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Dec 14, 2012

Best of 2012! My picks are...

Another year, and another year of many awesome reads! There were a lot of fantastic books that I read this year, from the Christian historical theme to the various historical fiction ones that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to readers of the genre. If you are looking for Christmas gift ideas for historical fiction fans, here are some great reads! These are my most favorite of the year, their titles are linked to my reviews. See anything interesting?

Hemingway's Girl by Erika Robuck 
Biographical Historical Fiction
NAL Trade September 2012

WOW. I never thought I would so fall in love with a man, and Hemingway at that. So emotive and evocative this novel was, and the supporting characters are totally unforgettable. The setting and style of writing is awesome, and I also loved the author's previous work which I reviewed here. I just don't think she can write a bad book, and I am so happy for her well deserved success. I need to get a book by Hemingway on my mountain of to be read books.

Secrets of the Cross trilogy:
Christian Historical Fiction
David C Cook, 2011 and 2012

I was shocked that I LOVED this series as much as I did. All about religious persecution and Algerian wars , the hope of the Huguenot cross and love and loss and much drama. So many characters are blissfully blended in this emotional series. I loved learning about something so important as the religious strife affecting France and Algeria, and the plights of the harkis and pied-noirs. It was a very emotional but enjoyable education. This series absolutely MUST be read in order beginning with Two Crosses, then Two Testaments and finally Two Destinies. If anyone is reading this and wants to buy me a Christmas present, it would be these three paperbacks as I don't own the hardcopies yet. :)

Central Park Rendezvous by Kim Vogel Sawyer, Ronie Kendig, MaryLu Tyndall, Dineen Miller
Christian Historical Romance
Barbour Books, August 2012

This was an entertaining hit for me, as it was my first sort of book that was a blend of novellas from different authors. I was surprised at how much the different authors were able to keep the storyline flowing, even as they focused on different characters and point of views. This was also a great way to introduce myself to some of the authors who I have not read before. The story was a lovable one that evokes a bit of the love for family at the hearth at Christmastime type of a feel, and the Romancing America series focuses on different historical places. This one of course deals with New York City of old,  and spans through several wars and the effects of them. Also, this Romancing America series which always features different authors are offered at a great price, so you should pick a couple of these to gift to your Christian fiction reader friends!

Where Lilacs Still Bloom by Jane Kirkpatrick
Literary/Christian Historical Fiction
WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing, April 2012

Family love, triumph, idiosyncrasies and special lilacs make up this fantastic story based on the real life of Hulda Kluger. It spans much of her adult life as she seeks that perfect bloom, but there is so much more packed into it. Full of happy and tragic moments the story is a tear jerker and I highly recommend it to all readers. It does deal with some faith issues, but not enough to drown out the appreciation of the story which is close to feeling like it should be epic saga material.  

The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen
Christian Historical Romance, Regency
Bethany House, January 2012

Regency lovers, this is one not to miss! Downton Abbey fans, Austenesque readers, Upstairs/Downstairs.. you get the drift! This romantic story of an impulsive heroine had me giggling and smirking and just loving every page. I loved the Regency atmosphere, and there was just a small theme of spirituality. Definitely recommended, and this was a 2012 Christy Award Winner.

Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund
Christian Historical Romance
Bethany House, September 2012

I loved reading Jody Hedlund's story of a young girl caught up in the middle of dangerous scheming men as she looks for her wayward sister in a rough mining town. There was tons of suspense, and fabulous heroes and lots of scary moments meaning lots of page turning going on. Mental note that I definitely need to get to Hedlund's previous works based on the fabulous writing exhibited here.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Historical Mystery, YA suitable
Hyperion, May 2012

You heard the hype, and so did I. I recommended this to a long-ago best friend who is now halfway across the country (and doesn't read nearly half as much as I do), and I told her to get it from the library. She did. She loved it too. This was yet another surprising read for me as it is about a young girl (written for the young adult genre) set in France during the German occupation of World War II. This is the second young adult book I've read in over ten years, but it certainly is not for the faint of heart. It is a fantastic war story of heroes, spies, friendship and so much suspense and mystery and torture.. what a blend of intrigue that I simply could not put it down. I recommend this story for girls and boys 14 and up, and for moms like me!

And now for the two male authors among the ladies, and they are both Franks!

Illusion by Frank Peretti
Christian Thriller
Howard Books, March 2012

Frank Peretti is fairly prolific and very popular. I never like going with the flow of popularity and tend to ignore the titles that get hyped or gushed about incessantly (like Code Name Verity, above). But sometimes the hype is well deserved. There was a lot of publicity that I noticed about this one coming out, and I was able to read an excerpt online. I was hooked. I could NOT wait to get my hands on this one. I did indeed love the magical storyline, of never ending love, of  rebirth, of hope and loss and grief all tangled up. The plot was amazing and kept me in suspense as I hoped for reincarnation and many other things that I've never thought about.

The Last Storyteller by Frank Delaney
Literary historical fiction
Random House, February 2012

The Last Storyteller is the last book in Delaney's trilogy featuring Irish 'storyteller' Ben McCarthy and the errant love of his life, Venetia Kelley. I have not even read book one, but last year I read the second installment, The Matchmaker of Kenmare and fell in love with Frank Delaney (and his characters, but mostly just Frank and everything his pen touched). The land of Ireland, and all of its craziness and beauty and the added storyline of a million things at once was breathtaking, fascinating and brilliant. Definitely need to add more Delaney titles to my pile, as his writing was so perfectly toned that I felt he was writing his story for me. Love. If you love Ireland, find Frank's stuff, just remember I saw him first.

Feel free to leave me the link to your best of 2012 posts so I can see what you recommend also!