Top Ten Favorite Kick-Ass Heroines

Favorite kick-ass heroines? Wow. When I read that topic, I was just lost. Don’t they belong in YA novels or in urban fantasy or something like that? I suddenly couldn’t remember having read a single book with kick-ass heroines in it. Or do I? Maybe a kick-ass heroine doesn’t have to be someone who kicks down bad guys and fight for her life day in and day out. Maybe kick-ass can mean something else – or someone else. I don’t know. I don’t think that I need to read certain genres to read books with kick-ass heroines in them – it is just that impression the term ‘kick-ass heroines’ gives me. Anyway, my list tries to incorporate some more unusual kick-ass heroines… I don’t know if I succeeded or not – we’ll see.

As usual, the Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

  1. Ronja from Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter by Astrid Lindgren. Yes, Ronja, the girl from the children’s book. Her father is strong and a leader of men. But he has no chance against Ronja. When he doesn’t want her to hang out with the son of his worst enemy, she packs up and leaves his castle and goes to live in a cave. She trains horses, she heals horses, she teaches her father about friendship. She’s tough and loving and she’s the literary character, I named my first child after.
  2. Offred from The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Offred is a woman living in a dystopic world where women who can have babies, are valuable and are kept as a kind of breeding cows for wealthy men in power. Offred still remembers her life before, her life with her husband and daughter – and she does what she has to do to live.
  3. The mother from Room by Emma Donoghue. This mother has been kidnapped, kept in a single room for years, raped over and over. She has a son by her rapist – and she manages to bring her and her child away from the kidnapper and to safety. Even though things get complicated in the outside world, she’s still pretty amazing for doing what she had to to rescue her child.
  4. The mother, Eva, from We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. Eva fights the worst kind of demons – her own self-doubts, her failure as a mother. And she really has some huge doubts to fight after her son turned out to be a high school killer. We get to know her through the letters she writes her husband, detailing her life and her thoughts as her son was born and grew up.
  5. Alexia Tarabotti from The Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger. Alexia is special – she has an ability to turn werewolves and vampires human just by touching her. She has an even bigger ability to get into trouble. But whatever happens, she always comes out on top – although not always with her dignity intact. But give her a parasol and she’s ready for everything.
  6. Hermione Granger from The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling. Hermione. Oh, nerdy geeky Hermione. She’s just a book nerd as first but she sure shows every desired kick-ass heroine ability in the later books.
  7. Lauralanthalasa (Laurana) from The DragonLance series by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman and others. Yes, I know I said I would avoid this kind of kick-ass heroines but I just couldn’t. I could have chosen a lot of different female characters from this shared world series – Tika or Goldmoon just to mention a few – but I chose Laurana, the Golden General. This beautiful and very spoiled princess who falls in love with a  half-elf and has to work extremely hard to make it through various challenges and hardships to win the man she loves. She goes on to fight as a general for what she believes in and to stand by the side of her son when he needs her the most – playing a huge part in several resistances, always fighting for her beloved Elven people.
  8. Katniss Everden from The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. How could I not mention Katniss? She fights against unbeatable odds and comes out on top. She’s tough, she’s taking care of her family and the people she loves. She’s both clever and sneaky – and lucky! She fulfills every part of the kick-ass heroine job description!

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Top Ten Series I Haven’t Finished

So yeah, I like series. I mostly read fantasy series and I love diving into a completely different world and explore it through multiple books. It all began with the DragonLance shared world series. I fell in love with both the world and fantasy while reading Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weiss’ books.

As usual, the Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. And did I mention this is the fifth week in a row I’m participating in Top Ten Tuesday. And there are a lot of us, check out The Broke and the Bookish blog to see the links to the other participant’s blogs.

So most of these series are fantasy series – but there are other series I enjoy as well. Here’s my top 10 – with a bonus at the end.

  1. Adrian Tchaikovsky: Shadows of the Apt. A wonderful refreshing fantasy series set in a world with insect kinden. The praying mantis are assassins, the beetles are hardworking people, the mosquitos are vampires etc. It’s the usual story – band of unlikely heroes goes against the big bad. But the insect kinden makes all the difference and makes it interesting. I’ve read the first four in this series of ten and enjoyed them all.
  2. Robert Jordan: Wheel of Time. Sighs. Every fantasy reader knows this series. And I think everyone agrees that it’s way longer than it had to be. I’ve read the first four and they are not great. They are okay but I have my issues with them – especially because Jordan repeats himself. Every time a character appears, he looks at his character description and says ‘oh yes, the girl with the braids’ or whatever and then he writes that. Every single time. I can’t really say why I keep reading them but I do. I plan on finishing the series – as far as I can tell the last books in the series, the ones not written by Jordan, actually get better…
  3. Diana Gabaldon: Outlander. A woman accidentally stumbles upon an opening to the past in Scotland, goes back and has great adventures and falls in love. I’ve read the first two and really need to get more of these. I sort of tend to forget how great this series is but it is actually really good and I enjoy reading them.
  4. Carlos Ruiz Zafón: The Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Just the name of this series is amazing. I’ve read the first of the trilogy and it was a very very good book. I want to read it again and then read the rest of the trilogy in succession. Luckily, I own all three.
  5. Lev Grossman: The Magicians. Harry Potter, Narnia… This is kind of a mix-up between the two. I liked the first and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series. I have the second one, the third has not yet been published.
  6. Anne Rice: The Vampire Chronicles. So everyone knows Lestat and Interview with the Vampire. And that’s what I know too. I’ve read that one and seen the movie. And then I didn’t get any further. I have The Vampire Lestat and I also have Pandora and Vittorio, the Vampire of the New Tales of the Vampires series. I enjoyed Interview with the Vampire and I want to read further into the series and see what I think.
  7. Jean M. Auel: Earth’s Children. I loved these books. The first one, The Clan of the Cavebear, was so good. And the next two installments in the series were really great too. But the fourth one … The Plains of Passage was just so bad. It just went on and on and on – walking across the plains, detailing the plants, various tribes, sex scenes … But it was clearly just meant to get Ayla and Jondalar from A to B – and it was boring. Still, both Jean M. Auel and I took a break after that and I have the two last books in the series waiting on my shelves and I plan to read them later this year, actually. Hopefully, they will be as good as the first three books!
  8. Gail Carriger: The Parasol Protectorate. I really like this series. It’s steampunk, it’s vampires and werewolves and it’s a a fun, light and very enjoyable read. I only need to read the last one in the series, Timeless. Luckily, Gail Carriger has more books coming out, also set in this world.
  9. Jasper Fforde: Thursday Next. I read the first of these, The Eyre Affair, and I loved it. It was an amazing romp through Jane Eyre and it was so, so good. However, one of the things that made it so good was that I had already read Jane Eyre. So I decided that I wouldn’t read more of this series before I had read more of the classics, Fforde uses in his plots. And that’s what I’m sort of working on. I do look forward to reading the rest of this series!
  10. Various authors: DragonLance. This is series of books based in a shared world. This means that a lot of different authors write these novels and editors are then making sure that chronology and everything else is correct. Or at least supposed to. This shared world concept unfortunately means that not all these novels are of the same quality. I don’t think I’m ever going to read the entire series but I am going to go back and read the main novels and my other favorites from the series again.

And as a bonus, some series I haven’t started but which I’m definitely going to read.

  1. Patrick Rothfuss: The Kingkiller Chronicle. I own the two of these which has been published so far and I expect so much from them. And they look gorgeous!
  2. George R.R. Martin: A Song of Ice and Fire. I’ve seen a few of the tv series episodes and I think that at the right moment, I will just love these. I don’t own any of them yet but I will!
  3. Robin Hobb: The Farseer Trilogy. My best friend Henrik told me years ago that he thought I would love this if I could stomach it. I think these will be so good – if I don’t ruin them by tears…!
  4. Deborah Harkness: All Souls Trilogy. I own the first of these and I think it’s going to be a really great read although I have read both good and bad reviews of it.

Books as self-portrait

Your library is your portrait.

– Holbrook Jackson

I saw this quote recently on the @fridayreads twitter feed and it really got me thinking. I like the thought. My books are so important to me so the idea of me creating a self portrait with every book I buy, is just beautiful. And not just because of my love of book shopping (see The never-ending to-read pile). No, I really like the idea that when people comes into my living room where my book shelves take up an entire wall, they’re not only able to see that I really care about books but also learn something about who I am as a person by looking at the books that line my shelves.

Now first of, I have to say that I don’t take full responsibility for all the books on the shelves. For some reason, I never thought twice of allowing my boyfriend to also have his books on the shelves. So all the books with maps of battle movements and about the crusaders – they’re not mine. So let’s set them aside and just focus on the books that are actually mine.

So what do we have? First of, we have a lot of contemporary fiction. Contemporary fiction is probably the genre I read the most and what I’m most able to relate to. In this category, we find most of my favorite authors – ie. John Irving, Joyce Carol Oates, Haruki Murakami and Stephen King. I have several books by each of these authors (both my King and Oates collection can actually be seen on the picture above). I don’t know where to start mentioning other authors in this category since there’s just so many…

There’s also a lot of Classics. I like the thought of being well-read. I want to be well-read. And to be that, you have to read the Classics. I want to be smart and clever and intellectual so yeah, you’ll find Proust, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and Joyce. As well as Austen, the Bronte sisters, Flaubert and more. I don’t want to brag about what I’ve read but I do like knowing things. I like winning in board games, I like recognizing inspiration in newer novels. And besides that, the Classics are Classics for a reason – they’re good!

I think the third biggest category is the fantasy novels. I also have a bit of science fiction and steampunk. I know it’s not quite fair to view these as being in the same category but a lot of book stores do it, so why shouldn’t I? So in this category we have Tolkien, Robert Jordan, Robin Hobb, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Gail Carriger and more. Since I fell in love with the fantasy universe by reading Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weiss’ lovely DragonLance novels, this has been a genre I return to. I find it hard to find good fantasy  and to me, good fantasy doesn’t necessarily mean literary fantasy like Tolkien – just give me a beautiful imaginary world that I can believe in.

I also have a lot of books about animals. I really love animals and so I have books about veganism, living with animals and the amazing things animals are capable of doing. So because of this, I have books like Stacey O’Brien Wesley – The Story of a Remarkable Owl, Bob Tarte Enslaved by Ducks and Donna J. Haraway When Species Meet – as well as a shelf in the basement with lots of dog related books.

Now the shelves in my living room doesn’t tell the whole story. In our bedroom, there’s a few shelves too. This is the home of all my DragonLance novels as well as my Discworld novels. I’m not hiding them there. In an ideal world, they would all be standing on the big book case in the living room. However, there’s only room for so many books on that so something had to go. It’s been a while since I read a DragonLance novel but I read so many of them when I was in my early 20s and really discovered fantasy as an adult so they are a part of my history.

I still read my Discworld novels but it fitted well to put them on the same shelves as the DragonLance novels so there they are too. Right next to my bed.

Aaaannnnd … that’s still not the whole story. I’ve had to relocate parts of my book collection after having our second child. So I have most of my non-fiction books (mostly philosophy and art history books) in storage. Since these speak about my education and professional interests, they too tell a huge part of the story of me.

But my living room book case does tell about who I am now since for the moment, my main focus is on fiction and since I prefer having it take up such a big part of my living room. But it’s not only the books on the shelves and the fact that they are placed in this room, that talks about me. The way they’re organized does as well. See, from time to time my boyfriend suggest that we organize the books by height or color or something equally silly (he knows better now so he only does it to tease me). But as I say to him each time, there’s only one way to organize books – by the first letter in the author’s last name. I’m very anal about this. And it just has to be this way.

And now the million dollar question: What does your book shelves say about you?

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