My Review of The Adventures of Shifting Jack: New Friends, by Denise Ersalahi Erguler

Cover Shifting Jack New Friends

…the prophecy began ringing in Militis’ ears: the most gifted will rule next, one to guard and protect, one to rule, both bound by blood. None shall stand in their way, they will suffer great injustices, great grievance. But they shall rise in times of peril. Shifters will unite.

Jack and Lily Legend live in North Cyprus, with their mother, Linda, and their father, Militis. On the surface, they look like any other family, but beneath their ordinary veneer, they are avian shapeshifters with a mission to help protect animals and the environment.

When Jack and Lily decide to take a boat ride one afternoon with their teacher, Mr Gardener, Lily discovers dead fish floating on the surface of the sea. Hoping to practice her magical, healing powers, Lily leans in for a closer look. Just as she does, the boat rocks, knocking her overboard. Lily gasps for breath and tries to reach the surface of the water but becomes entangled with a giant squid. Unable to free herself, a friendly dolphin comes to her assistance. What Lily discovers next will come as a huge surprise.

A richly imaginative fantasy adventure for children, The Adventures of Shifting Jack: New Friends features the familiar Jack and Lily Legend from book 1 in the series, The Adventures of Shifting Jack: A New Home. This is a delightful story underpinned by an educational message about the importance of taking care of nature and each other. Children will enjoy getting to know Jack and Lily Legend and all their friends, both old and new. Adults will also enjoy this tale of bravery, determination and camaraderie between adults and children set in the unique location of North Cyprus.

The Adventures of Shifting Jack: New Friends is the second, and final, book in the Shifting Jack series. Although the books would, ideally, be read in order, each can equally be enjoyed on its own. For more about The Adventures of Shifting Jack: A New Home, see my interview with Denise about the book, published last year. At the end of the interview, you’ll find my review of book 1.

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For those that read that interview, you’ll know that at the time of writing The Adventures of Shifting Jack: New Friends, Denise was battling a rare form of brain cancer. Sadly, she lost that fight in January of this year.

The Adventures of Shifting Jack: New Friends is available from Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Adventures-Shifting-Jack-New-Friends-ebook/dp/B0771N81BF/

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Adventures-Shifting-Jack-New-Friends-ebook/dp/B0771N81BF/

Denise author photo

About the Author

The Adventures of Shifting Jack: New Friends has been published posthumously. Author Denise Ersalahi Erguler fought a courageous battle with a rare form of brain cancer for 13 months. This, the second in the series of Shifting Jack books, was written after Denise was diagnosed in December 2015 and bears testament to her courage, determination and great story-telling ability. Denise leaves behind a husband, Olkan, and two young children, who inspired her to write her children’s books.

Denise Ersalahi Erguler was born and raised in Hackney, London and moved to North Cyprus in 1994 with her family where she studied Interior Design at a local university for four years. She then pursued a career in this field in London working for various designer companies at the peak of the industry. In 2005 setup her own interior design company.

In 2007, Denise left her successful business in London behind and moved back to North Cyprus to help grow her family business, Mermaid Fabrics of London in Kyrenia. This decision was made upon the belief that she would be closer to home and family for support in bringing up her child in a safe environment.

Denise began writing in 2010. In her stories, she used real life characters and stories evolving around her to build her fantasy world giving us the opportunity to share her dream world.

Also by Denise:

The Adventure of Shifting Jack: A New Home, which won the Children’s book award at the Radio WORKS Author Awards, London, December 2016.

The Essence, an adult Sci-fi novel.

 

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My review of The Flower Angel by Katrina Hart

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! To celebrate, I’m featuring my review of Katrina Hart’s latest romance novella, The Flower Angel. Some of you may remember that her book featured on my blog a couple of months ago. If you missed it, you can view that post here: https://kendraolson.wordpress.com/2016/12/05/the-flower-angel-by-katrina-hart/

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“Have you ever made a choice in a moment of complete panic and lived every day since praying you could go back and make it right? But you know you can’t, even when the present blurs with the past in your mind?”

The Flower Angel is a heartwarming story of love and forgiveness which is perfect for cuddling up with on a cold winter’s day.

When Chris checks into the charmingly quaint Forget-Me-Not-Inn for the weekend, he’s doubtful he’ll find love, even though the inn’s brochure promises he will. His well-meaning friends convinced him to take a much-needed break and see if he couldn’t find time for a little romance in his life. Since his girlfriend broke up with him and he found himself at the centre of a distressing car accident, he’s been plagued by nightmares and constant anxiety. All he remembers of the accident is seeing a young woman lying in the road, the blue forget-me-not-flowers he’d been bringing to his girlfriend now strewn across this stranger’s chest.

Meanwhile, Lara has also checked into Forget-Me-Not-Inn, hoping to forget the trauma of her car accident and the devastation it’s inflicted on her life. After her accident she’d spent several weeks in a coma and had to move back into her parents’ house as she couldn’t manage on her own. Lara can’t understand why the man who knocked her down couldn’t so much as apologise to her—she knows he all but disappeared afterward and his seeming indifference to her suffering infuriates her.

Of course, soon after checking in, Chris and Lara discover each other and begin to fall in love. But when Lara discovers that it was Chris who hurt her so badly, she is conflicted and finds it difficult to forgive him. Will the magic of Forget-Me-Not-Inn prevail?

Besides the lovely romance in the story, I enjoyed watching Chris and Lara learn to conquer their fears and come to terms with the events of their past. Featuring characters who suffer from anxiety and the  after-effects of traumatic brain injury, The Flower Angel presents a refreshing, fantasy-filled twist on the age-old notion of finding one’s soul mate in the most unlikely of places.

The Flower Angel is available as an ebook and a paperback. You can obtain the paperback from Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Flower-Angel-Katrina-Hart/dp/1540629341/

The ebook is available from Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Flower-Angel-Katrna-Hart-ebook/dp/B01N579TF6/

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Flower-Angel-Katrna-Hart-ebook/dp/B01N579TF6/

To check out more of Katrina Hart’s novels and novellas, visit her Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Katrina-Hart/e/B013KPPUGK/

Interview with Denise Ersalahi Erguler, author of children’s fantasy novel The Adventures of Shifting Jack

 

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I’m delighted to be welcoming the talented Cypriot children’s author Denise Ersalahi Erguler to the blog today to talk about her novel, The Adventures of Shifting Jack, which is released today as an ebook. My review follows the interview.

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credit: Olkan Erguler

Welcome, Denise!

Firstly, could you please describe the story for readers?

Yes with pleasure, it is about a family of bird shifters that have been in hiding moving from country to country

What’s the inspiration behind The Adventures of Shifting Jack?

I had an idea for an adult fantasy novel rattling in my mind for a while, so I decided to write my book called The Essence. It’s about a planet called Nageena. Fiona, an interior designer, is kidnapped by  aliens who are hoping Fiona can help them with the civil war that is killing their planet. They picked up on Fiona’s unique brain waves – she has empathic abilities – but it doesn’t help the civil war as they have a problem with the planet’s defence system. Fiona meets the man of her dreams, literally. She has been dreaming of a man since she was a little girl. In her dreams they grew up together, and now she meets him in the flesh. However, she doesn’t feel anything for him. Even worse it looks like he hates her!

The Denizens of planet Nageena are shape shifters, they host a symbiant entity called The Essence, which allows them to shift into various animals.

My son wanted to know what I had written about, so I told him the clean version. His face lit up when I told him about shifting, so I thought I would write a shifting story for children.

Jack and his father, Militis, are shape shifters—half breeds. What appealed to you about shapeshifters and, for those who don’t know what a shapeshifter is, could you please describe one?

A shape shifter is being that can change their body into another shape like a human into a bear, or bird.

One of the things I took away from my reading of the book is the value of respecting nature and being kind to animals, and each other. This is a very important message, especially for young children. Did you consciously weave this lesson, and others, into the book?

Yes, Mother Nature needs to be looked after better. It’s always easier to start with children of a young age, you would be surprised what they pick up on.

How long did it take you to write the story and what obstacles did you encounter along the way?

It’s been three years since I wrote my first word. The biggest obstacle we came across was when I was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer. Since then I have been focusing on getting better–my writing has taken the back seat for now.

Once your first draft was written, did you have a lot of rewriting to do? Could you talk readers through your writing process?

First I wrote a basic outline, then I expanded that into chapters. Once it was finished I passed it on to Anne Hamilton to edit. Once I had her feedback I changed one scene and added other scenes and events.

The story is written in close third-person, from nine-year-old Jack’s perspective. Did you find it difficult to write from a child’s viewpoint, and what challenges did you come across as a result?

I didn’t find it difficult to write as a nine-year old, as I have a nine-year old boy myself.

How did you come to writing? Have you always enjoyed storytelling?

 I’m a dreamer, sometimes I think I’m away with the fairies more than I am on earth. I lived in The Essence story for over a year. It was hard to end the book.

Are there any future novels in the works?

Yes, I’ve just started to plan out the second Shifting Jack of the series.

Thank you for the interview and a big congratulations on the publication of The Adventures of Shifting Jack!

Readers can obtain The Adventures of Shifting Jack from: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01I5GAMNA

You can follow Denise on Twitter at: @Denise_Jack16

Catch up with her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Denise-Erguler-Author

My review of The Adventures of Shifting Jack

Nine-year-old Jack and eight-year-old Lily move with their parents, Linda and Militis, to Turkish Cyprus, uncertain of what to expect from their new school and home. The family has already moved numerous times for Militis’s work. Jack and Lily have become used to switching schools and not having friends. As a result, Lily is shy and withdrawn and Jack feels it’s his duty to look out for her; Lily is all he has in terms of a playmate. Linda worries about them and wishes they could stay put for once.

When Linda takes the kids to their new school, she’s impressed. The staff and students are welcoming and friendly, far more so than those at the previous schools they attended. Lily makes a friend almost immediately—Bahar—whose mother also reaches out to Linda. Before they realise it both families have become close.

As the kids are playing on the playground one afternoon, a small earthquake hits. Jack reaches out to try and help Lily escape from a falling swing-set when something remarkable happens—his hand turns into a claw and grows feathers. When it changes back again, he thinks he must have imagined it.  But Militis confesses to Jack that they’re shifters—creatures who are both human and bird. Jack knows he’s finally figured out why his family have always seemed different to him.

Unfortunately, Bahar’s father, Ali, is a hunter—an activity which Jack’s family is firmly opposed to. When it comes to light that Ali isn’t only a hunter but is also being blackmailed by foreign poachers, Jack and Militis decide to get involved by using their shifting powers to help. But will they be too late? And will Jack ever master his shifting, or will he end up getting himself, and his family, into trouble?

The Adventures of Shifting Jack is a delightfully imaginative fable for middle-grade children whose fresh and different perspective will also appeal to their parents.

Interview with Katrina Hart, author of Love in Little Snow (Snow Globe Christmas Collection)

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Christmas? But it’s barely summer, I hear you say. Of course, you’re right, and while I’m not quite ready to skip ahead either, I did want to take this opportunity to speak to the very talented young author Katrina Hart about the recent publication of her novella, Love in Little Snow, published by Lovely Christian Romance Press earlier this month. Love in Little Snow is currently available as an ebook and will be released as a paperback during July (full details to come later).

Katrina Hart is also the author of the fantasy novel Finding Destiny which was published by Pilrig Press last year (you can read my interview with her about her debut novel here: https://kendraolson.wordpress.com/2015/02/28/author-interview-katrina-hart-author-of-finding-destiny-fantasy-ebook-just-released-by-pilrig-press/ ).

My review of Love in Little Snow follows the interview.

Welcome, Katrina! Thanks for coming by to talk with us today about your writing, especially Love in Little Snow.

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Firstly, could you describe the story for readers?

Thank you for having me back.  Love in Little Snow follows Dr Bailey Cartwrite who is devastated when his girlfriend, Lucy, is killed. However, in her last act of love, Lucy appears to Bailey as an angel and sends him to the world of Little Snow – the snow globe world for Christmas. Now he must open his heart to the new woman in his life and find his way back to God before the end of Christmas day.

The novella has a Christmas feel to it, but it also speaks of new beginnings and helping one another and that in turn helps Dr Bailey while he gets used to his life in Little Snow. Also this novella has a lot of love to it. Love in Lucy and her gift to Bailey, and love in Holly and her devotion to Bailey in his new life.

How did Love in Little Snow come about?

I did a bit of reviewing for Lovely Christian Romance Press and the publisher asked if I’d like to take part in her Snow Globe Collection. I love Christmas, not just the lights and snow and happy music, but the feeling of love for family and friends and being together sharing in the magic. So of course I wanted to give it a go and I thoroughly enjoyed writing Dr Bailey Cartwrite’s story.

With summer creeping up on us here in Britain, how did you manage to get in the Christmas spirit while writing your story? Did you carry out any special, pre-writing rituals to assist you, such as drinking hot chocolate or playing Christmas music? If so, could you tell us about them?

I listened to a lot of Christmas music and had my snow scented Yankee candles burning while writing Love in Little Snow. I also drank hot chocolate and cold chocolate and just felt the spirit of Christmas. For me, Christmas can never come quick enough and I think those emotions of the holidays are always there with me when I’m around loved ones; I just feel that love and joy.

What is your writing process like?

For this novella I started with a synopsis and then just began to write with my music on and my candle lit. I love to just follow characters and see where they go and where the story really ends. I did a lot of thinking and day dreaming too on this story…  After I wrote it I sent the story out for editing and then back to the publisher. 

What inspires you?

Authors like yourself inspire me to write, reading great books really gets your mind all in dreamy land ready to write your own stories. My boyfriend also inspired me a lot while writing Love in Little Snow.  Love and the magic of being able to write about snowy lands always has me in a magical world of my own.

Love in Little Snow is a romance, and your first novel, Finding Destiny, is a fantasy. Having read and enjoyed both, I feel that they each contain elements of both fantasy and romance. How important is the idea of genre to your writing? Do you begin a story intending it to be in a certain genre?

Honestly, when writing, I normally just follow my characters and the worlds they are in, not really focusing on genre. I think I often discover where my story fits instead of picking either to fit it in. Although with Love in Little Snow I wrote it intending to create a Christmas romantic feeling.      

Your first publication was a novel. How did you find the experience of writing a novella?

I really enjoyed the experience. I love writing short stories and the novella felt a bit like an extension of writing a short story. It’s lots of fun and can be written in between writing novels.  

The novella seems to have had something of a comeback recently. How do you feel about the form? Do you think that novellas offer new opportunities for writers?

Yes, I think novellas offer other opportunities for writers to do what we love–write stories. And with a novella one can finish it within a week or so then spend time on editing and making it as perfect as one wants it to be. 

I understand that, in addition to Finding Destiny, you’ve also written other novels for which you’re currently seeking a publisher. Could you tell readers a little about these?

Sure. I’ve written two other novels since Finding Destiny. My second novel is called The Lost Town of Man’s Crossing. It follows Suzy and Bill from Finding Destiny on their adventure in a whole new town. Suzy, along with her friend, Bill, find themselves in The Lost Town of Man’s Crossing, a land to which the chosen few are transported by their personal Crossing Creatures to a second chance at life. On arrival, Suzy receives twenty coins and a mission she must complete before her coins run out, in order to move on to a new land – or everyone will die.

My third novel is called Thawing Hearts. It follows Courtney as she travels to Snowlight City and while there she sees that everyone is frozen until she meets Miss Snowglow, child of Lightcity, who sends her on a mission to stop Xaviershadow, a monster of the water. However, this leads her to find more of herself and her heart than she’s ever imagined.

I’m also working on The Awaking Spark of a Dying Man, so I’m looking forward to seeing where this story leads…

Thanks so much for taking the time to come and speak with us about your work. Best of luck with Love in Little Snow, and with all of your writing!

Love in Little Snow is available from Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01FL4SAPQ/

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Love-Little-Globe-Christmas-Collection-ebook/dp/B01FL4SAPQ

Finding Destiny is also available from Amazon. In the UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Finding-Destiny-Katrina-Hart-ebook/dp/B00U1WUFSE/

In the US: https://www.amazon.com/Finding-Destiny-Katrina-Hart-ebook/dp/B00U1WUFSE

Find out more about Katrina’s writing by visiting her blog: https://katrinamarie25.wordpress.com/

Like her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Katrina-Hart-1785712648319624/

Follow her on Twitter: @KatrinaHart2015

Kendra’s review:

As with Katrina Hart’s debut novel, Finding Destiny, this too takes place in a magical world which parallels our own. Of course, not everyone is a fan of Christmas—that one time of year when everything is meant to be perfect, but never quite is. And the main character in this story, Bailey Cartwrite, is no exception.  Since losing his girlfriend, Lucy, in an accident, his life hasn’t been the same. He’s lost faith in everything: love, life, God and himself. But when Lucy appears to him holding a snow globe, his life changes forever. Yet will he be strong enough to take the second chance she’s offering him?

A lovely romance containing all the Christmas touches: there’s hot chocolate, gently falling snow, carollers, snowmen in abundance and (perhaps most importantly) love—not only of the romantic persuasion but also love of family, friends and the less fortunate. While listed as a Christian romance, Love in Little Snow can also be enjoyed by non-believers as it is a story which heartens, and heartening is exactly what is needed at Christmas-time.

By the time you’ve finished reading this, you too will feel that all truly can be made right, and not just for the one day, but year-round, if we’d only let a little of that “Christmas magic” into our hearts every day.

Love in Little Snow is the perfect story to get you in the holiday mood, whatever the month!