Bookends Halloween – Jenny Blackhurst

Bookends Halloween – Jenny Blackhurst

To celebrate Halloween 2019, we will be asking some of our authors some spooky questions! First up is Jenny Blackhurst, author of The Night She Died and Someone is Lying

What are your favourite spooky reads? 

Am I allowed to say The Foster Child? No? Okay, in that case when I was younger I was a big Masterton fan, Walkers, in particular was horrifying as a teen. The Withered Arm by Thomas Hardy freaked me out.

What book-to-film adaptations do you watch to get yourself in the Halloween mood?

You can’t go wrong with Stephen King, and with the second part of IT out in time for Halloween I’ve recently watched the first part to get myself ready. Silence of the Lambs is another favourite. I love horror, Halloween is my favourite time of year and I’ve started watching scary movies already. I don’t even care that it’s not a book-to-film adaptation I’m going to say it. Hocus Pocus is the best.

Of the characters in your book, who would you choose to trick, and who deserves a treat?

I feel like Susan Webster from How I Lost You deserves a treat, I really put that poor woman through an emotional wringer. As for a trick, that’s harder to choose because I actually like the majority of my characters! I rarely have a true bad guy so I guess it would have to be Jack, also from How I Lost You because he was a genuinely bad person for no apparent reason.

What would the main character in your book dress up as for Halloween?

There is actually a Halloween party in Someone is Lying! Karla and Marcus are ring masters, Miranda is a witch, Peter and Mary-Beth King go as Beetlejuice and the Grim Reaper and Felicity is Harley Quinn. Alex is completely inappropriate, as always, and doesn’t deserve a mention.

What will you be reading on 31st October?

This Halloween I’ll be reading The Taking of Annie Thorne by CJ Tudor because it sounds deliciously creepy.

Someone is Lying is out now in ebook and will be out in paperback on 14th November. Get your copy here.

Fair Play: is your to-do list endless?

Fair Play: is your to-do list endless?

In Fair Play by Eve Rodsky, she urges women to evaluate the distribution of responsibilities in their families and relationships. Chosen as a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick, Fair Play seeks to show you that there is a way to share the mental load, rebalance your relationship and transform your life. In this extract from the book, Eve explores the dilemma of never ending to-do lists.

WHY CAN’T WE EVER SEEM TO GET AHEAD OF OUR TO-DO LISTS?

The more I talked with my girlfriends who’d entered motherhood, I realized we were all having trouble getting it all done— and what’s more, we were all having trouble identifying exactly what it was we were doing. Why were we all so busy?

   It turns out this phenomenon has a name—many names, actually. One of the most popular is “invisible work”: invisible because it may be unseen and unrecognized by our partners, and also because those of us who do it may not count or even acknowledge it as work . . . despite the fact that it costs us real time and significant mental and physical effort with no sick days or benefits. No doubt you, too, have read articles describing this “mental load,” “second shift,” and the “emotional labor” that falls disproportionately on women, along with the toll this domestic work takes on our lives more broadly.

   But what are we really talking about here? Sociologists Arlene Kaplan Daniels and Arlie Hochschild started giving us the language to talk about these deeply felt (but largely unarticulated) inequities in the 1980s, and since then, plenty of intelligent women have advanced the conversation and the popular vernacular.

Mental Load: The never-ending mental to-do list you keep for all your family tasks. Though not as heavy as a bag of rocks, the constant details banging around in your mind nonetheless weigh you down. Mental “overload” creates stress, fatigue, and often forgetfulness. Where did I put the damn car keys?

Second Shift: This is the domestic work you do long before you go to work and often even longer after you get home from the office. It’s an unpaid shift that starts early and goes late, and you can’t afford to lose it. Every day’s a double shift when you have two kids’ lunches to prep!

Emotional Labor: This term has evolved organically in pop culture to include the “maintaining relationships” and “managing emotions” work like calling your inlaws, sending thank-you notes, buying teacher gifts, and soothing meltdowns in Target. This work of caring can be some of the most exhausting labor (akin to the day your child was born), but providing middle-of-the-night comfort is what makes you a wonderful and dependable parent. It’s OK, Mama’s here.

Invisible Work: This is the behind-the-scenes stuff that keeps a home and family running smoothly, although it’s hardly noticed and is rarely valued. The toothpaste never runs out. You’re welcome.   In an effort to “physicalize” this heavy burden carried by women yesterday and today, I began collecting every article I could find on the subject of domestic inequality. After amassing 250 articles (and counting) from newspapers, magazines, and online sources, it was disturbing to recognize that, since women began writing about this in the 1940s, we haven’t made enough progress in sharing the burden with our partners or finding an answer to this problem that men could buy into. Same sh*t, different decade.

   According to the most contemporary research, women still do the bulk of childcare and domestic work, even in two-earner families in which both parents work full-time and sometimes even when the mother earns more than her partner. As if reflecting a mirror onto my life, I stumbled upon another study revealing that men who stood up for their fair share of housework prior to having kids significantly cut back their contributions after kids—by up to five hours a week.

   Wow, even the good guys?

   As I considered the vast research and literature, past and present, bravely naming and articulating this problem, I thought: OK, we know there’s an imbalance. But where is the manual with a practical and sustainable solution? Sure, it’s helpful to understand the breadth of the condition and its historic underpinnings, and it felt gratifying to know that I was not alone in this predicament and that plenty of women had been fed up and writing about it for decades. But what can we do to change it? I became determined to find out.

Fair Play is available to buy now.

Sophie Claire on the inspiration behind The Christmas Holiday!

Sophie Claire on the inspiration behind The Christmas Holiday!

To celebrate the paperback publication of The Christmas Holiday, author Sophie Claire shares the inspiration behind her charming, heartwarming festive read!

I’m often asked what inspires my books and in this case it was a very sad but true story which has haunted me since childhood. It happened to one of the male teachers at my primary school and I was ten years old at the time. He was the most popular teacher in the school and everyone, boys and girls alike, adored him; I was no exception. He was friendly, good-natured, and always telling jokes and making us laugh. Then one day his wife became ill and died.

She was only 27, and I’m guessing he was around the same age himself. He disappeared on sick leave for a few months, and when he came back to school the change was shocking: he was a shadow of himself. He’d lost weight, there were shadows under his eyes and he never smiled any more. Never.

His grief was so visible that it really marked me. And, being so young, this was my first experience of grief and how it can break someone. I left that school shortly after and, although I always hoped that he’d rebuild his life and find love again, I can’t be sure what happened to him.

I suppose this mystery fuelled my imagination, and in my book, The Christmas Holiday, I wanted to explore how a grieving widower, still in love with his wife and clinging to her memory, might move on and find love again. Enter my fictional hero, Jake Hartwood.

Once I had Jake, I needed a heroine, and I thought it would be fun to make her his polar opposite: a cheerful, chatty optimist. At the beginning of my story Jake is broken, and I knew Evie’s happy outlook would really grate on him. The only problem was, he’d go to any length to avoid her, so how would I get them together? I conjured up a snowstorm which forced them to spend the night together in a freezing old house with only a log fire and Jake’s faithful Dalmatian for company. Now they had to talk to each other, and I had great fun watching the sparks fly!

But Jake and Evie had a lot more in common than they first realised and much to teach each other, so drawing out the romance between them was a delight. I like to share my love of Provence in my books, and since they were both dreading Christmas they made plans to escape there – together.

I won’t give away any spoilers, but I hope you’ll enjoy following their journey – and perhaps fall in love with Jake too along the way.

Sophie x

The Christmas Holiday is out now in paperback and eBook!

Finding My Voice by Nadiya Hussain

Finding My Voice by Nadiya Hussain

‘A national treasure’ Independent

‘She’s baked her way into our hearts and hasn’t stopped since’ Prima

‘One of our favourite ever Bake Off winners’ Sunday Mirror

FUNNY, HEART-WRENCHING, GENEROUS AND TRUE, IN FINDING MY VOICE NADIYA HUSSAIN SHARES THE UNFORGETTABLE MEMORIES AND EXPERIENCES THAT HAVE MADE HER THE WOMAN SHE IS TODAY.

‘I am writing this for everyone who was told no. ‘No, you are not rich enough. No, that is not credible. No, you can’t. No, you won’t. No, you are not allowed. No, that is not appropriate.

I was told, “No, you do not belong.”

Finally, I am saying, “Yes, I do.”‘

From the moment Nadiya Hussain was born, she has been questioning her role in life. But the irony is, she never wanted to be a trailblazer. She just wanted to follow a ‘normal’ path. But life kept telling her ‘you can’t’.

And so she found her own way, beyond anything she dared to dream . . .

In this wise, witty, open-hearted book, Nadiya lets us into her life and, for the first time, shares the memories and experiences that have shaped her into the woman and role-model that she is today, alongside her personal recipes and the stories they tell.

Read an exclusive extract from The Bobby Girls by Johanna Bell!

Read an exclusive extract from The Bobby Girls by Johanna Bell!

Read an extract from The Bobby Girls, the first book in Johanna Bell’s lively, uplifting saga about Britain’s first female police officers!

Maggie and her new friends Annie, Irene and Sarah come from very different backgrounds, but they’ve got one thing in common: they’ve all signed up for the Women Police Volunteers. They can’t wait to show the men just what they’re made of.

But soon, Maggie realises she’s in over her head. Hiding her involvement with the WPV from her tyrannous father is becoming ever more difficult, and when she bumps into an old acquaintance with a big chip on his shoulder, the dangers of her new life become all too clear . . .

As Maggie and the girls work together to find their feet on the beat, will their friendship get her through the darkest of times?

Read an extract from The Bobby Girls!

Pre-order The Bobby Girls in eBook, available from the 31st October.

Pre-order The Bobby Girls in paperback, available from the 26th December.

Muna Shehadi reveals her favourite…

Muna Shehadi reveals her favourite…

Muna Shehadi, author of Private Lies reveals her favourite…

Book: Because I could never choose a grown-up book, I’m going with Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak.  I think this little story is perfect. It reads like poetry.

Film: The Sound of Music.

Food: Either a combination of flavours I’ve never encountered, or a perfect specimen of something very simple.

Drink: Champagne.

Place: The porch on my house in Maine, or down on the rocky shore.

Season: Fall.

TV Programme: I’m always too busy reading.

Song: Anything that makes me feel too much to describe.

Possession: My family-inherited Oriental rugs.

Item of Clothing: Black pants.

Colour: Hot Pink.

Flower: Alstroemeria.

Perfume: 4711.

Way to spend the day: Cooking an over-the-top-meal or exploring a new city.

Private Lies is out in ebook on 3rd October, and in paperback on 12th December. Get your copy here!

Olivia Beirne on FOMO

Olivia Beirne on FOMO

Even as I type that I want to laugh. First there was ‘YOLO’, then ‘FOMO’ now ‘JOMO’. When will this odd obsession with abbreviation end? Is this the direction in which the world is heading? Maybe when I’m 80, my grandchildren will only communicate via a sequence of letters and I’ll be expected to crack the code like a wrinkled enigma machine.

Anyway, FOMO. The Fear Of Missing Out. Something which, if you have a smart phone and/or the internet, you can’t really get away from nowadays. Funny, you spend all of your time at work, fantasising about your celebratory glass of wine and binge session of Midsummer Murders (oh, The Great British Bake Off is on tonight, and Strictly has just started, so mustn’t miss that), and then it hits you.: a glamorous, effortless photo of someone you went to school with (and haven’t seen or spoken to in ten years) strewn across a white beach like a sexy piece of seaweed.

And there it is, a sudden hit of fiery resentment. It’s the FOMO. The sudden realisation, as you look down at your lukewarm cup of tea and your half written email to Janet from accounts, that you aren’t sat on a beach. You haven’t got a fabulous holiday booked. You couldn’t even afford it. You’re not going to that wild party on Saturday night (were you even invited?) and no matter how hard you try, your bottom will never resemble a freshly plucked peach.

In short, you’re not doing very well at all. Or at least, that what it feels like. But, you’re fine, right?

It almost feels ironic to write a book about loneliness when everybody is constantly connected. But are we filling our minds with negativity? Is FOMO clouding our motives? Is inadequacy feeding our anxiety? Is the addiction to social media making us feel more alone?

I wanted to write a story about a group of people, all blinded by the urgency to be ‘fine’. The Accidental Love Letter follows a group of characters with fake smiles; the only issue is, nobody talks to each other. Even though Bea is surrounded by people who ask her every day how she is, the only person she can be honest with is a stranger who she has no intention of meeting.

Social Media has its good and bad points. But something I have loved watching is the community it has created – people opening up about mental health, with the reassurance that they are not alone. Others feel the same. They aren’t tapping a reply calling them a freak or a lost cause, they’re sending hope and comfort. I know how you feel. I’ve been there before. You will get through this. I feel the same.

And then the loudest of them all.

Talk about it. Talk to someone. You’re not alone.

By Olivia Beirne, author of The Accidental Love Letter

Get your copy of Olivia’s new book, The Accidental Love Letter, now!

Cosy up with our top book picks this Autumn

Cosy up with our top book picks this Autumn

The days are getting darker, the weather is getting cooler, everyone is digging out their jumpers from the back of their wardrobes, but for us at Bookends that means the arrival of our favourite season – autumn! We love snuggling up with a good book, hot drink in hand, and a warm pair of woolly socks on our feet. To celebrate the arrival of crispy leaves and all-things-hygge, we’ve picked our top autumnal reads, perfect for curling up with at this time of year.

Before and After by Judy Christie and Lisa Wingate

The heartbreaking true stories of victims of a notorious adoption scandal – some of whom learned the truth from Lisa Wingate’s No.1 bestselling novel Before We Were Yours.

From the 1920s to 1950, Georgia Tann ran a corrupt baby business at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society in Memphis. She offered up more than 5,000 orphans tailored to the wish lists of eager parents – hiding the fact that many weren’t orphans at all, but stolen sons and daughters of poor families, desperate single mothers, and women told in maternity wards that their babies had died.

The publication of Lisa Wingate’s novel Before We Were Yours brought new awareness of Tann’s child trafficking. Adoptees who knew little about their pasts gained insight into the startling facts behind their family histories. Encouraged by their contact with Wingate and award-winning journalist Judy Christie, who document the stories of fifteen adoptees in this book, many survivors set out to trace their roots and find their birth families.

Before and After includes moving and shocking accounts of the ways in which adoptees were separated from their first families. Often raised as only children, many have joyfully reunited with siblings in the final decades of their lives. In Before and After, Wingate and Christie tell of first meetings that are all the sweeter and more intense for time missed, and of families from very different social backgrounds reaching out to embrace brothers, sisters, and cousins.

Get your copy of BEFORE AND AFTER here

Craftfulness by Rosemary Davidson & Arzu Tahsin

What is that unique feeling that goes hand-in-hand with making something from scratch?   Do you ever wonder where the time goes when you’re lost in drawing or working with clay? Are you happiest when you’re sewing or knitting?

Craft enthusiasts are no doubt already aware of the joys of making and the frustration when you must put aside your project and go back to your day job or to less enticing tasks around the house. But there is more to crafting than the simple enjoyment of a creative hobby.

Drawing on the first-hand accounts from everyday crafters, Craftfulness considers the vital well-being effects to be gained from the simple expression of your creativity, and investigates the soul-cleansing and stress-relieving benefits of making things by hand.

An all-you-need-to-know friendly guide to inspire you to give making a go, Craftfulness:

explores the science of creativity and the authors’ down-to-earth craft ethos, as well as why everyone should develop a craft habit;

suggestsways to make time in a hectic life for everyday creative work

considers how we can try to overcome self-criticism and lack of confidence

features simple but immensely satisfying craft projects to still the mind and soothe the soul, complete with beautifully illustrated step-by-step instructions

To read Craftfulness is the first step on the path to leading a happier, healthier, more satisfying and fulfilling life.

Get your copy of CRAFTFULNESS here

The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis

Yorkshire, 1845.

A young woman has gone missing from her home, Chester Grange, leaving no trace, save a large pool of blood in her bedroom and a slew of dark rumours about her marriage. A few miles away across the moors, the daughters of a humble parson, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë are horrified, yet intrigued.

Desperate to find out more, the sisters visit Chester Grange, where they notice several unsettling details about the crime scene: not least the absence of an investigation. Together, the young women realise that their resourcefulness, energy and boundless imaginations could help solve the mystery – and that if they don’t attempt to find out what happened to Elizabeth Chester, no one else will.

The path to the truth is not an easy one, especially in a society which believes a woman’s place to be in the home, not wandering the countryside looking for clues. But nothing will stop the sisters from discovering what happened to the vanished bride, even as they find their own lives are in great peril…

Get your copy of THE VANISHED BRIDE here

The Last Voyage of Mrs Henry Parker by Joanna Nell

As the wife of retired ship’s doctor Dr Henry Parker, Evelyn is living out her twilight years aboard the Golden Sunset. Every night she dresses for dinner – gown, tiara, runners – and regales her fellow passengers with stories of a glamorous life travelling the world in luxury, as well as showing off her superior knowledge of everything from ships’ customs to biographical details of her heroine, Florence Nightingale. The crew treat her with deference. And forbearance.

But when Henry goes missing, Evelyn sets off to search every part of the grand ocean liner to find him, casino, nightclub and off-limits areas included.

Misadventures are had, new friends are made, scandalous behaviour noted – all news to Evelyn. If only she could remember the events of the night before as clearly as she can recall the first time she met Henry on a passage from England to Australia in 1953 and fell in love, abandoning her dreams to become a midwife to be a wife instead – and the long-ago painful events that left Evelyn all at sea.

Why is it so hard to forget some things and so hard to remember others? And where is Henry?

Get your copy of THE LAST VOYAGE OF MRS HENRY PARKER here

The Accidental Love Letter by Olivia Beirne

What would you do if you received a love letter that wasn’t meant for you?

Bea used to feel confident, outgoing and fun, but she’s not sure where that person went.

Over the last few months, she’s found herself becoming reclusive and withdrawn. And despite living with her two best friends, she’s never felt lonelier. To make things worse, she’s become so dependent on her daily routine, she’s started to slip out of everyone else’s.

But when a mysterious battered envelope covered in stars lands on her doormat, Bea wonders if she could find the courage to open it.

It isn’t addressed to her, but it could be… if you squinted…

Get your copy of THE ACCIDENTAL LOVE LETTER here

The Lost Child by Emily Gunnis

Some novels hold you in their spell and never let you go…

1960. Thirteen-year-old Rebecca lives in fear of her father’s temper. As a storm batters Seaview Cottage one night, she hears a visitor at the door and a violent argument ensues. By the time the police arrive, Rebecca’s parents are dead and the visitor has fled. No one believes Rebecca heard a stranger downstairs…

2014. Iris, a journalist, is sent to cover the story of a new mother on the run with her desperately ill baby. But fatefully the trail leads to the childhood home of Iris’s own mother, Rebecca…Seaview Cottage.

As Iris races to unravel what happened the night Rebecca’s parents were killed, it’s time for Seaview Cottage to give up its secrets.

Get your copy of THE LOST CHILD here

An exclusive extract from A Gift in December by Jenny Gladwell!

An exclusive extract from A Gift in December by Jenny Gladwell!

Read an extract from A Gift in December, Jenny Gladwell’s cosy, romantic tale inspired by London’s most famous Christmas tree.

What readers are saying about A Gift in December…

‘A sparkling and heart warming Christmas gift of a read!’ Kathryn

‘A bit of Christmas magic’ Barbara

‘Charming, effortless and leaves you with a smile on your face’ Katharine

Jane thought she would be alone this Christmas, but will a luxury trip to Norway mend her broken heart? A heart-warming, feel-good festive treat to curl up with this winter.

Jane Brook has given up on love. She might have uncovered the news scandal of the year, but she’s also been dumped by boyfriend Simon (and has spent the last month avoiding him at the office). With Christmas fast-approaching, Jane’s heart is no closer to mending.

But Jane’s boss has other plans for her. She needs someone to go on a luxurious press trip to Norway to cover the story of the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree, and despite her protests, she’s selected Jane to go.

Jane would much rather wallow at home than spend a week in the fjords with some ditzy bloggers, a snippy publicist, ever-cheerful colleague Ben and handsome-but-arrogant TV presenter Philip Donnelly.

But as Jane throws herself into the trip and starts to enjoy herself, it seems that love hasn’t quite given up on her just yet. Amid all the snow, could a gift be awaiting her underneath the mistletoe?

Read an extract from A Gift in December!

Buy A Gift in December in eBook now.

Pre-order A Gift in December in paperback, available from the 17th October.