Title: Diary of a Drag Queen

Author: Crystal Rasmussen

Pages: 365 Pages

Publisher: Penguin Random House/Ebury Publishing

The Blurb

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.

The Review

I have always wanted to be a drag queen. I know it sounds strange and inherently being a drag queen is mainly a male role but dammit drag queens get to have so much fun. They are so glamorous and it just seems like an amazing element of performance.

This is why I was drawn to the memoir Diary of a Drag Queen by Crystal Rasmussen. Rasmussen is so very candid when explaining the life of a drag queen, about his life as a gay man – whether this be the difficult relationship with love, random hook-ups and how gay men are still victims of hatred.

It is hard not to like Diary of a Drag Queen. It is dry, funny, warm and endearing. My favourite thing was the little asides littered within the text – they were often hilarious.

Diary of a Drag Queen is a wonderful read and I fully recommend it.

Diary of a Drag Queen by Crystal Rasmussen is available now.

For more information regarding Crystal Rasmussen (@TomGlitter) please visit clippings.me/tomrasmussen.

For more information regarding Penguin Random House (@PenguinRHUK) please visit www.penguinrandomhouse.co.uk.

Title: Help

Author: Simon Amstell

Pages: 224 Pages

Publisher: Vintage

The Blurb

COMEDY. TRAGEDY. THERAPY.

Simon Amstell did his first stand-up gig at the age of thirteen. His parents had just divorced and puberty was confusing. Trying to be funny solved everything.

HELP is the hilarious and heartbreaking account of Simon’s ongoing compulsion to reveal his entire self on stage. To tell the truth so it can’t hurt him any more. Loneliness, anxiety, depression – this book has it all. And more.

From a complicated childhood in Essex to an Ayahuasca-led epiphany in the Amazon rainforest, this story will make you laugh, cry and then feel happier than you’ve ever been.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

I like Simon Amstell. I liked him on T4 and on Never Mind the Buzzcocks and I won’t lie I miss his acerbic wit on television.

I downloaded his audiobook Help because I thought it would be funny and entertaining and it was but it was also honest and revealed more about the star than I knew before.

It was raw and it showed a vulnerable side to Simon Amstell. It is only about 3 hours long but I recommend it to anyone who misses this curly haired fellow on our screens.

Help by Simon Amstell is available now.

For more information regarding Simon Amstell (@SimonAmstell) please visit www.simmonamstell.com.

For more information regarding Vintage (@vintagebooks) please visit po.st/VintageHomepage.

 

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