Awards and Prizes

Costa First Novel Award Shortlist 2016 Round-up

Some of the most exceptional British and Irish debut authors of the year have been honoured by being named in the Costa First Novel Shortlist 2016 – but which one will be the winner?  Below is a round-up of these remarkable titles.

Costa First Novel Award

Alice Adams, Invincible Summer

The exciting highs and desperate lows of adulthood are illustrated in this beautiful, intricate work, which demonstrates how important lasting love and friendship can be in a hectic world.  The story features a tight-knit group of friends – Eva, Lucien, Sylvie and Benedict – who graduate together in 1997, excited to pursue their hopes and dreams.  Eva, deeply in love with party animal Lucien and desperate to escape the socialist politics of her upbringing, goes to work for a big bank.  Eva’s infatuated admirer Benedict goes on to do a PhD in physics, whilst siblings Sylvie and Lucien opt for a more laidback existence, Sylvie an artist and Lucien a club promoter.  However, the group’s dreams and aspirations are continually denied as they progress through the years, and they find themselves longing for their youth again.  The four are drawn back together again by heartbreak and disappointment – but in ways they could never have foreseen.


Susan Beale, The Good Guy

This novel tells a captivating tale about marriage, love, deceit and self-delusion.  Set in 1960s suburban America, the story features Ted, a car-tyre salesman, and his wife Abigail, who longs for more than the tedious life of a housewife.  Then along comes Penny, a single girl who longs for everything that Abigail has – the husband, the house, the baby.  When Ted and Penny are unexpectedly brought together, Ted becomes infatuated, and starts planning a whole new life with Penny at its core.  But this is only fantasy, and when reality hits, the consequences threaten everything – and everyone – he treasures.


Joanna Cannon, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep

This entertaining, comical yet mysterious read stars Grace and Tilly, two ten-year-old girls determined to discover the whereabouts of their missing neighbour, Mrs Creasy.  The girls decide that the best way to do this is through finding God, and so they go door-to-door to locate him.  Several other mysteries are revealed throughout the novel – including an instance of arson and the enigma of what a group of neighbours did nine years ago – and, to explore these various threads, the story is told through six additional perspectives.  This gives the reader a valuable insight into the lives of the neighbours, such as Dorothy, bullied by her menacing husband, Eric; Brian, who’s clearly been drastically over-mothered; and John Creasy, Mrs Creasy’s husband.  Secrets abound in this particular community, making for an intricate, intriguing tale, in which all will be revealed.


Kit de Waal, My Name is Leon

This poignant tale about identity, love and heart-breaking loss wonderfully evokes the culture of 1980s suburban Britain and shares the story of nine-year-old Leon.  He and his beloved baby brother Jake are taken into care when their mother is struggling to cope.  Belong long, however, Jake, a baby born to two white parents, is whisked away by brand new parents, and Leon – born to a white mother and a black father – is inevitably left behind.  Leon must learn to cope with this, but misses his brother intensely.  Some things still make him happy, however, like Curly Wurlys and riding his bike really fast downhill – and, most importantly, stealing enough coins so he can rescue his brother and mother someday.  Featuring a wonderful childlike perspective, a lot of heartache but a lot of hope, this touching story gives readers a fascinating insight into adoption in 1980s London, and reveals the despair and disappointment some children must endure.


Guinevere Glasfurd, The Words in my Hand

This fascinating book re-imagines the true story of Helena Jans, a Dutch maid in 17th-century Amsterdam, who works for a pedantic English bookseller, Mr Sergeant.  She yearns for knowledge and desperately wants to write, but, as a woman and a maid, she is held back by her position in society.  When an enigmatic lodger arrives, however, things will change dramatically – particularly when it transpires that the mysterious Monsieur is French philosopher, René Descartes.  This wonderful work weaves together the tales of Descartes’ search for reason and Helena’s desperation to write, as their worlds collide and overlap, and their feelings for each other deepen.  Helena has lots to learn about literacy, but can teach Descartes much about emotion and love.  But when Helena and Descartes face a terrible tragedy, can their love survive it?  Historical fiction at its finest, The Words in my Hand gives voice to one of the many previously silent women of history.


Simon Barnes, The Sacred Combe: A Search for Humanity’s Heartland

Everyone has a special place they hold very dear to their heart.  Simon Barnes found this place in the Luangwa Valley in Zambia, when, on his first morning, he awoke to find elephants eating the roof of his hut.  In this beloved place, he has known peace, danger, discomfort, fear and a deep sense of ‘oneness’ with the Valley, nature and the world.  The Sacred Combe explores the special places of both the mind and the world, giving special attention to the Luangwa Valley and the support of Pam Carr, the Valley’s great artist.  It’s about the search for paradise and the eternal quest to find such bliss everywhere.


Wyl Menmuir, The Many

This gritty and mysterious tale follows Timothy Buchannan, who buys a derelict house on the edge of a coastal village, and starts to renovate it so that his wife can join him there.  The villagers are perturbed to see smoke rising from the chimney of the old house, becoming first intrigued, then obsessed. Timothy becomes more and more entangled in the uneasy life of the little village, particularly when he offers to take the fisherman Ethan out to sea.  When Timothy begins to ask questions about the previous owner of the house, Perran, he is given only vague answers and confronted with an increasing animosity.  Timothy starts to question why he really came to this isolated place, and must face an uncomfortable truth.  The effects of loss are explored in this novel, as well as the anguish that strikes when our very foundations are swept away.


Francis Spufford, Golden Hill

Set in 1746, when New York was but a small town on the edge of Manhattan Island, this story features a delightful and handsome stranger, Mr Smith, just arrived from England.  When he goes into a counting house on Golden Hill Street, it turns out he has an order for a thousand pounds which he wishes to cash – a perplexing yet compelling proposition.  Can this unfamiliar man be trusted with his fortune, however, when he refuses to say what he will do with it, and in a place already full of financial corruption?  It seems that a young man in fledgling New York can have it all, where a quick mind and a clever tongue can help him reinvent himself, fall in love – but also land himself in a whole lot of trouble.  So what will happen when the enigmatic Mr Smith falls for Tabitha, his creditor’s daughter?


Natasha Walter, A Quiet Life

Laura Leverett’s double life began the moment she stepped onto the boat which would take her across the Atlantic in 1939.  With dreams and aspirations to learn and to love, she was inspired by a Communist woman she met on the journey.  In London, she finds herself caught between two worlds: the suave society of her cousins and their upper-class friends, and those who passionately strive to forge a new society.  Then she comes across a man who seems to weave the worlds together – but he hides a secret she could never have imagined.  She becomes entangled in his secretive life as both love and fear grow.  This novel takes the reader on a journey from London to Washington to the potential respite of the English countryside – but Laura must confront the sinister consequences of her youthful idealism.  Passionate, intense and enthralling, this novel grips the reader and doesn’t let go until the final page is turned.

“If I were a giant…” children’s drawings


A family of giant friends? One giant eye? An infinite supply of cupcakes?

These are just some of the creative responses we received when asking a year two class to describe what they’d do if they were a giant.

To celebrate the release of Disney’s upcoming adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The BFG, we wanted to really get into the creative spirit. So we decided to ask a class of six- to seven-year-olds to tell us what they’d look like, and what they’d do if they suddenly found themselves to be of giant proportions. And from helping people celebrate their birthdays to creating some pretty wacky flavours of ice cream all the live long day, we were totally blown away with the imaginative responses!

The class gave their giant selves some pretty awesome features too. Some highlights include long rainbow hair, the ability to change colour when eating cherries, and huge fluffy wings! You can find a collage of the creative designs just below:


Inspired by the children’s creative minds, we’ve brought a couple of our favourite designs to life. Just below you’ll find Phoebe Finneran’s exceptionally huge giant, complete with horns, spots and the ability to lift houses; as well as James Hirst’s creative creature, with six arms, one enormous eye and unmistakably huge ears – brilliant!


Phoebe Finneran, 2016


James Hirst, 2016

Mrs Greenbank, a year two teacher at St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School in Birstall tells us just how much the children loved this project: “The children really enjoyed designing their own giants and it was amazing to see the different traits of each one. 

We have always enjoyed reading Roald Dahl books here at school, especially The BFG as all the children love how creative the story is and how he plays around with language and makes up new words.

Roald Dahl’s The BFG tells the heart-warming story of young Sophie, and her adventures with the BFG (Big Friendly Giant, for those that are unfamiliar). Sophie soon learns that the BFG is a one-of-a-kind, and from snozzcumbers to whizzpoppers, the film follows the trials and tribulations they must face in order to avoid the not-so-friendly giants out there – all with the imaginative language and creative twists you can expect from Roald Dahl.

If your children would like to try their hand at drawing their own terrifying (or not-so-terrifying) giant, download our template below and get creative!


Would you like to introduce your child to the magic of Roald Dahl? If so, check out our full range HERE.

Costa Book Awards 2015: Costa First Novel Award Shortlist announced – buy all 4 books for £20!

The Costa Book Awards are one of the biggest events in the literary calendar for authors based in the UK and Ireland. Celebrating the best books in five categories – First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book – each one has a shortlist announced before a winner is declared. The winning books then battle it out for the title of Costa Book of the Year – which is announced at a glittering award ceremony in London in January next year.

As you’ll know by now, Book People passionately supports new authors so we’re delighted to give you the chance to buy all four debut books in this year’s Costa First Novel Award Shortlist for just £20. They’re also available separately but we’d be surprised if you didn’t claim this amazing offer! Buy all four books for this bargain price and you can read through the books in time for the winning announcement – and see if you agree with the judges’ decision.


Costa Book Awards

First Novel Award Shortlist 2015


Sara BaumeSpill Simmer Falter Wither

A touching tale about loneliness, loss and friendship.


Kate HamerThe Girl in the Red Coat

A tale of abduction that will appeal to those who enjoyed both The Snow Child and Room.


Tasha KavanaghThings We Have in Common

Praised by Nathan Filer and Sophie Hannah, this is a story of a 15-year-old girl with an obsessive nature…


Andrew Michael HurleyThe Loney

A dark and unsettling gothic novel about a family’s Easter pilgrimage to a place known as the Loney.

Book People’s Christmas gifts for her 2015

We all know how hard it can be buying for some people when it comes round to Christmas but one present sure to delight even the most difficult person is a good book. Here, we’ve brought together some of the books that delighted the girls in our office. Obviously, they can appeal to any gender but we thought we’d give you an insight into the girls who work here’s favourites:


The show about the TV shows that everyone’s talking about, this is a great gift for Goggleboxers.


The Taming of the Queen

The latest novel from the queen of historical fiction.


The Great British Bake Off: Celebrations

Help them add some Bake Off-inspired treats to their Christmas gatherings.


Agatha Raisin Collection

Twenty books for an unbelievable price, this can be one big present or shared out amongst friends.


I Used to Know That

Know someone who’s always thinking back to ‘the good old days’? This will help them remember all the key school skills.


Penelope Lively Collection

Three contemporary novels, all intelligently written by the Man Booker-winning author.



A cookbook bursting with 100 contemporary recipes hailing from eastern Europe.


The Santangelos

Jackie Collins is much missed and this – her final novel – is full of the sex, scandal and secrets that made her so popular.


 The Clandestine Cake Club: A Year of Cake

There’s nothing better than a delicious cake to mark a special occasion – and this book has a recipe for one for all the major events in the next twelve months.


Maggie Smith

Who doesn’t love Maggie Smith? A worldwide star since her Oscar-winning turn in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, she’s since been the highlight of Downton Abbey and starred in Harry Potter, Hook and most recently The Lady in the Van.


Colouring for Mindfulness: Gorgeous Patterns

It’s been the year for people to rediscover the childhood joy and meditative benefits of colouring in and this book is one of the best around.


Congratulations to a Brief History of Seven Killings author Marlon James, Winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2015/

The winner for this year’s Man Booker Prize for Fiction has been announced and all of us at Book People are sending huge congratulations to Marlon James, whose  follows the likes of Life of Pi, Wolf Hall and last year’s winner The Narrow Road to the Deep North in landing the prestigious award.

Not only will Marlon receive increased sales and profile in the literary world, but also £52,500 and a designer-bound copy of his novel.

Confrontational, controversial and compelling, A Brief History of Seven Killings was described as the ‘most exciting’ book on the shortlist by the judges and was inspired by the attempted assassination of Bob Marley during the 70s.

Seven gunmen stormed into Bob Marley’s house in 1976 with machine guns blazing but were never caught… The book examines just what effect this had on Jamaica as it spans across three decades, various continents and over 75 characters – ranging from slum kids to drug lords and even the CIA.

Beating off competition from Tom McCarthy’s Satin Island, Chigozie Obioma’s The Fishermen, Sunjeev Sahota’s The Year of the Runaways, Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Blood and Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life to win the Booker Prize, the novel will become a favourite with many literary fiction fans.


Do you agree with the judges’ decision? Buy the entire shortlist – all in beautiful hardback format – from Book People for just £30, giving you a saving of £71 off RRP.

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