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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 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?

You Belong Here Now by Dianna Rostad

April 2021

Set in Montana in 1925, YOU BELONG HERE NOW by Dianna Rostad is a beautifully written debut novel. Three orphans are traveling westward from New York City, looking for new homes. At each whistle stop along the journey, they and the other orphans are paraded before families willing to adopt them. The families are often in search of laborers to help farm their land, and their goals are less altruistic than one might think. But at station after station, there are children who are not selected; for them, life ahead is one great unknown.

Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia

April 2021

OF WOMEN AND SALT by Gabriela Garcia looks at the lives of two families of women, from the days of the cigar factories in 19th-century Cuba to modern-day Miami, with a detour to migrant detention centers sheltering refugees coming from Mexico. Gabriela carefully constructs and brings together a number of fractured story threads, and delivers some powerful storytelling. And she accomplishes this in 204 pages; there is not even one bloated page.

Eternal by Lisa Scottoline

March 2021

I love when authors step out of their comfort zone, stretch and leap --- and then land the jump. That is what Lisa Scottoline did in writing ETERNAL, a historical novel set in Italy in the late 1930s as Fascism is sweeping through the country, as well as anti-Semitism. While I confess to World War II reading fatigue, here I dashed that thought, as I fell in love with her three characters --- Elisabetta, Marco and Sandro --- who are childhood friends in Rome. Also, while I knew much about the war setting in England, France and Germany, I knew very little about the rise of Fascism in Rome and the terrible toll it took on the country.

Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi

March 2021

I have been a huge fan of Nadia Hashimi’s earlier books, so I was very excited to read her latest, SPARKS LIKE STARS.

The novel opens in 1978. Sitara Zamani is a 10-year-old Afghan girl living a privileged life in Kabul. Her family is warm and loving. There was sadness in the past, as they lost a daughter before Sitara was born, but these days she lives a happy and carefree life with her mother, father and younger brother.

However, their peaceful existence is upended when a coup takes place, and in one terrifying evening, Sitara's entire family is slain.She is squired away by one of the attackers and left in the hands of an American foreign government worker who assumes the role of getting her to safety.

Who Is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews

March 2021

WHO IS MAUD DIXON? by Alexandra Andrews is such a fun read! Florence Darrow is an editorial assistant at a New York publishing house. She is still learning the business and is angling how to hit the next rung on the career ladder. She stumbles a step when she has a one-night stand with an oh-so-married senior executive. And just like that, she is unceremoniously let go from the publishing house.