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: Where The Light Gets In.

where the light“You know those cracks in your heart, Lorna, where things didn’t work out, but you picked yourself up and carried on? That’s where the fear gets out. And where the light gets in.”

By the time of this quote, I was already in love with Lucy Dillon’s Where The Light Gets In – and my Kindle tells me it’s only about the 2% mark.

This wonderfully written, incredibly emotional and thought-provoking book was hard to put down.

It tackles some big, tough subjects – relationships, growing up and dying to name a few – but it is still a very readable and enjoyable story.

Here’s the blurb:

It was Betty, defiant to the end, who sent Lorna back to Longhampton. If Lorna’s learned one thing from Betty it’s that courage is something you paint on like red lipstick, even when you’re panicking inside. And right now, with the keys to the town’s gallery in her hand, Lorna feels about as courageous as Betty’s anxious little dachshund, trembling beside her.

Lorna’s come home to Longhampton to fulfil a long-held dream, but she knows, deep down, there are ghosts she needs to lay to rest first. This is where her tight-knit family shattered into silent pieces. It’s where her unspoken fears about herself took root and where her own secret, complicated love began. It’s not exactly a fresh start.

But as Lorna – and the little dog – tentatively open their cracked hearts to old friends and new ones, facing hard truths and fresh promises, something surprisingly beautiful begins to grow around the gallery, something so inspirational even Lorna couldn’t have predicted the light it lets into her world…

All of the characters felt so well developed, especially Lorna, but it is artist, Joyce, who stole the show for me. Her feisty personality was perfectly pitched and I really enjoyed learning her story and seeing her relationship with Lorna, centred around their shared passion for art but about so much more than that, develop. She felt very real to me.

There should also be a special mention for the dogs, Rudy and Bernard. Lucy captures the relationship between human and animal perfectly.

There’s plenty of drama, which helped keep things moving, and means you don’t dwell too much on the hard parts.

I cried at the beginning and near the end of this book – although it was more a sniffle at the start whereas near the end it was full on ugly crying (thankfully I was on my own at the time). Don’t let that put you off though because, while is an emotional tale, it is also genuinely uplifting.

Lucy Dillon is another author I’ll be adding to my must read list.

Format: Kindle (released April 19th).

Price: £7.99.

My rating: Five stars.

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

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.