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

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…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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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.

Denise author photo

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.