Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – #Reviews Victoria Zigler, Sue Coletta and Amy Reade


Welcome to the Friday edition of the Cafe and Bookstore with recent reviews for authors on the shelves. The first author with a recent review is Victoria Zigler whose animal stories are also in audio including Yua and The Great Wizard Hunt

About the book

When Yua the talking West Highland White Terrier fails to stop his master, Gwydion, from being wizardnapped, there’s nobody to help him look for his lost wizard. That is, until he meets Lattie; a small girl with a big heart, and a secret she didn’t even know she had.

Why was Gwydion wizardnapped? What is Lattie’s secret? Most importantly: can a small dog and a little girl answer these questions and rescue a wizard all by themselves?

Note: This book may not be suitable for younger readers.

One of the recent reviews for the book.

May 06, 2019 Robbie Cheadle rated it Four Stars

This is an entertaining story for children. Yua is a small white dog who belonged to a wizard who wanted a companion and gave him the power of speech. Unfortunately, after a short while he became bored with Yua’s conversation and threw poor Yua out onto the street where he is left to forage for himself. Yua is discovered, cold and starving, in a ditch by a kindly wizard, Gwydion, who takes him into his home and adopts him as his own.

Gwydion soon discovers that Yua can speak and is happy to have him as his companion, but not long after Yua’s arrival, Gwydion is kidnapped by some tough men who break into his book shop. Yua doesn’t know what to do until a little girl, Lattie, comes along to the book shop and, together, they discover some interesting information about Lattie and her own magical abilities. Lattie and Yua formulate a plan to help rescue Gwydion from his kidnappers and, along the way, they make some discoveries about Lattie’s own family background and why her mother disappeared and never returned for her.

Gwydion is a lovely, kindly man and you can’t help but to love his character and Yua is also a resourceful and entertaining character who will delight children. Lattie is a sweet girl but she does exhibit a rather vengeful side of herself at the end which could be upsetting for sensitive children.

Read the reviews and buy the book in all formats: https://www.amazon.com/Great-Wizard-Hunt-Victoria-Zigler-ebook/dp/B07L3CK1QQ

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Great-Wizard-Hunt-Victoria-Zigler-ebook/dp/B07L3CK1QQ

A very small selection of other books by Victoria Zigler

You can download all the other print and audio books from Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Victoria-Zigler/e/B00BHS9DQ6

and Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Victoria-Zigler/e/B00BHS9DQ6

Victoria has a great many reviews on Goodreads and I suggest that you head there first to read: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5852247.Victoria_Zigler

Connect to Victoria via her website: http://www.zigler.co.uk/

The next author receiving great reviews is Sue Coletta for her latest release in April, Silent Mayhem (The Mayhem Series)

About the book

Some things in life defy comprehension, but that doesn’t make them any less real. Or deadly.

When a familiar crow drops a cryptic scroll at Shawnee Daniels’ feet, she’s compelled to open it, even though everything in her power warns her not to. Mr. Mayhem—the most prolific serial killer the North Shore has ever known—claims her life is in danger. He “claims” he wants to help her, but just last year he threatened to murder everyone she loves.

While Mayhem taunts her with oddly-placed feathers, like The Creator left at his crime scenes, an interstate killing spree rocks Massachusetts and New Hampshire. A madman is decapitating men and women, dumping their headless corpses on two area beaches. But what Shawnee soon uncovers shatters all she’s ever known, her memories shredded, the whispers of the past in shambles on the ground.

Can she find the strength to move forward, or will the truth destroy her?

One of the recent reviews for the book

Sherry Fundin 5.0 out of 5 stars BEST VILLAIN EVER!!!!! April 26, 2019

OMG!!!!! Mr Mayhem is one of the best villains, serial killer, ever! Is it possible to love a villain for his goodness, while hating him for his badness? And the crows…do they seek revenge when slighted?

Shawnee is a fabulous character. If I am ever in trouble, I want her at my side. I love that Levaughn, her cop boyfriend accepts her with all her foibles. I worry for her friends and family, afraid Mr Mayhem or Poe will seek retribution for perceived wrongs.

Sue Coletta pens some of the best stories and is at the top of my reading list, one of my go to authors. Her writing shines with the research and details included in her work. I love the use of the crows and the Indian folklore. Her writing speaks to me and I respond with delight.

I kept putting the book down, because I didn’t want to finish it. I wanted to savor each word, letting my mind mull over what would happen next. Loaded with surprises, Sue Coletta’s imagination knows no bounds and I marvel at how her mind works. Read her biography and you will see how she manages to cover the subject matter, serial killers, so well.

Bring on the next one…soon, please.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07PNK7SL6

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Silent-Mayhem-3-Sue-Coletta-ebook/dp/B07PNK7SL6

A selection of books by Sue Coletta

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Sue-Coletta/e/B015OYK5HO

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sue-Coletta/e/B015OYK5HO

Read more reviews and follow Sue on Goodreads : https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14078869.Sue_Coletta

Connect to Sue via her website/blog: www.suecoletta.com

Another author celebrating great reviews for her latest release is Amy M. Reade for Trudy’s Diary (Libraries of the World Mysteries Book 1)

About the book

Daisy Carruthers moved to Washington, DC, from New York City following an emotionally draining murder investigation, little knowing she would soon be involved in two more. But when her boss and her best friend come under suspicion for killing two adulterous lovers, Daisy has no choice but to help when they ask.

And when she comes across a diary and an old dime novel with suspiciously similar stories and unknown origins, she knows all the mysteries are somehow connected.

​Can she figure out the identity of the killer–or killers–before it’s too late?

One of the recent reviews for the book

SD 5.0 out of 5 stars A MYSTERY WITHIN A MYSTERY May 4, 2019

I enjoyed the way the author slowly pulls the reader into this story, beginning with one crime and intimating at others. Is the protagonist really a victim of circumstances or was she involved in her fiance’s death? That question remained at the back of my mind, skillfully planted by Ms. Reade, as I made my way through the book. I especially enjoyed the mystery within a mystery and how the author wove these components throughout the novel. Congratulations to Ms. Reade on a successful mystery that kept me reading long into the night!

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Trudys-Diary-Libraries-World-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B07PRWDBHD

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Trudys-Diary-Libraries-World-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B07PRWDBHD

Also by Amy Reade

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Amy-M.-Reade/e/B00LX6ASF2

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Amy-M.-Reade/e/B00LX6ASF2

Read more reviews and follow Amy on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8189243.Amy_M_Reade

Connect to Amy via her website: https://www.amymreade.com/

Thank you for dropping in today and it would be great if you are leaving with some books under your arm.. thanks Sally.

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Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – #Reviews – Judy Penz Sheluk, Amy Reade and Terry Tyler


 

Welcome to Friday’s edition of the Cafe and Bookstore author update, with recent reviews and news from authors on the shelves.

The first author with a recent review is Judy Penz Sheluk for The Hanged Man’s Noose

About the book

Freelance writer Emily Garland is cash-strapped, newly single, and tired of reporting on the same old condo stats. When she’s offered a lucrative assignment in the village of Lount’s Landing, she decides to take a chance. All she has to do is relocate and uncover the real story behind a proposed redevelopment plan. What could possibly go wrong?

Plenty, as it turns out. Not everyone is happy with real estate mogul Garrett Stonehaven’s plans to convert an old schoolhouse into a mega-box store. At the top of the list is Arabella Carpenter, the outspoken owner of The Glass Dolphin antiques shop, who will do just about anything to preserve the integrity of the town’s historic Main Street.

But Arabella is not alone in her opposition. Before long, a vocal dissenter dies. A few days later, another body is discovered. Though both deaths are ruled accidental, Emily’s suspicions are aroused.

Putting her interview skills to the ultimate test, Emily teams up with Arabella to discover the truth behind Stonehaven’s latest scheme—before the murderer strikes again.

One of the recent reviews on Goodreads

Feb 23, 2019 Robbie Cheadle rated it really liked it

Emily Garland is a freelance reporter with a much coveted contract to write monthly articles about condo developments for a popular lifestyle magazine in Toronto. One of her best sources of quotes and information is well known developer Garrett Stonehaven. Emily has recently become single and, due to personal reasons, has developed an intense dislike for Garrett Stonehaven. As a result, when her boss offers her an assignment in Lount’s Landing, a small village outside of Toronto, she decides to accept. The assignment is lucrative and also involves keeping a watchful eye on, and reporting, any irregularities by Garret Stonehaven, who has recently acquired a moth-balled old school in the village for developmental purposes. Emily moves to Lount’s Landing under the guise of turning around a local monthly magazine that her company has recently acquired.

It doesn’t take long for Emily to start integrating herself into the lives of the various members of this small community, many of whom own ailing business along Main Street, which has been steadily losing popularity and customers. She soon realizes that there is a conflict of interest among the retailers, some of whom do not want Garrett Stonehaven’s mega-box development and some of whom see it as an opportunity to revitalise Main Street and their businesses. The unexpected death of one of the protesting retailers brings the motives of everyone in the village into question and Emily sets out to try and investigate whether the death was natural or murder.

I enjoyed the character of Emily, she was an interesting mix of naivety, intelligence, uncertainty and determination. Together with her new friend, Arabella, who has just opened an antiques store on Main Street, Emily becomes embroiled in a plot by ruthless and conscienceless people, to stop Garrett Stonehaven, not necessarily for the obvious reasons. I enjoyed this pairing and found these two characters to be resourceful and interesting.

The book moves along at a good pace and has plenty of small town interest and gossip to entertain the reader as the plot unfolds. The ending was satisfying and cleverly wound up all the lose ends.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07JLY5539

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hanged-Mans-Noose-Dolphin-Mystery-ebook/dp/B07JLY5539/

A selection of other books by Judy Penz Sheluk

Read the reviews and buy all the books: http://www.amazon.com/Judy-Penz-Sheluk/e/B00O74NX04

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Judy-Penz-Sheluk/e/B00O74NX04/

Read more reviews and follow Judy on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8602696.Judy_Penz_Sheluk

Connect to Judy via her blog: http://www.judypenzsheluk.com/

The next author with a recent review is Amy Reade and The Worst Noel: A Juniper Junction Mystery.

About the book

Christmas is supposed to be a time of peace, love, and joy, but for Lilly Carlsen, this Christmas is murder.

As a single mom, small business owner, and president of the local Chamber of Commerce, the last thing she needs is to find a dead body on the floor of her jewelry shop on the busiest shopping day of the year. And as if that isn’t enough, Lilly has to deal with a deadbeat ex-husband, a mother with declining mental health, and two teenagers.

But when a second body turns up, Lilly finds herself squarely in the crosshairs of suspicion. Can she figure out who killed the victims before she becomes one herself? And will her family’s Christmas be merry…or scary?

One of the recent reviews for the book

My first book my this author and I couldn’t put it down. It won’t be my last.
What wil happen when a murdered women is found with a necklace around her neck in a jewelry store? Lilly is devastated when she finds Eden. She’s not very liked in town. But never wanted to see any harm come to her.

Lilly is a mother of two, and divorced. She loves her jewelry store. She’s well liked. See what happens when things go south. Loved this book.

Read the reviews and buy the book Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07GZ67Q99

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Worst-Juniper-Junction-Holiday-Mystery-ebook/dp/B07GZ67Q99

Also by Amy Reade

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Amy-M.-Reade/e/B00LX6ASF2

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Amy-M.-Reade/e/B00LX6ASF2

Read more reviews and follow Amy on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8189243.Amy_M_Reade

Connect to Amy via her blog: www.amreade.wordpress.com

And finally a recent review for Terry Tyler and Legacy: Book Four Project Renova Series...

About Legacy

Out of all the death and destruction has come the freedom to be who we really are.’

A hundred years after the world was devastated by the bat fever virus, the UK is a country of agricultural communities where motherhood is seen as the ideal state for a woman, new beliefs have taken over from old religions, and the city of Blackthorn casts a threatening shadow over the north of England. Legacy travels backwards in time to link up with the characters from Tipping Point, Lindisfarne and UK2.

Seventeen-year-old Bree feels stifled by the restrictions of her village community, but finds a kindred spirit in Silas, a lone traveller searching for his roots. She, too, is looking for answers: the truth behind the mysterious death, forty years earlier, of her grandmother.

In 2050, Phoenix Northam’s one wish is to follow in the footsteps of his father, a great leader respected by all who knew him…or so his mother tells him.

In 2029, on a Danish island, Lottie is homesick for Lindisfarne; two years earlier, Alex Verlander and the kingpins of the Renova group believe they have escaped the second outbreak of bat fever just in time…

Book 4 of the Project Renova series rebuilds a broken country with no central government or law, where life is dangerous and people can simply disappear…but the post-Fall world is also one of possibility, of freedom and hope for the future.

A recent review for the book..

I’m a big fan of Terry Tyler’s character-driven drama and have enjoyed all the books in the Project Renova series. Legacy is a fitting finale, giving not only resolution to stories from previous instalments, but an intelligent and imaginative portrayal of life up to one hundred years after the deadly virus lays ravage to mankind. I was particularly happy to see that Lottie lived up to early potential, as she was one of my favourite characters, showing much more grit, realism and resourcefulness than many of the older people. It was also satisfying to see some of the villains get their just deserts. The timeline, spanning almost a century, might have been challenging for other authors but was on the whole deftly handled by Terry. However, in my view, the chief strength of Terry’s writing is always the vivid authenticity of her characters, with their distinctive voices. Because ultimately whatever the setting for a novel, people’s passions, weaknesses and hunger for power remain the same. Although the author helpfully gives the story to date, I don’t honestly feel this book could be read as a standalone. To appreciate the full richness of the series, you should really start at Book 1 Tipping Point, which is currently just 99p.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Legacy-Project-Renova-Book-4-ebook/dp/B07JNC9K6Z

And on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Legacy-Project-Renova-Book-4-ebook/dp/B07JNC9K6Z

A selection of other books by Terry Tyler

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Terry-Tyler/e/B00693EGKM

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Terry-Tyler/e/B00693EGKM

Read more reviews and follow Terry Tyler on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5821157.Terry_Tyler

Connect to Terry via her blog: https://terrytyler59.blogspot.ie/

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with a book or two.. thanks Sally.

If you are an author and would like to be part of a group that supports and promotes other authors then please take a look at this group on Facebook by clicking the image.

 

Smorgasbord Christmas celebrations – The Fourth Day of Christmas with guests Norah Colvin and Amy Reade


So here we are all again and it is now day four of the party and I am delighted to have been joined by two more special guests, Norah Colvin and Amy Reade… more about them and their most favourite Christmas gifts later.

My Christmas Past..

I have been looking back over photographs of Christmas past and I came across a gathering we hosted in Tring in 1984 just before David and I left for Houston for two years. It had all happened very quickly. We had moved into our little house in the April when David moved from Liverpool with his job to a new cable television division that had been set up. Unfortunately we had only been there six months when the powers that be shut down the division and made David redundant. A bit of a shock to say the least. While we were in the process of making plans for the future his previous boss rang and offered David a very different prospect. Two years in Houston, Texas responsible for sales in the United States. It was really a no brainer, there was only two of us, the money was great and all we had to do was sell our house which we did quickly thank goodness.

We were leaving early January and wanted to see as much of the family as possible. Despite heavy snow falls our visitors arrived on the 24th of December. David’s parents came from Ireland, my parents and brother from Portsmouth, David’s uncle from London – with only three bedrooms it meant that David and I camped out on mattresses in the dining room and my brother had the conservatory. Money was a bit tight but David brewed up a keg of beer – twice – because the first one was sampled a couple of weeks before by friends who came over to play darts!!

Nine of us crammed around the dining room table and we had a wonderful day with charades in the afternoon which disintegrated into a hilarious debacle. Everybody stayed on until the 27th and we put all our belongings except for two suitcases of clothes and flew off knowing we would probably not see them again for at least two years.

A great Christmas and when I look at the photos, I realise how easy it is to let those memories fade, when actually being together and the laughter was more important than fancy food and presents.

To get you in the Christmas mood.. and because I know there are many thousands of families who will not be with their father’s, husbands, brothers, sisters and other loved ones who are serving in the military over the holidays… here is White Christmas from the United States Navy Band

Time to meet my first guest who is a fantastic member of our blogging community, Norah Colvin and shares a little bit about herself, and also her very best Christmas gift of all time.

I am an experienced and passionate educator. I teach. I write. I create. I have spent almost all my life thinking and learning about thinking and learning. I have been involved in many educational roles, both in and out of formal schooling situations, always combining my love of teaching and writing by creating original materials to support children’s learning.

Now as I step away from the classroom again, I embark upon my latest iteration: sharing my thoughts about education by challenging what exists while asking what could be; and inviting early childhood educators to support children’s learning through use of my original teaching materials which are now available on my website http://www.readilearn.com.au

Here is Norah’s  Very Best Christmas Gift

One of my strongest memories is of waking before sunrise one Christmas morning, checking to see if Santa had been, and discovering a book at the end of my bed. While there was not enough light at first to see the illustrations or read the words, I delighted in the smoothness of the cover and the smell of the pages. Slowly, as the sun rose, the title revealed itself: Heidi by Johanna Spyri, and I started to read. I loved that story and read it many times. After more than fifty years I still have the book in my possession, rather tattered and worn, not unlike its owner, but still loved.

I loved that book too and the sequel and I was a bit pushed at first as to what I might give to Norah as a Christmas present… then it came to me..

Peter in the story of Heidi is a goatherd… voila..front row seats at a performance of The Lonely Goatherd from The Sound of Music…

Countries around the world have their own way of celebrating Christmas and for example if you were in Greenland, you would have to buy an imported tree, as trees don’t grow that far north. As an alternative a large piece of driftwood is decorated usually on the 23rd of December. Since the sun does not rise in the winter in Greenland, an illuminated star is put in the window to bring some light to the darkness.

People visit each other for coffee and cakes and a delicacy is ‘Mattak’ which is a strip of whale skin with piece of blubber inside… unfortunately tough to chew so is usually swallowed. B-B-Q caribou or reindeer might also be on the menu.

You might want to use this snippet about the whale skin and blubber to your advantage as a threat to any child at the table declining the Brussel Sprouts! Or for guests who have outstayed their welcome!

There are so many carols that are popular that it tough to narrow it down to twelve but since this is my party….. I get to choose. Kings College, Cambridge is renowned for its choir and here they are with Hark the Herald Angels Sing...

Day four and it is officially 28th December: The Feast of the Holy Innocents – when prayers are said for the innocent baby boys that Herod allegedly had killed in his efforts to overturn the prophesy passed on by the Magi that the King of the Jews, the baby Jesus would take his throne. There has been much research into this massacre and theologians and historians are fairly sure that it did not take place. It may well be that around that time there could have been an epidemic that took the lives of many infants and someone put two and two together and got five. Anyway perhaps it is a time to remember all young innocents who are taken before their time.

Wikipedia.com

There is much debate about the origins of ‘Four Calling Birds’ but in fact the original was ‘Four Colly Birds‘ and this meant that they were grimy and sooty and actually referred to Blackbirds.. Even more confusing was that they were not really Blackbirds but Thrushes…I suggest that you go directly to the drink section and partake of a very pleasant glass of champagne and forget the four birds of whatever origin all together….

Time for my second guest and delighted to welcome author Amy Reade to the party.  Apart from her own books on her website, Amy features recommended reads from other authors and some delicious recipes.

USA Today Bestselling author Amy M. Reade writes Gothic, traditional, and cozy mysteries. Her books have been compared to those by authors such as Daphne du Maurier, Phyllis Whitney, and Victoria Holt. Amy’s standalone novels feature vivid descriptions of exotic and fascinating locations, such as the Thousand Islands region of New York State, Charleston, South Carolina, and the Big Island of Hawaii. Her Malice series explores a family’s secrets and mysteries set against the breathtaking backdrops of Scotland and Wales. Her newest mystery, The Worst Noel, is the first in her Juniper Junction Holiday cozies. A former attorney, Amy found that writing was her true calling. She loves cooking, reading, and travel.

Here is Amy’s most treasured Christmas gift ever

I wish I could say that my favorite Christmas gift was a sentimental one, one that would prompt sappy tears, but I can’t. My favorite Christmas gift ever was a Barbie Dream House.
Tall, plastic, yellow, filled with stories yet to be imagined, it was a complete surprise. We lived in frigid northern New York in a house with a screened-in front porch. When we finished opening the gifts under the tree, there was one last item—a note addressed to me telling me to look on the porch. Brrr.  There is was, in all its frozen glory.

I think that we might be able to upgrade that first Barbie Dream House for you Amy with this brand new interactive build that certainly beats anything I have ever lived in… enjoy.

Read the reviews and buy Amy Reade’s bookshttp://www.amazon.com/Amy-M.-Reade/e/B00LX6ASF2
Connect to Amy via her blog: www.amreade.wordpress.com

51dikCmd-RL._UY250_House of the Hanging Jade cover with USA Today

One of the recent reviews for The Worst Noel

Lilly’s Very Bad, No Good, Terrible, “Worst” Day! A very entertaining first-in-the-series penned by Amy M. Reade (Ok, what an apropos name, right?). A clever mystery with wonderful characters and a satisfying conclusion make me a fan and eager to join in as a regular for her Juniper Junction Holiday Mysteries. The mystery gives “karma” a good name…bad character meets bad end, but perp is handed justice, too. Readers are led through a variety of entertaining suspects all with motive, but the final “you’re it” is one that challenged my inner Sherlock. And along with an enjoyable cozy mystery, she provides a engaging look into Lilly’s family dramas, interactions with her BFF, and efforts to have a Black Friday do-over. Amy is not a new author, penning standalone books and the Malice series, so the well-developed characters in a first-in-the-series book are a given. I admire Lilly, the teens are an enjoyable support duo, and she paints with realism her mother’s possible early-onset dementia and ex-husband’s antics. Stories and characters that all made for a great read!

The story has a whopping sixty-two chapters. Whoa! I thought I’d be reading for days. However, I was so pleasantly surprised, and really like the manner in which Amy organized her story. Each chapter is a scene or part of the day easily enjoyed…a real page-turner. In Amy’s story readers are put on the periphery with an enjoyable third-person narrative. However, I prefer a first-person narrative that allows me to feel I’m part of the story with the “I” perspective. She does include intriguing descriptions, engaging banter, and illustrations of tone and personality which kept me totally engaged. I highly recommend this book, and am a big fan!

My two favorite words…No, not “It’s Murder!,” but Recipes Included! Amy Reade has added three delicious easy-to-follow recipes as a bonus. Enjoy what BFF Noley brought for breakfast whose job as a recipe developer for a national cooking magazine has made being her “taste tester” a delicious position: Christmas Jam (Cranberries, and raspberries, and pears…oh, my!), Orange-Kissed Biscuits (Topped with Christmas Jam, of course!), and Fruit Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing (A tropical delight!).

The humble carrot is a vegetable most of us take for granted. Carrots have an ancient history originating in Afghanistan. The Greeks and the Romans ate carrots and in fact, the Greeks called the carrot ‘Philtron’ and used it as an aphrodisiac. Don’t all rush to the supermarket! In Asia, the carrot was an established root crop and was then introduced to Europe in the 13th century. It was the Middle Ages before the carrot became better known and doctors of the time prescribed carrots for numerous ills including snakebite! In those days, the carrot was available in far more radiant colours including red, purple, black, yellow and white. They were cultivated together and over time, it resulted in the orange vegetable we know today.

Carrots eaten as a fresh, raw and unprocessed food is full of nutrients including Vitamin A (retinol), beta-carotene (turned into Vitamin A in the body), other carotenoids, B Vitamins, Vitamin C and minerals calcium and potassium. Of all of the nutrients, Beta-Carotene and latterly Alpha Carotene are seen as the most important properties of the carrot. As far as the eyes are concerned it is the Vitamin A and the Beta-carotene which are the most important nutrients. Vitamin A, helps your eyes adjust to light changes when you come in from outside and helps keep your eyes, skin and mucous membranes moist.

Apart from garnish for your Christmas dinner, you can make this delicious soup for a starter or perhaps with a turkey sandwich on Christmas night… Courtesy of Carol Taylor from the Cook from Scratch series

Carrot Soup Ingredients: Serves 2

  • 2 carrots washed and sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Half onion chopped
  • 1/2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger finely chopped or grated
  • The zest and juice of half an orange 500ml of fresh vegetable stock or chicken stock
  • Salt and black pepper to season.
  • Crème fresh and coriander, to garnish. I use Coconut milk and a sprinkle of chilli flakes…but that’s me I love my chilli.

To prepare…

  • Gently cook the onion in a saucepan with the olive oil until it has softened but not coloured, add the garlic, ginger and orange zest and cook for a minute or 2.
  • Then add the carrots and pour in the stock.
  • Simmer until the carrots are very tender and using a hand blender blend until smooth.
  • Serve and garnish as above with crème fresh and coriander or coconut milk and some chilli flakes as I do

We all love some sparkling wine at Christmas and New Year and if really pushing the boat out then buying the finest Champagne can not only add some luxury sparkle to your celebrations but also add quite a bit to the housekeeping bill….

Some supermarkets now bottle their own Champagne and the budget stores of Aldi and Lidl have had some really good press in recent years. When we lived in the USA, we enjoyed Korbel California Champagnes and in Spain you could buy the finest Cava Reserva for amazing prices… and it is still our preferred sparkling wine. This is despite their being the highest tax on alcohol in Europe here in Ireland where you will pay 50% more for a bottle.

Prosecco is popular all year around and also tends to be cheaper than champagne, and follow this link if you would like to find out more about the differences between prosecco and champagne

To be honest I am very partial to a drop of alcoholic ginger beer at Christmas and always look for somewhere that is stocking my favourite brand….

Thank you for dropping in to the party and it would be lovely to hear about your most memorable Christmas gift.

Tomorrow we are at the Five Gold Rings stage of the party with guests Debby Gies, Lizzie Chantree and Joy Lennick… I hope to see you there.. thanks Sally