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Zoe Strickland can remember a time when she wasn't much of a reader.

But in the words of young adult author S.E. Hinton, that was then, this is now.

"This year, I have read, so far, about 130 books. Last year, I read a total of 170," she said recently. "I don't get a lot of sleep."

Strickland, 15, of Rohnert Park not only reads voraciously, she also writes. A lot.

Three years ago, she started a blog "Zoe's Book Reviews" that is updated with new reviews about 20 times a month.

Strickland tackles an array of styles within the young adult genre and also posts author interviews on her site.

"I felt like I wanted to share my opinion on books to people but didn't want to bombard my friends and family with daily thoughts about it, because that can get annoying," she said of her urge to take her book talk public.

Readers have taken to "Zoe's Book Reviews."

The site has more than 470 Google Friend Connect links, and more than 30 Facebook users "like" the blog.

"It's fairly difficult to get an audience," said Trish Collins of Santa Rosa, who writes a blog focusing on adult fiction. "It requires the time investment. Most bloggers don't stick with it for longer than six months; most give up. It's a lot of work, and it's very time-consuming."

Collins turned to Strickland in January to help coordinate the young adult program for the Sonoma County Book Festival scheduled for Sept. 24 in Santa Rosa.

Strickland promptly nabbed a host of big-name young adult authors who were familiar with her blog, Collins said.

"I have not made it a secret that she is the reason we have such great authors coming to the book festival," Collins said. "It's just been wonderful working with her."

At first, Strickland ran the names of authors by Collins before trying to secure them for the festival, but soon Collins just put her trust in Strickland to make the call.

"After the first couple of people I just (started) giving her a blanket &‘Yes,'" she said. "She wasn't just saying, &‘Oh, here's an author.' She thought about it and knew it would be a good addition. I think it has made the young adult programming much more dynamic in terms of what we have."

The day's young adult lineup includes an advice panel for teen writers; a discussion on paranormal fiction; a panel discussion with young adult authors that includes Nina LaCour and Amy Reed; and a talk by "The Mockingbirds" author Daisy Whitney of Larkspur.

"She was actually the first teenager to read my novel &‘The Mockingbirds' in galley form," Whitney said. "I mention her in the acknowledgments in the sequel."

Whitney so trusted Strickland's opinion, she sent her early chapters of the sequel when the book was being written.

"She is definitely helpful to me on a lot of levels," Whitney said. "I'm very cautious with who I send things to, as I think any writer should be. I knew how she was in person and how she handles herself online. To me, she is very mature and very knowledgeable about this."

"I think she has a great relationship with a lot of authors," Whitney said. "I think she has absolutely come to be respected by publishers."

Strickland, who is homeschooled, is 23,000 words into what she described as a "very creepy and weird" novel of her own — a murder mystery about secrets and cults — and hopes to pursue a career as a literary agent or editor.

In the meantime, she is making her way through high school with the hope of attending college on the East Coast.

She also has to regularly reconfigure her room and bookshelves to make space for the books that publishers and authors send her for review, according to her mom, Eryn Strickland.

"At the very beginning, she wasn't allowed to give her address, even to a publisher, so everything had to be sent to me at work," Eryn Strickland said. "As more publishers got wind of her, I would allow it if they were publishers I had heard of."

But as Strickland's online following has grown, and her place among top young author publishers has been established, the books have been pouring in.

So have the accolades, according to Collins.

"Frankly, as far as I'm concerned, she walks on water," she said.

Staff writer Kerry Benefield writes an education blog at extracredit.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. She can be reached at 526-8671 or kerry.benefield@pressdemocrat.com.

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