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 spotlight: The Painter’s Apprentice: A Novel of 16th-Century Venice by Laura Morelli

Book Details:

Book Title:  The Painter’s Apprentice: A Novel of 16th-Century Venice
Author:  Laura Morelli
Category:  Adult Fiction,  350 pages
Genre:   Historical Fiction
Publisher:  The Scriptorium
Release date:  November 15, 2017
Tour dates:  Oct 16 to Nov 17, 2017
Content Rating:  PG-13 (some adult situations but no sex or explicit violence)

Book Description:

In 16th-century Venice, a young woman is apprenticed to a painter under false pretense. But as the bubonic plague begins to ravage the city and she must take greater measures to keep her secret, she must decide whether to risk the future of her family workshop or the desire of her heart.

Buy the Book:
Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble
Add to Goodreads

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Meet the Author:

​LAURA MORELLI holds a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University, has taught college students in the U.S. and in Italy, and currently produces art history lessons for TED-Ed. She authored a column for National Geographic Traveler called “The Genuine Article” and has contributed pieces about art and authentic travel to CNN Radio, The Frommers Travel Show, and in USA TODAY, Departures, and other media. Laura is the author of the Authentic Arts guidebook series that includes the popular book Made in Italy. Her fiction brings the stories of art history to life. Her debut novel, The Gondola Maker, won an IPPY for Best Historical Fiction and a Benjamin Franklin Award.

Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Pinterest  ~  Instagram

BOOK SPOTLIGHT TOUR SCHEDULE:

Oct 16 – Working Mommy Journal – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 16 – Book Nerd – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 17 – Library of Clean Reads ​- book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 17 – Just One More Chapter – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 17 – Books for Books – book spotlight
Oct 18 – Wander Girl Life – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 18 – Reading is My Passion – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 19 – Hooked To Books – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 20 – History from a Woman’s Perspective – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 23 – Elizabeth McKenna Romance Author – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 24 – A Holland Reads – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 25 – Studentessa Matta – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 26 – Words And Peace – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 27 – #redhead.with.book – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 30 – The Autistic Gamer – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 31 – Mystery Suspense Reviews – book spotlight
Nov 1  – What Cathy Read Next – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 2  – A Mama’s Corner of the World – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 2  – Celticlady’s Reviews –  book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 3  – Rockin’ Book Reviews – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 6  – Literary Flits – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 7  – Dab of Darkness – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 8  – Essentially Italian – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 9  –  T’s Stuff – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 13 – A Soccer Mom’s Book Blog – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 13 – The Book Drealms – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 14 – 100 Pages a Day – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 15 – Monica Cesarato – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 16 – Lukten av trykksverte – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 17 – StoreyBook Reviews – book spotlight / giveaway

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Book spotlight: Wanderers No More by Michelle Saftich

Book Details:

Book Title:  Wanderers No More by Michelle Saftich
Category:  Adult Fiction,   290 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher:  Odyssey Books
Release date:  August 2017
Format available for review: ebook (gifted Kindle copy)
Tour dates: Oct 23 to Nov 3, 2017
Content Rating: PG (Very little bad language (if any), kissing, references to sex but nothing actual or explicit, some violence in the way of school bullying – no major adult themes like abortion or suicide etc.)

Book Description:

The war may be over, but the fight to belong is just the beginning.

Left homeless, starving, and almost killed by the Second World War, the Saforo family are refugees fleeing Italy for a better life. The shores of Australia are calling to them and they head off, packing dreams of jobs, a home and… soccer.

But from the moment they get off the boat, adapting to the Australian way of life is harder than it seems. Their family doesn’t speak right, eat right or even look right. As they struggle to build a simple life against the backdrop of 1950s’ racism, they start to wonder if they will be outsiders forever.

A true family affair, Wanderers No More will make you laugh, remind you of your family, and warm your heart.

Michelle Saftich

Meet the Author:

Michelle Saftich resides in Brisbane, Australia. She holds a Bachelor of Business/Communications Degree, majoring in journalism, from the Queensland University of Technology.

For the past 20 years, she has worked in communications, including print journalism, sub-editing, communications management and media relations.
Born and raised in Brisbane, she spent 10 years living in Sydney; and two years in Osaka, Japan, where she taught English.

Her historical fiction novel, Port of No Return, was inspired by a true family story. It was published by Australian independent publishing house, Odyssey Books in 2015. Its sequel, Wanderers No More was released in August 2017. Michelle is married with two children.

Connect with the author: Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook


BOOK TOUR SCHEDULE:

Oct 23 – Working Mommy Journal – review / giveaway
Oct 23 – #redhead.with.book – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 24 – Library of Clean Reads – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 24 – The Book Drealms – book spotlight
Oct 25 – Leels Loves Books – review
Oct 26 – 411 on Books, Authors, and Publishing News – book spotlight / interview / gw
Oct 26 – Jayne’s Books – review
Oct 27 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 27 – Literary Flits – review / giveaway
Oct 30 – A Mama’s Corner of the World – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Oct 31 – Celticlady’s Reviews – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 1  – Just One More Chapter – review
Nov 2  – Essentially Italian – review / giveaway
Nov 3  – Cheryl’s Book Nook – review / giveaway

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Book review: Dreaming Sophia: Because Dreaming is an Art by Melissa Muldoon

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Book Details:

Book Title:  Dreaming Sophia: Because Dreaming is an Art by Melissa Muldoon
Category:  Adult Fiction, 232 pages
Genre: Literary
Publisher:  Matta Press
Release date:   August 2016
Available for review in: print and ebook (ePub, PDF, mobi)
Will send print books: USA & Canada
Tour dates:  Nov 21 to Dec 16, 2016
Content Rating:  PG (Mild profanity, and mild religious expletives, exploration Italian swear words, kissing – oh my!)

Book Description:

Dreaming Sophia is a magical look into Italy, language, art, and culture. It is a story about turning dreams into reality and learning to walk the fine line between fact and fantasy. When tragedy strikes, Sophia finds herself alone in the world, without direction and fearful of loving again. With only her vivid imagination to guide her, she begins a journey that will take her from the vineyards in Sonoma, California to a grad school in Philadelphia and, eventually, to Italy: Florence, Lucca, Rome, Verona, Venice, and Val d’Orcia.

Through dreamlike encounters, Sophia meets Italian personalities—princes, poets, duchesses, artists, and film stars— who give her advice to help put her life back together. Following a path that takes her from grief to joy, she discovers the source of her creativity and learns to love again, turning her dreams into reality.

Buy the Book:  

Amazon – print
Amazon / Kindle – ebook
Create Space
I-tunes – Apple Store-ebook
Barnes & Noble – ebook

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Melissa meets Sophia Loren in March 2016!

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Watch as Melissa talks about her debut novel: 

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Melissa MuldoonMeet the Author:

Melissa Muldoon is the Studentessa Matta-the crazy linguist! In Italian, “matta” means “crazy” or “impassioned”. Melissa has a B.A. in fine arts, art history and European history from Knox College, a liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, as well as a master’s degree in art history from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. She has also studied painting and art history in Florence.

Melissa promotes the study of Italian language and culture through her dual-language blog, Studentessa Matta (studentessamatta.com). Melissa began the Matta blog to improve her command of the language and to connect with other language learners. It has since grown to include a podcast, “Tutti Matti per l’Italiano” and the Studentessa Matta YouTube channel. Melissa also created Matta Italian Language Immersion Tours, which she co-leads with Italian partners in Italy.

Dreaming Sophia is Melissa’s first novel. It is a fanciful look at art history and Italian language and culture, but it is also the culmination of personal stories and insights resulting from her experiences living in Italy, as well as her involvement and familiarity with the Italian language, painting, and art history.

As a student, Melissa lived in Florence with an Italian family. She studied art history and painting and took beginner Italian classes. When she returned home, she threw away her Italian dictionary, assuming she’d never need it again but after launching a successful design career and starting a family, she realized something was missing in her life. That “thing” was the connection she had made with Italy and the friends who live there. Living in Florence was indeed a life-changing event! Wanting to reconnect with Italy, she decided to start learning the language again from scratch. As if indeed possessed by an Italian muse, she bought a new Italian dictionary and began her journey to fluency-a path that has led her back to Italy many times and enriched her life in countless ways.
Now, many dictionaries and grammar books later, she dedicates her time to promoting Italian language studies, further travels in Italy, and sharing her stories and insights about Italy with others. When Melissa is not traveling in Italy, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is married and has three boys and two beagles.

Melissa designed and illustrated the cover art for Dreaming Sophia. She also designed the Dreaming Sophia website and created the character illustrations that can be found in the book and on the Dreaming Sophia websites.

Connect with the Author:
Website  ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Youtube ~
Pinterest

REVIEW:
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Can you learn history through fantasy?  It certainly felt like that as I read Dreaming Sophia. I’m a history and art buff and didn’t realize how much I would enjoy reading this fantasy / novel.  Sophia’s muses really make Italian history “come to life” and their inclusion added an unusual dimension to her story. The interaction between her “dream characters” was clever. On several occasions her “muses” moved me to put down the book and do more research into their lives.  I was also interested in the different pieces of artwork mentioned in the book.
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Florence, Venice and Rome hold many fond memories for me.   I was able to recall some of these wonderful memories about these cities from the author’s descriptions of the architecture, food and museums.
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I really loved that the author used a lot of Italian expressions in the book (together with the their translation).  It gave the book such an “Italian” feel.
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The artwork on the cover was simply beautiful and immediately caught my attention.  What is even more incredible is that the author created the artwork herself!
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You can find more interesting tidbits on Melissa’s website such as:
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Her muses:  http://dreamingsophiabook.com/sophias-muses/
An Italian dictionary: http://dreamingsophiabook.com/italian-dictionary/
Music videos from the book:  http://dreamingsophiabook.com/music-videos/
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Together with all the author’s multimedia, reading the book was a really fun experience!
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Book spotlight: Italian Street Food: Recipes From Italy’s Bars and Hidden Laneways by Paola Bacchia

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Book Details:

Book Title:  Italian Street Food: Recipes From Italy’s Bars and Hidden Laneways by Paola Bacchia
Category:  Adult Nonfiction, 274 pages
Genre:  Cookbook
Publisher:  Smith Street
Release date:  October 2016
Tour dates:  Oct 3 to 21, 2016
Content Rating:  PG

Book Description:

(I’ve seen this book and it is gorgeous!)

Italy’s classic recipes are well known the world over, but few are aware of the dishes that reign on the flourishing Italian street-food scene. Hidden behind the town squares, away from the touristy restaurants, and down back streets are little-known gems offering up some of Italy’s tastiest and best-kept secret dishes that the locals prize.

ITALIAN STREET FOOD is not just another Italian cookbook; it delves into truly authentic Italian fare—the kind of secret recipes that are passed down through generations. Learn how to make authentic polpettine, arancini, stuffed cuttlefish, cannolis, and fritters, and perfect your gelato-making skills with original flavors such as lemon and basil or affogato and aperol. With beautiful stories and stunning photography throughout, ITALIAN STREET FOOD delivers an authentic, lesser known take on a much loved cuisine.

Buy the book:  Rizzoli  ~  Amazon

Paola Bacchia

Meet the Author:

Paola Bacchia is one of Australia’s most popular Italian food bloggers. On her blog, Italy on My Mind, she shares family memories and their connections to food. It won awards for best food blog in 2013 and 2015 from ITALY Magazine. Paola returns to Italy every year to expand her knowledge of Italian food, its traditions, and innovations.

Connect to the author: Website  ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram

TOUR SCHEDULE:

Oct 3 –   Working Mommy Journal – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 3 –   Freda’s Voice – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 4 –   Monica Cesarato – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 4 –   Olio by Marilyn – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 4 –   Library of Clean Reads – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 5 –   Rockin’ Book Reviews – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 5 –   StoreyBook Reviews – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 6 –   Cooking in Venice – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 6 –   Essentially Italian – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 7 –   A Mama’s Corner of the World – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 7 –   Il Mio Tesoro – book spotlight
Oct 10 – Jaquo Lifestyle Magazine – book spotlight
Oct 11 – Celticlady’s Reviews – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 12 – T’s Stuff – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 12 – Italophilia – book spotlight
Oct 13 – A Holland Reads – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 14 – Words And Peace – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 17 – #redhead.with.book – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 18 – Blooming with Books – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 19 – Heidi’s Wanderings – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 20 – Take It Personel-ly – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 21 – Walking With Nora – book spotlight / giveaway

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Book review: In the Cadence of Gypsies by Barbara Casey

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Book Details:

Book Title:  The Cadence of Gypsies by Barbara Casey
Category:  YA fiction,  272 pages
Genre: Literary/Mystery
Publisher:  Gauthier Publications/Hungry Goat Press
Release date:  March 2011 (Hardcopy); April 2015 (e-Book)
Format available for review: print and PDF
Will send print books: Internationally
Tour dates:  April 25 to May 6, 2016
Content Rating:  PG-13 (A few expletives, mild sexual innuendo)

Book Description:

On her 18th birthday Carolina Lovel learned that she was adopted and was given a letter written by her birth mother in an unknown language. After years of research she travels to Italy on a mission to find the truth about her past. Carolina is accompanied by three extremely gifted but mischievous students the FIGs from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women. In an effort to help their favorite teacher, the FIGs will have to use their special abilities to decipher the Voynich Manuscript, the most mysterious document in the world, and the one thing that is strangely similar to what Carolina was given. Their search will take them into the mystical world of gypsy tradition and magic, more exciting and dangerous than any of them could have imagined.

Buy the Book:  Amazon  ~  Barnes & Nobles

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Meet the Author:  

Barbara Casey is the author of several award-winning novels for both adults and young adults, and numerous articles, poems, and short stories. In addition to her own writing, she is an editorial consultant and president of the Barbara Casey Agency, established in 1995, representing authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. In 2014 Barbara became a partner in Strategic Media Books Publishing, an independent publishing house that specializes in true crime and other cutting-edge adult nonfiction. Barbara lives on a mountain in Georgia with her husband and three dogs who adopted her: Benton, a hound-mix, Fitz, a miniature dachshund, and Gert, a Jack Russel terrier of sorts.

Connect with the author:  Website

REVIEW:
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Cadence: the rhythmic flow of a sequence of sounds or words / the flow or rhythm of events.
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Who loves a secret?  There are plenty of secrets in the Cadence of Gypsies. Some we learn of right away and some come as complete surprises.  This book reminds me of a book that was given to me by my mother 40 years ago – the plot was different but it had the same wonderful story-like quality that will captivate both young and old alike.
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Carolina is an American girl who was adopted when she was four years old. She receives a box containing an ancient manuscript from her birth parents which mesmerizes her and she is intent on deciphering its contents.  Despite all her diligent research, she’s hit a dead end.
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She needs to return to the land of her birth to investigate other documents that will enable her to learn not only the contents of the manuscript but also the truth regarding her family and adoption.  Her companions, three feisty but highly gifted young women agree to accompany her and their camaraderie and friendship are the glue she needs to discover the manuscript’s secret.
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A good “read-aloud” book that will have you turning the pages until you discover all its secrets.
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Book spotlight: Coins in the Fountain: A Memoir of Rome by Judith Works

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Book Details:

Book Title:  Coins in the Fountain: A Memoir of Rome by Judith Works
Category:  Adult non-fiction, 283 pages
Genre:  Memoir / Travel Memoir
Publisher:  Booktrope
Release date:  January 2016
Tour dates:  February 29 to March 18, 2016
Content Rating:  PG

Book Description:

Innocents Abroad collide with La Dolce Vita when the author and her husband arrive in the ancient city of Rome fresh from the depths of Oregon. While the author endeavored to learn the folkways of the United Nations, her husband tangled with unfamiliar vegetables in a valiant effort to learn to cook Italian-style. In between, they attended weddings, enjoyed a close-up with the pope, tried their hands at grape harvesting, and savored country weekends where the ancient Etruscans still seemed to be lurking. Along the way they made many unforgettable friends including the countess with a butt-reducing machine and a count who served as a model for naked statues of horsemen in his youth.

But not everything was wine and wonders. Dogs in the doctor’s exam room, neighbors in the apartment in the middle of the night, an auto accident with the military police, a dangerous fall in the subway, too many interactions with an excitable landlord, snakes and unexploded bombs on a golf course, and a sinking sailboat, all added more seasoning to the spaghetti sauce of their life.

Their story begins with a month trying to sleep on a cold marble floor wondering why they came to Rome. It ends with a hopeful toss of coins in the Trevi Fountain to ensure their return to the Eternal City for visits. Ten years of pasta, vino, and the sweet life weren’t enough.

Part memoir, part travelogue, Coins in the Fountain will amuse and intrigue you with the stories of food, friends, and the adventures of a couple who ran away to join the circus (the Circus Maximus, that is).

Buy the book:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   iTunes   Amazon.UK

City of Illusions:   Amazon

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 Meet the author:

Life was routine until the author decided to get a law degree. Then a chance meeting led her to run away to the Circus (Maximus) – actually to the United Nations office next door – where she worked as an attorney in the HR department and entered the world of expat life in Rome.Her publishing credits include a memoir about ten years in Italy titled Coins in the Fountain, a novel about expats in Rome, City of Illusions, and flash fiction in literary magazines. She continues to travel in her spare time, having fitted in over 100 countries. And when she is in Rome, she always tosses a coin in the Trevi Fountain to ensure another visit.
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Connect with the author:  Website   Twitter   Facebook   Pinterest   Instagram  Blog

GUEST POST:

What three books would I want if I was stuck on a desert island?

Of course The Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare come to mind and I would not want to be without them, and I confess I’ve never read the entire text of either. Stuck alone on an island doesn’t sound good and I know I’d be taking plenty of breaks to scan the sky and sea for potential rescuers. But if there weren’t any in sight, I’d use the time to read and contemplate the genius of the words inscribed by unknown ancients and an obscure playwright about whom little is known. But when I’d finished the first two books, I’d want to turn to the third and modern work that I’d take with me to read on my island. (My luggage would be very heavy.)

And since this is a fantasy, I’m going to cheat and say the Neapolitan Quartet by Elena Ferrante would be read as one book. I can do this because the four books follow the same two characters as they move through their childhood and adult lives on different paths. Ferrante’s novels, which take place in the last half of the 20th century, center on two women, their friendships, their loves and rivalries, all set against the turmoil of those years when feminism and political protest began to play a part in woman’s lives. And for me, a fan of all things Italian, I love that the stories take place in Naples, that city of sin and salvation, crime and beauty. But even if the stories were set elsewhere, I think the characters are not  prisoners of their time and space and speak to all contemporary women in the West, stuck on islands or not.

And another thing: my fantasy includes an easy chair and reading light along with the unlimited supply of coconuts for food and a palm tree for shade like in the cartoons. (I’ll use a scrap of dried seaweed for a bookmark.) Now, where is that island?

BOOK SPOTLIGHT TOUR SCHEDULE:

Feb 29 –     Words And Peace – guest post / giveaway
Feb 29 –     #redhead.with.book – guest post / giveaway
March 1 –   Jaquo Lifestyle Magazine – guest post
March 1 –   Notes From Verona – author interview
March 2 –   Working Mommy Journal – giveaway
March 2 –   Rockin’ Book Reviews – guest post / giveaway
March 3 –   Library of Clean Reads – giveaway
​March 3 –   Essentially Italian – giveaway
March 4 –   Heidi’s Wanderings – guest post
March 7 –   A Holland Reads – author interview / giveaway
March 7 –   Olio by Marilyn – author interview / giveaway
March 8 –   A Mama’s Corner of the World – guest post
March 9 –   Svetlana’s Reads and Views – author interview
March 10 – The Cheshire Cat’s Looking Glass – giveaway
March 11 – T’s Stuff – author interview / giveaway
March 14 – Ali – The Dragon Slayer – guest post / giveaway
March 15 – Corinne Rodrigues – author interview / giveaway
March 16 – 3 Partners in Shopping Nana, Mommy , + Sissy, Too ! – giveaway
March 17 – Deal Sharing Aunt – author interview / giveaway
March 18 – Tropical 7107 Islands – author interview

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Book review: Birds of Passage, An Italian Immigrant Coming of Age Story by Joe Giordano

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Book Details:

Book Title: Birds of Passage, an Italian Immigrant Coming of Age Story by Joe Giordano
Category:  Adult Fiction,  260 pages
Genre: Historical coming of age romance
Publisher: Harvard Square Editions
Release date:  October 9, 2015
Available for review in:  ebook (PDF)
Will send books: Internationally
Tour dates: October 19 to November 6, 2015
Content Rating: PG (PG because there is mild profanity, no sex scenes, some violence.)

Book Description: 

What turns the gentle mean and the mean brutal? The thirst for wealth? The demand for respect? Vying for a woman? Birds of Passage recalls the Italian immigration experience at the turn of the twentieth-century when New York’s streets were paved with violence and disappointment.

Leonardo Robustelli leaves Naples in 1905 to seek his fortune. Carlo Mazzi committed murder and escaped. Azzura Medina is an American of Italian parents. She’s ambitious but strictly controlled by her mother. Leonardo and Carlo vie for her affection.

Azzura, Leonardo, and Carlo confront con men, Tammany Hall politicians, the longshoreman’s union, Camorra clans, Black Hand extortion, and the Tombs prison.

Buy the book here:    Amazon  ~   Barnes & Noble

“With Birds of Passage, Joe Giordano delivers a rollicking, wholly entertaining take on the Italian immigrant story.  His rich cast of characters arrives seeking the usual: Money, honor, love, respect, a decent shot at the pursuit of happiness.  But things get complicated fast as they plunge into the rough-and-tumble world of rackets, scams, and politics of early 20th-century New York City.  Giordano serves up a thick, satisfying slice of the entire era in all its raw and brutal glory.”

Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, soon to be a major motion picture directed by Ang Lee.

Joe Giordano author pic

Meet the author:

Joe Giordano was born in Brooklyn. His father and grandparents immigrated to New York from Naples. Joe and his wife, Jane have lived in Greece, Brazil, Belgium and the Netherlands. They now live in Texas with their shih tzu Sophia. Joe’s stories have appeared in more than sixty magazines including Bartleby Snopes, The Newfound Journal, and The Summerset Review.

Connect with the author:   Website  ~   Twitter  ~   Facebook

REVIEW:   (written by Anne Benard)

As a historical fiction this book introduces the reader to New York City during its immigrant years. I enjoyed learning the history of the dock yards, Little Italy and the clashes between rival cultures and the Mafioso clans. I  found the descriptions of every day life to be realistic and engaging, giving me a feel for what life was like for these struggling young men and women.

However, the introduction of so many characters lead to some confusion at times and I eventually gave up trying to keep them straight.  Also the dialogue, at times,wasn’t clearly defined leading me to wonder who was speaking. It was a good story but it’s lack of clarity took away what could have been a 4 star rating for me.

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Book review: Port of No Return by Michelle Saftich

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Book Details:

Book Title: Port of No Return by Michelle Saftich
Category:  Adult Fiction, 238 pages
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Odyssey Books
Published: July 2015
Available in:  Print
Will send books: International
Tour dates:  Oct 12 to 23, 2015
Content Rating:  PG-13

Book Description:

Contessa and Ettore Saforo awake to a normal day in war-stricken, occupied
Italy. By the end of the day, their house is in ruins and they must seek shelter and protection wherever they can. But the turbulent politics of 1944 refuses to let them be.

As Tito and his Yugoslav Army threaten their German-held town of Fiume, Ettore finds himself running for his life, knowing that neither side is forgiving of those who have assisted the enemy. His wife and children must also flee the meagre life their town can offer, searching for a better life as displaced persons.

Ettore and Contessa’s battle to find each other, and the struggle of their family and friends to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of a devastating war, provide a rich and varied account of Italian migration to Australia after World War II.

What can you do when you have nowhere left to call home? Port of No Return considers this question and more in a novel that is full of action, pain and laughter — a journey you will want to see through to the very end.

Buy the book:    Amazon    Barnes & Noble    Chapters/Indigo    

3677393Meet the author: Michelle Saftich is a first-time author who resides in Brisbane, Australia.  She holds a Bachelor of Business/Communications Degree, majoring in journalism, from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).For the past 20 years, she has worked in communications, including print journalism, sub-editing, communications management and media relations. She is married with two children.

Connect with the author:   Website    Facebook    Twitter

REVIEW:
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Port of No Return is the author’s father’s story about their family’s struggle to flee their beloved city of Fiume, Italy.  Historical in nature, Michelle’s book acknowledges the hundreds of thousands of people who were displaced throughout Europe during WWII, and that many Italians were forcibily removed by the Yugoslavs.
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Ettore and Contessa, along with Nonna and their young children must survive hardships and food rationing during the German occupation of their town, Fiume.  Partisan rebels add violence and uncertainty into their already tenuous living situation.  Forced to find refuge when their home is bombed, they seek help from friends outside the city.  The sequence of events that follows affects both Ettore and Contessa as well as the family that takes them in.  The chaos and violence of war is balanced with the kindness and and courage of both friends and strangers they meet as they struggle to keep alive.  Families and couples are separated as they flee for their lives, never knowing when or where they will meet up again.
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Apart from a few modern expressions which didn’t seem to fit the writing style of this historical story, the storytelling flowed pretty easily, despite the fact that there were so many characters.  There were several plot twists and tense moments which kept me on the edge of my seat.
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This book is a good match for those who are interested in Italian history.
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Book review: The Inheritance by Marianne Perry

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Book Details:
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Book Title: The Inheritance by Marianne Perry
Category:  Adult Fiction, 280 pages
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher:  iUniverse
Published: November 2012
Available in:  Print, ebook (ePub)
Will send books: USA & Canada
Tour dates:  September 7 to 25, 2015
Content Rating:  G
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Book Description:
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The Inheritance tells the story of a family disintegrating from conflicting loyalties in Calabria, Italy. Set during the period 1897 to 1913, the region was subject to earthquakes and tsunamis; the land harsh and poverty the norm. Superstition clashed with religion and a class system ruled the people. Calabria is the perfect backdrop for the tragedy that unfolds in The Inheritance.Caterina is an atypical woman, and The Inheritance chronicles her life from birth to young womanhood. Born with an inheritance of loss into a society that has predetermined what she can and cannot do, she vows to live a life of her choosing. Caterina refuses to allow the limits of her gender, the constraints of her class and the demands imposed by those in power to stand in her way. Caterina remains steadfast in her commitment to become the woman she imagines. Her decisions ignite conflicts and fuel a chain of events that result in dire consequences for all whose path she crosses.
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Praise for The Inheritance:
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“Like a classic star-crossed love story, the novel is written with lush detail enriched with both likable and loathsome characters. In particular, Perry builds strong and decisive female characters. Although the key action doesn’t occur until the final chapters, Perry’s exquisite descriptions will transport readers back to the time and place of Lorenzo and Caterina’s romance-the brilliant colors in villa gardens, the smells and tastes of decadent food, and the menacing sounds of the ocean during an earthquake. After the engrossing storylines come to an abrupt end, a cliff-hanger will leave readers anxious for a sequel to continue Lorenzo and Caterina’s tragic story. Solid characters and vivid imagery capture the mood, traditions and uncertainty of the time.” – Kirkus Reviews, December 7, 2012
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“The premise for The Inheritance was inspired by the author’s genealogical research in Calabria, Italy. Marianne Perry’s research trip to Cosenza province is obvious in her vivid descriptions of the setting of “The Inheritance”. The landscape, colours, culture, native food, plants and flowers, and even the weather are all vibrantly described……Perry deftly weaves secrets and betrayals throughout the entire book, not only among the two families but the supporting characters, as well….Marianne Perry weaves a very vivid tale that might well have happened hundreds of times over the centuries. “The Inheritance” will definitely make you think about how our ancestors came to be aboard a transatlantic vessel for a perilous three week voyage to being a new life.” – Amanda Morehouse, The Ontario-Canada Genealogical Society, August 2014
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Buy the book:    Amazon     Barnes & Noble    Chapters/Indigo

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Meet the author:  Family dynamics, genealogical research to solve ancestral mysteries and international travel are Marianne Perry’s priorities. A second-generation Canadian-Italian, she is the author of The Inheritance, a historical fiction set in Calabria, Italy from 1897 to 1913 inspired by her grandmother’s early life in Calabria. With a thirty-year career in education and communications, Marianne holds a Master of Education Degree from The University of Western Ontario (Canada).A past member of the Board of Trustees, the Canadian National Arts Centre Corporation, she has also published non-fiction genealogical articles throughout North America.
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As a girl, Marianne fell in love with The National Geographic Magazine and dreamt of exploring the world. With her recent visit to Antarctica, she achieved her goal of stepping foot on every continent. The mother of two grown children, Marianne and her husband live on the shores of the St. Mary’s River, which drains Lake Superior on the outskirts of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. She continues to research family history and write non-fiction genealogical articles. In addition, she is working on her second novel and planning further adventures.
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Marianne blogs about genealogy, travel, family and writing on her website. Visit her at http://www.marianneperry.ca. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Goodreads.
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Connect with the author:    Website   ~   Twitter   ~    Facebook
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REVIEW:
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In a time where women were meant to be decorative and to stay at home and raise children, Anna is a compassionate, strong-willed woman who endeavours to help those less fortunate than herself.  The inheritance she brings to her marriage allows her husband to expand his business activities. However, early on in their marriage her husband Santo, begins to lead another life  apart from her.  He soon removes her two oldest sons from her care to “follow in the family business”.   Anna is left with her youngest son, Lorenzo, who is very unlike his other brothers in that his artistic sensibilities allow him to aborb the beauty in the world around him.
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Anna’s protegee, an orphan and servant girl, Caterina, develop a close-knit bond that Santo, Anna’s husband disapproves of.  Lorenzo, as he matures into a young man begins to understand how different he is from his father and brothers.  This leads to conflict in several of the storylines in this plot and keeps you interested until the end of the book.
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I found the writing to be a bit choppy and sometimes I was a little confused as to the identity of the secondary characters in this book.  I love cliffhangers but I found the ending to be a little “abrupt”.  Is it possible that there is a sequel to this book?
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A quick and easy read with villains, saints and a good-natured chef.
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