Sunday, 28 December 2014

Year End Summary AKA What I Read in 2014.

So here it is, the 28th of December. Our Xmas celebrations (which were relaxing and just what we wanted) are over. Xmas Day was excellent; we lounged around all day, chatted with family, had an excellent Xmas dinner, watched some excellent TV (the BBC Xmas day shows). Since then we've talked about leaving the house, but other than walking the dogs, really haven't done all that much. I've enjoyed the Xmas footie season, the full days worth of games, with New Year's day still to come. I'm off until the 4th so I get to read and enjoy spending time at home. The weather has been excellent, fresh, cool, sunny for the most part. I've managed a couple of runs in the a.m. Last night, Jo and I watched two entertaining movies; Captain America: The Winter Soldier (I had already seen and enjoyed) and The Judge, a drama starring Robert Downey and Robert Duvall. Different movies but we enjoyed both.

So I've been trying to organise some of my books for the start of 2015, but am taking a break today to do my year end review of what I managed to accomplish this past year. Overall, I'm very happy with my selections this past year and with how much I managed to complete. So let's start with some totals -

Total Books read - 104 (plus the one I'm currently reading and which I plan to finish by year end - 105 books)
Total Pages read - 34, 795 (Plus the one I'm reading, which will add another 217 pages)
Total Books purchased - 147 (I fell behind somewhat as you can see, will have to behave a bit better in 2015)

Star Ratings - (Check out my previous BLog for my Top Ten list of the year)
5***** - 7
4****   - 50
3***     - 46
2**       - 1

Favourite Book - Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford (published 1924 - 28)
Biggest Disappointment - Mimic Men by V.S. Naipaul (published 1967)

Male/ Female Author breakdown

Male - 62/ Female - 42 (this will increase by one when I finish The Seven Dials Mystery by Agatha Christie.)

Fiction (Classic - my judgement) - 4
Fiction (Modern) - 7
Western - 1
Graphic Novels - 3
Horror - 4
Poetry - 1
Fantasy - 6
Humour - 1
SciFi - 2
Mystery (this was by far my favoured genre, so I've tried to break it down somewhat)
- Historical settings - 10
- Classics (e.g. Christie, Marsh) - 10
- Forensic - 3
- Psychological - 3
- Thriller (Child, etc) - 18
- Police (mostly British) - 17
- Scandinavian - 6
- Spy/ War - 2

So that is basically it, but one more breakdown. Below were some of the challenges I decided to try out this past year and how I did with them -

12+4 Reading Group Challenge

I managed to complete this challenge, finishing the 16th book on the 30th of Nov. My favourite book and my least favourite came from this list. I had a reasonable mix, that was my intent at the beginning of the year; 3 Classics - 1 - 5 star and 2 - 4 star; 2 Fiction - 1 - 4star, 1 - 2 star; 4 Non-Fiction - 4 - 3 star; 4 Mystery - 1 - 5 star and 3 - 4 star; 3 SciFi/ Fantasy - 1 5 star, 2 4 - Star

 Alphabetical Mystery Author Challenge

I renewed this challenge from my 2013 challenges, starting at the 'H' and alternating from there with the end of the alphabet. I ended up reading 19 books in this challenge, with my favourite being Black Diamond by Martin Walker. There were no real disappointments in this challenge and it introduced me to a few new authors who had been residing on my TBR shelves for awhile; Charles Todd of the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries and Peter James of the DS Roy Grace mysteries. There were, of course, others. It did help me become more acquainted with the many varieties of mysteries/ thrillers out there. It's a great genre.

Bed-Time Authors

This was a new challenge, the purpose to try and make a dent in some of the many series that I've started. The plan was to read two books by each author selected. It was definitely a satisfactory plan. I managed to read 38 books in this challenge (well, it'll be 40 when I finish this year as I will have finished how I started, with two Agatha Christie mysteries). So many excellent series on my shelf, from MC Beaton's Agatha Raisin and Hamish MacBeth books through Lee Child's Jack Reacher series to the classics, like Dorothy Sayers Lord Peter Wimsey and Ngaio Marsh's Inspector Alleyn. There were a lot of 3 star reads in this grouping, but I wasn't dissatisfied with any of them.

A - Z Challenge

I've tried this challenge a few times in some of my groups so this year I used a variation that I kind of borrowed from other folks. I chose authors whose last name spelled out the names of our puppies; Bonnie and Clyde. 'Y' was the most difficult letter but fortunately I had a couple books written by Chic Young, based on his Dagwood and Blondie comic strip. It wasn't a classic but it was a fun selection.

Anyway, there you have it. As I mentioned previously, I have one final book to complete before 31 Dec, that being Agatha Christie's The Seven Dials Mystery, which was originally published in 1929. This particular Bantam edition, which is the one I'm reading came out in Oct 19, 1980. It is a standalone mystery, not featuring her more famous sleuths, Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot. I'm getting into it now and enjoying very much. One of the nice things about the past year has been taking the opportunity to read more of these classics and I've enjoyed very much.

So as the year winds down, I'm also looking at the challenges I've made for next year and have been setting aside some of the books on my list. I'll probably reorganise my bookshelves again before year end. What fun!

I want to take the time to thank anyone who takes the time to read this BLog. I hope you enjoy and that it gives you some reading ideas as well. Enjoy the rest of 2014 and I wish you happiness in the new year. Happy 2015!!

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