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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.

A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson

July 2019

A NEARLY NORMAL FAMILY by M.T. Edvardsson has been well translated from the Swedish by Rachel Willson-Broyles --- and it’s a complete page-turner. It is set in Sweden and opens at the end of summer with 18-year-old Stella Sandell having been accused of murdering Christopher Olsen, a man in his early 30s. From the start, she garners empathy from readers, mostly due to their age gap. If she is not the older adult in this scenario, how can she be guilty? But let’s face it, she is not a little darling; she’s a teen rebel. Could she have done it?

The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda

June 2019

THE LAST HOUSE GUEST reminded me once again how strong of a writer Megan Miranda is. The plot, you ask? Avery Greer is the townie in a Maine beach town who befriends Sadie Loman, one of the wealthy girls who summers on the island. On the night of an end-of-the-season party, Sadie is found dead on the beach, and all signs point to suicide. But that does not make sense to Avery, who commits herself to figuring out what went awry.

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner

June 2019

It's been four years since Jennifer Weiner has written a novel for adults (she wrote two children's books and a book of essays), and this book is quite a departure for her. MRS. EVERYTHING is a big sweeping novel telling the story of two sisters between the 1950s and the present with an eye on what happened for women socially through these years. Packed into these seven decades are cultural touchstones that will be familiar to readers. Jen wanted to write a big book, and she pulled it off here. There is a huge difference between wanting to do something and executing it! MRS. EVERYTHING is a big story that flows briskly in Jen’s hands.

The Islanders by Meg Mitchell Moore

June 2019

THE ISLANDERS by Meg Mitchell Moore is a great summer read to add to your reading pile. The book features three characters whose stories weave together. One of them is an author, Anthony Puckett, and he brings a storyline about books and the world of publishing to explore, which is so well done (Anthony’s dad is a mega bestseller whose shadow he walks in). Joy is a single mom who owns a café called Joy Bombs, where she serves whoopie pies. Her business is threatened by a food truck that has made its way onto the island and is cruising the streets. Lu is a mom who stays home reluctantly with her two young sons. She has a hidden life that will be such fun for readers to delve into.

The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali

June 2019

THE STATIONERY SHOP by Marjan Kamali is a beautifully written book that is full of emotion and heart. I loved it and already can see it will be one of my favorite books of 2019.

It is set in Tehran in 1953 against the backdrop of the political upheaval in Iran. In it, Roya has fallen in love with Bahman, a young boy who loves Rumi's poetry; they are both 17. A small stationery shop is where they meet, and their relationship blossoms under the kind eye of the proprietor of the shop, Mr. Fakhri. The two plan to be married on August 19th, against their family’s wishes, but an uprising thwarts their plans, and Roya loses track of Bahman in the tumultuous days that follow. Sixty years later, they meet again in California, and Roya will get a moment to ask the questions that have haunted her for decades.

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 Rockland County, NY 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.