Monthly Archives: February 2012

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, since the start of the year we’ve been lucky enough to have Jodi Picoult join the Tesco Books Blog team as a guest blogger – you can check out her blogs so far here and here. When we first began chatting about the possibility of teaming up with Jodi, we always had in mind the possibility of doing something special and now I’m thrilled to share with you all our ‘big idea’:

We’re giving you guys the opportunity to meet up with Jodi and take along a friend for afternoon tea at the Landmark Hotel in London, between 16:00-17:00 on the 27th March!

If you want to be in with a chance of winning, just tell us which Jodi Picoult book was your favourite and why! We’re on the look out for Jodi’s biggest fans and so we want to see you guys pull out all the stops and show us your knowledge of Jodi’s back catalogue!

We’re looking forward to reading your answers!

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We caught up with Si & Dave for a quick chat about their new book, The Hairy Bikers Big Book of Baking, and their recent European road trip in search of the best baking Europe has to offer.

So how has your start to the New Year been?

Well, it’s been insanely busy. We have been finishing off the new TV series, Bakation, and finalizing all the recopies to go in the new book. We traveled 7000 miles, and spent 4 months on the road producing the new series, going all over Europe in search of the most delicious baked recipes we could find. It was brilliant. But it’s lovely being back in England.

So tell us some of your favorite recipes from your travels

Strangely, the best bread we ate was in Oslo, which was very unexpected. The best cakes we ate were in Vienna. The truth is though, we love all the food in the book. Baking has always been a passion for us, ever since we were nippers, and the passion has just got stronger over the years.

It’s been really cold recently – have you got any Hairy Bikers tips for getting through the cold snap?

What you need is some really comforting grub – it always does the trick. The Chicken and Tarragon Pie from our previous book is always a winner, and you could do a lot worse than baking a delicious cake. You know you deserve it, so treat yourself!

If you’ve got any questions for Si and Dave and want to be in with a chance at winning a signed copy of the Hairy Bikers’ new book, ‘The Hairy Bikers’ Big Book of Baking’ , just leave a question for them in the comments and they will back on the blog with their answers and the name of the winner in a couple of weeks!

This competition is now closed. The winner will be contacted and announced on the blog next week, so be sure to check back to see who got lucky!
Thanks to everyone that entered!

It’s that time of year when we all begin to long for a week or two spent somewhere warm. Winter is showing little sign of easing up, summer still seems miles away and suddenly the travel ads in the paper begin to look very, very attractive.

Well, you’re in luck because to celebrate the release of The House of Dust and Dreams by Brenda Reid, we’re giving you guys the opportunity to win a holiday to Crete for two people, half board plus flights from London or Manchester.

Set in Greece in 1936, a young British diplomat, Hugh, and his wife, Heavenly, are sent from Athens to Crete to resolve an issue on the island, staying in what remains of an old house owned by Hugh’s family. Heavenly falls for the island and the locals and as she works to return the house to its former glory, she finds herself growing closer to the charismatic local builder, Christos.

If you want to be in with a chance of winning, just tell us what your favourite holiday memory is and why in the comments.

As always, we’re really looking forward to hearing your answers!

Best of luck!

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So the time is upon us once more, Valentine’s Day has arrived. It is as inevitable as the tide of tinsel draped over almost everything at Christmas, and the plethora of oddly shaped chocolate treats that mark Easter. Everywhere you go there are hearts, balloons, flowers and sweets encroaching almost every shop window like the aftermath of a vicious fight between Miss Piggy and a branch of Clintons. But whether or not you like Valentine’s Day, I think it is a day for everyone.

But how, I hear you cry?

So many people write about how they want to hide away on Valentine’s Day to avoid the sight of happy couples strolling doe-eyed and fairy footed to a nearby restaurant. For some people the mere sight of a heart-shaped helium balloon makes them grind their teeth in irritation. For singles it seems to be all about suffering, and well… sadness. But I don’t think it has to be that way.

On almost every other day of the year, most singles are happy being just that. There’s the wonderful freedom that comes with a life being footloose and fancy free, the nights out with friends, and the lack of pressure to automatically cut the price of a new garment by two thirds as soon as you walk in the house. However, as soon as Valentine’s Day arrives you can almost hear the wails of distress from every corner.

If you are single, why not try a fresh new look at Valentine’s Day this year.

Think about all the people you love, friends, family, your dog, you name it. Focus on the love you have. Do something special for someone who needs cheering up. Think about all the wonderful things you have in life, and celebrate them. Maybe it is the perfect opportunity to round up your single friends for a night of games and laughter in your favourite pub. It doesn’t have to be doom and gloom. You can reclaim Valentine’s Day and make it your own!

Or are you one of the lucky ones? Have you already got your flowers on order and the champagne on ice? Do you await Valentine’s Day with a tummy full of butterflies and high hopes? Fantastic news! Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to not only show how much you care, but to do something different, and special, no matter what your budget is. One of the most romantic things anyone ever did for me was to shape the words “I love you” out of dry grass in a field when I was a teenager. It meant more than expensive jewellery or a fancy dinner.

And maybe there is someone in your life who you have always liked… Some you never quite had the courage to tell. Well, what a wonderful opportunity today is, it might change your life.

Some people will be preparing to pop the question this Valentine’s Day, while others will be popping to the nearest pub with their friends to spend it with the people they love. Some may spend Valentine’s Day mourning a long lost love, or celebrating the start of a new found single-dom, but however conventional or unconventional it is, no one should be afraid to celebrate it just how they want to.

This year for Valentine’s Day, although I won’t be fighting my way through a forest of bouquets just to get out of the front door, I will be thankful for all the people in my life who I love.  I will remember when I was 13 years old and received a huge heart shaped cookie through the post, totally unsure of who it came from but unable to stop smiling for at least a week afterwards. I will remember all the good times with former flames, and I will smile because they happened and I was lucky enough to experience it all. I know it sounds easier said than done, but give it a try this year. I will send a few message to my closest girlfriends to say that I’m thinking of them today and all the things they do for me, and you never know, we might even go out for dinner and play some scrabble.


Regular readers among you will know that we have been lucky enough to have David Essex join our ever-growing roster of guest bloggers. A couple of weeks ago we opened the floor to questions from his fans and David has taken the time to answer your questions and even recorded a short video for you all.

Be sure to let us know what you think and a big thank you to David and the team that helped make the video.

Sometimes dreams do come true! Even the dreams of a young woman, who finds she has turned into a middle-aged woman as the years have sped by and each year she just kept thinking, “When I have time I will get around to writing a book… when the children start school… when the children are older… when my business slows down… when I live somewhere else that’s quieter and calmer… with less to do.”   I know this, because I am that middle-aged woman and my daughters have long since grown up and I have finally written that book.

When I first arrived in London from a happy, rural childhood spent on a wild Welsh farm, I was 17 and very green. Somehow, I miraculously got myself a job working for an iconic ‘70’s dress designer called Thea Porter who designed wonderful clothes for the most glamorous stars of stage, screen and rock and roll. I was instantly plunged into the gilded gutter life of those stars in London, Paris, New York and Los Angeles and from the moment that my new life began I was hooked.

I started my own fashion business when my children were small, so that I could work from home and bring up my girls too. I have been happily zipping divas in to dresses ever since. I have also been out and about with my lovely husband, the jewellery designer Theo Fennell, for thirty-five years, so I have had the opportunity to notice a thing or two about what can happen when people ‘have it all’ and, for all the fun, there is a dark side too – a price to be paid.

The characters for my novel Dead Rich had been running around in my mind for years – behaving very badly – like a television series playing on a loop. So when I finally began to write I found they were all elbowing each other out of the way to get some page time – sometimes even surprising me with their antics. The novel is set in the world of the fabulously famous super rich and I have found them all very entertaining to spend time with!

Many of us are quite pre-occupied (well I am!) reading about the ‘out of control life-styles’ of our favourite celebrities, so I thought why not create a fictional famous family and write a book that shows how being rich and famous might not be quite all it’s cracked up to be? And so I have!

Coming up in my next blog, I am so pleased to tell you that we have a fantastic sneak peak at my new book Dead Rich for all you Tesco Books Blog Readers!

And as if that was not enough, I have a very special competition opening within the next blog that you will not want to miss!

See you soon


I wrote ‘The Promise’ as a sequel to ‘Belle’ because I loved the character of Belle too much to let her go. I was excited too at the prospect of setting it during the Great War as this period was the one which brought great changes, particularly for women. While patriotic young men bravely joined up to fight for their King and Country, all too often only being mown down by enemy fire in their first battle, the women back home had their own battles to fight.

Along with the anguish of never knowing when a telegram would arrive to tell them their husband, son or brother had been killed, or seriously wounded, they had to cope with the hardships of food shortages, and care for their families alone. Most women hadn’t worked outside the home until then, now they had to take over driving buses and ambulances, work on the land, and in armament factories, often in the face of prejudice against their sex.

I have always loved history and have a particular interest in war. The Great War is so full of drama, heroics and pathos; a cruel, pitiless war that robbed us and our Allies of the bravest of the brave. I cried so often as I described the carnage in the mud of Flanders, of women like Belle who nursed and comforted those who were lucky enough to reach field hospitals. Yet there were so many, many more men whose bodies were never recovered from that mud. For their families there was the added burden of uncertainty, living in faint hope he might have been taken prisoner.

When the war was over, many of those men who had given so much for their country were unable to work again because of missing limbs and shell shock. Some had to beg on the streets to survive. There were tens of thousands of widows and children left without a father.

That makes me cry too.

It has been a busy start to the year for me with the publication of Sing You Home, but now it is time to concentrate on my new book, Lone Wolf. I am really excited about it, and I wanted to tell you all on the Tesco Book blog how it came about …

One morning I woke up thinking about wolves:  how they seem to function as a family; how the group is more important than the individual. I didn’t know how, but it seemed to me that there was a metaphor in here that was going to work with the story I was trying to tell.

That’s when I created the character of Luke Warren who has a terrible accident. Luke is a man who studied wolves not by observing them, but by living with them. At least, I thought I had created the character. Little did I know there was someone real who had done just this, Shaun Ellis, an Englishman who had lived with a wild wolf pack in the Rockies. I went to visit him in Devon at the wildlife park where he now keeps several captive packs of wolves, and got to meet him and his wolves up close and personal.

So, you will want to know why wolves and what is the story, right? Well, I first thought about the right to die when I was on a plane over a decade ago. It has taken a while for the story to come good, but then I was sitting next to a neurologist who dealt with these sorts of issues all the time. And the wolves? They aren’t cold blooded killers, I learned from Shaun Ellis, they are very intelligent animals for whom nothing matters more than family. So what would happen if two children were fighting over whether or not to terminate life support for their parent.

I knew that one of the characters in the story, and involved in the decision, would be a prodigal son with a secret in his past; and that his sister would be the more faithful child who was too young to have a legal say in the decision. Added to them, there was the father himself to consider – the man whose life was hanging in the balance.

Often the relatives who are put in the position of making decisions about life support are thinking about their own reluctance to let a loved one go. But it’s never a simple choice. In the wolf world, as Shaun told me, injured wolves slink away to die alone because they know it’s for the greater good of the pack; he has also seen wolves in prominent pack roles nursed back to health because their knowledge and expertise is so necessary to the pack.

Which of these two extremes Luke Warren best fits is up to the reader.