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  • Writer's pictureVeronica Cline Barton

Veronica's #WritersDiary: #RoadTrip to Big Bear; Mountain Air & #Christmas Cheer!

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.”

Norman Vincent Peale

We headed to the hills last week for a bit of mountain air and Christmas cheer in Big Bear. The weather was delightfully chilly and warmed this SoCal gal's heart--I got to wear my faux-furry boots for the first time! I was also charmed to see the magic of Christmas in full display on the streets and shops of this quaint mountain town, no surfboards in sight...🎀🎄

The crisp, nighttime air was just the thing to get the Christmas cheer flowing, aided perhaps by a wee dram of nog (or two). Unfortunately, snow was yet to fly on this trip, but as of this writing, winter storms are brewing. The skiers are chomping at the bit to hit the fresh packed snow--I hope they get their pre-Christmas wish!

I don't know about you, but there is nothing I like better than wandering through the shops at Christmas. I adore the displays and vignettes. It didn't take much of an arm twist to get this gal's credit cards smokin'!

I even received an early birthday present! I found this cookbook, Let's Eat France! by Francois-Regis Guadry and friends in one of the shops. It is absolutely one of the best cookery books I've ever seen. Loads of recipes, food pictures, maps where the foods are grown, history, quotes--ooh-la-la, a delightful read I'll be pouring through time and time again in the New Year. If you're a lover of French foods and culinary details, this is a #MustRead. Best yet, I did some checking once I was back home...Amazon has the hardcover at a bargain price! #Magnifique

We truly enjoyed this pre-Christmas excursion, just the thing to get into the #holiday spirit! It's Wednesday, time for #DearDiary:

A Wonderful #BookReview for Christmas Bizarre!

Today I wanted to share a book review I received this past Sunday from Leonard Tillerman, one of the finest supporters of the #WritingCommunity on Twitter there is. For those of you who follow Leonard on Twitter and his website, you know how awesome it is to receive one of his reviews. He's had some health challenges in recent years and was offline for quite a while. He's now back reading and reviewing books, for which we are all grateful for! I am truly honored to receive this review--it doesn't get much better than this...💕✨🌹

Christmas Bizarre By: Veronica Cline Barton | Leonard Tillerman

Most families have a treasured holiday tradition which they hold dear. It could be singing carols around the fireplace, decorating the house, or coming together as one to watch a beautiful tree lighting display. The possibilities are really quite endless. For Rikkhe St. Claire’s family, it is storytelling which is the tradition of choice. Coming together each year in a friendly tale-spinning contest. What follows is a mesmerizing series of stories which have the magic of Christmas at their very core. For readers searching for beautiful writing which elegantly captures the transcendent power of love– look no further. You have arrived!

Written by author Veronica Cline Barton, Christmas Bizarre offers readers a collection of 5 heartwarming tales. The way in which these stories are delivered is both creative and imaginative. Coming together for their annual Christmas storytelling get together, the members of the St. Claire family each deliver one of the tales to the delight of the group. Readers are then able to meet a host of different characters and engage in captivating plot lines. For instance, in “Noel A Versailles” we get to meet an eccentric young lady who is obsessed with building a replica of Marie Antoinette’s regal playhouse. However, when an exquisite Advent Calendar arrives one day, it will change her life in ways she could never have imagined. Perhaps my own personal favorite story of the group is “The Rocking Horse". This tale tugged at my heartstrings in ways I never imagined possible. Melancholy, sanguine, and magical… all at the same time. It reeled me right in!

Without a doubt, this collection has a lot to offer for a variety of readers. With the Christmas theme propelling them in the background, the tales include rich romance, intriguing mystery and beguiling supernatural elements throughout the pages. These are all woven together with elegant prose which flows in a seemingly effortless manner. The author knows her craft as she uses the charming and cozy background of Christmas to generate powerful emotions within the reader. We are able to dive right into the stories as the vivid writing allows us to picture and visualize the various events. Never one to “tell” the reader what to feel… Ms. Cline Barton simply lets us feel it. Very powerful!

As there are a number of stories in this collection, it is difficult to dissect all the multiple characters. However, the main group, which consists of the St. Claire family and Rikkhe’s boyfriend, Pete, match the story perfectly. They are all authentic and warm individuals who espouse empathy and kindness. These traits are definitely needed for the full impact of this collection to be delivered. They are a wonderful support group! None of this feels forced or contrived in the least. Essentially, they are compelling and genuine characters who we instantly feel as if we can trust.

Anyone who is looking for an uplifting and heartfelt way to start the holiday season should seriously consider giving Christmas Bizarre a read. There is something in it for everyone!

5 out of 5 Christmas Stars for this one.


#AmReading #AmReviewing

A clever Christmas mystery this week from the writers of Twitter...

#Author Verity Bright, Murder in the Snow (A Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery Book 4), 5

Lady Eleanor is about to host her first Christmas party at Henley Hall. The decorations and food are aplenty for the invited villagers living near the estate. As the festivities begin, spirits are high as the guests enjoy the holiday treats and festive ambiance. A race around the snowy estate puts everyone in a cheery mood, until one of the final runners drops dead at the finish line. Is it a tragic accident, or is foul play lurking behind the Christmas tree?

Lady Eleanor soon finds that all is not as it seems as the vicar succumbs to what appears to be a poisoning. With an investigation led by Detective Seldon, will Eleanor and her trusted butler, Clifford, help sort through the clues before more evil deeds are unleashed? Author Bright weaves a clever, holiday tale to read on these chilly, winter nights. The characters, settings and plot twists are a delight and will keep you guessing. A festive mystery, highly recommended!

Next up in the #reading queue:

The magic of Christmas...

Imagine my surprise when we returned from Big Bear, to receive this beautiful Christmas wreath makeover from one of our lovely cat sitters who just happens to be the creative designer and owner of Elegant Designs by LuLu! It is one of the most holly, jolliest Christmas wreaths I have ever seen and I love the Mackenzie Childs flair! Needless to say, I am so very grateful. I now have a new friend and Etsy shop that I will be buying from! (Can you say Valentines💗, Easter🐇 ,Spring🌷, Summer🌞) You can follow Elegant Designs by LuLu on FB and Instagram, and check out LuLu's Etsy shop here:

Welcome to my world. Enjoy the rest of your #week and #weekend friends!

Crowns and Kisses,


P.S. As the Countdown to Christmas continues, we're heading back to Roger's Gardens to have dinner at their fabulous Farmhouse Restaurant. We may leave, ahem, a bit early to pay another visit to their Christmas Boutique while there...#TisTheSeason 🎀🎄 Gemma and Rikkhe approve 💖👑 #HoHoHo

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