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.
In the vein of Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones and Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees, a coming-of-age novel told from the perspective of eleven-year-old KB, as she and her sister try, over the course of a summer, to make sense of their new life with their estranged grandfather after the death of their father and disappearance of their mother
An ode to Black girlhood and adolescence as seen through KB’s eyes, What the Fireflies Knew follows KB after her father dies of an overdose and the debts incurred from his addiction cause the loss of the family home in Detroit. Soon thereafter, KB and her teenage sister, Nia, are sent by their overwhelmed mother to live with their estranged grandfather in Lansing, Michigan. Over the course of a single sweltering summer, KB attempts to navigate a world that has turned upside down.
Her father has been labeled a fiend. Her mother’s smile no longer reaches her eyes. Her sister, once her best friend, now feels like a stranger. Her grandfather is grumpy and silent. The white kids who live across the street are friendly, but only sometimes. And they’re all keeping secrets. As KB vacillates between resentment, abandonment, and loneliness, she is forced to carve out a different identity for herself and find her own voice.
A dazzling and moving novel about family, identity, and race, What the Fireflies Knew poignantly reveals that heartbreaking but necessary component of growing up – the realization that loved ones can be flawed and that the perfect family we all dream of looks different up close.
I hadn’t paid any attention to this title until a trusted Goodreads friend wrote a beautiful review of the story. I have the audiobook on hold.
Growing up in the Polish village of Tarnogrod on the fringes of a deep pine forest, Mala Szorer had the happiest childhood she could have hoped for. But at the age of 12, as the German invasion begins, her beloved village becomes a ghetto, and her family and friends are reduced to starvation.
So she takes matters into her own hands and bravely removes her yellow star so she can sneak out to the surrounding villages to barter for food. It is on her way back that she sees her loved ones rounded up for deportation and receives a smuggled letter from her sister warning her to stay away. In order to survive, she walks away from everything she holds dear to live by herself in the forest, hiding not just from the Nazis but from hostile villagers as well.
She is followed by a stray cat who stays with her – and seems to come to her rescue time and time again. Malach the cat becomes her family, her only respite from painful loneliness, her guide, and a reminder to stay hopeful even when faced with unfathomable darkness.
Allowing listeners to see the war through the innocence of a child’s eyes, Mala’s Cat is a powerful and unique addition to the Holocaust canon.
Another book I hadn’t heard of until I read the review by Marialyce @ yayareads, which brought tears to my eyes. My library came through again and it’s on hold.
Isabella Coleman wasn’t looking for love when she attended her cousin Wade’s wedding in Boston, but she hadn’t counted on the bride’s father, Cabot Lodge. He’s older, wiser and one of the most handsome, charming and funny men she’s ever met. Izzie is instantly smitten, and after a wonderful time at the wedding, she’s certain she’ll hear from Cabot again soon. But she doesn’t hear a word from him until she’s back in Boston and invites him to dinner. After yet another fantastic time together, she’s once again optimistic—and once again disappointed when she gets nothing but silence from him.
Cabot has his reasons for keeping his distance. After his former wife took off with their baby daughter, he spent twenty-five years looking for Mia, who suddenly reappeared in his life as a grown woman with a new husband. He’s never been happier than since Mia returned, but those twenty-five years of searching left him with a deep well of bitterness that a sweet woman like Izzie doesn’t need in her life.
Until Izzy is seriously injured in a car accident, and all bets are off. Bitterness aside, Cabot can think of only getting to her as soon as he possibly can—and staying with her for as long as she’ll have him. Now Izzy and Cabot are hunkered down in her cozy home in Vermont, and things are starting to get real. They’ll both have to decide if their time together is a temporary interlude or the start of something lasting.
This is the 8th book in the Butler, Vermont series, which I’m collecting. It’s on my Audible wishlist.
She came in search of the family she’d always wanted—and found the kind of love she’d never dared imagine.
When Katelyn Loveland’s car veered off a winding Appalachian Mountain road, she thought she was done for. That is until Cooper Robinson, local sheriff’s deputy, came to her rescue. And though Katie narrowly escaped her brush with death, she still fell. Hard.
She wasn’t the only one. But soon Cooper learns that the woman he’s more attracted to than any he’s ever met is his brother’s new girlfriend—and therefore unquestionably off limits. Yet, despite their best efforts, Cooper and Katie can’t seem to avoid running into each other. Or ignore the undeniable chemistry between them.
As they grow closer, Katie shares secrets from her past and the real reason she moved to their small North Carolina town. She also wins over Cooper’s welcoming and bighearted family. But they don’t know that her feelings for Cooper keep growing—all while she’s dating his brother. Soon the stakes of their emotional connection become higher than either could have imagined.
Katie stands to lose the first family she’s ever had, and a scandal could doom Cooper’s campaign for sheriff. Suddenly they find themselves on the edge of another precipice—and they’re forced to make a decision that could change their lives forever.
Thanks to Julie @ Julie’s Just Reviews for this one. I’d thought about it but gave it a pass until it showed up at my library and then I read her wonderful review.
“Are you listening, Warden?”
“What do you want?”
“I want you to let them out.”
“Which inmates are we talking about?”
“All of them.”
When more than 600 of the world’s most violent human beings pour out from Pronghorn Correctional Facility into the Nevada Desert, the biggest manhunt in US history begins.
But for John Kradle, this is his one chance to prove his innocence, five years after the murder of his wife and child.
He just needs to stay one step ahead of the teams of law enforcement officers he knows will be chasing the escapees down.
Death Row Supervisor turned fugitive-hunter Celine Osbourne is single-minded in her mission to catch Kradle. She has very personal reasons for hating him – and she knows exactly where he’s heading….
As much as prison stories terrify me, I couldn’t resist this one when it showed up at my library.
Solving a decades-old disappearance sets Tracy Crosswhite on a dangerous collision course with the past in a pulse-pounding novel by New York Times bestselling author Robert Dugoni.
Detective Tracy Crosswhite has agreed to look into the disappearance of investigative reporter Lisa Childress. Solving the cold case is an obsession for Lisa’s daughter, Anita. So is clearing the name of her father, a prime suspect who became a pariah. After twenty-five years, all Anita wants is the truth—no matter where it leads.
For Tracy, that means reopening the potentially explosive investigations Lisa was following on the dark night she vanished: an exposé of likely mayoral graft; the shocking rumors of a reserved city councilman’s criminal sex life; a drug task force scandal compromising the Seattle PD; and an elusive serial killer who disappeared just as mysteriously as Lisa.
As all the pieces come together, it becomes clear that Tracy is in the midst of a case that will push her loyalties and her resilience to the limit. What she uncovers will come with a greater price than anyone feared.
I’ve fallen in love with the Tracy Crosswhite series and should be ready for this 9th book by the time it’s released in August. It’s an audio review hopeful.
Florence. Winter, 1536. A prominent Jewish moneylender is murdered in his home, a death with wide implications in a city powered by immense wealth.
Cesare Aldo, a former soldier and now an officer of the Renaissance city’s most feared criminal court, is given four days to solve the murder: catch the killer before the feast of Epiphany – or suffer the consequences.
During his investigations Aldo uncovers a plot to overthrow the volatile ruler of Florence, Alessandro de’ Medici. If the Duke falls, it will endanger the whole city. But a rival officer of the court is determined to expose details about Aldo’s private life that could lead to his ruin. Can Aldo stop the conspiracy before anyone else dies, or will his own secrets destroy him first?
I am such a big fan of historical mysteries and this one has the added attraction of being set in Italy. I lived there as a child for three years and visited Florence. Thanks to the author for offering the audio version for review.
Once upon a time, Sandy Macintosh thought she would have her happily ever after with her high school sweetheart, Hank Tillman. Sandy wanted to be an artist, Hank was the only boy in town who seemed destined for bigger things, and they both had dreams to escape town together. But when Sandy’s plans fell through, she stayed in their small town in Ohio while Hank went off to Boston to follow his dreams to be a musician, with the promise to stay together. Only that plan fell through, too.
Fifteen years later, Sandy runs a successful greenhouse while helping her parents with their bed and breakfast. Everything is perfect…until Hank rolls back into town, now a famous alt-country singer with a son in tow. She’s happy with the life she’s built by herself, but seeing Hank makes her think about what might have been. There aren’t enough cliché love songs in the world to convince Sandy to give Hank another chance, but when the two of them get thrown together to help organize the town’s annual street fair, she wonders if there could be a new beginning for them or if what they had is just a tired old song of the past.
Yes, Suzanne @ The Bookish Library strikes again with another Can’t Wait Wednesday winner. It’s scheduled for release in August and is a library audiobook hopeful.
Amateur detective Queen Elizabeth II is back in this hugely entertaining follow-up to The Windsor Knot, in which Her Majesty must determine how a missing painting is connected to the shocking death of a staff member inside Buckingham Palace.
At Buckingham Palace, the autumn of 2016 presages uncertain times. The queen must deal with the fallout from the Brexit referendum, a new female prime minister, and a tumultuous election in the United States – yet these prove to be the least of her worries when a staff member is found dead beside the palace swimming pool. Is it truly the result of a tragic accident, as the police think, or is something more sinister going on?
Meanwhile, her assistant private secretary, Rozie Oshodi, is on the trail of a favorite painting that once hung outside the queen’s bedroom and appears to have been misappropriated by the Royal Navy. And a series of disturbing anonymous letters have begun circulating in the palace. The Queen’s courtiers think they have it all “under control”, but Her Majesty is not so sure. After all, though the staff and public may not be aware, she is the keenest sleuth among them. Sometimes, it takes a Queen’s eye to see connections where no one else can.
I was unaware that there was a series planned for The Windsor Knot until this showed up at my library.
Eccentric psychic medium Celeste Fox has enjoyed a decades-long career in the public eye, coaching people through exciting and challenging times with her unique spiritual insight. Her reputation takes a significant blow after a recent public appearance results in a tragic death. To defend herself against wild accusations and sensational media coverage, Celeste books a recording studio in Manhattan where she aims to take control of her own narrative by recording an episode of a new podcast. As the episode progresses, Celeste divulges details from her past and weaves an intricate tale from which she has difficulty untangling herself, even as the stakes of her confession mount.
Playwright Aaron Mark was awarded a commission through the Audible Emerging Playwrights Fund, an initiative dedicated to developing innovative original plays driven by language and voice. As an Audible commissioned playwright, he received funding and creative support to develop Vanishing Negative.
Portions of this audiobook contain mature language and themes. Listener discretion is advised.
Experience this title in immersive 3D audio by setting your download quality to High within the app. Headphones recommended. For more, browse our entire collection of 3D audio listens.
A Goodreads friend put this in front of me and I grabbed it immediately! It’s free with my Audible Plus membership and I plan to squeeze it in over the next couple of days (~1 1/2 hours of listening).
Police corruption, an investigation that ends in tragedy and the mystery of a little girl’s silence – three unconnected events that will prove to be linked by one small town.
While detective Cormac Reilly faces enemies at work and trouble in his personal life, garda Peter Fisher is relocated out of Galway with the threat of prosecution hanging over his head. But even that is not as terrible as having to work for his overbearing father, the local copper for the pretty seaside town of Roundstone.
For some, like Anna and her young daughter, Tilly, Roundstone is a refuge from trauma. But even this village on the edge of the sea isn’t far enough to escape from the shadows of evil men.
Audible is having a 2-for-1 credit sale through March 13 and this was one of my purchases! Patience paid off.
When she was 9 years old, Melody Browne’s house burned down, and it took all of her childhood memories with it. Now she’s a single mother of a teenage boy living in Central London. She hasn’t seen her parents since she left home at 15, but she doesn’t mind. She’s better off on her own. She works as a dinner lady at her son’s school and has no idea where her humdrum life is heading. But one summer’s night, a hypnotist inadvertently unlocks memories of her childhood, and her whole life is turned upside down.
At first, these new memories mean nothing to her, but as Melody slowly begins to piece together the real story of her childhood, she begins to uncover mystery after mystery and wonders if she’ll ever know the truth about her past…
I’m a big fan of the author and I discovered this book from her backlist at my library. It has great reviews from many of my Goodreads friends so I grabbed it.
Chicago detective Annalisa Vega shattered her life, personally and professionally, when she turned in her ex-cop father for his role in a murder. Her family can’t forgive her. Her fellow officers no longer trust her. So when detective Leo Hammond turns up dead in a bizarre murder, Annalisa thinks she has nothing to lose by investigating whatever secrets he hid behind the thin blue line.
Annalisa quickly zeroes in on someone who had good reason to want Hammond dead: a wealthy, fast-talking car salesman who’d gotten away with murder once and wasn’t about to let Hammond take a second shot. Moe Bocks remains the number one suspect in his girlfriend’s brutal unsolved death, and now he’s got a new woman in his sights—Annalisa’s best friend.
Annalisa is desperate to protect her friend and force Bocks to pay, either for Hammond’s death or his earlier crime. But when no one else believes the connection, she takes increasingly risky chances to reveal the truth. Because both Hammond and Bocks had secrets to die for, and if she doesn’t untangle them soon, Annalisa will be next.
The NetGalley email got me again. Of course, I’m holding out for the audiobook, a library hopeful scheduled for release in August.
A Black father makes amends with his gay son through letters written on his deathbed in this wise and penetrating novel of empathy and forgiveness, for fans of Ta-Nehisi Coates, Robert Jones Jr., and Alice Walker
As Jacob lies dying, he begins to write a letter to his only son, Isaac. They have not met or spoken in many years, and there are things that Isaac must know. Stories about his ancestral legacy in rural Arkansas that extend back to slavery. Secrets from Jacob’s tumultuous relationship with Isaac’s mother and the shame he carries from the dissolution of their family. Tragedies that informed Jacob’s role as a father and his reaction to Isaac’s being gay.
But most of all, Jacob must share with Isaac the unspoken truths that reside in his heart. He must give voice to the trauma that Isaac has inherited. And he must create a space for the two to find peace.
With piercing insight and profound empathy, acclaimed author Daniel Black illuminates the lived experiences of Black fathers and queer sons, offering an authentic and ultimately hopeful portrait of reckoning and reconciliation. Spare as it is sweeping, poetic as it is engaging, Don’t Cry for Me is a monumental novel about one family grappling with love’s hard edges and the unexpected places where hope and healing take flight.
I challenge you to read the review by Carla @ Carla Loves to Read and see if you can resist adding this book! I’m in a short library queue for the audiobook.
Two hearts on the mend and one adorable mutt get a new leash on love in this romantic short story from award-winning author Rebekah Weatherspoon.
Andre Monroe is ready to move on from heartbreak, and the first step is bringing home his rescue pup. He’d bonded instantly with the playful Zeus and was already planning their first adventures. But one thing he definitely hadn’t daydreamed about was Zeus accidentally being promised to someone else – or that he might go home empty-handed and brokenhearted all over again.
Janelle Johnson is not giving up her claim to Zeus. He already has a hold on her heart (and his own Instagram handle). After the year she’d had, she needed this dog. But when she sees the disappointment of the big, burly handsome man who’s clearly just as in love with the dog as she is, she proposes a deal to Andre – for one month they’ll co-parent the dog. How hard could it be?
Both of them agree to the unusual arrangement. Sharing a dog with a complete stranger isn’t quite the walk in the (dog) park they imagined, but as they work together to give Zeus a loving future, their four-legged friend might not be the only one who’s found a happily ever after.
Sometimes it is about the cover. I stumbled across this because the cover was in my Twitter feed and I tracked it down. Turns out it’s also free with my Audible Plus Membership and I’m squeezing it in, too, this weekend (~2 1/2 hours).
April Clarke-Cliveden was the first person Hannah Jones met at Oxford.
Vivacious, bright, occasionally vicious, and the ultimate It girl, she quickly pulled Hannah into her dazzling orbit. Together, they developed a group of devoted and inseparable friends – Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily – during their first term. By the end of the second, April was dead.
Now, a decade later, Hannah and Will are expecting their first child, and the man convicted of killing April, former Oxford porter John Neville, has died in prison. Relieved to have finally put the past behind her, Hannah’s world is rocked when a young journalist comes knocking and presents new evidence that Neville may have been innocent. As Hannah reconnects with old friends and delves deeper into the mystery of April’s death, she realizes that the friends she thought she knew all have something to hide…including a murder.
It’s Ruth Ware! I discovered this new book when a friend posted a review. It’s scheduled for release in July and is an audio review hopeful.
What books did YOU add to your shelves this week?