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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.

Morningside Heights by Joshua Henkin

June 2021

When I saw that Joshua Henkin had a new book coming out, MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS, I was excited. That was last year; it was held because of the pandemic, and I kept it on my shelf to read it closer to its release. And I am so glad I did since I wanted to be sure that the details in it were fresh come publication time, which is now upon us.

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

June 2021

MALIBU RISING by Taylor Jenkins Reid is set in Malibu in August 1983. Nina Riva is set to throw her end-of-summer party, which requires no invite --- those in the know just show up. It’s the place to be. Nina is a fabulous surfer and a supermodel. One brother is a champion surfer, and the other is a well-respected photographer. And there is a younger sister who still is making her way. The kids also are known for their pedigree as their dad is a well-known singer, Mick Riva. Nina is not excited about the party; she recently split with her husband, who is a champion tennis player, but the tradition must go on.

The Photographer by Mary Dixie Carter

June 2021

THE PHOTOGRAPHER by Mary Dixie Carter is a brisk psychological thriller about a young woman named Delta Dawn, who photographs the birthday parties of children who come from privileged families. Not only does she shoot the parties, she manipulates the images to ensure that everyone looks happy and smiling.

The Break-Up Book Club by Wendy Wax

June 2021

THE BREAK-UP BOOK CLUB reminded me again of how much I love Wendy Wax’s character-driven stories. Four women, each of whom are at different points in their lives, find their way to a charming indie bookstore that hosts a book group. Their personal stories are compelling and relatable. At the bookstore there is a bond of books between them, and they each feel comfortable to share what is going on in their lives. The result is a sense of camaraderie. “What happens at book club stays at book club.” And yes, there is wine. And fun snacks.

The Woman with the Blue Star by Pam Jenoff

May 2021

Inspired by true events, THE WOMAN WITH THE BLUE STAR by Pam Jenoff tells the story of Sadie Gault, a young woman who takes refuge with her pregnant mother in the sewers beneath the Kraków Ghetto as the Nazis begin to ship Polish Jews to the camps in the middle of World War II. One day, Ella Stepanek, a well-to-do Polish girl, spies Sadie through a grate, and they strike up a cautious conversation.

Horrified by their situation, Ella offers to bring Sadie and her mother food and supplies, putting herself in potential danger. As the war worsens, so does the risk --- and each day there are challenges for both young women.

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz

May 2021

Jacob Finch Bonner was once a promising novelist whose first book had some mild success. But his career has slid, and he finds himself teaching at a third-rate MFA program where he meets a student who is full of braggadocio and is completely self-absorbed. Evan Parker knows he has written a bestseller; he’s even figured out his author name. Yes, he has that kind of writerly arrogance. He runs the plot by Jake, who realizes there is something solid there.

The Last Green Valley by Mark Sullivan

May 2021

Many readers know Mark Sullivan from his 2017 historical novel, BENEATH A SCARLET SKY, which was a mega-bestseller. I am predicting that the same sales will happen with his latest book, THE LAST GREEN VALLEY; it is just as well done.

The story opens in Ukraine in 1944, where the Martel family is offered two options: wait for Stalin to arrive, or run with the Nazis who vow to protect them. Neither is a great choice, but the Martels opt for the latter. This is known as a time when people were deciding whether to “wait for the bear” or “run with the wolves.” They already have known the days when Stalin starved them. What could be worse than that?

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

May 2021

Laura Dave’s new book, THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME, is a brisk suspense novel. This is a departure for Laura, who has written contemporary fiction in the past, and she totally delivers.

Owen Michaels has disappeared in the wake of a scandal at his company. But before he headed out, he got a note smuggled to his wife, Hannah Hall, who he had married a year ago. It has just two words: Protect her. She knows exactly to whom that refers --- Owen’s 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, the girl who barely gives her the time of day. Suddenly law enforcement is showing up at their houseboat asking Hannah questions to which she has no answers. She starts to wonder “who” she really married, and she needs Bailey to help her. She cannot figure out the riddle of Owen’s life without her, but will the teen cooperate?

Find You First by Linwood Barclay

May 2021

Our longtime readers know that I have been a fan of Linwood Barclay’s books for years. FIND YOU FIRST has ratcheted up his writing and plotting to a whole new level.

Miles Cookson is a tech millionaire who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, one that can be genetically passed along, and there’s a 50 percent chance that his children will get the disease. He has not had any kids of his own that he knows of, but when he was young he was a sperm donor --- leading to the possibility that as many as nine children are out there who may have the gene. His goal is to find them so he can warn them and also leave them his fortune. But as quickly as he tries to track them down, they are disappearing or being found dead. What is happening?

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

April 2021

Sally Hepworth is an author whose thrillers I always enjoy, so it was such fun to read THE GOOD SISTER. The story features twin sisters Fern and Rose. Fern has challenges, and Rose has always been there for her. Rose wants to have a baby but has been unable to get pregnant. What will Fern do for Rose? As the story unfolds, who is really doing what to whom?