Esme’s Gift – Elizabeth Foster [Books]

esmes giftLong-time readers of this blog might remember my review for Esme’s Wish, a wonderfully charming book about a young girl who finds herself in a new world, and discovers her mother spent much of her own time there before her disappearance.

The adventure continues in Esme’s Gift. Here, we originally see Esme returning home, joyfully anticipating being reunited with her father, only to discover he is an absolute mess, struggling to cope with her missing status. But even when she returns, it isn’t the reunion she hoped for. Her father doesn’t believe her, so Esme returns to the wonderful world and her friends.

This book sees Emse exploring more of the magical world, gaining understanding over her gift, and even attending school alongside Daniel and Lillian.

The school set up will be familiar to those who have read any other magic schooling books, though with another differences to still make it feel fresh. And the school feels more like Xavier’s School from X-Men than Hogwarts, with kids displaying a variety of different powers and trying to learn to control them. There’s the stuck-up girl who verges on bullying, a mysterious boy who Esme doesn’t quite trust, and various other characters who prove to be allies to the main trio.

And as for the trio itself, it’s refreshing, as it was in the first installment, to see a trio made up of two girls and a boy, rather than two boys and a girl. And there’s no love triangle here, no forced romance. There’s hints of it, but nothing tips over and it’s actually kind of refreshing. Instead, the focus is on growing friendship, their adventures, and how they’re navigating being teenagers with extraordinary powers. Abilities. Gifts! In this world, they are gifts, hence the title of the book.

The interactions between different characters are well done, the revelations provide some good moments of making the reader really question things, and Esme’s travels, seeking out ingredients for a rare elixir, give plenty of tense moments as well as the opportunity to learn even more about this world.

The worldbuilding in this book is wonderful, as it was in the first, and it really makes the setting come alive, feeling fresh and different. The growing friendships between characters, the new dangers they face and the additional cast really make this a wonderful addition to this series, and I eagerly await the third book!

 

Tabitha Sparks and the Door to Everywhere – Jae El Foster [Audiobook Review]

tabitha sparksI don’t really listen to audiobooks, but I was approached very kindly by Kathleen Powell, the narrator for Tabitha Sparks and the Door to Everywhere, and asked if I would be interested in reviewing the audiobook. I decided I would give it a go.

Blurb

Intelligent, kind Tabitha Sparks has a wonderful life, with loving parents, a kind tutor, and an unusual connection to nature. But one day, when returning from her favourite place, she finds her parents and house completely gone, without a trace. Child Services take Tabitha to live with her last living relative, Aunt Demonia. In a cold, lifeless house, Tabitha discovers something wonderful, something which could lead her to her parents – the Door to Everywhere. But someone else is looking for the door, too, and Tabitha must stop him before it’s too late.

Book Review

Tabitha Sparks and the Door to Everywhere is a delightful children’s book, with plenty of creepy characters, mysterious happenings, and adventure to keep children and adults entertained. Tabitha is an endearing child, one it’s hard not to like almost instantly, curious and intelligent and keen to explore the immediate world around her home. She looks to adults for guidance and help, but often comes up against brick walls, with those who are supposed to help her turning out to be either useless or downright cruel. But she does find other adults, who really are looking out for her best interests, or at the least, help her in small ways.

Then there is Lapis, Tabitha’s feline friend, named after the protective stone. Lapis is a really fun character, supporting Tabitha through her trials and assisting where he can, although as he is a cat, he spends more time jumping into Tabitha’s arms than anything else!

My only real gripe with this book, and perhaps it’s because it’s audiobook I picked up on it more, was that there were a lot of adverbs. Notably, ‘curiously’ is repeated fairly often, and it got a little annoying at times.

Other than that, however, this is a really sweet story about friendship and kindness and doing the right thing, and a young girl searching for her parents. The different worlds we’re introduced to are intriguing and imaginative, and sure to entertain readers, old and young, with the different inhabitants and worlds Tabitha accesses.

Audiobook

I’ve only listened to one audiobook before, and that was Camilla, in Podcast format, so I listened to it between other podcasts, in ten and twenty-minute snippets. With Tabitha Sparks, I basically listened to it when I would usually listen to podcasts. And it was great! It felt like reading while at work, an ability to do other things while also being entertained by an audiobook. Although I understood why people listened to audiobooks before, I can definitely see the appeal more now.

There’s just something wonderful in falling into a different world through someone else’s voice, and the narrator Kathleen Powell does a fantastic job with Tabitha Sparks, hitting the right notes and affecting slightly different voices for each character. She has an absolutely charming style, one that really conveys the wonder and fear Tabitha goes through in the novel. It was a pure delight to listen to, and really made me feel like a little kid, gathering around for storytime.

Overall, I found this to be a fantastic, lovely book with a brilliant narrator really able to bring the story to life. I can only imagine the joy children would get out of reading this, or listening to the audiobook! It is definitely one worth checking out.

Audible

Goodreads

Amazon: UK   /    US

Kathleen Powell’s Website