Wednesday, 21 June 2017

K is for ...?

This time it's back to Greece again - and to the island of Kefalonia. Made famous by Captain Corelli's Mandolin, it is the largest island in the Ionian sea and one that remains on my 'must visit' list. With its beautiful white sandy beaches and rugged scenery, medieval castles and hidden villages, what's not to like? Paul Dillon manages to capture all this and more in his book The magic of the receiver. The description of the catastrophic earthquake is very moving and I liked the way in which the book links the past and the present through the boyhood memories of a man and the eyes of his daughter as she visits the island. Great summer escapism!

Product Details

Set on the beautiful Greek island of Kefalonia, this vivid family saga is lit with memorable characters: a man revisiting the haunting site of a childhood earthquake, and his American-born daughter who faces a decision that could change her life.

Paul Dillon is a British author living in Los Angeles, California. His first novel, THE MAGIC IN THE RECEIVER, was published in July 2012.

Julie Ryan is the author of the Greek Island mystery series, Jenna's Journey, Sophia's Secret and Pandora's Prophecy. You can find out more about her here

Saturday, 6 May 2017

We're off to J

No surprises if you guessed that J on our world tour takes us to Jersey, courtesy of Alison Golden's 'The case of the hidden flame'. This cosy mystery is the second in the series and although I hadn't read the first, it works well as a standalone and being novella length is a quick read. The setting of Jersey and the hotel in particular really add to the book but more could have been made of the location instead of simply using it as a backdrop. The characters have great potential but could have been fleshed out more and the style is quite simple but enjoyable. It is a combination of Agatha Christie and midsummer murders and although it is contemporary there is an older feel to the story. Great if you are looking for an easy summer read. Maybe I'm missing something but I still don't see the relevance of the title to the story but that could just be me.


A new cop. A murdered lover. An eccentric community.  
Detective Inspector David Graham has just arrived on the island of Jersey, taking over a rag tag team of questionable commitment and skill at the Gorey Constabulary, a team that he is supposed to lead and develop into a cohesive investigative unit. 

Within minutes, his first challenge presents itself when ex-soldier, Colonel Graves, finds a dead body on the beach. As the military man kneels down, he discovers it is his soon-to-be fiancé half buried in the sand… 

In a small resort like Gorey, this event is monumental, and almost unheard of. The rumors swirl yet it is the new Detective Inspector’s job, with a bag still packed and travel dust on his shoes, to ferret out the clues and solve the case…while bringing his team along to assist. 

With a Sherlock soul, The Case of the Hidden Flame packs humor and intrigue onto a small island of eccentric characters, roiling sea undercurrents, and deceptive coincidences – all accompanied by a fine cup of tea. 

Alison Golden

Alison Golden was born and raised in Bedfordshire, England. She writes cozy mysteries and suspense novels, along with the occasional witty blog post, all of which are designed to entertain, amuse, and calm. Her approach is to combine creative ideas with excellent writing and edit, edit, edit. 

She is the creator of the Reverend Annabelle Dixon cozy mysteries, a charming, fun series featuring a female vicar ministering in the beautiful county of Cornwall, England. She also produces a Jersey-based detective series featuring Inspector David Graham and the Diana Hunter series, set in Vancouver. 

Her books' themes range from the humorous and sweet to harder hitting suspense. They are recommended for readers who like to relax and unwind with their books, who enjoy getting to know the characters, and who prefer the tougher side of life implied.

She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and twin sons. She splits her time traveling between London and San Francisco.

Julie Ryan is the author of the Greek Island mystery series, Jenna's Journey, Sophia's Secret and Pandora's Prophecy. You can find out more about her here

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

I takes us to ...?

Before the Rains by [Jefferies, Dinah]

This time we're off to India no less. Be prepared for a magical journey.

A romantic, heart-wrenching tale of love against the odds from the Number One Sunday Times bestselling author
1930, Rajputana, India. Since her husband's death, 28-year-old photojournalist Eliza's only companion has been her camera. When the British Government send her to an Indian princely state to photograph the royal family, she's determined to make a name for herself.
But when Eliza arrives at the palace she meets Jay, the Prince's handsome, brooding brother. While Eliza awakens Jay to the poverty of his people, he awakens her to the injustices of British rule. Soon Jay and Eliza find they have more in common than they think. But their families - and society - think otherwise. Eventually they will have to make a choice between doing what's expected, or following their hearts. . .

Dinah Jefferies has truly mastered the skill of transporting the reader, both in time and place, in this case to Rajputana in India in the years before India gained her independence from Britain. In a few paragraphs the reader experiences the cultural differences between the two societies through the burgeoning relationship of Eliza, a photographer, and Jay, a member of the Indian Royal family.
I enjoyed watching the relationship develop and wondering if they would be able to overcome the barriers. Jay's brother provided an added threat and I found his mother intriguing. The book deals with some controversial topics such as the position of women, the custom of burning a husband's widow (as a punishment for 'allowing' him to die) as well as the political situation of the time. I found Eliza to be a strong and courageous woman in what was essentially a man's world - both the society she escaped from and the one she escaped to. All in all an engaging read that offers pure escapism.

Julie Ryan is the author of the Greek Island mystery series, Jenna's Journey, Sophia's Secret and Pandora's Prophecy. You can find out more about her here

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

H - and we're off to ...?

I've had this book on my shelves for a long time - almost twenty years so thought it was about time we head over to Hong Kong. This book is set just before the handing back of Hong Kong to the Chinese and needs to be read in context. It gives a great insight into both the British and Chinese hopes and fears as well as prejudice and inherent racism on both sides. I found it a fascinating read despite the fact, or even because of the fact, that none of the main characters are particularly likeable. It is a novel of its time and does a good job describing the period.


Ninety-nine years of colonial rule are ending as the British prepare to hand over Hong Kong to China. For Betty Mullard and her son, Bunt, it doesn't concern them - until the mysterious Mr. Hung from the mainland offers them a large sum for their family business. They refuse, yet fail to realize Mr. Hung is unlike the Chinese they've known: he will accept no refusals. When a young female employee whom Bunt has been dating vanishes, he is forced to make important decisions for the first time in his life - but his good intentions are pitted against the will of Mr. Hung and the threat of the ultimate betrayal.

Julie Ryan is the author of the Greek Island mystery series, Jenna's Journey, Sophia's Secret and Pandora's Prophecy. You can find out more about her here

Thursday, 23 March 2017

G is for .... well where else would I be?

A Self Effacing Man (The Greek Village Collection Book 19) by [Alexi, Sara]

If it is in your nature to put others before yourself, what do you do when someone makes a play for the person you have secretly loved for years? 

Maria is illiterate, and Cosmo, the village postman, is obliged to read the love letters he delivers to her. He stammers over the words and blushes at the feelings he cannot bring himself to voice. 

However life is not always predictable and a sudden twist in events throws him in the role of village hero. 

But will this change be enough to enable him to overcome his shyness and declare his feelings to the woman he has loved all his life, and will she even be interested after all these years?

Where else would our travels take us this time but Greece? I've been a fan of Sara Alexi since stumbling across her first book 'The illegal gardener'. She blends her knowledge of Greece with an insight into the Greek psyche. Beneath the apparent simplistic style lies a deeper layer that the reader can relate to on a personal level, revealing as it does human nature with all its foibles. As well as telling a darned good story there is inevitably a dilemma involved which will reveal the true mettle of the protagonist. I particularly enjoyed the story of Maria and Cosmo and look forward to the next book in the series.

Sara Alexi

Best selling author Sara Alexi was born in Oxford, England. After travelling widely she now splits her time between England and a tiny rural village in the Peloponnese, in Greece, where she has renovated a stone farmhouse, whilst observing the Greek way of life and absorbing the culture.

As a qualified as a psychotherapist Sara ran her own practice for years. Her artistic nature was, during that time, confined to painting and she exhibited widely. Her move to Greece was the catalyst that began her writing.

Her 'Greek Village Series' has been very well received and provides a keenly observed, compassionate insight into the Greek people and culture, and the human condition in general.

Julie Ryan is the author of the Greek Island mystery series, Jenna's Journey, Sophia's Secret and Pandora's Prophecy. You can find out more about her here

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

F is for ...?


On my travels this week. it's off to France we go, or rather France, Tasmania and England. 'The French Promise' not only takes us round the world on an adventure in its own right but also deals with the Second World War and its repercussions in Europe afterwards. Throughout runs the thread of romance, buried secrets, tragedy, love and lavender fields. Multi-layered, it was difficult at first to work out the connections between the different families but the ending had me gasping. It didn't work out as I thought it would but then that's the beauty of fiction.

Luc and Lisette Ravens – a former French resistance fighter and a one-time British spy – have somehow survived the war, but recovering from the horrors of those years is a challenge they're yet to overcome. Casting their fate to the winds, they sail to Tasmania, hoping to rebuild their lives and plant new lavender fields in a land that's full of promise.

In his darkest hour, Swiss law student Max Vogel learns a confronting truth. A long-held family secret links him to the Ravens on the other side of the world, and he finds himself holding the key to his own future and to Luc's troubled past.

Together they return to Provence, so Luc can fulfil the promises by which he has been bound – to his beloved Lisette, to his Jewish family, and to the one man responsible for ripping so much from his life. With the future generation of lavender keepers in his care, Luc must lay to rest the ghosts of years gone by so that they all might live and love again.

From the south coast of England to the rugged farmland of northern Tasmania and the lively streets of postwar Paris, this is an extraordinary story of courage, determination and everlasting love from an internationally bestselling author.

Fiona McIntosh 

Fiona writes best selling historical adventure-romance alongside the heroic-romantic, often brutal, fantasy she built her career upon. She lives in Australia but frequently roams the world meticulously researching the locations and gathering material for her historical novels that have international settings. Her books are published worldwide and in various languages. 
Her most recent historical fiction has gathered such a following that she is now hosting a tour in 2014 to Paris and Provence so eager readers can walk in the footsteps of her characters.

Julie Ryan is the author of the Greek Island mystery series, Jenna's Journey, Sophia's Secret and Pandora's Prophecy. You can find out more about her here

If you want to come with me on my journey round the world, then leave a comment with a book suggestion for a location beginning with K or L.

Monday, 27 February 2017

E takes us to...?


In a mysterious village deep in the mountainous desert of Upper Egypt, a handful of men jealously guards some of the most precious secrets of the Pharaohs. And the most fabulous of these is the Stone of Light. 

This time we're exploring Ancient Egypt as Christian Jacq evokes a fascinating period in history. As a child I loved reading about the achievements of this civilisation. Christian Jacq goes one step further however, initiating us into the minutiae of everyday life. If you love history or Egypt then you'll love this book. Wonderful setting, superb characters and a real flavour of the time.

Christian Jacq

Born in Paris in 1947, Christian Jacq is one of the world's leading Egyptologists. He is the author of many novels on Ancient Egypt, including the bestselling RAMSES series and THE MYSTERIES OF OSIRIS series. His novels have sold more than 27 million copies worldwide and have been translated into 30 languages. Christian Jacq lives in Switzerland.

Julie Ryan is the author of the Greek Island mystery series, Jenna's Journey, Sophia's Secret and Pandora's Prophecy. You can find out more about her here

Monday, 13 February 2017

Where will D take us?

Death in the Dordogne: Bruno, Chief of Police 1 (Bruno Chief of Police) by [Walker, Martin]

This time we're off to one of my favourite parts of the world, much loved by British ex-pats, the Dordogne in south-west France. Famed for its food and wine, chateaux and idyllic French villages, this is one of the most visited regions by tourists in France.

It's market day in St Denis, a small town in the Périgord region of South West France. The locals are on the alert because inspectors are expected to make a 'surprise visit' in an attempt to enforce the unpopular and bureaucratic EU hygiene rules. But for Captain Bruno Courrèges, St Denis' Chief of Police, this particular market day turns into something far more serious. 
An old man, head of a local immigrant North African family, is found viciously murdered. Suspicion falls on the son of the local doctor, but Bruno isn't so certain. He believes it to be an act of vengeance, with its motive hidden deep in France's divisive war-time past. As rumour and mistrust grow, Bruno must look beneath the surface of this normally calm community to find a brutal killer.

Martin Walker's book captures the very best of the Dordogne, so much so that you can almost feel the summer heat rising from its pages, smell the fresh market produce and soak in the atmosphere of a typical French market town. There is village rivalry as you might expect and our hero, Bruno, Chief of Police, also has his own problems when his superior is called in when an elderly North African villager is found murdered. Teeming with history this book deals with the French occupation of Algeria and the Algerian soldiers who fought with the French army during WW2 (Algeria being a part of France at the time). I learnt a lot about the period and thought the way in which it related to the problems of immigration today was well done and told through the eyes of different villagers. I also loved the French attitude of cocking a snook at the ridiculous nature of European regulations.

So, whether you fancy a trip through the sleepy Dordogne or a fascinating crime story with a twist then this book is for you. I shall certainly be reading more by this author.


Martin Walker and his family have had a home in the Perigord region of France since the 1990s. We were drawn by the food and wine and engrossing history of the place and have become ever more connected to this gastronomic heartland of the country by friends and neighbours, dog and chickens, garden and countryside.

And among the friends is our local village policeman (and Martin's tennis partner) who inspired the series of mystery novels based around Bruno, chief of police.

After 25 years as a foreign correspondent for Britain's The Guardian newspaper, and then another stint in think-tanks in Washington DC and as editor-in-chief of United Press International, the sweet life of the Perigord is a delight. 

Still a senior scholar of the Woodrow Wilson International Centre and a senior fellow of the Global Business Policy Council, both in Washington DC, Martin stays connected to the world of global economics and policy. And from giant American wine concerns to Chinese businessmen, from Basque terrorists to animal rights activists, from New York hedge funds to the global arms trade, this wider world keeps intruding into the tiny corner of paradise in Perigord that Bruno is sworn to protect.

Julie Ryan is the author of the Greek Island mystery series, Jenna's Journey, Sophia's Secret and Pandora's Prophecy. You can find out more about her here

Next stop is a country, city or region beginning with E. If you have any ideas for a book set in that location please drop me a link in the comments below.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Where shall we go for 'C'?

The Thief's Daughter (Choc Lit) by [Cornwall, Victoria]

This time we're staying a little closer to home and visiting a beautiful part of the United Kingdom; a place that has special memories of childhood holidays, dramatic scenery and more recently a certain Mr Aidan Turner aka Ross Poldark. Of course, I'm talking about Cornwall, an area that we love to visit as a family in our trusty camper van.
For sheer escapism, we're travelling back to the eighteenth century, a lawless time of smugglers and robbers. In Victoria Cornwall's book, she introduces us to thief taker Jack Penhale and thief's daughter Jenna, who is on the wrong side of the law. Whilst essentially a romance, the historical aspects are well researched and add another dimension to the story. With Jenna's brother Silas making demands on her to join the smugglers, there is a dilemma. Who can she trust?

Hide from the thief-taker, for if he finds you, he will take you away …
Eighteenth-century Cornwall is crippled by debt and poverty, while the gibbet casts a shadow of fear over the land. Yet, when night falls, free traders swarm onto the beaches and smuggling prospers.

Terrified by a thief-taker’s warning as a child, Jenna has resolved to be good. When her brother, Silas, asks for her help to pay his creditors, Jenna feels unable to refuse and finds herself entering the dangerous world of the smuggling trade.

Jack Penhale hunts down the smuggling gangs in revenge for his father’s death. Drawn to Jenna at a hiring fayre, they discover their lives are entangled. But as Jenna struggles to decide where her allegiances lie, the worlds of justice and crime collide, leading to danger and heartache for all concerned.


Victoria Cornwall grew up on a farm in Cornwall. She can trace her cornish roots as far back as the 18th century and it is this background and heritage which is the inspiration for her Cornish based novels.

Victoria is married, has two grown up children and a black Labrador, called Alfie. She likes to read and write historical fiction with a strong background story, but at its heart is the unmistakeable emotion, even pain, of loving someone.

Following a fulfilling twenty-five year career as a nurse, a change in profession finally allowed her the time to write. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association and the Historical Novel Society.

If you have any suggestions as to where we visit next, please leave a comment with the name of a book set in a location beginning with D.

Julie Ryan is the author of the Greek Island mystery series, Jenna's Journey, Sophia's Secret and Pandora's Prophecy. You can find out more about her here

Saturday, 28 January 2017

B is for ...?

Many thanks if you're following this blog in which I aim to read my way around the world. The last book took us to the South of Spain, Andalusia in fact, but where shall we go this time?
I fancied a change of scene and then as if by magic, whilst scrolling through my unread books on Amazon, I came across a little beauty; a book that combines the past ( 1950's) and the present, set in what was a beautiful, cultural and historical middle Eastern city more likely known in the West today for the sheer devastation caused by bombing and terrorism.
Today we're off to Baghdad and the book that has taken me on this magical journey is 'The gardener of Baghdad' by Ahmad Ardalan.
I loved reading about the Baghdad of old as well as the developing romance between Ali the gardener and Mary, the daughter of the British Governor. The story is told through the eyes of Adnan, a bookseller ready to pack up his bookstore after the latest bombing when he comes across Ali's memoir. This is a book that works on many levels; first and foremost it's a romance  but it's also deeper than that embodying cultural differences, nostalgia but above all it's the story of hope. The writer not only expresses hope that true love can ultimately triumph but also that good can come from evil and that we learn from the mistakes of the past. Although saddened by the picture of modern day Baghdad that is painted, I am heartened as well by the hope of the author that one day the warring factions will stop fighting and come together to rebuild the city. It may seem far-fetched at the moment but just like the path of true love, we have to believe in the future.

The gardener of Baghdad
Two people, one city, different times; connected by a memoir. Can love exist in a city destined for decades of misery?

Adnan leads a weary existence as a bookshop owner in modern-day, war-torn Baghdad, where bombings, corruption and assault are everyday occurrences and the struggle to survive has suffocated the joy out of life for most. But when he begins to clean out his bookshop of forty years to leave his city in search of somewhere safer, he comes across the story of Ali, the Gardener of Baghdad, Adnan rediscovers through a memoir handwritten by the gardener decades ago that beauty, love and hope can still exist, even in the darkest corners of the world.

If you want to come with me on my journey around the world I'm looking for books set in a location beginning with C or D. Please leave a comment on this page with your suggestions.

Julie Ryan is the author of the Greek Island mystery series, Jenna's Journey, Sophia's Secret and Pandora's Prophecy. You can find out more about her here

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Let's start with A

A is for .....?

I've always loved travel and have enjoyed reading since a young age, so combining the two seems the perfect fit. My favourite kind of book is one in which you are transported to another place Sometimes it can be a nostalgic trip down memory lane, revisiting places from my past; other times a book can take me on an adventure to pastures new. In this blog I aim to read my way around the world alphabetically so we'll start with a book set in a country or city beginning with A and so on.

With a huge backlog of books to read, they can sometimes be overlooked by new releases. What I thought I'd do is ask people for recommendations and hopefully take you with me on my travels.
We kick the blog off today with a book set in Andalusia. This region has long been on my 'to visit' list and after reading it, I want to explore the area even more.

Covering a huge surface area in the South of Spain, Andalusia is predominantly an agricultural area and much of what we deem to be typically Spanish hails from this region. Its Moorish history is reflected in its architecture, most notably in its well known cities of Seville and Granada, two places that I have long wanted to visit. For now though I will have to make do with an account of buying a derelict farm on a piece of Andalusian soil.

If you haven't already guessed then the book I'm talking about is 'Driving over lemons' by Chris Stewart.

The title is intriguing for a start and immediately conjures up pictures of hot summer days and sleepy Spanish villages set against a backdrop of lemon groves.  No doubt the author had the same romantic picture of a life in the sun when he and his wife moved to Spain. However, his account of farming during a harsh winter, of no running water or electricity paint an entirely different picture. I think it's the struggle of daily life and the interaction with the locals that make this book so endearing.
Surrounded by a menagerie of animals, eccentric villagers, unpredictable nature, this book really captures the essence of Andalusia.

If you've read this book and enjoyed it, there are two others in the series;

A parrot in the pepper tree

and The almond blossom appreciation society

Next stop I'm looking for a book set in an area or country beginning with 'B'. Please feel free to leave a suggestion with the book title in the comments. Hopefully I'll manage to read myself around the world in 2017.

Julie Ryan is the author of the Greek Island mystery series, Jenna's Journey, Sophia's Secret and Pandora's Prophecy. You can find out more about her here