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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 Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan

December 2016

These days, fears of terrorism are always lurking in the shadows. THE ASSOCIATION OF SMALL BOMBS, a novel by Karan Mahajan, takes readers inside the world of terrorists and terrorism, giving a 360-degree view to the subject in a tightly woven story that unfolds brilliantly. As the book opens in 1996, two brothers, Tushar and Nakul Khurana, pick up their family’s television set at a repair shop in a Dehli marketplace. They have been accompanied by their friend, Mansoor Ahmed. Alas, a bomb has been planted in the marketplace. As it detonates, it claims the lives of the brothers, but spares Mansoor, who races from the scene leaving his friends behind.

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

December 2016

When I hear that there is a new Daisy Goodwin book out, I am an eager reader. Her two previous novels, THE AMERICAN HEIRESS and THE FORTUNE HUNTER, were both Bookreporter.com Bets On selections. Her latest, VICTORIA, is a brilliantly juicy novel about Queen Victoria, who ascended to the throne at the young age of 18 and held that position for 64 years. I confess to little study of British Monarch history, I suppose in part due to the fact that Queen Elizabeth has reigned longer than I have lived. But by the time I had finished this book, I was sorting out the Edwards (VII and VIII) and Georges (V and VI) who reigned after Victoria and before Elizabeth.

The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa

November 2016

While Cuba is in the news these days, and many of my friends have put it on a bucket list of places to visit, I confess to not being aware that during World War II Cuba was a desired safe haven for Jewish refugees trying to escape the wrath of Hitler and Nazi Germany. In his novel, THE GERMAN GIRL, Armando Lucas Correa tells their story and brings this little-discussed account to light.

The book has two interwoven stories. The first is Hannah’s. She is an 11-year-old blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl who lives in Berlin with her affluent family; her mom comes from wealthy German lineage, and her father is a professor. Hannah looks Aryan, which would be confusing to many, as she is Jewish. In fact, she is photographed for a German magazine and called out as “The German Girl.” The second is Anna, who is 12 years old. She lives in modern-day New York with her mom. She’s never met her dad, who was killed on September 11th; he never even knew her mom was pregnant with her. For years she has grappled with who her father was, as her mom has faded into a deep depression.

The Twenty-Three: A Promise Falls Novel by Linwood Barclay

November 2016

THE TWENTY-THREE is the final book in Linwood Barclay’s Promise Falls trilogy, following BROKEN PROMISE and FAR FROM TRUE. I love that this is a contained series where you can binge the three books and grab a very satisfying and complete story. I recommend reading them in order to allow the story to build for you, so you can pick up on the nuances of the many characters, each of whom is fully fleshed out and has a great back story.

The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict

October 2016

Albert Einstein brings to mind the words “brilliant” and “eccentric,” along with a vivid visual of his shock of white hair. THE OTHER EINSTEIN by Marie Benedict looks at the man behind the science through the eyes of Mileva “Mitza” Marić, the woman who was his partner in his life --- and, it seems, in his work. Mileva was the physicist who stood at his side to unlock some of the biggest scientific theories of the 20th century. She also was the woman who championed him and held their family together against formidable odds.

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

October 2016

For years, my favorites of Jodi Picoult’s 26 books were NINETEEN MINUTES and MY SISTER’S KEEPER. Each of them struck a real chord with me. When I heard the premise of SMALL GREAT THINGS, I was similarly intrigued. It so delivered, making it the third of her books that I highly recommend. Indeed I have found myself “book-talking” this book to friends, colleagues and fellow readers for the last few months. When I read an early copy, it was during a very busy week, and I remember putting aside many tasks to finish it.

Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt

October 2016

Caroline Leavitt always brings a fresh approach to her writing. From the moment that I open one of her books, I know I am going to be in for something special and unexpected. CRUEL BEAUTIFUL WORLD is set in the early '70s. Lucy is 16 when she runs away from home with William, one of her teachers, to live on a farm in rural Pennsylvania. It’s all about love, until it’s not. Her much older half-sister, Iris, who she knows as her aunt, and her teenage sister, Charlotte, are frantic to find her. Love, loss and longing all figure into the story, which is written in Caroline’s signature style that pulls apart everyday lives and finds the deeper stories in them by getting into her characters' hearts and heads. Each page begs you to read another.

Karolina's Twins by Ronald H. Balson

September 2016

I have been a fan of Ronald H. Balson’s books since I read ONCE WE WERE BROTHERS a few years ago, which I also selected as a Bets On title. In KAROLINA’S TWINS, Balson’s fiction once again looks at a story with its roots in the Holocaust and World War II. Lena Scheinman lived in Chrzanów, Poland, near the Czech border. Her warm family lives a happy life; her father has a successful business, and he is a respected war hero. Her best friend, Karolina Neuman, lives in circumstances not as fortunate as Lena’s, so she spends a lot of time at the Scheinman home.

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

August 2016

I had the pleasure of hearing Imbolo Mbue present her debut novel, BEHOLD THE DREAMERS, a few months ago. Two minutes into her presentation, I found myself racing to get a copy of the book. She drew me in from the first page; I barely looked up as I read.

It’s the story of Jende and Neni Jonga, a young Cameroonian couple living in Harlem who are making a new life in New York just as the Great Recession upends the economy. Jende wants his six-year-old son to have the best of what America has to offer --- an education and opportunity. But Jende lacks the papers to get a legal job. In the fall of 2007, luck comes his way as he takes a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, who works on Wall Street at Lehman Brothers in an executive spot. He gets to know Clark, his wife Cindy and his family as he drives them around town each day.

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

August 2016

In her debut thriller, THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR, Shari Lapena took me on a ride where every turn brought a twist that propelled the story into a new direction. Some were more subtle than others, but each time I thought Just keep reading. I was 100 pages in one night before I looked up, devoured another 200 pages the following morning, and then raced home to finish it. Most chapters had cliffhanger endings that made me turn the page and say “More!”