It’s an absolute pleasure today to be helping launch the blog tour for Snowflakes Over the Starfish Café by the wonderful Jessica Redland, and sharing my publication day review. Published by Boldwood Books, it’s now available as an e-book (free via Kindle Unlimited), in paperback and as an audiobook. My thanks, as always, to Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the publishers for my advance reading e-copy (provided via netgalley).
I adore Jessica Redland’s writing – she’s been personal favourite for a few years now, and if you pop her name into the search bar you’ll find reviews of many of those books, the ones set in Whitsborough Bay and the Hedgehog Hollow series. No-one could have been more delighted than I was when she signed up for Boldwood Books – I knew there were so many readers out there who would love her books as much as I always have. I’m eagerly awaiting the next in the Hedgehog Hollow series (oh Jessica, those cliffhangers!), and A Wedding in Hedgehog Hollow will be out on 6th January (available for pre-order). But I was really quite thrilled that Jessica decided to write a brand new winter book (dare I say Christmassy, or is it too soon for some people?!), taking us back to her beloved Whitsborough Bay… this was one I was so looking forward to reading.
Welcome to The Starfish Café – where you will find stunning views, delicious food and lifelong friendships.
Two broken hearts.
Since she inherited The Starfish Café, Hollie has poured her heart into the business, striving to keep her mother’s traditions and warm-hearted spirit alive. But behind closed doors Hollie is searching for true happiness, as she grieves the tragic loss of her family who were once the beating heart of the café…
An unexpected meeting.
Jake lives by two rules: don’t let anyone get close and don’t talk about what happened. Little does he know that a chance meeting at The Starfish Café, facilitated by a fluffy lost dog, is about to turn his world upside down…
The chance to love again.
Can Hollie and Jake break down the barriers that have been holding them back from finding love and happiness, before Christmas comes around? After all, with courage, nothing is impossible…
For Hollie, at the Starfish Café, Christmas has always started on bonfire night – it’s the night when she and her mother always hosted a party to watch the fireworks across the bay, and when they put up the Christmas decorations amid much joy and laughter. Those happy times are now gone and Hollie is alone, trying to keep the traditions alive in her mother’s memory, dreading the approach of the festive season she always so loved. But then she meets Jake – on a wet and windy night, he’s found an abandoned dog while taking photographs on the beach below, and needs her help. The spark between them is instant, and their connection grows – but Jake, also alone, has his own reasons for dreading the approach of Christmas, and his bravery in facing up to the tragedy in his life has the potential to make a happy future for them both quite impossible.
My goodness, this is an emotional one! The sadness in the lives of both these two lovely people is almost too much to bear – but the depths of emotion and despair are beautifully balanced by the joy they find in each other, as they share the care of the characterful Mr Pickles and slowly open up to each other about the past events that have shaped them. Their viewpoints loosely alternate, with glimpses of their past lives, the happy moments that fill your heart and the immensely sad ones that make you angry that two young people can have gone through so much sadness and heartache. The relationship that develops between them is beautiful – until Hollie discovers Jake’s Monday night secret, and knows it means that they can never be together.
If that all looks immensely sad, it really is – but there’s also a lot of lightness and humour, the joy of finding a special person, the shared laughter, the moments of quiet togetherness. I really enjoyed the small details – the supportive friendships (Angie and the visiting customers at the café, Jake’s with his elderly next-door neighbour), Jake’s passion for photography, Hollie’s work with driftwood and seaglass collected on early morning forays to the beach. And then there was the fragmented rubik’s cube, slowly put back together – beautifully done – and the cards left by Hollie’s mother encouraging her to always dance in the rain.
At times, this book really will break your heart – there’s a lot of grief and loss, and a sense of future happiness being quite impossible. But it’s also a book filled with the warmth of friendship and family, the need for bravery to give happiness the chance, the hope of a brighter future, all wrapped up in the warm hug that the author’s books unfailingly provide.
I thought it was quite wonderful – I really loved it, and recommend it really highly.
About the author
Jessica Redland writes uplifting stories of love, friendship, family and community set in Yorkshire where she lives. Her Whitsborough Bay books transport readers to the stunning North Yorkshire Coast and her Hedgehog Hollow series takes them into beautiful countryside of the Yorkshire Wolds.