Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard by Lars Guignard is a super fun audiobook that I listened to over the course of about two weeks. It is about two kids who go to school together who happen to run into each other in India while traveling with their parents. They weren't really friends at the start of the novel, but we see the progression of their relationship. (Not THAT kind of relationship - they're eleven.) It reminds me of The 39 Clues series mixed with magical realism.
>Zoe is a very sweet character that I think a lot of girls will relate to. She's the kind of kid that doesn't get into trouble, has a great relationship with her mom, and tries to do the right thing. Zoe knows that she was adopted, but she's not quite ready to talk to her mom about that yet. Zak, on the other hand, is a little troublemaker who may or may not be acting out because of his parents' recent separation. He's not a bad kid, but he is most definitely the reason that the two of them end up in the situation that they find themselves in - at every point in the novel. Together they are like yin and yang and make a nice team. The baddie characters - namely Monkey Man and Rhino Butt (hilarious!) - are not terribly developed, but I don't think they're supposed to be too terrifying. Mukta and Amala were the other main side characters who led Zoe and Zak and gave them all of the background information they needed for their impromptu quest.
The world-building in Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard was a lot of fun to read. I've never been to India, but with the descriptions that were provided in the novel, I could almost see it in my mind, and it was done in a way that wouldn't be over the heads of Guignard's intended audience. In addition to the beautiful scenery of the book, the magic and mythology used in the novel was explained well. The integration of the Indian gods was interesting, and I think kids might be interested enough by them to go seek more information. I had no trouble understanding why certain events were happening or why characters were acting in a particular way. I didn't like that Zoe's background was never elaborated on, but I think that is because Guignard is trying to lure us into reading the next book in the series. (I will.)
Bailey Carlson's narration of Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard is easily one of the best parts of the novel. It was very easy to distinguish which characters were speaking, and the various accents that she used for different characters was very well done. I loved to hear her speak Amala's parts because her Indian accent was lovely.
Overall, I think Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard is a great addition to the world of middle grade novels that young readers and adults alike will love. It is neither a "girl book" or "boy book", so all kids will potentially enjoy reading it. I recommend this to lovers of adventure novels and readers of The 39 Clues.
- 3.5/5 Stars -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a copy of the novel from the publisher or author through CBB Book Promotions in exchange for an unbiased review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All expressed opinions are awesome, honest, and courtesy of me. (less)
This is one of those books that I can truly say had a very huge influence on my life. I cannot remember being interested in anything remotely scientif...moreThis is one of those books that I can truly say had a very huge influence on my life. I cannot remember being interested in anything remotely scientific or based in the Real World, but Mrs. L'Engle inspired me to look outside my comfort zone. I did not just love the Time Quartet, but I learned to love other books by giving them a chance.
Meg Murry is a teenage girl who doesn't quite fit in with her schoolmates, her community, or even her own family. As her brother Charles Wallace puts it, she's not one thing or another. In addition to finding herself, she is faced with challenge of finding her missing father with her four year old brother and sports star Calvin O'Keefe.
While it is a coming of age novel, it is also a great example of The Hero's Journey. Meg has to travel across the universe on a quest, battle an epic villain, and learn from her travels.
With all of that said, the best thing about the book is the characters. Every time I read or think about the book, I always wish that I had Charles Wallace as a little brother, a Calvin O'Keefe to long after, and three science-maven godmothers to lead me in the right direction, but let me follow my own path.
I'm always disappointed to hear that this book is no longer required reading, but my daughter will be required to read it because it's a beautiful story about love that transcends genre, religion, and science.
Format - Audiobook read by Madeleine L'Engle, finished 6/3/11(less)
The use of mythology mixed with "reality" is genius. Not just genius because it was a clever idea (and not a new one), but the way it was orchestrated...moreThe use of mythology mixed with "reality" is genius. Not just genius because it was a clever idea (and not a new one), but the way it was orchestrated is lovely. Not only did the book draw me in and trap me, but it made me want to go and research all of the characters that I am not familiar with. The next Harry Potter? Golly, I hope so!(less)
My discovery and devouring of Matched by Ally Condie was a happy accident. I was looking for a new audiobook on my library’s Overdrive account, and th...moreMy discovery and devouring of Matched by Ally Condie was a happy accident. I was looking for a new audiobook on my library’s Overdrive account, and this was checked out due to a smartphone glitch. I listened to it regardless, and was stunned by how quickly I fell in love with Cassia Reyes.
Cassia is not the typical dystopian heroine, but neither is Matched the typical dystopian young adult novel. In fact, I would rather classify it as “utopian”, but there aren’t enough of them to justify a new tag. But I digress. Cassia lives a perfect life, in a perfect Society, and just found out that her future husband will be someone that she already loves. However, something goes just a little wrong, and Cassia is suddenly facing something that she’s never faced before – choices.
I’ve seen reviewers give this book a lower rating because they said that it doesn’t have the strong feminine character or action that other dystopian novels, such as The Hunger Games, possess. I think it is an unfair analysis of the book because it’s not about the same thing. This book is not about fighting an violent and oppressive (on the surface) government; it is about a young girl who chooses to question everything she loves and holds dear after a series of very small things start to change her. Cassia Reyes is no Katniss Everdeen, but she has her own quiet strength that makes her ask questions when no one else does or will and give up the perfect life in the hopes of one day being able to choose something for herself. She is not fighting for her life, instead fighting for being able to choose what she wants it to be.
This is a great book for young teens to read because it demands that they ask themselves what is worth being safe and happy. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and I can’t wait to read Crossed.(less)
This is probably one of my favorite books growing up. I make sure to revisit the children in the museum once every few years, and I can't wait to shar...moreThis is probably one of my favorite books growing up. I make sure to revisit the children in the museum once every few years, and I can't wait to share the story with my daughter.(less)
Destined by Jessie Harrell is a historical/mythological romance with a modern twist based on the story of Eros (aka Cupid in Roman mythology) and Psyc...moreDestined by Jessie Harrell is a historical/mythological romance with a modern twist based on the story of Eros (aka Cupid in Roman mythology) and Psyche. The characters speak and behave in a way to which young adults will find easy to absorb and relate. It is a fast-paced, easy read that will interest the female readers of Percy Jackson who are looking for that extra dash of romance.
For me, it was a nice bite of cotton candy after some really intense reading that I've been doing lately. The only problem that I had with the story was a few uses of the Roman names when the book is supposed to be about the Greek myth (and uses mostly Greek names). Sure, it also strayed from the original story a bit, but reinventing an old tale can be fun and not many Greek love stories are set up for Happily Ever After.
Despite being a history major with a sometime mythology obsession, I was able to really let go and have fun with the book. The characters were too adorable to give me a chance to be nit-picky, and Harrell's writing really flowed across the page. I also appreciate the research that the author did on the various aspects of this legend and others related to it. It was a cute story that I am glad to have read.(less)
This was an action-packed, fun-filled adventure that is as good as Rick Riordan's other books. All of the characters are likeable (even the "bad guys"...moreThis was an action-packed, fun-filled adventure that is as good as Rick Riordan's other books. All of the characters are likeable (even the "bad guys"), fun, and completely relevant to the story. The plot moves quickly and the hints at the clues are fictional, but used beautifully. I've heard it described as a children's version of National Treasure, but it's so much better, especially since Nicolas Cage is nowhere to be found.
Amy and Dan Cahill, the main characters, are just normal kids that are set into a high stakes treasure hunt. They're not rich, strong, powerful, famous, or conniving like their Cahill cousins who are their competitors in the hunt for the 39 clues. You can almost believe their situation, their behavior, and all of their losses in life. They are fantastic protagonists, and I really enjoy them as the center of focus.
All in all, this was a great start to the series, and I have already breezed through the second before even getting the opportunity to write a review.(less)
Amy and Dan Cahill's quest for the 39 Clues continues into Austria, with the other five remaining teams hot on their trail. They don't know who to tru...moreAmy and Dan Cahill's quest for the 39 Clues continues into Austria, with the other five remaining teams hot on their trail. They don't know who to trust, but still have their resourceful au pair, Nellie Gomez in tow. Where the last book was based on the life and inventions of Benjamin Franklin, this one revolves around Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his sister Maria Anna "Nannerl" Mozart - who parallel the brother-sister relationship between Amy and Dan.
This book has more plotting and intrigue, but it is does not involve the secondary Cahill characters quite as much as the first book. Iain & Natalie Kabra, Alistair Oh, and Jonah Wizard are the only ones who make any kind of major appearance in this leg of the quest, though the Holts are featured in the beginning.
It was just as fun as The Maze of Bones, and I plan on going through the entire series because I enjoyed the first two books so much.(less)
Where One False Note focused more on the relationship with Dan, Amy, and Nellie, this one centered on the larger family. It was refreshing to see the...moreWhere One False Note focused more on the relationship with Dan, Amy, and Nellie, this one centered on the larger family. It was refreshing to see the other Cahill family branches make an larger appearance in one of the books. Uncle Alistair's relationship with Dan and Amy is one of the major themes. There is also an interesting spin done on the Cahill-Kabra dynamic.
Although I had been wanting to see more of the family, this is my least favorite book in the series so far. There was far too much time spent developing relationships as opposed to tracking down the hints to the clues. I am still looking forward to having time to read Beyond the Grave.(less)
Skyfall is the latest in Michael Dahl’s impressive body of work that consists of over a hundred books for children and young adults. This particular s...moreSkyfall is the latest in Michael Dahl’s impressive body of work that consists of over a hundred books for children and young adults. This particular story is a thrilling adventure with monsters that is aimed at the junior high age group, but enjoyable for all ages. While the juvenile market is always saturated with fairy tale creatures, Dahl’s latest is reminiscent of both Stephen King and Tolkien, but for a younger audience.
The story revolves around what happens to the residents of Zion Falls during the night of the Draconid meteor shower, and centers on four friends: Pablo, Louise, Zak, and Thora. Chaos erupts, forcing them to depend upon each other, and surprise allies in order to endure what the night has in store for them. Their own intelligence, and quick thinking is also paramount their survival.
Skyfall embodies everything that makes me love juvenile fiction. It is fast-paced, exhilarating, full of fun characters, and cleverly nods to other sci-fi works. There were times that I was scared enough by the monsters, and their tricks that I almost had to put the book down despite reading adult horror on a regular basis. (Disclaimer: I am a wimp.) Dahl’s world building is exciting, and puts a new spin on age-old mythological creatures. He executed the story in such a way that I have just as many questions about the world he built at the end of the story, as I did as I did in the beginning. It left me ravenous for more. I loved Skyfall, and I cannot wait until I can get my hands on the next book in the series.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for free through NetGalley from the publisher. It in no way affected the outcome of my review.(less)
O Endicott travels to Caledon to spend the summer with her elderly aunt, Emily, after her father takes off...moreReview originally posted at Krazy Book Lady.
O Endicott travels to Caledon to spend the summer with her elderly aunt, Emily, after her father takes off to Italy for research. Emily owns the otherworldly Green Man bookshop, and lives in the apartment above it. O dabbles in poetry during her stay, but she questions her decision to write it because so many poets are insane. But are the queer things occurring around the bookshop really poet madness, or is there some kind of evil afoot?
I was about halfway through The Green Man when I found out that it was a part of a series. However, I never felt as if I was missing anything because there were various flashbacks with sufficient backstory. I only had two problems with the book. There were a few plot points that I felt did not lead anywhere, such as O seeing a young version of her father. It could have had a potentially interesting twist, but it only served descriptive purposes. My other issue was that the climax was very brief. I found myself asking, “Was that it?!” Other than that, I found this to be a very enjoyable read. The writing is lovely, and the pace is ideal for the young adult reader. I would even like to go back and read the previous two books in the series.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for free through NetGalley. It in no way affected the outcome of my review.