Our top ebook deals this August!

Our top ebook deals this August!

Despite the fact that the end of summer is beginning to creep upon us, we are still in holiday-mode! And what better way to make the most of the late summer days than to escape with a great ebook – and for only 99p!

Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand

‘A wedding readers won’t be able to resist crashing’ Kirkus

The Carmichaels and Grahams have gathered for a wedding. Plans are being made according to the wishes of the bride’s late mother, who left behind The Notebook: specific instructions for every detail of her youngest daughter’s future nuptials. Everything should be falling into place for the beautiful event – but in reality, things are far from perfect.

In the days leading up to the wedding, love will be questioned, scandals will arise, and hearts will be broken…

He Said, She Said by Erin Kelly

Don’t be left in the dark.

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack. She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, four lives change forever.

Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear.

And while Laura knows she was right to speak out, she also knows that you can never see the whole picture: something is always hidden… something she never could have guessed.

The Girl in the Letter by Emily Gunnis

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…

Read her letter. Remember her story…

The First Time I Saw You by Emma Cooper

From the author of The Songs of Us (shortlisted for the RNA Contemporary Novel Award) comes a love story that will break your heart, but put it back together again’. Fans of Jojo Moyes and Lucy Dillon will love The First Time I Saw You by Emma Cooper.

Lost:
Six-foot-two Irish man who answers to the name Samuel McLaughlin. 
Has weak shins and enjoys show tunes.
If found, please return to Sophie Williams.

Before Sophie met Samuel she saw the world in grey. 
Before Samuel met Sophie, he never believed in love at first sight.

When they first meet, something tells them they are meant to be. 
But fate has other ideas.

Now they have lost each other and can’t see a way back. 
But they’ve already changed each other’s lives in more ways 
than they ever expected…

One Kind Man by Anna Jacobs

Just one man can make all the difference…

1931, Lancashire:

When Finn Carlisle loses his wife and unborn child, he spends a few years travelling to keep the sad memories at bay. Just as he’s ready to settle down again, his great-uncle dies and leaves everything to him. This includes Heythorpe House in Ellindale just down the road from Leah Willcox and her little fizzy drink factory.

Finn finds a village of people in dire need of jobs, a house that hasn’t been cleaned or lived in for thirty years and Reggie, an eleven-year-old who’s run away from the nearby orphanage and its brutal Director Buddle. When Finn sees the marks left by regular beatings, he decides Reggie will never go back there.

But Buddle has other plans for the child, and will stop at nothing to get Reggie back in his cruel grasp. Finn’s new neighbours help him save Reggie but other surprises throw his new plans into turmoil.

You Do You by Sarah Knight

Hilarious and empowering advice, tips and life-changing wisdom on being yourself and doing your thing – from our favourite ‘anti-guru’ and bestselling sensation Sarah Knight

Being yourself should be the easiest thing in the world. Yet instead of leaning in to who we are, we fight it, listening too closely to what society tells us. You Do You helps you shake off those expectations, say f**k perfect, start looking out for number one and keep on with your badass self. From career and finances to relationships and family, lifestyle and health, Sarah Knight rips up the rulebook.

Writing about her mistakes and embarrassments in her own personal quest to ‘do me’ – because nobody gets everything right all day, every day – Sarah Knight shows why you can and should f**k up and teaches you to let yourself off the hook, bounce back and keep standing tall.

What everyone is saying about Sarah Knight:

‘The anti-guru’ Observer

‘I love Knight’ Sunday Times

‘Life-affirming’ Lucy Mangan, Guardian

‘Genius’ Vogue

Dirty Little Secrets by Jo Spain

Six neighbours, six secrets, six reasons to want Olive Collins dead.

In the exclusive gated community of Withered Vale, people’s lives appear as perfect as their beautifully manicured lawns. Money, success, privilege – the residents have it all. Life is good.

There’s just one problem.

Olive Collins’ dead body has been rotting inside number four for the last three months. Her neighbours say they’re shocked at the discovery but nobody thought to check on her when she vanished from sight.

The police start to ask questions and the seemingly flawless facade begins to crack. Because, when it comes to Olive’s neighbours, it seems each of them has something to hide, something to lose and everything to gain from her death.

The new psychological thriller from the bestselling author of The Confession, perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty.

Unfollow Me by Charlotte Duckworth

You can’t stop watching her.

Violet Young is a hugely popular journalist-turned-mummy-influencer, with three children, a successful husband and a million subscribers on YouTube who tune in daily to watch her everyday life unfold.

Until the day she’s no longer there.

But one day she disappears from the online world – her entire social media presence deleted overnight, with no explanation. Has she simply decided that baring her life to all online is no longer a good idea, or has something more sinister happened to Violet?

But do you really know who Violet is?

Her fans are obsessed with finding out the truth, but their search quickly reveals a web of lies, betrayal, and shocking consequences…

‘Gripping, scarily realistic and unpredictable – brilliant!’ – Karen Hamilton, author of The Perfect Girlfriend

Bookends Beach Party | David Nicholls, Sheila O’Flanagan and Beth O’Leary share which of their characters they would take on holiday!

Bookends Beach Party | David Nicholls, Sheila O’Flanagan and Beth O’Leary share which of their characters they would take on holiday!

Each week this summer, we’re asking some of our favourite authors to share their summer essentials. This week, David NichollsSheila O’Flanagan and Beth O’Leary tell us which characters from their books they would whisk away for a summer trip…

Beth O’Leary, author of The Flatshare

Ooh, interesting question! I think I’d like Leon to take me to Ireland. We both have Irish roots (though mine are more distant than Leon’s!) and I would love to explore that side of my family with someone who knows Ireland well. Plus I think Leon would be great to travel with: he’d want his own space, he’d be nice and quiet on the plane so you could read your book, and if you, say, sprained your ankle while swimming in the sea, well, he’d be able to carry you to shore…

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

Interesting question! I think Juno, from The Hideaway, is more like me than some of my other characters so we might have fun together. I know she’s a big fan of Spain since she found her summer hideaway in the orange groves of Valencia, so I’d bring her to the beautiful Basque country and the town of San Sebastián which is one of the loveliest places in the world.

David Nicholls, author of Sweet Sorrow

Well, not Douglas from Us – we’re too alike. Probably Emma in One Day. She wouldn’t insist on laying in the midday sun.

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.

Make sure you sign up to our Bookends newsletter to keep up-to-date with all Bookends Beach Party posts!

Thursday Nights at the Bluebell Inn by Kit Fielding | Friends of Bookends Reviews

Thursday Nights at the Bluebell Inn by Kit Fielding | Friends of Bookends Reviews

Each week, six women of different ages and backgrounds come together at their local pub. There they form an unlikely darts team, but it is their hidden stories of love and loss that in the end binds them…

Find out what the Friends of Bookends thought of Kit Fielding’s raw, funny and devastating debut…

Linda

“A moving, intimate and wonderful portrait of six very different yet simultaneously very similar women.”

“I’m not a great lover of multiple viewpoints or of narratives that have several timescales, but in Thursday Nights at the Bluebell Inn they are exquisite and completely magical. I was utterly captivated by every word. This is such a wonderfully written book because each individual first person narrative is distinct and affecting.”

“Every single one of the women is clearly and sympathetically drawn, even when she is flawed and behaving badly. I felt less that I was reading about them, and more that I was sitting in The Bluebell Inn on a Thursday night eavesdropping their conversations and their inner most thoughts. I loved each and every one of them and now I’ve finished the book I miss them.”

“Kit Fielding has woven so many believable strands into Thursday Nights at the Bluebell Inn that there truly is something for every reader. There’s death, love, political activism, abuse, passion, and above all an overwhelming sense of living depicted here so that I hated being away from the book. It called to me so compellingly that my life went on hold until I had devoured every word. There is fabulous humour balanced so poignantly with deep feeling that Thursday Nights at the Bluebell Inn vibrates with raw and vivid emotion and life.”

“Thursday Nights at the Bluebell Inn is a novel that far transcended my expectations. I found it funny. I found it emotional. I thought it was wonderful.”

Tim

“A lovely read. We learn all about the loves and lives, the losses and traumas of the six women who make up the ladies darts team at The Blue Bell Inn. Each player is crafted so well we feel we know them so quickly and share their triumphs and their disasters.”

“A delicate read leaving me wanting to know what happened next.”

Angie

“Thursday nights have never been so entertaining.”

“Even if you know nothing about darts, like me, this doesn’t matter; it’s the women who make the story and capture your interest…

Irish Mary, Katy, Lena, Pegs, Maggie and Marie, aka Scottie Dog all have their own upsets and tragic secrets which will all come out throughout the book as to what motivates and moves these women’s lives and how they deal with it, the darts being their only escape.”

“Very easy to read but very hard to put down.”

Jen

“Kit Fielding has created real characters which stay with you after you have read the book. His novel provides life stories within the format of a novel. I hope he writes a sequel so that we can discover more secrets!”

Zarina

“I love a book than can deftly combine various plotlines into one, and Kit Fielding is a master of this. Despite the story mainly taking place once a week, on dart night, he manages to create a rich plot for each of the women at the heart of his novel, each more heartbreaking than the previous one.”

Bookends Beach Party | Top summer reads 2019

Bookends Beach Party | Top summer reads 2019

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 David Nicholls, Deborah Moggach and Beth O’Leary, what are your summer 2019 must-reads?

David Nicholls, author of Sweet Sorrow

My two favourite books this year have been memoirs; Emilie Pine’s Notes to Self and Sinead Gleeson’s Constellations; insightful and startlingly honest and beautifully written, I tore through both of them. 

Deborah Moggach, author of The Carer

Tim Lott: “When We Were Rich”, (pub June), addictively readable novel about a group of London friends, their treacheries, adulteries, and drunken reconciliations, all set against a backdrop of property speculation and political turmoil. Huge fun.

Joseph O’Connor: “Shadowplay” (pub June) marvellously engrossing and atmospheric novel set in Victorian London’s theatreland, featuring Ellen Terry, Henry Irving and Bram Stoker. One of the best historical novels I’ve ever read.

George Eliot: “Middlemarch”. I try to read it every year. Each time it releases new secrets. A masterpiece.

Beth O’Leary, author of The Flatshare

My first is David Nicholls’ new book, Sweet Sorrow. It is a stunningly written, bittersweet story of falling in love in that endless summer after finishing school, and it’ll make you feel all sunny and nostalgic. David’s writing always gives me authorly jealous because it’s so damn beautiful.

My second is Helen Hoang’s The Kiss Quotient, because summer is the perfect time for a romance novel, and this might just be my absolute favourite. Sweet, adorable and very, very hot – you need this in your holiday suitcase. Helen’s next book, The Bride Test, is top of my pile for the summer – I can’t wait to read it.

My third is Half a World Away by Mike Gayle. Warm, cosy and full of love, this book is perfect for summer evenings at home. Brace yourself, though – you may shed a few tears…

Make sure you sign up to our Bookends newsletter to keep up-to-date with all Bookends Beach Party posts!

Three Days in Florence by Chrissie Manby

Three Days in Florence by Chrissie Manby

When a mini-break becomes make or break…

Kathy Courage has never visited the famous Italian city of Florence before, so she’s thrilled when she and her boyfriend Neil are invited there for a wedding. Unfortunately, with Neil’s constant complaining and his teenage children in tow, it’s not exactly the romantic break Kathy was hoping for.

But when a mix-up with her flights leaves Kathy stranded in the city, she decides to embrace the unexpected and stay on alone.

What follows is a life-changing few days in the Tuscan sun, as Kathy begins to question the choices that have led her here. With the help of the colourful Innocenti family, who offer Kathy a place to stay, she gradually begins to realise that there’s a much bigger world out there, if only she can be brave enough to explore it.

Could Italy hold the answers to her future happiness? Or is Kathy destined to return to her old life?

‘Manby’s novels are made for holidays’ Glamour

Thursday Nights at the Bluebell Inn by Kit Fielding

Thursday Nights at the Bluebell Inn by Kit Fielding

‘Kit Fielding’s debut is a triumph. A story told with brutal honesty, underpinned by humour, love, hope and the inestimable power of friendship.’ RUTH HOGAN, author of The Keeper of Lost Things

In every pub in every town unspoken stories lie beneath the surface.

Each week, six women meet at The Bluebell Inn. They form an unlikely and occasionally triumphant ladies darts team. They banter and jibe, they laugh. But their hidden stories of love and loss are what, in the end, will bind them.

There is Mary, full of it but cradling her dark secret; Lena – young and bold, she has made her choice; the cat woman who must return to the place of her birth before it’s too late. There’s Maggie, still laying out the place for her husband; and Pegs, the dark-eyed girl from the travellers’ site bringing her strangeness and first love. And Katy: unappreciated. Open to an offer.

They know little of each other’s lives. But here they gather and weave a delicate and sustaining connection that maybe they can rely on as the crossroads on their individual paths threaten to overwhelm.

With humanity and insight, Kit Fielding reveals the great love that lies at the heart of female friendship.

Raw, funny and devastating, all of life can be found at the Bluebell.

Kate Thompson uncovers Yardley’s WWII Beauty Staples

Kate Thompson uncovers Yardley’s WWII Beauty Staples

Kate Thompson, bestselling author of Secrets of the Homefront Girls, talks about the weaponisation of make-up during the Second World War and uncovers some of the beauty staples that were manufactured by Britain’s biggest beauty factory, Yardley of London.

Nowadays we apply our make-up without a second thought. For me it’s the last thing I do before I go out the door – powder, mascara and a quick slick of lippy in the time it takes to knock back a cup of tea.

But during the Second World War, beauty was a potent and complex issue. Women were encouraged by the government to wear make-up for the good of public morale. It was genuinely felt that a tired, scruffy appearance would have a detrimental effect on the home front. Vogue told its readers, somewhat starchily, that ‘a woman past caring, is a woman past repairing’.

Had you been a young woman 80 years ago, you were told in no uncertain terms that ‘Beauty was Your Duty’. Slogans like Yardley’s Good looks and morale go hand in hand,’ only served to reinforce the message that beauty went more than skin deep, our national character depended on it and it would help secure victory.

As the war went on, the weaponisation of make-up only deepened as well known brands like Elizabeth Arden and Cyclax brought out shades called ‘Auxiliary Red’ ‘Victory Red’ and ‘Home Front Ammunition.’ There was even a shade created called Burnt Sugar, said to go perfectly with khaki.

As a writer setting a novel at Yardley’s in wartime I needed to get a sense of what beauty truly meant to young women whose lives were thrown into turmoil by the privations, drudgery and danger of war.

Determined to see these products for myself, I visited the archives of Bath Fashion Museum and Yardley’s in Windsor to see if handling these items could give me that elusive authentic experience of the past…could a simple tube of lipstick really help win wars?

Yardley’s cherry red lipstick wasn’t just coloured oil, fat and wax in a tube. It was escapism; a beautifully packaged dream. The gold art deco tube smothered in tiny stars held more than mere lipstick. It contained the promise of a better life. Before the war, wearing lipstick was regarded as risqué, but during hostilities it was considered patriotic.

         During the war, output in the Yardley factory was cut to 25 per cent of pre-war figures thanks to a Limitation of Supply Order, but paradoxically, sales of lipstick soared. Perhaps because red lipstick was an accessible treat – bright red lips being an easy way to create a flash of glamour. Seen from a different angle, it occurred to me how much the lipstick looked like a bullet!

Most people are familiar with the idea of their grandmother painting her legs with gravy browning and then drawing seams up the back of her calves with an eye pencil to create the illusion she was wearing stockings. If you were really lucky, you were able to get your hands on some stockingless cream, which provided a far more seamless (to say nothing of fragrant) look than gravy! Pots like this were gold dust, which might explain why it looks like every last drop has been scraped out. I wonder who owned this and what her wartime story was?

This was a new one to me, but the archivist at Bath Fashion Museum were these are kept, explained they were like individual blotting sheets a woman could discreetly get out to vanquish a shiny nose or chin. They look like little works of art. What a beautiful item to stow away in your handbag.

The more privations of war were thrust upon women, the more they hit back with bold femininity. Elaborate hairstyles became badges of honour. Elegant pompadours, with hair pinned up at the sides and swept high onto the top of the head in a striking Eugene wave, gleaming victory-rolls, chignons, omelette folds, pin-curls and waves . . . All were adopted and used to striking effect. But how to achieve such a look in the days before ghd hair straighteners or curling tongs? Women had to rely on semi-permanent waves or perms, but these were expensive and hard to come by, so wavers like these – think pipe cleaners – were used and women often slept in these overnight and then styled their hair in the morning.

Brilliantine strikes me as a far imaginative name than hair gel, but in essence that’s what it was.

The style for men in the 1940s, through to the sixties, was hair that was groomed to within an inch of its life and slicked back so that in some cases it shone like patent leather, proving that it wasn’t only women who liked to look groomed and slick.

To remove the grimy residue of Britain’s sooty streets and war work in factories, this was considered an effective cleanser. Then, as it is now, cleansing was everything. In the absence of cream, women made do with homemade versions. In 1943, Vogue suggested:

‘If you’re short of cleansing cream, use a teaspoonful of liquid starch in water, a cupful of chamomile tea made just like tea and used cold, or a spoonful of the water in which rice has boiled.’

Britain’s beauty bibles were crammed with thrifty advice.

Talcum powders like these were extremely popular among young women in the thirties and forties. Judging by the style and design, I would estimate this pot was pre-war. What’s astonishing is the smell of lavender that came from the pot, more than 80 years on! Nothing is more evocative or capable of transporting you to another era, than scent.

Promising the freshness and bloom of youth, this ornate gold embossed metal tin must surely have sat upon many a dressing table.

Nothing says Yardley like lavender. English lavender is a more powerfully scented version than the French flower. In 1927, Yardley stopped using a French perfumer, sourced its own lavender, planted it in Norfolk in England, where it thrived.

Hats weren’t rationed during the Second World War but new hats were expensive and hard to come by. These beautiful hatpins were a must have item to secure your hard won hat. As always during WW2, recycling and renovation came to the fore. I love the sound of a ‘hat hospital’ I read about in a 1943 Vogue, just off Bond Street, who promised to breathe new life into your battered hat.

Secrets of the Homefront Girls is Kate Thompson’s charming and courageous new World War Two novel, following the lives of the incredible women working at Yardley, Britain’s biggest beauty factory in London’s East End.

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Win a luxury spa break for two!

Win a luxury spa break for two!

A Stylist Must-Read and one of the most talked about books of last year, Holly Bourne’s debut adult novel, How Do You Like Me Now?, is a blisteringly funny, honest and moving exploration of love, friendship and navigating the emotional rollercoaster of your thirties.

To celebrate publication, we’ve linked up with French Connection and SpaBreaks.com to give you the chance to enjoy some quality time with your partner, best friend or mum by winning a luxury spa break for two, plus a signed copy of the book each!

The prize

The Elan Spa at Mallory Court is a destination in its own right. Tucked amongst the trees within picturesque gardens, this four-star country house hotel in Leamington Spa is part of the esteemed Relais & Châteaux group – there’s nowhere better to sit back, relax and escape the everyday.

The spa break for two includes:

• Dinner, bed and breakfast for two people for one night, with full use of the spa facilities from 2.00pm on arrival until 11.00am on check out
• A glass of Champagne on arrival – and a cream tea too!
• 1 x 55 minute spa treatment each, plus Rhassoul for two
• Dinner in the Brasserie restaurant (£30.00 dinner allowance per person)
• Overnight accommodation in a Superior master bedroom with robes, towels and slippers provided for the ultimate relaxation

Spabreaks.com is Europe’s number one spa break specialist and has spa days and breaks ready and waiting for whatever spa experience you’re in the mood for. From wellness retreats to champagne afternoon teas, twilight escapes to luxury spa weekends, their Spa Experts are on hand to offer advice and guidance to find the best spa experience for you.

To enter, click here

A story for every woman who wonders if she is enough

Tori Bailey has built a career out of telling women how to live their best life. But is she brave enough to admit that her own isn’t working?

‘Clever, funny, sharp – the ultimate poolside read’ PANDORA SYKES

‘Identifiable, heartbreaking and wickedly funny … one of my favourite books of the year’ GIOVANNA FLETCHER

‘Tori is surely the Bridget Jones of our time’ STYLIST

‘The most perceptive book I have ever read about the female interior’ DOLLY ALDERTON

Read an excerpt of How Do You Like Me Now? here or pick up an exclusive sampler from a French Connection store.

Click here to find a complete French Connection store list and discover the latest collections

Bookends Beach Party | David Nicholls, Sheila O’Flanagan and Rosanna Ley share their travel bucket lists!

Bookends Beach Party | David Nicholls, Sheila O’Flanagan and Rosanna Ley share their travel bucket lists!

Flatlay of books on summer background: The Flat Share by Beth O'Leary, The Lemon Tree Hotel by Rosanna Ley, Her Husband's Mistake by Sheila O'Flanagan, The Carer by Deborah Moggach, Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls and Queenie Malone's Paradise Hotel by Ruth Hogan

Each week this summer, we’re asking some of our favourite authors to share their summer essentials. This week, David Nicholls, Sheila O’Flanagan and Rosanna Ley tell us what’s on their holiday bucket lists.

David Nicholls, author of Sweet Sorrow

Outside of Europe, I’m not that well-travelled. India feels like the most obvious omission, so perhaps there, and with lots of time to do it.

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

I’ve never been to Japan and I really want to visit there one day so it’s right at the top of my list.

Rosanna Ley, author of The Lemon Tree Hotel

Sorry, but I always want to go to Italy best of all. And the next place I want to visit is Tellaro (see above – I’m consistent!). I have been there before but not for 10 years, so that means it’s definitely time to go there again…