Tag: Books: Nonfiction


Review: The Queen and Mrs. Thatcher

Posted 31 August, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Queen and Mrs Thatcher: An Inconvenient Relationship
Edited By: Dean Palmer
Format/Source: Hardback courtesy of the author via GoodReads First Reads Programme

This is the remarkable story of how the two most powerful women in Britain at the time met and disliked each other on sight.

For over a decade they quietly waged a war against each other on both a personal and political stage, disagreeing on key issues including sanctions against South Africa, the Miners’ Strike and allowing US planes to bomb Libya using UK military bases.

Elizabeth found the means to snub and undermine her prime minister through petty class put-downs and a series of press leaks.

Margaret attacked her monarch by sidelining her internationally, upstaging her at home and allowing the Murdoch press to crucify the royal family.

This book is a window into the 80s, an era when Britain was changed beyond recognition by a woman who made ‘Thatcherism’ the defining word of the decade.

I thought the premise of this book was really interseting: two of the most powerful women in Britain in the 1980s who disliked each other. How does that work out? From the book blurb above, I had no idea that they disliked each other so much that it would actually play out on the political stage, albeit discreetly (I must’ve missed that part when I read Robin Harris’ Not For Turning (review) some two years ago). I’ve read enough royal biographies and snippets I suppose–not to mention the Thatcher biography I just noted in the previous sentence–to know enough about both women, so I was curious to see how this book highlights the differences–and similarities?–between the two of them. I was surprised to learn that I won a copy of this book through GoodReads and thankful to the author for having sent it. This book became available on 01 June 2015.

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Review: Paper Tigress

Posted 10 August, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

Paper Tigress
By: Rachel Cartland
Format/Source: Paperback courtesy of the publishers via LibrayThing Early Reviewers Programme

Rachel Cartland came to Hong Kong in 1972 as one of just two female expatriates in the Hong Kong Government’s elite administrative grade.

Before she retired in 2006, her life was shaped by the momentous events that rocked Hong Kong during those action-packed years: corruption and the police mutiny, the growth of the new towns, the currency crisis of 1983, Tiananmen Square, the change of sovereignty and the devastation of SARS. The backdrop to her story ranges from Kowloon’s infamous Walled City to Government House to the rural New Territories.

Paper Tigress is full of humour and incident and, at the same time, an accessible account of modern Hong Kong and the forces that shaped it.

Bit of a funny story about this book, but I won a complimentary copy of this book from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers programme in 2014 but only received a copy of it early this year. Had actually given up the prospect of it ever arriving when it did xD So here we are. I thought the premise of this book was really interesting, being one of two female expatriates working for the Hong Kong government, as well as the fact that it was about Hong Kong politics and 20th century history, an area I was not very familiar with.

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Review: Very British Problems

Posted 17 July, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 7 Comments

Very British Problems: Making Life Awkward for Ourselves, One Rainy Day at a Time
By: Rob Temple
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase

There’s an epidemic sweeping the nation

Symptoms include:

  • Acute embarrassment at the mere notion of ‘making a fuss’
  • Extreme awkwardness when faced with any social greeting beyond a brisk handshake
  • An unhealthy preoccupation with meteorology

Doctors have also reported several cases of unnecessary apologising, an obsessive interest in correct queuing etiquette and dramatic sighing in the presence of loud teenagers on public transport. If you have experienced any of these symptoms, you may be suffering from VERY BRITISH PROBLEMS.

VERY BRITISH PROBLEMS are highly contagious. There is no known cure.

Rob Temple’s hilarious new book reveals all the ways in which we are a nation of socially awkward but well-meaning oddballs, struggling to make it through every day without apologising to an inanimate object. Take comfort in misfortunes of others. You are not alone.

@soverybritish is one of my favourite Twitter accounts out there. I’m not British, but I can relate to a lot of the tweets mentioned (the obsession with the weather, the constant apologising–some of this is actually quite Canadian, so I wonder if it’s more of a Commonwealth thing, but I digress).

Suffice to say, it’s just what you expect if you do follow the Twitter account. The book is broken down to chapters focusing on a particular tasks and features in life, from driving to the workplace to the constant discussions about the weather (another thing I do quite a bit, the 10-minute discussion about the weather). Some of the points are familiar from past tweets, but others are a wee bit expanded upon (as in, more than 140 characters long 😛 ) and are accompanied by hilarious little illustrations along the way. My favourite chapter has to be the one about apologising–something I do a lot (also a Canadian thing, but anyway)! The chapters are also peppered occasionally with historical events, imagined events that will occur in the future, quotes from television shows and books, and my favourite, the quiz determining whether you are suffering from Very British Problems (need to I disclose if I am? 😛 ).

If you’re looking for a laugh or a bit of awkward social examination, this is a quick and fun read. Oh, and apparently there’s another book coming out this autumn about Brits travelling abroad. Should be fun 🙂

Rating: ★★★★★

Visit the Twitter account @soverybritish || Order this book from the Book Depository

Review: Mayors Gone Bad

Posted 10 July, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

Mayors Gone Bad
Edited By: Philip Slayton
Format/Source: Advanced reading copy courtesy of the publishers via GoodReads First Reads Programme

Mayors Gone Bad, a series of profiles of recent and current Canadian mayors gone amok, is an entertaining companion volume to the bestselling Lawyers Gone Bad. Whether they’ve misappropriated funds, had cosy relationships with Mafia hoods, been caught with prostitutes, or admitted to smoking crack, Canada’s mayors are a colourful collection: Peter Kelly, long-serving mayor of Halifax, driven from office by investigative reporting of ethical lapses; Gerard Tremblay of Montreal resigned in suspicious circumstances; Michael Applebaum of Montreal faces criminal charges of fraud; Gilles Vaillancourt of Laval also resigned and faces similar criminal charges; Alexandre Duplessis of Laval left after a hooker scandal; Joe Fontana was convicted of fraud and is under house arrest; Susan Fennell of Brampton was under police investigation for possible criminal use of city funds; Sam Katz of Winnipeg was dogged throughout his mayoralty by conflict-of-interest allegations; and Rob Ford made headlines across North America as “the crack-smoking mayor of Toronto.”

But it’s not all bad news: Philip Slayton writes about the “western triangle of mayoral goodness,” Nenshi of Calgary, Iveson of Edmonton, and Robertson of Vancouver. Also, Slayton features four foreign mayors who have made an impact: Jón Gnarr of Reykjavik, Boris Johnson of London, Michael Bloomberg of New York, and Anne Hidalgo of Paris. Aside from creating a rogues’ gallery of mayors, Slayton offers insight into the nature of municipal government in Canada and speculates about why people seek the office of mayor. Little real power is exercised by any mayor, but the abuses of that power are nonetheless significant. As well, Slayton provides a series of proposals to reform municipal government. Written with the dry wit that made Lawyers Gone Bad a national bestseller, Slayton’s new book is an eye-opening look at how we are governed.

Despite having studied political science in my undergrad programme, I never really paid attention to municipal politics save for the odd by-law they wanted to introduce. It just never really interested me. And when it did enter my attention, it’s usually some craziness, like the Rob Ford fiasco (I talked about it a year ago or so in a post as suddenly council meetings became a whole lot more colourful). But it’s not just what was happening in Toronto; I was hearing news from places like Montreal and Laval where mayors were also being busted for criminal and unethical behaviour. So I was very much intrigued when I discovered this book on Goodreads as, omg, there were a lot of cases of Canadian mayors doing crazy things. I won an ARC of this book via GoodReads giveaways. This book was published on 19 May 2015.

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Books: A Batch of Mini-Reviews

Posted 27 December, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Here we are again, another batch of mini-reviews that couldn’t possibly warrant their own review posts. This also is likely the last one of the year seeing as we’re in the last quarter of the year, things are busy on my end, and my to-read pile is still pretty tall 😉 Included in this batch of reviews are:

This book is part of the A Year in Re-Reading: a 2014 Reading Challenge & the Everything España 2014 Reading Challenge that I am participating in. May contain some spoilers ahead!

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