Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Showcase The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

The fabulous cover, interesting premise and rave reviews have this novel high on my shelf. I'm sure when you learn a bit about it it'll be on your shelf too!

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffen

Release Date: 10-29-2019



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.

Read an excerpt:

9 October, 2017

Ailsa is alone when it happens.
‘We think we have your heart.’ Bryony, the transplant coordinator, is smiling from ear to ear, for once. Given that her usual message is No News Yet, that’s hardly surprising.
Ailsa feels her hands fly to her chest, as though to protect what’s in there, hold it before it dies. She makes herself move them to her lap. They are shaking. So is her voice.
‘A new heart?’ And then she feels the patched-up heart she has summon up the life to expand with hope: with permission.
Her head is a scramble of thoughts, the practical and the terrible. She needs to be nil by mouth, so when did she last eat? Where is her mum? If she’s getting a heart, that means someone, somewhere has died.
Ailsa’s mother rushes in behind Bryony, breathless, bringing cold air and cigarette smoke with her. They fight the stuffiness of the room for a second before being absorbed. ‘They told me at the nurses’ station to get along here fast. What’s happened?’ She steps across the room; her hand is in her daughter’s. All Ailsa can do is nod at her, squeeze her fingers, because her throat has tightened and her mouth is drier than usual. She wants to say: I wish you had been here when Bryony came in. You deserved to hear it with me. But that’s silly, and unimportant, and anyway, you don’t get to choose these things. You get to accept them.
‘We need to have you prepped and in theatre in three hours,’ Bryony says. ‘Hold onto your hats.’ She flips open the file in her hand, picks up Ailsa’s notes from the bottom of the bed, and so it begins.
Or ends, depending on which way you look at it.
9 October, 2017
I’m Going to the Theatre!
It’s here! The heart is here! So it’s going to be a while until you hear from me. (Don’t panic. For the next couple of weeks, no news equals good news.)
I’m about to wrestle myself into my surgical stockings and say something that is Definitely Not Goodbye to my mother. I’m not going to tell you how I’m feeling, about the risks, about what’s about to happen, or about the donor family, or about anything to do with Mum, because if I even look at those feelings I don’t know what will happen to me, but I know it won’t be good.
I wrote this poll a month ago and I’ve been saving it. Posting it before today felt like tempting fate. But now, the dice have rolled. So here is the first poll of my NewHeart life. I’ll see you on the other side, my friends. Thank you for the voting, and the comments, and for cheering me on here.
What should I do when I’m well?
1. Climb something high. Not a ladder. A little mountain, or a big hill. A Munro, maybe. Somewhere I can see for miles and there are clouds and craggy bits and the odd sheep. Sometimes when I’m really poorly I close my eyes and think about those views.
2. Get a shock. I’ll jump into cold water or go on a roller coaster. I’ll watch some awful horror film or bungee jump off the Forth Bridge. My new heart will not be scared of anything. The heart I have now, on the other hand, took ill when I typed ‘roller coaster’.
3. Learn to dance. I’ve wanted to tango since I first watched Strictly Ballroom.
4. Switch my phone off. For hours. I’ll be fully equipped. No one will need to be worried about me. Don’t get me wrong, phones are great. But before I had to come into hospital, I did actually have to be glued to mine, in case of an incoming heart.
5. Queue for something. I might go to London and stand for six whole hours waiting to get ground passes for Wimbledon. I’d be the only person who was in it for the queueing rather than the tennis. The important thing is – I’ll trust my heart to keep me upright for as long as it takes.
I thought there would be a thousand things I wanted to do when I could, and my list would be full of Eiffel Towers and Taj Mahals. But those things feel too abstract right now. I don’t even have a passport.
I suppose what it all comes down to, really, is one thing: I’ll do what I feel like doing. I won’t worry about whether I can, what might go wrong, or what the implications are. I’ll be impulsive. Unmanaged. (As far as anyone on anti-rejection meds can be impulsive and unmanaged.) I’ll be normal.
My question is – which of these will make me feel most alive?
1 Climb a high thing
2 Get a fright
3 Dance, dance, dance
4 Switch off my phone
5 Queue
I’ll leave the poll open for a week, and look at it when I’m back from transplant-land. Because, mark my words, I’m coming back.
See you on the other side.
BlueHeart xxx

12 October, 2017

Consciousness, it seems, is liquid behind glass: moving, ungraspable. Closing her eyes doesn’t stop the fairground-ride heave of it, but it makes it easier to bear. She sleeps again.
‘How do you feel?’ people ask, what feels like every fifteen seconds or so. ‘Ailsa? Ailsa? Can you hear me? How do you feel?’
She wants to say: I feel as though I’ve been kicked in the heart by a horse. I want to get out of here. Pass my shoes. Pass my eyeliner. Get me a five-year diary.
But her tongue is too tired to move and her teeth are heavy and gummed together, impossible to separate. Something hurts her throat. A tube? She tells her arm to move, to find out if there is a tube going into her mouth. Her arm ignores her.
She opens her eyes. Her vision fills with faces, smiling or questioning, and just the thought of trying to focus on them, to remember who the eyes belong to or to try to make sense of the words coming out of them, seems more impossible than flying. Flying, in fact, feels like something she can remember, something that she could do: if she could just untether herself from the blankets and the noises, she could float. She thinks she was floating, a little while ago.
Her fingers, back to babyhood, grasp involuntarily when other fingers touch her palm.
And she goes back to sleep, for what feels like no time at all, and when she wakes, it’s the same thing, over.

15 October, 2017

‘Fucking hell, Ailsa,’ her mother, Hayley, says, the first time she opens her eyes and doesn’t immediately feel them drawing themselves closed again, as though her lids have been replaced by bull-dog clips. ‘I thought you were never coming back.’ Hayley’s smile is bright but she’s paper-pale; her eyes have the horribly familiar I’ve-been-crying-but-if-you-ask-me-I’ll-deny-it look. Ailsa can only see her mother’s face, her hair and the scarf around her neck, which is one of Hayley’s favourites, a yellow-gold silk rectangle that Ailsa chose for her the Christmas before last.
‘Is it …?’ she asks. Her voice is whatever the opposite of silk is, harsh and scraping.
‘It’s all good,’ Hayley says. ‘Six days since the operation. You were out for the count for the first forty hours, and you’ve been drifting up and down ever since.’
Ailsa nods, or at least thinks about nodding, but it doesn’t seem that her head moves. Her hair feels damp against the pillow. ‘Mum,’ she gets out.

Copyright © 2018 by Stephanie Butland


"The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae is an enchanting story of a girl whose entire life has been dictated by her medical condition. When she receives a second chance in the form of a new heart, she realizes that, for the first time, she has a future. And now she has to figure out what to do with it. Stephanie Butland has crafted a charming story of second chances, love, loss, and truly growing up in which Ailsa learns that you can’t just blog and dance your way through life—although both certainly make it sweeter. A must read for anyone who has ever been faced with a new beginning and all the joy and heartache that entails. Five huge stars for the delightful Ailsa Rae!"—Kristy Woodson Harvey, national bestselling author of Dear Carolina and Slightly South of Simple

"A story of love, loss, learning, and lastly, living. Butland takes the reader on an emotional journey with Ailsa while she finally discovers who she is with her new heart and what type of person she wants to be."—Booklist

"Readers will learn about transplantation as they cheer on Ailsa as she starts a job and a relationship, chooses a career path, and deals with the complexities of family."—Library Journal

Other books by Stephanie

About Stephanie:
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.Stephanie is the author of The Lost for Words Bookshop.