Monday 19 December 2022

The Fourteenth Annual Westies - review of the year 2022

Well, this really has been a year of extremes for me (losing my Dad and seeing the thrillers take off) but now it's Christmas and even though I'm not in the mindset for celebrating it's time to indulge in the annual blog custom and remember the good books of 2022.

It's been an odd reading year - I've had a couple of DNF (did not finish), which is unusual and  I've struggled on occasion to find material that chimed with me - but I've read the second most amount (87 books) since I began my reading spreadsheet in 2002. There's been a decent mix of brand new novels, a few books that have languished on my TBR pile for too long, some good second-hand finds (which jumped straight to the top of the pile) along with some welcome re-reads and a target to read past Book 30 in the Three Investigators series.

As always, the top 20 places were hard fought and, I think, show a nice variety in genre and tone - if I've blogged about a book before, I've linked to it on the list.

Without further ado, I present the Fourteenth Annual Westies Award - “My Best Fiction Reads Of The Year” - and the top 20 looks like this:

1:    The Tooth Fairy, by Graham Joyce
3:    The Judas Goat, by Robert B. Parker
4:    B Is For Burglar, by Sue Grafton
5:    An Italian Island Summer, by Sue Moorcroft *
6:    God Save The Child, by Robert B. Parker
7:    Han Solo's Revenge, by Brian Daley
8:    Mortal Stakes, by Robert B. Parker
9:    A Is For Alibi, by Sue Grafton
10:  Chasing Spirits, by John Llewellyn Probert
11:  What They Don't Know, by Susan Furlong
12:  Dressed To Kill, by Brian DePalma and Campbell Black
13:  The Mistake I Made, by Paula Daly
14:  Insomnia, by Sarah Pinborough
15:  One Eye Open, by Paul Finch
16:  It's Alive, by Julian David Stone
17:  Billingsgate Shoal, by Rick Boyer
18:  The Lizard's Tail, by Marc Brandel
19:  Step Inside My Soul, by N K Curran (Steven Savile) *
20:  Tron, by Brian Daley

* This will be published in the summer of 2023, I read it to critique

The Top 10 in non-fiction are:

1: The Making Of Star Wars: The Definitive Story, by J. W. Rinzler
2: The Python Years: 1969-1979, by Michael Palin
3: The Definitive Biography Of Billy Joel, by Fred Schruers
4: Up Till Now, by William Shatner
5: Howard Kazanjian: A Producers Life, by J. W. Rinzler/Howard Kazanjian
6: Cinefex 30, by Jody Shay
7: Day Of The Living Me, by Jeff Lieberman
8: Cinefex 29, by Jody Shay
9: Teenage Wasteland: The Slasher Movie Uncut, by J. A. Kerswell
10: The Incredibly Strange Film Book, by Jonathan Ross

Stats wise, I've read 88 books - 45 fiction, 11 non-fiction, 16 comics/nostalgia/kids and 16 Three Investigator mysteries.

Of the 72 books, the breakdown is thus:

4 biography
11 horror
7 film-related
6 drama (includes romance)
26 crime/mystery
8 sci-fi
0 nostalgia
10 humour

All of my reviews are posted up at Goodreads here
In case you’re interested, the previous awards are linked to from here:

Monday 5 December 2022

Nostalgic For My Childhood - Christmas Annuals (part 6)

"Christmas is coming!"
Me & Tracy, Christmas 1977 - look at how chuffed I am, I've got the new Look-In annual AND the Starsky & Hutch Gran Torino!

Welcome to the sixth post (you can find the others on these links here - 20172018, 2019, 2020 and 2021) showcasing one of the Christmas highlights from when I was a kid (beyond the catalogues I wrote about in 2016), seeing which annual I got that particular year.  For those who don't remember them, annuals were (and still are) large size hardback books, designed for children and based on existing properties, generally comics and popular TV shows, as well as the occasional film and sport and pop round-ups.

The ones based on comics featured the same cast as the weekly editions, while the TV and film ones had comic strips, the occasional short story, fact files and interviews and - brilliantly - in the case of The Fall Guy, behind the scenes information on stunts and how they were filmed.

Published towards the end of the year, annuals are cover-dated as the following year to ensure shops don't take them off the shelves immediately after the new year (though, by then, unsold copies are often heavily reduced).  Still as popular now, though kids today don't have the choice of comics we did, the only real difference seems to be that they're skinnier (and that's not me being all nostalgically misty - my ones from the late 70s and early 80s are substantially chunkier than the ones I’ve bought for Dude over the past few years).

Here, then, is another selection of old favourites, ones I received and ones I remember my sister Tracy having.  I hope some of them inspire a warm, nostalgic trip down memory lane for you...
One of my favourite TV shows as a kid and this was a favourite annual (though I'm not sure either when Mum or Dad bought it - I wasn't born until 1969 - or I was given it).  Cracking book though.
My sister Tracy (who I wrote about here) loved horses for as long as I can remember and went on to be an accomplished rider and tutor.
 That theme music!  Gambit!  Purdey!
Sing it - underground, overground, Wombling free...
If we were out on bikes around this time - my friends, or me and TJ - we'd ride two-abreast and pretend we were Jon and Poncho.
My favourite "funny" comic when I was growing up, Cheeky Weekly actually finished in 1980 (it was incorporated - "great news for all readers!" - into Whoopee in February)
 Sir Roger Moore as James Bond.  Do you need any more reason to own this?
I'd moved on from annuals by this time, though I was a huge fan of The A-Team (and still am, as I wrote about here and here).  I didn't pick this up until much later.

Happy Christmas!

scans from my collection, aside from the girls titles (thanks to the Internet for those)

You can read more of my nostalgia posts here