MSB Book Club – November/December

The MSB Book Club gives their thoughts on the September/October reads and share the results of their fundraiser. 

September/October Books

The Book Club have two choices for their September/October reads.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

About the Book

This is the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who dreams of travelling the world in search of a worldly treasure as fabulous as any ever found. From his home in Spain he journeys to the markets of Tangiers, and from there into the Egyptian desert, where a fateful encounter with the alchemist awaits him. With Paulo Coelho’s visionary blend of spirituality, magical realism and folklore, “The Alchemist” is a story with the power to inspire nations and change people’s lives.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

About the Book

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their differences, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’s mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

Staff Reviews 

I re-read the Song of Achilles. I adore this story and I recently bought the 10th anniversary hardback edition as it is one of my favourite books and I recommend it to everyone. I think it is a beautiful love story and retelling of Achilles story which has become very important for a generation of people to understand that queer people have always existed and have beautiful stories to tell just as anyone else. Easy 5 star rating Rachael Payne, Solicitor ***** 

“I read the Alchemist and would give it 2 stars. It was an easy read but a bit underwhelming.” Amy Tagoe, Senior Associate Solicitor ** 

“I read the Alchemist and would give it 4 stars. I enjoyed the spirituality in this short book. It teaches us we must listen to our hearts, face fear and be open to finding our destiny in unexpected places. I also liked the gentle story line and the somewhat dreamy style it’s written.” Louise Murphy, Partner and Head of Social Housing and Regeneration **** 


“I read the Song of Achilles and I would give it 5 stars. A slow burn romance, that takes us through the lives of the characters. Achilles, the bright shining star and Patroclus, his ever-present shadow. I could not put this down once I picked it up. Miller writes a beautiful tale of literal undying love. The adoration and love between Patroclus and Achilles melted me to pieces. Also for Achilles mother I think she actually played a big part in the story as Miller told a tale of what LGBTQ people still face today – parents who can’t accept the people their children love. She thought she was acting in his best interest, her love for her child and the greatness she saw in him overshadowed everything she did. It wasn’t until years after his death that she realised how wrong she was to have tried to keep the two apart and finally righted her wrongs.” Mfonabasi Ukut, Paralegal ***** 

“I read the Alchemist and I would rate it as 3 stars. This isn’t the type of book which I would usually choose for myself so I was interested to read it. The story reminded me of a fable in style and it is about perseverance and following your dreams. The book was quite short in length, which I do think was appropriate, as I felt that the momentum was flagging and it was getting a little repetitive towards the end. That being said, there were a lot of memorable quotes in the text and I appreciate the underlying message” Michelle Summers, Solicitor *** 

November/December Books

The Book Club have three choices for their November/December reads. One of which is a festive read in readiness for Christmas.

Red White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Red White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

About the Book: What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales? Alex Claremont-Diaz is handsome, charismatic, a genius – pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House ever since his mother first became President of the United States. There’s only one problem. When the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an altercation between Alex and Prince Henry, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse. Heads of family and state devise a plan for damage control: stage a truce. But what begins as a fake, Instagrammable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon they are hurtling into a secret romance that could derail the presidential campaign and upend two nations.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

About the Book: This is the story of Sam and Sadie. It’s not a romance, but it is about love. When Sam catches sight of Sadie at a crowded train station one morning he is catapulted straight back to childhood, and the hours they spent immersed in playing games. Their spark is instantly reignited and sets off a creative collaboration that will make them superstars. It is the 90s, and anything is possible. What comes next is a decades-long tale of friendship and rivalry, fame and art, betrayal and tragedy, perfect worlds and imperfect ones. And, above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
The Christmas Wish by Lindsey Kelk

The Christmas Wish by Lindsey Kelk

About the Book: Newly single lawyer Gwen Baker is hoping that a family Christmas – countryside, a mountain of food and festive films – will salve the sting of her career hanging by a thread and her heart being trampled on. Because everyone else has their life sorted: even Dev, her boy-next-door crush, is now a tall, dark and handsome stranger with a fiancée. She can’t help wishing her future was clearer. Then Gwen wakes up to discover it’s Christmas day all over again. Like Groundhog Day but with turkey. And family arguments. On repeat. As she figures out how to escape her own particular Christmas hell, Dev is the one bright spot. He might be all grown-up but underneath he’s just as kind and funny as she remembers. Maybe, just maybe, her heart can be mended after all. But how do you fall in love with someone who can’t remember you from one day to the next?

Author events

Several author events were attended over September and October. Here is a look at each event.

An evening with Elena Armas and Lucy Vine

Elena Armas and Lucy Vine were in Liverpool Waterstones as part of Elena Armas book tour for The Long Game.

Lucy interviewed Elena Armas about her latest book, future projects, and a general discussion of a number of topics which led to a lot of laughs for everyone attending. The evening was opened up for the audience to ask questions and Rachael Payne was able to ask for Elenas unpopular bookish opinions, for example Rachael breaks the spines of her books to read them easier. Elena admitted that she ‘dog ears’ her books. Lucy had previously answered this question at an earlier event. Those in the audience who asked questions were gifted a goody bag.

Once the Q&A was over the authors then signed copies of their books and took pictures with those in attendance.

An evening with Richard Armitage

Richard Armitage is currently touring the UK to promote his debut novel Geneva. This event was hosted by Linghams Booksellers and author Clare McIntosh chaired the evening.

Richard spoke of how he was approached to write the novel and his decision not to have any ghost writers It was either going to be his words or not at all. Richard is pre-dominantly known for his film roles in The Hobbit, Captain America and Oceans 8 as well as his TV roles in North & South, Spooks and the Harlan Coben adaptations. He is also a well-established voice actor and has done several audiobooks including his own.

Following the talk there was a Q&A before Richard signed books and spoke with those in attendance. Clare also signed books and spoke with those in attendance.

In conversation with Phoenicia Rogerson & Jennifer Saint

Author Phoenicia Rogerson was in Liverpool Waterstones to discuss her debut novel ‘Herc’. She was in conversation with Jennifer Saint Sunday Times bestselling author of feminist retellings of Greek mythology novels Ariadne, Elektra and Atalanta.

Jennifer spoke to Phoenicia about her writing process and how she came to be published whilst still working full time and why she chose to tell the story of well known ‘hero’ Hercules from the perspective of other people in his life and how she was able to select which stories to use when there are so many about Hercules.

Following their discussion there was a Q&A and Rachael from the MSB Book Club was able to ask what their favourite Greek mythology retellings were, Jennifer stated the Emily Watson translation of The Iliad by Homer was her current favourite and Phoenicia said Stone Blind, a retelling of the Medusa story, by Natalie Haynes was hers.

After the Q&A there was a chance to chat with the authors and have books signed.

Fundraiser for National Literacy Trust and #Take10ToRead

The Book Club was fundraising for Charity for October and Chief Bookworm Rachael Payne invited people to guess how many physical books she owns in her home collection. Similar to a guess the number of sweets in the Jar but with books instead!

The Book Club is proud to announce that they surpassed their £200 target! The grand total of books Rachael owns as of 1st September 2023 was 942 books. Caitlin Westall, Paralegal for the family department, won the book voucher with her guess of 956, the runners up with guesses of 925 and 982 won chocolates and a bottle of wine.

The National Literacy Trust representative was thrilled with the amount raised and confirmed the fundraising idea would be circulated in their newsletter so others may do the same.

The Book Club also took part in the #Take10ToRead for World Mental Health Day on 10th October. Research has shown that reading that reading can be an effective way of helping people take care of their mental health and wellbeing – and it only takes 10 minutes a day to see the benefits.

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