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.
For fans of Everything I Never Told You and The Mothers, a deeply moving and unflinching debut following a young Vietnamese-Australian woman who returns home to her family in the wake of her brother’s shocking murder, determined to discover what happened—a dramatic exploration of the intricate bonds and obligations of friendship, family, and community.
Just let him go. These are the words Ky Tran will forever regret. The words she spoke when her parents called to ask if they should let her younger brother Denny out to celebrate his high school graduation with friends. That night, Denny—optimistic, guileless, brilliant Denny—is brutally murdered inside a busy restaurant in the Sydney suburb of Cabramatta, a refugee enclave facing violent crime, an indifferent police force, and the worst heroin epidemic in Australian history.
Returning home to Cabramatta for the funeral, Ky learns that the police are stumped by Denny’s case: a dozen people were at Lucky 8 restaurant when Denny died, but each of the bystanders claim to have seen nothing.
Desperately hoping that understanding what happened might ease her suffocating guilt, Ky sets aside her grief and determines to track down the witnesses herself. With each encounter, she peels back another layer of the place that shaped her and Denny, exposing trauma and seeds of violence that were planted well before that fateful celebration dinner: by colonialism, by the war in Vietnam, and by the choices they’ve all made to survive.
Alternating between Ky’s voice and the perspectives of the witnesses, Tracey Lien’s extraordinary debut is at once heart-pounding and heart-rending as it probes the intricate bonds of friendship, family, and community through an unforgettable cast of characters, all connected by a devastating crime. Combining evocative family drama and gripping suspense, All That’s Left Unsaid is a profound and moving page turner, perfect for readers of Liz Moore, Brit Bennett, and Celeste Ng.
Thanks to my friend Marialyce @ yayareads for this one, which she included in her comments on last week’s post. I’m getting it for audio review.
For fans of Matt Haig and Anthony Horowitz, an “intriguing and thought-provoking” (Liv Constantine, author of The Last Mrs. Parrish) novel in which the lives of a disgraced police officer, a prolific author, and an upstanding citizen are inextricably bound together by a series of mysterious deaths.
The Other Side of Night begins with a man named David Asha writing about his biggest regret: his sudden separation from his son, Elliot. In his grief, David tells a story.
Next, we step into the life of Harriet Kealty, a police officer trying to clear her name after a lapse of judgment. She discovers a curious inscription in a secondhand book—a plea: Help me, he’s trying to kill me. Who wrote this note? Who is “he”?
This note leads Harri to David Asha, who was last seen stepping off a cliff. Police suspect he couldn’t cope after his wife’s sudden death. Still, why would this man jump and leave behind his young son? Quickly, Harri’s attention zeroes in on a person she knows all too well.
Ben Elmys: once the love of her life. A surrogate father to Elliot Asha and trusted friend to the Ashas.
Ben may also be a murderer.
The Other Side of Night is a thought-provoking, moving “head-spinner of a novel” (John Connolly) with intriguing narratives and plot swerves that will leave you reeling. By the end, you’ll be shaken as each piece slots satisfyingly into place.
Thanks again to Marialyce @ yayareads for putting this on my radar. I have it for audio review.
Savannah may appear to be “some town out of a fable,” with its vine flowers, turreted mansions, and ghost tours that romanticize the city’s history. But look deeper and you’ll uncover secrets, past and present, that tell a more sinister tale. It’s the story at the heart of George Dawes Green’s chilling new novel, The Kingdoms of Savannah.
It begins quietly on a balmy Southern night as some locals gather at Bo Peep’s, one of the town’s favorite watering holes. Within an hour, however, a man will be murdered and his companion will be “disappeared.” An unlikely detective, Morgana Musgrove, doyenne of Savannah society, is called upon to unravel the mystery of these crimes. Morgana is an imperious, demanding, and conniving woman, whose four grown children are weary of her schemes. But one by one she inveigles them into helping with her investigation, and soon the family uncovers some terrifying truths—truths that will rock Savannah’s power structure to its core.
Moving from the homeless encampments that ring the city to the stately homes of Savannah’s elite, Green’s novel brilliantly depicts the underbelly of a city with a dark history and the strangely mesmerizing dysfunction of a complex family.
Another title I added from Marialyce’s comments on my last post. It also showed up at my library and I’m in a short queue for the audiobook.
A gripping new novel from the best-selling author of Inheritance: One Night. One Fateful Choice. A Constellation of Lives Changed Forever.
Signal Fires opens on a summer night in 1985. Three teenagers have been drinking. One of them gets behind the wheel of a car, and, in an instant, everything on Division Street changes. Each of their lives, and that of Ben Wilf, a young doctor who arrives on the scene, is shattered. For the Wilf family, the circumstances of that fatal accident will become the deepest kind of secret, one so dangerous it can never be spoken.
On Division Street, time has moved on. When the Shenkmans arrive—a young couple expecting a baby boy—it is as if the accident never happened. But when Waldo, the Shenkmans’ brilliant, lonely son who marvels at the beauty of the world and has a native ability to find connections in everything, befriends Dr. Wilf, now retired and struggling with his wife’s decline, past events come hurtling back in ways no one could ever have foreseen.
In Dani Shapiro’s first work of fiction in fifteen years, she returns to the form that launched her career, with a riveting, deeply felt novel that examines the ties that bind families together—and the secrets that can break them apart. Signal Fires is a work of haunting beauty by a masterly storyteller.
I was unaware the author wrote fiction until Marialyce brought this to my attention. Scheduled for release in October, it’s a library audiobook hopeful.
A totally gripping thriller about a desperate mother with a troubled past.
One year ago, Isabelle Drake’s life changed forever: her toddler son, Mason, was taken out of his crib in the middle of the night while she and her husband were asleep in the next room. With little evidence and few leads for the police to chase, the case quickly went cold. However, Isabelle cannot rest until Mason is returned to her—literally.
Except for the occasional catnap or small blackout where she loses track of time, she hasn’t slept in a year.
Isabelle’s entire existence now revolves around finding him, but she knows she can’t go on this way forever. In hopes of jarring loose a new witness or buried clue, she agrees to be interviewed by a true-crime podcaster—but his interest in Isabelle’s past makes her nervous. His incessant questioning paired with her severe insomnia has brought up uncomfortable memories from her own childhood, making Isabelle start to doubt her recollection of the night of Mason’s disappearance, as well as second-guess who she can trust… including herself. But she is determined to figure out the truth no matter where it leads.
I discovered this upcoming release (January) from a NetGalley email. I’ve recommended the audiobook for library purchase.
In this exhilarating novel by the best-selling author of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry two friends—often in love, but never lovers—come together as creative partners in the world of video game design, where success brings them fame, joy, tragedy, duplicity, and, ultimately, a kind of immortality.
On a bitter-cold day, in the December of his junior year at Harvard, Sam Masur exits a subway car and sees, amid the hordes of people waiting on the platform, Sadie Green. He calls her name. For a moment, she pretends she hasn’t heard him, but then, she turns, and a game begins: a legendary collaboration that will launch them to stardom.
They borrow money, beg favors, and, before even graduating college, they have created their first blockbuster, Ichigo: a game where players can escape the confines of a body and the betrayals of a heart, and where death means nothing more than a chance to restart and play again. This is the story of the perfect worlds Sam and Sadie build, the imperfect world they live in, and of everything that comes after success: Money. Fame. Duplicity. Tragedy.
Spanning thirty years, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Venice Beach, California, and lands in between and far beyond, Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a dazzling and intricately imagined novel that examines the multifarious nature of identity, games as artform, technology and the human experience, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play, and above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love. Yes, it is a love story, but it is not one you have read before.
I gave this a pass when it was offered for review and initially ignored it when it showed up at my library. I’m not a gamer and haven’t done well with books with this as a central plot in the past so I continued to try and ignore it, even after so many of my Goodreads friends kept giving it the thumbs up. I finally caved.
The latest riveting thriller in David Baldacci’s #1 New York Times bestselling Memory Man series.
I don’t even need a description to add this to my shelf, a library audiobook hopeful. It’s the 7th book in the Amos Decker series, one of my favorites.
Four cousins navigate love, loss, and the meaning of family over the course of one memorable year in this heartfelt family drama.
Cousins Mari, Erica, Selena, and Gracie are inseparable. They aren’t just family but best friends—sharing secrets, traditions, and a fierce love for their abuelita. But their idyllic childhood ends when Mari’s parents divorce, forcing her to move away. With Mari gone, the girls’ tight-knit bond unravels.
Fifteen years later, Mari’s got the big house and handsome husband, but her life is in shambles. Erica’s boyfriend just dumped her, and her new boss hates her. Selena can’t seem to find her place in the world—not Mexican enough for her family, not white enough for her colleagues. And Gracie is a Catholic school teacher with an all-consuming crush, but she can’t trust herself when it comes to romance.
As rocky as the cousins’ lives have become, nothing can prepare them for the heartbreaking loss of a loved one. When tragedy reunites them, will they remember their abuelita’s lessons about family and forgiveness—or are fifteen years of separation too much to overcome?
When this was offered for audio review I quickly accepted. I love these kind of stories and it sounds special.
Such a quiet and ordinary wife and mother. Who will even notice what she’s done?
Lillian Smith leads an unexceptional life, writing obituaries and killing time with her inattentive husband and disconnected son. Then she meets David, a handsome stranger, in a coffee shop. Lured into an affair, she invents a new persona, one without strings, deadlines, or brooding husbands.
Lillian has never felt so reckless, unpredictable, or wanted. But as her affair with David intensifies, she withdraws from everything that’s real, even her closest friend. When evidence of her life as a secret lover finds its way onto her son’s social media, she risks ruining much more than her marriage or reputation.
As lies beget lies, Lillian’s two worlds spiral dangerously out of control. And betrayals run deeper than she imagines. Because Lillian isn’t the only one leading a double life.
Got this for audio review and I’m pretty excited about it. It sounds SO good!
A vivid reimagining of the woman who inspired Hester Prynne, the tragic heroine of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, and a journey into the enduring legacy of New England’s witchcraft trials.
Who is the real Hester Prynne?
Isobel Gamble is a young seamstress carrying generations of secrets when she sets sail from Scotland in the early 1800s with her husband, Edward. An apothecary who has fallen under the spell of opium, his pile of debts have forced them to flee Edinburgh for a fresh start in the New World. But only days after they’ve arrived in Salem, Edward abruptly joins a departing ship as a medic––leaving Isobel penniless and alone in a strange country, forced to make her way by any means possible.
When she meets a young Nathaniel Hawthorne, the two are instantly drawn to each other: he is a man haunted by his ancestors, who sent innocent women to the gallows––while she is an unusually gifted needleworker, troubled by her own strange talents. As the weeks pass and Edward’s safe return grows increasingly unlikely, Nathaniel and Isobel grow closer and closer. Together, they are a muse and a dark storyteller; the enchanter and the enchanted. But which is which?
In this sensuous and hypnotizing tale, a young immigrant woman grapples with our country’s complicated past, and learns that America’s ideas of freedom and liberty often fall short of their promise. Interwoven with Isobel and Nathaniel’s story is a vivid interrogation of who gets to be a “real” American in the first half of the 19th century, a depiction of the early days of the Underground Railroad in New England, and atmospheric interstitials that capture the long history of “unusual” women being accused of witchcraft.
One of my Goodreads friends recently reviewed this book and I like the idea of exploring the possible inspiration for The Scarlet Letter. It’s a library audiobook hopeful.
This second book in the heartwarming Holly Grove Island small‑town contemporary romance series is perfect for fans of Debbie Mason and Brenda Jackson! Full description to come.
This is scheduled for release in April and I’ll be buying it. Ryan is a favorite author and I enjoyed the first book in the series.
In this chilling novel from bestselling author John Marrs, a young couple’s house hides terrible secrets—and not all of them are confined to the past.
Mia and Finn are busy turning a derelict house into their dream home when Mia unexpectedly falls pregnant. But just when they think the house is ready, Mia discovers a chilling message scored into a skirting board: I WILL SAVE THEM FROM THE ATTIC. Following the clue up into the eaves, the couple make a gruesome discovery: their dream home was once a house of horrors.
In the wake of their traumatic discovery, the baby arrives and Mia can’t shake her fixation with the monstrous crimes that happened right above them. Haunted by the terrible things she saw and desperate to find answers, her obsession pulls her ever further from her husband.
Secrecy shrouds the mystery of the attic, but when shards of a dark truth start to emerge, Mia realises the danger is terrifyingly present. She is prepared to do anything to protect her family—but is it already too late?
I learned of this upcoming release from Yvo @ It’s All About Books in her TBR post and got excited! It’s an audio review hopeful.
While Jamie’s cold, lifeless body lay in the morgue, Detective Kim Stone stared at the empty board in the incident room and felt her anger boil. Why were there no photos, details, or lines of enquiry?
When a nineteen-year-old boy, Jamie Mills, is found hanging from a tree in a local park, his death is ruled a suicide. Detective Kim Stone’s instincts tell her something isn’t right – but it’s not her investigation and her temporary replacement is too busy waiting for the next big case to be asking the right questions.
Why would a seemingly healthy boy choose to end his life?
Why does his mother show no sign of emotional distress at the loss of her son?
Still mending her broken mind and body from her last harrowing case, Kim is supposed to be easing back into work gently. But then she finds a crucial, overlooked detail: Jamie had a recent injury that would have made it impossible for him to climb the tree. He must have been murdered.
Quickly taking back charge of her team and the case, Kim visits Jamie’s parents and is shocked to hear that they had sent him to a clinic to ‘cure’ him of his sexuality. According to his mother, Jamie was introverted and prone to mood swings. Yet his friend speaks of a vibrant, outgoing boy.
The clues to smashing open this disturbing case lie behind the old Victorian walls of the clinic, run by the Gardner family. They claim that patients come of their own accord and are free to leave at any time. But why are those that attended the clinic so afraid to speak of what happens there? And where did the faded restraint marks identified on Jamie’s wrists come from?
Then the body of a young woman is found dead by suffocation and Kim makes two chilling discoveries. The victim spent time at the clinic too, and her death was also staged to look like a suicide.
Scarred from an ordeal that nearly took her life, is Kim strong enough to stop a terrifying killer from silencing the clinic’s previous patients one by one?
Woo hoo! Thanks to Toni @ Readingtonic for featuring this in her Can’t Wait Wednesday post. Of course, I’m holding out for the audiobook, scheduled for release in November. I love the DI Kim Stone series.
For fans of Jane Harper’s The Dry or Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects, a searing debut crime novel set in the Australian outback, where the grief and guilt surrounding an unsolved disappearance still haunt a small farming community…and will ultimately lead to a reckoning.
The tiny outback town of Nannine lies in the harsh red interior of Australia. Once a thriving center of stockyards and sheep stations, years of punishing drought have petrified the land and Nannine has been whittled down to no more than a stoplight, a couple bars, and a police station.
And it has another, more sinister claim to fame: the still-unsolved disappearance of young Evelyn McCreery nineteen years ago.
Mina McCreery’s life has been defined by the intense public interest in her sister’s case–which is still a hot topic in true-crime chat rooms and on social media. Now an anxious and reclusive adult, Mina lives alone on her family’s sunbaked destocked sheep farm.
Enter Lane Holland, a young private investigator who dropped out of the police academy to earn a living cracking cold cases. Before she died, Mina’s mother funded a million-dollar reward for anyone who could explain how Evelyn vanished from her bed in the family’s farmhouse. The lure of cash has only increased public obsession with Evelyn and Mina–but yielded no answers.
Lane wins Mina’s trust when some of his more unconventional methods show promise. But Lane also has darker motivations, and his obsession with the search will ultimately risk both their lives–and yield shocking results.
Compulsively readable, with an unforgettable setting and cast of characters, Wake is a powerful, unsparing story of how trauma ripples outward when people’s private tragedies become public property, and how it’s never too late for the truth to come out.
I hadn’t heard of this until the audiobook showed up at my library. Reviews from trusted Goodreads friends are rated high and if it even comes close to Jane Harper’s storytelling I’ll be happy. I’m in a short library queue.
What books did YOU add to your shelves this week?