Thursday, April 2, 2009

Review: Zamora's Ultimate Challenge

Summary: Mason and Carter Clover only agree on two things -- their baby sister Isabella is a royal pain and their favorite video game Zamora's Ultimate Challenge, is totally awesome.

But fantasy turns to reality when Zamora's evil face appears across the brothers' television screen. Claiming to have kidnapped Isabella, the queen challenges the boys to a daring rescue before she takes over their sister's soul. Zamora's plan is to use the baby as a human vessel to travel to Earth and dominate the world.

Once the brothers figure out how to get inside the video game, they are hurled into the magical land of Boysen where they meet their helpful guides: a sage, a quirky mermaid, and a Pegasus (who flies them to each thrilling level of the video game.) racing against time, the brothers search for their sister, encountering a myriad of dangerous enemies including stinging fairies, haunted Master Souls, and brutish, knife-wielding pirates.

Can they beat each level of the game while being hunted by a fire-breathing dragon, stalked by a robotic shark, and terrorized by acid-poop-bombing pterodactyls?

Driven by the powerful bonds that unite siblings, Mason and Carter are determined to face their fears and will stop at nothing to bring Isabella home...but first they must survive Zamora's Ultimate Challenge! -- Quake

I am so excited to participate in the Blog Tour for ZAMORA'S ULTIMATE CHALLENGE by M.K. Scott. When I read the premise of this book, I thought is sounded terrific -- two brother actually get to "live" their favorite video game while trying to save their baby sister. This book is filled with suspense, action and even beautiful lessons. I am happy to say that I loved this book and highly recommend it to middle grader readers everywhere. I just couldn't put this book down.

There is no doubt that video games are a huge part of most kids' lives today, but incorporating them with a book is a great idea. Because video games look so realistic today, it's not too hard to imagine being inside of the television and actually battling the bad guys. Naturally, I knew there would be a lot of suspense in this story; and there were some fantastic challenges that the boys had to face before they found their sister. Some of the more exciting ones included battling pirates, dinosaurs, a volcano, a robotic shark, and even Zamora. Most kids will love how the brothers faced these obstacles and won. The chapters are filled with action, adventure, and even a little humor!

I also loved the various characters that the boys met while trying to save their sister. The "bad guys" and their powers were a little bit scary and gruesome (perfect for the young boy readers); and the "good guys" were warm, kind characters who were always trying to help the brothers in their quest and even teach them some lessons. The mix was great, and I liked how the brothers had to use their intuition to figure out who was good and who was evil.

What I really enjoyed about this book, though, were the lessons that the boy learned during their adventure. It was so nice to see the messages about the importance of family and siblings. In addition, I liked all of the advice that the boys received during their journey especially the pieces about believing in yourself and others as well as trusting the light that's inside of you. I also thought it was so special that the boys were told that they each have special gifts/talents that they would discover when they were tested. I just love that their adventure and what they learned along the way could be symbolic of life and growing up!

Ms. Scott did a fantastic job telling this story. I thought her characters, their voices, and even the ultimate messages in this story was wonderful. What also stood out to me were her descriptions of the various characters and their environments. I had no problem picturing everything in this book perfectly! In fact, the writing was so vivid that I could picture ZAMORA'S ULTIMATE CHALLENGE in my mind (kind of like a movie.) Which brings me to the next thing: this book would make a terrific kids' movie and I would love to see it adapted for film.

I didn't want this book to end. I'm happy to say that I felt as if the author deliberately left a few openings for a sequel or perhaps even a series based on these characters. I know I'm not alone in hoping that there will be more ZAMORA books in the near future!

I can't wait to share ZAMORA'S ULTIMATE CHALLENGE with Booking Daughter. I think she is just about the perfect age (9 1/2 years old) to read this story and truly enjoy it. After I finished the book, I just had to tell her a little about the story. Her eyes got real wide and she gave me a huge grin and said, "That sounds like a book that I'd love!" I totally agree with her. In fact, one of the best things about ZAMORA'S ULTIMATE CHALLENGE is that it is definitely one of those books that kids will love to read. I have a feeling that even the most reluctant middle grade readers will just treasure this story.

Make sure you check out the other stops on the tour:

March 23--Life as a Publisher launches the Blog Tour for author M.K. Scott. Discover who M.K. Scott is and what Zamora's Ultimate Challenge is all about.

March 25--Candid Canine: Michele will be blogging about her writing companion- Java.

March 26--Adventures N Writing where Michele has a book club discussion group (5th graders) talk about the book.

March 27--Marta's Meanderings: What exactly is M.K. Scott's "Novel Project" and how does it involve middle school and junior high kids?

March 30--Drey's House: M.K. Scott talks about the differences between writing children's fantasy versus adult mystery.

April 2--Booking Mama: How does a multi-genre author balance a big family and writing? Michele is double booked that day and will be posting on Cynthia's Attic talking about the story behind the story of Zamora's Ultimate Challenge.

April 3--Beth Fish Reads: Find out what one Tween thought after reading "Zamora's Ultimate Challenge" -- a special interview.

April 4--Teen Seen: Hop on over to give your thoughts on the debut Blog tour for Zamora's Ultimate Challenge and see what goodies you could win.

A big thanks to Michelle Scott for sending me ZAMORA'S ULTIMATE CHALLENGE and allowing me to participate in this book blog tour! I'm also very grateful that she sent me her terrific-looking wine and equestrian mystery books.


bermudaonion said...

This sounds like one Vance would have loved as well. I'll be interested to see what Booking Daughter thinks.

Beth F said...

Sounds like a great book. Imagine my surprise at finding my name as blog tour stop! This is the first I learned of it -- and I don't even have a copy of the book. Ooops!

Serena said...

this sounds like a great book to get kids reading...thanks for sharing this review with us.

Ladytink_534 said...

Sounds like a modern Jumanji lol.

Alyssa Montgomery said...

This definitely sounds like a great book!


Amy said...

What a great premise! I hope Booking Daughter enjoys it!

Bingo said...

Very interesting tour...sounds like a good book for everyone including my reading students! Good Review