Title: The Queer Bible

Author: Jack Guinness

Publisher: Harper Collins/HQ

The Blurb

‘We stand on the shoulders of giants. Now we learn their names.’

Read by Jack Guinness, Amelia Abraham, Paula Akpan, Munroe Bergdorf, Joseph Cassara, Juliet Jacques, Paris Lees, Freddy McConnell, Paul Mendez, Mark Moore, Graham Norton, Matthew Todd & Russell Tovey. 

THE QUEER BIBLE is a collection of essays written by queer icons, about the queer trailblazers throughout history who inspired them.

From Elton John on Divine to Graham Norton on Armistead Maupin; Russell Tovey on David Robilliard to Lady Phyll on Moud Goba; Tan France on the Queer Eye cast to Mae Martin on Tim Curry, today’s queer heroes write about the icons that provided a creative inspiration to them. Other contributors include Amelia Abraham, Paula Akpan, Courtney Act, Munroe Bergdorf, Mykki Blanco, Joseph Cassara, David Furnish, Paul Flynn, Paris Lees, Juliet Jacques, Gus Kenworthy, Freddy McConnell, Paul Mendez, Mark Moore, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Hanne Gaby Odiele and Matthew Todd. Each essay is accompanied by exclusive, bespoke illustrations by queer or ally artists, to create a truly beautiful celebration of queer culture.

Based on the popular website QueerBible.com, founded by model and activist Jack Guinness, this timely collection, edited by him, continues his mission – to create a space dedicated to the celebration of queer history.

The Queer Bible is a love letter to the LGBTQI+ community and its allies.

The Review

I have read a lot of Queer literature this year, I love LGBTQIA fiction but I have to say that it has been the non-fiction that has stuck with me. I decided to listen to the audiobook of The Queer Bible and I con honestly say that I think it was the best decision for me. I got something from the audiobook that I don’t think would have had the same impact had I read it on a page. I heard the passion behind each of these essays. Whilst not all of them were read by their author you still got the feeling of importance. It was joyful.

The audiobook opened on an essay about George Michael and straight away I was sold. The rest of the book highlights queer icons. What is fantastic is that you are hearing/reading queer icons talk about their own queer icons and the impact that they had. It is both educational and entertaining and by far one of the most positive books I have listened to in a long time.

The Queer Bible by Jack Guinness is available now.

For more information regarding Jack Guinness (@JackGuinness) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Harper Collins (@HarperCollinsUK) please visit their Twitter page.

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

Title: Dead Head

Author: CJ Skuse

Pages: 480 Pages

Publisher: HQ

The Blurb

Victim. Murderer. Serial Killer. What next?

The third darkly comic thriller in the highly addictive Sweetpea series featuring serial killer Rhiannon Lewis.

‘Think Bridget Jones meets Killing Eve – only with better jokes’ Daily Mail

Can a serial killer ever lose their taste for murder?

Since confessing to her bloody murder spree Rhiannon Lewis, the now-notorious Sweetpea killer, has been feeling out-of-sorts.

Having fled the UK on a cruise ship to start her new life, Rhiannon should be feeling happy. But it’s hard to turn over a new leaf when she’s stuck in an oversized floating tin can with the Gammonati and screaming kids. Especially when they remind her of Ivy – the baby she gave up for a life carrying on killing.

Rhiannon is all at sea. She’s lost her taste for blood but is it really gone for good? Maybe Rhiannon is realising that there’s more to life than death…

The third book in the critically-acclaimed series following Sweetpea and In Bloom featuring everyone’s favourite truly original girl-next-door serial killer Rhiannon Lewis.

The Review

I’m not one for reading book series. I find that they can be too much of a commitment however the Sweetpea series by CJ Skuse is one exception to this rule.

In Dead Head, the third installment, we find our psycho-protagonist Rhiannon Lewis on the lam. Running away from her old life and the chaos that she has caused whilst also dealing with the yearning ache for her child Ivy. We see her travel across the world to escape the storm of drama she has left and the debris of her crimes in the UK but we also know that Rhiannon cannot truly leave herself – her true self – behind. Will she kill again? Probably.

The third installment in this series is different from the first two in that we see a more introspective Rhiannon. This could be that it is told in the past/present tense. So looking back but told in the present tense. It is as though this gives us chance – and indeed Rhiannon – to consider her actions and gives us time to process them alongside her rather than seeing the red mist descend and then the chaos. This doesn’t make them any less bat crap crazy but it does give us time to think.

Rhiannon Lewis will probably be one of my most remembered protagonists in fiction. Her actions and her unshakable belief in vigilante justice has left a lasting impression and I am hoping that there will be more in this series.

Dead Head by CJ Skuse is available now.

For more information regarding CJ Skuse (@CJSkuse) please visit www.cjskuse.com.

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

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.