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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.

Room by Emma Donoghue

September 2010

I was three chapters into ROOM when I knew it was going to be a Bets On pick. While the story and its premise are disturbing and raw --- a young woman has been kidnapped, and during her captivity has borne a child who she is trying to raise with as normal a life as possible --- I could not tear myself away from the pages. I had to find out what was going to happen to Jack and Ma, as well as Old Nick. The voice of Jack, the five-year-old boy who is at the heart of ROOM, is unforgettable. He’s innocent and sharp as well as endearing. Picturing him in the 11 x 11 world that he has come to know as home will break your heart, but reading his words will remind you that joy can be found even in the midst of devastating sadness. And there are moments when Jack’s view of the world will just make you smile and even laugh.

Healer by Carol Cassella

September 2010

Carol Cassella, author of the brilliant debut novel OXYGEN, returns with HEALER. Those who already have fallen in love with her work will appreciate this stellar sophomore effort, while those who have not yet discovered her will want to pick up this one. Cassella, who is an anesthesiologist living in the Seattle area, again sets her book in Washington and takes readers inside the medical profession. This time she plunges us into the world of new drug testing --- and what a fascinating world that is with huge stakes on all sides.

Rich Boy by Sharon Pomerantz

August 2010

I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of Sharon Pomerantz’s debut novel last spring. RICH BOY reminded me a lot of Herman Wouk’s classic MARJORIE MORNINGSTAR, a book I’ve always loved. Like Herman did with Marjorie, Sharon just dropped me into the world of Robert Vishniak, a middle-class young man who finds himself in New York’s high society.

Stiltsville by Susanna Daniel

August 2010

My friend, Virginia Stanley, was raving about STILTSVILLE at library conferences I attended in both January and March. As I value her opinion, I gave it a shot and fell in love with it! Susanna Daniel’s debut novel takes place in the Miami area, which I’ve come to love after some visits over the years.

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

February 2010

Sarah Blake's THE POSTMISTRESS is a wonderful and engaging story of three women set during 1941 as the war is raging in Europe and America is not yet involved in the conflict, though people are wondering when, not if, we will be.

One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

February 2010

ONE AMAZING THING by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni takes place in a passport office somewhere here in the United States when an earthquake hits and the nine people waiting for visas for travel to India are all trapped.

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

January 2010

There are characters and voices in books that just stay with us. For me, Cecilia Rose Honeycutt, who is nicknamed CeeCee, is one who does just that. As the book opens we meet CeeCee, a 12-year-old girl from Ohio who is being whisked away to live with her Aunt Tootie in Savannah after the death of her mom; her dad already has created a new life for himself, and she does not fit in.

Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin

January 2010

A confession here. In my literary memories, I had forgotten that Lewis Carroll was a pseudonym for Charles Dodgson, and it also had slipped my mind that the Alice in ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND had been fashioned after a real little girl named Alice.

Rainwater by Sandra Brown

November 2009

On the last day of my vacation in September, I sat by the pool and read an advance copy of RAINWATER by Sandra Brown, her first historical novel. Set during the Great Depression in Gilead, Texas, it’s a beautifully and tightly written story of love and hope in a world torn with economic and racial strife.

31 Hours by Masha Hamilton

September 2009

In 31 HOURS, Masha Hamilton delivers a novel that is powerful and profound. It’s the story of a young American man who has joined a group of terrorists plotting to blow up parts of the subway system in New York.