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Bookreporter.com Bets On...

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.

Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok

June 2019

Jean Kwok’s SEARCHING FOR SYLVIE LEE untangles the complicated ties binding three women --- two sisters, Sylvie and Amy, and their mother --- in one Chinese immigrant family, and explores what happens when the eldest daughter disappears and a series of family secrets emerge. The story unfolds with pitch-perfect pacing from the moment that Amy receives a call from the Netherlands that Sylvie is missing. She first searches Sylvie’s New York apartment, and what she sees there has her hasten her way to the Netherlands to track down those who last saw her older sister. And from there, the quest to find Sylvie gets more and more tangled.

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

June 2019

ASK AGAIN, YES by Mary Beth Keane is one of my favorite books of 2019. It’s set in a Long Island town where two New York City policemen, who are not close friends, live next door to each other. One’s wife is dealing with some serious emotional and mental illness issues, which will have an impact on both families --- including Peter, the son of one family, and Kate, the daughter of the other, who fall for one another.

Mistress of the Ritz by Melanie Benjamin

May 2019

MISTRESS OF THE RITZ by Melanie Benjamin is set in Paris during World War II. There, Blanche Auzello and her husband, Claude, are the mistress and master of the Hôtel Ritz, one of the city's best-known hotels. Blanche is American and is hiding a secret from the Nazis who are encamped at the Ritz. She’s also a member of the Resistance, going to all lengths to try to outwit the Germans, who she feels are causing blight on a place she loves so much. Claude is trying to balance the demands of the Germans with those of the other hotel guests who have been decamped to the drearier part of the building.

The Favorite Daughter by Kaira Rouda

May 2019

There are authors who write with a really distinctive voice. Kaira Rouda is one of them. I loved her last book, BEST DAY EVER, and opening THE FAVORITE DAUGHTER, I saw that once again she had nailed a super edgy tone in her writing. I am not sure what it says about me that I love her narcissist protagonists, but she gives them such strong personalities that I have to read more and not look away. THE FAVORITE DAUGHTER is edgy much the same as BEST DAY EVER. It is a complete page-turner of a train-wrecked life that consumed my day when I read it --- and I loved every minute of being totally drawn into it.

The Night Before by Wendy Walker

May 2019

THE NIGHT BEFORE by Wendy Walker has a striking cover, a tension-filled plot and some great twists. Two sisters, Rosie and Laura, live very different lives. Rosie is settled, whereas Laura lives life more on the edge, running from some things in her past. Laura recently has moved back in with Rosie after going through a relationship breakup. One night, she goes on a blind date with someone she met on a dating website and does not come home. What happened the night before? While Laura is fearful, she also is reckless and is nothing like her suburbanite sister, Rosie, who knows just how much trouble Laura can get into.

The Guest Book by Sarah Blake

May 2019

Sarah Blake’s THE GUEST BOOK is one of my favorite books of 2019. I feel like this is going to be one of the most talked-about books this summer. I read it, and once I closed it, I could not wait to share it with people. This is a novel that looks at class, culture and race in America framed against the purview of three generations of the Milton family, a well-bred family that has summered for three generations on Crockett’s Island, an island that they own off the coast of Maine. The island has been the place where many of the family’s memories have been made, but now the third generation finds itself unable to afford the upkeep on the island and is at a crossroads.

My Ex-Best Friend’s Wedding by Wendy Wax

May 2019

MY EX-BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING by Wendy Wax was such a fun read for me. Most of the book is set on the Outer Banks, which was where our family vacationed for summers from 2001 to 2013, as well as for Christmas holidays and spring breaks. I loved the way that Wendy latched on to all the details that make the area so special. She layered in so many of the great places to visit --- and dine --- and captured its spirit so well. Just for that, the novel got high marks from me.

Nanaville: Adventures in Grandparenting (Audiobook) by Anna Quindlen

May 2019

In NANAVILLE: Adventures in Grandparenting, her honest and oft-times wry memoir, Anna Quindlen talks about being the grandmother to her first grandchild, Arthur. She nails the role of grandparents in a child’s life and offers thoughtful and telling observations about it, as she is no longer mother and decision-maker but secondary character and support to the parents of her grandson. She writes, ‘Where I once led, I have to learn to follow.’ Eventually a close friend provides words to live by: ‘Did they ask you?’”

The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

May 2019

If you have been reading this website and my Bets On selections for the last few years, you will know that I am a huge fan of Sally Hepworth, an Australian author who writes wonderful thrillers that revolve around home and family. In the first chapter of her latest, THE MOTHER-IN-LAW, we learn that Lucy’s mother-in-law, Diana, is dead. From there, we unpeel the layers of how she died, with the plot twisting this way and that, and lots of finger-pointing from the family.

The Summer Cottage by Viola Shipman

April 2019

THE SUMMER COTTAGE by Viola Shipman is set in Saugatuck, Michigan, a city that I always have wanted to visit. It’s also where the author has a home, so the feel of the place is very authentic.

In this book, Adie Lou Kruger (I must ask where that name came from) is getting divorced from her professor husband, who took a shine to one of his grad students. As they are splitting up their assets, she realizes that she wants Cozy Cottage, a summer home that needs a lot of love to be restored. While it’s short on the latest design features, it’s big on memories as Adie Lou’s grandparents were big on rules for enjoying life at the cottage, and she intends to keep forging these traditions and transform the house into a B&B.