Books to get you through the heatwave…

Books to get you through the heatwave…

We’ve all heard enough about the #heatwave but when the world is melting around you, what else can you do but commiserate? We miss the rain. Remember rain? So lovely and cooling and we never moaned about it, not at all. Anyway, we’re here to take your minds off your rapidly escalating body temperature and terrible sunburn with some reads to get you through the heatwave!

Helena

There isn’t a book more appropriate for this heatwave than Sunday Times Bestseller Instructions for A Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell, a story of a dysfunctional but loveable family reunited, set during the legendary summer of 1976 (soon to be taken over by the SWELTERING summer that is 2018 perhaps?)

Top tip for surviving a heatwave: Open ALL windows, put a fan on, drink a LOT of water and dream of snow.

edward scissorhands snow GIF

Hannah

I’ve got a copy of Annabelle Thorpe’s What Lies Within on my desk, and I can’t help but get distracted every five minutes wishing I was swimming around in that cover. Let it transport you to the vibrant souks and shady ancient riads of Marrakech, where you will most likely be wearing something floaty and made of linen.

My top tip: buy a fan. I’ve only just caved and bought one, but it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.

sweaty summer GIF by Thoka Maer

 

 

What are your guilty holiday pleasures? Beth Good, Chrissie Manby, Andy Jones and Rosanna Ley spill all!

What are your guilty holiday pleasures? Beth Good, Chrissie Manby, Andy Jones and Rosanna Ley spill all!

As the heat encroaches further and further, aren’t we all dreaming of a holiday? Not only can you escape with a brilliant read, but our lovely authors are here to tell you about all their guilty holiday pleasures!

Beth Good, author of The Oddest Little Beach Shop

Definitely sleeping in. I have five kids, the three youngest of whom are still at school, so any chance of a lie-in in haevenly. I’m not a big ice cream fan like the kids, but I do love to linger over a latte. I enjoy wandering about museums and old churches too, especially when it’s hot outside, and just soaking up that echoing atmosphere.

Chrissie Manby, author of Once in a Lifetime

I think you have to ditch the guilt on holiday. One of the things I look forward to most is drinking a negroni sbagliato (vermouth, Campari and prosecco) while people watching in an Italian square.

Andy Jones, author of Four

I have none. I mean, I sleep late, open the wine early, and eat enough ice-cream to send a child into a coma. But guilty? No, there’s no guilt.

Rosanna Ley, author of Her Mother’s Secret

All food and drink related in my case! An Italian croissant with crema in the mornings, an Italian gelato in the afternoon and an Aperol Spritz in early evening – I think I will have to go to Italy…

 

If you enjoyed this post, check out which characters four of our fab authors would take on holiday with them!

Andy Jones, Jo Thomas, Kathryn Hughes and Annabelle Thorpe Tell Us About Their Favourite Writing Getaway…

Andy Jones, Jo Thomas, Kathryn Hughes and Annabelle Thorpe Tell Us About Their Favourite Writing Getaway…

Summer is in full swing, and while you lovely readers are off reading by the poolside, our lovely authors are tucked away in cabins or at desks writing their next masterpiece! Read below to find out some of their best writing destinations…

Andy Jones, author of Four

The beach! God no. Sand in your hard drive, sun glaring off the screen, people having fun. Just awful. Hillsides are too slopey, and park benches attract the wrong kind of crowd. Nope, I’m a creature of habit, and my favourite writing spot is my own study. It’s quiet, I have a great selection of books, I play my own music and I make a fantastic cup of coffee. In fact, I find it hard to write anywhere else. If we ever move house I’ll have to take the study with me.

Jo Thomas, author of Sunset Over Cherry Orchard

I do have what I call The Writing Pad, by the sea in Pembrokeshire. When I wrote The Oyster Catcher, I wrote it in my car, sitting by Galway Bay whilst my children were in school. When I finally got published, I upgraded to a camper van so I could make a cup of tea whilst I was working! I would spend summers in Pembrokeshire, the kids out swimming, crabbing and kayaking whilst I looked out at sea and wrote. The draw to sea has stayed with me, and finally I bought my mobile home, The Writing Pad, where I look out to sea and listen to the seagulls as I write and end the day watching the sun set with a sundowner in my hand at The Boat Club.

Kathryn Hughes, author of The Key

A large part of a writer’s life is spent staring out of the window so it can be a revitalising exercise to change the view.  For many years now, we’ve had a lodge overlooking the Conwy valley in North Wales, so I like to drive over there and if the weather is good, set up my desk on the decking.  There are fewer distractions there than at home where there are always chores/offspring demanding my attention.

Annabelle Thorpe, author of What Lies Within

I’ve spent a lot of time in Turkey in the last twenty years, and there’s a small hotel I love, the Courtyard, in a gorgeous village called Kalkan.  It’s the perfect spot for plotting and planning – I either sit up on the roof terrace, which has wonderful sea views, or the lovely shady courtyard garden.  I always write better when I’m away.

 

The Bookends Beach Party is Back!

The Bookends Beach Party is Back!

That’s right – by popular demand, the Bookends beach party is back!

Over July and August we’ll be bringing you a whole host of exclusive content and summer reading round ups featuring pieces from your favourite authors.

Kicking things off we’ve got three wonderful authors talking us through their beach bag must-haves for 2018…

Annabelle Thorpe, author of What Lies Within

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng – I’ve just read Little Fires Everywhere and thought it was absolutely brilliant, so I’m reading her books in reverse order. I’ll also throw in The Pool and An Ocean of Minutes.  Pens and paper for scribbling down writing thoughts, headphones for summery playlists and spare sunglasses – I’m endlessly sitting on them/losing them/leaving them in a bar.

Joanna Bolouri, author of Relight My Fire

The first things in my beach bag will be sunscreen. As the daughter of a redhead, I’ve inherited the power of burning spectacularly within six minutes of being in the sunshine. I use factor fifty but it doesn’t work.  I’ll also have my phone, at least two paperbacks and some chewing gum so I can be minty fresh while I get sunstroke.

Rosanna Ley, author of Her Mother’s Secret

I plan to be catching up on reading as usual. In my TBR pile and very likely to be in the beach bag are What Lies Within by Annabelle Thorpe and Believe Me by JP Delaney. Apart from the usual suspects of suncream, beach towel and a bottle of something cold and zingy, I will also (always) have my notebook and pen.

If you enjoyed this sneak peek, follow the summer fun, keep an eye out for some amazing competitions, and don’t miss our big finale at the Rooftop Book Club in August, featuring Kathryn Hughes, Rosanna Ley, Katie Marsh and Andy Jones (snap up your tickets now: http://bit.ly/2LZNJb7)
Victoria Brownlee: On the unsexiness of cheese (and how it ended up at the centre of my romance tale)

Victoria Brownlee: On the unsexiness of cheese (and how it ended up at the centre of my romance tale)

Cheese isn’t sexy. Nor particularly romantic. It’s not an aphrodisiac and it’s hardly beautiful (at least not conventionally). Eat too much of it and you’re guaranteed to feel pretty average. Feed it to your lover and enjoy that barnyard aroma that lingers on your fingers. See what I’m getting at?

The unsexiness of cheese certainly poses a particular challenge when you’re trying to pit it at the heart of a romance novel, but does it have to be an unsurmountable one? And why persist when there are so many other foods that are intrinsically entwined with romance?

Think, for example, how oysters are just effortlessly romantic. Strawberries too. Even grapes. God, what about Champagne? Couples always drink Champagne before jumping into bed together. And how about cupcakes? At least they’re sweet and pretty. Or pasta, which has that whole Lady and the Tramp thing going for it. Or even chocolate, which is straight out rich and decadent.

To illustrate how easily most foods slip into seduction mode: a couple’s kisses could be sizzling like the fat of a steak once thrown onto hot coals; their foreplay spicy like a Sichuan hotpot brimming with chilli and peppercorns; or maybe his touch is sweet like a burst of cherry hiding in clafoutis.

Sexual tension might be bubbling under the surface like the fizz in a glass of Champagne; or their sex hot like caramel straight off a wooden spoon that’ll inevitably burn both your fingers and then your mouth.

Their flirting could be tangy like biting into a passionfruit pip adorning a Pavlova; or maybe her beauty is almost devourable, like a tray of artfully constructed petits fours delivered to your table with a strong espresso.

But … cheese?

Cheese is milky. It oozes. Cheese wafts. Cheese has a lingering scent of … animal.

Not only is cheese a distinctly unsexy food, it risks leaving any budding romance for dead. So how to avoid killing the mood when a love story is based in a cheese shop? Well, a little creative licence is needed.

For example, his accent could suddenly become as unctuous as triple cream Brie, and his pickup lines as smooth as a slice of Brillat-Savarin. His kisses can make her melt like a Saint-Marcellin on a hot day and her emotions can burst like the salt crystals in a slice of aged Comté. Her feelings might be raw like a gooey unpasteurised Camembert and their relationship could become challenging, like a particularly potent Époisses.

Maybe his forearms could be strong like the mould coursing through a slice of Roquefort and her heart could be aching like her stomach after overindulging in fondue. But his love will be enduring, like the cheese smell lingering outside a fromagerie.

OK, so maybe those last few examples take things a little too far, but they paint a certain romantic picture. Right? Right?

Perhaps we can just agree that cheese can be somewhat sexy. But a whole book based around one moderately-appealing food group? Even I remained unconvinced.

In order to round out the romance, it’s best to add in a little of the ritual that surrounds the buying and the tasting of cheese. The cheese shop, with its plethora of colours and shapes, and the wine that accompanies the cheese eating should feature heavily; the cheesemonger, too, should be all sorts of fun and charming to help pick up the slack.

And just in case that material mass of Comté or Gruyère still doesn’t inspire a world of romance waiting to be uncovered, best to set the story in Paris, because where cheese lacks romance, The City of Lights certainly delivers.

And now for my next trick, I’ll just be here at my computer figuring out how to make Spam the catalyst for a sequel. Or maybe I’ll try my luck with geoducks. Hot dogs? Oh, God help me.

An Autumn Affair at the Paris Cheese Shop is out now for just 99p!
 https://amzn.to/2KhjxI7 
Linda Green tells us how a true life love story inspired And Then It Happened

Linda Green tells us how a true life love story inspired And Then It Happened

People often ask me where I get the inspiration from for my novels. And Then It Happened was inspired by the incredible love and devotion of an extraordinary woman I interviewed while working as a journalist.

I first met Jean Dennis in 1997, while working as a feature writer on the Coventry Evening Telegraph.

Jean’s husband John, aged forty, had suffered a heart attack during the ambulance dispute of 1989 and was starved of oxygen when a wrong turning was taken and he didn’t receive adequate care during the journey in an army Land Rover to hospital.

He went into a coma and remained in a vegetative state. A year later, hospital staff said there was nothing more they could do for John and recommended Jean put him in a nursing home.

Jean was having none of it. Having pledged to care for each other ‘in sickness and in health’, Jean decided that the right thing to do was to take him home and look after him herself.

When I met them both, John had been in a persistent vegetative state for seven years, the past six of them being cared for at home by Jean.

Witnessing the tenderness, love and utter devotion with which Jean cared for John was incredibly moving. And yet she was adamant that any woman would have done the same in her situation.

John’s special bed was in the living room of their home. Jean would talk to him, wash and shave  him and even put aftershave on him, as he’d always liked to be well-groomed.

Although he couldn’t move or respond verbally to Jean, she was convinced he was aware of her presence and that he was at home. Watching them together, I was convinced she was right.

Sadly, John never recovered and died in 2006, almost 17 years after slipping into the coma.

Jean and John’s story had a lasting impact on me. The idea of trying to capture the range of human emotions involved took hold in my head.

I wanted to write about the sort of selfless love, Jean had demonstrated. A love far deeper than the romantic love most commercial women’s fiction dealt with at the time

I created a young couple, Mel and Adam, who had been childhood sweethearts and had a little girl, Maya, who was about to start school. I wanted to examine the impact Adam’s accident would have on the whole family and particularly focus on how Mel would cope with what happened.

I embarked on a lengthy period of research into coma, persistent vegetative state and minimally conscious state. For someone who flunked her biology O level, I ended up knowing a surprising amount about the human brain!

To find out more about the impact of traumatic brain injuries on patients and their families, I interviewed Andrew James, a Consultant in Neuropsychology and Rehabilitation at Daniel Yorath House in Leeds, which is run by Headway, a charity set up to give help and support to people affected by brain injury.

Traumatic brain injury has a devastating effect on people’s lives. Each year in the UK, almost 12,000 people will suffer a head injury so severe that they will remain unconscious for six hours or more. After five years, only fifteen percent of these people will have returned to work.

One of the things which became really important to me was to create an honest and realistic portrayal of brain injury. Too often Hollywood films have given the impression that someone emerging from a coma can just jump out of bed and resume their life as if nothing has happened. The reality is very different to that.

My task was then to apply my research to the characters and develop the plot for the novel. And Then It Happened is entirely a work of fiction. The couple in the book, Mel and Adam, have to deal with a different situation in different circumstances to Jean and John. But, while allowing myself a bit of artistic licence, I wanted to ensure that the characters’ experiences were as accurate as possible and would resonate with those who had experienced traumatic brain injury.

One of the best things for me as an author, has been to receive positive feedback both from Jean, Headway and other individuals who have dealt with traumatic brain injury. To know that my novel has been recommended to the partners of those who have suffered traumatic brain injuries, as a novel which gives an insight into what life may be like for them, gives me a huge sense of satisfaction.

Since And Then It Happened was first published eight years ago, the success of books like Me Before You by JoJo Moyes, has demonstrated that readers want to read moving stories which reflect real life and they don’t require a Hollywood-style ‘happy-ever-after’ ending. I think that’s an incredibly positive thing and it’s been great to see more novels dealing with difficult issues being published.

I was honoured to be able to dedicate And Then It Happened to Jean and John and I hope the book continues to shine a light into the difficult lives faced by some people and the incredible resilience and love demonstrated by extraordinary women like Jean.

A  huge thank you to Linda Green for this moving piece.
And Then It Happened is out now and just 99p in eBook: 
https://amzn.to/2Mpp4NF 
How Team Bookends celebrated Independent Bookshop Week

How Team Bookends celebrated Independent Bookshop Week

We’ve been all abuzz in the publishing world this week, doing our very best to celebrate the wonderful independent bookshops up and down the country. We celebrated by sending some of our fantastic authors out to spread the love. Here are some highlights…

We were delighted to have Victoria Hislop taking part in Independent Bookshop Week as part of Lowdham Book Festival. Victoria was in conversation with BBC Radio Nottingham’s Frances Finn, and spoke about her bestselling books, her travelling life and her passion for Greece, followed by a Prosecco and cake the perfect way to round off the event!

We also had the amazing Maggie O’Farrell speaking to our friend at The Edinburgh Bookshop talking about the astonishing, life affirming ‘I Am, I Am, I Am’. Celebrations were had with lots of tea and scones!

The delightful Kim Sherwood has been spreading the love to lots of independent bookshops by hand delivering copies of her stunning debut novel Testament.

And finally on Tuesday the wonderful Elly Griffiths did a Q&A and book signing at Winstone’s Sherborne to celebrate Independent Bookshop Week. If you missed the fun this week, get out to your local indie and get involved!

An exclusive extract from Return to the Italian Quarter

An exclusive extract from Return to the Italian Quarter

Sometimes you must go back in order to move forward…

A page-turning story of family secrets for fans of Santa Montefiore and Lucinda Riley, from the acclaimed bestselling author of the Dr Ruth Galloway Mysteries.

Sophie is only a quarter Italian. But that quarter is her charismatic grandfather Cesare, and he has instilled in her a great love of her Italian heritage. So when a journalist starts to investigate Cesare’s war record, Sophie is reluctant to question just how proud she should really be.

She embarks upon a journey into the past which takes her from nineteenth-century Naples to London’s Italian quarter and one of the Second World War’s forgotten tragedies. And along the way she also learns something very important about herself…

‘A fascinating account of Italian life, written with skill and insight’ Katie Fforde

Click here to read an exclusive extract!

Q&A With Joanna Bolouri, author of the naughtiest rom-com of the year RELIGHT MY FIRE!

Q&A With Joanna Bolouri, author of the naughtiest rom-com of the year RELIGHT MY FIRE!

The funny and fiery Joanna Bolouri has done it again! Phoebe and Oliver, the beloved protagonists from bestseller THE LIST are back and naughtier than ever in RELIGHT MY FIRE!

🔥

 

Relight My Fire

To celebrate we’ve got a fabulous Q&A with Joanna herself!

1. Your current TV obsession

The Good Fight. There’s nothing I don’t love about this show. I was really into the Good Wife, but I think I might love this a bit more. It’s so intelligent, the writing is amazing, the characters are complex and it’s sexy without even trying to be. I’m already sad that it’ll end one day because shroom microdosing, Trump hating Diane Lockhart is my Queen

2. Your ultimate comfort food

Crisps. Crisps are my comfort and probably my downfall. The crisp aisle is the best aisle in the supermarket and I get annoyed when they put those ‘healthy’ snacks near them; like those pea-based monstrosities or seaweed thins. Potatoes or GTFO.

3. The last thing you saw at the cinema

I tend to limit my cinema trips to horror nights with my equally ghoulish friend but the last film I saw was The Greatest Showman. I didn’t even want to see it, but my daughter dragged me along, so I agreed, hoping to nap while she watched Wolverine pretend to be a ringmaster. However, I started crying about five minutes in when some kids started singing because I’m ridiculous and by the end I was inwardly applauding and wondering if I was too old to do musical theatre.

4. If you could star in any role

When I was younger it would have been Andie from Pretty in Pink as I was obsessed with Molly Ringwald. We both had big lips, gummy smiles and unruly hair, only boys actually fancied her.  It’s still one of my favourite films which I’ll happily quote word for word and spoil it for everyone watching. Now that I’m older and grumpier, I think I’d choose The Blair Witch. I’d own those woods and would bring my own sticks.

5. Your most used cookbook

Is this the part where I pretend that I can cook? I’m afraid my recipes are either limited to ‘steam veg and cook meat in oven until burned’ or plucked from YouTube where I’ll pause and rewind it thirty-seven times to see how to open a tin.

6. Tea or coffee

Coffee during the day (milk, one sweetener) and sometimes tea at night. I pretty much mainline coffee from the second my eyes open. I like to buy coffee for the car behind me at the Costa drive thru and then feel good that someone got free coffee and maybe their day just got a little better.

7. The show you wish had not been cancelled

I would say Arrested Development, but Netflix licensed new episodes which mended my broken heart, so I’m going with Community. That show made me laugh hard, especially Donald Glover and Chevy Chase. I don’t care that Chevy Chase was rude during filming, I’m not his mother.

8. Starter or dessert

I’d choose savoury over sweet most days so I’m very much a starter type of person. I want a small plate of dinner before my big plate of dinner and usually I’m in a food coma before the desert menu comes out.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this sneak peek into Jo’s life, and don’t forget RELIGHT MY FIRE is out now! https://amzn.to/2kD6Psb

Kate and Wills, we’ve got some baby name suggestions for you…

Kate and Wills, we’ve got some baby name suggestions for you…

We’re all very excited about the new royal baby here at Team Bookends, so we thought we’d offer Kate and Wills some inspiration using our favourite fictional heroes.

the royals babies GIF

Helena

Sherlock – what better name for a Royal baby than a British icon? Plus, he’d be the smarter, more interesting sibling! I can see it now – George, Charlotte and little Sherlock…

sherlock GIF

Alice

I really wish they’d call him something like Albus but that’s probably too ‘out-there’. Maybe as a compromise they’d call him Harry after his uncle (but in our minds, after Harry Potter…)

harry potter ugh GIF

Amy

Gatsby. Fit for self-made royalty and new-born princes alike, this 1920s American classic would make the perfect name for the newest member of the Royal family.

leonardo dicaprio GIF

Hannah

In all seriousness if they don’t name that baby Heathcliff I’ll be distraught. He’d grow up to be the brooding mysterious counterpart to George’s rosy-cheeked jolliness and Charlotte’s sassiness.

angry baby GIF

So tell us, folks – which one is your favourite?