Charlie’s Faves of 2013

It’s that time of year again. The holidays are fast approaching and many the top of the 2013 year are being publicized everywhere.

So, here are my favorite books of 2013. Enjoy!

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The Keeper of Dawn (J.B. Hickman)

I absolutely adored this book. Perhaps adored isn’t the right word. I connected with this book on a level I have only done with very few books, and that is a mark of a very well-crafted novel.

This book delves into the lives of two very different students, whose paths cross and become teenage friends. This books is rebellion at its finest. It rips away the prestige of privileged boys and exposes what lies behind them, both in the personal lives of the boys and their school lives. The Raker Island lighthouse is both a symbol and a motif in this novel about four young boys sent to boarding school, the adventures they have, and the revelations of the past.

Read my review here. 

The Recipe Box (Sandra Lee)

This book delves into the complexities of a woman’s mind, and the relationships with her mother and daughter. Family secrets. Pride. Fear. Self-realization. And it all starts with a small, wooden recipe box that’s traveled the Atlantic from Sweden to the American midwest…and a birth certificate found tucked in the back of it. This small, family heirloom creates doubt, havoc and leads to nearly a lifetime of running: running from everything. Until a best friend’s sad end leads to some unique wishes, statements and sentiments sent in a variety of ways.

The Recipe Box

Like The Keeper of Dawn, I connected with this book. But my connection was much, much stronger with Lee’s novel. Although the storyline is different, the ideas presented above about this book (secrets, pride, fear, realization, doubt, running, wishes, sentiments) are a parallel of my life and my relationship with my mother, my grandmother, and my mother with her mother. This book took a hold on my heart and brought back a decade of bad memories of my relationship with my mother, our selfish and prideful ways, and the memories of my grandmother’s actions toward me at the time and how she acted differently toward my mother.

My one regret in life was not going to the hospital to be with my mother when my sister died. It sounds selfish, but I was 11 at the time, I knew virtually nothing about the potential dangers of pregnancy, but I knew something was not right with my mother’s pregnancy. I didn’t go because I blamed her for my sister’s death. This led to over a decade of anger, pride, pain and hurt for both of us. We have since come to a general understanding of one another, and each other’s pain, over this, but we have never discussed my sister and what actually happened. In this way, I (still) feel much like the character Grace dealing with her mother about her past.

During this same time as my mother’s last pregnancy, my grandmother was becoming very sick, and died exactly seven months after my sister. I couldn’t understand the enigma of my mother’s relationship with my grandmother, for she was always a mama’s girl, a pleaser. (Yes, I inherited some of this.) I could not understand why my mother seemed to turn into a villain overnight, there was coldness and tension between my mother and grandmother. If truth be told, I think my mother avoided my grandmother as much as possible during this time. In this sense, I felt a little like Emma must have felt about the relationship between her mother, Grace, and her grandmother because I could only see the good from my grandmother, and the bad from my mother. Recently, I found out my mother’s one regret: to apologize to my grandmother (and all of the other implications that apology holds).

A very good journey. Both Emma, her mother Grace, and her grandmother experience growth in this novel that is very uncharacteristic of novels today.

Read my review here. 

Sacred Promises (Jennifer Hines & Mindy Bigham)

This is a recent read for me and the first in the Sacred Promises series. Hines and Bigham have weaved a very complex tale where the days of olde meet modern day in terms of the writing: royalty meets paranormal.

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In Abbey’s world a queen is born every 50 years, and she reigns with ten chosen warriors and an appointed council of advisors who usually hail from one of the ruling families. But lately the ruling families have gotten a little too comfy cozy. In the last 200 years no queen has surfaced. The ruling families have made sure that no queen can take hold of their power, and now there is contention amongst even them! One by one they’re going down.

But Abbey knows they made a vital mistake, just as Voldemort and his minions did in the Harry Potter series. The ruling families killed Abbey’s parents, but she was rescued by a South American tribal princess, Nevara, who secrets her away in the most obvious of unobvious places: an orphanage. Abbey must keep her mark – the mark of the queen – hidden from others. It is a dead giveaway, and she has not intention of dying young.

Nevara trains and schools Abbey until she is 18, when she is sent to one of the five schools of her people. She is sent to the Maramec Conservatory where she will study with other Elementals, Mystics, Watchers and Warriors. Watchers and Warriors are housed together and known as the Knights of Noir, protectors of the people, and kept separate from Elementals, who have a range of abilities with one of the four elements, and of course the very rare Mystics, gifted with sight and healing.

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But soon Abbey finds herself in the midst of a love triangle…that turns deadly. Even though she is the rightful queen, there is one way for her to lose that honor, and things come dangerously close to that outcome. As Abbey finds herself surrounded by a posse of protectors, she has the makings of her warriors and advisors by her side…but is she strong enough to let them in to know the real Abbey?

This novel was much more than I expected, and I was amazed at the range of change and growth in the main characters. Abbey struggles with many decisions throughout the novel, and the more problems that develop, the harder it is for her. Through the narration, readers are privy to the change in Abbey that reflect that she will be a kind, just, but strong queen.

A very good read with a strong female character. Read my review here.

The second book in the Sacred Promises series, Warrior’s Oath, is available. You can read my review of it hereThe Divine Order will be available in the spring.

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