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Songbird "Pink Parrot" (Midlands)

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Some Day I'll Find You
Some Day I'll Find You
by Richard Madeley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Most of the ingredients for a Summer page-turner......, 19 July 2013
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This review is from: Some Day I'll Find You (Paperback)
Yes - I agree with many of the reviewers here that this is a well crafted novel - and it is obvious that RM knows what sells!

There are well thought out characters (if stereotypical of war-time dramas) - with a wealthy middle class family at the heart of the story, a fiesty beautiful heroine (Diana) and a devilishly attractive hero-turned-baddie,(James).

The plot definitely has pace - and very short chapters. I read it in two nights, being an insomniac! I appreciated the dramatic irony and the suspense thus held until the climax of the story - which was kind of - inevitable!

To describe the thoughts of a psychopath in such a convincing way, whilst wearing such a charming "mask" as James does, gives the story some substance - echoes of Victor Canning and Sasoon here.

The reason I only give this 3 stars is that I think there is too much harking back to the war and post war years.... we should never forget, but I do long for something fresh!


The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry
The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry
by Rachel Joyce
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

5.0 out of 5 stars A story which turns the ordinary into the extraordinary.., 4 Feb. 2013
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Suggested by a friend, I can honestly say that this is the best debut novel I have read in a long while.......

There are resonnances of Canterbury Tales, Pilgrim's Progress, Waiting for Godot, and the Life of Brian - and yet it has a modern thread of truth as well, incorporating as it does the clash of values, gadgets, and haste, with those of a more sedate, stoic generation of British Citizens.

Like other readers who are empathic with both Harold and his wife, Maureen - I experienced a whole range of emotions reading this poignant and often funny story; we all know characters like those he encounters on his incredible journey from South to North. The climax comes when he loses his compass - which is more than just a physical loss.

Excellent authorship is when a writer helps you to experience what it is to be human through someone else's perspective, and to realise that we can overcome what appears to be impossible at the outset: it just takes the first step.....

This would make a marvellous serial film on TV !


Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
by Jeanette Winterson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.39

5.0 out of 5 stars Jeanette Winterson at her honest best., 10 Jan. 2013
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For those of you who have read "Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit" or seen the film of the book - the publishers describe this as "that story's silent twin".

Like her own birth mother, I was pregnant as a teenager in the never-had-it-so-good sixties Britain, where unmarried mothers were treated abysmally. I have quietly carried the wound of separation ever since. It helped me to read the scenario from the adoptee's viewpoint, and did much to heal this wound, because very few women would choose to abandon their babies.

The narrative is essentially Jeanette's search for a sense of belonging, both to her concept of "home" and to the important people in her life. Her wry wit and candour are woven into every word, and she appears to have retrospective wisdom about her experience - often traumatic, sometimes hilarious. She realises that she couldn't be the daughter that either her biological mother or Mrs Winterson wanted. It is fascinating when she admits: "I notice that I hate Ann criticising Mrs W. She was a monster but she was MY monster."

I found it gratifying that she eventually fought through burocratic barriers in her determination to find her birth mother. She describes Ann as "generous and kind" and writes: "She would like me to let her be my mother.....and to be in touch regularly." Jeanette finds this problematic, and sums up the dilhemma of child placement and reunions: "Whatever adoption is, it isn't instant family - not with the adoptive parents and not with the rediscovered parents."


Light A Penny Candle
Light A Penny Candle
by Maeve Binchy
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Debute novel from Novelist with Worldwide acclaim......., 5 Sept. 2012
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This review is from: Light A Penny Candle (Paperback)
When I heard of the recent death of Maeve Binchy (July 2012) I realised that, apart from seeing the film "Circle of Friends" (1990) I had not read any of her books. This is an ommission that I intend to rectify!

Discovering that this was her first novel - rejected several times by publishers, but eventually sold for the highest price ever paid for a debute novel, £52,000, in 1983 - she went on to become Ireland's most prolific writer and playwright, selling more than 40 million worldwide.

The story spans a 20 year period from 1940 to 1960, and cleverly contrasts the lifestyle of a rural Irish Catholic family with a much smaller protestant family in urban London during the war and afterwards. The plot centres on two genuine friends, Elizabeth and Aisling - as different in personality as they are in their upbringing.

Without giving away the twists and turns of the plot, I can say that it is made believable by the strong characters and natural dialogue. Like one of the other reviewers, I was an urban child in England, who spent several holidays with a Catholic family in a small town in Eire during the early 60s. The memories are still vivid, and I could hear in my mind the Irish lilt in the O'Connell's conversation. The two families are dysfunctional - held together by the love they share, and a strict moral code. Sometimes the rigidity of the social "rules" leads to ignorance and suppression of natural behaviour - this is made apparent by Aisling's ill fated marriage to the town's most elligible batchelor, and Elizabeth's parents. It feels quaint to us now, in the "liberated" 21st century, where women have more choices and people openly discuss sexual relationships.

The reason I did not give this 5 stars is because the ending is so condensed, as if she had "run out if steam" or the publishers imposed a fixed length for the novel - it left me feeling unsatisfied, like a delicious meal with no pud!


How It All Began
How It All Began
by Penelope Lively
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A treat for anyone who loves a "real" story......, 14 Mar. 2012
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This review is from: How It All Began (Hardcover)
Penelope Lively has surpassed herself with this latest novel..... I will resist the temptation to give a precis of the plot; other reviewers have done this so well.

This story is current and relevant in today's uncertain world. Like an expert craftswoman, she weaves her characters seamlessly so that the reader is never at a loss to know who is who. You will have a wry smile at attitudes towards people struggling to come to terms with the diminishing faculties of old age, and Charlotte's frustration with the limitations her accident has on her lifestyle. She is far from being a "victim" however. There's a very poignant love story at the core....understated, and yet all the more significant because of words left unspoken.

Lively touches on so much which is important : love, loyalty, friendship, exploitation, pain and healing, immigrants, senseless crime, illiteracy, love of reading, economic "knock-on" effects on small and large businesses, corruption and sacrifice..... just to name some. Unlike the "doorstops" of some modern authors, this book has a world of witty observation in just 250 pages!


Shadow Child
Shadow Child
by Libby Purves
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cathartic - for any parent who has lost their child......., 29 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Shadow Child (Paperback)
Like the other reviewers, I am a Libby Purves fan.

It takes a courageous author to share her sorrow with such honesty and creativity. Prior to reading this, I was moved to read "The Silence at the Song's End" - the poignant and insightful writings of Libby and Paul Heiney's son, Nicholas, who took his own life in 2006. I wonder whether she has written this in her own struggle to understand this personal tragedy...and the ripples of memory that will reverberate whenever she thinks about him.

It is fascinating to read how men and women respond differently to grief and parenthood, and their individual ways of dealing with it. She avoids being gender-specific by introducing the lesbian characters, and challenging our own preconceived ideas about those who make unconventional choices, both in their partners and life-styles. She examines the highs and lows of friendship, revealing how resilient this can be when "the chips are down".

I'm old fashioned - I like a story which has a beginning, a middle (usually with several points of crisis) and a resolution at the end. This has all of that - with her usual wit and wisdom to make it a pleasure as well as sometimes painful, to read.


The Reader [DVD]
The Reader [DVD]
Dvd ~ Kate Winslet
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.69

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth seeing more than once......, 14 Feb. 2012
This review is from: The Reader [DVD] (DVD)
After reading about the subject matter in other reviews (good and bad) I held off watching this DVD for a few months, assuming it would be a harrowing story...a kind of "guilt trip" about mankind's inhumanity to our own race.....
Now, after seeing it once (it warrants further viewing)it is hard to find adequate superlatives except to name it as an understated Work of Art.

I might have known that with such major talents as Ralph Fiennes and Kate Winslet (leading characters) Stephen Daldry (Director) David Hare (Screenplay) Anthony Mighella (Producer) to name just some - it would be no lightweight production!

You have the surface plot in other reviews; the fascinating thing about this film (like a really good book) is that it leaves the viewer to "fill in the gaps" - what is left UNSAID, speaks volumes..... There is an underlying sub-plot to Bernhard Schlink's story, set in Berlin in separate, yet linked, timezones.

This story asks many questions, touches emotions we thought buried, helps us to see the dangers of the present we inhabit.....it is all too easy to be judgmental of the indoctrinated Hitler Youth and the horrendous plight if the millions of persecuted Jews.
This film makes us wonder about Law and Justice, in all of it's complexity - as well as the small, yet hugely significant, choices we make as individuals.

n.b. The double DVD is better, as it gives some insight with deleted scenes and interviews with the actors and production team.


August Rush [DVD] [2007] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
August Rush [DVD] [2007] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by Newtownvideo_EU
Price: £6.51

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Anyone who has a heart (and imagination) will love this film......!, 11 Feb. 2012
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Reading through previous reviews - there's quite a polarisation in those who do and those who do not appreciate this film. Rather like folks who have natural pitch and those who are tone deaf......
Perhaps one of the problems (why it loses a star for me) is the way it is titled and packaged. It gives the impression of a sugary sweet, talented, child-brat on a Summer holiday...."Found" would have had more gravitas - perhaps?
Freddie Highmore was nominated for a BAFTA in 2007 for this excellent portrayal of a gifted determined child, following his winning BAFTAs for "Finding Neverland" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" - both alongside Johnny Depp.
Those reviewers who bang on about it being totally predictable with impossible coincidences are missing the point - it is about the communication which music gives us all - beyond distance, language, and ethnicity. The synchronicity between classical pieces (Elgar's Cello Concerto with Jonathan Rhys Meyers' own modern rock) is just awe inspiring - and unusual.
Robin Williams does make for rather a strange "Fagin" character, but he still manages to portray the boy (he was) who hasn't healed from past hurts, hence him trying to live vicariously through his streetwise band of busking "recruits". Keri Russell is so beautiful.....convincing enough to make me reach for the tissues.
Especially stunning, and not mentioned by many reviewers - are the sights and sounds of everyday life - all spliced together, and orchestrated by the film's producers. It has changed the way I walk through large Cities, or even underneath trees, or by the sea...
Yes - it DOES have a happy ending - but WHY NOT???? There's too much naked, raw realism in this World as it is.


Between Shades Of Gray
Between Shades Of Gray
by Ruta Sepetys
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This story would make an epic film.......!, 26 Aug. 2011
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This review is from: Between Shades Of Gray (Paperback)
If there is any justice in the literary world, this author deserves a huge accolade for her first book. This story has all the pathos and broad canvass of War and Peace, without the reader having to wade through a huge tome of words....

Other reviewers have described the plot admirably, so I will give you just some of the contrasting threads she weaves so creatively:-
Loyalty v Betrayal - Truth v Lies - Age v Youth - Past v Present - Knowledge v Innocence - Generosity v Meanness -Courage v Cowardice - Creativity v Cruelty - Poverty v Plenty - Love v Hatred - Survival v Death....

She has the ability to make you smile and cry within the space of a few pages; she shines a light on the grayness that is suppressed history - and shows us that there is nothing stronger than love and the will to survive.

I agree with others that this should be recommended reading for all schools and colleges, and it has something significant to say to all ages, in all countries - especially now.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 7, 2012 12:43 AM GMT


Everybody Jam
Everybody Jam
by Ali Lewis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unvarnished story about life in the outback...amazing!, 20 Aug. 2011
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This review is from: Everybody Jam (Paperback)
I found this debut novel compelling reading, right from page one..... it is as though you are at Danny's shoulder, experiencing life in the outback through his eyes.

As a young teenager of the same age living on the South coast of Australia some years back, I had no idea of the hardships and yet raw adventure to be had on the huge cattle stations in the arid interior of the continent. This book reveals the courage, competence and co-operation of the folks "outback" in the day-to-day business of survival.

The sense of awe is personified by the arrival into the Dawson homestead of a young Pommie (Liz) who is hired by Mrs Dawson (Sue) to be a domestic help and child carer to the youngest child (Emily) when Danny's sister (Sissy) is found to be pregnant at the age of 14. She is clueless to begin with, and Danny's intolerance of her introduces humour to his narrative. Other members of the family together with the station fellas are more forgiving, and she gradually learns to adapt. Liz is initially shocked by the gory aspects of ranch life in the raw (animals have a tougher time than the humans) and she is vegetarian....she shows that she is not a wimp, however, and is perceptive of Danny's needs - encouraging him to talk about the brother (Jonny) and playmate he has recently lost. She also has a more liberal attitude about the "gins" - (aboriginals) - but soon discovers there is an outback "apartheid" that allows the blackfellas as co-workers and friends, but definately NOT as co-habitors!

Without giving too much of the plot away - all hell breaks out when the baby's father is found out. This is overshadowed by the intense drama of the annual muster of the massive herd. Mum and Auntie Ve are strong characters - they are the "water on the fire" - calming things when the pressure is on. Dad is a powerful man, respected by his fellow stockmen, but with a short fuse. The relationship he has with his remaining son is a complex one and wonderfully portrayed in Danny's own words.

Danny is such a believable teenager - and he has a wonderful rapport with an orphan camel (Buzz) he is allowed to keep as a pet.

There is a note on the price label that this book is "Unsuitable for younger readers". I disagree with this.
Anyone over 8 years of age should be able to appreciate it's truths. It would undoubtedly broaden their imaginative horizons.....how can that be bad for them?

I'm not letting on (to non Aussies) what EVERYBODY JAM is.....like Liz, you will find out when you get to know the Dawson family!


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