Welcome to Wednesday. First, I hope you all took a moment to pause and remember all those lost on this date twelve years ago. We may have healed and moved on, but our hearts will never forget.
Second, a happy birthday to my daughter, Risa. She wasn't supposed to be born on September 11th, but she had other ideas. At five, she is smart, fun and still a bit of a challenge, but I don't know what we would do without her. Now that Risa is getting older, I am on the hunt for terrific reads for now and when she is a bit older.
That brings us to today's topic.... I have a stop on the Zak & Zoe Ghost Leopard Tour.
This is another great pick from Candace's Book Blog Promotions. I found this to be an exciting and entertaining read that educated as well. It is perfect for the imaginative middle grade reader, and it is a book I look forward to sharing with my two kids. If you have the chance to pick up the audiobook, I would highly recommend it. As part of the tour, I have a review for you along with a chance to win a copy! Here is a bit about the author:
Lars Guignard is a former film and television writer and a graduate of both McGill University and the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. His debut thriller novel, Lethal Circuit, has been an amazon top 100 Technothriller since its release.
Guignard has wanted to write Indian stories for kids ever since he attended a boarding school in the majestic Himalayas. The time he spent in the “school above the clouds” affected him
profoundly, and once he returned home to North America he was struck by the lack of children’s stories from India available in our culture. Since India is such an incredible country, he decided
to write a series of action adventure books for young adults about India to introduce young readers to this magical, mystical land. So if you’re looking for a great book adventure for kids, try Ghost Leopard today! Find Lars:
Website | Twitter | Facebook| Goodreads
Here is my review:
Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard(Zoe & Zak #1) by Lars Guignard
Imagine you're totally lost in a strange city with no idea where you are and no way home.
Now imagine that elephants and snake charmers start telling you that you've been chosen to save the world.
Would you even believe them?
What would you do?
Zoe Guire isn't sure. Having that elephant talk to her was really weird, and, as a rule, Zoe doesn't do weird. Except the thing is, when Zoe goes along on her mom's business trip to India, things get very weird, very quickly. Soon after she arrives, Zoe finds herself tagging alongside a kid named Zak, lost in a crazy city, with no money and no way home.
And those are the least of Zoe's troubles. Because if she's to believe the scary-looking snake charmer guy sitting in the corner, she and Zak have been chosen -- chosen to protect some kind of mythical animal called the Ghost Leopard from who knows what.
Now, the further they get into the mountains, the more crazily impossible things get. Carpets fly and statues talk and if either Zoe or Zak want to make it back to their parents, or the sixth grade, or anything even close to normal, they're going to have to make some new friends, learn some new tricks, and listen, really listen to that talking elephant. Because if they don't, the world will never be the same again.
Join Zoe and Zak as they journey high into the Himalayas to a place few have been and even fewer have returned to tell about it.
Four Stars: an entertaining and educational adventure, perfect for younger readers.
Zoe is excited to finally visit India. She is accompanying her mother, who is a U.S. Ambassador. After her mother completes her work obligations, the two of them plan on touring India. In the meantime, Zoe is going to explore the fantastic hotel where they are staying. What Zoe doesn't expect is to run into Zak, a classmate from her school back in New York. She and Zak don't hang in the same circles, and they aren't exactly friends. In fact, Zoe finds Zak to be a little irritating. Her mother asks her to be nice to Zak as his parents just split up, and he is going through a rough patch. Zoe grits her teeth and tries to maintain her patience when it comes to Zak. She doesn't realize how far her patience will be tested once she and Zak overhear a menacing stranger on his phone at the pool. He speaks of capturing and elusive ghost leopard which has never been photographed. Zoe is intrigued but she doesn't dare pursue it, that is until the stranger leaves a map and Zak snatches it up. Before Zoe and Zak know it, they are swept away on a dangerous quest to find the mysterious ghost leopard. Can Zoe and Zak find the leopard before the bad guys?
What I Liked:
- I don't read too many middle grade books these days, but that will soon change as my two kids are getting older. So I am on the lookout for fun books that we can share when they are the right age. Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard is a terrific blend of action and adventure and it is educational as well. There is rarely a dull moment in this one, and I am certain it will appeal to both girls and boys.
- I loved that the story was set in India. Zoe, being a precocious eleven year old, has read up on India so she is always sharing facts on the Indian gods and culture. There is plenty to absorb in this one, and I loved that it was a learning experience the entire way through. It is great when a book for young readers teaches as well as entertains.
- Zoe and Zak, the two protagonists, are fun characters with whom kids can relate. Zoe is smart, well mannered, and a bit uptight. She tries to follow the rules and do the right thing. Zak, on the other hand, is a bit immature and at times annoying. He is impulsive and he tends to jump into dangerous situations without thinking things through. Yet, in tight situations he is the one with the cooler head. He is the perfect compliment to Zoe. The best thing about these characters is that they learn to open their minds to new possibilities, and they soon find that the impossible is possible. Both characters show tremendous growth by the end of the book, and even become friends through it all. I liked that the book is told through Zoe's eyes and I think the author did a great job of capturing the spirit of an eleven year girl.
- This book is an adventure thrill ride and there are lots of elements that will snag a young reader's attention. From ghosts, evil monkeys, Indian gods, a ghost leopard, flying carpets, and lots of bad guys. The pair finds themselves in numerous sticky situations in which they must escape. Young readers will be excited by the amount of action and the story never lags.
- I listened to the audiobook version of this book and I thought the narrator did a remarkable job with eleven year old Zoe and Zak's voices as well as the Indian accents. I enjoyed her talent and I would recommend the audiobook for long trips to help keep kids entertained.
And The Not So Much:
- The parents are conveniently absent for the big adventure. The author does a reasonable job of explaining their absence, but as an adult it is a bit hard to swallow that two eleven year old kids can traipse through India practically unhindered. However, I am not the target audience and young kids aren't going to think twice about the parents being missing.
- This is small criticism, but the villain is nicknamed "Rhinobutt" by Zoe and that is the name that sticks. Throughout the book, the bad guy is always referred to as Rhinobutt. This isn't exactly my favorite name for a character and I don't relish the idea of kids running around using the name Rhinobutt.
- As I mentioned, I listened to the audiobook of this story and I did have two small concerns. First, I know when I signed on to do this tour, other reviewers had complained about the narrator's voice when they first listened to the audiobook. I was alarmed when I turned on the book and heard the beginning. The voice is annoying, however, she quickly changes her voice once the dream sequence is over. From that point on, I had no issues with the narration. Don't let the first couple of minutes deter you, it gets better. Second, I found that there was no breaks between the chapters. I am used to a bit a small pause at the change of the chapters, but there isn't any type of a break, it just reads on. This isn't a big deal, but I am used to a little break so I know there is a chapter change.
- There are some lingering unanswered questions such as Zoe's adoptive status, her birthmarks and now where she and Zak are going to go to school. None of these issues are a big deal and readers will easily be able to follow up on these questions in the next book. In fact at the end, Zoe lists all the ongoing topics that will be followed up in the sequel and I liked that. There isn't a cliffhanger and everything for the most part resolves nicely.
Zoe and Zak and the Ghost Leopard is a book I can recommend for readers eight and up. It is an exciting yet educational adventure. Follow Zoe and Zak as they traverse India in search of the enigmatic snow leopard. Be prepared for danger, action, ghosts, talking statues, and much much more. If you have an avid young reader with an active imagination, this would be an excellent choice.
I received an audiobook copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
Sounds like fun, right? If you have a young reader or know a young reader who is looking for an imaginative and exciting read, I would suggest you check out this one. In fact during the tour, you can purchase Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard for $.99. You can also enter to win a copy, either ebook, paperback or audiobook. The giveaway is open Internationally and three winners will be selected. To enter fill out the Rafflecopter. Please note: This giveaway is not hosted by Rainy Day Ramblings and I will not be responsible for selecting the winners and distributing prizes. See Candace's Book Blog for all details.
Good Luck! Be sure to head over to Candace's Book Blog Promotions to sign up for upcoming tours!a Rafflecopter giveaway