Skip to main content

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.



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Book 40: The Martian by Andy Weir, audiobook read by Wil Wheaton

Note : This will be a general scattershot discussion about my thoughts on the book and the movie, and not a cohesive review. When movies are based on books I am interested in reading but haven't yet read, I generally wait to read the book until I have seen the movie, but when a movie is made based on a book I have already read, I try to abstain from rereading the book until I have seen the movie. The reason is simple: I am one of those people who can be reduced to near-incoherent rage when a movie severely alters the perfectly good story line of a beloved book, changes the ending beyond recognition or adds unnecessarily to the story ( The Hobbit , anyone?) without any apparent reason. I don't mind omissions of unnecessary parts so much (I did not, for example, become enraged to find Tom Bombadil missing from The Lord of the Rings ), because one expects that - movies based on books would be TV-series long if they tried to include everything, so the material must be pared down

List love: 10 recommended stories with cross-dressing characters

This trope is almost as old as literature, what with Achilles, Hercules and Athena all cross-dressing in the Greek myths, Thor and Odin disguising themselves as women in the Norse myths, and Arjuna doing the same in the Mahabaratha. In modern times it is most common in romance novels, especially historicals in which a heroine often spends part of the book disguised as a boy, the hero sometimes falling for her while thinking she is a boy. Occasionally a hero will cross-dress, using a female disguise to avoid recognition or to gain access to someplace where he would never be able to go as a man. However, the trope isn’t just found in romances, as may be seen in the list below, in which I recommend stories with a variety of cross-dressing characters. Unfortunately I was only able to dredge up from the depths of my memory two book-length stories I had read in which men cross-dress, so this is mostly a list of women dressed as men. Ghost Riders by Sharyn McCrumb. One of the interwove

Icelandic folk-tale: The Devil Takes a Wife

Stories of people who have made a deal with and then beaten the devil exist all over Christendom and even in literature. Here is a typical one: O nce upon a time there were a mother and daughter who lived together. They were rich and the daughter was considered a great catch and had many suitors, but she accepted no-one and it was the opinion of many that she intended to stay celebrate and serve God, being a very devout  woman. The devil didn’t like this at all and took on the form of a young man and proposed to the girl, intending to seduce her over to his side little by little. He insinuated himself into her good graces and charmed her so thoroughly that she accepted his suit and they were betrothed and eventually married. But when the time came for him to enter the marriage bed the girl was so pure and innocent that he couldn’t go near her. He excused himself by saying that he couldn’t sleep and needed a bath in order to go to sleep. A bath was prepared for him and in he went and