Showing posts with label Christmas Countdown. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas Countdown. Show all posts

Dec 19, 2015

Agi & Suze's Christmas Countdown: Interview with Debbie Johnson & Giveaway!


About Debbie Johnson

Debbie Johnson is an author of women’s fiction for HarperImpulse, Harper Collins, supernatural crime for Avon, and fantasy for Del Ray. Let’s welcome the one and only and very talented Debbie Johnson – and if you want to chat to her, follow her on Twitter.

Interview

1) What’s your best Christmas memory?

There are so many lovely ones when you have children, but I especially treasure my daughter when she wasabout 3, coming downstairs all fat and cuddly, saying she’d been kept awake ALL night by reindeer hooves dancing on the roof! We live near the coast, so it could have been seagulls! I also cherish a memory of a Christmas when my mum, who died a few years ago, came down to Oxford to visit me when I was living there – she suffered poor health later in life, so recalling her at a stage when she was fit and independent enough to travel on the train alone is really nice.

2) What are your 3 favourite Christmas reads?

Bridget Jones’s Diary, The Snowman and a really good current festive romance – I’ve especially liked Carmel Harrington’s Every Time A Bell Rings this year.

3) If you could choose one person, dead or alive, to celebrate a one time special Christmas with, who would you choose and why?

From the real world, too many people – my mum and dad, my dad’s partner, and two of my closest friends, all of whom died in autumn and in the run-up to Christmas. I’d love one more conversation, one more chance to say I love you. But that’s a bit macabre – instead, maybe I’ll have a wonderfully snowy Christmas in front of a roaring log fire in a cabin in the Alps, with James Bond! There’d be lots of booze and good food and…other stuff!

4) What are your thoughts about Santa?

He seems like a cool dude – never met him though! Having played Santa for my kids for a number of years now, I really appreciate how hard his job is!

5) What are your best and worst Christmas gifts and why?

Best gifts for me are always books, but my husband and I also have a habit of getting each other very silly autographed photos. I’ve got him the cast of Lovejoy and Jeeves and Wooster, and my favourite from him is of David Bowie as Jareth the Goblin King from Labyrinth! They’s displayed in frames in our hallway, and cause much confusion to visitors! Worst gift ever…from my teenaged son, who was going through a real ‚whatever!’ phase and forgot to get anybody any gifts. So he made me a bracelet out of string with old foreign coins glued onto it, thinking I’d see it as cute…I didn’t. I saw it as him having forgotten to get me a Christmas present and having to make one from items he found on his bedroom floor!

6) Your favourite Christmas song?

Last Christmas by Wham!

7) Your favourite Christmas movie?

Bad Santa

8) Top 3 books that you’re giving as Christmas presents?

I’m giving my own away to one friend, because she’s asked for it! I’ve bought my daughter the complete Enid Blyton Mysteries set, and my middle son the latest David Walliams. There are always lots and lots of book-shaped gifts under our Christmas tree!

9) Most favourite and least favourite part of Christmas?

Favourite: spending time with family, totally relaxed and away from the stresses of work and the real world. Least favourite: the horrible bit straight after, where people go back to work, and everyone is really depressed!

10) I must ask, sorry – the best Christmas food is…?

Savouries for me – roast spuds and stuffing with the turkey!

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of our blogs will receive digital copies of Cold Feet at Christmas and Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Jumper, both really great books. Good luck!


Dec 18, 2015

Agi & Suze's Christmas Countdown: Interview with Erika & Giveaway!


About Erika

Erika Kehlet – a wife, a mom to two lovely daughters, an IT professional, and a voracious reader of fiction. You can follow her on Pinterest, or follow my reviews onGoodreads and Riffle or on Facebook - follow The Book’s the Thing for links to giveaways and free or cheap ebooks, as well.

Interview

What are your favorite Christmas reads?

Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie, because there's something wonderful about an English country house Christmas. :)
A Highland Christmas by M.C. Beaton
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens - I love a good Christmas ghost story, and this one is my favorite.

If you could choose one person, dead or alive, to celebrate a one time special Christmas with, who would you choose and why?

My grandmother. When I was little we always spent Christmas Eve at her house, and those are some of my favorite holiday memories. She died before I was married and I would love to be able to have her spend Christmas with me one more time and to meet her great-grandchildren.

What are your thoughts about Santa?

I love the magic that the idea of Santa brings to children as long as they are young enough to believe!

Best and worst Christmas gifts?

I can answer the same thing for both. Gift cards! I know they save time and are so easy, so yes, I give them myself. They are great for people who are hard to please, or never seem to want or need anything. They just seem somehow impersonal to me, and I prefer to buy (or make) a more personal gift whenever possible.

Favorite Christmas song?

This year at least, my favorite Christmas song is Pentatonix's version of Mary Did You Know. I also love Song for a Winter's Night by Sarah McLachlan.

Favorite Christmas movie?

White Christmas - I love Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye in this one. My favorite bit is when they sing "Sisters"!

Which books are you giving as gifts this year?

. I love to give books as gifts, and a few I've picked out for recipients on my list this year are The Girls on the Train by Paula Hawkins, Magnus Chase by Rick Riordan, and several books from the Dork Diaries series. 

Favorite and least favorite part of Christmas?

My favorite part of Christmas - just the feeling of togetherness. I spend more time with family during December than the rest of the year combined, and see people I don't get to spend much time with therest of the year. Least favorite part? The pressure. It always creeps up on me and I feel rushed to decorate, bake, plan, etc... ans spend several weeks panicking that I've forgotten something.

Favorite Christmas food?

My favorite Christmas treat is potica! I haven't had any in several years, and am currently looking for someone local who makes it. We always had it at Christmas when I was a kid and I've missed it the last several years.

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of our blogs will receive a wonderful prize:


This lovely Christmas package will be for the winner of the giveaway. Good luck!


Dec 17, 2015

Agi & Suze's Christmas Countdown: Interview with Camilla Isley + Giveaway!


About Camilla Isley

Writer of romantic comedy, cat’s lover, coffee addict, and shoes hoarder. Besides writing, she loves reading, cooking—and eating—especially pasta, going to the movies and obviously ordering a gigantic bowl of popcorn, and watching too much TV. You can find Camilla on her website , on Facebook or follow her on Twitter: @camillaisley.

Interview

1) What’s your best Christmas memory?

My best Christmas memories are definitely from when I was a kid, there’s nothing like the enthusiasm of when you’re little and open your presents to find all the toys you liked the most. Christmas makes me want to go back in time like no other holiday.

2) What are your 3 favourite Christmas reads?

The Night of Wishes by Michael Ende, it’s not really a Christmas story, more of a New Year’s one but it always gets me in the festive mood and it’s a book I love.

Around Christmas I get a craving for Harry Potter, I’ve re-started the series many times around this period of the year. Sometimes I binge read the entire series, sometimes just one book, and sometime just some of my favorite passages.

I always re-read Twas the Night before Christmas A Visit from St. Nicholas…

3) If you could choose one person, dead or alive, to celebrate a one time special Christmas with, who would you choose and why?

It would be my grandmother Maria. She left us a couple of years ago and I miss her a lot especially at Christmas. This was her holyday, she still cooked the meal from scratches for the entire family when she was ninety one years old. She was the best person in the world, so kind, so generous. I love her so much.

4) What are your thoughts about Santa?

What can I say, I wish he was real!

5) What are your best and worst Christmas gifts and why?

I love almost anything, from clothes to tech gadgets to makeup, body lotions, and even kitchenware gets me excited. If someone made the effort to go out and shop for me, I’m always grateful. Which brings me to the only gifts I passionately dislike: re-gifted gifts!

6) Your favourite Christmas song?

No doubts, Jingle Bells Rock!

7) Your favourite Christmas movie?



At Christmas I love to watch Lady and the Tramp, I always hope I will get a kitten or a puppy as Christmas presents, but I never do O.o

8) Top 3 books that you’re giving as Christmas presents?

On the adventurous side. Golden Lion by Wilbur Smith, I’m also excited to read this myself.

Cozy and Romantic. Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses by Jenny Hale and Christmas at Lilac Cottage by Holly Martin.

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And of course my friends and family will be stuck with a lot of copies of my debut novel.

9) Most favourite and least favourite part of Christmas?

The best part is definitely Christmas day: the family meets for Christmas, the food is great, gifts are exchanged, it’s just such a beautiful day. The least favorite part would be maybe Christmas evening. I find it a little bittersweet. Yes, it’s still Christmas. The decorations are still there, and the festive mood still lingers. But then, when I look at the Christmas tree all the presents have been unwrapped, all the anticipation is gone. It makes me feel a bit melancholic.

10) I must ask, sorry – the best Christmas food is…?

Homemade Cappelletti in beef broth. It’s one of my favorite pasta, and a family tradition at Christmas. I also love Pandoro, in the month of December I eat it for breakfast almost every day.

Giveaway


Camilla has offered 6 (!!!) lucky winners an ARC of her second novel, A Sudden Crush – that will be published on 4th February! Good luck!

Dec 16, 2015

Agi & Suze's Christmas Countdown: Interview with Sheryl Browne & Giveaway


About Sheryl Browne

Sheryl Browne writes edgy, sexy, heart-wrenching fiction and has seven books published. Sheryl says:

„After a tumultuous few years, I am at last feeling proud of my writing endeavours. However, none of this would have been possible without the wonderful support of readers, book bloggers and reviewers, without which I would have given up. I can’t thank those people enough.

Information about my books, together with snippets from reviews, can be found on this site , so please do take a look around. Please also feel free to contact me – I’d love to hear from you, or take a peek at my blog to see what I’m up to. You can also find me on Facebook or Twitter.”

Interview

What’s your best Christmas memory?

Getting a proper bicycle with a bell on it. Please see ‘best and worst gifts’ below.

What are your 3 favourite Christmas reads?

Fairy Tale in New York by Nicky Wells, The Art of Christmas by Jane Lovering and One Wish in Manhattan by Mandy Baggot. All beautiful books to curl up with, Christmas chocs and mulled wine to hand.

If you could choose one person, dead or alive, to celebrate a one time special Christmas with, who would you choose and why?

My mum. I lost her when I was young. She had seven children. Yup, seven. Remembering how hard she worked, I’d love to give her a beautiful Christmas where she didn’t have to lift a finger.

What are your thoughts about Santa?

They really ought to give him an all year round job.

What are your best and worst Christmas gifts and why?

Best: A bike! I was all grown up at the time, but I so wanted a traditional ladies bike. My partner bought one for me. He hid it in a neighbour’s garage and presented me with it after dinner, a proper bicycle with a bell and a basket and little roses on the frame. Worst: A peg bag. Say no more.

Your favourite Christmas song?

A Winter’s Tale by David Essex. I challenge you to watch the video and not drool.

Your favourite Christmas movie?

My fave would have to be Finding Nemo (don’t tell anyone, but my partner’s eyes welled up!). How the Grinch Stole Christmas with Jim Carrey ranks up there too.

Top 3 books that you’re giving as Christmas presents?

Ahem. I have to admit they’re all by one author: John Donoghue’s, Police, Crime & 999, Police, Lies & Alibis and Shakespeare My Butt. I badly needed something to cheer me up after my partner’s cancer diagnosis and his undergoing various surgeries (he’s doing fabulously now, btw!). You can probably guess then that this author had his work cut out. He succeeded. I laughed until I cried. Anyhow, long story short, my partner nicked my print copy of his latest, Police, Arrests & Suspects and now he wants the rest. The books are just sidesplittingly hilarious and, as you can gather, made my partner hoot too. Job done!


Most favourite and least favourite part of Christmas?

Fave: Watching my foster dogs open their pressies.

Least fave: Knowing there are people who are lonely, hurting or frightened who will never now the luxury of Christmas.

I must ask, sorry – the best Christmas food is…?

Christmas pud! It wouldn’t be Christmas without it.

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of our blog will receive an ebook by Sheryl Browne, winner's choice. Good luck!



Agi & Suze's Christmas Countdown: Interview with Tanya & Giveaway


Interview with Tanya

What’s your best Christmas memory?

I think that would be the first year after my eldest was born. Both my husband and I were so excited that we couldn’t sleep. So instead we went downstairs to open our stockings and were watching the “baby”, who was nearly 11 months old, on a TV monitor that we had. She woke up with a massive smile and was feeling the presents in her stocking. Another that stands out is the year I was pregnant with the youngest and Sian came into the room on Christmas morning asking if I had had the baby for Christmas. Thankfully no I had her 5 days later.

What are your 3 favourite Christmas reads?

I don’t really have three favourite Christmas reads, not ones that I read again and again, although last year I did love The Great Christmas Knit off by Alexandra Brown. I love Christmas books in general so if you have any suggestions for me I would be grateful.

If you could choose one person, dead or alive, to celebrate Christmas with, who would you choose and why?

This is a hard one and I am not really sure of my answer. For me as I am lucky enough to have most of my grandparents alive I think it would be my dad’s brother as I cannot remember him and it would be nice to meet him. Christmas is for family and it is important to me to have as much of the family around as possible.

What are your thoughts about Santa?

I believe in the magic of Santa and love seeing the excitement on children’s faces at that time of year. I do think that there are too many around now though and that the numbers should be limited. My husband and I still do each other a stocking and will continue to even when the girls don’t believe any more, which unfortunately I think will be soon. I am hoping that they still believe in the magic and continue to be excited by it all.

What are your best and worse Christmas gifts and why?

Funnily enough my best and worst is probably the same. It is socks. As a child my parents have a tape of me getting so excited to have socks in my stocking that every year since I have had socks. I also give socks to the Girls and hubby in their stockings. It’s a very partial gift that we all need. Of course when we get them we have to shout socks in our most excited voice.

Your favourite Christmas song?

I am a bit old school and like Silent Night. I love going to the choral service at my local Salvation Army. I can’t sing but like to go and at least mime the words and enjoy listening to others.

Your favoutite Christmas movie?

I think it has to be Miracle on 34th street. Although every year on the run up to Christmas I do like to watch Santa Claus the movie with the girls. It is a must to watch Christmas movies whilst wrapping presents.

Top 3 books that you’re giving as Christmas presents?

My daughters have asked for books this year. I am getting Sian the 13 year old the Christmas Geek girl and Ffion is having the latest book by David Walliams and Jacqueline Wilson. 

Most favourite and least favourite part of Christmas? 

I used to love wrapping presents and making them look special but now I feel different as I struggle to wrap presents as it hurts so others have to do it for me. My favourite part is watching everyone open their gifts and seeing their faces. I also really enjoy sitting around the table in the evening playing family games and eating junk food and having the occasional drink. Christmas is really busy for us as we are very social and like to have people over or do things with the family. We also celebrate our youngest birthday on the 30th with lots of friends and family going to the pantomime.

The best Christmas food is…… 

I love Christmas dinner as my husband makes an amazing cooked dinner. Along with my daughters he also makes fantastic Christmas cake. We are lucky as we always have two of these as my youngest daughter always insists on having a Christmas cake for her birthday. However my favourite food is Christmas pudding with extra thick cream and I always have second helpings.

Giveaway

One very lucky winner of our blogs will receive a lovely surprise from Lisa Angel. Good luck!


Dec 15, 2015

Agi & Suze's Christmas Countdown: Interview with Krysten Lindsay Hager & Giveaway!


About Krysten Lindsay Hager

Krysten Lindsay Hager is a young adult author who writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, celebs, and values. She writes the Landry’s True Colors Series and the new Star Series. Best Friends…Forever? was ranked at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in Teen & Young Adult Values & Virtues Fiction. Her work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Bellbrook Times, and on Living Dayton. Krysten’s latest novel, Next Door to a Star, is out now. Coming soon in early 2016: Landry in Like (Landry’s True Colors Book 3) will be available on January 12th, and Competing with the Star (The Star Series: Book 2) will be available on March 22.

Interview

What's your best Christmas memory?

Santa always came to my grandparents’ house, but one year my parents told me to go downstairs because something had been delivered to our house instead. It was a Barbie Dream House and my dad spent the whole day putting it together. I remember I was still in my pajamas and my mom said we were going to get pizza for dinner and Dad and I were looking at her like, “Why is she bringing up dinner?” when we realized we had spent the whole day getting the Barbie house ready and it was dinner time! It was a lot of fun to spend all the time together as a family and well, you can’t beat a Dream House.

What are your 3 favourite Christmas reads?

I always liked the Truth About Stacey (Babysitters Club, Book 3) because it dealt with New York City at Christmastime. I remember getting it in my stocking when I was in the fourth grade and I spent the day trying to sneak away to read a little bit more.

When I was a kid, I also read I'll Take Manhattan (Mirrors #1) by Danielle Barlette, which also deals with New York City at Christmas time. It’s about a teen who visits her fashion boutique owning aunt and saves the day with her brilliant idea.

Are you sensing a theme with the New York at Christmas books? Imagine my surprise when I got to see Rockefeller Center in person and the ice skating rink is actually way smaller than it looks on TV and in pictures. The tree is large though, but I expected the whole area to be enormous. I did see some guy propose to his girlfriend on the ice though. That was very sweet.

My third pic for a Christmas time read is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I love the story and I also love all the different versions shown in movies. My favorite adaption has to be the Muppet Christmas Carol though. But nothing beats sitting down and reading it.

If you could choose one person, dead or alive, to celebrate a one time special Christmas with, who would you choose and why?

I would love to have one more Christmas with my dad and I’d really love to celebrate with all my grandparents again, too. This will be my first Christmas without him and I’m a little anxious about it.


What are your thoughts about Santa?

Why? What have you heard? He’s totally real. I don’t know what you’re implying…have you heard something? When I was a little girl, I was in line to see Santa and I told my mom I wanted to ask if Santa could arrange for me to meet my actor crush. My mom said, “Not really sure Santa has those kind of connections.” I thought he did, but I chickened out when it was my turn and just asked for toys. I still regret that I didn’t “go big” on my request.

What are your best and worst Christmas gifts and why?

You know how people used to joke about getting slipper socks for Christmas? I actually got them and the worst thing was I was a preteen at the time, so they were the LAST things I would have ever wanted. However, the second time I wore them, I happened to have the flu and I threw up on them. Lovely story, eh?

My best Christmas gift (other than the Dream House) was a few years ago when my Dad surprised us with tickets to see a figure skating competition in Detroit. My sister and I are really into watching ice skating and my dad watched as well, so he got tickets to an event for us and also bought us ice skates. We got to see people like Michelle Kwan, Evgeni Plushenko, etc. skate. We had so much fun. As for the ice skates? Well, my sister and I had dreams of going onto the ice and at least being able to do a spiral (who am I kidding? I thought I’d be able to at least do a triple axel).However, I put my skates on, stood up, and found I was almost six feet tall in them and that I had a long way down if I fell. I skated that day while clinging to my dad’s arm, while some little girl came up next to me and did little spins. I actually put that whole embarrassing scenario into my book, True Colors. To make things worse, as I was trying to learn to ice skate, the high school hockey team came out to play on the other side of the ice. I was in college, but not much older than them and I looked like Bambi on the ice when he falls. Not hot. But still a funny memory to look back on.

Your favourite Christmas song?

I have a couple. Everyone knows I love George Michael, so “Last Christmas” is one of my faves, but my all time favorite Christmas song is, “Every Year, Every Christmas” by Luther Vandross. I love how sad and soulful it is. I actually did a post of my top ten favorite Christmas songs that you can read here: http://www.krystenlindsay.com/blog/top-10-favorite-christmas-songs

Your favourite Christmas movie?

“A Muppet Christmas Carol” is my must see movie every Christmas and I love the “All I Want for Christmas” movie with Lauren Bacall and the kid who wants to reunite his divorced parents for Christmas. If you haven’t seen them, you really must check them out.

Top 3 books that you're giving as Christmas presents?

I’m giving my mom a copy of Life by the Cup, which is an inspiring book about tea and a woman’s journey of following her passion to create her tea company based on her grandmother’s tea blends. My mom is a big tea drinker and also loves to read inspiring books like that.

I’m giving my aunt a copy of an anthology I was in called, Dear Nana. I wrote an essay about my grandmother for it and I think she’d like reading it.

I’m giving my friend a copy of Miracles Now by Gabrielle Bernstein because I just got a copy and the book reminds me of something she’d be into…but I can’t say which friend in case she reads this!


Most favourite and least favourite part of Christmas?

My favorite part is driving around and looking at the decorations. I love sparkly lights. I also love getting unexpected cards in the mail. Least favorite part is missing people who have passed away. This year will be hard since it’s the first Christmas without my dad. 

I must ask, sorry - the best Christmas food is...?

Growing up, we always had ham and Polish sausage on Christmas Day. I can’t imagine Christmas without ham. When I was a kid, my grandpa used to buy this huge bag of sprinkle sugar cookies—they were super inexpensive (hence the giant bag) and had a buttery taste and one year he couldn’t find them anywhere. My mom and I were going nuts trying to find them in the stores last minute. She actually went up to a store manager and we had no idea of the brand or anything, so she referred to them as, “These really cheap Christmas cookies in a bag.” And he knew what she meant and was able to get her some—haha! So from that moment on we called them the “Cheap Christmas cookies.” 

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Giveaway

One very lucky reader of our blogs will receive a wonderful surprise from Krysten (From personal experience I can tell you her surprises are always really great). Good luck!


Agi & Suze's Christmas Countdown: Interview with Katey Lovell + Giveaway



About Katey Lovell

Katey Lovell is the author of the Meet Cute series published by HarperImpulse. The next part – The Boy Under the Mistletoe will come out on 17th December! Katey is also a reader and all round lover of books and has a wonderful blog.

Interview

1) What’s your best Christmas memory?

My husband and I got married on December 23rd 2005 so that was a really, really memorable Christmas. Weflew to New York on honeymoon on Christmas Eve and woke up on Christmas Day in the city that never sleeps! We had a wonderful meal at a revolving restaurant and then a romantic (but rainy) walk through Central Park taking in the Alice in Wonderland statue and Strawberry Fields. It was such a lovely, lovely day.

2) What are your 3 favourite Christmas reads?

I’ve read so many Christmas books that it’s hard to choose! Although I do love Dear Santa by Rod Campbell as it was my son’s favourite picture book for a long time !)

3) If you could choose one person, dead or alive, to celebrate a one time special Christmas with, who would you choose and why?

This is another tough one but as I can’t imagine a Christmas without my son Zachary I’ll have to say him :) 

4) What are your thoughts about Santa?

He’s a very hardworking chap, for 24 hours at least! I’d love to know what he gets up to the rest of the year though…

5) What are your best and worst Christmas gifts and why?

My son was born on December 19th and I always say he was my Christmas present, but in terms of physical objects one of my best has to be my Kindle as it’s had so much hammer! As for the worst – my husband once gave me an out of date packet of Worcester Sauce flavour French Fries as a sticking filler. I love them, but I’m really fussy at not eating anything out of date so there was no way I was letting those pass my lips!

6) Your favourite Christmas song?

Whilst I love the Christmas pop songs, my favourites would have to be one of the traditional carols – maybe O Come, All Ye Faithful because it’s so rousing. Plus, it has a verse just for Christmas day itself, so singing that at midnight mass signals the start of the celebrations.

7) Your favourite Christmas movie?

This is easy – Love Actually. It’s just so incredibly sweet and touching and brings home the importance of spending Christmas with loved ones.

8) Top 3 books that you’re giving as Christmas presents?

Hmmm… well, without spoiling anything for anyone, I’m giving my son’s godmother The Lake House by Kate Morton – and she’s giving me a copy too as we both love Kate’s books! I’ve also got a Kitty French book for my mum and Joe Root’s autobiography for my husband.

9) Most favourite and least favourite part of Christmas?

Most favourite is spending time with loved ones and not having to go to work! The least favourite is how busy everywhere gets with people Christmas shopping – I’m not keen on queuing.

10) I must ask, sorry – the best Christmas food is…?

We always had Turkish Delight at Christmas when I was growing up and the rose flavour is delicious. My favourite part of a traditional Christmas dinner is a Yorkshire pud – yum!

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Giveaway

One very lucky reader of our blogs will receive a fantastic prize, a red and white striped beach bag filled with bookish prizes, good luck!


Dec 14, 2015

Agi and Suze's Christmas Countdown: Interview with Zoë Miller & Giveaway!


About Zoë Miller

Zoë Miller writes contemporary fiction laced with intrigue and drama. She is published by Hachette Books Ireland and her latest book, A Question of Betrayal, is out now in paperback. When Zoë’s not escaping into her writing world, she juggles her time between her family and the day job. Find out more at her website , Facebook, or follow Zoë on Twitter.

Interview

1) What’s your best Christmas memory?

My best Christmas memory comes from my childhood Christmases. The excitement of Christmas Eve was almost too much to bear. As soon as darkness fell, my father always ‘saw’ Santa Claus and his sleigh lighting up the sky above our house as it whizzed around, but by the time we children got to the window (there were five of us) the sleigh had invariably disappeared behind neighbouring roofs. Nowadays, the excitement might have diminished a little, but the magic of Christmas Eve is always in my heart. 

2) What are your 3 favourite Christmas reads?

When I think of Christmas reads I always remember the Jack and Jill annual that was under the tree the Christmas I was four. Although I couldn’t read properly at the time, I pored over that annual from cover to cover, loving every story and making sense of the pictures. In recent years I’ve enjoyed Emma Hannigan’s warm, cosy, and very Christmassy novels – ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ and ‘The Heart of Winter’.

3) If you could choose one person, dead or alive, to celebrate a one time special Christmas with, who would you choose and why?

My father – he passed away in December, 24 years ago now. He loved Christmas so much because it meant all the family gathering together, and it would be wonderful to have him sitting at the Christmas table one more time.

4) What are your thoughts about Santa?

I love the idea of Santa as a warm, magical, generous, gift-bearing character, who’s for everyone, not just the children. He’s the wonder and excitement shining out from children’s faces, which resonates with the child in every adult, and he’s the generosity of spirit and the kindness of strangers that seems to prevail in a special way at Christmas time.

5) What are your best and worst Christmas gifts and why?

My best Christmas gifts are books – any kind of book, fiction, travel, biography. There’s nothing more relaxing than snuggling up with a book in the lazy, fireside days after Christmas.

I don’t really have a worst gift – all are welcome!!

6) Your favourite Christmas song?

Can I have two? ‘Let it Snow’ and ‘O Holy Night’.

7) Your favourite Christmas movie?

It’s hard to choose, as I enjoy the warmth, silliness and escapism of all Christmas movies, the snow scenes and cosy, decorated houses, but I think ‘Love Actually’ is my favourite.

8) Top 3 books that you’re giving as Christmas presents?

For a friend: An inspirational 2016 diary that’s full of monthly motivations and daily messages

For my daughter: Jojo Moyes latest bestseller, ‘After you’

For my sister: Kate Morton’s latest, ‘The Lake House’

9) Most favourite and least favourite part of Christmas?

I love the weeks before Christmas when the lights begin to shine, on city streets, in shops and windows of houses. Think how dreary winter would be without them. My least favourite part is the financial and time pressure people can sometimes put themselves under looking for perfection or trying to make the celebrations bigger and better. I think it’s best to keep it as simple and easy as possible for all family members, so that everyone can just relax and enjoy the get togethers.

10) I must ask, sorry – the best Christmas food is…?

Those tasty little pieces of ham I pull off the freshly cooked joint on Christmas Eve. Well, as chief cook, I do have to check it’s okay, don’t I?

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of our blogs will receive a wonderful prize:

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A copy of A Question of Betrayal will be for the winner of the giveaway. Good luck!

Agi & Suze's Christmas Countdown: Interview with Birgit & Giveaway!


About Birgit

Birgit has two blogs, The Picture Garden and The Book Garden. She says about herself: I’m a writer and photographer, living in a world of stories. Sometimes the stories knock at my door, other days they attack me without a warning. Sometimes I have to chase them with an iron cast skillet, then I need to gingerly lure them out with a carrot. Ultimately they all succumb to my pen or camera, my weapons of choice in the pursuit of story-telling.

Interview

1) What’s your best Christmas memory?

When I was still a child I loved nothing more than sneaking up to the gifts already neatly arranged around theChristmas tree, spotting all book-shaped ones, and trying to catch a glimpse of the titles through the wrapping paper. Nothing beat the thrill of guessing which books I’d receive, and it goes without saying, those were the first presents I unwrapped too. And when I finally turned in for the night, I already got started on one of the many books I had received. Ah, those were good times!

2) What are your 3 favourite Christmas reads?

This is really hard to answer as I’m not exactly drawn towards Christmas-themed books. That said, I do have one favorite, namely „A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens.

3) If you could choose one person, dead or alive, to celebrate a one time special Christmas with, who would you choose and why?

Seeing how I still have plenty of chances to celebrate Christmas with the living, I’d pick my maternal grandma who passed away more than ten years ago. I fondly remember our family spending Christmas at our weekend home when I was little and I really wish I could experience one of those Christmases again.

4) What are your thoughts about Santa?

I don’t really give Santa much thought. I’m too preoccupied with trying not to appear on the Krampus’ radar. 

5) What are your best and worst Christmas gifts and why?

The best are the ones where I am utterly surprised how well someone knows me when I unwrap a gift that I never would have expected, but which is just perfect for me. The worst are the ones that scream „re-gifted” especially if it turns out I gave the item to the person three years ago just to receive it back, which is both thoughtless and rude.

6) Your favourite Christmas song?

„Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow” 

7) Your favourite Christmas movie?

„While You Were Sleeping” which is such a sweet romance taking place around Christmas time. 

8) Top 3 books that you’re giving as Christmas presents?

I have no clue … apparently I’m running a bit late this year!

9) Most favourite and least favourite part of Christmas?

I love surprising people with my ingenious gift ideas, so my favorite part is seeing (or hearing) how they like their presents. My least favorite part of Christmas is when the time comes to take down the tree and put away all the festive decorations in early January.

10) I must ask, sorry – the best Christmas food is…?

Gingerbread, of course.

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of our blogs will receive a book of choice up to $15 from The Bookdepository. Good luck!


Dec 13, 2015

Agi and Suze's Christmas Countdown: Interview With Angela Britnell & Giveaway!


About Angela Britnell

I was born in the beautiful county of Cornwall in southwestern England and grew up in a small village there. I return frequently to visit family and friends but especially to savor the cool rainy weather and hot tea. After school I joined the Royal Navy and served for nearly six years. I held varying jobs from being the only woman in the staff of a sports center to arranging social engagements for the Captain of the base. My last assignment was to Denmark where I thought I would spend a wild two years in Copenhagen only to discover I was being sent to a NATO Headquarters in a quiet town on the Jutland Peninsula. I was only disappointed for a while as I met my own tall, dark, handsome stranger there – a US Naval Officer named Richard who became my husband.

That was the beginning of an itinerant life as from Denmark we went to Sicily where we had our first son. Then it was on to Monterey, California and the birth of our second son. From there we headed to Patuxent River, Maryland where we had our third son. Richard’s last assignment was to London where we spent a wonderful three years. Retiring from the Navy he took a job in Brentwood, Tennessee near where he grew up. Since 2008 we are empty nesters which allows more time for my writing.

I have always been a voracious reader, even at 5 years old my school reports show a keen interest in English and very little in math – some things never change! Although I enjoyed writing in school it wasn’t until 2001 that I was tempted to take a creative writing class at a local recreation center which has sparked my new career.

When I’m not busy writing I enjoy spending time with family and friends. I try to grow English flowers in the Tennessee heat and succeed some of the time. I belong to the wonderful Red Bandanas Writing Group, Jubilee Readers Book Club, and volunteer at my local library so you can see that words are important to me.

I hope you enjoy reading my work as much as I enjoy writing it so sit back, make yourself a cup of tea and enjoy a break from everyday life.

You can find Angela on her website, on Facebook or on Twitter.

Interview

1. What is your best Christmas memory?

I love how every family’s traditions are unique and that we all think our own are the way it should be! As an only child we had a relatively quiet Christmas Day and it never varied. We started with opening our stockings before breakfast. That was followed by going to church and coming home for a traditional turkey lunch. We would have tea and chocolate biscuits while listening to the Queen at 3pm. Then it was finally time to open our presents – my husband thought it was terrible to make a child wait until so late in the day but I didn’t realise it was unusual at the time. We’d have more tea with homemade Christmas cake around five o’clock and later it would of course be turkey sandwiches for supper.

2. What are your 3 favourite Christmas reads?

First I’ll choose Dickens’ classic ‘A Christmas Carol’ because it completely embodies the spirit of the season with wonderful characters that still live and breathe off the page over 160 years after they were created. My second choice is ‘The Night before Christmas.’ I don’t remember it from my childhood but was introduced to the story by my American husband. We bought a copy when we had our first baby and started our own tradition of reading it to our boys every Christmas Eve after we hung up our stockings. I’m now looking forward to reading it to our first grandson who’s due in April! I debated about my third book and finally decided on ‘The Jolly Postman.’ This magical children’s book with envelopes to open and letters to read fascinated my children and despite being handled by three lively boys the book has survived (almost) unscathed.

3. One person to celebrate Christmas with.

I went backwards and forwards on this one and finally decided on the Queen. I think it’d be amazing to experience her traditional Christmas and I’m sure she’d have some incredible stories to tell over the sherry and mince pies!

4. My thoughts on Santa

The traditions of a loving, generous figure who brings gifts in the middle of a long, dark winter vary around the world but the different names and customs only prove that these emotions have no borders and we are far more similar than we are different.

5. My best and worst Christmas gifts and why?

My best Christmas gift ever was a shoe box full of beautiful clothes hand-sewn for my Sindy doll (she was the English version of Barbie back in the dark ages) by my Aunt Rene and cousin Marlene. They were so much better than anything you could buy and I particularly remember a beautiful dark green satin evening dress. My only regret is that they disappeared over the years because I’d love to still have them.

My worst gift has to be the sewing machine my dear husband gave me about twenty-five years ago. That particular Christmas I was suffering with the flu and his family from Tennessee were visiting us in Maryland for the holidays. Richard video-taped our present opening time to send to my family in Cornwall so there I am with a red nose, feeling like death, and trying desperately to smile as I open my gifts. I will admit that afterwards I did give in and learn the basics of how to use the machine. I made Halloween costumes and outfits for school plays etc for my 3 boys – nothing that would withstand scrutiny from any genuine sewers but good enough to last for the day! I’ve now passed on the machine to one of my daughters-in-law, who enjoys sewing, with my blessing!

6. Your favourite Christmas song

I know I’ll be slammed for this but I have to confess to a real dislike of sentimental Christmas songs – the first time I hear ‘White Christmas’ played each year it makes me want to run away and hide until the season is over. But I do love traditional Christmas carols and my favourite is ‘Silent Night’ preferably sung in a candlelit church at midnight on Christmas Eve. Then I know it really is Christmas.

7. Your favourite Christmas movie

I’m also not a fan of sweet, sentimental Christmas movies but could watch ‘Love Actually’ over and over again because it captures the spirit of the season without being sickly!

8. Top 3 books you’re giving as Christmas presents.

‘Slow Roads Tennessee’ for my mother-in-law. It’s a lovely pictorial record of the back roads and small towns of Tennessee including the area where she grew up. My oldest son is getting ‘A Confederacy of Dunces’ and my middle son has asked for Orson Scott Card’s ‘First Formic War’ books.

9. Most favourite and least favourite part of Christmas.

These are intertwined because my most favourite is sharing a traditional Christmas meal with my family and the least is clearing up afterwards with all the dishes to be washed!

10. Best food

– Warm mince pies with Cornish clotted cream, with either a glass of sherry or a mug of scalding hot tea! I didn’t realise putting out mince pies and sherry out for Santa was unusual until my husband said they always did milk and cookies – no wonder Santa preferred coming to our house That’s one tradition I continued with our own children and considered it a well-earned reward by the time we got them to bed on Christmas Eve!

Giveaway


One very lucky reader of our blogs will receive a fantastic prize. The winner of the giveaway can choose a kindle book from Angela Britnell's amazing range of titles. Good luck!


Dec 12, 2015

Agi and Suze's Christmas Countdown: Interview with Anniek & Giveaway!



Interview with Anniek

What’s your best Christmas memory?

I actually love every Christmas I have ever had. I'm a family person and I love to be with my family on these special days. We are all very close. There is nothing like a real Christmas tree in your home with presents underneath and the warm and cozy feeling from just being with one another.

What are your 3 favourite Christmas reads?

A Christmas Carol from Charles Dickens is a book that everyone should have read once in their life! Love that story. 
Unexpected gifts by Elena Aitken. I have reviewed this book before. The magic of Christmas combined with love it doesn’t get any better than that. (This book is also still free on Amazon).

Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses by Jenny Hale. I have also reviewed this story not long ago. The book really warmed my heart and I absolutely love the way Jenny Hale tells a story.

If you could choose one person, dead or alive, to celebrate a one time special Christmas with, who would you choose and why?

No need to think about this one. Without a doubt: James Bay. I am addicted to his album and to his beautiful voice. He could just sing for me and I would be perfectly happy.

What are your thoughts about Santa?

I love the thought of what Santa represents. My son is too young right now but I absolutely see him on Santa’s lap surrounded by elves and having a wonderful magical time. It would be great to start a new tradition to write a letter to Santa each year just so we could create this magical time for him.

What are your best and worst Christmas gifts and why?

We always have a lots of presents under the tree. My birthday is right after Christmas so it’s double fun for me. My family and close friends know me so well. I am blessed to be given the most incredible gifts. I can’t think of one present that would be the best because even if the gift is a little bit more out of my field of interest it's always the thought that counts. I am not forgetting the fact that I'm blessed with my life and that there are also lots of people and children who are experiencing Christmas in a completely different way. 

Your favourite Christmas song?

When I hear Bianca Ryan with Couldn’t it be Christmas every day I always get a smile on my face and sing along with all I got. (looks a bit funny when I’m driving)

Your favourite Christmas movie?

It isn't really a Christmas movie but it is shown during Christmas every year. All the movies of Harry Potter. In the Netherlands they show them all around Christmas so I love to curl up on the couch and watch them again and again.

Top 3 books that you’re giving as Christmas presents?

Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews. I didn’t know about this series before but I will definitely be reading this one myself as well.

A Christmas book from Tummy Tom and The very hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Obviously I love to read so I give my son books as well (hoping he will pick up my addiction to books as well) and I also love to give books to my loved ones.

Most favourite and least favourite part of Christmas?

Choosing and decorating the tree is my favorite part. We always have an 'ugly’ tree. One way or the other my husband always comes home with probably the worst looking tree of that year. I don’t mind though because I tell myself that even the less pretty trees want to fulfill their Christmas destiny. Their destiny is to shine bright and proud in people's houses, so we have a place for the trees that are likely not picked.

My least favorite part is to clear out all the Christmas stuff. If it was up to me I would keep all the decorations and the tree all year round!

I must ask, sorry – the best Christmas food is…?

I don’t have a special food connected to just Christmas alone. My biggest weakness is Pizza. I could eat this all day every day (if it wouldn’t fatten me up so much). So whatever time it is during the year pizza will probably be on the menu or will at least be present in the freezer.

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of this blog will receive a kindle copy of one of Anniek's favorite books:


Good luck!

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