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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 Dollhouse by Fiona Davis

August 2016

When I worked at Mademoiselle, the Barbizon Hotel was legendary as our Guest Editors stayed there. Thus, when THE DOLLHOUSE by Fiona Davis came across my desk, I was eager to read it. The history of the hotel is woven into a modern-day story. When the hotel was converted into high-end condos, a limited number of apartments were allocated for longtime residents. A story about one of these fictitious tenants, Darby McLaughlin, forms one of the narratives in the book. The other is of a modern-day woman, Rose Lewin, who is at a crossroads in her life. How their stories intertwine includes a mystery that has its roots back in the 1950s.

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

August 2016

There are few thrillers that make me look away from the page because they are so intense. But BEHIND CLOSED DOORS by B. A. Paris is one of them!

We start out meeting Jack and Grace, who seem to have a perfect life. Their home looks like something from a magazine, and they have amazingly perfect dinner parties. Jack has a great job as a lawyer, and he wins his cases. He is always by Grace’s side, but something feels a bit off. Grace does not seem at ease. It’s hard to put a finger on what’s going on, but readers know something is up.

The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood

August 2016

THE BOOK THAT MATTERS MOST by Ann Hood works on so many levels. First, it’s a delightful read. Second, it’s full of great book suggestions. And third, it’s inspiration for book groups.

In it, Ava is recently separated from her husband of 25 years and nursing some powerful pain from this. A coveted spot in a select book group finally opens up, and she is invited to join. The group’s theme that year is “the book that mattered most to each of them.” I loved seeing what each of the characters selected, and I enjoyed the chance to “eavesdrop” on their recommendations. Ava selects a book and promises to bring the author to the discussion, which her fellow readers are excited about. One problem: She has no idea how to find this author. Every lead has come to a dead end. But there are some lovely surprises ahead for this.

I Will Send Rain by Rae Meadows

August 2016

I have read a few books that take place during the years of the Dust Bowl storms. I find this time and place in history so very tragic and always want to learn more about it. So when I saw I WILL SEND RAIN by Rae Meadows, I immediately wanted to read it.

The story is set in Mulehead, Oklahoma in the mid-1930s during the early years of the Dust Bowl. Annie Bell, the protagonist, has a lot on her mind as she chases the dust swirling around her. The dust is killing the crops on her family’s farm, and the livestock are struggling to survive. She watches her husband, who is not coping well with all these changes. Life is closing in on her literally from the hardships of nature and from the pressure of trying to survive in a life where she feels she is lost and cannot find her way.

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

August 2016

I confess to being an Olympics junkie. I am intrigued by those who put great effort towards such a singular goal. To succeed so young requires dedication of the athlete’s family, as well as drive and raw talent. And it starts young, often robbing these young protégés of so-called normal lives. Thus I was drawn to read Megan Abbott’s YOU WILL KNOW ME, a novel that on one level is the poetic story of a young gymnast’s road to success that reads like one of those saccharine stories that accompanies the Olympics broadcasts, and, on another, a nail-biting thriller.

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

July 2016

I had the pleasure of discovering --- and interviewing --- Ruth Ware months before her debut bestseller, IN A DARK, DARK WOOD, was published; it was a 2015 Bets On selection. Ruth was in the States from the UK for BookExpo America 2015, and we had a lovely chat in which she deftly explained her plotting and writing. You would never know from meeting her that she would write such twisted thrillers. I rather thought we would grab tea and look at photos of our kids. But clearly, behind the keyboard, she has a complete set of thriller chops.

I always look to sophomore novels from authors I love with trepidation, but Ruth nailed THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 as well. Here the story is set on a small luxury liner instead of in a cabin in the woods. I always wanted to go on a luxury cruise, but I am not so sure about that after this read!

All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

July 2016

I read ALL IS NOT FORGOTTEN by Wendy Walker a long while back in manuscript and then refreshed myself with the story by listening to the audiobook, which is narrated brilliantly by actor Dylan Baker (you’ll know his voice from “The Good Wife” and “The Americans”). 

At the heart of the story is the rape of Jenny Kramer, a young teen who was assaulted in the woods where she wandered off to while a party was going on. A decision is made to erase the memory of what happened to Jenny that night so she can move on with her life. But she does not bounce back to being the teen she was. There are many layers of hurt here, including a scar on her lower back that keeps bothering her. While the memory of that night is gone, there are triggers that remain.

The Girls by Emma Cline

June 2016

THE GIRLS by Emma Cline is set in Northern California at the end of the '60s. The protagonist is Evie Boyd, a lonely teenager drawn to a group of girls who hang out in her town, frolicking and living life with reckless abandon. She is particularly enamored of Suzanne, an older aloof girl. She follows these women into their world, which is a cult where they are led by a charismatic leader on a ranch on the outskirts of town. Swept up, she longs to be part of them, but is too naive to notice that things are spinning wildly out of control and an act of violence is about to unravel her newfound life.

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

June 2016

Something I noted as I started BEFORE THE FALL was that earlier this year I read AFTER THE CRASH, which was another Bets On selection. Is this the year of the airline thriller for me? I fastened my seatbelt and settled in for the ride. The author of BEFORE THE FALL is Noah Hawley, who many of you may recognize for his fame as the creator of “Fargo.” He knows how to draw a reader in quickly and provide well-measured suspense. It’s brisk at the start and totally compelling. Once you start reading, it will be a while before you look up --- and when you do, you will have tripped over a lot of red herrings!

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub

June 2016

I remember exactly where I sat reading Emma Straub’s THE VACATIONERS two years ago. I remember because it was a one-day read that unfolded like a great escape. Thus I looked forward to getting my hands on MODERN LOVERS, which provided me that same experience.

Here we have three former bandmates from Oberlin (their band was called Kitty’s Mustache) --- Elizabeth, Andrew and Zoe --- locked into a friendship that has matured from their college days, but still carries lots of the baggage and history that come from longtime friendships. Set in Brooklyn, Elizabeth has married Andrew, and Zoe has married Jane. Each couple has bought homes, started businesses and built a family life, which feels oh-so-mature. But at the same time, each of the characters is caught up in some level of midlife crisis drama. Andrew, the trust fund baby, is lost; Elizabeth is selling real estate but is missing her artistic side; and Zoe and Jane are going through marital woes, something that married lesbian couples get to experience as a by-product of exercising their right to marry. I knew someone was going to mine this last plot thread for a novel.