This is a place to celebrate and review my reading journey over the last year. And...despite life going off the rails a bit in the last two months, 2022 was a very good year for reading. Before 2021, it had been a very long time since I managed to top 200 books read. I've now done it a second year in a row...and I visited Marvin Martian and planted my flag atop Mount Olympus on Mars in my Mount TBR Reading Challenge. Olympus (read at least 150 books from my own stacks) is my ultimate goal every year, even though my declared goal is Mount Everest (100 books). I loaded up the rocket ship back in early July and headed to Mars with 100 books under my belt. I thought with half the year left that I might even manage another 100. Not quite--I finished the Mount TBR Challenge with 181 of my own books read and moved off the TBR mountain range. Other victories included completing all of the challenge goals I set for myself for 2022 (all 34 of them!).Overall, a very satisfying year for this reader and challenge-aholic. I still don't visit my fellow bloggers as often as I used to (hardly at all--I'm sorry, folks!) and would like to get back to the early days of the blog when I seemed to have time to read and write reviews and go visit all my virtual friends....why does the time seem to fly so much faster these days?
But...back to celebrating. Let's take a look at the rest of the reading stats.
Total Books Read: 226
Books Owned & Read: 181
Pages Read: 53,341
Percentage of Rereads: 27%
Percentage of New-to-Me Authors: 27%
Percentage Mystery: 90%
Percentage Nonfiction: 2%
Percentage by Women: 45%
Percentage Written 2000+: 22%
Percentage Non-US/UK: 7%
Non-US/UK Authors: Australian, Canadian, Dutch, French, Irish, Israeli, Japanese, Nigerian, Swedish
Non-US States/UK Settings: Australia, Austria, Bermuda Canada, China, Egypt, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Montenegro, Netherlands, Nigeria, Puerto Rico Space, Sweden, Tanzania
Top Vintage Mysteries of 2022 (no rereads)
The Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot by Robert Arthur (Silver Age, 1964; 4 stars)
The Mystery of the Whispering Mummy by Robert Arthur (Silver Age, 1965; 4 stars)
Calamity at Harwood by George Bellairs (Golden Age, 1945; 4 stars)
The Case of the Famished Parson by George Bellairs (Golden Age, 1949; 4 stars)
Death Treads Softly by George Bellairs (Golden Age, 1956, 4 stars)
Death Walks in Marble Halls by Lawrence G. Blochman (Golden Age, 1942; 4 stars)
A Scream in Soho by John G. Brandon (Golden Age, 1940; 4 stars)
The Witches' Bridge by Barbee Oliver Carleton (Silver Age, 1967; 4 stars)
Five Little Pigs by Agatha Christie (Golden Age, 1942; 4.5 stars)
Murder Goes Minoan by Clyde B. Clason (Golden Age, 1939; 4 stars)
The Curse of the Fleers by Basil Copper (Silver Age, 1976; 4 stars)
Parcels for Inspector West by John Creasey (Golden Age, 1956; 4 stars)
Dead Little Rich Girl by Norbert Davis (Golden Age, 1943; 4 stars)
Midsummer Nightmare by Christopher Hale (Golden Age, 1945; 4 stars)
The Man in the Moonlight by Helen McCloy (Golden Age, 1940; 4 stars)
Four Days' Wonder by A. A. Milne (Golden Age, 1933; 4 stars)
The White Elephant Mystery by Ellery Queen, Jr. (Golden Age, 1950; 4 stars)
Death & the Professor by E. & M. A. Radford (Golden Age,1961; 4.5 stars)
Going Public by David Westheimer (Silver Age 1973; 4 stars)
Murder at the College by Victor L. Whitechurch (Golden Age, 1932; 4.5 stars)
Murder at the Pageant by Victor L. Whitechurch (Golden Age, 1930; 4 stars)
The Inugami Curse by Seishi Yokomizo (Silver Age, 1972; 4 stars)
Top Modern Mysteries 2022 (no rereads)
An Extravagant Death by Charles Finch (2021; 4 stars)
The Woman in the Water by Charles Finch (2018; 4 stars)
The Guest List by Lucy Foley (2020; 4 stars)
The Lady With the Gun Asks the Questions by Kerry Greenwood (2021; 4 stars)
When Blood Lies by C. S. Harris (2022; 5 stars)
The Body in the Fog by Cora Harrison (2012; 4 stars)
The Mist in the Mirror by Susan Hill (1992; 4 stars)
The Ghost Finders by Adam McOmber (2021; 4.5 stars)
Sill Life With Crows by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child (2003; 4 stars)
Garden of Lies by Amanda Quick (2014; 4 stars)
Top Fiction 2022 (no rereads)
Brand Spanking New Day by Berkeley Breathed (5 stars)
Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge (4 stars)
Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse (4.5 stars)
The One Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith (4 stars)
Top Nonfiction 2022 (no rereads)
Only Yesterday by Frederick Lewis Allen (4 stars)
An Hour Before Daylight by Jimmy Carter (4 stars)
What Just Happened? by Charles Finch (5 stars)
Be Holding by Ross Gay (5 stars)
Paperbacks, U.S.A. by Piet Schreuders (4 stars)
Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man by William Shatner w/David Fischer (4 stars)
Monthly P.O.M. (Pick of the Month) Award Winners
January: Cut to the Quick by Kate Ross (a reread from pre-blogging days) (4 stars)
February: Midsummer Nightmare by Christopher Hale (4 stars)
March: The Ghost Finders by Adam McOmber (4.5 stars)
April: The Body in the Fog by Cora Harrison (4 stars)
May: When Blood Lies by C. S. Harris (5 stars) [Co-Winners because Harris had won before]
Going Public by David Westheimer (4 stars)
June: Murder Gone Minoan by Clyde B. Clason (4 stars)
July: The Woman in the Water by Charles Finch (4 stars) [Co-Winners]
Not I, Said the Sparrow by Richard Lockridge (4 stars)
August: Four Days' Wonder by A. A. Milne (4 stars)
September: Five Little Pigs by Agatha Christie (4.5 stars)
October: The Witches' Bridge by Barbee Oliver Carleton (4 stars)
November: The Mist in the Mirror by Susan Hill (4 stars)
December: Murder at the College by Victor L. Whitechurch (4.5 Stars)
Now...before we move on to the big winner of 2021--the P.O.Y. (Pick of the Year) Award, I have a few other awards to hand out--my own mystery version of the Razzie Awards.
The Don't Bring Up Ghosts If It's Not Spooky Award goes to Slow Dancing with the Angel of Death by Helen Chappelle. And especially don't bring up ghosts if the whole premise of the book is a fake and a boondoggle from the beginning.
The Lewis Carroll Practice Believing Impossible Things Award goes to The Old English Peepshow by Peter Dickinson. From my review: I don't understand why Jimmy Pibble, an officer of the law, is willing to try so hard to ignore the signs that Deakin's death was not a suicide. He spends about three pages telling himself he's being conned, listing things that don't fit, and then choosing to say that they don't mean much and, by golly, it sure is a suicide after all. "O.K., he was going quietly. But let them stretch his conscience one notch further and the lion would feel the talons of the vulture, blunt, bourgeouis talons though they were." So, I guess he's willing to believe eight impossible things before breakfast...just don't make it nine. I, personally, stopped believing after the first two... [yes...I misremembered the quote at the time...]
The That's One Weird Cover You Got There, the Where's Your Sense of Humor Awards, and the Where's the Beef? Awards all go to What, Me, Mr. Mosley? by John Greenwood. Exhibit A--see cover below. Exhibit B: The tagline on the book says "Murder Most British Featuring Inspector Jack Mosley." Except it's not--murder, that is. Sure, it's British. And it features Inspector Mosley. But there's not a murder in sight. There's not even decent mayhem. Mediocre theft and kidnapping with a bit of breaking & entering and squatting in other people's houses is what's going on. Exhibit C: Publisher's Weekly ended their review by saying this was a "funny, intricate and wholly enjoyable story." My edition seems to have left out the funny, intricate, and enjoyable parts.
The Fish Out of Water Award goes to Martha Grimes and Fadeaway Girl. Martha, honey, get your focus back on England. Your books are so much better when you set them there. You'd think I would have learned my lesson about Martha Grimes and her books set in the United States instead of England. When I first started reading Grimes (back in the 80s), I worked my way through her Richard Jury series. Then, all unsuspecting, I picked up The End of the Pier when it came out. Kirkus Reviews begins their review of that one with "Something completely different from the author of the popular, ever-so-British Inspector Jury mysteries...." They weren't kidding. It was completely different and completely not my cup of tea. And neither is this one--set in the same area and featuring some of the same families. Martha Grimes may be American, but I'd much rather read her British mysteries any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
And, finally, the Jane Austen, You Ain't and the This Isn't Days of Our Lives Awards go to Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James. So...this is not James at her best nor is it a particularly enthralling continuation (redo, whatever) of Austen. I thoroughly enjoyed James's Adam Dagliesh mysteries. Solidly plotted and well-done. I have also thoroughly enjoyed nearly all the Austen I have read. Delightfully witty, drawing room, books of manners. The mystery here is not solidly plotted. There are few clues that would allow the reader to deduce the solution and when the solution comes it really isn't satisfying. I was plumping for an entirely different suspect--mainly because of how much he annoyed me (and I think that's James's fault as well--I don't recall this character annoying me like this in Austen's work). And...the final chapters and the solution have the air of soap opera about them. This character seduced that one and then this character was supposed to step in and help the seduced character but they (the helper) got run over by a carriage....and so on. It really was all a bit much.
Now the moment we've all been waiting for...the presentation of the Mystery Pick of the Year! Of course, if the judges look purely at the star ratings, there's only one in the mystery category this year: C. S. Harris's When Blood Lies. This was a highly anticipated book and Harris did not disappoint. But the judges have a thing about not awarding prizes to the same people--especially not two years in a row. So, let's acknowledge the fact that the Sebastian St. Cyr books are terrific historical mysteries that keep this reader on the edge of her seat waiting for the next one (due out in April!). And, like the Miss America Pageant, we'll let the 2021 Winner hand off the crown...er, POY to this winner. And...
...what? The judges can't make up their minds? Well, then, let's just give out two...after all, this is my show.
And...the winners of the 2022 My Reader's Block Pick of the Year goes to contestants from different eras. Representing the Golden Age of Detection we have
December's POM Award winner, Victor L. Whitechurch, and his delightful academic mystery Murder at the College (see the November/December's POM post for details). Sharing the honors with Whitechurch, we have a more modern from the pen (computer?....) of Adam McOmber...
The Ghost Finders is (as I noted in my review) a wonderfully gothic, horrifically fun and mysterious adventure. He creates a nifty puzzle behind the gaslit world full of supernatural creatures and humans with extraordinary powers. The three main characters are vividly drawn with interesting backstories that are at once disparate, yet also fitting together so perfectly to provide friendship and kinship among these three wildly different individuals. The separate histories weave together to create the fabric necessary for the final scenes. It was interesting to watch these three work their way through various layers of loyalty and betrayal to discover what is necessary to save themselves...and perhaps all reality. Definitely worthy of the award.