Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday Shorts

Mrs. Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn
published 10/31/12
384 pages

Synopsis from publisher:

After decades of service and years of watching her family's troubles splashed across the tabloids, Britain's Queen is beginning to feel her age. She needs some proper cheering up. An unexpected opportunity offers her relief: an impromptu visit to a place that holds happy memories — the former royal yacht, Britannia, now moored near Edinburgh. Hidden beneath a skull-emblazoned hoodie, the limber Elizabeth (thank goodness for yoga) walks out of Buckingham Palace into the freedom of a rainy London day and heads for King's Cross to catch a train to Scotland. But a characterful cast of royal attendants has discovered her missing. In uneasy alliance a lady-in-waiting, a butler, an equerry, a girl from the stables, a dresser, and a clerk from the shop that supplies Her Majesty's cheese set out to find her and bring her back before her absence becomes a national scandal.

My thoughts:

This novel was enjoyable, but felt perhaps just a bit too long. Kuhn's cast of characters was a host of personalities , with The Queen herself the most interesting and charismatic. I enjoyed the writing, and found myself chuckling aloud often. I don't know that I will remember much about Mrs. Queen next year, though, and that is probably the novel's one weakness. A fun, light read for fans of all things British.

Finished: 12/9/12
Source: review copy from publisher - thank you!
MPAA rating: PG
My rating: 7/10

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
published 9/31/11
audiobook - read by Jim Dale

Synopsis from publisher -

The circus arrives at night, without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within nocturnal black and white striped tents awaits a unique experience, a feast for the senses, where one can get lost in a maze of clouds, meander through a lush garden made of ice, stand awestruck as a tattooed contortionist folds herself into a small glass box, and gaze in wonderment at an illusionist performing impossible feats of magic.

Welcome to Le Cirque des Reves. Beyond the smoke and mirrors, however, a fierce competition is underway - a contest between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in a game, in which each must use their powers of illusion to best the other. Unbeknownst to them, this game is a duel to the death, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will.

My thoughts -

Oh, this book was simply magical. I love the way the author divided the book's sections, with descriptions of the amazing wonders of the circus mixed in between chapters of narrative. I loved the pacing - nothing rushed or hurried, unfolding each mystery in it's perfect time. I loved all the characters - I think Marco and Celia is my new favorite love story. And Jim Dale as narrator of this book was perfection. I enjoyed this so much that I plan to find my own physical copy, and I could see myself reading it again as soon as I have my hands on one. This will definitely be a contender for my favorite book of the year. 

Finished - 12/13/12
Source - audiobook from the library
MPAA rating - PG-13 for adult situations
My rating - 10/10

Becoming Sister Wives: The Story of an Unconventional Marriage by Kody, Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn Brown
published 5/31/12
288 pages

Synopsis from publisher -

In many ways, the Browns are like any other middle-American family. They eat, play, and pray together, squabble and hug, striving to raise happy, well-adjusted children while keeping their relationship loving and strong. The difference is, there are five adults in the openly polygamous Brown marriage — Kody and his four wives — who among them have seventeen children.

Since TLC first launched its popular reality program Sister Wives, the Browns have become one of the most famous families in the country. Now Kody, Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn reveal in their own words exactly how their special relationship works — the love and faith that drew them together, the plusses and pitfalls of having sister wives, and the practical and emotional complications of a lifestyle viewed by many with distrust, prejudice, even fear. With the candor and frankness that have drawn millions to their show, they talk about what makes their fascinating family work, addressing the topics that intrigue outsiders: How do the four relationships differ? What effect does a polygamous upbringing have on their children? What are the challenges — emotional, social, or financial — involved in living this lifestyle? Is it possible for all four sister wives to feel special when sharing a husband — and what happens when jealousy arises? How has being on camera changed their lives? And whats it like to add a new wife to the family — or to be that new wife?

My thoughts -

I think this book took a lot of courage to write. Not from an "outing ourselves as polygamists" standpoint - I mean, at this point, if you don't know who the Brown family is you probably aren't going to, because there secret got spilled a long time ago. I'm talking about the kind of courage it takes to be truly, completely honest about the life you have chosen. About being clear that it isn't easy - that sometimes it even sucks - but that you wouldn't change the decision for a minute. This family works in ways I can't even imagine, and I think they are remarkable. I think they have done immeasurable good for their religious community, and I hope their children have the freedoms that they are fighting for. This was a compelling read - not perfect, as none of these people are authors, so there were issues with flow and pacing, but I found myself completely engrossed nonetheless. Recommended.

Finished - 12/28/12
Source - South side library
MPAA rating - PG - this family is very conservative, and that comes across in their writing
My rating - 8/10


bermudaonion said...

Hm, I need to get Becoming Sister Wives for my mom - she loves that TLC show.

Kristen M. said...

I have GOT to read The Night Circus this year! I have a copy here so I don't know why I haven't picked it up yet. Seems like I need to do a re-sort of my TBR so that I can actually see the books I want to read. :)

Michelle Shannon said...

I think I might be the only person in the world who has not yet read The Night Circus. I even own a copy. It is definitely on my must-read list for 2013.

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