon tied in her hair as the hallmark of a serial killer who she has been hunting for years.
Desperate for justice, Nikki throws herself into the case. But she is shaken by what she finds at Annmarie’s home: a dead-bolt on her front door and a map in the spare room, with the locations of murdered women circled in thick, red marker. Did Annmarie know she was next? Then Nikki finds out that the killer has left a clue in Annmarie’s bedroom: a photo of Nikki’s mother that no one has ever seen. Has the murderer at large been in Nikki’s life since she was a child?
Nikki soon realizes that the key to unlocking this case is in her own family, but digging up the past could put her own daughter in danger. She has spent her whole life protecting the ones she loves, but to find this killer Nikki might have to risk everything…
Green is one of my favorite authors but I haven’t started this series yet. Thanks to Jacob @ Hooked From Page One for featuring her new release (this is the one before), reminding me to purchase this one. I’m planning on scheduling a binge read in 2022.
I’m the guy you call when you need to impress your overbearing family, your boss, or your ex. Yeah, I’m a male escort, but not just any escort, I’m the escort. The one with a mile-long waiting list and a pristine reputation that’s very well-deserved.
I’m the guy who’ll make you feel beautiful, desired, and worshipped… all for a steep price. I’m hired to make you shine, and I always deliver.
I’ll be whatever you want me to be for one night — except my true self. This is just a job, a role I play to earn a paycheck.
But I’m not the guy who falls for a client. Not once in six years.
And then I meet Elle. Her friend has hired me to escort her to a wedding, but Elle doesn’t know we’re just pretending.
There’s a fire between us I never expected. A connection I haven’t felt in so long. One kiss, and I’m losing all control.
But what will happen when she finds out who I really am?
Okay, this kindle freebie is pure guilty pleasure😏 I still love a steamy romance.
In a shocking scandal, the likes of which has not been seen in the English aristocracy since the 18th century, the Duke of Denver stands accused of the foul murder or his sister’s fiancé, shot through the heart on a cold, lonely night at Riddlesdale Hall in Yorkshire. The duke’s brother, Lord Peter Wimsey, attempts to prove Denver’s innocence, but why is the duke refusing to cooperate? And what does his sister, Lady Mary, know about the affair? Trying to reveal the truth, Wimsey uncovers a web of lies and deceit within the family and finds himself faced with the unhappy alternative of sending either his brother or his sister to the gallows – until he himself becomes a target.
This is the second book in the Lord Peter Wimsey series but I’ve added all of them. I listened to the first book years ago but the narrator was just horrid. The story was good but was buried under a terrible audio performance. A longtime Goodreads friend reached out to ask the name of that narrator and then told me how fantastic her narrator Ian Carmichael is. So, I checked him out and he’s indeed great. I also discovered between Audible and my library, I could get all of the books in the series narrated by him!
What books did YOU add to your shelves this week?