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Audiobook Review: Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard

Friday, September 20, 2013

Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard
(Zoe & Zak Adventures #1)
by Lars Guignard

narrated by Bailey Carlson

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Paperback: 336 Pages
Publication: February 26th, 2013 by Fantastic Press



Synopsis

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.


Audiobook Review
◆ A copy was provided by Fantastic Press for review ◆

While I enjoy reading a good book, I just love listening to an audiobook that has been narrated well, and that's just what I found with the audiobook of Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard. Bailey Carlson does a wonderful job expressing the characters' personalities and making the words come to life. I felt like I was right there with the Zoe and Zak, sharing their adventures with them.

Zoe is a pragmatic, intelligent girl. Because of this, she can get judgmental, especially when it comes to Zak. He's a troublemaker and often gets carried away with his mischief. When the two of them and magic come together in an adventure... let's just say that isn't Zoe's ideal way to spend her time abroad in India. Nevertheless, it does make for some great humor. When I first listened to Zoe and Zak argue after he first pulls a prank on her, I laughed so much. I just can't express enough how much I love how Carlson portrays their voices.

Set in India, Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard is a fun, enjoyable middle-grade fantasy read. I love how the most unrealistic, fantastical, outrageous things can come across as perfectly normal and acceptable in middle-grade fiction. It's even better to hear it aurally as opposed to reading it on the page. I recommend listening to the audiobook of this book. It's fantastic!!






This post is a part of the Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard blog tour

Relativity Tour: Author Interview with Cristin Bishara & Giveaway

Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Today, I'm delighted to share an author interview with Cristin Bishara as a part of the Relativity tour!



Relativity

by Cristin Bishara

Genre: Paranormal
Hardback: 288 Pages
Publication: September 10, 2013 by Walker Children's



Synopsis

If Ruby Wright could have her way, her dad would never have met and married her stepmother Willow, her best friend George would be more than a friend, and her mom would still be alive. Ruby knows wishes can't come true; some things just can't be undone. Then she discovers a tree in the middle of an Ohio cornfield with a wormhole to nine alternative realities.

Suddenly, Ruby can access completely different realities, each containing variations of her life—if things had gone differently at key moments. The windshield wiper missing her mother’s throat…her big brother surviving his ill-fated birth…her father never having met Willow. Her ideal world—one with everything and everyone she wants most—could be within reach. But is there such a thing as a perfect world? What is Ruby willing to give up to find out?


Author Interview with Cristin Bishara

On your blog, you mention that one of the initial inspirations behind Relativity is René Magritte's La Voix Du Sang. Could you tell us more about the story behind this?
I love this painting. I first saw it on a postcard, which I bought at the Kenyon College bookstore when I was a student there. So that means I’ve been carrying it around for quite a few years. It’s on my desk right now.

In the painting, there’s an enormous tree with two open doors in the trunk. Behind one door is a sphere, which could represent a number of things, but I think of it as the moon. Below, behind the other door, is a house with lit windows. Who lives in there? My postcard is pretty worn out, but it looks to me like there’s a third door above the other two. It’s closed. What’s in there? (Magritte produced several versions of La voix du sang, and in some of them there’s clearly a third door, which is ajar.) A colleague of Magritte’s once suggested that these paintings were inspired by Alice in Wonderland because Alice notices that “one of the trees had a door leading right into it.”

I’ve always found this painting compelling and intriguing, hence the oak tree in RELATIVITY with the portal door. I also love the notion that Magritte was inspired by a book, and in turn my book was inspired by his art.

By the way, Christie’s had La voix du sang up for auction a few years ago. It could have been mine for a mere $3.6 million!

How has life changed since getting a book deal?
I’d say there have been at least three surreal events in the past few months. First, listening to the actors’ auditions for the audio recording of RELATIVITY, which is now available on audible.com. It was pretty cool to hear a professional reading my words aloud. The second is the fact that I’ve had a few phone conversations with a TV writer/executive producer who’s interested in pitching RELATIVITY as a TV series. Who knows if anything will come of it, but just getting this far is so exciting. One last way I know my life has changed is the new look of my email inbox. Now it’s loaded up with messages from my agent, other writers, bookstores, and my publisher. Before it was mostly Petco and Banana Republic and forwarded jokes.

What are you working on right now?
I sent a new manuscript to my agent last week, and I’m waiting for her to read it. So that means I’m starting my third YA novel soon. Right now I’m writing brief synopses for four different ideas, then I’ll narrow the list down to the two most viable. And then whichever story keeps me up at night is the one I’ll write next. I’m actually thinking about trying NaNoWriMo this year, since I’ve never attempted it. I’m also considering buying Scrivener, because when I write by the seat of my pants, everything goes haywire. I really should start outlining first.



About the Author
Before publishing Relativity, Cristin Bishara worked as a professional copywriter, and taught composition and fiction writing at the university level. She has an M.F.A. in creative writing. Cristin lives in Florida with her husband, two girls, and rescued racing greyhound.



This post is a part of the Relativity tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours

Giveaway: $50 Amazon Gift Card

Monday, September 16, 2013
Who's interested in winning a $50 Amazon Gift Card?

Thanks to AO, a UK-based appliance company, for sponsoring this giveaway, readers of Imaginary Reads have the opportunity to enter to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card.


Details
Must be a follower of Imaginary Reads to enter
Extra entries for following various ways, tweeting about the giveaway, and commenting on reviews

Open to the US, Can, and UK
Ends 10/8 at 12:00 a.m. Eastern Time

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Review: Rose by Holly Webb

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Rose

(Rose #1)
by Holly Webb

Genre: MG Fantasy
Paperback: 240 Pages
Publication: September 3, 2013 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky




Synopsis

Rose isn't like the other orphans at St Bridget's Home for Abandoned Girls. Instead of dreaming of getting adopted by loving, wealthy parents, Rose wants to get a job and be independent. She doesn't need anyone but herself. She finds her escape working as a maid for Mr. Fountain, an alchemist. Unable to ignore the magic that flows throughout the grand residence, Rose realizes that just maybe; she might have a little bit of magic in her too. This new series featuring magicians, witches, talking cats, mist-monsters, and friendships will have young readers in a trance!


Review
◆ A copy was provided by Sourcebooks for review ◆

All that I love in a middle-grade read with magic is in this book. The quirky, lovable characters; the historical setting; the mystery and intrigue. And, most importantly, the spunky lead who must find her way in this crazy (awesome) world.

Rose is a likable character. She's brave and intelligent. Most importantly, she's independent and inquisitive, someone who can survive without any delusions about life. Unlike the other orphans who invent fantastical stories about their origins, she seeks only to make her way around the world in a realistic manner. This means that she's subject to prejudice; however, she's an adaptable character and learns to practice more open-mindedness when she gets put in a situation that requires it.

Rose is a story filled with magic and adventure. There is rarely a page without something happening to contribute to the plot or Rose's character. While the story isn't altogether new, it is a classic that has had new life brought to it. Older readers will be as enchanted as the middle-grade audience for which this was intended, as they find themselves returning to the magical reads of their childhood.

Series
  1. Rose
  2. Rose and the Lost Princess
  3. Rose and the Magician's Mask
  4. Rose and the Silver Ghost
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