Saturday, August 22, 2009

Book Review: "Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow" by James Rollins

My first Review! I have read so many books that I had a really hard time deciding which book to review first. One of my dad's all time favorite authors is James Rollins. He does not usually write children's books, so when my dad told me he had a book coming out for kids this year, I was SO excited to read it and could not wait! What was even cooler was that my dad had the book signed for me by James Rollins! This is why I decided to write my first ever review on it.


The explosion blew away the emergency lights. Before Jake could react, the world fell out from under him. Blood rushed to his head, as if he were plummeting down a well. He knew something was staring at him out of the darkness. Then it began to move. A few words scraped into his mind, like fingernails digging at the lid of a stone coffin. "COME TO ME...."

When a mysterious envelope arrives for Jake Ransom, he and his older sister, Kady, are plunged into a gripping chain of events. An artifact found by their parents- on the expedition from which they never returned- leads Jake and Kady to a strange world inhabited by a peculiar mix of long-lost civilizations, a world that may hold the key to their parents disappearance.

But even as they enter the gate to this extraordinary place, savage grackyls soar across the sky, diving to attack. Jake's new friends, the pretty Mayan girl Marika and the Roman Pindor, say the grackyls were created by an evil alchemist- the Skull King. And as Jake struggles to find a way home, it becomes obvious that what the Skull King wants most is Jake and Kady- dead or alive.


I really enjoyed reading this book. It was full of adventure and a lot of information about how different civilizations like the Mayans, Romans, Egyptians, and Sumerians to name some, lived many, many years ago. The other thing I like a lot was that since the author James Rollins is a Veterinarian besides an author, there were different kinds of animals in the book. I really liked the dinosaurs. Some animals were real and some were made up, like the grakyl, an imaginary beast that was part human and part cursed beast.

Jake and Kady's mom and dad were explorers who went exploring one day and never came home. While they were away, they sent a coin that was broken in half home to Jake and Kady as well as a log book from their dad and a sketch book from their mom detailing their adventure. Each one of them promised to wear each half of the coin around their neck until their parents returned, if they ever returned. One day, while in a museum that was honoring their parents with an exhibit of their work, Jake and Kady found a little pyramid. Jake had noticed that their was a space that looked like it fit the 2 halves of the coins perfectly in them. When he put his half and Kady's half into the space, they were instantly transported to a far off world.

When they got to this new world, they made their 2 new friends, Marika and Pindor, when they helped save Jake and Kady's life from a T-Rex! They soon learned that their friends had lived together in a village with many other civilizations from throughout time. As time went on, Jake and Kady learned about their different cultures and shared things they knew from their own time, while always trying to figure out where they were. One of the things Jake had started teaching the people there was all about modern science. Of course these people already knew things about science, but had no idea that is what it was called. They also taught Jake about science from their own times.

One day, Jake and Kady, stumbled across a large pyramid that looked exactly the same as the one in the museum. Jake and Kady were not supposed to go in the pyramid. Only the leaders of the village were supposed to go in there. They had decided that somewhere in the pyramid MUST be a way for them to get home. While exploring inside the pyramid, Jake and Kady had found a pocket watch. Not just any pocket watch, but one that belonged to their very own father. They knew this because it had writing on the back of it that their mom had engraved for their dad as a present one day. They were so shocked and confused as to why the pocket watch was there and whether or not it would give them a clue to help finding their parents and a way home.

Jake and Kady explored more of the pyramid and came across different rooms that had different things in them like treasures and secret passages to other parts of the pyramid. One room they went into had a Mayan calendar in it that was run by a bunch of gears and wheels that looked like the ones found in a watch. As they got closer to the center of the calendar, they noticed that the hands on their parents pocket watch had started to go the opposite way! It was then that Jake realized that the question they had been asking themselves the whole time of "where were they?" was also a question of "when were they?".

Kady had decided to try and wind the watch and hoping that it would work the correct way again. She popped out the stem of the watch and began to wind it just as Jake yelled at her "NO!". What would happen he did not know, but he had a feeling that something would. When Kady began to wind the watch, as they were still standing in the middle of the Mayan calendar, they were instantly transported right back to the same spot they were at the museum where the exhibit for their parents were. They were now back in their own time and place. Even though they spent a lot more time in the unknown place with all of the lost civilizations, they arrived at the same exact time at the museum as when they had originally left. This was very strange.

What was even more strange was that when they arrived back at the museum, they still had their father's pocket watch. If it were not for that, neither one of them would have believed what had just happened to them. They didn't know where they had gone, when they had gone to, or why they had traveled to the strange place that they did. More than thinking about what had happened to them, they thought about what had happened to their parents. By finding the pocket watch, they had guessed that their parents had been to the strange place also. They still wondered was what happened to their parents and where were they now? Mostly, Jake and Kady though about one thing, were their parents still alive?

The best part of the book for me was how James Rollins left me wondering the same things Jake and Kady did at the end of the book. I kept trying to figure out if their parents had been to the strange place and had wanted Jake and Kady to go there too. Maybe that is why they sent them the strange coin broken in 2 halves. I also loved that since there were so many questions left unanswered, there will definitely be another book in the Jake Ransom series. I am excited for the next book to come out and can't wait to read it.

I hope you enjoyed my first review and I hope to write many more. This would be a great book for anyone my age and even a little bit older to read. It would even be good for some adults to read. My dad read it also and he loved it too. He told me it was just like the other book James Rollins writes, and that even though it was written for kids, adults would like it also.


A message from Dad (Dave)- Yeah! Sami did her first review! We have been going over which book to review for so long that I finally told her if she did not do a review soon, it would be The Lateiner Gang minus 1 (just for the site of course). That did the trick! Now, it should be easier for her. Anyway, we are so proud of her. Please feel free to comment on her review as we would like to encourage her to continue to write awesome reviews! (can you guess who the shy one is in the family?) Also, please go down to the post below this to read about "The Lateiner Gang" actually getting interviewed, or you can just go right to the interview. Plenty more coming your way shortly, so don't stay away for too long. See you soon.



  1. Wow, great review! This books sounds really good!

  2. Sami writes amazingly well for a young girl. I'm very impressed. And she's sold me on the need to go find the book. I'm looking forward to more reviews from her.

  3. Jenny and Crazy4boys,

    Thank you both for your kind words. I don't know if you had a chance to read our interview, however, we have somewhat of a structured process when we write reviews. We all sit down together, discuss the book and the rough draft of the review. We then go over any changes or enhancements the review can undergo before it actually gets posted. I suppose over time this will become less tidious, but we also want our girls to gain knowledge from this. This review in particular was a bit easier as I had read the book as well. I was able to add a few suggestions as well as suggesting where Sami might want to add some more detail. For a first review, we are very proud of her. As time goes by the objective is to sit in our "circle", have the girls read their final draft of the review, and then have it posted. We spent about an hour and a half going over Sami's today. She took all of our feedback well and was pleased with her finished post. Again, we obvioulsy have a ton of fun doing this, but as well, we are trying to sharpen the girl's skills. I am actually starting to show my wife (even though she has probably just as good idea as I do) and the girls how to operate the site from behind the scenes and find their way around the creating part of it. That is why we decided collectively to give the site a "face lift". We thought it was time to take it to the next level. We had some difficulties as none of us are tech heads and are all learning as we go along. We have some really cool "looks" that we are narrowing down to for the new appearance. Our biggest roadblock is once we utilize a much nicer format, we can not seem to add a third column. I have done some research and hopefully over the next few days or possibly even the next week, we will have succeed and the site will look awesome. Well, thank you both again for your kind words and we all appreciate it. Many more new and exciting things are coming real soon. That's a promise. Besides giving the site a new look, we will be adding certain things to the side bar,a bookshelf being my favorite! Please keep checking back and we hope to see you again soon.


    (Dad of The Lateiner Gang)

  4. Excellent review! You really made me want to read the book myself, and also chase after my older son and make him sit down and read it, too! That's what a good review should do, so well done, Sami!

  5. I had trouble adding the third column whenever I used css code and tried to edit the actual "edit html" page. I finally decided to just use the kind where you add some html code to a gadget and that's it. Then I was able to change to 3 columns in the actual code and that was it. Hope that made sense! I had a real headache too when I was trying to change my blog look.

  6. Yay! Now I've read a book review from everyone here! That was wonderful, Sami. ^,^ I know it was a family effort this time, but I think you've got great potential as a book reviewer. You make me want to look out for this Jake Ransom book now. ^_~

    Good luck with the techie, fixin' up the blog with HTML thing.

  7. Nice job Sami! The book looks good and I think you sold me on it. :)

  8. Hi, Dave,
    I put your site on my Reader and was surprised to see that little Sami wrote her first review. Wow! She did a great job. She's very eloquent for her age.
    I like James Rollins, too, and didn't know he had written a kids book. Thanks for pointing that out because I read and review a lot of kids books; it's some of my fave reading.
    I'm a big kid at heart.
    I don't know which of the girls will review my TOONIES but it's on its way, along with my book for Mara to review: DREAM REACHERS.
    Keep up the great work! The family that reads together, stays together. LOL
    Sami, it's awesome how you formatted this review.

    Hugs and all the best - Betty Dravis