New Adult author Lee Kelly exclusively shares five book debuts she’s excited to see in 2016, and what kind of cocktails would pair perfectly with each of them.

Ahead of the release of her latest novel, A Criminal Magic on February 2, Lee Kelly joins us to discuss two of our favorite things — books and cocktails. Even better? She matches her most anticipated reads of 2016 with a different cocktail based on the book.

Earlier this week, Hypable staff writers put a list together of our own most-anticipated items of 2016.

Guest post by Lee Kelly

I love a creative cocktail. My husband and I have actually had competitive “mix-offs”; my new novel, A Criminal Magic, is set during Prohibition (well, an alternative Prohibition where magic is prohibited, but still), and some of the things I miss most about living in New York are two speakeasies near our old apartment (in case you’re wondering: Raines Law Room and Bathtub Gin).

A Criminal Magic high res

In December, I chatted with The Book Lovers’ Lounge about five 2015 debut novels that I positively loved, and the complementary cocktails I’d recommend pairing with each of them. Well, 2016 is already upon us, and the year is ringing in a new slate of amazing-sounding debuts. There are seriously so many that I’ve already preordered, but here are five that I’m particularly excited about, plus the cocktail I plan on having in hand when I dive in.

after the woods cocktail

BOOK: After the Woods by Kim Savage

PITCH: After a girl risks her life to save her best friend from an abduction, dark clues emerge about what really happened that day in the woods.

MY COCKTAIL PAIRING: Hot Buttered Rum (Add 4 ounces boiling water, 2 ounces spiced rum, 1 teaspoon honey, 1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter, and a pinch each of cloves and nutmeg to a mug. Stir until butter dissolves, then garnish with a cinnamon stick.)

WHY? Early reviews of this psychological thriller promise that it’s twisty, spine-chilling and completely page-turning — just the kind of book I imagine reading by a fire with a hot toddy in hand.

foaming fairy

BOOK: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

PITCH: In a fantastical world, two sisters escape their ruthless father to join a legendary game of high stakes and magic.

MY COCKTAIL PAIRING: The Foaming Fairy (Add 2 ounces Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1/2 ounce absinthe and one small egg white into a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Pour into a martini glass and garnish with 4 drops of Creole Bitters.)

WHY? This debut won’t be out until the fall, but I’m already extremely excited about it. Just like the Foaming Fairy, Caraval sounds magical, frothy and delicious — and also kind of dangerous.

into the dim cocktail

BOOK: Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor

PITCH: Pitched as Outlander for teens, a girl must travel through time to the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine in order to rescue her mother.

MY COCKTAIL PAIRING: The Presbyterian (Pour 2 ounces of Scotch into a highball glass over ice. Add equal parts ginger ale and club soda. Garnish with candied ginger.)

WHY? A novel that’s equal parts historical fiction and time-travel adventure deserves an old-fashioned Scotch cocktail with a modern twist. And this one is both sophisticated and delicious, just like Taylor’s compelling debut.

ivory and bone cocktail

BOOK: Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh

PITCH: A lush, character-driven saga set against the prehistoric Ice Age.

MY COCKTAIL PAIRING: A Winter White (Add 2 ounces cold milk, 3 ounces Kahlua, 3 ounces chocolate liqueur and a dollop of cool whip to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake for 10 seconds and strain into a martini glass.)

WHY? Reviewers have commented on this novel’s rich descriptions of the Ice Age, a historical setting that feels so otherworldly, it almost reads like fantasy. Such a different and evocative story deserves a striking, snow-inspired cocktail.

shallow graves cocktail

BOOK: Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace

PITCH: A murdered girl wakes up in her grave with the ability to sense people’s dark secrets, and sets across her new, dangerous world to find other “monsters” like her.

MY COCKTAIL PAIRING: Belvedere After Dark (Pour 2 ounces blood orange juice and a splash of club soda into a highball glass over ice. Then shake 1.5 ounces Belvedere Vodka, 1/2 ounce ginger syrup and 1/2 ounce lemon juice for 10 seconds, and pour into the glass, creating a layered effect.)

WHY? This novel somehow sounds both terrifying and beautiful, equal parts poignant and horrific. So what better way to read this one than with a rich, complicated, multi-layered cocktail?

About the author

Lee Kelly headshot

Lee Kelly is the author of A Criminal Magic and City of Savages. She has wanted to write since she was old enough to hold a pencil, but it wasn’t until she began studying for the California Bar Exam that she conveniently started putting pen to paper. An entertainment lawyer by trade, Lee has practiced in Los Angeles and New York. She lives with her husband and two children in Millburn, New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter at @leeykelly and on her website at NewWriteCity.com.

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