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CAST YOUR VOTE FOR OUR BOOK CLUB BOOK FOR JANUARY

Hi book clubbers! Hope you all had a really lovely Christmas and happy new year to you all!  So, as we face a tough start to the year, why not join us in this month’s read?  Have a read through the below for this month’s choices and then hop on over to our Facebook group here to cast your vote. I hope you love this month’s choices as much as I do – a copy of each might have just fallen into my Amazon basket! Oh, and watch this space – we are hoping to start working with some fab independent book shops to bring the books to you each month – I think Jeff has enough money for now 😉

Happy reading! Much love Amanda

DISAPPEARING EARTH – JULIA PHILLIPS

One August afternoon, on the shoreline of the north-eastern edge of Russia, two sisters are abducted. In the ensuing weeks, then months, the police investigation turns up nothing. Echoes of the disappearance reverberate across a tightly woven community, with the fear and loss felt most deeply among its women.

Set on the remote Siberian peninsula of Kamchatka, Disappearing Earth draws us into the world of an astonishing cast of characters, all connected by an unfathomable crime. We are transported to vistas of rugged beauty – densely wooded forests, open expanses of tundra, soaring volcanoes and the glassy seas that border Japan and Alaska – and into a region as complex as it is alluring, where social and ethnic tensions have long simmered, and where outsiders are often the first to be accused.

In a story as propulsive as it is emotionally engaging, and through a young writer’s virtuosic feat of empathy and imagination, this powerful novel provides a new understanding of the intricate bonds of family and community, in a Russia unlike any we have seen before.

Beautifully written, thought-provoking, intense and cleverly wrought, this is the most extraordinary first novel from a mesmerising new talent.

 

THE LIGHT IN HIDDEN PLACES – SHARON CAMERON

The extraordinary story of Stefania Podgorska, a Polish teenager who chose bravery and humanity by hiding thirteen Jews in her attic during WWII — from #1 New York Times bestselling author Sharon Cameron.

One knock at the door, and Stefania has a choice to make…

It is 1943, and for four years, sixteen-year-old Stefania has been working for the Diamant family in their grocery store in Przemsyl, Poland, singing her way into their lives and hearts. She has even made a promise to one of their sons, Izio — a betrothal they must keep secret since she is Catholic and the Diamants are Jewish.

But everything changes when the German army invades Przemsyl. The Diamants are forced into the ghetto, and Stefania is alone in an occupied city, the only one left to care for Helena, her six-year-old sister. And then comes the knock at the door. Izio’s brother Max has jumped from the train headed to a death camp. Stefania and Helena make the extraordinary decision to hide Max, and eventually twelve more Jews. Then they must wait, every day, for the next knock at the door, the one that will mean death. When the knock finally comes, it is two Nazi officers, requisitioning Stefania’s house for the German army.

With two Nazis below, thirteen hidden Jews above, and a little sister by her side, Stefania has one more excruciating choice to make.

 

 

THINGS IN JARS – JESS KIDD

Bridie Devine, female detective extraordinaire, is confronted with the most baffling puzzle yet: the kidnapping of Christabel Berwick, secret daughter of Sir Edmund Athelstan Berwick, and a peculiar child whose reputed supernatural powers have captured the unwanted attention of collectors trading curiosities in this age of discovery.

Winding her way through the labyrinthine, sooty streets of Victorian London, Bridie won’t rest until she finds the young girl, even if it means unearthing a past that she’d rather keep buried. Luckily, her search is aided by an enchanting cast of characters, including a seven-foot tall housemaid; a melancholic, tattoo-covered ghost; and an avuncular apothecary. But secrets abound in this foggy underworld where spectacle is king and nothing is quite what it seems.

Blending darkness and light, history and folklore, Things in Jars is a spellbinding Gothic mystery that collapses the boundary between fact and fairy tale to stunning effect and explores what it means to be human in inhumane times

 

WILD – CHERYL STRAYED

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and she would do it alone.
Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

 

 

 

KNOW MY NAME – CHANEL MILLER

She was known to the world as Emily Doe when she stunned millions with a letter. Brock Turner had been sentenced to just six months in county jail after he was found sexually assaulting her on Stanford’s campus. Her victim impact statement was posted on BuzzFeed, where it instantly went viral–viewed by eleven million people within four days, it was translated globally and read on the floor of Congress; it inspired changes in California law and the recall of the judge in the case. Thousands wrote to say that she had given them the courage to share their own experiences of assault for the first time.

Now she reclaims her identity to tell her story of trauma, transcendence, and the power of words. It was the perfect case, in many ways–there were eyewitnesses, Turner ran away, physical evidence was immediately secured. But her struggles with isolation and shame during the aftermath and the trial reveal the oppression victims face in even the best-case scenarios. Her story illuminates a culture biased to protect perpetrators, indicts a criminal justice system designed to fail the most vulnerable, and, ultimately, shines with the courage required to move through suffering and live a full and beautiful life.

Know My Name will forever transform the way we think about sexual assault, challenging our beliefs about what is acceptable and speaking truth to the tumultuous reality of healing. It also introduces readers to an extraordinary writer, one whose words have already changed our world. Entwining pain, resilience, and humor, this memoir will stand as a modern classic.

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Hands up who wants to Join Team Attic?

We are now on the hunt for a new, amazing individual to join our team.  We are a small, friendly team, looking for an outstanding individual to come and work with us in our new HQ – an old Church in Whitwick, North West Leicestershire and to keep the magic alive!

We have a permanent position for a Model & Content Creator. The position is 20 hours per week but could well lead to more hours as the right person excels in the position.

About You . . .

Do you have a passion for fashion? Oodles of drive & enthusiasm? Attention to detail? Do you know who is who on Instagram world of Mummy fashion? Can you strike a pose for the camera? Do you wear it well? Can you enthuse and inspire others? Are you the Queen of selfies? Do you know what the backend of a website is? Do you know what a flat lay is? Do you love folders and post it notes? Can you wrap a mean parcel? Do you have a passion for high levels of customer satisfaction?  Are you a good all rounder, not afraid to get stuck in and love working as part of a team. Would you cope if you broke a nail shifting some boxes? Can you make a decent cup of coffee? Do you promise to indulge in cake on full fat Friday in the office? If you can honestly answer yes to all of these then we’d love to hear from you!

About The Role . . .

We are not your typical company and this new role will offer the opportunity to carve a role for yourself in a small, friendly, hard working team.  We are looking for an individual that is comfortable modelling our amazing clothes, showing them off to their best, inspiring other women to have the confidence to look good and feel great and interacting with our amazing customers across our social media channels.

We are a small company and we believe that we should all be prepared to get stuck in to ensure we can deliver the best possible products in the best possible way for our customers and provide the best service. And by we, that includes us, Amanda & Steve the Founders and CEOs.

As a busy team member you would be responsible for the following: –

Modelling the clothing/accessories for images for our site/social media

Creating content for social media and the website, such as . . .

  • Videos on how to wear items
  • Videos showing close up details
  • Flat lays

Participating in social media content planning

Taking images of products and uploading them to the site

Participating in and helping with the planning of Facebook and Instagram lives

Participating in regular team meetings and one to one development meetings

and much more!

Essential skills you will have  . . . 

Being comfortable in front of a camera and knowing how to strike a pose

Being able to take high quality photos for a range of media

The ability to use Facebook, Instagram (and other social media channels) for business

Fully computer literate including email, Microsoft Office and the ability to use WordPress would be a significant advantage

The ability to be flexible and work as part of a team

Bags of sass and confidence!

What we can give you . . .

Starting salary £19 500 (pro rata) with six monthly reviews and the opportunity to progress if you can really work hard and knock our socks off!

Company pension

The position is Monday to Friday 4 hours a day.

PS – you must love dogs as the Attic dogs are established members of the team and often hang out with us and we have no plans to sack them.

To apply please email amanda@elsiesattic.co.uk with a covering letter, two recent photos of yourself and your CV. Please tell us why you feel you would be right for the role. APPLICATIONS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED IN ANY OTHER WAY.

CLOSING DATE – CLOSE OF BUSINESS MONDAY 11TH JANUARY

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Vote for November’s Lockdown Read

How is it November already! Anyway, time to vote on our monthly read for Elsie’s Attic Book Club. Here we are, back in lockdown so I have tried to choose some really decent reads to distract us and to cosy up with. To cast your vote, hop on over to our Facebook group here. Here’s a little about the five choices . . .

 

Just Ignore Him – Alan Davies

So this book is a hardback, which I know aren’t always popular but the reviews have been so unbelievable that I just thought I would put it out there . . .  Told with immense emotional depth, Davies’s memoir is an arresting and devastatingly honest account of childhood trauma, the quest for belonging, and the complex role of humour in overcoming adversity.

The story of a life built on sand. In the rain.

In this compelling memoir, comedian and actor Alan Davies recalls his boyhood with vivid insight and devastating humour. Shifting between his 1970s upbringing and his life today, Davies moves poignantly from innocence to experience to the clarity of hindsight, always with a keen sense of the absurd.

From sibling dynamics, to his voiceless, misunderstood progression through school, sexuality and humiliating ‘accidents’, Davies inhabits his younger mind with spectacular accuracy, sharply evoking an era when Green Shield Stamps, Bob-a-Job week and Whizzer & Chips loomed large, a bus fare was 2p – and children had little power in the face of adult motivation. Here, there are often exquisitely tender recollections of the mother he lost at six years old, of a bereaved family struggling to find its way, and the kicks and confusion of adolescence.

Through even the joyous and innocent memories, the pain of Davies’s lifelong grief and profound betrayal is unfiltered, searing and beautifully articulated. Just Ignore Him is not only an autobiography, it is a testament to a survivor’s resilience and courage.

 

The Split – Sharon Bolton

A year ago Felicity Lloyd fled England to South Georgia, one of the most remote islands in the world, escaping her past and the man she once loved. Can she keep running her whole life? Freddie Lloyd has served time for murder – and now he wants her back. Wherever she is, he won’t stop until he finds her. Will he be able to track her to the ends of the earth?

 

 

 

 

 

The Second Sleep – Robert Harris

All civilisations think they are invulnerable. History warns us none is.

1468. A young priest, Christopher Fairfax, arrives in a remote Exmoor village to conduct the funeral of his predecessor. The land around is strewn with ancient artefacts – coins, fragments of glass, human bones – which the old parson used to collect. Did his obsession with the past lead to his death? The young priest finds an iPhone and what unfolds is truly captivating.

As Fairfax is drawn more deeply into the isolated community, everything he believes – about himself, his faith and the history of his world – is tested to destruction.

 

 

I am Watching You – Teresa Driscoll

What would it take to make you intervene?

When Ella Longfield overhears two attractive young men flirting with teenage girls on a train, she thinks nothing of it—until she realises they are fresh out of prison and her maternal instinct is put on high alert. But just as she’s decided to call for help, something stops her. The next day, she wakes up to the news that one of the girls—beautiful, green-eyed Anna Ballard—has disappeared.

A year later, Anna is still missing. Ella is wracked with guilt over what she failed to do, and she’s not the only one who can’t forget. Someone is sending her threatening letters—letters that make her fear for her life.

Then an anniversary appeal reveals that Anna’s friends and family might have something to hide. Anna’s best friend, Sarah, hasn’t been telling the whole truth about what really happened that night—and her parents have been keeping secrets of their own.

Someone knows where Anna is—and they’re not telling. But they are watching Ella.

 

Here to Stay – Mark Edwards

A beautiful home. A loving wife. And in-laws to die for.

Gemma Robinson comes into Elliot’s life like a whirlwind, and they marry and settle into his home. When she asks him if her parents can come to stay for a couple of weeks, he is keen to oblige – he just doesn’t quite know what he’s signing up for.

The Robinsons arrive with Gemma’s sister, Chloe, a mysterious young woman who refuses to speak or leave her room. Elliot starts to suspect that the Robinsons are hiding a dark secret. And then there are the scars on his wife’s body that she won’t talk about . . .

As Elliot’s in-laws become more comfortable in his home, encroaching on all aspects of his life, it becomes clear that they have no intention of moving out. To protect Gemma, and their marriage, Elliot delves into the Robinsons’ past. But is he prepared for the truth?

From the two million copy bestselling author comes a tale about the chilling consequences of welcoming strangers into your home.

 

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A Lockdown Update From The Attic

❤️❤️❤️ LOCKDOWN UPDATE FROM THE ATTIC ❤️❤️❤️
 
Firstly, we just want to say we hope you are all OK and keeping safe and well in these worrying times.
 
We have had a lot of people asking if we are still open so we thought we would send you a little update.
 
Yes, we are still open. We are very fortunate to have a large base that is well ventilated so we have lots of space to socially distance and still get the job done. We all regularly wash our hands, we have hand gel everywhere and, as of Thursday, we will all be wearing masks. We are also anti-bacing the hell out of everything!
 
We have systems in place with Royal Mail and other delivery drivers, to hand over any parcels contact free so no one is put at any risk.
 
Also, we are now EXTENDING OUR RETURNS PERIOD. Any orders place can be returned up until the 10th January – our usual Christmas returns period so you can shop with us with confidence.
 
It does seem rather trivial to chat about fashion at this time but we do have lots of gorgeous Christmas stock for you, lots of lovely gift ideas so you can do any Christmas shopping you want to do safely from your own home. If you have made it this far, please use the code selfcare10 for 10% off your next order with us – valid until 23.59 Tuesday 3rd November.
 
Also, we do have a fab book club if you want somewhere to join in on friendly, book related chat. Pop over to Facebook and join in here
 
Lastly, if we can do anything to help, please get in touch – we are always here for a chat. We have done this before and we can do it again 💪 Stay safe, keep well and look after yourself. Lots of love
 
Amanda & Steve and the Attic boys! xx ❤️❤️❤️❤️
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Cast Your Vote for October’s Read

Is it really October already!? Perfect month for snuggling up in front of the fire with a good book, so let’s see of we can choose one!  I hope you find something you like amongst this month’s choices . . . to cast your vote, hop on over to the Facebook group.  Happy reading. Big love Amanda xx

 

The Jane Austen Society – Natalie Jenner 

Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.

One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England’s finest novelists. Now it’s home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen’s legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen’s home and her legacy. These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others—could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.

 

 

The Invited – Jennifer McMahon

A chilling ghost story with a twist: the New York Times bestselling author of The Winter People returns to the woods of Vermont to tell the story of a husband and wife who don’t simply move into a haunted house–they build one . . .

In a quest for a simpler life, Helen and Nate have abandoned the comforts of suburbia to take up residence on forty-four acres of rural land where they will begin the ultimate, aspirational do-it-yourself project: building the house of their dreams. When they discover that this beautiful property has a dark and violent past, Helen, a former history teacher, becomes consumed by the local legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who lived and died there a century ago. With her passion for artefacts, Helen finds special materials to incorporate into the house–a beam from an old schoolroom, bricks from a mill, a mantel from a farmhouse–objects that draw her deeper into the story of Hattie and her descendants, three generations of Breckenridge women, each of whom died suspiciously. As the building project progresses, the house will become a place of menace and unfinished business: a new home, now haunted, that beckons its owners and their neighbours toward unimaginable danger.

 

The Institute – Stephen King

In the middle of the night, in a house on a quiet street in suburban Minneapolis, intruders silently murder Luke Ellis’s parents and load him into a black SUV. The operation takes less than two minutes. Luke will wake up at The Institute, in a room that looks just like his own, except there’s no window. And outside his door are other doors, behind which are other kids with special talents—telekinesis and telepathy—who got to this place the same way Luke did: Kalisha, Nick, George, Iris, and ten-year-old Avery Dixon. They are all in Front Half. Others, Luke learns, graduated to Back Half, “like the roach motel,” Kalisha says. “You check in, but you don’t check out.”

In this most sinister of institutions, the director, Mrs. Sigsby, and her staff are ruthlessly dedicated to extracting from these children the force of their extranormal gifts. There are no scruples here. If you go along, you get tokens for the vending machines. If you don’t, punishment is brutal. As each new victim disappears to Back Half, Luke becomes more and more desperate to get out and get help. But no one has ever escaped from the Institute.

 

Lariat Girl – Suzanne Prescott

What would you do if your child was abducted—and the ransom was your other child?
AN ORIGINAL, GRIPPING THRILLER WITH A STRONG FEARLESS HEROINE WHO RISKS HER LIFE TO SAVE HER BROTHER—AND AN UNFLINCHING DESCENT INTO THE DISTURBED MIND OF A KILLER. Based on the award-winning screenplay.

A routine blood donation puts high school senior and gifted athlete Kenley Madson in the path of a twisted serial killer who collects women who resemble his dead mother. When her little brother is kidnapped and held for an unthinkable ransom, Kenley must choose between her freedom and his. The choice is easy. What comes after is anything but.

While detectives and her family search for her, Kenley wakes up to a special kind of depraved hell—in a facility populated with blonde, green-eyed girls who all look like her. It’s a museum curated for one man. And every exhibit is a replica of his dead mama, their bodies primped and preened and scoured into perverted perfection. Although she’s never met a physical challenge she couldn’t master, surviving the mercurial whims of a perverse and delusional man—and the people who enable him—will push Kenley to her limits.

Lockdown – Peter May

Written over fifteen years ago, this prescient, suspenseful thriller is set against a backdrop of a capital city in quarantine, and explores human experience in the grip of a killer virus.

‘They said that twenty-five percent of the population would catch the flu. Between seventy and eighty percent of them would die. He had been directly exposed to it, and the odds weren’t good.’

A CITY IN QUARANTINE

London, the epicenter of a global pandemic, is a city in lockdown. Violence and civil disorder simmer. Martial law has been imposed. No-one is safe from the deadly virus that has already claimed thousands of victims. Health and emergency services are overwhelmed.

A MURDERED CHILD

At a building site for a temporary hospital, construction workers find a bag containing the rendered bones of a murdered child. A remorseless killer has been unleashed on the city; his mission is to take all measures necessary to prevent the bones from being identified.

A POWERFUL CONSPIRACY

D.I. Jack MacNeil, counting down the hours on his final day with the Met, is sent to investigate. His career is in ruins, his marriage over and his own family touched by the virus. Sinister forces are tracking his every move, prepared to kill again to conceal the truth. Which will stop him first – the virus or the killers?

 

 

 

 

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Vote for the Book of the Month for September!

Hi book peeps!  How is it September already! Looking forward to a cosy month with lots of reading, especially now the kids are back at school!  Here’s the five choices for this month, to cast your vote, hop on over to the Facebook group.  Happy reading. Big love Amanda xx

 

The Wild Silence – Raynor Winn 

Magical and life-affirming new book, The Wild Silence – the follow-up to the uplifting, Sunday Times, internationally bestselling, Wainwright prize shortlisted, and Costa shortlisted, The Salt Path.

Nature holds the answers for Raynor and her husband Moth. After walking 630 homeless miles along The Salt Path, living on the windswept and wild English coastline; the cliffs, the sky and the chalky earth now feel like their home.

Moth has a terminal diagnosis, but against all medical odds, he seems revitalized in nature. Together on the wild coastal path, with their feet firmly rooted outdoors, they discover that anything is possible.

Now, life beyond The Salt Path awaits and they come back to four walls, but the sense of home is illusive and returning to normality is proving difficult – until an incredible gesture by someone who reads their story changes everything.

A chance to breathe life back into a beautiful farmhouse nestled deep in the Cornish hills; rewilding the land and returning nature to its hedgerows becomes their saving grace and their new path to follow.

The Wild Silence is a story of hope triumphing over despair, of lifelong love prevailing over everything. It is a luminous account of the human spirit’s instinctive connection to nature, and how vital it is for us all.

 

Gods of Jade and Shadow – Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this one-of-a-kind fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore.

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.

 

Fifty Fifty – Steve Cavanagh 

Two sisters on trial for murder. They accuse each other.
Who do YOU believe?

‘911 what’s your emergency?’

‘My dad’s dead. My sister Sofia killed him. She’s still in the house. Please send help.’

‘My dad’s dead. My sister Alexandra killed him. She’s still in the house. Please send help.’

One of them is a liar and a killer.

But which one?

 

 

Broken Ghost – Niall Griffiths

A Welsh community is drawn together and blown apart by a strange vision in the mountains: the huge spectre of a woman floating over a ridge. The people who live here in these mountains already have their own demons – drink, drugs, domestic violence, psychoses – but each character has a different experience of this strange apparition, a different reaction, and for some it will change everything. Is it a collective hallucination? A meteorological phenomenon? Whatever it is, they all saw something, early one morning on the shores of a mountain lake, something that will awaken in them powers and passions and, perhaps, a possibility of healing these broken people in a broken country.

An examination of modern humanity’s desperate need to live meaningfully and vividly in a mediated world – where individual autonomy is lost and the collective heart is atomised and exploited – this is a novel that gives voices to the marginalised, the dispossessed, the forgotten. Disturbing and unforgettable, darkly funny and deeply moving, written in a charged language that is vernacular, lyrical and hieratic all at once, Broken Ghost is – simultaneously – a howl of anguish and a summoning of gods.

 

The Nanny – Gillian Macmillan 

When her beloved nanny, Hannah, left without a trace in the summer of 1988, seven-year-old Jocelyn Holt was devastated. Haunted by the loss, Jo grew up bitter and distant, and eventually left her parents and Lake Hall, their faded aristocratic home, behind.

Thirty years later, Jo returns to the house and is forced to confront her troubled relationship with her mother. But when human remains are accidentally uncovered in a lake on the estate, Jo begins to question everything she thought she knew.

Then an unexpected visitor knocks on the door and Jo’s world is destroyed again. Desperate to piece together the gaping holes in her memory, Jo must uncover who her nanny really was, why she left, and if she can trust her own mother…

In this compulsively readable tale of secrets, lies, and deception, Gilly Macmillan explores the darkest impulses and desires of the human heart. Diabolically clever, The Nanny reminds us that sometimes the truth hurts so much you’d rather hear the lie.

 

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Cast Your Vote in Elsie’s Attic Book Club

Hello book lovers! How are you all? I hope you are all coping well during these strange times and finding some spare time for reading?

The vote for August’s read is on.  So many amazing new releases to choose from it was hard to whittle it down to five! I hope you like the ones I have chosen.

To vote on this month’s choice head on over to the Facebook page and cast your photo. Voting closes 12 midnight Thursday 6th August and we will announce the choice the next day! 

See you there! Much love Amanda xx

 

Miss Benson’s Beetle – Rachel Joyce 

Margery Benson’s life ended the day her father walked out of his study and never came back. Forty years later, abandoning a dull job, she advertises for an assistant. The successful candidate is to accompany Margery on an expedition to the other side of the world to search for a beetle that may or may not exist. Enid Pretty is not who she had in mind. But together they will find themselves drawn into an adventure that exceeds all Margery’s expectations, eventually finding new life at the top of a red mountain.

This is a story that is less about what can be found than the belief it might be found; it is an intoxicating adventure story and it is also a tender exploration of a friendship between two unforgettable women that defies all boundaries

 

I am an Island – Tamsin Calidas

When Tamsin Calidas first arrives on a remote island in the Scottish Hebrides, it feels like coming home. Disenchanted by London, she and her husband left the city and high-flying careers to move the 500 miles north, despite having absolutely no experience of crofting, or of island life. It was idyllic, for a while. But as the months wear on, the children she’d longed for fail to materialise, and her marriage breaks down, Tamsin finds herself in ever-increasing isolation.

Injured, ill, without money or friend she is pared right back, stripped to becoming simply a raw element of the often harsh landscape. But with that immersion in her surroundings comes the possibility of rebirth and renewal. Tamsin begins the slow journey back from the brink.

Startling, raw and extremely moving, I Am An Island is a story about the incredible ability of the natural world to provide when everything else has fallen away – a stunning book about solitude, friendship, resilience and self-discovery.

 

Burnt Sugar – Avni Doshi 

In her youth, Tara was wild. She abandoned her loveless marriage to join an ashram, endured a brief stint as a beggar (mostly to spite her affluent parents), and spent years chasing after a dishevelled, homeless ‘artist’ – all with her young child in tow. Now she is forgetting things, mixing up her maid’s wages and leaving the gas on all night, and her grown-up daughter is faced with the task of caring for a woman who never cared for her.

This is a love story and a story about betrayal. But not between lovers – between mother and daughter. Sharp as a blade and laced with caustic wit, Burnt Sugar unpicks the slippery, choking cord of memory and myth that binds two women together, making and unmaking them endlessly.

 

 

 

Feathertide – Beth Cartwright

Born covered in the feathers of a bird, and kept hidden in a crumbling house full of secrets, Marea has always known she was different, but never known why. And so to find answers, she goes in search of the father she has never met.

The hunt leads her to the City of Murmurs, a place of mermaids and mystery, where jars of swirling mist are carried through the streets by the broken-hearted.

And Marea will never forget what she learns there

 

 

 

A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom – John Boyne 

Some stories are universal. They play out across human history. And time is the river which will flow through them.

It starts with a family, a family which will mutate. For now, it is a father, mother and two sons. One with his father’s violence in his blood. One who lives his mother’s artistry. One leaves. One stays. They will be joined by others whose deeds will change their fate. It is a beginning.

Their stories will intertwine and evolve over the course of two thousand years – they will meet again and again at different times and in different places. From distant Palestine at the dawn of the first millennium to a life amongst the stars in the third. While the world will change around them, their destinies will remain the same. It must play out as foretold. It is written.

A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom is the extraordinary new novel from acclaimed writer John Boyne. Ambitious, far-reaching and mythic, it introduces a group of characters whose lives we will come to know and will follow through time and space until they reach their natural conclusion

 

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Book Club – Vote for this month’s read . . .

Hello book lovers! How are you all? I hope you are managing to squeeze in some reading during lockdown?

The vote for July’s read is on.  So many wonderful choices to choose from it was hard to whittle it down to five! I hope you like the ones I have chosen.

To vote on this month’s choice head on over to the Facebook page and cast your photo. Voting closes 12 midnight Friday 3rd July and we will announce the choice the next day! 

See you there! Much love Amanda xx

 

The Phonebox at the Edge of the World – Laura Imai Messina

We all have something to tell those we have lost . . .

When Yui loses her mother and daughter in the tsunami, she wonders how she will ever carry on. Yet, in the face of this unthinkable loss, life must somehow continue. Then one day she hears about a man who has an old disused telephone box in his garden. There, those who have lost loved ones find the strength to speak to them and begin to come to terms with their grief. As news of the phone box spreads, people will travel to it from miles around. Soon Yui will make her own pilgrimage to the phone box, too. But once there she cannot bring herself to speak into the receiver. Then she finds Takeshi, a bereaved husband whose own daughter has stopped talking in the wake of their loss.

What happens next will warm your heart, even when it feels as though it is breaking. For when you’ve lost everything – what can you find?

 

 

Sorry for the Dead – Nicola Upson

In the summer of 1915, the sudden death of a young girl brings grief and notoriety to Charleston Farmhouse on the Sussex Downs.

Years later, Josephine Tey returns to the same house–now much changed–and remembers the two women with whom she once lodged as a young teacher during the Great War. As past and present collide, with murders decades apart, Josephine is forced to face the possibility that the scandal which threatened to destroy those women’s lives hid a much darker secret.

 

 

 

 

Queenie – Candice Carty-Williams

Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

With “fresh and honest” (Jojo Moyes) prose, Queenie is a remarkably relatable exploration of what it means to be a modern woman searching for meaning in today’s world

 

The Burning Land – George Alagiah

‘It was never meant to be like this. Sabotage, yes. Propaganda, yes. All of that and more – but not this. Not murder.’

South Africa has become a powder keg. Its precious land is being sold off to the highest bidders while the country’s corrupt elite pocket the profits. As the dreams and hopes of its people are threatened, frustration turns to violence. With the shocking murder of one of the country’s bright young hopes, the fuse is well and truly lit.

Conflict mediator Lindi and her childhood friend Kagiso find themselves in the heart of the chaos, fighting to save themselves and their country as events are set in motion that no one – least of all they – can control.

 

 

 

Where the Forest Meets the Stars - Glendy Vanderah

After the loss of her mother and her own battle with breast cancer, Joanna Teale returns to her graduate research on nesting birds in rural Illinois, determined to prove that her recent hardships have not broken her. She throws herself into her work from dusk to dawn, until her solitary routine is disrupted by the appearance of a mysterious child who shows up at her cabin barefoot and covered in bruises.

The girl calls herself Ursa, and she claims to have been sent from the stars to witness five miracles. With concerns about the child’s home situation, Jo reluctantly agrees to let her stay—just until she learns more about Ursa’s past.

Jo enlists the help of her reclusive neighbor, Gabriel Nash, to solve the mystery of the charming child. But the more time they spend together, the more questions they have. How does a young girl not only read but understand Shakespeare? Why do good things keep happening in her presence? And why aren’t Jo and Gabe checking the missing children’s website anymore?

Though the three have formed an incredible bond, they know difficult choices must be made. As the summer nears an end and Ursa gets closer to her fifth miracle, her dangerous past closes in. When it finally catches up to them, all of their painful secrets will be forced into the open, and their fates will be left to the stars.

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Elsie’s Attic Book Club – The Vote is on for June’s Read

Hello book lovers! How are you all. I do hope you are safe and well.

The vote for June’s read is on.  So many wonderful choices to choose from it was hard to whittle it down to five! I hope you like the ones I have chosen.

To vote on this month’s choice head on over to the Facebook page and cast your photo. Voting closes 12 midnight Saturday 6th June and we will announce the choice the next day! 

See you there! Much love Amanda xx

The Witness – Nora Roberts

Daughter of a controlling mother, Elizabeth finally let loose one night, drinking at a nightclub and allowing a strange man’s seductive Russian accent lure her to a house on Lake Shore Drive. The events that followed changed her life forever.

Twelve years later, the woman known as Abigail Lowery lives on the outskirts of a small town in the Ozarks. A freelance programmer, she designs sophisticated security systems — and supplements her own security with a fierce dog and an assortment of firearms. She keeps to herself, saying little, revealing nothing. But Abigail’s reserve only intrigues police chief Brooks Gleason. Her logical mind, her secretive nature, and her unromantic viewpoints leave him fascinated but frustrated. He suspects that Abigail needs protection from something — and that her elaborate defenses hide a story that must be revealed.

With a quirky, unforgettable heroine and a pulse-pounding plotline, Nora Roberts presents a riveting new read that cements her place as today’s most reliably entertaining thriller — and will leave people hungering for more.

 

Lost Connections – Johann Hari

From the New York Times bestselling author of Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, a startling challenge to our thinking about depression and anxiety.

Award-winning journalist Johann Hari suffered from depression since he was a child and started taking antidepressants when he was a teenager. He was told—like his entire generation—that his problem was caused by a chemical imbalance in his brain. As an adult, trained in the social sciences, he began to investigate this question—and he learned that almost everything we have been told about depression and anxiety is wrong.

Across the world, Hari discovered social scientists who were uncovering the real causes—and they are mostly not in our brains, but in the way we live today. Hari’s journey took him from the people living in the tunnels beneath Las Vegas, to an Amish community in Indiana, to an uprising in Berlin—all showing in vivid and dramatic detail these new insights. They lead to solutions radically different from the ones we have been offered up until now.

Just as Chasing the Scream transformed the global debate about addiction, with over twenty million views for his TED talk and the animation based on it, Lost Connections will lead us to a very different debate about depression and anxiety—one that shows how, together, we can end this epidemic.

 

 

Blackout Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget – Sarah Hepola

Alcohol was “the gasoline of all adventure” for Sarah Hepola. She spent her evenings at cocktail parties and dark bars where she proudly stayed till last call. Drinking felt like freedom, part of her birthright as a strong, enlightened twenty-first-century woman.

But there was a price. She often blacked out, waking up with a blank space where four hours should have been. Mornings became detective work on her own life. What did I say last night? How did I meet that guy? She apologized for things she couldn’t remember doing, as though she were cleaning up after an evil twin. Publicly, she covered her shame with self-deprecating jokes, and her career flourished, but as the blackouts accumulated, she could no longer avoid a sinking truth. The fuel she thought she needed was draining her spirit instead.

A memoir of unblinking honesty and poignant, laugh-out-loud humor, Blackout is the story of a woman stumbling into a new kind of adventure—the sober life she never wanted. Shining a light into her blackouts, she discovers the person she buried, as well as the confidence, intimacy, and creativity she once believed came only from a bottle. Her tale will resonate with anyone who has been forced to reinvent or struggled in the face of necessary change. It’s about giving up the thing you cherish most—but getting yourself back in return.

 

Ask Again, Yes – Mary Beth Keane

A profoundly moving novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the bond between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades, the daily intimacies of marriage, and the power of forgiveness.

Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, two rookie cops in the NYPD, live next door to each other outside the city. What happens behind closed doors in both houses—the loneliness of Francis’s wife, Lena, and the instability of Brian’s wife, Anne—sets the stage for the explosive events to come.

Ask Again, Yes is a deeply affecting exploration of the lifelong friendship and love that blossoms between Francis and Lena’s daughter, Kate, and Brian and Anne’s son, Peter. Luminous, heartbreaking, and redemptive, Ask Again, Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood—villains lose their menace and those who appeared innocent seem less so. Kate and Peter’s love story, while tested by echoes from the past, is marked by tenderness, generosity, and grace.

 

Big Summer – Jennifer Weiner

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the “nothing short of brilliant” (People) Mrs. Everything returns with an unforgettable novel about friendship and forgiveness set during a disastrous wedding on picturesque Cape Cod.

Six years after the fight that ended their friendship, Daphne Berg is shocked when Drue Cavanaugh walks back into her life, looking as lovely and successful as ever, with a massive favor to ask. Daphne hasn’t spoken one word to Drue in all this time—she doesn’t even hate-follow her ex-best friend on social media—so when Drue asks if she will be her maid-of-honor at the society wedding of the summer, Daphne is rightfully speechless.

Drue was always the one who had everything—except the ability to hold onto friends. Meanwhile, Daphne’s no longer the same self-effacing sidekick she was back in high school. She’s built a life that she loves, including a growing career as a plus-size Instagram influencer. Letting glamorous, seductive Drue back into her life is risky, but it comes with an invitation to spend a weekend in a waterfront Cape Cod mansion. When Drue begs and pleads and dangles the prospect of cute single guys, Daphne finds herself powerless as ever to resist her friend’s siren song.

A sparkling novel about the complexities of female friendship, the pitfalls of living out loud and online, and the resilience of the human heart, Big Summer is a witty, moving story about family, friendship, and figuring out what matters most.

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Book Club – The Vote is on for May’s Read

Hello book lovers! How are you all. I do hope you are safe and well and coping OK in lockdown?

The vote for May’s read is on.  So many wonderful choices to choose from it was hard to whittle it down to five! I hope you like the ones I have chosen.

To vote on this month’s choice head on over to the Facebook page and cast your photo. Voting closes 12 midnight Tuesday 5th May and we will announce the choice the next day! 

See you there! Much love Amanda xx

 

THE DUTCH HOUSE – ANN PATCHETT 

Danny Conroy grows up in the Dutch House, a lavish folly in small-town Pennsylvania taken on by his property developer father. Though his father is distant and his mother is absent, Danny has his beloved sister Maeve: Maeve, with her wall of black hair, her delicacy, her brilliance.

Life is comfortable and coherent, played out under the watchful eyes of the house’s former owners in the frames of their oil paintings, or under the cover of the draperies around the window seat in Maeve’s room. Then one day their father brings Andrea home: Andrea, small and neat, a dark hat no bigger than a saucer pinned over a twist of her fair hair. Though they cannot know it, Andrea’s advent to the Dutch House sows the seed of the defining loss of Danny and Maeve’s lives.

Her arrival will exact a banishment: a banishment whose reverberations will echo for the rest of their lives. For all that the world is open to him, for all that he can accumulate, for all that life is full, Danny and his sister are drawn back time and again to the place they can never enter, knocking in vain on the locked door of the past. For behind the mystery of their own enforced exile is that of their mother’s self-imposed one: an absence more powerful than any presence they have known.

Told with Ann Patchett’s inimitable blend of wit and heartbreak, The Dutch House is a story of family, betrayal, love, responsibility and sacrifice; of the powerful bonds of place and time that magnetize and repel us for our whole lives, and the lives of those who survive us.

 

ON CHAPEL SANDS: MY MOTHER AND OTHER MISSING PERSONS – LAURA CUMMING

Uncovering the mystery of her mother’s disappearance as a child: Laura Cumming, prize-winning author and art critic, takes a closer look at her family story.

In the autumn of 1929, a small child was kidnapped from a Lincolnshire beach. Five agonising days went by before she was found in a nearby village. The child remembered nothing of these events and nobody ever spoke of them at home. It was another fifty years before she even learned of the kidnap.

The girl became an artist and had a daughter, art writer Laura Cumming. Cumming grew up enthralled by her mother’s strange tales of life in a seaside hamlet of the 1930s, and of the secrets and lies perpetuated by a whole community. So many puzzles remained to be solved. Cumming began with a few criss-crossing lives in this fraction of English coast – the postman, the grocer, the elusive baker – but soon her search spread right out across the globe as she discovered just how many lives were affected by what happened that day on the beach – including her own.

On Chapel Sands is a book of mystery and memoir. Two narratives run through it: the mother’s childhood tale; and Cumming’s own pursuit of the truth. Humble objects light up the story: a pie dish, a carved box, an old Vick’s jar. Letters, tickets, recipe books, even the particular slant of a copperplate hand give vital clues. And pictures of all kinds, from paintings to photographs, open up like doors to the truth. Above all, Cumming discovers how to look more closely at the family album – with its curious gaps and missing persons – finding crucial answers, captured in plain sight at the click of a shutter.

 

THE RECOVERY OF ROSE GOLD -  STEPHANIE WROBEL

Rose Gold Watts believed she was sick for eighteen years.

She thought she needed the feeding tube, the surgeries, the wheelchair . . .

Turns out her mother is a really good liar.

After five years in prison, Patty Watts is finally free. All she wants is to put old grievances behind her, reconcile with the daughter who testified against her – and care for her new infant grandson.

When Rose Gold agrees to have Patty move in, it seems their relationship is truly on the mend. And she has waited such a long time for her mother to come home.

But is she still the pliable young girl she once was? And is Patty still as keen on settling an old score?

Because if mothers never forget then daughters never forgive.

 

VOX – CHRISTINA DALCHER

Set in an America where half the population has been silenced, VOX is the harrowing, unforgettable story of what one woman will do to protect herself and her daughter.

On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed to speak more than 100 words daily, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial—this can’t happen here. Not in America. Not to her.

This is just the beginning.

Soon women can no longer hold jobs. Girls are no longer taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words a day, but now women only have one hundred to make themselves heard.

But this is not the end.

For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.

 

MY DARK VANESSA – KATE ELIZABETH RUSSELL

Exploring the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a precocious yet naïve teenage girl and her magnetic and manipulative teacher, a brilliant, all-consuming read that marks the explosive debut of an extraordinary new writer.

2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.

2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed?

Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of Room, My Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself.