Saturday, December 28, 2013

Zoe and Zak and the Yogi's Curse Blog Tour

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About the Book

Title: Zoe & Zak and the Yogi's Curse (Zoe & Zak Series, Book #2)
Author: Lars Guignard
Publishers: Fantastic Press
Publication Date: September 9, 2013
Pages: 340
Recommended Age: 8+


Zoe and Zak are back in India. Again. And this time they're attending Moonstock Himalayan Boarding School, which might seem fun except for the fact that the school itself is a little strange. Students ride elephants instead of school buses, snarling monkeys work as security guards, and angry parrots monitor the halls. And even when they manage to get used to the wildlife, the food is absolutely terrible. But living with a bunch of other kids their age can be a lot of fun, too, or at least it seems that way until Zoe's roommate goes missing. Following the directions written on a steamy bathroom mirror, Zoe and Zak fly through the clouds on their magic carpet to learn that the two of them have been chosen yet again. This time they've been asked to lift the Yogi's Curse. It's not going to be easy. Zoe and Zak don't even know what the Yogi's Curse is let alone how to lift it, but like it or not, they soon discover that a whole lot of people are depending on them. Now, if they're going to save the day, Zoe and Zak are going to have to fool the monkey guards, avoid the nasty parrots, and maybe even develop a supernatural ability or two. Because lurking beneath Moonstock is a powerful new enemy. And if Zoe and Zak can't stop him, nobody can.

My review:  Moonstock Himalayan Academy for Boys and Girls might sound fun except for the fact that this is no Hogwarts in the Himalayas, where with the wave of a wand one can conjure up delicious feasts and fun stuff. For one thing, the food is terrible, toilet paper must be purchased, the hot water is erratic, there’s no technology (like Internet) and the teachers are eccentric bordering on weird. Anyone who ever attended boarding school will remember how often reality diverged from the brochure. But attending the school might just be more important than the kids think; after all, Moonstock has the reputation for turning out achievers and those who go on to change the world in some way. The crazy part of Moonstock becomes apparent when, adding to the weirdness, Zoe’s roommate Anita goes missing on the first day. Zoe and Zak learn that they have been chosen yet again for an important mission. This time they’ve been asked to lift the Yogi’s Curse and a whole lot of people are depending on them. To make matters worse and just when they need all the extra help they can get, Zak’s whip Stryker (which turns into a two-headed cobra) and the magic carpet (masquerading as a humble Doormat to escape detection) are confiscated by the school owners as ‘prohibited items.’ The tension mounts as the kids are pursued by giant fire-winged birds with malicious intentions, a talking elephant informs them that elephants are on the brink of death unless the curse is lifted, and they have a formidable demon enemy to defeat. Can Zoe and Zak save the day?

I really enjoyed this read. For me, the second book has cemented the series and made a lovely springboard for Book 3. Zak and Zoe’s success in the first book created a domino effect of events that take them into this adventure. Back story keeps new readers attuned so both plots link up nicely. Zak really comes into his own here and takes the word ‘intrepid’ to new heights. He stares down Amanda Mean, the school bully; goes into partnership with another student running an informal tuck-shop (that stocks lots of decent toilet paper); starts a vlog; and has some really inventive ideas using whatever comes to hand (including a flying feather!). He may not have Zoe’s powers, but he makes some surprising decisions that work out just fine. Zoe stops being so self-pitying and starts to think about just why her mother chose Moonstock as a boarding school. The action is non-stop and plot twists and turns keep readers hanging onto their magic carpets as they fly along with our heroes. The magicality is wonderful, using legends and fantasy elements from Indian culture and mythology. There are no instant spells ‘imported’ into the story: all the enchantment belongs firmly in India, using cultural and folkloric aspects that will no doubt get young readers interested in reading up more about the background. I thought the constant reference to ghastly food making the students sick, and the chemistry teacher’s unfortunate tendency to flatulence a bit repetitive, but no doubt kids will just crack up laughing each time they read it, so this is a minor issue. Zoe narrates, as in Book 1, and the lovely dry humor in her comments will appeal to adults as well as kids. The ending wraps up nicely with both Zoe and Zak having grown and matured, and learned some important life lessons. I really am looking forward to reading Book 3. Five Stars


Yogi's Curse by Lars Guignard

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The Buzz

"I have a 10 year old son who is an avid reader!! He loves books, (but he's picky too) he loved Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. He was so excited to read the 2nd book in this series! When I presented him the first book he was not sure he would like it but changed his mind quickly, then when I heard about the 2nd book being released he almost jumped out of his chair! (no exaggeration) He is anxiously awaiting the 3rd book! I would say that any child who enjoys fantasy/adventure books should read this series! It is a well written page turner! It's a fun story that adults can even enjoy the storyline without getting bored! According to my son, 'every kid should read this series'. " ~ 5-Star review from SavyGreenSaver, Amazon
"I loved this book, even as an adult reading it. I was completely sucked into the plot and was constantly finding myself staying up "just a little longer" to read one more chapter. Different twists and turns in the book have you constantly guessing who is behind what and who Zak and Zoe can trust. I could definitely see myself being involved in this series as a middle schooler considering how much I enjoyed it even now. Another thing I liked about it is if you missed the first book, you could still follow along with this one and not be lost." ~ 5-Star review from Staci, Amazon
"Lars Guignard has done a fabulous job with this series. I loved the `Ghost Leopard' & love this one even more. For late-elementary to middle school age readers, you can't beat this series. It's fun and fast-paced. Even my picky fifth grader enjoyed every page. There are bits of magic thrown in keep the action exciting. Mr. Guignard has a brilliant imagination & readers are blessed that he's chosen to use it for YA fiction. If you've yet to read the first installment in this series, do yourself a favor and read these books back to back. Don't limit it just to kids! Adults will have a blast reading these too!" ~ 5-Star review from Liz Terek, Amazon

About The Author: Lars Guignard

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: Zoe&

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The Yogi's Curse Blog Tour Schedule (2013/2014)

December 15
December 16
December 17
December 18
December 19
December 20
December 22
December 24
December 26
December 29
December 30
December 31
January 2
January 3
January 5
January 6
January 7
January 8
January 9
January 10
January 11
January 13
January 14

** Be sure to look for the upcoming Blog Tour for Book 3 in the Zoe and Zak Series, "Tiger Temple" coming January 15, 2014. **

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Renee C. said...

Thank you for your great review of the second book in the Zoe and Zak books series. I completely concur that the second book really has Zak coming into his own. He felt more like Zoe's sidekick in the first book, but they are increasingly becoming a team. Looking forward to reading book 3. Thanks so much for hosting a stop in the Yogi's Curse Blog Tour.

Fiona Ingram said...

The extra star says it all!

Lars Guignard said...

Thanks for the in-depth review of Zoe & Zak and the Yogi’s Curse, Fiona. Glad you liked the book. It’s always fun to see what different readers respond to in the series. I love the fact that you mention that Moonstock is no Hogworts in the Himalayas. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Book 3, the Tiger Temple, will available any day now. Looking forward to hearing what you think. Happy reading and Happy New Year!

Fiona Ingram said...

Magic and mythology blend perfectly, and totally in keeping with the Indian cultural landscape. That, for me, is one of the highlights and made it literally 'bejewelled' with a new kind of wonder. Looking forward to Tiger Temple - love the cover!