Title: Living and Loving in the Age of AIDS – A Memoir

Author: Derek Frost

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Watkins Publishing

The Blurb

This is the tale of a devastating pandemic, of lives cut painfully short; it’s also a love letter.

Derek, a distinguished designer and J, his husband, a pioneering entrepreneur and creator of both The Embassy Club, London’s answer to Studio 54, and iconic Heaven, Europe’s largest gay discotheque, met and fell in love more than 40 years ago. 

Their lives were high-octane, full of adventure, fun and fearless creativity. Suddenly their friends began to get sick and die – AIDS had arrived in their lives. When they got tested, J received what was then a death sentence: he was HIV Positive. While the onset of AIDS strengthened stigma and fear globally, they confronted their personal crisis with courage, humour and an indomitable resolve to survive. J’s battle lasted six long years. Turning to spiritual reflection, yoga, nature – and always to love – Derek describes a transformation of the spirit, how compassion and empathy rose phoenix-like from the flames of sickness and death. Out of this transformation also came Aids Ark, the charity they founded, which helped to save, amongst the world’s most marginalised people, more than 1,000 HIV Positive lives.

This is a story of joy and triumph; about facing universal challenges; about the great rewards that come from giving back. Derek speaks for a generation who lived through a global health crisis that many in society refused even to acknowledge. His is a powerful story chronicling this extraordinary time.

The Review

I have read quite a few books about AIDS – both fiction and nonfiction – and I am always hit afresh with just how awful this time period was and the impact it had on society.

Living and Loving in the Age of AIDS by Derek Frost is a firsthand account of what it was like to be a young gay man during this period. He talks about the fear and the anger but he also celebrates the community of his friends who were all struggling/fighting the same fight and how they came together to offer comfort.

There are moments in this book that feel like you are taking repeated punches to the gut, mostly when Frost drops into the chapter the next person who died, then the next, then the next. It felt relentless to read so I cannot image what it felt like to live through.

It sounds so obvious to say but the more I read about this time period the more I am confronted with individual stories. It is hard to imagine everyone’s individual lives when so, so many were killed by this horrific illness. More exposure to the stories of those who died is needed.

Living and Loving in the Age of AIDS – A Memoir by Derek Frost is available now.

For more information regarding Watkins Publishing (@watkinsbooks) please visit www.watkinsbooks.com.

Title: Two Like Me and You

Author: Chad Alan Gibbs

Pages: 300 Pages

Publisher: Borne Back Books

The Blurb

Edwin Green’s ex-girlfriend is famous. We’re talking cover-of-every-tabloid-in-the-grocery-store-line famous. She dumped Edwin one year ago on what he refers to as Black Saturday, and in hopes of winning her back, he’s spent the last twelve months trying to become famous himself. It hasn’t gone well.

But when a history class assignment pairs Edwin with Parker Haddaway, the mysterious new girl at school, she introduces him to Garland Lenox, a nursing-home-bound World War II veteran who will change Edwin’s life forever. 

The three escape to France, in search of the old man’s long-lost love, and as word of their adventure spreads, they become media darlings. But when things fall apart, they also become the focus of French authorities. In a race against time, who will find love, and who will only find more heartache?

The Review

Life has done the dirty on Two Like Me and You. Why, you ask. Well because this is a damn good YA fiction and I don’t think enough people know about it. And they should. Because it is damn good.

The story follows Edwin Green as he tries to win his famous ex-girlfriend back. In this brilliant coming of age story Edwin learns about the past, travels the world and maybe breaks a few laws along the way.

I really wish this book was more well known. Chad Alan Gibbs is a brilliant writer and I cannot wait to read more of his work.

Two Like Me and You by Chad Alan Gibbs is available now.

For more information regarding Born Back Books (@BorneBackBooks) please visit www.bornback.com.

Title: H is for Hawk

Author: Helen Macdonald

Pages: 300 Pages

Publisher: Grove Press

The Blurb

The instant New York Times bestseller and award-winning sensation, Helen Macdonald’s story of adopting and raising one of nature’s most vicious predators has soared into the hearts of millions of readers worldwide. Fierce and feral, her goshawk Mabel’s temperament mirrors Helen’s own state of grief after her father’s death, and together raptor and human “discover the pain and beauty of being alive” (People). H Is for Hawk is a genre-defying debut from one of our most unique and transcendent voices.

The Review

I was – once again – the victim of requesting due to the cover. I liked it so I clicked it willy-nilly. However, what I got from H is for Hawk is a story with so much heart that I found it a lovely read.

H is for Hawk is a memoir with a difference. It is the story of how Helen MacDonald adopted a goshawk however this story of Macdonald raising the bird parallels a massive change in her life – the loss of her father.

It is a bittersweet story about love and loss and was a genuine joy to read.

H is for Hawk by Helen Mcdonald is available now.

For more information regarding Helen MacDonald (@HelenJMacdonald) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Grove Press (@GrovePressUK) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: This Book Kills

Author: Ravena Guron

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: Usborne Publishing

The Blurb

There’s a murderer on the loose in an elite boarding school… But who is going to be next? This Book Kills is the deadliest YA thriller of 2023, perfect for fans of Holly Jackson and Karen McManus.

“I’ll make it clear from the start: I did not kill Hugh Henry Van Boren.

I didn’t even help. Well, not intentionally.”

When Hugh Henry Van Boren, one of the most popular and richest kids in Jess Choudhary’s school, is found dead, the student body is left reeling and wondering who the murderer could be… Jess, a student under strict instructions to keep her record clean or risk losing her scholarship, finds herself at the centre of the investigation when it’s revealed that Hugh died in the exact same way as a character in a short story she wrote.

And then Jess receives an anonymous text thanking her for the inspiration.

With time running out, Jess knows if she doesn’t solve this mystery she’ll finally have something in common with Hugh Henry.

She’ll be dead too.

The Review

Fish-Out-Of-Water meets Dark Academia – you get This Book Kills.

This Book Kills is the story of Jess, a scholarship student at an elite academy. When one of the richest students is killed all fingers begin to point to the outsider, they point to Jess. Jess has to help solve the mystery of the murder to clear her name.

This Book Kills is such a good story that shines a light on the pressure for elite academies to maintain a reputation but who are also at the whim of those paying for the education. Having a stark contrast between the rich and the poor highlights just how systemic prejudices can be.

What is truly great about This Book Kills is the pay off. I suspected everybody and I did not figure out who the actual culprit was until the very end. This Book Kills is a great YA Mystery.

This Book Kills by Ravena Guron is available now.

For more information regarding Ravena Guron (@RavenaGuron) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Usborne Publishing (@Usborne) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: The Traitors

Author: C. A. Lynch

Pages: 270 Pages

Publisher: Harper Collins/One More Chapter

The Blurb

The brand new locked-room thriller for fans of Ruth Ware and Freida McFadden.

You are cordially invited to the Beechwood Castle for a night you’ll never forget…

Six people find a thick cream envelope on their doorstep. Inside is an invitation to spend 24 hours in a crumbling manor house and be in with the chance to win a portion of one million dollars. The catch: Beechwood Castle was the site of one of the most horrific murders in modern history.

The smell of blood, decay and death still hangs heavy in the air.

Six people walk into the house. One of them is an imposter, all of them are traitors, which of them will survive the night?

The Review

I have said it before and I will say it again, I am the perfect reader for a mystery novel because I never, ever see the big reveal coming. It was not different when I read The Traitors.

Beechwood Castle has seen some drama over the years, the abandoned building was a haunt for unruly teenagers looking for a place to hang out. However, when a brutal murder happens the castle is locked up but its notoriety grew. Now the castle has been bought and reopened and six special guests have been invited to spend the night, all have one thing in common – the murder that took place all those years ago.

The Traitors is a fun mystery. It is fast paced with short chapters and the multi-perspective narrative keeps you guessing to the end. The setting is perfect and acts like an additional character with all its nooks and crannies.

I genuinely had a lot of fun reading this novel.

The Traitors by C. A. Lynch is available now.

For more information regarding One More Chapter (@0neMoreChapter_) please visit www.onemorechapter.com.