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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.

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.

Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly

April 2019

LOST ROSES is the eagerly awaited new novel from the author of LILAC GIRLS. This is a prequel as the protagonist is Eliza Ferriday, the mother of Caroline Ferriday, who readers came to know in Martha Hall Kelly’s much-talked-about debut. The kernel for the story came to Martha when she was researching LILAC GIRLS and saw a newspaper clipping about how Eliza had sold Russian handmade items from her swanky New York apartment to benefit White Russians who had fled Russia. You can see how Eliza influenced Caroline and made her into the strong women she became.

The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

April 2019

In THE GIRL HE USED TO KNOW, Tracey Garvis Graves has written a book whose characters and story will stay with you for a long time. Our reviews often inspire my reading, as well as yours, and I raced to read this one after seeing our review of it a couple of weeks ago. Annika and Jonathan are wonderfully written characters, and I found myself completely wrapped up in their story as I read.

Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir (Audiobook) by Ruth Reichl

April 2019

SAVE ME THE PLUMS by Ruth Reichl is a delight on so many levels. For anyone who loved Gourmet magazine, it’s a real insider’s look at the last 10 years of the magazine. For someone like me, who worked at Conde Nast, it’s a brilliant trip down memory lane to the days when the company was in its print heyday --- while digital challenges were overshadowing where things were headed. For anyone who loves to eat --- and explore food --- it’s a cornucopia of wonderful background on how recipes are created, and how chefs and those on the other end of the kitchen collaborate to bring you a brilliant dining experience.

House on Fire by Bonnie Kistler

March 2019

HOUSE ON FIRE by Bonnie Kistler is a well-paced and emotionally charged domestic thriller. As the book opens, Leigh Huyett and her husband, Pete Conley, have taken a short vacation to celebrate their anniversary; it is a second marriage for both. She has a daughter, Chrissy, who is in middle school and twin older sons in college. He has a son, Kip, who is a senior in high school newly accepted to Duke University, and a young daughter. On the way home from a party, Kip is arrested for drunk driving. The truck he was driving crashed into a tree. And oh, this is his second offense; he already has lost his license to a DUI and should not be driving. Chrissy was with him in the car. Twelve hours later, she is dead and he is charged with manslaughter. What happened that night --- and after --- will keep you turning the pages.

I.M.: A Memoir (Audiobook) by Isaac Mizrahi

March 2019

I have been raving about the audiobook of I.M. by Isaac Mizrahi for weeks now. After I finished listening to it, I was sorry that it was over. Mornings of “commuting with Isaac” as he narrated his life story made me happy to be stuck in traffic.

This is a memoir about a fashion designer who is a fashion icon, as well as a big personality. It’s life according to Isaac, and there are self-deprecating moments, deeply honest passages, and many, many whole sections where you will find yourself laughing out loud. From the time he was a young child, you can picture him eyeing the room to work it for the best results. When you learn that at age six he concocted a scenario to have his mother buy him his first Barbie and at seven knifed the school bus tire to try to get out of a day at school, you quickly see that Isaac was ready to be in charge, even if the world was not ready for him to be.