Hello Dear Readers and welcome to Christmas week – 4 sleeps to go!
If you celebrate Christmas on 25th December, then I’m sure that like me you’ll have been pretty much rushed off your feet for the last few weeks. My weekends have been spent wrapping gifts, Christmas shopping, trying to find all of my ingredients to cook the Christmas dinner and getting my house all nice and festive! It’s likely going to be the last year I’m celebrating in this house and coincidentally also happens to be the first year I’m cooking the Christmas Dinner here, so I’ll definitely be trying to make this year special, in particular with all that’s going on!
I was hoping to be spending Christmas Eve with the family but as thats now not going to be happening due to new Coronavirus restrictions here in England, I’m planning on really getting stuck into my books and sharing my reviews with you. I’ve got a catalogue of reviews to write so expect to see quite a few reviews in the next couple of weeks, which I hope will help with you last minute gifts and where to spend your book money (by that I mean, Christmas gift money!).
My first review is of a seasonal thriller, which is one of my RareBird’s Book Subscription books. If you’re looking for a last minute gift for someone or one thats preferably an e-gift due to not being able to travel to drop off a gift, I throughly recommend that you purchase a subscription or a lucky dip for any book lover. This subscription was purchased by my lovely friend for my 30th this year and it’s something I’ve absolutely fallen in love with and have renewed and will be doing so again when it expires in March. I love receiving books each month that I would never have picked myself, and then having a good old chinwag with everyone at the end of the month about it where we each share different view points. The ladies that run the bookclub are also so super friendly and helpful – honestly cannot thank them enough for starting the business, it’s amazing.
THREE HOURS, BY ROSAMUND LUPTON
So, as many of my readers who have been with me through the years will know – I love thrillers. I have been obsessed with crime stories and spies since I was young thanks to Midsomer Murders, Law & Order SVU and Poirot, so have always had quite the taste for something a bit dramatic and scary. What makes this a perfect one for the festive season is that its set in England in snow fall, giving true Christmas vibes.
“In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege. Pupils and teachers barricade themselves into classrooms, the library, the theatre. The headmaster lies wounded in the library, unable to help his trapped students and staff. Outside, a police psychiatrist must identify the gunmen, while parents gather desperate for news. In three intense hours, all must find the courage to stand up to evil and save the people they love.”
First of all, I loved the concept of the story being told in just 3 hours of time. It’s not something I’ve come across before but honestly made such a difference (I feel) with regards to my engagement with the story. I felt like I was reading in real time, almost like I was one of the people in the story watching the news report live.
The story does move backward and forward in time and there are multiple stories going on at the same time – it makes it absolutely perfect for a novel but also I feel would make a fantastic film. However from a reading perspective, because we are in a school and there are characters all over the place of varying ages and seniority, it was hard to keep up with initially as to who was who.
I’m a reader that appreciates a book map and I would have been rather grateful for one of these at the beginning of the book to thoroughly understood the layout of the school, why the position of our gunmen was important, and also where our characters were in relation to one another. I don’t think I truly got that until the end and even then I think I may have just been imagining my old secondary school map! If there are to be further editions printed in the future, its definitely something I’d recommend be added.
I thought it was an interesting concept to have a school shooting in England, as we imagine these things ‘only happening’ in places like America, where there are guns and severe polarisation. However in a year where it has been made more than clear to all that racism and radicalisation is truly alive and well in all countries, the story line is sadly very realistic in a day and age where people seem to find more reasons to polarise, than to connect – largely fuelled by the internet, which also plays a key role in the plot.
I believe a lot of research went into the story by the author, about terrorist groups and how they recruit, about criminal psychology and about how the police conduct their response to these types of terror incidents. There was nothing about the police approach that I didn’t feel was realistic or that had gaps. The only doubt in my mind was how many children this school had, in my city schools we had 300 in each year but it felt like in this rural setting there were maybe 100/200? I wasnt sure on the size of the operation.
I was however truly taken aback at how much of an emotional read this thriller turned out to be. I wasnt expecting the focus on the lives of child asylum seekers, of the love, liberalism and acceptance that emerged from the pages. It didn’t turn me to tears but there was definitely a lot of emotional connections and love between the characters, both paternal, romantic and platonic.
However, I did feel that the book did have a political undertone because of the subject matter and there was a lot of slating real life newspapers, politicians and journalists- you may appreciate that but I did start to feel like the author was sharing her distaste for these people/media outlets rather heavily – although they were used as a tool to support the plot I feel there was a lot of slating focused primarily on certain people. I don’t recommend Trump Supporters, readers of The Daily Express or lovers of Katie Hopkins read this one!
I did enjoy the story and was picking it up at every opportunity, but I must also confess that although this is certainly a fear inducing novel, it wasnt really a thriller to me. Perhaps I understand psychology a little too much or have seen too many Netflix documentaries.. however I knew every single one of those responsible when their situations/personalities were discussed the first of which was pretty blatant from the beginning. I had one red herring that was quickly quashed at the beginning but I was right about the others. As a result I wasnt shocked or ‘thrilled’ when it was made clear to us as readers about who was responsible, and I do feel that some things (the last part of the book, don’t wish to add spoilers) – could have been left drawn out so we didn’t know as readers if people were okay or not for a little longer. It was like ‘oh gosh no!’.. next page.. ‘oh ok’. I would have enjoyed more suspense.
CAN’T PUT IT DOWN RATING: 3.5/5
Such an emotional fear inducing novel which I’m sure will no doubt become a Netflix Film at some point in time – it’s such an original concept and I thought the characters were well fleshed out, with interesting emotional stories and backgrounds that had led them to where they were. I found the reactions of teachers very human, and the story was very realistic. There were a few surprises along the way and I would say the first part of the book really had me guessing about who was responsible. I found one of my first suspects quickly quashed and the book in the first half had very good pacing.
I would definitely recommend this book, but if like me you’re a bit of a crime drama or documentaries series fan, nothing will come as a surprise once you start learning about the psychology and situations of our characters. Perhaps Dr George Huang just taught me too much for me to be shocked by this one.
Where to Buy:
WH Smith: £6.29
WASHED DOWN WITH:
I promised you I’d go and find some lovely tea to share with you for my next post – so here it is and what a cracker this turned out to be (pun totally intended)!
So it’s no secret that I love Teapigs. They’re a British company but they’re now all over the place (including US) so please check out their website – they’re a super lovely and helpful bunch and I promise their tea won’t let you down – just make sure you brew it right!! This time I’ve been sipping on their ‘Silver tips White tea’. I LOVE white tea. It’s so refreshing with a very neutral flavour and aromatic smell- it’s got a hint of green tea according to my tastebuds but its a very light flavour, meaning its perfect to go with anything you’re eating – sweet or savoury it doesn’t matter it doesn’t impact the flavour. Teapigs White Tea is from Fujian in China and is picked within the first 2 hours of sprouting and can only be done so for a few weeks of the year, so its very much a speciality tea. White tea should be light in your cup – anything else is green tea. This silver tips from Teapigs is classed as the top Grade of White Tea, and its evident in the cup!
Hit up Teapigs now for your cup – prices start from £1.75 for two teabags.
Tip – Brew at 80c for 3 minutes so as not to burn the tea and do not add milk!!
Well my lovely readers, thats me for today – I’m currently 7 chapters deep into a very festive read (eeeeee!) so shall hope to be sharing that with you very shortly. Follow me on socials at @papyrusandpeppermint for updates!
Until the next Chapter,