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

Blogmas #3: Christmas Reads

Blogmas #3Day 3. How did we get here so quick? Work’s ramping up, Christmas is looming and now I start panicking about who I haven’t got presents for.

While we’re here, I just want to say a huge thanks to Jenn over at Jennielywho pointed me in the direction of her Blogmas list. Go check out her blog if you haven’t already.

And so we come to the third Blogmas post…

Christmas Reads

I’ve said it before – I’m not great when it comes to seasonal reads! I’d love to read more Christmas themed books, but I’m terrible at getting books with the intention of reading them at a particular time of the year. That said, a book doesn’t HAVE to be Christmas themed to be a good Christmas read. (I still haven’t read A Christmas Carol, either!) Here are some books which I think of when I think of Christmas, books which I actually have read. And as always, if you have any recommendations for me, feel free to throw them my way.

Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkabanhppoa

Something about the HP books makes me think of autumn and winter – I’m pretty sure I included this on a Blogtober list, too. But anyway. Yeah, Christmas makes me think of PoA, and that scene when Harry and Ron enter the Great Hall, only to find there are currently 11 people seated at the table, with the prediction made that the first to rise will be the first to die. The film, as well, with our first glimpses of Hogsmeade, covered in snow, feels a little more Christmassy than the others. This was also the first HP I got for Christmas – opening it and feeling a tad upset because I hadn’t yet read the second one, thinking my mother must have been confused and got me the wrong one and then I opened the present from my brothers, to find Chamber of Secrets looking up at me from the wrapping paper. Day saved.

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

the lion the witch and the wardrobeIs it possible to think of Christmas books without thinking of this classic? Again, another one I got for Christmas – I actually had the whole Chronicles of Narnia box set one year, and I cherished them. I watched the cartoon version of this over and over, tense at the Aslan scene even though I knew full well what was going to happen. Narnia, stuck in a constant winter with no Christmas, seemed like such a magical yet horrid place to me as a kid. Winter…with no Christmas? No lights and celebrations and amazing food and presents? And then, of course, Santa arrives, and things seem much more hopeful. In the middle of winter, when things are at their darkest, I think we could all do with that little touch of hope.

NOS4A2

nos4a2One for the horror fans and yes, I know the cover says R, but I’m British so my version said A.

(EDIT, Dec 4th: Friends, I was wrong. The above is a British cover, I thought it was American – my brain let me down when I was typing this yesterday. NOS4R2 = British, NOS4A2 = American, which makes more sense because the latter totally doesn’t sound like Nosferatu to me.)

This cover was just the one I found that seemed most Christmassy. Although the main events of this novel don’t actually take place at Christmas, the main villain of the story is obsessed with Christmas, in an almost childlike way – the kind of thinking kids have, about how amazing it would be if Christmas took place every single day. The book balances summer and winter, plunging you from July 4th fireworks into a wintery, snowy wonderland, and giving Christmas a really creepy, eerie edge. If you like horror and haven’t checked this out yet, I really can’t recommend it enough, especially for fans of King. Out of the novels from Joe Hill I’ve currently read, this is the one that, to me, reads most like his father’s work, yet unbelievably unique in its own right.

25-Post-Ideas-for-BlogmasBlogmas 1: Christmas TBR     /    Blogmas 2: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Blogmas #1 – Christmas TBR

Blogmas #1.pngSo I thought I’d give Blogmas a go this year, because why not. Although I likely won’t be posting every day, I’ll do my best to post as often as I can and offer up some Christmassy posts for your enjoyment. Jenn, who has an absolutely fantastic blog you really should check out, pointed me in the direction of her Blogmas list, (which you can check out here) so I’ll mostly be using that, with some amendments of my own.

My Christmas TBR, much like my October TBR which I talked about at the start of Blogtober, isn’t really centered around Christmas. Mainly because I have so many books waiting to be read, and with my Goodreads challenge cleared, I want to try and get to some of the bigger ones.

However, there is one book I’ve been waiting a good few months to read, and which I started last night.

season of wonderSeason of Wonder is an anthology of science fiction and fantasy stories, all centered around winter, Christmas and holiday themes. Edited by Paula Guran, the anthology brings together many names familiar to genre readers, and after reading the first story last night, I’m excited to dig into the rest, and nestle in with these wintery, Christmassy tales.

I tend now to have one book on the go for ‘pleasure’, and another for review. I do review ‘pleasure’ books, but they’re not ones I’ve specifically been asked to review and review books tend to be on my Kindle anyway. Right now, I’m reading Follow Him, by Craig Stewart, reading for a blog tour in Feb. I am really enjoying this one. It’s creepy and eerie, and I’m not really that far into follow himit. But it’s building up to be a tense, exciting read – keep an eye out for my post early next year.

Sticking with review books for now, I also want to try to get to Ritual by Steve Stred. I’ve heard really good things about this on Twitter from the horror community, so I am excited to dig into it. There’s also Cricket Hunters by Jeremy Hepler, which looks like a fantastic horror read.

The other two books I want to try and get to by the end of the year are both 2019 releases, and both sequels to books I’ve absolutely loved. The Testaments arrived with great fanfare, and because I pre-ordered with my local bookshop, and was the testamentsone of the first to do so, I was extremely lucky to get a signed copy. I’m eager to read this – I only read The Handmaid’s Tale this year, shortly before the sequel was announced, and one thing that kept hitting me was how relevant the novel still is. That’s not a good thing, but I think The Testaments is really needed in the current climate.

The last book is The Dragon Republic, which I feel everyone has probably read by now except me. The Poppy War was an amazing novel, and again, if I can get to this by the end of the year I’ll be super happy, especially as these are both fairly big books. We’ll see how it goes.

What about you, friends? What’s on your TBR for this month?

25-Post-Ideas-for-Blogmas

The Queen of Nothing – Holly Black [Review]

queen of nothingPlease note, dear friends, this review will contain spoilers for the first two books in the series, The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King.

In this trilogy, collectively called The Folk of the Air, Holly Black has created a rich, beautiful, dangerous and alluring world, one I could not wait to get back to in The Queen of Nothing.

Introduced to Jude in The Cruel Prince, when we first meet her she is powerless, at the whim of the fae, and trying to forge some sort of protection for herself in a world she calls her home, but where others insist she doesn’t belong. In The Wicked King, we see the development of her relationship with Carden, as she gains control over him and, in essence, rules the land from the shadows.

The Wicked King drew them closer together, resulting in marriage between the pair, before Carden has Jude exiled to the mortal world, until she is pardoned by the crown.

The Queen of Nothing starts there, with Jude scraping by in the mortal world, living with her sister and brother, and doing odd jobs for the fae folk on this side. But her unhappiness is clear, and though she pretends it’s homesickness, her worries revolve around Carden, the throne, and those who would betray him. When Taryn arrives, offering a chance to briefly go back, Jude is all too eager to take it.

Although Jude is essentially the queen, she returns to a world where she is basically powerless, unable to do much except observe and wait. And the world as she knows it has changed, as forces move against Carden and the threat of war builds.

As with the previous books, the book feels much like the fae; beautiful and dangerous, drawing us deeper into this world and giving fans, I think, exactly what they would have wanted from the final book.

To a point, anyway.

It’s hard to go into what I love about this book without spoilers, but I will say there were moments I held it close, glued to the page, entranced by the events unfolding with my heart in my throat. Moments I gasped from joy, moments I gasped from fear. The Jude-Carden scenes are as enthralling as ever, the relationship between the sisters brought tears to my eyes, and the choices Jude faces up the stakes in a way the last in a trilogy should.

The only ‘problem’ I have with this book is that it is the last, and I so desperately miss it already. I miss the anticipation of wondering what’s going to happen next, I miss the interactions between the various characters, the sense that Jude is always skirting on the edge of something dangerous. The Queen of Nothing provides a fantastic, satisfying conclusion to an absolutely brilliant series. The Cruel Prince was the first book of Holly Black’s I read, and I will now be seeking out more, hoping to forever fill the void this trilogy – like others before it – has left in me.

On that note, if you have any recommendations for similar books, I would absolutely love to hear them.

Esme’s Wish – Elizabeth Foster [Book Review]

9781925652246-Cover.indd

Blurb

When fifteen-year-old Esme Silver objects at her father’s wedding, her protest is dismissed as the action of a stubborn, selfish teenager. Everyone else has accepted the loss of Esme’s mother, Ariane – so why can’t she?

But Esme is suspicious. She is sure that others are covering up the real reason for her mother’s disappearance – that ‘lost at sea’ is code for something more terrible, something she has a right to know.

After Esme is accidentally swept into the enchanted world of Aeolia, the truth begins to unfold. With her newfound friends, Daniel and Lillian, Esme retraces her mother’s steps in the glittering canal city of Esperance, untangling the threads of Ariane’s double life. But the more Esme discovers about Ariane, the more she questions whether she really knew her at all.

Review

Esme’s mother disappeared when she was a child, and when her father remarries, Esme believes he’s making a mistake, convinced her mother is still out there, somewhere. Esme has always been a loner, neither her nor her mother quite accepted into the community. But when she discovers a new world, she finds more layers to her mother than she could have thought possible. Retracting her mother’s steps, Esme untangles the secrets of Aeolia, an enchanting world with magic and dragons, as well as making new friends, Daniel and Lillian, who help her find out both about Aeolia and her mother.

Esme’s Wish is the debut novel for Elizabeth Foster, and the first in a series for MG-to-YA series, and it was an absolute delight to read. From the opening chapters, to the strange world of Aeolia, Foster completely draws the reader in, connecting them instantly with Esme and painting a picture of such a beautiful if dangerous secondary world.

The threads of the novel wind together really well, and the characters remain believable and engaging throughout. From the strange, mysterious figures who seem to follow Esme, to the mayor and enchantress who might not be completely trustworthy, to the mystical beings inhabiting this world, everything about this novel keeps the reader riveted and keen to read on.

Esme is a really great character to follow, confident in her choices, yet uncertain about everything she discovers. The way the friendship was formed between the core three was handled really well, and felt realistic for characters their age, including the initial hostility between Daniel and Lillian, and the way they put this aside for Esme. The writing is magical and engaging, the descriptions stunning without being too much, and the worldbuilding handled really well.

Overall, this was a fantastic novel, one I definitely think younger, MG readers would enjoy, and which leaves plenty of room for the sequel. I’ll really be looking forward to book two in the series.

The Author

Elizabeth Foster grew up in Brisbane, Australia, and now lives in sunny Sydney. Apart from writing and reading, she loves swimming in the ocean, walking, and playing the piano (badly). She has just finished the sequel to Esme’s Wish and is now hard at work on the final story in the Esme series. You can usually find Elizabeth on Twitter @e_foster3

Praise for Esme’s Wish

‘Absorbing, enchanting, whimsical, Esme’s Wish is a story to lose yourself in. I would recommend this book to readers one and all.’ – Isobel Blackthorn, author.

Wendy Orr, NYT bestselling author of Nim’s Island, commended Esme’s Wish as ‘…a fresh new fantasy, of an enchanting world.’

Get the book via Amazon

Blogtober Day Eleven: Witches

Blogtober Day Eleven.png

Day One: Spooky TBR    /   Day Two: October Releases    /   Day Three: Bookish Autumn Bucket List    /   Day Four: Perfect Cosy Reading Nook    /   Day Five: Top 5 Disney Villains    /   Day Six: Strong Woman Horror Trope    /   Day Seven: Reading Snacks    /   Day Eight: 5 Autumn Reads    /   Day Nine: Vampires and Werewolves    /   Day Ten: Spooky TBR Update

Challenge List – Anniek’s Library 

Another slight amendment from the list – the challenge notes ‘Witchy YA’, but I don’t read enough YA (I wish I did – I love YA!) to talk about that. So I’ll talk more about witches in fiction in general.

Firstly, I can’t do a blog about witches without mentioning Harry Potter. This series Harry_Potter_and_the_Philosopher's_Stone_Book_Cover.jpgreally got me hooked on reading, and reading about J.K’s struggles (I know, not as many rejections as they made out, but to 10-year-old me it was A LOT, not to mention everything else) made me think maybe it was something I could do, too. And the female characters (in the books, maybe not the films so much) helped me see how strong  and varied women could be, from Ginny to Hermione to Luna to Tonks, Lily, and even McGonagall. These were women to admire, and as a kid who loved nothing more than reading, Hermione was great to read about, and earned a place in my heart right next to Matilda.

The next book is one I’ve mentioned a few times this month, and I finally finished reading it last night! Under My Hat is an anthology about witches, fromunder my hat a variety of different authors. It’s a great collection of short stories, each story presenting something different, and the book itself was an absolute pleasure to read. From young teenage girls trying to protect their school, to older witches trying to ensure their family’s happiness, each story was intriguing and interesting in different ways. A book very fitting for spooky season,

Next, Equal Rites. It’s the third Discworld novel, and the first of the Witches series. This novel introduces us to Granny equal ritesWeatherwax, who travels with a young woman to the wizard’s university, trying to help her learn how to control her powers. It’s a fantastic book, full of Pratchett’s brilliant humour, and well worth a read.

The last book I’ll mention here is a bit different than the ones above. Although there are some elements of horror in Under My Hat, and really dark moments through the Harry Potter series, they aren’t full horror, unlike Hex (review and review-with-spoilers). This novel deals with a town held hostage by a witch who died a long time before. She wanders the streets, her eyes and lips stitched shut, and is very much part of hexthe town. But the townspeople cannot stay away for long, and the younger generation, fed up of this arrangement, look for ways to stop her. The book is eerie in ways that haunt the reader, especially with the imagery of the witch, standing in the corner of a living room, unseeing yet always watching.

So there we have it! Some of my favourite witches in fiction. Do you have any favourites? Have you read the books listed here? I’d love to know!

blogtober

Blogtober Day 8: Five Autumn Reads

Blogtober Day 8

Day One: Spooky TBR    /   Day Two: October Releases    /   Day Three: Bookish Autumn Bucket List    /   Day Four: Perfect Cosy Reading Nook    /   Day Five: Top 5 Disney Villains    /   Day Six: Strong Woman Horror Trope    /   Day Seven: Reading Snacks

Challenge List – Anniek’s Library 

I love Autumn. I love the nights drawing in, the heating going on, the actually being able to get comfy because it’s not stupidly hot anymore feeling. Halloween approaches, followed by Bonfire Night, my birthday a week later and Christmas is just around the corner. In short, Autumn is amazing, and here are 5 books I think are great for this most wonderful season.

Under My Hat

under my hatOkay so I haven’t actually finished this yet, but so far this witchy anthology is proving to be a great start to the autumn season. It covers various kinds of witches, with each story presenting a unique and different view, and the authors involved are fantastic. Definitely well worth a read.

Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban

hppoaThis book makes me think of Halloween more than any of the others, maybe because so much of it is about revealing Harry’s past, and it’s when the books start to take a darker  turn. Perfect for longer nights. FUN FACT: The second or third time I was reading this, I was in bed, curled up, when I got to the part where the dementors came onto the train and all the lights went out. And…all the lights went out. In my house. As they appeared. I legged it downstairs so fast to find my parents. Just a normal power-cut, but yeah, it was kind of freaky.

The Near Witch

the near witchMy Review

This atmospheric novel feels like a fantastic autumn read, with descriptions that will make you glad to be huddled down in your blanket. Schwab has quickly become one of my favourite authors, and if you haven’t read it already, now seems like the perfect time to pick up The Near Witch, full of creepy imagery, a compelling cast, and haunting prose.

The Cruel Prince

the cruel prince.jpg

I really loved this book, and something about fae and the world they inhabit makes me think of autumn, or at least the tail-end of summer, the in-between time as one season changes to the next. It’s another book with fantastic imagery and absolutely compelling characters, and a story to keep you riveted. And the last of the trilogy is out next month, so this seems like a perfect time to read The Cruel Prince and book 2, The Wicked King.

‘Salem’s Lot

salems lotI couldn’t do an autumn books list without including at least one Stephen King. King was the author who first got me into horror, and along with JK Rowling and Anne Rice, inspired me to start writing. Almost any SK book could be included on this list, but I went for ‘Salem’s Lot partly because it was one of the first King books I ever read, and I read it before I ever read Dracula. Which means I read it a long time ago, but I do remember it being eerie, sparking a lifelong search for books that would scare me. And it was one of my first exposures to vampires AS EVIL. I was a vampire obsessed teen, but until ‘Salem’s Lot, I’d only really read Buffy and a couple of Anne Rice books, both of which had vampires with the potential to be good, not just villains. And I remember staring out of my bedroom window at night, after putting the book down, and paying particular attention to the shadows outside.

Any books you think are perfect for autumn? Any recommendations for me to check out? Let me know in the comments!

PROMPT #1: The Egg, Part 2 (Fantasy)

Part One

Vetta lay before the fire, stretched out with her great head on her huge paws, looking every bit the house cat, if she weren’t ten times larger. Shadows flickered across her black and orange stripes, as Kas held up the egg.

Eggs liked heat. So they kept this one as close to it as possible.

The house was small, barely big enough for two people, let alone a man and tiger, but for now it would do. They never stayed long in one place anyway. Too many other places, too many jobs. A lord here needing someone to track down a wayward child, a lady there needing someone to put fear into those who tried to take her land. Rogue vampires who couldn’t seem to remember the agreements, and feral werewolves without a pack.

Dragons.

Nasty creatures with more smarts than Kas liked. But he’d seen plenty of dragon eggs, nests of them at Lyrana’s sanctuary, and this wasn’t one of them. It was too bumpy. Dragon eggs were smooth, and glistened. This…didn’t.

Kas sighed, lowered the egg to the ground and nestled it against Vette. With the fire and Vette’s fur, the egg would be safe enough. He ambled to the back of the small house, to the bed against the back wall, and fell into it. His eyes closed, and he fell asleep quicker than he was used to.

* * *

“Kas! Kas, wake up, you stupid oaf!”

He woke, emerging from a dream in which a child dragon roared and spat fire at him, crying all the while. “You killed my mama!” And, indeed, he had, before taking the boy to the sanctuary and leaving him with Lyrana, despite the boy’s claim he would come back and kill Kas one day. Perhaps when the boy did come, Kas would be ready for death.

Vette tugged on his sleeve. “Kas! You awake?”

“I’m awake. Was going on?” He reaching for the drawers, and his sword on top, fingers clasping around the hilt.

“It’s hatching!” The tiger grinned, turned and bounded back through the door, Kas scrambling out of bed, forgetting the sword, and following.

Vette had gathered a few sticks, placing them around the egg to stop it rolling too far. It sat, nestled before the fireplace, trembling. Kas knelt before it, reached out, and placed his finger against the shell. He drew it back quickly; the shell was not just warm, but hot, hotter than it should have been, considering the distance between fire and egg.

Dragon-egg hot.

Perhaps, really, that was all it was. A misshapen dragon egg, about to reveal the small lizard-like creature curled up inside. They should have taken it to the sanctuary, at least there it would have been properly cared for, and they could have contained the first fire bursts to come from the creature.

Vette padded forward, and Kas grabbed the scruff of her neck, pulling her back.

“Don’t,” he said. “We have no clue what’s inside.”

“It’s a child,” Vette replied, “whatever it is. It’s going to need-”

“It could be a dangerous child, Vette! A dragon, maybe.”

“That’s no dragon egg, you can tell, it’s-”

She fell silent, as a crack appeared in the top of the egg. It shook again, this time so hard it knocked in the makeshift nest. Sticks scattered across the floor and the egg went down, smashing against wood.

“No!” Vette cried, eyes widening. She had never been the maternal sort, but protective? Always. And her tiger form, the form the witch had trapped her in, brought that out even more. She skidded forward, then stopped, looking first at the egg, then at Kas.

He knelt, looking at the crack running along the shell, and gently poked it, before putting his hand over one half, and lifting it up.

“It’s okay,” he said. “It’s okay. I think…” He removed the half-shell, and stared at the stunned, dazed figure lying against the other side. The size of his hand, a humanoid body, arms spread and wings stretching out from a tiny back. They fluttered, and the figure sighed, opened her eyes, and grinned.

“Mummy!”

Kas staggered back, as the small creature threw herself into the air, tumbled, and came straight at him. Vette watched, gaze following the darting, dancing thing as it came after Kas. He knocked into one of the chairs, almost fell, but managed to keep himself upright, as the small, flying girl hit his chest and stuck there, arms stretched out.

“Hello, Mummy!”

Kas sighed, closing his eyes as he exhaled. He’d seen them, before; tricky, nasty, mischievous little beasts, never had a single pleasant experience with one of them. But they’d found the egg, they’d taken care of it, and he’d been the first thing she’d seen when hatching.

She snuggled against him for a moment, before climbing onto his shoulder and settling there, small wings fluttering, a contended smile on her face as Vette bit her lip, suppressing the urge to laugh.

“Well,” Vette said, “go on, Kas. Name your daughter.”

Kas rolled his eyes. Fairies. Of all possible things that could have been waiting in the egg, it had to be a damn fairy.

“Kas,” Vette urged.

On his shoulder, a small voice squeaked, “Kas! Mummy!”

Vette burst out laughing, and Kas sat on the nearest chair, the fairy giggling, like a child who didn’t understand what they were laughing at, but who found the whole thing hilarious, all the same.

END

PROMPT #1: The Egg (Fantasy)

Prompt taken from website Self Publishing School. More details on why I’m doing writing prompts can be found on this post.

Write about a character who finds an odd-looking egg in the forest. When they take it home, they never could have predicted what was inside it.

Characters: Kas (human) and Vette (witch turned tiger). Hunters for hire.

Vette pounded in the air and landed, paws either side of the misshaped object nestled in tree roots. Kas stood back, watching her as she batted it, leapt away, then crept forward, body low to the ground.

He rolled his eyes, approached, and before she could do anything else, scooped up what he took to be a stone.

“Hey!” Vette said, a touch of a growl beneath her words. “I was going to get that!”

“You were playing with it,” he drawled, turning the stone over in his hands. It was not, actually, a stone. Just a little too light, for starters. Similar colour though – grey, with darker patches across. But it felt warm, and when he tapped the side, it almost sounded hollow.

Vette cocked her head. “Egg?”

“Seems like,” he grunted. “Too small for dragon though. Ain’t anything round here lays eggs like that.” He lifted it until it was eye level, studying it as he frowned. “Don’t seem right.”

To Kas’ eye, it looked too misshapen for an egg. The ones he was used to were smooth, but this had ridges and bumps. Still, he couldn’t see how it would be anything else.

“We taking it?” Vette stepped forward, eyes fixed on the object, and Kas sighed.

“Don’t look like it got no one else.” He looked around, staring at the spot where Vette had found it. “Don’t look like a nest here, either.”

“No. It doesn’t.” She pushed up onto her back legs, staring up into the tree. “Can’t see one up there, either.”

Kas sighed, turning the object over, before shrugging. “Well. We’ll take it back then go see Myri. He might know what it is.”

* * *

Myri cupped the egg in his hands, frowning as he judged the weight, tilted it, then placed it slowly on the counter. His shop was small, but full, a variety of objects stacked high on shelves, squeezed onto every surface. A small collection of books nestled in one corner. A range of weapons hung on the walls. And everywhere else were objects Kas did not recognise, and could not name even if he tried. Long, hollowed out sticks, thin circles of metal, trinkets and jewellery and other assorted goods.

Myri sighed and scratched the back of his neck, flakes of skin drifting off. “I actually have no idea. I think you’re right, and it does seem to be an egg of some kind, but I’ve never seen the likes. You been keeping it warm?”

Kas nodded, glanced down at Vette. “She kept it against her all night.”

“Good idea.” He crossed his arms, leaned back and glanced down at Vette. “How goes the quest?”

“Err,” Vette shrugged her big cat shoulders, rolled her eyes to look at Kas. “It’s…on hold.”

“She doesn’t know if she wants to turn back,” Kas grumbled, and Myri laughed.

“Can’t fault her for that. Imagine having that kind of power.”

“She has more as a mage.”

“Okay, Kas.” Vette rolled her eyes. “I still haven’t made up my mind, that’s all.”

“Well, when you do, let me know.” Myri leaned over the counter, staring down at her. “I’ve been making…enquiries. Getting in touch with some contacts. We might be able to help you with the next steps.”

Kas slid closer to the counter, squaring his shoulders as he stared at the shorter man. “Tell us what you know, Myri.”

“Nothing yet, my dear friend. I’ve just been…scoping, that’s all.” He tapped the egg. “Take that home. If it hatches, come back and let me know. I’d love to find out what’s in it.”

Before Kas could say anything else, Vette leapt up, putting her great, big paws on the counter and nudging the egg with her nose, before opening her mouth and gently setting her jaw around it. Kas turned and strode of the shop, the tiger following close behind.

 

TO BE CONTINUED…

If you’d like to read more of my short stories (unfortunately none feature Kas & Vette, yet…) please check out links and details here.

 

Spin The Dawn – Elizabeth Lim [Books]

spin the dawnFirstly, look at that cover. It is absolutely stunning, and I spent ages just looking at both before and after reading Spin The Dawn.

This novel is the story of Maia, a young woman who wants to become the best tailor in the land. However, standing in the way is the fact she is a woman, and so is left to simply ‘help’ her father – despite doing most of the work – while her brothers go off to war. But when her father’s presence is requested at the palace, to compete in the search for an Imperial Tailor, Maia disguises herself as a man, takes her brother’s name, and goes in his place.

Reflection, the Mulan book for Disney’s Twisted Tales, was written by Elizabeth Lim, and as it is my favourite of the series, I had extraordinarily high hopes for Spin The Dawn. These hopes weren’t just met – they were exceeded, far beyond anything I expected.

Maia is a strong, young woman, willing to do anything for her family, but keen to achieve her own goals as well. She’s determined, ambitious, and resourceful, and though she starts a little naive when she arrives at the palace, she soon proves herself among the other tailors. As if Maia herself wasn’t enough to draw the reader in, from the moment she arrives at the palace, the mystery and intrigue surrounding the competition, the other tailors, the Emperor and his bride-to-be all work to keep the reader engaged throughout the first half of the novel.

And then there’s Edan. The court enchanter, Edan keeps a particular eye on Maia, and perhaps doesn’t fully believe her disguise. She is determined to avoid him, but keeps finding herself in his path.

Spin The Dawn is a romantic fantasy, combining various elements to create a rich, beautiful, and enthralling tale, one that proves absolutely impossible to put down. I, for one, cannot wait for the sequel.

GOODREADS

AUTHOR WEBSITE

AMAZON UK AMAZON US / BOOK DEPOSITORY