Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Review: The Secret Of The Sacred Scarab

Welcome back to the Kid Lit Blog Hop #21
Today I am so excited to review
The Secret Of The Sacred Scarab
by Fiona Ingram

A 5000-year-old mystery comes to life when a scruffy peddler gives Adam and Justin Sinclair an old Egyptian scarab on their very first day in Egypt. Only when the evil Dr. Faisal Khalid shows a particular interest in the cousins and their scarab, do the boys realise they are in terrible danger. Dr. Khalid wants the relic at all costs.

Justin and Adam embark upon the adventure of a lifetime, taking them down the Nile and across the harsh desert in their search for the legendary tomb of the Scarab King, an ancient Egyptian ruler. They are plunged into a whirlpool of hazardous and mysterious events when Dr. Khalid kidnaps them. They survive terrifying dangers in a hostile environment (such as a giant cobra and sinking sand), pursued by enemies in their quest to solve the secret of the sacred scarab. They must translate the hieroglyphic clues on the underside of the scarab, as well as rescue the missing archaeologist James Kinnaird, and their friend, the Egyptologist Ebrahim Faza, before time runs out. They must also learn more about the ancient Seven Stones of Power and the mysterious Shemsu-Hor.

With just their wits, courage, and each other, the boys manage to survive … only to find that the end of one journey is the beginning of another!
Adam and Justin accompany their Aunt Isabel,( a very cool world travelling journalist), along with their Gran on a once in a life time holiday to Egypt. Both boys long for an adventure, but neither could imagine a chance meeting with a dishevelled old street peddler, would send them on ride so wild that not even the kids in their class back home would believe their tale. 
When Adam discovers a dirty scarab and a random piece of paper in the bottom of his pants pockets, he starts to question everyone, everything, and even his own sanity as strange and dangerous events begin to unfold. The Scarab clearly becomes more than just a junky old artifact and Adam, Justin, Isabel and Gran find themselves embroiled in a race to solve the mystery of the disappearance of a renowned archaeologist. When the creepy Dr Khalid crosses path's with the adventurers, Adam and Justin realise they have uncovered more than just a smuggling ring, they have the key to unlock a power so great that it threatens the safety of the entire world.
Ms Ingram has developed an intricate story with very endearing characters. Adam and Justin were typical fun loving cousins, in search of adventure and Isabel and Gran had so much personality between them I found myself just enjoying their witty banter. The setting in Egypt was depicted with such incredible detail, I felt like I was really there on that tour bus with them. There was loads of action, and edge of your seat moments, I really began to wonder if the boys would prevail. Ms Ingram has also included some fantastic illustrations, that gave such an authentic flavour to the characters and the setting of the story. There was some violence which I think would be appropriate for the 10+ age group, but Ms Ingram dotted so many light hearted moments which were so effective in neutralising the tension. Well, until the next edge of your seat moment anyway.... Ms Ingram weaves in so much fascinating information about Egypt, that I think this book would be an awesome read for school kids studying Egypt. I thoroughly enjoyed this gripping tale and I can't wait to read the next instalment. 5 STARS

And I am not the only one who loved this book, check out
But wait, there's more, an interview with the awesome Ms Ingram.
So Fiona

1. Tell us how you came up with this action packed adventure?
My mom (sadly passed away now) discovered travelling quite late in life and loved it. A few years ago, she wanted to visit Egypt. I said, “How about Paris?” but she was adamant. We had an incredible time and once I got back, I decided to write a short story for my 2 nephews (then 10 and 12) who had accompanied us. I wrote a title (The Secret of the Sacred Scarab) and then the first word, “Egypt!” Always a good word to start an Egyptian adventure. I modelled the adventure on all the places we had visited. Characters just appeared which was very helpful and useful. The story grew in leaps and bounds and by halfway I knew that they could never save the world in one book. The story spilled over the edges and led to more adventures.
Boarding the ship
2. How did you manage to come up with such vivid descriptions of Egypt? Did you visit for research? When can I stow away in your suitcase if so.
Going to a place in your book is first prize. I was just lucky and perhaps it was meant to be that Mom chose Egypt. I did a lot of research, but I also remembered, from photos and souvenirs, much of what we had experienced. Of course you can tag along anytime, as long as you carry your own suitcase!
Queen Hatshepsuts Temple 
Camel shenanigans
3. How long did it take to craft the story from beginning to end?
The whole book was miles too long and had so much more stuff in it than now. I just wrote and wrote and wrote. I had no idea how long a book should be. I also had a full-time, very demanding job so it took about 4 years to complete. Then I had to cut the book in half because it was just too long. In the meantime, I developed the back history and mythology behind the Seven Stones of Power, and laid out the remaining adventures.
4. If there is one place in the world that we must visit, where would you recommend?
Well, I love Europe and lived in Paris so Paris is a good choice. I take my young heroes back there in Book Four, when they have to find the tomb of a Templar knight and discover yet another Stone of Power. If you are looking for countryside that is breathtaking, look no further than Scotland. I went there to research castles for Book 2: The Search for the Stone of Excalibur (no prizes for guessing what it’s about!)
5. What is your favourite part of writing?
The planning, research and actual writing. I hate the ‘fixing-up’ side of it like editing and corrections. Did I mention the travelling to foreign climes? Oh, that’s definitely the very best part!
6. How do you come up with your characters, are they people you know?
In the beginning I relied on family—Mom is Gran, I am Aunt Isabel, and Adam and Justin are my 2 nephews Connor and Michael. We also met really hilarious characters in Egypt so please don’t tell them they are in the book! After that, characters have just appeared, without me trying very hard to think of them. I let my mind wander and before I know it, there’s a queue of characters all demanding to be in the book.
7. Will we see a sequel soon and can you tell us a little bit about the story?
Wait for it—there are seven books. Yes, seven. The boys’ quest for the Seven Stones of Power takes them to different countries, where they learn about different cultures, ancient secret, myths, and legends. Book 2 is The Search for the Stone of Excalibur. There is, of course, their mortal enemy Dr. Khalid hot on their trail, but another mysterious group appears, with every intention of upsetting everyone’s plans to retrieve the Second Stone of Power. I also introduce another character, a little African girl called Kim. She accompanies the cousins on their mission and they are not too pleased about that! Kim is based on my foster child, now my adopted daughter, Mabel. Book 3: The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper is in the final stages. The adventure takes the trio to Mexico where they crash-land in the jungle and are rescued by an uncontacted tribe. They have to find the lost city of stone gods and just maybe that’s where they will find the Third Stone of Power. Unfortunately, apart from Dr. Khalid still dogging their heels, they encounter a really terrible enemy who is even worse than Khalid. Danger, death-defying sequences and more!
8. What is your favourite cupcake flavour?
Well, I was hoping to say sticky date and chocolate with Cardamom sauce but looks like there’s not chance of that so I will have to stick with my old favourite carrot and pecan nut. It’s kind of a carrot cake in a muffin.

Wow, Just Wow, that was an awesome interview Fiona. Virtual sticky date and chocolate cupcakes with caramel cardamom sauce to you. Thanks so much for joining us.
So where can you find Fiona

Welcome to the 21st Kid Lit Blog Hop. The Kid Lit Blog Hop takes place on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month. We have managed to create a dynamic and engaged community of children's books bloggers, authors, publishers, and publicists, as well as parents seeking out their next great read. So, you are more than welcome to link in and take some time to make some new friends. Our summer holidays are in full gear and we have been one busy household. I may be a little slow hopping around but leave me a quick hello in the comment section and I'll be sure to give you a visit back. :-) Please join me in welcoming back our co-hostesses for this Hop, Suzanne de Montigny, author of The Shadow of the Unicorn: The Legacy and Serena Schreiber, author of Finn's Ship. Welcome Suzanne and Serena! Please be sure to give each of our hostesses a visit to say a quick hello and we'll be sure to visit you right back!

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  1. It's great reading how the author Fiona Ingram's own family and travels were inspiration for the book. Sounds like a great series too.

    1. I know Kriss, I didn't know this until I interviewed Fiona, which just made the story even better for me.

  2. I love adventure books set in Egypt! And after reading your review, this one sounds like a lot of fun. Enjoyed the interview :)

    1. Hi Tonja
      I think you will really like this one, Fiona has such a way, I just loved it.

  3. Yet another great book for my reading list! Thanks Julie, and thanks for the interview, Fiona!

    1. Hi Jemima
      So great to hear from you, yes put this one on the to read.

  4. One of my favorite books. Anxiously waiting for the rest! Thanks for sharing on the Kid Lit Blog Hop. Cheryl, Hop Hostess.

  5. What a fun interview! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks for stopping by Katie, Fiona is so interesting, I loved it too.

  6. I loved your interview with Fiona. I love how all the characters were inspired by someone she knew. I really enjoyed the book myself. Like you, I felt that I was right there along for the ride. Thanks for your review Julie! And thanks for hosting the Kid Lit Blog Hop once again! :)

    1. Thanks so stopping by Renee, I loved interviewing Fiona too, she is fab.