Review and giveaway – Tea in Pajamas: Beyond Belzerac

Rachel Tey, author of the beloved Tea in Pajamas book is back with an intriguing and action-packed sequel.

Her second book, Beyond Belzerac, takes us to new, darker depths as Belle Marie, Tess, and Julien are forced to travel back to Belzerac when they realise that things at home are amiss. They find themselves entangled (and literally on the same boat) with Orpheus and Eurydice, of Greek mythology origins.

Tea in Pajamas cover

While the daring trio is fighting to exit the strange world of Belzerac and return to their loved ones safely, Orpheus and Eurydice, two star-crossed lovers, are too seeking to control their own fates.

I asked Rachel about her inspiration behind weaving the story of Orpheus and Eurydice into the sequel’s narrative. Here’s what she said:

The inspiration came from the actual piece of music called “Melodie” by CW Gluck. The first time I heard it my dad told me it’s from a piece of music called Dance of the Blessed Spirits, and he told me about the tale. I felt intrigued and read up more about the greek myth, and it always stuck with me. I thought it was tragic but beautiful.

Tea in Pajamas 3

Rachel began her own adventure with writing Tea in Pajamas with the goal of encouraging readers to take a step towards greater self-awareness and discernment. Here’s how she illuminates this path:

This is an ongoing journey, and one that’s not linear, with a definitive start and end. Sometimes the dark, uncertain moments can be periods of the most profound growth, so I really wanted to bring that out in this sequel…the struggle of the human spirit.

Vera really enjoyed the sequel – its magical qualities, a hint of a love story, and the tragedy of Greek mythology – appealed to her as an emerging teen. In her words, “It’s not like the other books that have perfect, happy-ever-after endings, and I like the bit of tragedy at the end.”

Her verdict kinda surprised me. I guess I’ve always pictured her as a happy-ever-after kind of girl and haven’t yet put my finger on how much she’s grown and matured! (Hah.)

I read the book myself and found that I enjoyed it even more than the first Tea in Pajamas. Perhaps it’s the good pace of adventure, the heady mix of mystery and romance, or the derring-do of Belle Marie, but whatever the case, Rachel’s writing has an enchanting, ethereal quality that easily sweeps you off your feet (in jammies of course) and lands you in another world.

I’d say it is a perfect companion for the holidays for any 9 to 12 year old. 🙂

Special thanks to Rachel for the review copy of the books. Hop over to our Facebook page to stand a chance to win the Tea in Pajamas book set giveaway!

Tea in Pajamas by Rachel Tey – Review and giveaway

While trying to recover from an eating disorder several years back, I made a list of all the things I’d love to be doing if I wasn’t shackled by the demands of the ED, i.e. spending every waking moment either overexercising, undereating, or obsessing about both. I held a serious desire to get back to doing all those things that once brought me so much joy and purpose, and creative writing featured prominently as one of those buried passions.

Tea in Pajamas as an idea for a story really just popped into my mind not too long after I made that list. – Rachel Tey

It’s amazing what lists can do. But Rachel Tey, author of Tea in Pajamas, didn’t just make a list and shove it to the back of her closet. She put on her writer’s hat and penned the story of her life (with a bit of help from her husband, who illustrated the book.) And the result is a delightful and fun tale.

Vera especially enjoyed the book – its magical qualities drew her in like honey to a bee. She even told me that she wished she could travel to Belzerac and taste Belle Marie’s cherry pie.

Tea in Pajamas

“Half an hour to go!” The booming voice of Monsieur DuPorc jolted Belle back to the present task at hand. Quickly, shelaid part of her dough at the bottom of her pie dish, trimmed away the excess, then poured the cherry filling over.

 

In the book, Belle Marie ends up back in Belzerac after having tea (coffee actually) in her PJs at 3pm on a Wednesday afternoon. She’s right smack in the middle of a culinary contest, but her bestie Tess is nowhere to be seen. This marks the beginning of her quest to find Tess – has she been kidnapped by the mystical Musicians, or is she somehow stuck between the two worlds of Michelmont (where the two girls live) and Belzerac?

Belzerac is of course a magical land, but it was actually inspired by a real place…

Belzerac was inspired by a region in southwest France called the Dordogne, in particular the villages of La Roque-Gageac and Beynac-et-Cazenac. I’ve never been, but just from pictures and books, I am completely taken by this picture perfect part of rural France where it seems like time stands still and people are just happy. I often fantasize about canoeing down the Dordogne River (though my hubby reminds me of my non-sporty nature and how it’d be less idyllic in practice!). It’s also not easy to get to from Singapore (many flights and trains), so for now, it lives in my imagination as Belzerac.

Friendship and hope are the main themes of the book, as Belle, later joined by her new friend Julien, tries her level best to find Tess. Rachel elaborates:

The idea that true friendship withstands adversity, and that friends are absolutely instrumental in helping one get through difficult times. The truth is, we cannot go at it alone all the time. Real friends will be there to cheer us on, lift us up when things look uncertain, and to keep us from falling into despair. Conversely, “friends” who only try to bring you down and tell you that you cannot accomplish something are not exactly people you want to keep around.

I’m also inspired by how Rachel overcame her eating disorder and soldiered on in her journey towards wholeness and health:

It wasn’t easy. Those disordered behaviors I engaged in had become second nature to me, and I was so conditioned to a certain way of thinking and living that I did not think there was anything wrong. But several events forced me to take a step back and see that my decisions came at a cost: I stopped menstruating, I had trouble conceiving, I had a miscarriage, I developed binge eating patterns, physical wounds took a very long time to heal, and my inflexible lifestyle that only revolved around weight loss, dieting and exercise was taking up almost all my time and isolating me from family and friends. Eventually, I came to acknowledge that I was unhappy, exhausted and no longer in control of my life. I prayed hard, researched, and asked myself what I wanted if I ever came out of this–and the answer was freedom. With freedom in mind, I mentally trained myself to overcome compulsive and destructive habits and to hone a skill called discernment (see this post).

With lots of prayer and practice, and over time, I was eventually able to recognize unhealthy patterns of thoughts/behaviors, and to act against them by replacing them with healthy, self-loving and life-giving ones. The recovery process is still ongoing, but now with awareness and discernment, and the gift of hindsight, I think I am more equipped for the journey ahead.

Thank you, Rachel, for sharing your difficult journey with us, along with the inspiration behind Tea in Pajamas. Tea in Pajamas is best savoured with a cup of tea (or coffee) and the company of a good friend.

To win for yourself a copy of her book (suitable for ages 6 and up), just do the following by Mon, 7 March, 11.59pm:

1) Like Rachel Tey’s Facebook page

2) Like mamawearpapashirt’s Facebook page

3) Leave a comment below, tell us why you’d like to win.

4) For an additional chance of winning, share this post on Facebook (remember to set it to “public” so I can see it!)

5) For another additional chance of winning, tag 2 friends on this Instagram post!

That’s it! Best of luck. The winner will be announced on Tuesday on my Facebook page. Contest is open to Singapore residents only.

Tea in Pajamas is available in:

tea PJs

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