Saturday, 26 July 2014


My Thoughts on this touching story set in South Africa......




Published ~~ 26 May 2011
Publisher ~~ The Katalina Playroom
Pages ~~ 188 (ebook)


What do you do when you lose a childhood friend? What do you do when you know everyone is expecting you to come home? What do you do if you don't want to?

Phillip, Sarah, Kaitlyn, Caleb, Maxine, Grant, Melanie and Josh grew up in a small town where they spent their high school years together as an inseparable clique. But high school has ended, and they are all living their own “grown up” lives, each under the impression that their group has basically come to an end. When Phillip dies in a hit and run accident, Kaitlyn summons the others to all come back home, forcing a reunion that no one is particularly interested in partaking in.


Coffee at Little Angels has been on my eReader for several years now, I'm not really sure why I kept passing it over to read other books, I think I thought it would be a little morbid and I was never really in the mood for it.

But I'm pleased to say that, now having finished it, my negative thoughts are now all very positive.

From the first shocking sentence till the end I was engrossed in following how each character deals with their friend's sudden death.  All best friends at High School, they hadn't all been together since they left and most of them did not want to meet up again after almost ten years apart, and we gradually learn why.  

Past love affairs, disagreements, dislikes are brought to the surface again by the twisted triangle of angst-riddled friends.

The writing was skilful and clever, sad in parts, funny in others,  poignant and moving.  The characters were brought to life and were very distinct from each other in their voices, I felt as if I really got to know them.

An impresssive debut from Nadine Rose Larter who can be found on twitter @Queen_Nayes  ~~ her website


About the Author

My name is Nadine Rose Larter and I was born in a small South African town called Molteno,
somewhere in the heart of the Karoo. After my last year of high school I moved with my family to the
city of Port Elizabeth where I now live with my son, my fiancé, and my two step children. I’m a bit
of a free-spirit and have never been happy having a “day job”. I spend my days writing, or thinking
about writing. Sometimes I do a bit of work.

I have always been a writer. I started writing poems and short stories when I was little, and I have
intermittently kept diaries since I was about nine years old. In the last two years I have started
taking my writing more seriously and have made the decision to become a full-time author. I have
no formal education, aside from a year of Literature and Creative Writing study, but I am constantly
trying to grow as a writer. Sometimes being a wife and mom makes fitting it all in a little tough but I
am learning how to juggle it all slowly.

I chose to self publish simply because it feels like taking my future into my own hands and running
with it. There are no excuses when it is just you. The self-accountability can be thrilling sometimes.
Being ready and then actually being able to move forward instead of waiting to hear from publishers
has been a special kind of blessing. I am not closed to the idea of having a publisher, I am just ready
to go on without one for now.

I write regularly on these four websites:

Passing the Open Windows

The Katalina Playroom

The Poetry Project

The Writers Club


Source:  Thanks to the author for sending me an ebook copy

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Friday, 25 July 2014



Publication Date:  12 June 2012
Number of Pages:  450
Tour Length:  1 July -- 31 July 2014


Betty Craven is the epitome of elegance, class, and perfection. Her prize-winning garden is the envy of her neighbors; her impeccable manners and epicurean skills have made her the “hostess with the most-est.”

But all is not what it seems.

The truth is that this fifty-eight year old’s seemingly idyllic world is quickly disintegrating. Widowed and left with a modest income, Betty’s Colorado gourmet chocolate shop has gone belly up, leaving her floundering for purpose and meaning. Tied to a house in disrepair that she can’t sell, and mired in unrelenting grief for her dead son, this patriotic former Texas pageant queen comes to the shocking and debilitating conclusion that her entire life has been wasted. As that realization hits her hard between her well-manicured brow, the rebellious spirit that Betty has silently kept under lock and key, explodes to the surface.

When that happens, her staunch conservative world changes drastically, causing Betty to question every belief and opinion she’s ever had. The path she chooses is paved with secrecy, eccentric characters, toe-curling love, life-changing events, and a connection to her unconventional garden that she never could have imagined. No matter how hard she tries, Betty Craven will never be the same again.

Author Laurel Dewey — known for her gritty crime thriller series featuring Detective Jane Perry — has created a dynamic, funny, romantic, heartbreaking and controversial novel that will both enlighten readers and challenge them with its unique and timely subject matter.


An interview with 
Laurel Dewey

1. Your new novel, BETTY`S (LITTLE BASEMENT) GARDEN, takes on the controversial issue of medical marijuana. What drew you to this hot-button topic?

I started out completely against medical marijuana. I bought into all the propaganda about how dangerous it was, the whole “gateway” theory, etc. When medical marijuana dispensaries began popping up all over Colorado and in the small town where I live, I was quick to joke about them to friends. But then through a series of odd events, I happened to meet someone who used medical marijuana to help with her nausea during chemo. This woman was very low-key, fairly conservative and the last person I ever thought would use the herb. She told me that none of the drugs worked (even the synthetic marijuana pill, Marinol) the way that the plant worked. She told me she was finally able to function during the day, to get a full eight hours of sleep each night and that her stress level went from a “10” to a manageable “4.” From observing her, it was obvious to me that marijuana was incredibly helpful and far from dangerous.

Since I’m as much a researcher as I am a writer, I spent almost four months reading everything I could on the plant, watched hours of video, spoke with numerous medical marijuana patients (whose average age was around 55), and quickly began to value this plant that I’d mocked most of my adult life. The more I dug into the subject, the more I encountered a lot of conservative people using marijuana who were terrified of the stigma around the plant. They were truly afraid of “being found out” even though they were getting relief of their symptoms and they were completely legal with their medical marijuana card. I think that was the birth of Betty Craven’s character. She’s the “fish out of water” as well as the opposite of the stereotypical “stoner persona” that is usually put forth in books or movies. That alone was a compelling idea to explore.

2. As a novelist, you’re best known for your crime thrillers featuring Detective Jane Perry. Why did you choose to work the debate over medical marijuana into a stand-alone work of fiction rather than into an installment in your popular mystery series?

I never really considered featuring a medical marijuana storyline into a Jane Perry novel. Jane’s stories are much darker and I wanted to create a novel around the medical marijuana subject that was light, fun, entertaining but also emotionally charged and transforming. I also thought it was really important to create a main character that was fairly innocent about the world and could play against the theme. Jane Perry is anything but innocent. And, truthfully, I needed a break from the rigors of writing another intense Jane Perry novel. Oddly enough, BETTY`S (LITTLE BASEMENT) GARDEN was much more of an emotional ride than I ever thought it would be. People can get very passionate and irrational around the subject of medical marijuana. I finally stopped telling people about the book I was writing because I was usually met with a scowl and a comment like, “Oh, God! Why are you bothering with that subject?!” But that just gave me more “author ammo” when it came to creating realistic characters in the book who had “real life” arguments against marijuana.

3. Betty’s (Little Basement) Garden introduces a wonderfully appealing and complicated heroine, Betty Craven. Was your character inspired by any woman in particular? Would you describe Betty as your alter ego?

There is definitely some of me in Betty Craven. But the character is actually based on two other women I know. I’m nowhere near as refined and precise as Betty Craven. I’m not a towering, buxom blond from Texas with a pageant history. But I guess I share Betty’s guts, determination and fears…especially her fear of failure and a life lost to wasted time. It’s probably no coincidence that I started writing the novel shortly after my fiftieth birthday. Like a lot of people who hit the big 5-0, they realize that youth is faded and you probably have more years behind you than ahead of you. That can be a sucker punch if you let it. Betty Craven experiences these same emotions and regrets and is essentially emotionally saved when she becomes a marijuana caregiver and grower.

4. Many people—especially people of a certain age, like Betty—think of marijuana as a “gateway drug” to hardcore narcotics and self-destructive addiction. How do the facts on marijuana defy this notion? In your opinion, has marijuana gotten a bad rap?

Since I used to believe in the “gateway theory” myself, I needed to see if that was truly replicated in life or just put out there to scare people. The whole “gateway drug” idea is founded on the idea that if you start with marijuana, you’re going to want or crave harder drugs like heroin, meth, cocaine, etc. But if you really start to investigate the types of people who move from marijuana to hardcore drugs, you begin to see emotional patterns within them as well as environmental issues that create their need to escape. I have a line in the novel, “What came first? The pain or the pill” The pain—whether it’s emotional or physical or both—always comes first. Very often, it’s the resolved, deep-seated, suppressed pain that motivates someone to start using harder drugs. It’s NOT the plant; it’s the person who uses it. It’s like blaming a car for an accident instead of blaming the driver. If the person begins using marijuana to escape from a stressful or abusive life, that’s different than the medical marijuana patient who is using it to alleviate pain and reduce stress. It’s the INTENT that’s important here. Is the intent to relax and relieve anxiety or is the intent to get messed up and be unable to function? I can guarantee you that the intent of a medical marijuana patient is the former. Blaming an herb that has documented healing potential for being a “gateway” to harder drugs is just more propaganda, in my opinion. When the herb was legal before 1937 and available at the corner drug store, there wasn’t any panic over marijuana leading to morphine.

There are always going to be people out there who can’t say “no” and, for whatever reason, become addicted to various substances. If life gets to be too much for those who use marijuana recreationally, there’s a good chance that they will experiment with pills, pharmaceuticals and hardcore drugs. What about tobacco, alcohol and even sugar as “gateway” drugs? I realize that anyone who is addicted to cigarettes, drinking and consuming 32 oz. sodas would probably be insulted by that reference. But isn’t it all about sedating the mind and escaping from a life that you find painful, miserable, boring or pointless?

Ironically, for many medical marijuana patients I talked to when I researched the subject, the herb was their “exit drug” from powerful painkillers like Oxycodone or the array of sleeping pills and anxiety drugs they used to be addicted to. One patient told me marijuana was her “exit drug” from meth. Another patient told me that marijuana was his “exit drug” from alcohol and that he was able to quit a lifetime of alcoholism by using the herb. Did he just replace one “drug” for another? I can’t answer that. But I do know that he’s a much happier and well-adjusted person now than he was before he used marijuana.

5. Since we’re on the subject of facts, would you tell us about your research for BETTY`S (LITTLE BASEMENT) GARDEN? Did you interview physicians or other medical experts? Did you get to know actual cannabis growers, caregivers, and patients?

I interviewed two doctors who issued “recommendations” to patients who wanted to obtain their “red cards” (medical marijuana license) in Colorado. Obviously, these doctors were pro-marijuana, although one was much more so than the other. That one told me she was putting together a database of stories her patients shared with her about their positive experiences with the herb and hoped to one day turn it into a book. I did discuss the subject informally with other physicians but their responses were more flippant and dismissive. In fact, some of the comments they made showed that they were buying into the propaganda just like I used to do. Dr. Robert Melamede—who I did not interview—is a wealth of information when it comes to the science of marijuana. I poured over his published studies and listened to hours of his interviews on the subject.

I also spent a lot of time with growers, caregivers and as many patients as I could. It wasn’t easy getting some growers to agree to let me see their operations because a lot of them prefer to remain low profile. But I did get to see three indoor grows and one beautiful outdoor grow that was stunning. Walking around that operation was beyond incredible. Some of the plants looked more like Christmas trees, towering as high as seven feet, with a width of about five feet. I can’t imagine the work that goes into just one of those plants when it’s time to harvest. The time I spent with caregivers and patients really influenced how I crafted the supporting characters in the novel. Each patient in the book that Betty helps is based on real people I talked to. And these included, doctors, nurses, lawyers, accountants and other individuals who were anything but your typical “loser” or “stoner” persona.

6. What would you like readers on both sides of the medical marijuana debate to take away from BETTY`S (LITTLE BASEMENT) GARDEN?

More than anything, I want readers to put the brakes on the hysteria that surrounds this plant. There’s been too much propaganda, disinformation, outright lies, and third-hand gossip about what it can and can’t do. In the book, Betty Craven buys into the “Reefer Madness” frenzy at first. But through the story, she gradually begins to understand and appreciate the beauty and usefulness of the cannabis plant. It would make me extremely happy if this novel was the fulcrum for intelligent discussion about how to integrate marijuana into the day-to-day lives of those who can benefit from it.

I never say in the book that marijuana is a cure-all or that everybody should use it. But I hope that readers who are the least bit interested in the plant will read the book and discover that what they’ve been taught is completely wrong. If BETTY`S (LITTLE BASEMENT) GARDEN can lift the cannabis veil and promote clear, concise dialogue about this much maligned herb, I would be thrilled. And if I can convert readers who are as against marijuana as I once was, that would be even better. I think it’s time to start discussing this issue like intelligent adults instead of scared little children.

Meet the Author

Laurel Dewey’s writing career has been anything but predictable. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Dewey began her career working in public relations for such celebrities as Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra. Her writing talents quickly took her into other entertainment avenues. Dewey was an assistant editor at BOP Magazine, helping launch the blockbuster career of teen pop groups like The New Kids on The Block. During this time, she wrote a string of successful mystery radio plays for Los Angeles radio networks. The plays won Dewey consistent awards and caused one reviewer to write, “Dewey’s flair for creating memorable characters and great stories is a welcome change these days.”

Not satisfied to write in only one genre, Dewey went on to pen a western novella “In the Name of the Land” which was nominated for a Silver Spur Fiction Award. A collection of short stories followed, as did a successful stint writing and producing radio ads and promos.

In the early 1990’s, Dewey relocated to rural Colorado. But her eclectic writing forte continued as she pursued work as a freelance investigative journalist, advertising/marketing promoter and editor of children’s books. In the mid and late 1990’s, two of her books on plant medicine were published, along with 10 booklets and hundreds of articles on alternative health.During this time, she appeared as a featured guest on over 300 national radio and television programs and lectured extensively across the United States and Canada.

But now the pages have turned again...literally. In 2007, Dewey released her first fiction novel, Protector, a gritty, paranormal crime thriller that follows the rocky life of Denver homicide detective Jane Perry. In preparation for writing the book, Dewey immersed herself in detailed research, interviewing Colorado homicide detectives and traveling on "ride-a-longs" with street cops. The intricate research helped Dewey create a debut novel that is powerful, compelling and utterly original.

The sequel to Protector, Redemption, was released in June of 2009. The third book in the series, Revelations, released in June of 2011. She is currently writing the fourth novel in the Jane Perry series, titled Knowing, due to be released in December of 2012. Her standalone book, Betty`s (Little Basement) Garden, was released on June 12, 2012 and is the first fiction novel on the subject of medical marijuana (cannabis) in Colorado. She lives with her husband and two orange cats in rural Colorado. 

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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. 



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