Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Year in Review

This, well, this year has been a hell of a year, I can't quite sum it up right and then I read this poem Daphne Du Maurier wrote in 1927, and I thought, yes, that about does it. So here's some poetry and some books I read this past year, which is thankfully over.

To The Old Year

"It grieves me much to see you desolate,
You who began so well, and in such splendour,
So full of blinded hope and high endeavour;
That as I watch you pass, and meditate
Upon your little failures and the way
You shunned responsibilities, my heart
Is dumb and heavy that we have to part
Before the breaking of another day.
So much you promised that was not fulfilled;
Though I beseeched you hover on your wing
You fled too fast to heed my whispering.
Your feet are weary now, your hopes are stilled, 
Faded to dust the dreams you once desired,
Come, let me hold you, for I too am tired." - Daphne Du Maurier

1) Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela: Now, I'm not saying that I have suffered as Mandela has suffered, but I felt every single second of his long walk to freedom in this excruciatingly long and oddly detailed biography, that favored minutiae over emotion. 

2) The Buccaneers by Edith Wharton: Nothing like I thought it would be, which was like the miniseries I saw years and years ago. Started strong but then fell apart, could be because Edith Wharton died... while the plot wasn't that strong, it's the images that stick with you, the carriages going to court, the hotel in upstate New York with it's porch. Also I can finally say I've finished my first Wharton!

3) St. Trinian's: The Entire Appalling Business by Ronald Searle: So for years I'd heard of St. Trinian's because, well, because of David Tennant and Colin Firth being in a movie with that name. Little did I know till I read in one of the Flavia De Luce books that it was based on all these comics by Ronald Searle set at the fictitious St. Trinian's. These comics are so awesome and totally England's answer to Charles Addams. I want more!

4) Ravenscliffe by Jane Sanderson: I liked this one because it was the expansion of the business that Eve started and really made her a success. Meanwhile all the other characters really start to succeed as well. I love it when fictional characters live up to my expectations. Still the best remedy for missing Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs, but perhaps, dare I say, better? 

5) The Days of Anna Madrigal by Armistead Maupin: A bittersweet farewell to our friends at Barbary Lane. Though it's good to end on a high note, one doesn't want everyone to grow old and die, and we can pretend all is well. Though this has solidified my view that I never ever want to go to Burning Man.

6) Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay: A fascinating look at color but presented more in a travelogue style. Though I will tell you, this will forever put you off maraschino cherries. It's bugs I tell you! The coloring is BUGS!

7) Dawn's Early Light by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris: Not really the best in the series, in fact since the first book it's been a little downhill each volume. This one was just yo-yoing around the US with Jayne from Firefly. Seriously, it's Jayne. The man they call Jayne.

8) Cress by Marissa Meyer: Seriously my favorite fairy tale when I was little and Meyer does such amazing justice to it! Plus she so neatly wove in the rather awkward story from Scarlet and the original story from Cinder into a solid third volume without feeling overburdened by characters or plot points. I want the final volume NOW!

9) Eden Falls by Jane Sanderson: How can such an amazing series go to shit so fast? All the characters are separated and acting against type. I just want her to hurry up and write another volume of awesomeness so I can forget this volume.

10) Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh: Classic. Pure and simple. Though I will admit it feels like two books, the first being Sebastian's and the second being Julia's, and Sebastian's being the better of the two. But the imagery and the language, perfection.

11) Zagreus: A Cautionary Tale for Time Tots by Gary Russell: I remember nothing of this Doctor Who related book other then it was such shit I wanted my two minutes I took reading it back.

12) The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers: Remember when everyone was talking about True Detective? Yeah, well, it got me to read this book. In other news, read this book of disturbing Poe-esque horror and don't watch True Detective. There's also a cat in one of the stories with beautiful plumage.

13) The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family by Mary S. Lovell: Um, so yeah, the Mitfords are messed up but this author was too biased to give a good biography. Plus, for a family that has written so much, just go to their own autobiographies and skip this one which just retells their tales in a limpid fashion.

14) Highland Fling by Nancy Mitford: Fun in the Scottish Highlands with a big country house, shoots, and a fire! Plus lots of random Mitfordian fun!

15) Pigeon Pie by Nancy Mitford: Probably the worst book by Nancy Mitford. Wait... I think that Don't Tell Alfred might, just might, be worse. But it's all about spies and infidelity and rather dull, which when you say spies and infidelity, dull doesn't usually come to mind.

16) A Life of Contrasts: A Autobiography by Diana Mitford Mosley: I didn't think I could hate the most self-centered, Nazis loving Mitford more then I did. I was wrong.

17) Night Broken by Patricia Briggs: Oh, I do love me some Mercy Thompson. I also love how Briggs takes a trope, the ex-wife, and actually makes it work. Plus the adding of Gods to the Mercy-verse? Loving it!

18) The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella: A shocking and fun surprise to learn that Kinsella can write when she's not mired in that horrid Shopaholic Series. Just such a sweet little chick-lit book that has an Upstairs, Downstairs vibe.

19) The Learning Curve by Melissa Nathan: Wow, just wow. I've adored all Melissa Nathan's books, but this was just. Wow. So. Bad. Just yeah. Painful to finish. Just painful. I don't want to think about this anymore.

20) Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal: So honored to be in the alpha and beta reads of this book, and you are in for a world of wonderful Regency magic and surprise when it comes out later this year. It might have inspired a theme month or two this year...

21) The Blessing by Nancy Mitford: Look, it's Nancy trying to justify the French way of life with mistresses a plenty so that she didn't feel bad about being in love with an unavailable Frenchman.

22) That Summer by Lauren Willig: Perfect! Painters and lovers and history and mysteries! Just read this now, I have a feeling it's going to easily be in the top books of the year for me. Also it was so much fun doing a theme month on my blog and later being a part of the read-along on Facebook. Yeah, I kinda really liked being a moderator...

23) Catch-22 by Joseph Heller: Not my cup of tea. What I found most annoying about the book was that for a book about WWII the writing style was so obviously from the 50s and 60s that it jarred. Vonnegut made this style work because his book went all over the place; here, no. Did not like. Also, I hate dialogue that is unattributed.

24) Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor: Well, this really destroyed the trilogy. The second book was so amazing, like best book of the year amazing, and this, this just seemed to be setting up a spin off series instead of wrapping up loose ends. Here's an idea. Finish your series before starting a new one!

25) A Perfect Proposal by Katie Fforde: Another author who I had a bad experience with whom I'm glad I gave a second go to. Sweet fun story about a transatlantic romance with a thrifty movie buff and an heir. Just so sweet! Oh, and Cornwall!

26) Azur Like It by Wendy Holden: We hates it! HATES! We shall never read this author again.

27) Once Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell: Speaking of books I hated... this is right up at the top of that list!

28) On Art and Life by John Ruskin: Fascinating insight into art and architecture and the importance of nature. I totally want to read more by Ruskin, it's so simply stated yet so profound.

29) Middlemarch by George Eliot: Wow, the problems that could be solved if we just married where our heart is and didn't overextend ourselves... still want to re-watch the miniseries.

30) Possession by A.S. Byatt: Not as bad or as dragging a story as I remembered it. Plus the poetry works better the second time. Though I still find the modern leads a little too post modern and lifeless. Like they have no passion.

31) The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon: Not really Gothic... also, not that shocking. Look, another book with incest. Seriously!?! Because really, it's kind of a common trope these days, GRRM much? And it still annoys me that the weird book lady who had a typewriter would hand write a long letter to Daniel... it doesn't make sense!

32) Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell: Um, so yeah, living in Manchester back in Gaskell's time would have sucked. Totally portrays the horrors of the day instead of glossing them over. Ballsy writing.

33) Fables Volume 20: Camelot by Bill Willingham: Rose Red is Arthur, and have I said I don't want this series to end?

34) The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte: Seriously guys, I'm really starting to think that Anne is my favorite Bronte. That a cloistered little lady could write about the boozing and the whoring and the turmoil this life brings proves once again what a powerhouse those Brontes were.

35) Effie by Suzanne Fagence Cooper: I was hoping for some insight into Effie who was married to two luminaries of the day, instead I got bored, fast. Also, her day to day life once she left Ruskin for Millais, boring.

36) Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo: Of course this is tainted by my knowledge of how much I loved the series as a whole, but this was a strong beginning and had one of the sexiest villains around in a long time. Can I just have the Darkling already?

37) Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo: Non-stop action. The search for the amplifiers, the myth and legend. Can I just re-read this whole series now?

38) How to Be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman: Wow, this was crap. At least it was short. Unreliable narrators can be fun with someone who can write. Emma Chapman can't write.

39) The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla by Lauren Willig: While I'm sad this is the second to last book in the Pink Carnation series it was so much fun that I can forgive Lauren for ending the party. Also I want an attack stoat of my own.

40) City of Bones by Cassandra Clare: This is what all the fuss is about? Really? No seriously, I want to know because this is boring and a Buffy rip off.

41) Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo: But I didn't want it to end! There's another book in the Grishaverse coming out this year? Ok, I guess I can wait.

42) City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare: The pain, the pain. It gets worse and worse.

43) Wither by Lauren DeStefano: Interesting dystopia that has multiple wives and a rather interesting cloistered life.

44) Fever by Lauren DeStefano: And Lauren sure took an interesting idea and destroyed it by adding in whores and a carnival.

45) Sever by Lauren DeStefano: And it's thankfully over. Hey, surprise partial happy ending that I don't buy in the least...

46) City of Glass by Cassandra Clare: Hey, maybe everyone will die in the epic battle? No such luck.

47) City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare: Make it stop! Make it stop! I can't take anymore.

48) City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare: Seriously, why hasn't Joss Whedon sued Cassandra Clare for basically re-writing "Becoming" into a book?

49) The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz: I haven't read the first one in so long that it was interesting to go back to the beginning. It's not as strong as the later books, which makes me very happy that I stuck with them, because this is seriously one of my favorite series ever.

50) The Spider and the Fly by Tony DiTerlizzi: Amazing drawings. Looks just like an old silent film and has a wonderfully dastardly ending.

51) Chu's First Day of School by Neil Gaiman: And I didn't hate this. It was more fun then the first so perhaps I could like it... or perhaps I was pissy the day I read the first... either way, I enjoyed this.

52) The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness: And wow, did I hate this ending. It's just happy endings for all and don't really answer any questions just get the threat level under control. Blurg.

53) That Summer by Lauren Willig: So I did a re-read for the Facebook event and it totally held up and I noticed new things and I'm still totally in love with the book.

54) City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare: OVER! YES! I am done with these forever. I hate you Cassandra Clare, with all the fire of the heavens!

55) American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis: Hmm, just had an idea... I could introduce Patrick Bateman to Cassandra Clare... But seriously, this is a book that works better at the beginning when it's just hinting at depravity, but does go over the top a few too many times. Also the unending lists of designers and other consumer goods gets so depressing and annoying.

56) Letter From New York by Helene Hanff: Helene Hanff is a genius. I adore her and everything she's written, I just wish she had written more!

57) White Cat by Holly Black: Interesting to combine magic and the mafia... plus I love that there's a cat!

58) Red Glove by Holly Black: Not really working anymore, the plot is too convoluted.  

59) Black Heart by Holly Black: And then the ending isn't really an ending. Sigh. 

60) The Story of a Fierce Bad Rabbit by Beatrix Potter: I'm guessing this was a story about a rabbit that was both fierce and bad... see, if you don't read them over and over, well, they don't really stick with you. It's the imagery more then the plot.

61) The Tale of Tom Kitten by Beatrix Potter: Um yeah, not really remembering... wasn't his mom mean to him or vice versa?

62) The Tale of Samuel Whiskers by Beatrix Potter: Yeah, nothing here.

63) The Tale of Ginger and Pickles by Beatrix Potter: Hated this one... were they dogs or mice, so not remembering...

64) The Colorado Kid by Stephen King: Read this because I was watching Haven and yeah, kind of weird in that it's very mellow and there's no ending. I like endings.

65) The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse by Beatrix Potter: Nothing.

66) The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes by Beatrix Potter: Nothing.

67) The Tale of Mr. Tod by Beatrix Potter: Thinking this was the frog, nope it's the fox, so yeah, I got nothing.

68) Apple Dapply's Nursery Rhymes by Beatrix Potter: Nothing.

69) The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse by Beatrix Potter: Still nothing...

70) Cecily Parsley's Nursery Rhymes by Beatrix Potter: Maybe I should read these again as I retained nothing...

71) Necromancer by Lish McBride: I really like little girls that are scary and evil but in a supernatural like way, so yes, I really liked this!

72) Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride: Hoped for SO MUCH MORE, but spending too much time with the bad guy who was boring and just unrepentant evil took away any bite the book might have had.

73) Necromancing the Stone by Lish McBride: I HATE when the villain is defeated, but not really. Stupid horror trope.

74) Fairest: In All the Land by Bill Willingham: Cinderella, who it might be pointed out had a series all her own, now has decided to take over the Fairest series too. Sigh. She's ok, I guess, just too female James Bond for my liking.

75) The Tale of Little Pig Robinson by Beatrix Potter: I bet you can guess how much I remember of this Beatrix Potter tale!

76) Galaxy Quest: Global Warning by Scott Lobdell: Lame, lame lame. Just watch the movie.

77) The Pretenders by Charlaine Harris: This is SO AWESOME! Charlaine was so right to go ahead with her girl in the cemetery story and not shy away because Gaiman had written one. Can not wait for the next volume!

78) Top Ten Volume One by Alan Moore: Damn, I really thought I'd hate everything Alan Moore ever wrote, I am totally wrong with this series about Superheroes policing other Superheroes.

79) Twilight Director's Notebook by Catherine Hardwicke: I was really hoping this would expose that she thought Twilight was dorky. Nope. She really is a scary fanatic.

80) Lost at Sea by Bryan Lee O'Malley: I hated this the first time I read it, but it's surprised me on my re-read. Also love all the cats.

81) X-Men First Class: Tomorrow's Brightest by Jeff Parker: X-Men fighting alligators. No thank you.

82) Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl: YA, angtsy, southern. I like that the southern adds a little difference to it, but still, a slow read.

83) Top Ten Volume Two by Alan Moore: Oh, just as good as the previous volume, yeah, loving Top Ten!

84) Smax by Alan Moore: Not loving this lame spin off. Medieval and incest, yeah, said no one ever.

85) Top Ten: Beyond the Furthest Precinct by Paul Di Filippo: And please bring Alan Moore back! This Di Filippo guy has destroyed the series!

86) Fairest Volume Three: The Return of the Maharaja by Sean E. Williams: Um... I read way too many comics way too fast and I don't remember this like at all...

87) Fairest Volume Four: Of Men and Mice by Marc Andreyko: Cinderella still taking over Fairest... sigh.

88) My Crowd by Charles Addams: I ADORE Charles Addams. ADORE!

89) Top Ten: The Forty-Niners by Alan Moore: Boring flashback to the early days of Top Ten. The art was very pretty though.

90) Seconds by Bryan Lee O'Malley: Amazing new book by Bryan Lee O'Malley about having the power to have a "do over" and how that might become a little addicting.

91) Frankenstein by Mary Shelley: So glad I finally read Frankenstein! It's so interesting how it's Gothic and brooding but also embraces nature and the elements so much.

92) The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig: I can never tire of reading this series. Napoleonic fun with a little Bridget Jones!

93) The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde: Wow. So this was bad. It's not so much what you could do if there were no consequences, but what you could do if you had an evil friend leading you astray.

94) Burial Rites by Hannah Kent: Icelandic Brontes! Just, YES!

95) As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley: I really liked seeing Flavia in a new setting, ie, at school among her "peers." But when she stopped hanging with her "peers" it didn't have as much of a spark.

96) Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: Wow, so this is what everyone is talking about? And it's crap. Just a load of crap. Amy and Nick deserve each other in all their crap.

97) The Masque of the Black Tulip by Lauren Willig: Oddly, Henrietta and Miles aren't my favorite couple (I know, most fans will want to stone me right now) but re-reading this yet again I forgot how funny Hen is!

98) Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll: Re-read this for the millionth time in preparation for my Steampunk Queen of Hearts costume. I never get tired of Carroll's nonsensical verse.

99) The Affinity Bridge by George Mann: Stay away from automatons and drugs.

100) Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg: Could have been tons of fun, but for every text that is hilarious ten fail to deliver.

101) The Osiris Ritual by George Mann: Egypt and Steampunk, be still my heart!

102) Cartwheel by Jennifer duBois: So this was a load of twaddle. A "what if" of the Amanda Knox case set in South America. But there was no ending. NO ENDING!

103) The Story of Fester Cat by Paul Magrs: Heartbreaking, but such a distinct and wonderful voice of a true furry friend. Everyone who has loved a pet should read this.

104) The Gentleman Bat by Abraham Schroeder: Pretty art. I picked it up because I liked the artwork, but the story was meh. Though I did like the nighttime lifestyle of bats taking a walk together.

105) The Problem with Not Being Scared of Monsters by Dan Richards: Cute story about monsters being your friends and the problems that ensue.

106) Rules of the Wild: An Unruly Book of Manners by Bridget Levin: Personally I think this is more teaching kids different and fun ways to be rude then behave, but that's just the five year old me speaking.

107) The Yoga Game by the Sea by Kathy Beliveau: Sometimes people writing about yoga can be a little pretentious... this kind of walks the line... cute idea that needed some better writing.

108) The Immorality Engine by George Mann: Damn, I will never mess with gentleman's clubs that think they are a modern day Camelot. You have my word on that!

109) The Executioner's Heart by George Mann: Damn, just damn. I need the next book now! Veronica!

110) The Newbury and Hobbes Casebook by George Mann: Some amazing stories, some not as entrancing, but a great overview of the world of Newbury and Hobbes... though spoilerish if you aren't currently caught up.

111) Paradox Lost by George Mann: This is a Doctor Who book done right! Plus adore the crossover with Mann's other work.

112) Ghosts of Manhattan by George Mann: Great Gatsby meets Batman, fabulously inventive new world.

113) Ghosts of War by George Mann: A little too much of the same villain rearing his head that I abhor in the horror genre, but I did like the forward momentum the story arc is going in.

114) Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier: One of the best written books I've ever read hands down. If you haven't read Rebecca DO SO NOW!

115) Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier: So, maybe I shouldn't read too much Du Maurier right after each other, because last time I read this I was like, OMG five star book, and this time I was like, it's not Rebecca...

116) The Curious Case of the Copper Corpse by Alan Bradley: Interesting little Flavia story which was fun but didn't hold my interest like the books do. Also a little too melancholy for me.

117) Traveling With Your Octopus by Brian Kesinger: I just adore Brian's artwork, it's amazing. What I really loved about this book was the travel theme and that the pictures felt more related and of the same style then the first book. Also I think I totally have an idea for my next Steampunk costume because of this book!

118) The Scapegoat by Daphne Du Maurier: Wow, just wow. A really solid and creepy book that just gives you a wallop of an ending that elevates it even higher. Damn, I love me some Daphne Du Maurier! 

119) My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier: Um, no. I don't want to read about possessive mysoginist asses, thank you very much.

120) Myself When Young by Daphne Du Maurier: You hear about her fucked up family, but it's not the same as reading about it. Wow.


121) Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: Cute. Yes, maybe with all the people telling me to read it I thought it might be better, but it was cute. Sometimes the Harry Potter fan "World of Mages" was a little too cheese for me.

122) The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss: Wonderful insight into one of my favorite characters in The Kingkiller Chronicles, Auri. Sometimes I might have identified a little too strongly with the struggles she was dealing with, but it made me love her all the more.

123) The Last Hero: A Discworld Fable by Terry Pratchett: Yet another fabulous Pratchett book this time accompanied by the fabulous art of Paul Kidby, who just gets Discworld. I should remember to never let too much time elapse between Pratchett readings because it just makes the world a better place. Also, the scene with DEATH trying to figure out Schrodinger's cat is priceless.

124) Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris: I was really looking forward to this book because I'm actually more of a fan of her mysteries then I am of her Sookie-verse. So this let me down, because it was like half way between Sookie and the mysteries. Also I totally figured out the mystery WAY too quickly.

125) The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak: Actually a really cute book, obviously to be read aloud. But as a designer I appreciated that they actually hired someone to do a decent job on the text. I really liked the "inner monologue" being in sans serif, though the use of the robot-esque font seemed too predictable. 

126)  Up and Down by Oliver Jeffers: Adorable drawings, that Penguin is so darn cute. The story worked but I was so distracted by the bad font choice and how the "g" looked like Harry Potter's glasses turned sideways that I couldn't stop thinking about it. Children need to learn good font design early people! Just because they're kids doesn't allow for slacking or, God forbid, papyrus! 

127) The Hermit and the Well by  Thích Nhất Hạnh: Weird fable about a hermit perhaps being the best tasting water ever. The story was bad, the layout was horrid, but NOTHING can compare to the awfulness of the artwork. It was like all green with big brown streaks that looked like someone was drawing with poo. 

128) The Complete Persepolis by Marijane Satrapi: Really fascinating comic about not only a girl growing up, but a time and place in history I don't know much about. Though once she left Iran it lost it's steam.


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