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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.

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.

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

October 2010

REVOLUTION is my first Young Adult Bets On selection. At a time when we see more and more adults reading young adult titles, this is one with clear crossover appeal. It’s set in both the present day and the French Revolution. History class is many years behind me at this point, but I found myself getting a wonderful refresher about Paris two centuries ago that made the city during the French Revolution come alive for me through the meticulous research of Jennifer Donnelly, who many of you know from her two adult novels, THE TEA ROSE and THE WINTER ROSE.
 

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.

Up From the Blue by Susan Henderson

September 2010

Tillie Harris has just moved to a new town where she knows no one. Her husband is in Europe on a business trip that he wants to get behind him before their baby is born; she is due the following month. Thus when her labor pains begin, this plan is foiled, and she has only one person to reach out and call --- her father from whom she has been estranged. At this very vulnerable time, Tillie is forced to dredge up a number of memories that she has been trying to push away since she was a young girl --- about the year her mother disappeared.