Tell me about the person behind the blog?
My name is Anne (as everyone will have probably guessed…!), I’m 61 and single, and I live in the beautiful market town of Wetherby in West Yorkshire. I’ve lived here for over 25 years now – the best decision I ever made – but I’m originally from a village near Bangor in North Wales. I used to be a civil servant, working in project and change management with DWP, focusing on marketing and communications. I was lucky enough to be able to be offered early retirement (and a full pension!) in March 2014, and now spend my time doing all the things I most enjoy.
When I was working, I found I was often too tired to read, but in my retirement I’ve re-discovered my passion for books. I spend a lot of my time reading – what can be better? – writing about books on Being Anne. Much of what I enjoy in my free time is book related – I enjoy running the local U3A Book Group, have a monthly slot on local community radio, and I’m lucky enough to be invited to some of the best book launches and parties.
When did you start blogging and why?
I started blogging four – nearly five – years ago. I’ve been writing reviews for a lot longer, but it seemed a good idea to have somewhere where I could pull them together. To begin with I just reviewed books as I read them, and when I had the time – but after retiring I decided to spend some time building it into something more. I started joining blog tours, doing interviews and features – and people seemed to like it. And I’ve always particularly enjoyed spotlighting indie and self-published authors who often find it more difficult to get the word out about their books.
Although it had over 220,000 views, I thought my old blog – on the blogger platform – looked a bit amateur (and much too purple!) so I learned a whole new skill set and relaunched on the WordPress platform. I now try to post every weekday, just sometimes at weekends – and I enjoy every moment.
What are your proudest moments or achievements to date as a blogger?
Even after all this time, every quote or mention in a finished book is an exciting moment. But I was so thrilled last year to be nominated for the Best Pal Blogger Award at the annual Bloggers’ Bash (the ABBAs) – and speechless (well, nearly… words seldom fail me!) when so many lovely people voted for me and I actually won. It meant an awful lot to me, endorsing my approach to blogging. And when I won it for the second time in 2017, I realised that I’m obviously doing something right…
If you had to breakdown the components of your ideal perfect book what would they be?
That’s actually a really difficult (and very good!) question! I’ve developed a bit of a knack for spotting books I’ll enjoy – and I look for good story-telling, a sense of place, well-drawn characters (preferably a little older than the chick lit norm), realistic dialogue, and a book’s ability to keep me turning the pages and part of its little world.
What is your favourite genre to read?
I don’t read non-fiction, but as far as fiction goes I’ll try most things. I really enjoy women’s contemporary fiction/popular fiction, well-written chick lit and light romance, literary fiction, some historical fiction (especially dual time or timeslip, but not about kings and queens!), and love a good psychological or crime thriller. I don’t read anything about vampires/werewolves/the undead, formula romance, or what I think of as man’s fiction (spies, war, cowboys…). I also very rarely read YA, new adult, or erotica. Above all though, I love discovering new authors yet to make their mark – if I can help bring their books to people’s attention, I’m delighted.
What 3 books would you recommend and why?
Three books? You’re joking, right? Oh, go on then…
When anyone asks for my number one, I always say Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey. I read it back in 2015 but can still remember vividly the wonderful story. For three thoroughly blissful days I was totally lost in the wartime love affair of Stella and Dan, aching for them with every obstacle and injustice they encounter, my heart in my mouth waiting for Ruby Shoes to return safely and for Dan to write his next letter. And it really was the icing on the cake to be at the Romantic Novel of the Year awards when Iona walked away with the top prize.
A recent favourite was the stunning Not Thomas by Sara Gethin. If anyone had told me that I’d sit, totally rapt, reading a book written in the voice of a five year old child, seeing a world of neglect and cruelty through his eyes and from his unique perspective – well, I really wouldn’t have believed them. It really deserves to be on every prize list going.
And something a little different? How about Hostile Witness by Nell Peters? There’s gruesome blood-letting, some sex and violence aplenty – but it also manages to bring a smile to your face as the bodies pile up and the police place their tape around yet another crime scene. It’s a really excellent psychological thriller, but with a quite lovely fresh and light approach of a kind I’ve honestly never seen before. And it’s seriously funny.
Finally, tell me more about your blog and why we should subscribe?
You’ll find all kinds of book-related stuff on Being Anne – features, interviews, extracts, blog tours – and I hope you’ll enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy putting them together. But I particularly enjoy reading and reviewing. I never review a book I don’t enjoy, or that I can’t say something good about – and when I do enjoy a book, I most certainly let people know about it. You might just find your new favourite there too.