Saturdays at the Café

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.

My Dark Vanessa
meets The Queen’s Gambit in this new novel of suspense about the bonds of family, the limits of talent, the risks of ambition, and the rewards of revenge.

When former piano prodigy Saskia Kreis returns home to Milwaukee after her mother’s unexpected death, she expects to inherit the family estate, the Elf House. But with the discovery that her mother’s will bequeathed the Elf House to a man that Saskia shares a complicated history with, she is forced to reexamine her own past–and the romantic relationship that changed the course of her life–for answers. Can she find a way to claim her heritage while keeping her secrets buried, or will the fallout from digging too deep destroy her?

Set against a post #MeToo landscape, The Ingenue delves into mother-daughter relationships, the expectations of talent, the stories we tell ourselves, and what happens when the things that once made you special are taken from you. Moving between Saskia’s childhood and the present day, this dark, contemporary fairy tale pulses with desire, longing, and uncertainty, as it builds to its spectacular, shocking climax.

Thanks to my friend Marialyce @ yayareads for this one, which she included in her comments on last week’s post. Scheduled for release in December, it’s a library audiobook hopeful.

The masterful story of a lifelong friendship between two very different women with shared histories and buried secrets, tested in the twilight of their lives, set across the arc of the 20th century.

Celebrated children’s book author Agnes Lee is determined to secure her legacy—to complete what she knows will be the final volume of her pseudonymously written Franklin Square novels; and even more consuming, to permanently protect the peninsula of majestic coast in Maine known as Fellowship Point. To donate the land to a trust, Agnes must convince shareholders to dissolve a generations-old partnership. And one of those shareholders is her best friend, Polly.

Polly Wister has led a different kind of life than Agnes: that of a well-off married woman with children, defined by her devotion to her husband, and philosophy professor with an inflated sense of stature. She exalts in creating beauty and harmony in her home, in her friendships, and in her family. Polly soon finds her loyalties torn between the wishes of her best friend and the wishes of her three sons—but what is it that Polly wants herself?

Agnes’s designs are further muddied when an enterprising young book editor named Maud Silver sets out to convince Agnes to write her memoirs. Agnes’s resistance cannot prevent long-buried memories and secrets from coming to light with far-reaching repercussions for all.

Fellowship Point reads like a classic 19th-century novel in its beautifully woven, multilayered narrative, but it is entirely contemporary in the themes it explores; a deep and empathic interest in women’s lives, the class differences that divided us, the struggle to protect the natural world, and, above all, a reckoning with intimacy, history, and posterity. It is a masterwork from Alice Elliott Dark..

Thanks again to Marialyce @ yayareads for putting this on my radar. The audiobook is on hold at my library.

A defense attorney is prepared to play. But is she a pawn in a master’s deadly match? A twisting novel of suspense by New York Times bestselling author Robert Dugoni.

Keera Duggan was building a solid reputation as a Seattle prosecutor, until her romantic relationship with a senior colleague ended badly. For the competitive former chess prodigy, returning to her family’s failing criminal defense law firm to work for her father is the best shot she has. With the right moves, she hopes to restore the family’s reputation, her relationship with her father, and her career.

Keera’s chance to play in the big leagues comes when she’s retained by Vince LaRussa, an investment adviser accused of murdering his wealthy wife. There’s little hard evidence against him, but considering the couple’s impending and potentially nasty divorce, LaRussa faces life in prison. The prosecutor is equally challenging: Miller Ambrose, Keera’s former lover, who’s eager to destroy her in court on her first homicide defense.

As Keera and her team follow the evidence, they uncover a complicated and deadly game that’s more than Keera bargained for. When shocking information turns the case upside down, Keera must decide between her duty to her client, her family’s legacy, and her own future.

A new Dugoni novel and it’s a standalone! Thanks to Carla @ Carla Loves to Read who featured it in her Stacking the Shelves post. Scheduled for release in March, it’s an audio review hopeful.

In one of the year’s most anticipated thrillers #1 New York Times bestseller Sarah Pekkanen calls “Alex Finlay’s best yet,” What Have We Done is a tale about the lives we leave behind and the secrets we carry with us forever.

A stay-at-home mom with a past.
A has-been rock star with a habit.
A reality TV producer with a debt.
Three disparate lives.
One deadly secret.

Twenty five years ago, Jenna, Donnie, and Nico were the best of friends, a bond forged as residents of Savior House, an abusive group home for parentless teens. When the home was shut down—after the disappearance of several kids—the three were split up.

Though the trauma of their childhood has never left them, each went on to live successful, if troubled, lives. They haven’t seen one another since they were teens but now are reunited for a single haunting reason: someone is trying to kill them.

To save their lives, the group will have to revisit the nightmares of their childhoods and confront their past—a past that holds the secret to why someone wants them dead.

It’s a reunion none of them asked for . . . or wanted. But it may be the only way to save all their lives.

What Have We Done is both an edge-of-your seat thriller and a gut-wrenching coming-of-age story. And it cements Alex Finlay as one of the new leading voices in thrillers today.

Yet another find from the Stacking the Shelves post by Carla @ Carla Loves to Read. Finlay is one of my auto read authors and this is a library audiobook hopeful, scheduled for release in March (no audiobook cover yet). 

After her husband’s death, Lexi has refused to return to the Pinecrest Estate on the Florida Keys because there are too many hard memories on that strip of land, including the memories of meeting her husband on the set of an iconic horror movie, being cast as an extra, watching herself get killed on screen, and scoffing at the rumors of the Pinecrest Estate curse…until she witnessed a cast member die that very summer. But when her daughter sneaks away to visit her grandfather, legendary horror-movie director Rick Plummer, Lexi is forced to face her past. That’s when a Category Four hurricane changes course and hits the southern coast.

Unable to get through to her daughter, Lexi drives to the Keys in the wake of the storm. What she finds is an island without cell service, without power, and with limited police presence. The land is desolate, with only a few remaining behind: the horror director, the starlet once cast as the final girl, the young teenager searching for clues about her father, the mother determined to get off the island, and the person picking them off one-by-one.

Soon enough, Lexi’s life begins to resemble Rick’s most famous horror film, and she must risk her life to save her daughter before someone, or something, destroys them all.

This was offered for audio review and I first dragged my feet about accepting until I read the review by Kyra @ Roots & Read. The premise sounds interesting but I didn’t know anything about the author.

A new creation by the author of Severance, the stories in Bliss Montage crash through our carefully built mirages

What happens when fantasy tears through the screen of the everyday to wake us up? Could that waking be our end?

In Bliss Montage, Ling Ma brings us eight wildly different tales of people making their way through the madness and reality of our collective delusions: love and loneliness, connection and possession, friendship, motherhood, the idea of home. A woman lives in a house with all her ex-boyfriends. A toxic friendship grows up around a drug that makes you invisible. An ancient ritual might heal you of anything—if you bury yourself alive.

These and other scenarios investigate the ways that the outlandish and the ordinary are shockingly, deceptively, heartbreakingly alike.

I love a good short story collection so when this showed up at my library, I was looking for an excuse to add the audiobook. Thanks again to Kyra @ Roots & Read for her review, which provided the much-needed shove.

From Ann Cleeves—New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of the Vera and Shetland series, both of which are hit TV shows—comes the stunning tenth Vera Stanhopeaudiobook, The Rising Tide, a powerful story about guilt, betrayal, and the longheld secrets people keep.

For fifty years a group of friends have been meeting regularly for reunions on Holy Island, celebrating the school trip where they met, and the friend that they lost to the rising causeway tide five years later. Now, when one of them is found hanged, Vera is called in. Learning that the dead man had recently been fired after misconduct allegations, Vera knows she must discover what the friends are hiding, and whether the events of many years before could have led to murder then, and now . . .

But with the tide rising, secrets long-hidden are finding their way to the surface, and Vera and the team may find themselves in more danger than they could have believed possible . . .

I’m collecting this series with the hope that one of my Goodreads groups will select it for a group read. Thanks to my library for the audiobook.

The author of the “brazenly hilarious, tell-it-like-it-is first novel” ( Oprah Daily ) Queenie returns with another witty and insightful novel about the power of family—even when they seem like strangers.

If you could choose your family…you wouldn’t choose the Penningtons.

Dimple Pennington knows of her half siblings, but she doesn’t really know them. Five people who don’t have anything in common except for faint memories of being driven through Brixton in their dad’s gold jeep, and some pretty complex abandonment issues. Dimple has bigger things to think about.

She’s 30, and her life isn’t really going anywhere. An aspiring lifestyle influencer with a terrible and wayward boyfriend, Dimple’s life has shrunk to the size of a phone screen. And despite a small but loyal following, she’s never felt more alone in her life. That is, until a dramatic event brings her half siblings Nikisha, Danny, Lizzie, and Prynce crashing back into her life. And when they’re all forced to reconnect with Cyril Pennington, the absent father they never really knew, things get even more complicated.

From an author with “a flair for storytelling that appears effortlessly authentic” (Time), People Person is a vibrant and charming celebration of discovering family as an adult.

I reached my limit to get this for audio review and was happy when it showed up at my library. I’m in a rather long queue.

When a house party goes terribly wrong, a suburban town fractures, exposing disturbing truths about the community.

It’s the party of the year. Afterward, nothing will ever be the same.

Maja Jensen is smart, stylish, and careful, the type of woman who considers every detail when building her dream home in the suburbs of Philadelphia. The perfect house that would compensate for her failure to have a child, the house that was going to save her marriage. But when a group of reckless teenagers trash the newly built home just weeks before she moves in, her plans are shattered.

Those teenagers are the “good kids”–the ones on track to go to college and move on to the next stage of their privileged lives. They have grown up in a protected bubble and are accustomed to getting by with just a slap on the wrist. Did they think they could just destroy property without facing punishment? Or was there something deeper, darker, at play that night? As the police close in on a list of suspects, the tight-knit community begins to fray as families attempt to protect themselves.

What should have been the party of the year will have repercussions that will put Maja’s marriage to the ultimate test, jeopardize the futures of those “good kids,” and divide the town over questions of privilege and responsibility.

An absorbing novel told through shifting perspectives, The House Party explores how easily friendships, careers, communities, and marriages can upend when differences in wealth and power are forced to the surface.

Oh, this is my kind of story! I jumped into the library queue immediately when it showed up at my library.

The Love of My Other Life tells the story of Josie, a British expat living in New York City. Or rather, it is the tale of two Josies, as her life path split three years previously, when she did or did not meet the love of her life—wealthy, handsome Rob. One Josie is now a single radio show host living in Brooklyn, with a huge crush on her friend Peter; the other is happily married to Rob and living in a fabulous Manhattan penthouse. It’s both Josies’ 36th birthday, and each is set to celebrate when they crash their bicycles at the exact spot where their lives split three years ago. In an instant, each Josie is catapulted into the other’s reality—and the other’s body.

Suddenly, single Josie has everything she ever dreamed of: wealth, a perfect figure, and an adoring husband—who, when Josie doesn’t recognize him, assumes she has amnesia from the crash. But in this new reality, her beloved brother David is dead. Josie is faced with an impossible dilemma—to try to return to her old life, in which David is alive, or to embrace this wonderful new world without her brother. Moreover, as Josie falls deeper in love with Rob, she increasingly realizes that there is another version of herself, living her former life—and that this Other Josie wants her husband back.

The Love of My Other Life is told from each of the split-protagonists’ points of view in a dual narrative. It is a story that will appeal to fans of Laura Barnett’s Versions of Us, Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife and the movie Sliding Doors—a fantastical premise that becomes a story about love, betrayal, self-identity and that big question: “What if?”

I’d not heard of this until it showed up at my library. The story premise sounds wonderful and I’m in a long queue for the audiobook.

What books did YOU add to your shelves this week?


17 thoughts on “Saturdays at the Café”

  1. Hello Jo,
    So glad once again, I have provided you with more to add. I am adding The House Party, Always the First To Die, and Bliss Montage to my list. I always like Kyra’s choices.

    Once again my list grows. I added:
    A Haunted List of Invisible Women by Leanna Renee Hieber; Andrea Janes (an audio from ng)
    The Ways We Hiide by by Kristina McMorris (also an audio from ng)
    Half Notes From Berlin by B.V. Glants
    A Hard Day For A Hanover by Darynda Jones and
    The Drift by C.J. Tudor

    Now to find the time to read them all!
    Enjoy the weekend my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good afternoon, Marialyce💜 Got hung up this morning watching new episodes of Dateline & 20/20😏

      I’m so close to adding The Ways We Hide and you may have given me that push. Definitely added The Drift so thanks for that news.

      Have a great weekend!


  2. There are several on here that are not on my radar yet, so thanks for that, Jo. I am always happy to assist with adding to people’s shelves. I am definitely going to be looking closer at a couple of these. Enjoy them all.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The Iugenue looks good after having just read My Dark Vanessa, and I started to see People Person everywhere just before you posted this! Then I was almost going to add The Love of my Other Life, as I love reading about NY, but decided against it as I’m not a fan of dual narrative (and my tbr is pretty much riduculous!). Great post as always, Jonetta!


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