Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History - Without the Fairy-Tale Endings by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie (2013)
Princesses Behaving Badly is a fun, kind of tongue-in-cheek look at the lives of many women throughout history who didn't portray the typical lady-like behavior expected of them. The book is divided into sections, such as the Schemers and the Partiers. Each biography is quite short, just giving an overview. I appreciated that the author tries to debunk some of the inaccuracies surrounding these women and that she included princesses from all over the world and many time periods. However, I was a little disappointed that some of the women were not actual princesses and a couple of them may have not been real at all, but just stories from local myths or folklore.
The writing style is definitely not dry; it's very readable and almost light-hearted. I didn't know most of the women highlighted in the book, but there were a few I did, including Princess Margaret of England. If you're looking for a twist on the typical biography, you may enjoy this one. 4 stars
My Lady Jane (The Lady Janies #1) by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows (2016)
I normally shy away from hyped books, so when this book first came out and everyone was raving about it, I didn't really want to read it. I wasn't sure it was my thing, either - people changing into animals? Trying to inject humor into a very tense time in history? But, it's loosely based on the Tudors, and I can't resist that!
King Edward is dying, and he is convinced by Lord Dudley to name his cousin, Jane Grey, as his successor and marry her to Dudley's son, Gifford. While this sounds pretty close to the historical record, this is where the similarities end, and what we get is a whimsical and light-hearted take on the 9-day reign of Lady Jane Grey. Instead of religious persecution, England is torn between those who can shape-shift into animals and those who cannot. Jane Grey is a bookish, opinionated, and open-minded young lady. She doesn't find out until after her marriage that her husband Gifford changes into a horse every day. While he's human, though, he is a sensitive and poetic lord. I loved watching them fall in love and even laughed at every near-kiss interruption. With Edward and Elizabeth (Bess), they try to take back England.
I just loved this book; the characters were so fun, the story so imaginative, and I couldn't stop reading (knowing the end would be so different from the story we actually know). My only quibble is that it seemed a bit coincidental that many major players found out they were also shape-shifters at the most opportune of times. 4.5 stars