Philippa Gregory: Earthly Joys
No string, but lots of plants. This novelization of famous botanist and gardener John Tradescant’s life emphasizes his interactions with the rich and famous of his day (the end of Queen Elizabeth’s reign in England, through James and Charles). It seemed kind of light to me, though it really isn’t by the standards of historical romance, but a good read.
Eloisa James: Desperate Duchesses, Talk of the Ton
Guilty pleasure: Romance novels, but with a snobby twist: the author is a tenured English professor at Fordham. After she got tenure, she admitted to writing romance novels on the side. Eloisa James (pseudonym) can write, and has a good eye for characterization, plus a penchant for sticking in literary references. The second book listed is a collection of four pieces by different authors. The Eloisa James story was best, I think. Of the other three writers, two are award-winners, but the second-best story was by the last, relatively unknown, author.
Michael Flynn: Eifelheim
Michael Flynn is one of my favorite SF authors. This was a bit of a departure from his other, more hard SF books that I’ve read, taking place in both the near-future and the fourteenth century. Flynn has done his homework on both the modern-day science and the historical background. It doesn’t surprise me that this was nominated for a Hugo.
Alexander McCall Smith: Portuguese Irregular Verbs, At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances, The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs
McCall Smith is one of the authors I turn to for sweet but not sappy, relaxing light reading about real-seeming people. These didn’t disappoint. They feature an egotistical professor with a knack for getting into odd situations.
Jacqueline Carey: Kushiel’s Avatar
Continuing along with the dark-fantasy Kushiel series. Our heroine engages in yet more and larger adventures, but loses some of the novelty of the earlier books in the series (but happily also most of the whining).
Running total: 37