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Spellbound in His Arms (The Greek Isles Series Book 1)
Spellbound in His Arms (The Greek Isles Series Book 1)
Price: 2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars An intriguing murder mystery, 22 July 2014
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Jackie and Michael meet in a mansion on the Greek island of Corfu under gloomy circumstances which do not allow them the luxury of pleasantries. They're both there with a secret agenda and despite their immediate physical attraction towards each other, from the word go they strive to overcome their suspicions and caution.

The sexual tension between them soon becomes too unbearable to resist. As they join forces to solve a murder case, they kiss every now and then with passion, only to regret it moments later, their desire once again overcome by doubt and apprehension about the other's true motives and intentions.

With the breaking news of more than one murder on the island and a vicious, unidentified killer lurking in the shadows, the lives of Jackie and Michael soon become a whirlwind of agony and fear.

This novel is an easy read and can be devoured in one sitting, especially as the author manages to keep the reader on their toes with constant twists and turns in the plot. The climax is delivered satisfactorily with one surprise after the next, bringing the two protagonists to a happy ending.

The first book in Angel Sefer's Greek Isles Series is an intriguing read that will satisfy every avid reader of romance and mystery. The author is masterful in her ability to keep the reader guessing. I’m now looking forward to reading the second book in the series.

Greek Expectations: The Last Moussaka Standing
Greek Expectations: The Last Moussaka Standing
Price: 2.89

4.0 out of 5 stars The hilarious portrayal of a quaint, yet extinct Greek world, 14 July 2014
This book has left me with mixed impressions. For one, it’s very entertaining, in the sense that it’s humorous and witty. Plus, the author is very astute and thorough in recounting the characteristics of the stereotypical Greek male and his family. Yet, at the same time, she does this in such fashion that it becomes a fervent rant, rather than a typically humorous account, to the point that in places it borders on the offensive. The other problem with the said rant is that in my opinion, it refers to a rather extinct male species. Allow me to explain:

It is no surprise that the book quotes heavily from the delightful movie, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”. The male Greek, as is portrayed in the book, seems to describe characters from the aforementioned movie. But these characters are caricatures, mere ghosts of a lost era, simply because they belong to Greek society back in the 50s, 60s, 70s max. The difference here is that the characters from the movie seem genuine because they are exactly what they claim to be: Greek emigrants living abroad, whereas the author is generalizing, as to include the Greek males and their families living in Greece today, which is of course a fallacy.

In my experience, the majority of Greek emigrants and their offspring who live abroad today, still see Greece through the rose-tinted glasses of the good old Greek movies of forty-sixty years ago where stereotypes were at their best. Every resident Greek who has family abroad will know what I’m talking about because their emigrant family members seem to be stuck in a time capsule. Whenever they visit Greece, they clash badly with modern Greek society here. They appear so quaint and nave at times, that the resident Greeks often become frustrated or even offended, as they try to explain that things have changed since they left Greece. For example, their emigrant uncles, aunts and cousins may seem stunned to come across a big mall here or to find out that the local supermarket stocks curry powder or mosquito repellent.

And no matter how many times they come back for a holiday, they still don’t seem to get it. They’re somehow foreign to today’s Greece, just like the shepherd’s ‘tagari’ in the old movie ‘Koritsia Ston Ilio’ and the nostalgic bouzouki chords in ‘Never on Sunday’. Not that there’s anything wrong with all that, it’s just that they have nothing to do with Greek society today.

Having been raised in Athens, I know well that Greek men are nothing like the caricatures of a bygone era portrayed in this book. Not only are they able to choose their own pairs of socks without mamma’s help, but they’re happy to let their wives work while they stay home cooking, hoovering and changing diapers.

As I said, the book’s merit is in its wit and humour, as well as in the astuteness with which all the characteristics of the extinct Greek male are listed. The only problem with this book is a misquotation. It falsely refers to the male Greek in general, when what it does is describe the male Greek emigrant living abroad. As I said, they often appear to be rather stuck in Greece’s distant past, and therefore I have no trouble believing the author’s claim that all the anecdotes involving her in laws in the UK are absolutely true.

Having explained how estranged I felt towards the aforementioned elements in the book, I cannot stress enough how much I enjoyed the memoir parts in it. The author has an amazing talent for relaying old memories that brim with nostalgia, sweetness and the joy of being young and carefree. I think it’s a gift that should be pursued further, as it would be a shame not to put it to good use.

My overall impression of this book is that the author delivers the humour intelligently and wittily. This is why, regardless of my aforementioned grievances, I’m giving this book four stars for the hilarity, as well as for the author’s great use of language and obvious writing talent. Indeed, if there was less rant and more memoir, it would be a gem of a book! I really hope to read such a book from this author in future.

Accursed Women
Accursed Women
Price: 3.77

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fresh interpretation of ancient Greek myths with unique astuteness and vivid imagination!, 7 July 2014
This review is from: Accursed Women (Kindle Edition)
Being a Greek, I’ve been raised with the enchanting myths of my country, including the ones portrayed in this book. They’ve always fascinated me so when I was presented with the opportunity to read this book in return for an honest review, I jumped at the chance, yet didn’t expect any novelties in the content. Little did I know though, what the author had in store: Greek heroes and heroines I thought I knew so well paraded before my eyes as I read the book but for the first time, they had flesh and bones, and they seemed incredibly real as if walking the earth today. And how can it not be so when the author choses to portray some of these protagonists as living in the modern world? Who would have thought to present Goddess Hera as a guest in a live TV show for example? And as for novelty, how about hearing the real cause behind the Trojan War from the mouth of Helen herself? What if it has all been a lie and she never ran away with Paris?

Cavallaro fleshes out her characters with pumping hearts and weeping eyes as they recount the curses put upon them and their tragic downfalls. The book is a testament from five tragic women: Phaedra, Helen of Troy, Goddess Hera, Pandora, and Medousa.

In a nutshell, Luciana Cavallaro has created a gem, even though she’s used ingredients that have been overly used before and seem as plain as common stones! Don’t fool yourselves like I did that this is your run of the mill book of Greek myths. Far from it, these tales ring true at the heart, as if referring to people living next door. Their stories have been told and retold over the millennia but Cavallaro has managed the impossible: to breathe in these heroines new life and to render their pain and regret utterly believable.

Definitely looking forward to more books from this author.

Things Can Only Get Feta: Two journalists and their crazy dog living through the Greek crisis
Things Can Only Get Feta: Two journalists and their crazy dog living through the Greek crisis
Price: 2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful, quaint portrayal of rural life in Greece, 25 Jun 2014
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I absolutely loved this book! It’s a delightful, humorous account of life in rural Greece, as it’s perceived through the eyes of two Scots who decide to spend a year in a Peloponesian village. I got to love all the quaint characters described in this book. My personal favourite was Foteini who’s been portrayed with such tremendous sensitivity that it was impossible not to love her like a family member by the end of the book.

What can I say about Wallace, the dog? The author recounts so many hilarious antics that it seems that a great part of the merit in this book is owed to this adorable pet alone. I laughed outloud to read about his infamous bathroom trick and also his obsession with eating chicken. I don’t think I’ll ever see a backpack again without thinking of chicken sandwiches!

Marjory McGinn has written a book that brims over with love for Greece and the Greek language. It is evident in so many ways, like the way she sides with the locals when the British expats attempt to trash them, the way she allows for the quirkiness of the Greeks, the respect with which she regards unfathomable local customs and acts, and last but not least, in the way she keeps quoting the equivalent Greek word, so often, quite needlessly. But she obviously does this not in an attempt to show off her rich Greek vocabulary. It is crystal clear that she does it only with love, extending to the reader an invitation to share in her affinity for the language itself. This particular point made me choke with appreciation. I found it so incredibly sweet. Also, I found all the examples of her mistakes in Greek terribly hilarious. It made me think how many Greek words can sound almost the same to the untrained, foreign ear. I cringed to think how embarrassing it must have been for her to be teased so much by the locals!

I’ve read numerous books by British authors who’ve recorded their experiences with fixing up the odd dilapidated house in various parts of Greece. All the accounts managed to irritate me, both with their arrogance and intolerance towards the Greek way of life, as well as with the many inaccuracies their stories included. Thankfully, this book was a breath of fresh air. It caused in me zero offence and zero annoyance. Being the competent, talented journalist that she is, Marjory McGinn sticks to the facts and gives objectively a delightful account of the locals and their antics without passing judgment or even implying that they are less civilized or knowledgable than herself.

But it wasn’t just life in the village that was a pleasure to read about. There were also numerous historical references that I found utterly interesting. Whichever part of Greece the author mentions traveling to with her husband and adorable pet, she offers a thorough account of the local history, myths or legends. Unlike all the other books of the sort that I’ve read, again, this book stands out for this fact too, showing that the author had to research heavily for the book. Her trouble to do that betrays her love for my country and its history, which again I found myself appreciating immensely.

All in all, this is the best book of its kind that I’ve ever read. It had it all: humour, wit, interesting facts, and a good measure of sentiment. Marjory McGinn is a truly talented author and I’m really looking forward to a sequel!

Everyday [DVD]
Everyday [DVD]
Dvd ~ John Simm
Price: 13.03

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring, moving and utterly believable!, 19 May 2014
This review is from: Everyday [DVD] (DVD)
I am a huge fan of John Simm and I try to catch up with his work all the way from Greece (where I live) by buying the odd DVD. I came across Everyday and wasn't really sure that it would be my cup of tea. I had the impression it would be depressing, if anything. In the end, I gave it a try and I am delighted that I did. The film was anything BUT depressing. To start with, the fact that it was filmed over a number of years, added to the believability factor of this amazing family story, watching as the children grew up over time. It was an amazing trick by the creators that by the end of the movie, made the spectator feel like part of the family too. And how can you not feel involved? Filmed in a 'fly on the wall documentary' kind of way, with the camera work making it look like a home movie in other places, you couldn't help but get reeled in, mesmerized. During intimate scenes, it almost felt like voyerism between two real people; I was THAT involved in this incredibly realistic and moving family tale. I can't think of another movie that ever made me feel so emotionally involved. For one, I laughed and went 'aawww' to watch the kiddies during their antiques or silly emotional moments. But most of all, I felt appalled at the inhumane prison system that won't grant a couple some intimacy over the years. No matter the crime, surely, one should not deprive two people who have children and a home together this sacred right. In this sense, whatever can follow as a result to real people's lives out there is of no surprise at all. I think if anything, the film's mission was to highlight that and the unfair impact this can have on people's lives. This movie left me with a plelthora of feelings but most of all, it left me with the feelings of joy and relief that this family, somehow, made it. The uplifting, inspiring music also made this film. As for the reason why I got hold of this movie in the first place, now I have a new favourite among John Simm's roles and I am so glad that he made this film! His talent, simply shines through here! Everyone was amazing really. The frustrated yet loving wife and every single one of those delightful, talented children. A masterpiece of film making! Highly recommended!

How To Get Control Of Your Time And Your Life Forever - The Ultimate Guide To Success (How To Get Control Of Your Time And Your Life, Time Management, Time Management Skills, Time Management Tips)
How To Get Control Of Your Time And Your Life Forever - The Ultimate Guide To Success (How To Get Control Of Your Time And Your Life, Time Management, Time Management Skills, Time Management Tips)
Price: 1.82

5.0 out of 5 stars An inspiring and motivational introduction to Time Management, 19 May 2014
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Strangely, I came across this book on my Twitter feed on the same day that I decided that enough is enough. As an indie author, I've been getting distracted by various issues for a while while neglecting my writing. The day I decided I had to strengthen my resolve and get my act together, this book landed on my hands (well, on my kindle, actually!). It presented the problem of bad time management very clearly, with inspiring gems of wisdom here and there. Given the fact that it is only short, I read it in one sitting before I knew it. At the end, I felt inspired and eager to learn more. This is obviously an introduction only and not a comprehensive guide at any rate. But for its length, the insights are plenty and I highly recommend it to anyone who is aware of this problem in their lives. If anything, this book will provide substantial food for thought, motivating them to seek further advice.

The Power of Six: Six (plus one) Science Fiction Short Stories
The Power of Six: Six (plus one) Science Fiction Short Stories
Price: 0.77

5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful anthology of sci-fi magic!, 15 May 2014
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The Power of Six amazed me. Being a sci-fi fan, I’ve read a multitude of short stories from the masters of the genre, like Philip K. Dick and Brian Aldiss and I was dumbfounded by the similarities in places. For example, “Simulation Over” might as well have been written by either of the aforementioned sci-fi geniuses! Nicholas Rossis engages the reader with unexpected twists and turns, life-like characters and endings that give you quite a jolt! It is hard to pick favorites as each story was unique and equally entertaining but I must say that I particularly enjoyed “The Sentry”. I found it utterly delightful and brilliant!

I’ve read the first two books of this author’s Pearseus series and so, I was confident that I’d picked up a book that was bound to demonstrate excellence of both thought and language. Yet, nothing could have prepared me for the originality and the surprise factor in some of these stories. My only grievance with the Power of Six is its size! I would have preferred it to be called The Power of 10 or even 20 - but maybe next time! I’m really looking forward to reading more of this genre from this author! Nicholas Rossis has truly excelled with this book and his talent for the particular genre just shines through.

Pearseus, Rise of the Prince (Book 2 of the Pearseus epic fantasy series)
Pearseus, Rise of the Prince (Book 2 of the Pearseus epic fantasy series)
Price: 1.24

5.0 out of 5 stars A book of wisdom and mastery of language!, 10 May 2014
This book speaks volumes (excuse the pun!) for the fine qualities of its author. It’s a highly imaginative story with philosophical wisdom stitched into it with supreme skill. The reader can’t help but surmise that Nicholas Rossis is not just a fervent supporter of the ideals of truth and justice, not just a highly spiritual human being, but also that he’s widely read. I loved the way that Pearseus speaks about the human condition so eloquently, despite the fact that this world is set on another planet. Gems of wisdom are to be picked up throughout the story. My absolute favorite was: “Evil’s strength is an illusion, for evil is strong only as long as you feed it.”

I had read the first part of Pearseus (“The Schism”) before reading “The Rise of The Prince” which means that I was fully familiarized with all the characters first to arrive on Pearseus. This came in handy each time there were references to them in this book and it helped to have a deeper understanding of past history in this fantastical world. Yet, it isn’t an absolute prerequisite. The reader could also read these books out of order.

There was an element in this book that rendered me utterly baffled and that was the map of Pearseus as it’s illustrated in the book. Even a cursory glance will make it obvious that what you’re looking at is the Eastern Med with Greece at its center! The islands look different but surely, there’s the Peloponnese slightly shifted and slanted. Even the names are often similar to actual names in the real world. For example, Cypress Island for Cyprus and Jonia for Ionia in Asia Minor. I didn’t know what to make of that but a quick search on the Internet revealed that the author has actually admitted openly that his story is an allegory and that of course, there are references to Greece and its history. I won’t say any more as not to give any spoilers. I just wanted to include in my review a mention to the map because it got me so mystified. I hope the clarifications serve any other reader out there who may have noticed the similarities.

At the end of this book I felt overwhelmed; not just by the wisdom imparted, but also by the solid writing, the believability of the characters and the never-ending twists and turns as all the parallel stories unfolded. The strange thing is that this type of book is not my cup of tea at all. I don’t feel safe or happy in fantastical worlds as a reader. I love fantasy, but set in contemporary worlds. I don’t normally pick up books likely to have fighting scenes, battles and gore as I can be quite squeamish. Having said that, I loved the book simply because the writing was so incredible and the use of language, superb. It is truly remarkable to think that English, is not even this author’s native language!

Truly, the only grievance I have with this book is that it ended on an unbearable cliff-hanger! But on a happy note, I hear that the next book, “Mad Water”, is coming soon and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

All in the Mind
All in the Mind
Price: 3.83

5.0 out of 5 stars A Delightful peek into an enchanting world where we could all grow younger!, 28 Mar 2014
This review is from: All in the Mind (Kindle Edition)
Tilly and Johnny are a young couple who meet and fall in love during WWII.
The sweetness of their romance and the exquisitely vibrant setting of the era reel the reader in from the very first page. We are also briefly introduced to a handful of equally delightful characters when Tilly meets Johnny’s parents and the locals in the village where they live.

And then, confusion hits. Tilly wakes up in a room that she doesn’t recognize. It is decorated in the style of the 40s but it looks so shabby that it makes her feel uncomfortable. And that’s not all. Strangers walk in and then she is informed that she is an Alzheimer patient in a hospital ward that is part of an experiment: The doctors have attempted to create an environment that is reminiscent of the patients’ youth thinking that this would help them recover from this horrible disease. Tilly’s caring and comforting doctors take her to another ward where she reunites with her husband, Johnny. He is recovering from a stroke and has partial mobility problems. The experiment is then expanded to include her husband too with an extraordinary new venture that involves them returning to their abandoned cottage in the village where they had stayed as newlyweds. The cottage is reinstated by the doctors fully in the 40s style. They even made sure to provide them with suitable labeling on their food supplies and for their entertainment, they set them up with an antique TV set and a radio. They both broadcast programs of the said era on a loop thanks to state-of-the-art computer technology.

The moment that Tilly and Johnny return to the cottage, the magic begins and the reader is hooked to keep on reading. The elderly husband and wife gradually regain lost feelings of youth and happiness but also start to physically change back to their younger selves!

The story inevitably brought to mind “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”; another enchanting tale that involves the reversal of the aging process. Jenny Twist has created an equally magical novel where all the things we often wish for as we grow older, actually happen. How great would it be to go back in time and be young again? And what if this time we could even manage to do things that we never did before?

Jenny Twist goes the extra mile to give the reader a secondary story as well that initially comes across as slightly out of place. It is quite exotic as it involves a setting in India and a couple of Indian UK residents who are plagued by strict family values. It is an odd mix with the main story but somehow it all works and I found both the main and secondary plots equally delightful and interesting to follow. In parts, the process of rejuvenation felt so strange that it brought to mind bizarre episodes from The Twilight Zone. Still, they did the trick in luring the reader in a fantastical world where common wishful thinking relevant to recapturing one’s lost youth becomes reality for a while and that is what makes the journey in this book, totally unique and satisfying.

I have thoroughly enjoyed All In The Mind and really look forward to discovering more books from this amazing author!

Jenna's Journey (A Greek Island Mystery Book 1)
Jenna's Journey (A Greek Island Mystery Book 1)
Price: 1.83

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly Enjoyable!, 1 Feb 2014
(I was offered a free copy in exchange for an honest review)
Jenna is unhappy in her marriage to say the least. She wants to start a family but it seems her husband Greg is unwilling to become a father. Frustrated and unsure about the future of their relationship, she books a Greek holiday on a whim and boards the flight without a word to her husband. While he stays behind confused and remorseful, Jenna embarks on an exhilarating new adventure that initially involves delightful sightseeing and her favorite pastime of people watching. The fellow tourists in her group become an ideal object for hilarious observation. Her holiday is worry-free and lighthearted until a tiny, yet precious urn lands on her hands to complicate life for her especially after the inevitable Greek Adonis makes his grand entrance. The author only hints on the fact that this is not your average holiday love story by referring to her novel as a mystery romance however, what lurks between the front and back cover is much more sinister than that. What we have here is a proper crime story with a ruthless criminal on the loose, a ring of antiquity smugglers, a police detective sniffing on their tracks and even a baffling murder to have readers gasp in shock, rendering them unwilling to put the book down. There is even a tiny paranormal twist, just to pepper the whole thing with the right amount of pixie dust. Not that the story is in particular need of magic – it would be preposterous to even suggest that with an enchanted Greek island being the backdrop of this whimsical story, transporting the reader right in the middle of it all with tantalizing descriptions of exotic Greek dishes, the murmur of the sparkling sea and the caressing sunlight on the characters’ blissful faces.

I found the plot quite an intricate puzzle that involves a parade of minor characters who come and go without always contributing much to the story but are rather there to provide a fully clear insight into everyday life on a Greek island. Being a Greek myself I can vouch for the clarity of the conveyed feelings and for the genuine way in which everything has been described throughout based on my own experiences. Furthermore, the author’s occasional reference to the Greek quirkiness related to the evil eye as well as our obsession with offering food and drink generously to guests, made me chuckle repeatedly with a mixture of amusement and pride.

Having relayed all the wonderful points that I found in the story, there is only one side to it that I wish I could change. I wonder if the author became so engrossed in her own intriguing story that perhaps it evaded her to be more clear on certain parts unless of course this was intended for her own reasons. Maybe it is just a personal preference of mine but I do like to end a book with all my questions fully answered. However in this case, there are a couple of gray areas that are left up to the reader to decide and ponder on. I am sure there are many people out there who would love that. As I said, I am guessing it is a matter of preference and as the book left me with a tiny feeling of dissatisfaction for this reason, I am giving it a score of 4 stars instead of 5. Having said that, for the intelligence and complexity of the plot, for the believability of characters and situations, for the overall chuckles involved and for the surprise elements that continuously kept me on my feet, the book deserves to pass in all other respects with flying colors.

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