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?

 

 

 

 

Friday Favourites – Female Protagonists.

Author – Kiera.

I was the one who suggested the topic of this FF, but then I started to panic because I couldn’t think of any! Luckily Goodreads came to the rescue, and after going through my read pile I’d made quite a lengthy list. The interesting thing about focusing on a certain aspect of a book is that you start to see similarities you didn’t know were there.

Yelena – Poison Study by Maria V. Synder.

poison-study-young-adult-front-cover2 Choose: A quick death…Or slow poison…

We first meet Yelena in a prison cell. She’s there for committing murder, and when she’s called up for execution she is given a choice – become the new food taster for the commander or death. Obviously she becomes the new poison taster or it would be a very short book! Yelena is one of the most hardy characters I have ever come across. Her survival instinct is unparalleled and she almost always manages to stay ahead of the game.

 

 

 

Deuce – Enclave by Ann Aguirre.

enclaveI really have a soft spot in my heart for the characters in this series. Deuce is fifteen and one of the enclave’s only female huntresses. She faces some of the most harrowing circumstances possible, but she never becomes bitter or resentful in anyway. She sees the world for what it is, and does her best to survive each day. I think that it is Deuce’s age and innocence that makes her such an appealing character.

 

 

 

 

Jane Yellowrock – Skinwalker by Faith Hunter.

Skinwalker-250These books read in a very similar way to the True Blood/ Sookie Stackhouse novels. There is a lot of down time that is filled with tea making and internal monologue, but during that time you really get to know Jane as a character. She has no idea where she came from or who her family are, just that she is of Cherokee descent. Following her while she discovers more about herself and the city she has been hired to protect is an enjoyable ride, and Cherokee heritage isn’t something I had come across before so thumbs up for that too.

 

 

 

Lia – The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

tkod I’m not completely sure what it is that I find so captivating about Lia. She is a Princess and to prevent war breaking out between Kingdoms it is arranged for her to marry a Prince she has never met and certainly doesn’t love. So she does what any girl would do in her position, she makes a run for it and hopes that all hell doesn’t break loose. Now I am aware that actually most people wouldn’t do that, and maybe that is what I like about her. She makes a decision and goes for it. Such a go-getter.

 

 

 

Ivy – Wicked by Jennifer L Armentrout.

22895264Ivy is a character that I think people either love or hate. She is sarcastic, quick witted and can fight like a man. I fall into the love camp. I really enjoyed reading the story from her point of view. The dialogue between her and the other characters had me laughing out loud all the way through this book. Ivy has experienced a lot of loss in her life, and it makes her understandably guarded, but I found that to make her more relateable.

 

 

 

 

There were so many other amazing female characters I wanted to include here, but I wanted to try and keep them as diverse as possible. Which female characters are your favourite?

Wednesday Wonderings

When people say they don’t read it makes me feel sad. They are missing out on so much. Films and TV are great, but there is nothing quite like having your own input into the story. Inventing the characters, the world and relationships. It’s a wonderful thing!

bspa

Book & Movie review – The Duff

Author-Hazel


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Book or movie? This question always comes up when a film (or sometimes book) adaptation comes out. But is it always as simple as choosing one or the other? I don’t think it is. Sometimes they can be very different but equally enjoyable. And that is the case for The Duff…

 

 

The book

This book had been on my radar for a while and when I heard it was being adapted into a film, I bumped it up my TBR pile. I loved it! It was gritty, realistic, funny and at some points, dark. The story was fast paced and never boring. The writing was brilliant and engaging and it felt that the author had a very good and realistic grasp on what it is to be a teenager. The unique way they speak and respond to each other and situations is sometimes difficult for a an adult to pull off but Kody Keplinger did it very well. When I researched the author, I found out she was only 17 when she wrote this book! I think that’s a very impressive feat for such a young person and to do it so well too is fantastic. I’m definitely going to check out some of her other work. So after reading this and loving it, I had high hopes for the movie.

The movie

At 31, this kind of film is really a guilty pleasure for me (especially as there was a reference to 30 being old). It was a lot of fun, a light-hearted feel good movie with a good moral message. Plus Robbie Amell, shirtless – need I say more!

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The basic plot was the same but it had many differences. Some of the heaviness of the book was replaced with humour and light-heartedness.

 

 

 

 

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience of reading the book and watching the movie. Luckily I’m not a stickler who expects the adaptation to be exactly the same as the book. I appreciate that the story is being presented in a different medium and from a small collection of people’s perspectives. In conclusion, the book was great and the film was a lot of fun. They were different but equally enjoyable. I recommend checking both out if you enjoy YA Contemporary stories, you won’t be disappointed. Happy reading 📖:)

 

 

 

Friday Favourites – Standalones!

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Author – Hazel

This was a tricky one. I discovered that I tend to read books that are part of a series. But having said that, if I could, I would choose Standalones over books in a series. I like the excitement of delving into a new book. I like the story being wrapped up in a 400 page novel as opposed to sometimes having to get through several or more books to get to the conclusion.

Here are my favourites.

Pretty Girl Thirteen by Liz Coley

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This was one of my Book Club picks of 2013. It’s a young adult psychological thriller that kept popping up in various recommendation pages and the synopsis sounded like the story might spark some interesting discussions. Although the story was gripping and easy to read, the content was heavy and upsetting. Liz Coley did a great job of weaving a disturbing and unpleasant story in a way where younger people can read and appreciate the complexity and understand the distressing situations, without having to read graphic scenes of a horrible nature. I found the psychological aspect of the story fascinating.

Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan

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This book was recommended to me by someone on Goodreads. It’s a new adult novel about a girl running away from her past and a guy living with a disability. They meet and a beautiful romance begins. I loved this book, I couldn’t put it down and it gave me all the feels. And this book had a happily ever after ending.

My other favourites have already been mentioned in Kiera’s Standalone Favourites, or they already have a review on our blog.

Happy Reading 📖😊

Friday Favourites – Standalones!

Author – Kiera

When I suggested doing standalones as a Friday favourite I thought it would be a really easy topic. What a fool I am! After having a look through my reading history I noticed that actually I read books in a series far more often that I do standalones. Once invested in a series I’m too impatient to wait and must read the next book as soon as possible. If not sooner.

So with that being said here is my little list of standalones that I have read and enjoyed.

 

My Life Next Door – Huntley Fitzpatrick

mlnd“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything.As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase’s family embraces Samantha – even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha’s world. She’s suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

 

I finished this book today. It is completely adorable. A typical Young Adult Contemporary but one that addresses a few heavier issues. It made me laugh, it made me mad and it gave me that warm fuzzy feeling. If you are in the mood for something light hearted that still has some substance then I recommend this!

 

Ugly Love – Colleen Hoover.

ulWhen Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she knows it isn’t love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her.

Never ask about the past.
Don’t expect a future.

They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.

From the Young Adult to the Adult. I read this a while ago after hearing an equal amount of good and bad things about it. I might be broken, because all the things people seemed not to like in this book I loved. It is angsty and some times you just want to shout at the characters, but for some reason that keeps me reading! Plus the sex scenes are pretty damn good.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown – Holly Black.

tcgictTana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

 

 

I know we have all read a million and one vampire stories by now, but I really felt like this book put a very different spin on things! It has a very modern setting and all the outcomes feel realistic. The fact that it is a vampire book that stands alone is even better. Who has time for twenty plus book series anymore?

 

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

rpoIn the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.

But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape

 

 

If you like 80’s culture/references, treasure hunting, the internet and generally things that are ‘nerdy’ then I have to ask you – why you haven’t read this yet? I really hope we come up with something like the OASIS (not the band. Ick) soon, because I was made to live in it! Virtual reality + all day in pajamas = heaven! This book left such a clear impression in my mind. The world building is amazing and I loved the characters.

 

There are other standalones that I love – The Night Circus, Illusions of Fate and Tiger Lily are ones that I really wanted to give a little mention, and if you’re interested they all have their own reviews here on thebookspa for you to check out.

Book Review – Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

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Author – Kiera.

 

My review this week is going to be a bit different. Sort of a three in one. I originally saw Masque of the Red Death while on the hunt for Steam Punk and Dystopian books on Goodreads. It was only after I picked it up that I realised it was based on the novel of the same name by Edgar Allan Poe. So this is where it gets tricky. Bethany Griffin wrote two full novels and a novella based on the original short story, and I have read them all. To be able to reference it properly I thought I should read the original too. Which means this review will be a combination of my thoughts on them all.

Edgar Allan Poe’s short story is based around Prince Prospero and his attempts to avoid the Red Death that is ravaging the lands, by barricading himself in his castle with one thousand guests and throwing lavish masquerade balls. The masquerades are set within seven rooms, each with their own theme and each more disturbing than the last. It is important to note that Prince Prospero is missing a fair few of his marbles. This quote sums it up perfectly for me – ‘There were much of the beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the bizarre, something of the terrible and not a little of that which might have excited disgust’.

motrdBethany Griffin’s stories take from this idea and spin it into a world of misery and death and an interesting set of characters, while keeping all of the strange atmosphere in Poe’s version. It is based around our main protagonist, Araby Worth. The world has been ripped apart by plague and her father is a scientist that has invented masks that protect people from contagion. The only problem is that Prospero is in charge of distribution of the masks, which means only those who can afford to pay for them are protected. Araby is tormented by the death of her twin brother Finn, and to try and escape the pain she spends a lot of her time in the Debauchery Club with her best friend April. They drink, take drugs and generally try to forget the horrors of the world around them. Here is where we meet Will and Elliot. Will works at the club and Araby is drawn to his tattoos and dark tousled hair. Elliot is April’s brother and he recruits Araby to help his cause to try and make the city a better place – which means taking control away from Prospero.  I’m sure you can see where this is going – love triangle anyone?

dotrdDance of the Red Death is where you can really see the influence of Poe’s novel on this story. The masquerade takes place in this book, and it is just as intense and strange. I really liked the progression of the characters throughout both of these books. There are many twists and turns that I didn’t see coming and they all seem to force the characters forward with decisions they make. From what I have seen there is a divide between Will lovers and Elliot lovers. I am firmly in the Will camp. They both do horrible things, but I think I understand Will’s actions more.

These books feel equally character and story line driven, and in a way the world building is a character in itself. I could clearly picture the city and the club, the swamp filled with crocodiles and the porcelain masks they wore. No detail is left out and it makes for a vibrant reading experience.

I was looking for a gritty Dystopian novel and I certainly got that, with Steampunk elements and a gothic twist too!

Friday Favourites – Book Boyfriends!

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Author – Kiera

 

So, this topic has been in the pipe line for a while, the only problem we have is we fight over who gets which book boyfriend – logical, right? We couldn’t decide what to do for today’s post, so I flipped a coin and here we are. If you don’t hear from me in the next few weeks, please send a search party 😉

I also feel the need to apologize in advance because this post will probably get rather swoony.

In no particular order (as I love all my book boyfriends equally) we have;

 

Rhage – Black Dagger Brotherhood.

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There are many reasons Rhage is my favourite Black Dagger Brother. He’s funny, laid back and says it as it is. He’s also 6 ft 8 and transforms into a dragon type beast when he loses his temper. All my favourite things. In my opinion all scenes in BDB are improved by Rhage and his book is still my favourite in the ever expanding series. Plus any character that Jesse Pavelka can portray is fine by me.

 

Clay – Bitten.

I feel like I’m going to tick all he stereotypical supernatural boxes. Vampire – Tick. Werewolf – Tick. Still Clay is lovely (we won’t talk about him biting Elena against her will) and I love his protective streak – which might also be a common theme here. He is clever, gorgeous, loyal and very anti social. I think we would get along great.

 

Stefan – The Vampire Diaries.

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Okay, so maybe we aren’t done with the vampires yet. This is the last one, I promise (as much as I want to include Edward….) and yes I chose this picture for the suit. You are welcome. The main things that I love about Stefan is that he is a gentleman and he’s sensitive. Got to love a guy that keeps a diary. The Salvatore brothers seem to divide people, and I’m firmly on the Stefan side. It’s just a shame that Jeremy isn’t in the books.

 

Fade – The Razorland Trilogy.

I couldn’t find a picture I liked enough for Fade but he is described as having silky black hair and impossibly dark, deep eyes with a ring of violet surrounding. He is lean and fit and fights with a grace that no one else can compete with.  Fade goes through a lot in these books and some pretty gruesome things at that, but he is such a strong character and I think that is what is most appealing about him. Plus he’s just lovely.

 

Akiva – Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

I know you’re all shocked by this one. I love Akiva – he’s my favourite. I’m not sure I need to say much more! I’m sure you’re all fed up of hearing about it by now.

Friday Favourites – Books I loved as a Child

Author-Hazel

This was a bit tricky for me as most of the books I loved as a kid, Laura and Kiera already talked about, so I really had to think and do some research. This took me on a happy journey down nostalgia lane and I remembered a few that made me smile…

Not now, Bernard by David Mckee

image Reading this story as an adult gave me a totally different perspective. As a child, I was horrified that because his parents ignored him, Bernard was eaten by a monster! Growing up as the eldest child of 6, this story resonated with me and although it wasn’t done deliberately, I could really relate to Bernard and his struggle to get his parents attention. As an adult, I found this story hilarious and this time I could relate to the parents! Sometimes you’re just too busy to deal with your child’s or children’s (in my case) every whim.

 

 

 

 The Jolly Christmas Postman by Allan Ahlberg

imageThis is such a fantastic book. The postman is delivering all the Christmas Mail and we get to sneak a peek at it. Fully illustrated letters, postcards, recipes etc, this story is told through many different mediums and is beautifully interactive. It adds to the magical atmosphere of Christmas, a must read for all young children.

 

 

 

 

Diary of a Crush by Sarra Manning

imageI discovered these books when I bought Just 17, a magazine for teens back in the 90’s. It was first serialised for the magazine and that’s when I found my love for romance books. I remember these books gripping me and leaving me with all the feels. Perfect stories for younger teenage girls, they were light and fluffy with drool worthy guys.

 

 

Making out series by Katherine Applegate

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After reading the Diary of a Crush books, I went searching for more teen romance stories (not as easy as it is now) and I found the Making out series. I read the first few in this massively long series, they were exactly what I was looking for, light and fluffy romances. As a teen I flitted between these books, the Sweet Valley High books and the Point Horror books Laura already mentioned.

 

Hope you have as much fun traveling down nostalgia lane as I did, Happy Reading 😃📖

 

 

 

Friday Favourites – Books I loved as a child.

Author – Kiera.

I have an endless list for this topic of Friday Favourites. There is something special about childhood books, you always remember them fondly and get a real sense of nostalgia. With many of these picks I could tell you where I was when I read them, what I had been doing, who I with. I also have many of the copies I read stashed away in a box for safe keeping.

I’m going to try and be somewhat chronological with this post and hope I can narrow it down a bit, let’s see how that goes!

 

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Roald Dahl.

This one is probably pretty common, I don’t think there is a book lover out there that has not read a Roald Dahl book or two! I specifically remember reading The Twits, Matilda and James and the Giant Peach repeatedly. His writing style and the brilliant illustrations always made it so easy for me to picture his colourful characters. I even have the recipe book to go along with the stories, though I confess the only thing I really make is the Bruce Bogtrotter cake nowadays.

 

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Enid Blyton.

This is another author I read a lot of as a youngster. The books that will always stick in my mind are The Faraway Tree stories and The Famous Five. Clearly I wanted to pack my spotted handkerchief and go off on lots of fun adventures as a nine year old! While the Roald Dahl books appealed to me because of their characters, these were all about the imagery and world building. I think I checked all the trees in the local area to see if Moonface happened to be living in one. No such luck!

 

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The Switch – Anthony Horowitz.

I used to get given book recommendations most weeks from my teachers growing up. Before the days of Goodreads (how did we cope?) it was a case of heading the library and filtering through books until you found something that sounded good. So to have someone suggest a book you might like was always a great start. This was one of them, and the one that stand out most in my mind. I love Anthony Horowitz’s writing style even now and this is going to be one that I read with my son at some point in the near future.

 

 

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The Artemis Fowl Series – Eoin Colfer.

I was fourteen when this series started. It was recommended (as many books are) by my Aunt and we started reading them together. This is an amazing series to have someone to experience with. The story lines are fun and fast paced, the characters are hilarious and the world building is great. Even now we still make references to these books in general conversation. People must think we’re mad.

 

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And last, but not least! The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud.

Now, I’m going to say something that is probably going to get me in trouble. This is what I reading when everyone else was reading Harry Potter. I’m sorry, don’t hate me. As a teen I was very much – if everyone else is doing it, then I’m going to be doing something else. In this case it actually worked out pretty well, because this series will always be one of my favourite fantasy stories, and actually they are often compared to Harry Potter now. A boy who does magic, must be like HP.

This series had me laughing all the way through, even though it is gritty and all the characters are flawed. I think it set a standard for what I like and look for in fantasy novels now.

 

I’m going to leave it there, while there are so many more I want to mention these are the ones that always come to mind first. What are your favourite childhood reads?