Bookends Christmas | Tell us  about a Christmas tradition you have with your family and friends

Bookends Christmas | Tell us about a Christmas tradition you have with your family and friends

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the traditions that make it – from counting down the days with an advent calendar or picking out the perfect Christmas tree! In celebration of the joy of tradition, we asked our authors to tell us one tradition they have with their friends and family.

Holly Miller, author of The Sight of You

We’re all about the food and drink at our place during Christmas. Pancakes for breakfast (I’ve finally mastered the art of doing them American-style), bucks fizz (ongoing) and always, always a Delia trifle. In November, my mother-in-law and I also make Christmas puds together, using an old family recipe, which gets us in the spirit.

Linda Green, author of One Moment

We try to make our Christmas as commercial-neutral as possible. We’re not religious, but Christmas is very much a time for thinking about those less fortunate than ourselves. So, for every pound we spend on presents, we donate the same amount to charity. When my son was little, we used to gather all the presents for his Santa’s sack from charity shops over the year. Now we do the 12 charity shop DVDs of Christmas over the festive period.

And we always choose the charities we would like to give to, in order to ‘off-set’ the value of gifts given to us. The Book Trust scheme to give children in need a book at Christmas is always in there (https://www.booktrust.org.uk/support-us/give-ten-pounds-today-and-bring-joy-to-a-vulnerable-child-this-christmas), as are gifts for children living in domestic violence refuges and children in care. It really is one of the nicest parts of Christmas to know that you are helping others.

Jill Mansell, author of It Started With a Secret

We always go to our local pub at lunchtime on Christmas day. It’s invariable packed out and we bump into old friends who have come home to spend Christmas with their families. After an hour or two there, we’ll then head back to our house and get on with cooking Christmas dinner. (Oh, and my other favourite tradition is eating mini Christmas dinners for breakfast for the next few days until all the leftovers have been used up!)

Jo Thomas, author of Coming Home to Winter Island

We have friends in Iceland and have visited there a number of times. We adopted the Icelandic tradition of everyone getting a book on Christmas Eve. I usually cook chilli con carne and set the table with a book for everyone to go to bed with. 

Bookends Christmas Gift Guide 2019!

Bookends Christmas Gift Guide 2019!

Are you still on the lookout for Christmas gifting inspiration? Look no further!

From stocking fillers, to foodie picks, and even a little treat for yourself – Team Bookends is here to help you find your next great festive read!

Top picks for food lovers

Mary Berry’s Christmas Collection by Mary Berry

Let Mary Berry solve all your Christmas troubles with this fabulous collection of her favourite Christmas recipes – a must-have for anyone entertaining this festive season! By taking the traditional Christmas fare and giving it a twist, Mary adds sparkle to every celebration.

Gino’s Italian Express by Gino D’Acampo

From bestselling cookery author, Gino D’Acampo, comes a brand-new cookbook inspired by a culinary journey along Italy’s most famous rail journeys. A perfect Christmas gift for those wanting a taste of Italy!

Gordon Ramsay Quick and Delicious by Gordon Ramsay

Create chef-quality food without spending hours in the kitchen. Gordon Ramsay Quick and Delicious contains 100 tried-and-tested recipes that you’ll find yourself using time and again. Each recipe takes 30 minutes or less and uses readily available ingredients that are transformed into something special with the expertise of global superstar chef Gordon Ramsay.

For the men in your life

How to Win by Clive Woodward

In his entertaining and informative new book, Sir Clive Woodward analyses the events of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, offering his unique perspective on the performance of players and coaches, from Owen Farrell and Kieran Read, to Eddie Jones and Steve Hansen.

Ask A Footballer by James Milner

Ever wondered what it’s really like to be a Premier League footballer?

‘Ask a Footballer is a fine read, showcasing how an unassuming man has forged success, winning the Premier League twice, the FA Cup and the Champions League’ Matthew Syed, The Times

Man vs. Toddler by Matt Coyne

More inept, more clueless and more exhausted than ever, the man behind the blogging phenomenon Man vs Baby is back with the latest instalment in his (and his son Charlie’s) journey through the chaos and comedy of parenting…

Lifestyle and entertainment hits

Last Christmas by Emma Thompson and Greg Wise

A beautiful, funny and soulful collection of personal essays about the meaning of Christmas, written by a unique plethora of voices from the boulevards of Hollywood to the soup kitchens of Covent Garden. Featuring the writing of Emma Thompson, Meryl Streep, Olivia Coleman, Caitlin Moran, Richard Ayoade and Bill Bailey, plus many more.

Finding My Voice by Nadiya Hussain

In this wise, witty, open-hearted book, Nadiya Hussain 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.

Lady in Waiting by Lady Anne Glenconner

The remarkable life of the Lady in Waiting to Princess Margaret who was also a Maid of Honour at the Queen’s Coronation – and is a character in The Crown this autumn. Anne Glenconner reveals the real events behind The Crown as well as her own life of drama, tragedy and courage, with the wonderful wit and extraordinary resilience which define her.

Last-minute stocking fillers

We Should All Be Mirandas by Chelsea Fairless and Lauren Garroni

With sharp, sardonic humor and nods to the series’ most iconic moments, We Should All Be Mirandas is the perfect gift for fashionistas, pop culture mavens, and every woman who has dared to eat cake out of the garbage.

The Secret Diary of Boris Johnson Aged 13 ¾ by Lucien Young

** STRICTLY UNOFFICIAL **

The newly discovered diary of Boris Alexander de Pfeffel Johnson, aged 13¼, provides a fascinating glimpse into how Boris, a lazy, bumptious and overweening child, comes to believe he should be Prime Minister. Along the way, we see him hone the techniques and persona that will one day hoodwink a nation.

The Scotland Yard Puzzle Book by Sinclair McKay

How can a man be in two places at once? How might a murder be committed when no one is seen entering or exiting the house? Can an entire crime be solved with just a suitcase of empty beer bottles?

Show off your brainteaser abilities and prove that you have what it takes to be a Scotland Yard detective!

…and a festive treat for you!

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met…

‘Funny and winning… a Richard Curtis rom-com that also has its feet firmly planted in real life. A real treat’
Stylist

The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis

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.

The Carer by Deborah Moggach

From the bestselling author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Tulip Fever, a deliciously funny, poignant and wry novel, full of surprising twists and turns.

Author Johanna Bell on the inspiration behind The Bobby Girls

Author Johanna Bell on the inspiration behind The Bobby Girls

Johanna Bell shares the story of the real women who inspired her new book The Bobby Girls – the first in an uplifting, gritty saga series about Britain’s first ever female police officers.

The Bobby Girls is out now in eBook and audiobook!

With a grandad who fought in World War Two and a cousin who served in the Royal Marines, I’ve always had a strong interest in the World Wars. History lessons are still one of my fondest memories of school ‒ along with getting up to no good with my friends and trying to get out of swimming lessons, of course!

So, when the idea for The Bobby Girls came to me, I was excited to be working on something that would combine my love for our country’s history with my passion for writing. As a journalist, it was exciting to have the freedom to write a story around all the fascinating information I found out about the setting up and running of the Women Police Volunteers (WPV).

Of course, once you read The Bobby Girls you’ll see that the WPV wasn’t actually part of the police force – the women were very much on their own once the government accepted they were running out of men to step in and fill the breach and relented to allow the group to form in August 1914.

I was shocked to learn that the women who formed the organisation were given barely any help when it came to researching the regulations and tricks of the trade. The only help they were given was the name of an ex-sergeant, who passed on what he knew about procedures such as the giving of evidence, self-defence and the proper police step. Otherwise left to their own devices, they borrowed all the textbooks they could find that dealt with the work of male police. They taught themselves everything they could about psychology, police court procedure, children’s courts, first aid, drill and patrols. These self-taught officers then handed down their knowledge to recruits during an intensive six weeks of training.

It may sound odd that the women were happy with this set-up, but they were. This is because it was a far-cry from the rebuff they received from the police commissioner just two months before. In response to their begging for permission to form the organisation, he had simply shook his head and said: ‘You will get yourselves knocked on the head, and you surely don’t expect me to look after a lot of women.’ (From Suffragette to Fascist – The Many Lives Of Mary Sophia Allen by Nina Boyd). So for them to give permission such a short time later was quite the turn-around! The outbreak of war seemed to be the straw that broke the camel’s back for the men in charge, and they finally bent to the will of women who had been campaigning for women to be involved in law enforcement for decades.

I found that there wasn’t a lot of detail available online about the WPV members and what they got up to on patrol ‒ which was difficult for me as I’ve always had an intense desire to know everything I can about a topic before I write about it. As a journalist, that’s vital. The Bobby Girls is historical fiction based on fact, and I felt like I needed to get to the heart of what these women experienced in order to really do justice to their memory and construct characters who truly reflected what they faced.

So, I booked myself in for a day at the Imperial War Museum’s research rooms – and found myself as happy as a kid in a candy store! I got to lose myself in accounts from the women heading the WPV, learning all about the dangers they faced patrolling the streets with their main aim being the protection of London’s women and children.

Prostitution was rife, as the presence of soldiers willing to risk their lives for the country overwhelmed many women, and the men in uniform with pay packets burning holes in their pockets were quite happy to take advantage of that. The recruits also had to look out for the women so desperate to make ends meet that they were willing to sell the only thing they had – themselves – in order to get by. One of the WPV’s tasks was to make sure women were moved along before they ended up arrested and charged with soliciting – a crime which had no repercussions for the man involved.

I was also able to handle one of the real recruits’ membership cards, and I took great pleasure in conjuring up an image of the owner, Amelia Davis, and imagining what life on patrol was like for her and her colleagues. There’s nothing quite like a trinket from the past to help trigger your imagination.

I must say that my absolute favourite find was the term ‘suffrajitsu’ – coined by the former suffragettes who joined the ranks and combined the moves they’d learned in their previous lives to deal with angry hecklers and police with the ju-jitsu they were expected to use to protect themselves while on patrol. I later discovered a picture board of a well-dressed lady effortlessly taking down a policeman ,which made me smile – especially as she managed to keep her fancy hat on in all but one of the photos! It just brought to life for me how strong and powerful these women were, despite first appearances.

I was able to use many of the anecdotes I read as inspiration for the encounters I had my characters experience in The Bobby Girls, and I hope you all enjoy reading the book as much as I did writing it.

If you’d like to keep in touch and hear more out the Bobby Girls, both real and fictional, please do follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

You can buy The Bobby Girls in eBook and audiobook now!

Bookends Halloween | A Spooky Q&A with Angela Clarke!

Bookends Halloween | A Spooky Q&A with Angela Clarke!

Next up in our Bookends Halloween series, we ask Angela Clarke – author of the brilliantly gripping On My Life – about her go-to Halloween films, her favourite spooky reads and more!

What are your favourite spooky reads?

I’m quite a wuss – and if I read anything too scary (especially just before bed), I will wake up screaming. Which Mr Ange doesn’t really appreciate. So, my favourite spooky reads tend to be toward the tame side – the hint of the paranormal, a mystery at the heart, and a satisfying resolution (so I can go to the bathroom on my own once again). I love Footsteps in the Dark by Georgette Heyer, The Adventure of the Speckled Band by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and, if I decide I didn’t need to sleep anyway, the genuinely terrifying The Lingering by SJI Holliday.

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

I can deal with the psychological scares better than the paranormal ones (I am a crime writer after all), so I treat myself to a fortifying glass/bottle of wine, grip a cushion tight, and settle in for a serial killer session at Halloween. And the film adaptation of Thomas Harris’s Silence of the Lambs goes particularly well with that Chianti…

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

I would hand out a trick to David, the arrogant, bullying soon to be father-in-law of the unfortunate heroine Jenna in On My Life. He’s one of those entitled wealthy men of a certain age, far too used to getting his own way, and deserves a nasty fright! And I would give a treat to Jenna’s troubled but kind-hearted and heavily pregnant young cellmate Kelly (yes, they are in prison!). She really does deserve a bit of TLC – and she’d be delighted with a comfy chair, a gossip magazine and a Mars bar.

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

Jenna is a happily engaged recruitment consultant, whose perfect life is shattered when she finds herself framed for the murder of her step daughter, sent to prison, and discovers she’s alone inside… and pregnant. She has to work out who is the real killer, as well as protect herself and her unborn child from violent inmates, all the while fearing she will be made to give her new baby to the very person she thinks framed her. Her green prison regulation tracksuit is probably the most horror-full costume she could wear. It’s the embodiment of her living nightmare.

What will you be reading on 31st October?

As I will be boarding the Orient Express to Venice on 31st October, I fear I’ve got to break with tradition and read Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. But I will do it wearing a mask – ha!

On My Life is out now in paperback, eBook and audiobook!

An exclusive extract from IN HER EYES, the gripping new domestic thriller from Sarah Alderson!

An exclusive extract from IN HER EYES, the gripping new domestic thriller from Sarah Alderson!

Read an exclusive extract from IN HER EYES, a gripping thriller about secrets in a seemingly perfect family, from the author of the equally twisty psychological thriller FRIENDS LIKE THESE!

From the author of FRIENDS LIKE THESE, IN HER EYES will keep you up all night.

You’re at home with your family.
You think you’re safe.
You’re wrong.

Ava’s life is the kind other people envy: loving husband; great kids; beautiful house. Until the night a violent home invasion turns the dream into a nightmare, and leaves her beloved daughter fighting to survive.

And then things get worse. Ava realises that the attack wasn’t random. Someone is targeting her family. Why? Who could hate them enough to kill?

Ava must find out what really happened that night, to save those she loves from even greater danger. But when everyone around you has been lying, how do you decide who to trust?

And Ava has secrets of her own…

For fans of THE SILENT PATIENT, THE WIFE BETWEEN US and PERFECT CHILD, IN HER EYES is a dark and twisty thriller.

You’re about to find out that home is where the hate is.

Pre-order IN HER EYES now – out in eBook and audiobook on 14th November!

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!

The Long Flight Home by A.L. Hlad

The Long Flight Home by A.L. Hlad

A moving, masterfully written story of love and sacrifice, perfect for fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Dear Mrs Bird.

Hope flies behind enemy lines…

September 1940. As enemy fighter planes blacken the sky, Susan Shepherd finds comfort at her home in Epping Forest, where she and her grandfather raise homing pigeons. Of all Susan’s birds, it’s Duchess who is the most extraordinary, and the two share a special bond.

Thousands of miles away, Ollie Evans, a young American pilot decides to travel to Britain to join the Royal Air Force. But Ollie doesn’t expect his quest to bring him instead to the National Pigeon Service – a covert new operation involving homing pigeons – and to Susan.

The National Pigeon Service has a dangerous mission to air-drop hundreds of pigeons into German-occupied France. Despite their growing friendship Ollie and Susan must soon be parted – but will Duchess’s devotion and sense of duty prove to be an unexpected lifeline between them?

Based on true events, The Long Flight Home is an uplifting and timeless wartime novel, that reminds us how, in times of hardship, hope is never truly lost.

Hurrah for Gin: Reluctant Adult by Katie Kirby

Hurrah for Gin: Reluctant Adult by Katie Kirby

Do you overthink everything?
Do you struggle to say no to people?
Are you paying membership for a gym you never go to?
Do group chat politics make you want to throw your phone under a bus?
Are you overjoyed when people cancel plans so that you can sit at home in your pyjama bottoms eating Coco pops for dinner?

If so, this book is for you!

We spend our childhoods wanting to a be adults and, when we get there, find ourselves lost under a pile of life admin, half completed to-do lists and anti-ageing face creams that promise to make you look as good as Natalie Imbruglia.

In her new book, Katie Kirby (Hurrah for Gin) pinpoints with painful precision just how overwhelming life can be when you’re all grown up. From the worry spiral that keeps you up at 3AM, to maintaining a professional aura when you can’t stand other people – this is for everyone struggling to stay afloat.

Honest, relatable, funny and containing no useful advice whatsoever, take comfort in the knowledge that it’s not just you, we’re all as f*cked as each other.

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.

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.