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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.

Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz

January 2016

ORPHAN X is the start of a new series for Gregg Hurwitz, and it’s fabulous. In it, Evan Smoak is a guy with a dangerous past. He was an orphan, and as a child was recruited into a deep-dark black box program called Orphan. He was the 24th recruit, hence his moniker X. He broke from the program and instead has now become a vigilante known as The Nowhere Man. But someone from his past is on to him and is out to get him.

The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth

January 2016

I first discovered Sally Hepworth with her book, THE SECRETS OF MIDWIVES. I knew then that she was an author to watch. In THE THINGS WE KEEP, Sally creates a terrific multi-layered story with interesting characters. In it, Anna Forster is just 38 years old and in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. She moves into Rosalind House, an assisted living facility, where she can be kept safe as her mind unravels. There she finds Luke, a resident who is close to her age, whose mind is unraveling with another disease. Love is an emotion that overrides the loss of memory, and Anna draws closer and closer to Luke.

The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian

January 2016

In Chris Bohjalian’s THE GUEST ROOM, a couple’s life is upended when the husband hosts a bachelor party for his brother at their home. Things get out of hand when the “adult entertainment” turns out to be two Russian women who are victims of human trafficking. The party turns ugly fast when the girls see a moment to free themselves from their captors --- and take it --- and those at the house find themselves wondering just what they were a party to.

After the Crash by Michel Bussi

January 2016

AFTER THE CRASH by Michel Bussi is a novel about a night flight from Istanbul bound for Paris in 1980, where 169 (or is it 168?) passengers were killed as it crashed in the Alps. Yes, this sounds eerily like the horrific mountain crash that we heard about last year. In this book, a three-month-old girl survives. There were two babies on board: one from lesser means and one from a powerful family. Which did the child belong to?

The Sound of Gravel: A Memoir - Audiobook by Ruth Wariner

January 2016

I listened to THE SOUND OF GRAVEL by Ruth Wariner on audio, and I already know it is a story that I will not forget any time soon. It’s a gripping memoir, read by the author, about her life growing up in a family of polygamists. She is the 39th of her father’s 42 children; her father was killed by his brother in a struggle for power in their church, leaving her young mother, Cathy, with four young children. Cathy is then chosen as the second wife of Lane, and she goes on to have six more children with him.

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person - Audiobook by Shonda Rhimes

November 2015

Before I listened to YEAR OF YES, I knew little about Shonda Rhimes beyond the fact that she “owned Thursday night” on ABC with her lineup of shows --- “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal” and “How to Get Away with Murder” (the latter two are favorites of mine). I assumed that she was a super outgoing, type-A personality who was brash, bold and full of herself. From the first moments I listened to the audiobook, I knew I was wrong. Instead I found a woman who is competitive in everything, including knitting (which made me laugh), but also who hung back not accepting invitations and shying away from experiences. As successful as she is, I was surprised to learn that this was something she needed to overcome!

After the Wind: Tragedy on Everest --- One Survivor's Story by Lou Kasischke

November 2015

I am an armchair adventure traveler. You would never find me on the top of Everest or diving beneath the sea, but reading about the intrepid souls who train and take on these challenges intrigues me. I remember the 1996 Everest disaster and the way it attracted worldwide attention as then the deadliest day on the mountain.

When Jon Krakauer’s INTO THIN AIR was published in 1997, I did not read it. Simple reason was that I had worked with Sandy Hill Pittman when I was at Mademoiselle magazine, and from colleagues who read it,  I heard she was particularly maligned by Krakauer. When you know someone who is in a book, you look at it with a different lens. Thus, when Lou Kasischke’s book, AFTER THE WIND, came onto my radar, I was happy to read it.

The Last Midwife by Sandra Dallas

October 2015

Sandra Dallas is a writer who never disappoints me. Each book is fresh and satisfying. With THE LAST MIDWIFE, she delivers a story set in the 1880s in Swandyke, a rural town in Colorado. Gracy Brookens is the only midwife in town; she has coached many women in the town with their births and kept tabs on them after delivery. For first-time mothers, she is a coach as much as a midwife, sharing advice and encouragement.

House of Thieves by Charles Belfoure

September 2015

Last year, I read THE PARIS ARCHITECT by Charles Belfoure and selected it as a Bookreporter.com Bets On selection. I could not wait to see what he wrote next, thus I was eager to read HOUSE OF THIEVES. Set in New York in 1886, it features John Cross, an architect who must work with a prominent underworld gang member to cover the debts of his gambling son, George. He’s charged with using his insider knowledge of high society homes and places of business to plot the perfect heists.

The Last September by Nina de Gramont

September 2015

THE LAST SEPTEMBER by Nina de Gramont is one of those books I both sped through and savored.

Central to the story are two brothers, Charlie and Eli --- and Brett, the wife of Charlie --- whose lives have been intertwined for years. Brett and Eli met in college and were close friends. One night at a party, Brett met Charlie, who was charismatic and immediately won Brett’s heart, though Eli cautions her about him. He feels Charlie is a philanderer and is destined to break Brett’s heart. Eli is right, but Brett finds herself caught up in Charlie’s spell. Together they forge a rocky marriage and have a daughter. They are tested by the stresses of young marriage, a young child, tight finances, and the pressure that Brett is feeling to complete her dissertation on Emily Dickinson.