THE CURIOUS HEART OF AILSA RAE by Stephanie Butland *BLOG TOUR*

CHAR Cover Image

When we first meet Ailsa Rae, she is dying. She has lived with a heart condition since her birth and is waiting for a transplant. She has a blog and has blogged about her experience as a patient on the organ registry. She has also had a best friend, boyfriend and a fellow patient in Lennox.

Just as Lennox dies, a heart becomes available for Ailsa. And this is the story of how she learned to live instead of existing.

Months later, she is doing well physically but not so much emotionally. It is going to take a bit of time to stop feeling fragile and stretch her limits. She has ups and downs and uses her blog to ask her followers advice in poll form. She’s missed out on so much and now she needs to learn to be healthy and alive.

I loved her mum. What a woman she is! And she has always been there for her only child. Now they both have to figure out what their new roles and lives will be.

Her new heart is strong and thumping along and it makes itself at home in her chest, she must learn to not only protect it but to listen to it and claim it as her own.

A good story. There were a few discrepancies, but all in all a good story.

NetGalley/ St. Martin’s Press  October 29th, 2019 by St. Martin’s Griffin

EXCERPT:

6 October 2017
Hard to Bear
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 floundering
in my chest. Sometimes it’s as though I’m holding my
breath, waiting to see if another beat will come. I’ve been

3

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 have an oxygen
tube taped to my face. I’m constantly cared for by peo-
ple 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 sur-
vive a transplant, and then it’s a waste of a heart to give
it to me. Someone a bit better, 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 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

3

body herself. And anyway, odds feel strange, because
even if my survival chances are, say, 20 percent, what-
ever 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 your-
self a couple of goldsh, or kittens, or puppies, or even
horses, and call them Cardio and Thoracic. My prefer-
ence 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, let-
ting 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 terried
sheep. That’s what I call a legacy.

From The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by
Stephanie Butland. Copyright © 2019 by
the author and reprinted by permission
of St. Martin’s Publishing Group.

 

BROKE: Hardship and Resilience in a City of Broken Promises by Jodie Adams Kirshner

Broke: Hardship and Resilience in a City of Broken Promises

The author has taken a hard look at the state of affairs in Detroit. Through the voices of seven people whose lives have been changed forever by the mismanagement of the city and its eventual bankruptcy.

I visited Detroit regularly during the late ’80s and through the ’90s. It was a huge, sprawling place and going downtown was heartbreaking. To see block after block of neglected and abandoned homes and businesses.

There is enough blame to go around in this look at how cities are not getting the support they need to provide the services people need to survive and thrive. Everything is broken. The real estate market, the banks, the inept leadership, the lack of state and federal support.

About 40 percent of the city lives below the poverty level. Where is the investment in creating new jobs? How do these opportunists get by with paying $1000 for a foreclosed home and turning around and charging 3 times that in rent? The entire thing is falling apart and who is going to bail them out?

Detroit isn’t the only city in trouble. We just rarely hear anything about the others. The research in this book is very well done!

I appreciate the author bringing this into the light. And I hope people read this and stand up and do the right thing by their fellow human beings.

Highly Recommended Reading!

NetGalley/  November 19th, 2019 by St. Martin’s Press

 

 

 

 

OUR BETTER ANGELS by JONATHAN RECKFORD

Our Better Angels: Seven Simple Virtues That Will Change Your Life and the World

With a moving forward by President Jimmy Carter, this is the story of how Habitat for Humanity began. Telling inspiring stories of the many people impacted by the program who then go on to live the seven virtues which Reckford puts forward, one at a time.

Beginning with the easiest virtue, kindness. Sometimes we don’t see the ‘reward’ of a kind act. Because the reward is a kind act. Kindness can be a chain reaction that leads to Community, Empowerment, Joy, Respect, Generosity, and Service. It’s rather inspiring to read the stories of people whose lives were touched by a kind act, which empowered them to act and pass it forward and succeed.

President Carter has set the bar for humanitarian works. In his 90’s he is still building, spreading kindness and being of service to people here and abroad. Giving people hope and setting an example.

He has always been a special man. My father campaigned for him and he was the first President I voted for. Fellow Georgian. His family has always been dedicated to service. I really loved Reckford’s own story and the people he interacted with. What an inspiration they all were. My husband and I have worked on a few homes for Habitat and it was the most rewarding thing we have ever done.

I hope with this book everyone will find common ground and agree on what path we need to be following. Now I’m grabbing a hammer and helping my neighbor repair her fence. What are you going to do?

NetGalley/ October 8th, 2019 by St. Martin’s Essentials

“Cilka’s Journey” by Heather Morris, author of The “Tattooist of Auschwitz”

Cilka's Journey

The Tattooist of Auschwitz #2

From the author of the multi-million copy bestseller, The Tattooist of Auschwitz comes the new novel based on an incredible true story of love and resilience.

Her beauty saved her life – and condemned her.

Cilka is mentioned in the first book and now we have facts of her life blended with some fiction to fill in the question of Who was Cilka Klein?

She was only sixteen when she and her mother and sisters were taken. In 1942, she arrives at Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp. Already a beautiful young woman, her looks do not go unnoticed by the Commandant, Schwarzhuber, who separates her from the other women. Her job is to look after the sick and dying women who will be taken to the gas chamber. She knows these women hate her. She hates herself. In this place, in order to survive, you had to use whatever power you had. And hers was her beauty and ability to compartmentalize everything she had to do.

When the camp is liberated Cilka is sentenced to prison for sleeping with the enemy. Literally. This did not sit well with me. How unfair was that? At 16 you do what you need to do to stay alive. After all of the suffering and now she is being sent to Siberia for 15 years.

Once there, a young, female doctor takes her under her as an apprentice nurse. Cilka is good at this work and forms bonds with the doctor and the nurses. Using her privileged position to help the other women in her hut. She is especially taken with one man in the ward. But will she ever be free? Will she ever know the love she deserves?

This story is part true, part fictional. But the facts are there. It was difficult to read and the images in my head will always be there. The brutality of the enemy along with the equal brutality of fellow prisoners. It was heartbreaking and beautifully written and I will never forget Cilka’s Journey!

NetGalley/ October 1st, 2019 by St. Martin’s Press

 

 

 

 

An Unorthodox Match: A Novel by Naomi Ragen

An Unorthodox Match: A Novel

An Unorthodox Match is a powerful and moving novel of faith, love, and acceptance, from author Naomi Ragen, the internationally bestselling author of The Devil in Jerusalem.

Lola/Leah had it all. Or so she thought. A tragic love story, a new love along with a great career, but while her eyes were elsewhere, her lover hops into bed with the boss and the boss has destroyed the business leaving Lola/Leah with no job, no boyfriend, and no place to go.

Although her mother is Jewish, she rebelled against her parents and the faith early on and led her own non-believing life. She has taught her daughter that religion is a cult and she should make her own rules. But Lola/Leah is broken. And curious about her faith.

When she enters a program for newly practicing Orthodox Jews, she finds it hard and rewarding. She knows this is how she wants to live her life. And when love finds her, the same people who showed her the path will try to push her out of it.

There was a lot of writing in this book. A bit too much. But the story. The words. A lot of them hit too close to home. Oh, how we love to convert someone to a believer or bring back a lamb that has strayed. But we still think we are better than you. I was humbled by this book.

A beautiful and powerful look at true faith and love. Well Done!

NetGalley/ September 24th, 2019 by St. Martin’s Press

I LIKE THE WAY YOU WORK IT…Sing Along!

Good Tuesday Morning! So many really good books releasing today! Most of you know I don’t do Sci-Fi or YA. But this book looked so interesting that when the author asked if I wanted a copy I immediately said yes! I mean they go to a high school for the dead! And the lovely postman not only brought me this book but also TEA!

These came all the way from Hong Kong! And they weren’t kidding about sending samples! I received 8. You can check them out HERE 

They come in resealable packets and are all loose leaves. Each one tells you when it was picked and where, what altitude, the bud to leaf ratio. It gives you brewing instructions for the Gong Fu Style and Western Style. I received:

2019 Sping Dong Ting Lake Bilouchun Green Tea

2019 Spring Organic Wild Balmudan White Tea

2019 Spring Premium Anxi Tieguanyin Oolong

2017 Ba Da Shan Wild Tree Raw Pu-erh

2019 Spring Song Dynasty Milan Dancong Oolong

2019 Spring Golden Tip Lapsang Souchong Black Tea

Whew! I was really interested in raw pu-erh. It’s the one tea I haven’t had in its pure form. Here in the USA, most of it is in teabags and it just tastes like dust. Today we’ll be trying said pu-erh and letting you know how it fares!

Other than that I read a really good cozy yesterday and did some shopping on the sofa!

  

I saw them on a friend’s site and had to have them for the kids and I. They were super fast too. I paid $27 for the two for the kids including shipping and half that for mine.

Then I dragged out the Fall stuff. Michael’s was having a super great sale yesterday on all Fall and Halloween items, so I found this lovely long tray and filled it with those tiny gourds and pumpkins as well as a jar candle, which were 5 for $10.

Today is book release day, so we will all be busy. I hope your Tuesday is good. Encourage just one person today!

xx P

 

RAINY DAYS AND BOOKS AND TEA EQUALS BLISS!

It was raining when I went to bed and it just now stopped. More is forecasted and we do really need some rain. And it’s Friday the 13th so it’s a mood setter.

This morning I’m sipping on this lovely new tea I found at Barnes and Noble when I was picking up my copy of The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. This Harney & Sons tea is so delicate and full of ginger and lemon flavor. Great for the tummy and the book, well, we’ve waited a long time for this one!

  

So I’m all set for the weekend. What will you be doing? Or reading?

Miss Charli Ava is coming over today to try on a dress and see her new bedroom. I’m so excited. I’ve been working hard on this room and it all came together last night. Charli and I are going to buy scrapbook supplies to make her a book of her life. As most of you know, we didn’t get her until she was two, so no baby pictures at all. But never fear, I found someone to send me those and I can’t wait for her to see them. This is on her second birthday. The day we met her.

One of the loves of my life! It’s going to be a fun day! I hope yours is as well. Enjoy your weekend and be kind today. It’s free.

xx P