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Celebrating Indie Publishing today has a book that I was so excited to read an early copy of and I was not disappointed. Cranachan Publishing are fast earning a reputation for great books that capture the imaginations and hearts of their readers, and they’ve well and truly secured mine with their marvellous books! And if the review wasn’t enough, the author has also taken part in a Q&A

  • Title: Sonny and Me
  • Author: Ross Sayers
  • Publisher: Gob Stopper (an imprint of Cranachan Publishing)
  • Publication Date: 16th May 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

FOURTH YEAR. TWO PALS. ONE MURDER. WELCOME TO BATTLEFIELD HIGH…

‘Whoever said yer school days are the best days ae yer life was at the absolute wind up. I hink maist adults dinnae mind whit it was really like. Wait til yeese hear whit Sonny and me got detention for…’

Daughter and Sonny are two best friends just trying to get through fourth year at high school. But when their favourite teacher leaves unexpectedly, and no one will say why, the boys decide to start their own investigation.

As they dig deeper into the staff at Battlefield High, they discover a dark secret which one person will kill to protect… Will they uncover the truth without being expelled? Can their friendship survive when personal secrets are revealed?

My Thoughts:

Ross Sayers was a name that first grabbed my attention with his debut novel Mary’s The Name in 2017, a book that I have read a few times since publication and somehow the magic from that story has stayed with me despite the numerous books I’ve read since.

As the first book from Cranachan Publishing’s new imprint Gob Stopper, Sonny and Me is the perfect book to set a high standard for others to follow. The writing is packed with humour and charming wit, an exciting plot and some fantastic characters that readers cannot help but love.

Battlefield High seems like an ordinary secondary school, full of teenagers all trying to find ways to be themselves and not stand out too much from the crowd. Two of these teenagers are best friends Daughter and Sonny, who are less than happy when their favourite teacher leaves and are the only ones not to know about the scandal that is rife through their school. Throw in a murder and you’ve got the makings of a madcap journey through the pages that will have readers racing through the book, caught up with the humour and the excitement of uncovering the dastardly figure behind the goings on.

Ross Sayers has the wonderful gift of giving his characters a unique voice, regardless of age or gender. And like in Mary’s the Name, he brings his main character to life so vividly, the voice of Daughter is realistic and clear. I cannot imagine that it’s easy to get into the workings of a teenage mind, follow the train of thought and stay rooted there throughout, but Sayers makes it seem effortless. What makes this a more impressive read is the fact that Sayers writes in dialect that brings the language alive. At times I felt like I could “hear” the conversations taking place between the characters and had to stifle giggles at their exchanges.

But aside from the humour and fun, there are some serious topics woven into the narrative. The exploration of the themes is done well and care is taken to handle them sensitively. Sayers demonstrates the intricacies of juggling life with what is expected of a young person with their want to do the right thing or stand against the grain to be their own person. And in doing this, he ensures that his writing is well rounded, easy to read and immensely enjoyable.
Although Sonny and Me is a Young Adult novel, I do think that this is a book that readers of any age can read and enjoy.


Author Feature:

Ross studied English in his hometown of Stirling. Not content with the one graduation, he completed a Masters in Creative Writing the following year. His stories and poems have featured in magazines such as Octavius and Quotidian. Ross also tried his hand at acting in the university’s Drama Society, which gave him valuable life experience at being an extra with no lines.

One of his short stories, Dancin’, was used on West College Scotland’s Higher English course. He only found out after a student tweeted him requesting a copy of the story so she could finish her essay.

Ross mainly reads contemporary and literary fiction, and loves it when a writer remembers to include an interesting plot. He heartily endorses not finishing books which bore you.

While researching Mary’s the Name in Portree, gift shop employees excitedly mistook him for Daniel Radcliffe; Ross had to burst their bubble. But at a football match in London, he agreed to have his photo taken with a wee boy, who believed he was Harry Potter, to save any tears or tantrums.

What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?

Probably seems obvious but when someone finishes one of my books and tells me they enjoyed it! It’s a lot of work and it makes it all worth it. Particularly the extreme reactions, either laughter or uncontrollable sobbing. Either’s good.

What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?

I’d say how long everything takes. In my experience there’s 2 years between starting a book and it being released. That’s a long time to re-read your work and convince yourself it’s rubbish.

If you could have written any book what would it be and why?

I think something huge and epic like Game of Thrones. The world’s fantasy writers create are amazing and so thorough. I don’t know if I’ve got the stamina for that!

How do you spend your time when you’re not writing?

I have a full time job so that takes up most of my time sadly. At the weekends I like to read, watch a bit of Netflix, and catch up with friends.

Do you have a set routine for writing?  Rituals you have to observe? I.e. specific pen, silence, day or night etc.

Not really! I like to have the telly on in the background, something I don’t need to pay too much attention to. It tends to be at night after work. If I can get 1000 words done I’m happy!

What’s on the horizon? 

So I’m working on my third novel currently. It’s about a young woman who goes back in time 16 days on the Glasgow Subway and has to save a life to get back to her own timeline…

Finally, if you could impart one pearl of wisdom to your readers, what would it be?

If you’re not enjoying a book, put it down and grab another! Even if it’s one of mine! As long as you’ve paid for it! Just don’t return it to get your money back or something silly like that.

Can you tell me a little about your latest book?  How would you describe it and why should we go read it? 

Sonny and Me is the story of two boys in fourth year of high school who uncover a murder mystery within the staff at their school… It’s like Still Game meets the Inbetweeners and if that doesn’t sell it to you then I don’t know what to say.

A huge thank you to Ross for joining me today for a chat, it’s a huge privilege to welcome indie authors to The Quiet Knitter blog to speak about their books, their writing habits and find out what their next project might be about.

To find out more about Ross and his books, check out his website or his hilarious tweets on Twitter!
Website: http://rosssayers.co.uk/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Sayers33

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Published: 30 January 2017
Reviewed: 30 December 2016

5 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Cranachan Publishing in return for an honest review

 

Description:

An eight-year-old girl and her granpa are on the run…

“When me and Granpa watched James Bond films, he told me not to be scared because people didn’t have guns like that in Scotland. That must’ve been why the robbers used hammers.”

Orphaned Mary lives with her granpa, but after he is mixed up in a robbery at the bookies where he works, they flee to the Isle of Skye. Gradually, Mary realises that her granpa is involved. And the robbers are coming after him–and their money.

Mary’s quirky outlook on life, loss, and her love of all things Elvis, will capture your heart. Full of witty Scots banter, Mary’s the Name will have you reaching for the hankies, first with laughter, then with tears.

Heart-warming and heart-breaking, this darkly comic debut is from a fresh voice set to become Scotland’s answer to Roddy Doyle.

My Thoughts & Review:

From the very moment I heard about this book I knew it would instantly be added to my wish list, it sounded funny but sad, warm yet dark and seeing as I have a soft spot for Scottish books and independent publishers there was no chance I would be missing out on reading this book.

“Mary’s The Name” is a special book and one I will revisit before the year is out, there’s just something so lovely about the plot, the characters and the style of writing that feels ‘just right’ for me and I could happily read it again despite knowing what happens.  Why?  Because quite simply it touches the heart of a reader and leaves you wanting more.  Allow me to explain….

Our main wee lassie Mary is eight, she has the innocence and naivety befitting her years but yet she has profound moments of startling clarity that most adults would struggle to maintain.  Her views on life are simple, bad people do bad things, and good people do good things.
Using Mary as the narrator allows Ross Sayers to explore the topics of love, loss and life through the eyes of an eight year old, giving the reader an insight into a mindset they might not have encountered.  Doing this does not make certain subjects less emotive or heart breaking, I would say it makes them even more so because you experience them through Mary’s eyes, but seeing her tenacity and determination to keep going is rewarding.

The use of local dialect in this is utterly fantastic, I absolutely loved reading the dialogue between Mary and her Granpa, often chuckling out loud at bits because so much of Mary’s stubborn streak reminded me of someone.  The vernacular added an authenticity to this, as did incorporating aspects of historical information from Skye.
Ross Sayers has a gift for making the settings of his book come alive, having been to Skye I can honestly say that I was fondly remembering the main street in Portree from the vivid descriptions in “Mary’s The Name”, seeing the views that were mentioned as Mary explored her new surroundings.  It felt obvious to me that the author had spent time researching the settings for his book and had taken great effort to recreate this through his writing.

The pace of the book is perfect, it’s the sort of book that you could read in a day if you got peace and quiet.  The style of writing is easy and enjoyable to read, the story flows well and you can’t help but get swept away by it.

If you want to read something funny, heart warming, heart breaking and full of reference to Elvis then this is the book for you, just make sure you have plenty tissues before you start because it’s not a book you want to put down!

You can buy a copy of “Mary’s The Name” here.

Oh one last thing – check out the way Ross Sayers was promoting his book, if that’s not inventive and groundbreaking I don’t know what is!

About the Author:

Ross Sayers is a writer of Scottish fiction, and his debut novel, ‘Mary’s the Name’, is released January 30th 2017.

Ross graduated from the University of Stirling in 2014, with a BA (Hons) in English Studies (first class), and graduated again in 2015 with an M.Litt in Creative Writing (distinction).

His stories and poems have featured in magazines such as Quotidian and Octavius, and his short story, ‘Dancin’ is currently used on West College Scotland’s Higher English course.

You can tweet him @Sayers33 or see more of his writing at rosssayers.co.uk.

 

 

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