The one where I appreciate all the hedgehog love

The final book in the Hedgehog Hollow series – Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow – was released on 6th September and I’ve been stunned at the speed it has gathered reviews on Amazon because a book set partly at Christmas, with the word ‘Christmas’ in the title and a cover featuring a hedgehog in a Santa hat is something I know that many readers won’t buy/read this far from Christmas.

When book 2, New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow, was released in January 2021, I recorded on a blog post my astonishment at it receiving 100 reviews in a week, 400 reviews by day 19 and 1,000 within 2 months. Book 3, Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow, eclipsed this. At a fortnight it had 300 reviews but it reached a whopping 1,000 on it’s 3-week anniversary. They just kept coming – 700 reviews in the space of one week! I wondered whether any of the other books in the series would top this or had that been the pinnacle?

Christmas Miracles hit 400 reviews on day 12 so it was looking surprisingly good to steal the crown from book 3 but, by day 20, it was at 600 and there was no way another 400 would come in within the space of one day to match the 1,000 at three weeks. And they didn’t. It was another 50, though, which is still phenomenal and something I still can’t believe I’m writing when it used to take months to gather a handful of reviews pre-Boldwood.

So the award for getting to 1,000 reviews in the most unbelievably quick time remains with Family Secrets but I suspect Christmas Miracles is going to get there sooner than New Arrivals did, perhaps in 5 or 6 weeks rather than 2 months.

The quality of reviews has been phenomenal too. As at the three-week anniversary yesterday, a whopping 88% of my reviews were at 5-star and only 3% were 3-star or below. I’m so grateful to everyone who has shown so much love for the hedgehogs. Of course, now that I’ve said that, I’ll get a stack of negative reviews to redress the balance!!!

I’ve had gorgeous messages on my reader Facebook group – Redland’s Readers – and lots of DMs with lovely feedback for this book and the series as a whole which have been so touching.

I had such an enjoyable chat with my editor, Nia Beynon, on Monday in a Facebook Live. We talked all about the series and I did a reading from Christmas Miracles. If you missed it, you can catch up on it here. I couldn’t resist wearing my autumnal hedgehog dress from Popsy Clothing. I also had a hedgehog necklace on and hedgehog earrings (and socks!) but you probably can’t see them on the video. Got to be done!

Please keep that hedgehog love coming. The hedgehogs and I are so very grateful for all your kind words and recommendations. Quick reminder that Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow (book 1) and Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow (book 5) are on a 99p eBook offer in the UK and one or both are on an equivalent discount in other territories so please spread the word. Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow is also FREE in Prime Reading globally and the audio version is FREE to Audible subscribers as part of the Audible Plus programme. And, finally, ALL my books are FREE on Kindle Unlimited or to borrow via most libraries.

Big hedge-hugs
Jessica xx

The one where I have a massive wobble about tomorrow’s publication day

It’s publication day for Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow tomorrow. When asked how I feel about publication day, I often say I’m nervo-cited – a mixture of nerves and excitement – but this time I’m far more nervous than excited and kind of thinking I’d like to hibernate for the day.

This is my seventeenth book but, as nine of my titles are re-issues, it’s actually my twenty-sixth publication day so you’d think I’d be used to it by now and not be fazed at all. Not the case. If anything, I think it gets harder and this one is the ‘worst’ yet.

I always knew that publication of this particular book would be a toughie because it’s the last book in a six-book series and there are so many readers out there who absolutely don’t want the series to end. Seeing comments on social media about being sad that the series is ending and how reading the last book will be bittersweet is exceptionally flattering, but it brings with it guilt and pressure.

I feel guilty that I’ve ended the series. I stand by it being the right thing to do, but I feel like the mean adult who has taken the toys away from the lovely children!

And I feel the pressure of wrapping up a six-book series in a way that satisfies, thrills and delights. Having said that, I’ve felt that pressure all along with each new book declared by many as ‘better than the last’. Part of my reason for ending the series at six was to end on a high note and not stay too long at that party, but there’s always been the fear that the next book would be the one that stayed too long. Would readers think book six was that one?

Early copies of the book go onto a site called NetGalley which is meant to be for genuine book bloggers/ reviewers/ influencers with a big platform of followers who get a free copy of the book in return for an honest review which will hopefully entice their following to make a purchase. Unfortunately this system massively gets abused and there are readers on there who grab free books without a second thought as to whether the book/ author/ genre is actually right for them. But that’s a separate story.

When used properly, NetGalley reviews give the author and publisher a sense of how well the book is going to be received on actual publication day and it should also give them some great early reviews to use in promotion.

There are always negative reviews in there – we can’t all like the same thing – but I’ve had more negative reviews than usual for Christmas Miracles. It has been so frustrating as they’re nearly all from readers who claim not to have realised this was the last book in the series and this is the first one of the series (and often the first one of mine) they’ve read. Personally, I think the parts of the blurb I’ve popped in capitals here would be a bit of a clue that it’s the last in the series: Jessica Redland WELCOMES YOU BACK to Hedgehog Hollow this Christmas FOR THE FINAL TIME IN THIS SERIES for a heartfelt story of love, family, friendship… but that’s obviously not clue enough.

Several of these negative reviews comment on there being a lot of characters and how confusing it was to keep track of everyone and their back stories. Of course it is! You need to have read the whole series to gradually meet everyone and get to know their stories. This cast wasn’t there from the first chapter of book 1. They have steadily grown.

In the main, I’ve been able to ignore these reviews because this is not a standalone book and I certainly wouldn’t recommend anyone diving in at this point because it won’t make sense. It isn’t meant to. But over the weekend, I read a review (also from someone who hadn’t read any of the other books) that floored me…

It began with these words: “In the acknowledgements, the author says she is a “pantser” when it comes to writing, and girl…. I can tell.” Ouch! Clearly written by someone who has no idea what pantser means or an understanding that it’s not an inferior approach to writing. I got the full meaning of her comment here – that I’d just slapped down any old rubbish and had no idea what I was doing.

She writes, “I have never really understood when people write super mean book reviews but I honestly wish I hadn’t wasted my time on this book” and then guess what happens? She goes on to be that person who writes a “super mean book review” with a horrendous 1-star 550-word rant including one of the meanest comments ever: “Color me shocked when I realized this author has published 17 books and this is the 6th in this series… I am in complete shock that even one book like this got published, let alone 6.” This is really personal now. I get that she didn’t like the story and I completely understand why she’d be confused when she hadn’t read the others, but to suggest I can’t write and should never have had 17 books published! There’s no need for that.

Her closing words are: ““Miracles” is a bold word to use in your title when you made fictional characters just to give them horribly traumatic life experiences. I see no miracles in this fictional world, only pain, like the pain I feel when I realize I spent 5 hours of my life on this. Do not recommend.”

Wow! She certainly didn’t hold back on how much she hated the book. And me!

One of the key objections in the main body of the rant – which I haven’t shared because of spoilers – is the subject matter. I write about life and life can throw some tough blows. Across this series, there have been a number of difficult issues explored and they are alluded to in the final book along with the issues handled in that instalment, but this reader lists them all as though they all happened in one book. So I do know that part of the reason she hated it so much was that she hadn’t read the rest of the series and I keep telling myself that, but I just struggle to understand why someone can be so nasty … especially when they’ve declared that they can’t understand why people do this either!

Life’s too short to read a book that you’re not enjoying. You don’t need to invest ‘5 hours of my life’ on a book you hate, that you’re not following, whose subject matter you aren’t enjoying. Shut down the Kindle and accept it wasn’t for you. You haven’t paid for it. Nobody has forced you to read it. Walk away.

I know I should take that advice and walk away from this review and, in other circumstances, I’d probably lick my wounds and do that, but I’m struggling this time because I’m a bit stressed and rundown at the minute. I tend to get problems with my eyes when that happens and the worst-case scenario is that I get conjunctivitis which I have right now. It’s a virus and, although stress doesn’t cause a virus, the body is more likely to pick one up when a person’s rundown so this is my body telling me I need to take care of me a bit more – something I’m not very good at. In the great scheme of things, conjunctivitis is nothing compared to what many people are facing so I can’t really complain, but I think it has made me more sensitive to the Negative Normans and more worried about publication day tomorrow as a result.

I don’t shy away from tough storylines and, while there are loads of readers who love that about my books, there will always be something that somebody doesn’t like. Many of my regular advance readers have given superb reviews and commented that, although the storyline was tough, I’ve tackled it with my usual sensitivity. But a couple of my regular readers who have loved the series so far have said they haven’t liked this book as much as the others, with some even giving negative ratings because one of the topics I’ve covered is an uncomfortable one. Yes, it is, but it is not uncommon so I have included it. I also don’t give any specific detail. Having a couple of big fans of the series drop a couple of marks for that reason is adding to the nervousness around tomorrow.

As I can’t get away with hibernating – far too much work to do – I’ll smile and face tomorrow but my stomach will be churning all day, far more than usual.

A huge thank you to the wonderful Boldwood authors who have been so supportive and encouraging during my wobble. You are superstars.

To anyone who is going to be reading Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow this week (or listening to it from 20th September – slight delay on the audio version), I hope you love the story as much as I do. I’m very proud of this end to the series and, despite the negative comments from some, I wouldn’t change a word of it. It’s the story that Fizz and Samantha needed to tell and I’m honoured to be that conduit for telling it. I already know that a couple of readers have resonated with some of the subjects explored and have found it immensely cathartic.

Wish me luck for tomorrow! Brave face on!

Big hedge-hugs
Jessica xx

The one where all my books have at least 1,500 reviews

My latest release – Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow – which was released just over seven weeks ago (28th June) has just hit 1,500 reviews/ratings on Amazon.

Not only is this a milestone for the fifth book in the series but it’s also a milestone for all my books because every single one of the UK releases now has at least 1,500 reviews/ratings on Amazon. I find this quite astonishing because it seems only yesterday when I had only one title approaching 100 and was longing for the others to pass 40! Thank you Boldwood Books for finding me readers and for everyone who has read any of my books and shared the book love. I’m so very grateful.

I’ve done a little number crunching and here are a few discoveries on AMAZON. These are just the UK editions:

Most reviewed/rated book: Snowflakes Over The Starfish Cafe with 5,794. This was helped by being in Prime Reading at the start of the year

Most reviewed/rated book in the Hedgehog Hollow series: I still find it a little weird that it isn’t the first one. The most reviewed is book 2, New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow, with 4,840. Incidentally, book 3, Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow, is the next most reviewed at 4,598. Book 1, Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow, has 3,766

Least reviewed/rated book: Aside from Chasing Dreams which has just hit the 1,500 mark, it’s book 3 in the Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series – Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove – with 1,565. If we’re going to be really pedantic, the series box set actually has the least reviews but, as it the amalgamation of four titles, I’m not classing it separately

Average rating: Every single book has either a 4.6 or 4.7 average. That’s a lot of love out there for Whitsborough Bay (including The Starfish Café) and Hedgehog Hollow

Overall number: I’m so close to an astonishing 50k milestone. I have 49,658 reviews/ratings overall. Eek!

OVER ON AUDIBLE…

Most reviewed/rated audiobook: The Secret to Happiness is the most reviewed/rated with a whopping 3,903. The next closest is Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow with 1,887. Both these titles are free to subscribers as part of the Audible Plus programme which has led to more listeners trying them so it’s not a surprise they’re the most reviewed although it’s interesting how far ahead The Secret to Happiness is

Least reviewed/rated audiobook: This is Spring Tides at The Starfish Café with 274. Chasing Dreams is ahead of this with 313


My books are on Kobo, Apple and various other sites too but most sales come from Amazon and Audible so I have only explored those for now.

THANK YOU to everyone who has left a review or rating for anything of mine they’ve read or listened to. It’s a lovely way to say a thank you to the author for a book you’ve loved, and on Amazon that activity kicks in their algorithms so massively helps with visibility.

Enjoy the rest of your week.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

The one where Spring Tides hits a milestone and my publisher wins big

Yesterday (Wednesday 27th April), two special things happened that I wanted to share with you that made me feel very proud.

The first thing was a personal success. Spring Tides at The Starfish Café hit a whopping milestone of 1,000 reviews/ratings on Amazon after just three weeks. Actually, it was the three weeks and one day anniversary to be specific.

Thank you so much to everyone who has left a review or rating, making this milestone possible. Thank you to all those who’ve done this on Apple, Kobo, Audible and anywhere else as I appreciate all reviews, wherever they’re left. I only tend to shout about the Amazon ones because they’re the larger source.

When we released the first book in the series, Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café, we were a little nervous about it. It was the most emotional story I’d ever written, it was set in winter and included Christmas but wasn’t a Christmas book, and it was a new location, albeit within Whitsborough Bay. What if readers didn’t like it? What if they didn’t take to the new setting? What if they thought it was too sad? What if they wanted all the Christmas feels and didn’t like that a warm and fuzzy Christmas glow wasn’t what the book was all about and it centred on characters who struggled at that time of year? As it turns out, we needn’t have worried at all. It’s my most reviewed book to date (4,363 reviews/ratings on Amazon alone at the time of writing this) and possibly my fastest-selling so far!

You’d think that, with that success, I wouldn’t have been nervous about the release of the sequel, Spring Tides at The Starfish Café, but I was. Readers/listeners had actually loved how emotional Snowflakes was but the heartstrings are pulled when Hollie and Jake’s tragic pasts are revealed. In Spring Tides we already know about their pasts and they’re moving forward into the next stage of their lives so this story isn’t as emotional. Would readers reject it for that reason? Thankfully no as the reviews show.

Is this book the quickest to get to the 1,000 milestone? Not quite but almost. That record is held for me by the third book in the Hedgehog Hollow series, Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow. Released in early May 2021, HH3 hit 1,000 on the three-week anniversary exactly so Spring Tides is just one day behind! Book 4 in that series, A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow, reached 1,000 on its four-week anniversary so Spring Tides ‘beat’ that one although I am inclined to think that reviews came in at a slightly slower rate as some readers were still on the Christmas reads at that point and/or waiting until they’d settled into the return to school/work routine after the New Year before reading it.

I’m so proud of those hedgehogs as they keep gathering fans and hedge-hugs with well over 12.5k reviews/ratings between them on Amazon now, each well past the milestone listed below:

The second win yesterday was actually a double win for my amazing publisher, Boldwood Books. They only opened for submissions in February 2019 with their first four titles released in August that year so haven’t even hit their third publication anniversary yet but have already taken the publishing world by storm. Some seriously impressive stats include 77 authors, over 200 titles published, 6 million books sold, 60 top 10 bestsellers, 2 USA Today bestsellers and over 250,000 Amazon 5-star reviews. That’s absolutely amazing! They’ve won several awards during this short time and have been shortlisted for others.

Yesterday at the IPG (Independent Publishers Guild) Independent Publishing Awards 2022, they scooped the win for Trade Publisher of the Year and for Independent Publisher of the Year. Woo hoo! Absolutely amazing and I’m so proud to be part of such an impressive, innovative and friendly team. Photo credit: Boldwood Books, shamelessly nicked from Twitter!

So yesterday was a very happy day for celebrations. And in other happy news this week, I’ve had the title confirmed for the sixth Hedgehog Hollow book and have seen the cover. I love both and can’t wait to share them with you … but that’s for another day.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

The one where the hedgehogs exceed 10,000 reviews/ratings on Amazon

A couple of days ago on 2nd February, I was delighted to see the fourth book in the Hedgehog Hollow series – A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow – pass the 1,000 reviews/ratings milestone on Amazon. This was on the four-week anniversary of release, less than a month after publication (it came out on 6th January).

It hasn’t gathered reviews quite as quickly as book 3 – Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow – which hit this milestone on its three-week anniversary but four weeks is still amazing! Go hedgehogs!

The other three books all hit special milestones this year and, added together, they have exceeded 10,000. I know I’ve said it before but this is so astonishing because I spent five years dreaming of just one of my books reaching 100 reviews and it shows how much has changed since Boldwood Books took a chance on me.

The hedgehogs and I are so very grateful to Boldwood, to my amazing editor Nia who works her magic during the editing process, and to everyone who has left a rating or review. THANK YOU!

The 10,000 is just on Amazon. I’ve had a quick look on Audible where the series so far has gathered well over 2,000 reviews and Apple Books where there are 667. Lots of love around for those hedgehogs.

Big hedge-hugs
Jessica xx

The one where the hedgehogs go on their fourth blog tour

It’s publication day today for A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow. Woo hoo! I’m so excited (and also a teeny bit nervous) as those hedgehogs make their way out into the world for the fourth time.

The blog tour kicks off today so an enormous thank you to the fabulous Rachel Gilbey for organising this and to all the amazing bloggers/reviewers who have volunteered to take part and share their views.

Some participants have read some or all of the books and, for others, this will be their first trip to the rescue centre. Early reviews coming in suggest that the book can be read as a standalone which is true. I carefully craft all of my books so that a complete story is being told within that book.

However, nearly all of them say they wish they’d read the others first to get the full feel of all the family dynamics. I’m not geeky enough to number-crunch on it but my first impressions are that this fourth instalment has attracted a huge number of 5-star reviews but a large proportion of the 3 or 4-star ones are from readers who’ve not read the previous books and therefore haven’t had the richer reading experience of following the threads that travel through the series. It’ll be interesting to see if this trend is reflected in the bog tour reviews. Having said that, a 4-star is still amazing. The hedgehogs and I will take that!

You can get hold of A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow here:

Kindle UK

Kindle USA

It’s also available from today as a paperback, large print, hardback, physical audio, audio download and will soon be available for audio streaming.

Let the fortnight commence…

Big (crossed fingers) hugs
Jessica xx

The one with 2 audiobook offers, 2 milestones & a trip to Whitby

Five more sleeps until Christmas. Eek! Are you all sorted? We had a quick nip into town first thing, before it got busy, and bought the last of our gifts. I wrapped them as soon as I got back so I think we’re there now.

AUDIOBOOK OFFERS

If you’re an Audible UK subscriber and fancy something Christmassy to listen to while you’re wrapping the gifts or preparing the Christmas dinner, look no further because Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop is in their sale for £3 right now. It was a thrill to see the audiobooks storming straight into the Top 100 and almost getting into the Top 50, peaking (so far) at #51.

If you’d like something non-Christmassy to listen to, the third book in my ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series, Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove, is also £3 in the sale. It was meant to be on this offer a few weeks back but it didn’t get activated so they’ve added it in now. It also went straight into the Top 100, peaking (so far) at #65 which is so lovely to see.

It was also special to see them side by side in the two top positions in the audio Women’s Fiction chart…

These sales usually last a week but, because of Christmas, they’re on for a fortnight, ending on 3rd January 2022.

Thank you to all the lovely listeners who have bought them during the Audible sale so far. Please do spread the word!

MILESTONES

I’ve had a couple more reviews/ratings milestones on Amazon in the past few days. Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop has hit the 1,000 mark and Coming Home to Seashell Cottage, the fourth and final book in the ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series has hit 1,500.

An enormous thank you to anyone who has helped them get to these amazing milestones. I have to still pinch myself to see my books having so many reviews.

A TRIP TO WHITBY

And, finally, we had a lovely trip up the coast to Whitby yesterday. I was concerned it might be a little busy as there are lots of delightful gift shops, ideal for Christmas gifts, but it was actually fairly deserted. The weather probably didn’t help as it was cold, misty and damp as you can probably tell from the photos.

There’s a fabulous heritage trail with amazing wire sculptures depicting the fishing industry in Whitby. Hubby snapped these couple of pics. I love how you can see iconic images in the background like the lighthouse on the one on the left and St Mary’s Church (near Whitby Abbey) in the one on the right. There were several other sculptures and hopefully we’ll return soon and go round them all.

There’s s a lifeboat station at Whitby and, on the other side of the river, an RNLI shop where the lifeboat station used to be. I couldn’t resist a few purchases, especially when Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café strongly features the RNLI in its storyline.

The quote on the tote bag and the wooden box – the call from Sir William Hillary, founder of the RNLI in 1823 to form a national institution to save lives at sea – appears at the start of the book and is a recurring theme throughout. I love it so much.

There’s a branch of The Works there so we popped in to see if they had any of my books in. Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café appeared to have sold through but the hedgehogs were there. I definitely don’t think they’ll sell through quickly this side of Christmas when readers of this genre are after their festive reads, but hopefully they’ll fly off the shelves in the New Year.

On the Abbey side of the river, there are two lovely discount bookshops on the same street almost opposite each other, one having a range of books, jigsaws and toys – Good Reads Whitby – and the other focusing purely on Whitby with Whitby-based books, merchandise, photographs etc.

Whenever we see an independent bookshop, I like to go inside to see whether there are any of my books or books by Boldwood Buddies. This is because, when there’s a print run from The Works, more books than they need are printed to make the low cost of selling them financially viable. The excess are bought by a third party and distributed round the UK to indie bookshops, garden centres, post offices, local supermarkets etc., and others go abroad, particularly to Canada to an online retailer/bookstore called Indigo.

We paused to look in the window and how delighted was I to see Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café in there! What a treat!

Inside, there were loads of Boldwood Buddies which is always so exciting to see. And two more of my books! There were copies of Making Wishes at Bay View and The Secret to Happiness.

So if you live in or near Whitby and didn’t get a chance to pick up these books while they were in The Works, now’s your chance!

Big Christmassy hugs
Jessica xx

The one where I have lots of lovely things to celebrate in this troubled world

In a world where so much continues to be confusing and frightening, I’ve been making the most of the happier things that have happened across the past week: adding the finishing touches to the Christmas decorations, a phenomenal semi-final on Strictly, a glowing report from my daughter’s virtual parents’ evening and a lovely day out to a stately home with an author friend.

The past week has brought much to celebrate in my writing too…

REVIEWS MILESTONES

Today, I hit a fabulous milestone for two of my books. Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café passed 1,500 reviews/ratings on Amazon and Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes hit 2,500.

I’m absolutely delighted! It shouldn’t be long before I’m celebrating Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop hitting 1,000 and Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café reaching a whopping 3,000. The former will probably get there by the weekend and the latter will hopefully make it by the end of the year.

Isn’t it funny how all four of my seasonal books will hit an exact milestone at around the same time?

DOUBLE TOP 100 SUCCESS

I was absolutely delighted to see Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café and Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop in the Kindle Top 100 in the UK at exactly the same time. They danced around each other a bit at the bottom of the chart with Christmas Wishes passing Starfish Café on one occasion.

Although Christmas Wishes didn’t stick around in the Top 100 for long, it was wonderful to see Charlee’s story there. Starfish Café has done me so proud, hanging around in the Top 100 fairly solidly since mid-November and peaking as high as #56.

There was also some success for Christmas Wishes on the Apple Books chart with a Top 10 position in the Fiction & Literature Chart and Top 100 in the overall chart too.

#BOLDBOOKCLUB

Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café was selected by Boldwood’s reading community as their choice for the very first #BoldBookClub which started with a readalong this week. There’s a book club question posed each day and various competitions and giveaways running so do pop over to Instagram – look for @BookandTonic – to join in.

I’ve been delighted with the buzz and the amazing answers to the book club questions so far. Tonight, there was an Instagram Live where 3 amazing bloggers – Fiona, Meena and Jav – joined me to ask questions and I did a quick reading. You can find the Live here. A huge thank you to Fiona, Meena and Jav for the great questions, to Claire for keeping me right with the technicalities (newbie here!) and to all those who stopped by.

FAVOURITE READS OF 2021

It’s the time of year when book bloggers/reviewers start sharing their favourite reads of the year.

Joanne from Portobello Book Blogs delighted me with the news that All You Need is Love was one of her top reads of the first quarter of the year! Wow! It’s one of my favourite books that I’ve written so this was a particular honour for me. You can find the blog post here. Thank you so very much, Joanne.

Then yesterday I received the amazing news that Claire at Book Lovers Anonymous (find her on Facebook here) had announced her top 5 books of 2021 out of 300 she’s read and A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow was at #5. It isn’t out until 6th January but Claire, as a blogger, had an advanced copy so it fell into her 2021 reading.

Claire wrote, “fantastic addition to a phenomenal series. I love Samantha and I hope the series never ends”. Awww!

The good news didn’t end there as Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café also featured in her top 5. At number 1!!!!! Eek!!!! I am so thrilled.

Claire wrote, “Another fantastic book by the super talented Jessica Redland [pauses to blush and pinch self]… Honestly, never has a book made me feel so much emotion, and it will be a book I will love forever”. Seriously, I was welling up reading that!

Claire sent me a badge to put on my website so hopefully I’ll remember how to do that and get it added soon but here it is in the meantime. Isn’t it pretty?

Thank you to everyone who has played any part in all these wonderful things. I appreciate it so very much. It’s still hard to believe that this time three years ago, I was at my lowest ever point with my writing and seriously questioning whether to call it a day. Writing is who I am so I knew I could never really let go but it was so hard back then. So to anyone for whom life is tough just now, who’s facing challenges, who’s feeling low, hang on in there as I’m living proof that time can change everything. Stay strong, stay safe, and stay believing in yourself.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

A happy dance for the Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series

I’m delighted to say that all four books in the Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series have now passed the 1,000 reviews/ratings milestone on Amazon and want to thank every single reader who has taken the time to leave a review or rating, especially if it’s a positive one!

Book 1 – Making Wishes at Bay Viewwas the first to get there quite a few months ago and has already passed the 1,500 milestone, next stop 2,000. This made sense to me as the first book in a series is often the most widely read.

Book 4 got there next – Coming Home to Seashell Cottageand is well on its way to the 1,500 milestone now. Again, this made sense to me as, reading the reviews, quite a lot of readers have referred to the whole series as though they have perhaps just rated the final one.

It was therefore a battle between New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms (book 2) and Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove (book 3) as to which would get to 1,000 first. Seaside Blooms took that crown nearly a fortnight ago on 16th September and, at the time, Lighthouse Cove only needed seven more reviews to reach the milestone. But there were none the next day… or the day after.

Finally, today, book 3 was jubilant and hit the big 1,000.

Between the four books and the box set, there are well over 5,000 reviews/ratings on Amazon and 92% of those are a positive 4- or 5-star rating. I’m thrilled that readers have taken this series to their hearts and shown such love for Callie, Sarah, Elise and Clare’s stories.

No matter how many books I write, this will always remain an exceptionally special series for me as it’s where my writing journey started. I often get asked which my favourite book is and I love them all for different reasons.

Seaside Blooms, although book 2 in the series, is the first book I wrote so that will always hold a very special place in my heart. Seashell Cottage is probably my favourite story as I felt something shift in my author voice when I wrote that story, moving from a lighter romcom style into the deeper emotional women’s fiction category. Clare fascinated me as she arrived on the pages of Seaside Blooms all feisty, spiky and guarded and I didn’t know why. It was a wonderful thing unwrapping her story in book 4.

But I love Making Wishes because octogenarian Ruby is one of the most fun and fabulous characters I’ve ever created, and Lighthouse Cove has one of my favourite romances in it. So, yes, I love them all and I’m thrilled that readers do too. Thank you again.

A huge thank you also to my amazing publishers, Boldwood Books, and my brilliant editor Nia Beynon without whom I wouldn’t be celebrating milestones like this.

What a lovely start to the week. If you haven’t yet taken a trip to Whitsborough Bay, I hope you’ll be tempted to dive in.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

Celebrating three review milestones in two days

Some authors steer clear of their reviews and I can completely understand why. A negative review can be so hurtful and destructive that it can leave them unable to write for the rest of the day and sometimes even longer. I know that to be true as it’s happened to me.

But not all reviews are negative and it seems a shame not to read the lovely comments shared by readers who’ve loved a story. I feel they’re so special and something to celebrate. I therefore read every single review posted on Amazon, including the negative ones. The latter do still hurt but they are massively outweighed by the positives and I’ve been working hard to keep the negative few in perspective.

This week, I’ve been thrilled to reach review/ratings milestones for three of my books. Woo hoo!

Just under a month ago, I announced in my Facebook readers group that three books were heading for the 1,000 milestone and asked members which they thought would get there first:

New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms at 980

Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove at 957

All You Need Is Love at 949

As the first two have been out a year longer and the rate of reviews had massively slowed, I did wonder if All You Need Is Love might just race ahead. It came very close but Seaside Blooms pipped it to the post. Just.

I logged on yesterday morning and New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms had hit the 1,000 mark.

And then, this morning, there was a surprise. A book not even previously in the race – The Secret to Happiness – had stormed ahead hitting the bigger target of 2,000!

Not to be outdone, All You Need Is Love also hit the 1,000 mark this morning. I knew the bears could do it!

Finding Lighthouse Cove isn’t far off the target either with 993 reviews/ratings at the time of writing this so hopefully we’ll be celebrating that milestone by the start of next week. Come on Lighthouse Cove. You can do it!

To all those lovely readers who have taken the time to share a review – whether detailed, a couple of sentences, a few words or even just a rating – I am so grateful. I get such a buzz out of reading all the gorgeous comments and it drives me to keep writing and wanting to bring you loads more books.

Please keep sharing the book love for all your favourite authors as you never know when a few kind words might be the lift they need at a time when they’re struggling with edits or deadlines, feeling disillusioned by lower sales or weaker chart positions, have been wounded by a negative comment, and may be questioning whether it’s all worth it. You really can make a difference. No pressure!

Big squidgy grateful hugs to you all
Jessica xx