My Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Traditions

Hello everybody!

Can you believe it’s Christmas Eve?! Today, to finish off blogmas, I’m going to be speaking about my Christmas Eve and Christmas Day traditions

Onto the post! 

• A fish supper- Every Christmas Eve we have a fish supper takeaway and even though I eat fish suppers at plenty of other times throughout the year (a lot, actually. Fish suppers are marvellous 😉 ) this one always signifies that Christmas is almost here.

• Watching films- Whether I stay downstairs with my family or go upstairs myself, I always watch films on Christmas Eve and at Christmas night (not usually Christmassy; we watch those in the weeks leading up to Christmas) I`m not QUITE sure what I`ll be watching this year yet (although I do know Pretty in Pink and The Proposal are strong contenders), but last year I snuggled up with Pretty Woman and Marley and Me.

• Eating Twilights- I don`t think I`ve done this for the past couple of years, but when I was a bit younger I always used to eat Twilights (chocolate sweets with crunchy mint inside, if you don`t know them) when I was opening my presents. In recent years I`ve opted for some Celebrations or Thorntons Smiles instead.

• We lose a giftcard/money- This tradition is not intentional but almost every year it happens. A giftcard stays in the envelope and ends up in the bin, it goes under the couch or down the back or it gets sat somewhere no one would think to look till next Christmas. Many a year has been spent hunting for a book token and similar, and it is a SCARY couple of minutes of hunting, let me tell you.

• Strictly Come Dancing/Mrs Brown`s Boys- These are the only Christmas TV show specials that I think we watch every year. They`re always a fab end to the day though, especially Strictly (I adore Strictly in general, and the Christmas show is always super festive and fun.)

Thank you so much for reading! Do you have any Christmas traditions? Do we have any in common? What Christmas TV do you tune into? Let me know in the comments below!

Amy xxx

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A Festive Q&A with Katy Cannon 

Hello everybody, and welcome to the 18th day of blogmas. Today, I have a Q and A with Katy Cannon, author of Love, Lies and Lemon Pies (among other great books too, but I like to mention LLALP as much as possible since I love it so much 😉). 

Onto the post!

Hi Katy! Thank you so much for being here!

1. Love, Lies and Lemon Pies was your first YA book. Was there any particular inspiration behind it?

I was actually eating cake with my agent, Gemma, in a local coffee shop, talking about ideas for a new book. I wanted something that resonated with my own interests, and I was doing a lot of baking with my daughter at the time (it was at the height of the Great British Bake Off’s popularity) so Gemma suggested a school Bake Club. We started brainstorming around that, and suddenly I had a whole book’s worth of ideas!

2. The book balances a more serious side and fun so well. Was it difficult to get this just right?

There’s always a balancing act in all books, and I never get it right the first time! As with all things in writing, it takes a lot of revising and editing to get the balance right. But it’s always worth it in the end, when the book works. 

3. I`m going to be very mean, seeing how hard I`d find it to answer this! Who`s your favourite member of Bake Club?

I think my favourite is Jasper, because he reminds me of my youngest brother. 

4. This is another tough one. What`s your favourite scene of the book, and why?

That one is tough – especially since I haven’t read it for a long time! But I think probably the scene with Mac and Lottie outside on the trampoline at Grace’s party.

5. Was it fun to return to these characters for Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines? Would you ever write more stories in the Bake Club world? 

It was so much fun! And I loved seeing the world through Grace’s eyes for a change, too. I also loved going back to write Jasper’s Christmas short story – Love, Lies and Mince Pies. As for any more stories in the Bake Club world… well, I’m off to Paris next week, so maybe there’ll be a short story of Lottie and Mac in Paris yet!

6. Before the quickfire round, can you say a little bit about your story in I`ll Be Home for Christmas and why you wrote it? 

My story, Christmas, Take Two, is about Heather, who is spending her first Christmas at her Dad’s new house with his new girlfriend and her family. For me, home always means family, but families come in so many forms that I wanted to explore a little bit how we can make any family home – biological, adoptive, step or half family, or just the family that we choose. As long as we have people on our side whoever they are, we have a home. 

CHRISTMAS QUICKFIRE

Hogwarts house? (they have amazing Christmas scenes, plus I love asking people this!) 

Ravenclaw

Favourite food to eat?

Risotto. It’s my ultimate comfort food.

Would you rather meet a penguin or a polar bear?

Penguin. 

Favourite Christmas film?

The Muppets’ Christmas Carol. 

Favourite Christmas song?

Carol of the Bells (note: this is my fave one too! And no one has ever heard of it, so I love that this is Katy’s too!)

Your Christmas traditions?

Too many to name in a Quickfire round! But my favourite is Boat Sunday – the day my whole extended family go out for dinner before Christmas, and then we all sing Christmas songs together. 

Thank you so much for reading! Are you a Katy Cannon fan too? Do you like Carol of the Bells? 😉. Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl, I’d love to hear from you!

Guest Post: Festive Books with the Boy by Charlotte, Somewhere 

Hello, and welcome to day 13 of blogmas! Today, I have my hilarious friend Charlotte and her equally hilarious son S here to share some of their favourite Christmas books. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

Today the Boy and I are sharing five of our favourite Christmassy books with you. They aren’t in any particular order and a couple S was adamant I include even though they are very definitely HIS favourites and not mine, but who am I to argue with a kid at Christmas? So, in no particular order:

All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth

S: I like this one because the monkey in it loses his two milk teeth and then he grows big boy teeth just in time for Christmas so he can eat his Christmas dinner with his new teeth. And I’ve been growing some big two front teeth so that’s good. Look mummy <small child shoves his teeth right in my face>

Me: I agree, it is very important to have your two front teeth. This one was a gift my parents sent S from New Zealand a few years ago, and I like it because it’s different to the other Christmas books we have. It’s fun and reminds me of the Christmas song which always makes me laugh. 

You Can Do It Sam

S: This one is my favourite because Sam bakes cakes ALL BY HIMSELF and then he takes them to all of his friends on Plum Street for presents. I like to make cakes (As his mother, I need to point out that what he actually likes doing is cracking eggs and then wandering off leaving someone else to bake the cake).

Me: I need some friends who bring me cake as presents. Anyone know where I can get them? This is part of a small series of books that starts with Kiss Goodnight Sam, which was one of my favourite stories to read to S when he was little. You Can Do It Sam isn’t so much a Christmas story as it is a lovely winter story about friendship and the spirit of giving (not necessarily of spending a fortune).

Father Christmas Needs a Wee

S: This is my favourite most funny Christmas book. It makes me laugh and I like it the most because daddy does not like reading it to me. He does not. He says “no way” and I say “yes way” and then he has to read it and it makes him be grumpy. 

Me: My auntie bought this for S when we were competing to find the most inappropriate kid’s picture books to send each other’s kids. Yes, I am a fully fledged adult, why do you ask? This book has much of the toilet humour that small children adore (Santa drinks all the drinks and has to race home before he wets himself), there is also counting and rhyming and excellent illustrations. There’s a partner book called Father Christmas Comes Up Trumps, but it’s probably best if I don’t explain that one. 

Mog’s Christmas Calamity

S: I like the bit where everything gets set on fire. That’s it. I love fire.

Me: That’s my boy! *cough* I mean, isn’t there anything else you like about it?

S: Everyone brings Christmas dinner. 

Me: So, fire and dinner. What’s not to love? Mog’s Christmas Calamity is based on a Christmas advert from a couple of years ago. I loved the ad and I love the book. Accident prone Mog accidentally causes a fire and calls the fire brigade. Then everyone comes together to make Christmas special for the family. I love this. I remember once when I was little and the electricity went off on Christmas day. We were one of the few houses on our street with a gas oven, so we had at least two other turkeys in our oven. This Mog book always reminds me of that. It’s nice when people come together at Christmas. It’s nicer if it involves a fire *cough* and dinner, of course. 

The Snowman and the Snowdog

S: Why do I even like this one? I liked the snowdog. Remember we did that big snowdog hunt and found aaaallllll the snowdogs? And we’ve got a dog. I like when the boy makes a snowdog and then it comes to life after his old dog gets dead. Can I have a snowdog? 

Me: Boy do I remember hunting down snowdogs in the winter. there were 50-odd of the giant ceramic ******** to find, and we got to see all but one. I always liked the snowman when I was little, and it was one of the first books we got when S was born. The Snowman and the Snowdog has much of the same magic. I love the inclusion of the little dog with socks for ears and that this one has a happier ending, because even though I am now in my thirties, I am still not over the ending of The Snowman. Also, no. No you cannot have a snowdog son. Dexter would eat it. Or pee on it. 

So, there you have it. Some of mine and S’s favourite Christmas books. Do you have a favourite Christmas book to tell us about? We would love to hear from you! 

Thank you for reading! Make sure to let us know YOUR favourite Christmas books, and see you tomorrow for day 14!

Amy xxx

Guest Post: 10 Things About Christmas in Being Miss Nobody by Tamsin Winter 

Hello everybody!

Today, I have a guest post from the amazing Tamsin Winter (author of Being Miss Nobody, which I thought was incredible).

Over to Tamsin!

1. It’s in the school Christmas assembly when the idea for writing a blog starts to flicker in Rosalind’s mind. She’s been silent at her new school for a whole term, and she’s beginning to figure out a way to have a voice.

2. Christmas Day takes on a whole new significance when Rosalind accidentally finds out it could be her little brother’s last Christmas. 

3. Their dad is extra embarrassing during the Christmas period. He wears reindeer antlers to the supermarket, for example. Like Rosalind says, “There must be something in my dad’s DNA that prevents him from feeling any kind of social embarrassment. I feel the Exact Opposite to that pretty much all the time.” 

4. Rosalind has a Major Emotional Meltdown On A Colossal Scale when she finds out her auntie is coming for Christmas Day. Rosalind can’t speak in front of her, so it means she’ll have to spend the whole day in complete silence. 

5. Her parents invited Rosalind’s auntie because it’s her first Christmas since getting divorced, and they didn’t want her to spend the day alone. Like a lot of people who have family members with mental health conditions, or other types of conditions, Rosalind’s parents find it difficult to balance Rosalind’s needs with the needs of the rest of the family. They don’t always get it right.

6. Rosalind’s angry, emotional outpouring of words on Christmas Day was a difficult scene to write, and one that illustrator Emma Trithart captures beautifully in a ‘word tsunami’. Luckily, Rosalind’s little brother Seb is there to brighten the mood with one of his Brilliant Ideas.

Emma Trihart

7. Rosalind spends a lot of time with her ex-Christian Missionary and slightly crazy cat lady next-door neighbour, Mrs Quinney, who tells her bible stories (and gets annoyed if the cats aren’t listening). Although her family aren’t religious, Rosalind prays a lot in the book. And becomes a little obsessed with looking for signs from God. She craves support and guidance and, because of her SM, isn’t always able to ask for help. The one thing she wants more than anything is a friend.

8. Christmas Day is the first time Rosalind tells her parents about the bullying she’s been experiencing. I wanted to write a book that explored the instinct that many young people have to hide bullying from parents and teachers – the very people who would be able to help. This is an important scene in the book because it’s when Rosalind takes the first very brave step towards opening up.

9. On Boxing Day morning, Rosalind discovers an unopened gift. It’s a diary given to her by speech therapist Octavia, who as Rosalind says, “is not exactly an angel, but not exactly a normal person either.” In it, Octavia has written a quote from Maya Angelou – ‘If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.’ 

10. This quote has an enormous impact on Rosalind. And a thought comes into her head that changes everything: ‘What if I could be more than just a nobody?’ 

Thank you for reading! What did you think of Being Miss Nobody, if you’ve read it? Is it on your TBR? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx

PS- head over to Twitter, where I’m running a giveaway of this boo today for a chance to win it! UK only.

Anthology Review: Winter Magic

Hello everybody!

Today, for day 10 of blogmas, I’m going to be reviewing the fabulous Winter Magic anthology, which was released last year. I had so much fun rereading this!

Onto the reviews!

A Night at the Frost Fair by Emma Carroll– WHAT an opening! It’s the story of Maya, whose gran is suffering from Alzheimer’s, and the timeslip adventure at a frost fair she goes on after recieving a mysterious object from her gran. The frost fair was so well described it felt as though it was alive and I was really there, and I thought the paralells between the treatment of Edmund (the boy May meets at the fair) and gran in the present day were really clever.


The Magic of Midwinter by Amy Alward
– a short story set in Alward’s Potion Diaries world, the story is about alchemist Sam’s journey to Midwinter to meet the Svenland elves, and arriving to a surprise. The world felt so magical and well built, I adored the elves (especially Uyuni) and I thought the friendship between Sam and her companion Princess Evelyn was lovely in this. I don’t think it would confuse readers new to the Potion Diaries world either.


The Voice in the Snow by Michelle Harrison
– this revisits some of the characters we meet in the Other Alice, namely Gypsy and Piper. I found the plot of this quite complex for a short story and thought it would have worked better as something longer, but I love Michelle Harrison’s world of sinsiter magic and the fact I got to see what became of these characters. I also really like their relationship and the way that ended up.


The Cold Hearted by Geraldine McCaughrean
– this was the story of Fergal and the mysterious, slightly magical people who help him save his family from under an avalanche. I loved the whimsical writing style and grew attached to Fergal in the short number of pages. It also featured a golden retriever called Summer (which is actually what I’d call my next golden, if I ever get one!) so I have to love it for that reason too.


Casse-Noisette by Katherine Woodfine-
in her beautiful ballet inspired contribution, Katherine Woodfine tells the story of Stana, who has been chosen to dance in the first performance of the Nutcracker. Katherine Woodfine’s writing is so beautiful yet still moves on the story at a perfect pace and I thought Stana was a wonderfully relatable heroine. Finally, the love of the ballet really shines through this, and I adored the bittersweet ending.

Someone Like the Snow Queen by Berlie Doherty– I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It’s about Orla, who has recently lost her dad, as her little brother disappears and she has to set off on a journey to find him. I loved the parallels between this and the Snow Queen, and the slight twists Berlie Doherty put on it. I also loved the overall message of the story.

The Room with the Mountain View by Lauren St. John– this is a wintry take on Rear Window set at a ski resort, where Lexie witnesses an event crucial to the disappearance of a circus star when on bed rest with a broken leg. I love the ensuing mystery and the way it unfolds to a surprising conclusion. This has made me absolutely determined to get to Lauren’s two 2017 releases as soon as possible.

Into the Mountain by Jamila Gavin- this wasn’t my favourite of the anthology, if I’m honest. It’s based on the traditional story of the Pied Piper, but I couldn’t really grasp the plot as a whole and I wasn’t especially invested in the characters.

The Wishing Book by Piers Torday– this is the story of Ethel and a myserious, magical, slightly macabre Christmas gift she was given and how it changes her life forever. This reminded me hugely of Roald Dahl in tone and I really enjoyed it. I also loved the heartwarming ending, which I wasn’t sure was coming.

The Snow Dragon by Abi Elphinstone– what a glorious ending to a glorious collection! Curator Abj Elphinstone writes the story of an orphan called Phoebe (who lives in awful orphanage run by Griselda Bone) as she is whisked away by the magical snow dragon. I absolutely loves Phoebe, who is so brave and determined, and her little dancing dog Herbie, and the snow dragon couldn’t possibly have been any more magical and special. I absolutely must get to more of Abi’s books soon, because this was exceptional.

Thank you so much for reading! What are your favourite stories in this collection, if you’ve read it? (If you couldn’t tell mine are Night at the Frost Fair, Casse-Noisette and the Snow Dragon!) Is it on your TBR, if not? Are you a fan of any of the contributing authors? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx


Guest Post: Louise of Book Murmuration’s Favourite Winter Fairytales

Hello everybody!

Welcome to day 9 of blogmas! Today, I have my friend Louise here to talk about her favourite winter fairytales!

Enjoy! 


Peter Pan- Peter Pan has been associated with Christmas since it hit the stage in the Christmas season of 1904. Otherwise it has nothing to do with winter, or Christmas. I think this shows how any story can become a favourite Christmas tale. Lots of us feel like big children at Christmas, and Christmas is never so magical as in those early childhood years, so I think the theme of the boy who doesn’t want to grow up resonates with children and adults at this time of year.

The Match Girl- Why does a story that ends with the death of a child have associations with Christmas? Seasonal reading doesn’t have to be light and fluffy. Dickens was master of that, but The Match Girl predates even A Christmas Carol. These days we’re as likely to be obsessed with presents and wrapping paper, and driving each other up the wall over television watching rights. The Match Girl goes back to a time when a warm fire and the love of a family was a gift, not a … gift in disguise. I think it has the power to get under the frustration caused by modern life, and modern Christmas, and remind us how lucky we are. Everybody begs that final match to provide the miracle. Every. Single. Time. 

The Snow Queen- Modern adaptations focus on the queen in her palace. To me, the beauty of Hans Anderson’s story is how Gerda travels through the seasons, and those seasons are personified by the people she meets. My favourite part is the Autumn bandit camp.

The King Of The Swans- Delphine travels into a summery land to find the strawberries which will save her friend Hilda. Delphine is unable to get home, until she gifts some strawberries to the King of Swans. Hilda is cured, and years later the swan king gifts Delphine a crown. Ever after, children go in search of the same strawberries, but none find them. Delphine’s selflessness is rewarded, while the other children go in search of riches and come back empty-handed. This story stays in my memory because of the contrast – the summery land found in the middle of a snowy forest.

The Snow Maiden – An elderly couple believe they have been blessed with the child of their wishes when a girl made of snow comes to life. She grows within days into a beautiful young woman, but evaporates over a fire when she is invited to run through the springtime wood. 

The child made of snow is the image which stays with me. We all know what will happen when the girl is invited out into the spring. This is a lovely story to tell aloud, as the twists and turns invite questions.  ‘What do you think they found?’ ‘Do you think she’ll return home?’ 

Don’t these all sound brilliant?! I think my favourite winter fairytale is the Snow Queen for sure. What’s yours? 

Amy xxx





Guest Post: Layla of Readable Life’s Top 5 Wizarding World Christmas Gifts

Welcome to day 5 of blogmas! To celebrate the fact that there are now only 20 days till the Day itself, I have a guest post from my lovely friend Layla about the Christmas gifts she’d choose from the wizarding world. Hope you love this as much as I did! 


Amy xxx

 
Merry Blogmas everyone! While I’m not doing anything blogmas related over on my own blog, I thought that I’d participate in a small way by contributing this guest post for Amy! We were brainstorming ideas and I knew that I wanted to write something to do with Harry Potter. So when the idea came up for gifts from the wizarding world I’d love for Christmas, we were SO excited! Without further ado…

Five Wizarding World Items I Want For Christmas

A Nimbus 2001.

I know that everyone goes on about having a Firebolt – it is the fastest broom – but there’s something about the sleek, dark design of the Nimbus 2001 that would seem like an absolute dream.

Floo Powder.

Okay so how cool would it be to have a pot of Floo Powder? Thinking that I can’t apparate, this is the next best thing to insta-travel. I just have to make sure I don’t mess up my pronunciation, or I’ll end up in Knockturn Alley…

Exploding Snap.

Snap with a twist! This just seems like it would be great fun to play, especially between a group of friends! Plus it doesn’t seem like it would cause any major arguments like Monopoly would…

An unlimited supply of Fizzing Whizbees.

These would be, without a doubt, my favourite wizarding world sweet. When the films first came out, there was a line of real life sweets that these were included in and they were so. Damn. GOOD. I would love to have them just once more, but to ask for an unlimited supply from the wizarding world will have to do!

A Pygmy Puff.

Pygmy Puffs are adorable. They don’t seem as naughty as Nifflers, and I already have a cat, so I think I’ll go for a little purple ball of fluff with a face and call it a cute name.


There you have it – my Christmas wishlist from the Wizarding World! I hope I’ve inspired you to think of your own list – why not write one on your blog using the tag Wizarding World Christmas or tell us down in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl and @readablelife? I’d LOVE to see your lists!

I’ll see you next time! Come visit my blog sometime, you might even find something nice there!


Layla @ readablelifeblog.wordpress.com