Bloodshed On The Boards by Judy Leigh

Warm, Witty & Welcoming

Bloodshed On The Boards by Judy Leigh is a gripping contemporary cosy mystery which I loved. It is part of A Morwenna Mutton Mystery series but can be read as a stand-alone. I enjoyed meeting up with familiar faces.

Morwenna Mutton is a wonderful leading lady. She is in her sixties, a very unique character as she rides her electric bike through Cornwall’s winding lanes. Her heart is warm and welcoming. Her mind spins as she tries to solve the puzzles around her.

Bloodshed On The Boards is amateur sleuthing at its finest. Morwenna Mutton is a modern-day Miss Marple, preferring her own investigating before involving her friend in the police. She thinks on her feet as well as in her head.

This is a small community that lives together, laughs together and supports local businesses together. The local café is warm and welcoming, being easy to picture in my head. Judy Leigh writes with an artistic pen, ‘showing’ us around the area.

Wild swimming happens weekly but only the hardiest of souls turns up.

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Swimming To The Moon by Jane Elson

Celebrating Differences

Swimming To The Moon by Jane Elson is a beautiful contemporary novel for ages ten years and over. It is a book that will warm your heart whatever your age.

This is a book that celebrates friendship and differences. We follow lead characters eleven year old Bee and Moon-Star. Both are united by their kind hearts and their ability to empathise with each other.

We all have different gifts. If we see someone struggling and we can help them, we should do so. As we enter the world of year six in primary school, the reader is horrified by the cruelty of the bullies. They continually make fun of those who are different.

Bee is a dear soul who loves bees, Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe. She is unique. She is also forgetful and suffers with asthma, which is described as an elephant sitting on her chest. She is also grieving from the loss of the one person who truly understood her, Great Grandma Beatrix. “Great-Gran Beatrix said I can do anything I set my mind to.” Though gone in body, her love remains and it is beautiful to see. Great-Gran Beatrix lives on in the heart of Bee. Every child needs a Great-Gran Beatrix in their lives.

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Storm Horse by Jane Elson

Life Changing

Storm Horse by Jane Elson is the most charming and powerful contemporary children’s novel. It is perfect for ages ten years and over. I am considerably older and I loved it.

The book surrounds the topic of dyslexia. I knew that people with dyslexia struggled with letters jumping around – but there is so much more to dyslexia than that. It is a daily struggle for many. I now feel that I have more understanding of dyslexia and of the daily difficulties.

I completely ‘lived’ the book as I ‘became’ eleven year old Daniel. The novel is narrated by him and in the first person. I ‘felt’ his highs and lows. My heart broke for him at times, and I applauded his bravery, grit and determination.

We also hear the story of the 1930’s race horse Seabisuit, in the form of letters written by Daniel’s Great Great Grandfather. Seabiscuit also overcame difficulties. He triumphed in adversity and became champion of the people, giving them hope during the 1930’s Depression in America. We learn of the terrible poverty, hunger and living conditions of a generation.

In present day the children in the novel also face poverty and difficulties. Seabiscuit also gives them hope as they learn his story.

We witness the healing power of animals. Since the departure of reading dog Wilbur, the members of silver reading group have struggled. “Reading is not pleasure, it’s torture… Wilbur never judged me when the words jumbled up.” Until now, I had not appreciated just how hard reading could be for some.

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Widows On The Wine Path by Julia Jarman

All For One

Widows On The Wine Path by Julia Jarman is a wonderful, contemporary novel that I thoroughly enjoyed. It is the second book in the series and can be read as a stand-alone. I recommend reading the previous book first, for continuity of character and maximum enjoyment.

This is a book about friendship between four widows. We meet three in book one, but now Libby is newly widowed. The first year is the hardest, one needs love and support. It is also the year in which one is most vulnerable and needs the help of friends in order to navigate the waters of widowhood.

The four friends meet regularly. In order to keep each other safe, if one of them is going out, they let the others know where, who with and for how long. Safety checks are wise.

We meet an unscrupulous character who preys on the vulnerable. The unsuspecting character finds herself gas lighted, but is clueless at first. Those on the outside can see what is happening. Bit by bit her freedom is eroded but she is blind to this. Her self esteem is questioned as it plummets. The holiday of a lifetime soon becomes the stuff of nightmares.

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