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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Afternoon in the hospital

While I'm feeling great healthwise, I seem to have some troubles... My sugar levels are going crazy and since three weeks ago, I feel a lump in my throat.

This afternoon I had an appointment in the hospital. First of all, they made a bone scan of my body. I also had to give some blood and urine. Next I got to see one of the specialists, who took an echo of my throat. The conclusion of all this is... they still don't know. The lump is quite big and can be caused by anything (the worst thing being cancer) - so I have to get a punction one of the coming days. The sugar is also something special and a bit a-typical. Also need to find a reason for this. For the coming weeks, I am going to check my sugar level on a daily basis and wait for my appointment for the punction.

So people, wish me luck. I try to remain positive and hope for the best.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sunday dinner: Brussels fricassee

During the asparagus season, we seek all kinds of recipes to use this delicious vegetable as often as possible. So for tonight's dinner we made a fricassee of chicken, asparagus, mushroom and cream. You can eat it with pommes croquettes, rice, pasta or mashed potatoes.



How to prepare? Well, first clean you chicken breasts. Then fill a big pot with enough water and put the chicken in it. Keep it just under the boiling point, so the chicken remains juicy. Then add two cubes of bouillon (chicken) and the peeled asparagus (each one cut into two-three pieces). After that, you bake the mushrooms in a pan and later on add them to the big pot. The last thing you add is the cream and the spices.

Depending on what you like to eat with it, fry your croquettes, or boil the rice or pasta, or boil potatoes and mash them.

Needless to say, this tastes even better with a glass of white wine...

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Half-Built Houses

Good morning! I'd like to introduce Eric Keller, one of my fellow-authors at Rogue Phoenix Press, who's launching his book Half-Built Houses. This is a mystery, with all the taught intrigue and compelling personalities of a classic, courtroom thriller combined with the twists and turns of an engrossing murder mystery in a Canadian setting.

Eric will be giving away an ebook copy of one of his books to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour, which runs from April 17th to April 21st.

Blurb

Charley Ewanuschuk has been mistreated all his life and now survives by moving through society as unnoticed as possible. However, when a murder occurs behind the half-built house he is squatting in society takes notice of the introverted homeless man as he becomes the prime murder suspect. Brian Cox managed to charm his way into a good job in a national law firm but, when the recession hit, he learned that charm is a disposable commodity. Fired by the firm and forced to take on Legal Aid files to pay the bills, Charley's murder trial becomes Brian's first major case. However, this will be no straightforward case. As the trial progresses it becomes apparent forces are working behind the scenes to ensure the homeless man takes the fall for a crime. Told from the points of view of the accused, the lawyer, the detective and the manipulator, Half-Built Houses provides all the thrilling intrigue, clever ingenuity and interesting individuals readers have come to expect form classic courtroom dramas.



Excerpt

After the car had been towed away, Charley had gone back to the basement, but he heard sirens and had to flee before he could collect his belongings. Knowing he would stand out as an oddity wandering about in a rich residential area as people started leaving their homes for work, he headed back across the river to the downtown core where the homeless merely blended into the cement. There he numbly walked the icy streets before settling into an ATM kiosk to warm up and rest.
Sitting on the wet floor, he did a quick inventory. He still had his good coat, two cheeseburgers, four dollars, and shoes, but no socks, gloves, or hat. It was thirty below and he had nowhere to go, and he could already feel the dirty slush on the floor soaking through his jeans. Over all the years he had been in Calgary, Charley had been in some extremely difficult spots, but this was one of the worst situations he had faced.
As he pulled one of the slightly squashed cheeseburgers out of his pocket, the key to the cheap padlock he had put on the basement door fell onto the floor. He picked it up. Despite being twenty-five years old, this was the only key he had ever owned. He remembered the joy he felt when he closed the lock for the first time. It was more than simply having a place of his own; it was a sense of survivor's pride because he could look past making it through each day and ponder a future for himself. Now he realized he could not be found carrying the key, so he slipped it into the slot in the bank machine, the slot where people threw away their receipts showing how much money they had in their account.
He was only able to stay in the kiosk for an hour before a security guard found him. The guard clearly did not want to send the pathetic man out into the exceptionally harsh cold, but he sheepishly said that the bank employees would be showing up soon, and they would give him grief if they found someone sleeping next to the bank machine. Charley left without a word.
Having nowhere else to go, he instinctively walked to the day labourer corner. Because the weather was so bad and he was there so early, he got picked up right away to shovel snow. Charley had worked for the boss before, and the man took pity on him, giving him a good pair of gloves and a toque.

~ * ~

Jenkins was checking missing person reports when Wilson strutted into the office and dropped an enlarged printout of a library card on his desk. The picture on the card was of a thin, unsmiling young man with thick glasses and messy hair. It matched the description the neighbour at the crime scene had given them. Wilson sat down and said, "Our basement squatter has a name. Charley Ewanuschuk. The address and phone number he gave are fakes though."
"Did anyone at the library know him?"
"Sort of. One of the librarians said the guy's been coming in about once a week for years, but she doesn't think he's ever said a word to anybody. She did say he was cleaner than the other homeless people and never had a late book, so he has that going for him."

"A name and a picture. We've found people with less." Jenkins, now feeling hopeful this would be a quicker case than he had anticipated, stood up and grabbed his coat. "Let's go check the usual spots."

~ * ~

Even though he had been extremely tired and his feet had screamed with cold, Charley had been content to push a shovel all day as the mundane, physical work was relaxing and allowed him to ponder his situation. By the end of the day, he had forced himself to conclude it was not hopeless. He could not go back to the house he had been using, but that did not mean he could not find another abandoned construction site to use. It would take some time, but he had time; he had little else, but he had time. When the work was done, he was driven back to the corner, given sixty dollars, and told to keep the gloves and the hat. It was enough money to get a room at the hostel for the night. Life would continue to be hard, but it would not be impossible.
As he started walking away, a truck pulled up, unloading another crew of day labourers, and one of the workers called out to him, "Hey, you. Guy who never talks."
He recognized the man as a regular at the corner whom he had worked with a few times. He pointed at himself questioningly.
"Yeah, you. Just thought you should know that the cops were out here this morning showing your picture around. You may want to lay low for a few days."

The man knew Charley well enough not to expect a response, so he turned to jog after his friends, leaving Charley alone on the frozen sidewalk. Renewed panic struck at him, easily pushing away the optimism he had gained throughout the day. He had not even considered the police would look for him. He had always seen himself as a mere visitor moving about beneath the notice of the real inhabitants of the city, so the thought that someone would look for him never occurred to him. Charley had never been to jail, but he had overheard much about the place from day labourers, and being locked up was one of his greatest fears among an impressive list of fears. It was not actually being deprived of his freedom so much as being constantly surrounded by people with no privacy or reprieve that he knew would be an unimaginable hell for him. He could not go to jail.

Review

The city of Calgary in Alberta, Canada is the backdrop for Eric Keller’s intense and gripping legal thriller Half Built Houses.

Charley Ewanuschuk is a homeless man who found comfort in being mostly invisible to the world around him. But the events on a stormy winter night in Calgary plunge him head first into a murder where the almost mute Charley becomes the main suspect instead of the hero. Charley’s quiet distinctiveness doesn’t just draw the reader into his narrative but makes him a target for the other less desirable characters. Charley’s lawyer, Brain Cox, who has his own set backs, is determined to free his client from the murder charge. Brian has a strong character and determination that balances out Charley’s introverted personality.  


Eric Keller exposes the reader to not only the grittiness of the legal system but also the vicious realities of prison life. Half Built Houses is filled to the brim with raw emotions and conflicts. Every time the reader thinks they have it figured out Keller throws in another twist that sends the reader in a new direction. One of the unique aspects of the book is the perspective of the book shifts between several of the characters. This gives the reader a full understanding of the vested interested each character has in the murder. Keller’s novel exposes how life is never black or white and happy endings are better saved for fairy tales.

(Tamara White, 4 1/2 stars)


Author bio and links

Eric Keller is a lawyer living in Calgary, Alberta. His email is: kellepc@hotmail.com

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Rik's

Today my guest is dhtreichler, who's doing a book blast tour for his international thriller Rik's. The author will be awarding a $30 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use this link to place your comment:
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f2244



Blurb

The entire affair began with sheep brains and falafel -- Saddam Hussein's favorite dish.

It is 1990 and in Baghdad two lovers are separated by the impending First Gulf War. CIA operative Rik Bogart is desperately seeking television correspondent Ingrid Johannson -- but is instead picked up by  Saddam’s Secret Police and thrown into Abu Graib -- the Prison of the Dead. Ten years later, he must make a fateful decision after finally reuniting with her -- one that may keep them apart forever. How far would YOU go for your true love?

This iheart-pounding thriller is written by a former international defense contractor who brings incredible realism and thrilling insights into the days leading up to Saddam’s brutal regime downfall and provides a chilling account of life inside the infamous Prison of the Dead.

"It's as much a love story as it is a runaway thriller." Midwest Book Review 



Excerpt

Rik In Abu Graib, the Prison of the Dead -- after 19 months



I fell to my knees and touched the water that beaded up in the dirt of the floor. I set the glass down, carefully and respectfully. I made sure the glass was protected so I wouldn’t spill more accidentally. I then bent down to the water-beaded cup and put my tongue into it. As I broke the tension on the top, real water covered my tongue. I could actually taste the water. It was real! It didn’t taste like mud. It didn’t have the grittiness I’d become accustomed to. How strange such a simple thing could almost overwhelm me.

I heard a voice down the hall. The smiling guard smiled no more. He glanced back at me on the floor. He nodded to me, but the eyes weren’t smiling. I could see the tension around his mouth. My first thought was, he’d just served my last supper.

Maybe Tariq would come tomorrow with the loaded gun to end my days. But the more I thought, the more I realized Tariq wouldn’t waste a perfectly good glass of water. He may have been generous with himself, as evidenced by his favorite charity; but to give someone like me a glass of clean water would have been a total waste of state resources. But like I said, I’d become an expert at analyzing everything from every direction. So, since he wouldn’t waste the water on me, why would he give me clean water but withhold my maggots?

Author bio and links

As a defense contractor, award-winning screenwriter and novelist, dhtreichler has wandered the world, visiting garden spots and more.  Having lived and worked with our intelligence agents and soldiers, witnessing the conflicts and the turmoil of recent decades, he paints vivid backdrops for his stories. Like him, the men and women he portrays attempt to make sense of our fast-changing world. He has held a lifelong interest in the profound influence of rapidly changing technology on our lives and relationships. Exploring that power (what has changed and what might come) forms an insightful theme of his novels. His stories also reflect the universal desires and fears of real people everywhere.


Buy link for the book:
https://www.amazon.com/Riks-dh-treichler-ebook/dp/B01CQB45K6
His website and links are:
http://dhtreichler.com
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14299861.dhtreichler
https://twitter.com/dhtreichler
https://www.facebook.com/dhtreichlerofficial

https://www.amazon.com/dhtreichler/e/B01CQB45K6/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

It helps to complain

On the return flight from Buenos Aires to Frankfurt, last week, I was sipping my coffee after dinner. An airhostess passed by and bumped against my chair, which caused the cup of coffee to jump out of my hand and emptying the drink on my breast and lap...

Of course I notified the hostess of what she'd done. She hastened to make excuses bringing me wet towels to wipe away the stains. When I mentioned we had a connecting flight to Brussels and I'd have to wear those stained clothes until then, she provided me with a pull and trousers. All new, right out of the package. Also I received a 25€ coupon which I could use in the flight shop. Nice gesture, especially when you know coffee doesn't really make stains....

So right now I'm dressed by Lufthansa (I wear the outfit inside the house). It's quite comfortable and good quality of material.

But if I hadn't opened my mouth, I would have got nothing. So it pays to speak up. My motto is: always complain when you suffer damage. You start out with nothing, but can end up with something.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter

I'd like to wish everyone who reads this blog a Happy Easter!

Here in Belgium, kids are right now waiting for the clocks to return from Rome and bring them chocolate easter eggs.



I remember it was always a treat that you came home after Mass and then went into the garden (when the sun was out, otherwise you had to search the house) to look for hidden eggs, left by the Easter clocks.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Back from Argentina

As you might have guessed, Chris and I have been away. This time the trip went to Argentina. We stayed in Buenos Aires and had a great time there. Best thing, the weather was a lot better than in Belgium!!

We flew by Lufthansa (which was the cheapest). Must say though, economy class is not the best when you have to sit down for over 13 hours. We'll consider travelling in business class for further (far away) trips. It's more expensive, but I think it's worth the money. No complaints about Lufthansa however. Friendly crew, they offered us a lot to eat and drink (even brandy after dinner!). And rather punctual (which you expect from Germans).

We arrived in Buenos Aires in mid-morning and were already in our hotel by 11 a.m. We immediately got a room (probably helped that I mailed them about our early arrival), freshened up and went out to make our first acquaintance with the city. Our hotel was in San Telmo, the oldest of the neighborhoods in BA. On leaving the hotel, you were right at the Plaza Dorrego, where on Sundays an antique market takes place and when the weather's fine a milonga at night. Btw, a milonga is a tango event.

We took a guided city tour the next day, to learn more about the different parts of the city. The sky was azure blue and it was quite warm (28° Celsius). Wonderful! And the same evening, we discovered how good Argentinian meat tastes. Really, the taste of steak is nothing like what we eat in Belgium.

On Thursday, there was a national strike so we couldn't do a lot. We tried to avoid the protesters (who became rather violent, according to what we saw in the news). Also a lot of restaurants and shops were closed that day.

The following day, Friday, we made a trip to San Antonio de Arreca, with our guide Guillermo from Camino Pampa. San Antonio is a very nice village, where everything remains like it was a century ago. Children are taught to respect the traditions of their elders and goods are produced in the old way. Of course we couldn't resists buying something (nice earrrings from a silversmith whose father worked for the Vatican). Afterwards, we drove to a ranch (estancia), where we could ride the horses and were treated to a barbecue (asado). Be aware: when in Argentina, don't always order two portions. Most steaks can be shared as they are really huge.

We also made a trip to the Tigre and the delta of the Rio Plata. We went on a boat there, which took us to the many bayou-like waterways. Lots of people live there on the islands, including our guide. He showed us his farm he has on one of them.

And of course, there's the tango. We dared to take a tango class, which was fun, and later on we went to some milonga's. Normally, there should have been one near our hotel (on the square) but because of the heavy rain (thunderstorm) it could not take place.

The trip home was uneventful and this is our first morning back in our home. We don't have a problem with the jetlag. As I mentioned in my previous blog, it's in the mind. We slept well on the plane, and likewise last night.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

How to avoid jetlag

When making long trips, you can't always avoid a difference in time. That can sometimes be a problem.

Over the years I have learned it helps when you try to adjust to the new situation.

When we take a long flight, we now try to sleep through most of the flight time and then we arrive fresh at our destination.

Also, you need to convince yourself it's a couple of hours earlier or later than at the place you came from.

I can assure you, this really helps!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Annie's Recipe

My guest today is Lisa Jones Baker, who's doing a virtual book tour for her publication Annie's Recipe.


You can win a $50 Amazon or Barnes&Noble GC if you place a comment. Lisa will be awarding this price to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter. Here's the link:

Blurb

Annie Mast and Levi Miller were childhood best friends until his father was shunned. Now, 10 years later, Levi returns to Arthur, Il, and he and Annie discover their bond is as strong as ever. Soon they begin imagining a future together, but that's unlikely to happen. Levi is part of the English world, and Annie is Amish. But together, with love on their side, they may just find their way to an answered prayer.



Excerpt

Levi considered Annie’s honesty. As he watched her, listened to her sincerity, his heart warmed. For long moments he gazed into her eyes. He was fully aware that she expected a reply, but he couldn’t get out the words. It was as if the beautiful girl in front of him had grabbed hold of his heart and wouldn’t let go. He knew how hard it was going be to go back home without her. He was feeling emotional again, and now he felt something he’d never experienced before, in a way that made him more vulnerable than he’d ever been in his life.

“Levi? Are you okay?”

He forced a smile. “I was…just…thinking.” He squared his shoulders and raised his chin. “What I miss about the Amish life? I think I have an answer.”

She waited patiently.

“I miss the quiet.”

“Jah?”

“When we changed churches, I had a difficult time adjusting to the noise. You know, all the electronics. The television. The radio and such. I really miss the quiet.”

“I think I would miss that, too.”

“But Annie, that’s not what I miss most about the Amish life.” He wondered how to put his thoughts into words. “There’s something about the Amish life I miss more than anything in the world. And I don’t know how I can go through life without it.”

Her voice was so soft, he could barely hear her. “Tell me what it is.”

“It’s you.”    

Author bio and links

Lisa Jones Baker is a multi-published author with Kensington Books.  Her debut book of THE HOPE CHEST OF DREAMS series, REBECCA’S BOUQUET, won a Publishers Weekly starred review.  A former teacher with a BA degree in French education, Lisa has been on 5 out of 7 continents, is a dog lover, enjoys positive thinkers, volunteering in her church’s food pantry, and strong female characters.     



You can find her on
Website: http://www.lisajonesbaker.com
http://www.kensingtonbooks.com/author.aspx/31739
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009288891265
Buy Link:
https://www.amazon.com/Annies-Recipe-Hope-Chest-Dreams-ebook/dp/B01GBAG58S

Friday, March 31, 2017

Exodus

Today, Brussels Airport saw at least 75,000 passengers leave or arrive. That's a lot more than before.


No wonder, most people here have had it with the weather. Lots of them look forward to some sunshine and a week (or two) of doing absolutely nothing.

What is worrying, however, is the fact that more and more parents don't care anymore if their children need to attend school or not.

Travel organisations offer cheaper holidays when schools don't have a break, which is the reason why lots of parents chose to take their kids away from school to leave either today or even yesterday.

I don't suppose you can do anything about the difference in pricing from the travel agencies. But the government could do something to pholdersuade parents to leave their kids at school until it ends for the holiday. Perhaps fine them? But knowing Belgians, this fine would have to be high enough, otherwise it won't do any good. What could work is warn the parents they'll lose their children support (in Belgian, every parent gets money for the kids he/she has)  if they take their kids away from school too early?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Positive effects

I don't know if it has to do with the new pills I have to take, but since I began taking them I have a lot less pain in my fingers than before.

For years, my fingers are plagued with arthrosis. The knuckles swell and the fingers becomes stiff and not able to bend. Quite a hindrance when you want to write or do something which needs full grip.

Right now, my fingers look quite normal and I can use them like normal. (Well, apart from the one finger I knocked against the banisters and still hurts like hell...)

For the rest, I don't seem to suffer any ill effects of that melange of pills: 4 in the morning and 2 at night.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Purr M for Murder

Hello! Today features author T.C. Lotempio, who's doing a book blast tour for the publication of her book Purr M for Murder - a cozy mystery from Crooked Lane Publishing.



The author will be awarding autographed copy of PURR M FOR MURDER (hardcover - US ONLY) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the following link:
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f2172

Blurb

Sydney McCall left behind an ex-fiancé and a New York advertising job to return home to Deer Park, North Carolina and help her sister, Kat, run the local animal shelter, Friendly Paws. Determined to save the shelter from financial trouble, Sydney and Kat organize a cat café fundraising event at a local coffee shop. Things are looking up until their landlord, Trowbridge Littleton, threatens to shut down the event. When Sydney drops by his art gallery to make peace, she finds Kat--along with Littleton's dead body.

Local homicide detective Will Worthington--who just happens to be Sydney's old high school crush--is highly suspicious of the sisters' involvement. Desperate to clear their names from the suspect list, Sydney pounces on the investigation. With the help of one of the shelter cats, a savvy orange tabby named Toby, Sydney begins poking her nose into other local businesses whose owners may have benefited from Littleton's death--until the killer notices she's pawing a little too closely at the truth.




Excerpt

We were in the doorway now.  A large desk was at the far end of what appeared to be an office.  The light was coming from a small lamp perched on the edge of the desk, and as we crossed the threshold, it flickered and then went out.  Kat shone the pencil thin beam of the flashlight around the room, letting out a sharp cry as it hit the wall nearest us.  “Lightswitch,” she squealed, and a minute later the room was filled with a harsh fluorescent light.  

I glanced around.  Yes, this was definitely an office, and not a very tidy one at that.  There were several file cabinets pushed up against the far wall, and two of the drawers in the one on the left were half open. Papers were strewn across the desk, and some file folders had dropped onto the floor and were scattered across the Oriental rug.

“Good Lord,” my sister exclaimed.  “For someone always so fastidious about his appearance, he certainly likes to work in a mess.”

I frowned.  “It looks more to me like it’s been ransacked. Someone was searching for something. What do you think, Kat? Kat?”

My sister had moved over to the far corner of the room and was standing before a large wardrobe.  “Wow, this is beautiful,” she said, lifting a hand to run it over the smooth exterior. She balled her hand into a fist and rapped it against the wood. “Solid oak.  I saw a picture of one like this in a catalog.  French, dates back to the late 1800’s.  I wonder what it’s doing in his office?”

“Who knows? Maybe he keeps his suit jackets in it,” I said.  “Why do you care, anyway?”

“It’s such a beautiful piece,” my sister murmured. “Too good for that rotter. It seems out of place in this office.”

“Maybe it just came in and he’s got it here for pricing,” I ventured.

“Maybe.  I wouldn’t mind having something like this,” Kat said, running her hand once again across the smooth wood.  “It looks deep enough – I wonder if the doors swing out all the way? It would be great to put a TV in.” 

I eyed the piece. “That thing looks hand-carved. He probably wants an arm and a leg for it.”

“Probably.” She gave the handle a tug. “Hm.  The doors seem to be stuck.”

I waved  my hand impatiently.  “Oh for goodness sakes, leave it alone. Must you examine it now?”

Her lower lip thrust forward. “Yes.  Who knows, I might not get another chance.”

I shot her a sharp look.  “You’re not thinking of buying this, are you?”

She sighed deeply. “I suppose not.  Littleton will probably want some astronomical figure for it.  But I might never get another opportunity to see such a finely made one up close.” She shot me an appealing look.  “Give me a hand, won’t you? You’re strong. Maybe if we both pull on the handle at the same time it’ll open.”

I knew my sister. Once Kat made up her mind about something she was like a pitbull with a bone. I knew when it was futile to argue with her. “Okay, fine. But if we get this open, one quick look and then we’re out of here.”

She nodded and I placed my hand on top of hers. “On the count of three, give it all you’ve got. One, two—three.”

We both tugged at the same time and suddenly the door flew open.  We went staggering backwards at the same time the body of Trowbridge Littleton, his eyes bulging almost out of their sockets, tongue lolling to the side, hit the floor at our feet.  


Author bio and links

While Toni Lotempio does not commit – or solve – murders in real life, she has no trouble doing it on paper. Her lifelong love of mysteries began early on when she was introduced to her first
Nancy Drew mystery at age 10 – The Secret in the Old Attic.  She (and ROCCO, albeit he’s uncredited) pen the Nick and Nora mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime – the first volume, MEOW IF ITS MURDER, debuted Dec. 2, 2014. Followed by #2, CLAWS FOR ALARM.   #3, CRIME AND CATNIP, is out this December. She, Rocco and Maxx make their home in Clifton, New Jersey, just twenty minutes from the Big Apple – New York.





Website: www.tclotempio.com
ROCCO’s blog: www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com
Website: WWW.tclotempio.com
Amazon- Purr M for Murder https://www.amazon.com/Purr-Murder-Cat-Rescue-Mystery/dp/1683310926/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1474130829&sr=1-3
Amazon: All Books Page http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_book_1?ie=UTF8&field-author=T.C.+LoTempio&search-alias=books&text=T.C.+LoTempio&sort=relevancerank
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Toni-LoTempio-125764404163823
Twitter: @RoccoBlogger

Purchase Link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/purr-m-for-murder-t-c-lotempio/1124519401

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Asparagus season

The asparagus season has begun. I really look forward to this time of year, as I'm very fond of asparagus. Nowadays you can buy them anytime, but when I was young you had to wait for the farmers to harvest them. Always around end of March, early April and lasting until the end of May.

Grandma already used to prepare asparagus as soon as the season started, not caring how much they cost. We don't either, as we want to eat them as many times as possible.



There are various ways to eat them. In it, preparing asparagus is dead simple: peel them and cook them for about 10 minutes. But then you can eat them just boiled or with a sause. Most popular here is asparagus 'Flemish style' with a sause in which egg figures. We had them today with smoked salmon, country potatoes and mousseline sause. Delicious!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Verdict: diabetes

I had a rather nasty shock yesterday. On Wednesday morning I went to my GP to have my blood tested, like I do at least twice a year. In June 2016 everything was still fine, but in December there was a raised level of blood sugar. The doctor said to pay extra attention (which I did) and come for another test in March.

I had really hoped this time the blood sugar would be better - but instead it was yet higher! Both the doc and I realize I can't do anything more (I don't smoke, I move enough, I try to avoid sugars and eat well-balanced). The problem is with my pancreas. It doesn't work properly anymore.

Our dad had the same disease and in a way both my sister and I realize we got a fair chance of getting diabetes as well.

Still, it's a light shock when you first hear it. I've been to see my GP to discuss what to do next. He's given me more pills to take (4 in the morning, 2 at night) which may help. We'll see the result in about 5 weeks' time. When the pills don't work enough, it will be insuline. Luckily, we don't have to pay a lot for all these medicines. That's one of the advantages of paying 50% taxes and social security. We also don't need to pay a lot for operations, especially when you pay (a little bit) extra for a hospitalisation plan.

So people, wish me luck and let's keep fingers crossed those pills will do their work!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Sheik's Rule

Today, author Ryshia Kennie is doing a virtual book blast tour for Sheik's Rule - romantic suspense available from Harlequin Publishing.

Ryshia will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use this link to place your comment:
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f2223



Blurb

His sister's life is at stake, and despite his wealth and power, Sheik Emir Al-Nassar feels helpless. At least heading his family's security agency provides him with resources to track down her kidnappers. But when the ace profiler he's sent turns out to be K. J.—Kate—Gelinsky, Emir is furious. Finding the kidnappers' desert hideout is dangerous enough without the distraction of a beautiful woman.

But K.J. is unlike any woman he's ever known. Her fearlessness and incisive mind inspires Emir's admiration. And her compassion breaches his guarded heart. Still, rescuing his sister is a perilous mission. And allowing desire to cloud his focus could endanger them all.



Excerpt

Just looking at that hand confirmed every doubt he had.  It wasn’t just about customs, she was female and because of that and so many other things, she was the wrong person for the job.

“I’ll help you find your sister.  You just need to trust me.”

“No!”  The word came out with the pent-up fury that had built since the fateful call from Tara’s kidnappers and now the full impact of it sparked in his eyes as his temple pounded and his fists clenched.

“No,” he said with less edge but with no room for negotiation.  He was wasting time, had wasted time, first waiting and now in a senseless airport run.  “I don’t care what you specialized in. 
You’re a woman and because of that you’re going home,” he said bluntly.  “I’ve wasted enough time.  I’ll speak to the pilot and we’ll get you out of here.”

“You’re not being fair.”

“I’m not being fair,” he repeated, emphasizing each word.  If she’d been a man he would have had her by the collar up against the wall, his face in hers.  But she wasn’t and that was the problem.  “You’re useless to me.  I’d have to watch out for both you and me.  That’s a distraction.  Look at you – you couldn’t swing a punch or…”

One minute he was seething, glaring at her, and the next he was flat on his back.

“You bloody flipped me,” he snarled, leaping to his feet.

Author bio and links

In the author's own words

The Canadian prairies are my home and while the prairie landscape is blessed with beautiful blue skies, it also has four seasons that come on full throttle – especially winter and because of that I like to travel.  Often on those trips, stories are born.  
In 2011 I won my city's writing award, and was the first romance writer to do so since its inception.  In 2013 my romantic suspense was a semi-finalist in the Kindle Book Awards.  Published in historic romance and paranormal romance as well as romantic suspense, in February 2016, my first novel was published by Harlequin Intrigue.
There’s no lack of places to set a story as my imagination and the too long prairie winters may find me seeking adventure.  The memories of those worlds both near and far, the words of a stranger, the furtive look one man gives another, often become the catalyst for a suspenseful story with a deadly villain and an intrepid hero and heroine who must battle for their right to love or even their right to live. 
When not dreaming of other stories, I can be found scouting out a garage sale or two, dusting off my roller blades or just thinking about the next adventure that may be miles away or in my own backyard.  



My website:  http://www.ryshiakennie.com
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/ryshiakennie
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Author.RyshiaKennie/
My blog:  http://ryshia.blogspot.ca

Buy Links:
https://www.amazon.com/Sheiks-Desert-Justice-Ryshia-Kennie/dp/1335720936/ref=tmm_mmp_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1487895933&sr=8-1
https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/sheik-s-rule
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sheiks-rule-ryshia-kennie/1124690555?ean=9781335720931
https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/sheiks-rule/id1158834931?mt=11
http://www.harlequin.com/storeitem.html;jsessionid=E03199EFF735F999123C1D7EA4C22E51?cid=225&iid=70048

https://www.amazon.ca/Sheiks-Rule-Ryshia-Kennie/dp/1335720936/ref=tmm_mmp_swatch_0

March 22nd - one year later

Exactly one year ago, we woke up to the sound of terror. When we switched on our radio (always the first thing I do when coming down for breakfast) we heard the terrible news about the terrorists bombs at Zaventem (our national airport) and the metro station of Maalbeek.

32 people died in the attacks, and many more were severely wounded. Even as of today, some of them are not quite their old self. But people are resilient. Most of us don't give in to the bad and share hope that one day the world will be a better place.

One of the most catching images of this day, was that of the Indian air hostess Nidhi Chapekar (Jet Airways). She was one of the victims, and was seen sitting outside on a bench, severely wounded.


Thanks to the good care of the doctors, this is how Nidhi looks today:


She is still not completely recovered, but she has good hope she'll be able to fly once more. She had an audience with our king and queen.

All through the day, remembrance services are taking place and all radio and TV programs are about the terrorist attacks and their aftermath.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A Human Element

Today, meet author Donna Galanti. Donna and Goddess Fish Promotions are doing a virtual book tour for A Human Element - paranormal suspense available now from Imajin Books. The book is on sale for $0.99 during the tour.



Donna will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the following link to post your comment:

Blurb

Evil comes in many forms…

One by one, Laura Armstrong’s friends and adoptive family members are being murdered, and despite her unique healing powers, she can do nothing to stop it. The savage killer haunts her dreams, tormenting her with the promise that she is next. Determined to find the killer, she follows her visions to the site of a crashed meteorite in her hometown. There, she meets Ben Fieldstone, who seeks answers about his parents’ death the night the meteorite struck. In a race to stop a madman, they unravel a frightening secret that binds them together. But the killer’s desire to destroy Laura face-to-face leads to a showdown that puts Laura and Ben’s emotional relationship and Laura’s pure spirit to the test. With the killer closing in, Laura discovers her destiny is linked to his, and she has two choices—redeem him or kill him. 



Excerpt

The man could hear the child's bellowing cries coming from underneath the blanket covering it. She pushed the child into his arms as if eager to be rid of it. He took the bundle and handed the nurse his packages. The nurse began to close the door when he heard another far away cry. 

The man wedged his foot in the door. "What was that?" 

"N-Nothing." The nurse looked up. 

The man risked looking her in the eye. 

"The girl is in pain and won't keep quiet." She clutched the envelope and folded her arms across her sagging bosom. 

"It sounded like another baby," he said. 

"It's just the whimpering slut. Now she's paid double for what she's done." The nurse took a step back as if aware she had said too much already. She glared at him. "Now go on. You have what you wanted. And so do I." She shut the door in his face. 

The man in black stood there for a long moment, considering the woman's choice of words. What if another child had been delivered and the frigid woman and country doctor kept it secret? 

Fascinating.

He decided to keep this information to himself. He would find the opportune time to use it. He was a patient man. But first, he had to see for himself. He peeled back the child's bunting and looked for the first time into its yellow eyes. For that moment, the baby fell silent. 

"Welcome to Earth X-10." 

The baby resumed its wailing. 

The man turned with his noisy package and melted into the darkness satisfied, as the doctor had been, that the night's events had provided him with more than he had asked for.





Author bio and links

Donna Galanti is the author of the paranormal suspense Element Trilogy (Imajin Books -http://www.imajinbooks.com)  and the children’s fantasy adventure Joshua and The Lightning Road series (Month9Books - http://www.month9books.com). Donna is a contributing editor for International Thriller Writers the Big Thrill (http://www.thebigthrill.org/) - magazine and blogs with other middle grade authors at Project Middle Grade Mayhem (http://project-middle-grade-mayhem.blogspot.com/search/label/Donna Galanti) . She’s lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer. Donna enjoys teaching at conferences on the writing craft and marketing and also presenting as a guest author at elementary and middle schools.



Visit her at www.elementtrilogy.com and www.donnagalanti.com
Connect with Donna:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheElementTrilogy/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DonnaGalanti
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/donnagalanti
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5767306.Donna_Galanti
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/donnagalanti

Purchase books 1 and 2 in the Element Trilogy: 

http://mybook.to/AHumanElement

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Change of plans

Yesterday and most of today, we've been discussing the trips we're going to make in 2018. Yes, we always like to plan ahead - it pays of most of the time. You get better airfares and often you can have your hotels at a discount.

Originally we liked to make a trip to Oman next spring. But as we looked at hotels in Muscat and inland trips, we came to the conclusion that it is very expensive there. You pay a lot for a hotel room in Muscat, even when the hotels are slightly better than average (you can hardly say a hotel has 5 stars, when it's next to an open suer, or a busy highway, or next to an oil refinery). And the trips... A two night-three days trip with Hud Hud Travels would cost about 4000 €.

For that price we can stay 10 nights in great hotels in the UAE (Dubai and Ras Al Khaima), even staying in suites. And the airfare to Dubai is cheaper also.

So we are going to Dubai first and then head to RAS next spring. You can also see the desert there, ride a camel or an Arabian horse, do boat trip on a dhow, ...

We'll make the final reservations when we come back from Argentina. And next we must see what else we can do. Definitely a trip to London, like every year, and perhaps one to Milan. And for the rest: Helsinki? Dubrovnik? The Baltic states?

Friday, March 17, 2017

At last - one job done!

Almost a year ago, I placed an order with a company to do some repairs on my roof and drains. Because my next door neighbors had a new roof, the water coming down from my roof couldn't get into the suer anymore.

Better than complaining (the rainpipe was between the two houses, to provide for both of us) and risking another quarrel with my Polish neighbor (when they came to live here they were not very friendly) I opted to have my own drainpipe provided and going into the suer.



I called a local company and they drew up an estimate (we also needed a reparation on a chimney) and I agreed  & signed it. That was in May last year. I hoped the job couuld be done before winter, because when it rains hard, the water drips of the front. But no, nothing happened.

The reason? Well, the Flemish government gives grants to those who isolate their roofs (but only until this year). So all companies were isolating roofs and they didn't have time for ordinary repairs...

At last, I got a call yesterday, and the guy said he'd come by today. They arrived around 8 a.m. and instantly began the job. They were done by 11 a.m.  Now I need to contact town hall to order a connection to the suer system (will costs me around 600 €). But nowadays you have to make sure all you do to your house is made official.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Side Slip

Today, I'l like to introduce author Mike Fuller, who wants to showcase his latest novel, Side Slip (book three in the Sam Deland series). Mike belongs to the group of Rogue Phoenix authors. During this book tour, Mike will be giving away a digital copy of one of his books to a lucky commenter.

Blurb


Stuck in paradise and he isn’t very happy about it. Even the beautiful lady detective that gunned down the man trying to kill them both can’t get him to stay. Corporal Sam Deland wants out. Back to work leading his squad of state troopers and home where he can take up the life he had to put on hold. But Sam isn’t the only one wanting him to return. The woman he left behind is waiting for him and so is the Russian Mob. Sam’s past is catching up with him, and he doesn’t see it coming, yet. Detective Christie O’Shea, the pretty Florida cop that nursed Sam back to health won’t have the time to miss him when he’s gone. Murder is what she’s paid to solve, and she has to go after a killer that has sent shock waves deep into the police community around her. A triple play of heart stopping and heart warming suspense, action and life as Sam, his troopers and Christie all find they are in the middle of murders and mobsters. A story that twists and turns through the investigations and the lives of characters you will grow to know, to cheer and to fear. Sharp dialogue, real characters and enough drama, humor and mystery to keep the reader up late not ready to put it down yet. Another thrilling Sam Deland crime novel from the author of Sink Rate and Rope Break.

Excerpt


The search for a hidden key did not go well. All the usual spots came up empty. Dickie went down the steps to the garage but still no luck and then back up to where Ray stood next to the front door and sighed, "Well, ain't no key. Let's get it over with."
The pry bar didn't get it done. Ray had to whack the deadbolt a couple of hard hits with the sledge before the door flew inward. Dickie started in and stopped short. He smelled cinnamon. Ray almost ran into his back. Probably one a them plug in thingys.
Dickie held up his hand and then swiveled his head back and forth, trying to adjust to the slightly brighter light inside. Dickie heard nothing except the clicking of a wall clock somewhere. He shrugged and crossed to the kitchen door at the other side of the living room. Ray split to the right and did a quick walk through of the downstairs.
They met at the foot of the stairs and Ray pointed to a metal cabinet next to the cold fireplace, "I'll start on that, give me the bar, eh?" It wasn't a real gun safe, just a thin metal locker meant to keep kids away from the guns.
Dickie handed the pry bar to Ray and started up the stairs, shining the flashlight as he moved out of the light cast by the lamp. The cash and handguns were usually in the bedrooms. There seemed to be three upstairs and a bathroom. Dickie had to piss by now and stopped to go. He started and almost pissed on his hand when he realized there was a candle in a glass jar burning on the tub rim. That appeared to be the source of the cinnamon odor and was certainly the source of big trouble.
Ray was pounding loudly on the metal cabinet downstairs, and Dickie almost shit his pants as the figure of a small woman in a bathrobe passed by in the hall just outside of the bathroom. Dickie didn't even zip up his jeans and stuck his head out of the bathroom and looked down the hall. The small woman was there leaning out to try to get a look at what was making all the noise downstairs. Dickie's blood turned to ice when she turned toward him, and he saw the black automatic in her left hand.
She hadn't seen him yet. She just stood there but then turned to go back toward the bedroom. He knew there was probably a phone there, and he couldn't let her get to it. He tried to melt into the small space between the sink and the door, and as she moved past, he stepped in behind her and grabbed at the gun.
He missed. All that police training didn't help. She yelped and turned the pistol toward him. It was not quite full dark in the hall and Dickie could see it happening and knew what was coming. Without hesitating, he swung the heavy flashlight and struck her across her left cheek. The blow emitted a sickening crunch as bone gave way to the heavy metal light. She staggered but did not go down. The gun was waving in the short space of air between them and Dickie expected it to spit flame and his death at any moment. He stepped into her and brought the flashlight down with all his strength on top of her head.

She followed the motion of the blow and crumpled onto the hallway floor. Dickie was breathing in gasps by now, but he could still hear Ray pounding metal on metal. He tried to hit the button on the flashlight to see if the woman was still conscious but his finger slipped across. The wetness puzzled him for a moment but he got the light to come on and as he played the beam down on the figure at his feet, he was surprised to see blood dripping off the end and falling through the shaft of light onto the pink bathrobe of the very dead woman beneath him.


Review


Side Slip is not an easy read, but well worth it. There is nothing predictable about this book, but it does have a sort of familiarity. It has everything a crime novel reader could want.  There are decent plot lines, but it is character driven all the way, which is why it is sometimes hard to read. Fuller has made the characters so real that the reader sympathizes with them, even the bad guys. And he gives you a wide range of characters to choose from, Pennsylvania State Troopers, Male and Female, Florida Sheriffs, Male and Female,  Farmers that used to be Navy SEALS, Dope seller/ murderers, crooked cop/burglars, and dogs.

Side Slip is worth the read.


G. Lloyd Helm (rating: five stars)

Author bio and links


After writing professional documents for many years, Mike has finally devoted time to his true passion, writing fiction where the story and characters come alive in the reader’s mind. While his days were filled with authoring hundreds of detailed crime reports, arrest affidavits, search warrants and grand jury presentments, he took some of his own time and devoured books by the dozens. Reading not only was a rewarding diversion, it provided him with the added education he needed to function at a high level in his profession.
This has led to the creation of Mike’s crime/suspense/detective novels Sink Rate, Rope Break and Side Slip, the first three in the Sam Deland Crime Novel series. All are expected to be published in 2015 and 2016 by Rogue Phoenix Press 
Mike writes with the real life experience that many years of law enforcement shaped and influenced. The stories may be fiction but are based on how things happen in the real world.  His books are honest and captivating novels written with a unique voice that will both chill and charm.
Mike is a veteran police detective. He did it all from rookie patrolman to Senior Special Agent. His life has been enriched by a wonderful marriage, parenting, work, flying, sailing and good books. Mike is a lifelong outdoorsman, an experienced tactical firearms instructor, champion sailplane pilot and the captain of his own sailboat. All of these skills have made his novels vivid, exciting and real. Now retired after a career with three law enforcement agencies, Mike enjoys winters writing in Naples, Florida and summers sailing, writing and researching the next novel at his rural Pennsylvania home.





On Twitter:  @mikefullerwrite



Nice discovery

When spring is in the air, I tend to check out my wardrobe. It's always good to make a spring clean - with the rule, if you haven't worn it in two years' time, either throw it away or put it somewhere out of your wardrobe.

Most items I just throw in a sack for the clothes container. But some pieces I like to keep. You see, my weight has been going up and down for the last ten years. I have some very nice jeans that were too tight for like three years.

This morning, I did my yearly check and came to the conclusion that most of the bigger sized pants and jeans must be set aside (hopefully never to use them again) and I fit into the tighter ones once more! Yeah!!!

If you should wonder how this came about, no I'm not on a diet. But I do like to watch out what I eat. For the last weeks, I've been cutting down on my intake of wine (not more than 2 glasses a week). I drink more water instead (San Pellegrino). And I munch olives or nuts instead of potato chips. Well, I eat them once in the month because otherwise you can't go on. And sometimes I savor a small chunk of pure black chocolate. Guilty pleasures..

Monday, March 13, 2017

Spring is in the air!

The weather can be so different from day to day. A couple of days ago, we suffered from cold and rain, and now the sun is out and we are reaching temperatures of around 16° Celsius.

What a nice change! Last Saturday was the first time I could dry some washing in the open air, and it's also wonderful not to have to take along an umbrella when you go shopping.

Taking out the bike doesn't create a mess (we have to come through our living room to go outside). It's a lot easier when you can go by bike when you need to do some shopping. I have two large bags in which to put items. You see it more and more nowadays. The cars are slowly banned from the town centers.

And when the sky is blue, you have so much more stamina to do all kind of things, don't you agree? Let's hope this nice weather continues for a while, because I really don't like the rain.


Friday, March 10, 2017

Haven't got time for it!

Nowadays, whenever I meet people I haven't seen for a while, they want to know how I get on in my pension. 'Don't you get bored?' is a question often heard.

No, I'm not bored. In fact, I often must say I haven't got any spare time! And this what I often hear from other pensioners. Everyone thinks we have all the time of the world because we don't have to work anymore.

But they forget we're not like our grandparents (or even parents). We are still relatively young people and we can't just sit around and do nothing.

My days are spent doing the housekeeping (already a fulltime job) and running errands (which means walking or cycling to the town center). Next to do I like to do some writing in the morning, also like to read a couple of chapter in a new book when I'm having my coffee break around 10.30 am and the second time around 3 pm. And then I look up things on the net - planning future trips is quite a joy, and already half the pleasure!

Should I feel I have some time left, I can do more research on my family tree. I've already gone far when following my father's line. But on the side of my mother there is a lot of work still to be done.

And there also is a frame of needlework that needs to be completed. In earlier years, I never found the time for it. Hopefully I can complete it one of the following...

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Wishing for better weather

Our former neighbor just sent us some pics of their stay in Egypt. All sunny images, with people in bathing suit and summer clothing.

Here the rain is coming down and it's chilly. I don't like rain at all. The damp goes into my bones and I feel aches all over.

The weather station talked about better weather some days ago, but right now they can't predict anything good. Spring is still far of!

I really would like some sunshine and milder temperatures. When I was younger, I did not like hot weather a lot. But recently I've discovered that I actually feel great when it's hot. I can bear the temperature as long as I drink enough water and wear a sun hat.

Let's hope the weather in Buenos Aires is better than what we're having here! We'll be there in April. In July we'll be in Florence, where we'll be sure of sunshine. And also in Poland, where they have a land climate.

How's your weather?

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Nothing but good news

Sometimes, luck just falls into your lap. This morning I went to Brussels to see someone about my coming pension (remember my earlier post, where I told my sister had made an educated guess at how much this would actually be?).

Well, that was the first bit of good luck. The real estimate is higher than what my sister calculated. I offically go into my pension (now I'm on a sort of pre-pension) on June 1st of this year. Two years later, This is my pension as civil servant. But because Ive done some freelance work too, I'll be getting a second pension as of June 2019. Won't be much, but added to the rest, I won't have a bad old day.

On returning home, I opened the mail on my computer (still don't get the hook of doing this on the train like all the young people do) and got the next good use. My electricity/gas company send me their yearly bill - and I get money back!

Now they say all good things come in three. Perhaps I'll win the lottery later this week???

Monday, March 6, 2017

Our street resembles a building site

It's quite something. Four houses on the other side of our street were flattened to the ground and the rebuilding has started.

Luckily for us, the builders don't start too early in the morning! One of the new houses is being built by our Turkish neighbors. They now live in a house which is a bit too small for all of them (there are two families living there: father with  his two wives, and the son + spouse + three kids). We never had any trouble with them. Now the son is going to move to the new house.

The other houses belonged to people who died recently. I suppose right now, we're the longest living people in our street. I lived in this house since the day I was born (almost 61 years ago) and I don't think any inhabitant is there longer as I am.

It's good that there are some younger people around. The Turkish family has kids that are still growing up. Lovely kids, who liked to play in the garden, but are well-behaved and don't make a lot of noise. And they are also very helpful. When we needed to shift a big sofa, father and son were quick to help out.

Our street will look better when all the building is done. New houses and well-kept older ones give a street more prestige. Don't you agree?

Saturday, March 4, 2017

VME meeting

In Belgium, one of our laws stipulates that every block of flats should have a VME - Vereniging van Mede-Eigenaars (in English: asscociation of co-owners). The VME appoints the syndicus of the block. It's the task of the syndicus to see to the ordinary upkeep of the block of flats (broken down lights, cleaning, organisation of the disposal units, ...) For bigger decisions (repairing a roof, doing renovations to the front or back walls of the building, ...) the VME has to come together and vote with a 2/3 majority. Even so, only one owner can go to court when he/she doesn't agree with the decision taken.

Now, in a block of flats at the seaside, there are many owners who don't inhabit their flat, but rent it out to tourists. And this always causes trouble.

Those who live in their flat (permanently or only during the weekends, but never rent it out) normally want to pay enough money to keep the building into order. But the others only want their rent and say this or that can wait a while...

This morning, we also had our yearly meeting of the VME of our flat at the coast. About half of the owners are landlords who have units for hire. And I must say, most of them are pretty stupid. There is a new Flemish law that says each roof has to have roof isolation. Our roof doesn't have, as the block was built in 1968. But what those landlords don't want to know, is the fact it really is an obligation. Well, they shall see in 2020. Because when the roof is not alright by then, they won't be able to rent their flats anymore... We tried to make it a point of discussion, but they just laughed. We'll see who laughs last!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The best ice cream in Knokke

Been shopping to Knokke (which form one town with Heist and Duinbergen). Knokke is just as great for shopping as Antwerp and they have all the shops we like. My sister and I were able to find what we were looking for.

And what is better still, in Knokke they have an icecream corner that truly has the best icecream in the region. It's called Australian Ice Cream and is situated on the Lippenslaan.



Winter, spring, summer or autumn, there is always a big cue to buy a cone or waffle with this delicious ice cream in many varieties. I prefer the vanilla with dark chocolate (straciatella).

What is your favorite ice cream taste?

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Second Time Around

Hi there! This time, romance author Ella Quin is my guest. Ella is doing a book blast tour for her new publication, The Second Time Around (historical romance by Kensington Publishing).

Ella will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the following link to place your comment(s):
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f2189


Blurb

Can a beautiful Worthington widow find love again? Depends on who’s asking . . .

Before he died, Patience was the Earl of Worthington’s second wife. So why shouldn’t Patience be allowed a second chance at marriage, too? Of course, finding a new husband was not something the mother of four had ever planned on. But a surprise encounter with her first love has suddenly made the impossible seem possible all over again . . .

It seems like a lifetime ago that Richard, Viscount Wolverton, was halfway around the world, looking for adventure . . . while Patience, at her coming-out, was left with no choice but to take old Worthington’s hand. Richard never forgot the woman whose heart he yearned for—and now that he’s back, he’s not going to let her slip away again . . .

Excerpt

Pulteney Hotel, London, 1815

“And this is Viscount Wolverton.” Patience Worthington watched as Almeria, Lady Bellamny, smiled as she introduced the gentleman to the Duchess of Bristol. Almeria turned her black eyes on Patience. The smile didn’t fade at all as she said, “Wolverton, I believe you have already met the Dowager Countess of Worthington.”

What in God’s name is he doing here? Patience inclined her head and held out her hand. “Indeed. The years have treated you well, my lord.”

Bowing, he took her fingers in his. “As they have done to you, my lady.”

His lips hovered over her hand as she prayed he would do nothing more than kiss the air above them, but no. The devil pressed his warm, firm lips to her knuckles; even through her gloves she could feel his touch and fought the urge to suck in a breath. “Thank you, my lord.”

One would think after all these years and his betrayal she would be immune to him. And one would be wrong. She held her breath, counting—One, two, three, four, five. Thank God—until he finally straightened and returned her hand to her. Thank God! Patience let out the breath, yet she could not control the pounding in her breast. It took all the control she had not to make an excuse and leave the room. Yet, she could not do that to Dotty Stern, soon to be the Marchioness of Merton.

“He has been a friend for a very long time,” Almeria continued, as if she had no idea of the havoc she had created by inviting Wolverton. “Though he hardly ever comes to Town.”

“Well, my dear,” Lord Bellamny said, “you couldn’t be here so often if it wasn’t for the help he gives me. Someone must assist me in my experiments.”

“Very true, my dear.”

Patience made the mistake of glancing up at the same moment Richard Wolverton stared down at her. His amber eyes smoldered as they had the last time she had seen him, only days before her marriage to the old Earl of Worthington.

Author bio and links

Bestselling author Ella Quinn’s studies and other jobs have always been on the serious side. Reading historical romances, especially Regencies, were her escape. Eventually her love of historical novels led her to start writing them. She has just finished her first series, The Marriage Game, and her new series, The Worthingtons, began in April 2016.

 She is married to her wonderful husband of over thirty years. They have a son and two beautiful granddaughters, and a dog. After living in the South Pacific, Central America, North Africa, England and Europe, she and her husband decided to make their dreams come true and are now living on a sailboat cruising the Caribbean and North America. Europe is next!



Website: www.ellaquinnauthor.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/EllaQuinnAuthor
Twitter www.twitter.com/ellaquinnauthor
Blog http://ellaquinnauthor.wordpresscom
Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Ella-Quinn/e/B00CAE0FSQ/ref=sr_tc_2_0
Buy Link
https://www.amazon.com/Second-Time-Around-Worthingtons-ebook/dp/B01KRUMV2W/ref=sr_1_1

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Carnival tide

While I'm writing this, carnival is all around. We hear the music of the groups (and hope the wind will blow it away because they tend to go well after midnight).

Needless to say I'm not a carnival person. I think you must be mad to dress up in funny costumes and drink yourself half blind.

Here in Heist carnival is big. It originated by the local fishermen who wanted to feast once a year, forgetting about the dangers of the sea. But also in other towns in Belgium they celebrate wildly. In Aalst, in Binges, in Ostend.

What I would like to do once, though, is to be in Venice during carnival time. I like that city very much and carnival is all about the most exquisite costumes, like we saw in a shop last summer. Or in Rio de Janeiro, where carnival is something special as well.



And what about you? Are you someone who likes to party?

Friday, February 24, 2017

Flight to sun & snow

Officially, the so-called 'Crocus Holiday' only begins tomorrow. But already today, ten of thousands of people are leaving for better places. Our national airport expects around 50,000 passengers today, and also in local airports lots of flights take off direction sun or snow.

Skiing is gaining popularity, but skiers in the Alps might not be so lucky as to have loads of snow. It's been way too mild for the snow to keep and you need to go up higher than 2000 meters to find good snow.

Just as many people are going to countries where sun can be found: the south of Spain, Tunisia, Morokko, the Caribbean.

I must confess, were it not that my sister still has to work, I'd be truly considering renting a flat somewhere in a warm village and spend the winter month there. I suffer a lot from the humidity which rain carries. I can barely use my fingers. When I'm in a place where the air is dry and the sun shines, the pain goes away.

Alas, we're still stuck in this rainy town for more than 6 years. My sisters was not among those fortunate enough to still take their pension at 60. And especially these last years, she has to work harder than before. Her tasks keep go up year by year. I'm afraid she's going to have a breakdown when this continues - and the worst thing is that I can't help. My advice would be to quit in a year or so. Her pension wouldn't be that much lower. But she doesn't want to do that. Guess she inherited her stubborness from our granddad. She still thinks she needs as much as now when she doesn't work anymore. I keep telling her that's not true, especially when we sell this big house and go living in the coastal flat.

Well, can't be changed. So we'll just go to the coast next week - where it will be just as rainy as here!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Most memorable vacation?

Since Christine and I have widely traveled, we often get the question: "What was your most memorable vacation ever?".

Well, that's a hard question. There is only one vacation I didn't like so much in the many we had: a trip to Austria (long, long ago) when the only thing served in the hotel was colored rice: blue, pink, yellow,... YUK!

All the other vacations were just lovely. But of course, some more than others. When considering the most memorable, then I have to split up in various opinions.

The most spectacular view ever was being high up in the Andes mountains and looking down on the ruins of Machu Picchu. We were there in 1982, before lots of tourists began to tramp down the place. We can really say we saw the sun go down in Cuzco.



The most spectacular healthwise was during a trip to Kenya, when I drank alkali-poisoned water (without knowing, of course) and suffered a severe blood poisoning. So bad the camp director said she was going to call the Flying Doctors and have me transported to Nairobi. And guess what? The  next day I was completely recovered and could eat a horse!

Very adventurous was an episode in Bangkok, Thailand, when we were doing a tour with a touk-touk (sort of threewheeler with chauffeur) and the guy drove off the given path and gave us a tour of the unknown. We arrived safely where we needed to be...

The most threatening was during that same vacation, when we also visited Bolivia and arrived in La Paz right in the middle of a revolution and got warned not to leave the hotel, because there might be shooting.

The best feel-good moment was our trip to Venice last summer. Oh boy! We had a great room in the Hilton Molino Stucky (looked out over the canal) and entry to the executive lounge (got it during the winter sale the year before, with a big discount). The sun was shining brightly and we quite enjoyed the Venetian way of life. We could have dinner outside, along one of the canals. And we even met Michael Bolton during on our last-but-one day of our stay. He went along on a trip to the islands of Murano and Burano and kept in our neighborhood. We had a lovely conversation, and boy, I must say, he still looks good for his age!

The cutest pic taken during a vacation is the following:



Don't you agree this baby looks absolutely cute?




Monday, February 20, 2017

Wenna/Schooling the Viscount

Today I have two ladies present, who want to present their historical romances. Meet Virginia Taylor and Maggie Robinson.

The authors will be awarding digital copies of both books on tour to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. For that purpose, please use the following link:
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f2161



Wenna

Blurb

The lady’s maid meets her match…

Wenna Chenoweth’s future is secure, until dashing Devon Courtney’s illicit flirtation gets her dismissed from her job as a lady’s maid. With nowhere to turn, Wenna is forced to accept Devon’s bold proposal: To be his bride. To enter society on the handsome aristocrat’s arm. To give him the heir he requires. It’s a foolproof plan. Except Wenna finds herself falling hard for a man who can never love her for who she is….

Wenna is passionate, mysterious, and ill-suited to the idle life of a society wife. She’s also exactly the kind of woman who could endanger Devon’s hopes to build his own future far from his family’s influence. For the spirited beauty has embarked on an unthinkable plan of her own—one that could lead him to surrender his resolve, and sacrifice everything he believes he holds dear….

Yet amid the wondrous landscape of colonial South Australia, anything is possible. Perhaps even love between two people the boundaries of society would keep apart….



Excerpt

“Does the color suit me?”

“It looks better on Mrs. Brook,” she said, her chin raised. “With respect.” Evading his gaze, she scooped one hand around the bodice of the at his chest height and the other under the fullness of the skirts. The top of the gown dropped onto her arm, but the bottom didn’t move. She tugged.

He might have not noticed the lace had caught beneath the placket of his fly buttons had she not given an almighty jerk, which almost pulled him forward. Strangely, his voice came out husky. “You’re gripping my fly. I don’t mind, of course, but if you leave your fingers there, I’m liable to think far too kindly of you.”

She reared back, only to be stopped by the skirts again. “Can you—oh dear Lord—untangle the lace from yourself?”

He glanced down, trying not to laugh again. “I’ll likely need to unbutton my trousers.”

“Better you than me,” she said, staring at his fly with exasperation.

“I don’t want to damage the gown. You’ll be quicker.”

“Stand still.” She worked the fingers of one hand into the material, apparently trying to feel her way to the right button.

“That’s good,” he said encouragingly. “A little lower.”

She lifted her head. “I’m not doing this for your amusement.”

“I’m not as amused as I was. Now I’m downright interested, which you will feel if you keep groping blindly in that area. You can either get down on your knees to see what you are doing, which will maintain my interest, or we can go into my bedroom, where I can fiddle around with my trousers without an audience.”

“Well, there’s a choice,” she said, sounding frazzled.

Her fingers moved faster, his cock twitched for attention, and suddenly the material came free.

“Chenoweth!” He turned his head and saw Patricia standing at the end fo the passage, her eyes

Author bio and links

After training at the South Australian School of Art, Virginia Taylor worked in an advertising agency. This segued into re-training as a nurse/midwife before meeting the man of her dreams, marrying and producing two children. Over the years Virginia has been a theatre set painter and designer, but now she fills her days as a full-time writer.



Author Links:
Website: http://www.virginia-taylor.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorVirginiaTaylor/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel
Twitter: https://twitter.com/authorvtaylor
Buy the book:
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Wenna-South-Landers-Virginia-Taylor-ebook/dp/B01EQ2N1RQ/ref=sr_1_1
Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/wenna/id1128181848?mt=11
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Virginia_Taylor_Wenna?id=K70IDAAAQBAJ
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/wenna

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wenna-virginia-taylor/1123717625


Schooling the Viscount

Blurb

Welcome to Puddling on the Wold, where the sons and daughters of Victorian nobility come for a little rest, recuperation, and “rehab,” in this brand-new series of rebellious romance from Maggie Robinson.

After a harrowing tour of duty abroad, Captain Lord Henry Challoner fought to keep his memories at bay with two of his preferred vices: liquor and ladies. But the gin did more harm than good—as did Henry’s romantic entanglements, since he was supposed to be finding a suitable bride. Next stop: The tiny village of Gloucestershire, where Henry can finally sober up without distraction or temptation. Or so he thinks…

A simple country schoolteacher, Rachel Everett was never meant to cross paths with a gentleman such as Henry. What could such a worldly man ever see in her? As it turns out, everything. Beautiful, fiercely intelligent Rachel is Henry’s dream woman—and wife. Such a match would be scandalous for his family of course, and Rachel has no business meddling with a resident at the famed, rather draconian, Puddling Rehabilitation Foundation. All the better, for two lost souls with nothing to lose—and oh so very much to gain.



Excerpt

“Quite right. I haven’t the best reputation. A sensible girl like you is wise to be wary. See, that’s why I want to marry you. You’re sensible.”

Rachel curbed the urge to throw her inkpot at him. She didn’t want to be sensible at the moment! But really, of course Henry didn’t love her. She didn’t love him either. She hardly knew him, and she wasn’t even supposed to know as much as she did. She’d be getting a visit from members of the Puddling Rehabilitation Foundation any second to accuse her of sabotage. 

Someone would have noticed him walking down the hill to the school on such a filthy day, and would blame her for being some sort of Circe. Unless he was planning on plunging into the stream and getting even wetter, the school as the final destination. 

She stood up. “While I am grateful for both your offer of escort and of marriage, I must decline both. Good day, Lord Challoner.” 

He rose too, with a blinding smile. “At least take my umbrella.” 

“Did you hear me?” Rachel cried. 

“Yes. I have my good ear turned toward you. And I’m getting better at reading lips. Of course, when I look at yours, I forget what you’re saying and just want to kiss you.” 

Well, that was almost romantic. Rachel tried not to feel a pleased flutter. 

“I insist you take the umbrella.” Henry propped it against her desk. “I assume you don’t wish to be seen with me.” 

“You assume correctly.”

“Very well. Shall I leave first?”

“Don’t you have a hat?”

“No, I hate them.”

Blast. He would be soaked by the time he climbed back up the hill. 

He was probably used to marching in the rain. Beneath the scorching sun. Under conditions in countries she couldn’t even fathom or find on a map. It wasn’t as if it was an Indian monsoon out there—just a heavy warm English rain. Rachel had not been looking forward to it herself, but hadn’t been afraid to brave the elements. Why should she worry about a strong, healthy man?

Yet she did. She’d worried last night when she’d left him unconscious in the cool night air. Henry needed someone to take care of him. Care for him. 

No, Rachel. No. But she picked up the umbrella and took hold of his arm, ignoring the warning voice in her head. Sometimes being sensible was overrated.

Author bio and links

Maggie Robinson didn’t know she wanted to write until she woke up in the middle of the night once really annoyed with her husband. Instead of smothering him with a pillow, she decided to
get up and write—to create the perfect man—at least on a computer screen. Only to discover that fictional males can be just as resistant to direction as her husband. The upside is that she’s finally using her English degree and is still married to her original, imperfect hero. Since she’s imperfect, too, that makes them a perfect match. Until her midnight keyboarding, she had been a teacher, librarian, newspaper reporter, administrative assistant to two non-profits, community volunteer, and mother of four in seven different states. Now Maggie can call herself a romance writer in Maine. There’s nothing she likes better than writing about people who make mistakes, but don’t let the mistakes make them.

Author Links:
Website: http://www.maggierobinson.net/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/maggie.robinson.165
Twitter: https://twitter.com/maggielrobinson
Buy the book:
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Schooling-Viscount-Cotswold-Confidential-Robinson-ebook/dp/B01FBZXR0S/ref=sr_1_1
Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/schooling-the-viscount/id1125800311?mt=11
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Maggie_Robinson_Schooling_the_Viscount?id=UHQhDAAAQBAJ
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/schooling-the-viscount
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/schooling-the-viscount-maggie-robinson/1123772354