Saturday, January 4, 2014

{misc.} 2013 in review

2013 in numbers: 145 books read

Kindle: 110 ~~ Tree-books: 35
Crime/mystery/espionage: 63
Other fiction: 59
Fiction for younger readers: 18
Non-fiction: 10 (needs work)
Australian writers: 9 (hang head in shame)
Graphic novel: 1 (not my thing)
Short story collections: 2
Christmas-themed books: 4 (and one short story)
Re-reads: 38
Agatha Christie re-reads: 15
Georgette Heyer re-reads: 7
Female authors: 99 ~~ Male authors: 46

On the whole it would seem that I love e-books by women writers and tended to get carried away with re-reading the same.


I excluded re-reads from this, but I couldn't get it down to 10:

Brat Farrar - Josephine Tey (1949)
A brilliant story of a young man who may or may not be a long-lost relative returned to reclaim his place - and a fortune - in the family. Tey is one of my favourite writers - I also read Miss Pym Disposes this year {REVIEW}, which is entirely different to Brat Farrar and just as magnificent.

Excellent Women - Barbara Pym (1952) {REVIEW}
I read this for Barbara Pym Week, hosted by heavenali, and it was my first Pym and, oh, what an impression it made. Single women of the world, unite! (Cats optional.)

Tampa - Alissa Nutting (2013) {REVIEW}
A controversial book on a controversial subject - but so wittily done. (Also, cover of the year.)


Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary - Ruby Ferguson (1937) {REVIEW}
This was like watching a classic B&W 1930s weepy film. An absolutely charming book.

The Home-Maker - Dorothy Canfield Fisher (1924)
This may be my absolute favourite of the year. Another Persephone title: the story of a woman trapped by domestic expectations who gets a chance to shine.


Miss Cayley's Adventures - Grant Allen (1899)
A lost classic: whipsmart Cambridge graduate takes on the big bad world on a bicycle and triumphs.

Heartburn - Nora Ephron (1983) {REVIEW}
The book for lovers of food and NY-style romantic agony.


Hit Man - Lawrence Block (1998) {REVIEW}
Funny, wry episodes from the life of a stamp-collecting hit-man.

Desert of the Heart - Jane Rule (1964) {REVIEW}
Remarkable and painful journey of lesbian self-discovery set in a vintage Las Vegas.


Under the Skin - Michel Faber (2000) {REVIEW}
Wow. Do not hitchhike. Ever. You never know who - or what - may be out there. Faber seems to reinvent himself with every book, and this one was superbly bizarre.

Lazarus is Dead - Richard Beard (2011) {REVIEW}
Writing Lazarus back into the Jesus narrative: a wonderful play on pseudo-scholarship. I described it as "rich and imaginative and funny and playful (and brutal, stomach-turning and occasionally utterly horrifying)"


The Fortune of Christina M'Nab - Sarah Macnaughtan (1901){REVIEW}
A find! A canny young Scotswoman inherits a fortune and sets out to reinvent herself as a lady with the assistance of her helpful ex-fiancé (who bears a startling resemblance to the Apollo Belvedere).

Come Out of the Kitchen! - Alice Duer Miller (1916)
Another lost classic (rediscovered by fleur in her world): a rich young man rents a house from an impoverished family, only to discover a host of servant problems - such as the world's prettiest cook.


The Bookshop - Penelope Fitzgerald (1978)
Gorgeously melancholic but humorous book about a widow who only wants to start a bookshop in what turns out to be a bookshop-shy town.

The Good Soldier - Ford Madox Ford (1915)
An excellent recommendation from stuck in a book: a slow start as the odd style rather threw me, and then - bang! - unputdownable story of absolute tragedy about the disintegration of all one's loves and illusions.

I really enjoyed my 2013 reading year, and I have no other reading aims for 2014 than to read everything that catches my fancy.

Happy New Year!


  1. Not sure if my comment disappeared or has gone to be moderated, but, in summary.... happy new year, great list (esp The Bookshop), yay for Christie!

    1. I owe you for The Good Soldier, Simon - I doubt I'd have picked it up otherwise: what a book. The intensity never let up - it felt almost claustrophobic.

  2. I enjoyed your list. It was eclectic, interesting and fanciful. Great job to find so many books in a year that were so different.

    1. Thanks, Pam - I felt it was a good year, although I feel a bit lazy about the re-reading: but it brings so much pleasure, and sometimes one needs a good predictable pleasure.

  3. A great selection - and I'm impressed with your stats! Did you review all the Heyers you read? If so, I think I missed some of them. I think we are among Miss Cayley's biggest fans! And thank you for the reminder about Christina M'Nab - I had meant to look for that one, and have just downloaded a copy. I had already gotten an ebook version of Come Out of the Kitchen. I love the term "tree-books" btw! I actually managed a short story on my Nook last year so I'm hopeful I will get to an entire book this year. It's so stuffed full of things I want to read.

    I only feel guilty about re-reading when I remember the TBR stacks, otherwise it's such a pleasure to meet old friends again.

    I hope 2014 brings you many wonderful books - and time to read them!

    1. Thanks, Lisa: 'tree books' is courtesy of urban dictionary - so apt. I think I love the Heyers in such a simple way that I've never attempted to review them -- they're sort of beyond analysing, a bit like the Christies. But I have been a slack reviewer in 2013 - really should lift my game.

  4. What a lovely and varied collection. Enjoy 2014's reads - no pressure is the best way to read, I'm finding!

    1. Hi Karen! It's interesting how many New Year posts are scaling back the challenges - I'm not organized enough for anything but a really small challenge - the sort of thing that inspires me to read one author I've wanted to read but haven't been motivated to.

  5. What a great list of books! I'm hoping to read Excellent Women and The Home-Maker soon and looking forward to both. And I love the sound of Brat Farrar - I've read The Daughter of Time but nothing else by Josephine Tey yet. I hope you enjoy your reading in 2014!

    1. I love The Daughter of Time - we read it at high school and it made me realise what a living thing history could be. I envy you reading Excellent Women for the first time - a gorgeous book. Have a great reading year, Helen.

  6. Oh my goodness...I can't imagine how you read so many books. I am delighted to see Excellent Women and The Bookshop up there in your list of Favourites. I just finished reading The Bookshop and loved it and now have a new favourite author. I've been meaning to read Tampa too so that will have to go back on the TBR list. Would Nora Ephron's book be considered romantic comedy do you think? I'm looking for a romcom for my eclectic reading challenge this year.

    1. I basically neglect all other duties, Alex! I think the Ephron would definitely be romcom - though it's also one of those great stories about picking oneself up and keeping on going when things get bad (but done with great humour). Thanks for dropping by - have a great reading year.

  7. Isn't Brat Farrer great? Have you read Mary Stewart's The Ivy Tree which covers similar ground (enjoyed the latter but loved the former)--my own Tey favorite is The Franchise Affair, which I suspect you have read already, but if not you must add it to this year's list! I want to read some of Tey's work this year--she will fit in nicely I think with my Vintage mystery reading! Personally I love rereading and never think of it as being anything but good--though I know that feeling of all those unread books out there that call to you, too..... (They constantly call to me). I'm intrigued by the Faber but a little scared, too. And I'd love to read Lady Rose.... I read the last two as well (though it has been a while for both--and concur most heartily on how good they are. Happy New Year and Happy Reading! :)

    1. I loved The Ivy Tree, Danielle - I think it would be close to being my favourite Stewart if *only* I'd never read Brat Farrar. And the Franchise Affair is excellent, isn't it - Tey has such a distinctive, 'quiet' voice: she demands taking the genre seriously. What I love about reading other blogs is how it forces me out of my re-reading comfort zone -- there's so much great stuff out there. May we both read amazing books this year - cheers!

  8. The Fortune of Christina M'Nab is on my list of possibles for the century of books and I love the sound of Come Out Of The Kitchen! too. I'm amused by the Miss Cayley though, I only know Allen for his 'New Woman' novel, The Woman Who Did, which I was thinking of re-reading for the CoB too. I like the sound of his woman on a bike taking on the world. :)

    1. Ooh, I haven't read The Woman Who Did, and obviously should, as it seems clear that I like books starring smart (approximately) Edwardian women. Thanks, Alex! And good luck with your CoB - you have more stamina than me!

  9. This is a very dangerous list as it contains a few authors I hadn't heard of before and others I like a lot which tells me I need to look into all of them. I really like it. For once not a list full of new releases.
    Happy Reading in 2014!

    1. I suspect I'm not going to get to many new releases in my lifetime, esp. the mega-long ones, given my TBR! It's such a terrifying time of the year for adding to one's collections - thanks for popping by, Caroline!

  10. The Good Soldier is one of the best books I have read. I found it weird at first and then, wow, it just hits you. I read Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald at the end of last year, I really want to read The Bookshop now.

    1. Thanks Alice! The Good Soldier seemed so uneven at first - like I'd never grasp a narrative thread that would lead me out - but then, as you say, wow. WOW. I've got Fitzgerald's The Golden Child to read next, as a mystery set in a King Tut exhibition in the British Museum sounded just my sort of thing. I can't wait!

  11. I've not read any of these but they all look very good. I hope most of them are published in the U.S. or at least distributed here. Thanks for the recommendations!

    1. It's so exciting this time of year when you can stock up on recommendations for the future! My wishlist is now bursting! I hope you can get hold of some of these, Jeanie! Enjoy 2014!

  12. Good to know you have been enjoying your reading in the year just gone by. And what an impressive number you've read, too! I truly envy your speed of reading. I enjoyed both Tey's Daughter of Time and The Franchise Affair (both on audiobooks, though) and am looking forward to Miss Pym Disposes. Now I'll have to add Brat Farrar to the list as well. My introduction to Barbara Pym was Some Tame Gazelle (which I loved), must really get to Excellent Women soon. Have another great reading year this 2014, Vicki! :)

    1. Thanks, Michelle - I'm hoping to get a nice mix of old, vintage and newer stuff again. I'm quite tempted to read Brat Farrar again, actually, as it was so good. And lots more B.Pym! I hope your reading year will be a dazzling one!

  13. What a great list! Tey is an author I've been meaning to try for a long time and Under the Skin is very near the top of my TBR pile. I hope you find many more equally good books in 2014!

    1. I feel really optimistic about 2014, Jackie - thank you! - it's going to be a busy year, so maybe I won't be able to squeeze in so many books, but there's so many interesting things out there!

  14. Happy New Year Vicki! An interesting and varied list, some new to me too. I hope to read Tampa soon, and have been meaning to read a Tey book for years.

    1. Thanks Lindsay! Tampa really won me over - I think it helped that I'd read Lolita for the first time too in 2013, as there is some byplay, definitely: Tampa really makes one think about how one defines illegality for women vs. men.

  15. Happy new year, Vicki! 145 is brilliant, and no wonder you couldn't stick to ten :)

    1. Thanks Charlie - Happy New Year! And so many of my re-reads were great reads too -- I should just have printed the whole list (almost) and say, "There!" Have a great reading year.

  16. So many suggestions here that appeal to me immensely! Love the titles from the beginning of the century too -- a few I haven't heard of before, which is immensely useful for the Century of Books project ;) Looks as though you had plenty of great reading in 2013 -- hope it continues on into this year as well!

    1. Thanks Melanie - I see you've enjoyed Herland now too - some of those 'lost' books are absolute gems. Good luck with CoB - I look forward to reading about some great new finds.

  17. Wasn't Excellent Women a delight? I read it for the first time during Pym reading read too.
    I have a FMF on my TBR pile for this year, so glad to hear you had a (mostly) good experience with it.

    1. No other word for Excellent Women but EXCELLENT! I'm hoping to read some more of her books very soon. Re FMF - the style could be a real deal-breaker, but it is worth pressing on through the initial shock! ;-)

  18. A belated happy New Year! I've been slowly working my way through the many lists out there but yours is one of the most interesting so far. Lovely to see Desert of the Heart and The Good Soldier on it, and I'll be adding Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary to my TBR list. Who doesn't need an absolutely charming book now and again!

    1. All these lists have been very damaging to my TBR! Thanks Susan - I'm really hoping that 2014 can match last year - and I'm on the lookout for something as lovely as Lady Rose!

  19. Hiya, nice blog - a few on your list of favourites I'll need to look into further, Faber and Madox Ford mainly

    1. Thanks Col - I'd been lurking on your blog for a while, quietly adding things to my wishlist!

  20. Finding your blog might be the highlight of my day! And from this post I can already see my "to read" list continuing to grow. Thanks for the suggestions and reviews for like-minded readers!

    1. Oh that's very kind -- I love your blog and it has caused my TBR to blow out to monstrous size!


{READ IN 2016}

  • (K = Kindle; rr = re-read)
  • MAY
  • 42.
  • 41.
  • 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]

{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]
  • 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]
  • 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]
  • 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]
  • 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]
  • 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]
  • 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]
  • 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]
  • 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]