Skip to main content 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.

A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler

March 2020

Therese Anne Fowler’s A GOOD NEIGHBORHOOD is a novel that I have been thinking about since I read a very early advance copy a year ago. Yes, you read that right, a year ago. I reread it this week and again realized how powerful it is. It’s set in a quiet suburban town in North Carolina, where neighbors are neighborly and life is peaceful…until it’s not. On one of these quiet blocks, a house is razed, and in its place a larger-than-usual house is built, along with a swimming pool. Suddenly the balance of the neighborhood shifts as the new neighbor is someone who has a lofty view of his life compared to others.

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

March 2020

Rebecca Serle’s IN FIVE YEARS is a tightly written novel about a twentysomething woman who has everything planned. Yes, Dannie’s five-year plan is locked and loaded. She will make partner at her law firm, marry her boyfriend and live in Gramercy Park. And nothing is going to get in her way.

The Jetsetters by Amanda Eyre Ward

March 2020

In THE JETSETTERS by Amanda Eyre Ward, Charlotte Perkins wins an essay contest to “Become a Jetsetter.” The prize winners include not only her, but also her three children, who are estranged. A 10-day cruise to Athens and Rome on an over-the-top cruise ship, the Splendido Marveloso (you have to love the name), sounds like the perfect way for them to reunite…with a fun vacation. Emphasis here on “sounds perfect.”

Big Lies in a Small Town (Audiobook) by Diane Chamberlain

March 2020

I listened to Diane Chamberlain's BIG LIES IN A SMALL TOWN, read by Susan Bennett --- and the auditory experience was terrific. It’s set in a small southern town in North Carolina in two different time frames: 1940 and 2018.

In 1940, a young woman named Anna Dale from Plainfield, New Jersey, is hired to paint a mural for the Edenton, NC post office. She is the winner in a national contest where murals are to be hung in local areas to showcase appreciation of the towns. Her life is lonely; her mom recently passed away, so she jumps at this opportunity. What she does not know is how the town she is going to be working in is harboring deep prejudices and animosity toward her as an outsider. The mural is neither finished nor hung, and is long forgotten by many.

Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict

March 2020

LADY CLEMENTINE by Marie Benedict takes readers into the life of Winston Churchill’s wife. As the book opens, Churchill is still climbing and positioning himself in government. While he is perceived as a leader, it is still early in his career. A decision during World War I places his path forward in jeopardy, but Clementine is by his side helping him navigate his way back into power.

At a time when few women are involved with government, she is right there with him in both formal meetings and informal discussions. Her avant-garde ways ensure that many on Churchill’s staff have to adjust themselves to her. They are not used to a spouse asserting herself. She has to win over Jock Colville, Churchill’s trusted private secretary, and others.

Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin

February 2020

SAINT X by debut novelist Alexis Schaitkin opens on a holiday trip in the Caribbean, where a wealthy New York family is vacationing. Their daughters are as close as two sisters can be when one is 18 and the other is seven. The older daughter, Alison, heads out many nights to party with the locals, drinking and dancing in various clubs. Then one night, she does not come home. A hunt for her ensues, and all signs point to her last being seen with two of the hotel workers that night at a local club. But later, the timing is found not to jive with when she went missing. Her body is discovered, but what happened is still a mystery.

The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica

February 2020

I was in the mood for a great thriller, and THE OTHER MRS. by Mary Kubica did not disappoint! It’s set in a small town in Maine where Sadie and Will Foust have relocated from Chicago. Soon after they move in, their neighbor, Morgan Baines, is found dead. What happened to her? From there, the story whips you in one direction and then another, and at no point did I see the ending coming. Actually, there was a lot that I did not see coming.

The Queen's Fortune: A Novel of Desiree, Napoleon, and the Dynasty That Outlasted the Empire by Allison Pataki

February 2020

I confess that I never thought I would love a book where the protagonist was the one-time lover of Napoleon, who went on to become the queen of Sweden. I never hearkened to this particular time period, perhaps due to too many quizzes and tests in high school and college that made history into a series of facts, and not a lot of fun. Well, those attitudes rapidly changed after reading THE QUEEN’S FORTUNE; I was equally impressed with Allison Pataki’s eye for detail as I was with her beautiful prose. She had me completely caught up in the story of Desiree Clary --- and the crazy world that surrounded Napoleon.

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

January 2020

I read an early advance copy of AMERICAN DIRT by Jeanine Cummins back in June, after hearing buzz about it at Book Expo. In it, Lydia Quixano Perez is a bookseller living in Acapulco, Mexico, with her husband, who is a journalist, and her eight-year-old son, Luca, who is quite precocious and prescient. Drug cartels are overtaking the city that she knows and loves, and her husband is writing about them, anonymously, so as to keep his family from feeling repercussions. A customer at Lydia’s store shares her book taste, and they chat and banter. She is unaware that he is Javier, the jefe of a cartel that has been rising quickly.

Long Bright River by Liz Moore

January 2020

Mickey is a police officer who patrols the streets of Philadelphia, always on the watch for her sister, Kacey, who has an opioid habit and has been missing for a while. She is used to using Narcan to bring someone on a drug trip that went wrong back to life; it is all too familiar on her beat. She has seen Kacey almost die more than once. And she also has seen her on the street waiting to turn tricks for johns who cruise the neighborhood. Mickey’s past haunts her, but her love for her son drives her to stay safe and sane no matter what surrounds her. But then she starts to realize that things she believes in may not be true, and this well-plotted tale whips readers back and forth in many directions.