Title: Half a Life

Author: Darin Strauss

Pages: 208 Pages

Publisher: Random House

The Blurb

In this powerful, unforgettable memoir, acclaimed novelist Darin Strauss examines the far-reaching consequences of the tragic moment that has shadowed his whole life.

In his last month of high school, he was behind the wheel of his dad’s Oldsmobile, driving with friends, heading off to play mini-golf. Then: a classmate swerved in front of his car. The collision resulted in her death.

With piercing insight and stark prose, Darin Strauss leads us on a deeply personal, immediate, and emotional journey–graduating high school, going away to college, starting his writing career, falling in love with his future wife, becoming a father. Along the way, he takes a hard look at loss and guilt, maturity and accountability, hope and, at last, acceptance. The result is a staggering, uplifting tour de force.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Hmmm. Well. How do I write this review?

I found this to be a very self indulgent book. Granted, it is a memoir and that can often be the case. However, I think the reason I had such a problem with it was because I felt like the author was cashing in on an event that, yes, was life altering for him but was probably more life altering for other people.

I felt that the author presented himself as almost wrong footed by life and that people just didn’t understand him. I don’t know, it just came across as self serving and whiny.

I was not a fan of this book.

Half a Life by Darin Strauss is available now.

Title: Bombed Out! Tales of ‘70s and 80s Music, Punk, Eric’s Bands and Beyond

Author: Peter Alan Lloyd

Pages: 258 Pages

Publisher: PAL Publishing

The Blurb

This is a gritty, earthy and expletive-littered Punk ‘Coming of Age’ book, about my time growing up playing in Liverpool New Wave bands and hanging around Eric’s Club and Liverpool City Centre in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and what came afterwards.

During that remarkable musical period bands such as Dead or Alive, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Elvis Costello, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, A flock of Seagulls, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Wah! Heat, Pink Military Stand Alone and many other bands were born or nurtured in Eric’s Club on Mathew Street in Liverpool.

The book details my time playing bass in Pink Military Stand Alone, and with Pete Burns in Nightmares in Wax, which morphed into Dead or Alive, and the years I spent working in, going to and playing at Eric’s, living my life as part of Liverpool’s vibrant 1980s music scene.

After my band period finished, Margaret Thatcher’s economic policies and the 1980s recession flattened Liverpool, and I wound up on the dole, with few qualifications, no aptitude to study and with no prospects of a proper job.

Using my penniless experience of being in the bands, and a new-found confidence and determination that Punk and my time in the music business had bestowed on me, I embarked on a tough journey in an attempt to turn my life around.

This book tells what happened.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

The reason I bought Bombed Out by Peter Alan Lloyd is because the book is set in Liverpool and I have lived there all my life and find the social history fascinating, and because the book is about music – one of my two biggest passions in life. After reading Bombed Out I am a bit torn with my feelings about it.

One the one hand, it is a very interesting look at the music scene. Eric’s was such an iconic bar and so many bands played there, socialised there or were even formed there. That side was all very interesting although at one point I did feel a little bit like it was an exercise in name-dropping after a while.

On the other hand, whilst I get that Bombed Out is a memoir, I found it to be quite self indulgent. Lloyd sounded whiny whilst trying to appear self deprecating at times. I found his descriptions of the ‘rough area’ he lived in laughable – Brownmoor Lane is not a rough place to live, in fact, Crosby is pretty is quite an beautiful area. I don’t know, some things just didn’t sit well with me so that was a bit disappointing.

Overall, if you were around during the punk era and you find Liverpool bands entertaining then you may enjoy this book more than I did.

Bombed Out! Tales of ‘70s and 80s Music, Punk, Eric’s Bands and Beyond is available now.

Title: Everything I Know About Love

Author: Dolly Alderton

Pages: 333 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

A spot-on, wildly funny and sometimes heart-breaking book about growing up, growing older and navigating all kinds of love along the way.

When it comes to the trials and triumphs of becoming a grown up, journalist and former Sunday Times dating columnist Dolly Alderton has seen and tried it all. In her memoir, she vividly recounts falling in love, wrestling with self-sabotage, finding a job, throwing a socially disastrous Rod-Stewart themed house party, getting drunk, getting dumped, realising that Ivan from the corner shop is the only man you’ve ever been able to rely on, and finding that that your mates are always there at the end of every messy night out.

It’s a book about bad dates, good friends and – above all else – about recognising that you and you alone are enough. Glittering with wit and insight, heart and humour, Dolly Alderton’s powerful debut weaves together personal stories, satirical observations, a series of lists, recipes, and other vignettes that will strike a chord of recognition with women of every age – while making you laugh until you fall over.

Everything I know About Love is about the struggles of early adulthood in all its grubby, hopeful uncertainty.

The Review

I found the end of my twenties really difficult. I had the breakdown of my first real relationship, I had the breakdown of my longest standing friendship because of said relationship and I just found the whole thing to be quite traumatic. There was no guidebook on growing up. For those currently in their twenties I would say that you should thank every available higher power source because you now have one.

Dolly Alderton’s Everything I Know About Love is a candid memoir of how life isn’t easy and how we often screw it up and how we can fix things around us and how sometimes we make really stupid decisions and how sometimes we do not know what is for the best. In conclusion, it is your twenties wrapped in a pretty book sleeve.

Everything I Know About Love really resonated with me. There were times I was just sat, shocked, that someone had been able to verbalise a feeling I had or how she inherently understood the power of female friendship. I was bowled over.

This is the kind of book that I feel the government should send out as a birthday gift when you reach the age of 21. It would save us all years of anguish and heartache.

Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton is available now.

For more information regarding Dolly Alderton (@dollyalderton) please visit her Twitter page.

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

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.