Title: Cheer the F**k Up – How to Save Your Best Friend

Author: Jack Rooke

Pages: 403 Pages

Publisher: Penguin Random House

The Blurb

This book will definitely make you laugh and might just make you cry, but it could also help save a life.

Cheer the F**K Up is a bold, brilliant and very personal account of a young comedian’s experiences with mental health. An ode to the importance of friendship, Jack Rooke takes us on a mission to better understand the reasons why so many people are struggling, and how we can all feel better equipped in knowing how to support that one friend we might be that bit more worried about.

Part comedic memoir, part advice guide, this book is a fresh and timely take on a huge issue very close to Jack’s heart – in 2015, while working as an ambassador for a male mental health charity, he lost one of his best friends to suicide.

Taking you on a journey through his life and experiences with grief, sexuality, depression and more, Jack offers his own frank and powerful advice on how best to have meaningful conversations about a loved one’s state of mind. Hilarious and heart-breaking in equal measure, Cheer the F**K Up will definitely make you laugh and might just make you cry, but it could also help save a life.

The Review

I’m going to get this out of the way right now and say that Cheer the F**k Up is the best book I have read about mental health.

And with that out of the way let me tell you why. Jack Rooke attacks mental health with heart, compassion and humour. I know that sounds wrong but sometimes when things all fall apart the only thing you can do is laugh.

This book deals with so many things such as love, loss, sexuality, death, suicide and never did I feel like Rooke fudged it. He treated each area of this narrative sensitively and even at its most difficult it was a great thing to read.

So, once again I reiterate, Cheer the F**k Up is the best book about mental health that I have ever read.

Cheer the F**k Up by Jack Rooke is available now.

For more information regarding Jack Rooke (@jackrooke) please visit his Twitter page.

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

Title: Last Lesson

Author: James Goodhand

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Penguin Random House

The Blurb

Last year, Ollie Morcombe was a star pupil, popular and a gifted musician.

Then, after the accident, everything changed. Now he’s an outcast, a prime target of the school bullies who have made his life a living hell.

Today – the last day of the school year – he’s brought those bullies a gift. A homemade pipe bomb.

What has driven a model student to plan an unspeakable revenge? And with the clock ticking down to home time, what can anybody do to stop him?

The Review

Last Lesson focuses on Ollie who has been through some massive change in the past 12 months and they have had a profound effect on him and how he is handling life. For Ollie, he can only see one option. To get revenge on the people that have been making his life hell. He plans to kill them all in their last lesson of high school.

What a complex topic wrapped in a really readable novel. James Goodhand has looked at many complicated issues within his novel Last Lesson. He looks at the hierarchy within the school system, he looks at grief and he looks at mental health.

I think what Goodhand has done well with Last Lesson is to look at the complexities of mental health and its correlation with extremism. He has handled it sensitively and without pushing blame or agenda other than trying to help you spot the signs.

It seems strange to say I enjoyed this novel because I shouldn’t have enjoyed a novel which has such a sad message but it is hard not to like it. Goodhand is a great writer who engages you in the story and really makes you care for the characters. It will be interesting to see what he writes next.

Last Lesson by James Goodhand is available now.

For more information regarding James Goodhand (@goodhand_james) please visit his Twitter page.

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

Title: City on Fire

Author: Garth Risk Hallberg

Pages: 911 Pages

Publisher: Vintage Books/Penguin Random House

The Blurb

Midnight, New Year’s Eve, 1976. Nine lives are about to be changed forever.

Regan and William Hamilton-Sweeney, heirs to one of New York’s greatest fortunes; Keith and Mercer, the men who, for better or worse, love them; Charlie and Samantha, two suburban teenagers seduced by the punk scene; an obsessive magazine reporter and his idealistic neighbour – and the detective trying to figure out what any of them have to do with a shooting in Central Park on New Year’s Eve.

Then, on July 13th, 1977, the lights go out.

The Review

Oh boy. What can I say about City on Fire. Well, it’s long. At 911 pages it is a beast of a book. If I had to say something about City on Fire it is that is like a version of Love Actually that tries too hard to be cool.

That probably sounds a bit harsh but hear me out. You have these interconnecting stories that take place over various time frames but all the characters are intrinsically linked to one character who spends the majority of the story in a coma. So far, this actually seems like a pretty interesting set up for a novel. However, you spend the majority of your time trying to keep up with whose story you are currently reading and then what their plot line is. So I kind of felt lost for the majority of the book.

I think City on Fire is a victim of its own length and really struggles to hold your attention.  I was constantly checking to see when the chapter would be over and not because I was excited to get to the next part.

When a book begins to feel like a chore to read then you know that t I not for you. This is not to say that City on Fire won’t be for somebody. There will be readers who will love all the things I disliked about City on Fire but sadly, for me, it failed to hold m concentration.

City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg is available now.

For more information regarding Garth Risk Hallberg (@GarthRisk) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Vintage Books (@vintagebooks) please visit their Twitter page.

For more information regarding Penguin Random House (@penguinrandom) please visit www.penguinrandomhouse.com.

Title: Tradition

Author: Brendan Kiely

Pages: 352 Pages

Publisher: Penguin Random House

The Blurb

‘This very good school is nothing but a fancy promise, a broken one. A big lie.’

The powerful, glamorous and privileged students of Fullbrook Academy gather for a secret party in the woods.

A party that ends in disaster.

The Fullbook traditions are sacred. But they can hide dark and dangerous secrets.

Jules is in her senior year with one goal: to get out and start her life at college.

Jamie is a sports star on a scholarship; Fullbrook is his chance to escape his past.

Can they both stand together against Fulbrook’s most toxic traditions?

The Review

I really like campus novels. I like having a sneaky peak into a world that I may be unaware of. I like it when those novels tackle difficult issues and Tradition definitely tackles a difficult issue. Kiely looks at the privilege that is shown to sports stars within private schools and how that privilege can manifest itself in insidious sexual attacks that are brushed under the carpet.

With a dual narrative, we see what life at Fullbook is like from Jules perspective – she was once part of the privileged group but now abhors it. We also see it from Jamie’s perspective who has landed smack bang into that world and doesn’t fit in.

The toxicity of this environment drips from every page and makes you genuinely uncomfortable. It is a book that should be read and shared as much as possible.

Tradition by Brendan Kiely is available now.

For more information regarding Brendan Kiely (@KielyBrendan) please visit www.bendankiely.com.

For more information regarding Penguin Random House (@penguinrandom) please visit www.penguinrandomhouse.com.

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.