4 perfect independent bookshops

4 perfect independent bookshops

Tomorrow is the start of Independent Bookshop Week! There are too many stellar shops to note here, but we’ve picked our four faves. Why not show your favourite shop some love this weekend?

Ink@84, London

I love my local shop Ink@84. It’s a relatively new addition to the Highbury area but it’s already made a huge impact in the community. Not only do they have a varied and inspired selection of books on offer and the booksellers give great recommendations, but they also serve drinks! There’s nothing better than sitting by the window on a cloudy day with a cup of coffee (or something stronger) and a good book. Aimee

Hart’s Books, Saffron Walden

Whenever I pop home for the weekend I can never go into town without having a quick peek inside Harts. There’s a gorgeous window full of beautiful hardbacks that always looks so enticing it’s hard not to walk past without wanting to go inside. I love wandering around on an afternoon, scanning the shelves for my latest read or taking my niece in to pick a book from the lovely children’s section. Helena

Sevenoaks Bookshop, Kent

This was my local bookshop when I was growing up and I loved going in and buying up the next Nancy Drew (yes, I was that child) with my saved-up pocket money. It’s still a thriving independent that does brilliant events and is a real community hub – as all the best bookshops are. Alice

Highgate Bookshop, London

I’ve just moved to Highgate, and am already completely in love with my local bookshop. Highgate Bookshop is small but packed full of treasures – it’s got lovely friendly staff and a gorgeous bright green shop front – every time I walk down the high street something new catches my eye in the window display and I can’t resist going in there! I’m so glad I’ve found a great local bookshop near my new flat! Hannah

The Girl in the Letter

The Girl in the Letter

We’re welcoming debut author Emily Gunnis to the Bookends family and we’re giving you an EXCLUSIVE extract of her first novel The Girl in the Letter…don’t say we never treat you!

A heartbreaking letter. A girl locked away.  A mystery to be solved.
1956. When Ivy Jenkins falls pregnant she is sent in disgrace to St Margaret’s, a dark, brooding house for unmarried mothers. Her baby is adopted against her will. Ivy will never leave.

Present day. Samantha Harper is a journalist desperate for a break. When she stumbles on a letter from the past, the contents shock and move her. The letter is from a young mother, begging to be rescued from St Margaret’s. Before it is too late. 

 Sam is pulled into the tragic story and discovers a spate of unexplained deaths surrounding the woman and her child. With St Margaret’s set for demolition, Sam has only hours to piece together a sixty-year-old mystery before the truth, which lies disturbingly close to home, is lost for ever…

Gripping. Mesmerising. Haunting. Heart-breaking. Once you’ve heard her story, you will never forget The Girl in the Letter.’Read an exclusive extract here

Available in eBook on the 2nd August and paperback from January 2019!

The Man I Think I Know, Mike Gayle

The Man I Think I Know, Mike Gayle

‘What a beautiful, tender, unexpected story. It uplifted me a lot. It was LOVELY.’ Marian Keyes

A stunning new novel from bestselling author Mike Gayle, for fans of The Keeper of Lost Things and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. This is a powerful and bittersweet story of an unexpected male friendship and an unlikely love story, a thought provoking storyline told with Mike’s distinctive wit and insight, touching on issues which affect us all. This uplifting tale reminds us of the simple courage at the heart of every human being.

Ever since The Incident, James DeWitt has stayed on the safe side.

He likes to know what happens next.

Danny Allen is not on the safe side. He is more past the point of no return.

The past is about to catch up with both of them in a way that which will change their lives forever, unexpectedly.

But redemption can come in the most unlikely ways.

Not That I Could Tell, Jessica Strawser (extract)

Not That I Could Tell, Jessica Strawser (extract)

Izzy awoke to a deafening downpour beating on the roof of her little Cape Cod. It reached through the dense fog of heavy sleep, through the punishing pain of the previous night’s overindulgence, and tugged at the corner of her conscious mind just enough to pull it aside and reveal the too-familiar memory of Josh hovering there.
In an instant, she regretted it all—the last glasses of wine that had brought on this ache and this haze, the humiliation of having told her new neighbors all they never needed to know about Josh, even the purchase of this house that placed the pounding rain just on the other side of the ceiling that sloped down to meet her bed.
How bad had it been? She squinted into the gray morning light, trying to remember exactly what she’d told them. The details of the later hours of the night were murky. She wasn’t sure she even recalled the short walk home, come to think of it—alarming, though it was just across the street, and Yellow Springs was about as safe as small Ohio towns came. Funny how the brain could hold on to emotions—the warmth of shared laughter and the happy reckless sense of oh, what the hell, why not were still clear to her now—so much more tightly than the precise words or actions behind them.
She usually wasn’t one to overdo it on alcohol. But the other women, all moms with young kids, had been so ecstatic to have a night free, even though it was just a gathering around a backyard fire pit, baby monitors in hand—their enthusiasm had been contagious.
She remembered Clara, the gracious hostess, leaning forward to refill her glass every time it fell below the halfway point. She must have lost track of how much she was having.
Coffee. She needed coffee. If only there were someone to bring her some.
She pulled a pillow over her head, trying to muffle the rain. It might as well have been pounding directly on her skull.
Normally, she would have chastised herself for wasting a day with a hangover of this caliber, but the downpour ruined her plans anyway. In a phase of her life that had somehow become defined by putting on a good face, Sunday mornings were reserved for slipping away. Her weekly hike was no ordinary trek. She’d discovered the most miraculous convergence of nature and faith in a nearby ravine, and it drew her like a magnet—the need to find peace. But in rain like this, the steep inclines of the trail would be too muddy, too hazardous. One wrong step, and she could be in the river. And no one would know she’d been swept away.
She could think of absolutely no reason to get out of bed. Residual sadness—that’s all this was. Up until last night’s unfortunate slip, she’d been doing much better about not thinking of Josh. Really. She had. She was here, wasn’t she? Starting over, on her own.
She would allow herself a day—one day only—to recover, in the physical sense and the emotional. Given the ruined-before-they-started plans and the should-have-known-better remnants of last night churning in her stomach, she would consider the rain lucky.
She would make some coffee and climb back under the covers and nurse the throbbing in her head and revel in the luxury of doing it alone. No—undisturbed.
That sounded more appealing.
And under no circumstances would she allow herself to imagine how her sister might be spending her own rainy Sunday back home, a twenty-minute drive away in Springfield. How Penny and Josh would awaken lazily in their bed, with the quiet confidence of newlyweds, in the master bedroom of the house where Izzy and Penny had spent their childhoods. How the heavy rain would pool on the back porch, beneath the gutter that was always clogged, and leak in through the cracked weather stripping of the kitchen door. Whether Josh would think of Izzy even once as he tiptoed past her old room, down the worn carpet of the stairs, over the puddle on the linoleum, and to the stove to make breakfast. Whether he was the sort of husband who’d call Penny down to eat, or whether, on second thought, he’d take a tray up to her—and keep her occupied in bed for as much of the day as she’d let him.
She would think of anything but that.

Annabelle Thorpe’s Top 10 Books Set In Morocco…

Annabelle Thorpe’s Top 10 Books Set In Morocco…

As spring has sprung upon us we’re getting well and truly into summer holiday planning mode. And where better to explore this summer than the vibrant souks and shady, ancient riads of Morocco? Our fabulous author Annabelle Thorpe takes us on a tour of her top ten Moroccan-set novels as we celebrate the publication of her new book What Lies Within. This book offers summer escapism as well as tense domestic noir, and we’re recommending it to everyone as a brilliant poolside read!

Annabelle’s top 10…

Morocco – one of the most exotic, enigmatic and vibrant countries on the planet – has long appealed to authors, drawn in by the mix of history, extraordinary landscapes and strongly-held spiritual beliefs.  Whether your taste is fiction, biography or history there’s a book to suit.
Lords of the Atlas by Gavin Maxwell
This fascinating book tells the true story of Madini and Thami El Glaoui, who overthrew the ruling Sultan of Morocco in 1896 and ruled the country for over fifty years.  A fantastic read for anyone interested in Morocco’s more recent history, the El Glaoui’s are incredible figures; part gangland mobsters, part ostentatious charmers, with the wealth and style of Indian maharajahs.  A unique insight into the country in the first half of the 20th century.

Hideous Kinky by Esther Freud
An extraordinary autobiography, charting Freud’s childhood years in Morocco, when her Mother decides to leave the conventions of London life and experience something different by travelling to North Africa.  Esther, five, and her sister, seven,  are left free to roam the souks and bazaars and her adventures are told in her childhood voice, expressing both the extraordinary experiences she goes through, and her longing for a more settled, conventional life.
The Caliph’s House by Tahir Shah
Like Esther Freud’s mother, Shah moves to Morocco to escape what has become a stultifying London existence, taking his wife and two children with him.  They buy a rambling house on the outskirts of Casablanca, and the book is a warm, engaging look at how they slowly restored the Caliph’s House to its former glory, helped – and hindered – by builders, gardeners, architects and the Jinns, or spirits, who also occupy the house.
Hope and other Dangerous Pursuits by Laila Lalami
An insight into contemporary Morocco and what drives those who make the dangerous crossing from Tangier to Spain in an attempt to start new lives.  Lalami tells four different stories; Halima and Faten, who are both fleeing from men who are attempting to control their lives, Aziz, who has to leave his devoted wife to find work and Murad, an educated man who has been reduced to hustling in the Tangier slums.
The Saffron Trail by Rosanna Ley
When Nell’s beloved mother dies, she struggles to cope with the grief, and with a marriage that seems to be slowly disintegrating.  She decides to take a trip to Moroco, where she meets Amy, an American photographer who is trying to unravel a family secret.  Together they embark on an emotional journey through the streets of Marrakech and beyond, to discover the truth of both their pasts.
Saffron Trail
The Spider’s House by Paul Bowles
Set in Fez during the struggle for independence from French colonial rule in the 1950s’, this book tells the tale of the only four English-speaking visitors left in a hotel in Fez when the uprising reaches boiling point.   Their characters are revealed through their interactions with Amar, a 15-year-old Muslim boy, and combines unsettling insights into each of their personal histories and a detailed account of the political scene at the time.
The Tangier Diaries by John Hopkins
A fascinating insight into the glamorously louche world of 1960’s Tangier, seen through the eyes of novelist John Hopkins, who lived in the city for twenty years.  The book combines details of glittering parties, with characters as diverse as Rudolf Nureyev and Joe Orton, with travels into the desert and descriptions of traditional Sufi rituals.  A delicious insight into an extraordinary literary life.
The Heat of Betrayal by Douglas Kennedy
When Robin travels to Morocco with her husband, she believes is is the place she will finally fall pregnant, cementing her marriage to Paul.  But when he disappears, and she finds herself the prime suspect in the police enquiry, slowly everything she believed to be true is revealed as a lie.  Robin’s determination to find out what happened to Paul takes her from Marrakech to Casablanca and the vast spaces of the Sahara desert.
A House in Fez by Susanna Clarke
Another book about buying and restoring a house in Morocco, but Clarke’s tale of her and husband’s spontaneous decision to buy a riad takes a very different turn to Tahir Shah’s experiences in Casablanca.  At turns frustrating, anxiety-inducing, exhilarating and ultimately hugely rewarding, the book combines the reality of trying to restore a house in such an alien culture with fascinating insights into traditional Moroccan life.
And finally…
What Lies Within  by Annabelle Thorpe
An exploration of expat culture in present-day Marrakech, and the gulf between those who adopt Morocco as their own and those who are born there.  The story focuses on Paul and Freya, a married couple whose wealthy university friend, Hamad, offers them job opportunities in the city when he realises their marriage is in trouble.  What should be a fresh start soon begins to drive them apart, as Paul and Freya begin to experience Marrakech in very different ways.
What Lies Within

What Lies Within is out today! 

Your Easter Weekend reading…sorted.

Your Easter Weekend reading…sorted.

Along with eating your entire body weight in Easter Eggs (not just us right?) we think the four-day weekend is the perfect excuse to get reading! Take a look at what Team Bookends will reading this weekend!


In between eating handfuls of mini eggs I’ll be delving into The Wildflowers by Harriet Evans. This is the perfect book to while away a long weekend – set in a glorious beach house in Dorset, meet the Wilde family, a glamorous, theatrical family full of secrets and tangled relationships.

With three nieces and nephews I’ll also be taking Stories for Boys Who Dare to be Different back home with me – I love reading with them and know that this will be perfect for reading to them after the excitement of an Easter Egg hunt!


I’m in the mood for a thriller – something with loads of tension and a really good mystery – so I’ll be curling up this long weekend with The Two Houses by Fran Cooper. This atmospheric read sees a couple move to a crumbling property whose central rooms were supposedly so haunted that a previous owner had them cut out from the building entirely. Packed full of buried secrets and domestic drama, this book provides the perfect excuse for some Easter weekend alone-time… and some Easter egg comfort-eating to get me through the nail-biting moments!

On a lighter note, this weekend I’ll also be reading The F Word, Lily Pebbles’ brilliant new celebration of female friendship. Filled with personal memories and invaluable advice for women and girls of all ages, this is a perfect book for dipping in and out of in amongst the chaos of cooking, outdoor activities and family fun that the Easter holidays are guaranteed to bring!


I can’t wait for this bank holiday when I can escape the daily grind to get stuck in to the new Sheila O’Flanagan – What Happened That Night. Gone-Girl-esque, it’s supposed to be gripping from start to finish – just what I need to distract me from eating too much chocolate! Nice pinch of romance in there which always adds to the twist for me.

Try Something New: Thriller

Try Something New: Thriller

Spring is in the air so it’s time to make some changes and give your bookshelves a little spring clean. We think change is a good thing (promise) so if you’re looking to try something a little different then why not take a look at our excellent thriller round up…

The Perfect Girlfriend, Karen Hamilton

Be prepared to put your life on hold for The Perfect Girlfriend (Good Housekeeping)

Brace yourselves as this is a thriller you won’t be able to put down. Meet Juliette. She’s intelligent, driven, committed – and in love. 

Juliette loves Nate.
She will follow him anywhere. She’s even become a flight
attendant for his airline, so she can keep a closer eye on him.

They are meant to be.
The fact that Nate broke up with her six months ago means nothing.
Because Juliette has a plan to win him back.

She is the perfect girlfriend.
And she’ll make sure no one stops her from
getting exactly what she wants.

True love hurts, but Juliette knows it’s worth all the pain…

The Family Next Door, Sally Hepworth

‘Women’s fiction at its finest’ – Liane Moriarty, Number One New York Times bestselling author

If you loved Big Little Lies then we think you’ll love The Family Next Door…if you think you know your neighbours – think again.

The small suburb of Pleasant Court lives up to its name. It’s the kind of place where everyone knows their neighbours, and children play in the street.

Isabelle Heatherington doesn’t fit into this picture of family paradise. Husbandless and childless, she soon captures the attention of three Pleasant Court mothers.

But Ange, Fran and Essie have their own secrets to hide. Like the reason behind Ange’s compulsion to control every aspect of her life. Or why Fran won’t let her sweet, gentle husband near her new baby. Or why, three years ago, Essie took her daughter to the park and returned home without her.

As their obsession with their new neighbour grows, the secrets of these three women begin to spread – and they’re about to find out that when you look at something too closely, you’ll see things you never wanted to see.

The Burial Hour, Jeffery Deaver

‘If you want thrills, Deaver is your man’ Guardian

You can’t go wrong with a thriller from Jeffery Deaver…the master of suspense.

When a man is snatched from a New York street in broad daylight, the only clue is a miniature noose left on the pavement.

By the time criminal forensic scientist Lincoln Rhyme is involved, a video of the missing man is already online, his dying breaths set to a grisly music by someone calling himself The Composer.

Rhyme and fellow investigator Amelia Sachs must follow The Composer across the globe as he continues his horrifying creation, kidnapping further victims to add their last breaths to his piece.

But with Rhyme and Sachs in a whole new world with its own rules, how can they possibly guess what danger they’re in when the music finally stops?


Quickfire Q&A with Elaine Proctor, Author of The Love Factory

Quickfire Q&A with Elaine Proctor, Author of The Love Factory

Today we welcome author Elaine Proctor to the blog, who delights us with a quickfire Q&A!
Elaine’s latest novel The Love Factory is a smart, sexy, witty novel about love and desire, and how losing everything can sometimes be the best thing that ever happened to you. This brilliant book is out on 22nd March 2018.

Your current TV obsession?

GODLESS – Netflix. Every last man in a small mid-western town dies in a mining accident (apart from the sheriff, but he’s going blind) and the women take charge. Best shoot-out ever.

Your ultimate comfort food?

If difficulty looms it’s almond cake with whipped cream and berries.

The last thing you saw at the cinema?

‘The Shape of Water’ – made me long for gills.

If you could star in any role?

In the movies? None, thank you. In life, a teenager whisperer.

Your most-used cookbook?

‘Sunday suppers at Lucques’ by L.A.chef Susanne Goin. Lots of fresh herbs, strong flavours.

Tea or coffee?

Both. First one and then the other.

The show you wish had not been cancelled?

Hmm. Not sure, but I do hope there is a second season of ‘The End of the F…king World’ (C4) coming down the pike.

Starter or dessert?

Both. First one and then the other. And something in between.
The Love Factory
The Love Factory is available for pre-order now: http://amzn.to/2tqvVSl

A Handful of Happiness

A Handful of Happiness

Now here’s one for the wildlife lovers…

We’re getting to the end of Winter and Spring is finally beginning. Although for us that means planting ourselves firmly at a street-corner cafe on a breezy table with a good book, for our prickly friend the humble hedgehog it means they’re starting to come out of hibernation!
hedgehog GIF
Hedgehogs are a marvelous and beloved creature – having recently been voted the UK’s favourite mammal – and sadly they’re in decline. Enter Massimo Vachetta – an Italian veterinarian who, after finding and nursing an ailing hedgehog who he names Ninna, begins his quest to set up a hedgehog sanctuary.
But this book is about so much more than adorable hedgehogs – it tells of how Ninna helped Massimo to feel whole at a time when he felt most lost. It’s an uplifting and inspiring read – it will make you laugh and cry in equal measure, and make you appreciate the smallest and least appreciated. As Massimo says in the book:

“Ninna has heightened my desire to help the smallest, the most forgotten … every creature, even the smallest, is precious”


So join us in celebrating this beautiful book on 22nd March with #HandfulofHappiness.
Available for pre-order now:  http://amzn.to/2tNuehZ
There’s no better present than a book…

There’s no better present than a book…

Your gentle reminder that Mother’s Day is THIS SUNDAY. If you’re stuck for a gift then why not treat your mum (or yourself) to a new book – the perfect accompaniment to breakfast in bed this Mother’s Day!

What Happened That Night by Sheila O’Flanagan


When Lola Fitzpatrick catches the eye of Philip Warren, she’s new to Dublin and loving it. He’s used to getting what he wants…and she can’t resist him. Until one night he forces her to make an impossible choice. If she’d known then what she knows now, everything might have been different.
Lola’s daughter Bey has inherited her mother’s impulsive streak and it takes her down dangerous paths. Then one night she too finds herself in front of a man she loves, with impossible choices of her own to make.
For both women, what happened that night changes everything. For better. For worse. For ever. 

Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

WINNER OF RICHARD AND JUDY AUTUMN BOOK CLUB 2017 – ‘One of the most charming novels either of us has read. Don’t lose it. Keep it’ Richard & Judy

This huge bestseller is already loved by readers, and now with a gorgeous new yellow cover – all ready from Spring –it is the perfect Mother’s Day gift.

Meet the ‘Keeper of Lost Things’…

Once a celebrated author of short stories now in his twilight years, Anthony Peardew has spent half his life collecting lost objects, trying to atone for a promise broken many years before.

Realising he is running out of time, he leaves his house and all its lost treasures to his assistant Laura, the one person he can trust to fulfil his legacy and reunite the thousands of objects with their rightful owners.

But the final wishes of the ‘Keeper of Lost Things’ have unforeseen repercussions which trigger a most serendipitous series of encounters…

Sketchy Muma by Anna Lewis

The moving, funny and utterly endearing illustrated diary of what it means to be a mother.

This gorgeous little book charts the various bewildering stages of becoming a mother, from those tell-tale blue lines in the pregnancy test, to labour, birth, coming home and venturing out. Breastfeeding nightmares, eating dinner with one hand, soft play hell and chronic sleep deprivation – but also the sheer beauty of falling in love again and the amazing discovery of what it’s like to have a family –  these are all captured in Sketchy Muma’s glorious drawings.

This is the perfect gift book for both young and experienced parents. Anna Lewis understands the light and shade that comes with motherhood, and it is those universal truths that will connect all those parents who delight in her sketches.

‘Anna’s sketches never fail to put a smile on my face and make my heart a little warmer.’ GIOVANNA FLETCHER

The Key by Kathryn Hughes

From the #1 bestselling author of The Letter Kathryn Hughes comes The Key, an unforgettable story of a heartbreaking secret that will stay with you for ever.

It’s Ellen Crosby’s first day as a student nurse at Ambergate County Lunatic Asylum. When she meets a young woman committed by her father, and a pioneering physician keen to try out the various ‘cures’ for mental illness, little does Ellen know that a choice she will make is to change all their lives for ever…

Sarah is drawn to the abandoned Ambergate Asylum. Whilst exploring the old corridors she discovers a suitcase belonging to a female patient who was admitted fifty years earlier. The shocking contents lead Sarah to unravel a forgotten story of tragedy, lost love and an old wrong that only she may have the power to put right . .

Happy Mum, Happy Baby by Giovanna Fletcher

Updated paperback edition with a brand new chapter.

Being a mum is an incredible journey, a remarkable experience that changes how we look, how we feel, who we are. As mothers we are strong, protective, proud. We feel a love like no other.

But being a parent can be hard too. It challenges us physically, mentally, emotionally. There are the days where just managing to fit a shower in amidst the endless feeding, entertaining young children and surviving on a lack of sleep feels like an achievement. With so many people ready to offer ‘advice’ on the best way to parent, it can feel like you are getting it all wrong.

Since Giovanna and her husband Tom Fletcher have had their sons Buzz and Buddy, they have been sharing glimpses of their family life. With an infectiously positive outlook and happy take on all things mum-related, Giovanna has developed a following of fellow parents and mums-to-be.

This is not a book about how to have the perfect family experience – Gi would be the first to admit she is winging it just as much as the rest of us – instead it is an honest, upbeat and incredibly personal account of her own experience of having a family. In Happy Mum, Happy Baby Giovanna shares her own journey through parenthood and in doing so, she looks at what it is to be a mother today, encourages you to be confident in yourself as a parent and celebrates how putting a focus on being a happy and confident mum can really make for a happy baby.

Five Forget Mother’s Day (Enid Blyton for Grown – Ups)

Enid Blyton’s books are beloved the world over and The Famous Five have been the perennial favourite of her fans.

In this new series of Enid Blyton for Grown-Ups, George, Dick, Anne, Julian and Timmy are keen to show Aunt Fanny how much she means to them.

George has past form in forgetting – not least her mum’s birthday and Christmas presents – so tensions are running high even for the charged normality of their mother/daughter bond.

But things go from bad to worse when Fanny comes to stay, with relations strained almost to breaking point. Can the Five save the day, and will Uncle Quentin get involved?