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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 Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post by Allison Pataki

March 2022

In THE MAGNIFICENT LIVES OF MARJORIE POST, Allison Pataki once again delivers a powerful work of historical fiction. Marjorie Merriweather Post led a brilliantly storied life that started in Battle Creek, Michigan, where as a child she glued the labels on boxes of Grape-Nuts and Postum, their first food products. From these humble roots, the Post family grew their empire.

The Good Son by Jacquelyn Mitchard

March 2022

In THE GOOD SON, Jacquelyn Mitchard opens the book with Thea Demetriou at the prison gates waiting to pick up her son, Stefan, as he is released from prison. It’s a brilliant “cold open” with this line: “I was picking my son up at the prison gates when I spotted the mother of the girl he had murdered.” And she goes on to say, “Two independent clauses, ten words each, joined by an adverb, made up entirely of words that would once have been unimaginable to think, much less say.”

The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb

March 2022

I absolutely loved THE VIOLIN CONSPIRACY by Brendan Slocumb. I have never been a fan of classical music, so reading a book about a concert artist is not something that typically would grab my attention. But I was riveted.

Ray McMillian loves playing the violin, but he’s using a school rental instrument, which is not the way one is going to get ahead in the music world. When visiting his grandmother, she suggests that he look around the attic in her house where her grandfather’s fiddle is. He treks up there, and after days of searching, he finds a green alligator case with a violin inside. Ray practices for hours on it, with his mom complaining about “that noise” and lending no support. As he studies music in school, a teacher takes him under her wing and guides him as she sees real talent in him.

The Cage by Bonnie Kistler

February 2022

I read THE CAGE by Bonnie Kistler a few months ago. The story was so well written that writing this I feel like I read it yesterday. The setup is great. Two women are working late at a high-end fashion company on a Sunday night. They get on the same elevator. The lights go out, and the elevator stalls. Help is called. By the time they get to the lobby and the doors open, one woman is dead. Was it a murder or a suicide? The survivor is Shay Lambert, the company’s newest lawyer; the deceased is Lucy Barton-Jones, their seemingly unflappable human resources director. Shay immediately calls it a suicide, but Lucy’s husband is stumped.

The Other Family by Wendy Corsi Staub

February 2022

THE OTHER FAMILY by Wendy Corsi Staub has secrets cleverly layered in it that will keep readers guessing. The Howells have relocated from California to Brooklyn. While they thought they would end up in a cramped apartment, this family of four, including two teenage daughters, finds itself in a beautiful brownstone with a backyard and a garden.

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

February 2022

BLACK CAKE by Charmaine Wilkerson is a brilliant and moving debut written in a completely compelling style. It opens in California where Eleanor Bennett’s death leaves her two children, Byron and Benny, with a very nontraditional inheritance. She has left them two things --- a traditional Caribbean black cake, one made with a family recipe, and an eight-hour voice recording that they are to listen to together with her lawyer present. They are not to share the cake until they have listened to the whole story. As the recording is played, they learn that their mother’s life is not what they have long believed --- and many family secrets are revealed. Her narrated stories will take them from California to the Caribbean and London.

The Overnight Guest by Heather Gudenkauf

February 2022

THE OVERNIGHT GUEST by Heather Gudenkauf has a chilling setting, literally and figuratively. Wylie Lark, a true crime writer, is snowed in while finishing her new book in a house where, decades earlier, two people were murdered and a young girl disappeared. As a blizzard swirls outside, she finds a child in the snow --- which begins her reckoning that the story she is writing may not end up the way she thinks.

Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner

February 2022

GREENWICH PARK is such a strong debut novel. The plot came to Katherine Faulkner when she was in a prenatal class. Since all the women were pregnant, there was a feeling that they all should be friends.

In the book, Helen attends her first prenatal class and has a strange encounter with Rachel, who is also pregnant and immediately attaches herself to Helen in what feels like a smothering kind of friendship. At first, Helen appreciates the companionship. But as time goes on, Rachel becomes more erratic, and Helen begins feeling like she needs to find a way to escape this irrational creature. Rachel is everywhere that Helen is; it’s as if she has a GPS finder on Helen’s back.

The Maid by Nita Prose

January 2022

In Nita Prose’s debut novel, THE MAID, Molly Gray is a socially challenged hotel maid who prides herself on delivering top service to the guests at the Regency Grand Hotel. One day, she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black and finds him dead in his bed. All fingers point to Molly as the killer, so she works to unravel the mystery of what happened to Mr. Black to free herself as a suspect. Molly’s life has been shaped by the words of her Gran, who died a few months ago. She approaches each seemingly insurmountable task by sharing what her Gran would have said to do.

The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain

January 2022

THE LAST HOUSE ON THE STREET is the latest book from Diane Chamberlain. While I loved her previous effort, BIG LIES IN A SMALL TOWN, this one surpasses it as my favorite. The novel takes place in the mid-'60s, during the heart of the Civil Rights Movement, and in the year 2010. Some characters overlap, which is not often the case with dual storylines. Here, questions can be answered by folks who are still around, though whether or not they are being totally truthful remains to be seen.