THIS WRITING LIFE: Highlight Reads of 2014

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I read so many memorable books this year that it’s hard to choose which were my highlights but I’m going to give it a go, ending with a

Book Hangover Of The Year Award

for the book or series that left me totally bereft and rudderless on completion.

For more information or to buy any of the books, click on the headline or covers.

So… in no particular order, here they are!

Dinner at Rose’s by Danielle HawkinsCover of Dinner at Rose's

I adored this book. It was quirky, romantic and made me laugh and cry. And it featured a hot dairy farmer. Not to be missed Kiwi rural romance. (Hawkins’ second novel, Chocolate Cake For Breakfast, was also a beauty).

the-winter-brideThe Winter Bride by Anne Gracie

The Chance Sisters series has been wonderful so far but The Winter Bride is my favourite. Damaris and Freddy are such great characters. Following their journey to happily ever after was hugely satisfying. Please read this series. It will make your heart sing.

Marina by  Carlos Ruiz ZafónCover of Marina

I can’t rave about this book enough. I’m a huge Zafón fan. His gothic stories captivate from the opening page but for me this is his best. It was mesmerising.  The moment I finished I wanted to go back and read it all over again. Even typing this makes me want to reach for it. Runner-up for Book Hangover of the Year. Yeah, it was that good.

being-jadeBeing Jade by Kate Belle

A riveting, complex and beautifully written tale of love, betrayal, tragedy, and the difference between love and sex. What a talent Belle is.

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontzodd-thomas

Oh, this was fun. Spooky, quirky and perfectly paced. A rollicking ride through our hero Odd Thomas’s most interesting life. With bonus Elvis sightings.

holding-out-for-a-heroHolding Out For A Hero by Amy Andrews

What a hoot! A sexy sportsman hero, a determined heroine and loads of memorable secondary characters. Wish Andrews would hurry up with the sequel.

daughter-of-smoke-and-boneDays of Blood and Starlight and Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

This trilogy (starting with Daughter of Smoke and Bone which I read in 2013) was amazing. The writing is lush, and the world-building and characterisations are first class. Absolute page-turners.

thornwood-houseThornwood House by Anna Romer

I’m a terrible sucker for a gothic story and this Australian-set tale didn’t disappoint. Romer has a distinctive and appealing writing voice, and the romance in this was subtle but very fulfilling. Her next, Lyrebird Hill, is near the top of my to-be-read pile.

Mr Impossible by Loretta Chasemr-impossible

No wonder this romance is considered a classic. It has everything. Great setting, amazing characters, adventurous plot, witty dialogue and a completely gorgeous romance. Not to be missed.

rivers-of-londonRivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Like Harry Potter for grown-ups! Huge fun. I’ve already read the 2nd in this series, Moon Over Soho, and plan to keep going. It’s just too much fun to stop now.

Her Christmas Earl by Anna CampbellHer Christmas Earl

Maybe it was my mood, maybe it’s a result of reading a Christmas themed book on Christmas Eve but this has just shot to the top of my Anna Campbell favourites list. Who’d have thought being locked in a wardrobe could be so much fun?


And now for the big one…

My Book Hangover of the Year Award goes to

The Grisha Trilogy:

Shadow and Bone, Siege and Stormand Ruin and Rising

by Leigh Bardugo

Grisha 1.0

I gobbled these books one after the other and was so bereft after finishing this romantic fantasy series it took me nearly two weeks to settle into another book. I missed the characters dreadfully and if it weren’t for my gigantic to-be-read pile I would have gone back to the start and read it all over again. Stunning.


What were your highlight reads of 2014? I’d especially love to hear which one gave you the biggest book hangover so I can check it out myself. Unlike other hangovers, book ones are good for us!



14 thoughts on “THIS WRITING LIFE: Highlight Reads of 2014

  1. AvatarSue Gerhardt Griffiths

    It’s been a fun year of reading and it’s going to be even better this year! Most of the books you’ve read Cathryn are on my TBR list. I’ve wanted to read The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón for a long time but I forgot all about this author until your reminder. It is on my TBR list now! I also loved Her Christmas Earl and Being Jade. Rivers of London was ok – My issue was that I kept comparing it with Harry Potter, if I hadn’t I might’ve enjoyed it more. But the Harry Potter series left me gasping, I am in awe of this series. It was incredibly mind-blowing, Jaw-dropping and stunning!! So I’m undecided whether I should read the 2nd book in the PC Peter Grant series. And what also annoyed me are the lead character names – now you’d think with an ongoing series and fighting ghosts he would choose something a little more unusual and be more creative – Peter and Lesley are so common! It actually put me off. How do you feel about the names Cathryn? Do names make a difference to you when reading a book?

    These are my 2014 stand out books:
    *Letter from a Stranger by Barbara Taylor Bradford
    *Beyond Fear by Jaye Ford
    *The Long Road Home, Bittersweet and Granny Dan by Danielle Steel – all 3 very emotional and moving.
    *Caught by Harlan Coben
    *Black Hills by Nora Roberts
    *Little Face by Sophie Hanna
    *Being Jade by Kate Belle
    *Heart of the Valley and The French Prize by Cathryn Hein
    *Wattle Creek by Fiona McCallum
    *Shattered Sky by Helene Young
    *Man Drought by Rachael Johns
    *Untouched by Anna Campbell
    *The Railwayman’s Wife by Ashley Hay
    *The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons (third runner-up)
    *House for all Seasons by Jenn J. McLeod (runner-up)
    And my biggest book hangover is –
    *Windflowers by Tamara McKinley- What can I say but Stunning and breathtaking! A beautiful outback story. Brilliant and powerful.

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      I loved Harry Potter too, Sue. As you say, it was very special. But I’m still finding The Rivers of London books a hoot. Probably because they’re basically crime novels at heart and I do adore a juicy mystery. The names didn’t bother me in the slightest! But I get your point about the names. I didn’t notice their plainness. If it had been a romance or perhaps a thriller I probably would have. Romance especially needs heroic names for heroes. A hero called… I dunno… Cyril or something probably isn’t going to create the right image for a reader.

      Thanks so much for your list and for including The French Prize and Heart of the Valley!!! The Bronze Horseman series is AMAZING. I’ve been a big Paullina Simons fan for years. TULLY is one of my favourite books of all time, so is Red Leaves and its follow up The Girl in Times Square. I also really enjoyed The Road to Paradise. The only book so far that I couldn’t get into was A Song In Daylight.

      Lots of other great books and authors there too. I’ll have to chase up Windflowers now. I’ve read one Tamara McKinley (can’t think of the title, sorry) and it was wonderfully written so will have to give this a go. Beyond Fear is also one of my favourites. I LOVE Jaye’s books. They scare the pants of me. Great fun!

      Thanks again for taking the time to share. Fab stuff.

      1. AvatarSue Gerhardt Griffiths

        Cathryn, I too enjoy a great mystery. I love my crime novels. I noticed the name Peter because I seem to read that name in books a lot, to me it’s been used to death, same as James and George. Out of billions of names they choose those three. I always get excited and look forward to seeing what names authors give their lead characters and when I see those names I just slump and think… again…

        I remember you telling me how much you like Paullina Simons, you asked me if I’d read Red Leaves – I haven’t – I’m going to have to buy it as an ebook as none of my libraries keep it. I also loved Eleven Hours, what a great thriller that was, kept me on the edge of my seat.

        And you’re welcome! The French Prize and Heart of the Valley were two outstanding books as was Promises but I had read that one in 2013 and I have just reserved Heartland from my library. I’m buying the book this week with the money left over on the voucher I received as a chrissie present, I want to keep it looking new, hence the library borrowing, hehe.

        You’re going to kill me Cathryn, I know you have a crazy TBR pile but I’ve just gone through my list of books I’ve read in 2013 and I just have to recommend these three books to you, they are so extraordinary they give me goosebumps just thinking of them. I might be lucky and you have read them then no need to kill me. LOL. But I’m sure you love adding more to your pile… hee hee heeee
        And all Aussie authors too.
        *Tea-Tree Passage by Robyn Lee Burrows
        *The Valley by Di Morrissey – set in the Hunter Valley Region
        *Wildflower Hill by Kimberley Freeman

        1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

          LOL on the names making you slump, Sue! Funny what can set us off.

          Ooh, I hope you enjoy Heartland. That one’s a bit fun. And you must read Red Leaves! The follow up is brilliant too. Paullina S is such a great storyteller.

          I don’t mind you adding to my TBR pile. It’s great to hear of good books. If only there was more time to read. Sigh.

          1. AvatarSue Gerhardt Griffiths

            I’ve read the follow-up to Red Leaves. It was my favourite book for a very long time. I agree she’s a great storyteller. Her new book Bellagrand is supposed to be really good too, another book added on my already massive list.

            Yes, if only there was more time to read. The last couple of months I’ve watched a lot less TV and started reading like crazy just so I can reduce my reading pile, it’s virtually impossible. Every time I think I’m making headway there are heaps more recommendations to add to my list. I’ll just have to accept there’s no such thing as progress when it comes to books, lol.

      1. AvatarSue Gerhardt Griffiths

        You’re welcome Anna! I just loved it. I’ll be reading Seven Nights in a Rogues Bed and The Winter Wife soon. I have eleven books on my January reading pile including yours. I think hubby will have to starve if I’m to get through all those this month, lol.

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