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Books Hold Memories & Magic

Posted in Personal Blog

I was recently tagged on Facebook, via a friend,  to do a daily upload for a book challenge celebrating book week ~ ” The Challenge is to post the covers of seven books that I love: no explanations, no reviews, no comments – just the cover”.

I was a little late to the party but I still completed the challenge. However, it didn’t require me to explain my choices and so I decided to put my reasons down in a blog post instead.

I LOVE books and there are so many I could pick so I decided to go back and think of the books that held memories or magic for me instead. I know I cheated a bit by posting a couple of book series but I couldn’t just pick the one. For me they are all the one book but just very long.

Books whisk me away to a magical land where nothing can touch me as I delve deeper into the story and become part of it. When I read I become deaf, dumb, and blind. Blissfully unaware so engrossed that I don’t hear or see anyone or anything whilst I am under it’s spell.

Unfortunately I am unable to physically read just at the moment ~ it’s my brain, it’s having a rest. So instead I have audible and download my favourite books onto there to listen to instead. Through this medium I am taken far deeper into the story via the voices playing the different parts as they pass through my earphones into my mind. During my time of “reading via audible” I am even more deaf, dumb and blind to what is going on around me because I close my eyes as I listen and nothing else exists.

The books I have held and enjoyed have formed memories, I can remember the emotions they evoked and why they were so important to me.

These choices are not my top 7 all time favourite books (well one is) but they are the ones that hold special memories, they spun their magic spell upon me and “poof” I was transported elsewhere.

I’m not doing a review of the books, just why they are special and hold memories for me ~ this is because if you are tempted to read any of the titles I don’t want to give out any spoilers. Instead I have included the blurbs from Goodreads for you to get a feel for what the books are about.

So in reverse order my choices are..

Dune ~ written by Frank Herbertday 1I have read all of the Dune book series and although I enjoyed all of them, the first book drew me in immediately and held me in its spell until the moment I put it down at the end. My copy of the first book was a solid hardback and felt hefty in my hands. It was a good solid book to hold and had that musty old book smell as I found it in a second hand book store and bought it for pennies. I have reread it many times until, to my dismay, I lent it to a friend and they lost it.

The following books in the series were also second hand book store / car boot finds. I found them hugely enjoyable but for me, more of a way to find out how it all ended, rather than being drawn in as deeply into the story as the first.

I did watch the film and found it better than I thought it would be. The characters in my imagination from reading the book first never match those cast in the films they make though.

I always make it a mission to read the books before watching the films because if I do it the other way round the characters become the film star who portrayed them and ruins my ability to imagine for myself what the character would really be like.

If you haven’t read Dune I would highly recommend it along with the following books, to discover the full circle that follows from this first novel. I love science fiction novels and this one is one of the best for me.

I have just recently downloaded the audible version of this book and am itching to start listening, I have however to finish my current book first.

SO, if you haven’t read these books I will share the blurb with you (so definitely no plot spoilers!)..

“Set in the far future amidst a sprawling feudal interstellar empire where planetary dynasties are controlled by noble houses that owe an allegiance to the imperial House Corrino, Dune tells the story of young Paul Atreides (the heir apparent to Duke Leto Atreides and heir of House Atreides) as he and his family accept control of the desert planet Arrakis, the only source of the ‘spice’ melange, the most important and valuable substance in the cosmos. The story explores the complex, multi-layered interactions of politics, religion, ecology, technology, and human emotion as the forces of the empire confront each other for control of Arrakis.

Published in 1965, it won the Hugo Award in 1966 and the inaugural Nebula Award for Best Novel. Dune is frequently cited as the world’s best-selling sf novel.”

The Lovely Bones ~ written by Alice Sebold
day 2My sister~in~law passed this book onto me, knowing I would love it. I have it as a keeper in my book collection and love the bittersweet story that unfolds. I have read it over and over, following up by watching the film which I think did an excellent job of keeping as close to the book version as possible. The casting too was just how I imagined them to be in my head.

I am currently listening to it on audible, the familiarity is soothing and the story so special, I can’t fully explain why I love it so much but I really do.

If you are curious to know more about the book I would definitely encourage you to give it a go ~ and I hope you love it as much as I do.

Here is the blurb to give you a little insight into what it’s about..

“The Lovely Bones is the story of a family devastated by a gruesome murder — a murder recounted by the teenage victim. Upsetting, you say? Remarkably, first-time novelist Alice Sebold takes this difficult material and delivers a compelling and accomplished exploration of a fractured family’s need for peace and closure.

The details of the crime are laid out in the first few pages: from her vantage point in heaven, Susie Salmon describes how she was confronted by the murderer one December afternoon on her way home from school. Lured into an underground hiding place, she was raped and killed. But what the reader knows, her family does not. Anxiously, we keep vigil with Susie, aching for her grieving family, desperate for the killer to be found and punished.

Sebold creates a heaven that’s calm and comforting, a place whose residents can have whatever they enjoyed when they were alive — and then some. But Susie isn’t ready to release her hold on life just yet, and she intensely watches her family and friends as they struggle to cope with a reality in which she is no longer a part. To her great credit, Sebold has shaped one of the most loving and sympathetic fathers in contemporary literature.”

3. The “Flowers in the Attic” Series ~ written by Virginia Andrews
Day 3The Box set of Virginia Andrews Flowers in the Attic series helped see me through the turbulent and unhappy years at boarding school from the age of 11 through to 16. I wasn’t boarding material and loathed the lack of privacy and rigidity of they system with very little alone time.

I escaped through these books and followed the characters lives as they progressed through the series. I read and reread them until they were very worn and shabby. I have no recollection of what happened to them when I left boarding school (hurrah!) at 16 to go to the local school in my hometown for the sixth form, the one that I should have been in from the start. Sadly I feel I have lost a number of books during our house moves (we have moved 11 times during our 25 year marriage) and I fear this box set was one of the unlucky losses.

Prequel ~ Garden Of Shadows
“Before terror flowered in the attic there was a young girl. An innocent, hopeful girl…
When young Olivia arrives at Foxworth Hall, she thinks her marriage to handsome Malcolm will bring the joy she has longed for. But in the gloomy mansion filled with festering desires and forbidden passions, a stain of jealous obsession begins to spread—an evil that will threaten her children, two charming boys and one very special, beautiful girl. For within the halls of this cursed house a shocking secret lives. A secret that will taint the Foxworth family for generations to come…”

Book 1 ~ Flowers In The Attic.
“Such wonderful children. Such a beautiful mother. Such a lovely house. Such endless terror!
It wasn’t that she didn’t love her children. She did. But there was a fortune at stake—a fortune that would assure their later happiness if she could keep the children a secret from her dying father.
So she and her mother hid her darlings away in an unused attic.
Just for a little while.
But the brutal days swelled into agonizing years. Now Cathy, Chris, and the twins wait in their cramped and helpless world, stirred by adult dreams, adult desires, served a meager sustenance by an angry, superstitious grandmother who knows that the Devil works in dark and devious ways. Sometimes he sends children to do his work—children who—one by one—must be destroyed….
‘Way upstairs there are four secrets hidden. Blond, beautiful, innocent struggling to stay alive….”

Book 2 ~ Petals On The Wind
“They were such brave children to withstand such suffering. Such clever children to escape such terror!
For Carrie, Chris and Cathy, the attic was a dark horror that would not leave their minds, even while they built bright, promising new lives. Of course mother had to pretend they didn’t exist.
And Grandmother was convinced they had the devil in them.
But that wasn’t their fault. Was it? Cathy knew what to do.
She now had the powers she had learned from her beautiful mother. She knew it in the way her brother still yearned for her, in the way her guardian touched her, in the way all men looked at her.
She knew it was time to put what she knew to the test. To show her mother and grandmother that the pain and terror of the attic could not be forgotten… Show them.
Show them—once and for all.”

Book 3 ~ If There Be Thorns
“Out of the ashes of evil Chris and Cathy made such a loving home for their splendid children…
Fourteen-year-old Jory was so handsome, so gentle. And Bart had such a dazzling imagination for a nine year old.
Then the lights came on in the abandoned house next door. Soon the Old Lady in Black was there, watching their home with prying eyes, guarded by her strange old butler. Soon the shrouded woman had Bart over for cookies and ice cream and asked him to call her “Grandmother.”
And soon Bart’s transformation began…
A transformation that sprang from “the book of secrets” the gaunt old butler had given him… a transformation fed by the hint of terrible things about his mother and father… a transformation that led him into shocking acts of violence, self-destruction and perversity.
And now while this little boy trembles on the edge of madness, his anguished parents, his helpless brother, an obsessed old woman and the vengeful, powerful butler await the climax to a horror that flowered in an attic long ago, a horror whose thorns are still wet with blood, still tipped with fire….”

Book 4 ~ Seeds Of Yesterday
“The final, haunting novel in the extraordinary story that has enthralled millions!
The horror began with Flowers in the Attic, the terrifying tale of four innocent children locked away from the world by a cruel mother.
The shocking fury continued with Petals on the Wind and If There Be Thorns. Now V.C. Andrews has created the last dark chapter in the strange, chilling tale of passion and peril that has captivated millions of readers around the world.
Cathy and Chris, entwined with the evil that haunts their children, living with the fearful spectre of Foxworth Hall, are awaiting the final, shuddering climax… prisoners of a past they cannot escape.”

4. The Heidi Series
Day 4When I was growing up I used to sit on the landing by the bookcases running my hands along the spines of all the wonderful hard backed books. These were mums books that she had as a child, The Famous Five series, Naughtiest Girl in the School Series, Malory Towers Series, St Clare Books and of course the fabulous Heidi hard backed books.

I loved the simplicity of the Heidi books and how she had such a bond with her Grandfather, up in the mountains with the goats.

Book 1 ~ Heidi  ~ written by Johanna Spyris
“Little orphan Heidi goes to live high in the Alps with her gruff grandfather and brings happiness to all who know her on the mountain. When Heidi goes to Frankfurt to work in a wealthy household, she dreams of returning to the mountains and meadows, her friend Peter, and her beloved grandfather. “

Book 2 ~ Heidi Grows Up ~ written by Charles Tritten, when Johanna Spyris died Charles, who was her French and English translator decided to continue the Heidi series. Apparently he wrote 4 books but the final two were never translated into English.
This second book follows Heidi as she goes through her school years, her relationship with her aging grandfather and her romance with Peter.

Book 3 ~ Heidi’s Children ~ written by Charles Tritten
This final book in the series (excluding the ones not translated into English) follows Heidi and Peter as they become parents. It delves into the Grandfathers history and his relationship as he welcomes Heidi’s children into the world. It also includes further characters which you become invested in ~ anything more and I may spoil the plot for you.

I loved all the Heidi books and still do, the highs and lows, getting to know her Grandfather and the reason she lives with him. How her relationship with Peter the goat herder blossoms into love, all the way through to their marriage and children.

Memoirs of a Geisha ~ written by Arthur Golden
Day 5This is a fabulous book ~ one I was drawn to as I was curious about the Geisha history, training and lifestyle. This book doesn’t disappoint, I have read it numerous times but have sadly lost my copy of this book. I had the paperback which had become rather sad and shabby to look at, I thought it was in the book case but it isn’t so must have been lost somehow in one of our house moves.

I had a look on audible but they only have the abridged version ~ so it’s one to put on the back burner until I can read the physical copy of it.

“A literary sensation and runaway bestseller, this brilliant debut novel presents with seamless authenticity and exquisite lyricism the true confessions of one of Japan’s most celebrated geisha.
In Memoirs of a Geisha, we enter a world where appearances are paramount; where a girl’s virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love is scorned as illusion. It is a unique and triumphant work of fiction – at once romantic, erotic, suspenseful – and completely unforgettable.”

The Shepherds Crown ~ written by Terry Pratchett
day 6I adore all things PTerry, I love the Discworld series along with all his other works and short stories. I was exceptionally upset when he passed and held off reading this book for many weeks.

I found this last book so emotional, the story arc of Granny Weatherwax and Tiffany Aching brought me to tears. I’m not quite sure whether it was the story or the fact that this is the last ever Discworld book that made me so upset.

I have the complete Discworld series and they are all very much loved and treasured. I have read each book several times and this last one only the once. I intend, when I am once again able to read, to start from the beginning and read them in the order they were released.

If you haven’t tried any Terry Pratchett books then I would urge you to dip your toe in and give him a whirl. I love the humour and wit that’s part and parcel of a Discworld novel. Each character is painted so cleverly with his words so that you can clearly see in your minds eye what they look like, their mannerisms and way of speaking.

I miss the thrill of waiting for the next in the series being released and am just so very grateful that Terry has left behind a wealth of books in his wake to carry on his memory for generations to come. I shall be encouraging my grandchildren to read them and as soon as they are old enough shall read “Where’s My Cow” to them too.

Mini blurb about Where’s My Cow ~ too good to pass up..“At six o’clock every day, without fail, with no excuses, Sam Vimes must go home to read Where’s My Cow?, with all the right farmyard noises, to his little boy. There are some things you have to do. It is the most loved and chewed book in the world. But his father wonders why it is full of moo-cows and baa-lambs when Young Sam will only ever see them cooked on a plate. He can think of a more useful book for a boy who lives in a city. So Sam Vimes starts adapting the story. A story with streets, not fields. A book with rogues and villains. A book about the place where he’ll grow up.”

So to the blurb for The Shepherd’s Crown..
“Deep in the Chalk, something is stirring. The owls and the foxes can sense it, and Tiffany Aching feels it in her boots. An old enemy is gathering strength.
This is a time of endings and beginnings, old friends and new, a blurring of edges and a shifting of power. Now Tiffany stands between the light and the dark, the good and the bad.
As the fairy horde prepares for invasion, Tiffany must summon all the witches to stand with her. To protect the land. Her land.
There will be a reckoning…”

Good Omens ~ written by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Day 7I have to say hand on heart this is my all time favourite book. It combines the great talents of friends Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. After Terrys passing Neil has been working to see the book become a television adaptation, ensuring right down to the last detail that it shares the vision that he had with Terry when they wrote it.

I have read and reread this book more times than I can remember. I also have the Radio 4 play version of this book on audible and have listened to that numerous times too.

I am a huge geek and eagerly, excitedly, impatiently waiting for the television adaptation as the casting so far seems to be spot on with how I imagined the characters. I love the wonderful humour and interaction of the characters, the innocence of a young boys imagination and the journey following the predictions written by Agnes Nutter, Witch,  in her Nice and Accurate Prophecies.

If you are interested just google the Radio 4 adaptation ~ it was adapted, sound designed and co-directed by Dirk Maggs (Neverwhere, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) featuring a large cast including Peter Serafinowicz, Mark Heap, Josie Lawrence and Paterson Joseph.

“According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (the world’s only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner.
So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.
And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist . . .”

You have to admit ~ that trailer is looking like it’s going to be pretty damn good ~ which is why I am so impatient and excited to see it.

For me books really do hold some magic within their pages, in fiction you get total escapism where you can let your imagination roll along with the story. In biographies you get to peek inside someone else’s life and head. Memories come from the significance they had for me in a certain time in my life.


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