A Recipe for Disaster – a cookbook, travelogue and the companion to Cookucina, a six-part TV series

A Recipe For Disaster

A Recipe for Disaster is a cookbook, a travelogue and the companion to Cookucina, a six-part TV series available on Amazon Video, iTunes and Google Play – see www.cookucina.com .

It’s also the entertaining journey of an Englishman struggling with the ups and downs of living in rural Italy. After giving up a successful career in television, Stephen found himself dragged back into a world he had happily given up when his neighbour, Lia, persuaded him to listen to her Big Idea – making a TV cookery series. But Lia speaks no English.

 And Stephen’s partner, Tam, can’t cook. So, much against Stephen’s better judgement, the three of them embarked on a six-part series set among the rolling hills of the little-known, but spectacularly beautiful, Italian region of Le Marche. In the Cookucina TV series Lia teaches Tam to cook alla Marchigiana, while Tam translates. A Recipe for Disaster follows their many encounters with the real Italy – a world away from the picture-book ideal of summer holidays in Tuscany.

As the team try to construct a professional series with no funding they come to rely on the generosity of the Marchigiana people, while attempting to overcome the constant difficulties thrown up by those whose stubborn adherence to their age-old way of life is rooted in their beloved fields and woods. A Recipe for Disaster is a goldmine of simple yet delicious recipes, while peeling back the veneer of television professionalism and opening the door to a world of Italian surprise and delight.

A Recipe for Disaster comes with unique access to Cookucina, the final six-part TV series, so you can see for yourself how the team cracked their problems and (just about) held it all together in a blistering heatwave. Experience this contradictory world of vendettas and kind hearts through the laughter and frustrations of Stephen and the team, as you follow A Recipe for Disaster slowly coming to its surprising fruition.

Purchase Links:

iBooks http://bit.ly/iRecDis

Kindle http://bit.ly/KdleRecipe

Paperback http://bit.ly/RecDis

Goodreads http://bit.ly/GoodRec

Smashwords  http://bit.ly/SmaRec

Trailer for Cookucina – https://youtu.be/rh_wHv1o1Lg

Stephen Phelps

Educated at Oxford University, I began working with BBC Radio, moving to BBC TV where I launched Watchdog and produced the investigative legal series Rough Justice. In Hong Kong for BBC World Service Television I oversaw the start of BBC World. I then spent twelve years running my own TV production company, Just Television, specialising in investigative programmes in the field of law, justice and policing. In particular, Trial and Error for Channel 4 which exposed and investigated major miscarriages of justice, winning the Royal Television Society’s inaugural Specialist Journalism Award in 1999. Recently I have been working as a consultant for Aljazeera English on major documentary projects.

In 2002 I took an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. Writing credits include many plays for BBC Radio, my most recent being a drama documentary for the 30th anniversary of the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster. Books: The Tizard Mission published by Westholme Publishing in the United States, tells the extraordinary story of how Britain’s top scientists travelled in secret to America in the autumn of 1940 to give away all their wartime secrets to secure US support in WWII. A Recipe for Disaster is a book about living in Italy while trying to make a TV cookery series, Cookucina (now available on Amazon Video, Google Play and iTunes.

I have several other books and three screenplays in development.

Social Media Links 

Twitter:         @StephenP_Writer

Faceboook:   https://www.facebook.com/stanley.tinker

Instagram:    stephenp_writer

Medium:        https://medium.com/@stephenphelps

Web:                www.cookucina.com

Trailer for Cookucina:   https://youtu.be/rh_wHv1o1Lg

REVIEW:

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I began reading “A Recipe for Disaster”.  Was it a cookbook?  A travel or food commentary?   It was a bit of both, really.

I had no idea how much work went into producing even the simplest TV / video segment.  Stephen as director (D), recounts the ups and downs (or should I say (the different degrees of how excessively hot it can get) of filming in different locations around the Italian countryside.  His description of different Italian towns, country settings, local foods, lovable characters and the odd overprotective dog thrown in makes for a highly entertaining and educational read.  I learned so much about Italian history and, well, at this point, just want to pack up and move there (hey, we have earthquakes here on Vancouver Island as well).

The author had me smiling and laughing at some of the unusual situations they found themselves in.  His use of word pictures made me feel that I was right there watching it all.  I haven’t seen the video series yet but am keen to do so.

The recipes were very simple to prepare as Lia (a chef) is teaching Tam (who is learning to cook) how to cook traditional Italian dishes.  The only drawback was that the recipes were written for a European audience (I would imagine). In North America we don’t use the metric system for cooking (we use  Imperial measurements such as cups and tablespoons) and these would have to be converted.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves cooking, Italy and a good laugh!

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Book review: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold (Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency #1) by Iain Reading

  • Title and author:  Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold (Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency #1) by Iain Reading
  • Publisher:  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Date published:  December 3, 2012
  • Pages:  270
  • Genre:  mystery / thriller / women sleuths

Book description:

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is the thrilling first installment in a new series of adventure mystery stories that are one part travel, one part history and five parts adventure. This first book of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series introduces Kitty Hawk, an intrepid teenage pilot with her own De Havilland Beaver seaplane and a nose for mystery and intrigue. A cross between Amelia Earhart, Nancy Drew and Pippi Longstocking, Kitty is a quirky young heroine with boundless curiosity and a knack for getting herself into all kinds of precarious situations.

After leaving her home in the western Canadian fishing village of Tofino to spend the summer in Alaska studying humpback whales Kitty finds herself caught up in an unforgettable adventure involving stolen gold, devious criminals, ghostly shipwrecks, and bone-chilling curses. Kitty’s adventure begins with the lingering mystery of a sunken ship called the Clara Nevada and as the plot continues to unfold this spirited story will have armchair explorers and amateur detectives alike anxiously following every twist and turn as they are swept along through the history of the Klondike Gold Rush to a suspenseful final climatic chase across the rugged terrain of Canada’s Yukon, the harsh land made famous in the stories and poems of such writers as Jack London, Robert Service and Pierre Berton. It is a riveting tale that brings to glorious life the landscape and history of Alaska’s inside passage and Canada’s Yukon, as Kitty is caught up in an epic mystery set against the backdrop of the scenery of the Klondike Gold Rush.

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is a perfect book to fire the imagination of readers of all ages. Filled with fascinating and highly Google-able locations and history this book will inspire anyone to learn and experience more for themselves as Kitty prepares for her next adventure – flying around the world!

There are currently five books in the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold (book 1), Kitty Hawk and the Hunt for Hemingway’s Ghost (book 2), Kitty Hawk and the Icelandic Intrigue (book 3), and Kitty Hawk and the Tragedy of the RMS Titanic (book 4), and Kitty Hawk and the Mystery of the Masterpieces (book 5).

“In the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series the heroine finds herself in a new geographic location in each book. The series will eventually have a total of 13 books in it (maybe more) and her flight around the world will be completed in the end,” says Iain. “The books are sequential but one could definitely read any of the later ones before reading the earlier ones.”

For more information, go to http://www.kittyhawkworld.com/

Buy the book:   Amazon    Barnes & Noble

About the author:

Iain Reading is passionate about Root Beer, music, and writing. He is Canadian, but currently resides in the Netherlands working for the United Nations.

Iain is the author of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series, The Wizards of Waterfire Series, and the dragon of the month club.

To learn more, go to http://www.amazon.com/Iain-Reading/e/B00B0NGI6Q/

Connect with the author:    Website    Facebook    Twitter    Kitty Hawk Website

REVIEW:

The cover of Kitty climbing a mountain with a seaplane in the background immediately caught my eye.  Kitty is a girl from Vancouver Island (where I presently live) and lives in Tofino, about three hours away by car.  I’ve also lived in northern BC and have always wanted to go to Alaska so this novel had had me hooked from the start.

At first I wasn’t sure that a young girl would be capable of the things Kitty was able to do, but growing up in a small community with parents who were very pro-active with Kitty’s education certainly moulded her into an independent young person.

The author has written not only an exciting and interesting story, but has deftly added in bits containing history, geography and literature.  I was a fervent reader as a teenager and would have LOVED to  have read this book!  As an adult reader, I can say that it would captivate anyone who loves travel and adventure.  The book was coherent, well edited and had enough plot twists and suspense to make you keep reading until way past your bedtime.  I was constantly doing research about the places Kitty was travelling to and the maps and illustrations in the book were helpful visual aids to help me place exactly where she was in the story.

I’m ready for the next four books!

(PS:  I love the new cover art!)

Book review: The Elephant of Frimley by Nicholas Rawls

 

  • The Elephant of Frimley by Nicholas Rawls
  • Publisher:  Clink Street Publishing
  • Publication date:  April 25th, 2017
  • Genre:  children’s fiction
  • Pages:  48

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Two sisters and an elephant embark on an exciting adventure in this charming illustrated children’s book.

After the discovery of an elephant in their back garden, sisters Hannah and Emily make it their adventurous mission to return it back home.

Originally written as a bedtime story for his two daughters, and beautifully illustrated by Louise Jewell, The Elephant of Frimley is a delightful and fun read that parents, primary school teachers and extended families will enjoy sharing with young children.

Buy the book:   Amazon UK

Meet the author:  

Retired and happily living in Farnborough, Surrey, Nicholas Rawls enjoys spending time chatting on-line with his grandson and five adult children who are scattered across the world. When he’s not writing poetry and children’s verse he can be found pursuing his other interests —from antique fountain pen restoration to stamp collection, amateur astronomy and learning to play the banjo.

REVIEW:

What a delightful little rhyming story!  A sweet story about a lost elephant and two cheeky girls.  I adored the funny rhymes!  I have used this book to teach poetry to my young students who are learning English.

Book review: The Back to Front World of Azzie Artbuckle

  • The Back to Front World of Azzie Artbuckle
  • Publisher:  Your Stories Matter
  • Genre:  children (ages 6-8 years)
  • Published: January 31, 2017
  • Author:   Beth Montgomery
  • Pages:  36 (softcover)

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Azzie doesn’t really like school. If she could spend every day drawing, painting and making stuff, things would be great. But she can’t. The teachers make her do other stuff. This nearly always means she has to read from the board, a worksheet or a text book. The trouble is, she really really struggles to read letters, words and numbers. This makes her feel stupid. But she knows she isn’t. If only she could tell someone …

This book has been written from the point of view of a child who feels misunderstood. She finds it very difficult to read, which makes school life a struggle. She feels stupid, even though she is clever and creative. She gets told off for messing around, when the truth is she can’t do what is asked of her because she has a specific learning difficulty.

This illustrated book helps parents, teachers, and other adults who support children, have a non-threatening discussion about dyslexia with children of primary school age. Children find it easier to relate to, and discuss, the character in the story rather than have all the attention focused on them.

Using the book as a catalyst for discussion, adults can use the illustrated story at home or in school with children who have dyslexia, or exhibit dyslexic tendencies. Teachers can use the book to help classmates better understand their peers who may struggle reading. Similarly, parents can use the book to help children better understand family members.

This book was written and illustrated by someone who is herself dyslexic, and is based on her own life. She wanted to do something to help children who, years later, are still facing the same lack of understanding in school.

Buy the book:  Amazon   

MEET THE AUTHOR:  Elizabeth Montgomery lives in Nottinghamshire, England. She studied a BA in Design at Leicester’s De Montfort University, going on to complete an MA in writing at Nottingham University. Montgomery pursued various careers, including teaching, working for the Prince’s Trust and designing bespoke shoes for celebrities, before finally becoming a registered nurse. She wrote the Back to Front World of Azzie Artbuckle to help children and adults accept the unique abilities of being dyslexic, instead of being made to feel bad and stupid.

Website  

Book Objectives

This book has been written from the point of view of a child who feels misunderstood. She finds it very difficult to read, which makes school life a struggle. She feels stupid, even though she is clever and creative. She gets told off for messing around, when the truth is she can’t do what is asked of her because she has a specific learning difficulty.

This illustrated book helps parents, teachers, and other adults who support children, have a non-threatening discussion about dyslexia with children of primary school age. Children find it easier to relate to, and discuss, the character in the story rather than have all the attention focused on them.

Using the book as a catalyst for discussion, adults can use the illustrated story at home or in school with children who have dyslexia, or exhibit dyslexic tendencies. Teachers can use the book to help classmates better understand their peers who may struggle reading. Similarly, parents can use the book to help children better understand family members.

Book Background

This book was written and illustrated by someone who is herself dyslexic, and is based on her own life. She wanted to do something to help children who, years later, are still facing the same lack of understanding in school.

As with all of its books, the publisher – Your Stories Matter – aims to help people know they are not alone with what makes them different. If a young person or adult can relate to a story, it gives them hope and encourages them to share their concerns. The publisher aims to provide free teaching resources for all of its books that can be used in schools, to help improve understanding and celebrate differences.

REVIEW:

What a delightful book!  The Back to Front World of Azzie Artbuckle is about a little girl who is smart, creative and who tries very hard to read.  But she can’t read.  No matter how hard she tries, she can’t remember how to pronounce a word she has already read on the same page.  She says:  “I can see the letters just fine, but I see them differently to everyone else”.

Azzie has Dyslexia.  But it’s ok.  With a little extra help she can learn to read at her own pace.

Beth Montgomery provides an informative introduction about neurodiverse children and their neurological conditions.  These children are often misunderstood, which exacerbates the stress they already feel when they cannot learn as quickly as other children.  The author explains that there are many “positives” to being “wired differently” and that we should champion and celebrate these differences with the children in our care.

I have a degree in speech therapy and work one-on-one with children four days a week.  This book has helped me to identify those children who are experiencing the same struggle and frustration as Azzie.  This book would be an excellent addition to any pre-school library or paediatrician’s office.

ABOUT YOUR STORIES MATTER:

About Your Stories Matter: Based in Kendal, Cumbria Paul Johnson is the founder of Your Stories Matter and the parent publishing company Explainer HQ —which provides creative video, audio, animation and print to the business and education sector. All Your Stories Matters titles are published in paperback and are available to order from online retailers including amazon.co.uk.

For more information please visit: https://www.yourstoriesmatter.org and follow on Twitter @ysm_books

Book review: Fifteen Words by Monike Jephcott Thomas

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  • Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
  • Published:  (November 22, 2016)
  • Pages:  293
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction

Book Description:

Two young doctors form a profound and loving bond in Nazi Germany; a bond that will stretch them to the very limits of human endurance. Catholic Max – whose religious and moral beliefs are in conflict, has been conscripted to join the war effort as a medic, despite his hatred of Hitler’s regime. His beloved Erika, a privileged young woman, is herself a product of the Hitler Youth. In spite of their stark differences, Max and Erika defy convention and marry.

But when Max is stationed at the fortress city of Breslau, their worst nightmares are realized; his hospital is bombed, he is captured by the Soviet Army and taken to a POW camp in Siberia. Max experiences untold horrors, his one comfort the letters he is allowed to send home: messages that can only contain Fifteen Words. Back in Germany, Erika is struggling to survive and protect their young daughter, finding comfort in the arms of a local carpenter. Worlds apart and with only sparse words for comfort, will they ever find their way back to one another, and will Germany ever find peace?
Fifteen Words is a vivid and intimate portrayal of human love and perseverance, one which illuminates the German experience of the war, which has often been overshadowed by history.

Buy the book:  Amazon UK

unnamedAbout Monike Jephcott Thomas

Monika Jephcott Thomas grew up in Dortmund Mengede, north-west Germany. She moved to the UK in 1966, enjoying a thirty year career in education before retraining as a therapist. Along with her partner Jeff she established the Academy of Play & Child Psychotherapy in order to support the twenty per cent of children who have emotional, behavioural, social and mental health problems by using play and the creative Arts. A founder member of Play Therapy UK, Jephcott Thomas was elected President of Play Therapy International in 2002.

REVIEW:

A riveting and raw account of life during WWII when Germany was on the verge of losing the war.  We see how, despite coming from very different backgrounds, Erika and Max choose to make a life together.  Both are doctors.

While Erika remains behind, Max goes is conscripted to work for the Nazis as a doctor.  He detests Nazi ideology but is determined to help as many of the wounded as he can.  A timid man by nature, an early boyhood experience helping his aunt rescue the wounded as a result of a bomb blast targeting civilians gives him the courage to put his life at risk to save others.  He is aware that, if he survives the war, he will always carry the emotional scars of the war with him.

Intense, nail-biting and thought-provoking, this novel reveals what every-day Germans who did not agree with Hitler felt as the war raged on.

The author’s writing style is unique, lyrical and poetic.  It helps temper the rawness of the atrocities perpetrated by so many of those who, due to abuse of power, rendered the lives of so many to sheer misery.

For both Erika and Max, fifteen words of dialogue continue to link them together.  But they may not be enough.

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Book review: Katharina Luther: Nun, Rebel, Wife by Anne Boileau

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  • Publisher:   Clink Street Publishing
  • Publication date:  4th October 2016
  • Genre:  Non-fiction / history
  • Pages:  224 pages

ABOUT THE BOOK:  On 31st October 1517, Martin Luther pinned ninety-five theses on the Castle Church door, Wittenberg, criticizing the Church of Rome; they were printed and published by Lucas Cranach and caused a storm. Nine young nuns, intoxicated by Luther’s subversive writings, became restless and longed to leave their convent. On Good Friday 1523 a haulier smuggled them out hidden in empty herring barrels. Five of them settled in Wittenberg, the very eye of the storm, and one of them – Katharina von Bora – scandalised the world by marrying the revolutionary former monk. Following a near miscarriage, she is confined to her bed to await the birth of their first child; during this time, she sets down her own story. Against a backdrop of 16th Century Europe this vivid account of Katharina von Bora’s early life brings to the spotlight this spirited and courageous woman.

BUY THE BOOK:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble

Polly without BlakeMEET THE AUTHOR:

Anne Boileau studied German in Munich and worked as a translator, interpreter and language teacher, both in England and abroad. In 1985 she took a degree in Rural Resource Development at Writtle Agricultural College after which she worked with various organizations to do with nature conservation, campaigning, giving talks and writing articles about the countryside and the natural world for local publications.

Ten years ago she turned to poetry and learnt a great deal fromGraham Fawcett’s reading workshops at Poetry School; she attended two poetry writing courses with Arvon, one with Carole Satyamurti, the other with Simon Armitage.  Dr. Ronald Blythe of Wormingford, her neighbour and long-time friend, taught her the importance of place, of looking closely at what is all about us, and seeing the wonder in the everyday.

She has published three books under the name of Polly Clarke: Simple Symphony, Assorted Toffees and White Sand, Grey Sand (Orphean Press).  She contributed five translations to a bilingual anthology of German and French poetry entitled Over the Water with the Camden Mews Translators (Hearing Eye 2007).  She now writes (and translates) poetry under her maiden name of Anne Boileau.     Website 

REVIEW:

It takes real talent to take a historical figure and make them come alive. Anne Boileau has vividly recreated the life of Katharina Luther from the time of her childhood, her subsequent enclosure as a nun and later on as a young woman desperately trying to adapt to life outside the convent.

The time she lives in is perilous as religious upheaval and change are overturning long-held traditions and beliefs.  Her decision to follow Martin Luther and reject Church doctrine causes her years of anguish.

This is not a dry re-telling of Katharina’s life but a tender and moving courtship story between a compelling and fiery orator who happens to be shy and uncertain when he must convince this former nun and woman he admires to become his life’s partner.  Katherina, practical and realistic, understands the role she must play in Luther’s life.  Together they learn compromise and enjoy a marriage that satisfies them both.

The author writes beautifully and convincingly.  This was not an easy subject to tackle and I admire the way she has succeeded in bringing Katherine to life.

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Book review: Ganga Jamuna by Sunita Lad Bhamray

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  • Publisher: Kitaab International Pte Ltd (2016)
  • Paperback:  150 pages
  • Genre:  Memoir

ABOUT THE BOOK:  A zealous single mother must travel from her home in Nepal to Singapore in order to access healthcare that  may save her conjoined twins, in this empowering novel of love and survival based on a true story.

Abani has so far lived a life of quiet resolve. Admired by strangers for her striking beauty and soft-spoken demeanour, she has pressed on without complaint through the challenges life has thrown at her growing up in a poor family. After she learns she is pregnant with conjoined twins, though, she faces an even greater challenge, with the only hope she has of saving her children being a brand new surgery performed in a hospital in Singapore. With only the few supplies she can carry and the advice and assistance of her friends, she begins the trek across the continent on a quest to protect her unborn children.

Bhamray was inspired by the true story of Sandhya Shreshtha, a woman forced to make the same journey to Singapore from Nepal after giving birth to conjoined twins for the intervening medical care that was necessary to have a chance at saving their lives. After the experimental surgery, the woman and her children were able to return home with a new lease on life and the chance at happiness. Upon finishing the novel, Bhamray still wasn’t satisfied and so helped start a crowdfunding campaign to raise awareness for the family and funds for much-need reconstructive surgeries.

Ganga Jamuna by Sunita Lad Bhamray is an inspiring tale of perseverance in the face of life’s obstacles and a reminder of how powerful a force friendship can be during the most trying times in each of our lives. At times both heart-breaking and uplifting, it is a novel that will empower and motivate readers to never give in to the unfortunate circumstances they find themselves in and always power through.

BUY THE BOOK:    Amazon    

sunita-ladMEET THE AUTHOR:

Sunita Lad Bhamray is an author and educator living in Singapore with her husband and two children. After earning her graduate degree and enjoying a long and rewarding career teaching internationally, Lad Bhamray now devotes her time to writing. Ganga Jamuna is her third book; her first, Triumphs on the Turf, released in 2011, was about horse racing in India. It was followed by Grandma Lim’s Persimmons, a storybook for children, in 2013. Ganga Jamuna by Sunita Lad Bhamray (published by Kitaab International 8th April, 2016) is available to buy from online retailers including amazon.co.uk and can be ordered from all good bookstores.

Website     Facebook

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