Receiving my first book was a big day for me. I was the last child in the class to get a one - I had to wait a good few weeks after all the other kids had got theirs as, at 5 years old, I was deemed not particularly bright and was given the easiest book they had. But it didn't matter to me. One of my earliest memories as a child was from that day and running to meet my mum with my new reading folder and brand new reading book feeling very pleased with myself.
It was from there that I got the reading bug and as I grew up I read more and more. Every weekend I would stay with my Nan, also an avid reader, where I would read through her copies of Catherine Cookson books. A different choice for a 12 year old but they were words and I loved them. It was from my Nan that I also received my most treasured book, her edition of Louisa M Alcott's 'Little Women', a copy that I still have to this day, a bit more aged and battered but still very much loved.
Unfortunately, for the last few weeks I have been having a bit of a wobble. Why have I set up this blog? Am I actually any good at it? What if nobody reads it? What if people do read it and think my reviews are rubbish? What if, what if, what if...
Lack of confidence has been something I have suffered with all my life and this past eighteen months have been particularly difficult for me. 2017 was a terrible, horrendous year for my family. On Saturday 11 February I lost my mum. She was only 59 years old, although she had just been diagnosed with Lymphoma, she had gone into hospital with a chest infection and never came back out. I was not prepared for her not to be coming home, I had no time to prepare myself and didn't even get a chance to say goodbye. I don't think anything ever prepares you for the loss of a parent and five months after losing my mum, we lost my mother-in-law too. Two of the most important women in my life had been taken, both long before their time and both leaving a big hole in the lives of the family they had left behind.
It has taken me a long time to put myself back together, I have had some days where the grief has felt so bad that I could physically feel it as a pain in my stomach but slowly I have been able to build myself back up. I don't believe you ever get over losing a loved one but slowly you learn to live with it. I carried on in auto pilot for a while and it took a couple of knocks both at home and at work to pull me out of it. Everything that I thought I was good at was suddenly questioned and things that I thought were one way were, in fact, the complete opposite. From my previous posts you would know that anxiety has always been an issue for me, and recently it has been a constant struggle to calm my brain and try to switch off the constant noise my hectic mind creates.
Now, I hope I haven't lost you... this is not a 'woe is me' post, quite the opposite in fact. On the search for that calmness for my poor brain, I had to give myself a swift kick up the behind! What exactly did I want to be doing? My Mum was only 19 years older than me when she died, she had so many things that she wanted to do and suddenly there was no time anymore. I didn't want to waste my time, I wanted to start doing something I loved and had a passion for. The dream? I want to read books for a living! All the books! I want to spend my days reading for hours, losing myself in stories by people that I am in awe of, for their talent with words and fiction. The characters that you visualise in your head and become so protective of that you carry on their stories with your own words long after you have read the final page of the book. But not just reading, I want to write. In my day dreams I would tuck myself away in my little office at home, my favourite playlist in the background, working away on my latest book. In my reality, I have a mortgage to pay and a family to raise so all of these dreams need to fit in around my busy work and home life. One day, I will have my completed novel but for now it is still a work in progress in my head.
And so all of this brings me to where I am now, with my new blog, my ongoing love of books, and an added calmness in my head, a result of these beautiful books being a source of therapy I need to help me. I know that this blog is a work in progress, I haven't really found my feet with it yet. I want to do more, I want to read more, to write more, to produce the best work I can. Books have always been a big part of my life. I have my favourites of course, my favourite authors, Marian Keyes and Jill Mansell, are my go to books, and, like the majority of the population, the Harry Potter books take pride of place on my book shelves. I also loved the Young Adult sagas of Twilight, The Hunger Games and the Divergent series. All of which I could read over again. I joke about my being 'socially awkward' and not liking to mix with people, and whilst this may be a slight exaggeration, my perfect weekend would be curled up on the sofa with a blanket and a good read. Weekend's like this are very few and far between these days but we can dream.There is always a danger that this blog will become a shrine to Marian (I love her) or long posts about my love/hate relationship with book to movie adaptations (did they really have to cut Peeves from the Harry Potter films)? I always have such high hopes for these things and then suffer the crushing disappointment when my favourite part is missed or the lead character doesn't look the same as they did in my head. I would love to hear peoples thoughts on this as it will be something I will post about in the future. Also, my pet hates, why do people feel the need to have a conversation with you when you have a book in your hand? Or when you lend someone a book and it comes back with the corner of the pages turned and a crease in the cover... the horror!
In such a short time I connected with so many great people and had so many new books recommended to me that my evenings and weekends are filled, and totally in a good way! I received my first book to review from an author, the lovely Julie Houston, and please, if you haven't already, make the time to read her new book 'A Village Affair', I loved it! Plus, I'm learning so many new things - who knew blog tours were a thing? It's opened a whole new world for me that I will forever be grateful for. My reviews will get better, my blog posts will increase and become more interesting and I will learn to just write - use my words to communicate my thoughts, not what I think people want to read. I am in total awe of the other book bloggers that I have managed to connect with, for their love and commitment to what they do and the support that these people give to the new ones like me. I hope people that read this will see the potential and I hope that one day I can return the favour.