Genre: YA Fiction/LGBTQIA+

The Gist: A bunch of superstitious theatre students put on a performance of Les Miserables.

Short Review: A delightful young adult fiction that celebrates the love of theatre, falling in love and the growing up.

Long Review: Aspiring stage manager Melody McIntyre promises her crew that she won’t fall in love during their upcoming performance of Les Miserables because they are worried that it is bringing on a theatre curse. However, when popular student Odile Rose starts showing interest in Melody McIntyre her resolve begins to crumble. However, when strange and unusual things begin to happen during the performance rehearsals Melody starts to believe that the curse is real.

The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre is a great read. It doesn’t try to be anything other than it is. A fun theatre romp that looks at the love lives of teenagers. One aspect of the novel that I really appreciated is that LGBTQIA+ relationships are central to the plot however Robin Talley does not emphasise this as an issue. I think more YA novels need to have non-heteronormative relationships at the heart of their stories without it being the main point. It shows that LGBTQIA+ relationships are the norm. By taking away what she my see as an issue Robin Talley has moved the goalposts to where they should be for other authors writing fiction with LGBTQIA+ relationships at the heart of it.  

A fantastic read. Be warned though, you will be singing the soundtrack to Les Miserables for days afterwards – I don’t see how that is a bad thing. 

The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre by Robin Talley is available now.

For more information regarding Robin Talley (@robin_talley) please visit www.robintalley.com.

For more information regarding HQ (@HQStories) please visit www.hqstories.co.uk.

Title: Brave

Author: Rose McGowan

Pages: 272 Pages

Publisher: HQ

The Blurb

‘My life, as you will read, has taken me from one cult to another. BRAVE is the story of how I fought my way out of these cults and reclaimed my life. I want to help you do the same.’
–Rose McGowan

A revealing memoir and empowering manifesto – a voice for generations

Rose McGowan was born in one cult and came of age in another, more visible cult: Hollywood.

In a strange world where she was continually on display, stardom soon became a personal nightmare of constant exposure and sexualization. Rose escaped into the world of her mind, something she had done as a child, and into high-profile relationships. Every detail of her personal life became public, and the realities of an inherently sexist industry emerged with every script, role, public appearance, and magazine cover. The Hollywood machine packaged her as a sexualized bombshell, hijacking her image and identity and marketing them for profit.

Hollywood expected Rose to be silent and cooperative and to stay the path. Instead, she rebelled and asserted her true identity and voice. She reemerged unscripted, courageous, victorious, angry, smart, fierce, unapologetic, controversial, and real as f*ck.

BRAVE is her raw, honest, and poignant memoir/manifesto―a no-holds-barred, pull-no-punches account of the rise of a millennial icon, fearless activist, and unstoppable force for change who is determined to expose the truth about the entertainment industry, dismantle the concept of fame, shine a light on a multibillion-dollar business built on systemic misogyny, and empower people everywhere to wake up and be BRAVE.

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

The momentum of the #MeToo movement has created massive ripples – not just among the world of celebrities with the downfall of Weinstein and the recent case of Jeffrey Epstein. It has filtered through modern society and women are not going to take vile misogyny anymore. The discourse around sexual harassment has changed. Women have often felt that they have to prove they have been attacked or violated – it is their word against the attackers and it is the only type of case where the victim is scrutinised as much as the alleged perpetrator. This is changing and it must continue to change to protect the vulnerable.

Whilst the movement isn’t down to just one person, the importance role of Rose McGowan and her bravery cannot go unacknowledged. In her autobiography Brave she discusses the systemic sexism, male privilege and sexual harassment that many actresses like her have faced on a daily basis. And she is mad. She is pissed off and dammit she has a right to be.

The candour, honesty and amazing articulation that McGowan has allowed her to tell her fascinating story makes Brave such a compelling read. What she has been through makes you examine things that have happened to you. Things that you may have just brushed aside at the time or just laughed off uncomfortably are highlighted as someone else’s inappropriate behaviour. It is now, with Rose McGowan and others strong examples that we can call out this bad behaviour.

Rose McGowan is asking us all to be brave.

Brave by Rose McGowan is available now.

For more information regarding Rose McGowan (@rosemcgowan) please visit www.rosemcgowan.com.

For more information regarding HQ (@HQstories) please visit www.hqstories.co.uk.

Title: Pizza Girl

Author: Jean Kyoung Frazier

Pages: 208 Pages

Publisher: HQ

The Blurb

Eighteen years old, pregnant, and working as a pizza delivery girl, our dysfunctional heroine is deeply lost and in complete denial about it all. She’s grieving the death of her father, avoiding her loving boyfriend, and flagrantly ignoring her future.

Her world is further upended when she becomes obsessed with Jenny, a stay-at-home mother new to the neighbourhood, who comes to depend on weekly deliveries of pickle-covered pizzas for her son’s happiness.

As one woman looks toward motherhood and the other toward middle age, the relationship between the two begins to blur in strange, complicated, and ultimately heartbreaking ways.

Bold, tender, and unexpected, Pizza Girl is a moving and funny portrait of a flawed, unforgettable young woman as she tries to find her place in the world.

The Review

Jane is young. She has just finished high school. She works in a pizza restaurant. She is pregnant. That is about as much as you can say about Jane on the surface. We don’t begin to understand her or her motivation in life until she gets a random pizza request from a lonely woman called Jenny. It is then that her world goes a little off kilter.

Pizza Girl, for me, was essentially the story of being a little bit lost. Jane seems lost on a strangely pre-determined path that Jane couldn’t seem to get off. Jane doesn’t seem to be comfortable with her pregnancy or her relationship with the baby’s father. Nor does she seem happy to believe that this is it, her life. When she meets Jenny it is almost like Jane finally finds someone to be a beacon of adulthood and what it is all about – not a perfect version of adulthood but with Jane being young and impressionable it seems better than what she has.

I will say that Pizza Girl is a very quirky and unique novel. It is not one that intends to make the reader feel comfortable. It skirts the edge of unusual indie read with no real resolution. However, it does leave you feeling strangely optimistic.

Pizza Girl by Jean Kyoung Frazier is available from 06th September 2020.

For more information regarding Jean Kyoung Frazier (@gojeanfraziergo) please visit www.gojeanfraziergo.com.

For more information regarding HQ (@HQstories) please visit www.hqstories.co.uk.

Title: Vox

Author: Christina Dalcher

Pages: 400 Pages

Publisher: HQ

The Blurb

Silence can be deafening.

Jean McClellan spends her time in almost complete silence, limited to just one hundred words a day. Any more, and a thousand volts of electricity will course through her veins.

Now the new government is in power, everything has changed. But only if you’re a woman.

Almost overnight, bank accounts are frozen, passports are taken away and seventy million women lose their jobs. Even more terrifyingly, young girls are no longer taught to read or write.

For herself, her daughter, and for every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice. This is only the beginning…

[100 WORD LIMIT REACHED]

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

There is one topic that comes in books that I have a physical reaction to. It is a topic that makes my chest tighten and can often lead me to getting a headache out of anger. That topic is the repression of women.

When I read Vox by Christina Dalcher I had this very visceral reaction.

It is a world where women are only allowed to speak 100 words a day otherwise they experience intense pain. What made this book all the more scary is that I can see the potential in this repression happening in modern society.

Vox is a fascinating story and one that you should read if you enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

Vox by Christina Dalcher is available now.

For more information regarding HQ (@HQstories) please visit www.hqstories.co.uk.

Title: The Dilemma

Author: B A Paris

Pages: 352 Pages

Publisher: HQ Stories

The Blurb

It’s Livia’s 40th birthday and she’s having the party of a lifetime to make up for the wedding she never had. Everyone she loves will be there except her daughter Marnie, who’s studying abroad. But although Livia loves Marnie, she’s secretly glad she won’t be at the party. She needs to tell Adam something about their daughter but she’s waiting until the party is over so they can have this last happy time together.

Adam wants everything to be perfect for Livia so he’s secretly arranged for Marnie to come home and surprise her on her birthday. During the day, he hears some terrible news. He needs to tell Livia, because how can the party go on? But she’s so happy, so excited – and the guests are about to arrive.

The Dilemma – how far would you go to give someone you love a last few hours of happiness?

One day that will change a family forever, The Dilemma is the breath-taking, heart-breaking new novel from the million-copy-selling, Sunday Times bestseller, B A Paris

The Review

Ooh this was a book with a difference. The Dilemma by BA Paris is a fascinating look at the responsibility of secrets and the duty that we have to those around us. It focuses on one family. Mum, Livia is about to turn 40; daughter, Marnie, is living abroad but is returning to surprise her mum; dad, Adam, is in cahoots with Marnie but is also finding his relationship with his son difficult. Alongside these characters lies the extended family who are also impacted by the secrets and lies.

In a weird sense nothing really happens in this book but equally lots of things happen. I think with the mix of one day of real time events with the series of flashbacks we get a fuller picture but nothing big or explosive happens throughout the majority of it which given that it is a thriller is something that we are expecting. It is exciting and keeps you on the edge of your seat but it is not a thriller in the sense of high speed and guns. However, it is a thoroughly enjoyable read.

The Dilemma by BA Paris is available now.

For more information regarding BA Paris (@BAParisAuthor) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding HQ Stories (@HQStories) please visit www.hqstories.co.uk.