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ILONACAT (WIRRAL, ENGLAND)

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Golden Tarot of Klimt Cards (Lo Scarabeo Decks)
Golden Tarot of Klimt Cards (Lo Scarabeo Decks)
by Lo Scarabeo
Edition: Cards

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good art, useful deck, 19 Mar. 2007
I love Klimt's work, and I have quite a few Tarot packs, so when I heard that Lo Scarabeo were bringing out a Golden Tarot of Klimt, I was delighted. And also, I must admit, a bit anxious too-what if the deck didn't do justice to Klimt's work ?

I need not have worried. This is a lovely deck. Of course, Gustav Klimt never designed a Tarot pack himself, but some of his great works are here : "The Kiss" is The Lovers card, unsurprsingly. The Hierophant card is an adaptation of a photograph of Klimt himself, a big benevolent-looking man. The majority of the cards are not adaptations of Klimt paintings but rather designs done in the Klimt style. Very well done, in my opinion. The characteristic swirls and flowers are here, the golden triangles and, of course, the goldwork, the OPULENCE. All of which goes to make this a very aesthetically-pleasing deck to work with.

Does it work as Tarot ? Yes, definitely yes. The deck has been modelled more or less on the Rider-Waite tradition, and each card marries well with those interpretations. I think a beginner at tarot could use these cards with great benefit and enjoyment.

The (only) drawback, as with most Lo Scarabeo decks, is the Little White Book which purports to provide interpretations but which often provides ones at odds with the cards themselves. I just discarded it.

If you are into Tarot and looking for something very arty, look no further. If you love Art Nouveau, this is a much better deck than the two tarot decks actually named Art Nouveau. And you may just want these cards if you are a Klimt fan, regardless of their possible use as a Tarot pack.


Tales of the Golden Corpse: Tibetan Folk Tales (International Folk Tales)
Tales of the Golden Corpse: Tibetan Folk Tales (International Folk Tales)
by Sandra Benson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enter another world, 19 Mar. 2007
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Coming as it does from the Interlink Publishing Group series "International Tales", this book promised to be good. It contains the first English translation of The Golden Corpse, a sequence in which an enchanted corpse journeys about Tibet on the back of a young man, telling wonderful stories en route.

In the manner of many Tibetan tales, these are an entrancing and witty mixture of realism and superrealism (I hesitate to say "fantasy" )and with a good dose of gentle wisdom thrown in. They are accompanied by black-and-white illustrations and Notes and Glossary are provided at the back. Many an introduction is marred for me by over-analysis and a very dry prose style but the Introduction here strikes the right note by simply establishing the cultural context.

A good read.


Pangur Ban, the White Cat
Pangur Ban, the White Cat
by Fay Sampson
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pangur Ban confronts evil and magic, 2 Mar. 2007
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I came to this book having read SHAPESHIFTER : THE NAMING OF PANGUR BAN, which is the prequel. It is levelled, in terms of reading skill, at Young Adults, but I am not in that category and still found the book enormously enjoyable !

The book is set, as are the other books in the series, in the Dark Ages ; magic interweaves with historical realism. The characters are believable, the story goes at quite a pace, and the descriptive writing is just wonderful, beautifully evoking the sea and its perils, friendship and tragedy, and the struggles of the eponymous white cat.

I now intend to read the next book in the series, FINGLASS AND THE HORSES.


The Secret Art of Dr Seuss
The Secret Art of Dr Seuss
by T. Geisel
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £22.30

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A feel-good book par excellence, 22 Jan. 2007
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Like many people, I'm familiar with Dr. Seuss's children's books but had not until now been aware of his other artwork. It's described here as "secret" because it was private, something he didn't readily share with others. I don't think there's a weak piece in the book, whether oil painting, acrylic painting, pen-and-ink drawing or sculpture.

Outlandish creatures abound, as perhaps one might expect, but so do bright colours, unusual people and convoluted buildings. Some of the titles are works of art in themselves-"Cat-Minor Miner in a High-Yield Emerald Mine" and "Cat Detective in the Wrong Part of Town." (Yes, cats ARE a favourite theme.) In short, these zany, strange and uniquely Seussian pieces will put a smile on your face and a chuckle in your heart.


Shape-shifter: The Naming of Pangur Ban
Shape-shifter: The Naming of Pangur Ban
by Fay Sampson
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the prequel. . ., 3 Jan. 2007
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This is the prequel to the ( not very well-known ?) Pangur Ban series of children's novels by Fay Sampson. I came across it by chance and was taken by the image of the white cat who is the central character. And I knew Fay Sampson already on account of her excellent Morgan the Fay series.

This book displays a good historical sense (it is set in the so-called Dark Ages). All the characters are convincing and three-dimensional. The white cat, not yet named, has many adventures, some of them terrifying, and experiences several transformations. In the hands of some people, a book with a cat as the central character would fall flat on its rather naff face but Ms Sampson handles it all beautifully. I'm now starting on the main body of this series, and expect it to be just as enjoyable.


The Crane Wife
The Crane Wife
by Gennady Spirin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Step into old Japan, 3 Jan. 2007
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This review is from: The Crane Wife (Paperback)
This book is classified as a children's book but would be a joy to people of any age. Bodkin tells a short, simple and rather melancholy tale about a sailmaker in the Japan of old, a sailmaker who loves to watch the cranes fly past his window. The accompanying illustrations by Gennady Spirin are breathtakingly beautiful-you can almost smell the snow off them !

If you are particularly struck by the art of Spirin, may I suggest also looking at The White Cat, The Children of Lir and Martha, three books which are also treasured items in my personal library ? He never disappoints.


The Art of Wendy Froud: v. 1
The Art of Wendy Froud: v. 1
by Wendy Froud
Edition: Hardcover

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you want to escape from the depressing stuff, 30 Dec. 2006
Wendy Froud has made dolls, puppets, masks and fetishes since she was a child. In the past thirty years or so she has become famous worldwide for her mythological and otherworldly figures, all of which (whom would be a better word) are imbued with great personality. In this beautifully-produced yet unpretentious book you will find fairies (of the woody, squat and bearded variety ), angels, a female centaur, a minotaur and several elven queens. In the text are no artsy-fartsy critiques telling you how to interpret each piece (how dry is that !) ; instead, Wendy Froud herself simply writes about how she works. She comes over as a very friendly, interesting and of course immensely talented lady.

Every doll or puppet is reproduced in full colour and in large or very large format. Even the paper smells good. I can't think of a better way of spending a winter's evening than cosying up with these earthy and magical creations. If this publication doesn't take you back to the best parts of your childhood, I'll eat my (pixy) hat ! Froud herself, by the way, looks reassuringly fey on the back inside cover, with flowing red hair and holding a beautiful/unsettling leaf mask.

A perfect gift for lovers, young and old, of magic and myth. I'm really glad I treated myself.


Cool Melons - Turn to Frogs!: The Life and Poems of Issa
Cool Melons - Turn to Frogs!: The Life and Poems of Issa
by Matthew Gollub
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful book for all ages, 23 Dec. 2006
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This book is lovely. In it, Matthew Gollub explores the life of Issa, one of Japan's most beloved poets. The prose is interspersed with translations of some of Issa's haiku, with the originals printed in Japanese script along the edge of the page. The illustrations are sensitive and sometimes comic.

This book is targetted towards children with a reading age of 4-8. I am an adult woman, aged 40 ! But it doesn't matter at all : lovely books are lovely books. I'm looking forward to encountering more of Issa's beautiful poetry


A Writer's San Francisco: A Guided Journey for the Creative Soul
A Writer's San Francisco: A Guided Journey for the Creative Soul
by Eric Maisel
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I have never been to San Francisco but. . ., 12 Dec. 2006
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I have never been to San Francisco but now I know I'd like to. I can't imagine a mere travel guide having this impact but Eric Maisel's warm and lovely book makes me want to save those pennies and book the first flight that'll take me !

Eric Maisel, for those not in the know, is a psychotherapist who specializes in creativity coaching. Any kind of creativity, though he is a writer himself. He comes over as deeply humane and great fun, and there isn't any psychobabble or any other form of waffle in the whole book (or in any others he has written, for that matter.) The book is divided up into little pieces ("essays" sounds a bit dry, which these are not) and in each one he uses a particular locale or aspect of San Francisco as a launch-pad for reflections on such things as : how to deal with the frustration of seeing other writers clinch deals when you have not ; how to be a decent parent as well as a writer ; the responsibility of the writer to be an ethical human being, not just a producer of fine writing. For these reasons, it is perfectly possible to read this book even if you have never stepped foot in San Francisco.

HOWEVER, the book is also very much a love-poem to the city. Why does Maisel love it ? Partly because it's home. Partly because it is multi-racial and multi-cultural and has a vibrant book scene and great cafes and a good climate. . .and is also a city well-known for its genuine tolerance of everything bohemian, everything arty.True, it is in an earthquake zone, but Maisel actually finds this helpful as a metaphor for the writing life. Frankly, it would make me a just a teeny bit anxious. But probably not enough to not go. San Francisco is joie de vivre and good coffee and plenty of places for walking and writing and just being.

Maisel indicates at one point in this book that "one day" he will have to write a writer's guide to New York. Looking forward to that. . .In the meantime, this will keep me busy. And his excellent and evocative "Writer's Guide to Paris". Oh, and writing.


The Zoo Father
The Zoo Father
by Pascale Petit
Edition: Paperback

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forget about irony and stick your head in this, 1 Dec. 2006
This review is from: The Zoo Father (Paperback)
It's rare that I come across a collection of poetry, however striking, that has changed my life. I think I can say this about this book, which is Pascale Petit's second full-length collection. In her first, Heart of the Deer, were poems that journeyed through the Amazonian rainforest, employing imagery of hummingbirds, tribal rituals, hallucinogenics, while at the same time approaching (and to some extent, touching) some dark material of a more obviously personal nature. In The Zoo Father, Petit grapples full-throttle with this material, exploring in dazzling and disturbing poems her relationship with the father who abused and abandoned her and, to a lesser extent, with what it was like to live in the same house with a mentally ill mother.

It sounds bleak, and in the wrong hands it would feel ONLY bleak, ONLY disturbing. But these poems are a long way from being reportage : they are chants and incantations, spells and curses, teeming with ants and hummingbirds (again) and lungfish and all the flora and fauna and tribal rituals of the Amazon, a place where Petit feels very much at home, imaginatively, mythically, one could say psychodramatically. These poems are like nothing else in British poetry, being much more reminiscent of Surrealism and Magic Realism. Though obviously crafted with a lot of skill, they abandon literary contrivance and the defence strategy of irony. They emerge from a dark place while at the same time illuminating it, giving names to material that is usually nameless.

You won't be able to read this book dispassionately. In some senses, it steps out of Literature altogether. You won't be the same when you've finished it.


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