All about Books, Book review, The Enchanted Emporium's Bookshelf

Best Books of 2021: The Year of the Witches

It’s a new year so time for me to share my favourite books of 2021 before I leap into reading this year’s offerings. 2021 galloped by and threw many obstacles my way, but it produced some amazing books though for me, the world of witches and magic have shone above the rest.

In no particular order here are my best books of 2021:

Threadneedle book cover

Threadneedle by Cari Thomas

The book cover for The Woman and The Witch

The Woman and the Witch by Amanda Larkman

The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell

Book cover for Witches of Barcelona

Witches of Barcelona by Caedis Knight

The Dream Weavers by Barbara Erskine

Midnight in Everwood by M.A Kuznair

The Coven by Lizzie Fry

Other books without a glimmer of magic but I adored anyway are:

The Imperfect Art of Caring by Jessica Ryn – review coming shortly

The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan

Dear Grace by Clare Swatman

2022 looks like it will also be a wonderful year for magic and romance with the publication of the final instalment of the Practical Magic series, The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman and the future publication of Miranda Dickinson’s The Start of Something.

What were your favourite reads in 2021 and what are you looking forward to this year? Let me know in the comments below.

A huge thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources, Random Things Tour, all the publishers who have supported my blog and allowed me early access to these wonderful books and of course, you my readers.

Happy New Year!

Happy reading and writing.

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All about Books, Book review, The Enchanted Emporium's Bookshelf

Book Review: Midnight in Everwood by M.A Kuznair

As we head towards Christmas and the traditional time of watching The Nutcracker at the theatre, now is the ideal time to review Midnight in Everwood by M.A Kuznair. Beneath this stunning book cover is a story loosely based on The Nutcracker, a ballet I discovered after reading this. Scroll down to see if the story lives up to the promise the delightful cover makes.

Title: Midnight in Everwood

Author: M.A Kuzniar

Publisher: HQ

Genre: Fantasy

Release Date: 28th October 2021

Blurb

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…

My Thoughts

This book is everything I ever wished for and more. I love ballet, strong female characters and magic and this novel blends all of those elements perfectly. Highly visual, the scenes appear fully formed in the mind from the start with the introduction of strong willed and determined Marietta fighting against the social norms of the time to continue ballet lessons but they become technicolour when she arrives at Everwood. The words capture the musicality and gracefulness of the ballet, The Nutcracker, which is based but takes on a darker, haunting and thrilling form as secrets are revealed.

In reality, there is no way I can convey how much I love the wonder and world building in this book. It is one of those reads you wish you can wipe from your memory so you can have the childish delight of reading it fresh so you can discover it all over again. I first read a digital advanced copy but loved it so much I had to order a physical copy to own. And wow, what a treat the physical copies are with its distinctive illustrated dust jacket that hides the gorgeous blue cover embossed with a gold ballerina underneath. My only regret is I was too late to buy a Waterstone’s edition too with the added essay on The Nutcracker, but since my copy is personally signed, I can’t grumble at all.

Midnight in Everwood is an unforgettable story that deserves to be cherished.

Would I recommend?

Yes. Yes. Yes. Not only is Midnight in Everwood a fantastic read that will become a classic in the future, the cover adds to its elegance, making it an ideal gift for fantasy lovers or those who adore ballet and The Nutcracker. Full of strong characters, set in an extravagant and magical location, the danger and suspense underpinning the beauty makes you unable to put this book down until the end. The impact of the story and Marietta lingers long after the last page.

It is one for my foverever shelf and will be reread during the festive season but it is also sits proudly on the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf.

Author Biography

M.A. Kuzniar spent six years living in Spain, teaching English and travelling the world which inspired her children’s series The Ship of Shadows. Her adult debut novel Midnight in Everwood was inspired by her love of ballet and love of The Nutcracker. She lives in Nottingham with her husband, where she reads and writes as much as can and bookstagrams as @cosyreads.

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Book review, The Enchanted Emporium's Bookshelf

Book Review: The Wildest Hunt by Jo Zebedee

I have already read a few festive novels but they are primarily romances. This review is for a completely different seasonal read for those who love spookier and creepier novels on these cold and dark evenings – The Wildest Hunt by Jo Zebedee.

Book Review: The Wildest Hunt by Jo Zebedee

Book cover for The Wildest Hunt by Jo Zebedee
The Wildest Hunt by Jo Zebedee

Title: The Wildest Hunt

Author: Jo Zebedee

Publisher:  Inspired Quill 

Genre: Fantasy, thriller

Release Date: 27th November 2021

Blurb

A long-dead child.

An artist who paints the fae.

An ancient estate on a blood-filled land.

The commission was close to Amelia’s dream: a cosy cottage in Donegal over Christmas and the chance to paint the beautiful Glenveagh estate. But when the weather closes in and the country shuts down, a ritual begins – one that traps Amelia in its circles of magic. Stranded in a place where iron is power, her heart can no longer be trusted and the land itself is a weapon, Amelia’s survival depends on unravelling the truth of a decades-old death. Even if it draws the same ancient danger to herself.

My Thoughts

I knew I was in for a treat when the supernatural spookiness began in the first chapter with the arrival of the grey lady and the highly visual descriptions sent shivers down my spine. It lured me into Amelia’s life and set up the tension and malevolence for the rest of the story.

The tension and impending danger for Amelia doesn’t let up until the conclusion, making it a thrilling if very dark read. The Irish countryside and the Glenveagh estate are ideal locations for the sinister fae hunt and it reminded me of the menacing Overlook hotel grounds in The Shining. There are plenty of nooks and places for danger to lurk, and it has a character of its own.  

There are two points of view: Amelia, an artist who has the ability to draw the supernatural and Jean who longs to discover the truth about the death of her childhood friend. Both are intriguing and make you want to turn the page and, as the secrets were revealed, knowing both sides ramped up the fear factor and made me suspicious of everyone. It’s definitely a book that kept me reading long past bedtime.

Would I recommend?

Yes, if you fancy a sinister, highly imaginative festive read. This blend of Irish folklore and a supernatural mystery set over the Christmas period is one that draws you in for an unnerving and thrilling journey and makes a refreshing change from the cinnamon and mistletoe laced romances that normally fill bookshelves in December.

With magic, supernatural abilities and fae, this will be a popular read with those witches who enjoy a darker novels from the Enchanted Emporium Bookshelf.

Author Biography

Author Jo Zebedee

Listed as one of The Guardian’s Top 10 Irish Sci-Fi authors, Jo writes stories based both in her native Northern Ireland and her fictional world of Abendau.

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Thank you Random Thing Tours for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Book review, The Enchanted Emporium's Bookshelf

Book Review: The Moon Almanac by Judith Hurrell

Hello, December! I’m delighted to share my first review of this month with this unusual and delightful book The Moon Almanac by Judith Hurrell.

Book Review: Moon Almanac by Judith Hurrell

The Moon Almanac by Judith Hurrell

Title: The Moon Almanac

Author: Judith Hurrell

Publisher: Summersdale

Genre: Non-fiction, nature, lunar

Release Date: 23rd August 2021

Blurb

When can you spot the Hunter’s Moon, a Smiling Moon or a Pink Moon?
How can the phases of the moon help your garden grow?
What influence does the full moon have on hamsters, coral and skylarks?


Navigate the rhythms of the night sky with this evocative collection of poetry, prose and precious
wisdom. Illuminating the moon’s influence on the natural world and its depiction in folklore and the arts,
The Moon Almanac will open your eyes to the wonders of our brightest celestial neighbour.
Includes information on:


 History and folklore – learn about wolves howling at the moon and the stories behind the names
such as holiday moon, the old moon etc.
 Trivia – includes details of the Apollo missions, the first man on the moon, astronomy discoveries,
the tides, daylight moons, harvest moons and more.
 The moon in religion and mythology – gods and goddesses of the moon, religious beliefs about
the moon.
 The moon and biological rhythms – find out how you can align your body and your sleeping
patterns with the moon, and how important the moon is to your circadian rhythm.
 Words of wisdom and lunar quotes.

My Thoughts

First off, this book is beautiful and with its midnight blue cover and simple silver design, it begs to be held and read. Inside it is just as stunning with intricate illustrations using the same colour way. It feels as special as it reads.

Each section is divided into months of the year and includes information about the upcoming moon cycles, poems, folklore from all areas of the globe and snippets of literature related to the month’s moon. It is full of facts that range from scientific facts to the meanings behind moon related phrases. Who knew the phrase “over the moon” is over 500 years old. It’s one of those books that has to be seen in reality to see its true delight.

Inside The Moon Almanac

Would I recommend?

Yes, I adore this book and is a joy to read. It will be one I will refer to on a regular basis as the year progresses. I feel privileged to have this treasure on my bookcase and know it will also be popular and well loved by those visiting The Enchanted Emporium Bookshelf. It would make a wonderful Christmas or Yule gift for anyone who loves nature or the moon.

Author Biography

Judith Hurrell

Judith Hurrell is a freelance writer who lives in Buckinghamshire. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her in nature, going on about the sky, the sea, the earth and the trees to her family and dogs. She was inspired to write this book after joining a women’s circle, which meets every month to mark and celebrate the 12 phases of the lunar cycle.

Thank you Random Thing Tours for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

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All about Books, Book review, The Enchanted Emporium's Bookshelf

Book Review: The Lighthouse Witches by C.J Cooke

I am so excited to share my review for The Lighthouse Witches by C.J Cooke on the run up to Halloween. I adore books seeped in the history of witches and this book promised just that and with a dark, menacing but beautiful cover, I just had to read. Scroll down to see if it met my expectations.

Book Review: The Lighthouse Witches by C.J Cooke

The Lighthouse Witches by C.J Cooke

Title: The Lighthouse Witches

Author: C.J Cooke

Publisher: HarperCollins

Genre: witchlit, supernatural, gothic

Release Date: 30th September 2021

Blurb

The brand-new chilling gothic thriller from the bestselling author . . .

Upon the cliffs of a remote Scottish island, Lòn Haven, stands a lighthouse. A lighthouse that has weathered more than storms. Mysterious and terrible events have happened on this island. It started with a witch hunt. Now, centuries later, islanders are vanishing without explanation.

Coincidence? Or curse? Liv Stay flees to the island with her three daughters, in search of a home. She doesn’t believe in witches, or dark omens, or hauntings. But within months, her daughter Luna will be the only one of them left. Twenty years later, Luna is drawn back to the place her family vanished. As the last sister left, it’s up to her to find out the truth . . .

But what really happened at the lighthouse all those years ago?

My Thoughts

The Lighthouse Witches is a deliciously dark tale based on an isolated island in Scotland which automatically adds to the gothic atmosphere. The descriptions of the lighthouse’s interior gave it an ideal setting for an unnerving, fear based reading experience. Told by several narrators including an ancient grimoire it follows Luna who has to return to the island to discover what happened in 1998 when her mother and sisters disappeared but she is not as welcome to the close-knit community as she expected adding to the mystery and tension. With links to the 17th century Scottish witch trails, it grabbed my attention and did not release me until the end, but even then I keep finding myself lured back into thinking about it.

Midway I questioned how dark it was going to go and whether I needed to grab a cushion to hide behind, but it made me use my imagination for the darker moments which may have made things worse. The tension grew towards an unexpected and satisfying conclusion.

Would I recommend?

Yes. With strong female characters, many twists and turns and unique location this is one of my favourite books of the year and a perfect Halloween read.

As a page turner and with strong witch connections, this is a firm favourite on The Enchanted Emporium bookshelf and loved by both Willow and Amber.

Author Biography

Photo of author C.J Cooke
Author C.J Cooke

C.J. Cooke is an acclaimed, award-winning poet, novelist and academic with numerous other publications written under the name of Carolyn Jess-Cooke. Her work has been published in twentythree languages to date. Born in Belfast, C.J. has a PhD in Literature from Queen’s University, Belfast, and is currently Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow, where she researches creative writing interventions for mental health. C.J. Cooke lives in Glasgow with her husband and four children. She also founded the Stay-At-Home Festival.

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Thank you Random Thing Tours for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

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