I once owned many, many books – shelves full of books. But lately, things have changed for me. I moved – and if I had taken everything with me, only my loads and loads of books would probably have filled an entire shipping container. I, therefore, decided on a handful of my favorites and I donated the rest of them. (that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re lost, after all, I have most of them electronically on my e-reader).
But a few books had to travel with me – books that are antiques – books that would have been lost if I hadn’t taken them… favorite books – MY favorite books, to be precise. Let me tell you what books I’m talking about – and why…
After Englishman John Blackthorne is lost at sea, he awakens in a place few Europeans know of and even fewer have seen–Nippon. Thrust into the closed society that is seventeenth-century Japan, a land where the line between life and death is razor-thin, Blackthorne must negotiate not only a foreign people, with unknown customs and language, but also his own definitions of morality, truth, and freedom. As internal political strife and a clash of cultures lead to seemingly inevitable conflict, Blackthorne’s loyalty and strength of character are tested by both passion and loss, and he is torn between two worlds that will each be forever changed.
Shogun is considered one of the best books ever written and I agree. John Blackthorne is a strong and still sensitive character, adjustable and interesting, fascinating and still steady… each of the characters within this book are thrilling… they all have a dangerous and deadly side – no matter how fragile they seem to be. The book descriptions are detailed, the character development is impressive and the adventures, ‘The Anjin-san’ has to go through are changing him and the ones who meet him. Life and death, joy and sadness, plans, counter-plans, and the deepest secrets are that close together, they are tangled in a web of silk and makeup… It’s easy to read why I love that book so much, isn’t it?
Complete Winnetou Trilogy – 3-volume edition. The adventures of Old Shatterhand, the young German adventurer, and Winnetou, the young Apache chief. During his first journey into the Wild West, a young greenhorn—Karl May, the adventurer—meets a young Apache, called Winnetou, while performing his job as a railroad surveyor in the Wild West. The first encounter is not at all amicable and during a violent Indian attack, the young German is near-fatally wounded. He is taken to the Apache pueblo to be nursed back to health, destined to die by torture at the stake…
I particularly picked the entire Winnetou Trilogy, which means Winnetou I, II and III. I grew up with these books. (Actually, I grew up with the movies, but I’ll get to them later). The Winnetou adventures were written by German author Karl May. I loved the Winnetou and Old Shatterhand adventures when I was a kid. They were very fantastic and still, these two heroes, weren’t they just made to dream? They probably were. Winnetou, a young Apache chief meets his German friend in the first book. Not that they were friends from the beginning, they fought, before their friendship. Once they are ‘brothers’ they have to go through many adventures.
I only found out many years later that the movies I grew up with, were ‘loosely’ based on the Karl-May-books. I, very carefully, say loosely, because looking back, the books are quite good, even though they are not ‘only’ fiction – they are simply fantasy… the movies are simply craptastic!
I read the books and loved it – later on, I did some research about Karl May’s life and learned that my ‘far-traveled’ author-hero had never seen the United States when he started writing the Winnetou-books. This trilogy, by the way, doesn’t hold the only Winnetou-adventures. He wrote 18 Winnetou and Old Shatterhand adventures. Now: not only did Karl May never see the Wild West but he also had the outrageous impudence to write the books in the first person – as the ‘German Adventurer’ and makes himself ‘Sharlih’ – Winnetous brother and hero of the books. This, and parts of his inglorious life turned my high opinion about this author into a slight contempt… but I admit, my reluctance towards the author did not make me love the book characters less.
It is 1897, and a small ship sails the Caribbean, trading between the islands. This is the only home of a man and a girl who are runaways bearing false names, living constantly in fear of arrest for murder.
It was in a very different life that the girl, Casey, formerly known as Emma Delaney, married Oliver Foy and so became mistress of Diabolo Hall, one of the great houses of Jamaica. She found it a house well named, for indeed a devil dwelt there, a devil who meant to break her to his will.
Her beloved servant and retainer, Daniel Choong, put an end to that sinister marriage on the night of a great storm, and throughout the long sea-gypsy wanderings that followed, Casey has learnt the skills on which survival depends.
But this life is also to end in disaster, and Casey is brought penniless to England, there to meet again the man who is her friend’s enemy, the man who gambles, the man who possesses what voodoo believers fear as the ‘evil eye’. How love comes to Casey, and with it new danger and agonising decisions, is told in this latest Madeleine Brent story of mystery, romance and high adventure.
I picked this one book of the existing Madeleine Brent books for no particular reason. I love them all. Madeleine Brent, which was long one of the best-guarded secrets in the literary world, is the pseudonym of British author Peter O’Donnell.
His Madeleine Brent books were ‘Historical’ English Romance books, the heroines are young English ladies in unusual life situations who have to go through all kinds of adventures – until at the end a huge surprise turns everything into a Happy End. Oh – and there is quite a nice romance involved as well. The perfect cute books to read… unfortunately they don’t exist as e-books but only as mass paperbacks, paperbacks and hardcovers. But I love them because they’re entertaining, smart, tangled and romantic and cute to read. When I read about the author’s secret I could hardly believe the books were really written by a man.
Madeleine Brent books:
The Capricorn Stone
The Long Masquerade
A Heritage Of Shadows
Kirkby’s Changeling (Stranger at Wildings)
In a glittering world of lazy luxury, Sabrina reigns supreme. Invited to the most elegant parties, pursued by the most desirable men, she yearned for something more. . . . Her twin, Stephanie, is safely married with two adorable children and has everything in life that Sabrina lacks. But Stephanie longs to live like her rich and carefree sister. Changing places was to be their little secret. The game was never meant to get out of control. Neither of them dreamed how easy it would be to get lost in a maze of deceptions. . . .
Deceptions is an excellently written book about twin sisters switching their lives for a ‘fleeting moment’ and then get caught in their own game. When I read the book I was very surprised how detailed not only the fun part of the adventure was described, but also the guilt, the inner conflicts and the motivations within the twin sisters. Of course, they didn’t want to hurt anyone. But this is a secret; a secret only the sisters know about… it is a given that others get hurt in the process… The story is perfect the way it is and I love it. By the way: There’s also a movie about this story – with Stephanie Powers as Stephanie and Sabrina. Let me say it this way: Read the book and save yourself the time and nerves it needs to watch that movie. Stephanie Powers is wonderful! – But the rest of the movie is a waste of time.