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.
We can’t choose what we inherit. But can we choose who we become?
In present-day California, Eleanor Bennett’s death leaves behind a puzzling inheritance for her two children, Byron and Benny: a traditional Caribbean black cake, made from a family recipe with a long history, and a voice recording. In her message, Eleanor shares a tumultuous story about a headstrong young swimmer who escapes her island home under suspicion of murder. The heartbreaking tale Eleanor unfolds, the secrets she still holds back, and the mystery of a long-lost child, challenge everything the siblings thought they knew about their lineage, and themselves.
Can Byron and Benny reclaim their once-close relationship, piece together Eleanor’s true history, and fulfill her final request to “share the black cake when the time is right”? Will their mother’s revelations bring them back together or leave them feeling more lost than ever?
Charmaine Wilkerson’s debut novel is a story of how the inheritance of betrayals, secrets, memories, and even names, can shape relationships and history. Deeply evocative and beautifully written, Black Cake is an extraordinary journey through the life of a family changed forever by the choices of its matriarch.
This is the February selection by the Today show’s Read With Jenna book club, with which I’ve had great reading success. I’m still unsure about it as there’s no agreement amongst my Goodreads friends and ratings are all over the map! But, a Hulu series is in the works so I’ve got to read the book first. Thanks to my library for the audiobook.
Logan Ramsay is about to get the brain he always dreamed of. But will he be transformed into something more than human…or something less? The mind-blowing new thriller from the ‘New York Times’ best-selling author of ‘Dark Matter’ and ‘Recursion’.
When the SWAT team gives the all-clear and Logan Ramsay steps into the basement, he has no idea that everything’s about to change.
Then there’s the hiss of aerosol. The explosion. The shrapnel that punctures his hazmat gear. Logan wakes up to find himself in a hospital bed, attended by doctors in their own hazmat suits, his wife and daughter looking on from behind the glass.
The doctors say he’s been infected by a virus–one designed not to make him sick, but to modify his very genetic structure. In a world where the next-generation gene-editing tool known as Scythe is widely available – and has already reaped disastrous consequences – the possibilities are too many and terrifying to count.
Except that after the fever, the pain, the fear…the virus is gone. And according to his government bosses, Logan’s got a clean bill of health.
But the truth is that with each day that passes, Logan’s getting smarter. Seeing things more clearly. He’s realizing that he’s been upgraded in ways that go beyond even Scythe’s capabilities – and that he’s been given these abilities for a reason.
Because a holy grail of genetic engineering – one that could change our very definitions of humanity – has just been unearthed. And now it’s up to him to stop it from falling into the wrong hands.
Logan’s becoming something more. Something better. Even with the whole world hunting for him, he might be able to outthink his opponents and win the war that’s coming.
But what if it’s at the cost of being himself?
Crouch has a new upcoming release! Thanks to Marialyce @ yayareads for the heads up. It’s a library audiobook hopeful, coming out in July.
Ansel Packer is scheduled to die in twelve hours. He knows what he’s done, and now awaits execution, the same chilling fate he forced on those girls, years ago. But Ansel doesn’t want to die; he wants to be celebrated, understood. He hoped it wouldn’t end like this, not for him.
Through a kaleidoscope of women – a mother, a sister, a homicide detective – we learn the story of Ansel’s life. We meet his mother, Lavender, a 17-year-old girl pushed to desperation; Hazel, twin sister to Ansel’s wife, inseparable since birth, forced to watch helplessly as her sister’s relationship threatens to devour them all; and finally, Saffy, the homicide detective hot on his trail, who has devoted herself to bringing bad men to justice but struggles to see her own life clearly. As the clock ticks down, these three women sift through the choices that culminate in tragedy, exploring the rippling fissures that such destruction inevitably leaves in its wake.
Blending breathtaking suspense with astonishing empathy, Notes on an Execution presents a chilling portrait of womanhood as it simultaneously unravels the familiar narrative of the American serial killer, interrogating our system of justice and our cultural obsession with crime stories, asking readers to consider the false promise of looking for meaning in the psyches of violent men.
Another title Marialyce @ yayareads gave me a heads up on last week. I have the audiobook on hold at my library.
In this stunning and timely novel, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrich creates a wickedly funny ghost story, a tale of passion, of a complex marriage, and of a woman’s relentless errors.
Louise Erdrich’s latest novel, The Sentence, asks what we owe to the living, the dead, to the reader and to the book. A small independent bookstore in Minneapolis is haunted from November 2019 to November 2020 by the store’s most annoying customer. Flora dies on All Souls’ Day, but she simply won’t leave the store. Tookie, who has landed a job selling books after years of incarceration that she survived by reading “with murderous attention”, must solve the mystery of this haunting while at the same time trying to understand all that occurs in Minneapolis during a year of grief, astonishment, isolation, and furious reckoning.
The Sentence begins on All Souls’ Day 2019 and ends on All Souls’ Day 2020. Its mystery and proliferating ghost stories during this one year propel a narrative as rich, emotional, and profound as anything Louise Erdrich has written.
I’ve considered this title for weeks and was finally persuaded by a trusted Goodreads friend to get the audiobook from my library.
An uplifting novel about a heartbroken young pie maker who is granted a magical second chance to live the life she didn’t choose. . . . from the bestselling author of The Enlightenment of Bees.
Lolly Blanchard’s life only seems to give her lemons. Ten years ago, after her mother’s tragic death, she broke up with her first love and abandoned her dream of opening a restaurant in order to keep her family’s struggling Seattle diner afloat and care for her younger sister and grieving father. Now, a decade later, she dutifully whips up the diner’s famous lemon meringue pies each morning while still pining for all she’s lost.
As Lolly’s thirty-third birthday approaches, her quirky great-aunt gives her a mysterious gift–three lemon drops, each of which allows her to live a single day in a life that might have been hers. What if her mom hadn’t passed away? What if she had opened her own restaurant in England? What if she hadn’t broken up with the only man she’s ever loved? Surprising and empowering, each experience helps Lolly let go of her regrets and realize the key to transforming her life lies not in redoing her past but in having the courage to embrace her present.
While I’m doing well on my NetGalley diet, they still manage to reach my shelf via their emails. This just sounded wonderful so I’m holding out for the audio version, a library audiobook hopeful.
A savvy, addictive novel about a woman torn between her husband and the man she thought she’d marry.
Annie Adams is days away from her 32nd birthday and thinks she has finally found some happiness. She visits the world’s most interesting places for her syndicated travel column and she’s happily cohabiting with her movie director boyfriend Nick in Los Angeles. But when Nick comes home from a meeting with his therapist (aka “futures counselor”) and announces that he’s taking a break from their relationship so he can pursue a woman from his past, the place Annie had come to call home is shattered.
Reeling, Annie stumbles into her neighborhood bar and finds Griffin – a grounded, charming chef who seems to be everything Annie didn’t know she was looking for. Within three months, Griffin is Annie’s husband and Annie finds herself trying to restart her life in rural Massachusetts.
I’m a recent fan of the author and am exploring her backlist. This audiobook showed up at my library and I grabbed it.
Three generations of abused women must navigate their chilling new reality as a mysterious epidemic of violence sweeps the nation in this compelling novel of self-discovery, legacy, and hope.
When Chelsea Martin kisses her husband hello at the door of their perfect home, a chilled bottle of beer in hand and dinner on the table, she may look like the ideal wife, mother, and homemaker – but in fact, she’s following an unwritten rulebook, carefully navigating David’s stormy moods in a desperate nightly bid to avoid catastrophe. If family time doesn’t go exactly the way David wants, bad things happen – to Chelsea, and to the couple’s 17-year-old daughter, Ella. Cut off from all support, controlled, and manipulated for years, Chelsea has no resources and no one to turn to. Her wealthy, narcissistic mother, Patricia, would rather focus on the dust on her chandelier than acknowledge Chelsea’s bruises. After all, Patricia’s life looks perfect on the surface, too.
But the façade crumbles when a mysterious condition overtakes the nation. Known as the Violence, it causes the infected to experience sudden, explosive bursts of animalistic rage and attack anyone in their path. The ensuing chaos brings opportunity for Chelsea – and inspires a plan to liberate herself and her family once and for all.
This is going to be a tough one but several of my Goodreads friends gave it strong reviews so I’m giving it a shot. Thanks again to my library for the audiobook.
It Happened in Nashville Series
I have found rock bottom. It’s here, moving in with my older brother because I’m too broke to afford to live on my own. But that’s okay because we’ve always been close and I think I’m going to have fun living with him again.
That is until I meet Cooper…
Turns out, my brother has very strong opinions on the idea of me dating his best friend and is dead set against it. According to him, Cooper is everything I should stay away from: flirtatious, adventurous, non-committal, and freaking hot. (I added that last part because I feel like you need the whole picture.) My brother is right, though. I should stay away from Cooper James and his pretty blue eyes. He’s the opposite of what I need right now.
Nah—Who am I kidding? I’m going for him.
Drew Marshall may have let me move into his spare bedroom while my house is being renovated, but don’t think for one second his kindness comes without strings – big, ugly fake-relationship strings.
That’s okay, though, Dr. Andrew. I’ll agree to your terms, move into your house, and act like your girlfriend when the big day comes, but I also plan to make your life miserable – make you pay for what you did to me.
I may not be good at forgiving or forgetting, but I’m excellent at getting even.
Get ready to laugh until you cry with this sizzling, hilarious, closed-door romantic comedy!
Thanks to Yvo @ It’s All About Books for her wonderful review of the second book. Of course, I have to also listen to the first, too. My library just added the second one and I’m in a short queue.
From John Douglas—the legendary FBI criminal profiler, #1 New York Times bestselling author, and inspiration for the Netflix show Mindhunter—comes a chilling journey inside the mind and crimes of Larry Gene Bell, one of the most dangerous serial killers Douglas confronted, and the desperate effort to identify and catch him.
On May 31, 1985, two days before her high school graduation, Shari Smith was abducted from the driveway of her family home in South Carolina. Based on the crime scene and the abductor’s repeated and taunting calls to the family, law enforcement quickly realized they were dealing with a sophisticated and highly dangerous criminal. A letter arrived the next day entitled “Last Will & Testament,” in which Shari, knowing she was to be murdered, wrote bravely and achingly of her love for her parents, siblings, and boyfriend, saying that while they would miss her, she knew they would persevere through their faith. The abduction rocked her quiet town, triggering a massive manhunt and bringing in the FBI, which enlisted profiler John Douglas. A few days later, a phone call told the family where they could find Shari’s body.
Then nine-year-old Debra May Helmick was kidnapped from her yard, confirming the harsh realization that Smith’s murder was no random act. A serial killer was evolving, and the only way to stop him would be to use the study of criminal behavior to anticipate his next move before he could kill again. Douglas devised a risky and emotionally fraught strategy to use Shari’s lookalike older sister Dawn as bait to draw out the unknown subject. Dawn and her parents courageously agreed.
One of the most haunting investigations of Douglas’s storied career, this case details how the eerily accurate profile he created – alongside his carefully crafted and stage-managed manipulation of the killer’s psychology – combined with dedicated police work and cutting-edge forensic science to end a reign of criminal terror. As Shari’s family took incredible personal risks to lure her killer from the shadows, Douglas and the FBI pushed criminal profiling to its limits, culminating in one of his most dramatic and effective confrontations with a sadistic and remorseless killer.
I love true crime and am fascinated by profiling. When this book by legendary FBI profiler John Douglas showed up at my library, I didn’t think about it twice.
Amanda is a hardworking single mum, completely focused on her job and her daughter, Louise. She’s been saving for years and now, finally, she can afford to give up work and chase her dream.
But then, on her commute home from London to Brighton, she meets a charming stranger – who seems to know everything about her.
He delivers an ultimatum. She needs to give him the code for the safe where she keeps her savings before the train reaches Brighton – or she’ll never see Louise again.
Convinced that the threat is real, Amanda is stunned, horrified. She knows she should give him the code, but she can’t. Because she also knows there is a terrible secret in that safe which will destroy her life and Louise’s too….
Wow! This sounds so good and the review by one of my Goodreads friends was outstanding. Jan also sometimes reviews books with Marialyce @ yayareads so you’ve probably seen one before. I put this on my Audible wishlist.
A shocking discovery just turned a cold case red-hot. And for one detective, it strikes way too close to home…
The discovery of skeletal remains in a Florida cavern sends cold case detective Eve Jareau on a collision course with her past. Concealing the truth from her boss, police chief Nash Bowden, becomes impossible when the spark between them reignites. And now a killer hell-bent on keeping decades-old family secrets hidden forever is lying in wait…to bury Eve and Nash alive.
I reviewed the first book in the series this week (Little Girl Gone) and immediately bought the next as there were open issues I’m keen to explore.
Turns out that reading nothing but true crime isn’t exactly conducive to modern dating—and one woman is going to have to learn how to give love a chance when she’s used to suspecting the worst.
PhD candidate Phoebe Walsh has always been obsessed with true crime. She’s even analyzing the genre in her dissertation—if she can manage to finish writing it. It’s hard to find the time while she spends the summer in Florida, cleaning out her childhood home, dealing with her obnoxiously good-natured younger brother, and grappling with the complicated feelings of mourning a father she hadn’t had a relationship with for years.
It doesn’t help that she’s low-key convinced that her new neighbor, Sam Dennings, is a serial killer (he may dress business casual by day, but at night he’s clearly up to something). But it’s not long before Phoebe realizes that Sam might be something much scarier—a genuinely nice guy who can pierce her armor to reach her vulnerable heart.
Wouldn’t be Saturday without a book added because of Suzanne @ The Bookish Libra from her Can’t Wait Wednesday post! I love the premise for this one, scheduled for release in August. A library audiobook hopeful.
A high-society wedding party stirs up new evidence in an unsolved murder in this thrilling stand-alone from the New York Times bestselling coauthor of James Patterson’s Now You See Her and The Quickie.
Hamptons sand… Hamptons money… Hamptons murder…
When Terry Rourke is invited to the spare-no-expense beach wedding of his hedge fund manager brother, he thinks that his biggest worry will be flubbing the champagne toast. But this isn’t the first time Terry has been to the Hamptons.
As the designer tuxedos are laid out and the flowers arranged along the glittering surf, Terry can’t help but take another look at a decades-old murder trial that rocked the very foundations of the town—and his family. Terry soon learns that digging up billion-dollar sand can be a very dangerous activity. The kind of danger that can very quickly turn even the most beautiful beach wedding into a wake.
I made a mistake and gave this book a pass (after LOTS of consideration) when it was offered for audio review. Then I read the teaser review by Yvo @ It’s All About Books in her WWW Wednesday post and groaned. I’m sure I can go back to the publisher but I’m hoping it shows up at my library since I recommended the audiobook for purchase.
When a woman inherits her estranged mother’s bookstore in London’s Primrose Hill, she finds herself thrust into the pages of a new story – hers – filled with long-held family secrets, the possibility of new love, and, perhaps, the single greatest challenge of her life.
When Valentina Baker was only 11 years old, her mother, Eloise, unexpectedly fled to her native London, leaving Val and her father on their own in California. Now a librarian in her 30s, fresh out of a failed marriage and still at odds with her mother’s abandonment, Val feels disenchanted with her life.
In a bittersweet twist of fate, she receives word that Eloise has died, leaving Val the deed to her mother’s Primrose Hill apartment and the Book Garden, the storied bookshop she opened almost two decades prior. Though the news is devastating, Val jumps at the chance for a new beginning and jets across the Atlantic, hoping to learn who her mother truly was while mourning the relationship they never had.
As Val begins to piece together Eloise’s life in the UK, she finds herself falling in love with the pastel-colored third-floor flat and the cozy, treasure-filled bookshop, soon realizing that her mother’s life was much more complicated than she ever imagined. When Val stumbles across a series of intriguing notes left in a beloved old novel, she sets out to locate the book’s mysterious former owner, though her efforts are challenged from the start, as is the Book Garden’s future. In order to save the store from financial ruin and preserve her mother’s legacy, she must rally its eccentric staff and journey deep into her mother’s secrets.
With Love from London is a story about healing and loss, revealing the emotional, relatable truths about love, family, and forgiveness.
I’m a fan of the author and was unaware of this new book until I read the review by Suzanne @ The Bookish Libra. I found the audiobook at my library!
Set in 1970s and 90s East Texas, Shadows of Pecan Hollow is a literary debut about a scrappy young woman and the partner-in-crime she can’t escape from, perfect for readers of Where the Crawdads Sing and Valentine.
It was 1970 when thirteen-year-old Kit Walker was abducted by Manny Romero, a smooth-talking, low-level criminal. Longing for the family and security she never had, she allowed herself to be coddled and groomed into Manny’s partner-in-crime. Before long, Kit and Manny became infamous for their string of gas station robberies throughout Texas, making a name for themselves as the Texaco Twosome.
But as Manny’s fatherly demeanor shifts to something darker and more violent, Kit is forced to reconsider their relationship and her own safety. In a flash decision, she leaves Manny at a holdup gone wrong.
Thirteen years after her escape, she has made a home for herself and her daughter amongst the pecan trees and muddy creeks of the claustrophobic town of Possum Run. When Manny shows up at her doorstep a new man, fresh out of prison, Kit’s profound and twisted attachment to him compels her to let him in. Immediately, Kit’s world is transformed and her community is sent into a tailspin.
With its rich landscape, indelible characters, and evocative language, Shadows of Pecan Hollow is a hauntingly intimate and distinctly original debut about the strength and vulnerability of womanhood and the complexity of love–both romantic and familial. This penetrating, gritty, and unexpectedly tender novel ensnares the reader in its story of resilience and the bonds that define us.
I hadn’t heard of this book until it showed up at my library and fell in love with the description. Of course, I opted for the audio version.
To solve an impossible murder, you need an impossible hero…
Judith Potts is seventy-seven years old and blissfully happy. She lives on her own in a faded mansion just outside Marlow, there’s no man in her life to tell her what to do or how much whisky to drink, and to keep herself busy she sets crosswords for The Times newspaper.
One evening, while out swimming in the Thames, Judith witnesses a brutal murder. The local police don’t believe her story, so she decides to investigate for herself, and is soon joined in her quest by Suzie, a salt-of-the-earth dog-walker, and Becks, the prim and proper wife of the local Vicar.
Together, they are the Marlow Murder Club.
When another body turns up, they realise they have a real-life serial killer on their hands. And the puzzle they set out to solve has become a trap from which they might never escape…
I fell for the title first and then Nicki @ Secret Library Book Blog finished it with her mini review. A library audiobook hopeful.
Anna loves Girls’ Night with her friends. With the kids safely in bed, it’s a chance for the women to let loose, enjoy some wine, and just laugh. But after one lively evening, Anna doesn’t arrive for school drop-off the next morning—or the next, or the next.
Everyone, especially her husband and young son, are frantic with worry but none more so than Grace, her childhood best friend. Grace is certain that someone is hiding the truth about Anna’s unexplained disappearance. As rumors fly and accusations are whispered among neighbors, Grace decides to take matters into her own hands and find out what happened to Anna…or die trying.
NetGalley emails got me again! An audio review hopeful.
New Year’s Resolution: Have a baby. Preferably with Josh Lewenthal.
Meet Gemma Jacobs. She’s driven, energetic, and a positive thinker. She has a great career working for famed self-help guru Ian Fortune, she lives in a cute studio apartment in Manhattan, and her family is supportive and loving (albeit a little kooky). Her life is perfect. Absolutely wonderful.
Except for one tiny little thing.
After a decade of disastrous relationships and an infertility diagnosis, Gemma doesn’t want a Mr. Right (or even a Mr. Right Now); she just wants a baby.
And all she needs is an egg, some sperm, and IVF.
So Gemma makes a New Year’s resolution: Have a baby.
Josh Lewenthal is a laid-back, relaxed, find-the-humor-in-life kind of guy. The polar opposite of Gemma. He’s also her brother’s best friend. For the past 20 years, Josh has attended every Jacobs’ family birthday, holiday, and event – he’s always around.
Gemma knows him. He’s nice (enough), he’s funny (ish), he’s healthy (she thinks), and he didn’t burn any ants with a magnifying glass as a kid. Which, in Gemma’s mind, makes him the perfect option for a sperm donor.
So Gemma wants to make a deal. An unemotional, businesslike arrangement. No commitments, just a baby.
To Gemma’s surprise, Josh agrees.
They have nothing in common, except their agreement to make a baby and their desire to keep things businesslike.
But the thing about baby-making…it’s hard to keep it businesslike, it’s nearly impossible to keep it unemotional, and it’s definitely impossible to keep your heart out of the mix. Because when you’re making a baby together, things have a way of starting to feel like you’re making other things, too – like a life, and a family, and love. And when the baby-making ends, you wish that everything else didn’t have to end, too.
I kept seeing this title pop up but it wasn’t until the review by Carla @ Carla Loves to Read that I took a long look at it. She sold me and I recommended the audiobook for library purchase.
At forty-five, Hannah Smith is at a crossroads. That’s her spin on it. The reality is she’s divorced, jobless, and moving back to her family home in Iowa to keep an eye on her mother, who’s slipping into dementia. Her return stirs up the same unnerving sense of disconnect Hannah has felt since childhood—always the odd girl out, the loner outshone by her two older sisters. Hannah knew the feelings of hurt would come back. But she never expected fear. Because when her mother looks into her eyes and whispers, “You’re not my daughter,” Hannah is beginning to believe it’s not just the rambling of a confused woman.
It’s the truth.
Now Hannah’s following the trail of a family mystery to the dark coast of Big Sur, where years ago a lie was born—and buried. As frightened as she is to unearth it, Hannah knows this is the last chance she has before her past—and all its terrible secrets—are lost forever.
Got this in an Audible 2-for-1 credit sale! I’ve had my eye on it for a while so this made me happy.
The biggest story of a crime reporter’s career could be her last as fury, vengeance, and justice collide in this breathtaking thriller by ‘New York Times’ best-selling author T.R. Ragan.
Some call it murder. Others, karma. The female vigilantes dubbed The Black Wigs call it justice. The victims? Sexual predators who never paid for their sins. For three months, The Black Wigs byline has belonged to Sawyer Brooks, a crime reporter still struggling with her own demons. But for Sawyer, there’s suddenly more to the story than just catching the dark web avengers.
Copycat vigilantes are cornering the unchecked abusers of Sacramento and uploading the men’s abject fear to social media. The trending insanity isn’t making Sawyer’s job any easier. Neither is a new murder – another predator, but one who doesn’t fit so neatly into The Black Wigs’ agenda. Something even more sinister is at play.
As she follows every lead, someone with the answer is following her, determined to bring Sawyer to her knees. Because soon enough, for both Sawyer and a killer, the truth she’s been looking for will be a punishing revelation.
This is the third book in a series I’m collecting and I got it as part of the Audible 2-for-1 credit sale! Very much in my happy space.
Some killers are born. Others are made.
As a rookie tabloid reporter, Jenna Sinclair outed Denny Dennison, the illegitimate son of a serial killer. Running from the fallout, Jenna escapes the city and hides behind her marriage and motherhood. Now, decades later, betrayed by her husband and resented by her teenage daughter, Jenna decides to resurrect her career.
When her former lover is brutally assaulted, Jenna fears that Denny has inherited his father’s psychopath gene and is out for revenge. When no one believes her, she must track him down before he harms his next target, her daughter.
From New York City to the remote North Fork of Long Island and the murky waters surrounding it, Jenna rushes to uncover a terrible truth. Will her relentless investigation save or destroy her family?
Thanks to Anne @ Books of My Heart for this one. Her review is stellar and after reading it and the excerpt, I wanted more. A library audiobook hopeful.
What books did YOU add to your shelves this week?