Here in Britain we were in lockdown from the end of March and this week I went back to work, so I thought I would list the books I read during lockdown and give them all a rating. All the books I read were a great escape from reality and I loved sitting outside in the sunshine with them.
The Garden of Lost and Found by Harriet Evans – 4/5 Stars
Blurb: Nightingale House, 1919. Liddy Horner discovers her husband, the world-famous artist Sir Edward Horner, burning his best-known painting The Garden of Lost and Found days before his sudden death.
Nightingale House was the Horner family’s beloved home – a gem of design created to inspire happiness – and it was here Ned painted ‘The Garden of Lost and Found’, capturing his children on a perfect day, playing in the rambling Eden he and Liddy made for them.
One magical moment. Before it all came tumbling down…
When Ned and Liddy’s great-granddaughter Juliet is sent the key to Nightingale House, she opens the door onto a forgotten world. The house holds its mysteries close but she is in search of answers. For who would choose to destroy what they love most? Whether Ned’s masterpiece – or, in Juliet’s case, her own children’s happiness.
Something shattered this corner of paradise. But what?
I read the end of this during the first week of lockdown. It’s perfect for anyone who loves historical fiction. My full review is here.
A Feast For Crows by George R.R. Martin – 5/5 Stars
Blurb: The war in the Seven Kingdoms has burned itself out, but in its bitter aftermath new conflicts spark to life. The Martells of Dorne and the Starks of Winterfell seek vengeance for their dead. Euron Crow’s Eye, as black a pirate as ever raised a sail, returns from the smoking ruins of Valyria to claim the Iron Isles.
From the icy north, where Others threaten the Wall, apprentice Maester Samwell Tarly brings a mysterious babe in arms to the Citadel. As plots, intrigue and battle threaten to engulf Westeros, victory will go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel and the coldest hearts.
I love this book so much, it’s my favourite in ASOIAF so far. Nearly all of my favourites have POV chapters and it’s incredibly dramatic.
The Virgin’s War by Laura Andersen – 4/5 Stars
Blurb: It’s 1585, and the balance of European power is tilting dangerously toward war. It will take all of Elizabeth Tudor’s skill and wiles to defend England from the looming threat of the Spanish Armada.
Complicating matters is Elizabeth’s beloved daughter—the result of the Queen’s tempestuous marriage with her worst enemy: King Philip of Spain.
As Elizabeth commits her riches, her honor, and her people to the coming war, the Queen will risk everything—even her own life—to preserve England’s freedom.
This was a great finale to the Tudor Legacy trilogy. I still miss the characters now! My full review is here.
Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty (Audiobook) – 3/5 Stars
Blurb: Yvonne Carmichael sits in the witness box. The charge is murder. Before all of this, she was happily married, a successful scientist, a mother of two. Now she’s a suspect, squirming under fluorescent lights and the penetrating gaze of the alleged accomplice who’s sitting across from her, watching: a man who’s also her lover. As Yvonne faces hostile questioning, she must piece together the story of her affair with this unnamed figure who has charmed and haunted her. This is a tale of sexual intrigue, ruthless urges, and danger, which has blindsided her from a seemingly innocuous angle. Here in the courtroom, everything hinges on one night in a dark alley called Apple Tree Yard.
The book was gripping because it started with a court case but we didn’t know what crime had been committed. Then it flashed back through the characters lives. I enjoyed it but it did drag slightly in the middle.
A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin – 4.5 Stars
Blurb: In the aftermath of a colossal battle, new threats are emerging from every direction.
Tyrion Lannister, having killed his father, and wrongfully accused of killing his nephew, King Joffrey, has escaped from King’s Landing with a price on his head.
To the north lies the great Wall of ice and stone – a structure only as strong as those guarding it. Eddard Stark’s bastard son Jon Snow has been elected 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. But Jon has enemies both inside and beyond the Wall.
And in the east Daenerys Targaryen struggles to hold a city built on dreams and dust.
This destroys me at the end. I just want The Winds of Winter to come out!
Sanditon by Jane Austen – 3/5 Stars
Blurb: Written in the last months of Austen’s life, Sanditon features a glorious cast of hypochondriacs and speculators in a newly established seaside resort, and shows the author contemplating a changing society with scepticism and amusement. It tells the story of Charlotte Heywood, who is transported by a chance accident from her rural hometown to Sanditon, where she is exposed to the intrigues and dalliances of a small town – and encounters the intriguingly handsome Sidney Parker.
I enjoyed this because Jane Austen’s style is great but I actually preferred the television adaptation. To be fair to Jane this is one of her unfinished works but I still really liked all the quirky characters.
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
Blurb: Milk and honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. About the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose. Deals with a different pain. Heals a different heartache. ‘milk and honey’ takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.
A stunning collection of poems, I really related to them. I don’t usually read poetry but I’m glad I read these.
The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris – 3.5/5 Stars
Blurb: Vianne Rocher has settled down. Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, the place that once rejected her, has finally become her home. With Rosette, her ‘special’ child, she runs her chocolate shop in the square, talks to her friends on the river, is part of the community. Even Reynaud, the priest, has become a friend.
But when old Narcisse, the florist, dies, leaving a parcel of land to Rosette and a written confession to Reynaud, the life of the sleepy village is once more thrown into disarray. The arrival of Narcisse’s relatives, the departure of an old friend and the opening of a mysterious new shop in the place of the florist’s across the square – one that mirrors the chocolaterie, and has a strange appeal of its own – all seem to herald some kind of change: a confrontation, a turbulence – even, perhaps, a murder…
I enjoyed this book, I liked reading about the subtle magic the characters could do and being transported to the small French village.
Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker (Audiobook) – 3.5/5 Stars
Blurb: Sleep is one of the most important but least understood aspects of our life, wellness, and longevity. Until very recently, science had no answer to the question of why we sleep, or what good it served, or why we suffer such devastating health consequences when we don’t sleep. Compared to the other basic drives in life—eating, drinking, and reproducing—the purpose of sleep remained elusive.
I love a non-fiction audiobook! This was really interesting and made me think about some of my harmful sleeping habits.
The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman – 4.5/5 Stars
Blurb: It is seven years since readers left Lyra and the love of her young life, Will Parry, on a park bench in Oxford’s Botanic Gardens at the end of the ground-breaking, bestselling His Dark Materials sequence.
Now, in The Secret Commonwealth, we meet Lyra Silvertongue. And she is no longer a child . . .
The second volume of Sir Philip Pullman’s The Book of Dust sees Lyra, now twenty years old, and her daemon Pantalaimon, forced to navigate their relationship in a way they could never have imagined, and drawn into the complex and dangerous factions of a world that they had no idea existed.
Pulled along on his own journey too is Malcolm; once a boy with a boat and a mission to save a baby from the flood, now a man with a strong sense of duty and a desire to do what is right
Theirs is a world at once familiar and extraordinary, and they must travel far beyond the edges of Oxford, across Europe and into Asia, in search for what is lost – a city haunted by daemons, a secret at the heart of a desert, and the mystery of the elusive Dust.
I’m so glad this book exists, I really enjoyed it, especially seeing Lyra as an adult. My full review is here.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins – 5/5 Stars
Blurb: It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.
The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined—every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute . . . and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.
I’m still reeling from this book. It’s so clever, I love a prequel and this exceeded all my expectations. My full review is here.
Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty – 4/5 Stars
Blurb: The retreat at health-and-wellness resort Tranquillum House promises total transformation.
Nine stressed city dwellers are keen to drop their literal and mental baggage, and absorb the meditative ambience while enjoying their hot stone massages.
Miles from anywhere, without cars or phones, they have no way to reach the outside world. Just time to think about themselves, and get to know each other.
Watching over them is the resort’s director, a woman on a mission. But quite a different one from any the guests might have imagined.
For behind the retreat’s glamorous facade lies a dark agenda.
These nine perfect strangers have no idea what’s about to hit them . . .
I really enjoyed this book, the psychological side of it was interesting. My full review is here.
I am thankful to these books for helping me escape reality during this scary and strange time. I also noticed that my reading speed has got much quicker as well!