BOOK REVIEW: Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton

Three hours is 180 minutes or 10,800 seconds.

It is a morning's lessons, a dress rehearsal of Macbeth, a snowy trek through the woods.

It is an eternity waiting for news. Or a countdown to something terrible.

It is 180 minutes to discover who you will die for and what men will kill for.

In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege. Told from the point of view of the people at the heart of it, from the wounded headmaster in the library, unable to help his trapped pupils and staff, to teenage Hannah in love for the first time, to the parents gathering desperate for news, to the 16 year old Syrian refugee trying to rescue his little brother, to the police psychologist who must identify the gunmen, to the students taking refuge in the school theatre, all experience the most intense hours of their lives, where evil and terror are met by courage, love and redemption. 

Publisher: Viking
Pages: 320

This book is intense from start to finish. Three Hours is an astonishing read from Rosamund Lupton, I cannot stop thinking about it. A school in rural Somerset is under seige in the middle of a snow storm. We follow different characters as they are terrorised for the next three hours in a horrific ordeal which could quite easily happen in real life. Each chapter is told from a different perspective, the wounded headmaster being cared for in the library by the students he is unable to protect; the drama teacher hiding children in the school theatre and distracting them by rehearsing Macbeth; the pregnant detective tasked with getting this extraordinary event under control and the Syrian refugee desperately trying to find his frightened younger brother within the school grounds without getting caught.
Lupton has you gripped and does not let go for the entire book. I was so impressed with the feelings she was able to evoke in me as a reader from shock and fear to admiration and awe. This book is about both sides of the story, Lupton explores fear and courage and how one can very easily lead to the other and sometimes with extremely negative consequences.
It is easy to tell that Three Hours has been impeccably researched, Lupton describes the processes carried out by the different members of the police force, the devastating effects of PTSD and the ways in which fragile minds can be manipulated. This book is so relevant to the times we live in and I think it particularly shows the importance of how we educate our children about the issues faced within society. They are the ones who are going to grow up and shape the future; the headmaster in the book has been trying to do just with his pupils but he comes to see how difficult that is and how easily his message can be undermined. 
Rosamund Lupton has written a realistic and terrifying thriller that will leave you with so much to consider. I was so invested in the story and felt terrified for those trapped within the school, the twists and turns towards the end are astonishing and beautifully executed. Do not miss out on this heartbreaking and thoughtful book.


BOOK REVIEW: The Flat Share by Beth O'Leary

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.
But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…
Publisher: Quercus
Pages: 391
I loved this book! I’m so glad that I finally gave in and bought a copy as it is a fantastic read! 
Tiffy and Leon share a bed in Leon’s London flat; he works nights as a nurse in a hospice and Tiffy has a 9-5 job as a book editor. They have never actually met but they communicate by leaving post-it notes in the flat plus various offerings of food for each other. Their unconventional relationship grows until they have to meet face to face, will their first encounter meet the expectations they have of each other or will it be a huge disappointment?
You cannot help but fall in love with these characters. I felt as though I knew Tiffy and Leon by inside out by the end of the book and I was sad to say goodbye when I reached the final chapter. They are so well matched and bring out the best in each other even when their only contact is handwritten notes.
Beth O’Leary gets the balance just right within the story, it reminded me of Marian Keyes’ fabulous books. There is a great deal of humour and wit beautifully balanced with hard-hitting issues and emotions. I’ll be honest, I had not expected such serious sub-plots and these really raise the book up. Beth O’Leary deals with difficult topics with sincerity, weaving them within her plot effortlessly.
I really enjoyed how each chapter was told from either Leon or Tiffy’s perspective, it keeps your interest and you get to know each character really well in this way. 
The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary is a wonderful debut and I know she has another book due out next year which I can’t wait to get my hands on! 


BLOG TOUR: All the Rage by Cara Hunter

A teenage girl is found wandering the outskirts of Oxford, dazed and distressed. The story she tells is terrifying. Grabbed off the street, a plastic bag pulled over her face, then driven to an isolated location where she was subjected to what sounds like an assault. Yet she refuses to press charges.
DI Fawley investigates, but there's little he can do without the girl's co-operation. Is she hiding something, and if so, what? And why does Fawley keep getting the feeling he's seen a case like this before?
And then another girl disappears, and Adam no longer has a choice: he has to face up to his past. Because unless he does, this victim may not be coming back . . . 
Publisher: Viking Books
Pages: 442
All the Rage is the fourth book in the DI Adam Fawley series by Cara Hunter. I love these books and I’m always so excited when I learn that Hunter has a new one coming out, they are such a refreshing breath of fresh air within this crowded genre.
DI Adam Fawley is still trying to move on from the tragic death of his son Jake and he and his wife Alex are expecting a baby so he should be looking forward to the future. However when a young girl is abducted and viscously attacked, a bag put over her head and her hair pulled out, it sends Fawley looking back at the past. He provided evidence that saw a perpetrator put away for a long time for a series of crimes early on in his career. When another girl goes missing, Fawley must question whether he got the right person all of these years ago or have they still been out there all this time. 
Cara Hunter writes at a terrific pace, you can’t help but be completely engrossed by the story she is telling. All the Rage is so relevant for the time we live in, she addresses several different issues, sexuality, bullying, sexism, social media and much more. The narrative is interspersed with interview transcripts, newspaper reports, twitter feeds, voicemail messages and internet forums. This is what really makes Hunter stand out, these details greatly add to the story as they are so realistic. Nowadays if there is a publicised murder investigation occurring then it is not merely reported on the 10 o’clock news. Instead information is made available 24 hours a day, people will discuss it on Twitter, facebook groups will be set up and a lot of false information will appear as well as snippets of truth. Hunter goes a long way to show how this can hamper police investigations as well as help them. They have less control of what the public know so they are constantly battling to stay one step ahead. 
Hunter has some cracking twists in this one, I was very impressed with how she linked it all together and I did not see the final twist coming.  All the Rage is a real treat and I would highly recommend it as well as the rest of this fabulous series. Cara Hunter has a fabulous newsletter which you can sign up to here! I also have a copy of All the Rage to give away on my Instagram page, my username is: dotscribbles and you simply have to leave a comment on the post to be entered into the competition!

Many thanks to Viking for inviting me to be part of this blog tour and providing me with a review copy. 


BOOK REVIEW: Dear Edward by Anne Napolitano

One summer morning, a flight takes off from New York to Los Angeles. There are 191 passengers aboard: among them a young woman taking a pregnancy test in the airplane toilet; a Wall Street millionaire flirting with the air hostess; an injured soldier returning from Afghanistan; and two beleaguered parents moving across the country with their adolescent sons, bickering over who gets the window seat. When the plane suddenly crashes in a field in Colorado, the younger of these boys, 12-year-old Edward Adler, is the sole survivor.
Dear Edward depicts Edward's life in the crash's aftermath as he struggles to make sense of the meaning of his survival, the strangeness of his sudden fame, and find his place in the world without his family. In his new home with his aunt and uncle, the only solace comes from his friendship with the girl next door, Shay. Together Edward and Shay make a startling discovery: hidden in his uncle's garage are sacks of letters from the relatives of the other passengers, addressed to Edward.
As Edward comes of age against the backdrop of sudden tragedy, he must confront some of life's most profound questions: how do we make the most of the time we are given? And what does it mean not just to survive, but to truly live?
Publisher: Viking Books
Pages: 352
I am so pleased to be part of the blog tour for this publication, I think it is a book that many will be talking about in 2020. Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano is beautifully written and one of the best books I have read about growing up.
Edward gets on a flight from New York to Los Angeles with his parents and older brother. The plane never makes it to the destination, it crashes, killing 191 passengers, Edward is the sole survivor. Physically and mentally broken, Edward leaves hospital to go and live with his aunt and uncle Lacey and John. He and they have been warned by medical staff how Edward will feel different in so many different ways after such a traumatic event but nothing can prepare them for the reality of his long and slow recovery. Edward has lost everything, he doesn’t feel like he fits anywhere until he meets Shay, a girl the same age living next door. They gradually become friends and Shay becomes Edward’s security blanket, with her by his side he feels as though he can start to face the world again,
Lacey and John have tried to shield Edward from as much publicity and knowledge of the crash as possible but Edward discovers hundreds of letters that have been sent to him. Most from the family and friends of those killed in the accident. Some asking for sightings of their loved ones, some begging him to fulfill ambitions that their relative did not get to accomplish. Edward with the help of Shay begins to use these letters as a way to move forward, he knows he has to find a place in the world, he does not need to fulfill someone else’s destiny but he does need to find his own.
Dear Edward is such a compelling story, Ann Napolitano flits between Edward in the present and Edward on the plane with his family. We get to know some of the other passengers in detail and then this is tied up with their relatives writing to Edward later in the book. I very much enjoyed Napolitano’s writing style, she is very observant and includes interesting details that give you such a vivid picture. I loved the way in which she explores and lays emotions bare too. Edward is experiencing so many different emotions and not just because of the accident but because he is a young adolescent boy. He is very sensitive to those around him and he cares deeply. His relationship with Shay is a crucial part of the book, Napolitano captured the easy nature of children especially in the first part of the book. The honesty and perspective that Shay has is vital to Edward, many of those around him are afraid to say what they think or feel in case they should upset him. Shay does not care which is why she is the perfect friend for him.
Dear Edward is one to watch out for this year! Many thanks to  Viking for sending me a review copy and inviting me on the blog tour.


BOOK REVIEW: Grown Ups by Marian Keyes

They're a glamorous family, the Caseys.
Johnny Casey, his two brothers Ed and Liam, their beautiful, talented wives and all their kids spend a lot of time together - birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, weekends away. And they're a happy family. Johnny's wife, Jessie - who has the most money - insists on it.
Under the surface, though, conditions are murkier. While some people clash, other people like each other far too much . . .
Everything stays under control until Ed's wife Cara, gets concussion and can't keep her thoughts to herself. One careless remark at Johnny's birthday party, with the entire family present, starts Cara spilling out all their secrets.
In the subsequent unravelling, every one of the adults finds themselves wondering if it's time - finally - to grow up?
Publisher: Michael Joseph
February 6th 2020
I am a huge fan of Marian Keyes and have read every single one of her fabulous books. I always let out an excited shriek when I learn that she has a new one coming out. Grown Ups has many of Marian Keyes’ trademarks which I was glad of but it almost felt like the most honest and tender book she has written. 
The story revolves around the Casey family, Johnny, Ed and Liam are brothers and are very different as are their wives, Jessie, Cara and Nell. Jessie is the one with the successful business and a lot of money so she is the one to arrange the lavish family events that brings them all together. As with all families, not everybody gets on all the time and there is a lot of drama. However, this is magnified when Ed’s wife Cara attends a family meal after hitting her head. Her concussion leads her to deliver some home truths to some members of the family, it provides a wake up call that will shake the Casey’s up, they probably won’t be the same again.
Grown Ups is so, so well done. There are a lot of characters involved but once I had it in my head who was who and how they were all connected then I became completely engrossed in their individual stories. I don’t want to give too much away but Keyes packs a huge amount into this book, we have addiction, love, family, friendships, anxiety, ambition and much more. Using a family unit to explore all of these different issues is an excellent idea as it really strips the characters bare, you can rarely hide things from your own family and when you have a large extended family then issues almost become magnified.
My favourite characters were Nell and Ferdia and the bond that they form, it was handled so well and I loved their parts of the book. Nell is a great character, she has married into the family and her husband Liam is not shaping up to be who she thought he was. But what do you do if you like your husband’s family more than your husband?
Marian Keyes has written openly about her experience of mental health and I felt as though she used her own knowledge and perspective of addiction to offer an excellent insight. One of the characters has an addiction within the book and Keyes presents it warts and all. I liked how she did not tip-toe around the problem but instead showed the impact and consequences it has plus the ways in which it affects the wider family and friends.
Grown Ups is an excellent book and showcases Marian Keyes’ immense talent, I cannot recommend it enough.  Many thanks to Michael Joseph for allowing me to review this book via Netgalley, it is out in February!


BOOK REVIEW: Unnatural Causes by Dr Richard Shepherd

Meet the forensic pathologist, Dr Richard Shepherd. A detective in his own right, he must solve the mystery of sudden and unexplained deaths. He has performed over 23,000 autopsies, including some of the most high-profile cases of recent times; the Hungerford Massacre, the Princess Diana inquiry, and 9/11. He has faced serial killers, natural disaster, 'perfect murders' and freak accidents. His evidence has put killers behind bars, freed the innocent, and turned open-and-shut cases on their heads. Yet all this has come at a huge personal cost. Unnatural Causes tells the story of not only the cases and bodies that have haunted him the most, but also how to live a life steeped in death.
Publisher: Penguin Pages: 445
This book was fascinating and well written. Dr Richard Shepherd is one of Britain’s most respected forensic pathologists and he has performed thousands of autopsies whilst being involved in many well known cases. I have always been interested in this area of medicine and Shepherd provides the reader with a great insight into a world that many will never experience. 
As a pathologist Shepherd has been involved in many well publicised cases such as 9/11, the Hungerford Massacre and the Bali bombings, he recounts his experiences in great detail and we get to see these shocking events from a different perspective. Whilst being respectful to the dead, a pathologist’s job is to discover the truth as to how they died. Shepherd talks you through the many different processes involved, the mistakes that have been made and the lessons learned within his field. His career has spanned decades and he is honest about the problems he encountered and how he has fought to bring about change. He is passionate about using his knowledge and expertise to help people, be that teaching police officers how to restrain people safely; the importance of looking at safe-guarding issues when a child dies or even how to make newly qualified police-officers feel more comfortable in a mortuary environment. He cares deeply about what he does and that shines through in this book. His writing is full of compassion and whilst he is making judgements on the cause of death, he does not pass judgement on those involved, rather he seeks to understand why they behaved as they did.. 
Unnatural Causes is beautifully honest too, I was so impressed with the way Shepherd chose to write about his personal life and the way his career has impacted on that. I am married to a GP and I could completely identify with the ways in which his job have affected his family life. He talks about the inevitability of bringing his work home and being unable to switch off. It was interesting to read the many instances where he was not sure whether to share certain work experiences with his two children. It was reassuring as we have had similar conversations in our house; we try to be honest but you also have a job to shield them from some things while you can. Shepherd did not have to write about this aspect of his life but for me it is what made the book great; you cannot do a job like he did without it spilling over into your home life and he is totally up front about that. 
Unnatural Causes is a fantastic read, I flew through it and can highly recommend. 


BOOK REVIEW: The Lost Ones by Anita Frank

Some houses are never at peace.England, 1917 Reeling from the death of her fiancĂ©, Stella Marcham welcomes the opportunity to stay with her pregnant sister, Madeleine, at her imposing country mansion, Greyswick – but she arrives to discover a house of unease and her sister gripped by fear and suspicion.Before long, strange incidents begin to trouble Stella – sobbing in the night, little footsteps on the stairs – and as events escalate, she finds herself drawn to the tragic history of the house.Aided by a wounded war veteran, Stella sets about uncovering Greyswick’s dark and terrible secrets – secrets the dead whisper from the other side...
Publisher: Harper Collins
The Lost Ones is an accomplished debut from Anita Frank and it fully deserves the comparisons being made with Wilkie Collins and Susan Hill. 
Stella Marcham is mourning the death of her fiance in the First World War, where working as a nurse, she saw many horrors first hand. Feeling almost over-powered by her grief she is pleased to be invited to stay with her sister Madeleine who is expecting her first child. Stella arrives at Greyswick, a country estate still very much controlled by Madeleine’s mother-in-law to find her sister much altered. Instead of the pregnancy glow that Stella expected, she finds Madeleine wracked with anxiety and convinced that there is something sinister in the great house. At first she is sceptical but then she too experiences things in the house that can’t be explained. Tristan Sheers arrives prepared to refute the sisters’ claims and although striving for different purposes, he and Stella start delving into Greyswick’s past and soon they uncover the truth behind the strange goings-on. 
The Lost Ones is beautifully creepy and definitely not one to read on your own late at night. I marvelled at the way Anita Frank built up the tension and there were several times when I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. She is so clever at using little events to give you a greater and greater sense of unease, voices in the night, an empty baby’s crib rocking, invisible hands on your back. The characters add to this too, Mrs Henge the housekeeper has a definite air of Mrs Danvers about her as she suddenly appears from shadowy corners in the house. 
Greyswick is the perfect setting for this story, all families have secrets and the house has witnessed them all. Bound by social etiquette and her position as a guest, Stella has to really push herself in order to discover the truth. All she wants to do is return her sister’s happiness but there are so many people in the book who want the past to remain hidden. There were points within the book where you question Stella’s reliability as a narrator as there are several references to the state of her mental health. You begin to wonder if she has just imagined it all as she is still grieving and recovering from her time in France.

I very much enjoyed The Lost Ones, it is a fantastic story and perfectly executed.

BOOK REVIEW: Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton

Three hours is 180 minutes or 10,800 seconds. It is a morning's lessons, a dress rehearsal of Macbeth , a snowy trek through the woo...