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text 2015-07-31 16:00
Fabulous Finds Friday: July 31, 2015: Random Free Books Edition
A Reader's Guide to Samuel Beckett (Reader's Guides) - Hugh Kenner
Collected Poems - Philip Larkin,Anthony Thwaite
Selected Poems and Prose of Paul Celan - Paul Celan,John Felstiner
Henry Reed: Collected Poems - Henry Reed,Jon Stallworthy
The Poems of J. V. Cunningham - J V Cunn... The Poems of J. V. Cunningham - J V Cunningham
Splitting and Binding - Pattiann Rogers
The Female Narrator in the British Novel: Hidden Agendas - Lisa Sternlieb
The Romance of the Rose - Guillaume de Lorris,Jean de Meun,Frances Horgan
Early Poems - Ezra Pound
It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: The Best (?) from the Bulwer-Lytton Contest -

I work for a company that produces academic content, so we have a pretty substantial reference library. They just announced that they are clearing out their unused and out-of-date materials, so I picked up a nice hefty stack of FREE BOOKS! I focused on grabbing as much poetry as I could, since it is something I've been meaning to tackle a lot more.

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review 2014-03-22 06:33
The Pitman's Daughter by Marjorie DeLuca

The Pitman's Daughter by Marjorie DeLuca

Rita was born and bred in Crag street, where "everything was bare and exposed. Life was raw and tough and, God knows, she’d tried hard to smooth out the rough edges she’d been left with."

The pitmen and their extended families called it home, but for most of them it felt more like a poverty trap they could not escape from. Coal mining defined everything they did or had. Black soot and dust colored their lives and stories. But Rita knew she would get away, and so did George. Despite the poverty and hardships, change was waiting to happen that would leave no one untouched. However, love was not easy to come by, but it did change everything when it happened. Sadly, it also did not happen for everyone who deserved it.

Comments: This book can be viewed as a blend of romance and historical fiction with a touch of excellence in detail that winds through the narrative from the beginning to end. The characters are authentic. It took a while to get into the story, but when it happened, reality lost out to this nostalgic tale about the inhabitants of Crag street in this small mining village in England.

Rita was one determined young lady who had to prove her ambitious dreams of escaping the circumstances and people she so despised. Nothing and no one in Crag street could ever make her happy. All she ever dreamed of was not only to get away, but also move as far away as possible. In this amazingly multileveled tale, her journey started out as the learning curve of a ten year-old girl, on her way into adulthood where she must find herself and learn unintentional, unplanned lessons on her way in searching for love and security. Some of those lessons were not supposed to be learnt by innocent young girls, but which, in the end, defined her in ways she never thought possible as an adult. It was only when she was forced to come full circle that she finally understood the real meaning of the brightly flowering lobelias and daisies in the coal miner gardens. But she first had to live out her aspirations, to understand where the strength of her own roots lay hidden and what really determined the core of her happiness.

What a thoroughly enjoyable read. It is once again one of those books that takes the reader into the intimate world of people and history that nobody, except the inhabitants, would have known otherwise. Detailed, descriptive, and fascinating, but also informative and well presented. 

The tale is rich, heartwarming, endearing, passionate, compassionate, sad, hopeful, beautiful. A brilliant piece of writing by a highly skilled author. 
Source: something-wordy-reviews.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-pitmans-daughter-by-marjorie-deluca.html
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review 2014-01-03 11:56
Daffodils by Alex Martin
Daffodils - Alex Martin

The first world war broke out in Europe

Young people from small, poor bucolic British families all dreamed of new possibilities and better lives if they signed up for the war. Most of them, in counties such as Wiltshire, had never been in London, many had never seen the sea. They eked out a living working for the gentry on their big estates with poverty standing like invisible perennial guards at their doors. There was hardly any escape possible until the war came.

Katy Beagle worked in the manor house as a personal maid when the son of the manor needed a little bit of fun before he departed for London to join the war effort. 

Young and inexperienced as she was, and bored to death with the prospect of being rooted to her situation for the rest of her life, Katy jumped at the opportunity to have some fun. It resulted in a huff and a lot of puff with a cloud of scandal threatening her good name and honor. Good, rock-solid Jem, the gardener, proposed again, and this time she had no other choice but to accept. And so begins the story of a young couple within the village dynamics of Wiltshire with the assortment of lovable, despicable, and delightful characters who share their lives for generations. But after the young vicar announced them husband and wife, the village openly released a sigh of relief. The scandal was short-lived and the couple could live happily ever after.

But that was not to be. Katy and Jem's paths through the deeply moving narrative exposes the highs and lows of two young people's inner turmoil with life and love, their first encounters in the adult world with heartbreak and hardship. The tale winds through a volatile time in world history and how it personally effected two young people but also their community. 

The horror of the First World War is portrayed with accuracy and emotion. The deprivations and devastation of the war is creatively and convincingly conveyed. All the elements to make this a great book is present: loyalty, weakness, betrayal, guilt, lies, sex, secrets, violence, an attempted suicide, heroism and finally love coupled with justice. All the people are real. So much so that the reader becomes emotionally attached to them and become emotionally invested in the turns and twists of the plot. Throughout the harsh reality of the war, there is still an almost ironic wholesomeness present in the young people's optimism and hope for a better future. Despite all the obstacles, the daffodils never seized to bloom among the privation and suffering of the war. 

Daffodils is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope which teaches us the power of resilience, integrity and true honor.

This book was a deeply emotional experience that managed to reach the inner core of my being. This is such a powerful story.

If you have enjoyed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, you will love this book as well.

Highly recommended.



Source: something-wordy-reviews.blogspot.com/2014/01/daffodils-by-alex-martin.html
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2013-10-01 02:58
The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
The Casual Vacancy - J.K. Rowling


"The Casual Vacancy = Mind Blowing" - one of the Goodreads reviewers said, and I agree.

I must confess I did not read any of the other J.K.Rowling books, nor watched the movies, for various reasons, the most important being that magic/fantasy isn't a genre I am interested in. Never was, really, not even as a preschooler! In fact, I learnt my first lesson of adult betrayal in life when they tried to convince me of the existence of fairies and gnomes! I was about three years old. Since then I never trusted these adults!

So on that note, it did not matter to me that the same author of the Harry Potter world phenomenon wrote this book, which is such a surprising departure from her previous theme. 

It could have been anyone else and I would still have felt the same awe after finishing it. I will never forget Krystal and what happened to her(and an entire town for that matter), when Barry Fairbrother, her unofficial guardian angel, departs. Originating from 'The Fields' himself, Barry was streetwise enough to bring balance to a town filled with imperfect lovable/despisable characters and to be the town's conscious in the Pagford Parish Council. 

The rest of the characters made a profound impact as well, but that innocent, misunderstood, deeply scarred young girl, with her brother Robbie, ripped my heart out. 

The book starts out with Barry Fairbrother's death. But to me, the whole unraveling of a town's soul begins with his funeral service:

"P. 159: "The coffin itself was not made of polished mahogany, but of wickerwork.

It's a bloody picnic basket! though Howard,outraged.

Looks of surprise fitted across many faces as the willow box passed them...

Parminder liked the willow coffin better, much better, than the stout wooden box in which most English disposed of their dead. Her grandmother had always had a superstitious fear of the soul being trapped inside something heavy and solid, deploring the way that British undertakers nailed down the lids. "

P.163: "We are going to finish today's service with a song chosen by Barry's daughters, Niamh and Siobhan, which meant a lot to them and their father' said the vicar. He managed, by his tone, to dissociate himself personally from what was about to happen.

The beat of the drum rang so loudly through hidden speakers that the congregation jumped......" 
Barry's soul promised to escape for sure and roam the town, turning it upside down and upright again. Yes, shortly after the funeral 'The_Ghost_of_Barry_Fairbrother' began its descend onto Pagford...! A lot of skeletons started rattling in the closets!

The book ends in the same church, same vicar, same rap song, same attendants, different departing bodies. But this time, at the very end of the service, the vicar,as he announced it, sounded resigned.( P.503)

I cannot remember when was the last time a book made such a profound impression on me. The characters are firmly cemented in our reality.The most important is that every reader will recognize him/herself in that book. The irony is that although we recognize ourselves, we will despise ourselves in action!

And meet a community(ourselves) in all its(our) hypocritical splendor: the love, hurt, uncertainties, lies, deceit, abuse, unfaithfulness, real and forged friendships, pretense, kindness, the social- mental- psychological wars.....

Brilliant book! A new genre for J.K.Rowling, but she is a master at it!
Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/604591680
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2013-10-01 02:30
Lacey's House by Joanne Graham
Lacey's House - Joanne Graham

Lacey's House by Joanne Graham

After reading this book I sat for a while, totally speechless and dumbfounded. It took several minutes, a lot of 'several minutes' actually, to come back to my own life and its immediate demands. Believe me, I almost did it kicking and screaming! 

For a debut novel, this is surely one of the best I have ever read! There is so much I want to, and can, say, but somehow my thoughts just drifted off in a multicolored hot air balloon over the Winscombe skies. There was simply none left for me to write a suitable review with.

Two women, young Rachel Moore and 84-year old Tracey Eleanor Carmichael, ended up living side by side in Apple Lane, Winscombe where Rachel moved into Dove cottage next to Tracey. The address was not only words to suit a chocolate-box address. Lacey's House would open up a journey for both to finally rise above: electric shock treatments; a lobotomy; a cruel life in an orphanage; an unknown mother who valued her alcohol addiction above everything else; a monstrous doctor; an ignorant vicious community; a village outlay in the form of a question mark; a woman talking to the dead at their graves, planting roses there because it was a hated flower for that particular deceased, since in real life her words was forced inside her head for safety reasons; a cat named Peachy. And then there was Charlie...

"That's the funny thing about small village life, reputations often last longer than the person themselves." But perceptions can be forced to change. When "Albert was dead lying on the floor of his house with his blood serving as a cushion for his head", the increasingly embellished tale of a witch, which was told to children in the dark of night, suddenly took a turn that would change lives forever.

Without the truth, fiction is not possible. "This story... this story is different, tantalizing, compelling" Lacey herself said that, which saves me from using the publishing-industry's neologism to sing the praise of this 2012 Luke Bitmead Bursary Award-winning book. Although there's no love lost for sentimentality in the book, the same compassionate message is present as evident in my speechless state of wonder afterwards!

This tale proves a theory: Anything, from an unwanted -ism to an un-addressed emotion, forced underground, takes root and flourish. People sadly and often deny it. And if it is nourished well, deeply loved, it can push up beautiful flowers to face the sun. But to become beautiful, it needs strong roots underground, in the often dark, in the uncompromising toughness of the earth. It is the only way that the perfect flowers can rise above the surface and charm the world. Even well-nourished weeds have beautiful flowers.

This book addresses the wealth and strength of the human spirit in unimaginable ways. The elements used in the book, two vastly opposite life stories, with one common denominator namely the absence of love as children, are not unknown to the world at all, but the combination used in this narrative, makes it stand out way above the average novel in this genre. 

The conclusion is surprising and original. 

In the end it confronts us all, who we are and how we ended up as human beings and what became of us in the aftermath of those choices. It is not how and where we were planted,but how we utilized the nourishment bestowed on us to paint the picture we would ultimately call our chocolate-box address. What a difference attitude can make!

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/690972246
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