Friday, March 20, 2009

LitRec: Mark Jeffrey

Being a part of the Twilight fanfiction community has given me the opportunity to continuously define myself in new and different ways. Reader, author, beta, and friend are just some of the words that represent who I am, or who I strive to be in this community. More recently I define myself as podcaster. I spend time and money on sitting down with three other lovely ladies from the community and gabbing about Twilight fanfiction.

Before I ever thought of doing my own podcast, I listened to and enjoyed many of the thousands of other podcasts out there. They are fun, free, informative, interesting, and a good way to spend the commute to school or work.

So, when I found a podcast that combined with one of my favourite things, YA fiction, I may have squeed for joy.

The Max Quick series of books is intelligent, mysterious, and intriguing. It makes you think about the story and the characters, and the nature of existence.

And it was released as a podcast. Or a podiobook, as they are called.

Now, I spend a lot of money on books. A lot. Somewhere around one thousand dollars a year, which may not seem like that much to some, but for a student who works eight hours a week, it is. I’m not even sure if I make one thousand dollars in a year. So, you can imagine that I was pretty darn excited when I learned I could download a quality book for free through iTunes or

For those of you who don’t like audio books, there are many other ways to enjoy this book, and I will be discussing them at the end but for now I’m going to get straight into the story.

"On April 8th at exactly 3:38 in the afternoon the world stopped. That is to say, except for some people ..." is how the first book, The Pocket and the Pendant, begins. And then it just doesn’t stop.

The book opens earlier in the day on April 8th and follows and young boy named Max Quick, an orphan who doesn’t remember his parents or where he came from but as the day goes on it is clear that other people, very strange people seem to know him.

An old lady recognizes him from her childhood and tells him he hasn’t changed at all. A man stealing something from a museum seems to know who he is as well. And as the world stops around him the mystery of who he is and where he came from becomes even more important.

As Max journey’s through the city after the time stop, he discovers other children who have also not been affected by the time stop and mysterious clues about what is going on and who is causing it.

I love the obvious research that went into this book. The author has a clear understanding of the history of humanity, of physics, of science fiction, and of religion. And he blends them all into one fabulous story. Whatever your first guess is about what is going on, I guarantee you, it’s wrong. And just when you’re having a Kingdom of the Crystal Skull moment (aliens?... seriously?), the author brings it all together into a very neat package that finished the story but still leaves you desperate for more.

One of the things I loved about the story happened when Max finally encounters someone who can answer his questions and you know from a plot perspective that certain questions cannot be answered just then. Rather like when Harry asks Dumbledore why Voldemort wanted to kill him in the first place at the end of Philosopher’s Stone. And the very stereotypical answer, the answer that Dumbledore gave to Harry in fact, is “You’re not ready to know.” And, of course, the reader knows that what is actually meant is the author doesn’t want you to know just yet. In this book, the refusal to give answers was very seamlessly woven into the plot and it felt realistic.

I’m not going to say too much about the ending for obvious reasons, but I will say that it was laid out perfectly. The story shows you everything you need to guess the ending but still it was a surprise (for me at least) that worked so well with the story and the characters. There isn’t a big battle or anything, it is simply a clash of wits and a well played trick.

My favourite part of listening to this book was, well, listening to it. It’s a book that was written to be an audio book. The author has a very good understanding of what can be done with an audio book. Each chapter has music and sound effects. The emphasis is on dialogue over description, though the description is never lacking and everything is delivered in a very tangible way. It makes the story seem real on a level other audio books have never really seemed to me.

The second book, The Two Travellers, I enjoyed even more than the first book. The children are teenagers this time, just graduating from high school, and instead of a cross country journey to save the world, they split up and take journeys that are both figuratively and literally into their subconscious.

We are introduced to new, and even more mysterious, enemies and suddenly the importance of discovering who Max is becomes paramount to the characters survival.

The book also takes a classic sci-fi theme, time travel, and puts a unique twist on it, making it believable and weaving it in to both philosophy and physics. And it leads to one of my favourite lines, “back then, in the future.” Love it.

In an interview the author, Mark Jeffrey, mentioned that when writing this second book, more so than the first, he had a specific theme in mind. What if at the end of the Lord of the Rings, after all the struggle and battle, what if throwing the ring into the volcano was exactly what Sauron had wanted Frodo to do? And the whole story was just you playing right into his hands. The adage, “what you resist, persists,” is exemplified perfectly in this story and the ending leaves us with just the right amount of despair and hope.

I cannot quite say how impatiently I am waiting for the third book which is due out this august I believe.

Another reason I wanted to get these books known in our community is because of the many different ways they are published. I know there are a few fanfiction authors out there who are interested in becoming published authors and this man, Mark Jeffrey, has become a successful self-published author. These two books as well as being available for free audio download, were published with and are available there as well as, and, as normal hardcover or paperback books. They are also available on the iTunes App store.

This story is filled with depth, humour, philosophy, good characters, action, mystery, and it’s free to listen to. I highly recommend it for your commute to and from work/school. If you’re anything like me you might just skip school and ride public transit all day because you need to know what comes next.

Or maybe I skipped work...yeesh.

Moon.witche is author of Echoes of an Enigma, and a host for the awesome podcast blog, Temptation Twilight. You can usually find her speaking of thespians, editing some sound file for the podcast and huffing indignantly when it goes awry because she knows as well as I that technology is secretly out to get us, or spreading love and being a generally kind and sweet-natured individual who is full of win and awesomenicity.


  1. Wow. Rock. On.

    Thank you so much for the very nice compliments, of course, but more so for the very well-considered and lengthy description of the Max Quick Series. It's always gratifying to see something like this -- of someone who clearly got what I was up trying to accomplish.

    And now ... have a sneak peek at the first few pages of book 3 :)

    - Mark Jeffrey (author, who obviously googles him name far too often :) )

  2. Wow, I'm like totally author-struck to a frightening degree. Anyone else in danger of jaw-unhinge?

    Thanks for looking and googling Mark!


  3. Wow.

    I'm a little star struck...which..I mean, it isn't like he spoke to me or I can't wait for the third one. That's all. Wow.

  4. Oh please. I'm hardly famous :) To be honest, I'm just psyched when people actually take the time to read my stuff and clearly really enjoy it. That's an honor to me -- so thank you both.

    Also, thank you for this recommendation -- word of mouth is everything to me, since I'm not exactly on the bookshelves at Barnes and Noble (quite yet :) working on that and making some progress)

    Point is: reviews like this and you telling other people like this are gold to me, so *heartfelt thanks* for that.

    Also I had no idea MQ would be crossover with the Twilight community. Now I know differently ;)

    - Mark Jeffrey

  5. You may not be famous but you are still one of my favourite authors. And it's amazingly cool that you like my review/rec.
    And, don't worry, I tell everyone I know who has the barest knowledge of mp3s to listen to these books. And if they don't I like telling people anyway because a person who can find success in writing in a sort of "indie" style is very inspiring to potential authors. I love how the internet has opened so many options for people to pursue their hobbies in ways that might make them more than hobbies.
    Plus, your episodes/chapters are some of the best quality podcasting I've listened to...and thats a plus in my book.

  6. Oh, you'd be surprised how many things crossover into this fandom. It's almost disturbing. We will literally read anything once, some thngs twice, and most things daily. Then we talk about them publicly and either humiliate ourselves, someone else, or get found by the author and behave like total twelve-year-old fangirls when we're actually mature (snort) women. Some fandoms are all stuck-up and only enjoy fandom-related stuff. Not us gals. We spread our wings.
    Plus, I find many fandom readers crave new YA recommendations. They are all looking for something to get obsessed with. We are scary like that.

    Good luck on your books, Mark!


    Oops. That darn cough again. It is a meddlesome little fella. Meddlesome, I say!


  7. No coughing necessary -- I'll do an interview. You want to record a podcast? You have Skype? Let's pick a time, I'm there. Nights (PST) or weekends work for me. (or twitter:

  8. Thank you so much for your responses. While TLYDF is fanfiction based, Catlin has been wonderful in assisting me with Literary Recs to include lesser known YA fiction as well. We would love to discuss with you a future opportunity in highlighting your work very soon. I will discuss with Cairlin how she would like to go about this and perhaps we can highlight this on her podcast in a Literary cast we have been mulling over and here on TLYDF as well. Thank you again -- it's been nothing but a pleasure to rec your work.

    TLYDF Administrator


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