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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

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

 

Amazon.com
Bad things come in threes for Toru Okada. He loses his job, his cat disappears, and then his wife fails to return from work. His search for his wife (and his cat) introduces him to a bizarre collection of characters, including two psychic sisters, a possibly unbalanced teenager, an old soldier who witnessed the massacres on the Chinese mainland at the beginning of the Second World War, and a very shady politician.

Haruki Murakami is a master of subtly disturbing prose. Mundane events throb with menace, while the bizarre is accepted without comment. Meaning always seems to be just out of reach, for the reader as well as for the characters, yet one is drawn inexorably into a mystery that may have no solution. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is an extended meditation on themes that appear throughout Murakami’s earlier work. The tropes of popular culture, movies, music, detective stories, combine to create a work that explores both the surface and the hidden depths of Japanese society at the end of the 20th century.

If it were possible to isolate one theme in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, that theme would be responsibility. The atrocities committed by the Japanese army in China keep rising to the surface like a repressed memory, and Toru Okada himself is compelled by events to take responsibility for his actions and struggle with his essentially passive nature. If Toru is supposed to be a Japanese Everyman, steeped as he is in Western popular culture and ignorant of the secret history of his own nation, this novel paints a bleak picture. Like the winding up of the titular bird, Murakami slowly twists the gossamer threads of his story into something of considerable weight. –Simon Leake

The Atlantic Monthly, Phoebe-Lou Adams
Mr. Murakami’s long and devious novel opens in a resolutely mundane way, with the narrator cooking spaghetti. The significant items in the ensuing phantasmagoria soon appear, however–a dry well, a house abandoned because of a series of tragedies, a so-called alley blocked at both ends, the statue of a bird looking sadly unable to fly, and the unidentified wind-up bird that creaks invisibly in a nearby tree. “Wind-up” can mean either an end or a preparation for action. Whether his target is Japan or the world, Mr. Murakami’s work sums up a bad century and envisions an uncertain future. His protagonist is a harmless fellow who merely wants to recover his cat and his wife. The troubles, real and delusional, that he encounters can be seen as extravagant metaphors for every ill from personal isolation to mass murder. The novel is a deliberately confusing, illogical image of a confusing, illogical world. It is not easy reading, but it is never less than absorbing.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: A Commemorative Pop-up by L. Frank Baum, Robert Sabuda

 

Amazon.com
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the publication of L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz, master paper engineer Robert Sabuda has created a pop-up version of Dorothy’s adventures in Oz that fans will find hard to resist. Modeling his depictions of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the rest after W. W. Denslow’s original art, Sabuda adds a third dimension that would have rocked Denslow’s–and Baum’s–world. A rapidly spinning cyclone actually casts a breeze over the startled reader’s face. Glorious red poppies wave seductively in a field. And the Emerald City positively glitters with green, especially when young readers try on the special tinted “Spectacles for You” provided in a pocket on the page. The abridged text, provided in minibooklets set onto each page, covers enough basics for the Oz novice, but we recommend a read-aloud of the original, as well, for all the glory and detail of Baum’s fantastic tale. Sabuda’s homage to the classic is truly spectacular; even purists will gasp in delight at the sight of the humbug wizard floating away in his shiny green, gold, and blue hot-air balloon. This great introduction to the story of Oz doubles as a fun collector’s item.

Dark Sister by Graham Joyce

 

From Library Journal
When Maggie discovers a witch’s diary and herbal compendium hidden in the old fireplace of her house, she becomes the recipient of occult knowledge that leads her to a place of decision and gives her the power to harm or heal the family she loves. The author of The Tooth Fairy tells his eerie tale in language devoid of frills and sensationalism, creating suspense and dread within the normality of everyday life.

The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B. Dunkle

From School Library Journal
Grade 6-9-Kate and her younger sister, Emily, are orphans, sent to live with great aunts at remote and mysterious Hallow Hill. Hugh Roberts, their guardian, is a surly and somewhat sinister cousin. One afternoon, the girls come upon some strange people and an abnormally huge cat in a clearing. One of these folk, Marak, is a goblin king. He needs Kate to be his human bride, for goblins may not marry their own kind. When Emily disappears, Kate assumes that he is responsible and agrees to marry him in exchange for her sister’s freedom. Once in the goblins’ vast underground kingdom, Kate is sure she will die from not being able to see the stars. But she does marry Marak and assumes her life as a queen. At this point the plot takes an unexpected turn. A sorcerer attacks Marak, and Kate discovers some surprising things about herself and her relationship with her husband. This is an interesting fantasy world with well-realized characters. Hugh Roberts is a true villain and Kate is a feisty heroine. Marak is frequently described as an ugly monster, and he definitely comes across as something other than human. However, he has a good nature and a sense of humor as well as a great love for his chosen wife. The goblin kingdom itself is beautifully described, as are the strange creatures that inhabit it. The story moves a bit slowly in places, but overall it should attract readers who like magic and adventure. Kate is surely a heroine to be reckoned with, and girls will relate to her predicament.