Winter Blogfest: Cassie O’Brien

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a paperback copy of It’s Christmastime Once More. A paperback copy of Once Upon a Christmastime. A selection of Christmas themed chocolate items and a boxed Christmas cracker. (Photo available if req.).

The UK is Christmas Crackers

It wouldn’t be Christmas in the UK without these little cardboard tubes of joy decorating the festive dinner table. We Brits pull a world beating 154,000,000 of them each year – yep – that’s 154 million.

Invented by the sweet maker, Tom Smith, in the early 1840’s, the tissue-wrapped tube contained candy in the form of sugared almonds and a love motto. They did not sell well. Then, while watching the crackling logs on his fire in 1861, inspiration struck and the cracker, as we know and love it today, was born.

The candy was replaced by a small gift, the motto rewritten as a riddle or groan inducing corny joke and the explosive ‘snap’ added. Rebranded as ‘Bangs of Expectation’ the new format was an immediate success and has remained a firm favourite ever since, although we had to wait until 1869 for our paper crowns, when they were added to the contents by Tom’s son, Walter.

Modern day crackers, while containing the same range of contents, come in a huge price range depending on how valuable the gifts are inside. A supermarket budget box, containing a small plastic novelty, will set you back £2.99, while at the other end of the scale, a box of 6 from the Royal Mint are priced at an eye-watering £5,000, but then they do contain a diamond and 18ct gold necklace amongst other items of solid gold.

So, with all my good wishes for a jolly, snap, banging time – Happy Christmas, Everyone!t

Four Romantic Christmas Stories

Secrets And Christmas Surprises
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One Mistletoe Kiss
Aran Vair was Arietta’s childhood hero, and although they’ve drifted apart over the years, her feelings haven’t changed. A snowstorm reunites them, but when Aran suggests a friendship-based marriage, it’s not a prospect Arietta can contemplate. Living as an independent woman in the cottage she owns will be preferable – unless Aran can persuade her otherwise.

The Best Gifts Aren’t Wrapped
Lauren hates Christmas. It’s a painful time and her heart is locked as securely as her front door to keep the world and its festivities out. Joe, a divorcee with two sons, arrives on her doorstep with an uncooked turkey in his hands. There’s a power outage, and if can use her oil-fuelled Aga, his children can still enjoy their Christmas feast. And maybe she would like to join them.

Christmas By Candlelight
When Arietta’s husband, Tai, walks out her, she hightails it to the rural cottage she inherited from a long-dead ancestor and namesake, to lick her wounds. She converts the property into a B&B, and as Christmas approaches, she anticipates taking a relaxing break – until like a bad penny, Tai turns up. The ashes of their relationship are not quite dead, and as the flames rekindle, Arietta questions herself. Was she too hasty in running away?

Cassie O’Brien – mum of four – writer of romance for Totally Entwined Group and committed party animal with a love of champagne and high-heels.

Raven McAllan lives in Yorkshire, along with her husband and their two cats—their children having flown the nest—surrounded by beautiful scenery, which inspires a lot of the settings in her books.


Buy the book at Amazon.


  1. What an interesting history behind Christmas crackers. The anthology sounds lovely.

    • Cassie O'Brien says

      Hi Poinsettia – Many congrats! You’ve been chosen as the winner of my prize. Could you e-mail me a postal address you’d like it dispatched to? Best wishes

  2. I loved these stories. Definitely puts me in the festive spirit.

  3. crackers sound fun

  4. Debra Guyette says

    I have bought crackers for the holidays. Theyare fun

  5. I did not know the history, of course I only heard of them through Dr Who, lol

  6. Cassie O'Brien says

    **Competition Closed**
    Thank you all for taking part. The winner chosen at random is Poinsettia.

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