Category Archives: Authors S to U

Reviews by author surname S to U

Review – Mary’s The Name by Ross Sayers


The Blurb

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.

Get ready to meet Mary…

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

There’s something about Mary…

It is always a thrill to discover a great debut author and I always love the anticipation of starting their book. Ross Sayers is one of those fantastic debut authors who blows you away.

Mary’s The Name is the story of eight-year-old Mary Sutherland and her grandpa who, after a robbery, move from Stirling to Portree on the Isle of Skye. Mary discovers that her Granpa was involved in the robbery and the robbers have followed them. A real coming-of-age story, we follow Mary as she begins to realise that not everything in the world is as it first appears.

The characterisation in Mary’s The Name is wonderful! I absolutely adored Mary and felt a great affection for her. As I was coming towards the end of the book I really did not want to let her go. How Sayers, an adult male, has captured the thoughts and feelings of an eight-year old girl is testament to his talent as a writer. Mary is incredibly lovable and her personality shines through. The affection Sayers has for his characters jumps off the pages. With wonderful prose that draws you deeply into the story, Mary’s The Name is told in first person narrative from Mary’s point of view and I went through a whole sea of emotions while reading this book.

Mary’s relationship with her Granpa is wonderfully portrayed and Mary has reached that age in which she realises there is more to him than just being ‘Granpa’ – that he has a whole history and backstory that goes beyond his role as her care-giver. Their love for each other is incredibly touching and, I admit, it made me cry.

Sayers mixes humour and poignancy with ease, really capturing the child’s view of the world which has you laughing out loud and also those tricky moments children (especially girls) go through in relation to their friendships. He really made me feel as though I were viewing things through a child’s mind and Mary’s observations on life and what goes on around her are funny and acutely written. The reader is engaged immediately and the pace of the book is pitched perfectly, with the right combination of dark humour and hold your breath moments. Portree really comes to life through the pages of the book and I was transported there every time I settled down to read.

Mary’s The Name was an absolute joy to read. Simultaneously humorous and heart-breaking, this bittersweet, tenderly written novel touches you deeply and I guarantee you will fall in love with Mary. An accomplished debut novel, I really look forward to reading more by Ross Sayers in the future.

A huge thank you to Ross Sayers and Cranachan for the advance copy in exchange for my unbiased and honest review.

Published on 30 January 2017 by Cranachan publishing.

Challenge Banner[2422]#AroundTheUKIn144Books Challenge – County: Highlands

Review – Matching The Evidence by Graham Smith

Matching The Evidence

The Blurb

Carlisle United are playing Millwall and the Major Crimes Team are assigned to crowd control as punishment for their renegade ways.  Typically, DI Harry Evans has other ideas and tries to thwart the local firm’s plans to teach Millwall’s notorious Bushwackers an unforgettable lesson.

Meanwhile, an undercover cop is travelling North with some of the Millwall contingent.  His mission is to identify the ringleaders and gather evidence against them.

Three illegal immigrants have been transported to Carlisle and are about to meet their new employers. 

Nothing is at seems for Evans and his Major Crimes Team as they battle to avoid a bloodbath whilst also uncovering a far more heinous crime.

My Review

Noelle over at CrimeBookJunkie has raved about Graham Smith’s books so when she offered me the opportunity to read Matching the Evidence for review, how could I resist?

This is the second novella in The Major Crimes Team series, and also follows on directly from Snatched From Home. I haven’t read either, however it works perfectly as a standalone.

Matching the Evidence moves at a fast pace and for a quick read it sure packs a punch! If I’m honest I was expecting the story to take a predictable route, however this is not the case. It totally surprised me as it draws on current issues and all the problems that come with them. Graham is adept at keeping up the momentum and this makes for a thrilling read.

Graham’s characterisation is fantastic. I really liked the character of DI Harry Evans, a maverick cop who is not afraid to take chances, and I warmed to him instantly. He has his issues and there are enough glimpses into his back story to whet your appetite to find out more about him through Graham’s other novels. I also found Tommy and his role intriguing and hope to read more about him in future books.

A cracking quick read which I devoured in no time at all, Matching the Evidence is a great crime book which delivers so much more than it’s size suggests!

Thank you to Graham Smith, Noelle Holten and Caffeine Nights Publishing for the book in exchange for my review.

Published 8th September 2016 by Caffeine Nights Publishing.

Review – The Stepmother by Claire Seeber

The Stepmother Claire Seeber

The Blurb

The perfect wife.  A fairy tale family.  Don’t believe your eyes

Jeanie and Matthew are a happily married couple who both have teenage children from previous relationships. 

No one said it would be easy to raise a blended family under one roof but Jeanie and Matthew are strong.  They will make it work. 

And whilst Jeanie’s step-daughter Scarlett rejects her, Jeanie will just have to try harder to win her over.  But Jeanie has a past.  A terrible secret she thought she’d buried a long time ago.  And now, it’s coming to the surface, threatening to destroy her new marriage. 

Someone is playing a terrifying game on Jeanie and she must put a stop to it once and for all.

After all, a fairytale needs a happy ending, doesn’t it?…

My Review

The Stepmother is an all absorbing, chilling, psychological thriller. My husband could not prise my Kindle out of my hands the weekend I read this!

Jeanie appears to have met the perfect man – attractive, charming and wealthy. However, she knows very little about him and, as she finds out, some things are too good to be true.

Reminiscent of du Maurier’s Rebecca, for me this is a modern day gothic thriller with Malum House being the twenty-first century version of Manderley. Atmospheric and eerie, Claire has written a fantastic psychological thriller that kept me guessing to the end.

Told from the perspectives of our heroine, Jeanie, and her sister, Marlena I felt as though I was being spoken to directly as the tone is quite conversational. I was totally invested in each of the characters. At times, Jeanie could be frustrating as she can be a bit of a pushover, but her back story and experiences make it easy to understand why and she is, therefore, easy to empathise with. A well rounded character whose past is drip fed to the reader gives the story further depth.

Perfectly paced, I was constantly changing my mind as to who could be trusted, even doubting our heroine at times, and what the outcome would be. Paranoia pervades for Jeanie and this trickles down to the reader. Is this a case of gaslighting? And if so, who is responsible?

A carefully crafted story that keeps you turning the pages, The Stepmother is sinister in an understated way, playing on the fear of not feeling safe amongst those closest to you. Full of untold secrets where doubt about the trustworthiness of those around you invades your every thought, this is a great read. Highly recommended.

Thank you to Claire Seeber, Bookouture and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Published 15 July 2016 by Bookouture.

Review – The Transition by R.J. Tomlin

Transiton Front Cover

The Blurb

Rume has never met his parents.  Like all the other children in the community, he must wait until his eighteenth birthday before he does.  For years he has seen countless people travel through the vault door and, with a white flash, be gone and never return, travelling over the Ridge to join the rest of the adult world.  This is called The Transition.  The day when you leave the community and your new life begins. 

However, a few days before Rume is due to leave, he receives a message warning him of the truth of the world beyond the vault door.  And thus, he is faced with a choice; continue to believe what he has been told, or discover the truth.  But to do so he must break the one unbreakable rule; that when your time comes, you must complete The Transition.

My Review

‘”It just goes to show, you never really know what a story’s about, until it’s finally over”’

While I have seen some of The Hunger Games and Divergent movies, I have never read the books and never really read any sci-fi/dystopian novels so this was a venture into a new genre for me. Do you know what? I really enjoyed it!

Children are taken from their parents and placed in the Nethertower under the premise that they will be free from outside influences and thus able to develop their own, unique potential. They are promised a return to their parents when they reach eighteen and life in a utopia once they have gone through the transition. As our hero Rume finds out, though, his whole life has been a lie. What follows is a fast-moving, keep you on the edge of your seat journey. Tomlin perfectly ends his chapters on cliff-hangers leaving you having to read more.

The main character, Rume, is intelligent, likeable but burdened with guilt over broken promises as the book progresses. I found myself worrying about him and (without giving the plot away) really hoping he would make it in life.

There are plenty of twists and turns and I was left wondering who could be trusted and the reasons as to why the Nethertower existed and what had happened to the world.

Initially I did worry that The Transition would be a bit ‘samey’ and like the films I had seen of a similar genre, however, the ending and the reason for the Nethertower’s existence took me totally by surprise and I really liked the idea behind it. It got me thinking about justice, retribution and the notion of karma, and I love a book that makes me think beyond and around it.

Well paced, gripping and an interesting concept, I would definitely recommend this novel and wish the author every success in the future.

Thank you R.J. Tomlin for the copy in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

Published 16 May 2015.  Available on Kindle.