August 22, 2022

ARC REVIEW Harley James and the Mystery of the Mayan Kings (Harley James Adventures #1) by Leah Cupps

Harley James and the Mystery of the Mayan Kings (Harley James Adventures #1) by Leah Cupps
Rating: 4 Stars
Release Date: May 11, 2022
Format: eARC (Provided by Book Sirens and Author) 
Publisher: Vision Forty (Self Published by Author)

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Leah Cupps’ Harley James and the Mystery of the Mayan Kings, the first book in the Harley James Adventures series, is an exciting and action-packed middle-grade tale. In a nutshell, it’s like a kid-friendly version of National Treasure or The Mummy. Harley, the titular character of the series, travels the world with her archaeologist father and ends up finding herself in the middle of a mystery surrounding the ruins they are currently working in. Will Harley be able to solve the mystery of the Mayan kings and save the day?

The worldbuilding is fantastic in this book. As a die-hard mythology fan (thank you to the books by Rick Riordan and the Rick Riordan Presents authors), it was cool to see the inclusion of Mayan mythology and cultural references in the story. For example, one of the coolest things I learned about while reading was the game of pok-a-tok (a soccer-like game you do not want to lose - check out The Road to El Dorado movie for a more visual example of what I mean). Ms. Cupps added another layer to the worldbuilding through the use of various illustrations included throughout the book (all of which were done in a very child-friendly style matching the cover). Overall, it was a great balance of educational value and quality entertainment. 

The characters were authentic and relatable. I really enjoyed Harley’s character in particular - she’s a stereotypical ‘tween’, eager to follow in her parent’s footsteps while at the same time desiring her own freedom. She reminded me a bit of a young Indiana Jones-esque character. One unexpected (and pleasant surprise) with the book was the ability for readers to work on solving the puzzles and riddles with Harley - that made the story into an almost interactive adventure tale, and I personally had a blast with it.  

When a book is less than 200 pages, you have to make every page count. Leah Cupps certainly did not disappoint in that regard. The pacing of the book is great, and there was never a dull moment in the story. 

Altogether, Harley James and the Mystery of the Mayan Kings is an entertaining action-packed book filled with great worldbuilding and relatable characters. While the intended audience is children, I think it would be equally enjoyable for adults as well. If you’re a fan of family-friendly tales with mystery, action, and humor, and would like a new series to start reading, then check out Harley James and the Mystery of the Mayan Kings today. It’s perfect for budding adventurers and archaeologists alike! 

Thank you to the author and Book Sirens for providing me with a complimentary review copy of the book. I appreciate the opportunity to read and review Harley James and the Mystery of the Mayan Kings immensely. Please note - I voluntarily read and reviewed the book. All opinions expressed in the review are my own and not influenced in any way. 

About the Author

Leah Cupps is an author, designer and entrepreneur. She came up with the idea for Harley James with her oldest daughter Savannah. Savannah had taken an interest in Mayan history and so the two of them worked together to come up with the idea for the first Harley James book; the Mystery of the Mayan Kings.

Leah lives in Indiana with her husband and three children. She is also the co-founder of Vision Forty Press, a small family-owned publishing company.


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you for your kind words Mouna, and thank you for taking the time to visit my blog :) I hope you have a good upcoming weekend!


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