Saturday, 20 December 2014

Anne Allen's Itty Bitty Christmas...


Wishing you a Merry Christmas

from 








What’s your earliest Christmas Memory?

Staying at my grandparents' house for Christmas, with my younger sister and parents. Their house was in a small circular 'Place' that had a grassy area with trees in the middle. This year we had snow - sooo exciting for us kids! - and I remember looking out the bedroom window and watching for Santa to land in the snow outside. It was like looking at a mini forest just feet away and the snow seemed to increase my belief that I would see Santa. But, sadly, I didn't!


Do you have any special Christmas Traditions?

Not now, although my grandparents did. Like the coins hidden in the Christmas Pudding which, miraculously, all ended up in the children's portions.


What’s your favourite festive carol or song?


Silent Night


Do you have a favourite festive film?


Love is All Around


What’s your favourite festive read ?


A Christmas Carol - of course!


Are you organised or do you leave everything until the last minute ?


Oh dear, I have to admit that these days I'm a last-minute type of person. Didn't used to be, but find it harder these days to plan ahead. Story of my life 


Christmas Tree – real or artificial?

Real - I hate the dropping needles but love the smell!


Tinsel or Glitter?

Neither


Gingerbread Latte or Orange spiced Hot Chocolate?


You know, I've not tried either! Does this mean I haven't lived?! Both sound yummy so if anyone would like to make me one I'd be happy to try 


Mince Pie or Yule Log?

Probably mince pie served with brandy cream



Christmas Dinner – Traditional Turkey or something Different?

Turkey every time



Christmas Tipple – Bucks Fizz/Mulled Wine or something stronger?


Bucks Fizz, please. Cheers!


A fun game of after dinner charades or more chocolates and the television?


We're not a 'charades' kind of family so it's likely to be messing about with the children's toys or watching television.
Will try to avoid the chocolates 


Anne's books are available on 




13632950 18716646  22841810




Anne is very kindly offering  one lucky winner any one of her novels in this fabulous giveaway

A paperback copy in the UK or an ecopy worldwide







My thanks to Anne for sharing her Christmas with us.

Jaffa and I wish you a very Happy Christmas





****


Friday, 19 December 2014

Rebecca Mascull's Itty Bitty Christmas...


Wishing you a Merry Christmas 


from

Rebecca Mascull








What’s your earliest Christmas Memory?

I remember watching Meet Me in St Louis with my mum and later lying in bed and I swear I heard bells jingling in the night air outside, I swear it!


Do you have any special Christmas Traditions?

When I was a child, we did stockings in bed, and presents all together in the living room after. Later in my teens, for Xmas breakfast we had smoked salmon on very thin brown bread with butter, lemon juice and black pepper sprinkled on top. My partner Simon and I used to make each other Xmas cards every year, using cut-outs of characters from stuff we were watching on TV, like Brother Mouzone from The Wire with a Xmas hat on; they were bloody hilarious. These days, it's all about our daughter Poppy. So, now our little family is starting to develop our own traditions. We always make mince pies and jam tarts on Xmas Eve and I always do my favourite veggie dish Oat Roast for Xmas lunch, but I'm the only one who likes it, so it's just for me! I'm hoping one day Poppy will grow to like it too...Also, Poppy has a collection of Playmobil Xmas figures and a few little illuminated houses, one with a frosty train running round it, so we set those up at the same time as we dress the tree, and turn the lights off and see the little bulbs twinkling and watch the train go round and round, and then I know Christmas is really coming.


What’s your favourite festive carol or song?

Oh gosh, I love them ALL. I absolutely adore Christmas and carols most of all. I love In the Bleak Midwinter, O Little Town of Bethlehem and I love the a cappella version of Carol of the Bells (especially the version in the West Wing). I watch Carols from Kings every Xmas Eve without fail.


Do you have a favourite festive film?

Ooh several - my favourite has to be A Christmas Carol (see festive read below) - more or less any version, though I particularly like the Patrick Stewart one, as I feel he acts Scrooge as a real person and not a comedy baddie - yet I also love It's a Wonderful Life and even Scrooged with Bill Murray, which is very funny but strangely touching too! And Meet Me in St Louis of course, as it reminds me of childhood Christmases with the smell of my mum's cooking...


What’s your favourite festive read ?

DICKENS, every time. With Poppy, we love Melrose and Croc Together at Xmas by Emma Chichester Clark.


Are you organised or do you leave everything until the last minute ?

A bit of both, I reckon! I tend to get the shopping done in advance, but I like cooking all through Xmas and I like wrapping the presents on Xmas Eve to get in the Xmasy mood, especially the stocking, my favourite bit.


Christmas Tree – real or artificial?

I used to be a Real or Nothing kinda gal, but since Poppy was little we found it was much easier to have a safe, reliable artificial one. And the one we have looks very real but doesn't shed or turn brown, and we can put it up on December 1st as Poppy demands and it still looks great by 12th Night!


Tinsel or Glitter?

BOTH. 


Gingerbread Latte or Orange spiced Hot Chocolate?

I loathe ginger. And it absolutely did not cure my morning sickness. So Hot Choc all the way.


Mince Pie or Yule Log?

BOTH, preferably on the same plate, topped with a dollop of Extra Thick Double Cream.


Christmas Dinner – Traditional Turkey or something Different?

Well, we don't eat much meat in our household, so for Simon and me we tend to do mushroom and goats' cheese puff pastry parcels, with 2 types of stuffing, roast potatoes and parsnips, peas and sprouts, onion gravy and mushroom gravy, and then Poppy will have something like sausages or a sausage roll alongside, as she likes meat. We all muck in and have bits and bobs of everything. As I said, I always do Oat Roast for me, as it's an old recipe from my teenage years and I love it. See here for the recipe: https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaMascull/posts/744099525619392


Christmas Tipple – Bucks Fizz/Mulled Wine or something stronger?

A cup of Earl Grey tea with honey for me, please.


A fun game of after dinner charades or more chocolates and the television?

BOTH, with chocolate throughout.




Rebecca is the best selling author of The Visitors
available to buy on Amazon
and from all good book retailers.


Rebecca is kindly offering a signed paperback of The Visitors in this festive giveaway.



The Visitors






Huge thanks to Rebecca for sharing her Christmas with us.

Jaffa and I wish you a very happy Christmas.





****


Thursday, 18 December 2014

Review ~The Girl in the Photograph by Kate Riordan

23201410
To be Published by Penguin Books Uk
January 2015


The story opens in 1936, with a prologue which sets the scene for an emotional and thought provoking read following the fortunes of Alice Eveleigh as she attempts to come to terms with a personal event which will have a shattering effect on her life. Banished to Fiercombe Manor, Alice gets drawn into the story of the beautiful and enigmatic Elizabeth Stanton, who was the lady of the manor in the latter part of the nineteenth century. This dual time narrative then switches seamlessly between two time frames, and as the story of both Alice and Elizabeth start to evolve, the similarities in their stories makes for compelling reading.

I was drawn into this story from the beginning and soon started to empathise with both female protagonists and found that the style of writing very easily allowed you to cross through time, so that both storylines became quite compelling. The minutiae of a family caught up in tragedy is well explored and the author has done a commendable job in bringing the story alive in the imagination, so that the haunting nature of the narrative continues to enthral from first page to last. There were some genuinely creepy moments which, whilst reading, made me look a little more closely at the shadows in the room, but overall this was a finely drawn story about family secrets and the ultimate heartbreak of loss.

Highly recommended if you like books by Kate Morton, Katherine Webb, Susanna Kearsley.


My thanks to Real Readers, NetGalley and Penguin Books UK for my copy of this book to read in advance of its publication.


****

Anne O'Brien's Itty Bitty Christmas....


Wishing you a Merry Christmas 


from


Anne O'Brien





What’s your earliest Christmas Memory?

A 'fairy frock' with net skirts, complete with satin slippers and a wand with a star. I was a plump three or four year old. What did I look like? All I remember was being speechless with joy.

Do you have any special Christmas Traditions?

Not really, apart from the mince pies and port. (I don't eat/drink them at any other time of the year.)

What’s your favourite festive carol or song?

In the Bleak Mid Winter. I have loved it as long as I can remember. I find both words and tune very moving. 


Do you have a favourite festive film?

No. But there is one 'Christmassy' film I can't watch and that's The Wizard of Oz that's always on the TV at this time of year. As a child I was terrified by the munchkins and the witch. I still find them strangely unnerving, even after all these years. 


What’s your favourite festive read ?

It has to be A Christmas Carol. I'm not a huge fan of Dickens' quirky characters, but this is so much in the spirit of Christmas that I find myself re-reading it. 


Are you organised or do you leave everything until the last minute ?

Organised! I am a maker of lists. But I always seem to be in a final rush when the big day's looming.


Christmas Tree – real or artificial?

Real. Brought in from the garden where it manages to survive from year to year. It's a strange shape, and has been pruned many times, but it's our own and I resist buying a perfect one.


Tinsel or Glitter?

Definitely glitter. 


Gingerbread Latte or Orange spiced Hot Chocolate?

The orange and chocolate combination. Irresistible. Reminds me of Terry's Chocolate Oranges with the segments - always part of Christmas.


Mince Pie or Yule Log?

Mince Pie. I've already managed to eat quite a few. 


Christmas Dinner – Traditional Turkey or something Different?

I'm a veggie so I have to be imaginative. This year it will be an open tart with leeks, mushrooms, cranberries and gruyere cheese. It's an old favourite and always popular. I've even seen the turkey-eaters sneak a piece ... 


Christmas Tipple – Bucks Fizz/Mulled Wine or something stronger?

Damson Gin, (home made from our damsons) and tonic. Looks pretty and festive (pink with bubbles) but packs a punch. (Care needed!) 


A fun game of after dinner charades or more chocolates and the television?

Chocolates and TV. I'm stunningly bad at charades. And I might even resort to another glass of the Damson Gin ...




Anne is the best selling author of several historical novels
Her books are available to buy on Amazon
and from all good book retailers.




The Scandalous Duchess   The King's Concubine    The Forbidden Queen  Virgin Widow


Anne is offering a signed copy of her latest novel The King's Sister to one winner of this giveaway.


23249847






Huge thanks to Anne for sharing her Christmas with us.

Jaffa and I wish you a very happy Christmas.





****

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Nancy Jardine's Itty Bitty Christmas...


Wishing you a Merry Christmas 


from




What’s your earliest Christmas Memory?

I have always had the most awful memory so I don’t remember anything from being really young. What I do remember is the Christmas before I became 10 years old. I was an avid reader of anything I could get my hands on, especially Enid Blyton. However, I also loved to read the Annuals that my mother bought every year. The Bunty, Judy, June and School Friend, and Mandy were for me. The Beezer, Topper, Beano, Dandy, and The Broons were for my older sister who was more of a tom-boy.  The problem that year was that I knew where my mother was stashing the books during the weeks before Christmas- on the top shelf of her wardrobe. My mum had just started to work for the first time ever some weeks before Christmas and I was a ‘latch-key’ kid who went to a neighbour after school until my older sister came home. By the time Christmas Day came around I had sneaked a look at most of my books and was so disappointed in myself when it came to pulling them out of the pillowcase my mum had pinned to the end of my bed - a Santa stocking being too small for the huge collection. That exhilaration of opening a brand new book had had the edge taken off. I vowed NEVER to sneak like that again.


Do you have any special Christmas Traditions?

Not really. My two daughters spend alternate Christmas with us and with their husbands’ relatives. That sometimes means they are with us on Xmas Eve and Xmas morning but not with us for Xmas dinner. Alternatively, they are with us for Xmas evening dinner and stay over into Boxing Day. My husband and I go to them when it’s their ‘turn’ so you can imagine the variations of this as both of their mother-in-laws are nurses and are often working odd shifts. We’ve also had years when all variations of relatives have been together meaning some 20- ish around the table. We keep plans very flexible and fit in whenever. The closest to a tradition is that we always keep a small gift from our pile to put on the dinner table. We open them between our main course and our dessert – which gives us time to digest a little before the sweet stuff.


What’s your favourite festive carol or song?

I love them all! My husband is a Grinch and hates them all. The Christmas Alphabet song is a favourite. I’m not religious, but I do love the tunes of many of the old traditional carols.


Do you have a favourite festive film?

Once upon a time I would have said something like ‘the Snowman’ or ‘A Christmas Carol’ but my daughters and I have made a mini tradition of escaping together to see the big blockbuster films like The Lord of the Rings/ Hobbit/ Harry Potter etc when they’ve been released pre-Xmas, so time has changed some of the older favourites. Now that my granddaughter is 3 years old, I expect to watch a lot of the new Kiddy Christmas films.


What’s your favourite festive read?

Whichever new books I have bought before Christmas! My publisher – Crooked Cat Publishing – has had an ebook sale in December the last two years and I’ve stocked up my kindle. I’ve no idea if that will happen again this year, but I’ll be on the lookout to fill my kindle with pre- Xmas books whether they are bargains or not.  


Are you organised or do you leave everything until the last minute?

It’s usually a mix of the two. We tend to decide which meats in early December so that we can order them from our local butcher, avoiding repeats of the same meat course whenever we get together. Turkey will feature but not always on Xmas day. My husband makes a batch of Xmas puddings on a biennial basis and makes these in November. I make a heavy Christmas cake in November as well, but ice it around mid- December. Hubby is the main shopper these days and he likes to buy all non- fresh things at the beginning of December and then one of us gets the fresh stuff just before Xmas.   


Christmas Tree – real or artificial?

Real and generally around nine feet high. Our favourite kind is a Nordman Fir although we tried a new type last year – a Lodge Pole pine. It lasted well with little needle drop, had a lovely scent and had a great shape for decorating. We tend to get a tree about 10 days before Xmas and keep it up till Twelfth Night.


Tinsel or Glitter?

I use only a couple of long delicate bead wraps, but not tinsel or glitter. That said, my 3 year old granddaughter is really into glitter- so who knows this year?  Some of the decorations for the tree go back many decades and I love the day when they are brought up from storage in the cellar. I tried years ago to have a ‘more posh’ colour themed tree but lots of the old and well loved decorations weren't used. I felt short changed as that Xmas progressed and missed some of the lovely old multi-coloured glass decorations that belonged to my mother and my aunt. I now use as much as I can stuff on the tree since each item comes with a memory–especially the home made ones from when my daughters were small.

Gingerbread Latte or Orange spiced Hot Chocolate?

I’ve not tried Gingerbread Latte so I’d have a go at that! The hot choc I do like as well.


Mince Pie or Yule Log?

Mince pies are a must but not usually on Xmas Day. They are usually eaten Christmas Eve and between Xmas and New Year. New Year is also a fairly special day for us as we keep with some old Scottish traditions of seeing out the old year and welcoming in the New Year with a piece of coal for luck and warmth and a wee dram. I’d need a whole blog post to describe a traditional Scottish New Year.


Christmas Dinner – Traditional Turkey or something Different?

As explained before traditional turkey makes an appearance at some point during the holidays and the something different is often on Christmas Day. My son-in- law (younger daughter) is a great cook and makes things that are very different. We all tend to have two weeks off work over the festive period so there are many opportunities for nice meals together, though they’re not expensive dishes.



Christmas Tipple – Bucks Fizz/Mulled Wine or something stronger?

At present opening time on Christmas morning, we might have eggnog or some kind of light cocktail. Xmas dinner tends to start around five or six and is generally preceded by a champagne toast. With dinner, we move on to some yummy wines depending on what the courses are. We might have mulled wine on Boxing Day after a lovely walk- since we tend to be in the house on Christmas Day.


A fun game of after dinner charades or more chocolates and the television?

We usually play some kind of game/board game at the table after our present opening and dessert. That way we can break after a while for cheese and/or chocolates etc. If we play something like monopoly or a trivial pursuit type of game, we might still be at the table at midnight and beyond. With two little kids around this year, and two large dogs, we will be very flexible about where we play, what games we play and for how long we play. We have a very informal go with the flow attitude at Xmas and don’t get uptight about anything!









THE BELTANE CHOICE Book 1 Celtic Fervour Series AFTER WHORL: BRAN REBORN Book 2 Celtic Fervour Series AFTER WHORL: DONNING DOUBLE CLOAKS Book 3 Celtic Fervour Series


Nancy is offering an ecopy of her novel  The Beltane Choice to one winner of this giveaway.




Huge thanks to Nancy for sharing her Christmas with us.

Jaffa and I wish you a very happy Christmas.





****

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Helen Hollick's Itty Bitty Christmas....



Wishing you a Merry Christmas 


from










What’s your earliest Christmas Memory?


I must have been about three. I remember a grey dawn light outside the window and feeling down the bed with my toes to discover a heavy pillowcase of presents. 




Do you have any special Christmas Traditions?



We decorate the house on December 13th – my husband’s birthday. The tree goes up a few days later though. 



What’s your favourite festive carol or song?


Silent Night



Do you have a favourite festive film?



Don’t laugh – Mary Poppins! It is on TV most Christmases, and it is always nice to watch it again, despite Dick van Dyke’s awful accent J!



What’s your favourite festive read?


The poem ‘The Night Before Christmas’



Are you organised or do you leave everything until the last minute?


Well I ty to be organised – it never works that way though! 




Christmas Tree – real or artificial?

Oh real! 


Tinsel or Glitter?

Tinsel



Gingerbread Latte or Orange spiced Hot Chocolate?


LOL – neither… coffee with Tia Maria and real cream on top!


Mince Pie or Yule Log?

Mince pie (homemade)



Christmas Dinner – Traditional Turkey or something Different?

Goose



Christmas Tipple – Bucks Fizz/Mulled Wine or something stronger?


Mulled wine



A fun game of after dinner charades or more chocolates and the television?



A fun game – usually pencil and paper related, although my husband takes the chocolates and watches TV!



Merry Christmas everyone!


Helen Hollick


www.helenhollick.net

Helen's books are available on

Amazon UK
Amazon.com



Emma USA  Harold USA

938087  4079509  1382635






6659946        17276194


Helen is offering one lucky winner the chance to choose one of her novels in this great giveaway.
**Open internationally**




a Rafflecopter giveaway







Huge thanks to Helen for sharing her Christmas with us.

Jaffa and I wish you a very happy Christmas.





****

Monday, 15 December 2014

Liza Perrat's Itty Bitty Christmas...



Wishing you a Merry Christmas

from




What’s your earliest Christmas Memory?

Christmas morning of 1974, when we awoke to learn that the city of Darwin had been destroyed by cyclone Tracy overnight. Years later, I wrote a short story about it– Santa Never Made It-­ in my Australian short story collection...
  Friends, Family and Other Strangers From Downunder:






Do you have any special Christmas Traditions?

When I was a child we always had Chinese takeway with our neighbours every Christmas Eve. Commonplace nowadays, it was a bit of a treat in the 70s. Nothing special these days besides a beach BBQ, as I’m often home in Australia for Christmas.



What’s your favourite festive carol or song?

None, they all make me feel nostalgic and melancholy (no idea why).



 Do you have a favourite festive film?

That would have to be A Charlie Brown Christmas



What’s your favourite festive read ?

Gone with the Wind (not really festive, I know, but….)



Are you organised or do you leave everything until the last minute ?

Try to buy presents online, or before December and avoid the shops at all costs after that. Food is last-minute though.



Christmas Tree – real or artificial?

Real, from the nursery in our village (when I’m in France), then I curse about having to sweep up pine needles every day.



Tinsel or Glitter?

Tinsel


Gingerbread Latte or Orange spiced Hot Chocolate?

Orange-spiced Hot Chocolate. In fact, anything that contains chocolate.



Mince Pie or Yule Log?

Yule log



Christmas Dinner – Traditional Turkey or something Different?

Never a turkey as nobody in the family likes it. Usually a seafood platter, or a capon, or boeuf en croĆ»te with truffle sauce …mmnn



Christmas Tipple – Bucks Fizz/Mulled Wine or something stronger?

Grandmother’s-special-secret-ingredients-Polish-vodka/lemony-very-acoholic-thing



A fun game of after dinner charades or more chocolates and the television?

TV in bed and more chocolates… and a good book.




Product DetailsProduct Details


Product Details


Amazon UK
Amazon.com



My review of Spirit of Lost Angels is here
My review of Wolfsangel is here


Liza is offering a very generous giveaway of her books in this international giveaway.

Paperback copies available to UK only
Ecopies are open internationally

Winners will be notified early in the New Year


a Rafflecopter giveaway




Huge thanks to Liza for her generous giveaway and for sharing her Christmas with us



Jaffa and I wish you a very Merry Christmas







*****