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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 Girl Before by JP Delaney

February 2017

As soon as you read the title, THE GIRL BEFORE, you know that something happened “before.” Then you open the first page and read, “1. Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.” From there, JP Delaney had drawn me into the story, both to see why this question mattered and to learn what happened then, as well as now. It was a brisk read that flips back and forth between “Then: Emma” and “Now: Jane,” with me turning pages rapidly to follow their stories.

The Nowhere Man: An Orphan X Novel by Gregg Hurwitz

January 2017

I confess to having a huge crush on Evan Smoak, the protagonist in Gregg Hurwitz’s Orphan X series. THE NOWHERE MAN is the second book in the series (ORPHAN X was the first, and it, too, was a Bets On selection), and it’s another winner, though in a different way.

To catch you up, Evan was an orphan selected for the Orphan Program, which trained young kids to become assassins around the world. Evan walked away from the program, but not before amassing a fortune, which he now shares with those who need his help. In THE NOWHERE MAN, the tables turn on Evan as he is captured and now has to put together his smarts and physical talents not just to rescue himself, but to do it in time to save the next person who is calling for his help.

The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson

January 2017

At a media luncheon over the summer, I heard Lindsey Lee Johnson speak about her debut novel, THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACE ON EARTH. It was the first book that I read when I got home as she completely set up the story for me as a “read me now.” It’s set in privileged Marin County, CA, and told through the eyes of a group of high school students and their young teacher. It’s a laser-focused look into the lives of teens today told from the varied points of view of a group of students and their teacher. The book is set in three time frames: eighth grade, junior year and senior year. There’s a story bubbling up that happened when these kids were in middle school that is haunting them and is alluded to before it’s divulged.

Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson

January 2017

Did you like the film Rear Window? I did, and turning the pages of Peter Swanson’s HER EVERY FEAR harkened every chilling and suspenseful moment of watching it. The setup is like this. Kate Priddy’s life in London has been unsettling, to say the least, since she was kidnapped by her ex-boyfriend. Thus she leaps at the opportunity to jet across the ocean to Beacon Hill and apartment-swap with her cousin, Corbin Dell. His apartment is gorgeous, and it feels like she is on holiday --- until she learns that a neighbor of Corbin’s, Audrey, has been killed in the apartment next door. Kate, who already was on edge, finds her anxiety quickly scaling up, and suddenly this trip feels like a lot less than the escape that she planned.

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.