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  • Very thought provoking - loved it!

    I loved this book, it was sad, funny and happy in various parts, and just got better as the book went on and Ailsa developed more confidence in her new heart and her life in general. Ailsa has been ill since a baby with a serious heart problem that, had she been born only a short while before, would have killed her with no hope of a future. But as it was the doctors had been helping her live, but with her gradually getting weaker and bluer, resulting in the need for a new heart if they could find a suitable donor for her. Luckily for Ailsa she received a new heart just in time and slowly starts to recover. But having been ill and looked after by her Mother and the doctors for so long there is a big adjustment to make for Ailsa to start living a more 'normal' life again. Her Mother finds it very hard to step back a bit and there is quite a bit of tension between them as Ailsa slowly gains confidence, especially when she decides she wants to live on her own, and also to contact her Father who abandoned them both when Ailsa was a baby. Whilst Ailsa has been ill she has been writing an internet blog trying to help other people in her situation and always has a poll at the end of each posting, asking for peoples opinions on a certain topic she's struggling with at the time. As the story unfolds Ailsa slowly starts to trust her new heart more (nicknamed 'Apple') and starts to be braver, helped by her followers, starting tango lessons etc. She is also interviewed about her blog on the radio and meets the lovely actor Seb, and they slowly get to get closer through various charity/acting/tango events they both get involved with, not without their hiccups of course, but the relationship developed slowly as they helped each other out along the way. Very enjoyable and uplifting story about learning to live again after a chronic, life threatening illness. I'm glad to read that the law is shortly changing in England and Scotland so that people can opt out of organ donation now, instead of trying to get people to opt in which is always harder. If you or a loved one can help someone else live a better life after a death then why on earth wouldn't you do it, as hard as I understand it may be for some relatives at the time. Very thought provoking - loved it.

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  • A Lot Happens In A Year

    This is a bit of a hit and miss novel and, if I'm being honest, I found that it did actually miss more than it hit. The problem lies in the fact that when it hits it does so wonderfully well and you just want it to keep going and going in that vein. sadly, you do get let down time and time again. In fact I very nearly gave in at the 80-odd page mark as it was all rather ploddy and I couldn't see where it was going. Fortunately another 20 or so pages in and I was rewarded for my perseverance and started to actually enjoy this rather quirky little tale. So, only quarter of a book for it to grab me. Ailsa herself is quite a charming character, she took me a while to warm to but I did end up rooting for her. She is selfish and quite childlike but after spending 28 years at the mercy of her failing heart this is understandable. I loved her forays in to becoming an adult but felt like whispering her ear - no-one ever really grows up, not if you do it right. I loved the build up to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (almost as much as I loved the fact the author got the name right - one of my particular bugbears is calling it the Edinburgh Fringe Festival). This is likely coloured by the fact Ailsa is learning to Tango and that has to be simply the greatest ballroom dance ever - even if the author did confuse Ballroom Tango and Argentine Tango in her descriptive passages. Of course it doesn't explicitly state Ballroom Tango in the text but when referred to as "Tango" then one has to assume it is not anything other than the Ballroom variant. The romance element with Seb I was less convinced of. For someone supposed to be a charmer he came across as less than charismatic to this reader and I really couldn't see what she saw in him. I could see how this could be a very difficult read for some people, dealing as it does with acute illness, organ donation and death. The handling of this is sensitive without becoming mawkish and is to be applauded. However, some of Ailsa's introspection does stall the story in places and could well be why it took me so long to really gel with the book. In summation the themes are laudable and dealt with, overall, with aplomb. It is a slowburner and you my need to really persevere to become immersed in the story. I RECEIVED A FREE COPY OF THIS BOOK FROM READERS FIRST IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW.

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