This is my stop during the blog tour for Tara Nikkel and the Shaman of La’la Eek by R.A. Sapp. This blog tour is organized by Lola's Blog Tours. The blog tour runs from 14 till 27 April, you can view the complete tour schedule on the website of Lola’s Blog Tours. So far this series contains 2 books: Tara Nikkel and the Dream Mage (Tara Nikkel #1) and Tara Nikkel and the Shaman of La’la Eek (Tara Nikkel #2). The first book Tara Nikkel and the Dream Mage made it to #7 of this Middle Grade Novels of 2015 list.
Tara Nikkel and the Shaman of La’la Eek (Tara Nikkel #2) by R.A. Sapp Genre: Fantasy Age category: Young Adult Release Date: 14 April 2015
CHAPTER ONEThe Zoo
The students were singing a rather obnoxious rendition of The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round as the big yellow Twinkie veered towards the Mount Vernon exit on its way to the California Living Museum. A paper airplane floated down the aisle and crumbled into the back of the bus driver’s head. Teenage conversations were springing up like fireworks—So-and-So is going steady with What’s-Her-Name, That-One-Kid punched That-Other-Kid over a bologna sandwich, Popular-Kristy is having a big birthday bash at the Red Lion and she didn’t invite Slightly-Less-Popular-Christie.Tara Nikkel wasn’t participating in any of these conversations. She was thinking about dragons.For the field trip, Mrs. Ross had decided on a khaki safari outfit. She wore brown socks pulled up just below her chubby knees and, on her head, an authentic-looking pith helmet completed the ridiculous ensemble. As the bus transitioned from freeway to city streets, Mrs. Ross stumbled down the aisle, her clipboard smashed tightly against her bosom.Tara Nikkel thought about necromongers—zombies made from the spare pieces left behind by dead trolls.“Class,” Mrs. Ross began, “Your sack lunches are in the back of the bus. Please be sure not to mix them. We have a student in this class with a very severe peanut allergy on board.” Mrs. Ross pointed at Tara’s head with her famous red pen of shame.Tara Nikkel wondered what was going on in the really real world now that she was back on earth. She wondered if the warlock had lain waste to the people she had come to care about. Suddenly she felt a pang of guilt for leaving them behind.“Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh!” Billy Higgins waved his arms rapidly as if he was trying desperately to take flight. This snapped Tara out of her daydreaming and she looked at his carrot-colored face. A green caterpillar of a booger ran from his nose to the very top of his lip. Billy was trying to show the entire class what he had materialized on his face.“You’re disgusting.” Tara covered her mouth with her hand and pulled her eyes from Billy—her seat mate and partner for the field trip.“Pretty cool huh?” Billy announced. His brown eyes were crossed now and he extended his lips like a gorilla so he could get a clear view of his trail of snot.“I think I’m going to be sick.”“I wonder what it tastes like.”“Stop it, Billy.”“Salty green mayonnaise.”“Billy, please.”“Dripping with pus.”“Billy!”“Mrs. Ross,” Billy shouted above the chatter of the other students. “Tara’s gonna ralph!”When he said this, Tara felt the bile rise in the back of her throat. She didn’t know if it was car sickness or Billy trying to gross her out with all his booger talk, but something had started a horrible chain-reaction in her body. She felt twenty-eight pairs of eyes looking at her now, all of them anticipating her forthcoming yack. Even Mrs. Ross and Old Chuck, the bus driver, were watching her with visible trepidation on their faces.Billy pulled his left foot to his ear, flipped off his tennis shoe, and unpeeled a smelly gray sock. He held the sock to Tara’s nose.“Here,” Billy said gleefully, “blow chunks into this.”The pungent smell of Billy’s cheesy toes finally did the trick. Tara felt a warm gravy run between her fingers. She tried to catch it all in her hands but there was just too much.The students screamed.Every window slid down and each student shoved their face out of the bus to suck in fresh air. Billy Higgins laughed hysterically at all of this.Tara looked down and saw that her leg braces and shoes were covered in Judith’s sugary breakfast cereal. She took Billy’s sock and wiped her hands with it.Then she cried.
“What am I going to do with you?” Mrs. Ross wet a paper towel in the bathroom sink and handed it over. Tara took the paper towel and wiped her leg braces until they shined. The smell seemed to be getting stronger.“It’s on my pants.”“Yes, dear,” Mrs. Ross agreed, “and poor Billy has some on him as well. Not to mention Old Chuck is on his hands and knees right now trying to fumigate that bus so we can ride back to Tevis this afternoon.”“I’m sorry.”“That’s wonderful, Tara, but it doesn’t make it any easier. I probably shouldn’t say this, but I was secretly hoping your foster-mother would keep you home from this field trip.” Mrs. Ross caught herself. “I mean, I’m glad you’re here—don’t get me wrong—I just thought for your own comfort it might be better.”“I said I was sorry.”“You should see that boy,” Mrs. Ross said, referring to Billy. “He’s worried sick about you.”Interesting choice of words.“He took his disgusting sock and shoved it in my nose.”“Such a chivalrous young man,” Mrs. Ross beamed, “that he would sacrifice his own sock to keep you from soiling your clothes.”Mrs. Ross wet another paper towel and scrubbed Tara’s pant leg.“Just go,” Tara said. “I’ll wait by the bus with Old Chuck.”“Well, as appealing as that may sound, I can’t leave you alone with the bus driver. He’s not responsible for you—I am.” She sighed. “I guess instead of enjoying myself I’ll be babysitting a sick little girl. C'est la vie.”“Why are we even going to this place for a field trip? I thought this was supposed to be English, not Zoology.”“The trip was supposed to awaken the beast within, unleash your creative power animal. Do you even know what your power animal is, Tara Nikkel?”“My what?”“We learned about it at Burning Man, to achieve the greatness inside, you must identify your spirit animal.”Butterfly.“Do insects count?”“No-no, you can’t have an insect as a power animal. It has to be something powerful and—”“Butterflies can be powerful.”“No they cannot.”“Actually, if they work together—and you have a whole bunch of them—they can actually defeat a—” Tara caught herself. Why was she explaining all this to Mrs. Ross? It’s not like her teacher would ever believe that Tara and her butterflies had defeated a shadow dragon. After all, that was back in the really real world, a place where anything was possible. This was earth, and the rules here were a lot less flexible.”“You have some imagination young lady,” Mrs. Ross said dismissively. “That much I’ll concede.” Mrs. Ross tossed the wet paper towel into the trash can. “There,” she said, “that’s as good as I can do.” Suddenly her eyes popped as if some great idea had hit her in the head. She reached into her handbag and withdrew an amber vile with a pump lid. “A spritz or two of this and we’ll hide that disgusting smell.” Mrs. Ross sprayed Tara’s pants and then her belly and then, for good measure, gave her own body a refresher.
“The silverback gorilla is one of the most intelligent creatures in the animal kingdom.” Mrs. Ross was playing tour guide again. She approached the gorilla paddock and tapped the glass with her hand as she spoke. The students crowded in and pressed their faces against the glass to get a better look.Tara watched the students fight for a good spot at the window; she couldn’t see any gorillas over the chaos. Like puppies vying for adoption, the students crawled all over each other to get to the best view at the window.“The male can weigh as much as 600 pounds. Stop shoving now, everyone take a look,” said Mrs. Ross.Tara popped and squeaked on her crutches to find a place where she could see the gorillas. Billy Higgins followed after her.“Where are you going, Pukey?” Billy asked.“Leave me alone. And don’t call me that.”“I know a place where we can get a really good look at that silverback,” Billy said.Tara stopped and looked at him suspiciously. “I’m listening.”“But you have to climb a tree.”“Forget it.”“No, you can do it. I’ll boost you up.”“No thank you,” Tara said emphatically.“Aw, c’mon. Don’t be a scaredy-cat.”“I’m not a scaredy-cat.” Tara looked down at her legs. “I just can’t climb a tree, is all.” Not in this world, at least.“I promise you’ll be fine. I’ll boost you up on my shoulders.” Billy was really becoming persistent now. “It’s just around this corner, honest.”“Show me.”Tara followed after him as fast as she could walk. Billy stopped in front of a twisting eucalyptus tree that leaned over a short fence. He held out his arms proudly.“I don’t know…”Billy climbed the tree himself and crouched on a branch a few feet from the fence. Something inside the paddock caught his attention and he seemed to forget about Tara for a second.“What is it?” Tara asked.“I think one of the gorillas is hurt,” Billy said. “He’s bleeding a little bit on the side of his head.” Suddenly Billy’s face twisted into a disgusted grimace. “He’s licking the blood off his finger. Yuck.”“Boost me up,” Tara said. “C’mon Billy. I want to see.”“It’s so big,” Billy said amazed. “He’s right by the fence—and he’s looking right at me.” Billy waved his hand. “You should get up here and see this.”“Help me,” Tara said. She hated the sound of those words coming out of her mouth, especially when they were directed towards a toad like Billy Higgins.Billy climbed down the tree and before Tara knew what was happening, he lifted her onto his shoulders and pushed her up the trunk of the eucalyptus tree. Tara let her crutches fall to the ground and pulled herself onto the branch. Her heart was racing now, she was eight feet off the ground, higher than she had ever climbed before. But Billy was right, she could see the silverback as clear as day from this vantage point. Its two black eyes were like shiny stones you’d find near a river. The gorilla had a look of perpetual weariness on its face.“It’s amazing,” Tara said overjoyed. “Absolutely breathtaking.”The gorilla had a small cut on the side of its head and it was jabbing at the wound with its enormous fingers.“Poor thing is hurt,” Tara observed. “I wonder if it got into a fight with one of the other—”Suddenly Tara realized that she was alone. Billy Higgins had vanished and left her stranded in an eight-foot eucalyptus tree. She felt herself losing balance and quickly wrapped her arms around the branch to keep from falling. The branch began to wobble.“Billy! Help! Somebody!”The silverback roared wildly when she said this. Fear stopped her heart from beating. Now the gorilla was focused on her, the little spy whom had been eavesdropping on it from an overhead tree branch.The gorilla became enraged. It beat its breast with powerful fists and Tara could see sharp fangs protruding from its purple gums.In the distance, she could hear Billy Higgins’ cruel laughter.I can’t believe I fell for that! Tara wanted to punch herself. Why in the world had she trusted Billy Higgins—that snake, that prankster.“Billy, when I get down from here I’m going to break your nose!”
“I found her, Mrs. Ross.”Old Chuck held out his arms. Tara fell from the tree and landed safely in his grasp. She buried her head in his shoulder. He smelled like hazelnut coffee.“How long were you up in that tree, girl?” Old Chuck asked.“I don’t know.” She refused to cry. No way would she let Billy Higgins have that victory over her.Old Chuck sat her down gently and handed Tara her crutches. She slipped her arms in them and popped and squeaked towards the bus. She’d spent the entire day up in that tree. Nobody even noticed she was missing. Tara figured Mrs. Ross had done a count when they were about to leave and discovered that they were short one student.“How’d a girl like you even get up in a tree like that in the first place?” Old Chuck asked, scratching his bald forehead.“I don’t remember,” she lied.“It’s that red haired kid, isn’t it? The one who was giving you a hard time on the bus.”“No.”“You can tell Old Chuck. He put you up to that—getting into that tree—didn’t he? Then he up and left you there.”“I just want to go home.”“You need to stand up for yourself, kid. Can’t let some punk kid torture you like that.”Tara thought about the shadow dragon she’d defeated the first time she’d crossed over from this life to the really real world. If she had had her butterflies like she did back then, being stuck in a tree wouldn’t have been a problem—even with her cerebral palsy. She could have materialized a set of wings and flown off the tree branch. She could have commanded her butterflies to string up Billy Higgins by his feet. She could have had him thrown in with the silverback.A smile crept up on her face.“There you go,” Old Chuck said. “I see you smiling. Don’t let this get you down.”There had to be a way, Tara thought, to get some of those powers here on earth. She was sure the Guild was studying her, preparing her next great quest in the really real world. Then there was Fannie. Fannie Appleton was an alien who watched over her here on earth. She sometimes inhabited the form of an old Victorian grandmother. Tara figured Fannie was probably lurking around the zoo right at this very moment, in disguise of course.Tara locked eyes with a middle-aged woman behind the counter of a souvenir stand. She had brown hair that was thinning just above her forehead.Could that be Fannie in disguise?“There you are!” Mrs. Ross raced frantically towards Tara and dropped to a knee before wrapping both arms around her.She must have forgotten about the vomit, Tara thought.“I’m fine,” Tara said.“She was up in that eucalyptus tree,” Old Chuck said. Tara was reminded of that pesky tattle-tale fairy from the really real world. She won’t tell me how she got up there though.“I thought for sure I was going to get fired for losing you,” Mrs. Ross said frantically. “I’ve got 96 payments to make on my Beamer, I cannot lose this job.” Tara rolled her eyes. “You are officially banned from all school field trips.”“But—”“I don’t want to hear it, Tara. You went off exploring again, didn’t you?”“But Billy—”“Billy Higgins is on the bus. I don’t care if you do have a crush on him, you can’t drag him into your little schemes, young lady.”“Barf,” Tara said, referring to the idea of her having a crush on Billy Higgins. Then she remembered that she had actually already barfed (for real) on this trip once. Mrs. Ross seemed to remember as well.“Yes, and that’s another reason why you’re banned from all future field trips.” Mrs. Ross pointed at the dried vomit stain on Tara’s blouse. “I think you are far too fragile to be away from school.” She grabbed Tara by the arm and marched her back to the bus station.“Oh miss?” a soft voice called out to her. Tara and Mrs. Ross turned and saw an elderly woman dressed in a janitor’s outfit. She was holding a broom in one hand and a folded piece of paper in the other.Fannie!Tara’s heart nearly exploded with joy. She wanted to free herself of Mrs. Ross’ grip and throw her arms around the old woman. Fannie was dressed in a turquoise jumpsuit, but Tara was sure it was her. She was even wearing her old-fashioned spectacles and had stuffed her silver bun underneath a janitor’s cap.“What are you doing here?”“Tara,” Mrs. Ross scolded her. “That’s not a polite thing to say to this nice woman.” Mrs. Ross looked back at Fannie: “I’m sorry, you’ll have to excuse my student here. She is struggling with behavior issues today. Can I help you?”“I think you dropped this, young lady.” Fannie extended the note. Mrs. Ross dove in and snatched the note from Fannie’s hand before Tara could take it.“What is this? Some illicit note between you and Billy Higgins?” Mrs. Ross began to unfold the paper when suddenly a red wasp darted at her and stung her right in the neck. Mrs. Ross screamed. The note flew from her hands and Tara plucked it out of the air before Mrs. Ross could see what she had done.Tara looked at Fannie and nodded her head, letting her know that the note was secure.“I couldn’t resist,” Fannie whispered, shrugging her shoulders.“Thanks,” Tara whispered back.“Let’s get out of here, this place is crawling with wildlife.” Mrs. Ross yanked Tara by the arms. “This has been the absolute worst day ever!”Tara unfolded the piece of paper. Her pulse accelerated and her legs began to shake when she read what was written on it. Mrs. Ross tugged at her, oblivious to the little message in the girl’s hands. Tara looked back at Fannie—she was gone. She looked back at the piece of paper in her hands. The note said simply this:Be on guard, the warlock is building alliances.
Tara Nikkel is back! The highly anticipated sequel to the bestselling middle-grade fantasy novel is absolutely bursting at the seams with even more magic, adventure, and wonderment than ever before. A mysterious cry for help sends Tara back to the really real world to a tropical realm known as La’la Eek where she must come face-to-face with her most terrifying adversary yet! This new installment is full of exciting new monsters, twists, and thrills, guaranteed to satisfying every reader’s desire for more Tara Nikkel. What are you waiting for? Your adventure awaits! See why everyone is naming Tara Nikkel and the Shaman of La’la Eek as the book you’ll keep reading again and again!
You can find Tara Nikkel and the Shaman of La’la Eek on Goodreads You can buy Tara Nikkel and the Shaman of La’la Eek here: - Amazon - Barnes & Noble - Kobo First book in this series:
Tara Nikkel and the Dream Mage (Tara Nikkel #1) by R.A. Sapp Genre: Fantasy Age category: Young Adult Release Date: January 13, 2015
Meet a teenager with some serious issues. Tara Nikkel is a girl with a whole host of ailments: cerebral palsy, asthma, and a severe peanut allergy (just to name a few). And if all that wasn’t enough, Tara’s also an orphan with two clueless foster-parents who are hoarders as well as being professional couch potatoes. But everything changes for Tara when she ventures into a storm to find her missing beagle, Pudgy. Through an unexpected series of events, Tara finds herself in a magical realm known only as the “really real world”. Come join Tara on an adventure filled with magic, goblins, zombies, dragons—and more! Ages 13 and up.
You can find Tara Nikkel and the Dream Mage on Goodreads You can buy Tara Nikkel and the Dream Mage here: - Amazon - Barnes & Noble - Kobo Want to know the story behind this story? Check out this post about the real Tara on the author's website.
R.A. Sapp lives in beautiful Orange County, California. He is married to Rebecca and together they have two children--Abigail (The Healer) and Christian (The Wizard). In addition to reading and writing, Mr. Sapp enjoys running and mountain biking. He has run several half-marathons (including completing the Beach Cities Challenge in 2014) and hopes to complete a triathlon someday. You can find and contact R.A. Sapp here: - Website - Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of Tara Nikkel and the Shaman of La’la Eek. These are the prizes you can win: - 3 signed paperback copies of Tara Nikkel and the Dream Mage by R.A. Sapp (US only) For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below