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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.

Shelterwood by Lisa Wingate

June 2024

I know little about Eastern Oklahoma, and I never have traveled there. But after reading SHELTERWOOD by Lisa Wingate, I would love to see this part of the country.

The book is set in two time frames. In 1909, we meet 11-year-old Olive Augusta Radley, who knows that the two Choctaw girls boarded in their home as wards are not safe around her stepfather. The older girl disappears, and shortly after, Ollie flees to the woods with the younger girl. After the passage of the Dawes Act, which gave every Indian man, woman and child land, the youngest of these inheritors were preyed upon by men who wanted to lay claim to their oil rights. Children were hidden in the woods in places like the Winding Stair Mountains. There they would forage for food and protect one another, setting up their own systems of order in which the older children would watch out for the younger ones.

Long After We Are Gone by Terah Shelton Harris

May 2024

I was not familiar with heir property before I heard Terah Shelton Harris talk about it at a book preview event as she discussed her new novel, LONG AFTER WE ARE GONE. I found myself intrigued by this idea of land that was bought by Black people during the time of Reconstruction. These properties often were held by entire families and passed from generation to generation, but without much in the way of printed documents. Many times, the land was in areas that were swampy or near water, which was not considered desirable as people wanted property that could be farmed. As a result of the scant paperwork, there have been lots of ways for developers to try to lay claim to this land.

The Stolen Child by Ann Hood

May 2024

Ann Hood has been interested in World War I for a while. She has traveled to battlefields and read extensively on the subject. So her writing a novel, THE STOLEN CHILD, set partially in this time period makes a lot of sense. She knows her way around the facts to create a beautiful story up against them.

Nick Burns was a soldier in the war, and he has been haunted by something for decades. As enemy forces headed into town, a young woman thrust her baby and two of her paintings into this young American’s hands, imploring him to take care of her son. And then she was gone.

Nick was unable to keep the boy and left him in what he thought would be a safe place. But the child and these paintings, which he still has, have been on his mind for the longest time. What happened to the baby, and what happened to the painter?

Summers at the Saint by Mary Kay Andrews

May 2024

I love big hotels that have a lot of history to them, so I was immediately drawn to SUMMERS AT THE SAINT. Here, Mary Kay Andrews has all the elements for a perfect beach read --- a beloved hotel with a storied reputation, a great cast of characters, and a few mysteries that include a murder. And she parlays this into a page-turning story!

The St. Cecelia (which everyone refers to as “the Saint”) is being run by Traci Eddings, who grew up as “an Ain't,” meaning that she was not wealthy or connected enough to frequent the resort. She married a man whose family owned the hotel and took over his position running it when he died in a plane crash.

I Will Ruin You by Linwood Barclay

May 2024

I am a longtime fan of Linwood Barclay’s books, and I think I have read them all. I especially love the characters he delivers, all of whom are well drawn and relatable. Then he puts them in circumstances that upend their lives. Often I think, What would *I* do? And yes, I am happy that these are his characters’ problems, not mine.

In I WILL RUIN YOU, we start with a sadly familiar situation. A teacher is confronted by a former student armed with dynamite who is ready to blow up the school building and himself. Just as Richard has talked Mark into walking away, fate intervenes, and the young man trips. Bang! That is on page 11.

The Paris Novel by Ruth Reichl

May 2024

I do love armchair travel, especially when it is delivered to me by someone who clearly has fabulous taste, a keen eye and a seasoned palate. Ruth Reichl is the perfect guide for this --- and she weaves a terrific story around it in THE PARIS NOVEL.

Stella has had a very tough childhood, with a mother who ignores her more than she favors her. Along the way, she is abused as a child and walks away from her childhood home as soon as she can to build her own life. She finds joy working with an editor at Vintage Books; she is very happy and comfortable at her job there. But when her mother passes away, she finds herself with a rather interesting inheritance --- a one-way plane ticket and a note reading “Go to Paris.” Stella is like a little church mouse with absolutely no idea what to do for an adventure. Her boss says, “Go!” And with that kick in the right direction, she is on a plane.

Did I Ever Tell You?: A Memoir by Genevieve Kingston

May 2024

DID I EVER TELL YOU? by Genevieve Kingston is the kind of book you read --- and never forget.

When Genevieve (who was nicknamed Gwen) lost her mother, she was just 11 years old. Kristina had been ill with cancer for eight years, and she knew she would not live to see her daughter and son grow into adulthood. Instead of mourning her fate, she would busy herself with wrapping paper, ribbon and cards, assembling a treasure trove of gifts for her children. Gwen would see her mother fluttering about clearly on a mission. You could feel she was almost seeing her children at each future stage that she was wrapping a special message for them, taking them up to age 30. These notes and gifts carefully were placed in a box for each of them.

Daughter of Mine by Megan Miranda

April 2024

Megan Miranda has ratcheted up her thriller game with DAUGHTER OF MINE. First, let’s pull in a climate/environmental issue with a lake receding as there are days without rain and a clear forecast. Feeling parched as you read? I get it. So what happens when the water recedes? Well, things that were hidden suddenly come to light. Sitting on the edge of your seat yet?

If not, try this. Hazel, the daughter of the local longtime detective of Mirror Lake, inherits her childhood home. Why is this so unexpected? I’m not going to give it away, but there’s twist number one when you get there. Hazel has left town for almost a decade at this point, and she is not ready to race back, even if there is a house waiting for her. She has her own business with two friends, and she’s happy with her new life.

The Wives: A Memoir by Simone Gorrindo

April 2024

A couple of months ago, I had the pleasure of attending a pre-publication lunch and talking to Simone Gorrindo about THE WIVES. At the time, I had heard about the book but had not read a word of it. I enjoyed our conversation, and when I was reading it, I found Simone’s voice on the page to be as honest and engaging as she had been in person. I started off listening to the audiobook; I always love it when an author reads his or her memoir. I later picked up the book as I can read faster than I listen.

There are so many moments that I loved here, but what Simone wrote so well is about the camaraderie among these women, all of whom were united by one common thread --- they were the wives of men in combat or training for combat.

What Happened to Nina? by Dervla McTiernan

April 2024

I love reading true crime books, and I have been known to go down the rabbit hole on many a Netflix true crime series. (Oddly, I do not gravitate to true crime podcasts.) So it probably is not surprising that crime fiction in this vein will call my name. WHAT HAPPENED TO NINA? by Dervla McTiernan drew me in from the description.

Nina and her boyfriend, Simon, head off to his family’s 400-acre estate in Vermont for spring break. Now, mind you, this property is located in the same state as the palatial home of Simon’s family. Yes, we are talking that kind of family money. Nina and Simon spend the day climbing, which they both enjoy. But something happens on one of the climbs that worries Nina.