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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 American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin

July 2011

THE AMERICAN HEIRESS, Daisy Goodwin's debut novel, opens in Newport, Rhode Island, in its glory days when the Astors ruled the social scene and midnight balls were all the rage. But money is not everything, and Cora Cash's mother wants what many mothers of the day want for their society daughters --- a royal title. Thus they travel to England in search of one, and they learn that this is a time when money really does buy anything. These lush times set the scene for a look at the steamy and darker sides of this world. The fashions, customs and other historical details are just pitch perfect. Goodwin's spirited and upbeat writing style is completely entertaining.

Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

May 2011

The opening line of SILVER SPARROW by Tayari Jones is seven words: "My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist." Ponder it for a moment and think what those words mean for the person who wrote them, and then think about how that scenario can envelop a whole group of people who are caught up in knowing --- and not knowing --- secrets, lies and the truth that is somewhere between.

The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon

May 2011

I first became acquainted with Rachel Simon when she wrote RIDING THE BUS WITH MY SISTER back in 2002. When I saw that she had written THE STORY OF BEAUTIFUL GIRL, I immediately wanted to read it. This is a special book.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

March 2011

BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by Ruta Sepetys is a young adult book that deserves attention from Bookreporter.com readers. It's the story of a little-spoken-about series of events that occurred in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, where Stalin exiled people from those countries to Siberia during World War II. The war ended, but they stayed prisoners for 15 years. More than 20 million people were killed during these years, 14.5 million of whom were starved to death. It's brilliant, and I was enveloped in the story from the first page.

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

February 2011

I've been looking forward to sharing THE PARIS WIFE by Paula McLain with readers since I read an advance copy last summer. It is the story of Ernest Hemingway's life with Hadley Richardson, his first wife. As I read it, I kept underlining phrases and folding down pages. By the time I was finished, I was searching my shelves for the Hemingway books written during this period, as well as the Hemingway genealogy tree. Paula's descriptions of Hemingway's world --- set in a blissful and exciting time in Paris during the Jazz Age --- are so vivid and richly descriptive that you will feel you are seated at a table somewhere in the room watching them and their new literati pals. She also captures their love story, which is both turbulent and loving.

Deep Down True by Juliette Fay

January 2011

Readers may remember Juliette Fay from her debut novel, SHELTER ME, which was one of my early Bets On selections. She returns with a new Bets On selection this week, DEEP DOWN TRUE.Here, Dana Stellgarten is newly divorced and still a bit jangled about it. She has two kids with divided lives, shuffling between their mom and dad, a niece who shows up on her doorstep in all her Goth glory to clock some time with her, and enough drama in her life to make a woman get a job for some sanity as well as a paycheck.

A Thousand Cuts by Simon Lelic

January 2011

Bullying is the topic du jour these days. But we have not seen a story quite like what I read in A THOUSAND CUTS by Simon Lelic.

Here’s the line that drew me in: Samuel Szajkowski, a history teacher, walks into a school assembly and turns an ordinary day into a memorable one as he pulls a gun and kills three students and a co-worker before turning the gun on himself.

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

January 2011

LEFT NEGLECTED is by Lisa Genova, who many of you will remember as the author of STILL ALICE,a favorite book of mine from two years ago. In fact, it was one of my first Bets On Picks, making Lisa Genova our first Bets On repeat author. LEFT NEGLECTED is just as brilliant. In it, Sarah Nickerson had a busy life --- a husband, three kids (one a baby), a high-powered job, and a long commute where she always tried to fit in one more thing. Well, she’s flying down the Mass Pike headed to work one morning multitasking, making a call on her cell phone, when she looks up and sees a string of red lights in front of her --- stopped traffic. She cannot stop and rolls her car.

The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean by Susan Casey

October 2010

I read THE WAVE by Susan Casey about a month ago when it first came out, and thus I am a tad late selecting it as a Bets On. I was not thinking about it for this distinction, but then I realized that I consistently am bringing this book up in conversation when I talk about what I am reading with booksellers, librarians, friends, and okay, just about everyone I come in contact with. What’s been interesting is how this book about waves and where they come from and big wave surfing has led to passionate conversations with folks I never thought would love it, as in people like me who are not going to be jumping on a sufrboard any time soon.
 

The Brave by Nicholas Evans

October 2010

Nicholas Evans has been a favorite author of mine for years. He writes brilliantly about human emotion and the human spirit. While he is best known for THE HORSE WHISPERER, I still am haunted by the story in THE DIVIDE, which brilliantly explored the unraveling of a marriage. There are lines he has written there that are brutally honest and refreshingly stark and bold. In each of his books, he treads into relationships that work only because he is brave enough to go there. And thinking of this, I realize how apt it is that his new book is called THE BRAVE.