Monday 15 December 2014

My Ten Top Reads for 2014 - by Andrea Grigg

I’ve really enjoyed reading the two Top Ten lists so far – thanks Iola and Ian. Hope you enjoy mine. Funnily enough, they’re not all fiction. Well, two aren't.

Ok, here we go. (Please note: these books have not been placed in order of preference.)

Christian fiction:

Dear Mr Knightley – by Katharine Reay

I read Dear Mr Knightly only very recently and loved it.

I’d recognised the link to Jane Austen, knew the book was written in letter form, and thought I was in for a light, possibly fluffy, romantic read. Boy, was I wrong!

The main character, Samantha Moore, is a twenty-three year old orphan whose main aim is to protect herself; life has thrown too much hurt her way already. I loved how Sam revealed more and more about herself to her anonymous benefactor, Mr Knightley. I wanted to take her under my wing myself! I’ll be recommending this book until I’m too old to remember I’ve read it J

Undetected – Dee Henderson

I’m a recent fan of Dee Henderson, especially her last three titles. I’m super impressed by her knowledge of her characters’ occupations – if she’s making it up she’s very convincing!

Undetected is a naval suspense/mystery. It includes elements of romance and what I found were fascinating details about life as a commander of a ballistic missile submarine mixed in with ocean science research. Very clever! See my review here: Undetected

Meant to Be Mine – Becky Wade

This novel was pure romance. Meant to be Mine is Becky’s third novel and in my opinion, her best one to date.

I thought I’d had my fill of American cowboy romances after reading only a few, but it turns out I haven’t. See my review here: Meant to Be Mine

I’m looking forward to reading about the last of the Porter brothers in Becky’s next novel, A Love Like Ours, due out in May 2015.

Yesterday’s Tomorrow – Catherine West

Again, this is a very recent read, and from an era I’ve not come across at all in Christian fiction.

Apart from a (necessary) prologue, Yesterday’s Tomorrow kicks off in Vietnam, 1967. Cathy West gave me a very real sense of what it must have been like to be a journalist over there in that tumultuous time.

This is a gritty and realistic romance between Kristin the journalist and Luke the photographer, filled with emotion and adventure. This is Cathy West’s first novel, and it’s a cracker. I’ve downloaded her second, Hidden in the Heart, (released in 2012 but not available on Kindle until this month) and I can’t wait to read it.

A Constant Heart – Siri Mitchell

I have one word for this book – fascinating.

Because of the style of language, the customs of the day, the place of women in the aristocracy in the1600s. I learned so much but it didn’t distract from the story. If you’re into historical fiction I thoroughly recommend A Constant Heart.

Here to Stay – by Melissa Tagg

I thoroughly enjoy Melissa Tagg’s writing. Here to Stay is her second contemporary romance novel, and full of great characters and humorous dialogue. I’ll read anything she writes. See my review here: Here to Stay

Mainstream fiction:

Hello From the Gillespies – Monica McInerney  and  It Started With Paris – Cathy Kelly


Both these ladies are long-time favourites of mine and I’ve had the privilege of meeting them both. Cathy Kelly is Irish, and gave an hilarious talk at our local library back in 2012. Monica, (an Aussie married to an Irishman) spoke at a breakfast held here on the Gold Coast. She made me gulp and then smile by saying: ‘I try to write 2000 words a day. Of course, the next morning I may delete 1999 of them.’

Why have I included these books? It’s true they’re not written from a Christian worldview and therefore will have the occasional word or scene which will offend some, but … I really love these family based ‘Ensemble’ novels.

They're large, have a great cast of characters ie. Multiple points of view, who face hurdles and conflict and yet somehow everything ties in at the end. If anyone can recommend a contemporary Christian ensemble novel for me to read I’d be most grateful. If not, I might just have to write one!

Writing Craft:

The First Fifty Pages – Jeff Gerke  and The Word-Loss Diet – Rayne Hall

Jeff Gerke’s The First Fifty Pages is brilliant. Everything you need to impress an editor if you’re submitting, and to engage your readers. I’m posting a review on this book early 2015 so I’ll say no more for now.

Rayne Hall’s The Word-Loss Diet is a must for self-editing that first draft. It will show you how to tighten your writing and improve your pace by using simple techniques. The Word-Loss Diet is a manual I will revisit over and over. See my review here: The Word-Loss Diet

Well, that's it from me for 2014. Have you read any of my list? If not, have I persuaded you to try one or two? 

Andrea writes contemporary romance. Her second novel Too Pretty was released on August 1 by Rhiza Press. Her first book A Simple Mistake was a finalist in the CALEB Awards 2012

Andrea would love to hear from you via her website or Facebook page:


  1. Andrea, Melissa, Katherine & Catherine's novels are all in my TBR pile & I really must get to them in 2015. Good for you in highlighting 2 secular novels. Most of my favourite authors are secular, however, I've spent most of my time in christian novels in 2014.

    Jeff's work is always good so that's an excellent pick.

    Thanks for sharing your Tops for 2014. Happy reading in 2015.

  2. Hi Ian - Like you, most of my favourite authors are secular. I glean more from them concerning writing style than in the Christian market as many of them are highly successful and have been writing great books for at least a couple of decades. Having said that, again like you, I've read a lot of Christian novels this year too, hence my list. I wonder what our Top Ten will be this time next year? Thanks for stopping by :)

  3. We share a lot of favourite novels, Andrea. Becky Wade's made my Top 5 this year. Agree her best one yet! And I recently finished Katherine Reay's new one, Lizzie & Jane, and it is fabulous. Also loved Melissa's and Catherine's :)

    1. Hi Kara - I like your taste in reading! Would love to get together with you sometime when I'm on the Kapiti Coast visiting my parents. What do you think? :)

  4. We have a lot in common as well. I must check out the Catherine West title - I haven't read anything by her before.

  5. I think you'd really enjoy Yesterday's Tomorrow, Iola. Looking forward to hearing what you think.

  6. Andrea, thanks for sharing your top ten list :) Iola, I agree with Andrea and I really enjoyed Yesterday's Tomorrow. The story has a realism that I know you like seeing in Christian fiction.

  7. Thanks for your list, Andrea. I haven't read any of these yet so will have to check them out.

    1. I'll bet that TBR pile is getting bigger and bigger, Dale!

  8. Hi Andrea, I've read a few of those. Thanks for sharing your list.

    I think Cathy West did a fabulous job with her debut, Yesterday's Tomorrow, and Siri Mitchell has always been a favourite author. I learned so much from A Constant Heart and just love the richness of Siri's historicals. :)

    1. Hi Dotti - I think you're the one who put me onto Siri Mitchell, so thanks! Glad you enjoyed Yesterday's Tomorrow as much as I did. I've started her next one - very different but just as good so far :)


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