Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Review of The Beast of Seabourne by Rhys A. Jones

The Beast of Seabourne (Book Two of The Artefact Quintet)
Rhys A. Jones

Oz Chambers has a wonderful secret; the obsidian pebble, gifted to him by his dead father, is an artefact of astonishing power. The sort of power that makes the year eight science project a hands-down walkover thanks to the the pebble's genius avatar, Soph.

But, there are sinister forces abroad who will do just about anything to get their hands on the pebble, and when fellow pupils start being attacked,  Oz finds himself in very hot water.  Soon Oz and his friends, Ruff and Ellie, are caught up in a centuries old mystery involving a missing ring, lava toothpaste and a murderous monster known as the Beast of Seabourne

My review:
Last year, I was swept away by The Obsidian Pebble (Book One in The Artefact Quintet.) Before I go into my review, let m just say that it makes my heart do all kinds of jigs and reels to know there will be two more books in the series.  The world building and the characters from The Obsidian Pebble stayed with me long after I was finished with the book. Now, Rhys A. Jones has worked his considerable magic and created the next book in the series, The Beast of Seabourne.

It was a pure delight to return to Oz’s world. His friendship with Ruff and Ellie make the three of them quite a team. Each has their own strength, and, boy, were those strengths put to the test in this adventure! As the trio continued their search for the other artifacts, they were also faced with a beast, a loony lady, a science fair competition, and the sinister group that would stop at nothing to gain control of the artifacts. A typical school year, eh? Jones did a superlative job blending enough background from book one that this book could easily be read as a stand-alone. (But, trust me, you will want to read The Obsidian Pebble. I donated a second copy to my local junior high library and will do the same with The Beast of Seabourne.)

One of the best things about these books, beside the blend of adventure and magical realism, are the relationships. Certainly, the bond of friendship between Oz, Ruff, and Ellie is the most explored and most richly realized.

But the secondary characters as just as three-dimensional. Oz’s mom is terrific, although there were a few times I want to shake some sense into her head. *cough* Rowena Hilditch? Really? You would let her in your house? *cough*.  However, Jones makes up for her with two delightful characters: Mr. Gingel and Ms. Arkwright, two teachers at Oz’s school. I am keeping my fingers crossed for them.

Another terrific thing about these books are the real day-to-day issues that are addressed. From a family’s money problems to sibling rivalry (and love), these are real characters with real problems that children and teens can relate to.

Magic realism to delight the soul, adventures to keep the pages a-turning, and characters that continue to speak to the reader long after the book is finished—The Beast of Seabourne has all of these.

Five Stars! Highly recommended.

Rhys A Jones was born in 1955 and grew up in a mining village in South Wales with his nose in a book and his head in the clouds. He managed to subdue his imagination long enough to carve out a career in medicine, writing whenever the chance arose.
In 1994, writing as Dylan Jones, he published his first scary book for adults, a thriller, which was subsequently made into a two-part film by the BBC. Other scary books followed.
A growing desire to move away from adult thrillers and write for children is what currently preoccupies him. The Obsidian Pebble is the first in a quintet featuring eleven-year-old Oz Chambers whose family inherits a ‘haunted’ house. His mother wants to leave, but Oz wants to unlock the house’s mysteries and uncovers a secret that will change his life forever.
Rhys A Jones has three grownup children who have emerged remarkably unscathed into adulthood. When not writing, he practices medicine and lives in darkest West Wales with his understanding (very) wife and two dogs. Visit the author at

Friday, September 12, 2014

Shamrocking Trivia: The Legend of Llyr or Lir

One of my favorite sites is Wild Eyed Southern Celt .
Recently, they posted this great summary of the legend of Llyr (or Lir), which was the inspiration for one of my favorite characters: Gideon Lir of The Adventures of Finn MacCullen fame.

From Wild Eyes Southern Celt:
In Celtic mythology, Llyr* was the leader of one of two warring families of gods; according to one interpretation, the Children of Llyr were the powers of darkness, constantly in conflict with the Children of Dôn, the powers of light.
In Welsh tradition, Llyr and his son Manawydan, like the Irish gods Lir and Manannán, were associated with the sea. Llyr’s other children included Brân (Bendigeidfran), a god of bards and poetry; Branwen, wife of the sun god Matholwch, king of Ireland; and Creidylad (in earlier myths, a daughter of Lludd).

Hearing of Matholwch’s maltreatment of Branwen, Brân and Manawydan led an expedition to avenge her. Brân was killed in the subsequent war, which left only seven survivors, among them Manawydan and Pryderi, son of Pwyll. Manawydan married Pryderi’s mother, Rhiannon, and was thereafter closely associated with them."

*Llŷr-pronounced Ll-ee-rrr (rolling the r at the end
~art by Mariana Viera on deviant art-

Monday, September 8, 2014

Cover Reveal: Hunt for Valamon by DK Mok

Another great read coming from Spence City! I had the good fortune to read a draft of this book and it charmed me to no end! Put it on your TBR mountain.

Hunt For Valamon 
by DK Mok.
(April 7, 2015 from Spence City)

Deep in the heart of the Talgaran Empire, Algaris Castle has been breached. No one knows how, why, or by whom. The only thing taken is twenty-eight year old Crown Prince Valamon.
Seris—a young cleric caring for the ramshackle and happily book-infested Temple of Eliantora—finds himself unexpectedly recruited to the rescue mission. His sole companion is Elhan, a cheerfully disturbed vagrant girl with terrifying combat skills, who is rumoured to be under a dangerous curse.
Far out of his depth, Seris has no fighting ability, no survival skills, and no charisma, as Elhan keeps pointing out. All he has are a stubborn streak and the conviction that unless he returns with Valamon, dire consequences await his foster family.
Chasing rumours of rebel camps and rising warlords, cursed fates and the return of the vanished sorcerers, Seris and Elhan discover a web of treachery and long-buried secrets that go far beyond a kidnapped prince.
As enemies rise from both beyond the empire and within it, Seris and Elhan must confront their own bloody pasts, and rescue Valamon, before simmering tensions in the empire erupt into war.
Here is a link to DK Mok's website:

Author bio:

DK Mok lives in Sydney, Australia, and writes fantasy, science fiction and urban fantasy novels and short stories. DK's debut urban fantasy novel, The Other Tree, was released in 2014 by Spence City (an imprint of Spencer Hill Press), and her short story 'Morning Star' (One Small Step, FableCroft) was shortlisted for an Aurealis Award.
DK grew up in libraries, immersed in lost cities and fantastic worlds, populated by quirky bandits and giant squid. She graduated from UNSW with a degree in Psychology, pursuing her interest in both social justice and scientist humour.
She’s fond of cephalopods, androids, global politics, rugged horizons, science and technology podcasts, and she wishes someone would build a labyrinthine library garden so she can hang out there. Her favourite fossil deposit is the Burgess Shale.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Shamrocking Trivia: Brian Boru

This year marks the 1,000th anniversary of the death of Brian Boru, the High King of Ireland. He was killed during the Battle of Clontarf just north of modern-day Dublin. In my novel, The Stag Lord, my protagonist, Bannerman Boru, is the direct descendent of this great warrior and leader.



The line between Irish Legend and Irish Myth has often been blurred, especially as the retelling of heroic deeds has been passed on through generations.

Brian Boru was no legend although his life deeds were legendary. He was very much a real man and was in fact the last great High King of Ireland and perhaps the greatest military leader the country has ever known.

Brian Boru was born Brian Mac Cennétig. He mother was sister to the mother of Conor, the King of Connaught.

His brother, Mahon, had become King of Munster in 951, upon the death of their father, Cennétig. Together they fought against the invading Norsemen, who had imposed taxes in Munster. This struggle eventually led to the murder of Mahon in 975 by the Ostermen (Norse). Brian avenged his brother's death by killing the King of the Ostermen of Limerick, King Ímar.

From this point onwards Brian held Munster as his own, including the pivotal trade-centre of Limerick. He marched into Connaught and Leinster and joined forces with Mael Sechnaill II in 997. Together they divided Ireland between them.

The Norse settlers in Dublin especially ranged against Brian but were defeated at Glen Máma where the King of Leinster was captured. The King of Dublin, Sitric Silkenbeard, was soon defeated too.

In 1002 Brian demanded of his comrade Mael Sechnaill that he recognize him as King of Ireland. Mael agreed, partially because many of his own people viewed Brian as a hero who had restored Ireland to greatness after the Viking invasions. The rule of the UíNéill's was thus at an end as a non-O'Neill was proclaimed as King. The O'Neill's had been rulers for over 600 years.

He earned his name as 'Brian of the Tributes' (Brian Boru) by collecting tributes from the minor rulers of Ireland and used the monies raised to restore monasteries and libraries that had been destroyed during the invasions.

The Norsemen were not done yet however, and once more waged war on Brian Boru and his followers at Clontarf in Dublin in 1014. The King of Connaught, Tadhg O'Conor refused to ally with Brian against the Ostermen although Uí Fiachrach Aidne and Uí Maine did join with him.

Despite the lack of backing from the men of Connaught, the Munstermen won the day but lost Brian Boru in the battle. This battle was a major turning point as it finally subjugated the Norse presence in Ireland who were henceforth considered subordinate to the Kingships of Ireland. Their military threat had been ended and they retreated to the urban centres of Dublin, Waterford, Limerick, Wexford, and Cork. They eventually became completely hibernicized and integrated into Gaelic culture.

After his death and the death of one of his sons, his remaining sons, Tadg and Donnchad, were unable to assume the kingship which was assumed by Mael Sechnaill. He died in 1022 after which the role of High King of Ireland became more of a position in name only, rather than that of a powerful ruler.

Perhaps the best that should be said of Brian Boru therefore, is that he was the last great High King of Ireland.

Brian Boru - An article provided by
The Information about Ireland Site.


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