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Hope Nicely’s Lessons for Life by Caroline Day – Blog Tour Book Review

Be charmed by 2021’s most unforgettable heroine 

I’m pleased to be kicking off the blog tour for  the delayed release of this wonderful book. They say that things happen for a reason and Hope is definitely something we need right now. Publishing on 22nd July so do grab yourself a copy and delve in. 

About the Book

 

‘In life you meet many people. Some you admire, some you wish you’d never met. Few make you think: ‘When I woke up this morning, I didn’t imagine that I would meet somebody like you.’ When you do, it’s rather like taking a step and finding gravity has relaxed. Hope Nicely is a little like that.’

 

‘A very special book. Hope is extremely endearing and her rules for life relevant for us all. Really enjoyable’

Katie Fforde

 

‘A sunburst of a story, full of love, kindness and one of the sweetest, most engaging central characters you’re likely to meet.  An absolute joy’

Sarah Haywood, bestselling author of The Cactus

 

Hope Nicely hasn’t had an easy life.


But she’s happy enough living at 23 Station Close with her mum, Jenny Nicely, and she loves her job, walking other people’s dogs. She’s a bit different, but as Jenny always tells her, she’s a rainbow person, a special drop of light.
 
It’s just . . . there’s something she needs to know. Why did her birth mother abandon her in a cardboard box on a church step twenty-five years ago? And did she know that drinking while pregnant could lead to Hope being born with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder?
 
In a bid to find her birth mother and the answers to these questions, Hope decides to write her autobiography. Despite having been bullied throughout school, Hope decides to join an evening class where she will not only learn the lessons of writing (including the number one golden rule of  ‘show don’t tell’), but may also begin to discover more about the world around her, about herself and even make some friends.
 
But when Jenny suddenly falls ill, Hope realises there are even more lessons to come . . .

 

Hope Nicely’s Lessons for Life is the novel we all need right now, a heart-warming tale of loneliness, friendship, acceptance, kindness, and, above all, hope.

‘A heart-bursting book, full of tears, laughter and hope. Gorgeously written with an incredible protagonist, I can’tit recommend enough, it’s FABULOUS’

Jessica Ryn, author of The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside

 

‘A gorgeous, funny, heart-warming read. Leaves you smiling’

Ericka Waller, author of Dog Days

 

About the Author

Caroline Day is a freelance journalist and consultant editor, living in Crouch End, married with kids and two dogs. She is an alumna of the Curtis Brown Creative novel-writing course and has written extensively for national media, with a focus on the human side of health and family issues. 

She first started writing Hope Nicely’s Lessons for Life as part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and successfully completed her 50,000-word target in the space of a month (although she has since edited it a lot). 

Caroline is in close contact with a Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder support group from whom she has received an enthusiastic early response and she does have some personal experience which has both given her the idea for the novel, ‘where Hope comes from’ as she describes it, and huge respect for those living neuro-diverse lives.

About the Audiobook Narrator

Zoe Croft is a multi-award-winning actress and filmmaker who is passionate about representing neurodiverse characters in the media. Her acting career thus far includes appearances in several BBC dramas, including as a series regular in ‘Holby City’. Like Hope, Zoe always wanted to be author. But, like many children who have learning disabilities she struggled in school and was told by a teacher that ‘people like her’ don’t become writers. Nearly a decade later she decided to prove them wrong! Her first short film, ‘Some Way Out’, that she wrote, illustrated and starred in won several awards – including best writer! Zoe is thrilled to be voicing Hope and *hopes* you enjoy the story as much as she did!

Zoe is represented by VisABLE People, an agency which specialises in finding mainstream opportunities for artists with disabilities. 

What I Thought

Agents and publishers talk about finding a book with a strong voice so they must have leapt at the chance to represent this one. Although, it is perhaps easier to ‘find the voice’ in a first person narrative, that doesn’t make Hope’s voice any less valid. After all, that’s kind of what the story is about. Finding your voice, speaking your truth, and being your authentic self. 

As a writer I loved that the book was structured as Hope’s autobiography and also that the chapters focused on a different aspect of writing a book. It was almost like a mini writing exercise in itself.

The cast of characters are bought vividly to life through Hope’s narrative, with their flaws and strengths on clear display through her literal responses to them, and their responses to her, which aren’t always as positive as I’m sure the readers will be. 

Our narrator Hope has FASD (Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder). Although I read a printed ARC I have listened to the sample of the audiobook narrated by Zoe Croft and based on that I’d happily recommend either option. Hope’s voice leaps from the page but Zoe also helps bring her to life.

There are some serious topics considered in the book with her adopted mother Jenny’s illness and her search for her birth mother. And I’m not going to say you won’t need tissues to hand. You will likely laugh and cry, and feel a hundred other emotions.

TW: Suicidal Ideation, Ableism (by some characters against Hope), Adoption.

Do take a look at the introduction to Hope’s Golden Rules (pictured above) – I think a certain government might – flip a pancake – learn something from Hope.

If you’d like to find out more about FASD check out the U.K. Network here: http://www.fasdnetwork.org/what-is-fasd.html

A huge thank you to Tracey at Compulsive Readers and the publisher for the gifted ARC for the purposes of an honest review. See what everyone else on the tour thought over the next few days too.


The Fall of Koli (The Concluding Book in the Rampart Trilogy) by MR Carey – Blog Tour Book Review

Fall of Koli book cover image

About the Book

The Fall of Koli is the third and final novel in the breathtakingly original Rampart trilogy – set in a strange and deadly world of our own making.

The world that is lost will come back to haunt us . . .

Koli has come a long way since being exiled from his small village of Mythen Rood. In his search for the fabled tech of the old times, he knew he’d be battling strange, terrible beasts and trees that move as fast as whips. But he has already encountered so much more than he bargained for.

Now that Koli and his companions have found the source of the signal they’ve been following – the mysterious “Sword of Albion” – there is hope that their perilous journey will finally be worth something.

Until they unearth terrifying truths about an ancient war . . . and realise that it may have never ended.

About the Author

MR Carey has been making up stories for most of his life. His novel The Girl With All the Gifts was a word-of-mouth bestseller and is now a major motion picture based on his own screenplay. Under the name Mike Carey he has written for both DC and Marvel, including critically acclaimed runs of X-Men and Fantastic Four, Marvel’s flagship superhero titles. His creator-owned books regularly appear I’m the New York Times graphic fiction bestseller list. He also has several previous novels, two radio plays and a number of TV and movie screenplays to his credit.

What I Thought

I’ve been lucky enough to be part of the blog tour for this whole series so just in case you are nee to the series I’ll share the links to my thoughts on books 1 & 2 here.

Book 1 – The Book of Koli

Book 2 – The Trials of Koli

Book 3 – The Fall of Koli

Once again the story picks up exactly where it left off in book two, albeit with a little preamble from Koli first.

“Why does the world think boys can’t be gentle and loving as well as strong and fierce?”

Let’s set the record straight, Koli is a cinnamon roll and he has the biggest heart, and I love him for it. Does that mean he sometimes acts foolishly – yes. But that adds to his endearment, and if he acted sensibly we wouldn’t have had half as good a story to follow.

We begin focusing on Koli, Monono (still my favourite character), Ursala and Cup arriving at the Sword of Albion. And it is not what any of us anticipated. On it we are introduced to three new and very chilling characters. I’m not going to say much about them because I want to keep this spoiler free but if your skin doesn’t goosebump from the first meeting with them then you are made of stronger stuff than me. It reminded me slightly of Allegiant when Tris and co escape Chicago and the creepy community in Lost.

We do then head back to Spinner and her ongoing challenges: of Ramparts, and wars and new life. I have to admit I had a slight itch to get back to Koli and his gang when reading her chapters. Nothing against the tale she is spinning but just that Koli’s exploits were keeping me on tenterhooks.

We do get other point of view characters too later in the book but once again I’m keeping schtum about them because surprises are fun.

In his acknowledgments Carey reports completing the writing of this during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown, and as with any good sci-fi it becomes a social commentary on the present. It touches on topics such as race, being transgender, brexit, naziism, corrupt politicians, climate change and more.

You need to have read the first two books to understand this one, if you didn’t like the voice in the previous books then you won’t like this. I would say this is the most pacy of the the three books but Koli’s storytelling in particular is still meandering and as such feels slower than many of us are used to. It’s replicative of oral storytelling, but to me this works much more successfully that the similar style used in Black Leopard, Red Wolf. Like I said in my review of the first book think the kid narrator in Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome. I appreciated it’s uniqueness and the opportunity to soak up a story that feels like being told of the past (even though it’s about things in an imagined future).

It’s lovely to have had the books published so near to each other but now the tale is complete you can get all three and take yourself on a journey to a land with faceless men, and murderous trees, where technology reigns but humanity is everything.

Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers for arranging the gifted e-copy for the purposes of this honest review. Do check out the rest of the stops on the tour.

Blog Tour Poster

The Phone Box at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina – Blog Tour Book Review

Paperback Book  Cover


About the Book

A sweeping, moving novel based on an incredible true story.

Picture an old disused telephone box in a beautiful garden, not found easily.

When Yui loses her mother and daughter in a tsunami, she wonders how she will ever carry on. Yet, in the face of this unthinkable loss, life must somehow continue.

Then one day she hears about a man who has an old disused telephone box in his garden. There, those who have lost loved ones find the strength to speak to them and begin to come to terms with their grief. As news of the phone box spreads, people travel there from miles around.

Soon Yui makes her own pilgrimage to the phone box, too. But once there she cannot bring herself to speak into the receiver. Then she finds Takeshi, a bereaved husband whose own daughter has stopped talking in the wake of their loss.

What happens next will warm your heart, even when it feels like it is breaking.When you’ve lost everything – what can you find?

Author Photo


About the Author


Laura Imai Messina was born in Rome, Italy but has been living in Japan for the last 15 years. She works between Tokyo and Kamakura, where she lives with her Japanese husband and two children.

She took a Master’s in Literature at the International Christian University of Tokyo and a PhD in Comparative Literature at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. The Phone Box at the Edge of the World has been sold in over 21 territories.


Laura can be found on Twitter at@LaImaiMessina and on Instagram at @LauraImaiMessina, or on her website www.lauraimaimessina.com.

Lucy Rand (Translator): Lucy Rand is a teacher, editor and translator from Norfolk, UK. She has been living in the countryside of Oita in south-west Japan for three years.

What I Thought

Picture of my hardback copy with many tabbed pages

Well, what do I say about this one? As you can see from the picture above I might have found one or two quotes that resonated. 

At its heart this is a story about loss, but it’s also hopeful and romantic and captures slices of human life. 

The two main characters Yui and Takeshi are our focus but I love how other characters they meet also get centred at times. 

There is a man who literally looks at life through a picture frame and this creates some of the most vivid imagery in the story. 

As a Humanist I don’t believe in a Supernatural Power but I do remain connected to those I have lost, and yes I do still speak to them from time to time, usually in my head rather than out loud though. Personally for me having a place to go to speak to the dearly departed isn’t necessary but I’m not sure that the Phone box fulfills that for these characters either. At its core I think it is about the human connection that the Phone box brings them. The space to be with their grief for as long as they need.

“Perhaps it doesn’t do any harm, she thought, to continue talking to those who are no longer with us.” 

There’s also a acknowledgment about how individual our responses to death are. Even the people who visit the phone box approach it in different ways. 

This is a quiet book, there are moments of tension but on the whole it’s an observation. Past and present and future are handled as a continuum and details from each time feed in where they make sense to tell us. There is both a distance and a closeness in the narration and it is eminently readable. In fact I read it almost in one sitting. In most of the book every other chapter steps away from narration and almost gives information like footnotes – the number that died in the tsunami, the cost of that photo frame, the top memories of a person gone. You could skip them but they highlight the ordinary, the facts, and the concept that life and death happens off page too.

There has been so much death across the world in the last year that the paperback publication of this feels timely. I hope that it’s increased accessibility means more people can find some comfort in its pages. I will be making a note of all those quotes I highlighted, removing the tabs and seeing if when I return to it I pick them out again, or if I see something different depending on what experience I bring to the book when I next read it.


Inspired by true events, discover the true story of the Wind Phone here:http://www.thephoneboxbook.com/. I was glad to read that the filming rights have been optioned because I think this will make a poignant film and I will be seeking it out.

Thanks to Compulsive Readers for having me on the tour. I already had this stunning hardback copy from Goldsboro as it was a book of the month pick (and I definitely see why). Good news the equally stunning paperback is out now. Opinions are entirely my own. Do check out the rest of the tour stops to see what everyone else thought.

Blog Tour Image

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