Vote! Help Choose the Right Book Blurb for Stealing the Amber Key: Book One in the Xandi Series

Calling all parents/grandparents of kids aged 9-14. I need your children’s/grandchildren’s expert opinions. I have two quite different book blurbs for my first book in the Xandi series, Stealing the Amber Key, and I need to decide which one to put on my website ( and on the back of the book.

You can also vote if you’re an avid reader who doesn’t quite fit into the age group.


Here are your options:

Option 1:

It all started so innocently. They were trying to do the right thing: help their detective uncle solve a mystery, defeat the bad guy, save the world. You know, typical hero stuff. Then they heard the legend of an ancient, secret laboratory hidden in a deep cavern somewhere in the island. It was said that awesome inventions and incredible power were locked inside, power that could help someone take over the world. But that was just silly. Wasn’t it? Someone on the island didn’t think so.

Molly, Jake and their friends couldn’t resist. After all, they couldn’t let the enemy win. The hunt was on. Now, to find the key that would unlock this legend. The problem was how do you look for a key that nobody knows exists to unlock a secret lab that everyone thinks isn’t real? To make matters worse, there was someone else on the island watching them, someone else who believed in the legend. But these people wanted it to stay sealed away forever. And with the strange abilities and powers they seemed to possess, they would not be easy to get past.

Solving the old professor’s riddles, dodging some traps, and escaping other traps they couldn’t dodge was no trouble for the adventurous group. It would just be so much easier if those pesky, powerful, shadowy characters weren’t trying to kill them.

And here’s option 2:

For many generations, dangerous secrets have lain hidden in a cavern laboratory deep below the surface of a small island in the Pacific Ocean. Despite many efforts to find and claim the incredible powers within, none, so far, have succeeded, and the story of the lost laboratory faded into legend…until now.

A dark enemy has arrived on the island seeking the extraordinary power that waits to be found in the professor’s scientific creations – a great, unfathomable, almost magical power. It’s up to Jake, his sister Molly and their new friends to hold back the evil that threatens to rise.

With the help of the professor’s ancient journal, the group begins their quest. If they are to find the laboratory first, they must solve numerous puzzles, overcome countless obstacles, and survive perilous traps set by both the professor and their new enemy. Little do they know that their greatest and most dangerous challenge will come after they find what they seek. It’s then that they must make a terrible decision: turn their backs on the world and let evil win, or risk losing everything they know and love, everything they are, by using the powers in the cavern themselves.

Thanks for your help.

More Riddles to Test Your Intelligence

Back by popular demand. Here are some riddles that will separate the weak from the strong (mentally that is).


The answers are listed together at the bottom of the page. Don’t scroll down until you give up.

1. People either love me or hate me. I make people look and think differently. For people who live healthy lifestyles, I will increase even more. I can fool some people. I’m a mystery to others. Some people try very hard to hide me, but I will show. No matter what people do or how hard they try, I will never decrease. What am I ?

2. Once there was a man who really wanted to enter an exclusive club. Unfortunately, he didn’t know the password. So, he decided to wait by the door and listened. Soon, a club member knocked on the door. The doorman pulled open the window and said “twelve.” The member replied “six ” and was let in. A second member came to the door and the doorman glanced at him and said “six.” The member replied “three” and was let in. The man thought he had heard enough and walked up to the door. The doorman gazed down at him and said “ten.” The man smiled thinking this would be easy. He replied “five.” but the doorman shut the window with a bang and didn’t let him in. What should have the man have said?

3. You go in through one hole, you come out through three holes. Once you’re inside you’re ready to go outside, but once you’re outside you’re still inside. What is it?

4. When your in a house fire, this is the best thing to make. And you must make it quickly before it’s too late.

5. What has one foot on each side and one in the middle?


Careful, the answers are right below.

Are you sure you want to look?

Don’t give up too soon!

Here they are…

1. Age

2. Three. The password is the number of letters in the word the doorman says.

3. A shirt

4. Haste

5. A yardstick

Book Review: The Journal of Curious Letters (The 13th Reality # 1)


Tick is an ordinary boy, and even though he has some insecurities and has to deal with bullies, he has the support of a good family. His life changes dramatically one day when he receives a mysterious letter in the mail. The letter contains a plea for help, a warning of danger if he accepts, and a way to escape danger if he chooses not to get involved, simply burn the letter. From this point on, Tick encounters many perils, but he steadfastly refuses to give up. More letters follow, each one containing a puzzle or riddle that must be solved before he is deemed worthy to join the real fight.

Dashner does an excellent job of depicting a typical, modern household, complete with annoying little sister, and integrating very strange and unusual characters and almost magical technology. The otherworldly heroes and villains are not your stereotypical good guys and bad guys either. Dashner reveals his incredible creativity in this book. He also breaks the mold in many ways. For example, instead of being an orphan or having horrible parents that he escapes, Tick has a wonderful, supportive mother and father, and one of the decisions he has to make is whether or not to tell his parents what’s going on.

Dashner also includes many puzzles and riddles that the readers can solve on their own. This really makes you feel like part of the story. It can also make you feel very smart if you end up solving the riddle before the hero.

I thought this was an excellent book, and I’m glad to see that it’s only the first in a series.

Little Skulls


Who could imagine that underneath the beautiful Snapdragon flower lurked such a macabre sight. These little skulls are the seedpods of the Snapdragon. They contain the flower seeds and are, apparently, rather difficult to break open, like real skulls would be I’d guess.

snapdragon seedpods2

Snapdragons are so named because they are said to look like dragon faces, and, after all, every face needs a skull.