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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Burn on the Western Slope

Hello folks! Today I’d like to present to you author Angela Smith, whose novel Burn on the Western Slope has just been released. The genre is contemporary romantic suspense and the publisher is Crimson Romance.

For this occasion, Angela is doing a virtual super book blast tour with Goddess Fish Promotions for one day only. Angela will be rewarding one of three prizes: a car mirror hanger or key chain (a seashell as a tie-in to her book), an mp3 album by Pretty Little Blisters or a $10 Amazon gift car, to a randomly drawn commenter. She’ll also award an mp3 album by Pretty Little Blisters to a randomly drawn host.

 
Author Bio and links
During her senior year in high school, Angela was dubbed most likely to write a novel because she always had her nose stuck in a book. She would hide her romance novels under her history book until her teacher caller her out on it. Writing has been her dream ever since her mother read Brer Rabbit to her sister and her so often that they were able to recite it back to each other before actually learning to read.
She loves reading about the adventure of love, and getting involved in the legal field developed her love of suspense. She believes love is a mystery that most people have trouble resolving. While she doesn’t expect we’ll ever solve that mystery, she loves to read and write about characters who work to solve their love’s mystery.
Find out more about Angela at her website www.loveisamystery or tweet her at @angelawriter
Her publisher’s website is www.crimsonromance.com

 
Book blurb

On the ski slopes of Montana, deception turns deadly and seduction becomes more hypnotic than jewels.

Reagan McKinney is on a mission to discover more about a deceased uncle who mysteriously left her a sizable inheritance, a condo in the mountains, and a stash of stolen jewels.  With both her graphic design career and her love life in shambles, the opportunity to begin a new life couldn’t have come at a better time.  When she becomes involved with the sexy FBI agent next door, she finds her struggle is not only to keep her heart intact, but her life.


Grief stricken after an undercover investigation ends in the tragic death of his partner, FBI Agent Garret Chambers goes home to find solace in the arms of his mountain home.  That is, until his boss assigns him to investigate the spirited brunette staying in the condo next door.  He is assigned to investigate Reagan’s involvement with a large jewel fencing organization, but his investigation becomes comprised when his attraction to her heats up.  Will his discovery destroy everything he has come to love, including Reagan?


Excerpt

Garret blinked, slowly, and she watched his chest rise and fall. “Did you know something about Kyle?”

She threw her boot at him. He caught it. She cursed.

“I knew he was a dirty cheating slime ball. Just like you.” Reagan tugged on her socks and her knee-high boot, tightening the lace in record speed. Standing, she marched to him and seized the other from his grasp, refusing to look at him. Her balance teetered as she tried to slip it on, but she wouldn't give him the satisfaction of seeing her helplessness. She braced one hand on the wall as she loosened the lace and lugged on the boot, refusing to sit. Refusing to reveal any kind of vulnerability or regret.
 
Garret remained in the doorway, watching. Unmoving. She pushed past him, his woodsy scent all the more reason to hate him, or at least hate the effect he had on her. She donned her jacket, slipped on her gloves, and tore out the front door.

“It’s too far to walk,” Garret called behind her.

“I’ll take my chances.”

Garret pulled on her arm and whipped her around. Eye level with his chest, she didn’t fail to notice the tension streaming out of every pore of his body. The cords in his neck bulged with each breath. His eyes, a deep, dark, abysmal dye, wouldn’t let her inside his head. Which was a good thing, now that she knew the psychosis of his mental state.

 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Some people recycle too much...

Warning: don't read this if you have a delicate stomach!

What I am going to tell you today is true - I swear to God, and I do have the picture to prove it (but I don't show it for delicacy).

Since 1992 we have a flat here at the coast in Knokke-Heist, I'm sure you already knew this. We have a penthouse flat, and next to us is another penthouse flat. The owners are an older couple. He's a former insurance agent, and as far as we can tell an alcoholic. His wife likes her beer as well.

As long as they've been living next to us they never spoke a word (at least nothing we could understand) to us, and we also noticed they never did anything in their flat, like painting, or having new windows etc. Food almost never appears on their table. Well, once in a time they invited another couple and they shared ONE KILO of mussels (!) with ten pommes frites per person. (We eat like 1,5 kilo of mussels a person and 1 kilo of pommes frites to share.)

We call them the 'Skunks' because they are also not over hygenic. Whenever they come to their flat, we have a bigger number of flies around, and other insects. And when their door opens, it stinks. Probably because the man can't control his bladder anymore and we've seen a trail of brown in the hallway leading up to their entrance.

Somebody must have made a complaint, because since the last year he wears adult diapers. But probably they cost too much...

So do you know what his wife does? She washes them in a bowl of water, and then hangs them to dry (for two days at a time) and I suppose they'll be re-used afterwards. Gross, isn't it?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Tomorrowland

When you are young and want to party, there is really just one place in the world you ought to be now: the Tomorrowland festival in Boom, Belgium.

Since 2005 all techno and house fans find their way to this rather unknown town in Belgium. The festival takes around three days, and fantasy is used widely. Top DJ's (or how do they call them nowadays?) take the stage and the young people get wild. David Guetta, for instance, or DJ Tiesto.

I don't understand what is so attractive in the techno-sound (just sounds like boom-boom to me) but apparently it is something that lots of others find attractive.

On Friday, flights from all over the world (and the planes really had the Tomorrowland sign painted on them) brought festival goers from all over the world to Belgium. Young people from Australia or China, from Brazil or Peru, from South-Africa and of course from most European countries.

When you have money to spend, you can take a 'villa' on the festival grounds. It will cost you some 20,000 Euro (26,000 dollar) to have you own house, but the yacuzi is not included (that will cost an extra...) You can also enjoy food prepared by top chefs like Sergio Herman..


The eye catcher on the main stage is a volcano. After last year's 'Book of Wisdom' everybody was curious to see what it would be like this year. It became a 130 meter broad and 35 meter high volcano which released its secrets bit by bit. The mastodont has small and mega-big waterfalls but also spews fire - which is reflected in the crowd.

Any Tomorrowland fans around? If so, please leave a comment and tell us how you enjoyed the festival.

Friday, July 26, 2013

How safe is the train?

When you are watching the daily news, it would appear that the train is not a very safe way of transport.


A couple of days ago, a Spanish high-speed train derailed near Santiago de Compostela. At least 78 people died in the crash, hundreds are wounded. Before that, there was another accident in France and in April there was the disaster with the poisonous fluids in our own country. A freight train derailed and liters of dangerous fluid went into the river and brooklets of Wetteren. Here only one life was lost (an older man who was curious and went to examine the place of derailment with his dog) but the center of town was closed down for some time. All shops, bars, restaurants and school had to close unatil the poison was disposed of (they had to clean up the sewers for that). As I am a teacher in a school there, I had to remain home as well. And until the end of the schoolyear I had to take a bus instead of the train, because the trains did not go past the place of accident.

You'd think the train is not quite safe to travel on, when you look at all those accidents. But in truth, the train is one of the safest ways to travel. Yes, they don't always run on time (not in Belgium, anyway) but most of the time they get you safely to your place of destination.

When accidents happen, more than often it is caused by human error. In Wetteren, the train conductor was way over the legal speed limit and because of this high speed the train derailed. The same appears to be true for the disaster in Spain. The guy behind the wheel was a speed freak, who used his Facebook account to show his fondness for high speeds. Only in France they still don't know what caused the accident. This could be an attack by terrorists; it is whispered.

I have been travelling by train for all of my life and never experienced an accident. The worst thing that happened was sitting in the train when suddenly somebody jumped under it. I felt how the body was knocked against the carriage I was sitting in. And then of course we had to stay on this train for hours before the police had done their job and the medical examiner had released the body....

I have had accidents with my car (when I still drove one). None of my fault, but nevertheless... I never got hurt though, only the cars got wrecked. And once I sat on a plane that had to do an emergency landing in London Heathrow. Then we KNEW something was very wrong, and the plane could explode any second. Wonder above wonder we landed (albeit while a green fluid sprayed out of the wings) on a far-off runway sided with tens of firefighter trucks and lots of ambulances. The worst thing of the whole experience was you were not allowed to use the toilet (and my gall bladder was nearly bursting) and then having to see you got onto another plane at Heathrow (all couple with children had precedent and I had to threathen them with my lawyer to get seats in a plane that left the same day)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

D-I-Y

As the warm and sunny weather continues (it started on July 4th) sunbathing etc. begin to bore us! So we decided to do some work on days when the temperature was not above 25° Celsius.

What we are doing is create a dressing in our bedroom. We recycled parts of an old wardrobe (sawed them into matching pieces - this we could do while still enjoying some sun on the terrace) and drilled holes into walls, fixed screws, etc.


Don't say that women can't do any manual work! Especially my sister is very capable in making furniture (well, she did not study carpenting, but her creations are worth looking at) and she has a very good vision in seeing the problems ahead.

We first created the new dressing on paper (like an architect) and then measured up everything for the right size.

Lots of men would not be able to do this. I remember from years ago, when we ordered new bedroom furniture, the guys who delivered it said it wouldn't fit in the bedroom. My sister just said: It must. I've measured it. To their big surprise it did fit, albeit with only 1cm to spare to open the door!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Baby boy for Kate and William

Yesterday afternoon, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge became the parents of a baby boy - as far unnamed. The child weighs 3,8 kg so it's quite a healthy lad!


I often wonder how it is to be a royal baby. Of course, these babies are cherished and well-cared for. They don't lack in anything that could be bought, but do they also have what can't be? Growing up, they have to follow rules galore and are never allowed to set one foot wrong - otherwise it will be reported widely and 'scandal' is whispered...

When my 13th century forefather would have been a legitimate child, I could now be at least a Countess or even better, a Duchess or Princess. And so would be my sister. Our father and mother would hold a title going back to the times before William the Conqueror. Our ancestor, Robert de Bethune, belonged to the house of Dampierre which was linked to most of the important families in Europe. One of the Dampierres was King of Jerusalem and another was Empress of Constantinopel.

I am glad this kid was only the son of a serving girl, made pregnant by the then Count of Flanders. She was well rewarded for it, and the kid became Mayor of our town. In the Middle Ages, being a bastard of nobility was not a shame.

Still, it feels nice to know for yourself you're of the same rank as most of the royalty living now. Being Count of Flanders in the Middle Ages was better than being king of England by far. Flanders was the wealthiest region in Europe and lots of kings envied us this wealth - hence the many wars to gain our territory. Flanders was bigger then the Flanders that exists now. It had parts of Holland and the whole of the north of France among its territory, along with the Flemish provinces.

But I grew up with parents who were strict but who allowed us many freedom, allowed us to be who we like to become and who loved us until they died. This tight sense of family still shows because my sister and I share a house and live together in harmony - most likely until our death. We can do what we like and enjoy life at its fullest.  A royal prince or princess won't be allowed this luxury.  There is the protocol. Can you imagine you have to call your mum or dad 'Your Majesty?' and you can't hug them when you want? Prince Charles, I know, had to make a special request when he wanted to see his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.

No, I don't envy royal babies!

Monday, July 22, 2013

The good old fashioned diary

I don't know if a lot of people still write in their diaries, but I do.


I started my diary when I was just fifteen years old. The first ten years I really wrote EVERY day, but as I grew older the entries grew more rarely and were in fact more a travel journal. Nevertheless, I've been keeping up adding entries to my diary until today.

A year or so ago, I began to copy all these handwritten reports onto a USB stick. Reading through those old journals was like going back in time, and reliving every thing - happy or sad.

When you ask a person what he or she remembers from his/her childhood, the answer will be: not so much. A few things that stick, but the rest?

That is why such a diary is a goldmine. Being good in writing also reflects in my diaries, even at such a young age. When I now read about the year 1971, I'm back in time completely and even remember things that were not written at the moment.

In 1971 I was in love with the boy next door. His name was Alex, but although he was very friendly he never felt anything for me... Those heartaches!!!!

By now I'm in the year 1980. Still have a lot of years to cover, and the file grows bigger and bigger. Just as well I bought a USB of 16 MB!

Does anyone who reads this have a diary? I was the only one at home. My sister never wrote a diary, as she did not like to write in the first place. And none of my friends at school did either.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

New king for Belgium

Some weeks ago, our reigning monarch, Albert II, announced he would be abdicating the throne in favour of his eldest son, Prince Filip.


Tomorrow the official tranfer of power will take place, exactly on July 21st, which is the National Feast Day of our country. Albert is not a young man anymore, and recently he encountered a lot of problems. Last year, it took the government more than a year to form (!) and he also has a son (Laurent - who is whispered not to be his son, but that of an Italian magnate) who always causes conflict. And a woman who claims to be his daughter - Delphine Boël - and looks very much like him. Recently she asked for his DNA to prove his fatherhood...

So now we'll get King Filip I. In his early fifties now and married to Mathilde. She is the daughter of a count in the French-speaking part of the country. Her mother is a Polish aristocrat. She worked as a logopedist before she married the prince.


The couple has four children (up to now, at least). The eldest child, who will become the first Queen of Belgium (if the country still exist by then), is Elizabeth. She is 12 now and the first of the Belgian royals to speak fluent Flemish. Then there two boys, Gabriel and Emmanuel, and the youngest is another daughter, Eleonore.


The weather forecast for tomorrow says it's going to be a sunny and warm day. A change from the usual rain on the 21st! We call it the national 'drasj'. A 'drasj' is heavy rain, btw.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Zot van A

The last couple of years, the Flemish film industry has been making really good films, which have won more than one award internationally. Just think of ‘The Broken Circle Breakdown’ which has been gathering one prize after the other.

Yesterday evening I watched another of these great movies. It’s titled Zot van A and it is a film by Jan Verheyen. A little word of explanation. ‘Zot van a’ is a Flemish expression, typical for the town of Antwerp, and means: I’m crazy about you. The ‘A’ in the title also stands for the names of some of the main characters, all beginning with ‘a’ and of course this letter is also the symbol of the town of Antwerp.
So what is the film about? It is in fact a feel good movie, one that makes you laugh and weep away a tear.
 
Anna divorced Bruno because he had an affair with their son Boris’ school teacher. Anna tries to live as a single mother, but it doesn't work out. Even taking a younger lover won't work. Anna is jealous of Lydia, her best friend. The marriage of Arno and Lydia, Anna’s best friend, appears to be perfect – but is it really so?

Alain and Fred are a gay couple who plan to get married. But something happens in church… Fred feel insecure because he doesn't have a family, unlike Alain. Fred's father left home when the kid was only 3 years old.


Alain's sister,Astrid, works in a jewelry shop and dreams of meeting the knight on his white horse. But when the country’s most wanted bachelor makes advances, she doesn’t get his meaning…
And finally there’s Annette, who works for a TV channel and finds her true love when she goes in search of a new Sante Claus (because the actor who always performed the role died just before the show).

Zot van A is a film about men and women, about fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, and love, of course. Because love is everywhere, and we all want it. But love is like Santa Claus. You have to believe in it, otherwise it won’t work.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Which book/TV character would you like to be?

Does it ever happen to you? You are reading a book, or watching a good film, and you'd wish you could step into the shoes of the hero or heroine? Live through all their adventures, perhaps changes a bit?

Who would you like to be? Do you see yourself as a romantic figure, a Scarlett O'Hara on a plantation in the Old South?


Or would you rather be a super-intelligent sleuth, like Sherlock Holmes?


Or, on the other hand, be a mighty Queen - like Elizabeth I of England - who conquered Armada's and made her country one of the foremost in Europe?


And why not chose to be an adventurer, like Indiana Jones?


I could go on and on. Wouldn't it be fun if you could tell me who you want to be? For myself, I would like to make myself into a female Dirk Pitt - because Dirk Pitt is the hero of my dreams and I sure would like to meet the guy (if that were only possible). I've always loved adventure and sometimes done things that were in that alley.

I don't know about my sister. Her imagination is not a big as mine. Perhaps she'd like to be a vampire hunter, or Einstein??

Monday, July 15, 2013

Shifty Magic

Hello folks! Today I’d like to introduce you to Judy Teel, author of Shifty Magic. Right now, Judy is doing a virtual book blast tour with Goddess Fish Promotions and for this occasion, she’ll be giving away a $25 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn commenter.


Judy Teel lives in North Carolina with her boisterous family (husband, three kids, a dog and a geriatric bunny). When she’s not writing, she’s doing the family thing, horseback riding when she can, hiking occasionally, camping as much as possible, reading, playing video games, and generally pursuing her ambition to someday be a impressively lazy.

Judy knew she wanted to be a novelist since she was fifteen. She’d always written stories, but it was in 10th grade literature class during a boring lecture on Billy Budd (sorry Mr. Melville) that it hit her—the world needed more magic in it. What would be sweeter than writing fun, exciting stories for a living?

There have been a lot of ups and downs since then and a lot of delays, but she’ll be the first to tell you that you can make your dreams come true. It takes determination and hard work, but it’s never impossible.
 

 
What is the book about?

...some people will do anything for revenge.

A tough PI struggles to track down a vengeful serial killer only to discover that the murderer holds the key to her secret magical heritage.

Book One in the YA13 paranormal/mystery series Dangerous Magic by Judy Teel. "Expect action, on-the-edge-of-your-seat suspense, and the perfect touch of romance."

 
And, of course, a teaser…
I inched forward, far enough to see past the end of the alley and into the loading area of the abandoned Walmart. Only one stubborn streetlight on the other side of the broken security fence cast its inadequate glow across the cracked asphalt. Shadows pushed around the edges of the open space, deepening where they cluttered up against rusty dumpsters and smashed crates.

My heart thudded against my ribs at the sight of the woman standing just inside the slash of light, huddling in on herself, shaking. She was average height and on the plump side, around twenty like me, with light brown hair. Unlike me, her boobs looked ready to spill out of the low-cut halter top she wore, and her tight micro skirt was so close to showing her goods that if she twitched, I'd be scarred for life.

Three male vamps cruised around her like sharks. Their fangs were displayed like sharp, curved knives, their features sunken parodies of a human face, more like fleshy skulls as their insatiable hunger gained control. I wondered how much money they'd offered to lure her out of her zone and into such a dangerously secluded area. Maybe all they'd needed was to promise her the erotic trip that their venom gave. Either way, she'd made a fatal error.

People were incredibly stupid about vampires. They had no idea what they were dealing with.

Some useful links:






Shifty Magic for Kindle: http://amzn.com/B00CXQ7EOE

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Mythical Scotland

As promised, I am now able to post some of our pics from the recent trip to Scotland.


In this first picture, you can see the mighty Edinburgh Castle high up on its volcanic rock. In the Middle Ages, this must have been a fortress nobody could conquer. Around the castle was Nor Loch (the north lake), which was the open sewer of the town. You know, in these old days, the inhabitants threw their 'wee-wee's' and 'jobbies' (don't the Scots have nice words for excrements?) out of the window at set times (7am and 9 pm). When it rained, these excrements were carried along the winding Streets down to the loch. This is why Edinburgh was nicknamed Old Reeky in those times...

And Nor Loch did not only contain excrements. When the lake was drained in the 18th century, when construction of the newer part of town began, they found at least 600 skeletons, mainly of women who were supposed to be witches.

Here is a picture of the newer part of town. See the difference? This is Georgian style, and the house you see can be visited. It once belonged to the Marques of Bute.


And we also went to see some Highland Games in Luss (near Loch Lomond). It was nice to see all the different disciplines of pole throwing, dancing, pipers, etc.


The drive to the Highlands was wonderful. We came through the most beautiful scenery you can imagine. Especially Glencoe has its charm. Has anyone seen Monarch of the Glen? We passed the house where the series was filmed, too.


And of course a visit to Loch Ness could not be missed. We did not meet Nessie, but I suppose that was because the place was too crowded. I imagine, if we could be there on our own, we might catch a glimpse of the monster...


 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The definition of 'holiday'

To most people, taking a holiday would mean filling your suitcases with sunscreen lotion and bikini's, to others with walking shoes and strong socks.

In my country, most hard-working people dream of a week away in some sunny resort, best of all 'all-in' - whether it be in the south of France, a Spanish costa, Turkey or Egypt.

The rest want to go to the mountains, take hiking tours of the Alps.

Our definition of 'taking a holiday' is do more than we do normally. Our jobs tire us pretty hard, but we get even more tired when being away! (That's why we quit doing ANYTHING today - just lazy around on the big terrace of our penthouse flat at the coast and enjoy the nice weather.)

While in Scotland, we walked over 100 km (going from our hotel to the center of town already took half an hour - and we walk at a good pace). We went more than once from the hotel to the town center, and next to that we did make excursions. We drove like 500 km to see the Highlands (well, it was worth it) and we were always up early and late in bed. We did not see any TV, did not spend any time on the computer or on the phone (I don't have a smartphone, btw), did not read any book. We were outside, seeing things.

This way we always manage to see a great deal of the place or country we visit, and this is something you carry along in your memories. I always say 'They can't t take that away from me'. Who knows, I might get ill one day and not be able to travel anymore. Or I might just die. After having had a few near-misses with death, both my sister and I live from one day to another, and are grateful we can experience all the wonders of this day.

For our late mother having a holiday meant not having to cook or clean, but just be served.

So what consider you as 'having a holiday'?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Back from Scotland

Yesterday evening my sister and I returned from a trip to Scotland. We have been wanting to this for a long time, and finally it happened.


We stayed in Edinburgh (at the Grosvenor Hilton) and the first day we discovered the town. As you probably know, Edinburgh is a medieval town and has two parts, the old town and the new town. The old town is the part with the steep street and the castle on the rock, while the 'new' town was built in the 18th century and is mainly classic in design. Our hotel was situated in the new part of town.

We also made some day trips to the middle of Scotland and also one to the Highlands. It was very tiring, but oh so worth it! We attended Highland Games (fun!) and tasted some whisky. I finally got to taste the Laphroaig which DCI Banks always drinks in the books of Peter Robinson. A rather smoky taste, but not bad. My sister probably wouldn't like it, though. And I always drink my whisky straight, not on the rocks.

Edinburgh has some great shops and restaurants as well. We made some unexpected discoveries in eateries, like the Mussels and Steak House at the Grass Market (just down Victoria Street) and Maison Bleu, where French cuisine is combined with Moroccan influences. All very decent quality of food and the prices quite reasonable too. And if you like Indian food, there was a good Indian-Punjabi restaurant at the corner of where we stayed, Omar Khayyam.

I'll be telling more and posting some pictures from our trip as soon as we have downloaded the photographs (more than 150) on the computer.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

No complaints about the weather!

Hurray, hurray - at last summer is here! We've been into winter until last week, with even snow in May. But finally better weather came our way and since last week Friday we've been seeing the sun and enjoying the warm temperatures.

Yesterday and the day before the temperature even went over 30° Celsius. What a luxury to be able to come outside without a warm coat. Nay, even wear tops until the late hours of night....

Time for picnics in the park and dinner outside, with a cool glass of beer or wine. Time to enjoy the outdoors and do all those things which are nice with better weather. Eat icecreams, for instance. (Had the very best ever yesterday afternoon, pistachio ice which tasted like heaven!)

Hopefully it will remain like this for a while, as the summer is still long and we don't need to work until the 1st of September.

I was talking to a guy yesterday and he thought  the cause of the bad weather Europe is experiencing is the break out of the vulcan in Iceland two years ago. Since then the jet stream has changed its direction and this causes the long cold winters.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The novels of Sabrina Jeffries

For years, I’ve been reading – and enjoying – the romances by Sabrina Jeffries. They are the kind of light reading I prefer: witty, historical, romantic.


By now, Sabrina is the author of a various number of books, most of them belonging to series. The first one is the Lord trilogy. It starts with a pirate, who kidnaps a shipload of convict women. Little does he know he is about to meet a stepsister and stepbrother, Sara Willis and the Earl of Blackmore, who will change his life… The first book deals with Sara, the second one with the Earl of Blackmore, and the final one with his friend St. Claire.

The next series is called The Swanlea Spinsters and counts five books. It starts out with three sisters, daughters to the Earl of Swanlea. Condemned to spinsterhood by circumstances (and bad luck), Lady Rosalind, Lady Helena, and Lady Juliet are struggling to make ends meet with an ill father and an underfunded estate. That’s when Griffith Knighton and Daniel Brennan make an appearance to change their lives forever. From there, matters follow a strange path: Juliet is kidnapped by a man named Morgan who turns out to be a man named Sebastian who actually does have a twin named Morgan with a friend named Ravenswood… and yes, they all have books.

Then following series is The Royal Brotherhood. This series features three half-brothers who are fictional bastards of the Prince of Wales (for more about Prinny’s many affairs, check out the Rooted in History tab below). Bound together by the royal father who denied them, they have formed a pact to help each other achieve their every desire—including the women of their dreams. So without further ado, meet Alexander Black, Earl of Iversley, Marcus North, Viscount Draker and Mr. Gavin Byrne, game house keeper…

Sabrina consequently wrote The School for Heiresses. After heiress Charlotte elopes with a dashing soldier named Jimmy Harris, who runs through her entire inheritance before having the good sense to get himself killed in a duel, she vows to keep other young women from making her mistake. So, with the help of a mysterious and anonymous benefactor whom she knows only as Cousin Michael, she establishes Mrs. Harris’s School for Young Ladies that caters to… you guessed it… heiresses! Not blatantly, of course. That would be gauche. But her private Lessons for Heiresses are quite informative, and before long wealthy parents are scrambling to have their daughters admitted to what the gossips deem “Mrs. Harris’s School for Heiresses.” The only trouble is, they probably wouldn’t approve of everything their daughters are learning!

Then comes The Hellions of Halstead Hall because every reader wanted to know more about Lord Stoneville… Oliver, Jarret, Minerva, Gabriel and Celia were deprived of their parents as a result of a tragedy that happened nineteen years ago. It sent them into free fall, which is where they’ve been ever since. Their rich maternal grandmother, not of nobility, has been supporting them, but now she has issued an ultimatum: marry or be cut off. And not just one of them, but all of them! Some of the Heiress characters will show up from time to time (Stoneville’s friends, after all, married heiresses or teachers from the school), and some of the characters from the Heiress series are sure to have a place in this series.


Now Sabrina is working on a following series: The Duke’s Men. Only one novel appeared in this series, but more will follow for sure!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Monsters Inc.

With an upcoming trip to Scotland in mind, I thought I could write a piece on monsters and ghosts.

Are they real? Lots of people will claim they are and invariably testimonials pop up of people having seen Nessie or Bigfoot, or the Yeti. Or others who spent a night in an old house or castle and saw the White Lady or the Shivering Ghoul…
I’ve been in old houses (hell, I live in one) and never ever seen or heard a ghost/monster. I’m pretty sure that when I stare across the waters of Loch Ness I won’t see any sign of Nessie. Or never meet Bigfoot when hiking through American woods.

But then I don’t believe in the supernatural. I never have premonitions, either. I live in the present and don’t think too much about the future or the past.
Now my sister is something else. Although she’ll never admit she believes in the Yeti or Nessie, she definitely believes there are things between heaven and earth that are out of our reach. She also has visions. No, she can’t tell the future (would be practical, as she could predict the winning combination of Euro Millions!), but she can tell if someone in the (close) family is going to die.

Always when there was a death in the family (our grandfather, grandmother, dad and mum) she knew in advance. The day before our mother died, she told me we should writing down the names of people we should send messages to, and quickly go to the bank to empty mother’s account (we had the pin code, and as long as the owner is not deceased, the bank can do nothing about it) and transfer it to one of our accounts. The day afterwards we got the call from the care center where our mother stayed…
Also, when on a plane which had difficulties of staying in the air and had to make an emergency landing in London Heathrow, she said not to worry, everything would be fine. She did not feel anything.

I asked her to tell me in advance when she has another ‘feeling’. I’d like to know I’m going to die so I can make my last preparations.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Miracle at Wimbledon

Tennis is a wonderful game - especially for 27-year-old Flemish player Kirsten Flipkens.


Imagine - ten years ago you won the Juniors tournament at Wimbledon and everyone predicted you a golden future. But lots of injuries and other bad luck kept you from getting anywhere. You had the capicity of becoming a top-ten player, but you could never prove it.

Only last year Kirsten was still number 262 in the WTA ranking. And then, some miracle happened. Kirsten began to win her matches, especially after working with those people who helped Kim Clijsters (who is a good friend of Kirsten). She moved up in the ranks, and made the biggest progress any one player ever made.

The story has not ended yet. Last year she did not even qualitfy for the challenges at Wimbledon, now she is playing the semi final tomorrow! She's beaten players who are much higher up the ranking and now that Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova are no longer competing, she even has a chance to play the final! Her opponent is Marion Bartoli, a French player pretty much the same age. The other semi final is between Radwanska and Lisicki.

Everyone in Belgium hopes for a final Lisicki-Flipkens, as the German girl is trained by a Flemish coach, Wim Fisette.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Increasing number of visitors for Ghent

Since the BBC began to broadcast Philippa Gregory's The White Queen, the Flemish town of Ghent has seen its number of visitors increased by 66% already. Also the town of Bruges gets more tourists than normal.


The reason why? The BBC filmed most of the outdoor scenes in Flanders. This is because our old castles and houses are well maintained and in much better condition than the English ones.


Seeing all those wonderful old buildings draws tourists to Flanders. And Ghent is certainly worth a visit. In the Middle Ages, Ghent was the seat of the Count of Flanders, who reigned over Flanders (which was in fact what are now the 5 Flemish-speaking provinces of Belgium, plus parts of Holland and the northwest of France). The Count lived in a keep called Het Gravensteen, which is one of the best kept mediëval burghs in Europe.


Other sights should include the St. Baafs cathedral, where you can admire the famous painting Het Lam Gods by the brothers Van Eyck. The painting became especially famous because one of the panels was stolen somewhere in the 1930s. Since then, every private investigator is looking for the lost panel. If you could find it, you can expect a big reward!


Also the Graslei is worth seeing (picture one). All the houses along this water belonged to rich traders who wanted to show off their wealth. And rich they were in those Middle Ages...

So if you ever visit Belgium, don't only go to Brussels, but also try to make a stop in the wonderful town of Ghent. The inhabitants are very friendly and as you know, Belgium is well-known for its thousands types of beers and the wonderful food!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Last will and testament

For some time, my sister and I have been talking about what should happen after our death. Yes, I know, it's not a subject you like to discuss, but nevertheless you should do it before it is too late.


We want to make our will, but it costs like 300 € to have it drafted at the sollicitor's. And you can do other things with that money...

But some time ago I heard on the radio there is a way around this. If you want to leave your money and possessions to a good cause (which we intend to do anyway) these organisations will do everything for you.

So I put it to the test. And yes, WWF is more than willing to accept my legacy. They've already established a relations officer to make all the contacts and they will also find a sollicitor to put all the details on paper.

We don't have any close family (no other siblings) so the inheritance would fall to the government when we aren't there any longer. And the government taxes us high enough as it is, so I don't see any need to make them even richer...

Have you made plans for later? Would you give away your possessions to the good cause?