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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 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.

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks

January 2019

I always approach an author’s --- in this case authors’ --- second book with some trepidation. THE WIFE BETWEEN US by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen was a huge success, thus setting a high bar. I liked AN ANONYMOUS GIRL even more! I had no idea where the story was headed at the beginning, but I was completely pulled in. And whoosh, from there it was page-turning. I was not sure who to believe as the story twisted round and round.

The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict

January 2019

Marie Benedict’s THE OTHER EINSTEIN and CARNEGIE’S MAID were both Bets On selections. Marie’s passion for looking at the lives of forgotten women and writing about them has led her to the subjects that she explores in her work. Thus, I was very interested to see who Marie would focus on next. I never would have guessed Hedy Lamarr. I knew Hedy as the stunning screen actress who was known for her looks. I never knew that she was the person who held the first patent for Wi-Fi. So when you use your cell phone and text, you are embracing technology that Hedy was behind, as well as when you plug in your Bluetooth connection.

Watching You by Lisa Jewell

January 2019

For me, WATCHING YOU is Lisa Jewell’s best book! I could leave you with that comment and, if you like thrillers, just tell you to read it now, but I will whet your appetite a bit more. The story is set in the small village of Melville Heights in Bristol, where the houses are close enough that the comings and goings of the neighbors are closely monitored. On the opening page, there is a diary entry from a young girl who has a crush on her much older teacher; that note is dated 1996. In the Prologue we learn there is a dead body, but that entry is dated March 2017. So what happened in between? Who wrote the note? Who is dead? Lisa wastes no time in setting up the questions that will get you trying to unravel this thriller. Bam, you are into it.

The Library Book (Audiobook) by Susan Orlean

December 2018

THE LIBRARY BOOK by Susan Orlean is a perfect gift for any booklover, perhaps even a “to me, from me” gift. I have spent a lot of time in libraries, remember the sheer joy of seeing the bookmobile on the corner when I was a child, have a number of librarians and library directors as friends, and have been to library conferences and programs, yet I still found myself learning so much as I listened to the audiobook. It is narrated by Susan, who not only writes a good book, but also knows how to tell a good story.

The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni

December 2018

I have been a longtime reader of Robert Dugoni’s thrillers; I still remember when the first one, THE JURY MASTER, hit the New York Times bestseller list back in 2006. Somehow I missed his stand-alone title, THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF SAM HELL, when it came out in April. I was happy to catch up on what he has called his “opus.” Just as William Kent Krueger deviated from his Cork O’Connor series with ORDINARY GRACE, here Dugoni takes his writing in a new direction with a beautifully crafted story of a life well-lived.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

November 2018

I am playing catch-up on some books that are getting great buzz that came out this year that I never got to at the time of their release. One is WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING by Delia Owens, which was published in August. I have been hearing friends talk about it for weeks, and those with such varied tastes loved it, so I was drawn to make time for it instead of doing my usual “reading ahead.” And I am glad that I did. It is a beautifully written story that will stay with me.