Friday Favourites – Female Protagonists

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Author-Hazel

It’s my turn this week to tell you all about my favourite female leads. Going through my read list on Goodreads and picking my favourites has made me realise that all my favourite females embody life and personality traits that I envy or idolise. I think a good aspirational character is a fantastic thing to read about in a story. It can influence you to better yourself or even better, realise you’re pretty darn great already. All my favourites have a lot of flaws which, I think, humanises them, making them more relatable and more enjoyable to read.

Kay Scarpetta (Kay Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell)

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When I was a teenager, and the teachers traipsed you down to the careers office, I was always drawn to the science and investigation careers. Primarily, a Forensic Detective. It’s my dream job, and if things had played out differently… who knows, it could’ve been. I loved reading about this fascinating career and all the different aspects of it, and I loved Kay Scarpetta; a strong woman holding her own as the chief M.E in a male dominated world. She made mistakes, but carried on anyway because she knew her role was important in potentially saving lives. And the woman can cook. Some of the mouth-watering recipes were described in the books.

Paula Myo (Commonwealth Saga by Peter F Hamilton)

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Paula Myo is a Police Detective. She’s brilliant and methodical. So methodical in fact she borders on obsessive. Perhaps because she was bred specifically to excel and want to work in law enforcement. The planet she originates from genetically alters the DNA of their humans so they are and will be pre-disposed to favour and be excellent in chosen careers. Paula Myo struggles with the love she has for her work and the fact she does not agree with her planets’ genetic manipulation. Her love of her job sometimes takes her into very dangerous situations and she has made many enemies over her lifetimes, but she won’t quit in the search for justice.

Avery Morganstern (Wait for you by J Lynn)

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Avery went through a terrible ordeal when she was 14, and because her family and town let her down she was forced to endure isolation and bullying throughout her teenage years. Although she is still very much affected by the tragedy she suffered, she’s trying to move on (and move away), get herself a College education and survive on her own without her parents. I admire her courage, strength and her ability to try and better herself even after going through something that would break a lot of people.

Elena Michaels (Women of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong)

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Elena doesn’t wear make-up, perfume or use scented bath/shower products. She wears comfy clothes. Essentially she looks like an everyday woman. But Elena is a werewolf. The only female werewolf. And she can hold her own amongst this heavy testosterone, alpha male environment. She’s tough but feminine and I love that combination.

Freya Beachamp (Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz)

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Although I was unimpressed by this book, I did like Freya. She’s full of energy and fun and isn’t afraid to dare and take risks. She followed her heart even though it put her in some sticky situations. She was conflicted by her feelings for her fiance’s brother and struggled with it throughout the story, making some questionable decisions along the way. She’s also the Queen of mixing up potions, creating elaborate concoctions for all occasions.

Do you have some favourite female protagonists?

 

 

 

 

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Book Club Review – Lexicon by Max Berry

Author-Hazel

So for the month of December, it was my turn to pick the book club book, and I picked Lexicon by Max Berry. Here’s the synopsis….

‘Sticks and stones break bones.

Words kill.

They recruited Emily from the streets. They said it was because she’s good with words. They’ll live to regret it.

Wil survived something he shouldn’t have. But he doesn’t remember it.

Now they’re after him and he doesn’t know why.

There’s a word, they say. It shouldn’t have got out. But it did.

And they want it back…

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When it’s my turn to pick the book, I try and go with a choice that’s different, something that is unlike anything we’ve previously read. This book definitely ticked those boxes.

Lexicon has such a unique premise and plot that, for me, is completely different to anything I’ve ever read. It’s a gripping thriller with a mild sci fi theme, an action packed adventure from cover to cover and there’s even a little romance sprinkled throughout.

The execution of the story was a little confusing at times, as the author jumps us back and forth through time until the timelines eventually meet at the same point. To start with it felt clear who’s perspective we were reading from and from which timeline, but towards the end of the book, this wasn’t so obvious.

Although the themes of the story were sometimes quite ‘sciencey’, it was not difficult to read and understand, and I sped through the novel quite smoothly and quickly.

The characters were all very unique and crafted well, warts and all, and much like real life, there wasn’t a clear ‘good guy’, but there were several bad guys.  I connected well to Emily, the female lead in this book, I liked that her background was a tough one, yet there she was doing the best with what she had and grabbing onto an opportunity no matter how ‘Too good to be true’ it felt. She went through quite a tough old time, made some silly mistakes and some hard decisions.

Now for all the great and positive things I have to say about this book, I do have one thing that let me down, and that was the ending. It fell a bit flat to be honest. I wanted more. Up to maybe the last few pages, I was loving the story but the ending was not on par with the rest of the story.

Overall, I’m really glad I picked this one, I really liked it and will try and seek out similar books to read in the future and maybe check out some of the authors other works.

 
Laura
I had no preconceptions going into this book – I didn’t even really know what it was about, which is quite a nice change (I’m a sucker for reading reviews before reading the actual story!) It took me a while to figure out how I felt about it once I’d finished, but I’ve decided I definitely liked it. What I haven’t decided is why. The plot was fast paced and full of action, but everyone seemed to be a baddy which made it difficult for me to care about the outcome. I really liked the environment the story was set in; the cities felt alive and the scenes in Australia were really descriptive – you really get the sense of how hot, dry and barren Broken Hill is.
I was worried it would get a bit Sci-Fi, but the author keeps it straightforward – it felt more magical than (to use Hazel’s word) sciencey in places, with words acting like spells to persuade, manipulate and empower.
A great choice for a Book Club read – we had a good chat about it and it raised quite a few questions. I gave it 4 stars ****

 

Kiera

I wasn’t really sure how I felt about this book when I’d finished it. To be honest I still don’t. I enjoyed that it was something different, and once I got into the story I did want to keep reading. I think I was expecting something else from the blurb, and that might be why I can’t reconcile my thoughts. What I most enjoyed about the story was that it made you look at the world in more detail, and actually pay attention to things that we normally pass off as normal practice. Especially within the media. It had snippets from news papers and emails throughout to help aid the story, and I found that gave insight to things I hadn’t really thought of before. The characters all have their highs and lows, but I didn’t really like any of them.

 

Most Anticipated Reads!

So we’re doing something a bit different this week. Normally on a Friday we talk about books that we know and love, but for a bit of a change we thought we would share some books we can’t wait to read! Hopefully you’ll see something that takes your fancy.

 

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

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I know what you might be thinking, this is another book I was drawn to because of the cover, and I have to say you would be absolutely right! Then I saw Neil Gaiman’s quote about the author and that was enough for me to read the blurb and decide this was firmly on my to read list.

‘Aza Ray is drowning in thin air.

Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live.

So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn’t think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia.

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?’

Due out April 28th 2015

 

The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey

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I saw a review for this book with the tag line ‘Readers of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone will love this book.’ So of course I’m going to give this a read! After doing a bit of research on it, I’m excited to read it in it’s own right.

‘Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she’s ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she’s fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it’s time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, but if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren’t as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.’

Due out in April 2015

 

Immaculate by Katelyn Detweiler.

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Now religion is normally something I stay away from in most forms. I’m not religious personally but I’m not opposed to any religion in any way, it is just a subject that is very sensitive and can cause offense and upset very easily. This book has me intrigued though! I really want to find out which direction the story will take, and will approach it with an open mind.

‘Mina is seventeen. A virgin. And pregnant.

Mina is top of her class, girlfriend to the most ambitious guy in school, able to reason and study her way through anything. But when she suddenly finds herself pregnant—despite having never had sex—her orderly world collapses. Almost nobody believes Mina’s claims of virginity. Her father assumes that her boyfriend is responsible; her boyfriend believes she must have cheated on him. As news of Mina’s story spreads, there are those who brand her a liar. There are those who brand her a heretic. And there are those who believe that miracles are possible—and that Mina’s unborn child could be the greatest miracle of all.’

Due out May 26th 2015

 

Twisted Fate by Norah Olson

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This book has been dubbed the ‘We Were Liars’ of 2015. Sometimes I find myself in the mood for a book filled with suspense, but being a bit of a wuss I tend to go for the YA kind. This looks like it will it will do the job!

‘When Alyson meets Graham Copeland, the new boy next door, she instantly feels like he’s a kindred spirit—shy and awkward like her, someone who has trouble making friends. It’s impossible to resist having a crush on him.

As usual, her sister, Sydney, sees things differently. In Sydney’s mind, Graham’s odd personality and secretive past scream psychopath, not sweetheart. Her gut is telling her to stay away from him, and to protect a love-struck Alyson from her own naïveté. But despite her instincts, Sydney is surprised to realize that a part of her is drawn to Graham, too.

And the more Sydney gets to know him, the more she realizes just how right—and wrong—she is about everything.’

Due out January 2015

Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little

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I love history and historical fiction, so when I saw that this book is set in 600BC I was instantly interested! I’m really looking forward to giving this a read.

‘In the unforgiving Mesopotamian desert where Jayden’s tribe lives, betrothal celebrations abound, and tonight it is Jayden’s turn to be honored. But while this union with Horeb, the son of her tribe’s leader, will bring a life of riches and restore her family’s position within the tribe, it will come at the price of Jayden’s heart.

Then a shadowy boy from the Southern Lands appears. Handsome and mysterious, Kadesh fills Jayden’s heart with a passion she never knew possible. But with Horeb’s increasingly violent threats haunting Jayden’s every move, she knows she must find a way to escape—or die trying.

With a forbidden romance blossoming in her heart and her family’s survival on the line, Jayden must embark on a deadly journey to save the ones she loves—and find a true love for herself.

Set against the brilliant backdrop of the sprawling desert, the story of Jayden and Kadesh will leave readers absolutely breathless as they defy the odds and risk it all to be together.’

 

So these are my highly anticipated reads. What are yours?

Book Review – Apolonia by Jamie McGuire

Author-Hazel

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Apolonia is a New Adult, Science Fiction story about a girl called Rory. Rory survived a horrific attack that left her parents and best friend dead. Three years later, she’s attending college and is working as a research assistant for her college professor Dr Zorba. Dr Zorba comes into possession of a rock believed to be from outer space. Along with Dr Zorba and Cyrus, Rory’s fellow research assistant, Rory is analysing and recording data about this rock and the plot develops from there. I can’t say anymore without revealing spoilers.

Rory is a bitch to put it bluntly! You may forgive her because of what happened in her past but having said that, it didn’t make me like her anymore. A love triangle of a sort develops between herself, Benji a fellow classmate and Cyrus, the other research assistant. Benji was a bit sappy and stalkerish for my tastes and Cyrus’ character felt mostly unbelievable.

I felt that the story was a bit predictable and unfortunately I didn’t care for any of the characters, so I wasn’t bothered about what could happen to them or who Rory ended up with. The plot, although it was action packed enough to keep me reading, didn’t have much depth.

I don’t understand why the novels namesake is a character that you don’t meet until 3/4’s of the way through, and she’s essentially a side character. She wasn’t a driving force in the story and she wasn’t significant enough to have the book named after her!

Overall the story was OK. It didn’t captivate me like previous works by this author but at the same time it wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t finish it.  I recommend this story to fans of New Adult novels that want more than just a romance story but not with a deep and meaningful plot.