Writer: Linda Rodriguez McRobbie
Published by Quirk Books, 2013
It’s like a love at first sight. I saw this book at Periplus Soekarno-Hatta airport and fell in love. Its classic hardcover jacket promises me an eternity. But it is the first word of the title that caught my eyes: Princesses. I’m a big fan of history, especially those of princesses. I love “princess dresses” and I spent my childhood imagining myself as a princess.
So, although the subtitle is “real stories from history WITHOUT the fairy-tale endings”, I still bought this book. My love at first sight turned out to be the stories of at least 30 princesses that were supposedly behaving badly and wreck havocs into their own lives. The time period spans widely, from Hatsepsut in Egypt (CA. 1508-1458 BCE) to Princess Margaret of Britain (1930-2002).
The bad behaviours are divided into seven categories:
1. Princesses who fought their own battles,
2. Princesses who grabbed power in a man’s world,
3. Princesses who plotted and planned,
4. Princesses who made controversial and questionable choices,
5. Princesses who loved to live it up
6. Princesses notorious for their sexy exploits
7. Princesses who were likely mad, or close to it Continue reading
Writer: Bill Bryson
Paperback edition, 672 pages
Published by Black Swan, 2014
(first published 2013)
This is the latest book from my beloved writer, Bill Bryson. He mixes two of my favourite theme: travel and history, in a comical way. His travel books always full of histories, while his history books contain stories from faraway places.
Before reading this book, I never thought that a particular year could make an interesting book. I thought the chances are that book would be too thick, too boring, and too kaleidoscope-like if there were too many interesting things happened during the year. Or, the book would be too trivial and too insignificant because there was no stand-alone affair in one year; every happening is a string of events which could take years to occur. And yet, Bryson wrote this unbelievable book. Continue reading
Writer: Alan Bradley
Published by Bantam Books, 2014
It was the summer of 1950. From the very start, Flavia de Luce was not just an ordinary 11 years old girl. She lives in Buckshaw, a 300 years old once-grand Gregorian mansion built by the de Luces family, in an English bucolic village of Bishop’s Lacey. Her mother, Harriet, had been lost in a mountaineering accident in Tibet when Flavia was just one year old. Together with her older sisters, she was sort of home-schooled by her father.
Apart from the conventional education his father gives her, she has grown fond of chemistry. And maybe it’s not a coincidence. She inherited her great-uncle marvellous laboratory on the top floor of the mansion. Her daily life consists of running away from her sisters who couldn’t stop teasing her and hiding in the laboratory, working on chemical experiments creating poisons.
But things changed when she witnessed a man dying in their garden. Her curiosity brought her deeper into the investigation. This amateur sleuth uses her wit and her innocent appearance to fish for information. Her vast knowledge especially in chemistry helps her to put two and two together. Since then she has assisted Inspector Hewitt solving murders in the village. Continue reading