Holiday Reading List

When winter weather arrives, I like to be someplace cozy and warm, maybe curled up in a big armchair or a recliner, with a good book or my Kindle in my hands.

I’ve asked my friends to help me out with a reading list to fill my Kindle (or bookshelf)  for the coming Christmas season.

Books make great gifts. Did you know you can send an e-book as a gift to another person? All they need is an e-reader. If it isn’t a Kindle, you can order books through smashwords.com. You can load up your e-reader and never be bored while you’re waiting for that Christmas turkey to be done, or in those doldrum days that follow Christmas. And what a long-lasting gift a book is! Hours and hours of enjoyment.

To help me start my list, my guest is British author Miriam Wakerly. She has written books of her own, but of course, all  authors like to read. So let’s look at her list of favourite books and then see what she has to offer as her own latest book.

Here’s Miriam:

Miriam (1)

I have an eclectic list of ‘books read and enjoyed’, some of them quite serious with deep themes, like Hilary Mantel’s “Bring Up the Bodies,” and fiction about Alzheimer’s, women in Afghanistan, and so on. Well, here we go, Christmas is coming and we all need to smile and even laugh out loud during the festive season! So I am choosing three funny books you might like to check out:
Notwithstanding by Louis de Bernieres
No! I Don’t Need Reading Glasses by Virginia Ironside
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
My new novel will particularly appeal to those who can remember the freezing Christmas of 1962. Maybe your parents were of that era and you’re curious to know about those ‘olden times’!
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Secrets in Appley Green – a 1960s village novel  For UK customers, click here North American customers, click here.
All my books take place in the fictitious Surrey-Hampshire village of Appley Green. You can find them via my Author Page on amazon.co.uk or on amazon.com

Christmas Interview – Anneli Purchase

Can a person interview him/herself? I’m going to try.

I’m Anneli Purchase and this is my blog. Just in time for Christmas, I’d like to share my thoughts with you, and wish you all a wonderful Christmas.

Anneli Purchase

1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

Yes, of course. Even if I were someplace far away from home, I’d be celebrating Christmas.

2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

Not completely alone, but one year my husband and I were without our extended family near. It was a relief not to have the pressure of the usual gift buying and entertaining commitments, but we couldn’t quite push away a feeling of loneliness that day. 

3. Have you ever had a non-traditional Christmas dinner? What did you have?

 As a child, “traditional” meant a goose dinner, and as an adult it was always turkey. We may have had a pheasant one year. I don’t remember for sure.

4. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

I don’t like feeling pressured to give a gift just because it’s Christmas. I want to give a gift because I feel like giving it. At home we’ve done away with the big gift giving for the last five years and have done only the stocking gifts instead. It’s a lot of fun and a lot less pressure.

5. What was the most fun activity you’ve done at Christmas?

We went skiing on a sunny Christmas Day and it was wonderful. We had Christmas dinner with our parents that night so everyone was happy. 

6. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day?

As a child, we had stockings on Dec. 6, St Nicholas Day, which (one year) was the day our budgie flew out into a blizzard of snow because I opened the window to look for St. Nick. Now that we don’t do the big gifts anymore we do the stockings on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

7. What was the best gift you ever received at Christmas?

Some of the best gifts were board games when my brother and sisters and I could stay up late on Christmas Eve to play the games in the kitchen. Christmas music was playing and our parents and their friends visited in the living room, having a bit of Advocaat egg brandy. 

8. What was the best homemade gift you ever received?

 My mother sewed cushions one year and each of the grownup children got a cushion. Although I’ve recovered my cushion I still have it even after what must be at least 40 years now.

9. Have you ever given a homemade gift? Tell about it.

I often made things for people for Christmas. It might have been jam or pickles, or a crocheted afghan, or a sweater I knitted, or a shirt I sewed. Sometimes it was just cookies I baked. I used to take newsprint and paint designs on it to make my own Christmas wrapping paper but it was too painful watching the recipient of the gift trying not to tear the paper, so I didn’t do that again.

 10. What would you change about Christmas?

I would not allow Christmas advertising to start before Halloween.

11. What would you keep the same if you could?

I would always want to be allowed to wish someone Merry Christmas without worrying whether it was politically correct. “Happy Holidays” just isn’t the same. I don’t think people of other religious beliefs are offended by the words Merry Christmas any more than I’m offended by them wishing each other whatever their holiday is.

12. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

I Believe in Father Christmas (Greg Lake)

War is Over (John Lennon)

Walking in the Air (from the video The Snowman)

 13. What do you like best about Christmas?

The music, the fireplace, being together with good friends and family.

 ***

Of course I would love it if everyone would buy my books and this is the time I would normally want to tell you about them, but I’ll spare you this time and ask only that sometime you might visit my webpage and see for yourself what’s available there. You’ll see the book covers, reviews, a photo gallery, and a page about copy-editing which is my other job that I like to do besides writing.

Please visit www.anneli-purchase.com

I wish you all a healthy and happy 2014.

Christmas Interview – Barb Harris

My friend Barb Harris tells  about her Christmases in Washington and Montana. Welcome, Barb!

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If you’re ever in Wolf Point, Montana, and need a place to park your rig at, come to R & B RV Park and you’ll be well taken care of. Safe, secure, and very tidy.

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1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

Yes. Christmas is my favorite holiday of the year.

2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

No. I have always spent Christmas with my immediate family and either my family or my husband’s family.

3. Have you ever had a non-traditional Christmas dinner? What did you have?

No. We always have ham and sometimes turkey too and of course mashed potatoes and gravy.

4. What are your thoughts on gift giving? 

I usually love to give gifts but as I get older I’m finding that I am becoming somewhat of a scrooge. Lately all I’ve been doing is getting a list from family members of what they want and try to get those gifts.  I haven’t been very creative in the gift giving department.

5. What was the most fun activity you’ve done at Christmas?

When we lived in Washington, as a family we had the tradition of going to the mountains and picking and cutting down our Christmas tree. We would make a whole day of it. We started out just us and another family and by the time we left Washington, we had about 4-6 families that had joined us. We would sled, bbq lunch, and drink hot chocolate. It was a blast and a great tradition!

6. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day?

Yes, we even have stockings for the dogs.

7. What was the best gift you ever received at Christmas?

Probably the best gift has been a pair of hair clips that my Dad gave me when I was 17 or 18. They were for a much younger little girl but I know my Dad picked them out by himself.  I think that has been the only gift he ever bought without the help from my Mom.

8. What was the worst gift you ever received at Christmas?

I got this really ugly brown vest from my grandmother when I was about 8 years old. The only saving grace about it was that we also had this puppy at that time and he got a hold of that present and chewed a hole in the vest.

9. What do you do with gifts you don’t like?

I will re-gift them if they aren’t that bad. If they aren’t something I can give away, then I will sell them in a garage sale.

10. What was the best homemade gift you ever received?

My son made me a candle holder in school and gifts like that mean more to me than any store bought gift.

11. Have you ever given a homemade gift? Tell about it.

I made jelly candles one year and gave those as gifts. It was fun creating different candles.  I put them in wine glasses and they were a big hit.

12. What would you change about Christmas?

I would like it not to be so commercial. I would love to just be with family and spend time together without worrying about how much money I spent.

13. What would you keep the same if you could?

I wish I could always be able to spend the time with our son at Christmas but I know times are changing and with him graduating college and starting his own life, we won’t always be together.

14. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

Blue Christmas by Elvis Presley!!!

15. What do you like best about Christmas?

Spending time with family. You can’t beat that.

16. Any additional thoughts about Christmas?

As I get older, it’s definitely more about being together with family than any gift I could receive. I’m not a very religious person but family means a lot to me.

New Picture (1)Have a look at this gorgeous sunset Barb ordered in for us while we stayed there.

006And to entice those who love nostalgia and history, here’s photo that could inspire a writer. What a story starter this could be:

She stepped off the train and was immediately disappointed to see that the only vehicle waiting for passengers was a dilapidated farm truck. A shiver of foreboding rippled over her. She could just imagine what her new house must look like.

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Montana is full of stories. Come out and have look sometime.

Thank you, Barb, for sharing your Christmas and a peek into Montana with us.

Christmas Interview – Sonja Forrester

My guest today is Sonja Forrester.

Some of you may remember Sonja from days gone by, but one thing hasn’t changed.Just as always, she can usually be seen with a cat around her feet.

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Sonja will share her thoughts about Christmas and let us peek into her home as it was decorated for Christmas last year.

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Welcome, Sonja.

1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

Yes. Generally, on Dec 24th, Christmas Eve, but also occasionally Dec 25th.

 2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

No, I have not. I am fortunate that I have never experienced being completely alone.

3. Have you ever had a non-traditional Christmas dinner? What did you have?

Yes, we had steak and prawns.

4. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

I can take it or leave it. I admit it is fun to open a little surprise of some kind, but more fun to watch the people you are with open their gifts/stockings.

 5. What was the most fun activity you’ve done at Christmas?

Watching the cat react to her new toys. Oh wait…that would be the most fun activity the cat had.  Mine would have been when I was a young child and my parents left little clues around the house until I found my parcel.

 6. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day?

Yes, we generally only have stockings. Not too often do we buy “gifts.”

7. What was the best gift you ever received at Christmas?

When I was about 4 or 5, I received an “ANNIE OAKLEY” doll. She was my idol in those days.

8. What was the best homemade gift you ever received?

Handmade tablecloth, napkins and placemats. Homemade candles, bath bombs, baked goods. These things mean more to me than any purchased gift.

 11. Have you ever given a homemade gift? Tell about it.

I used to spend hours making gifts for giving at Christmas. There were many lavender sachets for closets and drawers, beeswax candles, bath bombs, clothing that I had made, picture frames that were made from fabric, doll clothes. I once made my niece an entire wedding party’s ensemble for all her Cabbage Patch dolls. Also made her a dress, with another matching one for her Cabbage Patch doll.

12. What would you change about Christmas?

Less commercialism, perhaps more homemade or handmade gifts, more music, family and being thankful for what we have.

13. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

Leise Rieselt der Schnee.

 14. What do you like best about Christmas?

Music and choirs singing.

15. Any additional thoughts about Christmas?

It seems to me that there are so many people out there that get themselves very stressed out trying to find “the perfect gift” for someone. Everyone should be happy just to have their loved ones near, food on the table, and a warm bed to crawl into.

Favourite Christmas album

My Favourite Christmas Album

Do you have pets that make your Christmas special? Leave a comment and tell us about it.

Christmas Interview – Sheryl Browne

My guest today is the author of heart-warming love stories, written with humour. Sheryl Browne lives in the UK and likes to spend time on boats. She has a soft heart for her pets and in my book, that makes her a good person. Welcome, Sheryl.
Sheryl Photo

1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

I think if we didn’t we would never pause to draw breath. Christmas is the one time we cross everything off the agenda with a view to relaxing. It’s time for stopping and reflecting, I think. It can be a time of sadness, remembering those you’ve lost. That in itself, though, is a reason to celebrate, cherishing the memories, enjoying what you have; realising that many people the world over don’t have so many things we take for granted. It’s definitely a time for giving thanks, in my mind, and counting one’s blessings.

2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

Yes, once. My son was very young at that time and had gone to his dad’s that year. I lived a long way away from family, so spent the day on my own. I was fine with it, plenty of indulging and reading to do, but I did experience an overwhelming sense of sadness as the evening drew in. Some people are alone and lonely all the time, something else we should remember when we feel like garrotting the family, rather than stuffing the turkey on the big, frenetic day.

3. Have you ever had a non-traditional Christmas dinner? What did you have?

Does a sea-food raclette party count as non-traditional, followed by a chocolate fondue? I have no idea how the ceiling ended up covered in chocolate sauce, but I think we must have had fun!

4. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

Oh, dear…To be honest, I think Christmas should be a time of giving, but I would much rather people set a limit on the amount spent. It’s difficult when you have children not to want to provide them with the latest in gadgetry and cool footwear, especially when you think they’ll be under peer pressure at school, but so often people end up in serious debt. We tend to give fun but thoughtful gifts that don’t cost the earth.

5. What was the most fun activity you’ve done at Christmas?

Charades!! Boring?? Not a bit of it. My partner stuffed a pillow up the back of his jumper and walked around hunched swinging an arm in front of him until we were hysterical with laughter one year (cue frenzied barking from the dogs). ‘Elephant!’ we kept screaming. ‘Mammoth!’ Noooo, he was a … camel???

6. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day?

Christmas morning. It’s a tradition carried on from my mum. We weren’t a well-off family (six siblings in all meant there were a lot of mouths to feed and stockings to fill). She always filled our stockings, though, in the wee hours. The little surprise presents were always precious, but the orange, nuts, and chunky chocolate tucked in the toe were the best.

7. What was the best gift you ever received at Christmas?

A bike! I was all grown up at the time, but I so wanted a traditional ladies’ bike. My partner bought one for me. It was the last Christmas I had with my dad (we knew he was poorly). My partner hid the bike at a neighbour’s and presented me with it after dinner, a proper bicycle with a bell and a basket and little roses on its frame. My dad’s face was one of pure joy. I think that was because he thought I was with someone who would look out for me.

8. What was the worst gift you ever received at Christmas?

A peg bag. Say no more.

9. What do you do with gifts you don’t like?

I take them to the charity shop. There are so many now, it’s not really a chore to do.

10. What was the best homemade gift you ever received?

A ceramic mouse made by my son. It’s so cute, I just adore it. Where I go, house-move wise, my mouse goes with me.

11. Have you ever given a homemade gift? Tell about it.

OK, this is quite sad. My father gave me a slip of paper before he died. On it was the quote, ’Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day’. He wasn’t particularly religious or generally demonstrative, so… You know. Anyway, I penned that up in italic script and framed it for my brothers and sisters. They did appreciate it.

12. What would you change about Christmas?

Christmas is way too commercialised for my liking. I love to see the twinkly lights, particularly coming home on a dark night, but I do so wish people wouldn’t put them up in November. Seeing the shops full of Christmas stock as early as September and October… Well, it just pressurises people to spend more, I think. But then, I suppose that’s the idea.

13. What would you keep the same if you could?

I’d like to keep everything the same (except maybe the commercialisation).

14. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

A Winter’s Tale by David Essex. I think the fact that I drooled over him as a teen had something to do with it.

15. What do you like best about Christmas?

Walking my dogs and watching animated films in front of the fire after dinner.

He's coming down the chimney. Quick, look obedient. (2)

He’s coming down the chimney. Quick! Look obedient!

16. Any additional thoughts about Christmas?

I wish everyone could be as privileged as we sometimes forget we are.

***

And here are some of Sheryl’s novels. You’ll enjoy them all.

books

SHERYL’S LINKS: 

Sheryl’s Website 

Safkhet Publishing 

Amazon.co.uk 

Amazon.com

Author Facebook     

Romantic Novelists’ Association

Sheryl is a Loveahappyending Lifestyle Author and Feature Editor.

Twitter: @sherylbrowne

Christmas Interview – Dawn Hill

My guest today is the lovely Dawn Hill of Bellingham, Washington.IMG_3037a
1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

Have never missed a celebration of Christmas with friends and family

2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

No..but this will be a totally different year as my sweet husband has gone to Heaven..family will be there for me.

3. Have you ever had a non-traditional Christmas dinner?What did you have?

Corned beef and cabbage..for fun, years ago.
4. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

I like to buy a special gift for each person I hold dear..I usually put much thought into this and also buy something I personally find attractive.

5. What was the most fun activity you’ve done at Christmas?

One year we really took a left turn. My husband and I booked a week at a Dude Ranch in Arizona. We rode on horseback, ate around a campfire out on the range and had a delightful Christmas feast in the lodge which was festive with 20-ft. trees.

6. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day?

But..of course!

7. What was the best gift you ever received at Christmas?

Granddaughter ..Madeleine..was born on Christmas Day!

8. What was the worst gift you ever received at Christmas?

Never did get that “lump of coal”!

9. What do you do with gifts you don’t like?

Goodwill is always happy with this sort of thing:)

10. What was the best homemade gift you ever received?

I love to receive jams and breads..every year some friend does the honors!

11. Have you ever given a homemade gift? Tell about it.

Years ago, when I really did bake a lot, I would make about 10 English lemon breads..from scratch..for friends and family.
It would be an all day event but one I loved.

12. What would you change about Christmas?

Maybe a bit less commercial and also more beautiful Christmas programs on telly..remembering the Andy Williams show and that sort.

13. What would you keep the same if you could?

The magic of Christmas that a sweet child has.

14. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

Oh Holy Night

15. What do you like best about Christmas?

Family and gathering..great food and conversation..remembering what Christmas means to us..birthday of Baby Jesus

16. Any additional thoughts about Christmas?

Looking forward to spending this Christmas with my dear family and toasting the one I miss.

Christmas

Can you guess where corned beef and cabbage is a traditional dish (not necessarily for Christmas dinner, but regional cuisine)?

Have you ever been to a Dude Ranch? Would you like to share your thoughts about it? Please leave a comment.

Christmas Interview – Melanie

We’re off to Ontario today to interview Melanie Robertson – King. She is the author of a novel and an anthology. Melanie has been to Scotland, enjoyed it, and talked about it so much I thought she was Scottish. Maybe she has some Scottish relatives?

Here is one of the many nutcrackers in Melanie’s collection.

scottish nutcracker

Christmas Interview

1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

Yes.

 2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

No.

 3. Have you ever had a non-traditional Christmas dinner? What did you have?

I’ve always done things traditionally since I started cooking Christmas dinners. When I was young, we always went to my grandmother’s and after that my mother’s or husband’s family’s so I never had to cook. But I do turkey (usually just a breast), mashed potatoes, gravy, turnips and stay traditional right down to the plum pudding for dessert.

4. What are your thoughts on gift giving? 

I don’t mind the gift giving, but don’t like the shopping so much. Lately, there haven’t been as many places to shop locally (I refuse to shop at Walmart) so it means having to shop elsewhere, although the choices are getting better here at home.

5. What was the most fun activity you’ve done at Christmas?

I’m not sure I would describe it as fun, but I loved going to church Christmas Eve for the 11:00 p.m. service.

6. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day?

Yes. We always hang our stockings on Christmas Eve on the banister of the stairs leading to the upper level of our house. Usually, there is garland and white mini LED lights on it, too. It looks really festive.

 7. What was the best gift you ever received at Christmas?

Books. When I’m not writing, I’m reading so a book is the best gift ever – any time of year.

 8. What was the worst gift you ever received at Christmas?

It was a knit pants/top outfit that I got when I was at teenager. Bleurgh… hated it. Wore it once then stashed it at the back of my closet.

9. What do you do with gifts you hate?

I think the outfit mentioned above went to a church rummage sale. I don’t think I’ve re-gifted anything but I have sold things in garage sales.

10. What was the best homemade gift you ever received?

Probably one of the sweaters my sister-in-law knit.

11. Have you ever given a homemade gift? Tell about it.

I used to sew and make a lot of our clothes. One year, I made dresses with pinafores for my daughter and all the nieces and trousers and vests for my son and the nephews. I’ve also made pies to give as gifts.

12. What would you change about Christmas?

Slow down on the time the decorations come out in the stores. I’ve seen Christmas stuff out on the shelves cheek by jowl with the Halloween merchandise. That’s way too early.

back yard dec 27 2012

13. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

Even though I’m not a huge fan of Christmas Carols, I love Carol of the Bells.

14. What do you like best about Christmas?

Where do I start? The movies. I have a huge assortment on DVDs. Christmas Eve is always A Christmas Carol (B&W Alastair Sim version), then Christmas morning after we’ve had our big fry-up with mimosas, Holiday Affair first followed by Christmas in Connecticut (Barbara Stanwyck version). In the lead up to the big day(s), I watch The Bishop’s Wife, Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, Holiday Inn, White Christmas. And since my husband  doesn’t like the movie Christmas Story, I watch it when I’m decorating the tree.

The food. So many good things that are only available that time of year (or we only ever ate it at that time of year) – plum pudding, mincemeat tarts, cranberry tarts, fruitcake, shortbread.

 Melanie’s Books:

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consequences cover 3

 

About Melanie:

Melanie author photo 500x590

Always a fan of the written word, Brockville born and raised, Melanie spent many of her formative years reading.

The writing bug first bit when she was about thirteen, but the itch subsided and it wasn’t until a number of years later that she put “pen to paper” and began writing again.

Prior to returning to fiction, Melanie wrote articles for various publications for a number of years and has been published in Canada, the US and the UK.

In addition to writing, her interests include genealogy, photography and travel – especially to Scotland, although Paris rates high on her “must return to” bucket list as well. On one of her trips to Scotland, she had the honor of meeting The Princess Royal, Princess Anne.

Melanie’s links:

Website:  www.melanierobertson-king.com

Blog:  Celtic Connexions

Facebook Author Page

Goodreads author page

Amazon author page

Loveahappyending Lifestyle magazine author page

Twitter:  @RobertsoKing