Friday Favourites – Female Protagonists

Author – Laura

This week we’re going all Girl Power on you, and looking at our favourite female lead characters. With so many worthy women to choose from, this group was difficult to put together. Let us know who you think should be on this list…

Sonea – Magicians Guild Trilogy – Trudy Canavan

Sonea - Magicians Guild

Sonea is a girl from the slums of Imardin who discovers she has a magical ability that is normally only found in the upper classes of society. She spends most of the first book hiding her magic from the Guild, who she believes are trying to capture her. Her abilities are eventually revealed, and she is taken to the Guild where she witnesses something terrible, putting her in even more danger.

I loved reading about Sonea; she has strong values and although she is young you really get a sense of the power she has, and how angry she is! There is a little bit of romance but it doesn’t detract from her own story – she is powerful with or without her man.

Lyra Belacqua – His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

Lyra Belacqua

Lyra Belacqua, or Lyra Silvertongue as she is known, is the eleven-year old girl at the centre of His Dark Materials. And she’s a little brat. I don’t normally like children, real or fictitious, but there was something about this grubby little tomboy that I felt drawn to. It’s probably that she reminds me of me a little bit. I hated school, and was much happier with animals and mud than being with other kids. I also had a strong dislike for authority. Bad news when you’re 11 and everyone is more important than you. It took me a while to get into His Dark Materials, but Lyra is adventurous and naughty enough to keep you interested.

Karigan G’ladheon – Green Rider Series – Kristen Britain

Karigan G'Ladheon

Karigan is a bit of an unlikely hero. She has run away from school to get to her father, but on the way she meets an injured Green Rider, a magical messenger of the king. He asks her to deliver a message to the King of Sacoridia, so Karigan agrees and takes on the mantle of a Green Rider to take the message to the King. Karigan is a bad ass – it was really refreshing to read an Epic Fantasy where the main character is a woman who can really handle herself (with a little help from Horse). This is a great series, well worth a read.

Matilda Wormwood – Matilda – Roald Dahl

Matilda - Roald Dahl

One of the best children’s characters in the history of ever, Matilda is a little girl with a very special ability. I love this story, and although it has sad undertones (she is neglected and eventually left by her horrible parents) everything is ok and the book has a lovely happy ending. This can’t be considered a spoiler – everyone knows this story! Matilda is a sweet kid who you root for immediately, and is so quiet and intelligent you forget that she is only 5 and a half. Protagonist might not be the right word to describe a 5 year old, but she’s a brilliant female lead character all the same.

Sookie Stackhouse – The Southern Vampire Mysteries – Charlaine Harris

Sookie Stackhouse

I chose Sookie because I want her life. I want to be her, and live in Bon Temps, and sunbathe all day, and work in a cool bar, and have big boobs, and long blonde hair… It’s never going to happen, but I enjoyed living vicariously through Sookie. These books are like balm to my soul. So easy to read, plenty of sexy vampires and tasty humans, and enough action to keep the story flowing through the whole series. Sookie is a great lead, enough balls to stand up to the various ‘supes’ in the neighbourhood but sweet and kind, with real Southern charm. Did I mention I want to be her?

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Book Club Review – The Darkest Park of the Forest by Holly Black

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Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

Laura

I have to say, “well done me”, I picked a corker this month! I’ve had my eye on this release for a little while, and although I haven’t read anything by Holly Black before she is a firm favourite with some of the other Bookspa ladies, so I knew there was a good chance we were going to love it.

This book is fabulous. Never too complicated that you have to re-read whole sections of text, but never too boring that you skip them either, the story flows along at a good pace, weaving in and out of Fairfold and taking you in unexpected directions before reaching it’s rather epic final showdown. It feels sort of beautiful, and reads like a dark fairy tale – I kept thinking of The Labyrinth, especially during the faerie revelry. The colours and descriptions are vivid, and the variety of characters, both fae and human, only add to the magic and romance of the story. I loved Hazel and Ben, and the bond between them that is central to the book. I also loved that Hazel was a bit of a badass and didn’t need a knight in shining armour to save her.

I could write loads of gushing praise for The Darkest Part of the Forest, but all in all I think this is one of the best books I’ve read for a long time, and I give it 5 stars *****.

 

Hazel

I really enjoyed this book. I thought the pace was great, I was never bored. Holly Black weaved a magical tale with lots of little twists and turns that kept you wanting more. I didn’t anticipate any of them which made the story even more magical. Her characters were well fleshed out, I loved the relationships between the characters, especially Ben and Hazel’s. The romance was sweet, I loved Jack. Above all, I felt warm and fuzzy whilst reading this book even though some parts got pretty dark and scary, it reminded me of the fairy tales I read in my youth. Wonderful pick Laura 😀

Kiera

I’m going to start by quoting you one my favourite lines from the book. For me this just sums up everything I loved about it.

‘I have loved you from almost the first moment I saw you, wild and fierce and brave, running through the woods, your lips stained purple from blackberry juice.’

I knew from the moment Laura mentioned this book that I would enjoy it. I love the way the Holly Black writes, and she is up there as one of my favourite fantasy authors. It reminded me a lot of The Spiderwick Chronicles, but as a more grown up version – sounds good, right? It was! Reading about all the different faerie creatures and the awful things they got up to was fascinating, and having Jack’s perspective in the mix being fae but in human society was a really interesting view point. The relationships between the characters was such a massive element throughout the story, and really kept the plot moving. The way that you had to unravel the mysteries of the story was so satisfying and I was never disappointed by the outcome. All in all a story of childhood and whimsy and love and magic and imagination. Completely brilliant.

Mini Review – The Witch of Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper

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Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the sea witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island’s whalers safe and prosperous at sea. But before she could learn how to control her power, her mother – the first Roe woman in centuries to turn her back on magic – steals Avery away from her grandmother. Avery must escape before her grandmother dies, taking with her the secrets of the Roe’s power.

The one magical remnant left to Avery is the ability to read dreams, and one night she foresees her own murder. Time is running short, both for her and for the people of her island who need the witches’ help to thrive.

Avery has never read a dream that hasn’t come true, but a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane tells her he can help her change her fate. Becoming a witch may prevent her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers it will also require a sacrifice she never expected. And as she falls in love with Tane, she learns it is his life and hers that hang in the balance.

 

Author – Kiera.

I have mixed feeling about The Witch of Salt and Storm. I really love the premise and the setting. The writing style was lovely and lyrical but it also felt a bit disjointed at times and I had to read a few things twice to understand what was meant. This might be considered a bad thing, and I know some people will find it off putting, but it fit the style of the story quite well. The first half of the book moved at a very slow pace. There is a lot of family history, lore and scene setting to get through. I found it enjoyable but it didn’t move the storyline along as quickly as I would have liked. I loved the magic system, and can understand the lure of the sea. Each of the Roe witches had a different ability from their connection with the sea, and was all so interesting! I just would have liked a bit more of it throughout the book.

There is a good mix of characters, and I found myself drawn towards Avery’s Grandmother and Tane. They both have quite turbulent pasts yet remain honest and likeable.

I know that Whaling happened and why it did. I also understand why it was an integral part of the story, but that being said it wasn’t something I enjoyed reading about.

Overall though I found it slow I did enjoy reading this. Historical fantasy isn’t something I have read much of, and this has definitely made me want to read more.

Book Club Outing – Harry Potter Studio Tour

Author – Laura

At the end of November our Book Club spent the day immersed in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Kiera, Hazel, Toni and Laura made the 80 mile trip to Leavesden Studios in a car much less exciting than a flying Ford Anglia. But apart from a small spillage before we even set off we got there in one piece!

Harry Potter Studio Tour Christmas TreeTo say we were excited is a bit of an understatement. The minute we saw the Christmas tree in the foyer that was it.

Feeling festive with our Hogwarts in the Snow badges we joined the queue and managed to get right to the front. I’d like to say we planned it that way, but to be honest we were away with the fairies, high on glitter and baubles. We could have been stood anywhere and it wouldn’t have mattered.

I don’t want to reveal any spoilers, but from the moment we entered the first room (Toni had an extra special birthday treat… ) to the minute we climbed back into the car, tired but happy, we had an incredible time. One of the major highlights was the snow machine. We were drinking Butterbeer, in the snow. It shouldn’t get much more amazing. Except it does. All kinds of amazing.

The shop is expensive, but there are so many fabulous things to buy it would be just wrong to not buy a little something. I fell in love with a pink Pygmy Puff, and Hazel bought enough Chocolate Frogs to feed the whole of Gryffindor common room!

If you’re even a little bit of a fan of Harry Potter then you will love the Tour – it’s worth every penny.

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One can never have enough socks,” said Dumbledore. “Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.”

Well that sounds good to me!

 

 

From everyone here at The Bookspa,

We wish you a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!