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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 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.

The End of Loneliness by Benedict Wells

March 2019

THE END OF LONELINESS, written by Benedict Wells and translated by Charlotte Collins, is one of those slim novels that you might overlook. I am so glad I picked it up. It has strong storytelling and characters who will stay with you. It’s a sibling story, a love story, and a story that bobs and weaves so very well.

Jules Moreau, his brother Marty and sister Liz are split up and sent to boarding school following the death of their parents in a car crash. While the siblings are estranged, Jules meets Alva, a young woman living in the same home and caught up in her own grief after losing her sister.

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

March 2019

Lisa See is known for her books that are set in China, where she has shared with her readers many ancient traditions. With THE ISLAND OF SEA WOMAN, she has turned her focus to the Korean island of Jeju, where women dive for fish to both feed their families and sell, engaging in challenging physical work while men stay home with the children. I love the way Lisa can bring a world that I know little about into brilliant focus as she takes readers through seven decades beginning in 1938. Thinking of how much happened in Korea during that time period, I was astounded by how much I did not know. I found myself fascinated by the resiliency of the women who she writes about as they conquer so many challenges. Their courage under adversity was something to be admired.

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

March 2019

DAISY JONES & THE SIX by Taylor Jenkins Reid is such a fun --- and uniquely written --- novel about an iconic 1970s band and their oh-so-very hot lead singer, finally telling the tale of why the band broke up. It’s fiction, but people have been speculating on what band this could be based on; a few rumblings I have heard from librarian pals is that Daisy could have been inspired by Stevie Nicks. While many books these days are told chapter by chapter by different narrators, here we have the story told paragraph by paragraph from the points of view of the six band members and Daisy, giving it the feel of an oral history, or a piece written by a really sharp music reporter.

The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding by Jennifer Robson

February 2019

THE GOWN by Jennifer Robson is a novel that will delight royal watchers, including all those who enjoy Netflix’s “The Crown.”

It opens in 1947 in London. The war has ended, but the residual damage remains, and people’s spirits are still feeling the war’s effect. Then it is announced that Princess Elizabeth will be married, which stirs excitement and a sense of fanfare. The Mayfair fashion house of Norman Hartnell wins the commission for the gown. Two young women, Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin, are the embroiders who are assigned to create the brilliant design work for the piece. While they are two fictional characters, Jennifer did extensive research with a seamstress who had worked on the gown, thus the storytelling feels so very authentic.