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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 Connellys of County Down by Tracey Lange

August 2023

THE CONNELLYS OF COUNTY DOWN is Tracey Lange’s second novel, and just as she did so well with WE ARE THE BRENNANS two years ago, she is bringing readers a family saga. When the book opens, Tara is getting out of jail after serving an 18-month sentence on drug charges. This conviction means that she now cannot return to her job as a schoolteacher, which she loved. In fact, the entire time she was in prison, she was drawing pictures for the other inmates and herself. She leaves jail with the oddest person driving her home --- the police officer who arrested her. He always has wondered what she really was doing the night she was arrested, and he thinks she knows more than she is saying.

Everyone Here Is Lying by Shari Lapena

August 2023

Longtime readers know that I call Shari Lapena “The Queen of the One-Sit Read.” Why? Because once I start reading one of her books, I do not stop. The action peaks at the end of each chapter, and you think, Ah, I can read one more. And you keep going like that. EVERYONE HERE IS LYING lives up to its title. These characters are filled with secrets.

Gone Tonight by Sarah Pekkanen

August 2023

Sarah Pekkanen’s GONE TONIGHT is written in two voices. Ruth Sterling is 41 and is a fierce protector of her 24-year-old daughter, Catherine. Ruth left home when she became pregnant at 17, and it’s been just the two of them for years. When the book opens, Catherine is looking forward to relocating to Baltimore for a new job. Ruth does not want her to make this move, as it will bring her too close to something from Ruth’s past that she needs to keep left behind. As the novel unfolds, readers are given more looks into that past and why Ruth is so protective.

Strange Sally Diamond by Liz Nugent

August 2023

I have been a fan of Liz Nugent’s books since her debut, UNRAVELING OLIVER. So when STRANGE SALLY DIAMOND got on my radar, I had a feeling that I would be in for a terrific psychological thriller. And boy, did it deliver, with a very interesting premise and execution.

As the book opens, Sally’s father has passed away, and she has followed the instructions that he told her in one of their conversations --- that after he died, she should put him out in the bin. And well, since garbage is typically burned, she takes steps to try to burn him. Readers quickly see that Sally has some challenges with taking things literally. She clocks in on the neurodiverse spectrum and does not always get an implied joke. From this action, the town is now paying attention to Sally.

The Block Party by Jamie Day

August 2023

How well do you really know your neighbors? You will be thinking about that as you read about the affluent Alton Road neighborhood where THE BLOCK PARTY is set. When the book opens, it’s the day in May when the annual summer block party happens. Yes, people are gathering for fun, but immediately tensions start riding high. And then, just as a shot is fired and things start to get out of control, author Jamie Day shifts the action to a year earlier on Alton Road.

Little Monsters by Adrienne Brodeur

July 2023

I heard Adrienne Brodeur talk about LITTLE MONSTERS at a pre-publication event, and I knew from her presentation that I wanted to read it. It’s set in the summer of 2016 on Cape Cod, an area that she knows and loves. This place is as much a character in the book as the Gardner family whom we meet. The setting alone makes it work as a summer read.

The Better Half by Alli Frank and Asha Youmans

July 2023

Once again, Alli Frank and Asha Youmans hit it out of the park with their third novel together, THE BETTER HALF, which has both heart and soul. At 43, Nina Morgan Clarke has arrived. She is the first Black headmaster of the very tony Royal-Hawkins School, which is mostly populated by students of wealthy white parents. She has a tolerable relationship with her ex-husband, and her daughter is on the east coast at a private school. Before she embarks on this new role, she goes on vacation with her best and longtime friend, Marisol. On that trip, she meets a man to whom she has an instant attraction and comes home with a challenge that will complicate her life.

Her, Too by Bonnie Kistler

July 2023

In HER, TOO, just as she did in THE CAGE, Bonnie Kistler puts the action right up front. Kelly McCann is a fighter. She defends men who are accused of sex crimes, and she has a winning record. While it feels like she is a traitor to women, this role has made her very successful. She commands a large salary. She has a lot at home to protect, so she needs the money. But then, on the night of one of her biggest victories, she is sexually assaulted. From there, the tables are turned. The way that she was so proactive about her defense is how she is when she joins with other victims to get revenge.

Lady Tan's Circle of Women by Lisa See

June 2023

I still remember where I was in 2005 when I read SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN. Having read all of Lisa See’s historical novels, as well as her memoir, ON GOLD MOUNTAIN, I am happy to report that LADY TAN’S CIRCLE OF WOMEN is her best book to date. The story is completely absorbing from page one. Honestly, if you told me that I would have interest in a woman who was practicing medicine in the 15th century, I would doubt you. But Lisa vividly weaves a story of the esteemed families of the time --- and those who surround them --- sharing details that had me feeling like I was inside the gates of these palatial homes.

The House of Lincoln by Nancy Horan

June 2023

THE HOUSE OF LINCOLN is Nancy Horan’s first book since 2014. Having grown up in Springfield, Illinois, Nancy was quite familiar with Abraham Lincoln’s influence on the country, especially on that part of the state. The more she read and explored, the more she wanted to bring to life not just the man, but also the time in which he lived --- a time that was fraught with racial divide.