On February 14, 2008, I created my first blog. The very next day, I wrote my first book review. It took some time before The Zen Leaf came into its full existence, and there have been rocky times in the years since, but the takeaway is that I’ve been blogging about books on-and-off since early 2008. This new version of The Zen Leaf opened on August 14, 2014, and gathered all my reviews from 2008 to present. It then became a journal of my book thoughts going forward.
Some notes on my tastes, my review policy, and a review directory are located below.
My tastes in fiction are eclectic and selective. I was raised on a diet of psychological drama and the supernatural. In my adult years, I fell in love with classics. Blogging later introduced a whole world of modern fiction to me. While I am picky about the books I choose, I enjoy novels from across almost all genres and age groups, and tend to be more interested in characterization, good writing, strong emotion, and fantastic storytelling than specifics about genre or audience. A good balance between story and depth is key! Some of my favorites include Possession, Little Children, the Raven Cycle, the Mistborn trilogy, Notes on a Scandal, The Bell Jar, Howl’s Moving Castle, Fangirl, The Unit, The Grapes of Wrath, Harry Potter, The Night Circus, The Awakening, The Host, Never Let Me Go, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, What Alice Forgot, and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue.
In nonfiction, which averages about 10% of my reading, I am mostly interested in food science/history, sociology, psychology, cultural and geographical explorations (particularly non-Western), LGBTQ- and gender-related topics (including women’s studies), light literary analysis, and religious studies (not inspirational). I especially love nonfiction that impacts my life directly and changes the way I live or think. Most often, I listen to nonfiction on audio, as it is easier for me to follow and engage with that way. Some favorites include The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Gothic Charm School, Around the World in 80 Diets, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Sonnets From the Portuguese, Come as You Are, French Milk, Fat Girl Walking, Reading Lolita in Tehran, All Joy and No Fun, Consider the Fork, Run to the Finish, and the Enchantment of the World series.
Automatic turn-ons: books set on cruises, shared dreaming, falling in love through letters/phone calls, reincarnation, occult, telepathy, creepy elements that seem supernatural but aren’t, characters who cross gender barriers, and Middle Eastern cultures. Automatic turn-offs: vomiting, drug use, talking animals, torture, vigilante justice, excessive medical gore, glorification of crime or underworld life.
I have not taken ARCs or books for review in several years, but I’m open to the possibility, and can be contacted at amandagignac[at]gmail[dot]com. Please note, however, that I am extremely picky about the books I will accept. If I agree to receive a book, I guarantee to give it a chance, but not necessarily to finish/review it. I do not finish every book I start, and I rarely give blog time to books I abandon. If I finish a book, I will review it. My reviews are honest, no matter if my thoughts are positive or negative. I am balanced and objective in the case of negative reviews.
Last updated: 12/29/20