Alexandria (AV): My favorite book of 2014 is Night Blindness by Susan Strecker. It follows Jensen Reilly as she visits her ailing father, mother, and extended family in her home town. Coming home for the first time after 13 years of living across the country with her artist husband brings back a flood of memories for Jensen as she relives the tragedy that ruined her life, and the secret part she played in it. What Jensen didn't expect to find in her childhood home is her high school sweetheart Ryder. A book about marriage, loss, love, and what-ifs, I was brought to tears twice during this soulful novel. I couldn't put it down and it kept me - a mother of two under three - up into the wee hours of the morning (a near impossible task).
Annmarie (AO): I usually have a bit of trouble picking my favorite book of the year, however, this year it was so easy. Night Blindness by Susan Strecker was an amazing novel about grief and love. This debut novel was a compelling story that kept the reader guessing until the end. Just don't read this book if you have any commitments for the next day because you won't be able to put the book down.
Annmarie (AT): My favourite book for 2014 - The Accident by C.L. Taylor - isn't the normal chick lit genre as such, but it's a fantastic read and totally un-put-downable!! This was Cally Taylor's first psychological thriller after writing romantic comedies. How far would you go to keep your child safe? Sue has built a new life and family - but is it her past that's put her daughter and her family in danger? This book is so raw, honest and real, you'll be re-checking the house is locked before going to sleep. I found The Accident was one of those rare stories that is so well written I'm still moved by it, and re-reading it you find extra details you'd missed the first few reads. Absolutely great read and well recommended.
Chelsea (CK): Some Girls Do is absolutely brilliant. I had a very difficult time putting this book down. Read till 3am, at which point I said to myself, "Ugh! Your kids will be up in a few hours. Go to bed, you eegit!" This is my all-time FAVORITE kind of romance. Where the two main characters are best friends first, and eventually fall in love. At first glance, you might think this book is all about dirty, nasty sex. The title and cover art are very suggestive. But Some Girls Do is SO much more. It's funny and heartwarming one minute, and romantic and heart breaking the next. And then there's the fantastic characters! Claire was likeable, relatable, and interesting. I wasn't sure at first if I was going to like Luca (I was sceptical if I could grow to love a guy who chose art over having a traditional job), but he DID win me over. Am now totally in love with Luca. And it has nothing to do with his sexual prowess. (Ok. Maybe a little. But I digress.) Espie was favorite of mine as well. At first I thought Claire's mother was going to be a needy, complaining sort. But, she was down to earth and so funny. Loved her dry wit. I wonder if the author would consider writing a sequel? I really hope she does! This is a story that I will read over and over again. I've already read it twice this year!
Emma (EH): The book that struck a real chord with me this year was Longbourn by Jo Baker. It was inspired by Pride and Prejudice; which is one of my all-time favourite books, but written from the point of view of the servants. Not your usual chick lit choice, but a fascinating and at times a little gruesome story. The main Jane Austen characters were there, but with a twist as you are seeing them through the eyes of the staff below stairs. Much as we admire Lizzie Bennet, would we actually want to wash her petticoats after one of her country walks? There are love stories and hardships born by the characters and I thought it was a stark contrast to the fun and frivolity of the Bennet girls attending balls and fretting about bonnets. It is not all doom and gloom, this is an entertaining read with characters that will stay with you long after finishing the book.
Jade (JC): So it's that time again when I look to choose my book of the year. Despite the number of books I've read it's a fairly easy task for me to narrow them down - because it's only the truly exceptional novels that stay with me and of those there have been fve this year: The Dead Wife's Handbook by Hannah Beckerman; Five Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer; Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover; Just a Girl Standing in Front of a Boy by Lucy Anne Holmes; and The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin. The Dead Wife's Handbook was the first book of the year to make its mark. The one that's left the most lasting impression on me is Five Days Left, and The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes was a similarly emotional experience. Maybe Someday rewrote the expectations of New Adult and raised the bar. And in terms of quintessential chick lit, Just Girl Standing in Front of a Boy ticked all of the boxes. And I would be happy to name any of these as my book of the year, but for me the one that just sneaks it is The Dead Wife's Handbook, which was original, emotive and thought-provoking.
Jody (JoH): 2014 was a year filled with a ton of amazing releases and I haven't even had the chance to read some of them. I, for example, can't wait to read Ali McNamara's From Notting Hill With Four Weddings.. Actually, and Miranda Dickenson's I'll Take New York and even without having read these books I know they are going to be fantastic. One of the novels that managed to really surprise me this year is Rachel Hollis' debut novel Party Girl. It's a great book with all the ingredients a perfect chick lit novel should have. I also thoroughly enjoyed Lisa Dickenson's second novel, You Had Me at Merlot, one of the only books this year that actually made me cry with laughter. Claudia Carroll's Love Me or Leave Me was also a fantastic read and one which chick lit readers will hopefully love as much as I did.
Leanne (LF): I have two favourite books for 2014, World's Apart by Ber Carroll for her realistic but bright characters battling everyday problems and Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, I loved the playground setting that became the battlefield for the school mums. A delight to read and will resonate with every mother. Go Australian authors!
Lindsey (LP): 2014 was an amazing year for books. My book of 2014 was the wonderful Second Hand Jane by Michelle Vernal. I was simply blown away by this novel and the author's brilliant writing. It dealt with so many themes which women in particular can identify and resonate with. It was a book about healing, second chances and "how one man's junk is another man's treasure." Fresh, witty, and insightful; this is a magical novel definitely worth a read.
Lisa (LO): I read many good books in 2014, but the one that stood out the most for me is Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. I loved this book. I could really relate to it because my daughter had just started school, as these children had. I thought the author succeeded in making the topic of domestic violence the forefront of one character's plotline, but still managed to keep the overall tone of the novel lighthearted. It was a really engrossing read, I was kept in suspense right to the end as to who had been murdered as well as who had done it. Another fantastic read from one of my favourite authors.
Melissa (MP): The Life You Left is one of the most highly regarded books on my 2014 book shelf! Once again Carmel Harrington, a natural storyteller, has brought to life characters who resonate with the reader. Sarah is thrown into turmoil when her husband suddenly leaves her and the children. Enter Edward, an angel whom Sarah has not envisaged since she was a child. With an important message for her, Edward guides Sarah into a new journey. One where she shows strength and redemption for a childhood lost and a future unknown. With emotion and simplicity, Carmel Harrington envelopes the reader into the heart and soul of Sarah's family. There will be tears and there will be joy. It is also a platform where you too will recognise yourself in Sarah and perhaps find your own way home. Best book of 2014 and a highlight for me personally. Becoming emotionally attached to books is not easy, yet The Life You Left did exactly that for me.
Sherri (SH): My favourite book of the year would be Boss Girl by Nic Tatano. This was the first book I read by this author and in the beginning, I wasn't sure if it would appeal to me. But then I couldn't put it down. Tatano brings a fresh and fun perspective to the chick-lit stage with Boss Girl. I loved how empowered he made the characters, even with their flaws and insecurities. This story centres around four very independent, successful, attractive women who aren't afraid of taking risks, consequences be damned! Tatano takes the age-old "casting couch" mentality and hurls it out the window in a bold and hilarious manner by putting women in the dominant positions for a change. It's about time, I say! Men have been using this tactic for years and it's high time the tables were turned, so to speak. Men who want to work for these women now find themselves being required to sleep with these women as part of their job. It should come as no surprise to anyone that these men are completely willing participants. The lead character, Sydney Hack, is a VP of a network struggling to compete in the ratings market so she decides to start pairing older female anchors that can't get hired anywhere else because of their age with younger, hot men, regardless of their resume. The only references Sydney and her friends want to check are those in the boudoir. Not knowing what to expect when I first started reading the book, I decided to keep an open mind. For a story that features sex as the main plot device, there are no crude, graphic or descriptive play-by-play narratives. The reader is given just enough detail for their imagination to kick in with the rest. The characters are amazing, strong, successful women who want what all women want - to be accepted, respected and treated well. To be judged on merits and successes, not on bra size or age. This story is also about relationships - the ones that are difficult as well as the ones that occur when least expected.