I consider Freddie Mercury one of the top five vocalists of all time. Just visit any local stadium on a Friday night to hear Queen’s classics like “We Will Rock You or We Are the Champions,” to reaffirm that his music from the 1970’s-1980’s stands the test of time. I wanted to read this book not only because I am a huge fan of Freddie Mercury, but because the author had actually spent some time with Mercury as well. She did not receive all of her information second hand. This biography covers Freddie’s upbringing from his birth in Zanzibar to boarding school in India, his rise to fame in England, The United States and Worldwide to his early death in 1991 from AIDS. Yes, Mercury’s life was excessive but he was also extremely giving and loyal to those around him. What I found the most interesting part of this biography was not about Freddie Mercury’s life, but about his relationship with other members in his band Queen. Queen was probably the most educated rock band in history. All four members of Queen Mercury, Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor received their college diplomas. Two members working on advanced degrees had to suspend their studies when the band became successful. Once Queen’s line up was complete in 1971 with John Deacon joining the group on bass, the line up never changed until Freddie’s death in 1991. This is unheard of in the Rock World, especially when the lead singer is considered a superstar like Mercury. Something even rarer was that Queen kept the same business manager from the early days of the band to the end. It is important to note that although each member could have taken individual credit for writing some of the most well-known songs in rock such as Somebody to Love (my favorite Queen song) written by Mercury and Another One Bites the Dust by Deacon all members were given equal song writing credit regardless of the original author. Queen was a band with much talent and little ego. This is not to say that the band didn’t argue, because they did. But their mutual respect for each other as artists always won out in the end. In this day and age when rock bands break up at the drop of a hat for the silliest of reasons, it was refreshing to read about a band that remained so loyal to each other.
This book was written by Arthur Fleischmann with input by Carly Fleischmann. She is listed as the co-author, but she mainly wrote the last chapter. The book is written about her and about how her family especially how her parents have worked to help her to be able to communicate and to function in society. She would have bursts of energy that would be destructive especially when she was young. The family had to have her stay at a group home on weekends, so they could have some rest. I saw her on The Doctors not too long ago, and when I saw that we had the book, I wanted to read it. Carly does not speak, but she is able to spell with a computer. She has come a long way with intense therapy and medication. Carly has used her computer to reach out to others through facebook and twitter. In the last chapter of the book she answers questions about autism that people have asked her through facebook and twitter. Read Carly’s Voice, and you will be inspired by a family’s love and by a young woman’s determination.
All right, I have a new favorite Regency author. Lauren Willig may not be Jane Austen (who is?), but she’s an excellent writer in her own right. The Mischief of the Mistletoe comes in the middle of her Pink Carnation series. Even so, it works very well on its own. I haven’t read any more of the series (it’s on my list now!), but I didn’t feel in the least bit lost or confused. If you like your Regency titles a little on the comical side, you’ll love The Mischief of the Mistletoe. Chapter 11 alone is worth the price of the book.
The Mischief of the Mistletoe is set in the early 1800’s, during the Napoleonic wars. Our heroine, Arabella Dempsey, is a poor relation who is more or less on her own now, thanks to her aunt’s marriage. In spite of the cautions of her childhood friend, Jane Austen, she takes a position as an instructress at a girls’ school in Bath. There she (literally) bumps into Reggie Fitzhugh, also known as Turnip. As you might guess, he’s an easygoing, friendly sort, if a little brainless. He’s also quite wealthy. The attraction between the two is obvious to all except them. After a Christmas season dealing with snippy Society ladies and their cruel husbands and male friends, cold castles, missing manuscripts, French spies, and Christmas puddings, we finally reach the expected end. That was when I knew I had to read more about these wonderful, engaging characters. I think you’ll want to, also.