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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thrilling, exciting book!
The thrilling scenes of this book will keep you on the edge of your seat. It's like the book is pulling you into the ancient Maya world. When the book was over, I was pining for a sequel.J&P Voelkel are two extremely talented writers. I recommend this book for all ages! It is Sherlock Holmes and Harry Potter rolled into one book that will have your eyes popping out...
Published on November 6, 2007

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars GreenBeanTeenQueen Reviews
This is a rare book that is action/adventure without being too heavy on the fantasy. There are some fantasy elements, but they're worked into the story to be more realistic than fantasy. I think this one will have great tween appeal. It doesn't take too long for the adventure to start and once it does, it doesn't slow down. There's a lot of Maya history packed into the...
Published on July 16, 2010 by GreenBeanTeenQueen


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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thrilling, exciting book!, November 6, 2007
A Kid's Review
The thrilling scenes of this book will keep you on the edge of your seat. It's like the book is pulling you into the ancient Maya world. When the book was over, I was pining for a sequel.J&P Voelkel are two extremely talented writers. I recommend this book for all ages! It is Sherlock Holmes and Harry Potter rolled into one book that will have your eyes popping out. It includes action, mystery, romance and fantasy: the recipe for a good book. This is one of the best books I've ever read.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too, October 1, 2007
Husband and wife team Jon and Pamela Voelkel have created a tale set in the Central American rain forest. The story focuses on the Maya culture and traditions as the characters battle to prevent the evil forces of an ancient empire from destroying today's world.

In MIDDLEWORLD readers meet Max Murphy. His parents are archaeologists. He is sick of the old pottery and ancient artifacts that are forever causing his parents to head off to foreign countries. Max is always left in Boston to fend for himself with the help of Zia, their housekeeper. Max would like a little adventure -- as long as it involves pizza and video games. Adventure begins for Max when Zia informs him that plans have changed this time. Instead of heading off to a wilderness camp in Maine, Max is being sent to San Xavier to join his parents.

Max arrives in San Xavier only to find that Mr. and Mrs. Murphy have disappeared. Uncle Ted becomes Max's instant guardian, and the search for his parents begins. At the time of their disappearance, they were exploring an ancient Maya pyramid deep in the rain forest. All that's left is Mr. Murphy's jacket and Mrs. Murphy's earring. Max soon finds himself lost in the rain forest that may be responsible for his parents' death.

As the story unfolds, readers will learn quite a bit of Maya history. Hidden pyramids and ruins are scattered throughout the rain forest, and each holds mysterious treasures and secrets of the ancients and how they may still have powers in the modern world. The adventure is filled with crazy characters, secret passageways and hidden chambers, Maya traditions and superstitions, talking monkeys, and blood-thirsty warriors. The mysterious Jaguar Stones hold the power to change the world. The danger comes if all five are brought together. The good guys have some and the bad guys have some, and both are out to get their hands on them all.

Recommended for ages 12 and up, this is not for the faint-hearted reader. At nearly 400 pages, with additional pages devoted to information about Maya symbols and terminology, readers will be challenged as well as entertained. I predict this trilogy will be popular with fans of Anthony Horowitz, Roland Smith, and even Harry Potter fans, once they have finished book seven. Plenty of action and humor will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Reviewed by: Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky"
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars GreenBeanTeenQueen Reviews, July 16, 2010
This review is from: Middleworld (The Jaguar Stones, Book One) (Paperback)
This is a rare book that is action/adventure without being too heavy on the fantasy. There are some fantasy elements, but they're worked into the story to be more realistic than fantasy. I think this one will have great tween appeal. It doesn't take too long for the adventure to start and once it does, it doesn't slow down. There's a lot of Maya history packed into the book which I think readers who enjoy facts will appreciate. This might even be a fiction book that your usual non-fiction readers will pick up.

The book is somewhat long (almost 400 pages) and while I thought some of that could have been cut down, my tween readers don't seem to mind long books. The ending wraps some things up, but leaves it open for more and I believe this is set to be a trilogy.

As an adult, I found it somewhat annoying that there were pronunciation's thrown into the text for every Maya word-I would have preferred a glossary, but I can see where this would be helpful to younger readers. Also, I thought some of the adventure was too coincidental, but again, I'm sure younger readers will overlook this and instead be caught up in the adventure of the story.

I liked how the book mixed history with adventure. The blurb on the back calls Middleworld "Percy Jackson meets Indiana Jones" and I have to agree (although I could see this having appeal to the readers who enjoyed The Red Pyramid because of the archeology aspects). It also reminded me a bit of the Journey to the Center of the Earth movie. A fun start to a new series, give this to tweens looking for a new adventure series.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reading Teen Review, December 5, 2010
This review is from: Middleworld (The Jaguar Stones, Book One) (Paperback)
This was the best book I've read in a long time. I was so immersed in it, I read it in one day. The characters, the story, the writing, everything was absolutely great. It is kinda like Rick Riordan's books, in the way it brings ancient mythology into modern life. I loved all of Riordan's books, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Kane Chronicles and The Heroes of Olympus. You can see my review for Lost Hero here. I love all of this mythology stuff, Greek being my favorite, but Mayan mythology definitely gives it a run for it's money. The way J&P Voekel incorporated it, dropping subtle hints here and there, and making you feel like it's all real, is masterful.

My only problem with this book was that the main character, Max, was a complete wimp throughout the first part of the book. He just wouldn't stop complaining about anything. It got a little annoying but, he started to tough things out and he turned out to be a pretty good character. And, let me just say the Hermanjilio is awesome. This book is full of great humor much like Riordan's and it really just makes for a great book. It is pretty much non-stop action and any parts that aren't action (there are few) are still very interesting because you are 99% of the time learning about the ancient Mayans even more. I picked this book up at the library and am very glad that I did. It is truly a great read that will fascinate and enthrall all fantasy lovers.

If you didn't catch my drift in reading my previous statements, if you like any of Rick Riordan's books, you will love Middleworld. It is one of my favorites of the last few months, hands down. Thank you, Jon and Pamala Voekel. You wrote an excellent book.

~Austin ([...])
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cosmic Crocodile Rides Again, September 7, 2010
This review is from: Middleworld (The Jaguar Stones, Book One) (Paperback)
It's hard to come across a new series that really leaves an impression and actually makes you want to keep reading. With great novels out there for the tween market right now (PERCY JACKSON, THE 39 CLUES, etc.) I'm always a little bit skeptical trying to find something new. What if I don't end up enjoying the book? What if it's just a waste of time? So when I picked up my copy of MIDDLEWORLD, book one in THE JAGUAR STONES by J & P Voelkel, I had pretty low expectations. Looked like it would be a fun romp of some kind based on the back of the book, so I gave it a try. And I'm glad I did. Because now I can't wait for book number two in December.

Max Murphy is pretty much a selfish kid who doesn't want anything to do with the Mayans or his parents and their archeology craziness. He'd rather just stay home and video game it up. But when his parents disappear, and Max has to go to San Xavier to find them, suddenly, nothing is as it seems. Evil men are out for the sacred Jaguar Stones, and once they have all five can anyone stop the coming apocalypse? Traveling through dark temples, the jungle, and secret passages, can Max stop the end of the world before it's too late?

The action never stopped in MIDDLEWORLD. It felt like the authors kept ramping it up more and more throughout the entire book, and it never stopped even up to the very end. There's plenty of humor here too, and it's pulled off in a good way. And the main character goes through one of the best character growth arcs that I've seen in a long time -- making the book really feel like something more than just your basic action novel. Fantasy fills things up along the way, and readers will learn a lot about the Mayan myths -- much like Rick Riordan pulled off with PERCY JACKSON or THE KANE CHRONICLES in Greek and Egyptian mythology.

Tweens looking for a good fix until the next Riordan novel or just looking for a good fantasy/adventure story will definitely enjoy MIDDLEWORLD. And the end of the book only promises more good things to come. I know I'll be watching for book two, and hoping the Jaguar Stones are safe until then...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like an Indiana Jones movie..., July 8, 2010
This review is from: Middleworld (The Jaguar Stones, Book One) (Paperback)
The authors must have watched the Indiana Jones movies quite a few times while they were writing this book. With strange temples & magical stones, it reminded me of the movies in a very good way! Now I do have to stop so I can mention something: the version of the book that I read was a free advance reader copy that my bookstore received. The most important reason for mentioning this is because I will be discussing several parts of the book which may have been changed before it went to publication.

Max Murphy is a spoiled & sullen young man who doesn't care about ancient Mayan civilization. His archaeologist father adores it, but all Max knows (or wants to know) about it is that his parents are always jetting off on trips to study & leaving him alone (part of the reason he acts the way he does). When his strange housekeeper Zia informs him that his parents have asked that he be sent to join them, off he goes. Little does he know that this trip will have him meeting a beautiful girl, kayaking through dangerous rapids, and traveling through Central America in order to explore ancient temples in the hopes of defying an equally ancient evil!

One of the things I really enjoyed about the book were the illustrations- it was interesting to see some of the different items, places & glyphs the characters were experiencing throughout the book. I also enjoyed how the authors seemed to have done their research on the ancient Mayan culture & that they didn't shirk on character development in favor of building up the Mayan details. I'll admit that I wasn't a huge fan of Max when the book first started- he's an incredibly selfish character, to the point where at one point I just wanted to reach in the book & slap him. Rest assured, he does change during the course of the book, although it did feel a bit rushed. (But at that point I was so glad for the character change that I didn't question it overly much.)

I do have to warn parents that there is some adult material in here, although it isn't done in an overly gloried manner. There is bloodshed, fights, & mention of death, but it is never really all that over the top. In fact, it is very mild when you take some of the movies & books out there. (Compared to the IJ movies, this is almost PBS.) It shouldn't bother most readers at all, but if you have someone that is very young then you might want to read this beforehand so you can discuss the book with them afterwards. (Well, also because it is an awesome read.) This book has the smell of "future blockbuster movie" all over it & if it isn't licensed by someone by the time the final book is published, I'd be a little surprised. (I'm going to guess at 5 books, one for each jaguar stone.)

The bottom line is that this book is excellently done & is incredibly educational as well- you learn about the history & culture of not only the ancient Mayas but also how many of their descendants live today. Even the most anti-learning reader (you know who you are) will be fascinated by the educational content of this book & will want to learn more about this ancient civilization!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book!, May 20, 2010
By 
S. Piner (Camp Lejeune) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Middleworld (The Jaguar Stones, Book One) (Paperback)
I'm a 35 year old Mom who bought this book for her 10 year old daughter to read. While waiting for her to finish another birthday book, I started reading about Max and his crazy adventures. I thought it would be really cool to have more to talk to her about that the usual junk("How was school?" ... "Which of your friends are fighting today?"... "What should we cook for dinner?"). Needless to say, I couldn't put it down, until forced to clean my house for a VBS meeting the next day (Gak! The horror! LOL). I just made her put down the Percy book she's already read (She finished her new book last night and was waiting on me , now.)and told her she just HAD to read this book! After only 2 sighs, and 1 hair flip (minor miricle in itself)- she began to read it. That was 35 minutes ago. Haven't heard a peep out of her since. RUN, don't walk, to your computer or book store and BUY IT !!!

Max (main character) is totally self absorbed, and totally not the heroic hunky hero type ... But add in a mysterious maid, lost parents, a jungle adventure, a local Mayan cutie named Lola, and that whole "We've got to save the world before these evil gods destroy it!" thing ... Well, to keep it short - he grows up a lot in a really short time. Hope you enjoy Max and Lola's adventures - I know I did!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Start to What is Going to be an Epic Journey, May 19, 2010
This review is from: Middleworld (The Jaguar Stones, Book One) (Paperback)
When Max's archeologist parents leave for a dig in Central America, he is set on a boring summer of video games, TV and junk food. When Zia, their housekeeper, sends him off with a packed backpack and a plane ticket, Max is not prepared for what's waiting. His parents have gone missing and it's up to Max to save them. With the help of Lola, a talkative Maya girl and two howler monkeys, Max is in for an adventure of a life time. What will it take to rescue his parents? Does Max have it in him to live out this real life video game?

I was skeptical when I saw the cover of this book and a quick flip through showed that each chapter contained pictures. I was expecting a childish easy read at maybe a JR high level. I was completely wrong. Jon and Pamela Voelkel have created an amazing thing with The Jaguar Stones. Middleworld was an amazing book. The way they laid out the adventure in this novel was well thought out and presented perfectly. I was drawn in and enthralled from beginning to end. I absolutely adored the characters of Max and Lola and I found that they complimented each other perfectly. I don't think there is a better team of characters out there. I loved reading this book and learning about all the Maya life that existed in the past that the Voelkel's painted. The setting, challenges and characters of this work were beautiful mastered and so realistic that they leap from the pages. I can not wait for the next book in this series and I can honestly say this is a great book for anyone middle age and older to experience. Well done!

Originally posted at my blog Draw A Blank

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Goodman Media and Egmont USA. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Action-Packed Adventure Ride, May 18, 2010
This review is from: Middleworld (The Jaguar Stones, Book One) (Paperback)
Young teen Max Murphy is disappointed when his parents cancel their trip to Italy for an archaeological dig in San Xavier. Worst of all, he is left home alone with only his housekeeper. But suddenly Max is sent to San Xavier, thinking his parents have sent for him. But when he arrives in the small country, near his parents' Mayan excavation, Max discovers that his parents are missing. With the help of a young local girl and the mysterious Jaguar Stones, Max embarks on a journey to find his parents and rescue them from the Mayan Underworld.

Max is an average American boy, self-centered and addicted to video games. But along his journey through Central America, he learns several lessons and begins to slowly grow up and become a more likeable person. Max's mysterious companion Lola, on the other hand, is wise but harsh. Though I am curious about her past, I found myself more annoyed by her brash personality than anything. I'm hoping she softens more as time goes on.

Among the highlights of this book, is the creative integration of ancient Mayan culture and religion. The story is educational, fascinating, and fun. The series is marketed to young readers, but people of all ages will enjoy this fast-paced adventure through the jungles of Central America. With plenty of mystery, adventure, humor, and magic, Middleworld is an exciting start to a promising series.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy the paperback, March 31, 2010
By 
S. (New York, NY) - See all my reviews
Middleworld is a great book, but be sure to purchase the paperback edition. The hardcover version is out of print and incomplete.

The paperback also includes tie-ins to The Jaguar Stones Book Two, which will be published in hardcover by Egmont USA in Spring 2011.
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Middleworld (The Jaguar Stones, Book One)
Middleworld (The Jaguar Stones, Book One) by J&P Voelkel (Paperback - April 27, 2010)
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