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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.

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.

Did You Ever Have A Family by Bill Clegg

September 2015

When I first conceptualized “Bookreporter.com Bets On,” my goal was to give notice to books that might slip under your radar. I decided that Bill Clegg’s novel, DID YOU EVER HAVE A FAMILY, would be a Bets On selection last December when I tore through it over the holidays. I was just wild about it. Since then, it has been longlisted for both the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Award. I think being a Bets On selection pales next to those honors.

Everybody Rise by Stephanie Clifford

August 2015

I read EVERYBODY RISE by Stephanie Clifford back in December in an early manuscript. I was on the Outer Banks, the wind was blowing and I craved a big, juicy book. And that is exactly what I got. At the time the book did not have a cover, but when I saw it, I thought it was perfect. The gilded chandelier screams Lilly Pulitzer, the patron saint of the old moneyed set. Set in 2006, before the big money crash, it has all the go-go-go juices that fueled those days.

A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan

August 2015

Confession: I know Elisabeth Egan, the author of A WINDOW OPENS, well enough to call her Liz. She is open, honest, fun, funny and wickedly smart. Whenever I meet with her, I crave more time and walk away smiling. She had mentioned through the years that she was writing a novel, and as soon as I saw there were advance copies, I had to read it. If you have not met Liz, you will know what she is like once you read this book. It’s open, honest, fun, funny and wickedly smart just like her!

The Race for Paris by Meg Waite Clayton

August 2015

A couple of years ago, I watched Hemingway & Gellhorn on HBO and enjoyed the energy and drive that the well-known couple put into the chase to “get the story” during World War II. There was action, adventure, danger and commitment. Hearing that Meg Waite Clayton’s THE RACE FOR PARIS was set in Paris during the war and featured two female correspondents, I was eager to read it. And I am so glad I did. It is a look at the war from the perspective of those who were committed to sharing the action with the folks back home. And it is set in a time when journalism was a reporting art form, not the opinionated blasts that seem to permeate today’s news.

Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica

August 2015

I discovered Mary Kubica last year with her debut novel, THE GOOD GIRL, so when PRETTY BABY came my way, I was one eager reader. Now I am known as the kind of person who is not fun to watch television or go to the movies with. I am prone to saying, “I figured it out,” which makes my husband and sons crazy. Well, Kubica completely “got me” as I did not see where this story was heading.

Let me back up here. For the last few weeks on the corner by our office, there have been a number of homeless men who sit with a sign asking for money. What is interesting is that there are different men there each day, and they each have the same sign. I walk by and think that somewhere there is a camera here, and this is a social experiment to see how we are reacting. Keep this in mind as I tell you the opener of PRETTY BABY.

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

August 2015

I love dark psychological thrillers; I’m not sure what that says about me. Thus, when IN A DARK, DARK WOOD by Ruth Ware came across my desk, I looked at the cover and thought this was my kind of book.

Bachelorette parties were not in vogue when I was married, but I know enough about them from our staffers to recognize that they have enough components to set up a good story. Plunk together women who know each other from various points of their lives, and, well, the opportunity for tension is there. But what if you are asked to join this weekend soiree by someone you had fallen out of touch with? Why are you there? What does this gathering mean for you?