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.

More to look forward to in 2012

So even though I’ve already posted a list of 12 books to look forward to in 2012, I found out there’s more goodies coming out this year… 2012 looks to be a treasure trove of exciting books! So here’s more.

  • Gail Carriger: Timeless. The fifth installment in the Parasol Protectorate series. And I’ve enjoyed the first four. Fun fluffy and easy steampunk.
  • Charlaine Harris. Deadlocked (Sookie Stackhouse #12). Another Sookie novel. I have only read one of these yet but watched almost all 4 seasons of the HBO tv series. The show is really, really great. I know that there’s differences between the novels and the show but I haven’t read far enough to really discover these. So because I love the show, I’ll keep reading these for now.
  • Diana Gabaldon. Written with my own Heart’s Blood (Outlander #8). So another series I’ve only just started. I’ve read the first one but I want to read the second one this year. And maybe, I’ll even make it further along in the series.
  • Danielle Trussoni: Angelopolis (Angelology #2). I gave 4 stars to the first in this series. It has some new and exciting ideas and although it’s not one I look back one as an amazing book. But it really has a lot of potential.

Besides these, one of my friends, Torben Munksgaard, is publishing his third novel. It’s called Sort Hund (Black Dog). Torben’s books always sound really interesting (I must admit that although I own both his previous novels, I haven’t read them yet – shame on me.). This one is about destiny and coincidence, about how we chase after happiness. It’s called a satirical sci-fi novel about a man who steals a dog. The dog belongs to a wealthy man who is abandoned by his wife because the dog is gone. And slowly, the dog stealer takes over the dog owner’s life. Sounds good, no?

And then maybe, just maybe, Stephen King has a new book coming out. And not just any book, no, the continuation of The Shining. In Dr. Sleep we follow Danny Torrance as a grown up. I will definitely need to re-read The Shining before reading the new one and The Shining is an excellent book so hopefully, Dr. Sleep will be just as good.

Gail Carriger: Heartless (Parasol Protectorate #4)

Gail Carriger: Heartless (Parasol Protectorate #4), Orbit 2011.

So Alexia, Lady Maccon, is back in the fourth volume of the Parasol Protectorate – one of the books I was eagerly awaiting this year since I enjoyed the first three, especially the first two. These books are steampunkish books with vampires and werewolves co-existing in a parallel version of London and England as a whole. So what’s new in this series?
Well, much is the same as it always was. Lady Maccon is just as direct as always, Lord Maccon is still blundering into everything, never knocking. Lord Akeldama is as well dressed as always. The vampires and the werewolves are still not always exactly getting along. Ivy still wears silly hats.
But – one huge change is that Lady Maccon is pregnant, very pregnant, hugely pregnant. So everyone around her tries to make her satisfied and tries to take care of her – which is rather difficult since Lady Maccon is contacted by a ghost who tells her about a plot, intending to kill the Queen. Of course, Lady Maccon immediately goes on the hunt for the ghost, investigates earlier attempts on the Queen’s life, especially by her husband’s earlier pack. In this search, she uncovers rather unpleasant truths that she will have to live with.
But Lady Maccon equipped with the infant inconvenience, as she calls her baby, is not quite as sharp and capable as she usually is so she’s missing some important things and clues along the way – and so are the reader.
When things are finally concluded, much has changed – not only because of the birth of the baby who was expected with fear and trepidation because no one knew what the child of a soulless and a werewolf would turn out to be but also because Lady Maccon makes a somewhat hasty decision.
I was a bit disappointed in the start of this book but when it started to pick up pace, I really enjoyed it. The only issue I really had is that Gail Carriger, like Robert Jordan, tends to repeat herself when describing her characters. Over and over, Lord Maccon barges in without knocking, Lord Akeldama’s colorful clothes are described again and again, Lady Maccon still makes fun of her friend’s hats and so on and on. At least she does it with more variation than Jordan so it’s not a major thing, just a little sigh.
One thing I really liked was some of the smaller stories – especially Biffy’s story. His story, him being forced to be a werewolf when he really wished to be a vampire.
So what’s left to say is just that if you enjoyed the first three, you’ll enjoy this one as well. If you haven’t read the first three, start with them.

10 books I’m looking forward to in 2011

Each year brings new and exciting books to dive headfirst into. I love it when you hear about a book and you just can’t wait to get your grubby little fingers on it and just read, read, read. (Although, truth be told, if I’m ever to get my to-read list down to a manageable number, there should be published no new books for the next … 9 years would do it, I think – provided I read 100 books a year…)

Anyway – here are 10 of the books I’m looking forward to this year:

  1. Haruki Murakami: 1Q84 (this is without a doubt my most anticipated book of the year!)
  2. Gail Carriger: Heartless (the fourth book in the Parasol Protectorate series – lovely fluffy steampunk.)
  3. Lev Grossman: The Magician King (I liked The Magicians with it’s Harry Potter meets Narnia feel and with it still being so much more than just a rip-off of these two classics so I’m looking forward to how he will continue the story. It didn’t have the feel of a first book in a series to me so I don’t have any loose ends I would like to see him tighten so this can go in any direction he sees fit but I think it will be a nice read.)
  4. Jasper Fforde: One of Our Thursdays is Missing (I’ve only read the first Thursday Next novel but loved it so I’m looking forward to any in the series – hopefully I will get a lot of these read this year – but I prefer having read the classics he is using in the books before reading them so I think I have some Dickens and more ahead of me first.)
  5. Joyce Carol Oates: A Widow’s Story: A Memoir (I love Joyce Carol Oates so for that reason alone this is interesting. JCO tells about how she became a widow – and I lost my father late last year, leaving my mother a widow as well, so that’s the second reason this book is high on my list.)
  6. Carol Wallace: Leaving Van Gogh (I love Van Gogh – he is one of my favourite painters. This is the story of his death – told by his personal physician.)
  7. Benjamin Hale: The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore (A chimp who can articulate deep thoughts on art and philosophy and who falls in love with a human… What’s not to love? Definitely looking forward to this one!)
  8. Patrick Rothfuss: The Wise Man’s Fear (The second book in the Kingkiller Chronicle – and although I haven’t read the first book or anything at all by Patrick Rothfuss, both these books sounds great!)
  9. Adrian Tchaikovsky: The Sea Watch (Shadow of the Apt #6 – another series I haven’t read anything of but I own the first three and besides the coolest covers, these books sounds like they could have some depth in them and not just be fluffy fantasy.)
  10. Jean M. Auel: The Land of Painted Caves (I loved The Clan of the Cave Bear, liked the next two in the Earth’s Children series – but the fourth one was so boring. Having gotten up the courage to read the fifth installment yet but now the series is finally coming to an end so hopefully I will read both vol. 5 and 6 this year.)

(Note: Not all the books on my list have covers yet.)