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 (, 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. 

Maybe This Time by Jill Mansell

Maybe This Time by Jill Mansell

The uplifting new novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author of This Could Change Everything.

Mimi isn’t looking for love when she spends a weekend in Goosebrook, the Cotswolds village her dad has moved to. And her first encounter with Cal, who lives there too, is nothing like a scene in a romantic movie – although she can’t help noticing how charismatic he is. But Cal’s in no position to be any more than a friend, and Mimi heads back to her busy London life.

When they meet again four years later, it’s still not to be. Cal is focusing on his family, and Mimi on her career. Then Cal dives into a potentially perfect new romance whilst Mimi’s busy fixing other people’s relationships.

It seems as if something, or someone else, always gets in their way. Will it ever be the right time for both of them?

Buy on Amazon here.

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!

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…
Tell us why you love women's fiction to earn yourself £50!

Tell us why you love women's fiction to earn yourself £50!

Dear Readers,

Would you like to have the chance to tell us more about why you love reading?

We’re going to be hosting a focus group in collaboration with our partner Relish Research. We’d like to invite you to join us, and other readers, for an informal discussion about your reading habits and your love of women’s fiction in particular.

The two and a half hour sessions will be held on the afternoon of Tuesday 21st March at a venue in Hammersmith, London, and the evening of Thursday 16th March at a venue in Bradford. As a thank you for taking part, we will send you home with £50.

If you’d like to apply for a chance to join us, please send an email to expressing your interest and we will get in contact to ask a few preliminary questions to get the most out of the session. We’ll also be able to tell you a little more about the research project.

The focus group will have no more than eight participants so, if you’re interested in taking part, do please get in touch as soon as possible. Please note that if we receive a high volume of applicants, we may only be able to respond to those selected to join us.

A couple of other things to bear in mind:

All comments from the session will be anonymised

Your contact details will not be passed on to any third party and will be deleted after we’ve finished the research

Relish Research are bound by The Market Research Society Code of Conduct. You can verify their membership by calling free-phone 0500 39 69 99

We look forward to hearing from you.

Team Bookends

Team Bookends' Guide to Bookish Hygge – Part 2

Team Bookends' Guide to Bookish Hygge – Part 2

You and Me, Always – Jill Mansell 

There’s nothing better than snuggling down in your favourite cosy jumper with a mug of tea and a good book. You and Me, Always is the perfect book to curl up with. A beautifully romantic, poignant read by bestselling author Jill Mansell set in the cosy Cotswolds, this is the ideal book to lose yourself in on a Sunday afternoon.

You and me always

All I Ever Wanted – Lucy Dillon 

If you like your books relatable, bittersweet and uplifting, look no further this December than All I Ever Wanted, the latest from Lucy Dillon. Snuggle down with some cocoa and blankets and discover the stories of Caitlin, Eva, and Nancy. Once you’ve finished reading, you’re sure to be left felling warm, happy, and hygge.


The Reading Group – Della Parker

This charming, brand new eBook-only series has the perfect heartwarming cast to get to know tucked under your hygge blanket, by the candle-like glow of your kindle…As the title suggests, the plot revolves around a group of friends who meet up on a monthly basis to discuss life, loves, woes and on occasion, books – with a big glass of red. What could be more hygge than that? The first in the series, The Reading Group: December, is now available to pre-order for free, and four more will follow for just 99p per download. All that hygge for 99p – bargain!

Reading Group - Bookends 2

If you liked this blog then why not try…

Team Bookends’ Guide to Bookish Hygge – Part 1

Wrap up warm and enjoy an extract from Stef Penney’s new novel 

Try Mary Berry’s mouthwatering recipe for Belly of Pork with Apple Sauce 

Books on my bedside table by Jill Mansell

Books on my bedside table by Jill Mansell

Humans of New York, by Brandon Stanton I adore this book and the mega-successful blog that inspired it ( Brandon photographs people in the street and asks them questions about themselves. He shows us that everyone has their own incredible story, and that appearances can be wildly deceptive. I’m so nosey, I’d love to be able to approach complete strangers, interrogate them and find out all about them – but the trouble is, they’d just think I was weird and would run as fast as they could away from me. So reading this book is definitely the next best thing…

Rivals, by Jilly Cooper It goes without saying that I adore all of Jilly’s books – she was the one whose work inspired me to write in the first place – but, of all of them, Rivals has to be my number one favourite. I just wish I could delete it from my brain so that I could read it again for the first time and experience that falling-in-love-with-a-book sensation that seized me in its grasp all those years ago. I’m so happy she’s now written a new novel (Mount!) and I am waiting – extremely impatiently – for it to be published.

Giffords Circus: The First Ten Years by Nell Gifford This is a fascinating book, written by the amazing and inspirational Nell Gifford who decided (along with her husband) to create an old-style travelling circus. And she did it! Every year we go to see their show when it tours (mainly around the Cotswolds) and it is just adorable and wonderful. The atmosphere is unrivalled, it’s so much fun and everyone who experiences the show falls in love with it. The book details all the hard work that went into turning Nell’s dream into a reality and is an unalloyed joy.

Resistance is Futile by Jenny T. Colgan OK, this is my shocking admission: I absolutely can’t stand anything sci-fi and have never watched any of the Star Wars films, or anything to do with Star Trek or Doctor Who. If this novel hadn’t been written by my lovely friend Jenny Colgan I can guarantee I wouldn’t have gone within a mile of it. But it was written by her, so I was intrigued enough by the fact that it was both sci-fi and a love story to give it a tentative try. I fully expected to hate it. But, guess what? I ADORED it. It’s funny and charming and written in Jenny’s inimitable style. If you hate sci-fi too, I highly recommend it.

I See You by Clare Mackintosh And finally, I do so love an unputdownable murdery crime thriller. This isn’t by my bedside yet but it will be, the very moment I’m able to get my hands on a copy. Clare wrote the mega-selling I Let You Go and shot to literary stardom as a result. I just know I’ll be equally gripped by her new novel. (Fun fact: I actually sent her a fan email years ago, long before she’d ever written a book, because I’d read her column in Cotswold Life magazine and desperately needed to tell her how funny and brilliant her writing was. I am basically her groupie…)

Jill Mansell’s latest book is You and Me always, available in paperback and eBook editions.

You and me, always by Jill Mansell



If you liked this, why not caught up on…

… the books on Sarah Vaughan’s bedside table

… and the one’s that Louise Brown keeps close by

My Writing Space – Jill Mansell

My Writing Space – Jill Mansell

I have the loveliest writing space – it’s the sofa in my beautiful living room. I once had an office up in the spare bedroom, but being shut away up there felt like some kind of punishment so I found myself sneaking back downstairs, which also has the advantage of being closer to the fridge, and now the office is just a junk room instead!

Jill's Livingroom

I like to write with the TV on, to keep me company and supply with me ideas for plots. Last year, we bought a reclining sofa, and for the first few days I kept falling asleep while I was meant to be writing. (It’s so comfortable though…) I write by hand, so the reclining sofa and I are a good fit.

From the front window, I can see everyone passing the house, which is nice, and the sunset if we’re lucky enough to have one. From the back French windows there’s a view of the garden, and of the gorgeous wire sculpture I commissioned last year, of a life-sized trotting foal. (Beyond our garden is a sports centre, so while I’m working I can hear the sounds of cricket being played in the summer, and rugby or football in the winter.)

Jill and foal sculpture

I’ve tried sitting out in the garden to work, but there are just too many distractions, which is sad. I’m not actually great at working anywhere outside my home. If I’m not in the living room I’ll be upstairs in bed, but that gives me an uninterrupted view of the sports being played in the fields behind our fence so that’s another form of distraction. But it’s not a bad distraction to have!

Jill’s new novel YOU AND ME, ALWAYS is out now. Buy it here!


Liked this? Why not read about…

…Sheila O’Flanagan’s writing space

…Jill’s perfect weekend



My Perfect Weekend – Jill Mansell

My Perfect Weekend – Jill Mansell

Full English or a super-food smoothie?

Definitely a full English. Such a treat.

City break or an escape to the country?

Oh, both please – Venice and the Cotswolds!

Bookshop browsing or exploring a library?

I adore bookshops. Libraries are fantastic, but nowadays I prefer to own my favourite books.

 Re-reading an old favourite or trying something different?

I can no longer re-read, which is sad. So now it’s always something new.

 Cocktails or coffee?

Coffee while I’m writing, cocktails when I’m having fun! (Not that writing isn’t fun, ahem…)

Traditional Sunday roast or grand kitchen experimenting?

Roast potatoes are my favourite food. Nothing more needs to be said.

 Action-packed or total relaxation?

Can I ask for a happy medium? I’m not the sportiest, but I do enjoy doing things.

Are you off to the latest exhibition or getting arty yourself?

Again, both. I love art and craft exhibitions, and have just started painting too.

The feel of a shiny, new book or the smell of a dog-eared classic?

Shiny new book, so I can feel as if I’m the first person reading it.

 Dressing up to the nines or jeans & wellies?

I don’t own any jeans, so for the sake of decency I’ll have to be dressed up!

 A trip to the cinema or a DVD on the sofa?

The cinema, but only if everyone else has been banned from coughing, whispering and eating noisy food.


Jill Mansell’s new novel YOU AND ME, ALWAYS is out 28th January. Pre-order now and you’re eligible to enter our exciting superfan competition!

Follow Jill on Twitter and Facebook


Liked this? Catch up on…

Tasmina Perry’s perfect weekend

Alice Peterson’s ideal end to the week