Weekly Wrap Up: October 27th through November 9th 2019

Books I’ve Read:

Awakening

Agent Jack

Evie and the Upside-Down World of Nevermore

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae

Death Among Us: An Anthology of Murder Mystery Short Stories

This Earl of Mine

Let It Be Me


Books with Pending Reviews:

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae—Review coming November 4th


Books with Published Reviews:

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae—Review Here

Evie and the Upside-Down World of Nevermore—Review Here

The Brutal Time—Review Here

Fever—Review Here

This Earl of Mine—Review Here

Let It Be Me—Review Here


NetGalley Requests:

All the Best Lies—St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books

A Highlander in a Pickup—St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Wild, Wild Rake—St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Queen of the Unwanted—Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Ray

The Other People—Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books

No Mercy—Saint Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books

The Vanishing Season—Saint Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books


Author/Publisher Requests:

Been There, Married That—St. Martin’s Press


Blog Tours/Excerpts/Book Blitz/Cover Reveal:

Aces High—Book Blitz

Dark One’s Bride—Book Blitz

Forged by Fire—Book Blitz

My Path to You—Book Blitz

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae—Blog Tour

The Event—Book Blitz

The Brutal Time—Blog Tour

Angel Blue: Season One—Book Blitz

Death Among Us—Blog Tour

Dorothy in the Land of Monsters—Book Blitz

Princes of the Lower East Side—Book Blitz

On His Bended Knee—Book Blitz

Shopping for a Baby’s First Christmas—Book Blitz

All of Him Anthology-–Cover Reveal

This Earl of Mine—Blog Tour

Panic—Book Blitz

Disenchanted—Cover Reveal

Under His Skin—Book Blitz

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae—Excerpt

The Traveler—Book Blitz

The Assassin and The Soldier—Book Blitz


Weekly Posts:

Weekly Wrap Up

Top Ten Tuesday

WWW Wednesday

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Blog Tour: The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by [Butland, Stephanie]

4 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin

Date of publication: October 29th, 2019

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Where you can find The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae: Barnes and Noble | Amazon | BookBub

Book Synopsis:

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.
She knows she needs to find her father.
She’s missed so much that her friends have left her behind.
She’s felt so helpless for so long that she’s let polls on her blog make her decisions for her. And now she barely knows where to start on her own.

And 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 . . .


First Line:

It’s 3 a.m. here in cardio-thoracic.

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

My review:

I wasn’t expecting how emotional The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae made me. I knew, going into it that it was a book about life after a transplant. The physical limitations, the medications that need to be taken, and don’t forget, the mental adjustment is enormous. The author did a fantastic job of showing that all.

The plotline for The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae was well written and well researched. There were a few times where I wished that there was a glossary for different medical terms. I liked the pacing of the book too. It wasn’t too fast, and it wasn’t too slow. It was just right for me to get settled in and read.

I liked Ailsa. The strength that she showed during the book was unbelievable. I mean, she had a heart transplant!! I loved her sense of humor and her determination to have a healthy life. There were things about her I didn’t like. She was too trusting and wore her heart on her sleeve. She battled her mother about her biological father. And then there was Seb….sigh.

I wasn’t a fan of the blog inserts. I get why the author wrote them. It gave additional insight into how Ailsa’s mind worked. It showed how her mindset evolved from right before the transplant to the end of the book. Still, I wasn’t a fan. I had an issue transitioning between the POV. It went from 2nd person (the blog posts) to 3rd person. Also, while I am on it, I wasn’t a fan of the articles written about Ailsa and Seb. To me, those articles show everything that is wrong with today’s society. No wonder Ailsa freaked out. I would have too.

Ailsa’s relationship with Seb was cute until the end. Then it got confusing. After that sound bit was released (and yes, it sounded awful), I wasn’t sure what they were. That last email between them only muddied the waters for me. I hate being confused!!!

I do want to mention that a lot of British and Scottish slang is used. I did have an issue with the Scottish slang. Mainly being that I only read historical Scottish romances and modern-day slang isn’t allowed. Again, it would have been handy to have a glossary included.

The storyline with Hayley, Ailsa, and her biological father broke my heart. I was with Ailsa at first. She had every right to learn about her biological father. I couldn’t understand why Hayley wasn’t so forthcoming. Then, at the end of the book, everything was revealed, and I understood. I won’t say much more about it except that Hayley handled everything like a BOSS!!! I loved her!!

The end of The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae was emotional for me. There was confusion about Seb and Ailsa. But it was the final chapter that had me sobbing. I loved it!!


I would give The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae an Older teen rating. There is a mention of sex. There is mild language. There is no violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 16 read this book.

I would reread The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae. I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

WWW Wednesday: October 30th, 2019

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Wars.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


What I am currently reading:

The Brutal Time Special Edition (Angelbound Origins Book 6) by [Bauer, Christina]

“This author’s words were spellbinding, I was in absolute bliss. This book produced a fiery blaze that was pure Myla!” – Book Reviews by Shalini

As the Great Scala, Myla Lewis is the only being who can move Purgatory’s souls to Heaven or Hell. It’s a big job. Too bad Myla goes through assistants faster than a hot knife through brownies. Not that it bothers her much; Myla’s always been a solo fighter.

Then comes the problem of the fading angels. Millions of Heavenly residents are dying. According to a prophecy, the only way Myla can save them is by traveling back in time, meeting King Arthur, and creating her own knights of the round table. The catch? Doing so might end the after-realms in a bloody demonpocalypse.

Yipes.

Myla and her main squeeze, Lincoln, aren’t afraid of taking a few chances (in between kisses). But this time the stakes may be too high, even for them. And the biggest challenge of all? Finding those knights.

Because Myla Lewis doesn’t play well with others. At all.

“These books don’t just capture your attention, they straight up demand it. Christina Bauer has created a fascinating and unique world that you do not want to miss out on.” – Bookhalolic Brittany

I am loving this book. From the plotline to the characters, I can’t get enough of it!!

The Brutal Time is currently available for purchase. Be on the lookout for my review on November 1st (blog tour).


I recently finished reading:

Death Among Us: An Anthology of Murder Mystery Short Stories by [Bentley, Stephen, Alldredge, Greg, Artieri, Kelly, Kane, L. Lee, Spinelli, Michael, Cheadle, Robbie, Castaneda, Kay, Bauer, Justin, Locatelli, Aly]

Who knew death could be so eclectic? Relish this mesmerizing murder mystery mash-up of short stories.

The stories include the 2019 SIA Award-Winning Murder Mystery Short Story ‘The Rose Slayer.’

Murder and mystery have been the staple of literature and films for years. This anthology of short stories will thrill and entertain you. Some will also make you laugh out loud. Others will stop and make you think.

Think of this murder mystery short story anthology as a book version of appetizers or starters, hors d’oeuvre, meze, or antipasti. It can be read as fillers between books or, as is the case in some countries, as a bookish meze – in its own right.

These stories come from an international cast of authors; some with bestselling books, others are emerging or new talents. Their roots, cultures, and life experiences are as diverse as their writing styles.

But one thing binds them together: they know how to tell a story.

There’s murder mystery styles and locations to suit all tastes: detective fiction, serial killers, scifi, histfic, LA, England, The Great Lakes, Las Vegas, the Nevada desert and more in an exquisite exposition of the art of short story telling.

The ten authors who have contributed to the anthology are:

Stephen Bentley
Greg Alldredge
Kelly Artieri
Robbie Cheadle
Michael Spinelli
L. Lee Kane
Kay Castaneda
Aly Locatelli
Justin Bauer
& ‘G’ Posthumously

Each author introduces his or her stories and the theme that lies behind them.By the time you finish the book, you will agree the result is a mesmerizing murder mystery mash-up.

Get it now.

I normally don’t read anthologies. I find them hard to review. But I enjoyed this one!! This is the perfect book for Halloween!!

Death Among Us is currently available for purchase. Be on the lookout for my review tomorrow (blog tour)


What books I think I’ll read next:

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by [Butland, Stephanie]

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.
She knows she needs to find her father.
She’s missed so much that her friends have left her behind.
She’s felt so helpless for so long that she’s let polls on her blog make her decisions for her. And now she barely knows where to start on her own.

And 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 . . .

Evie and the Upside-Down World of Nevermore (A Twisted Fairy Tale: A Young Adult Fantasy) by [Märgen, Birgitte]

“We all need someplace to escape, and sometimes the mind is just as good of a place as any.”

A trailer park Alice. A hole that traps souls. The white rabbit’s a tricky hare. And the world is upside down. This fairy tale just got twisty . . .

Rule One: Don’t eat or drink.
Rule Two: Never, ever tell anyone your name.
If ya do – your soul will be lost there forever.

How do I know? I been there myself. This is my story.

There was a full moon brimmin’ that night, and that meant strange things could happen. As I walked through the woods, I reckon I shoulda known by the way my hair stood up on end like Uncle Red’s toupee —that I shoulda coulda stayed home. I call it the willies, but grandpappy calls it premonition. One thing I can tell ya as a girl from the wrong side of the tracks: If you’re fix’n to wander way over yonder —it’s important to know the right direction.

What direction ya ask? Well, ya have to read the story to find that one out.

* * *

AFTER FALLING INTO a dark hole when she was running through the forest, Evie finds herself trapped in a strange new world that mirrors our own. Her only guide is a compass stick given to her by an angry gnome who lives in an ancient knobby tree. As she travels through the lands of this upside-down world she happens upon creatures that are twisted versions of fairytale folklore. A place where fairies bite, unicorns charge, mermaids are menacing, and nightmares are more than dreams. A world where the souls of those who could not follow the unspoken rules are trapped forever.

As a southern girl born on the wrong side of the tracks, Evie relies on the wisdom passed down by her grandpappy and the haunting memories of her mama to teach her perseverance of the soul. She learns that things are rarely what they seem as her world is turned upside down.

Agent Jack: The True Story of MI5's Secret Nazi Hunter

This is the incredible tale of Operation Fifth Column, a Second World War MI5 operation so secret that its existence was only revealed by the National Archives for the first time in 2014.

It’s the true story behind Kate Atkinson’s “Transcription” and Anthony Quinn’s “Our Friends In Berlin”.

Throughout the war, “Jack King” – in reality, a bank clerk named Eric Roberts – pretended to be a Gestapo agent to whom hundreds of British-based Nazi sympathisers and informers passed their secrets, thinking that he was sending them back to Germany. Many were put on a salary by what they thought was the Third Reich and some were even ‘awarded’ Iron Crosses for their services to the Fatherland; they never found out the truth.

Among the secrets they tried to pass were: a tip-off about Bletchley Park; details of the deadly Mosquito bomber; complete plans of a highly effective anti-radar technology codenamed WINDOW. The larger-than-life characters who populate the book include Roberts himself, the deceptively ordinary-seeming bank clerk; Maxwell Knight, who recruited Roberts; Victor Third Baron Rothschild, Roberts’ spymaster, who did a sideline in bomb disposal using his Cartier screwdrivers; Theresa Clay, the distinguished biologist who co-ran the operation with Rothschild, but because she was a woman was only ever classified as an ‘assistant’; Marita Perigoe, possibly the most dangerous of the fascists, who despite having her suspicions about Roberts, continued to recruit spies for him and pass him secrets to the end of the war.

Win Big: A Wynn Hockey Novel by [Jamieson, Kelly]

When your name is Wynn, victory’s the only option…

Everly Wynn: As the only daughter in the Wynn family of hockey heroes, I never shared the ice with my brothers—or the approval they got from my father.
And that was before the scandal that ruined my life at sixteen.
Now that I’ve put all that behind me and built a successful career, the last thing I need is another hockey player in my life.
Especially one like Wyatt Bell.
He’s an arrogant, fast-living party boy. I hate how he gets by on his good looks and charm.
So why can’t I get him out of my mind?

Wyatt Bell: Life is short, and you’ve got to live it to the fullest. I learned that the hard way.
So on the ice, I always play to win, and on the town, fun and flirting are my game.
Because it’s better to laugh your way through the pain than to let them see you’re hurting—but I’ll never stop wishing I could find someone to share the real me with.
Something about Everly Wynn makes me think she could be the one.
But all she sees is a hockey jock hooked on good times.
If she didn’t take herself so seriously, maybe she would take a chance on being happy.

A Cowboy Like You (Heart of Texas Book 4) by [Grant, Donna]

In the Heart of Texas, a heartthrob cowboy may get his second chance at love…

Danny Oldman, the handsome Lone Star sheriff, is still single. He tells himself, and anyone who asks, that he is married to his job―and what matters most is keeping the people of his beloved Texas hometown safe. The truth? Danny still hasn’t gotten over his high school crush. She moved away after graduation and took Danny’s heart with her.

Skylar Long never thought she would have to flee Houston and return home―where it all began for her. But that’s what happened after the man of her dreams turned out to be an actual nightmare. Now, Skylar is desperate to escape her obsessive boyfriend. Nothing shocks her more than seeing Danny again and realizing that their long-ago attraction is more powerful than ever. But can she and Danny find a way to fight against Skylar’s wealthy, powerful ex who is dead set on tearing them apart?

Weekend Fling: A Crazy Love Novel by [Lynn, Stacey]

Fresh out of a long-term relationship, Willow Parks is working two jobs and caring for her mother, whose husband left her with nothing but a pile of bills. That’s why Willow made a vow: no men until she figures out her own life.

But while she may not need a man, she could use a break. And a weekend away at a California beach to clear her head? That’s appealing. Even if the offer comes from Trey Collins, the irresistible tech-mogul millionaire who visits her coffee shop every morning like clockwork—and needs a date for his best friend’s wedding. With an adorable, occasional stutter, he refuses to take no for an answer.

Once the weekend begins, Trey is intent on proving how good they can be together. Willow’s even feeling tempted to break her vow—until reality rudely interrupts her well-deserved getaway. There’s no way she and Trey have a future, not with the colossal amount of baggage Willow has to offer.

But Trey is used to getting what he wants. He just has his work cut out for him convincing her that they want the same thing.

Into the Inferno: Book #6 (The Legend Series) by [Stewart, Kylie]

To understand means to accept one’s own mistakes.

Alexandria is trapped in Hell’s Inferno. Can she accept Guinevere’s past and face Arthur’s sins while they are played out before her very eyes? In accepting her past, she will endure the devastation, betrayal, and passion stamped in time over thousands of years.To wander into Hell as a guest is to accept mortality.

Avalon is fated to fight his way through the nine levels of The Inferno. Every step is agony, and every level a trial, reminding him of his gravest mistakes. Will his self-loathing consume him and take those standing by his side? Or will they band together to save the queen and woman they love?Everyone’s demons will have to be faced. Old wounds will be torn open and bleed anew. Will faith and love be enough?

Excerpt: The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

For fans of Josie Silver’s One Day in December, The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae is a wholly original, charismatic, and uplifting novel that no reader will soon forget.

Ailsa Rae is learning how to live. She’s only a few months past the heart transplant that—just in time—saved her life. Now, finally, she can be a normal twenty-eight-year-old. She can climb a mountain. Dance. Wait in line all day for tickets to Wimbledon.

But first, she has to put one foot in front of the other. So far, things are as bloody complicated as ever. Her relationship with her mother is at a breaking point and she wants to find her father. Then there’s Lennox, whom Ailsa loved and lost. Will she ever find love again?

Her new heart is a bold heart. She just needs to learn to listen to it. From the hospital to her childhood home, on social media and IRL, Ailsa will embark on a journey about what it means to be, and feel, alive. How do we learn to be brave, to accept defeat, to dare to dream?

From Stephanie Butland, author of The Lost for Words Bookshop, The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae will warm you from the inside out.


Excerpt

It’s 3 a.m. here in cardio-thoracic.

All I can do for now is doze, and think, and doze again. My heart is getting weaker, my body bluer. People I haven’t seen for a while are starting to drop in. (Good to see you, Emily, Jacob, Christa. I’m looking forward to the Martinis.) We all pretend we’re not getting ready to say goodbye. It seems easiest. But my mother cries when she thinks I’m sleeping, so maybe here, now, is time to admit that I might really be on the way out.

I should be grateful. A baby born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome a few years before I was would have died within days. I’ve had twenty-eight years and I’ve managed to do quite a lot of living in them. (Also, I’ve had WAY more operations than you everyday folk. I totally win on that.) OK, so I still live at home and I’ve never had a job and I’m blue around the edges because there’s never quite enough oxygen in my system. But –

Actually, but nothing. If you’re here tonight for the usual BlueHeart cheerfulness-in-the-teeth-of-disaster, you need to nd another blogger.

My heart is failing. I imagine I can feel it oundering in my chest. Sometimes it’s as though I’m holding my breath, waiting to see if another beat will come. I’ve been in hospital for four months, almost non-stop, because it’s no longer tenable for me to be at home. I’m on a drip pumping electrolytes into my blood and I’ve an oxygen tube taped to my face. I’m constantly cared for by people who are trying to keep me well enough to receive a transplanted heart if one shows up. I monitor everyicker and echo of pain or tiredness in my body and try to work out if it means that things are getting worse. And yes, I’m alive, and yes, I could still be saved, but tonight it’s a struggle to  think that being saved is possible. Or even likely. And I’m not sure I have the energy to keep waiting.

And I should be angrier, but there’s no room for anger (remember, my heart is a chamber smaller than yours) because, tonight, I’m scared.

It’s only a question of time until I get too weak to survive a transplant, and then it’s a waste of a heart to give it to me. Someone a bitter, and who would get more use from it, will bump me from the top of the list and I’m into the Palliative Care Zone. (It’s not actually called that. And it’s a good, kind, caring place, but it’s not where I want to be. Maybe when I’m ninety-eight. To be honest, tonight, I’d take forty-eight. Anything but twenty-eight.)

I hope I feel more optimistic when the sun comes up. If it does. It’s Edinburgh. It’s October. The odds are about the same as me getting a new heart.

My mother doesn’t worry about odds. She says, ‘We only need the one heart. Just the one.’ She says it in a way that makes me think that when she leaves the ward she’s away to carve one out of some poor stranger’s body herself. And anyway, odds feel strange, because even if my survival chances are, say, 20 percent, whatever happens to me will happen 100 percent. As in, I could be 100 percent dead this time next week.

Night night, BlueHeart xxx

P.S. I would really, really like for one of you to get yourself a couple of goldfish, or kittens, or puppies, or even horses, and call them Cardio and Thoracic. My preference would be for puppies. Because I love the thought that, if I don’t make it to Christmas, somewhere there will be someone walking in the winter countryside, letting their enthusiastic wee spaniels off the  lead, and then howling ‘Cardio! Thoracic!’ as they disappear over the brow of a hill intent on catching some poor terrified sheep. That’s what I call a legacy.


Purchase Links:

Publisher


STEPHANIE BUTLAND lives with her family near the sea in the North East of England. She writes in a studio at the bottom of her garden, and when she’s not writing, she trains people to think more creatively. For fun, she reads, knits, sews, bakes, and spins. She is an occasional performance poet and the author of The Lost for Words Bookshop.