Skip to main content

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.

The Family Next Door (Audiobook) by Sally Hepworth

April 2018

I so enjoyed listening to Sally Hepworth’s latest novel, THE FAMILY NEXT DOOR, which is narrated by Barrie Kreinik. I am a huge fan of Sally’s writing and was lamenting that I had not read this book when our review came out a few weeks ago. Remember Wisteria Lane, the street featured on “Desperate Housewives,” where there always was some drama going on? Sally has a version of that town for you here.

Every Note Played by Lisa Genova

March 2018

More than two decades ago, a friend told me that his dad had ALS. I still remember his abject sadness as he described how his father was losing functionality. Then, a couple of years ago, our friend, Peter, was diagnosed. He was living in Florida at the time, and my husband and I thought we would fly down to see him in April. It was a well-laid plan, but he passed away in March, stunning both of us. Also, a couple of years ago, I read UNTIL I SAY GOOD-BYE: My Year of Living with Joy, a memoir by Susan Spencer-Wendel, who had ALS and was determined to live every day. That, too, was a Bets On selection.

All this to say that when I read Lisa Genova’s latest novel, which looks at the world of ALS, I was not coming to the subject of this book as a novice. That said, I knew that in Lisa’s hands, it would be deftly crafted and addressed. And indeed it was.

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

March 2018

I both listened to and read SOMETIMES I LIE by Alice Feeney. The narrator, Stephanie Racine, is a very strong performer, and she had my attention from her opening lines. Here's the setup for the novel: "My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me. 1. I’m in a coma. 2. My husband doesn't love me anymore. 3. Sometimes I lie." The storyline moves from present day (opening on Boxing Day, December 26th) to the weeks before Amber's accident. Also, entries from her childhood diary are sprinkled in here, giving the listener/reader even more to ponder. The pace is brisk; you do need to pay attention to the time frame if you are listening. The pieces of the story are very carefully woven together. I would love to know how Alice constructed the story.

All the Beautiful Girls by Elizabeth J. Church

March 2018

ALL THE BEAUTIFUL GIRLS by Elizabeth J. Church is set in 1960s Las Vegas and features a troupe dancer named Ruby Wilde, who gives readers a fabulously well-written look into life behind the scenes on the Strip. Ruby grew up as Lily Decker in Salina, Kansas. Her parents and sister are killed in a traffic accident, and she is sent to live with her aunt and uncle. Her uncle sexually abuses her, and she is pretty lost and alone.

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

March 2018

EDUCATED by Tara Westover is a brilliant memoir by a young woman who grew up living off the grid with her Mormon family in Idaho. No school. No doctors. And not even a birth certificate to note the date of her birth. Most everyday ways that we live our lives are viewed as "outside" and "wrong."

As you can imagine, Tara’s family lives a tough life. They bear witness to devastating accidents, and instead of seeking traditional medical care, her father allows her mother to treat them with healing herbs. These are used for typical scrapes and scratches, as well as horrific burns from gasoline explosions. For months, her mother cowers in the basement as she recovers from what clearly was a concussion. There is familial abuse, which is tragically ignored.

Rosie Colored Glasses by Brianna Wolfson

March 2018

In ROSIE COLORED GLASSES by Brianna Wolfson, Rosie is the fun mother. With her daughter, Willow, she will play dress-up; a party with a candy fest in the middle of the night is not untypical. Rex is less impulsive. He is the serious parent. While Rex loves Rosie, their lives collide too much to stay together. After the divorce, the children bounce between the two parents. Rex is a traditional dad, while Rosie’s behavior becomes more and more erratic.

Readers see that something is not normal here. Rosie is bipolar, and she is unraveling. What does Willow see? Does she still wear the rose-colored glasses, or is she ready to understand her mother for who she is?

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

February 2018

I was lucky enough to read THE GREAT ALONE in manuscript. When you read a book like that, there is no setup, no flap copy, no intro to the story. It’s just you and the words on the page, with no one telling you what you are going to see. Immediately I was caught up in the beauty and grandeur of Alaska that Kristin Hannah describes on the pages, as much as I was by the story. Alaska is a place that I have wanted to visit for a long time.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

February 2018

I loved Tayari Jones’ 2011 book, SILVER SPARROW, which was a Bookreporter.com Bets On selection, and I have been looking forward to seeing what she would write next. Patiently. It’s been seven years, something she is all too aware of! When I opened my advance copy of AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE, I was reminded again why I love her work. She captures people and emotions so well. Her characters get messy, get confused, get undone, and then put themselves back together again.

Hellbent: An Orphan X Novel by Gregg Hurwitz

February 2018

HELLBENT by Gregg Hurwitz is my favorite of his three books in the Orphan X series. For those who do not know the series, its hero, Evan Smoak, was raised to be part of the Orphan Program, one of a group of children taken from a group home at the age of 12. He was trained as an assassin. One day he ditched the program and reinvented himself as the Nowhere Man.

Evan helps people in need via a referral program. Once he helps one person, they are then told that they should pay it forward by referring someone in need to him.

Need to Know by Karen Cleveland

February 2018

NEED TO KNOW by Karen Cleveland was one wildly compulsive read. One of my publishing colleagues told me that I would not be able to put it down once I started it, and she was right. I was reading on a Sunday and stopped to eat dinner. As soon as I put down my fork, I raced back to the couch to finish it, vowing to return to do the dishes later; I had to know what was going to happen next.