My First Book Books have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. The first book on my list is a book my dad got me before I cold even talk, let alone read! It is an encyclopedia called World Of Wonder Encyclopedia. My dad bought it for my me in 1978 when I was only 2 years old – he was always very keen for me to have an interest in reading and be a fountain of knowledge, I can at least say he got his first wish. This book has been referred to throughout my life for little facts and figures and was always my first reference point when tackling school homework. Even though it is in a bit of a state, and quite out of date (there are no references to mobile phones or xbox), my 12 year old daughter sometimes uses it for the same purposes I did. It is an item I could never imagine not having in my life.
My First Grown Up Book Ghost House by Clare McNally was the very first ‘grown-up’ novel I read. I have been a member of the library since I was 5 years old and have always been a regular borrower. Children were always allowed to borrow 3 books at a time but when you were 11 you could move up to an adult ticket and borrow 6 books. I chose this book because it looked like the scariest book on the shelf, and the blurb seemed to confirm my suspicions. I wasn’t disappointed, it was, and still is, one of the scariest books I have ever read. The plot is a typical ghost story – family move into their dream home hoping to live happy ever after only to discover they have a malevolent Victorian male spirit that mistakenly thinks the female protagonist is his long dead lover. He sets out to destroy anyone he sees as a threat. It’s a very easy read and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a scare. Whenever I read this book before bed I always had to read a chapter of something else to prevent nightmares. Goodreads.com say “not even Amityville Horror can prepare you for Ghost House”.
My Awakening My school history lessons always led me to believe that the Victorian era was a time of poverty, hardship and above all prudence, Dickens was always a favourite as a child! However, Sarah Waters educated me in a way that school didn’t. Waters is often described as the lesbian Dickens, and Fingersmith lives up to this description. Its quite a gothic story about a young orphan named Sue Trinder who is brought up by a ‘family’ of thieves – Fingersmiths, much like the youngsters in Oliver Twist. The groups leader “Gentleman” persuades Sue to play a key role in a scam to rob a rich young woman named Maud Lilly. Sue most gain employment as rich, naive, Maud’s maid then push her into the arms of the charming Mr Rivers, who is of course Gentleman, who will then strip her off her inheritance and dump her in an asylum. However there is a brilliant twist and the novel becomes a much darker tale of violence, abuse, betrayal, secrets and .... shock, horror ........ Some erotic girl love – although it is nowhere near as Waters first novel Tipping the Velvet. Everyone must read this book, not only for the eroticism, of which I am personally a big fan of, but for the story itself. There are so many twists and turns it keeps you gripped till the very last word, and no matter how good you think your instincts are you can NEVER predict what will happen next.
Witchcraft For as long as I can remember I have had an interest in witches, I sometimes fancy I may have been one in a previous life! As a child I used to love the Jill Murphy series of books The Worst Witch, the Harry Potter of my childhood, that told the adventures of trainee witch Mildred Hubble . My fascination has never dwindled and I have developed a keen interest in historical, true witch stories. Mother Shipton, and the Pendle Witch trials are favourite cases which I hope to learn more about in the future.
The Lancashire Witches Written by William Harrison Ainsworth in the mid 1800’s it is based loosely on the true story of the Pendle Witches. It is quite a difficult read due to the author writing in Lancastrian dialect of the period. The story starts in Henry VIII’s reign when a monk is falsely accused of witchcraft and condemned to death by Brother Paslew, his rival. The monk sells his soul to the devil and escapes. Granted the powers of a warlock he returns years later in the guise of Nicholas Demdike to witness Paslews execution for treason. Paslew curses Demdike and his offspring who turn out to be the infamous Pendle witches.
The novel then jumps to the 17th century, Mother Demdike, Nicholas descendant and powerful witch, and her coven face rival witches. Demdike raises young innocent Alison Devise as her own and tries to corrupt her. The book ultimately becomes a struggle between heaven and hell and no one has a happy ending. The author was a Lancastrian and would have grown up hearing the legend of the Pendle witches so the book uses facts from the real story, for example he includes accounts of William Hopkins who was appointed by James 1 to hunt down and prosecute suspected witches. His “evidence” was fundamental in the trials of the 9 alleged witches who were executed at Lancaster Castle. This book is like Harry Potter for grown ups, it has witches flying on broomsticks, shapeshifting familiars and disappearing in a puff of smoke. The only thing that would make this book better for me would be a character based on my heroine, Anne Boleyn who was also allegedly a witch!
My Most Precious Possession This is a very sentimental choice, and like the first book on my list is also non-fiction and hails back to my childhood. It’s my grandad’s Collins Gem pocketbook of Wild Flowers. When I was little I spent most of my time with my nan and grandad. Every Sunday morning while my nan prepared the roast dinner my grandad and I would take a walk in the local countryside. My grandad was a very rare breed and I know I will never meet another like him if I live to be 100, he adored nature and his love of the countryside rubbed off on me. When we were out on our walks he would teach me the names of wild flowers, if we came across one we didn’t know he would pull this book out of his pocket and look it up. The book is broken down into subsections for ease of reference such as colour or leaf shape. If however, we still couldn’t find it we would pick one(but only if there was more than one specimen) and press it between the pages to take home for further research. This book was like our bible! I didn’t see my grandad for some months before he died, but finding it among his belongings with the inscription “To Michelle from Grandad Ken” makes it one of the most precious items I possess.
My Guilty Pleasures Anything by Martina Cole – I own every book she has written. Gangland London underworld full of sex and violence! Mandasue Heller – similar to Cole but based in Manchester Mark Billingham – I cant resist the charm of Detective Tom Thorne
What am I reading now? A fantastic read, especially good for any new English Literature students – it is bursting with metaphors, similes and personification – and the story is good too!