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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.

This Time Next Year We'll Be Laughing: A Memoir by Jacqueline Winspear

November 2020

Jacqueline Winspear’s memoir, THIS TIME NEXT YEAR WE’LL BE LAUGHING, takes readers with her to post-War England, where she shares wonderful stories about growing up in a country recovering from war. Readers may know Winspear from her award-winning Maisie Dobbs series, but even if you do not, her storytelling here will completely captivate you. I interviewed her a few weeks ago, and I felt like I was talking to an old family friend. Her stories of her family brought them all so alive to me.

Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent

November 2020

Liz Nugent’s LITTLE CRUELTIES opens with this line: “All three of the Drumm brothers were at the funeral, although one of us was in a coffin.” It goes on to say, “Three is an odd number, so there had always been two against one, although we all switched sides regularly. Nobody would ever have described us as close.” It’s a great setup, and when I reread it, I saw just how clever it was.

Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

October 2020

Lisa Jewell’s latest psychological thriller, INVISIBLE GIRL, is set in an upscale London neighborhood, similar to the one that Lisa was living in while her home was being remodeled. Her inspiration for the book came from a rather innocuous sighting of a “schlubby-looking” man on the street who was walking by as a group of swanky moms were waiting for their children to get out of school. Who was he?

Well, Lisa invented a story about him where he lived in his aunt’s spare bedroom. Owen is a teacher but is currently suspended for his actions with some students, which he vehemently denies. He also is caught up in the world of incels, men who are "involuntary celibates" --- members of an online subculture who define themselves as unable to find a romantic or sexual partner.

Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy

October 2020

GOODNIGHT BEAUTIFUL definitely has Aimee Molloy living up to her moniker as “the master of clever misdirection.” Three times I found myself flipping back through pages wondering, HOW did she fool me?

The book is set in a quiet upstate town. Sam and Annie have relocated there to keep tabs on his mom, who is in an extended care facility suffering from dementia. They want to be able to spend more time with her. For Sam, he has moved back home. He grew up in this sleepy town where he was a bit of a player with the girls in high school. He has returned as a psychotherapist, and his clientele is a group of women who pour out their troubles to him. Unbeknownst to Sam, their conversations can be heard through a vent in the ceiling. And there is listening going on upstairs. Then Sam goes missing, and Annie is left to wonder what happened to him.

The Girl in the Mirror by Rose Carlyle

October 2020

THE GIRL IN THE MIRROR is a debut thriller. Rose Carlyle lives in New Zealand, and the book was a #1 bestseller there when it came out in August. I love this description of it: “It’s a thriller with identical twins, fast yachts, tropical harbors, secrets and deceit, sex and crocodiles.” I read it floating in the pool and looked up thinking that I was on my way to the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean; her descriptions were that dead-on.

Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger

October 2020

CONFESSIONS ON THE 7:45 by Lisa Unger opens with a frazzled Selena boarding a commuter train home that has her behind schedule --- and then the train gets stuck in a tunnel. During this frustrating delay, she turns to the woman next to her and they start chatting. At first it’s idle chatter, but then her seatmate reveals that she is having an affair with her boss. This emboldens Selena to blurt out that her husband, Graham, is having an affair with their nanny, Geneva. Between them, they establish the kind of instant intimacy that often happens when in a confined space like this. I confess that I have been in dishy conversations on more than one airplane!

Don’t Look for Me by Wendy Walker

September 2020

DON’T LOOK FOR ME is my fourth Bets On selection from Wendy Walker. People often ask me who to compare Wendy to, and I never can answer that straight out. Her books look at a psychological issue and delve deeply into it, which drops them into the zone of psychological suspense. But I find them to be sharper than a lot of offerings in this genre. They are rooted in topics that are not often addressed in thrillers. Here it’s “walking away,” something that actually happens with women as they abandon their marriage and head to build a new life for themselves without telling anyone where they have gone. Often when this occurs, there are children in the picture.

One by One by Ruth Ware

September 2020

ONE BY ONE is Ruth Ware’s sixth novel, and I have been a fan since book one. To me, this latest work is Ruth at her very best. It’s set at a ski resort...and on a very, very hot weekend, I found myself actually chilled as her storytelling was so atmospheric. Staffers from an app company called Snoop are off on a team-building retreat weekend at a luxury home where they will be attended to by two caretakers who are there to see to their every need. This will be challenging on many levels.

Monogamy by Sue Miller

September 2020

I heard about MONOGAMY by Sue Miller at a few publisher previews --- and shared it with our readers at a “Bookaccino Live” event. I loved it, and in fact I stayed up until 3am one night to finish it. It’s the story of a marriage, of vows and promises broken. Annie is married to Graham, but when he passes away, she learns a cruel secret about him, one that will have her questioning so much of her life. The character of Annie unpeels a lot of layers in her life --- who she was with the men in her life and who she is now. And, along the way, she tries to unearth who Graham was.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

September 2020

Brit Bennett’s THE VANISHING HALF has been solidly on bestseller lists since it came out in early June. And I see why. It’s about twin sisters who are born in the town of Mallard, Louisiana. The townspeople there are all light-skinned blacks who can pass as white. The town has prided itself on this tradition. The sisters leave town determined to strike off on their own instead of staying in a stifling place. When they depart, one marries a dark black man; the other marries white, and “passes.” And they have no contact for years. Through their children, a connection is made that will shake up both of their lives. It’s timely --- and smartly done.