7. Gods Behaving Badly, by Marie Phillips – Too fun to read. If you like Greek mythology with all the fun the gods had in Olympia, this will absolutely crash that party. Phillips sticks the main gods in modern-day London and chaos ensues. Apollo, god of the Sun, makes his debut as a TV psychic; Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty, makes her living as a phone sex operator; Zeus has reduced to the crazy invalid in the attic. My personal favorite is Eros (commonly, Cupid), who is a born-again Christian. SoFun.
8. The Last Queen, by C.W. Gortner – I’m starting to get hooked on these historical fiction novels. This one is about Juana la Loca, or Queen Juana the Mad, heiress to Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. It’s told from her perspective (and probably with a lot of liberties taken), but has piqued my interest in this little-known Queen who, despite being held prisoner by her husband, Archduke Philip of Flanders, and later by her father, kept her title safe and paved the way for her children to inherit the throne of Spain. What this novel educated me on was the politics of Spain during the fragile time of colonization. Queen Isabella was actually the hierarchy, and Ferdinand was in fact merely governor of Aragon, a lesser kingdom. Their marriage fused together what is now Spain, and Isabella’s cunning betrothels of her five children led to alliances across medieval Europe: Portugal, Austria, England…very cool.
9. Train to Trieste, by Domnica Radulescu – It was almost short of too laborious to read. Her prose is elegant and astonishing, but it seemed like there wasn’t quite enough…I don’t know what it is, because the plot was good (about a Romanian refugee who finds herself in America) and you can tell the author writes from experience. But it was lacking something, maybe an empathetic narrator. I couldn’t quite bring myself to care that much about her, but aside from that, the author is obviously very talented in forming words and pictures.