MSB Book Club – May/June

The MSB Book Club provides thoughts on the March/April reads, discusses the outcome of their World Book Day Fundraiser and shares chosen books for the May/June reads, including some LGBTQ+ books in readiness for Pride.

March/April Books

The Book Club had four choices for March/April. All the reads were chosen by members of the book club:

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, could hang.

The Wager by David Grann

Staff Reviews

I read The Idea of You. I would give it 3.5/4 stars. It was easy reading, and the pacing was good, but I felt myself getting frustrated with the characters and I did not enjoy the ending, however realistic it may be. Overall, I felt it was a bit of a sour note to end on. I would still read more from the author and look forward to the film coming in May” Rachael Payne, Solicitor ***.5/****

“I read The Thursday Murder Club. I would give it 5 out of 5. I loved this book.  It was a gentle crime fiction with a griping story line and excellent characters. I enjoyed the slower pace of the book compared with usual crime fiction and thought the construction of the characters in the story was brilliant.” Louise Murphy, Partner and Head of Social Housing and Regeneration *****

“I read The Wager by David Grann, which I would give five stars. The story centres around a shipwreck in the 1740s, which I had not heard about previously. I think this worked out well, as the book read like a suspense thriller at times, despite being non-fiction! I was absorbed in the narrative and interested to find out what would happen – I would highly recommend it.” Michelle Summers, Solicitor *****

“I read the Witches of St Petersburg. This was really easy reading, particularly as the characters were real people and, whilst I was aware of the factual background it was good to visit this from the point of view of different characters who are both women dealing with ignorance and prejudice. I would give this one 4 starsDiane Matthews, Senior Associate ****

May/June Books

Arthur and Teddy are Coming Out by Ryan Love – Pride Selection

About the Book: No one in the family is prepared when 79-year-old Arthur Edwards drops a bombshell: he’s gay, and after a lifetime in the closet, he’s finally ready to come out.

Arthur’s 21-year-old grandson, Teddy, has the same secret. But Teddy doesn’t feel ready to come out yet – especially when Arthur’s announcement causes shockwaves in the family.

Can Arthur and Teddy navigate first loves, heartbreak, and finding their place in their community?

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid – Pride Selection

About the book: Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ’80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

The Cove by L J Ross

About the Book Gabrielle Adams has it all – brains, beauty, a handsome fiancé, and a dream job in publishing. Until, one day, everything changes.

‘The Tube Killer’ takes his victims when they least expect it: standing on the edge of a busy London Underground platform, as they wait for a train to arrive through the murky underground tunnels of London.

Gabrielle soon learns that being a survivor is harder than being a victim, and she struggles to return to her old life. Desperate to break free from the endless nightmares, she snatches up an opportunity to run a tiny bookshop in a picturesque cove in rural Cornwall.

She thinks she’s found the perfect escape, but has she swapped one nightmare for another?

Who Moved My Cheese Dr Spencer Johnson

About the book: It is the amusing and enlightening story of four characters who live in a maze and look for cheese to nourish them and make them happy. Cheese is a metaphor for what you want to have in life, for example a good job, a loving relationship, money or possessions, health or spiritual peace of mind. The maze is where you look for what you want, perhaps the organisation you work in, or the family or community you live in. The problem is that the cheese keeps moving.

In the story, the characters are faced with unexpected change in their search for the cheese. One of them eventually deals with change successfully and writes what he has learned on the maze walls for you to discover. You’ll learn how to anticipate, adapt to and enjoy change and be ready to change quickly whenever you need to.

Discover the secret of the writing on the wall for yourself and enjoy less stress and more success in your work and life. Written for all ages, this story takes less than an hour to read, but its unique insights will last a lifetime.

Book Events
An evening with Armistead Maupin

Amanda Ralph attended event for Author Armistead Maupin at Aviva Studios in Manchester.  Armistead Maupin is an American reader most notable for his Tales of the City, a series of novels set in San Francisco.

Armistead chatted to Jack Guinness (founder of the Gay Bible) about his new book, Mona of the Manor – the 10th (and sadly final) instalment in the Tales of City series, as well as his early life in San Francisco and his current life, settled in London. He had a signing afterwards, and as well as Amanda’s copy of “Mona”, he signed a photograph that was taken the last time she saw him in Liverpool, about 5 years ago. He is such a warm, charming and engaging man.

Publication event for Paige Toon 28th March 2024

Rachael Payne attended an event for Paige Toon at Waterstones Manchester Deansgate to celebrate the publication of her latest book Seven Summers.

Paige was joined by authors Mhairi McFarlane and Isabelle Broom. They had a conversation about their latest books as well as future publications before opening the night up to Q&A’s from the audience. Afterwards there was a chance for the audience to get their books signed and have pictures with the authors. All three authors were lovely, and The Book Club members are excited to attend more events with them in the future.

Fun fact about the location: Deansgate Waterstones is in a grade II listed Art-Deco building that was opened in 1987. It is the largest bookshop in the North of England and stocks more than 80,000 titles.

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