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Welcome to my Inner World. I am a French self-taught artist, and these past seventeen years I have made Norway my home. Moving to the Lofoten islands was the greatest present I ever made to myself and the Arctic landscapes are indeed a true treat for any artist’s eyes. I live with my British soulmate,… Continue Reading

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Category Archives: Favourite Books

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

Amazon.com
A Victorian boarding school story, a Gothic mansion mystery, a gossipy romp about a clique of girlfriends, and a dark other-worldly fantasy–jumble them all together and you have this complicated and unusual first novel.

Gemma, 16, has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother’s death in a black, swirling vision that turns out to be true. Sent back to England, she is enrolled at Spence, a girls’ academy with a mysterious burned-out East Wing. There Gemma is snubbed by powerful Felicity, beautiful Pippa, and even her own dumpy roommate Ann, until she blackmails herself and Ann into the treacherous clique. Gemma is distressed to find that she has been followed from India by Kartik, a beautiful young man who warns her to fight off the visions. Nevertheless, they continue, and one night she is led by a child-spirit to find a diary that reveals the secrets of a mystical Order. The clique soon finds a way to accompany Gemma to the other-world realms of her visions “for a bit of fun” and to taste the power they will never have as Victorian wives, but they discover that the delights of the realms are overwhelmed by a menace they cannot control. Gemma is left wi! th the knowledge that her role as the link between worlds leaves her with a mission to seek out the “others” and rebuild the Order. A Great and Terrible Beauty is an impressive first book in what should prove to be a fascinating trilogy. (Ages 12 up) –Patty Campbell –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up–Libba Bray’s new Gothic tale of a Victorian girls school with a deadly secret (Delacorte, 2003) is brought to life in Josephine Bailey’s nuanced reading. At 16, Gemma must leave the only home she’s known–colonial India–when her mother kills herself under bizarre circumstances and Gemma is both confused and intrigued by the details. Although she longed to see London while her family lived abroad, Gemma is disappointed to find that she’s being packed off to finishing school there. At school, she stands up to the very circle of girls who seem to hold the most power, while also dealing with weird hallucinations and the furtive presence of the young man she first saw in Bombay on the day of her mother’s death. The school and its administration hold fast to a secret about the class of 1871, which passed through it nearly a quarter century before Gemma’s stay. As friendships develop between Gemma and three of the other students, and several of her teachers reveal interesting personal sides of themselves, the plot and the reader both tug the audience into the creepy depths beneath a cave on the school grounds. There the living girls find a pleasurable world populated by goddess figures–and Gemma’s dead mother. How all this ultimately connects with that mysterious class of 1871 will delight Gothic fans and inspire those new to the genre to taste such classic writers in it as Daphne du Maurier.

DRAGON KEEPER By Carole Wilkinson

A Breathtakingly Brilliant Adventure!

May 25, 2005 By T. J. Jones “TJ” (San Diego, CA United States)

This review is from: Dragon Keeper (Hardcover) `Dragon Keeper’ is the U.S. debut novel by highly successful Australian author, Carole Wilkinson, that has already won many prestigious Australian awards. It tells the wonderful story of a Chinese slave girl named Ping and her perilous journey to save the last imperial dragon, Long Danzi. In the beginning, Ping is a slave for the cruel, current Dragon Keeper, who neglects his duties and in so doing so causes the death of the second to last imperial dragon. In a startling amount of courage, Ping rescues Danzi and they set off for the Ocean which Danzi mysteriously insists on traveling to for the sake of a beautiful purple stone which he holds most important to the sake of all dragons. Wilkinson is a master of words, painting amazing scenes and the emotions of Ping as effortlessly as the artists of the beautiful traditional Chinese pictures that don every chapter opening. Ping was a three-dimensional, interesting main character. She realistically makes and learns from her mistakes, and therefore by doing so is relatable to all readers. The dragon Long Danzi was my favorite character. His riddles of wisdom hold lessons that Ping must take importantly if she is to outwit the many villains that chase them throughout the course of the novel and they also provide comical relief. Anyways, Ping’s transition from a scared slave girl to the confident Dragon Keeper was a highly believable journey that left me on the edge of my seat. This novel is full of humor, lessons to be learned and shared, adventure, and sheer enjoyment that I’m sure it will also bring to eager readers everywhere. Highly recommended.

The Terror: A Novel By Dan Simmons

Be Prepared, January 15, 2007
By J.Brian Watkins

Staggering. This book is a litany of failure and not so subtly the failure of western civilization itself; however, there is a surprisingly redemptive streak running throughout. Simmons is a tremendous author, capable of producing masterworks in any genre of his choosing and he is at the top of his powers in this work, which though ostensibly historical fiction owes a debt to mystery, biography, horror, and science-fiction with liberal doses of Shakespeare, sociology and philosophy.

More than a retelling of the Franklin expedition to find the Northwest Passage, “Terror” is the story of Captain Francis Crozier who commands HMS Terror. Crozier has to overcome bad food, poor leadership, even poorer subordinates, mutinous sailors, cold, scurvy and a Monster, in order to reconcile himself with the future that he has seen but fails to understand. Strangely the journey through this dark and 750 plus page novel is ultimately reaffirming and as voiced by a character late in the novel, salvation was always waiting for Crozier who just had to make his choice.

Though ostensibly about failure, this book summarizes the triumph of man over adversity. Though ostensibly about discovery, the book details the tragedy of men dying needlessly within reach of the very survival skills they refused to seek much less adopt. This duality of themes gives great weight to the story; indeed, Simmons quotes liberally from Hobbes, Shakespeare, Homer, Poe and probably several others that I missed. And for fear of spoiling the read, suffice it to say that the author’s erudition serves his purpose of rendering the tale disturbingly modern. It is a cautionary tale and in his wisdom, Simmons leaves us to determine what we take from it

A Shepherd’s Watch: Through the Seasons with One Man and His Dogs By David Kennard

At Borough Farm, on North Devon’s rugged, spectacular coast, David Kennard and his dogs are embarking on a new shepherding year.

Part diary of one man and his remarkable dogs, part Herriot-like homage to the countryside and its characters, A Shepherd’s Watch is that rare thing: a portrait of a real life that is at once authentic and evocative, warm, and compelling. Here, David Kennard presents twelve months with his working sheepdogs, Greg, Swift, Gail, Fern, and Ernie, as they face a never-ending series of challenges: from rescuing ewes stranded on the Atlantic cliffs to running the gauntlet of psychopathic rams and officious farm inspectors, from spring lambing and summertime shearing to fending off the ever-present threats nature has in store for the 850-strong flock. All this, in the midst of a harsh economic climate for farming and a landscape that is among the most picturesque, yet wildly unpredictable, in the British Isles.

David Kennard has been a shepherd since he left school at the age of seventeen. In this, his first book, he draws on half a lifetime’s experience to paint an honest and affectionate, often comic picture of a year in the life of a sheep farm and its very different canine and human personalities. As he follows the changing seasons, observing nature’s inexorable journey through the dark days of winter to the rebirth and renewal of spring, he also offers a gentle meditation on man’s relationship with his environment, and a poignant elegy to a rural way of life.