A favourite winter tradition for many is to take the family to a rendition of The Nutcracker ballet. If they can't go to the ballet, there are countless movies to stream instead. While we love both of these options for our Nutcracker fix; books are where it is at. Therefore it was a no brainer that we'd be picking up Midnight In Everwood by M.A. Kuzniar. It is a beautiful retelling of the classic tale. We will warn you all that this is a typical British written novel. The pacing is a little bit slower but the magic pulls you through until the very end. You still fall deeply in love with all the characters and the story. Just keep in mind that you need to be in the right mindset for a slow paced magical romp in order to enjoy it at its fullest.
With that said, we got to interview M.A. Kuzniar to find out where her choices came from and, of course, find out her tea (or lack of tea) preferences. Here's a quick blurb on what Midnight In Everwood is about and then onto the interview!
In the darkness of night, magic awaits…Nottingham, 1906
Marietta Stelle longs to be a ballerina but, as Christmas draws nearer, her dancing days are numbered – she must marry and take up her place in society in the New Year. But, when a mysterious toymaker, Dr Drosselmeier, purchases a neighbouring townhouse, it heralds the arrival of magic and wonder in Marietta’s life.
After Drosselmeier constructs an elaborate theatrical set for her final ballet performance on Christmas Eve, Marietta discovers it carries a magic all of its own – a magic darker than anyone could imagine. As the clock chimes midnight, Marietta finds herself transported from her family’s ballroom to a frozen sugar palace, silent with secrets, in a forest of snow-topped fir trees. She must find a way to return home before she’s trapped in Everwood’s enchanting grip forever.
In the darkness of night, magic awaits and you will never forget what you find here…
Hello and welcome to the beautiful winter season here at Books, Tea & Whiskers. It's getting chilly out there so now is the perfect time to curl up by the fire with a cup of tea and our furry friends to keep us warm. The best books to do that with are those with a wintery tale, of course! Get cozy because we have two amazing author interviews for you which will help you choose your next favourite wintery read. First up is Ashli's newest favourite book (second to The Night Circus, but its climbed fast); The Winter Garden by Alexandra Bell. For this post, we are going to dive straight into the interview after this quick blurb to get you hooked:
"Welcome to the Winter Garden. Open only at 13 o'clock.
You are invited to enter an unusual competition.
I am looking for the most magical, spectacular, remarkable pleasure garden this world has to offer.
On the night her mother dies, 8-year-old Beatrice receives an invitation to the mysterious Winter Garden. A place of wonder and magic, filled with all manner of strange and spectacular flora and fauna, the garden is her solace every night for seven days. But when the garden disappears, and no one believes her story, Beatrice is left to wonder if it were truly real.
Eighteen years later, on the eve of her wedding to a man her late father approved of but she does not love, Beatrice makes the decision to throw off the expectations of Victorian English society and search for the garden. But when both she and her closest friend, Rosa, receive invitations to compete to create spectacular pleasure gardens - with the prize being one wish from the last of the Winter Garden's magic - she realises she may be closer to finding it than she ever imagined.
Now all she has to do is win."
Good day, our fine readers! We hope that you are all doing well and ready with a glass of Demoniac in hand for today’s book of choice: The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo. This is a hauntingly beautiful retelling of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby. For a very special treat, this post is one of our author interview posts! We got to ask Nghi Vo some questions and peek behind the curtain of her inner thoughts for how and why she wrote this gorgeous piece of work. So, as always, stay tuned past the “read more” link and check out the interview with Vo after a quick synopsis and our own thoughts about the book.
“Immigrant. Socialite. Magician.
Jordan Baker grows up in the most rarefied circles of 1920s American society—she has money, education, a killer golf handicap, and invitations to some of the most exclusive parties of the Jazz Age. She’s also queer, Asian, adopted, and treated as an exotic attraction by her peers, while the most important doors remain closed to her.
But the world is full of wonders: infernal pacts and dazzling illusions, lost ghosts and elemental mysteries. In all paper is fire, and Jordan can burn the cut paper heart out of a man. She just has to learn how.
Nghi Vo’s debut novel The Chosen and the Beautiful reinvents this classic of the American canon as a coming-of-age story full of magic, mystery, and glittering excess, and introduces a major new literary voice.”
This week we are diving into the beautiful debut novel by Sarah Penner, The Lost Apothecary. Both of us got this book as a digital Arc through Netgalley and it was actually Ashli’s first arc through this service all because of Erin’s insistent texts with bits of the tale. We knew that we had to talk to Sarah so our personal reviews are going to be brief and then we will dive straight into our conversation with Sarah about her research into this time period and herbology as well as try to tease some information about upcoming projects out of her. Don’t stop scrolling though because at the very end Sarah gave us a couple photos of her research materials that we can share with all of you! Without further ado, The Lost Apothecary…
“Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman.
Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecary’s register.
One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of a dark London alley in a hidden apothecary shop, Nella waits for her newest customer. Once a respected healer, Nella now uses her knowledge for a darker purpose—selling well-disguised poisons to desperate women who would kill to be free of the men in their lives. But when her new customer turns out to be a precocious twelve-year-old named Eliza Fanning, an unexpected friendship sets in motion a string of events that jeopardizes Nella’s world and threatens to expose the many women whose names are written in her register.
In present day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, reeling from the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. When she discovers an old apothecary vial in the River Thames, she can’t resist investigating, only to realize she’s found a link to the unsolved “apothecary murders” that haunted London two centuries ago. As she deepens her search, Caroline’s life collides with Nella’s and Eliza’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive.
With crackling suspense, unforgettable characters, and searing insight, The Lost Apothecary is a subversive and intoxicating exploration of women rebelling against a man’s world, the destructive force of revenge, and the remarkable ways that women can save each other despite the barrier of time.”
Welcome to our inaugural book review post. We are so excited to start this journey and what better way to do it than to start off with a bang? LORE by Alexandra Bracken was just published this past week and both of us fell deeply in love with this book when we received advanced copies through NetGalley.
“Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality.
Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world in the wake of her family’s sadistic murder by a rival line, turning her back on the hunt’s promises of eternal glory. For years she’s pushed away any thought of revenge against the man—now a god—responsible for their deaths.
Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek out her help: Castor, a childhood friend Lore believed long dead, and a gravely wounded Athena, among the last of the original gods.
The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and, at last, a way for Lore to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore’s decision to bind her fate to Athena’s and rejoin the hunt will come at a deadly cost—and still may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees.” (Official synopsis)
For this first post, and please bear with us, we are going to give you both of our mini reviews and then a special treat! Alexandra Bracken was so lovely and took time out of her busy schedule to answer some of our questions. So we beg you, literally beg you, to stick with us until the end because you don’t want to miss some of these answers!