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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.

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

June 2017

Lisa Wingate’s BEFORE WE WERE YOURS is historical fiction based on a real-life scandal. Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country. Lisa tells their story writing parallel tales --- one set in 1939 and one in the present day.

Trophy Son by Douglas Brunt

June 2017

Douglas Brunt’s novel, TROPHY SON, looks at the tennis world through the eyes of Anton, a prodigy who is coached and pushed to excel by his tennis-obsessed father, until he rebels against the pressure. I confess to having zip knowledge of tennis, let alone competitive tennis (I could not even score a match), but reading TROPHY SON I was quickly drawn inside that world and never felt over my head.

Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

June 2017

Years ago, I discovered Heather Gudenkauf with her first book, THE WEIGHT OF SILENCE, and became a passionate reader of her work. In her latest, NOT A SOUND, she again delivers a sharp story with strong characters and a tightly drawn plot.

Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan

May 2017

I love when an author tries something different, and it becomes the best thing he has written. Ten years ago, Mark Sullivan told me that he had heard about a man in Italy and wanted to write his story. I was told little about him, except that he was a hero from World War II with a big story to tell. But from the excitement that came over Mark’s face every time he talked about the book, I knew it was going to be something very special.

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women by Kate Moore

May 2017

There is a true pleasure that comes from reading narrative nonfiction when a writer brings her subject brilliantly to life. Kate Moore does this with THE RADIUM GIRLS: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women, and the subtitle’s pun is intended. Kate explores the lives of the women who worked in the radium-dial factories where they labored painting the dials of watches. These jobs were much-coveted as these ladies were seen as craftswomen, and their skill was highly paid, at a time when good-paying jobs for women were scarce.

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

May 2017

GINNY MOON by Benjamin Ludwig is a book that is going to grab at your heartstrings and not let them go. Ginny is a feisty 14-year-old girl, who, after some time in a series of foster homes, has been adopted by a loving couple. She has a great life, enjoying school, basketball and her friends. And her Forever Mom and her Forever Dad are there to keep her safe, as well as happy.

I Found You by Lisa Jewell

May 2017

There are times when I find a new author and wonder how I never read his or her books before. That is what happened when I picked up Lisa Jewell’s I FOUND YOU. I read a very early manuscript last summer, before we awarded it to a group of our early readers in the fall (I just reread their comments; they loved it). I still can remember exactly where I was when I read it --- floating in the pool, for hours --- completely immersed in the story.

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

April 2017

I have often wondered what life was like in Germany after World War II. We know of the Nazis and those who joined the resistance, but what happened when those descriptive words no longer defined the day-to-day lives of people? In THE WOMEN IN THE CASTLE, Jessica Shattuck tells the stories of three of these women, as they picked up their lives after the war.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

March 2017

Years ago, I read Lisa See’s SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN and remember racing to my computer to google the Chinese art of foot binding. As I read THE TEA GIRL OF HUMMINGBIRD LANE, I found myself doing a search about tea trees and tea leaves, particularly those of the Pu’erh tea, which is explored in this book. Confession: I have never given much thought to tea leaves. Seriously. I never thought about how they were grown or harvested. And I had no idea that there are tea auctions where these leaves are sold for wild sums of money. There is something wonderful about a book that not only makes you enjoy the story, but that you walk away from having learned something new.

The Devil and Webster by Jean Hanff Korelitz

March 2017

In THE DEVIL AND WEBSTER by Jean Hanff Korelitz, Naomi Roth is the first female president of Webster College. Webster prides itself on students who are progressive and passionate. In the fall, students assert themselves to protest a popular professor’s denial of tenure; he’s African American and, yes, there are cries of racial prejudice. But rules of confidentiality means that the true reason for this judgment cannot be disclosed, though it is a very valid one.