Saturday 29 November 2014

The Carnegie Long List for Childrens Books

The Carnegie Medal Long List for Childrens Books

The Carnegie Medal is awarded annually to the writer of an outstanding book for children.
It was established by in 1936, in memory of the great Scottish-born philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919). Carnegie was a self-made industrialist who made his fortune in steel in the USA. His experience of using a library as a child led him to resolve that "if ever wealth came to me that it should be used to establish free libraries."
Carnegie set up more than 2800 libraries across the English speaking world and, by the time of his death, over half the library authorities in Great Britain had Carnegie libraries.
First awarded to Arthur Ransome for ‘Pigeon Post’, the winner receives a golden medal and £500 worth of books to donate to a library of their choice.
The medal is awarded by CILIP: the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals.

I always look forward to seeing the Carnegie Long List. However over the past couple of years the list seemed to lean towards books of dark subject matter so I was really glad to see this year a more eclectic mix suitable for all kinds of readers.

I have put the ones I have read so far on the top with links to my reviews with the rest below.

Carnegie Long List Books Reviewed.

Christopher, Lucy. The Killing Woods
Publisher: Chicken House. ISBN: 9781906427726

Gemin, Giancarlo. Cowgirl
Publisher: Nosy Crow. ISBN: 9780857632814

Sales, Leila. This Song Will Save Your Life
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN: 9781447252832

Lockhart, E. We Were Liars
Publisher: Hot Key Books. ISBN: 9781471403989

And The Rest......

Angus, Sam. Captain
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN: 9781447263029

Avery, Tom. My Brother's Shadow
Publisher: Andersen Press. ISBN: 9781849397827

Baldacci, David. The Finisher
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN: 9781447263005

Barraclough, Lindsey. The Mark of Cain
Publisher: Bodley Head Children's Books. ISBN: 9781782300199

Bedford, Martyn. Never Ending
Publisher: Walker Books. ISBN: 9781406329926

Bergin, Virginia. The Rain
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN: 9781447266068

Black, Holly. The Coldest Girl In Coldtown
Publisher: Indigo. ISBN: 9781780621302

Blaxill, Gina. Saving Silence
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN: 9781447208846

Booth, Anne. Girl With A White Dog
Publisher: Catnip Publishing. ISBN: 9781846471810

Bowler, Tim. Night Runner
Publisher: Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780192794147

Boyne, John. Stay Where You Are And Then Leave
Publisher: Doubleday Children's Books. ISBN: 9780857532930

Breslin, Theresa. Ghost Soldier
Publisher: Doubleday Children's Books. ISBN: 9780857533050

Brooks, Kevin. The Ultimate Truth: Travis Delaney Investigates
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN: 9781447238966

Butler, Heather. Us Minus Mum
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers. ISBN: 9780349124070

Buxton, Jamie. Temple Boys
Publisher: Egmont Books. ISBN: 9781405268004

Cain, Cate. The Jade Boy
Publisher: Templar. ISBN: 9781848772298

Camden, Steven. Tape
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books. ISBN: 9780007511204

Cantor, Jillian. Searching For Sky
Publisher: Bloomsbury. ISBN: 9781408846643

Carroll. Emma. The Girl Who Walked On Air
Publisher: Faber Children's Books. ISBN: 9780571297160

Cassidy, Anne. Finding Jennifer Jones
Publisher: Hot Key Books. ISBN: 9781471402289

Chan, Crystal. Bird
Publisher: Tamarind Books. ISBN: 9781848531239

Conaghan, Brian. When Mr. Dog Bites
Publisher: Bloomsbury. ISBN: 9781408842539

Cotterill, Jo. Looking At The Stars
Publisher: Bodley Head Children's Books. ISBN: 9781782300182

Creech, Sharon. The Boy On The Porch
Publisher: Andersen Press. ISBN: 9781849397728

Crossan, Sarah. Apple and Rain
Publisher: Bloomsbury. ISBN: 9781408853061

Crow, Matthew. In Bloom
Publisher: Much-In-Little Books. ISBN: 9781472105516

Crowe, Sara. Bone Jack
Publisher: Andersen Press. ISBN: 9781783440054

David, Keren. Salvage
Publisher: ATOM Books. ISBN: 9780349001371

Dawson, James. Say Her Name
Publisher: Hot Key Books. ISBN: 9781471402449

Day, Susie. Pea's Book of Holidays
Publisher: Red Fox. ISBN: 9781782952602

Dickinson, Matt. The Everest Files
Publisher: Vertebrate Publishing. ISBN: 9781906148928

Doherty, Berlie. The Company of Ghosts
Publisher: Andersen Press. ISBN: 9781849397292

Don, Lari. Mind Blind
Publisher: Kelpies. ISBN: 9781782500537

Doyle, Roddy. Brilliant
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN: 9781447248804

Earle, Phil. The Bubble Wrap Boy
Publisher: Penguin Books. ISBN: 9780141346298

Easton, T.S. Boys Don't Knit
Publisher: Hot Key Books. ISBN: 9781471401473

Elson, Jane. A Room Full Of Chocolate
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books. ISBN: 9781444916751

Furniss, Clare. The Year of the Rat
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Books ISBN: 9781471120275

Gaiman, Neil (author) Riddell, Chris (illustrator). Fortunately, The Milk...
Publisher: Bloomsbury ISBN: 9781408841761

Gardner, Sally (author) Roberts, David ( illustrator) Tinder
Publisher: Orion Children's Books. ISBN: 9781780621494

Gavin, Jamila(author) Collingridge, Richard (illustrator) Blackberry Blue: And Other Fairy Tales
Publisher: Tamarind Books. ISBN: 9781848531062

Gibbons, Alan. Hate
Publisher: Indigo. ISBN: 9781780621760

Gilman, David. Monkey and Me
Publisher: Templar. ISBN: 9781848773356

Gleitzman, Morris. Loyal Creatures
Publisher: Puffin Books. ISBN: 9780141355009

Green, Sally. Half Bad
Publisher: Penguin Books. ISBN: 9780141354309

Haig, Matt. Echo Boy
Publisher: Bodley Head Children's Books. ISBN: 9781782300069

Hall, Tim. Shadow of the Wolf
Publisher: David Fickling Books. ISBN: 9781910200001

Hardinge, Frances. Cuckoo Song
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN 9780330519731

Haughton, Emma. Now You See Me
Publisher: Usborne Books. ISBN: 9781409563693

Hearn, Julie. Dance Of The Dark Heart
Publisher: Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780192729309

Helsby, Genevieve (author) Eklund, Karin(illustrator). My First Orchestra Book
Publisher: Naxos Books. ISBN: 9781843797708

Howes, M.J. Feed
Publisher: Chicken House. ISBN: 9781908435965

Ho-Yen, Polly. Boy In The Tower
Publisher: Doubleday Children's Books. ISBN: 9780857533036

Inglis, Lucy. City of Halves
Publisher: Chicken House. ISBN: 9781909489097

Johnson, Catherine. Sawbones
Publisher: Walker Books. ISBN: 9781406340570

Laird, Elizabeth. The Fastest Boy In The World
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN: 9781447267164

Landman, Tanya. Buffalo Soldier
Publisher: Walker Books. ISBN: 9781406314595

Lewis, Gill. Scarlet Ibis
Publisher: Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780192793553

Mason, Simon. Running Girl
Publisher: David Fickling Books. ISBN: 9780857560582

Massey, David. Taken
Publisher: Chicken House. ISBN: 9781908435736

McCaughrean, Geraldine. The Middle Of Nowhere
Publisher: Usborne Books. ISBN: 9781409522003    

McGovern, Cammie. Amy and Matthew
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN: 9781447239000    

McGowan, Anthony. Hello Darkness
Publisher: Walker Books. ISBN: 9781406337846

McKenzie, Sophie. Every Second Counts
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Books. ISBN: 9781471116049    

Mitton, Tony. Wayland
Publisher: David Fickling Books. ISBN: 9780857560148

Moorhouse, Tom. The River Singers
Publisher: Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780192734808    

Ness, Patrick. More Than This
Publisher: Walker Books. ISBN: 9781406331158

Nicholls, Sally. Close Your Pretty Eyes
Publisher: Marion Lloyd Books. ISBN: 9781407124322

Pass, Emma. The Fearless
Publisher: Corgi Children's Books. ISBN: 9780552566155

Pratt, Non. Trouble
Publisher: Walker Books. ISBN: 9781406347692

Rai, Bali. Web of Darkness
Publisher: Corgi Children's Books. ISBN: 9780552562126

Reeve, Phillip (author) McIntyre, Sarah( illustrator). Oliver and the Seawigs
Publisher: Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780192734556    

Riddell, Chris. Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN: 9780230759800    

Rix, Megan. A Soldier's Friend
Publisher: Puffin Books. ISBN: 9780141351902

Robinson, Hilary (author) Impey, Martin (illustrator) Where the Poppies Now Grow
Publisher: Strauss House Productions. ISBN: 9780957124585

Rosoff, Meg. Picture Me Gone
Publisher: Penguin Books. ISBN: 9780141344034    

Sedgwick, Marcus. She Is Not Invisible
Publisher: Orion Children's Books. ISBN: 9781780621098

Sharpe, Tess. Far From You
Publisher: Indigo. ISBN: 9781780621654    

Slater, Kim. Smart: A Mysterious Crime, A Different Detective
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN: 9781447254096

Smith, Alex. Devilskein and Dearlove
Publisher: Arachne Press. ISBN: 9781909208155

Smith, Andrew. Grasshopper Jungle
Publisher: Electric Monkey. ISBN: 9781405273411

Stevens, Robin. Murder Most Unladylike: A Wells and Wong Mystery
Publisher: Corgi Children's Books. ISBN: 9780552570725

Sutcliffe, William (author) Tazzyman, David (Illustrator) Circus of Thieves and the Raffle of Doom
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Books. ISBN: 9781471122552

Suzuma, Tabitha. Hurt
Publisher: Bodley Head Children's Books. ISBN: 9781782300205

Symon, Andrew. Jack Shian and the Mapa Mundi
Publisher: Black & White Publishing. ISBN: 9781845027063

Walter, Jon. Close To The Wind
Publisher: David Fickling Books. ISBN: 9781910200056

Westcott, Rebecca. Dandelion Clocks
Publisher: Puffin Books. ISBN: 9780141348995

Wednesday 26 November 2014

My Top Fifteen Most Visually Beautiful Films

My Top Fifteen Visually Beautiful Films

These are films which are a visual feast for the eyes. They are captivating, enchanting and breathtakingly beautiful. The film maker becomes an artist, his camera becomes his paintbrush.
This list is in no particular order and are films which have inspired and entranced me.
What beautiful film has inspired you?

The Black Stallion

Room With A View

The Big Blue 

The Red Shoes

Girl With A Pearl Earring

The English Patient

Out of Africa

American in Paris

Breakfast at Tiffanys

Memoirs of a Geisha

Moulin Rouge

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

Gone with the Wind

Night of The Hunter

The Great Gatsby

Saturday 15 November 2014

Film Review The Imitation Game

English mathematician and logician, Alan Turing, helps crack the Enigma code during World War II.

My Musings
"Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine." 
Secrets within secrets. The story of how one man's genius and foresight helped win the war with what Churchill called the single biggest contribution to Allied victory in the war against Nazi Germany. What is extraordinary about this film is that no one knew of Alan Turing's role until recently when the official secrets act released his files 50 years on. Even though it is a travesty that he was not recognised until now i am not surprised it was kept secret. This is the true story of a man who broke an unbreakable code with a machine he built paving the way to many modern day inventions including the computer. The events that come after I found even more shocking, humbling and chilling. Through this man's amazing story you see how war is won and lost with ruthlessness, calculation, sacrifice and secrecy. Many a battle is lost it seems to win a war. In this case also, like many others forgotten heroes , the establishment use their finest minds and then discard when no longer needed. There seems to be no loyalty or thanks or reward although for the people of Bletchley park loyalty to their country was I believe enough.

The reason I have not mentioned the actual film yet is because the story for me made a bigger impact than the film if that makes sense. However there is an exceptionally strong cast with Benedict Cumberbatch underplaying Turin brilliantly with a quiet offbeat intensity. Kiera Knightly, Charles Dance and  Matthew Goode amongst others who add their weight to the cast. The story flows from Turing being bullied at school and his first crush to being recruited by MI6 to help break the Enigma code and then back to him being arrested for indecent behavior due to his homosexuality which was illegal in the UK up until 1967. 

Turing was a brilliant mathematician amongst other talents, a real Renaissance Man of his age. However he was also antisocial and very difficult to get on with which added to his terrible loneliness and feeling of isolation. This leads to some great pivotal scenes of him and his team clashing before succeeding in solving the enigma codes. The most chilling part comes after they crack the code and the next faze called Ultra. A logical system whereby they chose what information to pass on and what not to so the Germans would not realise they had cracked the code. The enormity of what they had to do, the sacrifice of so many people, the weight of responsibility of who lives and who dies for the greater good i found difficult to digest. It is why we are not told how exactly wars and battles are won. The normal person in the street would find it unpalatable. It is naive to think anyone can win a war without bloody decisions being made on both sides but the decisions over life and death were shown to be uncomfortably clinical. 

The other side of the story was of the man himself. He wanted to have company but his talent and brilliant mind stopped him from connecting with people on a social level. His arrest for indecency in the 1950's because he was a homosexual was shameful on so many levels but primarily because the government would have known and surely could have stepped in and swept it under the carpet. But no, he was chemically castrated and his reputation in tatters.That was the thanks this nation gave him for his service.

This story speaks of how those of us who are different, unique or special can be isolated and rejected because of how society finds it difficult to understand or accept  difference. 

A story of two halves. A man who fulfilled his intellectual promise but who was unable to connect with the world at large. Unique and misunderstood I hope this film helps put Alan Turing back into the history books where he truly belongs alongside other renaissance men who have enriched our lives while sacrificing their own. History will be his judge and  thankfully kinder to him than his contemporaries.

This is a must watch film that is enlightening and humbling. I am sure this will get loads of awards but the biggest award for this film is that it brought such an extraordinary man to the public's attention so we could honor him the way he should have been in his lifetime. 

The Queen gave Alan Turing a long overdue pardon in 2013 for which his family must gain some comfort.

Backround Story

Wednesday 12 November 2014

Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit Film Review


Jack Ryan, as a young covert CIA analyst, uncovers a Russian plot to crash the U.S. economy with a terrorist attack.

My Musings

Under the fashionable premise of taking a popular character and squeezing more life out of it with a  prequel this takes Jack Ryan, previously played by Harrison Ford back to his beginnings with the CIA

The film starts as it means to go on. Jack, played by Chris Pine, escapes a devastating helicopter crash, saves his comrades with his back broken and then learns to walk again whilst meeting his true love played by Kiera Knightley. Phew!! and that's in the first 10 mins!

Its far too frenetic and over the top to grasp Jack's heroism. With Kenneth Branagh , hot of the success of Thor I was surprised there were such amateur mistakes. It felt rushed like he wanted to get the first part of the story out of the way and onto the bigger plot.

Here Jack uncovers a Russian plot (because of course he is a financial genius) and is soon sent out to Russia where he meets megalomaniac, Kenneth Branagh. I would suggest in future Kenneth stick to either directing or acting as clearly he cannot do both.

All the cast bring weight to the film which it badly needs but the direction is so haphazard and the plot is so ridiculous it really drains the film of enjoyment. The action and tension should have been through out. The middle is fine and gets quite exciting when Jack has to break into a high security office to get secret files and save Kiera. But when the film returns to the USA for the finale it goes downhill rapidly. The action sequence at the end is shockingly bad and just tedious.

It is such a shame as I loved the old films and this had all the potential for a new franchise with a stella cast. It even has a blink and you miss it appearance from Mikhail Barishnikov! But with all the money they clearly had thrown at this they just couldn't make it work. Kenneth seemed out of his depth and has no understanding of how to film a slick action thriller. A real pity as I love films like this and on this outing I will be waiting a  long time before another comes along.  Watchable only if your a fan of any of the great cast.

Sunday 2 November 2014

Book Review, Station Eleven By Emily St John Mandel


One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time-from the actor's early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains-this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor's first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet. Sometimes terrifying, sometimes tender, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.

My Musings

The book centres on events before and after the world is virtually wiped out by a lethal flu virus. Bearing in mind that ebola dominates the news at the moment this is very topical and unsettling. The quickness of the spread of the disease and how fast the world network crumbles is horrifying and , when you think about it in the cold light of day, a real possibility. Things we take for granted like electricity is a thing of the past and we see this new harsh world through the eyes of a small group of actors and musicians touring through the scattered communes of survivors. Some are friendly, some not so much, a bit like a futuristic wild west. The mental struggle with the isolation and how small the world has become without technology is chilling. St John illustrated vividly how minor things become huge, like a small cut becoming life threatening with no treatment. The touring band have to learn to take care of themselves, kill or be killed. Law and order are a thing of the past.

The story bounces back into the past also, following the life of an eminent actor who  dies in the first pages of the book from a heart attack. His journey to fame, his loves and his son. The past and present are woven together through random details which become significant later. Emily St John Mandel  has an intricate and vivid imagination that gives a filmatic flair to her storytelling. It is about survival, intimacy, friendship and courage. It is also about hope in the face of grave adversity. Thought provoking  and mythic in dimension it would be a great book for discussion in a book group. I warily say it would make a great film but she weaves such beautiful imagery of a future world I don't see how a film could possible capture it. 
Enjoy and be enraptured.

Emily St John Mantel Website