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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 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 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.

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

October 2010

CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER is the story of two childhood friends whose lives change dramatically after one unforgettable night --- and how the events of that one evening will shape their lives until circumstances plunge them together again.

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.