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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.

What Happened to Nina? by Dervla McTiernan

April 2024

I love reading true crime books, and I have been known to go down the rabbit hole on many a Netflix true crime series. (Oddly, I do not gravitate to true crime podcasts.) So it probably is not surprising that crime fiction in this vein will call my name. WHAT HAPPENED TO NINA? by Dervla McTiernan drew me in from the description.

Nina and her boyfriend, Simon, head off to his family’s 400-acre estate in Vermont for spring break. Now, mind you, this property is located in the same state as the palatial home of Simon’s family. Yes, we are talking that kind of family money. Nina and Simon spend the day climbing, which they both enjoy. But something happens on one of the climbs that worries Nina.

Leaving by Roxana Robinson

March 2024

The word “leaving” takes on so many different meanings in Roxana Robinson’s latest novel, LEAVING.

When in college Warren asked Sarah to travel through Europe with him, she contemplated it for a short time and then realized that she did not feel he would protect her or care for her as she needed. So she declined, leaving him for the first time. A few decades pass, and they run into each other at the opera, picking up their conversation. Sarah has divorced her husband (another leaving), and her children are grown. Warren still is married, but he and his wife are living in different orbits. At times they come together, but for the most part, the love between them is a lot paler than it once was. Let’s just say that love has left, and instead routine and obligation has settled in.

End of Story by A. J. Finn

March 2024

There is something about thrillers that makes it difficult to write Bets On copy. The best of them work because they have great twists, but sharing those would ruin the read.

The setup of A. J. Finn’s END OF STORY gives you an ominous feeling right from the start. A cab driver has chilling banter with his passenger, Nicky Hunter, as he drops her off at the fabulous mansion of reclusive mystery novelist Sebastian Trapp. He reminds her that both the wife and the son who lived in this house died 20 years ago. Nicky, who is schooled in detective fiction, has been invited by Sebastian with this message: “I’ll be dead in three months. Come tell my story.”

The Women by Kristin Hannah

February 2024

I remember watching the evening news with footage from the Vietnam War. Walter Cronkite supplied the daily commentary of what was happening on the battlefields. It was the first time that a war was being shown in real time on television. Each night, I felt like we heard about napalm, Agent Orange and the jungle, and it was all so remote and alien. It also was a war that divided America deeply, and I recall watching protests, seeing draft cards being burned, and when the soldiers came home, there was lots of talk about how they were not treated as heroes. And when we left Vietnam, I remember the South Vietnamese clinging to the aircraft as we fled the country with a war neither won nor lost.

However, what was missing from all of this coverage and conversation were the women who served on the battlefields as nurses. I confess that until I heard the subject of Kristin Hannah’s latest novel, I never even thought about their roles in the war. But now, after reading THE WOMEN, I have a firm sense of what it must have been like to be a war nurse there.

One Wrong Word by Hank Phillippi Ryan

February 2024

I love Arden Ward, the protagonist in Hank Phillippi Ryan’s latest psychological thriller, ONE WRONG WORD. Arden is a crisis manager who has a crisis of her own. Near the beginning of the book, she is told by her boss that the wife of one of their biggest clients thinks that she is having an affair with her husband. Instead of losing the client, Arden loses her job. But before she goes, her boss gives her one last assignment as something of a peace offering.

The Fury by Alex Michaelides

February 2024

When I started reading THE FURY by Alex Michaelides, it was a blustery cold weekend. I was more than ready for a vacation on a privately owned Greek island named Aura with a movie star and her friends. The island had been given to the actress as a wedding present from her now-deceased husband. I loved that sentiment. So I settled in to be told a story from the perspective of Elliot Chase, our narrator.

First Lie Wins by Ashley Elston

January 2024

When I was on vacation last summer, I read FIRST LIE WINS by Ashley Elston and could not wait for it to come out so I could discuss it with people. I read a lot of thrillers and am used to twists, but this book definitely ratcheted up the game…a lot! I am not alone in saying this as friends who are now reading it are calling and writing to tell me “how good” it is.

The Berry Pickers by Amanda Peters

December 2023

I had heard such great things about THE BERRY PICKERS by debut novelist Amanda Peters that I was curious to read it. Clearly, I was not alone as it was tough to get my hands on a copy. It was sold out in so many places. I had read the pitch for it, and when we shared it at our November “Bookaccino Live” book preview program, it was the book that our attendees most wanted to read.

Absolution by Alice McDermott

December 2023

When we think about Vietnam, what comes to mind are soldiers, battles, napalm and a war that no one wants to talk about. With ABSOLUTION, Alice McDermott delivers a book with beautiful prose that I just inhaled, and it gave me a different perspective on the place before it really erupted.

But first, the setup. The story takes place before we formally entered the war in 1965. Trouble is brewing, but the US is not deeply involved. We are there more as advisors to the South Vietnamese. Alice explores these days through the story of the wives of those who accompanied their husbands to Vietnam in 1963.

Class: A Memoir of Motherhood, Hunger, and Higher Education by Stephanie Land

December 2023

Only one memoir is on my Bets On list this year: CLASS by Stephanie Land. I had the pleasure of interviewing Stephanie twice in 2018 before her New York Times bestseller MAID came out in early 2019. That was before Zoom and video were readily available, so those interviews do not exist. I loved that the book enjoyed instant success, and it was fun to see it made into a hugely popular Netflix series.