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Reading report for February 2014

I read only 10 books in February. One was non-fiction and two were what I like to call half-fiction. The rest were fiction, one murder mystery and six M/M romances.

The two half-fictions were collections of short narratives. One was a cute little book of anecdotes about famous and once-famous musicians, composers and conductors. I picked it up years ago in a junk shop in Denmark and only got around to reading recently. The other was the sometimes funny and always amusing Sleeping at the Starlite Motel, a perfect example of the storyteller’s craft.
I call them half-fiction because anecdotes are often completely made-up and even when they are true they are more often than not impossible to corroborate, even if they are based on real people and ring true, while some may be true but have had the not-famous people they happened to replaced by famous ones because it makes the story more interesting. 
Starlite Motel is supposedly about real people, but one can tell it has lots of lovely little embroideries of the kind that make true ordinary stories into good ones and good ones into great ones.

The month’s highlights were Sleeping at the Starlite Motel, The Road to McCarthy and His Name is John. The romances ranged from clumsy to pretty good, but none made it into stand-out territory. The anecdote book contained just too many stories about people who were famous when it was published (1948) but I had never heard of, besides which I found the writer's style a tad annoying.

The first is, as I mentioned before, a collection of narratives, some of which I would call anecdotes and others I would call essays. White writes skilfully and with humour and insight about herself, friends, relatives and neighbours, places and events, drawing out the extra-ordinary in ordinary people and the quirkiness in everyday things and making insightful observations on human nature.

The Road to McCarthy the second book I read by Pete McCarthy. In the first, McCarthy's Bar, he drove around Ireland and stopped at every bar that had his name on it, and visited various interesting places and met all sorts of people. In this one, he chases the Irish heritage all over the world, from Australia to Alaska, with various stops in between.

The third favourite of the month is His Name is John, an interesting take on the paranormal mystery genre, with an engaging lead and an intriguing story-line, even though I quickly figured out some of the mystery. This is one of those "the less said, the better" stories, so I will not mention what it's about, except that there are three mysteries involved, two murders separated by decades and whether or not "John" is real and if he is, who he was in life.

The Books:
  • Mary Calmes: Tooth & Nail. Urban fantasy romance, M/M.
  • Anah Crow & Dianne Fox: Driven to Distraction. Contemporary romance, M/M.
  • Diana DeRicci: A Fated Love. Contemporary romance, M/M.
  • Cat Grant: The First Real Thing. Contemporary romance, M/M.
  • Dorien Grey: His Name is John. Murder mystery, paranormal.
  • Helen L. Kaufman: The Little Book of Music Anecdotes. Non-fiction, Anecdotes.
  • Josh Lanyon: Icecapade. Contemporary romance, M/M.
  • Pete McCarthy: The Road to McCarthy. Travelogue.
  • Various : Reflections of Love. Romantic short stories, M/M.
  • Bailey White: Sleeping at the Starlite Motel, and other adventures on the way back home. Vignettes/Essays.


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