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: 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: Rocks

Author: Joe Perry

Pages: 432 Pages

Publishers: Simon & Schuster

The Blurb

Before the platinum records or the Super Bowl half-time show or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Joe Perry was a boy growing up in small-town Massachusetts. He idolized Jacques Cousteau and built his own diving rig that he used to explore a local lake. He dreamed of becoming a marine biologist. But Perry’s neighbors had teenage sons, and those sons had electric guitars, and the noise he heard when they started playing would change his life. 

The guitar became his passion, an object of lust, an outlet for his restlessness and his rebellious soul. That passion quickly blossomed into an obsession, and he got a band together. One night after a performance he met a brash young musician named Steven Tyler; before long, Aerosmith was born. What happened over the next forty-five years has become the stuff of legend: the knockdown, drag-out, band-splintering fights; the drugs, the booze, the rehab; the packed arenas and timeless hits; the reconciliations and the comebacks. 

Rocks is an unusually searching memoir of a life that spans from the top of the world to the bottom of the barrel—several times. It is a study of endurance and brotherhood, with Perry providing remarkable candor about Tyler, as well as new insights into their powerful but troubled relationship. It is an insider’s portrait of the rock and roll family, featuring everyone from Jimmy Page to Alice Cooper, Bette Midler to Chuck Berry, John Belushi to Al Hirschfeld. It takes us behind the scenes at unbelievable moments such as Joe and Steven’s appearance in the movie of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (they act out the murders of Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees). 

Full of humor, insight, and brutal honesty about life in and out of one of the biggest bands in the world, Rocks is the ultimate rock-and-roll epic. In Perry’s own words, it tells the whole story: “the loner’s story, the band’s story, the recovery story, the cult story, the love story, the success story, the failure story, the rebirth story, the re-destruction story, and the post-destructive rebirth story.”

The Review

Rocks is the extremely interesting musical memoir of Joe Perry from Aerosmith. I won’t claim to be the biggest Aerosmith fan – although I can name enough of their songs to not feel like a total fraud – but I found their musical journey completely fascinating.

Perry discusses the influences on his music, the impact of his family and also the choices that helped and hindered the band at certain pivotal points in time.

One of the most fascinating elements of the memoir is the relationship between Joe Perry and Steve Tyler – where musical direction and ego often clashed. Rocks really is a must read for anyone interested in the rock music history.

Rocks by Joe Perry is available now.

For more information regarding Joe Perry (@JoePerry) please visit www.JoePerry.com.

For more information regarding Simon & Schuster (@SimonBooks) please visit www.simonandschuster.com.

Title: Joni Mitchell – In Her Own Words

Author: Malka Maron

Pages: 292 Pages

Publisher: ECW Press

The Blurb

When singer, musician, and broadcast journalist Malka Marom had the opportunity to interview Joni Mitchell in 1973, she was eager to reconnect with the performer she’d first met late one night in 1966 at a Yorkville coffeehouse. More conversations followed over the next four decades of friendship, and it was only after Joni and Malka completed their last recorded interview, in 2012, that Malka discovered the heart of their discussions: the creative process.

In Joni Mitchell: In Her Own Words, Joni and Malka follow this thread through seven decades of life and art, discussing the influence of Joni’s childhood, love and loss, playing dives and huge festivals, acclaim and criticism, poverty and affluence, glamorous triumphs and tragic mistakes . . .

This riveting narrative, told in interviews, lyrics, paintings, and photographs, is shared in the hope of illuminating a timeless body of work and inspiring others.

The Review

Joni Mitchell is a fascinating character and one of those women in music history who hasn’t been celebrated enough in my opinion. An artist, a poet, a musician. She is an absolute legend.

In Malka Moran’s book Joni Mitchell – In Her Own Words we see Joni Mitchell in her most honest. This comes with Joni Mitchell’s relationship with Malka Maron. It is probably the most candid that she has ever been in interview. It makes this memoir an absolutely fascinating read.

Joni Mitchell – in Her Own Words by Malka Maron is available now.

For more information regarding Joni Mitchell (@jonimitchell) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding ECW Press (@ecwpress) please visit www.ecwpress.com.

Title: Lipstick and Leather – On the Road with the World’s Most Notorious Rock Stars

Author: Kim Hawes

Pages: 332 Pages

Publisher: Sandstone Press

The Blurb

What do Motörhead, Black Sabbath, Elvis Costello, Rush and Chumbawamba have in common?

Kim Hawes, pioneering female tour manager.

Through hard work, hard partying and hard times, Kim refused to conform to others’ expectations. She hurled a TV through the glass ceiling of the male dominated music industry, blazing a trail for young women today.

This is no ordinary tale of life on the road.

The Review

When I was younger I had one ambition in life and that was to stand at the side of the stage at rock concerts and gigs and to follow a band on tour. Blame Almost Famous. I craved it so much but alas it wasn’t the life I ended up having.

It is still something I wish had happened but I have come to terms with the fact that it hasn’t happened for me. One of the ways that I deal with that blow is to read rock memoirs so that I can experience things vicariously. Lipstick and Leather was a perfect read for me in that respect. I was never going to be a musician or a roadie but I would have loved to have been a tour manager like Kim Hawes.

Lipstick and Leather is a warts and all memoir about what life on the road was like. She shows you the highs but brings you back down to reality with the lows. What you get when you read Lipstick and Leather is a sense that Kim Hawes has no regrets over the experiences that she had. She recognises the privilege of her experience and knows that very few get to do what she did. However, rather graciously she has invited you to ride pillion with her in her memories. What a gloriously rock and roll time she had.

I’m envious but thankful for the vicarious experience.

Lipstick and Leather – On the Road with the World’s Most Notorious Rock Stars by Kim Hawes is available now.

For more information regarding Kim Hawes (@KimTM) please visit www.kimtm.com.

For more information regarding Sandstone Press (@sandstonepress) please visit www.sandstonepress.com.