Diary of a Drag Queen by Crystal Rasmussen | Review

About The Book

Life’s a drag… Why not be a queen?

‘Stories like the one where you shagged a 79-year-old builder and knocked over his sister’s ashes while feeding him a Viagra. Or the time you crashed your car because you were giving a hand job in barely moving traffic and took your eye off the car in front. That’s the kind of dinner-party ice-breaker I’m talking about.’

Northern, working-class and shagging men three times her age, Crystal writes candidly about her search for ‘the one’; sleeping with a VIP in an attempt to become a world famous journalist; getting hired and fired by a well-known fashion magazine; being torn between losing weight and gorging on KFC; and her need for constant sexual satisfaction (and where that takes her).

Charting her day-to-day adventures over the course of a year, we encounter tucks, twists and sucks, heinous overspending and endless nights spent sprinting from problem to problem in a full face of make-up.

This is a place where the previously unspeakable becomes the commendable – a unique portrayal of the queer experience.

My Thoughts

How often do you pick up a book to read and it turns out to be very different from what you expected?

Thinking along the lines of a book that I read a few months ago, I was expecting a tongue-in-cheek look at the glamorous side of being a drag queen, but this was very much more than that. It’s a stark look at sex, the right to identify as you wish and the prejudices that still arise from all sides of the LGBTQ+ community.

Told in diary format, the reader follows Crystal throughout a period of a year. It is a selection of powerful, amusing and incredibly moving stories that I took with a very large pinch of salt.

“Diary of a Drag Queen” was so intimately told by Crystal and it felt like I was a personal confidante. This made it very easy to like Crystal and therefore the book as a whole.  

The diary style gave the author more ability to choose the parts to be shared or not and for me, some of these appeared to have been included to spice things up for their shock content. This affected some of the vital issues and points that were being made.

All in all, I really enjoyed this witty, thought-provoking and entertaining book and I think it was a very worthwhile read.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel, at my own request, from Penguin Random House UK, Ebury Publishing via NetGalley. This review is my own unbiased opinion.

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Four Stars

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The Summer Retreat by Sheila Roberts | Review

About The Book

Join USA TODAY best-selling author Sheila Roberts for a seaside escape to the beaches of Moonlight Harbor.

Celeste Jones has plans for a perfect summer with her boyfriend (and hopefully soon-to-be fiancé)—until he dumps her to be with the woman he’s had on the side for months. Heartbroken and furious, Celeste resolves to move on. When the going gets tough, the tough…okay, the not-so-tough go to the beach.

As soon as school lets out for the summer, she waves goodbye to her first-graders, packs up her bikini and heads for Moonlight Harbor, where she knows her big sister, Jenna, will receive her with open arms. Jenna could probably use some help at the Driftwood Inn, and Celeste is happy to do chores around the place in exchange for a relaxing summer escape. She just needs something—or someone—to distract her from her troubles.

Finding The One can be tricky, and Jenna is determined to make sure Celeste gets it right this time around. Not that Jenna’s an expert. She’s still trying to sort out her own love life. But if both sisters listen to their hearts, eventually they’re bound to discover that life—and love—is good at the beach.

My Thoughts

A Lovely Tale of Romance

Are you looking for a fantastic romance novel to take to the beach this Summer? Well, look no further because this is it! What a lovely and exciting book this was and a perfect and refreshing change from my usual, favourite genre.

“The Summer Retreat” is the third book in the ‘Moonlight Harbor’ series by best-seller author Sheila Roberts, the first book being ‘Welcome to Moonlight Harbor’, followed by ’Winter at the Beach’.

Although I’ve seen many of the author’s books around in my local library, the supermarket, and in bookshops, this is the first one I’ve read (I think) and I was not disappointed.

Celeste Jones is a primary school teacher and as the summer term has just come to an end, so has her relationship with her cheating boyfriend, Emerson. To drown her sorrows and re-evaluate her life, Celeste decides to visit her sister, Jenna who lives in a quaint town on the Washington coast where she runs the ‘Driftwood Inn’.

This was a well paced and very touching romance that had me hooked, even before I had swiped my e-reader to take me to the second page.

Sheila Roberts has drawn a pleasant, easy-going and genial character in Celeste. However, at thirty-six and a half, she thinks it’s about time she finds herself a husband who will not cheat on her and she has plans to settle down, have a family and live happily ever after.

“The Summer Retreat” was such a delightful, though predictable, tale  and once I had started reading, I found I was totally invested in the story. It held my interest right until the fulfilling conclusion.

I will be reading the first two books in the series and I eagerly wait to see what Sheila Roberts is going to be releasing next. This is a must-read for anyone who loves women’s fiction or romance novels, so you need to order your copy!

Thanks to NetGalley, Harlequin – MIRA and the author, Sheila Roberts for the free advanced copy. This is my honest and totally voluntary review.

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Four Stars

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Pisces Hooks Taurus by Anyta Sunday | Review

About The Book

It’s a time for searching, and a time for finding, Pisces: keep casting your line and you will hook what you’re looking for.

Zane has it all planned out: land the perfect Meet Cute, fall in love, and live happily ever after.

Should be simple enough if he put his mind to it. A little creativity and some thinking outside of the box, and voila, he’d be married to the woman of his dreams.

It would be perfect.

And it would be before his visa ran out.

But why are his feelings running wild now that the pressure’s on? Why is his picture-perfect plan turning into a muddled mess of morphed metaphors he can’t make sense of any more?

Just as well he’s met an English professor to help. And even though their first meet is anything but cute, this down-to-earth teacher may just be the realist Zane needs to ground him and give him a shot at love after all.

Don’t cast your line too wide, Pisces. Your perfect catch may already have bitten.

Pisces Hooks Taurus (Signs of Love #4) is an MM opposites-attract romantic comedy featuring an unapologetic romantic and a broken realist.

More wit, banter and bad puns – and even more heart-stopping slow burn!

Can be read as a standalone.

Tropes: friends-to-lovers, slow burn, will-they-or-won’t-they

Genre: New Adult, lighthearted contemporary gay romance

My Thoughts

This is book four in a series named ‘Signs of Love’ and it was such a delightful little love story! The other books are ‘Leo Loves Aries’ and ‘Scorpio Hates Virgo’, followed by ‘Gemini Keeps Capricorn’.  “Pisces Hooks Taurus” is the only book from the series that I’ve read and I was happy to have read it as a stand alone.

Although I would say that this novel is light, funny and uplifting, it also has strong themes centred around recognising vulnerabilities and personal improvement.

Anyta Sunday’s character development was really good. Zane was very offbeat and unique and also pretty likeable. Beckett, so well drawn by the author, was quieter, more down to earth and reliable. Their romantic adventure was wonderfully charming and amusing. Much of banter between them had me laughing-out-loud on many occasions.

There were many things that were fantastic in this book. As well as the beautiful character detail, there was the slow-burn romance, the humour and the innuendo.

For me, Anyta Sunday showed such talent in this inspiring and delightful tale. This is my favourite kind of romance – one written with imagination and with real characters who, though flawed, gradually develop a real connection with each other.

I really loved the story and the journey on which I was taken throughout “Pisces Hooks Taurus” and I was rooting for Zane and Beckett from the offset. Though there was sexual tension and a touch of eroticism, this was nevertheless, a classic romance that was deeply enchanting and so full of truth that I didn’t want it to end.

Thank you, Anyta Sunday. This was a great read and so extremely worthwhile. 

[Thanks to NetGalley and the author, Anyta Sunday, for my free ARC of  Pisces Hooks Taurus in exchange for an honest review.]

#PiscesHooksTaurus #NetGalley

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Four Stars

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Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton | Review

Book Synopsis

An utterly wonderful début novel of love, crime, magic, fate and a boy’s coming of age, set in 1980’s Australia and infused with the originality, charm, pathos, and heart of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

The mind can take you anywhere you want to go.

Eli Bell’s life is complicated. His father is lost, his mother is in jail, and his step-dad is a heroin dealer. The most steadfast adult in Eli’s life is Slim – a notorious felon and national record-holder for successful prison escapes – who watches over Eli and August, his silent genius of an older brother.

Exiled far from the rest of the world in Darra, a seedy suburb populated by Polish and Vietnamese refugees, this twelve-year-old boy with an old soul and an adult mind is just trying to follow his heart, learn what it takes to be a good man, and train for a glamorous career in journalism. Life, however, insists on throwing obstacles in Eli’s path – most notably Tytus Broz, Brisbane’s legendary drug dealer.

But the real trouble lies ahead. Eli is about to fall in love, face off against truly bad guys, and fight to save his mother from a certain doom – all before starting high school.

A story of brotherhood, true love, family, and the most unlikely of friendships, Boy Swallows Universe is the tale of an adolescent boy on the cusp of discovering the man he will be. Powerful and kinetic, Trent Dalton’s début is sure to be one of the most heartbreaking, joyous and exhilarating novels you will experience. 

My Thoughts

If I had to describe this novel in three words they would be emotional, effortful and impactful in more or less equal measures.

After having read “Boy Swallows Universe” I feel that I am completely indebted to Trent Dalton! This book has all the components that make a really fantastic story: from the mood and undercurrents to the very clever writing and the experience of love and friendship, not forgetting the feelings of hope, desperation and failure. Trent Dalton has drawn a remarkable young narrator to adore in Eli, growing up in his vastly dysfunctional family. 

There were instances where this was a very difficult read for me, being as it was a little like sitting on a roller-coaster, however, it was extremely worthwhile even though, by my standards, it was a fairly lengthy novel. 

 I enjoyed “Boy Swallows Universe” so much and I’m hoping to read more by Trent Dalton soon…

[Thanks to Edelweiss, HarperCollins UK and the author, Trent Dalton, for my free ARC of #BoySwallowsUniverse in exchange for an honest review.]

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Five Stars

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Keep Walking Rhona Beech by Kate Tough | Review

Book Synopsis

‘Incredibly insightful, funny and poignant’ Helen Sedgwick

I get up. I go to work. I spend the whole day waiting for the words on my screen to make sense. In the commuter broth of the carriage home, tears run in hot lines to my jaw and for a minute or so, I let them.

Nothing has turned out quite how Rhona Beech thought: she’s been swapping one so-so job for another on an annual basis . . . and now her nine-year relationship has ended abruptly. When her lukewarm efforts to adjust to the changes in her life are thrown entirely up in the air by some unwelcome news, Rhona has to think again.

Her sardonic, funny, poignant attempts to find an answer to the questions she’s facing are helped by a cast of friends, strangers and trained professionals. Funny and tender, Keep Walking, Rhona Beech is a beautifully written and brilliantly observant satire on relationships, friendship and life

Previously published as Head for the Edge, Keep Walking by Cargo Publishing.

My Thoughts

I am always slightly uneasy when I look at a book and I ask myself “What ‘type’ of a novel is this?” The answer here is “A gratifying, moving and very comical one,” in more or less equal measures.

Although I would say that “Keep Walking Rhona Beech” is extremely amusing and, at times, positively hilarious, this is qualified by a feeling of great sadness, too. It’s a journey of loss, companionship, love and needing to be happy with your life, with or without a Significant Other. I am sure that most of us could identify with the protagonist, Rhona on some level, at least. I certainly know that I could, so much so that I found myself wanting to help her to break out of her life of monotony and dreariness. “Keep Walking, Rhona Beech” gives out the message that there is a need to be happy with yourself otherwise there may never be a happy ending.

In the novel, the reader is taken on a journey to experience, along with Rhona, her everyday struggles with her current life, as in her purpose, friendships, love and even her very identity. Rhona and her pals are just like the rest of us – likeable, flawed and sometimes perplexing. The journey ranged from the mundane to the downright outrageous that had the effect, at times, that I was Rhona. There were instances where this was a very difficult read for me, however, it was always convincing, credible and extremely worthwhile. 

I enjoyed “Keep Walking, Rhona Beech” so much and I’m hoping to read more by Kate Tough soon…

[Thanks to #NetGalley, Little, Brown Book Group UK and the author, Kate Tough, for my free ARC of #KeepWalkingRhonaBeech in exchange for an honest review.]

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Five Stars

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