Sunday, 27 April 2014

The Tiffin - Mahtab Narsimhan | Review

The Tiffin is set in Mumbai, crafted around the dabbawallas – delivery men who take tiffins, hot boxed lunches, to office workers all over the city. It’s a highly organised operation, and the dabbawallas take much pride in its high delivery success rate: only one in six million tiffins never makes its intended destination. 13 years after a Tiffin with a note tucked inside it goes missing, Kunal is reaping the consequences.

The Tiffin is a quick read, all of 162 pages long. This is certainly frustrating at points because lots of plot points are introduced but never developed and followed through despite the potential and I think led to me finding the story dull at times. Kunal goes through a lot of growth to get to where he is at by the end of the novel, but it is demonstrated somewhat suddenly at the very end of the story. In my opinion, I would have preferred his growth to be more obviously wound into the story and not so out of nowhere.

I have never been to India, so that I can’t personally vouch for how well represented it is, but I felt fully immersed in the setting of contemporary Mumbai. It is described in such detail that I felt transported there, eating the delicious Indian food that was described in mouth-watering detail and fighting my way through the busy crowds at the train stations. I feel like I learnt a lot about Indian culture from reading the book and it’s a great way for younger readers to learn more about India.

I do think that this is an excellent MG read, and will engross younger teens and allow them to be transported to another country and culture all in one book. There are some storytelling issues, but I did like it – 3/5 stars.

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*Image c/o Goodreads

*Book provided by Hot Key Books in exchange for my honest review. Thanks to the folks at Hot Key!

Friday, 25 April 2014

Night School - C.J. Daugherty | Review

Allie Sheridan’s world is falling apart. Her brother’s run away from home. Her parents ignore her. And she’s just been arrested. Again.
This time her parents have had enough. They cut her off from her friends and send her away to boarding school, far from her London friends.
But at Cimmeria Academy, Allie is soon caught up in the strange activities of a secret group of elite students.
When she’s attacked late one night the incident sets off a chain of increasingly violent events. As the school begins to seem like a very dangerous place, she finds out that nothing at Cimmeria is what it seems.
And that she is not who she thought she was.

I’ve always enjoyed boarding school books. I adored Malory Towers and St Clare’s as I grew up. I’m always drawn towards boarding school books. I think that equates for a lot of the reasons that I chose to pick up Night School.

I didn’t know too much about it going in, and I actually expected a paranormal novel of some kind. The synopsis and plot makes it seem that way, however it has no paranormal elements whatsoever. To be very honest, this was a nice change from my somewhat monotonous reading routine.

One of my main issues with the book is that Allie’s “rebellion” disperses pretty much as soon as she gets to Cimmeria. Before Cimmeria she is troubled, acting out and being arrested and expelled all over the place. While she is sent to Cimmeria to be “sorted out” if you will, her personality changes quickly and we lose the rebellious, feisty main character for one that is solidly average. While I like Allie more in later books in the series, much of Night School was made strong by the supporting characters.

Due to the nature of the school all the plots were so cloaked in mystery you got absolutely no resolution about anything that happened until the very end, which could be frustrating. Even then, due to the bigger story arc of the series, you’re left with more questions. It can be a frustrating experience, although that is ultimately what made me read the next one in the series almost straight away.

C.J. Daugherty’s writing is so smooth and beautiful, transitioning easily through different settings and scenes and this definitely made up for some of the somewhat flawed, content.

3/5 stars
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*image c/o Goodreads

**This review was originally posted on collaborative book blog Blogger's Bookshelf**

Saturday, 19 April 2014

1) UKYA authors are very friendly on twitter!

They are a friendly bunch! They tweet back, favourite and retweet often.

2) Loads of books by UKYA authors are set in the UK! You can finally visualise where the story takes place.

For example, the most recent UKYA books I've read include a book set near Norwich (Looking for JJ), books set at a school in the English countryside (Night School and it's sequels) and a dystopian Britain (Fearsome Dreamer).

3) When a UKYA author does a book signing or tour, it's not inconceivable to think you might actually be able to go!

Ok, yes, I know that many signings make the mistake of thinking that London is the only place that matters. However, more and more authors are going on book tours to promote their books which take place up and down the country.

4) You get the warm fuzzy feeling of supporting homegrown talent

Supporting authors who have come from the same country as you gives you a special feeling. And lot's of pride that British people are such a talented bunch!

5) You can join in with the fabulous #UKYAchat on twitter, and the UKYA livechat's starting in May.

#UKYAchat is a chat that happens regularly on twitter, where people discuss and recommend UKYA books.

6) You get to experience the amazing UKYA books out there. 

This is obviously the most important point. I've only become vigilant about making sure I include a decent amount of UKYA on my TBR lists in the last few months, but it's opened up a whole world of new books that have quickly become favourites. Cruel Summer by James Dawson, The Night School series by C.J. Daugherty and The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss are some of my absolute favourites.

**Today is UKYADay!! Organised by Project UKYA - their website is HERE and their twitter is HERE. Check them out for fantastic posts celebrating the best of UKYA. **