The one where I thank all the bookbloggers who joined Hedgehog Hollow’s blog tour

Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow Full Tour Banner

The blog tour for the publication of Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow has just finished and what an epic tour it has been. Across 13 days, there have been a whopping 37 stops.  36 of the bloggers gave reviews and one provided an extract only. What fabulous exposure!

 

Those damn nerves…

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Image by Mirko Sajkov from Pixabay

It’s exciting but also a little nerve-wracking when one of my books goes on a blog tour. The dream is that every single participant has loved it, waxes lyrical about how amazing it is and insists that everyone simply must read it. The reality is that there will be mixed opinion because we don’t all like the same things. I just have to hope that those who don’t love it don’t hate it either.

When I see the names of familiar bloggers on the schedule, there’s a momentary feeling of relief – they’ve loved my other books so they’re bound to love this one – followed by panic – what if they think this is the one where I’ve lost my touch and they say it’s okay but not a patch on xxxxx?

When I see the names of new-to-my-books bloggers on the schedule, there’s a mixture of hope – they could become a new ‘fan’ with a huge following who highly recommends my book and reads my back catalogue – followed by that panic once more – what if they regret trying a different author and they don’t like my voice or what I write?

So there I am with this fission of nerves, waiting for the first review to come in. Please let the first one be a nice one! With all this turmoil, who’d be an author, eh?

 

Did they like it?

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Image by autumnsgoddess0 from Pixabay

Overwhelmingly yes. Phew!

Not all bloggers give ratings. On this tour, 21 (60%) of the 36 reviews included one and they were all positive with the majority at the top end:

  • 14 x 5-star (66.5%)
  • 1 x 4.5 star (5%)
  • 6 x 4-star (28.5%)

 

What did they think of the main character?

A consensus was that everyone loved the main character, Samantha, and were rooting for her right from the start of the book. I love Samantha. She’s a genuinely kind and caring person but she is taken advantage of for this. I worked hard on developing a rounded, realistic character and was conscious that I didn’t want her to come across as a complete pushover who could not stand up for herself. I was thrilled that nobody saw her that way and understood that the problems lay with those around her rather than Samantha being weak. If they wanted to shout at someone, it was those who used her rather than Samantha.

Another common thread was the love for Samantha’s relationship with Thomas, the owner of dilapidated farm Hedgehog Hollow. I love creating inter-generational relationships. I first did this with Callie and Ruby in Making Wishes at Bay View and it was such a pleasure to create a very different relationship between Sam and Thomas but with a similar age gap.

 

What did they think of the antagonist(s) (baddies)?

Most books will have one or more antagonists – the person(s) who make the hero’s journey difficult. This could be a deceitful partner, an ex, a sibling, a parent, a bully, a friend, their boss, a neighbour…. the possibilities go on and on. This is reflective of real life where we simply cannot get on with everyone but some relationships affect us more negatively or hinder our growth more than others.

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Image by Tom und Nicki Löschner from Pixabay

I loved how passionate some of the bloggers became about Samantha’s family – specifically the female members – and my absolute favourite quote ever comes from Ginger Book Geek who called them ‘numpties’ (one of my favourite words) and said she wanted to give them ‘a darn good slap with a wet flip flop’. I actually laughed out loud when I read that.

I was particularly nervous about how bloggers would react to how Sam’s family treated her because I had a couple of scathing comments about this over on NetGalley including a reviewer who gave the book 3-stars and wrote, ‘I devoured this book but honestly the relationship between Sam and her mum was so painful to read about that I cannot recommend this as an escapist read… I would remove [that plot line]… disgusted me… can’t rate higher due to the nastiness’. Eek and ouch! Hence my nerves ahead of the blog tour.

The thing is, Sam couldn’t have gone on the journey she went on without those ‘baddies’. The story wouldn’t have been the story. And then I’d have received criticism for it being bland or nothing happening.

Also, fiction is based on reality and, sadly, the reality is that there are people out there who behave like Sam’s family. I know we would all love the world to be a happy place where everyone is kind and tolerant and considerate. But they aren’t. Family feuds and toxic relationships exist and a couple of bloggers proved this by sharing personal insights into how they could relate to Sam’s plight based on difficult relationships with their own families. For those in this situation, I send you my best wishes.

Despite a couple of other negative comments about the toxic relationships on NetGalley, the bloggers on the tour seemed to understand the whole premise of the story: that sometimes blood is not thicker than water, that the real meaning of ‘family’ can be found in unexpected places, and that sometimes there are people in your life who don’t deserve to be and being kind can mean being kind to yourself by walking away from those who continually bring you down.

 

What about the romance?

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Image by Ben Kerckx from Pixabay

The title of the book ‘Finding Love…’ relates to so many aspects of this story and it’s not just about a romantic love; it’s about loving your family, your friends, and yourself.

I like to mix up the way I tell my stories. Some of them are very much driven by the romance such as New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms whereas other stories are much more about friendships and/or family such as The Secret to Happiness and Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow. There will always be a romance story but it’s not always the main premise.

On the tour, one blogger thought the romance was ‘a little shoehorned in’ and the book could have done without it but thankfully most loved the romance and felt it rightly took a back seat while the other themes had the opportunity to shine.

 

Were they reaching for the tissues?

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Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

It was fascinating to read how emotional bloggers found the book. I sobbed my heart out while writing a few of the scenes but I confess that I’m a sobber. Everything makes me cry! Would others have the same reaction to Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow?

It seems it certainly did draw on the emotions from bringing a tear to the reader’s eye to them crying rivers with comments such as ‘this book just hit me hard in the feelings’ (Books and Bookends), ‘I laughed, I cried, I felt like I was there’ (Reading Girl Reviews) and the most gorgeous accolade from Book Reviews by Shalini who called me the ‘queen of hearts’ – ‘the story unfolded so brilliantly that at times my heart shattered into a million pieces where each piece was laden with so many emotions that I didn’t know where one began and the other ended’. Hugs to you, Shalini ❤

 

And did they love the hedgehogs?

Yes, overwhelmingly the hedgehogs were a hit. Which is just as well because the next two books in the series will have LOADS of hogs in them.

 

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Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay

Thank you so much…

Thank you to everyone who participated in the tour. It goes without saying that I love reading the reviews where it’s the dream I described earlier – you’ve loved my work, you wax lyrical about how amazing it is and recommend it to all your followers. Anyone who has described it as a ‘page-turner’ and/or stated ‘I couldn’t put it down’ – including the fabulous anecdote from Yvonne at Me and My Books who wrote ‘I started it as I got in the bath, 2 hours later I decided I really need to get out the bath! I then got dry, warmed up in PJs and finished reading the book, it was that good!’ – has filled my heart with joy.

As I said at the start, we don’t all like the same things and I equally value the opinion of those who have liked but not loved my work. I find it most helpful when there’s a reason given for this because I don’t think writers ever stop learning. If something is raised by one blogger on a 37-stop tour, I’m going to put it down to personal tastes. If something is raised by several bloggers, then this gives me something to think about in future books.

In my previous job as a trainer and coach, there was a saying, ‘feedback is a gift.’ That might sound a bit cheesy but I do agree with the sentiment. The gift is one of learning and, as a writer, I can only continue to improve if I continue to learn.

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Image by Michael Schwarzenberger from Pixabay

Here’s the rub…

The thing about gifts is that some are thoughtfully packaged in shiny paper with a pretty bow and presented to the recipient with care and, even if the gift inside may not be exactly what the recipient might have hoped for, the recipient still feels the kindness and the overall experience is positive.

Other gifts are poorly-wrapped in barely-stuck-together newspaper or not wrapped at all and are tossed towards the recipient like a hand grenade.

I’m fortunate that I’ve received 37 beautifully-packaged gifts on the blog tour for Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow for which I am ever so grateful. And very relieved!

Thank you to everyone who has shared their reviews on Twitter, Insta and/or Facebook and RT’d those that others have shared, helping spread the word.

And my final thank you goes to my amazing publisher Boldwood Books and Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for organising and executing such an amazing tour. I’ve worked with Rachel on several blog tours as an indie writer and was absolutely delighted when Boldwood engaged with her to deliver all the BW author tours. She is brilliant at it!

I look forward to seeing what my next (now full) blog tour brings – a joint one for the refreshed re-released Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes and Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Cafe starting 8th September when Starry Skies is released.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

You can buy Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow on Amazon here. It’s also available via AppleBooks and Kobo and is out in audio, paperback, eBook and large print formats.

THANK YOU:
Rachel’s Random Resources – find her website here
Boldwood Books – find their website here

And all these bloggers who participated in the tour (hyperlinked to their review):
Being Anne
Portobello Book Blog
Books and Bookends
Brmaycock’s Book Blog
From Under the Duvet
Donna’s Book Blog
Two Ladies and a Book
Shalini’s Book & Reviews
Bookish Jottings
Books, Life and Everything
Tizzy’s Book Review
Love the Smell of a Book
Jane Hunt Writer
The Cozy Pages
Emma’s Things to Read
Lu Reviews Books
Afternoon Bookery
Reviews in Heels
Carla Loves to Read
Jess Bookish Life
Lilac Mills
Coffee and Kindle Book Reviews
Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Audio Killed the Bookmark
On the Shelf Reviews
Ana’s Column
JenJen Reviews
Book Reviews by Satabdi
Kraftireader
Splashes Into Books
Just Katherine
Ginger Book Geek
Books Are Cool
Me and My Books
Reading Girl Reviews
Dash Fan Book Reviews
Jessica Belmont