Wednesday, 23 December 2015

My Year of Reading (2015)

Hello again, my dear readers :) Since 2015 is about to end I thought I'd include a list of all of the books that I read this year just like I did last year (click here if you want to read the 2014 post). I've also included a few "stats" in this post. Some of you might be thinking that it's still a bit too early to be putting this post up but I'm very unlikely to read any other books this year since I've just started Tolstoy's War and Peace. So without any further ado here are the books that I read in 2015:

  1. Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer (1935)
  2. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1892)
  3. A Room with a View by E.M. Forster (1908)
  4. N A Short History of England by Simon Jenkins (2011)
  5. Richard III by William Shakespeare (1600)
  6. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain (2012)
  7. An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott (1870)
  8. A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin (2011)
  9. City of Thieves by David Benioff (2008)
  10. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (1920)
  11. R The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1894)
  12. An Infamous Army by Georgette Heyer (1937)
  13. R Persuasion by Jane Austen (1818)
  14. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (2007)
  15. The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss (2011)
  16. Summer by Edith Wharton (1917)
  17. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle (1902)
  18. Paper Towns by John Green (2008)
  19. The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer (1936)
  20. Sylvester by Georgette Heyer (1957) *abridged audiobook read by Richard Armitage*
  21. Cinder by Marissa Meyer (2012)
  22. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling (2001)
  23. Quidditch Through the Ages by J.K. Rowling (2001)
  24. DNF Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens (1857)
  25. R The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1905)
  26. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)
  27. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton (1905)
  28. William Shakespeare's Star Wars: The Jedi Doth Return by Ian Doescher (2014)
  29. Star Wars: Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn (1991)
  30. DNF Star Wars: Dark Force Rising by Timothy Zahn (1992)
  31. The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery (1926)
  32. The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle (1914)
  33. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (2013)
  34. The Queen's Army by Marissa Meyer (2012)
  35. R Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (1814)
  36. His Last Bow by Arthur Conan Doyle (1917)
  37. The Odyssey by Homer (c. 750BC)
  38. R Emma by Jane Austen (1815)
  39. DNF The Martian by Andy Weir (2011)
  40. The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1927)
  41. The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz (2011)
  42. The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King (1994)
  43. Cress by Marissa Meyer (2014)
  44. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (2008)
  45. Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers (1923)
  46. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (2001)
  47. The Little Android by Marissa Meyer (2014)
  48. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (1986)
  49. Fairest by Marissa Meyer (2015)
  50. R Lady Susan, The Watsons and Sanditon by Jane Austen (1871)
  51. Sylvester by Georgette Heyer (1957) *unabridged paperback*
  52. Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones (1990)
  53. House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones (2008)
  54. R And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (1939)

R = Re-read
N = Non-fiction
DNF = Did not finish

Amount of books read
As you can see I read 54 books this year. I didn't reach my target of 60 books but I did manage to beat my total of last year which was 52. Of the books I read this year there were 43 new reads and 11 re-reads.

Amount of DNF books
I'm not quite sure if I should put books on my list that I didn't finish so I might not include them next year (what do you guys think?) There were three books that I gave up on this year though: Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens, Dark Force Rising by Timothy Zahn, and The Martian by Andy Weir. Little Dorrit wasn't bad at all but looking back I think I was really after something lighter at the time and wasn't in quite the right mood for the book. I loved the 2008 BBC adaptation of the book so I do plan on going back to it at some point. Dark Force Rising is the second book in the Thrawn Thilogy (a Star Wars tie-in series): I found the first book in that series extremely boring and overrated and gave up on the second when it didn't look as though it was going to be any better. And finally I started The Martian because I wanted to read it before the film came out but then gave up on the book, because I got so fed up of all of the in-depth science and maths which made me feel like I was back at school. There's only so much potato counting that I'm willing to take in a story! I still saw the film and found it a lot more enjoyable than the book although I didn't think it was quite the sci-fi masterpiece that it had been hyped up to be. *shrugs*

Most-read author
Arthur Conan Doyle. I read seven of his books this year: all of his Sherlock Holmes books from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes onwards. I read A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four last year.

Most-read genre(s)
I understand that Goodreads has a handy tool that you can use to work this out but I haven't updated my account in years so this was a bit tricky. I think the genres that I read the most of were Adventure, Romance and Fantasy.

Oldest book read
The Odyssey by Homer which is believed to have been written at around the year 750BC. The classics don't come much older than that.

Newest book read
Fairest by Marissa Meyer which was released in January this year.

Longest book read
A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin. The hardback version of this book has 1040 pages.

Shortest book read
Summer by Edith Wharton at a scanty 127 pages (and it was one of the best books I read this year). Marissa Meyer's The Queen's Army and The Little Android were both shorter than this (they came in at 18 and 35 pages respectively) but since they're short stories I'm not sure if I should count them.

Best books read
See this Top Ten Tuesday post :)

Worst books read
There were a few books I read this year that didn't live up to their hype and a few books that I just didn't like very much but thankfully there weren't any books that I really, truly hated. I guess the top three worst books that I read this year (and actually finished) were...

A Dance with Dragons - The last two books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series have been lacklustre and unsatisfying to say the least. I did find some parts of this book interesting and enjoyable (the Jon Snow, Bran Stark and Davos Seaworth chapters) but I really missed Sansa Stark and Jaime Lannister's characters, the Tyrion Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen chapters bored me beyond belief, and the new characters and storylines that were introduced in this book have made this already complex series far too unwieldy. I'll only read The Winds of Winter if I'm told that the pacing has significantly picked up and that some of the storylines have actually been resolved.

The Odyssey - I didn't hate this book as much as The Iliad (which I read last year) because I did enjoy some of the more adventurous parts of the story. However, I then completely lost all interest in this book once Odysseus got back to Ithaca. In terms of their overall contribution to literature The Iliad and The Odyssey are obviously completely deserving of their classic status but when it comes to my own personal enjoyment, well, Homer and I just don't get on!

Paper Towns - I was really looking forward to this book because John Green's The Fault in Our Stars was one of my favourite books from last year. But sadly I found all of the characters in this one extremely annoying :(
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And that's that! This post will also be my last of 2015 because I've decided to take a little hiatus over the Christmas holidays. I will definitely, definitely be returning in January 2016 though and there are a few posts that I'm working on in the meantime. I just want to wish all of my readers a truly wonderful Christmas and I hope you'll all find and read fantastic books in 2016! Thank you all so much for reading my posts, guys! It means so much to me that people might actually enjoy reading all of my various thoughts on books! :) xxx

One more thing, to close this last post of the year I thought I'd include some literary-themed Christmas images. Aren't they lovely?! You can find them all here on this Etsy page.

The Bronte Sisters' Parsonage

Jane Austen's Chawton

John Keats' house in Hampstead

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

'Sylvester' by Georgette Heyer (1957)

Synopsis: Sylvester Raine, the Duke of Salford, is a wealthy, handsome and elegant bachelor. Having now reached his 28th year, Sylvester has decided that the time has finally come for him to find a wife. Not being at all romantic, he then makes a short-list of five highly eligible young women and asks his mother for her advice on which of them he should marry. However, Sylvester's mother is aghast at the passionless way her son is going about his search for a bride and recalls that during his childhood she had hoped that he would marry a girl called Phoebe Marlow, the daughter of her deceased best friend. Intrigued, Sylvester travels to London to consult his godmother Lady Ingham on the matter (as she is also Phoebe's grandmother) and then makes his way to Phoebe's home so that they can be better acquainted. Meanwhile, when Phoebe's spiteful stepmother tells her that the Duke of Salford is intending to make her an offer of marriage she couldn't be more horrified. Because although Sylvester doesn't remember her, he and Phoebe were previously introduced in London the year before. And Phoebe took such a dislike to Sylvester that she's even based the villain of her gothic romance novel on him! Phoebe and Sylvester's second meeting isn't any better than their first: Sylvester finds Phoebe insipid and sulky and Phoebe thinks no better of Sylvester than she did in London. Not knowing that Sylvester has now decided against proposing, Phoebe panics and runs away to her grandmother's house in London with help from her childhood friend Tom Orde. The very next day Phoebe's home is in an uproar and Sylvester thankfully makes his way back to London. Due to the snowy weather Sylvester is then forced to stop at a remote country inn where he finds Phoebe and Tom. Sylvester and Phoebe are then forced to spend time with each other when the snow leaves them stranded at the inn for a week. During that time Sylvester discovers that Phoebe is a much more interesting woman than he had previously believed and Phoebe is shocked to find the Duke so amiable. The pair then renew their acquaintance in London. The pair are falling in love and all seems to be going well until Phoebe's novel The Lost Heir is published. The book is an immediate best-seller and it isn't long before London society begins to work out that its villainous Count Ugolino must be based on Sylvester...

I've read just over a dozen of Georgette Heyer's novels now but even though I now consider her as being one of my favourite writers I tend to find her books a bit hit-and-miss. There have been certain books by Heyer that I've found utterly charming and delightful (Venetia, Cotillion, The Talisman Ring) but then there have been other books by her that I've found downright tedious (An Infamous Army, Friday's Child).

For me Sylvester falls somewhere in the middle. I had mixed feelings about this one because even though it was still a fairly enjoyable read I found its pacing rather slow and draggy at times and there were even some occasions when the book made me feel a little uneasy. Phoebe and Sylvester have some really intense and bitter arguments in this book which actually made me feel a little bit uncomfortable. But there were still things that I enjoyed about Sylvester. It is well-written and I did really like the snowy winter setting and some of its characters. I especially liked Phoebe's friend Tom Orde (who reminded me a little of Freddy from Cotillion) and Sylvester's amusing and adorable little nephew Edmund :)

Rating: a 3/5 for the story itself but I'd give an extra star to the abridged audiobook version read by Richard Armitage. I listened to that audiobook earlier in the year and I actually preferred it to the unabridged paperback. The abridgement improves the story's pacing and Armitage is a wonderful narrator.

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists! Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers. 10 is just a suggestion to aim for if you can hit it -- do a list of 3 or 5 or 20 on your list. Your post, your choice!

Today's Topic: Top Ten Best Books I Read in 2015 (you can do it by only 2015 releases, overall, by genre (top ten fantasy books I read in 2015), etc. however you choose to make your BEST list)

I'm in a very good mood today! The first trailer for Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them was released this morning and on Thursday night I'm going to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens! :D

 Today I'm also going to name my overall favourite books of 2015. My choices shouldn't be much of a surprise to my regular readers who'll probably recall my flailing over them earlier in the year :) 

In their alphabetical order:

  1. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (1920, REVIEW)
  2. The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery (1926, REVIEW)
  3. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (2001, REVIEW)
  4. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953, REVIEW
  5. The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz (2011, REVIEW)
  6. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (2007, REVIEW)
  7. A Room with a View by E.M. Forster (1908, REVIEW)
  8. Summer by Edith Wharton (1917, REVIEW)
  9. The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer (1936, REVIEW)
  10. William Shakespeare's Star Wars: The Jedi Doth Return by Ian Doescher (2014, REVIEW)

Honourable Mentions: I loved The Wise Man's Fear (the sequel to The Name of the Wind) but not so much that I had to include it in my list. I also started The Lunar Chronicles this year and although I have mixed feelings about that series I did really love the second book, Scarlet. Finally, I wanted my top ten list list to only include new reads but I did re-read some of my old favourites this year and loved them just as much as ever: Jane Austen's PersuasionNeil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, Diana Wynne Jones' Howl's Moving Castle, and Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes canon. 

Now for some questions: Has anyone read any of these? What books made it onto your list? And based on the books that I've chosen what books would you recommend I read next year? :)

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists! Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers. 10 is just a suggestion to aim for if you can hit it -- do a list of 3 or 5 or 20 on your list. Your post, your choice!

Today's Topic: Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Leaving Under My Tree This Year

The topic of the day is really Top Ten 2016 Debut Novels We're Looking Forward To but instead I've just picked one of the later TTT topics and wrote about it early as I might be busy later on in the month. I couldn't really answer the genuine topic of the day either as I never bother to find out about the books which are tipped to be the "next big thing". I actually tend to be very suspicious about books which receive a lot of hype before they've even been published (although having said that some of the books that the other bloggers have mentioned do sound quite interesting).

So instead of some 2016 debuts, here are some books that I'm planning on reading during the next year. I'm really looking forward to them all and I would be very happy to find them under my Christmas tree! :) So in no particular order...

1. Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz.
This is the sequel to The House of Silk which is a Sherlock Holmes pastiche novel. I thought that book was fantastic so I'm really looking to this one! Unlike The House of Silk, I've heard that Sherlock Holmes and John Watson don't actually appear in Moriarty. The book is merely set in the Sherlock Holmes universe and focuses on original characters. When I first found out about that I was pretty disappointed because Horowitz did such a stellar job with Holmes and Watson's characters in The House of Silk. However, the reviews for Moriarty have still been very positive and some have even said that it was better than The House of Silk!

2. Miss Peregrine's School for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.
This book has been on my radar for ages but the upcoming Tim Burton adaptation has finally spurred me on to reading it. To be honest I don't think I've liked any of Burton's films since The Corpse Bride but I'd still like to see this film because of its cast. It's starring Asa Butterfield, Eva Green, Samuel L. Jackson and Judi Dench  :)

3. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.
I loved LMM's The Blue Castle when I read that book earlier this year so now I'm planning on reading the entire Anne of Green Gables series in 2016. I never actually got to read any of the books when I was growing up so they'll all be new to me!

4. Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson.
This is the first book in a high fantasy series and, out of all of the books in this list, is probably the one that I'm most looking forward to! I've heard such great things about it and it sounds like something I would absolutely love! :D

5. The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham.
This is a fairly recent addition to my TBR list but I've heard a lot of great things about this book and its recent film adaptation (the one starring Edward Norton and Naomi Watts). 

6. The Once and Future King by T.H. White.
This is a classic in the Arthurian fantasy genre (and in the fantasy genre in general) and the Disney film The Sword in the Stone was based on the first part of the book. I haven't seen that film in many years but it was one of my favourites by Disney when I was a child and it was basically my introduction to Arthurian mythology. After that I didn't really encounter the stories again until about three years ago when I started to watch the BBC's Merlin. I fell in love with that show and it re-ignited my interest in the mythology :)

7. The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell.
I'm not really a huge reader of non-fiction but I'm pretty interested in this book because Joseph Campbell's writings on storytelling and the monomyth were a massive influence on George Lucas, Neil Gaiman and Joss Whedon.

8. Attachments OR Eleanor and Park OR Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.
I've heard a lot of great things about Rainbow Rowell's works but at the moment I'm not sure which of her books I should be starting off with. I'll definitely be reading at least one of these books in 2016, I'm just not sure which one of them it will be!

9. The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer (Audiobook).
I love Richard Armitage, I love Georgette Heyer, and Richard Armitage has recorded three audiobooks of Georgette Heyer's novels :D I've listened to two of the audiobooks so far (Venetia and Sylvester) and have really loved them but I've still got The Convenient Marriage to look forward to.

10. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent.
This book is another fairly recent addition to my TBR list. It was written by an Australian author but is a historical novel set in Iceland. It's about Agnes Magnusdottir who was the last woman to be executed in the country. Its reviews have been wonderful!

And now for some questions! Have you read any of these? What books are you looking forward to reading next year? :)