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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.

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.
 

Room by Emma Donoghue

September 2010

I was three chapters into ROOM when I knew it was going to be a Bookreporter.com Bets On pick. While the story and its premise are disturbing and raw --- a young woman has been kidnapped, and during her captivity has borne a child who she is trying to raise with as normal a life as possible --- I could not tear myself away from the pages. I had to find out what was going to happen to Jack and Ma, as well as Old Nick. The voice of Jack, the five-year-old boy who is at the heart of ROOM, is unforgettable. He’s innocent and sharp as well as endearing. Picturing him in the 11 x 11 world that he has come to know as home will break your heart, but reading his words will remind you that joy can be found even in the midst of devastating sadness. And there are moments when Jack’s view of the world will just make you smile and even laugh.
 

Healer by Carol Cassella

September 2010

Carol Cassella, author of the brilliant debut novel OXYGEN, returns with HEALER. Those who already have fallen in love with her work will appreciate this stellar sophomore effort, while those who have not yet discovered her will want to pick up this one. Cassella, who is an anesthesiologist living in the Seattle area, again sets her book in Washington and takes readers inside the medical profession. This time she plunges us into the world of new drug testing --- and what a fascinating world that is with huge stakes on all sides.

Rich Boy by Sharon Pomerantz

August 2010

I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of Sharon Pomerantz’s debut novel last spring. RICH BOY reminded me a lot of Herman Wouk’s classic MARJORIE MORNINGSTAR, a book I’ve always loved. Like Herman did with Marjorie, Sharon just dropped me into the world of Robert Vishniak, a middle-class young man who finds himself in New York’s high society.