Tuesday 31 May 2016

Guest Post - A Day in the Life of...D.I Eleanor Raven by Karen Long

Eleanor Raven is the protagonist of The Safe Word and The Vault. 
Born in 1982 and educated at Ryerson University, she was promoted to the rank of Detective Inspector for Toronto PD homicide division in 2011.

Give our readers a sense of how you start a typical day.

I always start my day with a good breakfast, as I find lunch is a frequent sacrifice. I like a mixture of oats, granola, berries and a cup of black coffee. Generally, I listen to the local news and flick through yesterday’s paper. I’m out by the time the current edition arrives. Toronto is a city of weather extremes and at the moment it’s hovering around the 4-6 C mark, so trousers are a must (I only own one skirt!), lined, flat-heeled boots, jacket and overcoat. The city does not allow police officers to carry weapons off-duty but as cleaning and maintenance are time consuming and essential, I bring mine to and from duty in my handbag, when I remember to un-holster. I carry a Glock .19 and have never discharged my weapon, apart from on a firing range. 

Describe your working environment.

I usually get to my office by 7 30 am, at the latest. This gives me sufficient time to catch up with paperwork, check any reports or results that have been processed over the past twenty-four hours and drink my second cup of coffee, as I review the murder board. Once my partner, Detective Whitefoot, arrives there’s not much in the way of reflective time. So, the half hour before he gets here is mine. The murder board is more than just a way of organising photographs, maps and names, it’s a way of sifting the evidence and allowing your unconscious brain to play around with the facts, create a plausible scenario or link people with motivation. I drop my mind into neutral and just wait for the processing to take place. 

Tell us about your partner Detective Laurence Whitefoot and your opinions of his dog, Monster.

Laurence’s arrival is a kick-start. He hasn’t created a routine yet and has a tendency to flap around, particularly if he hasn’t dropped Monster off at k9. Today is one of those days and Laurence, who doesn’t seem to recognise the need for routine in others either, will spend ten minutes calling the dog, who is just doing his rounds. Monster makes his way through homicide, takes the back stairs down to the canteen, where I assume he is given his second breakfast, and then comes back. It’s not rocket science and it concerns me that my partner, whom I depend upon to save my life, hasn’t worked out that Monster needs fifteen minutes to carry out his own business.  

Give us a flavour of an average day.

There’s no hard and fast rule as to what a day will bring. Yesterday was fairly typical, so I share that with you. With likely court appearances on the horizon for the Toby Adams case, I am getting my files and notes in order. It seems likely that the DA will be select three of his known murder victims to secure a first-degree conviction for Adams. 

At 2.28pm we are called to attend a potential homicide in the Kensington Market region of the city.  The patrol officers have already accessed the locked apartment and discovering the occupant in an advanced state of putrefaction, called it in. The body is male, probably over fifty, naked, apart from a pair of underpants and is sprawled between the bedroom and the kitchen. The cause of death appeared to be a gunshot wound to the jaw. The weapon, a small caliber handgun is discovered several feet away from a blood covered wooden chair. A quantity of dried blood has pooled below the chair and several footprints led from it to the victim. Although I have responsibility, as a senior investigating officer, to determine whether the manner of death could be considered suspicious, in this case the forensic investigators and the medical examiner all agree that, unless contradictory evidence is uncovered at the post mortem, it is likely that the victim took his own life. Having placed the gun near to his temple and pulling trigger, the bullet entered just below his cheekbone. He was probably unconscious for several minutes, when most of the blood loss took place. Regaining consciousness, he then staggered towards the bathroom where he collapsed and succumbed to shock. 

That’s a pretty intense day. How do you relax?

I arrive back in my apartment at 9.43pm. I run my bath, pour a large glass of wine and let the day’s events percolate. 

Thank you Karen, for that wonderful look at how your heroine Eleanor Raven spends her day.

Published January 14th 2014
Genre: Mystery / thriller / crime
Eleanor Raven Series: Book 1

There are rules that every player of every game must abide by, no matter how dangerous the sport.

Toronto has become the backdrop to a macabre set of artistic installations: women kidnapped, tortured and horrifically displayed by a killer with a vision.

Only someone capable of understanding the killer's creative desire will be able to stop the murders and D I Eleanor Raven is uniquely qualified. Driven by a complex personality she pursues only the facts, only the things she can see, but never casts a judgement.

But she also has a dark and dangerous secret - one that will threaten her very survival.

Amazon UK - Amazon US - B & N

About Karen Long

Karen Long was born and raised in the English midlands, educated at Bangor University and taught English and Drama for fifteen years. During her teaching years she studied biology and neurology with the Open University and this interest in medicine, forensics and forensic psychology is reflected in her writing. She is an enthusiastic traveller and has spent time in Toronto, which became the backdrop and inspiration for The Safe Word.  

She is a keen amateur naturalist with a deep and abiding love for the crow family. She has dedicated time, love and several fingers in an effort to rehabilitate crows, magpies, rooks and ravens. 
Karen is happy to correspond with readers and can be contacted through her website KarenLongWriter.com, where she posts regular blogs.

The Safe Word is Karen's first novel and was an Amazon bestseller, soon to be joined by the second in the Eleanor Raven series, The Vault. Karen is working on the third novel in the series.


All author or review enquires please contact Karen Long’s Personal Assistant J.B. Johnston – brookbooks@hotmail.co.uk

Check out Book 2 – The Vault - http://amzn.to/1WSnlDn

Did you know that Eleanor Raven is also online?


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review - Destination India by Katy Collins

Amazon UK
Title: Destination India (The Lonely Hearts Travel Club, Book 2)
Author: Katy Colins
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Carina
Publication Date: 2nd June
Rating: 5 Stars

Let yourself go…
Starting the Lonely hearts Travel Club was supposed to be the second chance that gave Georgia Green back her life. She thought it would be just like travelling, but the reality is far from rosy as she realises that starting a new business is definitely not a beach!

So when Georgia finds herself on an impromptu work trip to India she knows something’s got to give! Where has the girl gone who fought so hard to rebuild her life?

The land of Bollywood, gorgeous beaches and the Taj Mahal might just hold the key to Georgia finding her stride again… Only she is about to find out that when in India the country calls the shots – not you. But Georgia’s not going down that easy!

Join Georgia Green for her next big adventure in Bollywood!

Having spent months and months longing for Destination India to come out, needing another fix from the Lonely Hearts Travel Club, there was a tiny part of me that was nervous, incase either I had hyped the next book up in my mind too much, or that the first was a one book wonder. Well I definitely need not have worried, as Destination India is every bit as good as the first, if not even better. 

Before I start waxing lyrical as that is all I want to do, I should assure people that are new to Katy Colins and her Lonely Hearts Travel Club series that this second book can be read as a standalone very easily, although for full enjoyment I would still recommend starting from the first book, especially if you love virtual travel. 

Destination India starts with a pretty quick pace, that while Georgia was working and trying to keep control over every aspect of her business, she is quickly becoming a workaholic and unrecognisable to her friends and family. When some awful reviews of their India tour start coming through, in a drunken moment with a friend they decide to go on the tour themselves to sort it out once and for all. 

Georgia ends up in India without her friend, but doesn't let it stop her. The descriptions from the second she lands in India, the initial meetings with her tour guide, to the sights and sounds of the places they go to, took me completely away from real life and I felt as though I was alongside Georgia experiencing it all for myself. 

The destination and travel writing in the book doesn't overpower you with facts, although the "tour guide-off" at the Taj Mahal was fascinating and hilarious, with hidden messages being passed between the two guides in question, while their groups watched on bemused. The 15 hour train trip across India sums up a lot about this vibrant and misunderstood country and the section in Goa was colourful and felt like everything I imaginated the island to be. 

I loved getting to know not only Georgia but also all the characters on the tour with her, where she is undercover, and seeing how she tried to help out her guide and understand the reasoning behind the reviews, just showed what a great person she really is. 

Before I started this, I think I had been suffering a bit of a book hangover for a few days and had been struggling to read anything for longer than half an hour at a time. This has fixed me again thankfully and I devoured this in a matter of hours on a lazy Sunday afternoon. My only suggestion would be to make sure you order some Indian to go alongside this book, as you may find yourself craving a curry!

My only fault with this story was, that it had to end, and that I now have to wait months again for the next book, which I am as I suspect goes without saying really looking forward to. This is a series and author that is hitting all the elements I love in a book and putting them together in a fantastic way, creating unputdownable stories. 

Thank you to much to Netgalley and Carina for this review copy. This was my honest opinion. 

Monday 30 May 2016

Guest Post & Giveaway - Greek family lifestyle in the UK by Kelly Florentia - Greek Week

When most people hear the words Greek family they immediately conjure up a world bursting with well-meaning aunties sticking their oar in, parents demanding that their offspring bring home a nice Greek girl or boy, and the entire clan sitting around a table every Sunday eating Souvlaki or Moussaka, maybe even breaking a plate or two once they’ve necked enough Retsina to do the Zorba on the kitchen tiles. In fact, the Greek stereotypical family sounds as if they’re having one big fat party, 365 days of the year. But is this what it’s really like?

In my debut novel, The Magic Touch, I had to explore what it’s like to be in a relationship with an Anglo-Greek Cypriot partner from the viewpoint of Emma King, a 39-year-old English divorcee. Having first-hand knowledge of Greek family life in the UK, writing about Emma’s partner Harry Georgiades and his clan was a fun and pleasurable experience. Here’s my insight into Greek family life in the UK:

Food: Let’s start with food. Food is the equivalent of a cup of tea. Bad day at the office? A nice plate of dolmades will sort that out. A family crisis? Chuck a couple of red mullets into the frying pan. A celebration? Let’s get the barbecue going. If you’re ever invited into a Greek home you will undoubtedly be accosted with a plate of something savoury or sweet. ‘Have you eaten?’ ‘Are you hungry?’ ‘Oh, have something small, then.’ And don’t dare refuse it. It’s the essence of their lives, a comfort, a blanket, it brings family and friends together, and Greek food is incredibly delicious.
Family: While family values are still very strong within the Greek community in the UK, things have changed, moved on, particularly where marriage is concerned. Although some Greek parents would still prefer their children to marry a Greek, it’s very common and acceptable to marry outside of the Greek spectrum. 

Marriage: So, will a Greek family welcome a non-Greek with open arms? Well, yes, of course, why not? However, because of their strong sense of family ethics and morals, marrying a Greek comes with a set of conditions. In The Magic Touch, Harry’s parents, an older Greek couple, have welcomed their sons’ partners with open arms. But because Harry and Mas have been instilled with the Greek culture, an ethos that spans generations, Emma and Caroline are expected to accommodate some of the Greek traditions, which, fortunately, they quite like.  

Religion: Religion is a very significant part of family living, and you will find that if you want to marry a Greek, the family will expect you to marry in a Greek Orthodox Church, and children to be christened likewise. Of course, this isn’t compulsory but you’ll have very disgruntled in-laws if you refuse.  

Children: Traditionally, children are named after their grandparents, which does make picking names a bit easier, I suppose. But then they could end up with a very old-fashioned, dowdy name. So, while many British Greeks still hold onto this tradition, they may alter the name slightly; Mas instead of Marios, Harry instead of Haritos, Demi instead of Demetria etc., but increasingly couples are choosing names of their preference, so you will often hear English first names with Greek surnames, such as Kelly Florentia.

About Kelly Florentia

Kelly Florentia was born and bred in north London, where she continues to live with her husband. Her debut novel THE MAGIC TOUCH was released on 24th March 2016. Her second novel BROKEN will be published on 20th August 2016.

Kelly has always enjoyed writing and was a bit of a poet when she was younger. Before writing her first novel, she wrote short stories for women's magazines. To Tell A Tale Or Two... is a collection of her short tales. Kelly is currently working on her third novel

Giveaway - Win an eBook of The Magic Touch  (Open Internationally)

An eBook of The Magic Touch is up for grabs!

Giveaway open Internationally, all options are voluntary, but please do what they ask, as I will be verifying the winner. Giveaway closes 23:59 4/6/2016. Winner will be announced on twitter and emailed, and they will need to reply within 7 days, or forfeit the prize, and I will re-draw for a new winner.  Good luck everyone.

Win an eBook of The Magic Touch (Open Internationally)

Book Review - The Xenophobe's Guide to the Greeks by Alexandra Fianda - Greek Week

Title: The Xenophobe's Guide to the Greeks
Author: Alexandra Fiada
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Purchased
Publisher: Xenophobe's Guides
Publication Date: 15th August 2010
Rating: 4 Stars

A guide to understanding the Greeks which takes an insightful, irreverent look at their character and attitudes.

While I was planning my blog's Greek Week, I spotted that I had downloaded this book years ago, and couldn't resist finally reading it. It is a tongue in cheek look at all things to do with the Greeks, from their culture, politics, way of life, family, food and all other aspects of Greek life. 

I'm fairly sure a lot of it is based on fact, and the rest is just meant to be poking fun at a nation, as this is one in a series of these guides to various nations. 

I found it quite enjoyable and much of the information in the book did ring true to my own knowledge of the Greeks. 

I think this would be an amusing book to read if you were on your way to Greece, or on your way back, to see just how much of it you recognise in the real world.  At under 100 pages its a glimpse at what makes the Greeks Greek, as opposed to an in depth guide, but does give you a decent taste of everything. 

Sunday 29 May 2016

Guest Post - Greek Fiction by Christine Philippou - Greek Week

We hear a lot about translated literature these days, the popularity of Scandinavian Noir a case in point. And we hear a lot about books set in Greece (and Rachel will be bringing you plenty this week!). What you rarely hear about is Greek fiction, and this is a shame indeed.

One of my favourite books of all time, an exquisitely written novel tracing backwards from the present the exploits of five school friends, in snapshots, every World Cup, is not only unavailable in English, but is also now out of print in Greek as well. It’s called Στα ψέματα παίζαμε (loosely translating as ‘We played at Lies’), and it’s heart-breaking that so few people have had the pleasure of reading it. The same goes for the play Kαληνύχτα Μαργαρίτα (Goodnight, Margaret) by Gerasimos Stavrou, which looks at a previously aristocratic family self-destruct through stupidity and misunderstanding during WW2.

Then there is the Greek fiction that has been translated but is no longer available (yes, there is a theme, and I’ll come to the reasons for that soon). The Third Wedding Wreath, an oldie (published in the 80s) but goodie, is a wonderful insight into the lives of middle-aged women in Greek society at the time, more so when looked at through the lens of the reader and their modern life.

On a more positive note, there is some translated Greek literature that remains widely available. Yes, this is where I mention Alexis Zorbas (Zorba the Greek) by Nikos Kazantzakis, a wonderful portrayal of character, set in pre-WW1. Another international bestseller was Uncle Petros and Goldbach’s Conjecture, a study of the beauty of intellectual quests and mathematics. And as for children’s literature, you can’t do better than Eugenios Trivizas, The Three Little Wolves and The Big Bad Pig being among his very prolific list of books.

And then there’s Greek crime. Petros Markaris is the foremost in the genre (translated – yay!), and his latest trilogy (still with the same wonderful Greek policeman as the protagonist), The Crisis Trilogy, deals with the reality of everyday life in Greece since the crisis hit in 2008, in combination with delivering great police procedurals. But there are others, Giannis Maris being among my favourites.

Then there is Greek fiction written in English (directly) by previously Greek bestselling authors, examples of which are The Birthday Party by Panos Karnezis and Poor Margo by Soti Triandafyllou. What most Greek fiction dealing with themes in modern Greek life has in common is its darkness. Again, written in English, but still steadfastly Greek fiction, Black Greek Coffee looks at the darker sides of life in Greece, away from the whitewashed houses and the azure waters in touristville.

So why isn’t Greek fiction popular? Is it because a lot of the themes in Greek fiction are dark and people like to associate Greece with sun and islands and love? Or is it because so few speak the language that a lot of it gets lost in non-translation? I like to think it’s the latter, and hope this post has gone some way into shedding some light on Greek fiction.

Thank you, Rachel, for giving me that chance J

About Christina Philippou 
Christina Philippou is an author and book blogger, whose novel, Lost in Static, due to be published on 15 September 2016 by Urbane Publications, is written in English about English university students, but then we can’t all write Greek fiction, can we?

Thank you so much Christina for this fascinating look into Greek Fiction, and best of luck for your own book. 

Book Review - Falling in Honey: Life and Love on a Greek Island by Jennifer Barclay - Greek Week

Amazon UK
Title: Falling in Honey: Life and Love on a Greek Island
Author: Jennifer Barclay
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Purchased
Publisher: Summersdale Publishers
Publication Date: 3rd March 2013
Rating: 4.5 Stars

One heartbroken winter, Jennifer decides to act on her dream of moving to a tiny Greek island – because life is too short not to reach out for what makes us happy. 

Funny, romantic and full of surprising twists, Falling in Honey is a story about relationships, tzatziki, adventures, swimming, Greek dancing, starfish… and a bumpy but beautiful journey into Mediterranean sunshine.

The entire time I was reading Falling in Honey, I have had  a voice in my head telling me I need to book a holiday and get on a plane. The feelings of being in Tilos, Greece were so strong, from the writing, that I was tempted to book a flight instantly (well a flight, hotel in Rhodes and then a ferry!). 

Falling in Honey is the story of two romances, one with a couple of men which are interesting stories, and provide a necessary backdrop to the story, The other romance is the love affair that Jennifer clearly has with Greece and later with the island of Tilos. 

From the early chapters where we learn just how this love affair with the Greek language and Greece itself came about, you are transported to Southern Europe and feel as though you are alongside Jennifer with every step of the journey. 

I have read many books over the years about people moving to a foreign country, but this one feels and is different for many reasons. The writing is fabulous, there is a great sense of humour and I felt as though I really got to know the author, and her friends and family. Unlike other books of this type, we get to see the whole decision process as to whether to move to Greece, and the reasoning behind it. 

I loved seeing Jennifer's first trips to the island, and how she gradually grew to be completely enamoured by its wildlife, the food, the locals and the way of life on the island.  I enjoyed seeing all the customs and festivals of the island, and just how great a slower pace of life could be. 

I think I have fallen a bit in love with the island myself, and will definitely be reading the sequel when I get a spare moment. This book has re-awakened my love of travel writing, and for that I can only thank Jennifer Barclay. 

Guest Post & Giveaway - Greek is the Word by Samantha Tonge - Greek Week

There is no doubt about it. Greece is one of the most romantic places in the world with its gorgeous turquoise sea, the shortbread sands and peachy pink sunsets to die for.  And the history – with so many truly ancient buildings to visit, a trip there can feel like a step back in time. I have holidayed there twice and those vacations inspired the setting for my award-winning novel Game of Scones and its standalone sequel My Big Fat Christmas Wedding.

As a young woman I holidayed in Kos with two girlfriends. What a blast! We hired mopeds and befriended a group of lads and spent our nights drinking and dancing... one nightclub even had a swimming pool in the middle! During the day I recall shopping and going to the beach, plus eating out of course. The local men seemed dark and dangerous with sexy accents and inspired the character of sultry fisherman Niko in my books - especially one who worked at our local bar. He had flirty eyes and curly hair. He would always greet us with “Yasas girlies” and had a cheeky smile.

I think the appeal of an island in sunny climes is the outdoor nature of life. This gives a carefree feel to day-to-day life - barefoot strolls along the beach, a sea breeze lifting your hair. In Game of Scones Niko and the main character Pippa have a special place on the beach, under a large fig tree.  As someone living in built-up Manchester that is a very attractive image. The nearest I get to sitting under a fig tree in the summer is planting myself under a street bar’s parasol for a drink! 

The music, as well, is so cheerful – along with seabirds and foreign chatter... it’s a wonderful soundtrack of life. Game of Scones is set in Taxos, a small fishing village, away from the dust and blaring car horns of city life. Of course, a story wouldn’t be satisfying if it was completely unrealistic, and both of my Greek books deal with the current Greek economic crisis plus the plight of refugees.

My view also isn’t one hundred percent rose-tinted as... well... there is the story of my honeymoon!
So, we arrive in Zante, tired from the wedding and flight and open our hotel room door. I go into the bathroom. The taps ‘spit’ water and to my horror, I am confronted with the Greek waste-disposal system (don’t flush loo paper)!  There is no air-con and at night we are plagued by mosquitoes – I suffer from an allergic reaction to their bites. Plus at the beginning of the holiday, out in the strong sea breeze sun rays, for the first time in my life I suffer from Prickly Heat – my body is covered, from head to toe, for most of the holiday, with a red itchy rash.  Hardly romantic!

Overall, though, I would definitely say Greek is the Word for the perfect romantic setting of a book. But if you are going there in real life, just don’t forget the insect repellent and sun cream!

Thank you so much Samantha for this great look at Greece and your not particularly romantic Zante honeymoon. I still remember finishing Game of Scones last year and googling for a holiday in Taxos, only to discover it was a figment of your imagination!

Author Bio

Samantha Tonge lives in Cheshire with her lovely family and a cat that thinks it’s a dog. When not writing, she spends her days cycling and willing cakes to rise. She has sold over 80 short stories to women’s magazines. Her bestselling debut novel, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award in 2014. Her summer 2015 novel Game of Scones hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart. 


Giveaway - Win a signed copy of Game of Scones (Open Internationally)

Since it is Greek Week here on Rachel's Random Reads, Samantha Tonge has very kindly donated a signed copy of Game of Scone for one lucky person to win. 

Giveaway open Internationally, all options are voluntary, but please do what they ask, as I will be verifying the winner. Giveaway closes 23:59 4/6/2016. Winner will be announced on twitter and emailed, and they will need to reply within 7 days, or forfeit the prize, and I will re-draw for a new winner.  Good luck everyone.

Win a signed copy of Game of Scones (Open Internationally)

Saturday 28 May 2016

Book Review - P.S. Olive You by Lizzie Allen - Greek Week

Amazon UK
Title: P.S. Olive You
Author: Lizzie Allen
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Purchased
Publisher: Maze
Publication Date: 25th August 2015 
Rating: 3 Stars

Sun, sea . . . and a summer of endless possibilities.

From the glossy streets of Chelsea to a tiny Greek hideaway, Faith Cotton is about to have a summer that she will never forget!

Young, bored housewife, Faith Cotton, escapes her stifling Chelsea life when her husband suggests they decamp to a tiny island in the Greek Cyclades for the summer.

He works for the foreign office and has the inside scoop on ‘the Greek situation’. Europe is pouring money into Greece and, far from going down the plughole, Andrew believes that the island of Iraklia will soon see a tourist boom.

Faith is left in charge of finding them a permanent holiday home on the island, but things don’t go to plan – over the course of a summer, Faith’s doomed marriage begins to unravel, and far from finding the house she set out for, she finally discovers the person she really is. . .

Unsurprisingly it was the cover that seduced me to buy this book originally. With such a gorgeous summery picture, I was expecting a light hearted romantic comedy, full of laughs, great descriptions of a Greek Island, sexy men and Greek food. Well there was a sexy man in this book...but that is where my expectations really ended. 

What P.S. Olive You is I can't exactly say, but it felt far more like fictionalized travel writing, without much of the history and facts about the place which makes travel writing great, mixed with a huge political slant with an emphasis on the Greek financial crisis, oh and a story about a women who having been forced to move to Iraklia, who ends up finding out who she truly is. 

I found this to be an incredibly slow starter of a book, to the extent that around the half way mark I very almost gave it up completely, as although it had some interesting bits, the political rants by a couple of the characters were really grating on me (I'm not a huge politics fan). However after deciding I would give it a small bit longer, just in case, I was glad I did, as it took me under an hour to read the second half which packed into it all the elements that would make this a good book. 

Unfortunately if I start saying  what the improvements in the second half actually are, then I would give away the better parts of the book. Needless to say, they include romance, lots of action, some emotion and some life changing events for various of the characters. 

If you come into this book with realistic expectations about what the content is likely to be then I'm sure you will enjoy it a lot more than I did. I found that the main Greek references were the financial crisis, but not really much about the island. I didn't find myself caring that much about the island itself, but the characters that live on it, were all believable and some of them were likeable at least. 

Guest Post & Giveaway - Emily Harvale's Love of Greece - Greek Week

Thanks so much, Rachel, for including me in your ‘Greek week’. I love Greece: the scorching sun, mouth-watering food and breath-taking scenery, not to mention the glorious, sandy beaches, the history…and the hot men. What’s not to like? 

I’ve been to the islands several times but I think one of my favourite trips was a sailing holiday in Porto Heli, a small seaside town in the Argolida district of mainland Greece, where fishing boats were tied up alongside luxury yachts, and quaint, white-washed, flower-draped homes nestled between gleaming glass frontages of a scattering of hotels.

My then-boyfriend and I, spent several fun-filled days on the water, sailing and windsurfing; rippling muscles on tanned, toned bodies were everywhere we looked. And I don’t just mean the men, either! This is me on a Hobi – sensibly wearing a T-shirt so that my back didn’t get burnt…again. I wish I’d been that sensible on day one!

Porto Heli is surrounded by hills and stunning scenery, so on one of the days we cycled through groves of lemon, orange, and olive trees, the fragrance filling our nostrils and tempting our taste buds, then wound our way down to a taverna on the shore for meze and a glass or two of ouzo before heading back to the hotel for a pre-dinner cocktail. 

Most evenings we sat on the terrace beneath perfumed bougainvillea, sipping coffee as dark as molasses and knocking back Metaxa brandy, sharing snippets of action-packed days with our fellow holidaymakers. Some spent their day with the heroes of the past, soaking up the myths and legends. Ancient Epidaurus, Poros, Ermioni, Mycenae and Nafplion were all within easy reach by car. Some travelled by boat to one of the many secluded coves, sheltered by lush green pine trees and rocky crags. They sunbathed on sparkling sand then cooled off in crystal-clear water. One found her very own, Adonis – although his name was Nico, I seem to recall, and I don’t think I should tell you how she spent her days…and nights, after that. The rest of us laughed and drank into the early hours…and I got bitten alive by mosquitoes despite the jungle formula insect repellent! But I absolutely loved that holiday.

One of my novels, Sailing Solo is set in Greece, and is very loosely based on my trip – although it was written a long time afterwards and mine wasn’t a singles holiday… unfortunately. In the book, Willa runs sailing holidays for singles, from her base at the beautiful, Argolis Bay Hotel. Like us, Willa and her best friend, Blossom enjoy a drink and that got me thinking. To help promote that book, I decided to have a cocktail invented for Willa. This was back in July 2013 and I carried out extensive research, let me tell you, and wrote about it at the time in a blog post called: Cocktail, anyone?

Luckily for me, the delightful, Tom and the lovely, Holly at my local cocktail bar, ‘Walkers’, helped me. After narrowing it down to two, the cocktail on the right was the winner.

Then I had to think of a name for it and after careful deliberation (and more sampling of the product) I came up with, Willashewon'tshe. You'll understand why if you read, Sailing Solo.

In the spirit of sharing and because the, Willashewon'tshe, is just so divine, I'm giving you the recipe:

Equal measures of:

Crème de cacao (chocolate liqueur)
Crème de banane (banana liqueur)
Liqueur de menthe verte (peppermint liqueur)
Shake, pour into your favourite cocktail glass then sprinkle finely grated chocolate on the top
Drink, and repeat the process (or just make a lot the first time!)

Do let me know if you try a Willashewon'tshe, and please feel free to share this recipe with your friends.   Perhaps I’ll see you in Porto Heli. After writing this post, I’m longing to go back and see if it’s still as wonderful as it was, all those years ago.

Well Emily if you do go back, please take me with you it sounds like a fabulous trip. Love the look of the cocktail but can we please swap the banana for something else! Thanks so much for taking part in Greek Week, and for the giveaway (below) too.

Emily Harvale 

To see more of Emily Harvale please check out her links:


Giveaway - Win a signed copy of Sailing Solo  (Open Internationally)

I’m giving away a signed paperback copy of Sailing Solo, thanks to the wonderful Emily. 

Giveaway open Internationally, all options are voluntary, but please do what they ask, as I will be verifying the winner. Giveaway closes 23:59 4/6/2016. Winner will be announced on twitter and emailed, and they will need to reply within 7 days, or forfeit the prize, and I will re-draw for a new winner.  Good luck everyone.

Win a signed copy of Sailing Solo (Open Internationally)

Guest Post - My Love Affair with Greece by Julie Ryan - Greek Week

I’d just finished University back in the eighties when I first went to Greece to take up a post in a language school. Not having much money, the journey took about three days by train. I’d bought a guidebook and fallen in love with the sugar cube houses and the turquoise sea in the photos. Arriving at Thessaloniki in the middle of the night, my first glimpse of Greece was of a huge motorway as the taxi took us to a hotel – Thessaloniki I was to discover is a perfectly lovely town but my first impressions were about as far removed from the guidebook images as you can imagine – especially when just a couple of hours later we were woken up by car horns blaring outside the hotel room. Thinking that a major accident had occurred, we pulled back the curtains to see it was just the normal rush hour traffic. Like all good love affairs, it wasn’t instant attraction but a far deeper love borne out over many years until I came to feel that Greece is a part of me. I call it my spiritual home.

I don’t know why but when I am in Greece I feel more alive – everything is more vibrant under a Greek sun. The colours that would look washed out in England are perfect and the national colours of blue and white (the sea and the houses) are everywhere on the islands. I was based in Northern Greece giving me the opportunity to visit a lesser- known island, Samothraki. Back then there were very few tourists as it is off the beaten track and without an airport. I often wonder what it would be like now but sometimes it’s better not to revisit a place you once loved n case it has changed beyond all recognition. Instead I have made it my lifelong task to visit as many different islands as possible. I don’t think I will ever tire of visiting new places. Each island has something different to offer and I know that I can be sure of a warm welcome wherever I end up. Greeks are extremely hospitable by and large and some of my favourite evenings have been spent with locals and a few drinks, well a lot of drinks, as we put the world to rights despite only having a smattering of each others’ language. Whatever you do though, order some food with the drinks. We just ordered beers and were thought very ‘odd’ – in a lovely touch the waiter insisted on bringing never ending peanuts and little mezes, which we hadn’t ordered. This kindness is typical everywhere in Greece.

It was partly nostalgia and partly wondering what ‘might have been’ that I started writing about Greece. One thing is for sure very few people only ever visit Greece once. She has a way of getting under your skin and calling you back. To be honest I can’t think of a more beautiful place to be – the food, the climate and scenery all combine to create a magical atmosphere until before long you too will  be having your very own love affair with Greece.

Thanks to much Julie for sharing your love affair with Greece with us all.  I have barely visited the larger islands but the small ones intrigue me too.

About Julie Ryan

Julie Ryan’s roots are in a small mining village in South Yorkshire. After a degree in French Language and Literature, wanderlust kicked in and she lived and worked in France, Poland, Thailand and Greece. Her spirit enriched, her imagination fired, Julie started a series of mystery romances, thrillers set in the Greek Isles. 

Jenna's Journey is the first novel in Julie Ryan’s Greek Islands Series, a series she did not set out to create but which took on its own life and grew, rich and fascinating. This is the first of three published so far, and now as a newly released edition in the USA from Booktrope, it promises to delight readers looking for the hidden dark sides of dream vacations in the Greek Isles. Pandora's Prophecy and Sophia's Secret make up the rest of the trilogy.

Book Pages

Amazon | Apple | Barnes and Noble (eBook) | Barnes and Noble (Paperback)

Social Media Links
Author Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/julieryanauthor
Author Central Account: http://www.amazon.com/Julie-Ryan/e/B00F0VYX34/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1
Website Url: http://juliesworldofbooks.blogspot.co.uk
Twitter: https://twitter.com/julieryan18
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jewilkinson1441
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/458168.Julie_Ryan

Friday 27 May 2016

Cover Reveal - Breakfast at Poldark's by Samantha Tonge

It is always a pleasure to be able to focus on a Samantha Tonge book, here on Rachel's Random Reads, and I can't believe I have had the cover for a few days, and managed not to show anyone given how gorgeous it is.

I love the look of this cover, and am really looking forward to the book too. I hope you all like the look of Breakfast at Poldark's too.

Ebook Publication Date: 28th July 2016
Paperback Publication Date: 25th August 2016
Publisher: Carina


Kate Golightly needs to move forward and what better way to do that then with a trip to the Cornish coast with best friend and boss, Izzy.

The sea wind is just what Kate needs to finally relax and begin to let go of her past. Except she’s suddenly got one big reason to panic! She RSVP’d ‘yes’ to the Queen Bee of her high school’s wedding saying she’s bringing her boyfriend (she doesn’t have one) who looks just like Ross Poldark!

With only two weeks to find the Poldark look-alike of her dreams Kate is under a lot of pressure for the Cornish coast to deliver…

A hilarious and moving romantic novel from bestselling author, Samantha Tonge. A must-read this summer!


About Samantha Tonge

Samantha lives in Cheshire with her lovely family and a cat that thinks it's a dog. Along with writing, her days are spent cycling, willing cakes to rise and avoiding housework. A love of fiction developed as a child, when she was known for reading Enid Blyton books in the bath. A desire to write bubbled away in the background whilst she pursued other careers, including a fun stint working at Disneyland Paris. Formally trained as a linguist, Samantha now likes nothing more than holing herself up in the spare room, in front of the keyboard. She has sold over 80 stories to women's magazines. Her bestselling debut novel, "Doubting Abbey", from CarinaUK HarperCollins, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award in 2014. Game of Scones won the 2015 Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category.

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