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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 Shore by Katie Runde

July 2022

Through the years, I have read many books that have taken place at beach locations, but I am trying to remember one set at a New Jersey beach. Here in Jersey, where I am from, we do not go to the beach --- we “go down the shore.” So I was really excited to get my hands on a book called THE SHORE by Katie Runde. It is set in Seaside Beach, a beach town well known to Katie as she grew up there; while this is not “her story,” she borrows from her own life for inspiration. Growing up in a shore town means working all summer to make enough for your family to survive the winter months when these towns become quiet and a version of a special paradise for the locals.

The Lies I Tell by Julie Clark

July 2022

I was a huge fan of Julie Clark’s THE LAST FLIGHT and looked forward to seeing what she would do next. THE LIES I TELL did not disappoint. In it, she has two interwoven storylines featuring two women --- one is a con artist, and the other is ready to take her down.

Years ago, Kat Roberts was reporting on a story about an abusive school principal and the girls he had under his spell. She feels she is on to something when she learns that he was ratted out by his own girlfriend. But what happens after this submerges Kat’s career.

Vacationland by Meg Mitchell Moore

June 2022

A few weeks ago, I plucked an advance reading copy of VACATIONLAND by Meg Mitchell Moore from my shelf. Immediately I was transported to a beautiful home on the coast of Maine. I could smell the water and see the rocky shore.

As the novel opens, a young woman named Kristie is headed to Maine on a bus. She has a backpack, $761 and a mission to figure something out. That is the setup for a typical scenario of “a woman on a quest.” From there, the story shifts to Louisa, a tenured professor who has arrived in Maine from Brooklyn with her three children to spend the summer with her parents while her husband launches his podcast brand back in the city. Louisa is counting on her folks to help out with the kids as she works on a book with a deadline she has to hit. She has been on sabbatical, but something has gotten in the way of her work, and she is desperate to get some time to write.

Tracy Flick Can't Win by Tom Perrotta

June 2022

There are times when I get a sneak peek at a book long before it comes out. That is what happened with Tom Perrotta’s TRACY FLICK CAN’T WIN, which I read last October. I completely disappeared into it on a warm Saturday afternoon on the deck.

Here, Tracy Flick is in line to become the new public school principal in a small town in New Jersey when the reigning principal, Jack Weede, announces his retirement to explore the country with his wife in a Winnebago. For a few moments, it looks like Tracy has it all nailed, and then… Well, Perrotta flips the story around again and again…and again. There were many laugh-out-loud moments, but more than that, I was in awe of his storytelling, which is both comic and so truthful. He shifted the story from chapter to chapter, which ramped up the pace and the action, and I just kept reading. He made me question the town’s heroes, as well as those with all the power. But in the end, it does feel like everyone got their due. Still, it was quite a rocky and brilliantly circuitous road to getting that done. It was crowned my first Bets On selection of 2022 way back then.

Meant to Be by Emily Giffin

June 2022

Those who follow Emily Giffin know that she loves the Kennedys and the Queen/monarchy. MEANT TO BE is a veiled and oh-so-fun look at John Jr. and his crazy romantic life right up to the time he falls head first in love.

Here Joseph S. Kingsley III (see what I mean about the veiled reference?) falls for a woman he meets by chance who is out of his social circle. Cate Cooper has a checkered past, which includes a stepfather who berates her and beats on her mom. She is discovered as a model, moves to New York and meets Joe there. He is impetuous and a true free spirit. His mom wants him destined for political life; his dad had been killed in an accident, so the family legacy all hinges on him. He has flunked the bar twice, has been photographed in a seemingly unending list of compromising positions, and has what we call “a reputation.” As drawn as she is to him, Cate wants to keep him at arm’s length. The book is just plain fun. We know this will dip in crazy directions, and there will be romantic and embarrassing moments. The media will be all over them. And they will try to outsmart them.

Two Nights in Lisbon by Chris Pavone

June 2022

TWO NIGHTS IN LISBON by Chris Pavone is tough to talk about as the plot reveals will spoil it for you. I will share that these are two very action-packed nights and days.

We begin with Ariel Price waking up in Lisbon and finding out that her husband, John, is gone. Did he just run out for coffee? They had a great last evening with some spirited sex, so there is no feeling that their relationship went awry. She searches for a note, but there is none. She reaches for a phone to call him, but his phone is dead. She takes all the usual steps to locate him --- hotel security, the police, even the American embassy. He was in town on business, but they had not talked about where those meetings were. She was there to sightsee and have fun, and he was to catch up with her. The authorities question how much she does not know; her conversation feels a bit unbelievable.

Take Your Breath Away by Linwood Barclay

June 2022

I have long thought that those cameras people have on their houses have made it really tough to be a crime writer. These days, along with cell phones, GPS and a whole host of devices that make it difficult to ramp up a plot, now we have what is in essence spyware on many doorsteps.

In Linwood Barclay’s TAKE YOUR BREATH AWAY, Brie Mason has been missing for six years. She was home alone one afternoon. Her husband, Andy, was away fishing with his best friend, Greg, who also was his business partner. Brie’s only visitors that day was an exterminator who had been called in to see if there was a mouse in the house. But no one saw her after that. Andy has been a prime suspect for years and has never been completely discounted. He sold the house, which eventually was torn down by the new residents, and a new house stands in its place. Andy is now living in a new town with a new name, and he has a new woman in his life named Jayne. He also has split his business from Greg since no one wanted a would-be murderer in their home. But things are finally looking up for Andy.

Mustique Island by Sarah McCoy

May 2022

In MUSTIQUE ISLAND, Sarah McCoy transported me to this island that, aside from its sandy shores and blue water, has a storied history of being the playground for Princess Margaret and Mick Jagger. As a friend who has vacationed there at Christmas for more than two decades has told me, what happens on Mustique stays on the island. Over the holidays you will not hear what celebrities there are doing; it’s known to be a place where respect is given to those vacationing. So this trip there with Sarah’s characters is just brilliant fun.

The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth

April 2022

Sally Hepworth is one of my favorite authors, so I happily plucked her new thriller, THE YOUNGER WIFE, from my shelves and devoured it. The catalyst for the idea for this one came from her great aunty Gwen. A throwaway line from Gwen got her thinking about a plot point that comes later in the book. Who is the “younger wife,” and what is going on in this family? It opens with a wedding. But it also opens with blood! So from the start, you know things are not going to go well.

Sister Stardust by Jane Green

April 2022

I completely devoured SISTER STARDUST, Jane Green’s first historical novel. For years, Jane has been interested in Talitha Getty, the second wife of John Paul Getty Jr. This book reimagines her life in the '60s during her time in Morocco, which were some very hedonistic days. A famous model and actress, Talitha is rich, exuberant and universally loved. The story is told through the eyes of Claire, who renames herself Cece. She moves from her small English town to London and is swept up in Talitha's world. The closer they grow, the more Claire learns about the dark past of this mysterious and revered woman.