Wednesday, 23 July 2014


Romantic Comedy / Memoir
Date Published: March 29, 2011

 If you liked When Harry Met Sally, you'll fall in love with Robb and Gertrude from Strangers on a Bus... 

Robb is crushed by a failed relationship with the love of his life and finds himself unexpectedly on a long bus trip from his adopted home in the U.S. back to his native Canada. 

At the first stop in NYC, a girl gets on and so begins a contemplation of life, love, and strange events that will bring tears of laughter and heartache streaming down your face. 

Is this girl Robb's real true love or just a rebound? How far can they get on a bus ride anyway? 

This is a true story.


YouTube Video


Chapter 22 
Things To Do in A Bus Stop Bathroom?

The sun started to come up as we crossed into Canada, and Gertrude told me we wouldn’t be making out once it was daylight. Lip dancing on a brightly lit bus was too “tacky” for her, and besides her lessons were having a not entirely unpleasant side effect on her.

I find it best to try not to understand women at all. But, there is one phenomenon that causes me more confusion than any of the other baffling behavior women indulge in.

When you tell a woman something and she doesn’t believe you, so you tell her the opposite, and she doesn’t believe that either, I like that.

So, you tell her the first thing you said was, indeed, the truth, and she doesn’t want to believe that one either.


So am I. Here is the latest incarnation of this occurrence.
Gertrude: “All this kissing isn’t bothering you? You’ve got more restraint than any guy I’ve ever met. I thought you would have been trying to feel me up hours ago.”

Me: “Would it have worked?”

Gertrude: “Maybe, probably not. I think it’s nice. You’re a gentleman.”

Me: “Not really. Every time we stop I take care of that in the bathroom.”

Gertrude: “You’re such a pig! You washed your hands right! You’re so gross! You didn’t! Did you?”

Me: “I thought I was a gentleman! I lie! I lie! I lie! Of course I didn’t.”

Gertrude: “You’re such a pig! You did! Didn’t you? You’re so gross!”

Me: “Stop laughing at me if I’m so gross! I didn’t! I didn’t!”

Gertrude: “You did so! You’re such a pig!”

Me: “Okay. Fine. I did.”

Gertrude: “No you didn’t! You’re not that big a pig. Close. But no. You didn’t.”

Me: “I tell you I didn’t and you say I did. I tell you I did, and you say I didn’t. You’re such a weirdo.”

And then I kissed her, because the sun was rising quick, and because I couldn’t see another way to end that conversation. It is possible that debate could have gone on indefinitely, and there was no way I could prove conclusively what I had or had not done in a bus stop bathroom.

After what might be our last extended lip dancing lesson Gertrude whispered in my ear, “I was horny and wanted Dicky-bird…that is fun to say, so in the bathroom… I did.”


Rob Manary

Robert Manary is an international playboy and man of mystery, with the charm and sophistication of James Bond shaken not stirred with a couple ounces of Cyrano de Bergerac, a dash of Rasputin, and garnished with the rapier wit of Thurston Howell the Third.
That's how he sees himself, anyway.
The truth is Robert Manary is a construct created to protect the dubious reputation of his Clark Kent like mild mannered writer/puppeteer/the man pulling the levers and breathing life into the Great and Powerful Oz (don't look too closely behind the curtain).
Robert Manary's alter ego dropped out of Radio Broadcasting College to pursue a lucrative career bartending at a seedy gentlemen's club, played around stocking shelves at a small grocery store until he screwed up badly enough to be given a promotion, and finally left the glamorous life of fighting with Parmalat representatives over the quantity of soy milk required for a small Northern Ontario town to function adequately, for the bright lights of New York.
Wow that was one long sentence!
Manary is also a master of the run-on sentence, an abuser of commas, and has no idea how to properly use this bit of punctuation: ";"
He also thinks he is much "cleverer" than he probably is.
Manary is an award winning blogger, an erotic romance novel writer, the author of a pretty decent romantic comedy, and for a brief period in the early nineties served as dictator of a small South American country.
Most of that is true.
New York, New York, if you can make it there you can make it anywhere. Manary couldn't make it there, and with only a little prompting from law enforcement agents returned to Canada, and chronicled the journey in that pretty decent romantic comedy mentioned in a paragraph above.
Manary is also an experimental artist who has no clue how to write an Author's Bio, and definitely no idea how to end one.

He has only been in love once, and that didn't work out so well, but he dreams and dreams of that girl he's loved all along.  Can a taste of love be so wrong?
P.S. He is also a shameless plunderer of pop culture.

Sunday, 20 July 2014


My thoughts on this moving story .....


Published ~~ Tinder Press
Published ~~ Oct 2013
Pages ~~ 194  (Paperback)

Synopsis ~~

Annie's father is dead. She isn't sorry. A rich and domineering man, he was always more passionate about money than the happiness of his wife and child. And when his lovely, fragile wife Jude died in mysterious circumstances when Annie was still very young, her father sent her to school in England, and tried to ensure that Jude was never mentioned again.

Now, at last, his days of tyranny are over. And so Annie leaves London and goes back to Dublin, to the house in which he lived and her mother died, where she makes the first of several startling discoveries: he has left her the house she hated. Now, just when she thought she was free of him, she is expected to make a new life in Ireland, and live as he would have wished. Does she dare to defy him one more time? And who will be able to tell her the truth about her mother's life, and death, before she has to decide?


My Thoughts ~~

When Annie comes back home to Dublin she is met by Miriam, 'Mrs Number Two Wife', as Annie called her father's widow, who, soon afterwards, takes all the furniture from the house Annie has inherited.  

Annie is not sorry he's dead.

She hadn't really liked him very much, Dada (he preferred it if she called him father: to him Dada was an untidy name for a man of his standing).He liked things to go his way; his word was law, and always what he thought was the best for you.'I only want what is best for you.'How many times had she heard those unanswerable words?And now he was dead.  She wondered if he had ordered his death as he had ordered everything else in his life.

Annie plans to sell her father's house and open a bookshop in the small village but as she talks to Kevin, the odd job man, and his elderly aunt she discovers secrets but are they all lies or are they telling her the truth?

A moving family drama, with very few characters and an interesting storyline. Overall I enjoyed it but I thought the story was too short, I felt there was more that the author could have told us and I felt as if I didn't really know the characters very well.


Available to buy from ~~  (free shipping worldwide)


Source:  Thanks to the Publishers and Bookbridgr

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Thursday, 17 July 2014


Maria Loggia’s kitchen door is always open. Her home and garden are a gathering place for friends and family, who come to share her easygoing enthusiasm and generosity – and her inspired Italian cuisine. In this, her second book, Loggia celebrates the seasons with 16 sumptuous menus – from a spontaneous al fresco garden party to a slow-simmered midwinter feast and a traditional Sunday family lunch.

Everyday Celebrations with Maria Loggia is on a spotlight tour from July 14 to 18.

Author & Chef: Maria Loggia
Category: Non-fiction
Genre: Cooking, Food & Wine, 176 pages
Publisher: Cardinal Publishing
Published: Oct 1, 2012  *  Cardinal Publishing  *

Try One of the Recipes!

Petto di Pollo Farcito con Uva e Noci
Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Grapes and Walnuts


For filling:

1 tbsp (15 ml) unsalted butter
2 tbsp (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
¾ cup (180 ml) walnuts, coarsely chopped
½ cup (125 ml) red seedless grapes, quartered
2 tbsp (30 ml) finely chopped fresh chives
2 tbsp (30 ml) bread crumbs
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
7 oz (200 g) soft goat cheese, cut in 6 slices 

For chicken:
6 tbsp (90 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
6 bone-in chicken breasts, skin on
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 tbsp (45 ml) unsalted butter, softened
1 orange, cut into wedges
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, each cut in half
5 bay leaves
To serve:
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 orange

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).

To prepare filling: Heat butter and oil in a large skillet and sauté shallots until soft, 1 to 2 minutes, and remove from heat. Stir in walnuts, grapes, chives and bread crumbs. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool slightly. Leave goat cheese aside for now.

To prepare chicken: Oil a 14-inch (35 cm) round earthenware tiella or roasting pan with 2 tbsp (30 ml) of the olive oil and set aside. On a baking sheet, season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Make a lengthwise slit in each chicken breast, being careful not to cut all the way through. (This will form the pocket for the stuffing.) Rub remaining 4 tbsp (60 ml) olive oil into the chicken (including in the pockets). Divide stuffing equally among chicken breasts, stuffing it into the slit in each breast, and top with a slice of goat cheese. Pull the chicken skin over the filling and secure with toothpicks. Smear butter over the skin and season again to taste with salt and pepper.

Gently transfer chicken to prepared tiella. Scatter orange wedges, rosemary and bay leaves around chicken. Roast 35 to 40 minutes, or until juices run clear when the thickest part of the breast is pierced. Then broil 2 to 3 minutes, or until skin is crisp and golden. Drizzle with orange juice and serve warm with pan juices.

Serves 6

Tips from Maria:

Consigli di cucina (kitchen tips)
The chicken breasts can be assembled the day before, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated. When ready to serve, bring chicken to room temperature and cook as instructed. Doing it this way allows the flavours time to meld together beautifully.

Che cos’è? (what is it?)
I’m convinced food tastes better when cooked in a shallow, glazed earthenware dish known in Italian as a tiella. I find earthenware dishes distribute heat slowly and evenly as the food cooks. Aromas and flavours are intensified and casseroles never stick or dry out.

To season a tiella: Before using your tiella the first time, immerse the dish in cold water to soak overnight. The next day, empty the tiella and wipe it dry. Rub the inside with olive oil and place in a preheated 300°F (150°C) oven for 1½ hours. Remove seasoned tiella from oven and place on a wooden board or thick tablecloth to cool. (If placed on a surface like granite or a cold stovetop, it will crack.) To clean a tiella, soak it in warm, soapy water, then scrub with a soft sponge.

Meet the Author

Maria Loggia is one of Montreal's best-loved Italian cooking teachers. Her Tavola Mia cooking school in the village of Hudson is a warm, inviting place to learn about Italian cuisine. She also appears regularly on television, is featured in newspapers and magazines, and leads culinary tours in Italy.

Maria finds inspiration in her Italian heritage and draws on family recipes that go back generations. She founded Tavola Mia, her at-home cooking school in 1999. Through her study of Italy's regional cuisines, which has included numerous sojourns back to her native country, she has acquired great expertise in the art of Italian cooking. Her passion, humor and dedication to excellence have made her an inspiring teacher. Using fresh local ingredients, Tavola Mia celebrates the seasons in authentic, irrepressible Italian style.

An Interview with Maria Loggia

Maria Loggia from Pierre Blais on Vimeo.

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Wednesday, 16 July 2014



Short Story

Published by Snowy Owl Productions
Published:  12 May 2014
Kindle Edition:  24 Pages


On the eve of a wedding by the edge of the sea, a once-in-a-lifetime storm sweeps through a family Christmas tree farm on the Connecticut shoreline and sets in motion the events of The Night Before.  New York Times bestselling author Luanne Rice tells the powerful story of the young couple about to get married, a mother and daughter three thousand miles apart, and best friends who could never forget each other.


Lydia's family have owned the Christmas Tree farm for generations and, on the night of the storm, she reminisces about the first time she met the bride-to-be's mother, Sara, in Mexico.  

Sara's family picked lemons for a living in an orchard and Lydia was there as an artist.  Sara was pregnant with her daughter.  As their friendship blossomed, they realised that they had far more in common than they realised.

I was captivated by this beautifully written sweet short story full of love, friendships, natural disaster, family and loyalty.  


At the time of writing the Kindle edition is free to download on



Source:  Thanks to the publishers via NetGalley

Tuesday, 15 July 2014



Publication Date: June 24, 2014 

Number of Pages: 340 

Purchase Links: Amazon - Barnes and Noble -iBooks - Kobo - Sony - Chapters/Indigo -IndieBound 


Geneva is a 62-year-old woman for whom love is a lesson.

Paris is a 29-year-old man for whom love is a feat.

Tatum is a 34-year-old woman for whom love is a tragedy.

But because love is none of these things, none know love.

Over the course of four seasons in Southwestern Montana, all of that will change.

A poetic journey through the landscape of the human heart, reminiscent of the work of Alice Munro and Richard Ford, SHAKING OUT THE DEAD is a novel that will take residence in your soul.



By noon, sloppy ice dollops of rain smacked the windshield like bugs. Great gusts of wind shoved the Celica but it bounced back and held its ground. The roads were empty. Tatum’s car buzzed along under the black blanket of sky. Weather-wise, it appeared that the going might get tough so Tatum pulled off the highway at an exit that promised a Genuine Cowboy Town so she could take a break before a potential stretch of white-knuckling it. 

But the sign had lied. Beyond the Sinclair dinosaur at the exit was a short main drag. The road was dirt and the sidewalks were wood and raised off the street, boardwalk-style. Beyond the stores’ front doors (some painted to look like swinging ones) were pharmacies, beauty salons, hardware and feed shops. The whole place looked closed and deserted, but it was just an ordinary town, quiet, behind a cowboy veneer. Tatum reached the end of the main drag which ended abruptly in a field. She pulled into the last parking slot on the block and got out to stretch. 

“Guess I better hitch up the car,” she said, pretending to tie it like a horse, trying to get into the spirit of things. 

They stepped up onto the boardwalk. The dime store had an ancient children’s ride in front of it. An elephant, a pony, and a fish were dressed in circus regalia, saddled and ready to spin in a small circle. 

“How do you think a fish made it into the circus?” Tatum asked Rachael. 

The silence that followed was promising. Rachael didn’t answer, but Tatum thought she was considering the question. Acknowledging absurdity is one of the first steps towards healing. 

“Want to take a spin?” she offered Rachael. 

Rachael looked at Tatum and rolled her eyes.

Tatum didn’t care. She wanted to see its action, hear what little ditty it might play. She dug in her pocket for change. A dime slipped from her hand as she dropped the change into the slot. As she bent to retrieve it, she thought of Paris. He always bothered to pick up stray change from a sidewalk. It wasn’t because he was cheap. It was because he was unwilling to ignore its value. 

The ride cranked into action. Surprisingly, the ditty was a circus-y version of "Both Sides Now." Tatum would’ve put her money on "When the Saints Go Marching In."

“Rock on,” Tatum said, watching it turn. 

Rachael refused to be charmed. She walked away past the ride to the edge of the raised boardwalk. She looked out onto a knapweed infested field, dead and broken, in the November chill. 

Tatum stared at the back of Rachael’s head as the elephant, fish, and pony paraded in circles. She was still thinking of Paris and found herself seeing the image of Rachael before her through Paris’ eyes: a child’s silhouette framed on three sides by the wooden walk, the awning above, and the side of the building. The coat open and askew on her shoulders. The kiddie ride in the foreground. The dead field in the distance. But Tatum knew that Paris would see her in the frame, too. He would look at the person looking, see Tatum seeing Rachael. And, if he ever wanted to, he would be able to see Rachael seeing Tatum, too. 

A sudden discomfort brought Tatum’s hand to her neck. She rubbed at it, unconsciously. Paris would see her through Rachael’s eyes. Through the family eye. 

Families can reduce us, sum a person up in reference to a single bad day in grade school, or excellent grades in math. The athlete. The smart one. The sensitive one (spoken with a sneer). And, of course, the black sheep. It was bad enough having the family idea of her living in her own head, Tatum thought, but at least there, it could remain secret.

Meet the Author

K.M. CHOLEWA is from Chicago. She writes in Helena, Montana where she lives with a large, black dog. SHAKING OUT THE DEAD is her first novel. 


Sunday, 13 July 2014




Published by Random House - Alibi

Published -- 6 May 2014
Genre --  Cozy Mystery


Pru Parke always dreamed of living in England.  And after the Dallas native follows an impulse and moves to London, she can't imagine ever leaving - though she has yet to find a plum position as a head gardener.  Now, as the sublet on her flat nears its end, the threat of forced departure looms.  Determined to stay in her beloved adopted country, Pru takes small, private gardening jobs throughout the city.

On one such gig in Chelsea, she makes an extraordinary find.  Digging in the soil of a potting shed, Pru uncovers an ancient Roman mosaic.  But enthusiasm over her discovery is soon dampened when, two days later, she finds in the same spot a man's bludgeoned corpse.  As the London police swarm her worksite, ever inquisitive Pru can't quite manage to distance herself from the investigation - much to the dismay of stern Detective Chief Inspector Christopher Pearse.  It seems that, much as he tries, even handsome DCI Pearse can't keep Pru safe from a brutal killer who thinks she's already dug up too much.


My Thoughts:

"I grew up in the States, but I live here now."  As much as Pru loved saying it loud, she knew it couldn't really be true until she found a permanent job, a job as head gardener at a small historic garden.  Give her a couple of acres and a place to live; she didn't need the grounds of Windsor Castle.

Brought up on stories of England and its gardens by her English mother, Pru always felt that she belonged there and when her mother died she decided to up sticks and plant herself in England.

But a small job sorting out the unruly garden of the Wilsons digs up more than just roots!  Pru's inquisitive and trusting nature leads her into danger as she tries to solve the murder of Mr Wilson's friend, an amateur archaeologist, despite the best efforts of the good-looking Detective Christopher Pearse to dissuade her.

Marty Wingate's obvious love of gardening shines through in this mystery. The plot was just at the right pace with believable characters and I found it easy to immerse myself in Pru's world.

With a storyline sure to delight gardening enthusiasts, you don't need to know your Hyacinths from your Hollyhocks to enjoy this cozy mystery.  I certainly did!

I'm looking forward to reading more of Pru's adventures when she finally lands her dream job in The Red Book of Primrose House which is published in November 2014.

Marty Wingate's website  --  Twitter  --  Facebook

Source:  Thanks to the Publishers on NetGalley



Gunned down by the hottest
killer in the history of the Badass Archives wasn’t exactly Rapunzel’s end­game. But when her reputable extraction skills fail, she uses unorthodox methods to gain her freedom from the Mercenary, whose icy blue eyes have serious panty­dropping capabilities. Even though most girls wouldn’t fall for their would­be assassin, Rapunzel isn’t like most dames. Her major girl­boner for the Mercenary is so pathetically intense it verges on cliché.
Regardless, Rapunzel’s hands are tied.
Love chooses its victims, not the other way around. She isn’t the stereotypical Damsel in Distress. Her Bad­Boy Prince Charming is a renowned mercenary, and her “Happy
Ending” plays out like a bad movie.
However, she is determined to find her
freedom—love be damned—and she’ll do
it in a fabulous pair of heels.


Passing out in front of Flynn wasn’t exactly on my to­do list, but repairing a total system failure would do that to a girl. Exhaustion was not a word descriptive enough to explain how debilitating repairing my pulverized body had been. Blacking in and out, I realized I was no longer lying on the ground, but was thrown over some random man’s shoulder. He hauled me away from my splat zone.

My surroundings were blurred. Looking through a kaleidoscope would have been less nauseating. I blinked profusely, focusing on anything to keep from vomiting. Flynn came into focus, as if he’d commanded my attention. His cold, icy gaze locked with mine as he walked behind me and my carrier. Flynn cursed profusely in German. At least, I thought it was of Germanic origin since I didn’t understand a lick of it. From the condescending glare, I knew he despised me and couldn’t wait to get rid of me. The feeling was mutual, but I bit my tongue and held back a snide remark. It would only get me into more trouble. So, I embraced my inner domesticated, civil, finished­girl persona by flipping him the bird. After all, body language was universal. Nothing was lost in translation by the use of my middle finger, right?


Author Bio:
I specialize in dark, paranormal romance – think “happy ever after” but with a twisted, dark chocolate center. Real­life romance isn’t only filled with hugs, kisses, unicorns, and
rainbows. True­love can be more thoroughly described in times of darkness and tribulation. It’s in those harsh moments where you see what a person is truly capable of – both the good and bad.
Sometimes prince ­charming isn’t always on time, and the glass slipper is a little snug. However, it doesn’t mean Charming is not Mr. Right, and who says every shoe is the perfect fit?



Sunday, 6 July 2014



Published:  29 May 2014
Publisher:  No Exit Press
Paperback:  320 Pages
Genre:  Murder Mystery


A glamorous young TV soap star dies in a car crash. Returning for her sixth case, Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel is baffled as the driver of the second vehicle miraculously survives - and vanishes. Another young actress is murdered and, once again, the killer mysteriously disappears. Geraldine unwittingly risks her sergeant's life in their struggle to track down a serial killer who leaves no clues.


My Thoughts:

Fatal Act is the sixth book in the Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel series and the third Leigh Russell book I've read ...... and I think this is the best of them.

When a TV soap star is killed in a car crash it seems like an accident at first but it then becomes clear that she was murdered. Her older lover is the main suspect, especially when another young actress who was known to him is also murdered.

For Geraldine work gave her life meaning and purpose and she has to juggle her personal life with her professional life to uncover how the killer managed to disappear from the crime scenes like the invisible man (or woman).

The storyline was well paced without being too exciting, it had a steady feel to it, a page turner nearing the end, strong characters and a good mystery all add up to an above average thriller.


Leigh Russell can be found at her website  -- on Twitter  --  Facebook


Source:  I received a copy for review from RealReaders


Available to buy from

Book Depository  (free shipping worldwide)

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