MSB Book Club – March/April

The MSB Book Club gives their thoughts on the January/ February reads and are hosting their first fundraiser of 2024 for World Book Day.

January/February Books

The Book Club had 3 choices for their January/February reads. All books were chosen because they had been shortlisted or had won an award in 2023.

Stone Blind by Natalie Haynes (Shortlisted as British Books Awards Fiction Book of the Year 2023)

About the book: So to mortal men, we are monsters. Because of our flight, our strength. They fear us, so they call us monsters’

Medusa is the sole mortal in a family of gods. Growing up with her Gorgon sisters, she begins to realize that she is the only one who experiences change, the only one who can be hurt.

When Poseidon commits an unforgiveable act against Medusa in the temple of Athene, the goddess takes her revenge where she can: on his victim. Medusa is changed forever – writhing snakes for hair and her gaze now turns any living creature to stone. She can look at nothing without destroying it.

Desperate to protect her beloved sisters, Medusa condemns herself to a life of shadows. Until Perseus embarks upon a quest to fetch the head of a Gorgon…

In Memoriam by Alice Winn (Winner of Waterstones Novel of year 2023)

About the book: In 1914, war feels far away to Henry Gaunt and Sidney Ellwood. They’re too young to enlist, and besides that, Gaunt is fighting his own private battle – an all-consuming infatuation with the dreamy, poetic Ellwood – without a clue that his best friend is in love with him, and always has been.

When Gaunt’s mother asks him to enlist in the British army to protect the family from anti-German attacks, he signs up immediately, relieved to escape his overwhelming feelings. But Ellwood and their classmates soon follow him into the horrors of trenches. Though Ellwood and Gaunt find fleeting moments of solace in one another, their friends are dying in front of them, and at any moment they could be next.

An epic tale of the devastating tragedies of war and the forbidden romance that blossoms in between.

The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett (Winner of British Book Awards Crime and Thriller Book of the Year 2023)

About the book: Can you crack the Twyford Code?

Edith Twyford was once a world-famous children’s author, but now her only legacy is the rumoured existence of the Twyford Code: a series of clues hidden in her books leading to… what? No one knows – but that hasn’t stopped the speculation.

Steve Smith can trace nearly all the bad things in his life back to Edith Twyford. As a child he found one of her books, covered in strange symbols. Upon showing it to his teacher, Miss Iles becomes convinced it held the key to the code. Within weeks Miss Iles disappears, and Steve has no idea if she is dead or alive – or if she was right. Now he’s determined to find out.

But the Twyford Code hides secrets some would do anything to possess, and Steve isn’t the only one on its trail. The race is on to solve the mystery of the century. Could you get there first?

Staff Reviews

I read Stone Blind and would give it 4.5 stars. I enjoyed the re-telling of Medusa’s story, one that many of us feel we already know. But this feminist re-telling was great and allowed us to see the story from a different perspective – or in this instance, many – as the chapters were in multiple characters point of view, from mortals to Gods, and even some animals! I would recommend this book” Rachael Payne, Solicitor ****.5

“I read Stone Blind. I would give it 3 stars. I enjoyed the multiple points of view and the story, yet I did find some of the names & characters hard to follow.” Louise Murphy, Partner and Head of Social Housing and Regeneration ***

“I read the Twyford Code and I would give this 2.5 stars. I have read all of Janice Hallett’s books so far, as I’m interested in the way that she constructs her narratives – she uses mediums like e-mail messages to tell the story. In this book, the plot unfolds through transcribed audio recordings. Unfortunately, the Twyford Code is my least favourite of the author’s works. I don’t want to spoil the book too much, so I will say that it was cleverly structured, and I think it deserves credit for that. However, I don’t think that this necessarily translated to the best experience as a reader; I wasn’t very engaged with the characters. That said, I would recommend giving the author a try – I enjoyed The Appeal and the Alperton Angels.” Michelle Summers, Solicitor **.5

“I read the Twyford Code and I would give this book 1 star. It was awful. I will also say: Coffee and tea makes Edith and Nate slightly suspicious of Mark especially twilight hours in Northop Grove.  Beware ever the traitor, ever ruby cat.” Pippa Tudor, Partner *

March/April Books

The Witches of St Petersburg by Imogen Edwards-Jones

The Witches of St Petersburg by Imogen Edwards-Jones

About the book: Starving men and women stalk the streets of St. Petersburg. Revolution is brewing. Yet in the Imperial court of Nicholas II and the lavish palaces of the aristocracy, there is unimaginable luxury and extravagance.

Into the world of stifling splendour come two sisters, Princesses Anastasia and Militza from Montenegro, who are famed for their wild beauty and mystical powers. They befriend the isolated Tsarina Alexandra and use their psychic gifts to help her in her increasingly desperate quest to produce a male heir. In one doomed last throw of the dice, the princesses introduce Rasputin to the Russian court. Forgotten by history, these extraordinary sisters play a frustrating role in the fate of the Romanov family – a true story of love, lust, power and betrayal.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman (Book 1 of 4)

About the book: In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved murders.

But when a brutal killing takes place on their very doorstep, the Thursday Murder Club find themselves in the middle of their first live case.

Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty, but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.

Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer before it’s too late?

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
The Idea of You by Robinne Lee

The Idea of You by Robinne Lee

About the book: Everyone in the world knows his name. But it’s you he wants.

To the media, Hayes Campbell is the star of a record-breaking British boyband.

To his fans, he’s the naughty-but-nice front man, whose dimples and outlandish dress sense drive them crazy.

To Solène Marchand, he’s just the pretty face that’s plastered over every girl’s bedroom wall.

Until a chance meeting throws them together . . .

The attraction is instant. The chemistry is electric. The affair is Solène’s secret.

But how long can it stay that way?

This is soon to be a motion picture starring Nicholas Galitzine and Anne Hathaway!

The Wager by David Grann

About the book: From the international bestselling author of Killers of the Flower Moon and The Lost City Of Z, a mesmerising story of shipwreck, mutiny and murder, culminating in a court martial that reveals a shocking truth.

On the 28th of January 1742, a ramshackle vessel of patched-together wood and cloth washes up on the coast of Brazil. Inside are thirty emaciated men, barely alive, and they have an extraordinary tale to tell. They are survivors of His Majesty’s ship the Wager, a British vessel that had left England in 1740 on a secret mission during an imperial war with Spain. While chasing a Spanish, treasure-filled galleon, the Wager is wrecked on a desolate island off the coast of Patagonia. The crew, marooned for months and whilst facing starvation, build the flimsy craft to sail for more than a hundred days, traversing 2,500 miles of storm-wracked seas. They are greeted as heroes.

Then, six months later, another even more decrepit craft lands off the coast of Chile. This boat contains just three cast-aways, and they have a very different story to tell. The thirty sailors who land in Brazil are not heroes – they are mutineers. The first group responds with counter charges of their own, of a tyrannical and murderous captain and his henchmen. While stranded on the island, the crew falls into anarchy, with warring factions fighting for dominion over the barren wilderness. As accusations of treachery and murder fly, the Admiralty convenes a court martial to determine who is telling the truth. The stakes are life-and-death—for whomever the court finds guilty, will be hanged.

A varied selection for everyone to choose from!

The Wager by David Grann

World Book Day 7th March 2024

Book Club are celebrating World Book Day 2024 on Thursday the 7th of March this year.

We are asking that members of staff dress as characters from their favourite books, and the winner will receive an Amazon voucher as well as the two runner ups. We are also hosting a bake sale across all MSB offices.

All proceeds will go to the World Book Day charity. The charity was set up more than 25 years ago to encourage children and young people to love books and reading. Nearly 1 million children in the UK don’t have their own book!

A Just Giving page has been set for donations:

We can’t wait to share the pictures with you of everyone’s efforts, and hopefully share whether we hit our fundraising target!

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