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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.

Fellowship Point by Alice Elliott Dark

August 2022

I typically am a very quick reader, but I found myself really slowing down to read FELLOWSHIP POINT by Alice Elliott Dark. Why? The beauty of her writing is as special as the story. And, ah, the story.

We have two very different women. Agnes Lee is an author, now in her 80s, who is best known for her children’s book series about a young girl named Nan. But unbeknownst to anyone, she also is the author of the bestselling Franklin Square novels, and she has one more story there that she would like to tell. Her childhood friend is Polly Wister, a well-off married woman with children. Polly’s life has been devoted to the happiness of her husband, who is demanding of her time and rather egotistical. And her children challenge her world, where she just wants peace and harmony.

Things We Do in the Dark by Jennifer Hillier

August 2022

THINGS WE DO IN THE DARK is the first book that I have read by Jennifer Hillier. As this is her seventh, I am trying to figure out how it took me so long to find her work. It kicks off with Paris Peralta in the bathroom with a straight blade in her hand, and her husband dead in a bathtub full of blood. She is arrested, but her biggest fear is not being caught for this murder. She is worried that her picture will be plastered everywhere, and the past that she has so cleverly hidden will come back to haunt her --- and with it, another murder that she could be charged with.

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

August 2022

There are times when I “miss” a book and play catchup. That is what I did with LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY by Bonnie Garmus. I think it was because a few people told me that it was similar to another book that I did not like. But then I heard raves from others. So exactly four-and-a-half months after hearing about it, I picked it up. And I found myself not just loving Elizabeth Zott and her quirky ways, but thinking about how this woman was really making strides at a time in the late ’50s and early ’60s when women’s roles were a lot more traditional. Plus, I love clever, which is exactly what this book is.

The Last to Vanish by Megan Miranda

July 2022

Each time I picked up THE LAST TO VANISH by Megan Miranda, I immediately found myself caught up in the town of Cutter’s Pass, North Carolina, which sits along the Appalachian Trail. I felt the small-town vibe where everyone knows everyone and their history. Show up new to work in town and people take notice. In the summer, this quiet place comes to life as tourists go there to hike the trails, raft and commune with nature. If they find themselves staying at The Passage Inn, they will meet the manager, Abigail Lovett, who has been there for 10 years. It’s one of those places with a cozy lobby where you can grab breakfast and the staff is always ready to share a great spot for you to visit, a little nugget that will make your vacation memorable.

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.