MSB Book Club – February

The MSB Book Club continues with their second read of 2023! it is our aim to delve into how the world of reading has been influenced with the rise of ‘BookTok’ and ‘Bookstagram.’ Here’s how this month went…

January’s book

January’s book was chosen by Megan Clarke, Paralegal, and she chose the recent bestseller, ‘How to Kill Your Family’ by Bella Mackie.

‘How to Kill Your Family’ is Mackie’s first fiction book and was released in July 2021. Her first book,  ‘Jog On’, was a memoir about mental health and running.

About the book: Meet Grace Bernard. Daughter, sister, colleague, friend, serial killer.

Grace has lost everything. And now she wants revenge —by killing them all, one by one.

“I have killed several people (some brutally, others calmly) and yet I currently languish in jail for a murder I did not commit.

When I think about what I actually did, I feel somewhat sad that nobody will ever know about the complex operation that I undertook. Getting away with it is highly preferable, of course, but perhaps when I’m long gone, someone will open an old safe and find this confession. The public would reel.

After all, almost nobody else in the world can possibly understand how someone, by the tender age of 28, can have calmly killed six members of her family. And then happily got on with the rest of her life, never to regret a thing.”

A wickedly dark romp about class, family, love… and murder.

Megan said, “I chose this book because I’ve just heard lots of good things and haven’t got round to reading it yet!”

Staff Reviews

“I enjoyed this book and would find myself rooting for the main character which made me feel very weird considering she is a murderer. The Artemis family reminded of Steve Coogan’s character from ‘Greed’. I disliked his character immensely and I disliked the Artemis just as much they are all clearly based on some of the billionaire behaviour we see in society today. I am conflicted about the twist ending. I both loved and hated it which is why this is 4 stars instead of 5 stars. I think a follow up book may be good and hope this is something Bella is working on.”
Rachael Payne, Solicitor ****

“I would give this 4 stars. I enjoyed the book although struggled to get into it at first. I felt sympathy for the narrator, before reminding myself she was a murderer. I really enjoyed the twist at the end”
Biba Metcalfe, Paralegal ****

“I went into this book really expecting to like it but unfortunately found it quite hard to get through. The book starts off strong and has a great premise but seems to lose momentum halfway through and never really recovers. I think it didn’t work for me in parts because of the writing style. A large portion of the book could have been summed up in a few sentences but instead felt like it was trying to meet the work count of an essay. The main character has quite a dry sense of humour which was enjoyable at times but often just relied on lazy stereotypes and would frequently rehash these with the main character repeatedly reminding us that they’re by far the most intelligent person in the room. That is until the last three chapters where a new, just as brilliant, character swoops in and becomes the focus of the book. The twist at the end steals the focus from Grace’s journey and whilst this was likely intentional to reflect some of the themes of the book, it didn’t seem well implemented and felt like it undermined the rest of the story. I would give this book 2 stars.”
Matthew Park, Paralegal **

“I loved it. Loved the main character. Loved the twist at the end. Five stars! It also made the kids behave when they saw me reading it.”
Amy Tagoe, Associate Solicitor *****

“I have really enjoyed ‘How to Kill your Family.’ Perhaps because, sometimes, it is something we can all relate to! Seriously though, I enjoyed this being from the perspective of someone who really should not be likeable, but who I found to be very likeable. I loved the dark humour in this, and whilst not being “laugh out loud” funny, it certainly had me sniggering in parts as I was reading. I would give this book 4 stars – a bit of a breath of fresh air and something different.”
Amanda Ralph, Legal assistant ****

“4 stars – I liked that this book was quite unique and snarky – it was fast paced and fun. The protagonist wasn’t very likeable, so I felt somewhat conflicted as to whether I wanted her to succeed or not!”
Michelle Summers, Solicitor ****

February’s book

February’s book has been chosen by Biba Metcalfe, Paralegal, and she has chosen Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo.

Biba said when choosing, “I have chosen Girl, Woman, Other because I have had the book for a couple of years and not got round to reading it. I have had it recommended to me by multiple people and heard it is a very good read. I consider myself a feminist and I think it is important to listen to other women, especially women of colour, and their different experiences with the patriarchy, and make sure I am working towards being intersectional with my feminism.”

About the Book

This is Britain as you’ve never read it.

This is Britain as it has never been told. From Newcastle to Cornwall, from the birth of the twentieth century to the teens of the twenty-first, Girl, Woman, Other follows a cast of twelve characters on their personal journeys through this country and the last hundred years. They’re each looking for something – a shared past, an unexpected future, a place to call home, somewhere to fit in, a lover, a missed mother, a lost father, even just a touch of hope . . .

Girl, woman, Other was a bestseller when released and was winner of the British Book Awards Fiction Book of the Year 2020, Shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020, Shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction 2020 and Joint Winner of the Booker Prize 2019. Her accolades meant Bernardine Evaristo was the first black woman to win the Booker Prize in 2019, and the first Black female author to top the fiction chart in the UK.

A new era for books

Within social media, there has been a rise in “Booktok” and “Bookstagram” accounts that have been created, which allow bibliophiles to interact with each other and their favourite/new authors. So popular have such accounts become, bestsellers have been affected by what book is currently ‘trending’ and book sellers will now often have a section dedicated to ‘Booktok’.

Authors and publishing houses will also often interact with readers via their social media channels when publishing a new book and offer advanced reader copies to book ‘influencers’ as well as altering their covers to fit with certain ‘aesthetics’ that appear to be on trend. Whilst some might take a cynical view of this, anything that encourages people to read and interact with each other for their love of books can only be a good thing! It is also ironic that social media is helping people take a break from their screens to read books.

It also seems to have helped independent booksellers to some extent as they use their social media pages to follow trends, create reels and host author events. When MSB first started the book club at the end of 2021, the first newsletter referred to the fact that in 2020 physical book sales reached over 200 million in the UK, (the first time it has been over 200 million since 2012) which appears to have been a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic and people picking up books again. Recent figures now show that in 2022 Independent book shop numbers hit a 10 year high[1] which is wonderful news when competing against giants such as Amazon and Waterstones. People are changing how they consume books, and it all appears to signal a new era in bookselling and buying, which doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.


A libary with the sign #booktok

Upcoming event

On 21st February 2023, some members of the MSB book club will be attending an evening with Jojo Moyes hosted by Linghams Booksellers. Jojo will be discussing her latest book ‘Someone Else’s Shoes,’ followed by a book signing.

Jojo Moyes’s novels have sold over 40 million copies around the world, hit the Number One spot in 12 countries, and have been translated into 46 languages. Her most recent novel, The Giver of Stars, was a Sunday Times Number One bestseller and Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick.

Her other books include the bestsellers Me Before You, After You and Still Me, The Girl You Left Behind, The One Plus One, and her short story collection Paris for One and Other Stories.

Me Before You has now sold over fourteen million copies worldwide and was adapted into a major film starring Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke.

The next newsletter will include all the details of the evening with Jojo! If you want to attend the event yourself tickets are available (along with a hardback copy of the book) at the following link:

Someone Else’s Shoes by Jojo Moyes

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