My Christmas – by Emily Gunnis, author of The Girl in The Letter

My Christmas – by Emily Gunnis, author of The Girl in The Letter

As I write this, I’m at a farm in Sussex with my girls, unable to feel my fingers, while they play and I frantically try and finish my second novel!  Looking back, it’s been an crazy, incredible year and one for which I am very very grateful.  Never in my wildest dreams did I believe The Girl in the Letter would be so warmly received by so many.  

I am so grateful for all the support I’ve had.  From the team at Headline,the wonderful bloggers who have posted about my book, the generous novelists who have given me quotes and for the wonderful reviews on Amazon.  From family and friends. Thank you all!

Looking forward I cannot wait to see what 2019 brings but Christmas and New Year is, obviously, a time for looking back.

A year ago, I was rushing around, trying to make Christmas perfect – totally oblivious to the fact that it was my mum’s last.  I would do anything to go back, stop rushing and just sit and be with her.  To talk and share memories and say all the things I never did.  Forget the presents and the food and the decorations and the efforts to keep up with it all.

For me this year Christmas is about people.  The house is still full of unpacked boxes from our move, I haven’t bought enough presents, or put up enough decorations, lunch will be from Marks and Spencers followed by a freezing muddy walk and wonky mince pies made by Ellie and Grace.  But I will be with my gorgeous family who hopefully won’t mind!  

And we will be toasting to this incredible year of change and raising a glass to Granny.  

As the wonderful J.K. Rowling put it:


‘Remember Christmas Day is, in the end, just a day.  It isn’t a test or a scorecard of you or your life,so be kind to yourself.’  

Merry Christmas everyone and hold your loved ones tight!  

Lots of love, Emily (author of The Girl inThe Letter) xx

Friends of Bookends recommend Winter Without You by Beth Good

Friends of Bookends recommend Winter Without You by Beth Good

Love good book recommendations from fellow readers? Us too! That’s why we started Friends of Bookends! We asked our reader panel what they thought of Beth Good’s charming festive read Winter Without You. This is what they said . . .

Cosy Winter Warmer

Jen R

Isn’t it great to discover a new author!  Especially one as versatile as Beth Good, who has  created this lovely, romantic, Christmassy story. She writes using pseudonyms and in different genres and this feel-good story is satisfying and easy to read and enjoy.


“Lovely, romantic, Christmassy story”

Hannah inherits a house in the wilds of Cornwall. Unfortunately it is the same house the nearby farmer and alleged playboy desires and he has a good reason for thinking it is his. Hannah, recently arrived from Greece and mourning the loss of her husband, is wondering how she will manage her pregnancy; when her house becomes a refuge for neighbours in need. She becomes the fete organiser, which keeps her busy, and discovers more about her grandmother, who she did not know existed prior to her inheriting the house.

The book charts the development of  different relationships and has the happy ending which one anticipates throughout the book.

I read this over a weekend, wrapped in a fluffy blanket, glancing out from time to time and reaching for the chocolates. It is an engaging read, with believable characters and all ends well. Enjoy your Christmas read!

Winter Fireplace

Angela N

I do love a good, girly read – emphasis on the word ‘good.’ Unfortunately, over the years I have read too many books where ‘chick-lit’ is code for ‘unbelievable characters in contrived situations.’ So when I do find a good, girly read my cynical
heart does a little jig of joy. Thanks to Beth Good and Winter Without You, I spent many a happy hour getting in the
winter spirit.

Recently bereaved Hannah Clitheroe has inherited a ramshackle old Cornish house from the Granny she never knew; but this
contrived situation is the only thing this book has in common with lesser tomes. 

“Beth Good is a writer who recognises
that readers need depth to a story and characters that they can quickly warm to.”

In fact, my favourite thing about Winter Without You was the madcap cast of characters, including: Camper-van dwelling
rat-catcher Lizzie; a boxful of cats; two geese; a tortoise and Hannah’s neighbour Raphael (who believes the house
rightfully belongs to him.)


“Deeply satisfying and as comforting as a woolly blanket on a cold Winter’s night.”

Raphael’s reputation in the small town of Pethporro is akin to that of a troll living under a bridge…Albeit a very attractive troll with his own tractor. It won’t spoil anything if I tell you that, under Raphael’s trollish exterior, there is a more caring and sensitive person. You just know with books like this that Baddies like Raphael have hidden depths and that Hannah will ultimately find her happy ending. It’s part of what makes this book deeply satisfying and as comforting as a woolly blanket on a cold Winter’s night.

Find out more about the Friends of Bookends reader panel…

Jo Thomas, Karen Cole, Cate Woods and Joanna Nell grant their characters’ Christmas wishes!

Jo Thomas, Karen Cole, Cate Woods and Joanna Nell grant their characters’ Christmas wishes!

We’ve all got those pesky hard-to-buy-for people on our Christmas lists, but it turns out the best people to buy for are fictional! In this latest blog post four of our fabulous authors positively spoil their characters with presents…

Jo Thomas, author of A Winter Beneath the Stars

I’d buy Halley, from A Winter Beneath the Stars, a new suitcase, one that looks different from everybody else’s! But then, if she had that, she may never have gone on the journey of a lifetime! So maybe just a new travel journal, to write down all her new adventures!

Karen Cole, author of Deliver Me

Hmm, I would probably by some paints for Abby as painting is her true passion and maybe the creative process would help her come to terms with all she’s been through.

Cate Woods, author of More Than A Feeling

I would buy a Christmas pudding costume for Dot, my lead character Annie’s six-month-old daughter in More Than a Feeling, because one of the best things about babies is that you can dress them up in ridiculous-slash-adorable costumes. Plus it would give Annie something to put on Instagram – and she really needs new material after that social media mortification in chapter 37…

Joanna Nell, author of The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village

As those who’ve read The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village will know, Peggy desperately needs a new swimming costume. I’d dearly love to buy her one for Christmas, but after her debacle with the “Miraclesuit”, I’m apprehensive. We all know that choosing swimwear is tricky at the best of times and after her marathon shopping trip with Angie, I’m not sure I’d get Peggy anywhere near a changing room. I think I’ll play it safe and treat her to a day out at Cadbury World instead.

Find out more from our wonderful authors as they tell us their ultimate Christmas dishes…

Which book is top of your wishlist? Erin Kelly, Holly Bourne, Jill Mansell & Beth Good tell us what they’re coveting this Christmas

Which book is top of your wishlist? Erin Kelly, Holly Bourne, Jill Mansell & Beth Good tell us what they’re coveting this Christmas

Black Friday has been and gone, and we’re in full swing curating our Christmas list. In this latest blog post, authors Erin Kelly, Holly Bourne, Jill Mansell and Beth Good tell us what book is top of their list!

Erin Kelly, author of  He Said/She Said

I can’t resist a cookbook and I’ve heard great things about The Big Green Roasting Tin.

How do you like me now cover

Holly Bourne, author of How Do You Like Me Now?

I collect English language editions of To Kill A Mockingbird so I keep waiting for the day I’m gifted a hardback first edition. They’re only about seven grand and I reckon I totally deserve it.

This Could Change Everything cover

Jill Mansell, author of This Could Change Everything

The New York Times Book of the Dead, please. There’s nothing I love more than a good obituary and this is a selection of the very best. Over the years I’ve probably stolen more tiny character ideas from obituaries than from any other source. (Sorry if that’s a bit weird and unfestive. I’m a big fan of wandering around cemeteries reading the stories on gravestones too!) Happy Christmas!

Winter Without You

Beth Good, author of Winter Without You

Past Tense, Lee Child’s latest thriller featuring Jack Reacher, easily one of the sexiest fictional heroes around. Of course, Jack would never get tied down, so I can read and daydream without worrying about the reality!

 

Discover the inside scoop on more of our fabulous authors this Christmas…
To celebrate NaNoWriMo, Jacqueline O’Mahony tells us about getting started in novel writing.

To celebrate NaNoWriMo, Jacqueline O’Mahony tells us about getting started in novel writing.

November marks National Novel Writing Month, so we’ve asked Jacqueline O’Mahony, author of the stunning A River In The Trees, to tell us about her experiences and advice for getting started as an author.

The most important thing I’ve learned about writing is that if you want to be a writer, you have to write. Don’t wait for inspiration to hit, or for circumstances to be perfect: just write. Make yourself sit down and commit to writing for ten minutes. The ten minutes will grow to twenty, to thirty, and look, you’re writing!

Don’t spend too long on your opening sentence. Write anything to work your way into the piece. You can always go back and change your beginning: in fact, you probably will, anyway, so the faster you can get going, the better.

Half of writing is rewriting. Think of a sentence as a kind of scaffold that you create to get your ideas out. Once the scaffold is up, once you’ve given expression to the idea, you can refine and rework the sentence. The form and content should be working together, and feed into each other.

If you really want to write, you’ll do it. If you don’t, you won’t. People have done all kinds of impossible things, under extraordinary circumstances. You might be tired from being up all night with a baby, or poor, or driven half mad by sadness – don’t let anything                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             stop you from writing. Write your way out of your life. Think of it as a tool to make your life better. If you want to write, don’t be the person who gets to the end of their life and thinks, I wanted to be a writer, but I never did it, I let it get away from me. This is the best chance you will ever have. Just write.

Read! When you’re not writing, read, and learn from what you read. If you don’t love reading, you probably shouldn’t be a writer.

Tell people you’re a writer. See it happening. People with less talent than you are writers. Be ambitious, and a little bit ruthless. Demand the time to write. Make it happen, every day.

Writing is hard work – expect it to be the most difficult thing you’ve ever done. At a certain point in the process you realise that it’s more important to be tenacious, to persist, than to be ferociously talented. Writing a book can feel like building a wall, or digging a hole. Just keep at it.

Writers are selfish, and prepared to make sacrifices. When you write, you’re observing life, not participating in it. It’s a lonely business. Steel your heart.

A River In The Trees is out on 10th January:

Who’s the hardest person to buy for on your Christmas list?

Who’s the hardest person to buy for on your Christmas list?

Guys there’s no denying it, we’re feeling festive. We’re ready to wallow in tinsel and mull everything in sight, so we’ve asked some of our fabulous authors to give us a sneak peek into how they spend their Christmas. First up we’ve got Jill Mansell, Karen Cole, Daniela Sacerdoti and Beth Good telling us all about those hard-to-buy-for relatives on their Christmas list!

 

Jill Mansell, author of This Could Change Everything.

Oh, my other half of course. Nightmare! After 32 years together, I’m forbidden from buying him any more bright stripy shirts. Because apparently 748 of them is enough. He’s so unhelpful too – he just tells me not to worry about what to get him because there’s nothing he needs. Anyone who says that needs to be slung into a police cell until they can come up with a more constructive answer.

Karen Cole, author of Deliver Me

Probably both my teenaged sons. They just want money and anything I buy them will probably be ‘cringe.’

Daniela Sacerdoti, author of I Will Find You

Nobody really! I love buying gifts and I don’t usually run short of ideas. If I’m stuck I enjoy making up themed boxes, like a Night In box with things like pjs, nail polish, a book and some chocolate, or a Traveller’s box with a journal and a passport holder, a Winter Holidays box with gloves, a mug and hand cream…and more chocolate! I like being inventive and I like spoiling my friends and family.

Beth Good, author of Winter Without You

Probably my elderly father, who’s not in the best of health. He shouldn’t have the presents he used to love best – brazil nuts in dark chocolate and a bottle of cognac, for instance! – but is rarely impressed by anything cosy and practical, like a scarf or slippers.

For some fabulous reads to add to your Christmas list, check out what our lovely authors have to offer:

Our Recommended Reads for Black History Month

Our Recommended Reads for Black History Month

October celebrates Black History Month – and there’s no better way to educate yourself than to get reading! So here are Team Bookends’ recommended reads…

 

Small Island by Andrea Levy

A beautiful new look for the classic, the multi-award-winning, million copy bestseller from Andrea Levy …

‘Honest, skilful, thoughtful and important’ Guardian

‘A slyly humorous, rich feast of a book’ Mail on Sunday

‘’The literary equivalent of a switch-back ride’ The Times

It is 1948, and England is recovering from a war. But at 21 Nevern Street, London, the conflict has only just begun. Queenie Bligh’s neighbours do not approve when she agrees to take in Jamaican lodgers, but Queenie doesn’t know when her husband will return, or if he will come back at all. What else can she do?

Gilbert Joseph was one of the several thousand Jamaican men who joined the RAF to fight against Hitler. Returning to England as a civilian he finds himself treated very differently. It’s desperation that makes him remember a wartime friendship with Queenie and knock at her door.

Gilbert’s wife Hortense, too, had longed to leave Jamaica and start a better life in England. But when she joins him she is shocked to find London shabby, decrepit, and far from the golden city of her dreams. Even Gilbert is not the man she thought he was…

Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Racism, but “managed” through virtual reality

Black Friday, except you die in a bargain-crazed throng

Happiness, but pharmacological

Love, despite everything

Friday Black tackles urgent instances of racism and cultural unrest, and explores the many ways we fight for humanity in an unforgiving world. In  the first, unforgettable story of this collection, The Finkelstein Five, Adjei-Brenyah gives us an unstinting reckoning of the brutal prejudice of the US justice system. In Zimmer Land we see a far-too-easy-to-believe imagining of racism as sport. And Friday Black and How to Sell a Jacket as Told by Ice King show the horrors of consumerism and the toll it takes on us all.

Fresh, exciting, vital and contemporary, Friday Black will appeal to people who love Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad, the TV show Black Mirror, the work of Kurt Vonnegut and George Saunders, and anyone looking for stories that speak to the world we live in now.

‘An excitement and a wonder’ George Saunders

‘The writing in this outstanding collection will make you hurt and demand your hope’ Roxane Gay

The fiction debut of the year. Bravo young man. We await your encore’ Mary Karr

Mother Country edited by Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff

A leading new exploration of the Windrush generation, featuring David Lammy and Lenny Henry

 For the pioneers of the Windrush generation, Britain was ‘the Mother Country’. They made the long journey across the sea, expecting to find a place where they would be be welcomed with open arms; a land in which you were free to build a new life, eight thousand miles away from home.

This remarkable book explores the reality of their experiences, and those of their children and grandchildren, through 22 unique real-life stories spanning more than 70 years.

Featuring: Catherine Ross, Corinne Bailey-Rae, David Lammy, Gail Lewis, Hannah Lowe, Howard Gardner, Jamz Supernova, Kay Montano, Kemi Alemoru, Kimberley McIntosh, Lazare Sylvestre, Lenny Henry, Maria del Pilar Kaladeen, Myrna Simpson, Naomi Oppenheim, Natasha Gordon, Nellie Brown, Paul Reid, Riaz Phillips, Rikki Beadle-Blair, Sharmaine Lovegrove, Sharon Frazer-Carroll.

A Different Drummer by William Melvin Kelley

‘An astounding achievement’ Sunday Times
‘The lost giant of American literature’ New Yorker

In 1962, aged just 24, William Melvin Kelley’s debut novel A Different Drummer earned him critical comparisons to James Baldwin and William Faulkner. Fifty-five years later, author and journalist Kathryn Schulz happened upon the novel serendipitously and was inspired to write the New Yorker article ‘The Lost Giant of American Literature’, included as a foreword to this edition.

June, 1957. One afternoon, in the backwater town of Sutton, a young black farmer by the name of Tucker Caliban matter-of-factly throws salt on his field, shoots his horse and livestock, sets fire to his house and departs the southern state. And thereafter, the entire African-American population leave with him.

The reaction that follows is told across a dozen chapters, each from the perspective of a different white townsperson. These are boys, girls, men and women; either liberal or conservative, bigoted or sympathetic – yet all of whom are grappling with this spontaneous, collective rejection of subordination.

A lost masterpiece republished for 2018, A Different Drummer is for readers who have been waiting for the next rediscovered classic.

The Man I Think I Know by Mike Gayle

This is the stunning new novel from bestselling author Mike Gayle, for fans of The Keeper of Lost Things and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. 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.

Evening Primrose by Kopano Matlwa

With urgency and tenderness, Evening Primrose explores issues of race, gender and the medical profession through the eyes of a junior doctor.

When Masechaba finally achieves her childhood dream of becoming a doctor, her ambition is tested as she faces the stark reality of South Africa’s public healthcare system.

As she leaves her deeply religious mother and makes friends with the politically-minded Nyasha, Masechaba’s eyes are opened to the rising xenophobic tension that carries echoes of apartheid.

Battling her inner demons, she must decide if she should take a stand to help her best friend, even it comes at a high personal cost.

‘A daring and uniquely South African story’ Marie Claire, South Africa on Coconut

 

Get Voting in the Books Are My Bag Readers Awards!

Get Voting in the Books Are My Bag Readers Awards!

Team Bookends celebrated #BookshopDay in style this weekend, and we hope you all headed out to your local bookshop to spoil yourselves with books too! Now we get down to the very serious business of voting for the Books Are My Bag Readers Awards! Here are a few of our fabulous titles that are nominated:

Stories for Boys Who Dare to be Different by Ben Brooks & Quinton Winter

Prince charming, dragon slayer, mischievous prankster… More often than not, these are the role-models boys encounter in the books they read at home and at school. As a boy, there is an assumption that you will conform to a stereotypical idea of masculinity.

But what if you’re the introvert kind? What if you prefer to pick up a book rather than a sword? What if you want to cry when you’re feeling sad or angry? What if you like the idea of wearing a dress?

There is an ongoing crisis with regards to young men and mental health, with unhelpful gender stereotypes contributing to this malaise. Stories for Boys Who Dare to Be Different offers a welcome alternative narrative. It is an extraordinary compilation of 100 stories of famous and not-so-famous men from the past to the present day, every single one of them a rule-breaker and innovator in his own way, and all going on to achieve amazing things. Entries include Frank Ocean, Salvador Dalí, Rimbaud, Beethoven, Barack Obama, Stormzy, Ai Weiwei and Jesse Owens – different sorts of heroes from all walks of life and from all over the world.

Larchfield by Polly Clark

‘We need the courage to choose ourselves’ W. H. Auden

It’s early summer when a young poet, Dora Fielding, moves to Helensburgh on the west coast of Scotland and her hopes are first challenged. Newly married, pregnant, she’s excited by the prospect of a life that combines family and creativity. She thinks she knows what being a person, a wife, a mother, means. She is soon shown that she is wrong.

As the battle begins for her very sense of self, Dora comes to find the realities of small town life suffocating, and, eventually, terrifying; until she finds a way to escape reality altogether. Another poet, she discovers, lived in Helensburgh once.

Wystan H. Auden, brilliant and awkward at 24, with his first book of poetry published, should be embarking on success and society in London. Instead, in 1930, fleeing a broken engagement, he takes a teaching post at Larchfield School for boys where he is mocked for his Englishness and suspected – rightly – of homosexuality. Yet in this repressed limbo Wystan will fall in love for the first time, even as he fights his deepest fears.

The need for human connection compels these two vulnerable outsiders to find each other and make a reality of their own that will save them both. Larchfield is a beautiful and haunting novel about heroism – the unusual bravery that allows unusual people to go on living; to transcend banality and suffering with the power of their imagination.

Tin Man by Sarah Winman

From the internationally bestselling author of WHEN GOD WAS A RABBIT comes a heartbreaking celebration of love in all its forms, and the moments that illuminate the life of one man.

It begins with a painting won in a raffle: fifteen sunflowers, hung on the wall by a woman who believes that men and boys are capable of beautiful things.

And then there are two boys, Ellis and Michael,

who are inseparable.

And the boys become men,

and then Annie walks into their lives,

and it changes nothing and everything.

I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell

I AM, I AM, I AM is a memoir with a difference – the unputdownable story of an extraordinary woman’s life in near-death experiences. Insightful, inspirational, gorgeously written, it is a book to be read at a sitting, a story you finish newly conscious of life’s fragility, determined to make every heartbeat count.

A childhood illness she was not expected to survive. A teenage yearning to escape that nearly ended in disaster. A terrifying encounter on a remote path. A mismanaged labour in an understaffed hospital. Shocking, electric, unforgettable, this is the extraordinary memoir from Costa Novel-Award winner and Sunday Times bestselling author Maggie O’Farrell. It is a book to make you question yourself. What would you do if your life was in danger, and what would you stand to lose?

The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin

Even in the darkest of times, you cannot bury the truth . . .

Down the murky alleyways of London, acts of unspeakable wickedness are taking place and the city’s vulnerable poor are disappearing from the streets. Out of these shadows comes Hester White, a bright young woman who is desperate to escape the slums by any means possible.

When Hester is thrust into the world of the aristocratic Brock family, she leaps at the chance to improve her station in life under the tutelage of the fiercely intelligent and mysterious Rebekah Brock.

But whispers from her past slowly begin to poison her new life and both she and Rebekah are lured into the most sinister of investigations, dragging them into the blackest heart of a city where something more depraved than either of them could ever imagine is lurking. . .

Vote now for your favourites!

Still Lives by Maria Hummel

Still Lives by Maria Hummel

The Gripping Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick!

‘A thrilling mystery… still keeps us up at night, it’s THAT good’
REESE WITHERSPOON

Kim Lord’s face looked back at me, disguised in paint and the features of a murdered woman.

Revered artist Kim Lord is about to unveil her most shocking show yet: Still Lives, a series of self-portraits in which she impersonates the female victims of America’s most famous homicides, from Nicole Brown Simpson to the Black Dahlia.

As celebrities and rich patrons pour into L.A.’s Rocque Museum for the opening night, the attendees wait eagerly for Kim’s arrival. All except Maggie Richter, museum editor and ex-girlfriend of Greg Shaw Ferguson, Kim’s new boyfriend. But Kim never shows up to her party and the crowd’s impatience slowly turns to unease.

When Greg is arrested on suspicion of murder, it seems that life is imitating art. Has Kim suffered the same fate as the women in her paintings? As Maggie is drawn into an investigation of her own, she uncovers dark and deadly truths that will change her life forever…

Perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn and Emma Cline’s The Girls.

A REESE WITHERSPOON HELLO SUNSHINE BOOK CLUB PICK
1 OF 22 NEW BOOKS TO READ THIS SUMMER (TIME)
1 OF 20 NEW BOOKS TO READ THIS SUMMER (ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY)

‘Reese Witherspoon’s new Book Club pick may be her boldest choice yet’ Entertainment Weekly

‘A gripping and entertaining mystery, and a biting cultural critique that seeks to understand our obsession with the violent deaths of beautiful women’ Bustle

‘A taut thriller… she writes a hell of an ending’ LA Review of Books

‘Will have readers feverishly turning pages… It’s a stunning achievement’ LA Times

‘A mysterious page turner’ TIME

More Than a Feeling by Cate Woods

More Than a Feeling by Cate Woods

More Than a Feeling by Cate Woods

‘Cate Woods is laugh-out-loud funny and life affirming’ Closer. Perfect for fans of Jo Thomas and Jenny Oliver.

‘Brilliantly funny. Best book I’ve read in a long time!’ Amazon reviewer on Just Haven’t Met You Yet

Life isn’t turning out quite how Annie expected. In her twenties, she had a dream job, an amazing social life and bags of confidence. Now, she’s living with her boyfriend Luke and is a stay-at-home mum to their baby daughter. The promising career has petered out, and along with it, her confidence and creativity.
And then Luke does the unforgivable. Annie will need the help of her group of loyal friends more than ever. Is old Annie gone forever, or could this finally be the chance to find herself once more?

What amazon reviewers are saying about Just Haven’t Met You Yet:
‘Perfect page turner’
‘Definitely the best book I’ve read in a while’
‘It ticks all the right boxes – humour, romance and the most engaging page turner’