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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.

The Light of the World: A Memoir by Elizabeth Alexander

May 2015

Elizabeth Alexander --- the celebrated poet invited to speak at President Obama’s 2009 inauguration --- has released her first memoir, THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. In 2012, Elizabeth found herself at a crossroads after the sudden loss of her husband, Ficre, who was an artist, a chef, and a loving husband and father. Here, she combines her beautiful use of language into rich prose to convey the story of her love and loss. As she reflects on the beauty of her married life, the sudden trauma of losing her husband and the strength she found in caring for her sons, she realizes it is possible to find meaning in loss.

A Fine Romance - Audiobook by Candice Bergen

April 2015

I am not one who flocks to celebrity memoirs, but I loved A FINE ROMANCE by Candice Bergen, which I listened to on audio. The book is about the male loves of her life --- her husbands, Louis Malle and Marshall Rose --- and the person who lives in her heart: her daughter, Chloe. The book is wickedly honest. She admits her flaws, noting that she is not an easy woman to live with. She was married to her first husband, Louis, for 15 years, but they were apart for about one-third of that time. She talks about why that worked and why it didn’t. In this telling, there are lessons for all of us. She handwrote 400 thank-you notes after Louis’ death; if anything from this book, I learned that she is polite and definitely schooled on doing “the right thing.”

Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova

April 2015

Many of you, like me, discovered Lisa Genova with STILL ALICE back in 2009. It was a Bets On selection, as were her later titles, LEFT NEGLECTED and LOVE ANTHONY, making her the first author to have three books noted as Bets On picks. She breaks another record now as INSIDE THE O’BRIENS receives the same honor. While each of these novels has been so well done, INSIDE THE O’BRIENS is tied with me for her best book.

Whiskey and Charlie by Annabel Smith

April 2015

WHISKEY AND CHARLIE by Annabel Smith tells the story of twin brothers Whiskey and Charlie, who were inseparable as children. Though carefree and daring, Whiskey often stole the limelight. The brothers kept close through a secret language based on the two-way alphabet. As adults, however, the two barely speak to one another --- until a tragic accident leaves Whiskey in a coma. Now alone, Charlie must confront his feelings about Whiskey in this truly special novel of brotherly love. It’s a rich story about how emotions can be tangled.

Mademoiselle Chanel by C. W. Gortner

March 2015

I started my career at a fashion magazine, so Chanel was a name I came to know well as an iconic brand, but I knew little about the woman when I worked there. A few years ago, I watched Coco Before Chanel and learned a tad more about Coco Chanel and her legendary career, but there still were holes. Thus I scooped up an advance copy of C. W. Gortner’s MADEMOISELLE CHANEL as soon as it was available and happily found it to be a wonderfully enjoyable book that rounded out my Chanel experience.

Goldeneye: Where Bond Was Born --- Ian Fleming's Jamaica by Matthew Parker

March 2015

I have a thing for the James Bond franchise that goes beyond gadgets and Bond Girls. As an Anglophile, it even goes beyond the fact that Bond is a British icon. Instead, I love to look at James Bond and Ian Fleming in their relation to the British psyche of the 1950s and 1960s, a reflection of a nation with a changing identity as the colonies that once made up so much of its identity started to peel away one by one, amidst the physical and mental rebuilding after the destruction of World War II.

My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh

February 2015

I was lucky enough to read MY SUNSHINE AWAY back in the spring of 2014, as I interviewed M.O. Walsh for the BEA Book Buzz session last May. When I read the title, I started humming the song “You Are My Sunshine,” which I learned is one of the state songs of Louisiana. Then I read the first line of the book, “There were four suspects in the rape of Lindy Simpson,” and I stopped thinking sunny thoughts.

Crazy Love You by Lisa Unger

February 2015

Lisa Unger has a knack for writing the kind of edgy psychological thriller that lures you in and wraps itself around you Then, just when you think I got this story nailed, she whooshes you off into another direction. When you settle there, you know you better not get comfortable. When I finished CRAZY LOVE YOU, I still was wondering if I got the ending right. I was paying rapt attention to the story, but what character was I supposed to rely upon?

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

February 2015

I love it when authors take on new challenges and push their craft to a new level. That is what Kristin Hannah has done with THE NIGHTINGALE. About seven months into writing her first draft, she realized that this had the potential to be a bigger book than anything she had written before. The storyline of World War II France was giving her a wide landscape, and the characters of the two sisters were solid, but this was a story that was going to take time to tell. She wanted to look at the war through the eyes of women, as she felt that the subject had been told mainly through the lens of men in the past.

Fear the Darkness by Becky Masterman

January 2015

FEAR THE DARKNESS is Becky Masterman’s follow-up to the Edgar Award and CWA Gold Dagger finalist RAGE AGAINST THE DYING starring ex-FBI agent Brigid Quinn. From the start, Masterman delivered a strong character in Brigid --- someone with a past that has shaped her, but not one that has crippled her. I love that she is not perfect, but instead embraces her flaws.