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Ghost Leopard: A Zoe & Zak Adventure, Volume 1, The AUDIOBOOK

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THE AUDIOBOOK available at amazon.com, iTunes and audible.com If you love fantasy books for middle schoolers like the Percy Jackson series or young adult adventure books like Harry Potter, you’ll love this! Introducing book 1 of the new kids’ adventure books from best-selling author Lars Guignard: Zoe and Zak are lost in exotic India, where gods and magic still exist. Before THE AUDIOBOOK available at amazon.com, iTunes and audible.com If you love fantasy books for middle schoolers like the Percy Jackson series or young adult adventure books like Harry Potter, you’ll love this! Introducing book 1 of the new kids’ adventure books from best-selling author Lars Guignard: Zoe and Zak are lost in exotic India, where gods and magic still exist. Before they can find their way home, they just have to do one little thing… …Save a mythical creature from an ancient evil that wants to rule the world. When Zoe Guire goes along on her mom’s business trip to India, things get very weird, very quickly. An elephant god speaks to her from the bottom of a swimming pool… She and her classmate Zak get locked in a trunk and shipped off to a strange city near the foothills of the Himalayas… and a crazy snake charmer tells them they’ve been chosen to protect a mythical creature called the Ghost Leopard from an ancient evil that wants to take over the world. As they travel deeper into the majestic mountains known as the Realm of the Gods, things get even weirder. If she and Zak want to make it back to their parents, they’re going to have to tap into powers they never knew existed. Because if they don’t, things will never be the same for any of us ever again.


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THE AUDIOBOOK available at amazon.com, iTunes and audible.com If you love fantasy books for middle schoolers like the Percy Jackson series or young adult adventure books like Harry Potter, you’ll love this! Introducing book 1 of the new kids’ adventure books from best-selling author Lars Guignard: Zoe and Zak are lost in exotic India, where gods and magic still exist. Before THE AUDIOBOOK available at amazon.com, iTunes and audible.com If you love fantasy books for middle schoolers like the Percy Jackson series or young adult adventure books like Harry Potter, you’ll love this! Introducing book 1 of the new kids’ adventure books from best-selling author Lars Guignard: Zoe and Zak are lost in exotic India, where gods and magic still exist. Before they can find their way home, they just have to do one little thing… …Save a mythical creature from an ancient evil that wants to rule the world. When Zoe Guire goes along on her mom’s business trip to India, things get very weird, very quickly. An elephant god speaks to her from the bottom of a swimming pool… She and her classmate Zak get locked in a trunk and shipped off to a strange city near the foothills of the Himalayas… and a crazy snake charmer tells them they’ve been chosen to protect a mythical creature called the Ghost Leopard from an ancient evil that wants to take over the world. As they travel deeper into the majestic mountains known as the Realm of the Gods, things get even weirder. If she and Zak want to make it back to their parents, they’re going to have to tap into powers they never knew existed. Because if they don’t, things will never be the same for any of us ever again.

30 review for Ghost Leopard: A Zoe & Zak Adventure, Volume 1, The AUDIOBOOK

  1. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    I read a lot of middle-grades and young adult literature, so when I was offered a free copy of the audio version of this book in return for a review, I jumped at it. Unfortunately, if I hadn't felt obligated to do the review, I would have stopped the book less than halfway through. This is being marketed with comparisons to the Harry Potter and Lightning Thief series. Maybe in some parallel universe. I would say it is closer to Michael Grant's Magnificent 12 series, especially in terms of readin I read a lot of middle-grades and young adult literature, so when I was offered a free copy of the audio version of this book in return for a review, I jumped at it. Unfortunately, if I hadn't felt obligated to do the review, I would have stopped the book less than halfway through. This is being marketed with comparisons to the Harry Potter and Lightning Thief series. Maybe in some parallel universe. I would say it is closer to Michael Grant's Magnificent 12 series, especially in terms of reading level, but even then it pales in comparison. I love Grant's series. It is clever and laugh-out-loud funny. Zoe and Zak are just plain annoying. Zoe Guire is 11 years old, the adopted daughter of a single woman who works for the State Department. She tags along on her mother's business trip to India, hoping to take some pictures and get in some "Mom-and-Me" time in order to find out more about her adoption. Instead she gets stuck with a classmate from the states, Zak, who's there with his dad, a colleague of Zoe's mom. When the parents are called out of town on an emergency, Zoe and Zak are left pretty much on their own. (OK, so there's a rent-a-nanny, but we all know that's not going to stop them.) The adventure begins when they overhear a mysterious man talking on the phone about a leopard and leaving behind a mysterious map. (The man is repeatedly described as very muscular and even though we learn his real name, he is referred to throughout the book as Rhino-butt.) They break into the man's hotel room, hide in a giant box, get flown in the box to the foothills of the Himalayas, escape the box with a smaller box of money with which they can buy what they need, and meet up with a series of people who are either trying to capture something known as the ghost leopard or stop it from being captured. There are several hair-raising encounters and these are well done. It becomes clear that Zoe and Zak are predestined to help save the leopard, leading to more questions about Zoe's birth and a mysterious set of marks on one of her hands. In times of crisis the marks glow and Zoe is able to unleash a special energy force she doesn't quite understand, but it does give Zak a chance to yell "Yogi-fy them!" and "You're the Yogi-nator!" Both the good and bad guys have special powers, too. The bad guys are right out of central casting: an evil bhagwan who's really an ancient monkey with an entire monkey army at his command. I can see where younger readers (3rd—6th grade) could enjoy this book a lot. It could also be a great read-aloud book (but not necessarily the audiobook version, which I'll get to in a minute). But it takes quite a while for the action to really get going, and I found it so much harder to buy into the premise of this book than others in the genre. While Guinard says it's not meant to be a cultural study, he packs a lot of information about India into the book, almost too much. It appears Zoe has memorized an entire travel guide, which allows her to explain not only the Hindu deities but also local customs, the Hindi names for certain things, and on and on. I liked the story of an adopted child beginning to question her origins. That will clearly play a role in future installments of the series. Back to my earlier remarks that Zoe and Zak are annoying. I have to wonder if part of this is due to the way the narrator presents them—to say that Zoe is perky would be an understatement—or whether it's the way Guignard wrote them. I think it's probably a combination of both. No 11-year-old girl would ever say, "I needed time to compose myself." Zak is the typical sidekick, first talking Zoe into going on the adventure and then eventually realizing the error of his ways. The problem here is that he just isn't as funny or interesting as other sidekicks. (Perhaps the problem here is also that I've read so many stories like this that my expectations are higher.) I just really couldn't bring myself to care about either one of them. Finally, the narration by Bailey S. Carlson was too. . . too . . . what? Golly gosh, gee whizz. Even in the most harrowing moments Zoe sounds like she's bouncing up and down. I also thought it was odd that she used a Western twang for the leopard hunter (a/k/a Rhino butt). It was hard not to picture Yosemite Sam. She did a much better job with the Indian accents. I have seriously considered that I might have enjoyed this book more if I had read it instead of listened to it. So, overall, this was a "fail" for me. I won't be lining up for the next one in this series.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Annette

    Fun book! Interesting start to what will be a very entertaining series

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jillyn

    I'm still getting used to listening to audiobooks, and I have to say this one was really pleasant to listen to. I really enjoyed the narrator, Bailey Carlson's, reading of this book and I think kids will love it too. She does different accents and inflections for the different characters, and it really helps the story come to life. It's never confusing to know who is speaking because each voice is distinct. I was really happily surprised by this! And now for the book itself. I don't think that th I'm still getting used to listening to audiobooks, and I have to say this one was really pleasant to listen to. I really enjoyed the narrator, Bailey Carlson's, reading of this book and I think kids will love it too. She does different accents and inflections for the different characters, and it really helps the story come to life. It's never confusing to know who is speaking because each voice is distinct. I was really happily surprised by this! And now for the book itself. I don't think that the "fans of Harry Potter" bit is true- I think this book is a bit younger than that. For example, one of the characters is referred to as "rhino butt" throughout the book. It was cute the first time, but as an adult it got old quickly. Similarly, there's a lot of language repetition like "Did I mention?" and "...or something". It makes it sound more like conversation and less like a book which isn't bad, but it did get a bit redundant. I also really didn't care for the main character/narrator Zoe. I felt that she came off older than 6th grade, and a bit pretentious. At one point she references how she reads a lot about animals and there's no creatures that have never been photographed.... Which is weird because new creatures are discovered all the time. I grew to like her a bit more as time moved by, but at the beginning it was rough going. I did however like that she is adopted and is okay with it, it added a nice touch of diversity. All that being said, the story itself is pretty cool. There is a lot of information in this book, and I think that's great in a book aimed for kids. No doubt readers will walk away having learned something. This book is set largely in India, and sometimes Zoe uses a different language like Hindi, and then the meaning is explained. I really appreciated this aspect. There's also a lot of mythology from the Indian philosophies, like the names of different gods and goddesses and what they represent or did. I wish I had a book growing up that focused on Indian tradition- I didn't learn about it until I got to college! Everything was well explained. The writing was well detailed and easily to visualize. It didn't take much to imagine yourself on the streets of India or in the mountains or in the big fancy hotel right alongside Zoe and Zak. There's magic and powers and evil powers and a ghost leopard- what's not to like? It's written in a diary-esque type format which makes it seem like the story is being told directly to you, which was cool. There were also quite a few moments with humor in them that made me snicker aloud. All in all, I thought that this was an enjoyable book. I think that kids in the late elementary/early middle school age will like this book the best. This book is like a mix of the Animorphs series, "The Wild Thornberries", and a pinch of "Percy Jackson" for good mythical measure. If you or your child is a fan of those things- I'd recommend it! Thanks to MD Book Reviews & Fantastic Press for my copy in exchange for my honest review. This review can also be found on my blog, Bitches n Prose.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Val

    I signed up to review this book as part of a book tour. I only sign up for these types of books when the premise seems interesting. The book was advertised as a combination of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, so I was intrigued. Though I did not dislike the book, I did not feel like it was truly a mix of these two books. Its style and focus was different. Zoe and Zak, middle-grade-aged kids, are temporarily living in India, where their single parents are busy at work. While away, they leave the ki I signed up to review this book as part of a book tour. I only sign up for these types of books when the premise seems interesting. The book was advertised as a combination of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, so I was intrigued. Though I did not dislike the book, I did not feel like it was truly a mix of these two books. Its style and focus was different. Zoe and Zak, middle-grade-aged kids, are temporarily living in India, where their single parents are busy at work. While away, they leave the kids with a babysitter who doesn’t seem to mind when they slip away to solve a supernatural mystery. There is a mysterious ghost leopard and some nefarious monkey-men, and Zoe’s strange birthmarks seem to be involved. The premise worked for me. While the supernatural elements they encounter are not realistic, I bought into them. I like the concept of a “chosen one,” Zoe in this case, chosen to save the ghost leopard. I also enjoyed the foray into Indian culture and religion, with discussion of reality and reincarnation. The book contained some intriguing elements. That said, the elements should have made the book much better than it was. To me, it was too heavily plot-centric. The most interesting character was Zak. He was the one always making dumb decisions. Zoe was a little too easy-going. At first, she tried to resist Zak, but after a while, she just kept going along with the adventure even though it seemed like she didn’t want to. I wanted Zoe to be a little more passionate about something—either excited for the adventure, worried, angry, etc. To me, the human element could have been emphasized more. I wanted to know more about the characters, their backgrounds, their personalities. Although they went on interesting adventures, the adventures were presented quite matter-of-factly. They were described, but only in the barest sense (possibly a difficulty in using Zoe as the narrator). Because of this, I felt that I never fully “felt” or “experienced” the story; rather, I was simply told it. When I looked up some information about the author, I see that he wrote for film and television, and that makes a lot of sense. The book read to me more like the way a movie script might. It was a series of intriguing plot points and concepts connected together by the adventure of Zoe and Zak. The scenes and the way Zoe described them seemed like the author saw them playing as a movie in his head. Indeed, I think this would make a better movie than book. I would recommend this book for younger readers who prefer adventure stories rather than stories bogged down by introspection and character development. And I’ve certainly encountered such readers. I could see myself as a child illustrating scenes from this book and thinking about the concepts in it after I had finished reading. As an adult reader, however, I craved a bit more description and character development.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Julie Grasso

    We begin the adventure hearing Zoe's Guire's every thought, as she travels to India with her mum, for what she thought would be a relaxing holiday after her mums conference finishes. Enter Zac Merril, and his dad, also attending the conference. Zoe is less than impressed. When Zoe and Zac's parent's are urgently deployed to address a matter of great importance, strange things start to happen to Zoe, and Zac is no help. He seems to specialise in getting himself and Zoe into mischief, that turns o We begin the adventure hearing Zoe's Guire's every thought, as she travels to India with her mum, for what she thought would be a relaxing holiday after her mums conference finishes. Enter Zac Merril, and his dad, also attending the conference. Zoe is less than impressed. When Zoe and Zac's parent's are urgently deployed to address a matter of great importance, strange things start to happen to Zoe, and Zac is no help. He seems to specialise in getting himself and Zoe into mischief, that turns out to not only be mortally dangerous, but also Zoe's mission. When they learn of the mythical Ghost Leopard, even Zoe has to admit her interest is piqued, but the treacherous adventure that follows is totally not what she signed up for. The two kids have to learn to put aside their prejudices, work together and do everything they can to save the Leopard who is at very great risk. They must succeed or the fate of the world, will tip in the balance of the evil Monkey Man. This was quite a fascinating read in parts as we learn so much about India and its traditions along the way. The author clearly has a vast knowledge and great love for the place I believe he grew up in. There were times when the children were in extreme danger and the villain was particularly terrifying, so I believe this will be best read by 10+. Zoe and Zac come into their own, learn how to control each of their unique talents and as a result, they of course save the Leopard, and the day. I particularly love the Memory Flowers. They were magically written and the Amala and Mukta characters did a great job of deepening the mystery. At times I was a little frustrated with the first person narrative, as it does tend to slow the pace, but for a voracious and diligent child reader, this would not be a problem. I give it 4 stars..... I received a copy as part of a blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kirstin Pulioff

    Love Love Love! This book had me from the first chapter. This book overflows with top-notch character development, culture, adventure, and FUN! Written from the perspective of Zoe, an 11 year old girl, the book begins with a bang. Caught up in the overwhelming sights and sounds of India, she arrives at her hotel ready for an adventure. Unfortunately, her mother's work interferes with her plans, and she must find a way to entertain herself for awhile. Joined by a school friend, the slightly annoyi Love Love Love! This book had me from the first chapter. This book overflows with top-notch character development, culture, adventure, and FUN! Written from the perspective of Zoe, an 11 year old girl, the book begins with a bang. Caught up in the overwhelming sights and sounds of India, she arrives at her hotel ready for an adventure. Unfortunately, her mother's work interferes with her plans, and she must find a way to entertain herself for awhile. Joined by a school friend, the slightly annoying and greatly impulsive Zak, these two embark on a journey that puts them in the middle of magic, mythology, and imminent danger. An adventure bigger than she could ever imagine. I was immediately drawn in. The author captured the voice of a young girl perfectly. So perfectly in fact, that I literally felt like I was the one in the story... and could see my own daughter acting or thinking this way. Throw in the development of Zak, and their imposing antagonist "Rhino Butt," and you have wonderful character development. It was a joy watching Zoe & Zak's partnership of necessity turn into a dynamic duo. True to themselves, each character had their own voice, set of skills, and shortfalls. It was a delight watching them work together and overcome their differences. In addition to the story, I really appreciated how the author blended in history about India, the culture, religion, dress, locations. I finished the book knowing more about it, and didn't feel as if I was learning. This is a story that leaves an impact in so many ways. This is a book that does not disappoint. I am looking forward to the sequel. 5 Stars!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bèbè ✦ RANT ✦

    Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard is an adventure story about Zoe and Zak who were chosen to protect the people of India from the Monkey God. When Zoe’s mother takes her to India for her business trip, Zoe is determined to take the best picture so she can win her school’s contest. But when she sees Zak, a boy that she went to school with, she is annoyed and really doesn’t want him there. However, he loves adventure so when he finds Rhino Butt’s map, Zak wants to know where it takes him. I absolute Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard is an adventure story about Zoe and Zak who were chosen to protect the people of India from the Monkey God. When Zoe’s mother takes her to India for her business trip, Zoe is determined to take the best picture so she can win her school’s contest. But when she sees Zak, a boy that she went to school with, she is annoyed and really doesn’t want him there. However, he loves adventure so when he finds Rhino Butt’s map, Zak wants to know where it takes him. I absolutely loved Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard and think that it’s the perfect book for middle graders. There is that time when children don’t want to hear anymore about fairytales and want some action to get them excited for books. I really think that this book was well written and is able to catch anyone’s attention. The characters were very well presented and it was amazing to see the world through 11-year old’s eyes. Since I was listening to the Audiobook version, I do think that it takes time to get used to the narrator, that was for me at least. At times it felt like she was overdoing it but if you consider the fact that this is meant to be a younger public, it was perfect.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Delphina

    There is an in between stage when children are not wanting to read "baby" books any more and parents do not want them reading young adult books yet. Finding a good book to help foster the love of reading in a child can be a challenge. That is why I am so excited about this book and series. It has high interest level without a vocabulary that excludes all but the best of readers in the target audience. I am also excited because I think this will be a great read aloud and my kiddos are almost at t There is an in between stage when children are not wanting to read "baby" books any more and parents do not want them reading young adult books yet. Finding a good book to help foster the love of reading in a child can be a challenge. That is why I am so excited about this book and series. It has high interest level without a vocabulary that excludes all but the best of readers in the target audience. I am also excited because I think this will be a great read aloud and my kiddos are almost at the age where they will really enjoy the humor and adventure and mystery of The Ghost Leopard. If you have a middle level child who loves to read, I think this is a great book for them. If you have a slightly older middle level child who is a reluctant reader, I also think this book would be great for them.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Renee

    *** * WIN 1 of 3 COPIES OF GHOST LEOPARD (Open WW ~ Ends December 17, 2013)* *** My Review Steeped in Indian mysticism, Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard is a magical journey through the eyes of 11 year old Zoe Guire into an ancient world where good must battle evil to protect the legendary Ghost Leopard which assumes a physical form (and consequently is vulnerable) only one night every 100 years. When Zoe travels with her mother, her colleague, and his son Zak Merril to India, she soon begins to he *** * WIN 1 of 3 COPIES OF GHOST LEOPARD (Open WW ~ Ends December 17, 2013)* *** My Review Steeped in Indian mysticism, Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard is a magical journey through the eyes of 11 year old Zoe Guire into an ancient world where good must battle evil to protect the legendary Ghost Leopard which assumes a physical form (and consequently is vulnerable) only one night every 100 years. When Zoe travels with her mother, her colleague, and his son Zak Merril to India, she soon begins to hear and see strange things. But things suddenly take a turn when she and Zak find themselves mixed up with modern-day poachers hired by an evil “Monkey Man” intent on destroying what he cannot have – the Ghost Leopard. Assisted by the mysterious Amala and the wise yogi, Mutka as well as through Zoe’s discovery of her own special abilities, the children will stop at nothing to protect the sacred Ghost Leopard. Ghost Leopard is the first book in the Zoe and Zak series following the exploits of the two main characters in India. We are introduced to Zoe, in first person narrative, as she first arrives in India with her mother. I really enjoyed the development of Zoe’s character over the course of the story. When she first arrives in India, she seems rather conservative, risk-aversive, and quite mature for her age. We learn that she was adopted under mysterious circumstances and this mystery unfolds as the story progresses. Zak is the polar opposite of Zoe and she views him as a bit of a “goofball” who takes too big of risks. We see both the characters evolve in their interactions as they go from having low opinions of each other, to learning to appreciate each others’ strengths. This, of course, sets up the continuation of the series. The author has spent considerable effort in incorporating elements of Indian culture, mysticism, and mythology. I really enjoyed how there were sporadic mentions of Indian terms, concepts, and food such as saris, namaste, bhagwan, lassi, chai, and so much more. These terms were introduced by Zoe as she recognized some of these things from reading books about India prior to visiting the country. The text is peppered with these little factoids about India. Further, there are discussions of some of the deities associated with Hinduism, such as Ganesha, as well as more in-depth discussions of the yogi way of life. I think these discussions are an excellent introduction to the Indian culture. The plot itself is a non-stop, action-packed rollicking good time. There is absolutely no guessing as to what will happen next. There is danger, magic, mystery, and intrigue as the reader is taken for a wild ride from a bustling modern city in India to quaint villages in remote areas, and through the perilous Himalayan mountains in search of the mystical ghost leopard. There is no time for a breather as the author keeps up a relentless pace which is sure to keep young readers engaged with the story and leave them begging to follow Zoe and Zak on their next adventure. I can’t wait to read the next book! My Bottom Line: Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard is a non-stop, action-packed magical adventure which features a dynamic duo in Zoe and Zak; rich descriptions of the Indian culture and mythology; lots of danger and intrigue; and an engaging plot filled with unexpected twists and turns. I highly recommend the Zoe and Zak series to tween girls and boys who love reading stories featuring fantastical adventures with a touch of magic. Ages 8+. I received a copy of this book free-of-charge from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions expressed are my own.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Dena McMurdie

    Talk about an adventure on the wild side! Ghost Leopard lived up to my every expectations when it came to action and imagination. Flying carpets, demonic monkeys, ancient curses, ghosts...you name it. For me, it was highly reminiscent of Indiana Jones. At the very beginning of the book I had the dreaded "Oh no" feeling when several cliche's happened in succession. It opens with a dream, and Zoe waking up. As a reader, I have been there and done that too many times to count. Then I got the whole " Talk about an adventure on the wild side! Ghost Leopard lived up to my every expectations when it came to action and imagination. Flying carpets, demonic monkeys, ancient curses, ghosts...you name it. For me, it was highly reminiscent of Indiana Jones. At the very beginning of the book I had the dreaded "Oh no" feeling when several cliche's happened in succession. It opens with a dream, and Zoe waking up. As a reader, I have been there and done that too many times to count. Then I got the whole "Hello, my name is Zoe, I am twelve years old, and I like this, that, and the other thing..." treatment. After that, I was given what I like to call an information dump. It was a bunch of info and back story that would have been better in bits and pieces throughout the book. Zoe and Zack are with their parents in India on business. Their parents run into some sort of emergency with their jobs and have to leave for three or four days. I had a really tough time with this one. I am a parent, and there is absolutely no way on this green earth that I would ever leave my eleven year old child alone in a hotel with a rent-a-nanny for four days in a foreign country and no means of contact. Nope. Would not happen. However, in spite of the rocky beginning, I would highly recommend reading past the 15% mark because that is when things get really good. The kids find themselves in a world that is magical, adventurous, and wildly crazy. They meet Mukta, a Yogi master that begins to teach Zoe a little bit about herself and her own powers and abilities. Zack gets a REALLY cool snake/whip that I absolutely coveted throughout the entire book. I mean, who doesn't want a whip that is also a snake and can shoot lightning? I loved the way Zack and Zoe contrast each other so much. Zoe is careful and calculated. She thinks of real dangers and consequences. Zack is impulsive and carefree. In spite of their differences, they learn to work together to fulfill their mission. Once they put their own interests aside, they make a pretty good team. I really enjoyed Zack's ease with the whole situation. He goes along with everything, never questioning when things get weird. He takes it all in stride, calmly eating his sunflower seeds. The ending was pretty violent, and I was a little surprised at how gruesome it was, considering the audience (ages 10 and up), but all in all, it was a really fun adventure and worth the read. I kind of hope someone makes a movie out of this. The Cover: LOVE the cover. Dobromir Tomov did a fantastic job of capturing the spirit of the book. I love the way Zack's whip is depicted, and the way Zoe is clutching her camera. I also enjoy how the kids are in their funny striped pajamas. He really did a fantastic job on the cover.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    I am learning how to listen to audio books. I have to do something else active or I fall asleep. I can't be on the computer at all or I totally tune out. So, I cleaned. My husband is possibly fainting and probably trying to figure out how to thank the publisher and Candace. Cleaning is very low on my list of priorities. But cleaning while listening to an audio book....it's like being in another world and I kind of forgot I was doing something I hate. I might be on to something here. Zoe and Zak a I am learning how to listen to audio books. I have to do something else active or I fall asleep. I can't be on the computer at all or I totally tune out. So, I cleaned. My husband is possibly fainting and probably trying to figure out how to thank the publisher and Candace. Cleaning is very low on my list of priorities. But cleaning while listening to an audio book....it's like being in another world and I kind of forgot I was doing something I hate. I might be on to something here. Zoe and Zak are eleven year olds who find themselves suddenly free of parental supervision in India. Zak, who seems to be a little impulsive (or a just an 11 yr old boy) begins their adventure by sneaking into "Rhino Butt's" room. I know, I know. But he has that name for a reason. Zoe saw him getting out of the pool at the expensive hotel where she was staying with her mother and where she discovered a classmate, Zak, and his father were also staying. He was wearing a very tight black speedo and his butt reminded her of a rhino's behind. That's why she called him that and Zak picked up the name from her. It's a great visual and it's easy to remember who he is, especially with the audio book. And of course, he's a villain so it's a good name. I laughed at some of the antics of Zak and Zoe's exasperation at him. There is no romance between them just a budding friendship. And a huge adventure for two eleven year olds alone in the cities and the jungles of India. Their mission is to keep the Monkey Man from harming the Ghost Leopard who is only vulnerable every one hundred years on the night of the full moon. It's obvious from the descriptions that Lars Guignard has spent some time in India. From flooded streets to food to wild bus rides we get a taste of India along with a fun, G rated adventure. I was thinking of questions as I listened, "Why would she believe that?" and before the thought left my head, Zoe would say, "I didn't believe it for a minute" or "I had to be dreaming." Sometimes I have a hard time suspending my belief because I don't think the character is asking enough questions or is accepting things too easily, but not this time. Zoe asked all the questions I would have asked and I think I actually believed in the Ghost Leopard before Zoe did. There was a lot of luck involved with Zoe and Zak defeating the villains and some supernatural help from some mystical friends. It's all very believable in a mystical sort of way. This is a great adventure novel for middle graders. It's not too scary, easy on the violence but enough drama for a fast paced adventure. Nothing in the way of a romance, just a great friendship and the promise of another adventure. I received a copy of this audio book from the publisher for review. I was not influenced by this. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Victoria Simcox

    This novel is jam packed with adventure, tons of humor and great information on the culture, religions and mysticism of India. The main character, Zoe, is a smarter than average, type A, eleven year old girl, who tags along with her mom on her business trip to India. Zoe figures she’ll have fun doing things with her mom during her free time―that’s what she figures, however, things don’t go quite as Zoe had planned. Soon after she arrives at her luxurious hotel, she is unexpectedly surprised by This novel is jam packed with adventure, tons of humor and great information on the culture, religions and mysticism of India. The main character, Zoe, is a smarter than average, type A, eleven year old girl, who tags along with her mom on her business trip to India. Zoe figures she’ll have fun doing things with her mom during her free time―that’s what she figures, however, things don’t go quite as Zoe had planned. Soon after she arrives at her luxurious hotel, she is unexpectedly surprised by another kid; not just any kid, but one she knows from her class back home in the US. Zak is his name, and he just happens to be in India with his dad, on the same business trip as Zoe’s mom. It isn’t long before Zak, a carefree, witty, jokester, goof-ball type kid starts to get on Zoe’s nerves. Zoe doesn’t mind seeing Zak and being friendly to him but when her mom and Zak’s dad tell her and Zak that they will be going away for 4 days (part of the business trip) and be leaving Zoe and Zak with a hotel nanny, this just throws a wrench into the plans Zoe had with her mom. No matter though; Zoe is optimistic and just figures she’ll make the best of it and have a peaceful time at the hotel, hang out at the pool, and take a bunch of pictures while her mom is away. Zak on the other hand hardly likes things calm. He’d rather have some adventure and get into mischief. And, he is not disappointed, for once the parents leave, Zak finds a map, belonging to a man (the kids name him Rhino butt, due to his large rear, lol). They decide to return the map, but it’s not that easily done. This is when things get complicated and their nonstop whirlwind of adventure begins. Zoe and Zak end up venturing through India, where they will try to find the “Ghost Leopard” ―their supposed destiny. Along their journey they will run into many mind boggling situations, meet a yogi, named Mukta, barely escape danger on numerous occasions, and encounter all kinds of strange and mystical circumstances. What I liked about this book is it is nonstop action from beginning to end. There is a great deal of the real culture, history as well as mysterious beliefs described throughout the book. Lars Guignard did a great job of recounting the Indian dogmas he experienced firsthand himself, and his descriptions of India drew me into the story, making me feel like I, too, was in the foreign and wonderful country. Lars has a great sense of humor, which he incorporates into the characters, especially Zak and Zoe’s dealing with each others opposite personalities, and Mukta, the yogi―he cracked me up more than a few times. I was laughing through many parts of this book. I think it would make a really cool kids action movie. Great job Lars! I’m looking forward to reading book 2.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Fiona Ingram

    When 11-year-old Zoe Guire arrives in India on a brief sojourn with her mom, she has no idea what is in store for her. She also has no idea that she possesses hidden powers. Upon their arrival, Zoe discovers (to her mild annoyance) that Zak Merril, a boy she knows from school, is also there with his dad, who is Zoe’s mom’s colleague. Events take a strange turn and both Zoe’s mom and Zak’s dad have to leave to sort out a few things. Ostensibly, Zak and Zoe will remain at the Delhi Grand Palace ho When 11-year-old Zoe Guire arrives in India on a brief sojourn with her mom, she has no idea what is in store for her. She also has no idea that she possesses hidden powers. Upon their arrival, Zoe discovers (to her mild annoyance) that Zak Merril, a boy she knows from school, is also there with his dad, who is Zoe’s mom’s colleague. Events take a strange turn and both Zoe’s mom and Zak’s dad have to leave to sort out a few things. Ostensibly, Zak and Zoe will remain at the Delhi Grand Palace hotel under the supervision of a babysitter. But that’s not the way things happen at all. Within a short space of time, Zoe and Zak have encountered a definitely no-good character called Frank Berger, found an antique map, sneaked into Berger’s hotel room, hidden away in an old trunk, and then been transported to a strange place, miles from their nice, safe hotel. Plunged into an adventure involving a talking elephant, unusual local characters, and lots of danger, thrills, and spills, Zoe and Zak must stay alive and protect a mythical creature called the Ghost Leopard. It doesn’t help that Zoe keeps having really scary dreams as well. This is adventure with a capital ‘A’ and the kind that middle grade readers will love. Although the book does have a slow start, soon Zoe and Zak are neck-deep in sinister people, events, and possible Very Bad Outcomes. The author does a fine job of painting the picture of India, from the ambiance, to the people, to the various cultural references. This places the young reader slap bang in the new and sometimes fantastical environment. India is full of amazing legends and fantasy elements and the author has used these to great advantage. Zoe and Zak see the ‘real’ India that tourists don’t encounter, and this is absolutely one of the high points of the story. While there is sometimes too much information, and it can slow down the pace, I think young readers will breathe in the ambiance with relish. Fantasy merges with reality in the author’s capable hands with descriptions to take young readers as high as the magic carpet they encounter. Zak is as ‘supermega majorly’ annoying as any sixth-grade boy can be and he provides many chuckles with his clumsy efforts to manage things. Zoe is intense, thoughtful, and takes things more seriously. I enjoyed the balance between the two characters and kids will certainly relate to them. This is an action-packed, magical adventure with enough excitement and peril to keep young readers glued to the pages. This is the first of Zoe and Zak’s adventures so young fans can look forward to more fantastical events.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Beth (YA Books Central)

    This is the first audio book middle grade novel that I have ever reviewed. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into it. I have listened to audio books before and really enjoyed them, especially if they have a good narrator but I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the voice relating to the age in this one. After starting it I realized that the narrator actually does a great job of coordinating between the two main characters, Zoe and Zak. I found it easy to understand when she swapped from one to This is the first audio book middle grade novel that I have ever reviewed. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into it. I have listened to audio books before and really enjoyed them, especially if they have a good narrator but I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the voice relating to the age in this one. After starting it I realized that the narrator actually does a great job of coordinating between the two main characters, Zoe and Zak. I found it easy to understand when she swapped from one to the other. It was overall a great experience with this narrator. I am used to reading young adult and adult novels so it took me a little bit to get into this one since it was middle grade but I actually really enjoyed it. I really liked the way that the author wrote the story in order to add educational information for the reader. My son will soon be at this age and he loves reading so it was interesting to see what type of books he will be coming into before long. I liked the fact that had he chosen this book he would get to enjoy a good story but also discovers information about another country! The main character Zoe and her mother visit India for her mother’s work. Zoe is a very engaging character and of course wants to go on an adventure while she is in this new world. Zoe meets Zak almost immediately and their two personalities collide. Zoe is very calm and uptight where Zak is to the point of annoying but this is what is to be expected at this age so it fit perfectly into the story. Zoe and Zak then learn that they are “supposedly” meant to protect what is called The Ghost Leopard from all evil including lots of bad men. Zoe and Zak then begin their journey to search for The Ghost Leopard and incur LOTS of bad situations that they have to find their way out of!!! The book is full of action, fast-paced sequences, and young humor. I enjoyed the book immensely and thing that any fan of middle grade would love it! I mean who doesn’t love a good mystery along with ghosts, scary situations, Indian folklore, and of course A Ghost Leopard.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Chrissy (The Every Free Chance Reader)

    0 stars - DNF Where I stopped reading: page 64 on my Nook Why I stopped reading: I just could not get into this book. It is a middle grade fantasy book that sounded like a fantastic read. I was really looking forward to it. It took me three days to read 64 pages. I just didn’t want to read it. The characters turned me off as did the circumstances. Case in point, these kids are 11 years old. They go with their single parents to India for a government conference where the parents, who are there for 0 stars - DNF Where I stopped reading: page 64 on my Nook Why I stopped reading: I just could not get into this book. It is a middle grade fantasy book that sounded like a fantastic read. I was really looking forward to it. It took me three days to read 64 pages. I just didn’t want to read it. The characters turned me off as did the circumstances. Case in point, these kids are 11 years old. They go with their single parents to India for a government conference where the parents, who are there for an economic summit or something, are suddenly called away on some emergency (economics related?) in a remote location with no cell or other communication capabilities. (Really?) So what do they do? They leave the children on their own in a foreign country with a rent-a-nanny who would pretty much leave them alone. Yeah, right. That’s not going to happen. I get that it’s a fantasy book and the kids had to get on their own but this is just downright ridiculous.You have to make the unbelievable believable for it to be an interesting fantasy read. Further, the fact that they just go off on this adventure without really thinking about it was crazy. They weren’t worried about their own safety or well-being in a foreign country. Ridiculous. I also did not like the fact that they were using a trampoline to dive into the hotel swimming pool. Way too dangerous!!! (I’m a former lifeguard.) That sends the way wrong message to kids. What others have rated this book: According to Goodreads, the average rating for Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard is 4.3 stars. It looks like a majority of readers gave this book 5 stars. There were 46 5-star reviews on Amazon. Just because I didn’t finish this book doesn’t mean you may not. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.) http://everyfreechance.com/2014/02/dn...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ronda Fox

    I liked the concept when I read the synopsis, but I was sorely disappointed. Instead of begging an exciting adventure of a girl and her friend, it was a very slowly moving, unrealistic (there has to be SOME believability even in fantasy), and boring book. The main character was a huge problem for this book. At the beginning she kept thinking, "no," but she went along with Zak no matter what. Plus, she was way too responsible to let all the initial things occur since she overthought EVERYTHING. Fu I liked the concept when I read the synopsis, but I was sorely disappointed. Instead of begging an exciting adventure of a girl and her friend, it was a very slowly moving, unrealistic (there has to be SOME believability even in fantasy), and boring book. The main character was a huge problem for this book. At the beginning she kept thinking, "no," but she went along with Zak no matter what. Plus, she was way too responsible to let all the initial things occur since she overthought EVERYTHING. Furthermore, she way too knowledgeable and level headed, or "calm," for a sixth grader. The author tried to make Zoe seem her age by calling a her attacker, "Rhino Butt," but in the next sentence Zoe would seem like a high school student or older. Even if Zoe read a bunch of India books before coming, she remembered way more than what is realistic. Also, taking pictures is not a strong enough reason to keep the journey going in the beginning. On top of all that, there were many times that our heroine was too afraid to act and Zak had to take the lead with Stryker. I think the story may have been better from Zak's perspective because he is not the idealisc child that unrealisticly gets into trouble. With the unbelievable personality of the main character, the antagonizing slow plot, the extra unimportant minute details, and tangents made in this book, I will not be interested in reading the next one. I am still attempting to finish this one, but I am not sure If I want to subject myself to it although. I have about 60 pages left. I can see where some younger students (maybe 3rd) would be interested. The grade level intended (6th) would probably tare it apart.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Chris Torretta

    What a fun read! This reminded me of my days devouring Nancy Drew and her mysteries! Much like Zoe and Zak she would always find something completely incredible and be able to get herself out of trouble just in time! Much happens in this that make Zoe and Zak question their sanity, and everything around them. They wind up getting into so many crazy scenarios and just as I started thinking what in the world are they going to do to get out of this, something even more incredible happens! But it was What a fun read! This reminded me of my days devouring Nancy Drew and her mysteries! Much like Zoe and Zak she would always find something completely incredible and be able to get herself out of trouble just in time! Much happens in this that make Zoe and Zak question their sanity, and everything around them. They wind up getting into so many crazy scenarios and just as I started thinking what in the world are they going to do to get out of this, something even more incredible happens! But it wasn’t so much that I was left feeling overwhelmed nor did I ever feel underwhelmed. The characters were fabulous, the plot was very interesting with a huge mixture of mythology and the story was just fun! I really enjoyed this on the audio version, however, I felt as if there could be pauses at the end of the dramatic chapters. Other than that, the writing and reading were great. A little redundant in some areas, but as this is for younger children I figure that was why. I loved the ending of the chapters though, and really wanted the narrator to just pause a little so I was able to delve a bit more into the mystery of what was happening. That pause would have been brilliant! Other than that, everything about this was wonderful. The characters are by far my favorite for a children’s story and I cannot wait to recommend this!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ginny Gallagher

    **Original review on Gin's Book Notes- http://ginsbooknotes.com** Three words to describe Ghost Leopard by Lars Guignard: Fun, Smart, Adventure The main characters of this story are Zoe and Zak. Zoe is a smart and regimented eleven year old. She sticks to the rules and enjoys learning new things. Zak is the complete opposite. He is impulsive, immature, and seems to find trouble wherever he goes. I loved both of these characters. The Mom part of me cringed at some of the predicaments they got thems **Original review on Gin's Book Notes- http://ginsbooknotes.com** Three words to describe Ghost Leopard by Lars Guignard: Fun, Smart, Adventure The main characters of this story are Zoe and Zak. Zoe is a smart and regimented eleven year old. She sticks to the rules and enjoys learning new things. Zak is the complete opposite. He is impulsive, immature, and seems to find trouble wherever he goes. I loved both of these characters. The Mom part of me cringed at some of the predicaments they got themselves into and wanted to give them a stern lecture on all the dangers of wandering a foreign country but my inner child cheered them on and gobbled up all their antics and names that they made up for the bad guys… “Rhino-Butt”…I loved that one. The story is set in India and I’m not ashamed to admit I learned a lot from this middle-grade book. I now know what a rickshaw is and several other words that I need to look up how to spell. The book does a great job of weaving culture, fantasy, and magic into a fun and educational read/listen. I really enjoyed listening to this book. The narrator is great. She captures the “voices” and personalities of the characters perfectly. I highly recommend this book to all lovers of middle grade fantasy.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jemima Pett

    Great book! This is a cracking adventure story set in India. I managed to start this series with book 3, and you can check my review of that here, but prior knowledge of Zoe & Zak does nothing to harm the story, indeed it’s fun to see them as they are thrown together for the first time. The blurb tells the story well, and gives a flavour of the writing. This is a rich, exciting tale, with plenty of hints and twists. You may favour Zoe, or you may identify with Zak, but you certainly feel the thri Great book! This is a cracking adventure story set in India. I managed to start this series with book 3, and you can check my review of that here, but prior knowledge of Zoe & Zak does nothing to harm the story, indeed it’s fun to see them as they are thrown together for the first time. The blurb tells the story well, and gives a flavour of the writing. This is a rich, exciting tale, with plenty of hints and twists. You may favour Zoe, or you may identify with Zak, but you certainly feel the thrills they go through. I expect it helps if you have visited India, but I’m also sure that it gives you a great flavour of this wonderful country and its diverse people if you haven’t. It’s a great book, easily worth five stars, and I’m looking forward to the Yogi’s Curse – book 2 in the series, soon.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Zimmerman Black Words-White Pages

    I received an e-ARC copy of this book for a blog tour in return for an honest review. At first, I loved the book with the little bit of humor and how exciting it was to be a child who goes on a trip to India, but as the book went on, it was kind of hard to keep myself interested in the story. Once the adventure actually started, then the story started to pique my attention. Overall, the story has an awesome plot line and is a very well written read with humor and attention to detail of the Hindu I received an e-ARC copy of this book for a blog tour in return for an honest review. At first, I loved the book with the little bit of humor and how exciting it was to be a child who goes on a trip to India, but as the book went on, it was kind of hard to keep myself interested in the story. Once the adventure actually started, then the story started to pique my attention. Overall, the story has an awesome plot line and is a very well written read with humor and attention to detail of the Hindu culture and artifacts. I did really enjoy the adventure and I am excited about reading more of Zak and Zoe’s adventures.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Howland

    Zoe and Zac are trapped together in India while their parents work. Told to stay in the hotel, they end up on an amazing adventure. Together they must save the mythical Ghost Leopard. Along the way they uncover an age long mystery and must work together to succeed. This is a fast adventure story that is filled with fantasy. The main characters Zoe and Zac are engaging and easy to relate to. Children will enjoy the never ending excitement. I look forward to reading the next Zoe and Zac adventure.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ashtrie Karana Putrie

    This book open up an adventure of two kids in India, the land of old magic where deity still hold their power. As a fan of Indiana Jones, I like how the story goes. Action packed adventure in exotic environment would bring children and big kid (like I am) to a journey in imagination. With educational trivia immersed in the story would give the book another thing to talk about. Recommended for school age and above.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

    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 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. Rainy Day Ramblings.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    (This review can be found on my blog The (Mis)Adventures of a Twenty-Something Year Old Girl). This title has the honor of being my first audiobook review! Luckily, it was a positive experience due to this book being an interesting one. In fact, this book reminded me of the Indiana Jones series but for children. I think the title is a fantastic one when it comes to a middle grade read. The whole "ghost leopard" bit definitely piqued my interest, and I think it will definitely catch the attention o (This review can be found on my blog The (Mis)Adventures of a Twenty-Something Year Old Girl). This title has the honor of being my first audiobook review! Luckily, it was a positive experience due to this book being an interesting one. In fact, this book reminded me of the Indiana Jones series but for children. I think the title is a fantastic one when it comes to a middle grade read. The whole "ghost leopard" bit definitely piqued my interest, and I think it will definitely catch the attention of middle graders and possibly younger kids. For a children's book, the cover is very eye catching! The colors will definitely attract the wandering eye of children. I think the world building, when it comes to a middle grade book, is quite believable. As an adult, I know the adventures of Zoe and Zak would never happen due to concerned adults, but the author sets his story up where it's believable to children. The setting of India is done really well! I've never been to India, but it's what I'd imagine India to be. The pacing is spot on! From the beginning, you're anticipating what is going to happen next, and while, the adventure doesn't start until about chapter 4 or so, you can't help but be drawn in. The plot should appeal to children and adults alike. Zoe and Zak seem to find an adventure at every turn. They must find a way to save themselves as well as the world which would seem to be a difficult task as an adult, let alone as two sixth graders. The characters are written well. One thing I did notice was that sometimes Zoe seemed to act much older than her 11 years. Also, I do find Zoe to be too much of a goody goody and a bit of a scaredy cat. However, as the story progresses, Zoe becomes more brave and willing to take risks. I really enjoyed Zak's mischievous nature. Zak had me laughing a lot throughout the book! As for the dialogue, there were a few words and phrases that Zoe uses that make her sound more like someone in high school or older. Luckily, this is a rare occurrence. One thing that did bother me was that Zoe was say something and explain how she knew it which made me feel as if she was talking down to the reader. For example, in once scene, she says she heard a click from the door being opened. She says she knows this because she's used a key card reader or something to that effect. Basically, there was no need to explain why. Otherwise, the dialogue flows smoothly and works for a middle grade read. There's no swearing either although there are mentions of butts and poop which should definitely appeal to boys the most! As for Bailey S. Carlson, the narrator, I felt that she did a good job overall. I did find her voicing of Zak to be a bit too nasally at first. Luckily, as the story goes on, Zak's voice quits being so nasally. I also had difficulty when it came to whether Zoe or her mother was talking since Carlson seems to use the same voice for them both. Also, when it came to doing an Indian accent for the nanny, she goes from doing an Indian accent to her original one and then back to Indian again. Saying that, she does a fantastic job at voicing the other Indian character. The overall narration is great though. Overall, Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard by Lars Guignard is a very attention grabbing and interesting book that will have children (and some adults) wanting more. Luckily this book is part of a series, and this is the first one! I'd recommend this book for those aged 8+ who want to go on a fantastical action adventure! (I received a free audiobook of this title from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review).

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kayla Beck Kalnasy

    Review originally posted on Bibliophilia, Please. 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 Review originally posted on Bibliophilia, Please. 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.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    I received a free copy of this book/Ebook/Product to review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. I am part of Charisma Media Network About the Book: 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. Wou I received a free copy of this book/Ebook/Product to review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. I am part of Charisma Media Network About the Book: 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. Live life beyond the edge. My thoughts about the book: Zoe and Zak and the Ghost Leopard was a delight to read. The author did a great job of weaving action and humor along with interesting facts about the history and culture of India into the story. The author does a great job of describing the scenes that I feel like I'm there with Zoe and Zack. Once I started reading the book I had a hard time putting it down. I know this story is geared towards children but I think adults would enjoy it as well. I know I did. About the Author: Lars Guignard is the bestselling author of four novels, including the spy thriller series: Lethal Circuit & Blown Circuit, the paranormal detective series: Brood, and the middle grade magic adventure series: Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard. Lars Guignard is a former film and television writer and graduate of both McGill University and the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. Ever since attending high school in the Indian Himalayas, Lars has been an avid backpacker and traveler. He now makes his home in the Pacific Northwest where he is busy completing the second Zoe & ZAk adventure for release in Spring 2013. His blog can be found at larsguignard.com where he discusses his new projects and technology’s impact on writing. Note: I'm always happy to do product reviews. If you're a company and want me to review your product, simply e-mail me at the e-mail address on the sidebar to the right.

  27. 5 out of 5

    S.W.

    A journey that’s full of legend and magic. The Ghost Leopard is a story that is set in exotic India and is packed with a colorful assortment of cultural legends and customs. Zoe and Zak are a couple of teens who know each other, but have never really been close friends. Zoe is the clever, dependable one, and Zak is the carefree guy who loves a good laugh. Early on in the story our pair of budding heroes accompany their parents on a business trip to India. I realize that the plot needed the kids to A journey that’s full of legend and magic. The Ghost Leopard is a story that is set in exotic India and is packed with a colorful assortment of cultural legends and customs. Zoe and Zak are a couple of teens who know each other, but have never really been close friends. Zoe is the clever, dependable one, and Zak is the carefree guy who loves a good laugh. Early on in the story our pair of budding heroes accompany their parents on a business trip to India. I realize that the plot needed the kids to ditch the parents somehow so their adventure could begin, but as a parent I struggled with the chosen scenario (sorry Mr Guignard :^). I just couldn’t understand how a parent would take a kid to a far away place, then have to go somewhere else and leave them in the care of a nanny who was a complete stranger to parent and child. I know it’s fiction, and I soon realized that I had to let go of my own concerns and let the story flow. After that realization, I opened my mind and became engaged in the story. It seems that Zoe has some very special abilities, which have resulted in her being ’chosen’ to embark on a journey to protect the legendary Ghost Leopard from being destroyed by its arch-enemy. She has a tough enough time accepting the fact that she is special, let alone being thrilled about the quest itself. All she really wants is a photo of something great so she can win a photo contest. But, it seems that Zak has a knack for getting them both into something up to their necks, without even trying. It’s not long before they find themselves trapped, and ultimately stranded in a mysterious distant place. Both have very different goals … Zoe wants to return to the safety and cleanliness of their hotel before her mom finds out they’re missing, but Zak wants to track down a mysterious legend that very few have seen, and that no-one has ever photographed. As the story evolves, the pair are mysteriously guided along on an action-packed journey by a couple of helpful allies. It turns into the adventure of a lifetime, as they search the Himalayas for the mysterious Ghost Leopard. All the while, the pair are being pursued by an army of cranky monkeys and ’humans’ who are in cahoots with the evil Monkey Man (the baddie). Our heroes bravely face plenty of danger and obstacles along the way, and prove to be formidable opponents to the Monkey Man and his dodgy mates. The book takes the reader on a journey that’s full of legend and magic, mixed in with a decent dose of action. All of these key ingredients result in an exciting adventure for kids to feast upon. It’s a rich tale filled with exotic traditions that even teaches the reader a thing or two about Indian culture, as well. My bottom line: Lars Guignard has done a great job in blending Indian legend and tradition into a modern adventure that kids will love. PS: I won this book in a blog giveaway (yay me!) Note: I don’t claim to be a pro-reviewer, I am a reader. My reviews are based on my personal thoughts around the story that the book is trying to tell. I try to focus on the story (which is the reason I read) rather than dissect the book and pass comment on typos, writing style or structure.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Amy Fournier

    *Actual rating 3.5 Every once in a while I love a good middle grade book, and I also love audiobooks, so when approached about this tour I was very excited for it. This book was such an adventure. It was fun and different, and I absolutely adored the characters. Unlike a lot of books where friends go through things, the characters in this are not friends. In fact, Zoe doesn't even like Zak at all. It makes it really great watching them become friends through their journey. They go through quite a *Actual rating 3.5 Every once in a while I love a good middle grade book, and I also love audiobooks, so when approached about this tour I was very excited for it. This book was such an adventure. It was fun and different, and I absolutely adored the characters. Unlike a lot of books where friends go through things, the characters in this are not friends. In fact, Zoe doesn't even like Zak at all. It makes it really great watching them become friends through their journey. They go through quite a bit of danger, mystery, and excitement. It really is a bonding experience for them, whether they want it to be or not. The other fun thing about this was that it was set in India. It involved Hindi Gods which is something I have never personally read about. There is magic, mythical creatures, and adventure! It is a book I think will appeal to a lot of middle grade and fantasy fans! Zoe was a character who I didn't care for much at first. She came across as a little snobby, and a bit mean. I get it though. At that age and especially while dealing with a boy who is a bit annoying and extremely immature, it's hard to stay pleasant. She is smart, all about rules, and just wants to spend some time with her mom on this trip. When things start to get out of hand, mostly due to Zak, everything about the trip changes. She deals with the situations pretty well, but I loved that she still had that fear and emotion to her too. Zak is so out of control. I really didn't mind him though. Yes, he was annoying, but he's a young boy. He doesn't always think about consequences of things. He likes to joke around and he wants to have fun. He doesn't care for rules that much, and he doesn't realize how wrong some certain things are. (like stealing for one) He doesn't do it on purpose. He isn't a trouble maker, he is just a boy who is having fun without thinking about the end result. I think that as things get crazier and crazier, he realizes that he takes it too far sometimes, and he sees just how this adventure is affecting Zoe. He does mature a bit and I liked seeing that growth. The narrator for this was great. I thought she captured Zak and Zoe really well. Their personalities were able to shine through, and they truly sounded like children their age. Her voice was the perfect one for this particular book. I was able to really get into the story and enjoyed it very much. This book was very fun. I loved how things seemed to never go quite right for them, but they managed somehow to get out of every situation they were thrown into. I loved seeing the friendship between them form even before they realized it was happening. I also loved the settings and all the secondary characters. It was a well rounded story overall. The characters grew, the story was very fast paced, and the descriptiveness was great without being too much. It is definitely more of a book for younger middle grade. It was a great book and I am looking forward to more of Zak and Zoe's adventures! *An audiobook copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any compensation.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nicole M. Hewitt

    4.5/5 Stars This review and many others can be found on my blog - Best Kids' Reads Ghost Leopard was a fast-paced adventure story that is perfect for the 9-12 set! It follows Zoe and Zak on a mystical adventure through India, where they find that they are expected to protect a mysterious creature called the Ghost Leopard. The negatives: The beginning. I thought that the book started out just a little bit slowly with a little more detailed explanation than a 9-12 year-old might prefer at the beginnin 4.5/5 Stars This review and many others can be found on my blog - Best Kids' Reads Ghost Leopard was a fast-paced adventure story that is perfect for the 9-12 set! It follows Zoe and Zak on a mystical adventure through India, where they find that they are expected to protect a mysterious creature called the Ghost Leopard. The negatives: The beginning. I thought that the book started out just a little bit slowly with a little more detailed explanation than a 9-12 year-old might prefer at the beginning of a book. While I loved that the book had lots of details about India's culture (see below), I thought that this level of detail worked a bit better once we were into the meat of the story and in the midst of the kids' adventures. The very beginning felt just a little bit rambly to me. I also thought that the way that Zoe and Zak ended up on their adventure in the first place was a little strange - I kept wondering why they wouldn't have tried a bit harder to get themselves out of their predicament (and the explanations given just weren't enough for me). Still, once the adventure truly started, I was definitely on board! What I loved: India's culture. I loved that this book contained lots of information about India and its culture. Zoe gives a lot of details about what she sees around her and about what she has learned about India (from her research before she made the trip). I love the vivid descriptions of India and its people! I also really enjoyed learning a bit about the culture and the gods. Kids will be so wrapped up in the adventure story that they won't realize they're learning, though! Zoe and Zak's friendship. I loved how Zoe and Zak's friendship grew throughout the book. It started out as more of an acquaintance. Zoe knew Zak, but she didn't even particularly like him. She thought that he was a bit too hyperactive and impetuous and didn't really appreciate his constant enthusiasm for life. As the book went on, though, she really started to see that Zak's "flaws" could sometimes be benefits and she gradually came to see Zak as a true friend. I loved seeing this friendship grow! Nonstop action. Once Zoe and Zak are off on their adventure, the pace never lets up. There are constant dangers lurking all around them and they are pretty much constantly fighting for their lives. Throw in some really interesting mystical creatures and you have a recipe for a great MG novel!! I highly recommend Ghost Leopard to MG adventure fans. They will not be disappointed! 4.5/5 stars.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Gayle Pace

    REVIEW ZOE and ZAK and the Ghost Leopard is seen through the eyes of 11 year old Zoe Guire. What she sees is an ancient world filled with Indian mysticism. The legendary Ghost Leopard, which is sacred, becomes a physical form once every 100 years. Zoe starts to hear and see strange things when she goes on a trip to India with her mother, her co-worker and his son, Zak Merril. Zoe gets herself and Zak in trouble with poachers that work for "Monkey Man". He is evil and wants to destroy what he do REVIEW ZOE and ZAK and the Ghost Leopard is seen through the eyes of 11 year old Zoe Guire. What she sees is an ancient world filled with Indian mysticism. The legendary Ghost Leopard, which is sacred, becomes a physical form once every 100 years. Zoe starts to hear and see strange things when she goes on a trip to India with her mother, her co-worker and his son, Zak Merril. Zoe gets herself and Zak in trouble with poachers that work for "Monkey Man". He is evil and wants to destroy what he doesn't have. ..the Ghost Leopard. Zoe and Zak will do anything to protect the Ghost Leopard. Ghost Leopard is book one of the series. The author uses the first person narrative when Zoe first arrives in India. Zoe is rather quiet and rather mature for being only eleven years old. There is a mystery that surrounds Zoe and as the story proceeds the mystery comes out. Then we have Zak, total opposite of Zoe. She thinks he's a little goofy and isn't cautious enough. They become friends and learn through time to respect each other and their weaknesses and their strengths. Mr. Guignard placed culture, mysticism and mythology into the story. Zoe brought out a lot of Indian words from reading about India before they left on their trip. I think the author did a wonderful job of introducing the Indian culture. For Zoe and Zak this magical journey is also a learning adventure. I found myself taking a journey that was filled with magic, mystery, danger, and culture. I was taken from a modern city in India to remote villages and the Himalayan mountains. I was looking for the Ghost Leopard just like Zoe and Zak. The author has written a fast paced, good read which will keep your attention and you won't want it to end. But Book One ends. Don't despair, Book Two is next. A continuation of Zoe and Zak's adventures. I know the book is recommended for readers 8+, but I'm way past that and I loved the book. The author wrote an adventurous book that makes reading fun and leaves you wanting more. It is so important that the young read and the author makes that a pleasure for anyone. I would recommend getting a copy of Zoe and Zak and The Ghost Leopard by Lars Guignard and go on an adventure with Zoe and Zak. I would give this book 5 STARS. I was given a complimentary e-copy of this book from Mother Daughter Book Reviews/Lars Guignard for my review. I received no other compensation.

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