Wednesday, February 28, 2018

No more hope for skaters

Because it has been quite cold lately, many people already began to hope they could skate on open air ice. In Holland, they were dreaming about a next Eleven Cities Trek (which they do in Friesland, high up in the country). Also Belgium has many places where can be skated if the ice is thick enough.

Here in Dendermonde, we have the Brusselse Forten. These were part of the old moat next to the walls surrounding the medieval city. Most of it has disappeared in time, but near where I live we still have some water. It's nice to skate there, we often did as kids. But I wouldn't risk it if the ice were only 3 cm (like now). Much too dangerous!

And the weather forecast predicts warmer weather as of tomorrow. So there will be no skating this season.

You can skate in inside rinks of course, but that's not so much fun. It's so much nicer to be in open air, skate for hours and then sit down with a warm chocolate and a piece of cake! My grandma could remember a time when even the river Schelde was completely frozen over and they could skate on it. That was in 1947. And in 1979, during an equally cold winter, my friends and I skated across the frozen Möhnesee in Germany where I was living then. It was a very big lake, near a dam.

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Marquis and I

Today we welcome author Ella Quin. Ella is doing a virtual book blast tour for The Marquis and I, a historical romance from Kensington Publishing available as of March 1st.

Ella will be awarding a $25 GC from either Amazon or B/N to a randomly drawn commenter via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the following link:


Trouble is no match for a lady of the extended Worthington family—except when it comes in the form of a most irresistible gentleman . . .

Lady Charlotte Carpenter’s brother-in-law has put an infamous brothel owner out of business—yet it is Charlotte who suffers the consequences. Abducted by thugs and held at an inn, she is plotting her escape when she’s suddenly rescued by a dashing gentleman. Only afterward does she realize she’s seen him before—with two courtesans! Unwilling to tarry with such a man, Charlotte makes her second escape. But it is too late to repair her reputation . . .

A known gossip has spied Charlotte’s movements, and his report is speeding through the rumor mill. Soon, everyone knows that Charlotte spent the night with Constantine, Marquis of Kenilworth. And everyone agrees the only answer is marriage—including Constantine himself, his overjoyed mother—and his mistress! But Charlotte’s abductors aren’t finished with her yet. Now Constantine will do anything to protect the spirited woman he loves and win her heart . . .


“I have come to see Lady Charlotte.”

“Follow me, my lord. The family is in the garden for the wedding.”


To the best of his knowledge, Charlotte was the only young lady of marriageable age not already wed. Had Harrington returned with a special license? He could go to the devil it he had.
He could not have her. Charlotte was Con’s, and it was about time she knew it. “I can find my way.”

“As you wish, my lord. Go straight down the corridor.”

“Thank you.” 

He must put an end to this wedding before it was too late. Rushing down the corridor, he looked to his right, and spied open French windows in a parlor. A large group of people were gathered just beyond the terrace.

Con prayed he was in time to stop her. Halt the wedding. Hell, what sort of man asks permission of his father to marry someone like Charlotte? Not one she needs.

The Fates had given her to him and no one was going to take her away. Even if the time to object had passed, he would make himself known. She was his.

Dashing through the room, he arrived in the garden in time to hear Worthington say, “If there is anyone who objects to this wedding, speak now or forever hold your peace.”

Worthington? Con almost skidded to a stop.

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.
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! 

She loves having readers connect with her.
Blog http://ellaquinnauthor.wordpresscom
The Marquis and I Buy Links
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Saturday, February 24, 2018

One folly after the other...

This may sound crazy, but once more we allowed ourselves to be carried away by a folly. Some days ago, I read a message on my smart phone about Andrew LLoyd-Webber's 70th birthday celebrations. As both of us love his music, we thought we'd give it a try to secure tickets for this event on June 17th at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea.

I switched on my pc a bit before 11 am (10 am in England, the time the tickets would go on sale). Know what? All the VIP packages were already sold out! But I was lucky to get tickets not far away from the stage (if I'm too far off, I don't see a thing). So I just got out my credit card and paid for them. Time to figure out how to cover the costs later!

I don't know how it works, but in such aspects we've always been lucky. We'll never win the lottery. That's not for us. But what concerns travelling and events, we do have luck. I remember long ago, in the 1980s, when the situation for teachers was really very bad and we were more out of work than in. Well, our annual ski trip to Switzerland never had to be cancelled. Every time we thought we wouldn't find the money to pay for it, one of us got a job and we could finance the trip. And much later on, in 2008, I really thought we'd had to cancel our trip to Vancouver because I had purchased a flat with the intention of moving to it. However, our house didn't sell right away. I had to apply for a special credit and needed to pay over 1,000 € a month just for that. I hadn't any money left! But just before we would make the trip, we could sell the flat again (with a big profit) and decided we'd stay in the house for the time being. Finances restored, and it was a wonderful trip to Vancouver!

So I'm really glad we'll be able to attend this event in Chelsea. Who knows, Lloyd-Webber is already 70 and there may not be a next celebration (for the same, we won't be there either). My motto is: do everthing you can now, and don't postpone.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Don't Let Him Go

This morning I welcome another guest author: Kay Harris. Kay is doing a virtual blurb blitz tour for Don't Let Him Go, a contemporary romance available February 14 from The Wild Rose Press. The tour will run February 12 - March 9.

Kay Harris will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the following link:


Candace Gleason passed the bar, landed a great job, and is making a killer salary--basically, all of her dreams are coming true. Until she’s assigned to keep the boss’s petulant son out of trouble.

Jack Morrison is the rebellious black sheep of a mighty real estate family. He runs a nonprofit whose mission is to save poor people from evil corporations, like the one his own family owns. He is obnoxious, ridiculously charming, and insanely hot. He is the bane of Candace’s very existence.  

Sparks fly from the moment they meet.  Candace suddenly has more to worry about than keeping Jack out of jail. She has to keep him out of her heart.


I folded my arms across my chest and glared at Jack as he moseyed into the room. “You ambushed me.” 

Jack came to a stop a few feet away and nodded. “I did.” 

“That’s it?” I spread my arms out and leaned forward. My voice rose despite my effort to control it. “That’s all you have to say?” 

“What do you want me to say? You’re smart. You can see what I did back there. I used you for my own gain.” 

“You’re a prick!” 

“I’m not surprised you feel that way. But I am sorry you had to get caught in the crossfire.” He moved to the couch and took a seat in the middle of it, purposefully giving me the high ground. 

He slung his arms over the back of the couch casually, making him look like an arrogant ass. And that is exactly what I thought of him at that moment. So I called him on his supposed apology. “Are you?” 

“Yes, I am. But you’re not innocent, Candie. You put yourself in this position by going to work for Morrison.” 

“It’s Candace!” I shouted, on the edge of insanity. 

He didn’t respond. He just looked at me with that infuriatingly handsome face and waited, an amused grin dancing on his face.

Author bio and links

Kay grew up in the Midwest and has since lived all over the western United States including Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and California. She loves to hike, is obsessed with museums, and enjoys taking her extremely tall and very handsome husband on adventures.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Atomic City Girls

Today my guest is author Janet Beard. Janet is doing a virtual blurb blitz tour for THE ATOMIC CITY GIRLS, a historical fiction available February 6 from William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishing . The tour will run February 12 - February 23.

The publisher will be awarding digital copies of the book to three randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the following link:


n the bestselling tradition of Hidden Figures and The Wives of Los Alamos, comes this riveting novel of the everyday people who worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II.

“What you see here, what you hear here, what you do here, let it stay here.”

In November 1944, eighteen-year-old June Walker boards an unmarked bus, destined for a city that doesn’t officially exist. Oak Ridge, Tennessee has sprung up in a matter of months—a town of trailers and segregated houses, 24-hour cafeterias, and constant security checks. There, June joins hundreds of other young girls operating massive machines whose purpose is never explained. They know they are helping to win the war, but must ask no questions and reveal nothing to outsiders.

The girls spend their evenings socializing and flirting with soldiers, scientists, and workmen at dances and movies, bowling alleys and canteens. June longs to know more about their top-secret assignment and begins an affair with Sam Cantor, the young Jewish physicist from New York who oversees the lab where she works and understands the end goal only too well, while her beautiful roommate Cici is on her own mission: to find a wealthy husband and escape her sharecropper roots. Across town, African-American construction worker Joe Brewer knows nothing of the government’s plans, only that his new job pays enough to make it worth leaving his family behind, at least for now. But a breach in security will intertwine his fate with June’s search for answers.

When the bombing of Hiroshima brings the truth about Oak Ridge into devastating focus, June must confront her ideals about loyalty, patriotism, and war itself.

Author bio and links

Born and raised in East Tennessee, Janet Beard moved to New York to study screenwriting at NYU and went on to earn an MFA in creative writing from The New School. Her first novel, Beneath the Pines, was published in 2008. Janet has lived and worked in Australia, England, Boston, and currently, Columbus, Ohio, where she is teaching writing, raising a daughter, and working on a new novel.

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Freezer weather ahead

After a nice sunny week of school vacations, the weather is turning. We're in for a bout of Polar Vortex... meaning it will be very cold for at least two weeks!

Now I don't mind the cold. I can stand temperatures below zero, as long as there is also some sunshine along. One can dress against the cold, right? I always dress in layers when the temperature sinks below -10°. And on top of it a warm coat, a woollen hat and gloves. That way you can master almost anything, even on the bike.

It will be a nice change from the rain we've been getting during December and January. When it's dry you can easily take out the bike, or make long walks. And at night you put on an extra blanket over the duvet, that keeps the cold away (we don't have heating in the bedrooms, as I like some fresh air at night).

How do you handle the cold?

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Some quiet days at the coast

After returning from Liverpool, we decided to spend the rest of the vacation at the coast. The coast always has something to offer, winter, summer, autumn or spring. Of course, now it's more quiet here than in the summer season, but it isn't dead at all.

I remember when we were younger, when you visited a place at the coast then, you didn't see a living soul. But now more and more people have a second home at the seaside and they like to spend their weekends there as much as possible.

I've always loved the coast. It's peaceful here. At home we live near the railroad and a busy street where sometimes you can't cross the street because of the heavy traffic. Here you only hear the tram from far and the calling of seagulls.

The weather was not bad either. We saw the sun regularly and that's always nice. We made walks along the seafront, did some shopping (!) and went out dining on our last evening here. Later today we go back home because my sister has to start work again. 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Back from Liverpool

We spent the last few days in Liverpool, UK. Originally, we planned this trip because we wanted to attend a meet-and-greet with Michael Bolton, but a few days ago we got news the event was cancelled.

Having booked our Eurostar and Virgin trains tickets however, plus made a reservation for a hotel, we decided to go anyway. However you look at it, it's some days away from home!

And we were lucky with the weather. We arrived in Liverpool with hail and sleet, but the following day was quite sunny although windy.

As I've already written in my travel blog, there is enough to see in Liverpool. Beatles fans can do the Beatle experience, and there are some good musea too. There's a Tate Modern, a slavery museum, one about the history, ... You can make nice walks around the waterfront as well.

For those who love shows, there's the Empire Theatre, where most major companies will tour for a couple of weeks or even a few days.

And then there's the shopping! Liverpool One is one of the biggest shopping places we've seen already, and if you can't find it there, you won't find it anywhere. Of course we ended up with more luggage than we left home!

An additional touch was that it was Valentine's weekend, so everything was decorated with pink hearts and flowers.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Good news

Yesterday, I've spent most of the daytime at our local hospital (which is really a very good one) to have my 3-monthly-check-up. This needs to be done when you are being treated for cancer. Amongst others, I had a scan of the lower body to see how the metastasis were doing. Also blood tests, of course.

Around two pm the oncologist came to see me (yes, they do that here, they're very friendly) and told me the results were fine. The little dots on my lungs are disappearing and the lump at my pancreas has certainly not increased in size, is even changing color (which I assume must be positive). So I can keep on with the lower dosis of the medication - and as it is, it seems that since a couple of days the side-effects of this medication are less intense. My feet have been hurting like hell for a long time, but since last weekend I can walk once more. Hopefully it stays this way!

Well, we left the hospital feeling good.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Flight to the sun

Next Saturday schools will close for a week, because of carnival (although they name this vacation: Crocus Break...). Brussels airport expects at least 180,000 passengers who'll want to leave for sunnier parts during this break.

When I was a couple of years younger, I couln't imagine spending a sunny vacation in winter, because I loved to go skiing (and not only in Europe). But now we don't ski anymore (my sister had an accident about 10 years ago, she fell while skiing and was out of consciousness for a rather long time - the doctors still don't know what caused this) I like the sun more and more.

We won't be seeking the sun during the coming break, but 6 weeks later, we'll head to the United Arab Emirates. It will be warm enough there! And during the Christmas holidays, we'll be in Mexico where the climate will also be a lot better than in Europe.

Loving sunshine doesn't mean we'll just sit at the pool and do nothing but soaking and having drinks from the bar! No, even when it's hot we like to wander around, exploring the neighborhood and seeing more of the place you are visiting. Only afterwards, we take a plunge and spend half an hour drying up. That's more than enough, we're not the sort of tourist who puts down his towel to secure a resting place near the pool.

And what about you?

Monday, February 5, 2018

Havana Blues

Please welcome David Pereda today. Goddess Fish Promotions is organizing a Virtual Blurb Blitz Tour for Havana Blues, a Historical Coming-of-Age novel available now from Custom Book Publications. The tour will run February 5 - March 2.

David Pereda will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the following link:


The year is 1952 and Ramon Rodriguez’s life as a teenager in fun-loving Havana is filled with typical activities and concerns: girls, education, religion, baseball, parties, and hanging out with friends. The country is enjoying a period of prosperity and happiness--until General Batista stages a coup that topples the government and Ramon’s life is flung into chaos. 

In a few short years, the carefree fifties morph into a vicious and repressive dictatorship highlighted by corruption, organized gambling, school closures, student demonstrations, police brutality, and assassinations. 

As Ramon experiences the thrills of his first romantic relationship, graduates from school, and struggles to plan for an uncertain future, he is forced to make important decisions that may be dangerous to him, his family, his friends, and his girlfriend – the beautiful Sonia -- and could turn deadly.


My room was on fire. Orange tongues licked the crumbling walls and snaked across the burning floor toward my bed. Thick gray smoke choked me. My ears throbbed with an insistent and reverberating sound.

I couldn’t breathe.

I gasped for air. My palms felt sweaty, and my heart thrashed against my rib cage, as if trying to escape my chest. I opened my eyes.
For a moment, I was in a bright and silent void – then I heard my parents arguing in the kitchen.

It was a hot and sunny morning. I had been dreaming of hell again, and the alarm clock was ringing.

I shut it off.

Ever since Brother Santiago had given in Religion class a week ago a vivid and realistic description of hell as punishment for masturbation and having sex with prostitutes, I’d had the same dream over and over. Amid much commotion and speculation, Pacheco, the frail student with a perennially runny nose who sat behind me in class, fainted and had to be carted off to the school infirmary, pale and limp like a noodle in won ton soup. Everyone in class knew Pacheco was an assiduous masturbator – he bragged about it to other students often enough – but his blackout generated great speculation in the school about his frequent visits to brothels. I wondered what kind of nightmares Pacheco was having.

On second thought, I really didn’t want to know. I had enough with my own nightmares of hell.

I stretched lazily in bed. Today was a special day. It was my birthday. I was fifteen years old.

A door slammed somewhere, and once more I was aware of my parents’ angry voices in the kitchen. I likened their arguments to a sort of word symphony, the sound of their voices harmonized so well. My mother’s shrill, piercing sting was a nearly perfect complement to my father’s placating hum.

Though I couldn’t hear them clearly, I guessed what they were arguing about – money. Ever since Papa’s broom-making business started going bad, it seemed money was all they ever talked about.

Author bio and links

David Pereda was born in Havana, Cuba. The award-winning author of seven previous novels, he enjoys crafting political thrillers and edgy mainstream novels with unique characters placed in exotic settings. He has traveled to more than thirty countries and speaks four languages. Before devoting his time solely to writing and teaching, David had a successful international consulting career with global giant Booz Allen Hamilton, where he worked with the governments of Mexico, Venezuela, Peru and Qatar, among others.
A member of MENSA, David earned his MBA from Pepperdine University in California. He earned bachelor degrees in English literature and mathematics at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
He lives in artistic Asheville, North Carolina, with his youngest daughter Sophia, where he teaches mathematics and English at the Asheville-Buncombe Community College. He loves sports and is an accomplished competitor in track and show-jumping equestrian events.

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Sunday, February 4, 2018

Chile con carne

Ever since we tried this dish, we've been fond of it! So nowadays we like to make our own batch of chile and then freeze it in in portions for use later on.

H.ere's a pic of the ingredients; As you can see, you need quite a lot - and also lots of time to prepare!

First of all, you put olive oil in a big (and I mean really big) pot and heat it up. Then add the cubes of smoked bacon and let them fry a bit. Fish them out of the pot and put the ground meat in it. Then add the slices of steak. Once they're done a bit, take them out and put fresh oil into the pot.

Then fry your onions. After a while, add the white wine. Then add the bacon and meat and half of the spices. Let it boil softly for about 20 minutes.

Finally, you add chicken stock and tomato coulis, red beans and beer. The chile needs another 45 minutes to be ready - and of course, it's at it best when you make it the day before and let it rest a while.

We use to eat it like a snack, not as our main meal. It's nice with a bit of ciabatta. Perhaps not quite Mexican, but that is how we like it!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Some books really have it!

As the current weather is not inviting to go outside, I'm glad I'm comfortably on my sofa reading one of the best books in ages!

I'm talking about Beware the Past by Joy Ellis, a British author of crime fiction. Unknown to me, before Amazon kindly presented it to me. The summary of that book seemed promising, so I bought it. And wow, what a book! I'm already through 4/5 of the novel and still haven't got a clue of to who or why.

The plot centers around DCI Matt Ballard, who is stationed in a place called Fenfleet, somewhere in Lincolnshire's marshland. As a young police-officeer he witnessed a bout of serial killings of young boys aged 11. Now he's the only one from the old team still around. And someone seems to know a lot about Matt... Another 11-year-old boy is found murdered and another disappears. And Matt gets strange pictures that play around with his sanity. The murderer clearly knows what happened all through Matt's career and is also well aware of his personal life.

I'm hoping to finish the book today as I can barely restrict myself from peeping at the last page to see how it ends!