Book Review: The Escape Book by Ivan Tapia

The Escape Book, I Tapia

Source: Goodreads

I had a bit of a struggle rating this book if truth be told. I couldn’t decide on my final rating for a while just because I had very conflicting views on the book. On the one hand, it was a lot of fun to complete, and I did enjoy the puzzles and the general novelty of an escape room in book form. On the cover it says it’s the “first book based on the puzzle of escape rooms” and I’m excited that this is now a thing. On the other hand, the writing wasn’t the best and the content of the book tended to jerk you out of tension of the situation. Please keep reading for my review and, as always, I’ve added the review to Goodreads so please add me there.

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Book Review: Firebird by Elizabeth Wein

Firebird, E Wein

Source: Goodreads

So I’m back! And I’m reading again! To ease myself into the new year and the three (THREE?!?) reading challenges I’m attempting, I went with a new novella from one of my favourite authors, Elizabeth Wein. I’m a bit of a WW2…kick? Lately? I really enjoyed this book. I also left my review on Goodreads, and feel free to add me there! Keep reading for my review and please don’t forget to leave a comment with your thoughts on the book or recommending any other similar books/authors!  Continue reading “Book Review: Firebird by Elizabeth Wein”

BOOK REVIEW: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

eleanor and park Image is from the Goodreads page

I read Eleanor & Park on holiday while tucked up in bed (yes, I’m so old!) and I read it in a couple of sessions flat. I really enjoyed it, actually. It’s the first Rainbow Rowell book I’ve read, but a few friends have recommended one of her other books, Fangirl. Maybe I’ll read that next – I definitely want to read more Rowell! This is a review so it may contain some spoilers re overarching themes and the like, but I’ll try to keep it relatively major spoiler free. This book tackles the topics of domestical violence, alcohol abuse, childhood abuse (including implied sexual) and bullying. If you are sensitive to any of those topics, you may want to skip this one.

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Book Review: Missing Abby by Lee Weatherly

This review may contain mild spoilers but will not talk in detail about any important plot points. I bought this book second hand from a used book sale sometime last year and just got around to reading it. The book is about a girl called Emma, who is the last person to see her childhood best friend, Abby, before Abby goes missing. The book is centred around Emma trying to find out what happened to Abby while also trying not to let the unsavoury circumstances in her past (that led to her “abandoning” Abby and moving to a different school) bleed through into her present. Check out the Goodreads page here.

missing-abby

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Book Review: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

Okay, I finished the book MONTHS ago but just haven’t gotten around to writing and posting my review until now. It’s a good job I made notes straight after I’d finished! The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency is about a woman, Mme Ramotswe, who opens a detective agency in Botswana, and follows both her interactions with other characters and the cases brought to her and how she solves them. This book was part of my Continent Book challenge (the Africa months). This review is spoiler free (I think, there might be a couple tiny ones but nothing that will spoil anything about the book for you in any way).

The book is structured so that in every chapter (near enough) there is another case for Mme Ramotswe to solve. There is also one overarching case that runs throughout the book (revolving around a missing child and a witch doctor – I didn’t find any of it too grim or overly descriptive though). Alongside Mme Ramotswe is a pretty large cast of supporting characters, from the people she is helping to friends who help her. The characters seemed well rounded and interesting – they all seemed 3d to me, with well-thought out reasons behind every decision. I don’t know much about African culture, but I imagine the way these characters talk and interact with each other would be pretty realistic.

The main chapters, as I’ve said before, are about Mme Ramotswe and the cases she is hired to solve. However, interwoven into the main story is chapters about Mme Ramotswe’s background, her disastrous marriage, and her now deceased father who’s money she used to set up her detective agency. Although these chapters do slow the story itself down slightly, they make Mme Ramotswe more solid and I don’t think I would have understood and rooted for her quite so much had those insights into her past not been there.

In all, the book was well written and entertaining. I liked the characters and was satisfied with the ending (although it didn’t leave me with any lasting feelings either way). Maybe I just went into it with my expectations set too high but it just wasn’t as good as I’d hoped. I can’t put my finger on anything WRONG with it, it just didn’t touch me, strike me, make me want to run back to the library and find all the sequels NOW. I mean, maybe if I saw the sequels in the library one day and was in a bit of a reading slump then I’d pick it up, but I wouldn’t go actively looking for it, nor am I particularly desperate to read it again.

I’m giving The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency 3 out of 5 – it was a pretty fun, pretty light read that was well written, but I’m not chomping at the bit to read more.

Book Review: Hamster – Family Pet Guide by David Alderton

 I finished this one a while ago but haven’t had time to update it yet. Now, I don’t own a hamster so I can’t tell you exactly how much of the information in this book is needed or useful, and how much is just “extra” BUT I will say that this was a very informative book. It has sections on the care and choosing of both pet hamsters and show hamsters, and even a separate section on how to breed hamsters successfully. All major pieces of information are covered here: sexing; which hamsters can be kept together and which are solitary; taming; feeding; cleaning out cages; basic first aid; and important signs of illness to name just a few of the more interesting sections. There were also separate sections on each variety of hamster and its particular needs, all with clear headers.

This book also had some beautiful photographs (my favourites are definitely the ones depicting the different varieties of hamster – I never knew there were so many colours!), and the ratio of text to images is very well balanced. The layout of the book is good and easy to read. It would also be easy to just skim through the book and quickly find your chapters of interest by looking at the clear headers at the start of each section. The chapters too are well marked. Hamster gives you all the basic information you need to know before buying a hamster (and it even includes “non essential” information, as well as information about breeding or showing your hamster if that’s your cup of tea) without overloading you with info.

In short, it’s a brilliant little book and a very well written guide, and I highly recommend it to anyone thinking of purchasing a hamster.

(You’ll probably note that this review is slightly shorter than my usual reviews, and I haven’t given it a rating. This is because it’s a non-fiction guidebook, and so I didn’t rate or review it as I would a fiction book, or a “based on a true story” book.)

Life Updates, Coming Up Soon and Baking Treats!

What can I say? It’s been a while guys (understatement of the year there) but I’ve been been pretty busy and stressed. No. Scratch that. I’ve been VERY busy and stressed. This post will be a small one to let you know that I’m still here, I’m still blogging and hopefully I’ll be blogging A LOT more after this. I’ve got a lot of ideas for posts that are pretty much done and dusted so they’ll be up over the next week or so. But first, a quick life update.

I had my final three assignments due within a week of each other, and I started one of them (the longest one, go figure) really late so I was scrambling to get everything done. It sucked, and I’m NEVER leaving work that late again. It’s just not worth the hassle. But I finally did get everything done, I got a good result in my Linguistics (no word on the other two yet) which means I now just have to concentrate on revising for my exams. I have one in April and two in May. On the bright side, my last exam is 14th May and I don’t leave halls until the 31st May so I’m planning to do a few day/weekend trips to explore Scotland a little! It’ll be great fun, and a lovely way to get to know my new home more. 

In other news, we’ve finally found a flat for next year! We started looking late January and I was getting incredibly stressed about it because none of us could decide on one and I was convinced I’d be homeless next year! But we finally found it. The perfect flat. Okay, okay, it’s not perfect by a long shot but it has all of our requirements and we’re all happy with it. And we got it! We actually have somewhere to live next year. I’m so glad we got it sorted before we went home for Easter, and it’s just another weight off my mind with exams coming up.

I will be spending Easter alone this year. I left it too late to book train tickets so the only ones I could get that were a reasonable price were after Easter Sunday. But no matter. I’m going to an Easter service and then out to lunch with a friend so I won’t be TRULY alone. Like my birthday, this Easter will be the first I’m spending away from my family, which sucks but hey, I’m growing up. I’ll be okay. 

Finally, I’ve joined Camp NaNoWriMo this April. I’m hoping to get all my character sheets, a plan and plot outline and a good few chapters of my novel done this month. The people in my cabin seem nice, if a little quiet (but hopefully that’ll change now that camp has actually started). If any of you are on NaNo, feel free to friend me – A J Maslin.

Well, I think that’s just about everything with me! Now I’ll do a little list of posts I have waiting in the works: reviews of Romeo and Juliet, and A Streetcar Named Desire (yes, I still haven’t done these but they are top of my list so look out for them soon); multiple book reviews (I’ve finished three books that I need to review, and I’m hoping to finish four more before I go home for Easter); a reading and writing challenges update (I didn’t do one for March but I’ll definitely be doing one early this month, probably within the next few days); and more of my revision pages (I’m getting down to revising properly now and these pages help me and, hopefully, some of you too). That’s all I can think of now, but I’m sure I’ve left some stuff out. Keep an eye out for some cool stuff over the next month!

And last but not least, I thought I’d share with you a couple of bits of baking I did yesterday, courtesy of my cookbook A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe. It’s a really good book, and I encourage you foodies to pick it up if you like lovely food on a budget. I made the Vegan Banana Bread and the Cabbage Griddle Scones with natural yoghurt and Brie, and they were both delicious! Definitely making them again. I doubled the banana bread recipe to fill my tin, as we don’t have a loaf tin and I had a lot of very ripe bananas. 

   

 

Well that’s it for now, but I promise you won’t have to wait as long for the next post! See you soon.