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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.

The End of Loneliness by Benedict Wells

March 2019

THE END OF LONELINESS, written by Benedict Wells and translated by Charlotte Collins, is one of those slim novels that you might overlook. I am so glad I picked it up. It has strong storytelling and characters who will stay with you. It’s a sibling story, a love story, and a story that bobs and weaves so very well.

Jules Moreau, his brother Marty and sister Liz are split up and sent to boarding school following the death of their parents in a car crash. While the siblings are estranged, Jules meets Alva, a young woman living in the same home and caught up in her own grief after losing her sister.

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

March 2019

Lisa See is known for her books that are set in China, where she has shared with her readers many ancient traditions. With THE ISLAND OF SEA WOMAN, she has turned her focus to the Korean island of Jeju, where women dive for fish to both feed their families and sell, engaging in challenging physical work while men stay home with the children. I love the way Lisa can bring a world that I know little about into brilliant focus as she takes readers through seven decades beginning in 1938. Thinking of how much happened in Korea during that time period, I was astounded by how much I did not know. I found myself fascinated by the resiliency of the women who she writes about as they conquer so many challenges. Their courage under adversity was something to be admired.

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

March 2019

DAISY JONES & THE SIX by Taylor Jenkins Reid is such a fun --- and uniquely written --- novel about an iconic 1970s band and their oh-so-very hot lead singer, finally telling the tale of why the band broke up. It’s fiction, but people have been speculating on what band this could be based on; a few rumblings I have heard from librarian pals is that Daisy could have been inspired by Stevie Nicks. While many books these days are told chapter by chapter by different narrators, here we have the story told paragraph by paragraph from the points of view of the six band members and Daisy, giving it the feel of an oral history, or a piece written by a really sharp music reporter.

The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding by Jennifer Robson

February 2019

THE GOWN by Jennifer Robson is a novel that will delight royal watchers, including all those who enjoy Netflix’s “The Crown.”

It opens in 1947 in London. The war has ended, but the residual damage remains, and people’s spirits are still feeling the war’s effect. Then it is announced that Princess Elizabeth will be married, which stirs excitement and a sense of fanfare. The Mayfair fashion house of Norman Hartnell wins the commission for the gown. Two young women, Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin, are the embroiders who are assigned to create the brilliant design work for the piece. While they are two fictional characters, Jennifer did extensive research with a seamstress who had worked on the gown, thus the storytelling feels so very authentic.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

February 2019

I have been looking forward to sharing my thoughts on THE SILENT PATIENT by Alex Michaelides. When I read an early copy over the summer, I found it to be a completely compelling and propulsive read. Alicia Berenson, an artist, has been convicted of brutally killing her husband, a well-renowned fashion photographer, by shooting him five times in the face. She is now living at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London. After the night of the shooting, she has not spoken a word. Why Alicia is not talking is perplexing. What is she hiding?

The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer

February 2019

THE AGE OF LIGHT by Whitney Scharer intrigued me as it is a novel about Lee Miller, a well-known Vogue model who became a renowned photographer and journalist. I had spent my earlier career at Conde Nast, so anything that is magazine- or art-related always catches my eye. There are some wonderful references to Conde Nast throughout the book, as well as the excitement that was generated by the heady days of the magazine world at that time.

The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib

February 2019

THE GIRLS AT 17 SWANN STREET by Yara Zgheib is a completely captivating and heartbreaking novel about a young woman with anorexia and the other women who live in the treatment facility where she is recovering. What grabbed me about this book is the voice. It’s crystal clear and sharp. That and the pacing made it so compelling. I have read a lot about this subject and have known people locked in the web of eating disorders, but here I really felt that I had an insider’s view of a much larger scope.

The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin

February 2019

THE LAST ROMANTICS by Tara Conklin is the story of four siblings. It opens in the year 2079, which threw me at the beginning. I am not someone who enjoys futuristic books with a sci-fi feel, so I was trying to figure out why Tara opened here. It ends up it was to give readers a chance to look at the family and its dynamic way into the future. In the opening, Fiona Skinner, the youngest daughter in the family, is 102 years old. She is a poet of some renown for a poem she wrote called “The Love Poem,” which looks at the meaning of love. This opener gives her a vehicle to plunge back and tell her family’s story.

Out of the Dark: An Orphan X Novel by Gregg Hurwitz

February 2019

I love Gregg Hurwitz’s Orphan X series, and I think this fourth installment is his best. In OUT OF THE DARK, Evan Smoak, who is Orphan X, is in a high-stakes cat and mouse game, as the President of the United States is out to kill Orphan X, one of the recruits from an elite project that the President ran years ago. He has Orphan A on the trail to get him. They both have the skills, so this is some game.

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive by Stephanie Land

January 2019

I read MAID back in the spring as I was interviewing Stephanie Land for both the Book Expo Buzz panel and Facebook Live. Her book stuck with me as it’s a memoir full of both brutal honesty and lots of heart about the stress and anxiety of being a single mom, trying to make her way through the day while circling the edges of poverty. She lived in a really fragile world where paycheck to paycheck defines her existence, and it’s indeed a slippery slope.