Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2014, a somewhat tardy wrap-up

Yes, 2014. I know that feels like years ago now. 
Total: 181. This sounds fantastic until you realise 56 were 'Nancy Drew' books and 88 were re-reads. And 1 (one) was just a tiny little essay. Then again, those 56 books were a brilliant and nostalgic journey back into my past as a reader; and those 88 re-reads have made me the placidly sane (lazy) person I am today. That makes 93 new-to-me books (some of those Nancy Drew books had not been read before, just to confuse things). The 1 essay was written by an adult for adults, and I think I need that statistic. ;-)

How did I read them? 165 e-books to 16 tree-books. 
This preference has not stopped me buying real books - I just haven't read them.

female writers: 93

male writers: 32

ghost-writers: 56, predominantly female

number of writers I had to google to sex: 2

non-fiction: 6. Terrible. TERRIBLE.

crime/mystery/espionage: 122. 
In its own way, also terrible. But so enjoyable.

And the hits (and misses)?


Favourite non re-read (fiction):
The Golden Child - Penelope Fitzgerald (I actually reviewed this one)

Favourite non re-read (non-fiction):
Love Lessons: A Wartime Journal - Joan Wyndham 
Wonderful diary of a very silly and selfish young woman in WW2 who nevertheless manages to capture a remarkable moment in London life among the bohemians during the Blitz. 

Favourite re-read:
Death in Kashmir - M. M. Kaye
An old favourite. In the dying days of the Raj, something sinister is afoot in beautiful Kashmir. Can innocent (and pretty) Miss Parrish decipher the clues or will she too perish in mysterious circumstances? And who is that handsome polo-playing aide-de-camp...? Perfect escapism. 


New-to-me book most likely to be re-read:
Parnassus on Wheels - Christopher Morley. What could one love more than a bookshop in a caravan? Despite my profound devotion to indoor plumbing, this book was gorgeous - see a work in progress' review. The sequel, sadly, was a bit of a letdown. 

Favourite new-to-me author:
Mrs. Georgie Sheldon. Ah, how much do I love you, Mrs. G.S. Er, except for that one I did not finish (a first for me!) on Christian Scientists. But, apart from that hiccup, if you're looking for an old-fashioned serial type semi-sensationalist romantic novel featuring innocent young women, worthy young men, mistaken identities, presumed deaths, sudden poverty, incredible wealth, loads of travel, and some really silly plots, then she is for you. Thanks to fleur in her world for starting me off on these with Mona, or The Secret of a Royal Mirror and True Love's Reward: A Sequel to Mona. Just be careful that you (unlike me) start one where Part 2 is actually still in print... I read: The Heatherford Fortune; His Heart's Queen; Geoffrey's Victory, or The Double Deception; Virgie's Inheritance; Threads Gathered Up; The Masked Bridal.


Most satisfactory most-hyped book:
Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell. God, wasn't it horrible being a teenager? I miss the 80s too. Anyone want to make me a mix-tape? 

Least satisfactory most-hyped book:
Beautiful Ruins - Jess Walter. This book should have made me so happy - Italy, the dolce vita, etc. - but I just felt manipulated. Also messing with real people makes me uneasy.


Worst title: 
Dumps: A Plain Girl - L. T. Meade. There's nothing that education and regular meals won't fix, however. 

Best double-entendre:
Biggles Takes it Rough - Capt. W.E. Johns


Book most likely to make me never pick up the author's works again:
Tono-Bungay - H. G. Wells. Should have worked - patent medicine, upstairs-downstairs relationships, early experiments in flight - but so tedious. I have few Socialist tendencies, I'm afraid.

Book most likely to be thrown across the room:
The Whole Fromage: Adventures in the Delectable World of French Cheese - Kathe Lison. I love cheese. I love France. I do not like entirely gratuitous descriptions of what people look like, as though this is a Dan Brown book. So, she's a bit wrinkly? Who CARES? She can make cheese so good it'd make statues swoon. This book also fits into another non-fiction pet hate category of mine, namely 'authors who insert themselves into narratives about other far more interesting people and subjects'.


Craziest plot:
The Second Wife - Irving Wallace. Loved this - insane espionage plot and some really bad sex. I miss the Cold War. Recommended by clothes in books

Book producing weird feeling of déjà vu despite having never read it before:
In a Glass, Darkly - Helen McCloy. Eventually I tracked this feeling down to having read the plot of this book in its earlier incarnation as a short story in Maureen Daly's My Favourite Mystery Stories, a book we keep in the loo.

Most memorable appearance by a cat:
Rogue Male - Geoffrey Household. Proper spy novel with lots of lying in dirty holes being manly. Also, a cat. 

Number of deaths from consumption/TB:
I think only one, and that was "quick consumption", best friend of the plot-driven Victorian author. Thus, The Masked Bridal (1894): "...Edith was informed that Gerald Goddard had died only the week previous of quick consumption, and his body had been quietly interred in Greenwood, according to his own instructions."


Most rape-y:
Sabre-Tooth [Modesty Blaise 2] - Peter O'Donnell. I liked the first one (Modesty Blaise) a lot - strong female character, lots of silly gadgets and madcap plots. The second was a bit grim.

Don't read if you're alone and the electricity supply isn't certain:
Some Must Watch - Ethel Lina White. This was also a fantastically creepy B&W film called The Spiral Staircase (1945). Then again, what do you think will happen if you take a job as a lady's companion in the middle of nowhere?


Most gratuitous use of a robot as a plot device:
The Crooked Banister [Nancy Drew] - 'Carolyn Keene'. I'm sure whoever ghost-wrote this one had been getting their inspiration from magic mushrooms. 

A characters who can play the bag-pipes? 
Nancy, of course: The Clue of the Whistling Bagpipes - 'Carolyn Keene'.


A nice young man:
T. Tembarom - Frances Hodgson Burnett. Lovely, lovely read - innocent young American Mr Tembarom wreaks havoc on the aristocracy when he inherits a stately estate in conservative old England. 

Book most likely to make me look intelligent if read on a bus:
Pnin - Vladimir Nabokov. A rather wonderful take on the academic novel. Poor Pnin - nothing ever goes right. This is my second Nabokov (after Lolita), and certainly not my last.

Best sensationalist novel:
Her Father's Name - Florence Marryat. I reviewed this one. Cross-dressing! Heaving bosoms! Ladies smoking cigars! 

Book providing the solution to the burning question of what sort of pie Mr Drew likes best?
In no. 29 (Mystery at the Ski Jump) it is "Apple with lots of cinnamon". In no. 56 (The Thirteenth Pearl) it is lemon meringue pie. I think we can agree that this inconsistency is an instance of shocking editorial oversight.

So, roll on 2015. And, somewhat belatedly, Happy New Year!

{READ IN 2017}

  • 23.
  • 22.
  • 21.
  • 20. The Murder on the Enriqueta - Molly Thynne
  • 19. The Nowhere Man - Gregg Hurwitz
  • 18. He Dies and Makes No Sign - Molly Thynne
  • 17. Death in the Dentist's Chair - Molly Thynne
  • 16. The Crime at the 'Noah's Ark' - Molly Thynne
  • 15. Harriet the Spy - Louise Fitzhugh
  • 14. Night School - Lee Child
  • 13. The Dancing Bear - Frances Faviell
  • 12. The Reluctant Cannibals - Ian Flitcroft
  • 11. Fear Stalks the Village - Ethel Lina White
  • 10. The Plot - Irving Wallace
  • 9. Understood Betsy - Dorothy Canfield Fisher
  • 8. Give the Devil his Due - Sulari Gentill
  • 7. A Murder Unmentioned - Sulari Gentill
  • 6. Dead Until Dark - Charlaine Harris
  • 5. Gentlemen Formerly Dressed - Sulari Gentill
  • 4. While She Sleeps - Ethel Lina White
  • 3. A Chelsea Concerto - Frances Faviell
  • 2. Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul - H. G. Wells
  • 1. Heft - Liz Moore

{READ IN 2016}

  • (K = Kindle; rr = re-read)
  • 92. Richardson's First Case - Basil Thomson [K]
  • 91. The Alington Inheritance - Patricia Wentworth [K; rr]
  • 90. Orphan X - Gregg Hurwitz [K]
  • 89. The House of Godwinsson [Bobby Owen 24] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 88. Music Tells All [Bobby Owen 24] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 87. Helen Passes By [Bobby Owen 23] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 86. It Might Lead Anywhere [Bobby Owen 22] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 85. There's a Reason for Everything [Bobby Owen 21] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 84. Secrets Can't Be Kept [Bobby Owen 20] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 83. Night's Cloak [Bobby Owen 19] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 82. The Conqueror Inn [Bobby Owen 18] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 81. The Diabolic Candelabra [Bobby Owen 17] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 80. The Dark Garden [Bobby Owen 16] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 79. Picture Miss Seeton - Heron Carvic [K]
  • 78. Down Under (Benbow Smith 4) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 77. Walk with Care (Benbow Smith 3) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 76. Danger Calling (Benbow Smith 2) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 75. Fool Errant (Benbow Smith 1) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 74. The Annam Jewel - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 73. Mr Zero - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 72. Will o' the Wisp - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 71. Red Shadow - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 70. Pursuit of a Parcel (Lamb 3) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 69. Who Pays the Piper (Lamb 2) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 68. The Blind Side (Lamb 1) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 67. Outrageous Fortune - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 66. The Amazing Chance - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 65. Red Stefan - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 64. The Coldstone - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 63. Anne Belinda - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 62. The Black Cabinet - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 61. Hue & Cry - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 60. The Skin Collector - Jeffery Deaver [K]
  • 59. The Kill Room - Jeffery Deaver [K]
  • 58. Nothing Venture - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 57. Kingdom Lost - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 56. Beggar's Choice - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 55. Hole and Corner - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 54. Touch and Go - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 53. The Red Lacquer Case - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 52. Run! - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 51. Fear by Night - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • JULY
  • 50. The Dower House Mystery - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 49. The Astonishing Adventure of Jane Smith - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 48. Weekend with Death - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 47. Blindfold - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 46. Silence in Court - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 45. Acts of the Assassins - Richard Beard [K]
  • JUNE
  • 44. Hack - Kieran Crowley [K]
  • 43. The Portable Veblen - Elizabeth McKenzie [K]
  • 42. The Spirit Murder Mystery - Robin Forsythe [K]
  • MAY
  • 41. The Ginger Cat Mystery - Robin Forsythe [K]
  • 40. The Pleasure Cruise Mystery - Robin Forsythe [K]
  • 39. The Polo Ground Murder - Robin Forsythe [K]
  • 38. The Outsider - Jason Dean [K]
  • 37. The Hunter's Oath - Jason Dean [K]
  • 36. Missing or Murdered - Robin Forsythe [K]
  • 35. The Beetle - Richard Marsh [K]
  • 34. A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell 1) - Deanna Raybourn [K]
  • 33. The Chimera Vector - Nathan M. Farrugia [K]
  • 32. An Infamous Army - Georgette Heyer [K]
  • 31. Mr Bazalgette's Agent - Leonard Merrick
  • 30. Don't Tell - Karen Rose [K]
  • 29. Say Goodbye - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 28. Gone - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 27. The Killing Hour - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 26. The Next Accident - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 25. The Third Victim - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 24. The Perfect Husband - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 23. Find Her - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 22. Fear Nothing - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 21. Catch Me - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 20. Love You More - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 19. Live to Tell - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 18. The Neighbour - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 17. Hide - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 16. Alone - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 15. The Humans - Matt Haig [K]
  • 14. Utopian Man - Lisa Lang
  • 13. Love Insurance - Earl Derr Biggers [K]
  • 12. The Ignition Effect - Viv Ronnebeck [K]
  • 11. My Brilliant Career - Miles Franklin [K]
  • 10. Dangerous & Unseemly - K. B. Owen [K]
  • 9. In Bitter Chill - Sarah Ward [K[
  • 8. Half a Crown - Jo Walton [K]
  • 7. Ha'penny - Jo Walton [K]
  • 6. Hilda Wade: A Woman with Tenacity of Purpose - Grant Allen [K]
  • 5. The Case of William Smith - Patricia Wentworth [K; rr]
  • 4. Blue Murder - Harriet Rutland [K]
  • 3. Bleeding Hooks - Harriet Rutland [K]
  • 2. Knock, Murderer, Knock! - Harriet Rutland [K]
  • 1. Ten Star Clues [Bobby Owen 15] - E. R. Punshon [K]