What to bake (and read) before next week’s episode of Bake Off!

What to bake (and read) before next week’s episode of Bake Off!

It’s September and that means one thing: BAKE OFF IS BACK! That’s right, everybody’s favourite, guilt-free reality TV show is back, full of flaky pastry and biscuits that snap… To celebrate here’s our edit of what to be baking (and, more importantly, reading) every week while you wait for that next episode to air!

First thing’s first, it is absolutely not allowed to sit down and watch Bake Off without baked goodies. Prep for the next episode by whipping up a batch of cookies over the weekend. We LOVE this recipe for Carrot Cake Cookies from Bake Off’s own Liam Charles:

Or, if you’re missing that Mary Berry magic, turn to her trusty Fast Cakes recipe book for a quick sweet treat – perfect if you find yourself in desperate need of sugar just before showtime on Tuesday:

Ever wondered what Prue gets up to during down-time on Bake Off? If you’re dying for a bit more gossip to get you through to next Tuesday, here’s Prue Leith dishing some behind-the-scenes info…

Our Child of the Stars by Stephen Cox

Our Child of the Stars by Stephen Cox

In this magical, bewitching debut, Molly and Gene Myers’ marriage is on the brink of collapse. Then a child arrives, with a remarkable appearance. Will he bring them together, or tear their whole world apart?

Molly and Gene Myers were happy, until tragedy blighted their hopes of children. During the years of darkness and despair, they each put their marriage in jeopardy, but now they are starting to rebuild their fragile bond.

Then the Meteor crashes into Amber Grove, devastating the small New England town – and changing their lives for ever. Molly, a nurse, caught up in the thick of the disaster, is given care of a desperately ill patient rescued from the wreckage: a sick boy with a remarkable appearance, an orphan who needs a mother.

And soon the whole world will be looking for him.

Cory’s arrival has changed everything. And the Myers will do anything to keep him safe.

‘Strong and generous’ Daily Mail


‘Big-hearted’ Financial Times

Permission to Feel by Professor Marc Brackett

Permission to Feel by Professor Marc Brackett

A practical and transformative 5-step strategy to ensure the emotional wellbeing of yourself and your child.

The mental wellbeing of children and adults is shockingly poor. Marc Brackett, author of Permission to Feel, knows why and what we can do.  Marc is a professor in Yale’s Child Study Centre and the creator of the RULER method, which is used at the schools of Prince George, Blue Ivy and implemented by Hugh Jackman amongst his tour group. This book outlines his strategies and skills to enable readers with ways to talk to your peers, your children about emotion. The aim is to promote emotional wellbeing in children and adults alike, helping you understand and master your own emotions. RULER is a tried and tested method, proven to reduce stress, improve school climate and enhance academic achievement.

Bookends Beach Party | What’s your usual holiday routine?

Bookends Beach Party | What’s your usual holiday routine?

Each week this summer, we’re asking some of our favourite to share their summer essentials. This week, Ruth Hogan, Rosanna Ley and Sheila O’Flanagan share their holiday routine with us and we discovered whether they are city explorers or beach loungers.

Ruth Hogan, author of Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel

I’m not very good at relaxing or sitting still so I need to be reasonably active. We have three rescue dogs we like to take with us, so it’s usually a mutt-friendly beach holiday in this country with lots of long walks, swimming or paddling in the sea (weather permitting!) and, of course, catching up on my TBR pile. I also like poking around in antique, junk and bookshops and exploring cemeteries and graveyards. I’m not particularly bothered about the time of year we go. I’m just as happy reading outside in the sunshine or snuggled up in front of a log burner. Oh – and it’s always nice if there’s a decent pub and a chip shop nearby!

Rosanna Ley, author of The Lemon Tree Hotel

I very much like to do both – but not necessarily on the same trip! I love a city break and the opportunity to soak up some culture but for real relaxation, take me to Italy and let me spend my daytime lounging by the sea with a good book and taking the odd dip in the glorious Med.

Sheila O’Flanagan, author of Her Husband’s Mistake

I do a lounging beach holiday every two years and the rest of the time I prefer city breaks. My favourite beach is in Antigua, in the Carribbean and my favourite city (after Dublin of course) is Madrid.

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Poems to Fix a F**ked Up World – Various Poets

Poems to Fix a F**ked Up World – Various Poets

Short sharp shots of poetry to help you face the sh*t.

Sometimes it’s hard to keep looking up at the stars when the gutter we’re in seems so full of sh*t.
But isn’t that why we need poetry?

Oscar Wilde wrote some of his best poetry when he was in prison for ‘the love that dare not speak its name’.

Nelson Mandela held fast to his ‘unconquerable soul’ on Robben Island with the help of the words a poet wrote about his battle with tuberculosis a century before.

So maybe it’s not inconceivable that the words in this little book could help you put some of the sh*t in perspective, get all the important bits of your life – like sleep, work, food, travel, love and learning – in some kind of balance, so you can go back to star-gazing again . . .

Taking as its starting point the classic ‘wheel of balance’ life-coach model, this beautifully packaged collection of extracts and short poems gathers wisdom old and new in a perfect gift for anyone who needs comfort in this f**ked up world of ours.

‘This is not a poetry book as you know it, this is a life raft.’ Emerald Street on Poems for a World Gone to Sh*t.

Poems to Fix a F**ked Up World is available here.

The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney

The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney

THE ENTHRALLING NEW PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER FROM THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE GIRL BEFORE

“There’s something I have to explain, my love,” he says, taking your hand in his. “That wasn’t a dream. It was an upload.”

Abbie wakes in a hospital bed with no memory of how she got there. The man by her side explains that he’s her husband. He’s a titan of the tech world, the founder of one of Silicon Valley’s most innovative startups. He tells Abbie she’s a gifted artist, a doting mother to their young son, and the perfect wife. 

Five years ago, she suffered a terrible accident. Her return from the abyss is a miracle of science, a breakthrough in artificial intelligence that has taken him half a decade to achieve. 

But as Abbie pieces together memories of her marriage, she begins questioning her husband’s motives – and his version of events. Can she trust him when he says he wants them to be together for ever? And what really happened to her, half a decade ago?

‘Seriously, amazingly, awesomely brilliant’
CJ Tudor, author of The Chalk Man

‘A chilling and uniquely disturbing 21st-century twist on the unreliable narrator makes for a compulsive and deeply thought-provoking psychological thriller’
Cara Hunter, author of Close to Home

The Perfect Wife is available now.

Bookends Beach Party | Which of your characters would you go on holiday with?

Bookends Beach Party | Which of your characters would you go on holiday with?

Each week we’ll be asking some of our favourite authors to share their summer essentials – from holiday routines to travel bucket lists. This week we asked Deborah Moggach, Ruth Hogan and Rosanna Ley, if you had to holiday with one of the characters from your book, who would it be and where would you go?

Deborah Moggach, author of The Carer

I’d go with Buffy. He’s the boozy, charming and chatty old actor from “the Ex-Wives” and “Heartbreak Hotel”. He adores women and loves talking about relationships. He also has some good jokes. We’d go to Lisbon because I’ve never been.

Ruth Hogan, author of Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel

I’m torn between Queenie and Joseph Geronimo Heathcliffe O’Shea. I fell more than a little in love with Joseph when I was writing about him! But I think it would have to be Queenie – she’d be an absolute riot and we’d get up to all sorts of mischief on an American trip. We would spend a couple of days in New York and then head off to Los Angeles. I think Queenie would very much like to go shopping in Beverley Hills!

Rosanna Ley, author of The Lemon Tree Hotel

It would have to be Dante from The Lemon Tree Hotel because he’s passionate, interesting and funny and he makes the best gelato in Italy. We’d go to the Italian Riviera, maybe down to Tellaro in the romantic Bay of Poets. I wouldn’t want to come home…

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The Switch

The Switch

The funny and uplifting new novel from the bestselling author of The Flatshare.

The Switch

Eileen is sick of being 79.
Leena’s tired of life in her twenties.
Maybe it’s time they swapped places…

When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen.

Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbours and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected.

Leena learns that a long-distance relationship isn’t as romantic as she hoped it would be, and then there is the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – school teacher, who keeps showing up to outdo her efforts to impress the local villagers. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, but is her perfect match nearer home than she first thought?

About the author

Beth O'Leary

Beth studied English at university before going into children’s publishing. She lives as close to the countryside as she can get while still being in reach of London, and wrote her first novel, The Flatshare, on her train journey to and from work. 

She is now writing novels full time, and if she’s not at her desk, you’ll usually find her curled up somewhere with a book, a cup of tea, and several woolly jumpers (whatever the weather).

The Switch publishes spring 2020 and available to pre-order here!

Escape to the French Farmhouse by Victoria Brownlee

Escape to the French Farmhouse by Victoria Brownlee

The heartwarming sequel to Escape to the Paris Cheese Shop. Will Ella and Serge’s relationship survive an unplanned pregnancy and a move to the depths of the French countryside?

Ella moved to Paris on a whim – and found happily ever after.

But after six months of romantic bliss, living with her French boyfriend, cheesemonger Serge, Ella’s new life is thrown off course. An unplanned pregnancy doesn’t seem too bad, until Serge unexpectedly decides to move their growing family to a goat farm in the Loire Valley, without consulting Ella.

Can Ella and Serge’s relationship survive their relocation to the depths of the French countryside?

A heart-warming and joyful romance, for fans of Jenny Colgan, Lucy Diamond and Sophie Kinsella.

Escape to the French Farmhouse is available to pre-order as an
e-book here.

The Lost Son by Prue Leith

The Lost Son by Prue Leith

Gripping family drama from household name Prue Leith. Perfect for fans of Penny Vincenzi and Barbara Taylor Bradford.

The Angelotti family reels when the lost son, given up for adoption in the war, traces his birth family and returns to the fold, with devastating consequences.  

As poverty-stricken newlyweds, Laura and Giovanni Angelotti were forced to put their first child – a boy – up for adoption. They have had other children since, and their first little Italian cafe has become a restaurant empire, but Laura is still haunted by thoughts of the baby she lost.

Tom is a successful businessman enjoying the fast-paced City lifestyle – until his best friend and business partner is killed in the 9/11 attacks and his world turns upside down. Searching for meaning in his life, he decides to track down his birth family: the Angelottis.

But Laura has been keeping an explosive secret about Tom’s parentage that means his reappearance in her life is bittersweet. She may have found her son, but will it be at the cost of everything it has taken her fifty years to build?

The Lost Son is available to buy here and to pre-order in paperback here.