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Archive for January, 2013

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot!

Bella Hot, Hot, Hot!

It’s definitely summer here in New Zealand with higher than normal temperatures scorching the country. Bella has taken to cooling off by lying on her back with all her feet in the air. I call it her hot, hot, hot! pose.

Later today I’m visiting Not Your Usual Suspects blog where I’m talking about Scarlet Woman—the little book that could!

What are your favorite tips for cooling down during a hot summer?

A Quick Visit to Athens

The Acropolis towers over Athens, an amazing place to visit with so much history.

Acropolis, Athens, Greece

This time we didn’t queue with all the crowds, since we’d visited before. Instead we made a stop at the New Acropolis Museum. This was a modern building with lots of glass, and it holds some incredible treasures. During the excavation to build the museum, they found ruins. They’ve incorporated the ruins into the design by using glass for all the floors and allowing visitors to view them. This photo is part of the ruins that are inside and therefore not protected with glass. Just as an aside, if you ever visit, don’t wear a skirt. With the glass floors, you can look upward and see the people on the floor above…and whatever they’re wearing or not.

Museum, Athens

While wandering around Athens, the amount of graffiti surprised us.


It’s a real shame to see this while wandering around the city.

Evil Eyes

These are evil eyes and they’re on sale as souvenirs for tourists. The evil eyes have been around for thousands of years and are used as a talisman to ward off evil.

And this is my car… Snazzy, isn’t it? I couldn’t resist a photo.

Shells Car 

What sort of car would you like if money was no object?

Lets Take Tea With Jane Austen

Thursday Thirteen

During a recent visit to the local library, I came across a copy of Tea With Jane Austen by Kim Wilson. I’m a big fan of tea, so I picked up the book and checked it out.

Thirteen Things About Jane Austen and Tea

1. Jane Austen was responsible for making the family breakfast each morning and also the morning pot of tea.

2. Tea was very expensive during Jane’s time and was kept locked away to avoid pilfering by the servants.

3. Young ladies of the time used to decorate tea caddies with filigree work (rolled strips of paper applied in decorative patterns)

4. Jane took sugar in her tea, but probably not milk. The sugar was also locked up due to its expensive nature.

5. The sugar came in large cone-shaped loaves and someone had to break it up before it could be used. Sugar cubes came much later.

6. Shopping was different in Jane’s time. For example if she wished to buy tea she could buy it from a pedlar, she could walk to the local shops or wait until she visited a larger town or city.

7. Visits to the city were rare. Whenever Jane visited the city, friends and family would give her a list of their requirements and errands. Items such as jewellery and material were common additions to Jane’s list.

8. During Jane’s time a pound of tea sold for six shillings. Better quality tea fetched even higher prices. This was double the wages received by unskilled workers.

9. The quality of the tea varied widely. Legal tea was usually a decent quality as was smuggled tea, although it sometimes smelled a little of horse. Some tea was adulterated, which could be quite dangerous.

10. Some shops, such as dressmakers and milliners, offered tea to their customers. Tea contributed to a genteel atmosphere.

11. Twinings tea warehouse on The Strand probably hasn’t changed much in appearance since Jane’s visits to purchase fresh tea.

12. Riding in a carriage was considered exercise. Sometimes it was difficult to remain in a seat due to the bone-jarring roads. Tea was often the first refreshment called for on arrival at a destination.

13.  Gentlemen and some ladies too, took to spiking their tea with spirits, especially in the morning after a hard night. If that didn’t work to fix a hangover, they’d move on to normal tea.

Are you a Jane Austen fan? Which one of her novels is your favorite?

Tsatsiki in Athens

One great thing about traveling is trying the local food. During our visit to Athens in Greece last year we were wandering through the Plaka area and came across Scholarhio Ouzeri Kouklis, a small traditional family restaurant. While perusing the menu we saw that chef Rick Stein recommended the restaurant and that sealed it for me. Rick Stein is one of my favorite celebrity chefs, and we decided to follow in his footsteps.

Athens Outside Plaka Restaurant


This is one of the restaurant owners. He brought out a tray of all their offerings, and we were able to choose five different dishes. Our meal also came with a glass of wine or beer, bread, mineral water and a dessert.

Kitchen and the cook

Hubby went into the kitchen and took a close up of all the dishes.


I loved the food. If I concentrate I can recall the intense flavors and textures. It was one of the most memorable meals we’ve had recently. See my frown of concentration? My brain is saying, Yummy food! Yummy food!

One of the dishes we selected was Tsatsiki, a yoghurt dip that some of you have probably eaten. We’ve made it before at home, but it never tasted like this—thick and creamy and full of flavor.

When we arrived home we decided we’d try again to make some in the hope of duplicating the dish we had in the Plaka. After discussion we decided we’d amend our recipe to make our Tsatsiki thicker.

Recipe for Tsatsiki


1 cucumber


ground black pepper

one large tub of natural yoghurt, preferably Greek

4 Tablespoons chopped mint

1 garlic clove, crushed.


1. Our Greek yoghurt isn’t as thick as it is in Greece, so the first thing we do is to drain some of the liquid out of the yoghurt. We use a coffee filter and a funnel and sit it in a beer mug until some of the liquid drains out. About 1 – 2 hours should do it.


2. Deseed the cucumber and discard the seeds. Cube the cucumber flesh.

3. Mix the cucumber with the drained yoghurt. Add chopped mint leaves and crushed garlic and salt and pepper to taste.

4. Place in a shallow dish and serve with chunks of fresh bread. Perfect with drinks on a hot day.


Do you have memories of a particularly delicious meal?

Blackthorn Vampires : Anti-heroes of Romance by Lindsay J. Pryor

Recently, as in the last six months, I’ve been going through a bit of a vampire love affair. I’d like to welcome Lindsay Pryor, the author of Blood Shadows, and creator of one of my recent vampire boyfriends.

Blood Shadows Tour Button

Dark. Dangerous. Exciting. Ever since Bram Stoker introduced us to the new world of the romantic vampire as opposed to the terrifying monster of eastern European legend, the vampire has continued to dominate films and books. Almost a century on and they’re still developing – morphing into the heroes of today.

But we know that underneath whatever refinement those vampire heroes present, every single one of them (even Edward Cullen) lives on the edge of their own innate needs. Their nature dictates they are predators and, as such, they will always be a threat. I think the most enthralling vampire heroes are those that live on the very edge of those base instincts – who can just as easily flip to being the villain as the hero.

When I conceptualised the Blackthorn series, I knew they were the type of vampires I wanted. For me, anti-heroes make more interesting characters. Flaws add interest and so does unpredictability. If I work with a character who has an unwavering code of conduct and strict boundaries they will never cross, it doesn’t create enough suspense and tension for me as a writer. I like writing about vampires that skirt close to the edge, so much so that I’m never quite sure if they are going to overstep the mark or not. That’s what my readers report keeps them breathless and retains the tension in the stories – that’s one of the things that defines my books.

My vampires need to be dark. They live in a brutal and merciless manmade world where they are forced to reside as second-class citizens – where humans control them with an iron fist. Society is divided and the third species (such as vampires) are discriminated against. With vampires contained in the polluted, over-populated district of Blackthorn – the most impoverished of several administrative districts – inevitably a greater barrier between the two species has formed physically and emotionally. It is an ideal backdrop for me to reveal just as much darkness in human nature as well as the darkness in the vampires.

I also wanted my vampires to feel real, urban and contemporary. Blackthorn became a district that reflects its residents and vice-versa – dark, dangerous and deadly with unexplored corners, unpredictability, an undercurrent of unrest and a need for retribution. Whether Blackthorn’s vampires get that retribution is down to each of the romances that evolve through the series.

Blackthorn may be a gloomy and dystopian world, the romances forbidden, the vampires dark and a little close to the edge, but those vampires are, in essence, heroes – some just need a little more of the surface scraped away to prove it than others! And for me, a hero who has every reason not to be is one of the most appealing heroes of all.

Blood ShadowsBlood Shadows

Blackthorn Series Book One
Lindsay J. Pryor

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Bookouture

ISBN: 9781909490000


Number of pages: 380

Word Count: 117,000

Cover Artist: Henry Steadman

Book Trailer:

Amazon Apple Kobo

Barnes and Noble Sony ebooks

Book Description:

For vengeance – would you trust a vampire?
For justice – could you betray your family?
For love – are you ready to question everything you believe in?

Gifted with the ability to read the shadows of ‘third species’ beings, Caitlin Parish is the Vampire Control Unit’s most powerful agent. Despite that, her mission to hunt down Kane Malloy – a master vampire – comes with a death wish. Many have tried, but few have survived.

For Caitlin, tracking Kane is about more than just professional reputation. With her parents both mysteriously killed 7 years apart to the day, Caitlin knows that without Kane’s help she is next.

She has four days to make a deal with the wicked, the irresistible, the treacherous Kane Malloy. The vampire who despises everything she stands for.

Or die.


You can read the first three chapters on Scribd for free:

Check Out What Readers Have to Say About Blood Shadows:

“Lindsay J. Pryor easily earns a place alongside Paranormal Romance’s best writers!” ~ Michele Hauf

“An incredible voice for paranormal.” ~ Rhyannon Byrd

“Jaw-droppingly good… I’d want to shout ‘Bite Me!’”

Lindsay J PryorAbout the Author:

Lindsay J. Pryor is a British Paranormal Romance author who writes dark, intense stories set in the dystopian world of Blackthorn.

Her trademark powerful vampire heroes and utterly combustible sensual romances have earned Lindsay comparisons with both J.R Ward and Sherrilyn Kenyon.

A finalist in Mills & Boon’s New Voices competition in both 2010 and 2011, Lindsay has already proved a smash hit with readers.

Comments like “Utterly captivating”, “Jaw-droppingly good”, “Awesome”, “I forgot to blink”, “The sexual tension is off the charts”, “I nearly fainted when he removed her belt”, “I drooled on my keyboard” and even “Tell Kane he can have my soul RIGHT NOW!” convinced Lindsay she just might have what it took to become a published author.

With the launch of Blood Shadows, that dream is now a reality.  Her journey to published author though has been a long one.

Lindsay has been creating stories since she was nine years old, when she quickly decided that fantasy was more interesting than reality. She thought she’d grow out of it but hasn’t yet.

Despite years of bashing out stories on an old typewriter, it was the death of her father in 2007 that finally convinced Lindsay to try and become a published author.

“One of the last things my dad said to me was to do what I wanted to do in life. After he passed away, I pulled out all my scribbles from over the years and got back to writing what I loved most – paranormal romance.”

If reviews are anything to go by, it was a journey well worth making.

Thirteen Places On Shelley’s Visit Wish List

Thursday Thirteen

Regular visitors will know how much I love to travel. In fact on my last travel post several of you commented – “Where haven’t you been?”

This TT proves I still have plenty of places on my wish list.

Thirteen Places on Shelley’s Wishlist

1. Antarctica

2. Nelson, New Zealand (South Island)

3. Stewart Island, New Zealand (the island at the bottom of the South Island)

4. Broome, Australia (want to go camel riding)

5. Machu Picchu

6. Texas – one state I haven’t visited yet

7. Madagascar – would love to see the lemurs.

8. Vietnam

9. Darwin, Australia

10. Falkland Islands

11. River cruise down the Amazon

12. Chile

13. Scandinavia

Which place is top of your list?

Xmas Day in Lahaina, Hawaii

I took a load of photos over Christmas, photos of the different Hawaiian islands we visited plus shipboard shots. Unfortunately disaster struck and hubby managed to delete every single photo on my digital card. There was much cursing and swearing on his part and I have to confess that a few mutters emerged from me too. Sigh. On the positive side we have visited Hawaii before and we still have hubby’s photos, but they weren’t as good as mine. Devil I lost all the Christmas day photos, although I did visit Hilo Hatties in Lahaina and had my photo taken with Santa Claus. He was the most talkative Santa I’ve ever met. When he heard I was from New Zealand we had a discussion about the movie Once Were Warriors.

xmas_Lahaina, Hawaii 2012

I love his Hawaiian shirt and the fact his beard was real. We had a lovely day in Lahaina. My highlight was getting up to watch the sunrise. We watched the pilot boat from the cruise ship and saw it stop suddenly. A humpback whale breached right in front of it and as we watched the whale breached three more times. It was a magical start to the day. This was the first time I’ve ever spent part of Christmas day on the beach. Unfortunately the photos to prove it are lost.

If you’d ever like a warm Christmas I highly recommend Hawaii as a destination.

From Genesis to Grave Intentions

Grave Intentions Virtual Book Tour

I’m thrilled to welcome Lori Sjoberg today. She’s currently on tour with her new release Grave Intentions – a paranormal tale of grim reapers with a romantic twist that I enjoyed reading very much. I asked Lori where she came up with the idea for her story and this is what she said…

The idea for Grave Intentions started with a scene. More specifically, it started with the dark moment of the story, the point where all seems lost for the hero and heroine. It came to me one weekend morning while I was out walking my dogs. I ended up logging a few extra miles trying to figure out who these people were, what they were doing, and why they were so torn up. (Please forgive me for being vague, but I don’t want to spoil anything for the folks who haven’t read the story yet.)

Because the scene involved supernatural elements, I decided the male protagonist needed to be a reaper. At the time it wasn’t a very common element in paranormal romance, and it allowed me the freedom to create and explore a rich new supernatural world. And since my reapers were once mortal beings, it also gave me the opportunity to show the ramifications of acting as the harbinger of death, of the emotional toll it would take on their psyches.

Now that I knew who my hero would be, I turned my attention to the heroine. I wanted her to be a strong woman, someone fiercely intelligent who would give the hero a serious run for the money. But I also wanted to make her mortal. At first, I considered making her a cop, but ultimately decided to make her a scientist, one who doesn’t believe in anything that can’t be scientifically proven. A woman whose analytical nature stems from a deeply ingrained fear of the skeletons lurking in her family’s closet.

From there, the rest of the details fell into place. The reaper who fears he’s losing his humanity. The scientist who fears the prospect of losing her mind. Sparks fly when their paths cross, until a twist of fate threatens to tear their world to pieces. Can they overcome the obstacles driving them apart? I could give you the answers, but where’s the fun in that?

CONTEST: Win an e-copy of Grave Intentions.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Grave IntentionsGrave Intentions

First Book of the Grave Series

Lori Sjoberg

Genre: paranormal romance

Publisher: Kensington Publishing

ISBN: 9781601830067


Number of pages: Approx. 289

Word Count: 96,100

Amazon B&N

Book Description:

He’s handsome, reliable, and punctual-the perfect gentleman when you want him to be. But this dream man is Death’s best agent-and now he’s got more than his soul to lose . . .

One act of mercy before dying was all it took to turn soldier David Anderson into a reaper-an immortal who guides souls-of-untimely-death into the afterlife. But the closer he gets to atoning for his mortal sin and finally escaping merciless Fate, the more he feels his own humanity slipping away for good.

Until he encounters Sarah Griffith. This skeptical scientist can’t be influenced by his powers-even though she has an unsuspected talent for sensing the dead. And her honesty and irreverent sense of humor reignite his reason for living-and a passion he can’t afford to feel. Now Fate has summoned David to make a devastating last harvest. And he’ll break every hellishly-strict netherworld rule to save Sarah…and gamble on a choice even an immortal can’t win.

Lori SjobergAbout the Author:

Growing up the youngest of three girls, Lori never had control of the remote. (Not that she’s bitter about that. Really. Okay, maybe a little, but it’s not like she’s scarred for life or anything.) That meant a steady diet of science fiction and fantasy. Star Trek, Star Wars, Twilight Zone, Outer Limits – you name it, she watched it. It fed her imagination, and that came in handy when the hormones kicked in and she needed a creative excuse for staying out past curfew.

After graduating from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor of Science, Lori worked for nearly a decade in retail management. When that got boring, she switched to financial planning, and then insurance. The writing bug bit a few years later. After completing her first manuscript, she joined the Romance Writers of America and Central Florida Romance Writers. Now she exercises the analytical half of her brain at work, and the creative half writing paranormal romance. When she’s not doing either one of those, she’s usually spending time with her husband and children of the four-legged variety.

Twitter @Lori_Sjoberg

Amazon – Grave Intentions

For The Dogs

Hollywood Plastic Surgery for Dogs

I can’t decide if this is for real or not. But then anything is possible in LA.

What do you think?

Hello to Hollywood

In honor of the release of the nominations for the 85th Academy awards I thought I’d post a few photos from our recent trip to Los Angeles. We did the touristy thing, visiting many places around LA that we’d seen on television and in movies.

Hollywood Sign

This photo was taken from the Hollywood bowl where they hold lots of concerts. Sorry the photo is a bit blurry. We zoomed up to take the photo.

Hollywood Grauman's Chinese Theatre

This is the entrance to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. In the front of the theatre there are hand and footprints of celebrities in the concrete. No one agrees how the idea for the prints came about. The most popular story is that it happened by accident when someone stepped in soft concrete.

Hollywood Eddie Murphy Hollywood Marilyn Monroe

Hollywood Hugh Jackman Hollywood Johnny Depp

Here is a selection of hand and footprints. It was quite difficult to snap them without getting feet since there were people everywhere!

Hollywood Dolby Theatre Entrance

This is the stairway entrance to the Dolby Theatre where the Academy Awards take place. On the night these stairs are covered with red carpet and all the surrounding shops are closed.

Hollywood Paramount Pictures

This is the entrance to Paramount Pictures. The grounds and buildings within seemed quite extensive.

Do you watch the Academy Awards on TV? Do you enjoy watching the stars on the red carpet?

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