How We Spent the Best Christmas Possible in 2020

This year, Christmas is different, there’s no doubt about that. Each year, we usually eat our Christmas meal on Christmas Day, but this year we ate it on Christmas eve. Mixing Spanish, Peruvian and English customs is a thing for us, so we have Christmas cards and a Christmas stocking from my parents. Our Christmas breakfast is always pannetone and hot chocolate, and we never forget fruit either. Since this year it’s more important than ever to be as healthy as possible. Fortunately, I’m lucky enough that Alfredo is a great cook. Yesterday, Pay It Forward was on TV. This is one of my favourite films. We made the best of the day but still had a great time and today The Holiday is on. I adore that film, too.   I finished The Christmas Swap. Thanks again to the publisher.  This year, I’m reluctant to say “happy” or “merry” Christmas. But I do hope you have the best Christmas possible.  Things that filled my heart with joy today:  How my husband Alfredo always makes the day so, so special.  Thinking of those I have loved and lost over the years. My grandfather Terrence, Grandmother Lily, aunty Susan, aunty Jane and of course Natalie. And my mother in law Rosa.  Our day is for you, too.  Somehow, the warm, fuzzy feeling I get is still there today. It’s one of hope that next Christmas will be better. 

November 2020 Harlequin Suspense Blog Tour: Christmas Witness Conspiracy by Maggie K Black

About the Book:

Reunited in peril… The family he never knew is under siege. Detective Liam Bearsmith’s life is turned upside down at Christmastime when the hacker he’s tracking turns out to be the witness he fell for twenty years ago. But Kelly Marshall insists she’s being framed, and he wants to believe her…especially after criminals attack them. Can he clear her name, even as he shields Kelly—and the family he never knew existed?

About the Author:

Maggie K. Black is an award-winning journalist and self-defense instructor. She’s lived in the United States, Europe and Middle East, and left a piece of her heart in each. She now makes her home in Canada where she writes stories that make her heart race.  

Where to Buy:

 Barnes and Noble

Amazon

IndieBound

Goodreads

Google

  Harlequin  

Contact Maggie:

Author website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

My Review:

Christmas Witness Cospiracy is a suspense novel with deep Christian roots. A band of hackers has to be stopped if Canada’s entire power grid is not to suffer. There are some aspects of clean romance but the main plot is stopping the hackers. 

Maggie K. Black is a new author to me and I liked her writing style and the suspense in this quick novel. 

Thanks to Maggie K. Black and Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. 

4 stars Excerpt, CHRISTMAS WITNESS CONSPIRACY by Maggie K. Black ***   He turned and walked toward the restaurant, so quickly and firmly she couldn’t have grabbed his hand again if she’d wanted to. She followed him up the stairs and across the deck—the empty deck with its picnic tables inches deep in snow. He reached for the door, found it unlocked and pushed it open. They stepped into the restaurant. It was empty and dark. Chairs were stacked upside down on empty tables. As the door clicked shut behind them, a young man in a thick beard stepped out from behind it and pressed the barrel of a gun to the side of Liam’s head. “Down on your knees.” The voice was low and mean. His face was lost in shadows and the click of the gun was unmistakable. “You’re about to learn what happens to someone who tries to lie to Bill Leckie, and it ain’t going to be pretty.” “You tell Bill, I didn’t cross him,” Liam said calmly, raising his hands, “and I await his apology when he figures that out. Now, tell me, what exactly does Bill think I’ve done?” Then, before the man could even formulate an answer, Liam struck, apparently more interested in distracting his attacker long enough to get the upper hand than hearing what he had to say. Kelly watched as Liam spun toward the gun-wielding man, grabbing the weapon before he could even fire and slamming him into the wall. She felt a gust of wind and heard the door slam and click shut again. She blinked. Liam had disarmed his attacker, thrown him out and locked the door behind him, without even breaking a sweat. Then she felt Liam’s strong hand on her shoulder, guiding her and the still-sleeping baby underneath a table, sheltering them with his body. “Stay here,” Liam whispered, his voice urgent. His face was just inches from hers. Worry flooded his eyes. “It’s an ambush. That guy won’t be alone and just because I was able to catch him off guard doesn’t mean the others won’t put up more of a fight.” Not to mention the guy he just locked outside would be trying to get back in, no doubt. “There are other doors to this place, but we’d have to go through the kitchen or down the hallway, both of which are risky. This is an easier place to defend. Whatever Bill thinks I’ve done, he won’t want his goons hurting you or the baby. He’s got way too much honor than to allow a woman or child to get hurt on his watch, and has probably already told his attack dogs to leave you alone. I’m the one they’re after. I’ll get you out of here. Just promise me, if you get a clear path to escape, just take Pip and go, okay? Don’t wait for me and don’t look back.” Before she could answer, his hand slid to the side of her face. His lips brushed over her forehead. Then he rolled back out into the room and leaped to his feet, knocking a table in front of Kelly and Pip’s hiding space as he did so, further shielding and protecting them. “Like I told Bill, I have a woman and baby with me!” he shouted to the seemingly empty room. He tucked the gun he’d lifted into his belt. “If you’re Bill’s men you’ll know full well that hurting innocent women and children is against his code. Whatever his problem is, it’s with me, not them. And no weapon fire, please. The kid’s asleep and Bill won’t want you making things loud and scaring her awake.” He sounded so calm and in control, as if he was the only person there who really understood what was going on. Kelly slid Pip’s car seat into the corner against the wall, sheltering it with her body and praying God get back in, no doubt. “There are other doors to this place, but we’d have to go through the kitchen or down the hallway, both of which are risky. This is an easier place to defend. Whatever Bill thinks I’ve done, he won’t want his goons hurting you or the baby. He’s got way too much honor than to allow a woman or child to get hurt on his watch, and has probably already told his attack dogs to leave you alone. I’m the one they’re after. I’ll get you out of here. Just promise me, if you get a clear path to escape, just take Pip and go, okay? Don’t wait for me and don’t look back.” Before she could answer, his hand slid to the side of her face. His lips brushed over her forehead. Then he rolled back out into the room and leaped to his feet, knocking a table in front of Kelly and Pip’s hiding space as he did so, further shielding and protecting them. “Like I told Bill, I have a woman and baby with me!” he shouted to the seemingly empty room. He tucked the gun he’d lifted into his belt. “If you’re Bill’s men you’ll know full well that hurting innocent women and children is against his code. Whatever his problem is, it’s with me, not them. And no weapon fire, please. The kid’s asleep and Bill won’t want you making things loud and scaring her awake.” He sounded so calm and in control, as if he was the only person there who really understood what was going on. Kelly slid Pip’s car seat into the corner against the wall, sheltering it with her body and praying God would protect Pip from realizing they were in danger. Then Kelly crouched up onto the balls of her feet and looked out through gaps in the chairs and fallen table that barricaded her from view. As she watched, two more men, of varying heights, wearing plaid jackets and with full-length beards, stepped out of the shadows. Liam had been so convinced that Bill would protect them and he’d been wrong. Lord, please keep us safe. She watched as Liam raised his badge high. “I’m Liam Bearsmith!” he shouted at the approaching men. “RCMP. Stand down! Now! Or I’ll arrest you for assaulting an officer.”

Alaskan Christmas Redemption by Belle Calhoune (Home to Owl Creek #1)

About the Book:  Some secrets are meant to be shared. Before he gives his heart… he’ll have to forgive himself. Returning to Owl Creek after years away, Braden North’s determined to help his best friend, Piper Miller, save her failing diner. But as they work to revitalize her business, Braden’s convinced he must hide the truth about a tragedy from their past…or risk losing Piper for good. If he can find the courage, might telling her everything make this Christmas a time for healing and forgiveness? About the Author: Belle Calhoune lives in Connecticut with her college sweetheart husband and two daughters. After a thirteen year career as a Federal Investigator, she chose to pursue a writing career. An avid lover of romance novels since she was a teen, she enjoys writing love stories and reading them. She loves spending summers in beautiful Cape Cod and traveling to new places. A dog lover, she has a mini poodle and a chocolate lab. More than anything, she believes in happily ever afters.  My Review: Braden and Piper were friends since preschool. Then something terrible happened to change that and life led them on different paths.  A few years later, Piper’s diner is in trouble. But is he the right person to ask for help? A lot has changed for him too, but he still has feelings for Piper, and sweet memories of their friendship.  Many characters have difficult pasts and lives in Owl Creek. But can Piper and Braden rekindle what they once had? Braden’s opinion of, and lasting feelings for, Piper, are so sweet and heartfelt that it made my own heart ache. He has a secret about years ago, but will he let it slip?  Braden’s sister Sage was abducted and he’s overjoyed when she is back. I really liked her straight-talking, but understanding attitude and the fact she was full of empathy and truth.  Piper is driven and Braden is sensitive and appreciates Piper. His family chocolate business is a hub in the town too, but Piper is important to him.  Owl Creek is a snowy, cosy place and the Snowy Owl Diner is an important place in the community. I loved the festive traditions  Alaskan Christmas Redemption is a realistic, heartwarming story that has an undercurrent of real-life problems such as sudden loss, economic hardship or being bi-racial as well as love and friendship.  Belle Calhoune creates a town that I felt immersed in and I felt for the characters. I was rooting for Braden and Piper. Friendship, loyalty and evaluating what’s important are key themes here and ones I enjoy.  Can Piper trust Braden after his absence and the past? I was glad that Piper had her brother Hank too. The subplots of the diner situation and Braden and Piper as well as themes of secrets, feelings fate faith and love make this a great book for a lazy afternoon.  Thanks to Belle Calhoune and Harlequin Love Inspired for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. 4 stars About the Author:  Author website  Instagram  Twitter  Facebook  Goodreads  Where to Buy: B&N  Amazon  Goodreads  IndieBound  Harlequin  Goodreads  Excerpt: Braden watched as Piper’s eyes widened with surprise. The shock on her face made him want to laugh out loud, but he knew the situation was far from humorous. The Snowy Owl Diner was at stake, and although he’d agreed to provide his assistance, he wasn’t sure if Piper even believed it could be saved. From this point forward, she would have to tell him everything about her situation. He would have to look over the books with a fine-tooth comb. If he was truly going to help her, he needed to understand exactly what she was facing. The good, the bad and the ugly. “A-are you serious?” she asked, sputtering. “Completely,” he said, a smile twitching at the corners of his mouth. “Whatever you need is what I’ll do.” She pressed a hand to her chest. “You will? Really? You were so decisive last night. What made you change your mind?” Braden paused before answering. “Because I owe you, Piper.” “For what?” she asked, confusion radiating from her eyes. Telling her the truth wasn’t an option. She wouldn’t want to know why he would forever be indebted to her. “For a million different things. You’ve always being in my corner. How could I say no to you when you’ve always said yes to me? No matter what trouble I got into or the problems I laid at your feet, you always jumped in to help me. There’s no way I could do any less for you.” Tears slid down Piper’s face, and she made no attempt to wipe them away. She bowed her head, and he could see her lips moving. When she raised her head back up, Braden saw pure happiness emanating from her eyes. “Thank you, Braden. I’m so grateful that you changed your mind. I know it’s complicated, but in my heart I truly feel that I was meant to carry on Daddy’s legacy. I just can’t imagine my life without this place in it. I’m willing to do just about anything to save it.” Braden couldn’t envision Piper losing ownership of the restaurant either. It would be agonizing for her. Not to mention Trudy and Hank. They were all invested in it. The townsfolk would be both saddened and upset. Piper would be the subject of endless gossip about the circumstances of her losing ownership of the Snowy Owl. She wouldn’t be able to bear it if the townsfolk discovered that the diner had been struggling since before her father’s death. He knew Jack’s reputation was important to Piper. People would sympathize with her as well, but he knew she would be inconsolable. If there was even a small chance of them reversing things, he wanted to give it his all. It would be his penance for shaving years off Jack’s life. If it hadn’t been for him, Jack might be here today, doing everything he could to boost the restaurant and spreading his effortless charm throughout the establishment. “We should meet up so you can give me an opportunity to look over the books and all of your monthly bills along with revenue. That’ll at least give me a snapshot of what’s been going on.” Piper made a sad face. “Sure thing. I hope you see something in there that I missed, but I crunched the numbers over and over again. It’s not looking good.” “We have to look at all your options. You might need a lawyer or a consultant.” She shook her head. “I don’t have money for an attorney. It’s a lack of money that’s gotten me into this situation in the first place.” Piper let out a frustrated groan. “Why don’t we meet this evening to try and sort some of this out?” he suggested. From what he’d initially gathered, they had only a short window of time to get things dealt with before everything imploded. That needed to be prevented at all costs. “That sounds good. Come by after I close up,” she told him. “I have to get back out there, but I’m so thrilled you changed your mind about helping me.” She flashed him a smile. “In case you didn’t realize it, I’m super grateful.”

Christmas 2019 

For our Christmas meal   we had salad followed by soup then turkey, roast potatoes and vegetables. 

We got some interesting things inside our Christmas stocking this year. 

I got Revolution Beauty’s Reloaded eyeshadow palette in Velvet Rose which I’m excited to try because of the mix of pinks burgundies browns and golds. 


It has been on my “to buy” list for awhile but I decided to wait since I already have Maybelline’s The Burgundy Bar palette which has similar colours. 
I was given it in the standard size but I do know that this year Revolution also released all their Reloaded palettes in a Maxi size. 

We were given some chocolates some socks and I was given some moisturising socks. 


My sister gave us a photo book with our wedding photos in. 

I was also given these 2 facemask sachets from Superdrug; 

Creamy Coconut Mask 


And a Purifying Clay Mask:

I think we were given some thoughtful gifts and the photo book and makeup palette are what I’m happiest about. I’m curious to find out if the moisturising socks work. 

Book- wise, I’m listening to my ARC of Christmas Angels by Nancy Naigle, review coming soon! 

Happy Christmas! Have a wonderful day. 

Sunday with a Sassy Shopaholic: Christmas Decorations and Mascaras

This week lidl had Christmas decorations. They actually have a wide range and we took some time thinking about what to buy. We finally settled on these gold  baubles for 4,99 € a pack


 (they were also available in red, turquoise and brown).  We got clear heart shaped ones we can put photos inside. 

I’m coming to the end of my L’Oreal Paradise mascara and found these.   


The packaging seems really similar to Maybelline Volum Express mascara and Colossal mascara.  

They cost 1,99€ each. 

Happy Christmas 2018

Happy Christmas everyone! I want to show you what I got in my stocking this year. 


I’m always wearing  lipstick and don’t like it loose in my bag so I love this sea-green velvet lipstick case. Cute colour and I adore  the bow detail. 


This heart shaped mirror is compact and perfect for touch ups. 


I’m crazy for anything lepard print and this shower cap will be a good addition to my collection. 


Socks in a gift box


And something for my sweet tooth. 

What surprises did you  get today? Have a wonderful Christmas! 

Early Christmas Presents 

Everyone knows Christmas is just round  the corner. I knew there were Black Friday offers on the Amazon site and there were things I wanted to buy. I’d been debating buying the Kindle version of The Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook 2019 


 and am putting the finishing touches to my book. Every person I have asked about it said it is an investment. So I treated myself. 

When I was at secondary school, I loved the series Making Out by Katherine Applegate so I bought books #21 #24 and #27 to add to my collecton. I only need books #22 and #23 and I have them all.



Finally I bought Alfredo’s present, the complete Brothers and Sister’s Boxset. 


I’ll review all these things soon. They weren’t Black Friday offers but sometimes I like to buy something whether it is on offer or not especially if they are things we have wanted for a long time which they are. 

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? 

Happy Christmas 2017! 

Happy Christmas to my readers! What are you up to today? 

Alfredo and I had our Christmas dinner last night as is the Spanish custom. We decided to eat the roast pork filled with pine nuts, plums bacon and red peppers we bought especially for Christmas Eve.  We ate it with roasted rosemary potatoes and broccoli. It was delicious! We still have some left for today. Dessert was a triple chocolate log. I’m making an exception to my no chocolate rule for Christmas as a treat. We also have some chocolates that look and taste just like Ferrero Rocher ones, but without the price tag. I’m a great lover of all things “dupe.” 

Today,  we opened our gifts and Christmas stocking. We really like to mix British and Spanish traditions every time we celebrate Christmas. I sent ecards to most people this year but did get some physical cards in the post. Our apartment is decorated with the cards and the real Christmas tree (dwarf pine) we have had for two years now. I love real Christmas trees and it smells lovely, like lemons. 

Christmas is not all about gifts for me, but I love what I recieved. A small notebook, a hairband for when I apply my makeup some cosy socks  and glitter gel pens. I also got the Friends complete box set on Bluray which I really wanted. 

Today, we are just relaxing and I’m happy as Grease is on TV this evening. I love that film, and also watched The Grinch. I’m hoping we get to watch more films over the Christmas season. 

I love listening to books via VoiceOver on my iPad, and always look for festive reads for Christmas Day. Want to know what I’m reading today? Click HERE to see! 

Whatever you do, have a great day! Peace and happiness for all. Sending special love to my family and friends, although I have already via Facebook. 

How To Send (Christmas)  Cards When You Have a Disability 

Amongst the preparations for Christmas that I talked about in my last post I have been finishing sending some Christmas cards this week. Writing Christmas cards is either a joy or a chore for people, whichever way you look at it. With writing being very difficult for me as you will see in this other post I have to find other ways of getting my Christmas wishes to people. 

This is luckily easier that some people might think, and that’s because of all the online card websites that are available. I always pick free ones and always find something for everyone. Yesterday, I finished sending cards to family and friends in the USA,  Australia Germany and to my sister, parents and grandmother in different areas of England 

I send the same messages I always would, but the cards are delivered quicker. This is a real advantage because this time of year is always busy at post offices, and they don’t always think of access so even that task isn’t always accessible to me.  

I’d really recommend ecards as many are really great and varied. I always find some I like, and,  for me, they are an easy way to send Christmas (or any type of wish) to my loved ones. So far, my favorite site to send cards from is 123greetings.com. 

They have a wonderful selection of cards and even in different languages like Spanish and German, so I’m able to use those cards when I need them to send to either Alfredo (yes, we do send eachother ecards although we live together- it’s one of our “things.” ) This year, the card in German was for a friend I have known for years. 

How do you send your cards? Do you use ecards or have a favourite site?