Since mid-March (the beginning of our social distancing), I have read 24 books. There's nothing like being stuck in your house to keep you working towards your Goodreads goal.
While I've managed to read a lot of books, the books had to be carefully chosen. The world was stressful. I needed books that relieved that stress. There were times I was binging one series of books. There were times I needed something totally different. I tended towards books with humor, but even more towards books with strong, adventurous plots.
In March and April, I was consumed by gardens. When I searched for novels about gardens, Kate Morton's The Forgotten Garden kept coming up. I am so glad it did. The book tells the story of young child who arrives in Australia aboard a ship without anyone accompanying her. She is taken in by a loving family, but later in her life she begins to explore her origins. After her death, her granddaughter must find the answers.
Kate Morton's approach in story telling is to mix a present day story with a mystery from the past. The interwoven plots keep the story moving and the reader thoroughly enthralled. I later read her book The Secret Keeper, which I enjoyed just as much. I look forward to reading many more Kate Morton books.
I discovered the Royal Spyness series a couple of years ago while looking for Christmas mysteries. I happened upon The Twelve Clues of Christmas, the sixth book in the series, and I listened to the audiobook, which I greatly enjoyed it. After Christmas, I listened to books one and two in the series while walking our dog. During quarantine, when I was looking for something funny and entertaining, I remembered this series. I proceeded to listen to or read every remaining book in the series.
Her Royal Spyness mystery series, set in the 1930s, is about Georgie, the daughter (and now sister) of a Duke and a cousin to the British royal family. Georgia is fictional, but many of the people she encounters are not. Queen Mary makes regular appearances as does the then-Prince of Wales (you know, the one who later renounces the throne) and, of course, Wallace Simpson. Georgie's mother is dating a prominent German, so there is an undercurrent of the Hitler threat which build as the books progress.
The series works because, while she is related to royalty, Georgie is completely relatable to the reader. She is completely broke, not to mention awkward and accident prone.
I love the audiobooks for this series because the original narrator, Katherine Kellgren, provides the most amazing listening experience. She captures all the various accents: the aristocratic British accent, the cockney accent, a few Scottish accents, an Irish accent (for Georgie's love interest--Darcy O'Mara) and numerous International accents. Sadly, Ms. Kellgren passed away in 2018. I opted to read the books she did not narrate, because I just couldn't bear listening to someone else narrate the audiobook.
While I recommend starting this series with book one and reading it in order, here are a few of my favorites.
I discovered the Amelia Peabody series a couple of summers ago and wrote about it here. I have continued to enjoy these books and I read a couple of the best books in the series during COVID-19. In fact, when I first became aware that we might find ourselves in lockdown, I quickly ordered these books so I could read them during that time.
Like the Royal Spyness books, this series combines humor, mystery and history. Amelia Peabody works with her Egyptologist husband, Emerson, in the early twentieth century. Barbara Mertz (the real name of the author) had a PhD in Egyptology and fills her books with Ancient Egyptian facts as well as historical figures (Egyptologists) from the time period in which the Emersons work.
But don't think these books are heavy historical reads. The books are so funny. Amelia's take on thing as well as her lack of self-awareness are fantastically humorous. There's a constant bemoaning by fans online that these books have not been turned into movies. The stories really would be excellent on film.
Here are the Amelia Peabody books I read during quarantine.