Book Review: The Curious Heart Of Ailsa Rae.

AilsaRaeThis book left me tingling in a way that only happens when I know I’ve just read something special.

The Curious Heart Of Ailsa Rae is a beautiful (I don’t want to say heartwarming, given the nature of the beast), wonderfully written, touching journey, which almost felt like a true story.

I’m predicting big things for this book – if the film rights haven’t been bought yet I think someone will snap them up very soon.

Here’s the blurb:

Ailsa Rae is learning how to live.

She’s only a few months past the heart transplant that – just in time – saved her life. Life should be a joyful adventure. But . . .

Her relationship with her mother is at breaking point and she wants to find her father.

Have her friends left her behind?

And she’s felt so helpless for so long that she’s let polls on her blog make her decisions for her.

She barely knows where to start on her own.

Then there’s Lennox. Her best friend and one time lover. He was sick too. He didn’t make it. And now she’s supposed to face all of this without him.

But her new heart is a bold heart.

She just needs to learn to listen to it . . .

I’m trying very hard not to gush but it’s difficult because I really did enjoy it.

There’s something about Ailsa Rae that stuck with me long after the story finished but it’s more than that, I was invested in and cared about all the other characters too.

Having said that, it’s not just a great story, it’s raising awareness about the important issue of organ donation. Ailsa seems very aware that her new heart had a life before her. She gives it a name and thinks about the person it once belonged to and how they might have dealt with different situations. However, that was only one element, it felt like Stephanie took a 360 approach; looking at it not just from the recipient and donor but both families and also the people and families for whom time runs out. And she did all that without making it feel cumbersome, which deserves a round of applause in my opinion.

Maybe it’s helped by the way it’s written, the mix of story and blog posts moves it along and I liked the way Ailsa turned to her readers for help at first (as a blogger, that part of it was very familiar). It stops it being too heavy.

Add in a romance and some Shakespeare and it was job done for me. I urge you to give it a try.

Format: Kindle.

Price: £2.63 (via Amazon).

My rating: Five stars.

With thanks to Zaffre (via NetGalley) for the ARC in return for an honest review.

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Book Review: A Year Of Taking Chances.

AyearoftakinchancesShort, snappy chapters keep A Year Of Taking Chances moving along like the Eurostar whizzing its way into France, where some of this book is set.

This is Jennifer Bohnet’s 12th novel (yes, 12th!) but, surprisingly, it’s the first time I’ve read any of her work.

It’s a warm and uplifting story about two friends, Tina and Jodie, who discover that dreams can come true – although you still have to work at them.

Here’s the blurb:

Life is about to change forever…

When best friends, Tina and Jodie, make a drunken New Year’s Eve vow to change their lives before they hit the big 3 – 0, neither expected to end the year with much more than another hangover…

Twelve months later, Jodie is married and living in Provence – and Tina is exactly where she was a year ago (although now her rent is double). Tina can’t help but feel a little bit left behind, but as Jodie reminds her, she’s not thirty yet, there’s still time to quit her job, start her own literary agency and sign the man of her dreams!

I generally really like books where the main characters are in the panic stage of the count down to 30 – I vaguely remember it myself – but this one didn’t quite gel for me.

While I enjoyed the story and the way it was written I didn’t connect with Tina or Jodie on more than a surface level. Having said that, there were elements of it that I really liked, such as finding out more about life in France (and, as the author lives there, she clearly knows her stuff). There’s also a third character, Maisie, who I would have liked to have seen more of.

I know it’s proving popular with other reviewers, so I’d say give it a go and make your own mind up. In fact, I’d be pleased to hear what you think.

Format: Kindle.

Price: £1.99 via Amazon.

My rating: Three and a half stars.

Thank you to HQ Digital (via NetGalley) for the ARC in return for an honest review.

Book Review: The Summer Of Secrets.

tillytenHow have I got this far in life without reading a Tilly Tennant book before? It’s actually quite a feat, considering how many she has written – and if they are all like, The Summer Of Secrets, my TBR pile is about to topple over under the weight.

If you’re looking for something to make you smile, with a guaranteed happy ending – but with plenty of twists and turns in the middle – then this book is for you.

It did take me a chapter to ease into it but once I was there I got caught up in the lives of eclectic mix of characters.

Here’s the blurb:

Harper Woods wakes up every morning on Silver Hill Farm feeling like the luckiest woman in the world. She’s recently engaged to the tall, dark and handsome Shay, out of her window lie rolling golden cornfields, and just downstairs are the gorgeous tea rooms she’s always dreamed of owning.

But Harper is about to discover a secret that will change her luck forever. For better or worse? She has no idea.

Distracted by her find, Harper doesn’t notice Shay getting rather close to his ex from the village. And as news of Harper’s discovery spreads through Silver Hill, there are people who are keen to stir up trouble, in particular, Will Frampton, handsome recluse and Lord of Silver Hill House, the crumbling stately home the other side of the hill.

Can Harper trust any man in Silver Hill? And as relationships are tested and tea cakes begin to fly, will anyone catch the romance blossoming in the most unexpected of places?

While the blurb mentions Harper, we also follow the tales of Pip, Cesca and, to some degree, Allie.

There was one point in the book where love was in very short supply and I wasn’t sure if anyone was going to get their happy ending but I’m pleased to say it all works out in the end – and the story was more colourful for the ‘will they, won’t they’ moments.

Shay reminded me of a panto villain – I definitely wanted to boo and hiss every time he came on to the page – but posh Will and Kristofer, a “living, breathing viking”, tipped the scales on to the side of good.

All in all this was a great read which bounced along at quite a pace and, best of all, brought a smile to my face.

Now to pick which of her books to read next!

Format: Kindle.

Price: £1.99 (via Amazon).

My rating: Four stars.

With thanks to Bookouture (via NetGalley) for the ARC in return for an honest review.