A Winter Beneath the Stars – Jo Thomas | Friends of Bookends Reviews

A Winter Beneath the Stars – Jo Thomas | Friends of Bookends Reviews

We asked our Friends of Bookends panel what they thought of Jo Thomas’ latest winter warmer novel, A Winter Beneath the Stars. This is what they said . . .

Angela N

The weather turned whilst I was reading this book and that may be why I was shivering so much…or maybe it was the wonderfully wintery location
of this atmospheric story. Either way, I would advise you to grab a blanket before you read this as Jo Thomas’ descriptions of the frozen
North will definitely give you chills (even if your heating is turned up to maximum, and maybe even if you have a rugged reindeer herder to
keep you warm!)

Halley is a courier, hand-delivering precious objects around the world. She is less than thrilled to venture to the North of Sweden to deliver
wedding rings to two brides. Halley’s hopes of a quick drop-off and even quicker return to civilisation come a cropper when her bags are
switched with an enigmatic Swedish chef. (I was going to refer to him as the ‘Swedish Heston Blumenthal,’ until I realised that Blumenthal
actually sounds like a Swedish name anyway so, maybe not.) The only way for Halley to reunite with her bag is to join sexy reindeer-herder
Bjorn (there’s a phrase I never thought I’d use) on a trek across the ice.


‘This is a spirited story which deals with the themes of love and loss in a setting most of us can only imagine.’

Thomas’ descriptions of the scenery and the wildlife will certainly make you want to visit Sami country and, readers, beware! This book will make you hungry! So grab a blanket, some snacks and saddle up Rudolph – you’re in for a fun ride.

Angela W


A Winter Beneath The Stars is a perfect read for those cold, winter evenings.’

Halley is a courier and her current job takes her to Sweden to deliver some wedding rings.  When she loses her bag containing the rings she has to rely on reindeer herder Bjorn to get her back to her bag. The bag also contains her travel journal which her husband gave her and she is desperate to retrieve it.

A Winter Beneath the Stars

Bjorn is adorable and every time I read his name, I got an image of Kristoff from Frozen in my head. Although he was a lot more serious than Kirstoff, he still had this endearing quality underneath his harsh exterior which came out more as he got to know Halley and her reasons for always being on the move. He helps her come to terms with her past without feeling sorry for her and in-kind she helps him find a way to combine both his passion for cooking and his passion for his family’s reindeer herd.

The setting of Sweden was so beautifully described, I almost felt like I was there on the journey with them (although much warmer thankfully). It made me add Sweden to my list of places I want to visit, although I think I’ll stick with the hotels rather than a tent in the forest.

Lars was a great side character, he provided such humour and his belief in fate, just like his grandmother said. I’m glad he got a happy ending, even if it wasn’t with Halley.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I will look forward to reading more from this author in the future.

Francine

I have read Jo Thomas’ The Oyster Catcher previously, and knew that the author obviously did methodical research for her books. This means you can fully immersed yourself in the story. This latest offering again showed a great deal of knowledge of the subject matter and the reader does learn a lot about the Sami and it’s culture. 

Sweden + Love = A Winter Beneath the Stars

However, it did seem after a while as though I was being lectured. The phrase ‘show don’t tell’ came to mind-there was too much telling. ‘Respect the animal’ was quoted too often,labouring the point. Both ‘reveals’ were telegraphed and Lars persistent pursuing was unconvincing, but he did add comic valve and was central to the plot. Bjorn was an enigma and it wasn’t difficult, despite their differences, to understand Halley’s growing attraction to him. United in grief and pain, the pair bonded, their layers of defence gradually being peeled away. Though the ending was never in doubt (part of the appeal of these stories is there assuring outcome) the journey the author took the reader on, was both educational and interesting.

Jen

This is the first Winter story from one of my favourite authors. It has a warm Christmassy feel and I romped through the story and found it easy to imagine I was in Swedish Lapland with Halley.

Jo Thomas’ characters are convincing, especially her strong heroine who turns her life around after the journey of a lifetime.Halley is a personal courier whose job involves taking exceptional care of packages which she delivers to the recipient. The crux of this story is that this is a job which goes badly wrong, throwing her future employment into doubt.She writes a daily diary, which she explains is for her husband to read and it is only later in the book we discover all is not as simple as this.

Her initial mistake could have cost her her job, livelihood and tipped her over the edge, but instead was cathartic and the happy ending was all the better for being eagerly anticipated.

I am sure there is further scope for the continuing adventures of Halley and her partner as they settle in to life with the reindeer, restaurant and blogging, instead of deliveries!


‘Relax with this novel, wrapped in a cosy blanket and with a hot chocolate at your side. It will provide an antidote to the feverish activities of Christmas preparations!’

Joanna Nell, Karen Cole, Daniela Sacerdoti and Joanna Bolouri tell us which books they’re wishing for this Christmas!

Joanna Nell, Karen Cole, Daniela Sacerdoti and Joanna Bolouri tell us which books they’re wishing for this Christmas!

Over at Bookends HQ, we’re starting to get SERIOUSLY excited about Christmas: mince pies, trashy TV, and hopefully lots of new additions to our TBR piles! 

From feel-good romance to classic horror, four more of our wonderful authors share which books they’re hoping to find under the Christmas tree this year…

Daniela Sacerdoti, author of I Will Find You

I’m particularly book-hungry this year (for a change!), and very much in the mood for light, happy, Christmas stories. I’d love a selection of feel-good, romantic authors like Mandy Baggot, Trisha Ashley, Alicia Kingsley – anything with snow and glitter on the cover and a happy ending! I’ve gone through a bit of a witchy phase with some fantastic supernatural, dark books, so now I’m in the mood for some romance!

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

I’m putting The Cactus by Sarah Haywood at the top of my (shamefully long) Christmas book wish list this year. I’m a big fan of the “never too late”message and this book sounds like my perfect summer holiday read for January.

Karen Cole, author of Deliver Me

I want to read Wonder, by R J Palacio, about a boy with severe facial deformities, which has been recommended to me by a friend. I also think The Woman in the Window, by A.J. Finn, looks interesting.

Relight my fire

Joanna Bolouri, author of Relight My Fire

Non-fiction would have to be You Are The Placebo by Dr Joe Dispenza. Fiction wise, Elevation by Stephen King.

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…

Driving Home for Christmas

Driving Home for Christmas

It’s finally December, so let’s crack out the Christmas tunes, festive baking and wintery reads!

In memory of one of our beloved and dearly missed authors, Emma Hannigan, Bookends HQ thought it was only best to honour her memory by celebrating all-things-Christmas with Emma.

 

Why not try Emma’s delicious Christmas biscuits?

“These divine shortbread biscuits make wonderful edible gifts. I have had more appreciation for a pretty tin of these than any expensive purchases and they’re so quick to make. I give the old fashioned ounce measurement also as it makes it so easy to recall (2, 4, 6)”

You can download the recipe here: Christmas biscuits PDF.

xmas biscuits

Or listen to Emma’s very own Driving Home for Christmas playlist!

You can find the playlist here: Driving Home for Christmas Tunes.

Driving Home for Christmas

Watch Emma talk about her novel, Driving Home for Christmas, to get into the festive spirit

You can watch Emma here: Emma Hannigan introduces her novel DRIVING HOME FOR CHRISTMAS

And better yet, why not snuggle up with one of Emma’s festive feel-good books?

Driving Home for Christmas book cover     the Heart of winter cover

Driving Home for Christmas is now only 99p on Kindle!

 

 

TOP Christmas Gift Books for 2018

TOP Christmas Gift Books for 2018

Are you still stumped on what to get your friends and family for Christmas? Look no further, as here at Team Bookends, we have curated a list of the best book gifts you could give! From stocking fillers to a treat for yourself in the New Year, Bookends is here to save the day.

 

The men in your life…

 

The Tour According to GHead HuntersSecret Service Brainteasers

If you have been following our Bookends Christmas Author Series, you will know that the men in our life are notoriously difficult to buy presents for.

Do you have a sporty Dad, or a brother who is looking to start cycling regularly in the New Year? Why not gift them The Tour According to G by Geraint Thomas, the inspirational inside story of the 2018 Tour de France from Geraint Thomas, the first Welshman and third Brit ever to win the Tour!

Or for something more thrilling, try Chris Ryan’s Head HuntersFormer SAS corporal and the only man to escape death or capture during the Bravo Two Zero operation in the 1991 Gulf War, Chris Ryan turned to writing thrillers to tell the stories the Official Secrets Act stops him putting in his non-fiction.

Or if you know someone who likes to think they are a secret agent, test their skills with Secret Service Brainteasers.

 

Foodie Lovers…

 

Mary Berry Fast CakesCheeky treats

If you miss Mary’s wisdom and inspiration in The Great British Bake Off, or want a brand-new companion to Mary Berry’s Christmas Collection, Fast Cakes is the cookbook for you with over 200 easy recipes to make with confidence. Perfect for fans of the Bake Off or girlfriends who want to learn a new (and tasty) skill in 2019!

Or perhaps you have a friend who into discovering new flavours and dishes? Khazana is a new Indo-Persian cookbook filled with recipes inspired by the Mughals and written by Masterchef Winner in 2017, Saliha Mahmood Ahmed.

Maybe you have a food-lover in your life who wants to know more about the great TV chefs we watch weekly? Cheeky Treats is the debut cookbook from Bake Off’s Liam Charles and is great for those who want to get creative with their bakes.

Lifestyle and entertainment…

 

Blowing the bloody doors offCraftfulnessDiscovery of Witches

Got a film-buff in your life? Hollywood legend and British national treasure Michael Caine shares the wisdom, stories, insight and skills that life has taught him in his remarkable career in Blowing the Bloody Doors Off.

Or for your more crafty friends, Craftulnessan all-you-need-to-know friendly guide to inspire you to give making a go – is the perfect fit!

Know someone who has been obsessed with Sky’s adaptation of A Discovery of Witches? Gift them the book that inspired the hit TV show!

 

Last minute stocking fillers…

 

CosyArt MattersTrue or poo?

With Christmas comes cosiness. In Cosy: The British Art of Comfort, Laura Weir celebrates the very best of our cool and quirky traditions and habits and rituals with a big dose of comfort.

Do you have a budding artist in the family? Drawn together from speeches, poems and creative manifestos, Art Matters explores how reading, imagining and creating can change the world, and will be inspirational to young and old.

How many spiders do you eat in your sleep? What does the ice-cream you eat have to do with the back end of a beaver? Do komodo dragons have toxic slobber? If these are the kind of questions you are constantly hearing a child (or adult . . . ) in the family ask, then True or Poo? is the perfect stocking filler!

 

A treat for yourself!

 

A Winter Beneath the StarsWinter Without YouA Spark of Light

Christmas can be chaotic, so take a moment to yourself and enjoy some quality ‘me-time’ by snuggling up with one of these cosy reads.

A Winter Beneath the Stars by Jo Thomas is an unforgettable winter story, which follows Halley as she embarks on the journey of a lifetime to snowy Sweden.

Winter Without You by Beth Good is a cosy winter romance to warm you heart, perfect for fans of Heidi Swain and Lucy Diamond.

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult is a powerful and provocative new novel about ordinary lives intersecting during a moment of heart-stopping crisis.

 

From everyone here at Team Bookends, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and good luck with your Christmas shopping!
Camembert, parsnips and sherry – we ask, what is your go-to Christmas dish?

Camembert, parsnips and sherry – we ask, what is your go-to Christmas dish?

Can you believe that it is December already? Here at Bookends HQ, we are MORE than ready for all the joys that the Christmas season brings – including the food! Next up in our Bookends Christmas author series, we’ve asked, what is your go-to Christmas dish?

Jill Mansell, author of This Could Change Everything

Coconut Lindt Lindors, amazing roast potatoes and a glass of sherry. Maybe not all at the same time. Then again, now that I’ve written it down it’s starting to sound rather delicious.

Beth Good, author of Winter Without You

Roast parsnips, for sure. I love them crispy brown on the outside and soft in the middle, and I don’t know why but they taste better at Christmas than any other day of the year.

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

My friends and I always have a girls’ night in on Christmas Eve, where we eat one baked Camembert each. Then we feel so ill afterwards that we can’t sleep when we get home, and spend actual Christmas day sleep-deprived, sweaty, groaning and messaging one another: “We’ve got to stop doing this each year. One cheese between three is enough.” But it’s sort of an unbreakable ritual now.

Cate Woods, author of More Than a Feeling

Nigella’s Christmas book introduced me to an Italian liqueur called Tuaca, which she winningly describes as panettone in a glass. A splash of this mixed with Prosecco is the perfect accompaniment to Christmas brunch: it’s like the beverage equivalent of ‘Good King Wenceslas’

This Could Change Everything coverWinter Without YouHow do you like me now coverMore than a feeling cover

 

For more content from authors like Jill, Beth, Holly and Cate, sign-up to our Bookends newsletter here!

Who’s the trickiest person to buy for on your Christmas list? Graham Norton, Joanna Bolouri, Jo Thomas and Joanna Nell fill us in!

Who’s the trickiest person to buy for on your Christmas list? Graham Norton, Joanna Bolouri, Jo Thomas and Joanna Nell fill us in!

From difficult dads, to best friends who already have everything – we all have someone on our Christmas present list who is impossible to buy for.

Luckily, some of our fabulous authors are here to share the trickiest names on their lists… and offer up some much-needed Christmas gifting inspiration!

 

Graham Norton, author of A Keeper

Some people are truly gifted when it comes to shopping for presents. I am not. My solution is to throw money at the problem so that while the gift may be unsuitable and disliked, it will at least be expensive so I can’t be accused of being ungenerous. My mother is always a challenge because whatever good ideas I might have had were all used up years ago.

Jo Thomas, author of A Winter Beneath the Stars

Hmmm, I think maybe my Mum. She always says she doesn’t want anything! And I always want to get her something she’d really enjoy. Usually I buy her books which I know she’ll enjoy, especially armchair travel ones.

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

My husband is always tricky to buy for, especially since he stopped wearing ties to work and shaved off his beard (who knew fancy beard products were a thing?). It’s the one time of the year when I wish he wasn’t such a “low maintenance man”. When I ask for ideas (we’re fairly pragmatic in our family), he reminds me that he already has more books on famous explorers than he has time to read, owns a shirt for every day of the week and the less said about that kite-surfing lesson I bought him one Christmas the better. This year I’ve decided to give my husband a voucher for dinner for two at our favourite restaurant. That way, hopefully I get to enjoy it too.

Joanna Bolouri, author of Relight My Fire

My dad, definitely.  He doesn’t like anything ‘specific’ so inevitably he gets something sensible from Marks and Spencer.

And for a gift that’s sure to be a winner, here are some brilliant new reads courtesy of our lovely authors!

 A Keeper Graham Norton Relight my fire  

Read an extract from Friends like These: the unmissable new psychological thriller

Read an extract from Friends like These: the unmissable new psychological thriller

Read an exclusive Friends like These extract: as addictive as Friend Request, as gripping as The Girl Before.

Friends Like These banner

Lizzie hasn’t thought much about Becca since the accident.

She remembers the blood though. She can see how you wouldn’t be the same again after something like that. No one was surprised when Becca didn’t come back to work.

And Lizzie’s different these days too. She used to be the one in the shadows, stalking Becca’s perfect life online, but a lot has changed since then.

So when Becca’s ex shows up on Tinder, Lizzie swipes right. Why not? Doesn’t she deserve a chance at happiness as well?

Becca will have moved on. There’s no way she’d even remember Lizzie, no way she could know anything about her life – is there?

She’s about to find out that with a friend like Becca, she doesn’t need enemies…

See what readers are saying about FRIENDS LIKE THESE

‘a rollercoaster ride of plot twists and turns that will leave you breathless.’ NetGalley Reviewer

‘a cleverly written and well plotted thriller’ Goodreads Reviewer

I struggled to put this book down and read it at every opportunity.’ NetGalley Reviewer

‘this is a readable thriller packed with characters many of us will undoubtedly relate to.’ Amazon Reviewer

‘an incredibly modern and accessible psychological thriller.’ NetGalley Reviewer

Read the extract here: Friends like These extract.

Learn more about Friends like These here.

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…
Happy National Cake Day!

Happy National Cake Day!

Here at Bookends HQ, we love any excuse for a slice of cake and a cup of tea. So on National Cake Day, we will definitely be indulging ourselves in a slice of cake (or two…)!

To celebrate National Cake Day, we are giving you an exclusive recipe from the queen of cakes herself, Mary Berry, from her latest book Fast Cakes.

Happy baking!

Marble Cake

Children love this cake and it is not difficult to make and looks good when cut. Ice it as you like – try the chocolate icing on page 97 – or serve it plain, sprinkled with icing or caster sugar.

Marble Cake small

You can download the recipe for Mary Berry’s marble cake here.

Mary Berry’s Fast Cakes is out now!

Mary Berry Fast Cakes