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Many of us are obsessed with the Harry Potter franchise, and would do almost anything to have the most immersive wizarding world experience possible.

Amazingly for Hagrid fans, you can now rent a holiday cottage which is inspired by the fictional home of Rubeus himself, Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts.

The Groundkeeper’s Cottage has opened at North Shire near Saltburn on the edge of the North York Moors National Park, and is almost exactly a replica of Hagrid's Hut in the magical series.

Image: Charlotte Graham/Cover Images

The cottage has three interlocking circular slate-roofed buildings featuring stained glass windows, an open plan living room, seating in front of a feature fireplace, wood beams with Hagrid paraphernalia and a lantern-lit wooden door.

The owner Carol Cavendish has loved Harry Potter since her early 20s, and has incorporated small Potter-themed touches such as an ink bottle and quill and bespoke copper basin in the bathroom.

Image: metro.co.uk/Charlotte Graham/Cover Images

The cottage itself took £195,000 to build, and the holiday rental can sleep up to six people. If you've got a dog, or your very own Fang, you're also welcome to bring one well-behaved pet for an extra cost.

She's made a comfortable retreat for any wizards or witches to adore, for just £195 (€225) per night.

*Runs to book slot*

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Grab your brooms and get down there before it sells out years in advance.

Feature image: housebeautiful.com

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Eleanor Segall has penned a book about what it is really like to live with bipolar disorder. The inspirational author’s book Bring Me To Light is bound to open your eyes about a disorder that affects so many people across the globe.

Eleanor spoke to Shemazing about mental illness, becoming a published author and opening up about her personal struggles and being diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 16.

Having dreamed of being a writer since she was a kid, seeing her book for sale is a true pinch me moment for Eleanor. “I couldn't dream that I would write a book of my life story or its circumstances at 31. When I was ill in 2014, I knew I wanted to share my story to help people with bipolar disorder and mental health conditions. Helping others is the reason I have written the book and why I kept going with it. I want to break the stigma bipolar and particularly psychosis has. It is such an honour to be published and Trigger seemed like the perfect home for my book.”

In her book, Eleanor opens up about extremely personal moments in her life, including the manic episode that led to her being sectioned in 2014. The writer said being so open was the toughest part of the writing process, but she knows these stories will educate readers about mental illnesses.

“Mental illness can happen to anyone (there is no stereotype) and that it is not anyone's fault. I hope [the book] helps people in their own recovery, knowing you can achieve and recover despite chronic mental illness and you can do the things you want to do, even if its harder to do at times.

Eleanor stressed, “You can be brought to light again after darkness- illness or difficulty. Recovery is possible and you should never give up hope.”

One of the most difficult moments in Eleanor’s life was when she experienced mania and psychosis, “I was sectioned in 2014. I had to be restrained and injected with haloperidol (anti psychotic med) against my will, to calm me down. Living on a ward for four months wasn’t easy as everyone was so ill but it has all made me who I am and made me reach to be as well as possible.”

Despite the lows, Eleanor has always remained hopeful about her recovery, stressing that it is more than possible.

“Bipolar disorder is a chronic, serious and life threatening condition that can run in families but it also makes us more creative and determined to try harder. 

“Having bipolar is not the end if it can be managed well, but it does cause suicidal ideation and mania or hypomania and it can be a difficult one to treat at times. Never forget that recovery is possible.”

You can read more about Eleanor’s personal story in her debut novel Bring Me To Light. 

Bring Me To Light by Eleanor Segall is published on November 5. The eye-opening and beautifully honest read will become one of the most beloved books of Winter 2019.

Bring Me To Light is published by Trigger Publishing, part of the Shaw Mind Foundation.

You can order a copy here.

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This time of year can be extremely dark and troubling for so many people. The post-Christmas comedown can take a major knock on your mental health and leave you feeling extremely low. The lack of daylight, financial woes and quieter social calendars don’t help either.

One thing that has helped me get through dark moments in my life is reading.

There are dozens of books available in both your local library and bookshops that offer helpful advice and fill you with hope during these hard times.

I decided to put together a list of the top books that will hopefully help you beat the January blues. 

As always, we encourage anyone who is suffering with their mental health to reach out to a loved one or a professional. You can call the Samaritans on 116 123.

  1. Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig

Matt Haig has been praised for how incredibly honest he is about his mental health struggles. The author has encouraged so many people to feel that little bit more comfortable when talking about their personal troubles. In Notes on a Nervous Planet, Matt discusses modern life and the impact it has on our mental health.

  1. Big Magic By Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert’s words have been a huge source of comfort to many women around the world. Her book Eat, Pray, Love is one of the most beloved tales that helped so many of us realise that your own company is the most valuable of all. Big Magic is full of Gilbert’s words of wisdom about love, hate and finding the “strange jewels” hidden inside of us.

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  1. It’s Not Ok To Feel Blue and Other Lies by Scarlett Curtis

This collection of essays curated by Scarlett Curtis has got to be one of the warmest (and biggest) books I’ve ever owned. It is full of words of advice, tales of loss, stories about struggle and most importantly, hope. Emma Thompson, Ben Platt, Elizabeth Day, Scarlett Moffatt, Fearne Cotton and more pen essays for this raw and touching book.

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  1. How To Fail by Elizabeth Day

Elizabeth Day has taught me that you can learn from your failures. The journalist’s podcast of the same name has been a massive comfort to me when I feel like I’m not doing good enough. Elizabeth speaks to her guests, all successful in their fields, about three failures in their lives. The book is genuinely one of the most uplifting and refreshing reads. I couldn’t recommend it more.

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  1. Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Another book by the fantastic Matt Haig because nobody writes about mental health like he does. This book genuinely saved my life, and I’m not the only one. Matt opens up about the darkest time in his life when he was suicidal and suffering from the most crippling anxiety. The chapters are eye-opening, reassuring and will fill you with so much hope for the future.

 

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Alternative histories, strange tales and kickass women – all on your reading list for 2021! 2020 has been the year we all got a little time to rediscover books and 2021 is the year that’s going to get us fully addicted again.

There are some seriously intense and gripping stories coming to our shelves, all centring around complex and dark women, tense and strange explorations of family dynamics, and hard-hitting, jaw-dropping secrets being revealed.

Have a browse through our top picks for what to look out for this year and let us know which ones you’re excited about!

‘Share Your Stuff. I'll Go First’ by Laura Tremaine (Zondervan) 2nd Feb 2021

Part memoir and part guidebook, Share Your Stuff. I'll Go First. is the invitation you've been waiting for to show up with your whole self and discover the intimate, meaningful relationships you long for.

In spite of the hyper-connected culture we live in today, women still feel shamed for oversharing and being publicly vulnerable. And no matter how many friends we seem to have, many of us are still desperately lonely.

Laura Tremaine says it's time for something better. Openness and vulnerability are the foundation for human growth and healthy relationships, and it all starts when we share our stuff, the nitty-gritty daily details about ourselves with others. Laura has led the way in her personal life with her popular blog and podcast, and now with light-hearted self-awareness, a sensitivity to the important things in life, and compelling storytelling, Laura gives you the tools to build and deepen the conversations happening in your life.

Laura's stories about her childhood in Oklahoma, her complicated shifts in faith and friendships, and her marriage to a Hollywood movie director will prompt you to identify the beautiful narrative and pivotal milestones of your own life. Each chapter offers intriguing and reflective questions that will reveal unique details and stories you've never thought to tell and will guide you into cultivating the authentic connection with others that only comes from sharing yourself.

‘Tall Bones’ by Anna Bailey (Penguin) 1st Apr 2021

Set in a small town in Colorado, Tall Bones begins with 17-year-old Abi going missing after a party in the woods. Abi’s disappearance rocks Whistling Ridge, and stirs up long-held grudges, including among Abi’s family.

Her older brother Noah still resents Abi for betraying him, her younger brother Jude has already seen too much for someone his age, her mother Dolly’s suffering is ignored by the town, and her father Samuel holds the whole family in his threatening grasp.

Whistling Ridge is a tinder box waiting to explode, and what happened to Abi is the spark.

‘The Rose Code’ by Kate Quinn (William Morrow Paperbacks) 9th Mar 2021

1940. As England prepares to fight the Nazis, three very different women answer the call to mysterious country estate Bletchley Park, where the best minds in Britain train to break German military codes. Vivacious debutante Osla is the girl who has everything—beauty, wealth, and the dashing Prince Philip of Greece sending her roses—but she burns to prove herself as more than a society girl, and puts her fluent German to use as a translator of decoded enemy secrets. Imperious self-made Mab, product of east-end London poverty, works the legendary codebreaking machines as she conceals old wounds and looks for a socially advantageous husband. Both Osla and Mab are quick to see the potential in local village spinster Beth, whose shyness conceals a brilliant facility with puzzles, and soon Beth spreads her wings as one of the Park’s few female cryptanalysts. But war, loss, and the impossible pressure of secrecy will tear the three apart.

1947. As the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip whips post-war Britain into a fever, three friends-turned-enemies are reunited by a mysterious encrypted letter–the key to which lies buried in the long-ago betrayal that destroyed their friendship and left one of them confined to an asylum. A mysterious traitor has emerged from the shadows of their Bletchley Park past, and now Osla, Mab, and Beth must resurrect their old alliance and crack one last code together. But each petal they remove from the rose code brings danger–and their true enemy–closer…

‘The Four Winds’ by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin's Press) 9th Feb 2021

Texas, 1934. Millions are out of work and a drought has broken the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as the crops are failing, the water is drying up, and dust threatens to bury them all. One of the darkest periods of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl era, has arrived with a vengeance.

In this uncertain and dangerous time, Elsa Martinelli—like so many of her neighbours —must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or go west, to California, in search of a better life. The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American Dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.

‘Dangerous Women’ by Hope Adams (Penguin) 4th March 2021

Set in 1841, ‘Dangerous Women’ follows three women as they board a ship in London that will take them on a three-month voyage to the other side of the world. The women are all convicts, being transported for petty crimes. Except for one, who is a secret killer fleeing justice. When a woman on the ship is mortally wounded, the hunt is on for the culprit.

‘The Good Neighbours’ by Nina Allan (Riverrun) 18th March 2021

Cath is a photographer hoping to go freelance, working in a record shop to pay the rent and eking out her time with her manager Steve. He thinks her photography is detective work, drawing attention to things that would otherwise pass unseen and maybe he’s right . . .

Starting work on her new project – photographing murder houses – she returns to the island where she grew up for the first time since she left for Glasgow when she was just eighteen. The Isle of Bute is embedded in her identity, the draughty house that overlooked the bay, the feeling of being nowhere, the memory of her childhood friend Shirley Craigie and the devastating familicide of her family by the father, John Craigie.

Arriving at the Craigie house, Cath finds that it’s occupied by Financial Analyst Alice Rahman. Her bid to escape the city lifestyle, the anxiety she felt in that world, led her to leave London and settle on the island. The strangeness of the situation brings them closer, leading them to reinvestigate the Craigie murder. Now, within the walls of the Craigie house, Cath can uncover the nefarious truths and curious nature of John Craigie: his hidden obsession with the work of Richard Dadd and the local myths of the fairy folk.

‘The Smash-Up’ by Ali Benjamin (Random House) 2nd Feb 2021

Life for Ethan and Zo used to be simple. Ethan co-founded a lucrative media start-up, and Zo was well on her way to becoming a successful filmmaker. Then they moved to a rural community for a little more tranquillity – or so they thought.

When newfound political activism transforms Zo into a barely recognizable ball of outrage and #MeToo allegations rock his old firm, Ethan finds himself a misfit in his own life. Enter a houseguest who is young, fun, and not at all concerned with the real world, and Ethan is abruptly forced to question everything: his past, his future, his marriage, and what he values most.

Startling, witty, thought-provoking, and wise, Ali Benjamin’s exciting debut novel offers the shock of recognition as it deftly illuminates some of the biggest issues of our time. Taking inspiration from a classic Edith Wharton tale about a small-town love triangle, The Smash-Up is a wholly contemporary exploration of how the things we fail to see can fracture a life, a family, a community, and a nation.

‘The Girl in the Walls’ by A.J. Gnuse (Harper Collins) 11th May 2021

Eventually, every hidden thing is found.

Elise knows every inch of the house. She knows which boards will creak. She knows where the gaps are in the walls. She knows which parts can take her in, hide her away. It’s home, after all. The home her parents made for her, before they were taken from her in a car crash. And home is where you stay, no matter what.

Eddie is a teenager trying to forget about the girl he sometimes sees out of the corner of his eye. But when his hot-headed older brother senses her, too, they are faced with the question of how to get rid of someone they aren’t sure even exists. And as they try to cast her out, they unwittingly bring an unexpected and far more real threat to their doorstep.

Written with grace and enormous heart, ‘Girl in the Walls’ is a novel about carrying on through grief, forging unconventional friendships, and realizing, little by little, that we don’t need to fear what we do not understand.

‘The Moon Over Kilmore Quay’ by Carmel Harrington (Harper Collins) June 2021

Meet Bea. Living in Brooklyn, in a tight-knit Irish community, Bea O’Connor has it all – a loving family, great friends and a boyfriend she believes she could grow old with. So why does she feel so lost and unsure? Only a letter, written over a decade ago, can give her the answers she’s unknowingly looked for all her life.

Meet Lucy Years earlier, with her sister Maeve by her side, Lucy Mernagh leaves her home in Ireland in search of adventure and the New York dream.

But the busy streets of the Big Apple are a world away from the quiet village she grew up in, and the longing for home aches deep within her. Until she learns that opportunity lies around every street corner and just maybe this city – and one of its occupants – will steal her heart if she lets them…

Told over four decades, from the unspoilt, picturesque fishing village of Kilmore Quay, to the mesmerising and electric city of New York, this is the story of two women, enduring friendships, family secrets and the voices that call you home.

‘The Lost Cafe Schindler: One Family, two wars and the search for the truth’ by Meriel Schindler (Hachette) 6th May 2021

Kurt Schindler was an impossible man. His daughter Meriel spent her adult life trying to keep him at bay. Kurt had made extravagant claims about their family history. Were they really related to Franz Kafka and Oscar Schindler, of Schindler’s List fame? Or Hitler’s Jewish doctor – Dr Bloch? What really happened on Kristallnacht, the night that Nazis beat Kurt’s father half to death and ransacked the family home?

When Kurt died in 2017, Meriel felt compelled to resolve her mixed feelings about him, and to solve the mysteries he had left behind.

Starting with photos and papers found in Kurt’s isolated cottage, Meriel embarked on a journey of discovery taking her to Austria, Italy and the USA. She reconnected family members scattered by feuding and war. She pieced together an extraordinary story taking in two centuries, two world wars and a family business: the famous Café Schindler. Launched in 1922 as an antidote to the horrors of the First World War, this grand café became the whirling social centre of Innsbruck. And then the Nazis arrived.

Through the story of the Café Schindler and the threads that spool out from it, this moving book weaves together memoir, family history and an untold story of the Jews of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It explores the restorative power of writing, and offers readers a profound reflection on memory, truth, trauma and the importance of cake.

‘Outlawed’ by Anna North (Hachette) 5th Jan 2021

On the day of her wedding-dance, Ada feels lucky. She loves her broad-shouldered, bashful husband and her job as an apprentice midwife.

But her luck will not last. It is every woman’s duty to have a child, to replace those that were lost in the Great Flu. And after a year of marriage and no pregnancy, in a town where barren women are hanged as witches, Ada’s survival depends on leaving behind everything she knows.

She joins up with the notorious Hole in the Wall Gang. Its leader, a charismatic preacher-turned-robber, known to all as The Kid, wants to create a safe haven for women outcast from society. But to make this dream a reality, the Gang hatches a treacherous plan. And Ada must decide whether she’s willing to risk her life for the possibility of a new kind of future for them all.

‘Black is the Body’ by Emily Bernard (Penguin) 11th Feb 2021

In these 12 interconnected essays, Emily Bernard looks at everything from surviving a random stabbing to inheriting a family name from a white man to her experiences being a Black woman teaching in a primarily white university. Ann Patchett has called the collection “really life-changing”.

‘Widowland’ by C. J. Carey (Quercus) 10th June 2021

An alternative history with a strong feminist twist, perfect for fans of Robert Harris’ Fatherland, Christina Dalcher’s Vox and the dystopian novels of Margaret Atwood. London, 1953, Coronation year – but not the Coronation of Elizabeth II. Thirteen years have passed since a Grand Alliance between Great Britain and Germany was formalized. George VI and his family have been murdered and Edward VIII rules as King. Yet, in practice, all power is vested in Alfred Rosenberg, Britain’s Protector.

The role and status of women is Rosenberg’s particular interest. Rose Ransom belongs to the elite caste of women and works at the Ministry of Culture, rewriting literature to correct the views of the past. But now she has been given a special task. Outbreaks of insurgency have been seen across the country; graffiti daubed on public buildings. Disturbingly, the graffiti is made up of lines from forbidden works, subversive words from the voices of women.

Suspicion has fallen on Widowland, the run-down slums where childless women over fifty have been banished. These women are known to be mutinous, for they have nothing to lose. Before the Leader arrives for the Coronation ceremony of King Edward and Queen Wallis, Rose must infiltrate Widowland to find the source of this rebellion and ensure that it is quashed.

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That’s it though. Fate, decisions, a conversation with a stranger, a moment of irresponsibility, someone hearing your faint cry. And opportunities, choices, decisions, Richard, Ted…Questions are falling like rain on Paris rooftops.’

Small, unassuming, delicate. Not Plath, but the package she comes in, in David Haslam’s newest fifty-seven-page cultural biography of the tortured and talented woman. A vignette of a strange and intimate turning point in the young poet’s life, it chronicles the decisions made in this snapshot moment that make her who she is, incites some of her best art and most deliriously happy moments. But had she known the cost of those fruitful years, would the decisions have been the same?

Sylvia Plath is in Paris and the year is 1956. She arrived – alone – and booked herself into an attic room in a hotel near Notre Dame, looking out over Paris’ windows and rooftops. She was here not three months ago, with Richard Sassoon for Christmas, thinking she had met the love of her life. The day before she left on this second trip, she had met Ted Hughes.

They would be married ten weeks later.

Chasing a man and a future that Richard no longer considers them to have, Sylvia wanders Paris, a city that had held her heart longer than any man had. Stifled and stifling, she gives herself over to the city as a place to ‘uncage’ herself, leaning into the intensity and oddities that she would come to fear later on in her life. But somehow, in Paris, those parts of her make sense.

David Haslam pinpoints a moment in Sylvia’s life that is tumultuous and intense and draws a portrait of her personal relationships with herself, the city and her love life that teeters on the edge of fate. As her letters to Richard remain unanswered, Plath loses herself in the city, always longing, always seeking, not a man, but the strange and impossible perfection that will haunt her the rest of her life. It is a period in which the choices she makes will come to define her, but watching Plath, on the cusp of making these decisions, is poignant and painful. Her demons are yet to get the better of her, Ted Hughes is yet to permanently cast his strange spell on her but she is also yet to produce some of her most incredible and daring work, because those things have not yet happened.

We see her as she is just about to fall in thrall of Ted and their first night together, an intense and wild relationship that is already harmful in its dark obsession, leaving her with bruises and marks. But there is a sense of inevitability about the whole thing, that the darkness in both of them calls out to one another, even across the sea, even as she begins to let go of Richard, Ted already beginning to consume her. Even if she does not quite realise it in that moment, that desire for ‘things that will destroy me in the end’ will never really go away.

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And while this is a time of the cusp of long reaching and irreparable change, she is so content perusing the Left Bank book stalls, sitting in the sun on Pont Neuf and sketching Saint-Germaine, that you wonder how it all goes so wrong. Even then, she sees the danger that lies within herself, that persistent melancholy that dogs her steps across the bridges of the Seine, the deep-rooted hedonism that cannot be indulged for too long, or it takes control. She constantly fights it, writing a list of commandments to follow, including being more disciplined with her writing, being more ‘chaste and subdued’, to be a ‘good girl’.

‘Paris seems to have been a time of self-discovery, and a chance for Plath to shape a new life. It was appropriate that she was there at Easter, a time of death, resurrection, renewed hope.’ And yet in so many ways it was the beginning of the end. But this book is about her life, not her death

This little chapbook is a pocket-biography version of her life, refusing to fall into the trap that many of her biographers do, that is writing with the shadow of her death hanging over her life. Instead, here for a brief fifty-seven-pages, she vitally alive and at war with herself. Haslam explores the independence she finds in the streets of Paris, the loneliness she discarded there like an old, worn coat, the happiness and inspiration that the city had for her. He finished with her spirit wandering Paris still;

‘A brasserie on Boulevard Raspail, a surrealist film in Montparnasse. Hearing the Easter bells, crossing the river, the Seine flowing beneath her feet, the wide Paris sky arching towards all the horizons. She has as much right to those moments of happiness as any of us, perhaps more; her sketchbook in her hand, making her way to the park, in the sun, in her Paris.’

Dave Haslam is a broadcaster, DJ and author. He has written five books including Manchester, England – a cultural biography of Manchester which was declared one of the ten books that best represent Britain. His other books include ‘Life After Dark: A History of British Nightclubs & Music Venues’, and his autobiography ‘Sonic Youth Slept On My Floor’.

Purchase this book here

Main feature image: New York Times

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#BlackLivesMatter may not be trending anymore, but that doesn't mean that the problem has disappeared. It's important that as a predominantly white society we continue to actively work towards learning and improving, to strive for better equality. In order to gain a finer understanding of the perspective of Black people, or people of colour (POC), why not read books through their narrative?

Romance and chick-lit books are always fun to read. If ever you're craving a bit of light escapism to distract you from this slightly worrying reality we're all living through at the moment, then romance is the way to go. We've compiled a list of fun romance books, perfect for easy reading, all featuring characters who are Black/POC, to help you diversify your shelves. Because at the end of the day, everyone deserves a happily ever after, no matter the colour of your skin.

You Had Me at Hola

Award Winning author Alexis Daria brings readers an unforgettable, hilarious rom-com set in the drama-filled world of telenovelas—perfect for fans of Jane the Virgin and Ugly Betty.

After a messy public breakup, soap opera darling, Jasmine, finds her face splashed across the tabloids. When she lands a coveted, starring role in a bilingual romantic comedy, Jasmine figures her new “Leading Lady Plan” should be easy enough to follow—until a casting shake-up pairs her with telenovela hunk Ashton Suárez. 

After his last telenovela character was killed off, Ashton is worried his career is dead as well. Joining this new cast as a last-minute addition will give him the chance to show off his acting chops to American audiences and ping the radar of Hollywood casting agents.

Naturally though, rehearsal leads to kissing, and kissing leads to a behind-the-scenes romance worthy of a soap opera. While their on-screen performance improves, the media spotlight on Jasmine soon threatens to destroy her new image and expose Ashton’s most closely guarded secret.

The Sun Is Also A Star

So much more than a teen love story.

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

Get a Life, Chloe Brown

This hilarious best-seller is quite frankly, a treat, which perfectly illustrates the age-old relationship trope, when opposites attract.

Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost-but not quite-dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”. She’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamorous family’s mansion. The next items?

• Enjoy a drunken night out.
• Ride a motorcycle.
• Go camping.
• Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex.
• Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage.
• And… do something bad.

That's when she enlists Red to help her out; the tattooed handyman and artist — not to mention he drives a motorcycle!

Now That I've Found You

This is a YA novel about searching for answers, love, and your eccentric grandma in all the wrong places. It features romantic tension, Hollywood scandal and a fun-filled chase all around New York — what's not to love?

Following in the footsteps of her überfamous grandma, eighteen-year-old Evie Jones is poised to be Hollywood’s next big star. That is until a close friend’s betrayal leads to her being blacklisted . . .

Fortunately, Evie knows just the thing to save her floundering career: a public appearance with America’s most beloved actress— her retired grandma, Gigi, aka the Evelyn Conaway.  Days before Evie plans to present her grandma with an honorary award in front of Hollywood’s elite, Gigi does the unthinkable: she disappears.

With time running out and her comeback on the line, Evie reluctantly enlists the help of the last person to see Gigi before she vanished: Milo Williams, a cute musician Evie isn’t sure she can trust. As Evie and Milo conduct a wild manhunt across New York City, romance and adventure abound while Evie makes some surprising discoveries about her grandma — and herself.

The Marriage Game

This entertaining rom-com featuring a high stakes wager between an aspiring entrepreneur and a ruthless CEO, is wonderfully scattered with references of Indian culture.

After her life falls apart, Layla Patel returns home to her family in San Francisco to start a new business above her father's restaurant. But what she doesn’t know, is that her worrisome father has set her up on a dating site and arranged a series of blind dates, just for her — leaving Layla completely in the dark, until the first one comes knocking on her door…

CEO, Sam Mehta, is in search of a quiet new office, when he finds the perfect space above a cozy Indian restaurant that smells like home. But when communication goes awry, he's forced to share his space with the owner's beautiful yet infuriating daughter Layla, her crazy family, and a parade of hopeful suitors, all of whom threaten to disrupt his carefully ordered life.

As they face off in close quarters, the sarcasm and sparks fly. But when the battle for the office becomes a battle of the heart, Sam and Layla have to decide if this is love or just a game.

Real Men Knit

After the death of his adoptive mom, Mama Joy, Jesse and his brothers struggle over what to do with her Harlem knitting store. Jesse wants to keep the store open; his brothers want to shut it down.

Jesse makes an impassioned plea to Kerry Fuller, his childhood friend who has had a crush on him her entire life, to help him figure out the knitty-gritty of how to run the business. The more time they spend together, the more the chemistry builds. Kerry, knowing Jesse’s history, doesn’t believe this relationship will exist longer than one can knit one, purl one. But Jesse is determined to prove to her that he can be the man for her—after all, real men knit.

To All The Boys I've Loved Before

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, a sweet YA romance, is the story of Lara Jean. She's never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed.

But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister's ex-boyfriend, Josh.

As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

The Worst Best Man

Critically acclaimed author Mia Sosa delivers a sassy, steamy enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy about a woman whose new job requires her to work side-by-side with the best man who ruined her wedding: her ex-fiancé's infuriating, irritating, annoyingly handsome brother.

If they can survive the next few weeks and nail their presentation without killing each other, they’ll both come out ahead. Except Max has been public enemy number one ever since he encouraged his brother to jilt the bride, and Lina’s ready to dish out a little payback of her own.

But even the best laid plans can go awry, and soon Lina and Max discover animosity may not be the only emotion creating sparks between them.

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That’s right, Twilight fans! Stephanie Meyer just announced that she has two more Twilight books on the way. 

This is following on from the massive success which Meyer’s most recent novel received. Midnight Sun, which is Twilight told through Edward’s perspective, was released on August 4, and ended up selling more than a million copies in its first week, encouraging Meyer that the Twihard fan-base are still completely devoted.

Meyer announced in a livestream event with Books-A-Million that she’s working on two more Twilight books, which are currently in progress. “There are two more books I think in the world that I want to write. I have got them outlined and a chapter written, I think of the first one, so I know it's there,” Stephanie said.

However, it’s anticipated that these two new Twilight books won’t be in Edward’s perspective, following on from Midnight Sun. Stephanie said in an interview with The New York Times that writing in his point of view was not a super pleasant experience. 

“This is it for Edward. Writing from his point of view makes me extra anxious. I think this gives you enough of a sense of what it’s like to be Edward that you could go and look at the other books and you would know what’s going on in his head,” Meyer stated.

Before you get too excited though, you probably shouldn’t expect a release date any time soon, as Meyer has also said that she wants her next novel to be something completely different. When asked what she plans on writing next, Meyers told The New York Times, “I’d like to do something in fantasy fantasy, where you have to have a map in the beginning of the book.”

While we’re waiting for more information, we'll just have to figure out how to convince Robert Pattinson to get back on board, and finish off the Twilight movie franchise for us.

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While we may not be jetting off to exotic places this Summer, at least we have more time to dedicate to our never-ending reading lists.

With so many exciting titles being released each and every day, from such incredible authors, it really was a struggle to whittle it down. However, somehow we managed to figure out our top 10 reads, which we can’t wait to dive into — along with our book of the month: The Bird in the Bamboo Cage.  

  1. Midnight Sun 

When Edward Cullen and Bella Swan met in Twilight, an iconic love story was born. But until now, fans have heard only Bella's side of the story. At last, readers can experience Edward's version in the long-awaited companion novel, Midnight Sun.

This unforgettable tale as told through Edward's eyes takes on a new and decidedly dark twist. Meeting Bella is both the most unnerving and intriguing event he has experienced in all his years as a vampire. As we learn more fascinating details about Edward's past and the complexity of his inner thoughts, we understand why this is the defining struggle of his life. How can he justify following his heart if it means leading Bella into danger?

  1. The Midnight Library

Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices… Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?

A dazzling novel about all the choices that go into a life well lived, from the internationally bestselling author of Reasons to Stay Alive and How To Stop Time, Matt Haig.

  1. Finding Freedom

The first, epic and true story of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s life together, finally revealing why they chose to pursue a more independent path and the reasons behind their unprecedented decision to step away from their royal lives, from two top royal reporters who have been behind the scenes since the couple first met. 

Finding Freedom is complete with full colour photographs from Harry and Meghan’s courtship, wedding, Archie’s milestones, and many more unforgettable moments.

  1. Hell in the Heartland

On December 30, 1999, in rural Oklahoma, 16-year-old Ashley Freeman and her best friend, Lauria Bible, were having a sleepover. The next morning, the Freeman family trailer was in flames and both girls were missing.

While rumours of drug debts, revenge, and police collusion abounded in the years that followed, the case remained unsolved and the girls were never found.

In 2015, crime writer Jax Miller, who had been haunted by the case, decided to travel to Oklahoma to find out what really happened on that winter night in 1999, and why the story was still simmering more than fifteen years later. What she found was more than she could have ever bargained for. These forgotten towns were wild, lawless, and home to some very dark secrets.

  1. Death Sets Sail

The final novel in the number-one bestselling, award-winning Murder Most Unladylike series.

Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are in Egypt, where they are taking a cruise along the Nile. They are hoping to see some ancient temples and a mummy or two; what they get, instead, is murder. Daisy and Hazel leap into action and begin to investigate their most difficult case yet. But there is danger all around, and only one of the Detective Society will make it home alive…

  1. The Liar’s Daughter

Joe McKee – pillar of the Derry community – is dead. As arrangements are made for the traditional Irish wake, friends and family are left reeling at how cancer could have taken this much-loved man so soon. But grief is the last thing that Joe's daughter Ciara and step-daughter Heidi feel. For they knew the real Joe – the man who was supposed to protect them and did anything but.

 As the mourners gather, the police do too, with doubt being cast over whether Joe's death was due to natural causes. Because the lies that Joe told won't be taken to the grave after all – and the truth gives his daughters the best possible motive for killing him.

The Liar's Daughter is a dark, powerful and twisty psychological thriller that will keep you glued to the pages.

  1. The Pull of the Stars

In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city center, where expectant mothers who have come down with the terrible new flu are quarantined together. Into Julia’s regimented world step two outsiders—Doctor Kathleen Lynn, on the run from the police, and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney.

In the darkness and intensity of this tiny ward, over three days, these women change each other’s lives in unexpected ways. They lose patients to this baffling pandemic, but they also shepherd new life into a fearful world. With tireless tenderness and humanity, carers and mothers alike somehow do their impossible work.

In The Pull of the Stars, Emma Donoghue once again finds the light in the darkness in this new classic of hope and survival against all odds.

  1. The Friendship List

Two best friends jump-start their lives in a summer that will change them forever…

Single mom Ellen Fox couldn’t be more content—until she overhears her son saying he can’t go to his dream college because she needs him too much. If she wants him to live his best life, she has to convince him she’s living hers.

So Unity Leandre, her best friend since forever, creates a list of challenges to push Ellen out of her comfort zone. Unity will complete the list, too, but not because she needs to change. What’s wrong with a thirtysomething widow still sleeping in her late husband’s childhood bed?

The Friendship List begins as a way to make others believe they’re just fine. But somewhere between “wear three-inch heels” and “have sex with a gorgeous guy,” Ellen and Unity discover that life is meant to be lived with joy and abandon, in a story filled with humour, heartache and regrettable tattoos.

  1. Jump: One Girl’s Search For Meaning

The point of all this has nothing to do with finding yourself. It’s about what you can do to lose what you don’t need.

Daniella is 26, a highly successful radio presenter, model and influencer, but panic is building in her head and chest, the internal state of affairs she has been trying to ignore finally spilling over into something undeniably physical. She is frozen, petrified, looks to her boyfriend and says, ‘I don’t know who or where I am.’ This day changed Daniella’s life. It derailed almost everything she had worked to achieve and set her on a new path. 

Jump is the story of what happened when Daniella quit her job to backpack around the world for two years, and how freedom from the trappings of what society considers success leads to true contentment, strength and authenticity.

  1. Utopia Avenue

Utopia Avenue are the strangest British band you've never heard of. Emerging from London's psychedelic scene in 1967. Fronted by folksinger Elf Holloway, guitar demigod Jasper de Zoet and blues bassist Dean Moss, Utopia Avenue released only two LPs during its brief and blazing journey. From the clubs of Soho and draughty ballrooms to Top of the Pops and the cusp of chart success, to glory in Amsterdam, prison in Rome and a fateful American fortnight in the autumn of 1968.

David Mitchell's new novel tells a story about Utopia Avenue; of fame's Faustian pact and stardom's wobbly ladder.

 

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British mummy-vlogger and social media sensation, Louise Pentland, has written a new book all about her experiences with motherhood, and it’s out now! 

Louise started her blog, Sprinkle of Glitter, in 2009, and shortly afterwards created a YouTube channel of the same name. Nowadays Louise’s channels cover topics such as plus-size fashion, motherhood and family-life, garnering an audience of 2.3 million subscribers. You can also be sure to catch her on Instagram, regularly taking the cutest photos of her two adorable daughters, and all the adventures they get up to together. 

Her latest book, MumLife, is a real deep dive into the ups and downs Louise has had to face over the years — and let’s just say there’s been a few! From a traumatic birth with her first daughter, to single motherhood, to finding love again and having a second child, Louise's parenting journey has been full of surprises.

Source: Instagram
Source: instagram.com/louisepentland

 

Discussing the realities most working mums face, plus the impact of maternal mental health, Louise is on a mission to make other mums feel less alone, and very much heard. She beautifully reveals her own imperfect but perfect route to motherhood, as well as the loss of her mum so early in her life, how it shaped her and the mother she became.

Reflective and uplifting, with her signature wit, MumLife will share Louise's ups and downs and the honest truth, from someone who's been there and experienced it all.

“Thought it’d be a cute little Mummy Memoir but it turned out to be so much deeper than I thought it would. I’m glad. There are happy, funny bits (the whole chapter on dating as a #singlemum lol) to balance it out but I’m glad the tough stuff is in there- that’s life isn’t it? Ups and down, happy and sad. That’s what makes us human,” Louise wrote on Instagram.

If you’re not a mum though, don’t worry — Louise has assured us that MumLife is for anyone who loves her online content, which she lovingly refers to as ‘MummyContent’. MumLife is published by Bonnier, and you can pick up a copy here.

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There are many books out there that helped mould me into the person I am today, but Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig opened my eyes more than any other book.

The best-selling author analyses our relationship with the Internet and how it affects our mental health.

Matt is often vocal about his mental health struggles, which is something I admire most about the author.

 

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His honesty is heavy at times, but necessary. He filled Notes on a Nervous Planet with words of wisdom that are bound to change the way you view the world.

I simply couldn’t put the book down, it was practically glued to my hands for 24 hours.

As someone who struggles with mental health issues, I found Matt Haig’s honesty reassuring and comforting. His words made me, and many others, realise that you are not alone in your battle.

One of the most thought-provoking parts of the book is the chapter in which Matt discusses the pressure we put on ourselves to do everything. He advises readers to change the way they think about what we can do in life.

We often worry about the things we’ll never get to do, but he urged us to focus on what we can achieve and what we can enjoy.

“To enjoy life, we might have to stop thinking about what we will never be able to read and watch and say and do, and start to think of how to enjoy the world within our boundaries.”

We need to cut ourselves some slack. Sure there are millions of movies to watch and books to read and places to visit. Realistically, we’ll never be able to visit every single place or tune into every single movie, but what we can do is revel in the ones we do have time for.

 

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Maybe I’ll never visit Asia or Texas.

Maybe I’ll never get time to read War and Peace or Lord of the Flies.

Maybe I’ll never watch Star Wars or The Princess Bride.

However, this book helped me accept that we just can’t do everything in our time on this nervous planet and that is perfectly fine.

You can purchase a copy of Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig here.

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The Christmas holidays are almost here and I am more than ready to unwind and switch off for a couple of days.

One thing I cannot wait to do is catch up on the giant mountain of books on my bedside locker. I’ve got dozens of reads calling my name,  so I decided to share a list of my top Christmas tales that are bound to warm your heart on a cold December day.

  1. It Won’t Be Christmas Without You by Beth Reekles (One More Chapter)

From the author of The Kissing Booth, this festive tale follows two sisters, Eloise and Cara, who have grown apart since workaholic Cara moved to London. Will she make it home for Christmas or will Eloise be left heartbroken when her twin sister is absent for the holidays?

This is a short and easy read that will show you that Christmas is all about who you spend it with.

  1. One Winter Morning by Isabelle Broom (Penguin)

Evangeline isn't feeling festive this December as it marks the one year anniversary of her adoptive mum’s death. However, could things look up when she travels to New Zealand to find her birth mother or will it be another lonely Christmas?

  1. Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb (Harper Collins)

A tense and touching tale set during the First World War. This book is told through personal letters, making it easy to read and all the more touching. Watching Thomas and Evie’s love develop through their words was so intimate and stunning. 

I was left in floods of tears as I read the last word on the final page. Beyond remarkable.

  1. Rewrite the Stars by Emma Heatherington (Harper Collins)

This book has been on my TBR pile for quite some time so I cannot wait to read it this Christmas. From the moment they meet one December day there’s something between Charlotte Taylor and her brother’s best friend, Tom Farley. But Tom’s already taken and Charlie has to let him go…

Will they risk it all and say those three little words? Or will they be left wondering ‘what if?’ forever?

  1. One Day In December by Josie Silver (Broadway Books)

I read this sublime book last Christmas but must read it again this December. It has got to be one of the most thrilling and tense love stories I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. 

Laurie is convinced love at first sight doesn't exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees Jack, who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there's a moment of pure magic… and then her bus drives away.

 

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Your coffee table has moved from being a functional piece of furniture into something that can be styled and turned into a work of art.  Long are the days of just sitting down with a lover to enjoy a cup of coffee in front of a bare coffee table.  It’s not just a place to enjoy coffee to strengthen your relationship but it’s a place you can adorn with candles, trays and beautiful coffee table books.

Adare Manor: The Renaissance of an Irish Country House by Turtle Bunbury (Published by Adare Manor)

Adare Manor has always been remarkable. Its story began eight centuries ago when the original manor was granted to a Norman knight while a substantial monastic community was established on the nearby riverbanks. Turtle Bunbury’s book traces Adare Manor’s wonderful journey from a medieval manor house to its 21st century status as a luxury five-star resort. The book is available exclusively from Adare Manor.

Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way by Carsten Krieger (Published by O’Brien Press)

Take a photographic journey down Ireland’s Atlantic coast from Donegal in the north to Cork in the south. This beautiful book showcases the west coast in all its wild beauty: dramatic views, abundant nature and wildlife, lighthouses, harbours and quaint seaside villages, as well as heritage, history and people.

The Wild Atlantic Way is a fully-signposted route along the west coast of Ireland that brings the visitor to some of Ireland’s most spectacular scenery and liveliest towns: from surfing in Rossknowlagh to birdwatching at the magnificent cliffs of Moher, from the boats in Galway Bay to traditional music in Doolin, from dolphins in Kerry to castles in Cork there’s something for everyone on the wild west coast.

Ireland the Best by Sally and John McKenna (Published by Harper Collins)

Sally and John McKenna, travel and food writers and authors of Ireland The Best, have selected 100 extraordinary places that epitomise what is truly great about Ireland. This personal and diverse compendium is illustrated with beautiful and evocative images. John and Sally McKenna have drawn on a lifetime of experiences to create this list of the 100 best places in Ireland: reflective, magnificent and human places.

Some choices may be surprising but all are exceptional. This gorgeous book is John and Sally’s ultimate collection selected from the hundreds of places that feature in the independent guide to Ireland. As well as expert commentary, all 100 places include highly selective recommendations of where to walk, eat and sleep nearby. Beautiful and evocative images capture the essence of each place. From wild glens to ancient buildings, remote islands to vibrant cities, this is John and Sally’s list of the places in Ireland that you really should visit in your lifetime.

Seven Worlds, One Planet by Jonny Keeling, Scott Alexander with foreword by David Attenborough (Published by Penguin)

Long ago, our planet had only one gigantic land mass. Then something monumental happened. That supercontinent ruptured and seven different worlds were born. Each of those worlds – or continents – evolved, and continues to evolve, its own way of life. From the jungle of the Congo or the majestic Himalayas to the densely populated wilds of Europe or the comparatively isolated Australasia, Seven Worlds, One Planet explores the natural wonders that give each of our continents its distinct character.

Following the animals that have made these iconic environments their home, it discovers spectacular wildlife stories that reveal what makes each of these seven worlds unique. With a foreword by Sir David Attenborough and over 250 breath-taking images, including stills from the BBC Natural History Unit’s spectacular footage, Seven Worlds, One Planet is a stunning exploration of the planet, and the worlds within it, that we call home.

Return to Sender – Revisiting John Hinde’s Ireland by Paul Kelly (Published by Gill Books)

Revisit a jewel-bright Ireland as Return to Sender beautifully captures the then-and-now of John Hinde’s postcards. Throughout Paul Kelly’s chidhood in California, his father, Patrick Kelly, sent him John Hinde postcards when he was vistiting the land of his youth. By the time Paul was nine, he was accompanying his father on these trips and developed his own love of Ireland. In 2015 Paul’s father died and in 2018 Paul came back to live in Ireland with his family. In tribute to both his father and John Hinde, in the summer of 2018 Paul set about recapturing the modern-day versions of Hinde’s postcards, which are set against the originals in this book.

Return to Sender pairs Hinde’s iconic postcards from the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s with corresponding contemporary photographs, illustrating the ways Ireland’s rural and urban landscapes have changed over the decades or, in some places, not changed at all. This side-by-side contrast wonderfully captured by Paul Kelly, elicits feelings of nostalgia for Hinde’s instantly recognisable jewel-bright Ireland.

Where the Wild Cooks Go (Hardback) by Cerys Matthews (published by Penguin)

Cook your way around the world with Cerys Matthews’ Where the Wild Cooks Go, with a Spotify playlist ready for each country, as well as poems, proverbs, curiosities and some very surprising aspects of world history. The pages of her ‘folk cookbook’ are brim-full of generations’ old nuggets of wisdom, as well as stories about Catatonia touring days and other escapades, plus over a hundred recipes and cocktail ideas from 15 countries.

Easy haggis, jambalaya, cawl, traditional and vegan Welsh cakes, tequila prawns, chocolate and Guinness fondants, thousand hole pancakes, pineapple and chilli, potato, chickpea and coconut curry, dahl and hedgerow salad are just some of delicious, sustainable and fuss free ideas served in this beautiful book.

Arise And Go: W.B. Yeats and the people and places that inspired him by Kevin Connolly (Published by O’Brien)

Arise And Go W.B. Yeats and the People and Places That Inspired Him By Kevin Connolly. The idea of place runs like a river through the life and works of the poet and playwright W.B. Yeats. This book focuses on his time in Dublin, London, Sligo and elsewhere in the west of Ireland, embracing the homes, landscapes and people that impacted his life and stimulated his vast body of work.

Bird: Photographer of the Year Foreword by Chris Packham (Published by Harper Collins)

This beautiful book accompanies a new photographic competition celebrating some of the best bird photography of the year. The Bird Photographer of the Year competition celebrates the artistry of bird photography, and this large-format book is lavishly illustrated to reflect this. A celebration of avian beauty and diversity, it is a tribute to both the dedication and passion of the photographers as well as a reflection of the quality of today’s modern digital imaging systems.

The book includes the winning and short-listed images from the competition, now in its fourth year, showcasing some of the finest bird photography, with a foreword by BTO President and head judge, Chris Packham. A proportion of the profits from the book goes directly to the BTO to support their conservation work.

The Dublin Marathon – Celebrating 40 years by Sean McGoldrick (Published by O’Brien)

The Dublin Marathon is written by Irish Book Award nominated author Sean McGoldrick in co-operation with the Marathon. In addition to the history, routes and all the information on and about the Dublin Marathon over the years, a call out was made to the public earlier this year for their personal stories of the Marathon (running it, being involved, cheering family or friends), and the best of these are featured in the book.

Game of Thrones: A Guide to Westeros and Beyond by Myles McNutt (Published by Penguin)

Feeling lost without Game of Thrones? Relive all 8 series with the only official tie-in guide – the PERFECT GIFT for any fan this Christmas.

Covering all eight seasons of the hit HBO show, this remarkable volume offers a unique and exciting visual exploration into the incredible world of Game of Thrones. In two parts, the book follows the story of the South, where kings and queens battle for the Iron Throne, and of the North, where the White Walkers and their army of the dead gather. Fully illustrated with stunning photography, infographics, timelines and insightful essays, this is the essential guide for any Game of Thrones fan.

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