I have signed up for this new Challenge The 3 R's Challenge. So many times I have read a great book but cannot remember where I heard about it. This Challenge will help to keep a record of those great reviews and recommendations.
No, I am not a new Tabloid Reporter, but it is a feature so
that we can all get to know each other better.
This feature will be open from Thursday at 12:01 A.M. and close on Monday at 11:59 P.M. to allow those that want to participate over the weekend the opportunity to do so when they have more time. So you may want to check back on Tuesday or check the previous week's link on Thursday to view everyone's answers.
If you are just joining this feature
We all become friends/followers but most of us will never meet in person, this feature is to help us all get to know each other better.
This week's questions are.....
1. Did you get what you wanted for Christmas? Oh yes! I got some books,
decent smellies - you know the ones that are not on BOGOF or in the 99p shops. Once I run out of my Sanctuary and Royal Jelly bath/shower goodies I will be back to the BOGOF offers, which will probably be by about March.
Chocolates - Bendick's Bittermints - nom-nom. I do some heavy hinting for these and have been known to put them in the trolley myself.
2. Do you make New Year's Resolutions?
Only in my head. Usually about losing my baby weight (baby is now 3!), exercising more, making time for my friends.
3. How will you spend New Year's Eve and New Year's Day this year?
Hoping to go out for a couple of hours down our local pub on New Year's Eve, but will be home before Midnight for the children. New Year's Day is a day at home. I have just started defrosting a huge ham for lunch on Saturday. New Year's Eve is always special for me these days, as I met my partner, D, 5 years ago on that night. It was a chance meeting. He changed his mind about where to spend the evening. He decided to join his mum. His mum was with the crowd who had invited me to stay with them rather than be on my own. (I was due to spend the night home alone, in bed asleep). His mum and my friend had been friends for years and our paths had not crossed until that night.
With 2011 just around the corner and so many wonderful lists being posted by bloggers about their Top books of 2010, I thought I would look back at my year in books here.
It has been a good year for books this year. I have collected many new additions to my TBR shelves. They are looking good at the moment. Many books I have read this year have come my way via reviews and recommendations I have found since I discovered book blogging earlier in the year.
I love finding books that are not popular in our Top 100 here in the UK and have found a new genre that I am enjoying in Southern Fiction. I have found a way of getting the books I see on USA blogs via online bookshops. I also get my books from local bookshops, the library and charity shops. I do not favour any particular way of obtaining books. I am not fussy!
My favourite reads this year
In no particular order. Every time I read another fabulous book, it becomes my favourite until the next! :)
I have read some lovely books this year......
The Secret Scripture - Sebastian Barry - (Costa book of the year 2008) - Irish fiction A wonderful read. Set in Ireland about a woman in her 100th year and a set of papers she wrote and kept under the floorboards in her nursing home room. Papers that hold secrets.
The Jewel Box - Anna Davies - 1920's London Took me right into the Roaring 20's. A fab read.
The Help - Kathryn Stockett - Southern Fiction (This is where I found my new genre) Very moving novel. What a read! All the emotions are there. This one will stay with me a long time. The Postmistress - Sarah Blake -World War 2 London Title was misleading but a novel not to be missed. Beautifully written. World War 2 and the inhabitants of Cape Cod rely on the broadcasts of Frankie from London.
One Day - David Nicholls. - Fiction Fab coming of age story of Dex and Emma. They meet on Graduation night and this tells their story over the next 20 years.
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt - Beth Hoffman - Southern Fiction Wonderful. Southern fiction favourite for the year. Beautiful novel and stunning book cover. A keeper.
Miss Pettrigrew lives for a day - Winifred Watson -Modern Classic 1030's chick lit. A cinderalla style modern classic. Not to be missed.
What Alice Forgot - Liane Moriarty - Australian Women's Fiction Alice has a bang on the head and wakes thinking she is pregnant, and has lost memory of the last 10 years of her life. Great read.
84 Charing Cross Road - Helene Hanff - Modern Fiction Modern classic. A beautiful story that began with a letter to a bookshop in London requesting a book. How did I miss this gem for so long. A must read.
The Opposite of Falling - Jennie Rooney - Fiction 1862 - Ursula - jilted by her Fiance wants to see the world. The beginnings of Thomas Cook package hols. Great!
C and M know how to please their mum. Books!
I also had my favourite Bendick's Bittermints, The Sanctuary Body and Bath lotions, JLo Glo perfume, a Crockpot (lots of lovely casseroles now) and my favourite tipple Southern Comfort.
These are the books I received for Christmas this year.....
We decided this year to have the whole break at home and get everyone to come to us.
Seemed like a good idea at the time!
Just the 5 of us Christmas Day,
my partner's family Boxing Day (today),
my parent's Bank Hol Monday.
We are on Day 2 and beginning to feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.
We had a gorgeous Lamb joint with mint sauce, roast potatoes, Cauliflower, Brocolli, Cabbage, Carrots, Yorkshire Puds and Gravy. Delicious! Christmas Pud with Brandy Butter (there wasn't much butter in that brandy!) and a bottle of Cava to wash it all down!
We woke this morning (Boxing Day) and realised we had to do it all again.
Half a cow (beef joint) with Horseradish sauce, roast potatoes, Cauliflower, Brocolli, Cabbage, Carrots, Yorkshire Puds and Gravy. Delicious! Eton mess (meringue, whipped cream and strawberries) and a bottle of Champagne (a present for my 40th) to wash it all down!
You seeing a pattern here yet????
Tomorrow we have a chicken to cook with all the trimmings.
Bank Holiday Tuesday it will be pasta bake! :)
Hoping you are all having a relaxing holiday break.
Hi there folks,
If you are reading this and have managed some time online, I hope you are keeping well and warm.
I am typing a very quick post today.
I have way too much to do before Friday.
I have way too little energy.
I am so tired. Combination of colds, over excited toddler, over stressed teen with GCSE exams in January and the usual holiday shopping and extras to do.
Not sure if I will get online much before Christmas now so.......
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2011!
OK, so my lovely Christmas Tree Widgit (love that word) on my blog tells me there are 8 days left til Xmas.
It's all going pear shaped!
Luckily, all my online shopping that I have ordered has arrived bar one. That present should be delivered to my local M&S for collection on Tuesday. It is the physical shopping that is causing me to panic now. I have one out of town shopping centre to do, and I know which 3 shops I need. I had planned to dash over today whilst AJ was a school, but the roads are treacherous and the car.....well that's another story!
We are not sure if we will get the snow over the weekend and there is no way I am joining the masses in the last weekend mad rush for that elusive Red Reindeer jumper for cousin Tom, twice removed on the maternal side.
I will just have to wait until Tuesday, TUESDAY...that's only 4 days before Xmas....to do that last present buying trip. Don't even ask about the food shopping. I am still on the list of presents and cards lists. The list for food shopping lists has yet to be written.
I haven't written a single card.....was the last posting day to the USA the 5th or the 6th? Hold on, I have missed the last posting day for 2nd class in the UK! Do I apologise as I write the cards and just wish them a Happy 2011 or can I get away with blaming the snow and postal system.....that's another story!
It has been in the garage so many times in the last couple of years that I got a Christmas card from the garage this morning. Straight up!
My gorgeous, darling partner had just finished his night shift and climbed into bed when he got a request to help me get into our frozen car. After climbing in through the estate hatchback, and over all the seats he finally got the car started and managed to break his way out through the frozen doors.
He was my hero out there in the sub zero temperatures de-icing the car with the scraper mitt. (I won't use de-ice chemicals due to the environment, the boys asthma, oh and the cost!) It took longer than it should as the heater wouldn't work! It broke a year ago today. I tell you no lies.
We are hoping it is just because of the sub zero temps, ha, how good is that, a heater that doesn't work in the cold. So, for now we are on very short journeys only.
The postal system. I hear that the track your parcel service is down online.....given up the ghost I should think with all those parcels sitting in depots not being delivered due to the weather conditions. To add insult to injury to all those waiting on their well chosen and paid for Christmas presents to be delivered by courier services and Royal Mail, the Royal Mail have announced their biggest ever increase in postage for April 2011.
First class is going up by 5p Second class is going up by 4p
Now where did I hear this week the sorry tale that we are not using our postal system enough? Price increases like that and a very confusing letter, large letter, packet, parcel guide will surely not help.
Today it is dark and very, very wet. It is pouring with rain. AJ has his new red sledge ready to go!
The severe weather warning forecast is for heavy snow!
If we get the snow tonight as predicted, it will be a year to the day since we had snow on the last day of term. The kids had an extra day for the Christmas break. They are hoping to repeat history again tomorrow. AJ, on the other hand, will want to go to school on the last day as he has his first Christmas party and is getting a visit from Santa.
Some parts of the country are still suffering from the last bout of heavy snow 2 weeks ago. We were lucky having just a dusting. Our part of the country seemed to have a giant umbrella over it. We saw snow over most of the rest of the country apart from here in the middle of East Anglia and Wales.
It is unbelievable that only a few hundred miles away from my front door people have been snowed in for 10 days or more, are just managing to get out again and see some of the snow disappearing, and starting to get their services like the post back. For those who were planning online shopping either for food or presents they are too late. The major supermarkets and some online shops have stopped deliveries to some parts, mainly Scotland.
Today is the last day for online shopping, free delivery, for Amazon UK, a revised date sent out today in an email. There is a warning about the adverse weather affecting deliveries, and with the forecast I do wonder if it is worth risking anymore online shopping this late.
I do have one last trip to make out of town and had planned for tomorrow. If the forecast is right, I may be shopping in the middle of next week instead!
1. What is the present you want Santa to bring the most?
I only have little things on my list like make-up, books, perfume, oh and Bendick's Bittermints. The kids know I gotta have my Bittermints. We can only get them in the shops at this time of year. I love them.
2. Do you have a big meal on Christmas or just snack all day? Every year we buy enough food for 3 big meals for Christmas Day and Boxing Day, but it does last us nearly a week. We start with hot sausage rolls or bacon sandwiches for breakfast
Christmas lunch is Roast Beef, Yorkshires, all the veg and gravy. We always have a Christmas Pud, but it very rarely gets cooked and eaten on Christmas Day as we have no room for pudding.
Christmas tea should be buffet style but by then we will be still stuffed from lunch and picking at the mince pies and other treats so we have half a buffet with salad.
3. Do you read Christmas books this time of year, is there a special one you reread year after year? Not usually, but this year I did pick up a Christmas novel - Last Christmas by Julia Williams. Have I read it? NO! Too busy getting ready for Christmas LOL
I had my first Christmas concert at playschool today. Mummy, Daddy and Nana came to watch.
Mummy says I did very well singing some of the songs.....I know all the songs, but I have to admit it was great fun being on a stage for the first time. I had a bigger audience than I get at home.
I wanted to know what was down the back of the stage behind those curtains. Apparently Mummy was worried I was going to fall down the back. I like to keep her on her toes.
Mummy told Daddy she thought it was all going well until I decided I needed to wipe my nose all over my sleeve. Well it has to be done!
I was playing with my cars, lorries, tractors and fire engines the other day and lining them all up across the floor when Mummy said "you have a traffic Jam, AJ!" I had to correct her "no jam on toast, Mummy!" Mummy is Dizzy by name.....Dizzy by nature.
Mummy.....Mummy....MUMMY! I want a fire engine for Christmas, please - can never have too many and hopefully Santa will bring one as I have reminded Mummy enough times over the last few weeks.
I am back. A lovely delivery man brought my laptop back to me today! :)
I have missed so much and it has only been a week. I plan to tuck up with my duvet, tonight, when the kids are in bed and catch up on as many blogs as I can.
(Note to self - need choc for this mission)
It has been a strange week. I did not miss the internet as much as I thought I would. Saying that, I did miss the ease of checking things out online, such as the whereabouts of parcels due etc.
The tree went up on Saturday and the lights went on in one attempt. A new record.
The Angel topper was one of my handmade projects from many years ago, when I had time to sew.
Last night we watched Elf. Now I feel festive! Elf is my favourite silly Christmas film. I never tire of it.
It has been a surreal day today.
I have been making a bright pink tutu from netting for a fairy costume. Nothing strange about that I hear you cry!
It is for M, my teen son. He has to dress as a fairy for his Air Cadets Christmas Show. He has a pink tshirt, fairy wings, leggings and his black lace up boots to finish off the outfit. I would so love to have a pic of him, but he won't allow.
I am proud of him, bless, as he will get a lot of attention dressed up!
Looking forward to catching up with everyone. What have I missed, folks?? Leave me links in the comments box
I am still without my laptop. :( oh I am missin my blog friends. Thank u 4 your lovely messages, folks! Can u believe I cannot comment on my own posts lol. I can only just get my hot mail and face book. I thought I could catch up on readin but managed 2 find lots of jobs. On the plus side I am gonna spoil myself readin this weekend! :) got most of xmas shop done fri. I had 2 be dragged out of the works bookshop. Crafts r in full swing with Kids and tree goes up today. :) the yearly tradition where mummy takes 3 or 4 attempts 2 put the lights on the tree before she is happy with it. By then the kids have almost given up on decoratin it. see u all soon. Dizzy C via mobile phone :) (bet u did nt notice the text mode I was in lol)
If you are reading this on Thursday, I am JEALOUS!
That means I am still without my laptop. I am grounded from cyberspace. I will be in a state of panic and moodiness. Spare a thought for the family.
I cannot get to blog, read blogs, internet shop for a few more pressies for Christmas, keep up with my Facebook!
I have my little phone connection but, have u ever tried surfing even one site on your little phone?!
I do have quite a busy week this week so maybe I won't be missing my laptop too much . NOT!
The youngest has his Asthma check at the hospital Monday and his first Christmas Concert on Wednesday. (Ha! Reading this back reminds me, I have made arrangements to meet a friend on Weds and will now have to rearrange. )
I could get some presents wrapped and cards written. The tree is not going up til Sunday. My laptop should be back by then.
I have scheduled 3 posts and am hoping that I will be back by the weekend. If not, it will be desperate measures and trying to limp onto the slow computer in the house.
Today I am very excited to bring you an interview with Ali McNamara, Author of From Notting Hill with Love.... Actually.
Ali is very busy with the launch of her debut novel, which hit the shops on 25th November, but took some time out to answer a few questions.
With kind permission of the Author
Tell us a little about yourself and where are you from?
I live in a small town not far from Cambridge with my husband, two children and our golden Labrador. I have lived in this area all my life. My very first job was working in a bookshop in Cambridge and now those same shops are selling my novel!
Which authors inspired you as a child?
I’m an only child so I devoured books when I was young. I loved Enid Blyton and read everything she wrote from The Famous Five to The Malory Towers books. I then moved onto Judy Blume when I was a little bit older, and I was very excited to find Judy on Twitter the other day!
Where did the idea for 'From Notting Hill With Love.....Actually' come from?
‘From Notting Hill with Love...Actually’ came to me when I was watching one of those countdowns on the music channels – ‘100 greatest Movie theme tunes.’
As each of the songs came on to the screen I realised the movies were so well known I knew exactly what was going on in each plot even without dialogue, and I thought wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could get all those great movies into one story, and that’s how the idea began to take shape.
I first began writing though when myself and a fellow fan began writing a story on singer, Ronan Keating’s message board, the story became so popular the website would sometimes crash because there were so many people trying to log on to read it. Such was its popularity we eventually sold the story for charity, and I went on to write a further two more stories for Ronan’s cancer awareness charity -The Marie Keating Foundation. It was after that I thought I should have a go at writing a ‘proper’ novel!
What books would you like to see in your Christmas Stocking this year?
I actually have so many books piled up next my bed queuing up to be read that I don’t want to add any more to them! But in that queue is Lisa Jewell’s The Truth about Melody Browne, Sophie Kinsella’s Mini Shopaholic, and I’m embarrassed to say I still haven’t got around to reading Marian Keyes last book The Brightest Star in the Sky – can you tell I’ve been a bit busy!
I would like to say a big Thank you to Ali for taking time out of her busy schedule to let me interview her.
Ali is currently working on her second novel Breakfast at Darcy's.
No need in our house! Well for the C and M (the teens) anyway!
No, they just email me links to the presents they want. Of course a text would not do as they couldnt get the link to the exact item in the text. Does that mean they are too old for a stocking at the end of the bed on Christmas morning then or an advent calendar? NO! They still want their stockings and calendars like AJ.
I am having to remind the teens that this is the first real Christmas AJ will understand and that we are going back to magical Christmas. We must remember to leave out a Mince Pie, glass of milk (no Daddy, Santa does not want a beer he is driving!) and carrots for the Reindeer.
AJ has to write his letter to Santa very soon and make his handprint Christmas Trees for family.
Pics to follow of his Christmas crafts. I am really looking forward to getting back to PVA glue, glitter, sequins and lots of paint. I used to enjoy this with the teens and then as a Teaching Assistant. A couple of years ago I thought we are seeing the end of magical christmas in our house as the teens were growing up. I even said to them that the next year I wanted to change all the Snowmen and Santa ornaments on the tree for a more grown up theme. A few weeks later I found out AJ was to join us by the next Christmas.
Santas and Snowmen are to stay.
P.S. To make sure Mummy gets the books she wants this year, I took C to the bookshop and planted 2 books in her hand. Seriously.
P.P.S My laptop is going for repair on Monday so I have scheduled some postings but I will be unable to reply to comments made after Sunday evening until I get back online. I will miss u all next week.
This week's question comes from Marce who blogs at Tea Time With Marce:
"What very popular and hyped book in the blogosphere did you NOT enjoy and how did you feel about posting your review?"
Well, at the moment, and I intend to keep things this way, I do not post negative reviews. I am not sure this will be acceptable with all bloggers but that is how I feel. You may see on my blog that I am reading a particular book and then it disappears and no review follows. This will be the reason why.
Get Well wishes are going out to Java at Never Growing Old today. Will miss you and the Friday meet this week. Do hope you are feeling much better very soon.
This week's question What is your favorite thing about December?
4pm on Christmas Eve when I feel the relief that if I haven't bought the kids enough presents or remembered everything that we need for Christmas Dinner, it's tough, too late, the shops are shut!
I do not like the build up to Christmas. I feel under pressure to find great presents, find the right goodies for all the family who will need feeding for 4 days this year. I have lists for presents, lists for cards and lists for food. I find the fact that the shopping is stretched out for over 3 weeks the hardest. If I could do it all in a couple of days I would feel better about it all, but saying that, I cannot leave it all to the last few days. I don't do the January sales as I have had enough of shopping in December to last me!
It feels like organising a big party or wedding every year. You know, when you have your checklists by the week and you get to the last few weeks when most of the organising is done but there are some things that cannot fit into place until the actual day.
I am looking forward to the extended holiday this year of 4 days.
The Poet Rupert Brooke (1887-1915) is probably most remembered for his World War 1 poem entitled The Solider.
"If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England."
He was a Scholar at Kings College Cambridge and a member of the Cambridge Apostles. At this time he lived at The Old Vicarage, Granchester which now has another famous resident Jeffrey Archer (Politician and Author) and his wife.
In the summer of 1909, 17 year old Nell Golightly is the new maid at The Orchard Tea Gardens in Cambridgeshire. Rupert Brooke moves in as a lodger. The young poet attracts the attention of young men and women alike. Nell too falls for his charms in their secret meetings.
This novel is based on factual events and is mixed with some fiction. Told by Nell in her position of maid at the tea rooms and Rupert's too it weaves their lives, which are so very different, across the class divide.
Many key events in history come into the novel including The Suffragettes Movement, Cambridge Apostles, The Fabian Society, Poor Law Reform and the Strikes.
Beautifully written and very moving. This novel took me deep into Edwardian life in Cambridgeshire.