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!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

merry christmas!

I've not been around much here (understatement) 
but have been reading a lot 
and enjoying following everyone else's posts. 

Hopefully I will wrap up what I have enjoyed reading soon

Merry Christmas! 

(from me & from George the Christmas Pudding):


{READ IN 2016}

  • (K = Kindle; rr = re-read)
  • JULY
  • 47.
  • 46.
  • 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]
  • APRIL
  • 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]
  • MARCH
  • 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]
  • FEBRUARY
  • 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]
  • JANUARY
  • 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]

{READ IN 2015}

  • (K = Kindle; rr = re-read)
  • 133. Four Strange Women [Bobby Owen 14] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 132. Newt's Emerald - Garth Nix [K]
  • 131. Silent Nights: Christmas Mysteries - Martin Edwards (ed.)
  • 130. Murder Abroad [Bobby Owen 13] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 129. Suspects Nine [Bobby Owen 12] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 128. Comes a Stranger [Bobby Owen 11] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 127. Dictator's Way [Bobby Owen 10] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 126. The Dusky Hour [Bobby Owen 9] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 125. Mystery of Mr Jessop [Bobby Owen 8] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 124. The Perfect Meal: In Search of the Lost Tastes of France - John Baxter
  • 123. The Bath Mysteries [Bobby Owen 7] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 122. Death Comes to Cambers - [Bobby Owen 6] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 121. Death of a Beauty Queen [Bobby Owen 5] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • NOVEMBER
  • 120. Mystery Villa [Bobby Owen 4] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 119. The Wonder Woman Chronicles 2 - W.M.Marston & H.G.Peter
  • 118. World of Trouble - Ben H. Winters [K]
  • 117. Countdown City - Ben H. Winters [K]
  • 116. The Last Policeman - Ben H. Winters [K]
  • 115. Crossword Mystery [Bobby Owen 3] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 114. Death Among the Sunbathers [Bobby Owen 2] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 113. Information Received [Bobby Owen 1] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 112. Foxglove Summer - Ben Aaronovitch [K]
  • 111. Broken Homes - Ben Aaronovitch [K]
  • 110. Whispers Under Ground - Ben Aaronovitch [K]
  • 109. Moon Over Soho - Ben Aaronovitch [K]
  • OCTOBER
  • 108. Rivers of London - Ben Aaronovitch [K]
  • 107. Blood Safari - Deon Meyer [K]
  • 106. Backtrack - Jason Dean [K]
  • 105. The Wrong Man - Jason Dean [K]
  • 104. The Anniversary Man - R. J. Ellory [K]
  • 103. The Wonder Woman Chronicles 1 - W.M.Marston & H.G.Peter
  • 102. Death and the Spanish Lady - Carolyn Morwood [K]
  • 101. The President's Hat - Antoine Laurain [K]
  • 100. The Admirable Crichton - J. M. Barrie [K]
  • SEPTEMBER
  • 99. Make Me - Lee Child [K]
  • 98. Chicken a la King & the Buffalo Wing: Food Names.. - Steven Gilbar
  • 97. Bad Luck & Trouble - Lee Child [K; rr]
  • 96. The Hard Way - Lee Child [K; rr]
  • 95. One Shot - Lee Child [K; rr]
  • 94. The Enemy - Lee Child [K; rr]
  • 93. Persuader - Lee Child [K; rr]
  • 92. Without Fail - Lee Child [K; rr]
  • 91. Echo Burning - Lee Child [K; rr]
  • AUGUST
  • 90.The Visitor - Lee Child [K; rr]
  • 89. Tripwire - Lee Child [K; rr]
  • 88. Die Trying - Lee Child [K; rr]
  • 87. The Killing Floor - Lee Child [K; rr]
  • 86. Satellite People - Hans Olav Lahlum [K]
  • 85. Revelations of a Lady Detective - William Hayward [K]
  • 84. The English Spy - Daniel Silva [K]
  • JULY
  • 83. The Heist - Daniel Silva [K]
  • 82. The English Girl - Daniel Silva [K]
  • 81. One Kick - Chelsea Cain [K]
  • 80. Let Me Go - Chelsea Cain [K]
  • 79. Kill You Twice - Chelsea Cain [K]
  • 78. The Night Season - Chelsea Cain [K]
  • 77. Evil at Heart - Chelsea Cain [K]
  • 76. Sweetheart - Chelsea Cain [K]
  • 75. Heartsick - Chelsea Cain [K]
  • 74. Personal - Lee Child [K]
  • 73. I Regret Everything - Seth Greenland [K]
  • JUNE
  • 72. The Seven Dials Mystery - Agatha Christie [K; rr]
  • 71. The Secret of Chimneys - Agatha Christie [K; rr]
  • 70. They Came to Baghdad - Agatha Christe [K; rr]
  • 69. Arabella - Georgette Heyer [K; rr]
  • 68. Cotillion - Georgette Heyer [K; rr]
  • 67. The Red Notebook - Antoine Laurain [K]
  • 66. The Reluctant Widow - Georgette Heyer [K; rr]
  • 65. The Nonesuch - Georgette Heyer [K; rr]
  • MAY
  • 64. The Grand Sophy - Georgette Heyer [K; rr]
  • 63. The Gazebo - Patricia Wentworth [K; rr]
  • 62. Frederica - Georgette Heyer [K; rr]
  • 61. Murder Every Monday - Pamela Branch [K]
  • 60. Below Stairs - Margaret Powell
  • 59. Human Flies - Hans Olav Lahlum [K]
  • 58. Dash and Dingo - Catt Ford & Sean Kennedy [K]
  • 57. Wonder Woman: Bondage and Feminism in the Marston/Peter Comics, 1941-1948 - Noah Berlatsky [K]
  • APRIL
  • 56. Ravished - Amanda Quick [K]
  • 55. Garden of Lies - Amanda Quick [K]
  • 54. Captain Jim - Mary Grant Bruce [K]
  • 53. Five Wounds - Katharine Edgar [K]
  • 52. Tragedy at Law - Cyril Hare [K]
  • 51. The Fallen Angel - Daniel Silva [K]
  • 50. A Dark & Twisted Tide - Sharon Bolton [K]
  • 49. Like This, For Ever - Sharon Bolton [K]
  • MARCH
  • 48. New Finnish Grammar - Diego Marani [K]
  • 47. The Feast - Margaret Kennedy [K]
  • 46. A Month in the Country - J. L. Carr [K]
  • 45. The Eyes Around Me - Gavin Black [K]
  • 44. The Silent Pool - Patricia Wentworth [K; rr]
  • 43. The Fingerprint - Patricia Wentworth [K; rr]
  • 42. Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant - Jenni Ferrari-Adler (ed.)
  • 41. A Time to Keep Silence - Patrick Leigh Fermor
  • 40. The Crime and the Crystal - Elizabeth Ferrars
  • 39. Eternity Ring - Patricia Wentworth [K; rr]
  • 38. Through the Wall - Patricia Wentworth [K; rr]
  • 37. Wax - Ethel Lina White [K]
  • 36. Lonesome Road - Patricia Wentworth [K; rr]
  • 35. Latter End - Patricia Wentworth [K; rr]
  • FEBRUARY
  • 34. Vanishing Point - Patricia Wentworth [K; rr]
  • 33. The Unknown Ajax - Georgette Heyer [K; rr]
  • 32. Live Alone And Like It - Marjorie Hillis [K]
  • 31. Ice Station Zebra - Alistair Maclean [K; rr]
  • 30. Strange Weather in Tokyo - Hiromi Kawakami [K]
  • 29. The Sittaford Mystery - Agatha Christie [K; rr]
  • 28. 4.50 From Paddington - Agatha Christie [K; rr]
  • 27. After the Funeral - Agatha Christie [K; rr]
  • 26. The Ordinary Princess - M. M. Kaye
  • 25. The Golden Rendezvous - Alistair Maclean [K; rr]
  • 24. Night Without End - Alistair Maclean [K; rr]
  • 23. Athabasca - Alistair Maclean [K; rr]
  • 22. Puppet on a Chain - Alistair Maclean [K; rr]
  • 21. Venus in the Kitchen, or Love's Cookery Book - Norman Douglas
  • 20. Floodgate - Alistair Maclean [K; rr]
  • 19. A Taste for Death - Peter O'Donnell
  • 18. The Bat that Flits - Norman Collins
  • 17. An American Girl in London - Sara Jeannette Duncan [K]
  • 16. Shooting in the Dark - Carolyn Hougan
  • 15. The Defector - Evelyn Anthony
  • 14. My Lady Valentine - Octavia Roberts [K]
  • JANUARY
  • 13. The Talisman Ring - Georgette Heyer [K; rr]
  • 12. Serve It Forth - M. F. K. Fisher
  • 11. Something Light - Margery Sharp
  • 10. Don't Point That Thing At Me [Mortdecai 1] - Kyril Bonfiglioli [K]
  • 9. The Nebuly Coat - J. Meade Falkner [K]
  • 8. Seven Little Australians - Ethel Turner [K]
  • 7. Moroccan Traffic - Dorothy Dunnett [K]
  • 6. Split Code - Dorothy Dunnett [K; rr]
  • 5. Roman Nights - Dorothy Dunnett [K; rr]
  • 4. Operation Nassau - Dorothy Dunnett [K; rr]
  • 3. Ibiza Surprise - Dorothy Dunnett [K; rr]
  • 2. Rum Affair - Dorothy Dunnett [K; rr]
  • 1. Tropical Issue - Dorothy Dunnett [K; rr]