So for many years now I’ve been summarizing my year simply as a list of cities visited. It’s a simple, but effective, reminder of what I’ve done and where I’ve been.

I don’t really write a review of the year, but I thought I’d share some reviews of things I’ve enjoyed this year.

Books

I read 54 books this year, all on my Kindle which I continue to love. I’ve come to appreciate not just that I can carry a library with me at all times (and no longer need to have an extra suitcase just for books when going on holiday) but also the lightness of it. My fingers and wrists are dislocating so much these days holding real books would be asking for trouble.

I’m still carrying my trusty Kindle keyboard 3G which has lasted me well, other than a couple of dings to the screen, but I am very very tempted to get myself one of the new Kindle Voyages … not least because the new paperwhite technology looks really interesting.

I claim no highbrow taste in my fiction reading. I mostly read fiction for escape (and most of those 54 books were read in two weeks … my two weeks of holiday), and revel in crime fiction, scifi and fantasy. My favourite discoveries this year were:

  • Scalzi, to my chagrin, is not a writer I’d encountered before. I genuinely enjoyed Old Man’s War, The Ghost Brigades, Last Colony and Zoe’s Tale
  • After reading David McIver’s excellent post recommending fantasy to read I have enthusiastically read pretty much all of the Kate Daniels series that he recommended, starting with Magic Bites. It’s an action-focused romp with plenty of violence, and a very interesting re-imagining of vampires, and some fairly regular werewolves, though with an interesting reinterpretation of how they exist.
  • Not a new discovery, but the final installment of the Skulduggery Pleasant series (as misnomer, since it’s really about Valkyrie Cain), The Dying of the Light came out. I find there’s a look of really good fiction that happens to be YA. I suppose this isn’t surprising; to keep my attention when I was a teen, you needed great pacing & plot 😉
  • My favourite novel I read in 2014 was The Moment by T.C. Anderson. What started out as an AU fanfic grew into a really astounding novel. This is what I find really fascinating about fanfiction … sometimes there are outstanding writers who seem to just need to use characters almost like scaffolding, in order to tell a story. I’d love to see her develop her voice further, and am looking forward to her future work. Please note: this story definitely comes with all manner of trigger warnings; be safe, ping me if you want/need specifics.

Games

Favourite phone game was definitely Hitman Go (iOS, Android). I was very skeptical that Hitman (already one of my favourite games series ever) could translate well from live action over to turn-based, but they’ve done a brilliant job with it. It’s gorgeously designed, infuriatingly hard to get a perfect score (as in all Hitman games) and has retained many of the best features of the Hitman series: suspense, the need to understand guard movements and be stealthy, and the rewards for sometimes being bloodthirsty, and sometimes sneaking by unnoticed.

Console game of the year for me was a series I hadn’t previously played: Mass Effect. I got Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 for Xmas last year and got hours & hours of enjoyment out of them. Definitely wonderful to see the series come over to Playstation; and even made me actively consider getting an Xbox to not miss games this good in future.

TV & Movies

We have a tendency to binge watch series, to the extent that pretty much all our TV & film consumption is via box set, Netflix, iPlayer or similar now. I still rather love the experience of the cinema though, and particularly enjoy being able to get to the BFI IMAX screen easily now that we’re in London more.

TV I enjoyed this year:

  • Sons of Anarchy — I particularly enjoyed finding out that Charlie Hunnam is from Newcastle and went to school round the corner from where we used to live
  • The Good Wife — we’ve stormed through the first four seasons and are now enjoying the fifth. Seriously good telly
  • Person of Interest — I’d seen the occasional episode and wasn’t at all convinced, but after urging from our housemate Tristan we really got into it. It has an intriguing overarching storyline and a good execution of the “mission of the week” approach
  • White Collar was another light but very entertaining watch
  • I hugely enjoyed two prison dramas this year: Orange is the New Black and Wentworth. The latter was a particular delight, even though I’d never seen the original series that it reimagines, made doubly wonderful by realising that the reason the lead was so familiar was because she played a recurring role in Xena
  • I finally got to watch Breaking Bad and saw what all the (deserved) fuss was about. Another series with an incredibly dark ending that I finally got around to watching was The Shield

My favourite movie-in-cinema I saw this year was definitely Guardians of the Galaxy in all its silliness. Vin Diesel’s wooden performance was even better on a ginormous screen 😉