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Bookreporter.com Bets On...

With thousands of books published each year and much attention paid to the works of bestselling and well-known authors, it is inevitable that some titles worthy of praise and discussion may not get the attention we think they deserve. Thus throughout the year, we will continue this feature that we started in 2009, to spotlight books that immediately struck a chord with us and made us say “just read this.” We will alert our readers about these titles as soon as they’re released so you can discover them for yourselves and recommend them to your family and friends.

Below are all of our selections thus far. For future "Bets On" titles that we will announce shortly after their release dates, please visit this page.

Georgia: A Novel of Georgia O'Keeffe by Dawn Tripp

April 2016

I confess that I never knew Georgia O’Keefe lived in New York. I always thought she spent her entire life in New Mexico, which I have visited just once, but still think of when I contemplate beautiful places. Thus GEORGIA: A Novel of Georgia O’Keeffe by Dawn Tripp was a real treat as I read about Georgia’s life in New York (where she moved in 1916), her relationship and marriage to the noted photographer and art dealer Alfred Stieglitz, and her works beyond the flowers and landscapes that I have come to associate with her. Stieglitz’s photographs of her, many of them nudes, drew attention to them both. He also marketed and showed her work, positioning her in the art world and continuously urging her to do more.

Glory Over Everything: Beyond The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

April 2016

I tore through GLORY OVER EVERYTHING: Beyond The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom realizing it’s been a while since I had read a book set before the Civil War. It opens in 1830, and Jamie, who is biracial but passes as white, has fled from Virginia where his parentage has been discovered and is living in Philadelphia society as a wealthy silversmith. He must return to the South to do a favor for a man to whom he owes a great debt, traveling there to rescue that man’s son. This will take him near Tall Oakes and a ruthless slave hunter who has not forgotten him. Escape via the Underground Railroad weaves its way into the story, which is a complete page-turner.

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

April 2016

LILAC GIRLS by Martha Hall Kelly is set during World War II. It’s the story of three women whose lives intersect during the war. Caroline Ferriday is a humanitarian; Kasia Kuzmerick is a Polish prisoner in the Ravensbrück camp and is known as “a Rabbit” (you will have to read to find out why); and Herta Oberheuser is a doctor at the camp. Each woman’s story is told in stand-alone chapters. Martha writes such brilliant cliffhangers that more than once I found myself flipping to the character’s next chapter to discover what was going to happen!

The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

April 2016

THE NEST by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney is a brisk and really juicy read. In it, two brothers and two sisters are in line for an inheritance when the youngest one turns 40. Each has an immediate need for this money; let’s just say that the chickens have been counted before they've been hatched, and they all are over-extended in a financial way. Something happens to one of the brothers, and suddenly the nest egg everyone was banking on becomes a sum much less than what they were anticipating as their mom parses a huge chunk his way to save the family.

The three adult Plumb siblings confront the culprit, their errant brother Leo, who is fresh from rehab, over lunch at the Oyster Bar in Manhattan. Suddenly everyone is caught up in their own dramas and each other’s.

The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson

April 2016

THE SUMMER BEFORE THE WAR by Helen Simonson takes place during the summer before World War I. Set in East Sussex (where Helen was raised) in 1914, Beatrice Nash has arrived in town to teach. Agatha Kent, who has lobbied for her tenure there, is distressed to learn that Beatrice is not some old schoolmarm type, but rather a pretty and bright young woman. Beatrice is clearly saddened by the death of her father and seems to be viewing her time in Sussex as an opportunity to read, escape, and be alone with her books and her bicycle. She quickly acclimates to the small town, but not without moments where faux pas are made as she learns the idiosyncrasies of the folks in the town.

Far From True: A Promise Falls Novel by Linwood Barclay

March 2016

FAR FROM TRUE
is the second book in Linwood Barclay’s Promise Falls trilogy. After reading BROKEN PROMISE, the first installment, there were a number of loose threads that I was looking forward to getting wrapped up. They were, except for the significance of the number 23, but not before a few new scenarios unfolded. The book opens with a scene at the local drive-in movie theater. It is supposed to be closed the following week but explodes ahead of schedule, killing four and injuring many more. Though all eyes point to the wrecking company, the kicker is that they had nothing to do with it. So you start to wonder if this was a random act, or who might’ve wanted who dead and why. With Linwood Barclay, it’s always the latter. And from there, the story rolls on.

All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage

March 2016

Years ago, I read THE DOCTOR’S WIFE by Elizabeth Brundage. If I was picking Bets On titles back then, it would have been one. Elizabeth is an author who takes her time writing, thus time passes between her books. Picking up ALL THINGS CEASE TO APPEAR reminded me of why I like her work; it’s not just the story, it’s her talent as a wordsmith. This is not a skim-and-digest book, but rather one in which the pace builds slowly while you are surrounded by writing that is both lush and descriptive. I read Elizabeth’s work more slowly than I do many others. I find myself wrapped up in the descriptions and writing, both of which are deep and full of nuances.

Under the Influence by Joyce Maynard

March 2016

I always like Joyce Maynard’s writing and find her books to be compelling --- and memorable --- reads. In UNDER THE INFLUENCE, Helen’s life has unraveled due to her excessive drinking. Her marriage has fallen apart, and she has lost custody of her seven-year-old son, Ollie. Her career as a photographer is on the skids like the rest of her life. Then she meets Ava and Swift Havilland, who are wealthy and connected philanthropists, and becomes swept up in their “fabulous” world. They embrace Helen and Ollie, who quickly become like extended family.

A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold

February 2016

While we were horrified to watch the events at Columbine, for Sue Klebold, this event was personal as it was masterminded and executed by her son, Dylan, and his friend, Eric Harris. While wrapping her head around the horror of what had been unleashed that morning, she grappled with losing the child she had loved, presenting her with a deep set of challenges.  She looks at them in A MOTHER’S RECKONING: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy.

The Widow by Fiona Barton

February 2016

I love diving into psychological thrillers. A couple of years ago, I read a book called THE SILENT WIFE, which I loved and selected as a Bookreporter.com Bets On pick. In it, there was a wife who knew a secret about her husband and from there set a course to unravel and destroy his life. There was a moment when the entire story turned…and, ah, the tangle that was woven! Thus, when I read the description for THE WIDOW by Fiona Barton, I was riveted.