Title: Blood, Sweat, and My Rock ‘n’ Roll Years – Is Steve Katz a Rock Star?

Author: Steve Katz

Pages: 240 Pages

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield

The Blurb

On paper Steve Katz’s career rivals anyone’s except the 1960s’ and ’70’s biggest stars: the Monterey Pop Festival with the legendary Blues Project, Woodstock with Blood, Sweat & Tears, and even producing rock’s most celebrated speed addict, Lou Reed. There were world tours, and his résumé screams “Hall of Fame” — it won’t be long before BS&T are on that ballot. He has three Grammies (ten nominations), three Downbeat Reader’s Poll Awards, three gold records, one platinum record, and one quadruple platinum platter (the second Blood, Sweat & Tears album), not to mention three gold singles with BS&T. All together, he’s sold close to 29 million records. He had affairs with famous female folk singers, made love to Jim Morrison’s girlfriend Pam when Jim was drunk and abusive, partied with Elizabeth Taylor and Groucho Marx, dined with Rudolf Nureyev, conversed with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Tennessee Williams, hung out with Andy Warhol, jammed with everyone from Mose Allison to Jimi Hendrix, and was told to get a haircut by both Mickey Spillane and Danny Thomas.

But his memoir is more Portnoy’s Complaint than the lurid party-with-your-pants-down memoir that has become the norm for rock ’n’ roll books. It’s an honest and personal account of a life at the edge of the spotlight—a privileged vantage point that earned him a bit more objectivity and earnest outrage than a lot of his colleagues, who were too far into the scene to lay any honest witness to it. Set during the Greenwich Village folk/rock scene, the Sixties’ most celebrated venues and concerts, and behind closed doors on international tours and grueling studio sessions, this is the unlikely story of a rock star as nerd, nerd as rock star, a nice Jewish boy who got to sit at the cool kid’s table and score the hot chicks.

Steve Katz was a founding member of The Blues Project and Blood, Sweat & Tears. He became a record producer, working with rock renegade Lou Reed, among others. Now, Katz and his wife, Alison Palmer have a ceramics shop, Alison Palmer Studio, in South Kent, Connecticut.

The Review

I can’t lie to you and say I knew much about Steve Katz before reading his memoir. I had heard of Blood, Sweat and Tears but being born in the 80s BS&T were a bit before my time. It was nice to go into a book without any preconceptions about an artist. That is exactly what I got as I read Blood, Sweat, and My Rock ‘n’ Roll Years – Is Steve Katz a Rock Star?

What I was treated to was a biased version of events of what happened – oh, don’t argue, we all see things from our own biased perspective. This was actually a pleasant element to the book because it seemed to make Steve Katz appear more candid and he didn’t seem to care if people too offense to what he said about them.

Overall, Blood, Sweat, and My Rock ‘n’ Roll Years – Is Steve Katz a Rock Star? is a really intriguing rock memoir. It is filled with musical highlights that spanned several different years, roles and interpretations of events. I loved it.

And in my opinion, yes, Steve Katz is a rock star.

Blood, Sweat, and My Rock ‘n’ Roll Years – Is Steve Katz a Rock Star? By Steve Katz is available now.

For more information regarding Rowman & Littlefield (@RLPGBooks) please visit www.rowman.com.

The Last Act of LoveTitle: The Last Act of Love – The Story of My Brother and His Sister

Author: Cathy Rentzenbrink

Pages: 256 Pages

Publisher: Pan Macmillan/Picador

The Blurb

In the summer of 1990, Cathy’s brother Matty was knocked down by a car on the way home from a night out. It was two weeks before his GCSE results, which turned out to be the best in his school. Sitting by his unconscious body in hospital, holding his hand and watching his heartbeat on the monitors, Cathy and her parents willed him to survive. They did not know then that there are many and various fates worse than death.

This is the story of what happened to Cathy and her brother, and the unimaginable decision that she and her parents had to make eight years after the night that changed everything. It’s a story for anyone who has ever watched someone suffer or lost someone they loved or lived through a painful time that left them forever changed.

Told with boundless warmth and affection, The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink is a heartbreaking yet uplifting testament to a family’s survival and the price we pay for love.

The Review

The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink is a beautifully heartbreaking story of a life cut short and how to deal with death, and indeed, life and how to carry on.

Cathy Rentzenbrink was 17 when her younger brother was knocked down by a dangerous driver. Her brother, Matty, spent eight years in a permanent vegetative state. The Last Act of Love her story of how she and her family dealt with Matty’s condition and how eventually it became clear that it was crueller to keep him alive when he wasn’t living.

I have enormous respect for Cathy Rentzenbrink. Not only for the horrible decision that she had to make along with her family but that she had the courage to do it and then write about it. She has bled her feelings onto the page and she has done so with such dignity and grace.

The Last Act of Love is so cathartic and a deeply elegant story that is a beautiful read. I must for anyone who is dealing with loss.

The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink is available now.

For more information regarding Pan Macmillan (@panmacmillan) please visit www.panmacmillan.com.

For more information regarding Picador (@picadorbooks) please visit www.panmacmillan.com/picador.

35 Stars

Title: How to Be A Grown Up

Author: Daisy Buchanan

Pages: 265 Pages

Publisher: Headline

The Blurb

‘I thought that as thirty drew nearer, success and happiness were supposed to float towards me like a drink on an inflatable coaster in the Club Tropicana video.’

Who feels like a grown-up when they’re eighteen? Or even twenty-one? With thirty fast approaching, journalist and agony aunt Daisy Buchanan found herself worrying about whether or not she was a ‘proper’ grown-up yet. Her twenties had been a familiar tale of boyfriends lost, overdrafts spent, one-night stands, disastrous outfits and jobs that didn’t turn out to be quite what she hoped. But had she learnt anything on the way? In her unstintingly honest and hilarious account of a defining decade, Daisy shares the highs and the lows to show us that adulthood really is only in the eye of the beholder.

Or could it be that by surviving her mistakes she’d grown up without really noticing?

The Review

It is hard being an adult. Especially when you are in your twenties . When you think about it, you are still in your infancy of being an adult. You are still learning how to be a grown p. It is this strange paradigm that is the subject of Daisy Buchanan’s book How to Be A Grown Up.

I really related to this book and Buchanan’s struggles. I struggled through my twenties. I got myself in debt due to the dreaded FOMO. I lost friends, had dramatic romantic dalliances. I won’t lie, my twenties were awesome but they also sucked.

How to Be A Grown Up should be issued to everyone as a set text when they turn eighteen. It is definitely a book for anyone feeling a bit unsure about this whole adult life thing. If you feel like you are doing your twenties “wrong” (and at some point you probably will) then Daisy Buchanan is here to assure you that you are doing just fine.

For more information regarding Daisy Buchanan (NotRollerGirl) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Headline Books (@Headlinepg) please visit www.headline.co.uk.

35 Stars

Title: Scrappy Little Nobody

Author: Anna Kendrick

Pages: 275 Pages

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

The Blurb

A collection of humorous autobiographical essays by the Academy Award nominated actress and star of Up in the Air and Pitch Perfect.

Even before she made a name for herself on the silver screen starring in films like Pitch Perfect, Up in the Air, Twilight and Into the Woods. Anna Kendrick was unusually small, weird, and “10 percent defiant.”

At the ripe age of thirteen, she had already resolved to “keep the crazy inside my head where it belonged, forever. But here’s the thing about crazy: It. Wants. Out.” In Scrappy Little Nobody, she invites readers inside her brain, sharing extraordinary and charmingly ordinary stories with candour and winningly wry observations.

With her razor-sharp wit, Anna recounts the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to ad from the heart of pop culture as only she can – from her unusual path to the performing arts (Vanilla Ice and baggy neon pants may have played a role) to her double life as a middle-school student who also starred on Broadway to her initial “dating experiments” (including only liking boys who didn’t like her back) to reviewing a binder full of butt doubles to her struggle to live like an adult woman instead of a perpetual “man—child.”

Enter Anna’s world and follow her rise from “scrappy little nobody” to somebody who dazzles on the stage, the screen, and now the page – with an electric, singular voice, at once familiar and surprising, sharp and sweet, funny and serious (well, not that serious.)

The Review

There is something about Anna Kendrick. She has that girl-next-door feel. She is your best mate on a messy night out. She seems like the kind of girl who would see you fall over and rather than point and laugh she would throw herself on the floor and pretend to being doing sit ups to save you from embarrassment. Basically, she seems cool and accessible; even more so now having read her brilliantly funny book Scrappy Little Nobody.

Kendrick regales you with stories from her life. In most of these stories Kendrick pits herself as a quirky underdog. Sometimes when people are self deprecating it can be a bit false and a tad annoying but dammit Kendrick makes it entertaining and keeps her likable qualities.

Scrappy Little Nobody is a joy to read. I genuinely giggled throughout. Very funny and extremely candid. If you like biographies and memoirs then this is the book for you.

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick is available now.

For more information regarding Anna Kendrick (@AnnaKendrick17) please visit www.scrappylittlenobody.com.

For more information regarding Simon & Schuster (@SimonSchusterUK) please visit www.simonandschuster.co.uk.

4 Stars

Earth Hates MeTitle: Earth Hates Me – True Confessions from a Teenage Girl

Author: Ruby Karp

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Perseus Books/Running Press

The Blurb

Earth Hates Me presents a look inside the mind of the modern teenager–from a modern teenager’s perspective.

Sixteen-year-old Ruby Karp addresses the issues facing every high schooler, from grades to peer pressure to Snapchat stories, and unpacks their complicated effects on the teen psyche. With dashes of humour throughout, Ruby advises her peers on the importance of feminism (“not just the Spice Girls version”), how to deal with jealousy and friend break-ups, family life, and much more. The book takes an in-depth look at the effect of social media on modern teens and the growing pressures of choosing the right college and career.

With Ruby’s powerful underlying message “we are more than just a bunch of dumb teenagers obsessed with our phones,” Earth Hates Me is the definitive guide to being a teen in the modern age.

The Review

Isn’t it sad when you find the perfect book too late? In my case, I found Earth Hates Me – True Confessions from a Teenage Girl by Ruby Karp eighteen years too late. Sixteen year old Lisa was very similar to Ruby Karp. She was a bit unsure, didn’t know the rules, how to follow them or indeed how to break them. She was a little bit quirky and lived her life to want to perform.

In Earth Hates Me, Ruby Karp shows wisdom way beyond her years. He talks about issues that plagued me well into my late twenties and I genuinely believe that this book can act like a friend to those who are lonely, scared, unsure or just need the comfort of a book shaped security blanket.

If there is one important book that I will be recommending to the teens in my life (and since I work in a high school that is an awful lot of them) it will be Earth Hates Me – True Confessions from a Teenage Girl by Ruby Karp. It is a vital book that everyone going through their formative years should have access too.

Earth Hates Me: True Confessions from a Teenage Girl by Ruby Karp is available now.

For more information regarding Ruby Karp (@RubyKarp) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Perseus Books (@PerseusBooks) please visit their Twitter page.

For more information regarding Running Press (@Running_Press) please visit www.runningpress.com.

4 Stars