Posted in Books I have read

Cleopatra’s Top 10 Books published in 2014

2014 was a fantastic reading year for me although even I was shocked to see that I’d marked a whopping 42 books as 5 star reads this year!  Yes that’s quite a lot but to be honest I award stars on instinct when I review and (conceitedly) assume those who look at my reviews read the words, rather than depend on this arbitrary system.  One reason I enjoy choosing my Top 10 is because it is interesting to see whether on reflection this instinctive scoring holds true for me.  Surprisingly it does and I didn’t feel I had to downgrade any of my choices this year but for those of you who assume I ponder and deliberate and weigh up the merits of one five star read against another, I’m sorry, I don’t.

Fortunately as this post concentrates on books published in 2014, I’ve been able to remove a few of my choices, but as you can imagine it was quite a task to get the list whittled down to just 10.  As a compromise some books that I love were featured on my blog post Reading and Reviewing in 2014 !

As regular visitors are aware I read a lot about crime fiction although I dip my toes in other genres from time to time. To help with the decision making I have decided to pick the best from some other genres too starting with Historical Fiction. The winner this year is my most recent five star review

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

The Paying Guests

What can I say, beautiful engaging writing, three-dimensional characters, great period detail and…. a crime! This book has a slow start but don’t let that fool you, I had to slow down my reading towards the end as I didn’t want the story to end. Set in the early 1920’s Sarah Waters captures the herald of change with the classes and the genders having to adapt to a new way of life.

My Non-Fiction choice isn’t strictly a book that was published in 2014, that originally occurred back in 1974 but it was republished in 2014 (and this is my blog so my rules!)

Victorian Murderesses by Mary S. Hartman

Victorian Murderesses

This book looks at Middle Class Victorian Murderesses in the United Kingdom and France during the Victorian period. It is far more than a recap of the crimes as the author makes a link between the time, place and class of woman to commentate on women’s lives during this period. A fascinating and far more scholarly work than I anticipated.

My Surprise Find of the year:

Interlude by Rupert Smith


I don’t know what made me choose this book, but I’m so glad I did. Told between past and present this has a book in a book, historical details and a cast of characters whose actions are at times reprehensible but who are entirely human made up of good points as well.

A Slow Burner of a novel award goes to:

That Dark Remembered Day by Tom Vowler

That Dark Remembered Day

This superbly written book invites the reader to absorb every word as it lays the groundwork for what happened on the day in question. The groundwork begins in 1983, the year I became a teenager and the details took me right back to that era. It’s no coincidence that Tom Vowler’s debut novel What Lies Within made my top ten listing for 2013 with this almost understated but perceptive writing.

Best Debut Novel:

Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent

Unravelling Oliver

One of my favourite types of novel that concentrate on the why of a mystery rather than the who. Unravelling Oliver peels back the layers of the man who starts this book by saying ‘I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.’ The multitude of narrators that have interacted with Oliver through his life create a satisfactory background to the man and it isn’t as straightforward as you may imagine.

Favourite book from an established Crime Series. This was a tough one as all the latest books from series I follow, especially Sharon Bolton’s and Peter James’ produced great books this year, however my final choice for this category features Maeve Kerrigan

The Kill by Jane Casey

The Kill

DC Maeve Kerrigan is caught up in a spate of police killings in the fifth in this series. Once again Jane Casey gets the balance of the police investigation to the personal lives of the characters we know and love (I admit to a little crush on DI Josh Derwent) with a story that is told at the perfect pace. If you haven’t read this series I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Best Start to a New Crime Series goes to a series that features another woman, Detective Grace Fisher, a crime reporter and missing students.

Good Girls Don’t Die by Isabelle Grey

Good Girls Don't Die

There was so much to love in this book, a great plot multiple storylines, well-rounded characters all backed up by a decent plot, in fact there was so much going on in this book to enjoy I felt like I’d read a banquet of a book by the time I’d finished.

There were two New to me author’s whose books were so good I had to read more – and after tossing a coin between the winner and Colette McBeth I award this one to:

Keep Your Friends Close by Paula Daly

Keep Your Friends Close

This choice is another book peopled by well-rounded, if flawed characters. Natty’s husband Sean falls in love with her friend Eve but it appears that this isn’t the first time Eve has behaved in this way, the fallout is spectacular.. After reading this book I immediately bought a copy of Just What Kind of Mother Are You? which was equally as good.

My final two choices are simply two excellent books that I loved and have recommended far and wide ever since I read them.

The Secret Place by Tana French

The Secret Place

When a boy is found murdered in the grounds of an exclusive girl’s school the police need to penetrate the secretive world of teenage girls, not a task for the faint-hearted. Not only does this book have all the requisite ingredients for a great read; characters, plot and pace, it is also an enormously fun read, so much so I dubbed it ‘Mallory Towers for Grown Ups’

Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Little Lies

Another book set in a school, this time in a primary school and the action takes place at a fund-raiser. Liane Moriarty has created such wonderful characters, brilliant dialogue and the most bizarre murder scene ever. This is a book that packs a punch with much more lurking beneath the seemingly light exterior.  This author also made my 2013 top 10 list with The Husband’s Secret.

I hope you have enjoyed looking at my personal favourites of 2014 and I hope you all find books to love in 2015.


A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

48 thoughts on “Cleopatra’s Top 10 Books published in 2014

  1. Big Little Lies (or Little Lies) made my Top Ten List for the year, too. I also loved Keep Your Friends Close.

    I, too, have a rather instinctual system of star ratings, but I also have a page explaining how I decide. But sometimes the difference between a 4 and a 5 is very slight. So, yes, reading the words in a review is very important!

    I love your reviews, and you have helped me add to my toppling stacks this year. LOL


    1. Good choices Laurel 😉 I probably should have thought about an explanation a long time ago. Part of my reasoning is a book that I recognise as being good, such as Elizabeth Is Missing only got 3 stars from me because the subject matter was painful and therefore rendered the book less enjoyable – my reviews are simply my view and I do try hard to highlight particularly good (or bad) parts to a book. Your reviews keep my pile well fed too and I hope we continue to balance each other out in 2015,


  2. I haven’t read The Paying Guests yet, but I am really looking forward to it, & you’ve made me even more impatient to get my hands on a copy. You’re very disciplined – I can never slow down my reading to savour a book, I can’t stop myself whizzing through! Happy reading in 2015 🙂


  3. Very interesting to read your top ten and how you got to your choices. Think I’ll have to get the Paying guests now as it does sound good. Thanks for a great reading review Cleo! And happy new year. May you be blessed with many more fab books next year xx


  4. Oh I loved Big, Little Lies. That was my first book by that author, but not the last. And I need to read Paying Guests. Every single person I know who has read it has loved it.


    1. I’ve now read 4 by Liane Moriarty, all very different but there hasn’t been one that hasn’t been a really enjoyable read. I simply loved The Paying Guests so I hope you find a copy and enjoy it as much as I did.


  5. Cleo – I love your categories! And you’ve made some really excellent choices here. I guessed there’d be lots to add to my TBR list when I visited this post, and I was right. I’m glad you had such a good reading year. Wishing you and those you love all the best for 2015!


    1. Thank you for your kind words Margot – I have been exceptionally lucky with my choices this year undoubtedly helped by all the brilliant in depth reviews and articles that I’ve read around the blogosphere. Wishing you all the very best in 2015 too!


  6. Golly, they all look mouthwatering! I’ve been promising myself the Tana French for when the workload eases a bit, but you’re tempting me in other directions too . . .


  7. I got both The Paying Guests and The Secret Place as gifts and I can’t wait to read them. I’m currently reading The Likeness by Tana French and I can’t put it down! Happy New Year Cleo!


    1. Ah thank you Karen and I’m sure the number of 5 star reads went up because of all the helpful bloggers out there who helped me make choices that were spot on for me. Happy New Year and I will (shortly) raise my glass to many wow book moments in 2015!


  8. Great list – agreed on the Tom Vowler, Jane Casey and of course the Liane Moriarty, and you’ve previously managed to sneak a couple more of these onto my TBR. I must say I do look at your star ratings – I also rate instinctively rather than to a system but I find that I rarely want to chnage them later, so it must work. And your 5-stars have rarely led me astray…

    Have a great New Year!


    1. Happy New Year to you too Fiction Fan. I’m glad some of my choices are endorsed by you. I used to ponder far more over the stars but found instinct worked well for me, despite being teased that I rate every book 4 stars that clearly isn’t the case!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Happy New Year, Cleo! I haven’t read any of the above, actually I’d be surprised if I’ve read more than a couple that were published this year. But I’ve added a few to my tbr list thanks to your reviews, including the entire Dublin Murder Squad series.


    1. The Victorian Murderesses was such an in depth look at life of women during this period in both the UK and France, the differences in culture, class and gender made this a far meatier, and informative, book than I expected.


  10. I have only read one of these books…Big Little Lies…very good.

    The Paying Guests is a book I want to read.

    Nice post.

    Happy New Year, and thanks for stopping by my blog.



  11. Thank you for your enjoyable post – I’ve made a note of several books and authors… The Paying Guest is definitely on my list as is The Secret Place – while I shall be checking out Jane Stacey and Sharon Bolton for my husband, who is always looking for well written crime series – and hasn’t come across those 2 authors.
    I hope that 2015 is a good one for you:)


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