About the Book
Title: Ghost Leopard (Zoe and Zak Series, Book #1)
Authors: Lars Guignard
Publication Date: July 21, 2012
Publisher: Fantastic Press
Recommended Age: 8+
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.
My Thoughts: 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+.
“Awesome! ~ I am 11 and I liked the book because I love adventures. It was a different kind of adventure from what I usually read and it was funny too. ” ~ 5-Star Review from J. Olsen, Amazon
“This was a fun read. This book was like a kid’s version of Indiana Jones. It’s also very educational as Zoe tells you real facts about what she sees and the history. I enjoyed it immensely. If you have a 10-12 year old child that loves adventure books, this is definitely a must read. ” ~ 5-Star review from Simone Lilly-Egerter, Amazon
“I’m sure this book was written for children who are around the age of the two children in the book, 11 or so. But, this 35 year old loved this book! It had action, adventure and imagination galore! It was exactly the kind of adventure that a lot of kids that age dream of.” ~ 5-Star review from The Novice Christian, Amazon
About The Author: Lars Guignard
Prior to writing novels, Lars Guignard wrote for film and television. As a teenager he attended boarding school in the Indian Himalayas and his experiences there provided the inspiration for the Zoe and Zak series which now include: Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard, Zoe & Zak and the Yogi’s Curse, and Zoe & Zak and the Tiger Temple.
He lives in the Pacific Northwest where he dodges bears and cougars while hiking & skiing the magnificent Coast Mountain Range.
For news about new releases, please join his email list here: http://www.larsguignard.com/contact/
Ask Lars Guignard a Question on Goodreads
Fantastic Press is pleased to announce that Lars Guignard will be answering questions about Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard throughout the day on Monday, December 16th, 2013 on Goodreads. If you have any questions for Lars or just want to introduce yourself, you can head on over to Goodreads and say hello now. Also, everyone who joins the Forum will earn an entry into the Ghost Leopard Blog Tour giveaway (see below for more details).
Click on the Goodreads Button below to go to the Mon, Dec 16 – “Ask Lars Guignard about Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard” event and leave a question for the author anytime from now until December 16th, 2013.
The Ghost Leopard Blog Tour Schedule (2013)
** Be sure to look for the upcoming Blog Tour for Book 2 in the Zoe and Zak Series, “Yogi’s Curse” coming December 15, 2013. **
* Ghost Leopard Blog Tour Giveaway *
Contest runs: November 15 to December 17, 11:59 pm, 2013
How to enter: Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. The winners will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winners will then have 72 hours to respond. If a winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author Lars Guignard and Fantastic Press and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.