Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “Lissa Evans”

sevenstories’ 2012 Carnegie Summary

Sorry to hijack for something that is not strictly Cannonball but I’ve been reading the eight books on the Carnegie Medal shortlist over the last six weeks or so and have reviewed them all as part of Cannonball.

I’ve just posted a summary of the shortlist on my blog with the books in my personal order with a few thoughts on which will win which I’m linking to here. So please have a look if you’re interested in children’s/YA fiction or the Carnegie medal.

I’m beside myself with excitement that I managed to get some tickets to the ceremony tomorrow in London so I’ll be tweeting about it @acaseforbooks (it’s protected, sorry, but I work in a school and use it for personal things as well but I accept anyone except students!) and will hopefully do a blog post as well, particularly if I manage to get some good photos.

Normal reviews will now continue…

sevenstories’ #CBR4 Review #40: Small Change for Stuart by Lissa Evans

“Stuart Horten – ten years old but small for his age – moves to the dreary town of Beeton, far away from all his friends. But in Beeton begins the strangest adventure of Stuart’s life… He is swept up in a quest to find his great-uncle’s lost workshop – a workshop stuffed with trickery and magic. There are clues to follow and puzzles to solve, but what starts as fun ends up as danger, and Stuart begins to realise that he can’t finish the task by himself.”

This is a lovely and fun book that is written with charm and wit and heart. The story of the below-averagely height Stuart as he begrudgingly moves to a new town and ends up solving a family mystery full of puzzles and tricks, magic and mystery. I feel like this would make a great children’s TV show as Stuart races around Beeton, managing nosy triplet neighbours, quirky parents and a scheming enemy with a hapless magician sidekick. Despite all of this though, I found it difficult to consider it is a viable contender for the Carnegie prize just because its intended audience is so obviously much younger than the other shortlisted novels which are definitely aimed at the firmly young adult, older teens audiences. It is difficult to compare this to something harrowing like Between Shades of Grey or something lyrical and meandering like My Name is Mina. So, whilst I’m not sure  it is a good novel for Carnegie, I do think it is superbly written and incredibly charming.

The full review is on my blog.

First Line: “Stuart Horten was small for his age – the smallest boy in his year at school – and both his parents were very tall, which meant that when he stood next to them he looked about the size of an ant.”

Why I read it: It is on the current Carnegie Prize shortlist.

Who I would recommend it to: Fans of Rebecca Stead or Frank Cottrell Boyce. If you like quirky stories full of heart.

Funkyfacecat’s #CBR4 Review #09: Their Finest Hour and a Half by Lissa Evans

Their Finest Hour and a Half is an amusing historical novel about the propaganda industry in Britain during the Second World War. It tells the story of making a film about a heroic rescue from Dunkirk that bears only a slight resemblance to the events that inspired it. The Ministry of Information needs films oozing passion, patriotism, and “a bit with a dog,” (to quote Shakespeare in Love); this film must be made despite hundreds of obstreperous extras, a disobedient dog who only understands Yiddish, dubious authenticity, a leading man with a sense of entitlement that far outstrips his stature in the acting world, and conflicting demands from the War Office and the Ministry of Information – for instance, an American must be added to inspire audiences in the States to support the war.

There are several main characters, and the tale jumps about at quite a speed, which takes a while to get used to. The main focus is on Catrin Cole, who is trying to find a place for herself in the male-dominated film industry in aid of the war effort, and until this film has only been involved in the two minute “walls have ears” kind of thing. She has an awkward relationship with her husband and flirtatious banter with her bosses. Edith is a costumer at Madame Tussaud’s with a quietly miserable life, and a nasty relationship with her landlady; when the house is bombed in the Blitz she is forced to move to the rural seaside – where the film is about to be made. Ambrose is an actor having trouble with losing his youthful good looks and the fact that the only parts available to him any more are corpses and tipsy uncles. Their stories don’t exactly intertwine; rather, they run parallel throughout the novel, the film set acting as a catalyst for change in each of their lives.

Among the most interesting parts are the ones describing London and its people at war; they reminded me slightly of Elizabeth Bowen’s The Heat of the Day (a far superior novel in terms of literary merit but not as much fun). The cynicism of the film’s scriptwriters and Edith’s quiet confusion seem likely, while the chaos of the actual film-making is full of slapstick humor with occasional still moments of poignancy. It’s more about things that happen rather than about why things happen – occasionally some motivations felt a bit jarring. I found it overall very enjoyable – it was easy to get swept up in the plot, and the characters are by and large sympathetic.

Evans, Lissa. Their Finest Hour and a Half. London: Black Swan Books, 2010. Longlisted for the Orange Prize.

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