Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce

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Harriet Tyce: Blood Orange

Published By: Wildfire Books

Buy It: here

What The Blurb Says:

Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise – she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems…

Just one more night. Then I’ll end it.

Alison drinks too much. She’s neglecting her family. And she’s having an affair with a colleague whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle.

I did it. I killed him. I should be locked up.

Alison’s client doesn’t deny that she stabbed her husband – she wants to plead guilty. And yet something about her story is deeply amiss. Saving this woman may be the first step to Alison saving herself.

I’m watching you. I know what you’re doing.

But someone knows Alison’s secrets. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she’s done, and who won’t stop until she’s lost everything….

What I Say:

‘She and I have both let our husbands tell us how to feel bad about ourselves, carrying all the guilt for failures that belong to them too.’

Sometimes as a book blogger, it is easy to fall under a spell and believe the hype surrounding a novel. People tell you that it’s breathtaking, that it’s one you cannot afford to miss, and that your blogging life will shine less brightly if you don’t somehow manage to read it.

Let me say from the outset – absolutely believe the hype about Blood Orange.

From the very first page you are drawn into Alison’s world and become a helpless bystander and a fierce protector of her. She seems to have it all, a successful career and a lovely picture perfect family. Unfortunately, like so many of us, what you seem to see is not really what you get. Alison is having an affair with a senior colleague called Patrick – it is not a hearts and flowers romantic relationship – it is unsettling, and the sex seems at times to push the boundaries as to how consensual Alison actually is. Her husband Carl works part time as a counsellor, and is responsible for the running of the home and the childcare for their daughter Matilda.

The problem is that Alison is seemingly out of control at home and work,  as she drinks far more than she should, and is unable to be the mother, wife and career woman she desperately wants to be. Aware that her life is becoming increasingly reckless, and that Carl is now at the point where he is concerned for her spending time with her daughter, Alison tries to keep her professional life in check. This is easier said than done as she is inexplicably and constantly drawn to Patrick, who knows how much she needs him, and as a result, treats her as despicably as he wants.

When Alison is asked to defend Madeleine Smith by Patrick, a woman who is charged with the murder of her husband, she has to work with Madeleine to understand why she attacked her seemingly loving husband in such a frenzied and unprovoked attack. As Alison tries to establish herself in the case, working with Madeleine and at the same time ensuring she keeps Patrick happy with her work, as a reader I was aware of how desperately frustrating and common this scenario is. Patrick is the one who has given her the case, and she is constantly under his control which makes it even more complicated for her as the lines between personal and professional life become increasingly blurred. She may think she has the authority, but Patrick relishes in ensuring she knows he is really in charge.

In Alison, Harriet Tyce has created a character who on paper we would all perhaps aspire to be, in that on the outside she has a successful career and a solid, reliable partner who supports her in her work.

The thing is, I am writing this review in 2019, and yet the same societal entrenched issues are achingly evident in Blood Orange. Alison cannot be a successful career woman and a successful mother. If she does one, she is seen as not fully committing to the other, and our society is still very ready to admonish women for whichever choice they have to make. Alison is trying to do her best in a world which wants her to make a decision to be one thing or the other.

The men in Blood Orange are strong and dominating characters, but they are not likeable. Patrick and Carl are full of the privileges and sanctimonious speech that the patriarchal society they are born in rewards them for. Carl’s willingness to be the house husband somehow means he is regarded as noble and selfless, whilst Alison’s dedication to work and career is seen as selfish and thoughtless. Patrick is driven and ambitious, yet for Alison to admit to be those things is regarded as a sign she cannot possibly be a ‘real’ mother.

As Alison works with Madeleine to prepare her defence, she starts to understand that although they may on the surface be very different, their lives have much in common, and both of them are controlled by the men in their lives. Madeleine’s admission of murder actually comes from a place of love and protection, and as Alison desperately tries to keep everyone happy, she is forced to confront the fact that in order to free herself of all the toxicity in her life, she might just have to do the unthinkable to protect her daughter.

It is difficult to write a review of Blood Orange, because to say too much would give away everything. I loved this book because Alison isn’t perfect. She is flawed, emotional and sometimes you just want to reach into the novel and tell her to get a grip for the sake of her daughter if nothing else. The writing is raw, truthful and at times far from comfortable. The scenes between Patrick and Alison are extremely graphic, but that is only true to the nature of their relationship, which at times seemingly comes from a place of mutual hatred and a need to assert their power over each other.

In Blood Orange, Harriet Tyce has written a novel which will in turn appall, repulse and shock you.  Like Alison, it is not until the final chapters that the full horror of what has been happening will ultimately dawn on you. 

It will make you stop in your tracks, read the last chapters with your heart in your mouth, and realise that in Alison, Harriet has created a character whose flaws and faults are actually the very things that are used against her by the men who she so unfailingly trusted.

I absolutely loved Blood Orange.

Harriet has written an unlikely heroine for our times, who helps us all understand that no one ever really knows what goes on when we finally close our doors to the outside world .

Thank you so much to Georgina Moore and Wildfire Books for my gifted copy.

“All You Do Is Read A Book and Tweet About It..”

So, in today’s adventures from Book Blogging Land, I wanted to share with you a little conversation I had with someone (Not A Book Blogger), who, when I told them I wrote about books in my spare time, said the line which I have now immortalised as the title for this Blog Post…

In the last few days, I have been thinking a lot about what I do as a Book Blogger, and I guess what I wanted to share with you all is what happens when I decide to Blog about a book. I hope it helps you if you are new to blogging and don’t know where to start, or if you are just interested in knowing what it involves!

This is only my way of doing things, everyone is different, and there is no right or wrong way to do this (am getting that in there nice and early!)

  • First of all, I choose a book I want to talk about – it could be one from the library, one from my shelves or if I’m lucky, one I have been sent.
  • I have This Book, but I want to make it look attractive, so I spend time taking pictures of This Book, trying different layouts, styles and backgrounds. Finally I have it, cropped, filtered, edited and ready to upload..
  • The next step is to post This Book on my social media feed, hashtagging the title, making sure I tag the author, publisher, date of publication where relevant, where or who I got it from. I only use Twitter and Instagram, but I always make sure I post on both platforms, and do ALL the numerous hashtags on Instagram so that it’s seen by as many people as possible!
  • Then finally I read This Book – while making notes and using post it notes to highlight memorable quotes (I’m 48 years old – I often forget my childrens names or call them by the dog’s name so don’t judge me..!)
  • Hooray, now I’ve read This Book, if I’ve enjoyed it (yes, unapologetically I am a blogger who only posts positive reviews), I tweet and post on Instagram about it – again making sure I tag and hashtag everyone and everything until I can’t tag no more!
  • It’s now time to settle down and spend quite a few hours writing my blog post, and re-writing, and tweaking and checking and finally posting it. This is inbetween dealing with a husband, two teenagers and a bonkers Springer Spaniel.
  • Now I just have to get back on to my social media and tell everyone that I have written a blog post so that they can check it out and comment on it (so now I have to check and respond to all the comments on my Twitter and Instagram feeds as well as anyone who has taken the time to leave a comment on my blog).
  • Time for a cup of coffee.
  • Oooh, I think I need to read another book…
  • It starts all over again – and I love every minute of it…

There you go – some people may do much more than I do, some a lot less, and some just the same.

Do you know what? The only question you need to ask yourself is – do you enjoy doing it? If you do, then that’s all that matters…

Love

Clare xx

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

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Alex Michaelides: The Silent Patient

Published By: Orion Books

Buy It: here

What The Blurb Says:

ALICIA
Alicia Berenson writes a diary as a release, an outlet – and to prove to her beloved husband that everything is fine. She can’t bear the thought of worrying Gabriel, or causing him pain.

Until, late one evening, Alicia shoots Gabriel five times and then never speaks another word.

THEO
Forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber is convinced he can successfully treat Alicia, where all others have failed. Obsessed with investigating her crime, his discoveries suggest Alicia’s silence goes far deeper than he first thought.

And if she speaks, would he want to hear the truth?

 

What I Say:

As regular readers (Thank you Mum and Dad), of my blog will know, I am not one for posting pictures or videos of myself on the interweb to publicise books.  Sometimes, when you read something that is so brilliant, that gives you that ‘WHAT THE ??’ reaction, sitting down, firing up your laptop and being witty and erudite at the time is not what it needs.

The picture you see on this blog post, is me, just after I had read #ThatPage of The Silent Patient.  I can honestly say, this is the first novel in a long time that has made me stop and re-read the previous pages to see if I missed any clue, any sign of what was to come (spoiler alert  – not one thing!).

The Silent Patient is the story of Alicia and Gabriel. A happy Instaperfect couple who seemingly have it all.  In love, successful and full of life, they inhabit a world we can only dream of – until Alicia shoots and kills Gabriel, and from that day on she does not speak.

Baffled by her mutism, unable to understand why Alicia killed Gabriel, she is sent to The Grove, a secure unit where she is sedated, silenced and unable to communicate with anyone.

Theo Faber decides that he is the therapist who can finally reach Alicia.  He is determined to be the one person who can make her talk and explain why she killed her husband.  The thing is, Theo is not doing this out of the kindness of his heart, he has an agenda.  He is fully aware of the kudos and celebrity cracking a case like this will bring, and his self-assured manner and downright arrogance means that from the start, you sense that he doesn’t truly have her best interests at heart.  Theo is mesmerised by Alicia, and will do whatever it takes to ensure he is the man she will owe her recovery to.

Alicia’s silence is due in part to the heavy doses of medication she has to take, and when Theo convinces Diomedes, the head of the unit to decrease the dosage so he can start to try and communicate with her, you know that this is finally the start of the process of Alicia’s recovery.

As Theo starts to work with Alicia, his personal life is also brought into focus, we understand that things are not going well for him with his wife Kathy, and he is forced to confront the fact that is own marriage may not be as happy as he believed. As a result, the ethical lines start to become blurred, and Theo researches Alicia’s life before Gabriel was killed.  He becomes increasingly obsessed with Alicia, and wants to be her saviour, which means that he will do whatever he needs to to ensure he is the one person she relies on.

I think that the notion of power is a very interesting one that runs throughout this book. Theo believes he is the powerful one as he has the academic knowledge to make that vital breakthrough with Alicia, but increasingly it becomes clear that she has all the power in the relationship.  As she comes off her medication, Alicia does not suddenly start to talk in a bid to prove her innocence.  She delights and frustrates Theo in equal measure, communicating with non verbal gestures, then retreating completely.  It is only when Theo sets up a room for Alicia with all her painting materials that he starts to see she is communicating to him through her art.  It is also worth noting that Alicia at the time of the murder, was working on a self portrait she had called Alcestis – the story of a woman who gave her life for her husband, and when she was returned to life, she was mute, filled with rage that her husband would allow her to sacrifice herself so he could live.

When Alicia gives Theo her diary to read, he feels that he has finally made the breakthrough he had been desperate for, and that his success will only be matched by Alicia’s gratitude. Even more amazingly, when Alicia finally starts to speak, she is able to finally start to fill in the events surrounding Gabriel’s death and make sense of what had happened to her.

From that point on, The Silent Patient twists and turns and pulls and pushes you, hurtling towards that exquisite moment when the penny finally drops, and you will finally understand why I posted that picture!  In The Silent Patient, Alex Michaelides has written a triumphant first novel.  It is perfectly plotted and filled with characters who delight and revolt you with equal measure, as you turn the pages desperate to understand why Alicia does not speak.  The Silent Patient is a debut novel that achieves that rare phenomenon of being an absolute jaw dropping page turner,  but is a clever dissection of the power of speech and mental health too. You will be hearing a lot about this novel, and quite rightly so – it might only be February, but it is one of my novels of the year.

Buy it, read it, and when you get to ‘that moment’, you will understand exactly why I absolutely loved it.

Thank you to Poppy Stimpson and Ben Willis at Orion for gifting me a copy, and to Alex Michaelides for helping me well and truly get my reading mojo back!

 

 

 

 

The Six Loves of Billy Binns by Richard Lumsden

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Richard Lumsden: The Six Loves of Billy Binns

Published by: Tinder Press

Buy It: here

 

What The Blurb Says: 

I remember my dreams but not where they start.
Further back, I recall some of yesterday and the day before that. Then everything goes into a haze.
Fragments of memories come looming back like red London buses in a pea-souper.
Time plays funny tricks these days.
I wait for the next memory. I wait and I wait.

At 117 years old, Billy Binns is the oldest man in Europe and he knows his time is almost up. But Billy has a final wish: he wants to remember what love feels like one last time. As he looks back at the relationships that have shaped his flawed life – and the events that shaped the century – he recalls a life full of hope, mistakes, heartbreak and, above all, love.

What I Say:

Billy Binns is the reluctant oldest resident in The Cedars, and he is also (possibly) the oldest man in Europe having been born in 1900.  As Billy is coming to the end of his days, he decides he needs to remember the people who have brought love into his life.

Billy decides that to understand what they meant to him, he wants to write it all down.  In leaving his memoir to his son Archie, he is not only telling him about himself, but also the world he grew up in, and why he is the man he is today.  Billy tells us straight away that the five great loves in his life are Mary, Evie, Archie, Vera and Mrs Jackson.

I think that Richard Lumsden has done something very brave with Billy Binns.  You may disagree, but I have to tell you that at certain times I really didn’t like him.  I didn’t like the choices he made or the things he did, but then, can we honestly say we can hold ourselves up as some sort of perfect mortal!  It is also important to say that if you are looking for some rose tinted remembrances from a kindly old man as he bids farewell to the world, this novel might not be for you!  Billy lies, cheats, tries to kill someone (admittedly because they were violent towards their wife) and makes disastrous choices that make you wince and despair of him.

We follow Billy right from his early years in London working in the Fish Market to when he fakes ID in order to join the army for the First World War, through to his time as a Bus Driver in the Second World War and his eventual arrival at The Cedars.  The depictions of Billy’s military career during World War I are truthful and uncompromising.  It is a testament to Richard’s writing as to how visceral and awful these scenes are, but this is Billy’s life, and we are re-living it with him – otherwise how do we really understand why Billy is who he is, and the true horrors for the men who gave their lives for us.

As we follow Billy, we learn about each of his five loves.  The narrative moves between the present day with Billy having to navigate life at the Cedars, and his recollections of the loves of his past.  Sometimes you are not sure whether you are reading about the past or present, but that is the point of Billy’s reminiscences, he is drifting backwards and forwards, sideways and every way to tell his story.

For me what also made this a different type of novel is that the way Billy deals with sex and relationships is sometimes very uncomfortable to read.  I often felt that Billy was ruled by desire rather than rationale, and some of the descriptions of his encounters didn’t endear Billy to me, in fact, I felt at some points he got what he deserved!

As we follow Billy through his life, and meet his loves, you become completely absorbed in the relationships too.  When they end, certainly for at least one (Sadie!), you want to sit Billy down and have a word with him as to what he is throwing away!  This is the crux of Billy Binns- he is unaware that the best thing he has is right in front of him, and he has to go through all these different relationships and events in his life to ultimately realise it.

Richard also seamlessly intertwines Billy’s life story with the changing social history of Britain.  We learn about the reality for those serving and those who stayed at home for both World Wars, and also what it really means to be British during a time of massive social change.  Issues such as class, women, racism and sexism are tackled, alongside Billy’s own personal experiences of love, loss and growing old in Britain.

The Six Loves of Billy Binns is an ambitious and clever novel, which is filled with humour and tinged with moments of tragedy.  Billy’s life has been full, colourful and determined by his need to love and be loved – whatever the cost.  His moral compass is occasionally off, and sometimes you might not like Billy very much, but his flaws are what make him human and who are we to judge a man for wanting to find his true love?

Thank you very much to Caitlyn Raynor and Tinder Press for my free copy of Billy Binns.

When All Is Said by Anne Griffin

 

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Anne Griffin: When All Is Said

Published by: Sceptre Books

Buy It: here

 

What The Blurb Says:

At the bar of a grand hotel in a small Irish town sits 84-year-old Maurice Hannigan. He’s alone, as usual -though tonight is anything but. Pull up a stool and charge your glass, because Maurice is finally ready to tell his story.

Over the course of this evening, he will raise five toasts to the five people who have meant the most to him. Through these stories – of unspoken joy and regret, a secret tragedy kept hidden, a fierce love that never found its voice – the life of one man will be powerfully and poignantly laid bare.

Heart-breaking and heart-warming all at once, the voice of Maurice Hannigan will stay with you long after all is said.

What I Say:

I’m here to remember – all that I have been and all that I will never be again.”

When All Is Said is a rare novel. Why? Well, it is the first time since I started blogging that I was so moved by a book that I was compelled to not only tweet from the rooftops about it, but also to have the confidence to actually film myself talking about it.  I am so far from confident in those types of situations, that until about three years ago, I refused to be photographed.

Why is this at all relevant to this review? Quite simply, When All Is Said is such a pitch perfect exquisite novel, that any self doubt I had (or worries about how I looked to everyone) was replaced by the very real need to tell as many people as possible about it’s brilliance.

Maurice Hannigan goes to the bar at the Rainsford House Hotel bar to raise five toasts to the five most important people in his life.  As he raises a glass to each one; Tony, Milly, Noreen, Kevin and Sadie, he not only tells us why he has chosen to toast these people, but we start to understand who Maurice really is and why he has made the choices he has.

From the start of the novel, as Maurice tells his story to his son Kevin who is now living in the United States, you are immediately drawn in.  You feel as if you are eavesdropping on the conversations of a stranger in a bar, but also there is a sense of unease. Why is Maurice choosing to unburden himself now, at this time?  Is this all part of something else, and if so what?  You cannot help but feel a sense of protectiveness towards him as he reveals the truth behind the man sitting nursing the different glasses.

Maurice starts with a toast to Tony, his elder brother who he completely adored.  It is plain to see that although they grew up in a family filled with love, that they were not rich, and times were tough for them all. Tony’s stability and his presence in Maurice’s life has obviously impacted on him, and we see how Tony helped him overcome the troubles he faced. Tony helped Maurice become the man he is today, and that is something he is grateful for.

What is refreshing about Maurice is that he is never held up in this novel as a perfect man.  He has his faults, and his actions cause huge upsets for those around him.  Life has made him determined to succeed, and his single mindedness and drive means that although we may not always understand why he does what he does, at the heart of Maurice is the desire to ensure everyone is treated as they should be.

When All Is Said is undoubtedly Maurice’s story, but we never forget that he is who he is because of the people in his life who have shaped him.  Molly, his little girl, only lives for fifteen minutes, but her existence enveloped him and his wife Sadie entirely.  As they come to terms with their unspeakable loss, you can imagine every sound, sight and emotion brings them back to the realisation that Molly is not there.

What is so clever and heart rending for me about this novel, is that as the evening wears on, you feel that Maurice is almost in a race to try and confess everything about his life so that he can leave this hotel bar free of the things that have been weighing him down.  Anne Griffin understands perfectly that we all have our secrets, the things we should have said and the things we shouldn’t.  Her skill is that in writing about Maurice, she asks us to look within ourselves and realise that we are all like him.  We have different sides that we show to different people, and that the only person who truly knows everything about us is ourselves.

Maurice’s toast to his sister-in-law Noreen is a beautiful, understated part of the novel.  It is clear to us, that Noreen has special needs, but Maurice’s unwavering acceptance of her made my heart sing.  He and Sadie love her for who she is, and when she unwittingly gets herself involved in a certain situation, Maurice does not think twice about doing what he has to in order to protect her – and I adored him for that.

One of the (many) things I loved about the novel is that not one chapter or line is wasted, you always sense that the novel will end when Maurice has decided his story is told, and not a moment before. He is always the enigmatic storyteller, who weaves his way in and out of his story and into your heart.  I felt that I wanted to protect him, to let him know that the people he loved, loved him right back, and that is testament to Anne Griffin’s extraordinary writing.

As the evening draws to its close, Maurice makes a final two toasts to his son Kevin and his beloved wife Sadie. These are the toasts that for me were the most difficult to read, as you understand that these two people are absolutely his world.  For him, toasting these people brings into focus the fact that no man is an island, and that Maurice needs to be with them to finally feel complete.  As he walks out of the hotel bar, to his room, you truly hope that he finds the peace he deserves.

When All is Said is an astounding novel.  It is about life and death, of love and unspeakable loss.  Of the ordinariness and extraordinariness of our lives.  In Maurice, Anne Griffin has created a character who talks to us all, that makes us adore him on one page, and pull our hair out over him in another.  He is Everyman, and that is why we love him – because we recognise facets of ourself, and what beats at the heart of all of us is the need to love and be loved.

Thank you very much to Louise Court for gifting me a copy of When All Is Said.

 

 

 

Why Bother?

 

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Well, we are half way through January and this is my first blog post of 2019.

It is also going to be a very honest and frank post to you all.

I have just not had the motivation to blog and am finding it hard to find my voice.  I see other people doing it at an alarmingly impressive rate.  People I know are reading and blogging and tagging and sharing and retweeting and reposting and I’m not.

On New Year’s Day I sat and looked at my screen and ten minutes later the only thing on it was a blinking cursor.  For the past few weeks, all inspiration and desire to blog about books have deserted me.

I get very few views of my reviews and all of a sudden I started to wonder what on earth was the point?  Who really cares if I wax lyrical about a novel, or share a blistering review of something I have loved.  I just didn’t see the value in me reading and blogging anymore.

It’s hard to admit that you just can’t be bothered. I had become almost a reading machine, desperate to keep up with everyone else, and to be ‘seen’ to be reading at an alarming rate, somehow believing that this made me and my views on books and reading more valid.  That if I could do this, I really was part of the Book Blogging Community – who are absolutely my tribe by the way, and are the best group of people I have ever met.

I also realised that I was now waiting to see which proofs I could get too- don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful when I get sent one, and feel very privileged to do so, but I got into that whole Fear Of Missing Out thing.  I was also getting exasperated when I saw other people with the proofs I was longing to read, and me not being able to get hold of them, and not understanding how the ‘system’ worked.  Instead of stepping away from the screen and into a book, I found myself hanging around on Twitter, making sure I was always ready to reply to someone offering proofs.

In my heart of hearts, I knew that this was not what Years of Reading Selfishly should be about. The whole reason I started blogging in 2017 – (yes it really was that long ago!) was because I loved reading and talking about books, and my personal Instagram feed was book after book and recommendation after recommendation.  Nothing made me happier than talking about and recommending books to anyone who wanted to listen, and I had lost that.

Suddenly, getting more followers and likes were more important than the books and reading and that wasn’t right. Having to write about books had become a chore, I wasn’t just telling you all about books I loved, I was trying to make sure I didn’t let anyone down.  I wanted to make sure the publicists knew that when I got a proof I wasn’t just adding it to a pile of books, that the authors knew how much I appreciated what they had written, and that I was showing my fellow bloggers I was taking this seriously.  The thing is, when you are so busy doing all that, you tend to forget why you loved reading in the first place.

Why am I telling you all this? Maybe it’s because this is the only space I can do this for people who understand what I mean.  Maybe it’s because as well as life being too short to read books you don’t love, life is also too short to try and pretend that you are this one woman reading and blogging machine.  I am trying to step away from the noise and the pressure I have been putting myself under and am instead try and find what made me want to start Years of Reading Selfishly in the first place.

I know it’s still here somewhere, but I am no longer afraid to admit that it might take me a while to find my stride again.  Today I wrote two blog posts for books I have truly loved, and it felt brilliant, and if no one reads them, at least I know I meant every word and that the spark was still there.

Love
Clare

xxx

Thank You ….

 

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Well, 2018 has been quite a year. Being able to escape from the realities of the ever increasingly baffling world outside into the one of books and reading has been the best thing!

I wasn’t sure what to post for my final blog of 2018.

When I was walking my dog, Bertie, with my youngest this afternoon, I asked him what he thought.

‘Simple’, he said. ‘Say Thank You.’

He’s right. We spend so much of our time worrying about what other people think, or trying to be the one that’s heard, that very often the basic things that make people feel appreciated are ignored.

So, Thank You.

Thank you to all the authors without whom there would be no Years Of Reading Selfishly. Thank you for every time you replied to one of my comments, or liked what I had written, it means the world to me and gives me the confidence to keep going.

Thank you to all the lovely people in the Book World who have entrusted me with their proofs or novels and given me the opportunity to read amazing authors and fabulous books. You can never underestimate how much joy Book Post brings, and how much we want to shout about it for you!

Thank you to Buckinghamshire Libraries, who have been fantastic in helping me get hold of the novels I really wanted to review, and being interested in why! Libraries have been such a fundamental part of Years of Reading, and I can’t imagine a world without them..

Thank you to every Book Blogger who has been a brilliant support every time I write a blog post, or have posted something on Twitter or Instagram.

Especially to @thelitaddict_@be_reading @BooksBucks @Bookblogs79 @xMissEmmaxx @bestbookforward @notmaudgonne @ShortBookScribe @corkyorky who are always kind, thoughtful and supportive, and make Twitter a brighter place to be.

To @podsticles @rubiesforjuly @readbynight and @rhode_reads on Instagram, who are endlessly helpful, kind and take the time to chat – thank you.

Thank you especially to @BookishChat who is quite simply the person who has made my Book Blogging journey a blast!

It was fantastic to finally meet her in person at the @YoungWriterAward Ceremony. It might sound cliched to say it, but it really did feel like we had known each other forever, and she has been a wonderful friend and support as we both try to find our paths through the Book Blogging World! Thank you Mand – you are bloody awesome!

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Thank you to @YoungWriterAward for inviting me to my first literary event, and the chance to hear @girlhermes @FJMoz @adamweymouth @LauraSFreeman read from their shortlisted books. It was a wonderful experience, and everyone was so welcoming – to be among people who loved books and talked about them with such passion was phenomenal.

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Finally, Thank You to my ever patient family -my husband and two sons, who understand what this all means. They no longer raise their eyebrows every time the postman knocks on the door, with another delivery of books! They keep away from the very pretty book mountain which is teetering precariously in our living room!

Without their love and support, Years of Reading Selfishly would just be another one of those thoughts I had in a fleeting instant and felt I wasn’t able to do anything about!

I want to finish by saying this.

Maybe you have been talking about books to everyone for a long time. Maybe you are just starting out, or wondering whether after all this time all the effort is really worth it. After all, there are thousands of people blogging, tweeting, or instagramming about books aren’t there?

I am a 48 year old, stay at home Mum, who has loved reading for ever – I honestly never believed I could do this.

To you reading this – believe me you can.

You read, you have an opinion, and that’s important. It might be the same as everyone else – it might not. That’s what makes this Bookish Community so amazing – your voice matters, it really does. It takes time and effort, and you have to work at it, but little by little you realise that people are listening to you, talking back, supporting you and are interested in your opinions. That’s why I do what I do and you should too.

Having the courage to start Years Of Reading Selfishly is honestly one of the best decisions I ever made. I really feel like I have found my tribe!

Life’s too short not to try- or to read books you don’t love.

Here’s to 2019, and to talking about lots more fabulous books with you all.

Happy New Year,

Love,

Clare

xxxx