Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ian Somers Gift Trilogy Guest Review from Jacq Murphy

I was a bit nervous when Lisa offered me the opportunity to do a guest post but once I saw that she needed someone to review the Ross Bentley books by Ian Somers I was delighted. O'Brien Press have produced some stunning books for the teen market over the last few years and this series did not disappoint. Ian Somers has stated that although he has enough ideas for 5 or 6 books, as of now he is finishing up the series with the 3rd installment. We can only hope he returns to the series in a few years!

Million Dollar Gift is where we first meet our protagonist. Ross Bentley has lived in the town of Maybrook (also know as “Dullsbrook”) for his entire life without much to show for it. He has one friend, Gemma, a crappy job in the local supermarket and a strained relationship with his father. The highlight of his day is when he makes his anonymous skateboarding videos for YouTube. But Ross has been hiding a secret since his mother's death and is finally ready to share.

Ross reveals his psychokenesis to Gemma and his dad, who take it pretty well. When Gemma tells Ross about a competion called The Million Dollar Gift, which offers a $1,000,000 prize to the person who can prove to possess a supernatural ability he leaps at the chance to get away from his dull Dublin suburb and relieve the financial pressures that his family is under.

Once in London, Ross faces numerous tests of his abilities and is contacted by a mysterious stranger, who warns him that the competition is not as it seems. Golding Scientific, the company running the competition, is searching for someone with psychokenesis to work for them as a replacement for an unstable employee. Ross slowly realises that he has stumbled into a world he knows nothing about and finds his whole life turned upside down as his identity and powers are revealed to the world.

Somers has written a fast-paced and interesting tale, which combines a strong main character with an intriguing premise. The first book in this series offers just enough information to build on in later books, while providing a compelling first look into the world that Ross Bentley has entered.

The Hidden Gift is the second book in the series and much more expansive than its predeccessor. Ian Somers uses this additional space to flesh out the world of 'gifteds' and provide a rich back story to the various factions which exist in this world.

Picking up shortly after the events of the previous book, Ross is now in exile, hiding from the public and his enemies, in a remote farmhouse with the disgruntled Guild member Hunter. As Ross begins to tire of training and itches to learn more about the Guild, he suddenly has the chance to accompany Hunter on a mission to track down a child prophet. The search takes a dark turn when they discover a trail of bodies and come face to face with a wayward member of the Guild, sparking a series of disturbing events which eventually lead right back to his enemies at Golding Scientific.

The Hidden Gift puts Bentley through the ringer as he comes face to face with what being a Guild member really means, the horrors that can be unleashed when the wrong person has gifts, and what lengths Ross himself is willing to go to. I really enjoyed this installment, even more so than the first book which is unusual for me!

The third book in the series, The Secret Gift, was released last year. Picking up one year after the events of the previous book Ross and Cathy have been living in self-imposed exile on the west coast of Ireland. Ross has changed considerably from the young boy whose days were spent stacking shelves and skating. He is haunted by his experiences and his relationship with Cathy is suffering. When she takes off on a trip, Hunter reappears and convinces Ross to rejoin him for one last mission. Ross is dragged into an escalating war between gifted individuals, culminating in the reveal of a secret which challenges everything he thought he knew about the Guild.

The Secret Gift provides a satisfying ending to many of the questions raised in previous installments while also leaving plenty of room for future adventures (or food for fanfic!).

I genuinely enjoyed the Ross Bentley series and while it deals with some heavy topics, I'd be happy to recommend it to younger teens with a thirst for adventure.

Thanks so much Jacq.

Jacq Murphy is a blogger, reviewer and a children, teens and YA bookseller for Eason Ireland.

Here is a link to O'Brien Press where you find out more about the books and the author. http://www.obrien.ie/results.html?keyword=ian+somers

Friday, January 16, 2015

Blogger Feature Moya Hodgers

My Author Feature will be returning next week and I apologise for the long absence. For now I have a new feature to introduce you to other Irish bloggers. starting this week with Moya Hodgers. Here's some information about Moya who writes about books, film, tv,parenting and writing.

Moya Hodgers - Would be writer.....

When someone asks you to to write a little bit about yourself, and your writing, one should be pleased, nay flattered. Shouldn’t one?? Not me. The moment I am asked to explain or describe anything about myself my mind immediately goes blank, my hands all sweaty and I blush so much you could fry an egg on my cheek. Lets just say self-confidence is not one of my strong points.
But that is indeed the task ahead of me, as requested by the lovely Lisa Redmond. So here goes…

Name - Moya Hodgers
Location - Physically…. Dundalk, Co Louth. Mentally….it depends on the day!
Occupation: Full time mother of 3, Wife to a very patient husband, and part time customer assistant in a large retailer. 
Desired Occupation - Full time writer. 

I’m 39 & 1/2 and have had several careers spanning the last 25 years from childminding, working in a fast food joint, a factory, IT in a stockbrokers, and last full time occupation until March of 2014 was a banker. BUT WAIT…before you decide to hate me, I was a mere cog in the wheel of turmoil on the banking floor. I did not give millions out in loans, I did not swindle the tax payer, I too am facing financial ruin because of the economic doom that is Ireland, so please have a heart and read on. 

I don’t know when I decided I want to be a writer. Probably only in recent years as I have realised it is the only thing that makes me truly happy. My problem is I have trouble believing I am any good!  I have a blog, called justcallmemam.wordpress.com. Please pop by if you fancy a look. Generally I write opinion pieces about life as a mother, politics or anything that is just annoying me/ affects me in general. I am also beginning to enjoy twitter (believe me it took a while and I am still getting the hang of it!). You can follow me on @MoyaHodgers if you like, I would really like that! Or if you’re a Facebook user you will also find me there under the highly recognisable name Moya Hearty Hodgers.

My reading preferences are pretty eclectic. Growing up I was a huge Roald Dahl & Enid Blyton fan, while also escaping to the worlds of Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott and Emily Bronte, depending on my mood. During my romantic 20’s I was saved from depression on many occasions by Maeve Binchy, Marian Keyes, Deirdre Purcell and Cathy Kelly. And when my mood was not so jolly, I opted for some Patricia Cornwall and Stephen King. 

Nowadays I have discovered Louise Phillips, JoJo Moyes, Emma Donoghue and I am a self confessed Cecilia Ahern fan. So like I said, pretty eclectic! 

If I had one wish, it would be to write for a living, but very few can actually achieve that. I have a completed 1st novel which no one wants just yet, but I’m working on it. In the mean time I will keep reading, blogging, tweeting and reaching out to those who will listen in the hope that I make someone smile/reflect when they read what I have to say. Writing has saved me on more than one occasion. Not just from a bad day, but from the days when it was impossible to see yourself making it to tomorrow. It has been my saviour. For that I am grateful. I owe writing my life, that is why I can never leave it. 

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Prince Lestat by Anne Rice

Prince Lestat sees the triumphant return of everyone’s favourite vampire rock star and the triumphant return of the queen of the gothic romance Anne Rice. Written in Rice’s unmistakeable and inimitable baroque style the story travels across the globe as a new threat rises for the children of the blood. They are once again increasing in number but with so many new and untaught fledglings threatening to expose and weaken the vampire world, the old ones are roused but so too is a mysterious Voice which seems able to control and manipulate even the most powerful of vampires commanding them to destroy the many fledglings that proliferate in cities from Mumbai to San Francisco. As these massacres take place many of the blood drinkers call out to unite, seeking as leader the rebel Prince; Lestat but will he heed the call.? This book brings together the stories of many of the characters from earlier Vampire chronicles including Armand, Louis and Marius helping to fill in the gaps since we last saw them, as well as introducing a host of newer characters. If your only experience of vampire fiction is Twilight then this will be a revelation and while I would recommend reading the previous chronicles if only to savour the decadence of Rice’s wonderful writing this book could be read as a standalone novel.

Available now in hardback and e-book from Chatto & Windus to whom I am grateful for a review copy.