Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu

I was lucky enough to get a place on Tandem Collective’s readalong for ‘Peach Blossom Spring’ by Melissa Fu. Now, this is probably a book I would not normally have read. In fact, as it is historical fiction, I would possibly have avoided it, as it is my least-favourite genre. However, this would have meant I would have missed out on one of my favourite reads of 2021 (especially as it is not even let out into the world yet).

Inspired by Melissa Fu’s own family story, this book takes us on a journey with Meilin and her son, Renshu. They are forced from their home during the second Sino-Japanese war and, from that moment, the are forced to move from place to place until they can find a place to settle and call home. Along the way, they encounter tragedy, friendship and the desire to survive – with Meilin doing all she can to protect her son and ensure he has the future opportunities she believes her deserves. And – then we explore the lasting impact these experiences have on all generations of the family.

It is an absolutely beautiful book. A true page-turner, and one that will leave you with a desire to find out more about China’s history, to bring the narrative to life even more.

And any bookworm will fall in love with the important role that stories play throughout the book – after all they can often bring us hope in the toughest times.

So, when ‘Peach Blossom Spring’ is released in 2022, please pick up a copy and find yourself in the company of Meilin and Renshu.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks: The Musicals

I am still not over the most magical musical that was ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks‘. As a child, there were two films we watched pretty much on repeat because our grandparents bought us the videos (yes, videos) – ‘Mary Poppins’ and ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks’. So, as soon as the opportunity came around to see it at the theatre, I jumped at the chance. And, oh my goodness, it did not disappoint, in fact, this could have instantly become one of my favourite musicals of all time.

As soon as the first note was struck, you were whisked away to the London of the Blitz and journey with the children to the coast as they are evacuated. And the adventures do not stop for the whole magical production.

I loved the charm of the characters and the mix of the new music with the traditional songs of the film. However, what really took me back to the happy memories of my childhood was the magic and illusion of the production. The broomstick flew, the bed flew, and all the clothes came to life – with no obvious strings attached. As well as all the wonderful animated animals of ‘Nopeepo’ having exactly the same charm as they do in the film.

This was musical of nostalgia, with an audience full of those who have very happy memories of the film – and the excellent ensemble deserved the standing ovation, the cheers and applause – amazing performances, but for bringing so much happiness to so many.

The Ghost of Gosswater by Lucy Strange

This could be one of my favourite reads of 2021 – even if I had left it on my shelf for a while. A classic ghost story for middle-grade readers – well, let’s be honest, for all fans of ghost stories.

Set in the wonderfully atmospheric Lake District, we find a family with dark secrets and a fascinating collection of characters. Some of them rather disagreeable and some of them rather wonderful, and inspirational in their way. Especially our fantastically fiesty and independent lead character Agatha Asquith; despite it being set in the past, she is a perfect hero for the modern reader.

This beautifully written novel is one that I want to share with readers of all ages. For the younger reader, it is a perfectly exciting ghost story, and for us ‘older’ readers – well, it offers exactly the same, with a touch of nostalgia.

Lucy Strange is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors because she writes the sort of books I would have adored when I was younger. And have seen that she has a new title heading our way very soon – and I can’t wait!