Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Historical Fiction, New Books, Parenting and Famlies, Political Thriller, Romance, Saga, Travel

Soul Sisters Lesley Lokko 4* #Review @panmacmillan #LesleyLokko @RandomTTours #SoulSisters #HistoricalFiction #ContemporaryFiction #Sisters #Politics #SouthAfrica #Family #Friendship #Secrets #BlogTour #BookReview

Two women raised as sisters. Bound by a secret that could tear them apart . . .

Since childhood, Jen and South African-born Kemi have lived like sisters in the McFadden family home in Edinburgh, brought together by a shared family history which stretches back generations. The ties that bind them are strong and complicated.

Solam Rhoyi is from South Africa’s black political elite. Handsome and charismatic, he meets both Kemi and Jen on a trip to London and sweeps them off their feet. Kemi, captivated by Solam and wanting to discover more about her past, travels to South Africa for the first time. Jen, seeking an escape from her father’s overbearing presence, decides to go with her.

In Johannesburg, it becomes clear that Solam is looking for the perfect wife to facilitate his soaring political ambitions. And as the real story behind Jen and Kemi’s connection threatens to emerge, Solam’s choice will have devastating consequences for them both…

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Pan Macmillan via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is a compelling and complex, mainly historical saga that spans continents and cultures. At its core is the sisterly bond between two women who grew up together despite having different birthplaces, cultural identities and families. The story begins in Southern Rhodesia in 1921 and concludes in 2010 in Cape Town. Short chapters and parts propel the reader through family history and political change until we reach the time when the sisterly bond is tested and family secrets revealed.

Well researched historical details and realistically crafted characters make this an absorbing read. It does move through time quickly, but the story’s focus is on the sisters and how their bond is tested. Solam is a pivotal character who represents South Africa’s changing political climate. His political ambition makes him manipulative and ruthless, especially in his interactions with the soul sisters.

This book takes the reader on an emotional journey filled with betrayal, love and secrets. It explores culture, family, identity and political change with rich sensory imagery and believable characters that bring the story to vibrant life.

Lesley Lokko

Lesley Lokko is a Ghanaian-Scottish architect, academic and novelist, formerly Dean of Architecture at City College of New York, who has lived and worked on four continents. Lesley’s bestselling novels include Soul Sisters, Sundowners, Rich Girl, Poor Girl and A Private Affair. Her novels have been translated into sixteen languages and are captivating stories about powerful people, exploring themes of racial and cultural identity.

Posted in Adventure Fiction, Author Guest Post, Author Interview, Fantasy, Guest post, New Books, Release Day Spotlight

The Wolf Mile C.F.Barrington #GuestPost #Author #interview @barrington_cf @HoZ_Books @AriesFiction #Adventure #Fiction #Fantasy #publicationday #TheWolfMile

Today is publication day for The Wolf Mile by C.F.Barrington by Aries Fiction, the adventure fiction imprint of Head of Zeus Books. The first in a series of five books this promises something different for the adventure fiction market.

A forbidden contest. An international game.

Bankrolled by the world’s wealthy elite and followed by thousands online, two teams of warriors vie for dominance … and the streets of Edinburgh run with blood.

Into this secret struggle steps Tyler Maitland, seeking his lost sister, and Lana Cameron, grieving her dead child. When they are accosted by figures in black hoodies and each handed a silver amulet, they recognise the Triple Horn of Odin – the talisman of the Valhalla Horde.

They are being recruited into the great game known as The Pantheon. And one day they will change everything.

Now they must risk their lives and join the ranks of seven ancient warrior teams which inhabit this illicit world. Their journey will be more wondrous and horrifying than anything they could have dreamed, taking each of them to the depths of their souls … and testing them to breaking point as they search for loved ones and for the meaning in their lives.

Let the Season begin.

Amazon UK Waterstones

An Interview with C.F.Barrington

Which of your books are we discussing and why?

I thought your readers might like to hear about my debut novel – The Wolf Mile – which is being launched by Head of Zeus adventure imprint, Aries Fiction, on 6 May (digital) and 8 August (paperback). It is the first in a five-book saga about The Pantheon, with Book 2 (The Blood Isles) launching in October 2021 and Book 3 (The Hastening Storm) coming in spring 2022.

I’ve chosen it because the story – and indeed the genre – has sparked much discussion amongst my early readers, because it is hard to pin into a single category and defies my many attempts to condense it into a snappy teaser. The most concise description came from one of my advance readers, who said it was ‘Fight Club with swords’. I’ll take that! And my agent (Laura Macdougall at United Agents) said it had ‘elements of The Hunger Games’ when she first read it.

What inspired you to write The Wolf Mile?

Photo Credit C.F.Barrington

It is a story which is first and foremost inspired by a sense of place. Apart from a sojourn into the forests of the Highlands, the book’s action all takes place in the closes, tunnels and rooftops which flow from the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. Indeed, it was Edinburgh’s Old Town which really allowed the story to manifest. The dark, malevolent history of the Old Town and its stunning architecture and rumours of tunnels and secret passages, set my mind ticking. I am sure that the whole concept of The Pantheon could not have come together if it had not been for my life in and around Edinburgh.

The story was also prompted by two other factors: Firstly, I had always wanted to take my love of historical fiction and coax it into a modern thriller – without going down the well-trodden route of some sort of time-travel. Secondly, after a career spent in major gift fundraising for charities and universities, I had communicated with many very wealthy individuals and I got to wondering what makes someone excited when they can buy everything? As the book asks….. Imagine riches beyond your wildest dreams. What would you do with them? Travel the world? Buy a yacht? Now times it by ten.  A hundred. We’re talking mega-wealth – the kind that buys governments, shapes economies, enervates security forces and makes a mockery of justice systems. NOW what would you do with it? Less certain?

In ancient times, the wealthy of Rome spent their money and energies on forsaking human life in the gladiatorial stadia – and that’s where the concept of The Pantheon grew from in my head.

The Wolf Mile charts the rise of Tyler Maitland and Lana Cameron as they are plucked from their normal lives to become players in The Pantheon, a secret game bankrolled by the world’s wealthy elite and watched online by thousands. Warriors from seven ancient civilisations are trained, sworn to allegiance, then pitted against each other in battles amongst the claustrophobic alleys which flow from Edinburgh’s Royal Mile and filmed in real-time.

Set in today’s city, this is very much a modern thriller, but it mixes elements of historical fiction, as well as a sweeping romance over the five-book series, which takes the protagonists from friends, to sworn enemies and finally to lovers. So when Aries came along and declared it was, above all, adventure fiction, it was perfect – because this is exactly what the saga is: A twisting, turning, relentless adventure with a big cast of characters, which propels the protagonists on a journey more horrifying and wondrous than they could ever have dreamed, into a world which perhaps we all secretly wish we experience.  

Photo Credit C.F.Barrington

Comments so far include:

‘The Wolf Mile is a thrilling ride and a heck of a debut. C F Barrington knocks it out the park.’

‘Featuring two compelling yet flawed lead characters, an intriguing mystery and unrelenting action, I can’t wait to see where Mr Barrington takes us in the future.’

‘It is a very cool idea and I think if done right will become one of my favourite secret societies.’

‘Get ready for a rip-roaring adventure through the streets of Edinburgh – The Wolf Mile is the perfect escapist read!’

Photo Credit C.F.Barrington

I’ve included some photos of the Old Town which have helped inspire me. One evening before the pandemic, a friend and I toured the Old Town cameras in hand. We ended up climbing onto buildings and lying in the middle of roads, getting carried away discovering the dark, brooding essence of The Pantheon. It was great fun and hopefully the images provide a taste of what to expect in The Wolf Mile.

C.F. Barrington

C F Barrington spent twenty years intending to write a novel, but found life kept getting in the way. Instead, his career took him into major gift fundraising, leading teams in organisations as varied as the RSPB, Oxford University and the National Trust.

When his role as Head of Communications at Edinburgh Zoo meant a third year of fielding endless media enquiries about the possible birth of a baby panda, he finally retreated to a quiet desk beside the sea and discovered the inspiration for the Pantheon saga.

Raised in Hertfordshire and educated at Oxford, he now divides his time between running over the hills of the Lake District and dog walking on the beaches of Fife.

My website is www.cfbarrington.com –  and provides lots of visuals and backstory about Edinburgh’s Old Town.

I can also be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BarringtonCFAuthor ; Twitter at https://twitter.com/barrington_cf ; and Instagram (which shows lots of my hill-running adventures with my spaniel, Albie) at https://www.instagram.com/cfbarrington_notwriting

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Mystery, Paranormal, Psychological Thriller

Siren Song Rebecca McKinney 5*#Review Harrison Jones and Amy Bell Mystery @BexMcKinney @lovebooksgroup #SirenSong #lovebookstours #Psychic #Detective #PsychologicalThriller #Crime

A man who glimpses other people’s inner worlds, and a woman who can foresee death. Can they trace a missing girl before the worst happens?

Harrison Jones is a university lecturer with a secret: he moonlights as a psychic detective. Amy Bell is a paramedic who has the uncanny knack of knowing things are going to happen before they do. From their first accidental meeting on an Edinburgh bridge, both of their lives are destined to change.

Harrison invites Amy to help him investigate the disappearance of a beautiful young singer. The search will lead them into the murky world of human trafficking, from Edinburgh to the streets of Athens, and into the darkest corners of the human mind…

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

A book like this succeeds on the quality of its characters, and these are easy to empathise, intelligent and relatable. Harrison is a university lecturer in social anthropology he meets Amy at a low point in her life and saves her. Amy is a paramedic, and ex-military with similar psychic skills to Harrison agrees to work with him to find a missing girl.

The dynamic between Amy and Harrison is believable. A formidable team, stronger together than apart. The case is a noir crime. The immersive writing style draws the reader, into a world of abuse, and trafficking. The well-paced plot has twists and uses vivid imagery to portray psychic experience and settings.

There is a poignant ethos which illustrates the despair of the victims with claustrophobic intensity.

Despite the sadness, this book is enjoyable, and the suspense builds to a justifiable conclusion.

Rebecca McKinney is a writer, therapist and community development practitioner, living and working in Midlothian, Scotland. She shares her home with her husband, two teenagers, three cats, and a growing collection of musical instruments.

Previous novels:

The Angel in the Stone: shortlisted for the Highland Book Prize, 2017: Sandstone Press

Blast Radius: 2015: Sandstone Press

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Noir, Suspense, Thriller

The Devil Upstairs Anthony O’Neil 5*#Review #AnthonyONeil @bwpublishing @lovebooksgroup #TheDevilUpstairs #lovebookstours #BlogTour #BookReview

In a quiet corner of Edinburgh, Cat Thomas is going through hell.

She’s tried everything. He respects nothing.

If your neighbour was making your life hell …

Would you call upon the devil?

Cat Thomas, a brilliant fraud investigator, has just relocated from Florida to a dreamy flat in historic Edinburgh. Everything seems perfect. Everything seems serene. Except for the unbelievably noisy wannabe rockstar upstairs.

Soon Cat’s blissful new life is in ruins. Desperate, she’s willing to try anything. When all else fails, she makes an appeal … to Satan.

And suddenly everything is eerily quiet. But her nightmare has only just begun …

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Black and White Publishing in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This story is not what it first seems to be, and that’s its charm. Told from Cat’s point of view the story follows her moving from Florida to Edinburgh after a dangerous case in the world of financial fraud. She is a likeable character and relatable, but she has secrets as everyone does.

The real story begins when Cat’s idyllic new start is ruined by and a noisy and obnoxious neighbour. This story remains credible because Cat’s feelings are recognisable and make her easy to empathise. Her meeting with Agnes and the strange encounter at the castle change Cat’s life.

The plot is a mix of noir crime, noir humour and suspense with paranormal elements. Cat isn’t sure whether she is losing her mind, a victim of organised crime or something less quantifiable. The final twist will be unexpected for most and gives the story a powerful conclusion.


ANTHONY O NEILL is the son of an Irish policeman and an Australian stenographer. He was born in Melbourne and now lives in Edinburgh. He is the author of seven novels including The Dark Side and Dr Jekyll & Mr Seek, recommended by Ian Rankin as ‘clever, gripping and reverent’.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Family Drama, Literary Fiction, Literary Humour, Noir

The Big Chill Doug Johnstone 4*#Review doug_johnstone @Orendabooks #TheSkelfs #BlogTour #TheBigChill #CrimeFiction #PI #noir #humour #BookReview #literaryfiction @RandomTTours

Haunted by their past, the Skelf women are hoping for a quieter life. But running both a funeral directors’ and a private investigation business means trouble is never far away, and when a car crashes into the open grave at a funeral Dorothy is conducting, she can’t help looking into the dead driver ’s shadowy life.

While Dorothy uncovers a dark truth at the heart of Edinburgh society, her daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah have their own struggles. Jenny’s
ex-husband Craig is making plans that could shatter the Skelf women’s lives, and the increasingly obsessive Hannah has formed a friendship with an elderly professor that is fast turning deadly.

But something even more sinister emerges when a drumming student of Dorothy’s disappears, and suspicion falls on her parents. The Skelf women find themselves immersed in an unbearable darkness – but could the real threat be to themselves?

Fast-paced, darkly funny, yet touching and tender, the Skelf family series is a welcome reboot to the classic PI novel, whilst also asking deeper questions about family, society and grief.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Orenda Books in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Stories centred around funeral directors always seem to combine darkness and humour with the possibility of crime and this, in essence, is what’s going on here. This is an atmospheric novel. It has vivid imagery and vibrant characters. It’s easy to imagine the events as they unfold, and this makes it addictive reading.

The second book in the series it reads well as a standalone but if you like to know the minutiae of the characters perhaps read book one first? Told from the three main characters’viewpoints it gives the reader an omnipotent view of the story. The plot is complex and detailed but seen through the characters’ eyes riveting reading.

Character-driven you get to know each of the women well and their familial relationship. This story explores love and loss with a poignant intensity relieved by insightful touches of humour. It’s an engaging fusion of family drama, and crime detection, which works well. The Edinburgh setting is evocative and gives the story a unique edge.

Doug Johnstone

Doug Johnstone is the author of more ten novels, most recently Breakers (2019), which has been shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year and A Dark Matter (2020), which launched the Skelfs series. Several of his books have been bestsellers and award winners, and his work has been praised by the likes of Val McDermid, Irvine Welsh and Ian Rankin. He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions – including a funeral home, which he drew on to write A Dark Matter – and has been an arts journalist for twenty years. Doug is a
songwriter and musician with five albums and three EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He’s alsoplayer-manager of the Scotland Writers Football Club. He lives in Edinburgh.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Holiday Romance, Romance, Travel

Festival Fireworks Ann Burnett 4*#Review @LoveBooksGroup #LoveBooksTours #AnnBurnett #Romance #Travel #Edinburgh #Festival #BlogTour #BookReview #FestivalFireworks

Aussie Jill arrives in Edinburgh at Festival time, at the start of a gap year. Unfortunately, her boss at the temporary job she’s taken turns out to be her grumpy neighbour, Andrew, aka Mr Bossy. As the Festival fireworks explode over the city every night, they start to fall in love. Then Jill has to return suddenly to Australia. Can their budding romance survive or will the fireworks fizzle and die?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Set in vibrant Edinburgh this gentle romantic comedy is lovely to read. Jill and Andrew’s first meeting is classic, but effective and the sparks fly. Jill is a straight-talking Australian willing to follow her dreams. Andrew is ambitious but hides a broken heart which compounds his inability to express his emotions.

The complex characters are well written, and the romance full of internal conflict contrasted with humorous moments. The ending noteworthy and satisfying.

Ann Burnett

Ann Burnett has been writing for many years and covers many genres. She wrote Postman Pat stories for a comic for five years, adapted Moomin stories as picture books, and scripted over 100 programmes for BBC children’s TV and radio. She also writes short stories and articles and has even tried poetry and drama!

Her latest writing is a contemporary romance, Festival Fireworks, for Ladybug Publications.

Her website and blog about writing is at : annburnett.co.uk

Posted in Book Review, Crime, Thriller

Perfect Crime – Helen Fields- 5* #Review @AvonBooksUK @Helen_Fields #Crime #Thriller #PoliceProcedural #Edinburgh #Scotland #DICallanach

Your darkest moment is your most vulnerable…

Stephen Berry is about to jump off a bridge until a suicide prevention counsellor stops him. A week later, Stephen is dead. Found at the bottom of a cliff, DI Luc Callanach and DCI Ava Turner are drafted in to investigate whether he jumped or whether he was pushed…

As they dig deeper, more would-be suicides roll in: a woman found dead in a bath; a man violently electrocuted. But these are carefully curated deaths – nothing like the impulsive suicide attempts they’ve been made out to be.

Little do Callanach and Turner know how close their perpetrator is as, across Edinburgh, a violent and psychopathic killer gains more confidence with every life he takes…

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Addictive, absorbing and absolutely page turning, the fifth book in the DI Callanach crime thriller series lives up to its name.

I haven’t read any of the previous books in this series, but that didn’t matter, it reads perfectly as a standalone. Even though some of the relationships have history, there is enough backstory to make you understand the character nuances and the dynamics within the Murder Investigation Team (MIT).

A series of horrific suicides shouldn’t draw the attention of Chief Inspector Ava Turner and her team, but they do. Ava’s loyalties are stretched when Detective Inspector Luc Callanach’s past makes him vulnerable to suspicion, both cases give this story its relentless momentum and the carefully layered suspense keeps you guessing.

My initial thoughts on who did it proved fruitful, but although the clues are there, the subterfuge is clever. I like the characters they are realistic, quirky and for the most part likeable. There is a pleasing balance of action and cerebral detection, which gives this series a wide appeal.

The series ends on an emotional cliffhanger for some of the MIT, which hopefully be resolved in the next thrilling instalment?