THE BLOG
06/14/2013 03:23 pm ET Updated Aug 14, 2013

Books: Gripping Queen Of The Air A Real-Life Water For Elephants

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QUEEN OF THE AIR By Dean N. Jensen
$26.00 hardcover
Crown

An unattractive cover is the only flaw in this otherwise thoroughly gripping, melodramatic true story of one of the most famous circus performers of all time. Queen Of The Air begins with a family on hard times that reluctantly allows its little daughter to go away on tour throughout Latin America with a traveling circus. She is abused by the owner yet rises to become one of the greatest acts in the world. But she's not the star of this story.

Her daughter from that rape turns into a prodigy of prodigies called Leitzel, the Queen Of The Air. Among the many unlikely events that pepper this true story: the mother is wracked with guilt that she had to ignore her children for her career but is insanely jealous when the little girl almost immediately outshines her. Leitzel leaps from success to success with her dazzling skill as an aerialist and is soon the top attraction at the biggest circus in the world. There a young nobody in the circus falls in love with her.

That teenage boy Alfredo gets to smooch with Leitzel but she's really only dallying with him. They both marry others but Alfredo is determined to become worthy of her...and turns into a member of the Flying Codona Brothers, ultimately becoming perhaps the first man in history to regularly perform the literally death-defying triple somersault while traveling at 60 miles per hour. More than a decade later and now world famous himself, Alfredo reunites with the woman he always loved.

She loves him too and they get married. But she loves fame ever so slightly more and is too used to flitting from lover to lover for the jealous Alfredo's taste. Romance, high society, passion, disdain, celebrity, money, madness, bold gambles, tragic failures -- it's all here in a tale that you would scoff at if it weren't true.

A real life Water For Elephants is the inevitable comparison for Queen Of The Air. Author Dean N. Jensen took literally decades to tell this story right; everyone he initially interviewed is dead now. It was worth the wait. The result is one of the most improbable and entertaining books of the year.

You can find more great picks and all the top releases of the week at BookFilter.com. It features the top picks of the week from every category chosen by the BookFilter staff. Then you can go to top picks in every category, like mystery and romance and sci-fi and sports and cookbooks and you name it. If you're a more casual reader, you can look at the cream of the crop by checking out the top picks for the month or season. If you're crazy about books, you can check out all the releases under any category you want. It's all there at BookFilter.com.

Thanks for reading. Michael Giltz is the founder and CEO of BookFilter, a book lover's best friend. It's a website that lets you browse for books online the way you do in a physical bookstore, provides comprehensive info on new releases every week in every category and offers passionate personal recommendations every step of the way. It's like a fall book preview or holiday gift guide -- but every week in every category. He's also the cohost of Showbiz Sandbox, a weekly pop culture podcast that reveals the industry take on entertainment news of the day and features top journalists and opinion makers as guests. It's available for free on iTunes. Visit Michael Giltz at his website and his daily blog. Download his podcast of celebrity interviews and his radio show, also called Popsurfing and also available for free on iTunes. Link to him on Netflix and gain access to thousands of ratings and reviews.

Note: Michael Giltz is provided with free advance copies of books and final copies so he can consider them for review. He receives many more books than he could ever possibly cover.

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