Tag Archives: Strong Women

Home for the Holidays by Jeaniene Frost

Overview
The Bite Before Christmas Large Print :HarperCollins Australia

Title: Home for the Holidays
Author: Jeaniene Frost
Series: Night Huntress #6.5, Night Huntress Universe #8.5
In: The Bite Before Christmas (Lynsay Sands & Jeaniene Frost)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Christmas, Paranormal fantasy, Strong women, Urban fantasy, Vampires
Dates read: 26th December 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Novella
Publisher: Avon
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: By the time he’d crossed the room to Denise, her eyes were wide and staring into nothing, all without Ian even needing to speak.

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Synopsis

Cat and Bones were looking forward to a normal holiday – at least as “normal” as it gets for vampires and their otherworldly friends and family. But their yuletide plans are shattered when a mysterious stranger shows up and reveals long-buried secrets that threaten to take a bite out of their holiday cheer – and lives.

Thoughts

I felt seriously, truly and deeply bad for Bones in this novella. After all, finding family after 200 years and then losing them would be incredibly difficult. Around the holidays and when you just don’t expect it… yeah, that would be seriously difficult and heart wrenching.

Cat and Bones may be two of my favourite urban fantasy characters. They are an amazing couple. One that is quirky and fun. And most definitely loyal. The crap that Cat goes through throughout this story to make sure that Bones is safe is extraordinary. I was both incredibly proud of, and kind of scared for Cat throughout this. Although, as with every Night Huntress story I’ve read so far, it did all end with a happy ending.

Every time I read a Night Huntress story; I want to read more. But I always seem to do it when I’m halfway through a whole other pile of books. So, I never quite get around to it. Maybe this time I will get to sink my teeth into another amazing tale before I get too distracted by another story…

<- The GiftThe Bite Before Christmas ->

Image source: HarperCollins Australia

The Good, the Bad, and the Undead by Kim Harrison

Overview
The Good, the Bad, and the Undead by Kim Harrison

Title: The Good, the Bad, and hte Undead
Author: Kim Harrison
Series: The Hollows #2
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Strong women, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 4th October – 28th November 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Eos
Year: 2005
5th sentence, 74th page: Brow furrowing, I looked down at my red blouse, black skirt, nylons, and ankle-high boots.

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Synopsis

It’s a tough life for witch Rachel Morgan, sexy, independent, bounty hunter, prowling the darkest shadows of downtown Cincinnati for criminal creatures of the night.

She can handle the leather-clad vamps and even tangle with a cunning demon or two. But a serial killer who feeds on the experts in the most dangerous kind of black magic is definitely pressing the limits.

Confronting an ancient, implacable evil is more than just child’s play – and this time, Rachel will be lucky to escape with her very soul.

Thoughts

Finishing this novel gave me a pretty major book hangover… there is just something about Harrison’s writing that has me absolutely, totally and utterly hooked. And in love. And just in my general, serious happy place. It took me a little longer than usual to read this, because I knew that once I allowed myself to sink into the story, I wouldn’t want to look away. Which is exactly what happened. And then, when I finished it… I didn’t really want to read any other stories…

Trent seems to me like he’s completely winning the battle of wits between Rachel and himself. It makes me wonder if he’s maybe not truly the evil, devil man that I originally thought. And, after reading The Turn, I have SOOOOO many questions about what happened to him between the two storylines… I mean, there are so many unanswered questions and… well, things to be answered! It gives me hope that maybe he’s not as truly, deeply evil as I thought, and just messed up and morally grey… although I can definitely attest to the fact that Piscary is most definitely evil. Which is nice. It’s always good to have at least one clear, cut, and dry villain.

Rachel is probably one of the most accident-prone characters that I’ve had the pleasure of reading in a long time. Not accident prone in the sense of physically… but circumstantially? Yeah. She tends to find herself in one horrible situation after another. It serves to not only be an entertaining read, but draws you further and further into the storyline. Completely powerful, completely unforgettable and so much damn fun.

Ivy and Jenks kind of felt like they stole the show a little bit in Dead Witch Walking. They didn’t so much in this, they fell strongly into the secondary character role. That’s not to say that they didn’t still shine. Jenks is still funny, witty and fiercely loyal and independent. I absolutely adore him for that fact. And Ivy? Well, Ivy is one of the most complex and tragic secondary / supporting characters that I’ve had the pleasure of coming across in quite a while. She’s also a terrifying best friend. I mean, who doesn’t want a best friend who kind of wants to eat you all the time?

I seriously loved this novel, and I can’t wait to get through the TBR that is currently sitting next to me so that I can sink my teeth into Every Which Way But Dead. I just need to finish the monster TBR piled next to me first… otherwise, it could fall on my head while I sleep…

<- Dead Witch WalkingUndead in the Garden of Good and Evil ->

Image source: Goodreads

Bamboozled by Kelley Armstrong

Overview
Image result for dead man's hand book cover

Title: Bamboozled
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Series: Women of the Otherworld #0
In: Dead Man’s Hand (John Joseph Adams)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Paranormal fantasy, Strong women
Dates read: 23rd October 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Titan Books
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: She raised her voice a little, knowing Nate’s ace hearing would pick it up.

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Synopsis

Lily has loved Nate for a long time, and they make a great team. Particularly when they’re in the Wild West.

Thoughts

I love reading a paranormal fantasy story and spending it trying to guess what “being” the lead characters are. In the case of this story, I spent my whole time trying to figure out what Nate and Lily’s paranormal species was. I didn’t get it. And now, knowing what I know… I feel like it should have been WAY obvious… but oh well.

The word “bamboozle” has got to be one of my favourites. There is just something… fun about it. So reading a story that features this word as the title was immediately going to draw me in (let alone the fact that it is by a well-loved author and series). But it was the activity of “bamboozling” people throughout this that really had me smiling. And I’m now just going to sit in my little book lair and keep saying the word. Because, seriously, who wouldn’t? It’s a pretty awesome word…

What was I saying?

Oh yeah. This is an awesome short story. You should read it.

Bamboozled.

<- Red DreamsSundown ->

Image source: Amazon

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

Overview
I am Malala, The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the  Taliban by Malala Yousafzai | 9781780226583 | Booktopia

Title: I Am Malala
Author: Malala Yousafzai
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Biographies, Feminism, Memoirs, Strong women
Dates read: 11th – 16th October 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: But all this time the mufti was watching.

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Synopsis

I come from a country that was created at midnight When I almost died it was just after midday. When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan. One girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday October 9 2012 when she was fifteen. She almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school and few expected her to survive. Instead. Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen she became a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel…

Thoughts

There are just some people in the world who seem to make me feel bad for the many, many things that I don’t do. It’s not necessarily a bad thing… just a, well… thing. That feeling of guilt that accompanies the reminder that there are some seriously bad arse, tough, amazing women out in the world. And Malala Yousafzai is most certainly one of them. That’s not to say that reading I Am Malala made me feel guilty or horrible, but it served as a reminder of the awesomeness of this young woman.

The journey that Malala takes is just phenomenal. And I can’t really describe that feeling of this is really awesome that you will get whilst reading this. Not just because of what Malala has accomplished, but also the family that she’s from and her love of her people and country. Every single word in this novel speaks of humility and love. And it makes this just… phenomenal. And one of those books that is impossible to forget.

I love that this book, even though it is about Malala’s journey, is really mostly about her family. Almost every sentence is about them. And, in particular, her father. It shows you that people who create great change don’t actually do this on their own… they have a family and people around them that help them accomplish everything and anything that they put their mind to. And for Malala, that driving factor is her father. And, considering the culture in which they both come from… that is somehow all that much more phenomenal.

This is one of those books that I think everyone needs to read. It is phenomenal and powerful. Unforgettable and a seriously intense and glorious journey. This is just one of those novels and lives that I will remember anytime I’m feeling negative, pessimistic or like a downright bore.

<- Falling LeavesMao’s Last Dancer ->

Image source: Booktopia

Archangel’s Kiss by Nalini Singh

Overview
Archangel's Kiss (Guild Hunter, #2) by Nalini Singh

Title: Archangel’s Kiss
Author: Nalini Singh
Series: Guild Hunter #2
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: AngelsParanormal romance, Strong women, Vampires
Dates read: 25th September – 4th October 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: Taking the hint, she said good-bye to Jessamy and walked down the steps, her nape prickling in primitive awareness.

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Synopsis

Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux wakes from a year-long coma to find herself changed – an angel with wings the colors of midnight and dawn – but her fragile body needs time to heal before she can take flight. Her over, the stunningly dangerous archangel Raphael, is used to being in control – especially when it comes to the woman he considers his own. But Elena has never done well with authority…

They’ve barely begun to understand each other when Raphael receives an invitation to a ball from teh archangel Lijuan. To refuse would be a sign of fatal weakness, so Raphael must ready Elena for the flight to Beijin – and to the nightmare that awaits them there. Ancient and without conscience, Lijuan holds a power that lies with the dead. And she has oragnized the msot perfect and most vicious of welcomes of Elena…

Thoughts

So there’s definitely a reason why Nalini Singh is one of my favourite authors. Every time I open one of her books I’m completely hooked. The only reason I have been taking massive breaks between her books is that I need to you know… do adult things. And this novel is honestly no exception. I loved finding out how Elena and Raphael renegotiated their relationship after the events in Angels’ Blood.

Whilst not my typical romance, I did love how Raphael and Elena are able to constantly negotiate with each other. And, as is typical with a partnership of two strong individuals (I speak from experience) there’s lots and lots of renegotiating and bumping up against each other. It’s not easy, but it works. Singh honestly writes some of the healthiest relationships I see in paranormal romance…

I actually finished reading this a few days ago, but I cannot stop thinking about it. There was so much action, intrigue and politics in this story. I’m not normally a fan of anything with too much political negotiations, particularly within my own life. But I absolutely loved all the machinations in this story. And I can’t wait to see where it takes us in Archangel’s Consort. My fingers keep twitching towards it and starting another new book… but I currently have over 30 books on my currently reading list!

I found Lijuan to be a seriously scary, but still sympathetic character. Michaela may just be a bitch. But Lijuan is a whole other ball game… one that drew me in from the very beginning and made me completely drawn in to the story from the very beginning. She wasn’t quite a villain… but she definitely wasn’t a good guy. The perfect antagonist amongst a slew of antagonists in this series.

Elena is most definitely one of my favourite strong women protagonists. She is tough and independent. But also willing to bend to the circumstances. Finding out more about her past in this story just pulled me in all that much more and bumped her even further up my imaginary list.

<- Angels’ BloodArchangel’s Consort ->

Image source: Goodreads

The Lay of the Land by Seanan McGuire

Overview
The Lay of the Land (Incryptid, #0.21) by Seanan McGuire

Title: The Lay of the Land
Author: Seanan McGuire
Series: InCryptid #0.21
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Strong women, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 4th October 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Free online short story
Publisher: Seanan McGuire
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: “But you don’t think Mr. Price is a part of that.”

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Synopsis

Thomas Price has seen the world, has studied and fought unbelievable creatures on every continent, and knows more about cryptids than almost anyone else alive. But he’s never seen anyplace like Buckley Township, Michigan, and he’s certainly never met anyone like Alice Healy, who is far too young for him, far too much a Healy for him, and far too wild to disregard. This is going to be an interesting assignment.

Unable to understand why her ever-tolerant father wants her to write off a newcomer as dangerous solely because of his origins, Alice Healy has set herself on a collision course with Thomas Price–a man who needs companionship, answers, and someone to guide him through the tangled ecosystems of the local wood, where the unwary go in, but don’t come out.

It’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship, and a new chapter in the story of the Healy family. Assuming that Alice can get Thomas through the woods alive, and Mary can convince Alice not to get Thomas murdered by her father.

Thoughts

Alice is growing into absolutely everything I expected… and more. I almost don’t want to leave the world of the InCryptid short stories. She’s got so much gumption. And is incredibly accident prone. Two things which I absolutely adore in a strong female character. It doesn’t fail to brig a smile to my face, opening my Kobo and reading one of the stories which feature her and her amazingness.

I love that in this story, she’s showing Thomas around. The independent, matter of fact way in which she does so helps to draw you ever further into the InCryptid world and Alice’s great personality. She’s most definitely Fran’s daughter. And although I still miss Fran, I love that there is someone there to fill that void with their humorous take on life.

This story was a great way to see all of the things in the InCryptid world that go bump in the night. Even the more innocent of the creatures that go “bump” were included. I wish there was an illustrated encyclopaedia of all of these amazing creatures… I could almost die a happy woman then.

<- The Way HomeTarget Practice ->

Image source: Goodreads

Target Practice by Seanan McGuire

Overview
Target Practice (InCryptid, #0.22) by Seanan McGuire

Title: Target Practice
Author: Seanan McGuire
Series: InCryptid #0.22
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Strong women, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 5th October 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Free online short story
Publisher: Seanan McGuire
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: It was a rare moment of absolute calm – at least until the blonde blur broke through the blueberry bushes, running hell-bent for the border.

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Synopsis

Buckley Township is starting to grow on Thomas Price, rather like a particularly aggressive strain of moss. He still has a lot to learn about his new environs, and about the people they bring him into contact with. People like Alice Healy, whose talent for getting herself into trouble is only exceeded by her inexplicable ability to get out of it again. Luck is not a dependable survival mechanism. And hers is running out.

When Alice stumbles over something that even the ecologically unusual Buckley woods shouldn’t be able to sustain, it’s anyone’s guess whether she’ll be able to handle it on her own–and if she can’t, whether she’ll be able to find the help she needs to stop an invasive species from damaging the town and people she cares about. Thomas, meanwhile, just wants to avoid being shot by her father.

Tensions are high and stakes are higher as Alice and Thomas both begin taking aim on what they want, and where they want to be when they get it.

Thoughts

The first dot point that I wrote in my notes on this short story sums it up perfectly:

  • Naw. Alice finally broke Jonathan!

That’s pretty much it. There was something that became steadily more irritating about Jonathan as these short stories unfolded. Don’t get me wrong, it’s understandable. But it was still dang annoying. So when Alice finally manages to “break” him… it left me feeling happy. Nothing like a rebellious teen having a point to make me love a story.

As with the other short stories so far in this collection, now all I want is to get the next books in this series and stick my nose into them! But I’m trying so hard not to buy anymore until I finish some from my teetering TBR… I may actually get buried under an avalanche soon.

But I digress… this was a fun story and showed how well Alice’s grandmother knows her, and how the scars of the past and worries for the future can have the exact opposite effect to what you desire. Luckily, things will steadily get more interesting (I’m sure) as the rest of the series about Alice’s children unfolds…

<- The Lay of the LandTailed ->

Image source: Goodreads

The Way Home by Seanan McGuire

Overview
The Way Home (InCryptid, #0.20) by Seanan McGuire

Title: The Way Home
Author: Seanan McGuire
Series: InCryptid #0.20
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Strong women, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 30th September 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Free online short story
Publisher: Seanan McGuire
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: And about that time, pigs would fly.

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Synopsis

Alice Healy is sixteen years old and chafing at the yoke of her father’s regard. His overprotective streak has blossomed in the absence of his wife, leaving his teenage daughter sneaking out at every opportunity, trying to find herself and her place in the world without any parental support. But she knows the woods, and she knows what she wants to do with her life; it’s just a question of whether she can keep herself alive long enough to actually accomplish her planned future.

Thomas Price is a man still paying for his past. He’s smart enough to understand that his assignment is essentially an exile, and has enough of a sense of self-preservation not to argue. Those who vex the Covenant of St. George rarely live long enough to explain themselves. At least in Buckley Township, he’ll be far away from danger…unless you’re counting Alice Healy.

Worlds will collide and a new story will begin as Thomas Price arrives in his new home, and Alice Healy does her best to stay alive long enough to say hello for the first time.

Thoughts

Oh, HELL YES!!! A story of Alice as a teenager, man I’ve been hanging for this ever since Snakes and Ladders. And it was everything that I expected – Alice is sassy, accident prone and wonderfully independent, just like her mother. The fact that she also seems to like knives a little… wow.

This story is not only Alice’s first appearance as a teenager, but it also has Thomas and Alice’s first meeting. Which, again, I fell completely in love with. I can now completely understand how they had Verity as a daughter, and I can’t wait to meet the rest of their children and get to know the family even more (when I have the money to buy the books anyway…).

I was intrigued to see how Thomas truly left the Convent. You get to understand the rationale for the Healys throughout the rest of the short stories, but I wanted something at least slightly different for the next deserter. And I got it. It was great, fun and I can’t wait to keep sticking my nose into this fantastic series!

<- The Star of New MexicoThe Lay of the Land ->

Image source: Goodreads

Madam Damnable’s Sewing Circle by Elizabeth Bear

Overview
Image result for dead man's hand book cover

Title: Madam Damnable’s Sewing Circle
Author: Elizabeth Bear
In: Dead Man’s Hand (John Joseph Adams)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Steampunk, Strong women, Weird western
Dates read: 30th September 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Titan Books
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: Go on.

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Synopsis

In a parlour that offers services to those willing to pay, there are a certain set of rules. Ones which, if broken, can have some damnable consequences.

Thoughts

This short story was a lot of fun. Mostly because it was filled with a lot of blatantly obvious innuendos which had me giggling a little to myself. I’m a big fan of the subtle, but sometimes, it’s great to be… not so subtle. Specifically when you’re dealing with a story that is talking about a saloon…

There’s not many prostitute stories out there. Even fewer that are lighthearted and positive. It was exactly the kind of tale that I love. And, since I’ve now read a few of Elizabeth Bear’s short stories… it’s made me want to see what she can do in a full length novel… more books for my ever growing wishlist. Yay!

The only thing that I didn’t like about this short story… it ended. And now I’m sitting around, wondering where I can read more Elizabeth Bear and enjoy more of her unique and fun style of writing…

<- Alvin and the Apple TreeStrong Medicine ->

Image source: Amazon

One for the Money by Jeaniene Frost

Overview
Image result for death's excellent vacation book cover

Title: One for the Money
Author: Jeaniene Frost
Series: Night Huntress #4.5, Night Huntress Universe #4.5
In: Death’s Excellent Vacation (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Strong women, Urban fantasy, Vampires
Dates read: 29th September 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gollancz
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: At least Tammy wouldn’t remember any of this.

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Synopsis

Cat and Bones’s romantic vacation is interrupted when they’re enlisted to guard a spoiled heiress with both human and undead hitmen on her tail. Things quickly go from bad to worse when details of their assignment make their way through the supernatural grapevine, and what started as a simple bodyguard job ends up being a fight for survival that neither Cat nor Bones saw coming. This story takes place after the events of Destined For An Early Grave and before the events of This Side Of The Grave.

Thoughts

I loved this short story. Didn’t exactly love that it takes place after the next novel I want to read in this series… it kind of gave a few big spoilers as to what happens. But, as always, hopefully by the time I actually get to reading that novel I won’t remember all of the minutiae and can still be surprised. Although, let’s admit it – I’ll be surprised regardless because Frost always manages to pack a lot of storyline and information into one story. Which, I, of course, love.

I absolutely adore Bones and Cat as a couple. They are sexual, intense and more than a little violent. All things that I apparently love in my fictional couples. We won’t delve too much into my brain to discover why I love the fact that Cat cuts ghouls heads off and blows up cars and such… it’s quite cute that this is their vacation and there is untold drama occurring.

One of the parts of this story that was a bit of a give-away, but still enjoyable was the way in which Bones taught Justina to defend herself. It was cute, a little awkward and involved lots of stabbing. It definitely hinted at this great idea that there was going to be some healing of old wounds and fractures in Cat’s relationship with her mother throughout the series… YAY!

<- The Boys Go FishingMeanwhile, Far Across the Caspian Sea… ->

Image source: Amazon