Best Reads for 2013 are Independently Published

January 13, 2014


I can’t let the new year get away from me without sharing a few of my favorite books for 2013. All of these books, coincidently, are part of the growing market of works published independently and not through major publishing houses. They are adult novels rather than YA. I guess that’s because I haven’t been drawn to specific young adult novels recently, but I’m always looking.


Here are a couple of my favorite reads.


From Tears to Triumph: My Journey to the House of Hope

Author: Linda Bello-Ruiz      Linda Bellw-Ruiz 2


This is one of the most gripping and inspirational memoirs I have read. It has every quality that makes a page-turner a page-turner—love, loss, betrayal, redemption and renewal, to name a few. I had to remind myself as I read along that this is a true story and not a novel.


Ms. Bello-Ruiz’s journey begins as a rebellious teenager who hooks up with a dangerous drug-using pimp, barely escaping with her life. She becomes part of a controversial religious commune. Ironically, it’s in the commune that she awakens to her full, independent (no brain washing that I could discern), religious potential and where she is guided to move to Central America to rescue teen girls from a life of prostitution.


The thing I love about this woman’s story, and what I will keep in my heart always, is her unwavering faith and dedication to God and God’s guidance, even in the darkest of times. This memoir is enough to inspire even the most cynical reader—which, I admit, I’m not.


Drawings in Sand

Author: Yvonne Spence  Drawings in Sand 2


Drawings in Sand is literature at its finest. It is the story of Stella Noble, a hapless alcoholic who is haunted by her childhood and unable to move forward in her present. Stella is a character that is at once frustrating and sympathetic. We root for her to take hold of her life, to be the responsible adult and mother we know she can be. And we wring our hands when, once again, she chooses to go down the rabbit hole, glass in hand.


Spence is a wonderful writer. Her prose is hauntingly beautiful and lyrical, but not so much that we get bogged down in literature for literature’s sake. Her story telling abilities match her writing expertise so that Stella’s story keeps us hooked from start to finish.


My one regret is that the novel is available in e-books only, at least for the moment. I look forward to the time I can recommend it to my non-techie friends and can place a copy in my own library.


Next week, I’ll look at

Horse at the Corner Post: Our Divine Journey by Denise Lee Branco

and Between Now and Forever by Margaret Duarte.


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