Reviews by Steve turns one today, and I have to say that I’ve really enjoyed watching it grow and change as the year has progressed. What began as a place to write the occasional book review quickly grew to encompass television, and then movies as well. To celebrate, I’m going to review the past year, as well as make some suggestions as to where the blog might be headed in the next. Thanks for reading!
The Year in Review
Books. This is where I began, and I won’t stop writing the reviews going forward. For me, though, this aspect of the blog is much less about the number of views an article receives, and more about my own desire to work through problems and themes in the books after I’ve read them. My job is, after all, teaching literature, so working through things is part of what I do, and practicing here helps keep me sharp for the classroom.
Although I began the blog as a place to write book reviews (due to receiving ARCs now and again from Librarything), the blog quickly became a place to review and showcase my favorite television series. I intended the blog to be flexible in that manner from the beginning, but had no intention of committing to a weekly schedule. It can be hard to do so, as my work load tends to be inconsistent; some weeks, when I don’t have any marking to do, I have plenty of free time, whereas in those weeks I have essays in, it can mean a series of sixty-eighty hour work weeks. I say this not to ask for any sympathy – I have one of the best jobs in the world, as far as I’m concerned – but rather to explain why I was at first hesitant to do television, and why some reviews do come in several days after the airing. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. suffered more from this than either The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones, as its mid-week airtime tended to fall right in the busiest part of the week for me. However, I did find that television shows in general garnered a much larger audience than my book reviews, and that’s ultimately why people write review sites like this: to be read. Being able to write about something I enjoy is just a bonus. One thing I’ve done recently to mitigate these delays was to reduce the amount of recapitulation I did of each episode, moving away from a complete recap to a purer review format – this is a move that is still in process for me, and I should be settled in to writing reviews in the 1500-2000 word range soon, rather than the 4000 word monsters I was doing for a long time.
One thing I added to my television coverage a few episodes into Season Four of The Walking Dead was preview articles on upcoming episodes. I found that these articles were very popular, and continued them through the end of the TWD season, and started writing them for Game of Thrones as well. I didn’t write this kind of article for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. until the season finale, but I may add previews for it as well with the new season this coming September. Writing “Sneak Peeks” doesn’t take quite as long as a full review, and I enjoy prognosticating quite a bit. Am I always spot-on? Absolutely not, but that’s half the fun – guessing what might happen, looking through all of the available media, and still getting pleasantly surprised by the writers.
In February, I went to see The Lego Movie, and I decided to write a review for it. With my son now four, and old enough to sit through most hour and a half long films, I decided that adding movie reviews to my blog could become a semi-regular thing. The response I’ve had from people via number of views and feedback has been gratifying, and I will definitely be keeping up the movie reviews into the future.
The most recent type of article I’ve added to the blog is editorials. This is a kind of catchall, where I can talk about my reactions to particular events in the media I cover, or just talk to you directly about what’s going on in the blog. It allows me to write about things that aren’t strictly reviews, giving me a bit more flexibility in my format.
By the Numbers: Stats for the First Year
First Review: Dan Brown’s Inferno
Most Popular Article (views): Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1, Episode 14 “T.A.H.I.T.I.”
Most Popular Article (likes): Tie: George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb
Most Popular Article (comments):The Walking Dead Season 4, Episode 15 “Us”
As of May 30th, the blog stats are as follows:
Number of Views: 12226
Biggest Single Day: May 26, 2014 with 381 views from 279 unique visitors
Biggest Week: March 3-9, 2014 with 901 views from 684 unique visitors (although the current week may come close to beating those numbers)
Biggest Month: March 2014, with 3169 views from 2141 unique visitors
The Readers (aka you):
- Number of Followers: 58
- Number of Likes: 93
- Number of Messages and Pingbacks: 203
Number of Countries from Which I have had Visitors: 119
Top Five Countries by Percentage:
- USA (40%)
- Canada (18%)
- UK (7%)
- Australia (3%)
- Germany (2.5%)
Number of Articles: 111
- Books: 27
- TV Reviews: 45
- TV Previews: 23
- Movies: 10
- Editorials/Other: 7
Top 3 Book Reviews:
- Dan Brown’s Inferno
- Paul Roland’s The Nuremberg Trials
- The Walking Dead Compendium: Volume 2 by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, and Cliff Rathburn
Top 3 Movie Reviews:
Top 3 Television Reviews: (Note: These are also my top three articles overall from the past year)
- Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1, Episode 14 “T.A.H.I.T.I.”
- The Walking Dead Season 4, Episode 5 “Internment”
- Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 9 “The Rains of Castamere”
Top 3 Television Sneak Peeks:
- Game of Thrones Season 4, Episode 8 “The Mountain and the Viper”
- Game of Thrones Season 4, Episode 3 “Breaker of Chains”
- Game of Thrones Season 4, Episode 7 “Mockingbird”
So what will the future hold? I intend to continue reviewing books on a regular basis – I averaged one every two weeks in the last year, so that pace will likely continue (although as I have recently embarked on a re-reading of Robert Jordan’s epic Wheel of Time series, the reviews may take a little longer for the time being).
As far as television is concerned, it is largely the driving factor with my total number of visitors and views, and I certainly won’t be stopping them anytime soon. I’ll be doing the following continuing series:
- Game of Thrones (April-June)
- Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (September-May)
- The Walking Dead (October-March)
This leaves me with a gap in the summer, so I’m intending to add a new HBO series beginning at the end of June, called The Leftovers. It’s based on the novel of the same name by Tom Perrotta, and examines what would happen if 2% of the world’s population disappeared in the blink of an eye, with no explanation. The show is scheduled to run for a regular 10-episode HBO season, which should take it through to August 31, or September 7 if HBO has one of its usual mid-season one week hiatuses. I’ll be posting a series preview and some other information closer to the June 29th series premiere.
For the winter, I’ll be adding the recently announced Marvel’s Agent Carter, a new series that will be airing during the mid-season hiatus of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. It follows Agent Peggy Carter [Hayley Atwell], who first appeared in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), and is set in the mid-1940s, shortly after the end of World War II.
I may take on another series or two beginning with the Fall 2014 season, depending on my level of interest and what days they air – I don’t want to be reviewing more than one show per night, nor can I review anything on nights I teach (which has been Wednesdays for over a year now). I’ve been able to handle two shows a week for stretches, and could see doing three or even four, especially with my new, less recap-heavy, format. Possibilities include:
- Constantine on NBC, based on the Hellblazer comic series from Vertigo and DC – with 100% less Keanu
- Emerald City on NBC, a kind of Grimm goes to Oz
- The Flash on CW, a spin-off from Arrow featuring everyone’s favorite man in red (besides Santa, that is)
- Gotham on Fox, sort of like Smallville for Batman
- The Whispers on ABC, based on a Ray Bradbury short story called “Zero Hour” (from his classic The Illustrated Man), about alien invasion and infiltration – using children
I’m also open to suggestions if anyone knows of a series that fits into the genres I cover here, primarily science fiction, superhero, fantasy, and comic adaptations. In addition, I intend to review the announced Marvel series on Netflix as they are released, but that likely won’t be until 2015.
For movies, I’m definitely going to be continuing to review them, and will be increasing the frequency of those reviews (especially now that my son is old enough to enjoy films). I enjoy doing movie reviews quite a bit, and I plan to go to more current films, as well as writing reviews on older favorites. I have a bunch sitting around on DVD, some good, some bad, so I’ll be getting regular reviews of them up as well. I’ll also be doing some classics (and not-so-classic older films): I recently purchased a collection of 50 horror films, including seminal films such as Nosferatu (1922) and Metropolis (1927), so I’ll be putting those reviews up as I find time to watch the films.
Again, I want to thank everyone who reads my blog, regular returners and first-timers alike. It is gratifying to see so many people from so many places around the world that share my love of media, and it is those views and your participation that keep me wanting to write more. So raise a glass, and join me in a celebratory libation – here’s to another great year!