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…

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!
He’s making a list, and checking it twice…

He’s making a list, and checking it twice…

Next up in our Christmas author series, we asked our lovely authors Erin Kelly, Joanna Bolouri, Olivia Beirne and Daniela Sacerdoti a very important festive question: if you had to buy a Christmas gift for one of your characters, who would you choose and why?

 

Erin Kelly, author of He Said/She Said

Alice, the little girl from The Poison Tree, would be nineteen now. With parents like hers, she could probably do with a spa weekend or a course of therapy.

Joanna Bolouri, author of Relight My Fire

I would buy Phoebe from The List an iTunes gift card as she needs a better taste in music.

Olivia Beirne, author of The List That Changed My Life

Oh gosh that’s a good question. I think they’d all be terrible to buy for. I reckon I’d have to buy for Georgia and I think she’d really enjoy one of those cushion scarfs so that she could nap on the tube/in meetings/flick her sunglasses down so Sally can’t see her eyes when she’s talking. As I’m writing this, I realise that I would also really enjoy one of those and why haven’t I done all of those things sooner? 

Daniela Sacerdoti, author of I Will Find You

Oh, that’s hard…I would buy for all of them and feel bad if I forgot one! I think I would pick Cora from I Will Find You, and I would give her a voucher for John Lewis – I know a voucher can sound quite anonymous, but Cora loves weaving and sewing, and the selection of fabrics and craft materials in John Lewis is amazing…so I think she could go and have a little splurge on me. I would also like to make a girly package for Anna from Take Me Home, with a nice top and make up. Anna loves pretty things but she tends not to indulge herself, and treat her daughter instead (like most mums do!). So I’d like to spoil her a little.

He said she saidRelight my fireThe List That Changed My LifeI Will Find You

The hardest person to buy presents for – Bookends authors own up!

The hardest person to buy presents for – Bookends authors own up!

We all have that one person in our social circle or family that’s an absolute nightmare to buy presents for. Our authors share their most troublesome recipients.

Louise O’Neill, author of Almost Love

My father is impossible to buy for because he’s basically a hippie who feels uncomfortable with what he sees as rampant materialism. He accepts presents with a great deal of reluctance.

Emma Hannigan, author of The Wedding Promise

It would be a toss up between my hubby and my Dad. Both are the pragmatic types who don’t believe in having anything that isn’t going to be used non-stop. They don’t get the idea of needing more than one pair of evening shoes. I know, they need help right? We all know we can never have enough shoes.

My Dad has a massive collection of wine books; he loves to look into types of grapes and methods of production of wines etc. So we usually buy him a few bottles of unusual wines.

Hubby is a triathlete and Ironman enthusiast, which used to give me great scope for buying gear. But five years ago he opened a one-stop shop for triathlon paraphernalia. So now I have to look for things that are not associated with triathlon because he’s surrounded by it all the time! Last year I got him a gin advent calendar, which he adored. Any hints would be gratefully accepted.

Laurie Graham, author of The Early Birds

This year, my hostess, who has decreed a £10 limit.

Rebecca Tinnelly, author of Never Go There

My Dad and Stepmother: I don’t like to buy them the standard mum and dad presents of socks or smelly soap, but it is increasingly difficult to be creative. Last year I collated their old, loose photographs into albums which was great to do and fantastic to flick through together.

5. Books I'll be giving this year…

5. Books I'll be giving this year…

The best thing about reading a book and falling in love with it completely, is then being able to pass it on to your friends and talk about it endlessly, right?! Here are some of the literary gifts our Bookends authors will be giving this year to spread that bookish love! Aren’t they a generous bunch?

Eva Rice

In my humble opinion, there is no point whatsoever in giving people bestsellers. Every reader will have caned through H is for Hawk, Love Nina (in paperback) and Go Set A Watchman already. They are in fact likely to be secretly offended that I’m implying (by giving) that they haven’t already read this lot. Far better to go utterly retro and give vintage hardbacks of Kingsley Amis, Stella Gibbons or Enid Blyton. They look delightful on any shelf and make people feel loved because a certain amount of effort went into buying them!

LOVE NOTES FOR FREDDIE by Eva Rice is available to buy in hardback and is being published in paperback on 28th July 2016. 

Rosanna Ley

The gorgeous Christmas edition of Amy Snow by Tracy Rees for my daughters Ana and Alexa who will both love the compelling main character, Amy.

The Hive Beach Café Cookbook (Britain’s first beach café cookbook) for my foodie son and daughter in law Luke and Agata.

Brides of War by June Tate for my mother who loves a good and gritty story.

Secret Places of West Dorset by Louise Hodgson for my husband Grey who loves to explore.

THE SAFFRON TRAIL by Rosanna Ley is available to buy in paperback, and her next novel LAST DANCE IN HAVANA is being published on 19th May 2016. 

Louise O’Neill

This year I’ll be giving friends a copy of Girls will be Girls by Emer O’ Toole

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Tender by Belinda McKeon

and The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney

ASKING FOR IT by Louise O’Neill is available to buy now, and it has just won the Irish Book of the Year award!

If you liked this post, then why not catch up on…

…the perfect gifts for Bookish teens…

…what some of our authors are hoping to find under the tree…

…Crime Files presents gifts for Him

Natalie Meg Evans talks traditions, tinsel and Christmas-card-towers

Natalie Meg Evans talks traditions, tinsel and Christmas-card-towers

It wouldn’t be Christmas without…

As a child I adored Christmas. As I come from a family of borderline hoarders, Christmas cards, tinsel, decorations and wrapping paper would be carefully stored year on year. As soon as December arrived, and the advent calendar was hung up, my brother and I would get the boxes down in preparation. A fun ritual for us was to build tower blocks out of all the saved Christmas cards. It sounds nerdy in retrospect but this was the 60s. No telly. And we’d lost our father by then. Our mother was unwell and life was a bit tough. We made our card towers as a yearly reminder that we weren’t alone, that we had a network of people in our lives. As soon as I had a home of my own, I took over the family Christmas, hosting it and doing all the cooking. Though I was occasionally heard to complain that it felt like running a small, free​ B&B, I’ve been very happy doing it. This year is different as one member of our family is ill and unable to make it as far as my home. So, I’m going to London, as my sister’s guest. My son and nephews are delighted. At last, they can go out on the town on Christmas Eve! I foresee hangovers on Christmas Day. It means I won’t be driving to midnight mass in the snow, through unlit rural lanes. That’s a wrench as there is nothing so beautiful as carols in a country church. That ritual has become my annual lung capacity check-up. If I can sing the entire chorus of Ding Dong Merrily on High (you know, Glooooooo-ooooo-oooria etc  etc ​Hosanna in Excelis) on one breath, I’m good to go for the next twelve months.  Letting go of my country, family Christmas proves that life moves on. On the 23rd, I’ll be driving down the A12 with prezzies and dogs in the car (course they’re coming too!) and a large turkey – to cook, not a live one.  Old habits die hard and I’m going to try and get charge of the Christmas dinner. Well, you can’t give up all the levers of power at once.  Merry Christmas, everyone.

What I’m hoping for this year under the tree…

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, so they say, but they’ll have to wait until I have that cute-meet with a billionaire (I’m thinking of lurking around Canary Wharf, stepping out in front of expensive looking bicycles). In the meantime, lesser gems would do me. I love amethyst and amber and would dearly like some drop earrings. I recently had my ears re-pierced so I’ve become a born again earring collector. For something a little cheaper, I recently stumbled online on the Ochil fudge pantry. A whole pantry full of ​Scottish, hand-made heaven? Lordy me!

​THE MILLINER’S SECRET by Natalie Meg Evans is available to buy in paperback now and A GOWN OF THORNS is available to buy in e-book.

If you liked this then why not catch up on…

Natalie talks about her inspiration behind A Gown of Thorns 

7 Reasons Why I Love New York by Natalie Meg Evans 

Jo Thomas’ ode to the humble Brussels sprout

 

3. Books I'll be giving this year…

3. Books I'll be giving this year…

At risk of revealing to their friends and family what they’ll be unwrapping in a few weeks’ time, we asked our authors what books they enjoyed so much this year, they’ll be sharing the love with their nearest and dearest. Of course, books make the very best of presents, but we all know it can be hard to find the right one, so read on for some tried and tested inspiration…

Louise Lee

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

Every year I find an excuse to buy this book for someone. A Pulitzer Prize winner, Middlesex is a coming-of-age story and family saga, chronicling the impact of a mutated gene on three generations of a Greek family. Touching, funny and enlightening, it covers potentially thorny topics with sensitivity and aplomb. The experience it bestows upon the reader is breathtaking.

Ayoade On Ayoade: a Cinematic Odyssey by Richard Ayoade

This is a great stocking filler – a laugh-out-loud introspective on Ayoade by Richard Ayoade himself. As Grazia said: ‘A brilliantly sustained takedown of anyone who has ever written a self-indulgent book about their own careers.’ What can I say? The man is a GENUIS…

White Mughals: Love and Betrayal in 18th-century India: Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth-century India by William Dalrymple

My mother is Anglo-Indian, and left India soon after British rule collapsed. This book, however, goes back to the beginning – back to the time when Europeans started emigrating to India. We discover an era of successful cultural assimilation, intermarriage and mutual respect. The moral of the story – people get on swimmingly when politics isn’t on the agenda. A very enlightening biopic.

Louise’s debut novel THE LAST HONEYTRAP is available in paperback and ebook now.

Laurie Graham

Cabaret of Plants by Richard Mabey

It’s so gorgeous I may even give this to myself.

The New Spymasters: Inside Espionage from the Cold War to Global Terror by Stephen Grey

This one is for friends who share my taste for all things espionage.

Anything from the Revolting Recipes series by Roald Dahl

I now have several grandchildren old enough to relish dishes like wormy spaghetti and scrambled dregs!

Laurie’s latest novel THE NIGHT IN QUESTION is available in paperback and ebook now.

Penny Vincenzi

After You by Jojo Moyes

Jojo has done the impossible with this book, and made it as heart-wrenching, sexy and utterly unpredictable as its brilliant  predecessor, Me Before You. One of the books I couldn’t bear to finish and rationed the final chapters to make it last longer.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

No chance of rationing anything with this book! It’s just so exciting you seize every moment to turn the next page… and the next… and the next. Brilliantly clever right through, and a stunning finale – I loved it.

The Parrots by Alexandra Shulman

The author is the editor of Vogue and her book is as stylish, edgy and beautifully choreographed as a really brilliant fashion show – with, again, a shatteringly brilliant finale.

The Princess who had no Fortune, by Ursula Jones and Sarah Gibb

And if you want to please a female of about four, give her this book, which turns the Cinderella story on its head and  is utterly charming, with the most delicious illustrations.

Penny’s latest novel A PERFECT HERITAGE is available in paperback and ebook now.

Sarah Vaughan

Simply Nigella: Feel Good Food by Nigella Lawson and Everyday Super Food by Jamie Oliver

My husband doesn’t read novels but he consumes recipe books and is a big Nigella fan. The first Christmas we were together he bought me How to Be a Domestic Goddess, which fired my love of baking and was one of the inspirations for The Art of Baking Blind. So this year I’ll be buying him the new Nigella, and because a new Jamie Oliver is a Christmas tradition, Everyday Super Food.

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

My mother enjoys historical and literary fiction, so I’ll be giving her Kate Atkinson’s A God in Ruins, which reduced me to tears three times before confounding me and then filling me with writerly envy. I’m also on the lookout for a psychological thriller as good as Louise Doughty’s Apple Tree Yard, which she devoured.

The Children Act by Ian McEwan

My father’s a lawyer and a fan of Ian McEwan, so I’ll be giving him The Children Act, which manages to be intellectually probing, beautifully written and moving. As ever, it’s meticulously researched but doesn’t wear its research heavily.

Into the Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them by John Yorke

My stepfather writes and so one of the presents I’ll be giving him is John Yorke’s Into the Woods. Yorke, a producer, analyses films and TV series such as Thelma and Louise and Spooks to explore the narrative journey, conflict and jeopardy a protagonist must go through. I’ve found this hugely useful when plotting my third novel and even applied his theories to The Great British Bake Off.

Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase

I think my sister would love Eve Chase’s Black Rabbit Hall, a sumptuous time slip novel set in Du Maurier’s lush southern Cornwall with – in the past story – a compelling teenage narrator, and numerous twists and turns.

A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig

My children wish J.K. Rowling would write a new Harry Potter, or L. Pichon would publish her 10th Tom Gates more swiftly – but since I can’t make either of these things happen, I’ll be giving them Matt Haig’s A Boy Called Christmas. My daughter, who no longer believes in Father Christmas, might roll her eyes but she still loves being read to, and I bet she’ll listen as intently as her younger brother. And, though they’ve long outgrown Mog, I might have to sneak in Mog’s Christmas Calamity. We have a grumpy geriatric tabby and they have been trying to turn him into a more endearing and unintentionally heroic cat.

Sarah’s debut novel THE ART OF BAKING BLIND is available now in paperback and ebook.

In case you missed it, check out…

…some of our authors favourite Christmas traditions

…what our authors would like to find under their trees this year