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Julia’s Favourite Women in SFF Update #3


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FrmaleMy last Update for this list has been in February, and as can see I have been busy reading since then!

I found new gems as well as more from authors I previously featured. I again did my best to sort them in a way that made sense, though some books fit more than one of these categories!

Without further ado, here’s all the new books I highly recommend when looking for Women writing SFF!

I’m an audioholic, so I put a little symbol next to the ones available as audiobook.

 

Grimdark / Dark

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The Hand that Casts the Bone by HL Tinsley

And hell hath no fury like a girl who remembers.

Book two in the series brings us back to the characters and city we already know. However the writing is a whole other step up, and especially the side characters are much better rounded.

This time we get a couple of point of view characters, which worked really well, and had me flying through the pages.

Villains I love to hate, and people I can’t help but love.  I really fell in love with Carmen, Beth and Henriette. I love me some female characters who do their thing, and I adore having three very different ones in one book.

Sacaran Nights by Rachel Emma Shaw

Sacaran Nights has a wonderfully unique world. a city covered in ash, so very dark and mostly running on all sorts of funghi.

I quite enjoyed the theme of death and what stays behind once someone died! Main characters I was easily connecting with, even though their lifes are so very different to mine made this as intriguing as it was gripping.

Some of the culture in here didn’t work as well for me, but the characters and mystery more than made up for it overall.

Darklands by ML Spencer

I liked the first in this series – obviously, it I wouldn’t have read this sequel – but Darklands is quite a step up again!

My wish for more rounded and three dimensional side characters came through. I couldn’t even tell you whose POV I enjoyed most this time around.

More grey areas, and moral dilemmas, more fights and political maneuvering and most if all – more world to explore!

I loved getting to see the Darkland. It was so fascinating to read how they make due with what they have, and make up for what they are lacking. This felt like a world you could get lost in, not just like a stage for a setting.

I have always especially enjoyed stories that don’t have a clear good and bad side, but instead making you root for both. ML Spencer does this incrementally and perfectly here.

And again, I just love the sheer amount if magic in here! As much as I like my low on fantasy Grimdark, sometimes I just want the magic being flung about.

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Banebringer by Carol A. Park ⊕

Banebringer quickly caught my attention for its two very different characters. A man who is a banebringer, so can use magic, but who is a mix of clumsy and powerful. And then we have a female assassin who doesn’t take anyone’s crap – but instead of the usual stone cold one, this one has a heart. Especially for lost women! Both of them have quite some mysteries in their past, which kept me intrigued all along the way.

I always loved a good bromance, and even though there is some attraction here, I liked that the book never actually fell into the romance category. Instead it is about fighting monsters, political intrigue, finding your own way, learning who you really are, and maybe gain back some trust. The trauma and hidden past also made the bit of romance it had feel more relevant than just “Do I want her/him or not?”

For me this was a great mix of a new world to explore, magic, action, character development and action, so I can’t wait to read more in the series!

Blood of Vengeance by Angel Haze

Gladiators and magic? Count me in! This was a grim and bloody take of a man caught in slavery, and forced to fight as a gladiator as well as in “the pits”.

I quite liked the tone and voice of the main character and was eagerly following through all the horrendous things he went through, in the hope of maybe managing to get free some day.

His capturer, torturer and biggest enemy is the prince, so a man with considerable power. That one I found was just too much a walking trope, so I couldn’t really take him as seriously as I should have.

The other side characters I enjoyed a lot more. Both the other gladiators, as well as the cruel guards. The wife of the bad prince was also really interesting her own motivations and goals.

Most of this book is one bloody fight after another, and how to get through it all. There’s also some contemplating if it’s even worth it to fight so hard. And always that tiny glimmer of hope, that maybe, just maybe there might be an end to it.

The book is definitely in the dark side and covers a slew of topics like torture, bearings, violence, slavery, mentions of rape and sexual assault, to name a few.

All in all a quick, entertaining and fast paced read fill of action and bravery.

The Blood-Tainted Winter by TL Greylock ⊕

This is a really good book, but for me it seems it didn’t come at the right time. I had to backtrack a lot, as I somehow kept losing my place in the story.

Despite this, I quite enjoyed this dark, Norse-inspired tale!

The Blood-Tainted Winter is full of loyalties, betrayal, duty, vengeance, war, plenty of fighting, and the occasional god.

It’s a bloody and grim story, and the prose and tone fit perfectly into this world of warriors and battles.

I really liked the main character, who is honest to a fault and tries to do the best with what fate offers him. The contrast of him being very steadfast in his morals, fighting with the way forward he has chosen,  and this harsh time and setting worked really well.

All in all it is a well rounded story that was a joy to read!

 

SciFi / Dystopia 

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The Given by Colbie R. Rice

I quite enjoyed the main character, and her family dynamics. Loving father, who’s rarely there as he is working his feet off trying to earn money. A mom who has a drug problem, but tries to do the best for her family, even if it means sacrificing principles and dignity. A young woman trying to care for her sister. A family just trying to get through life in a world that has broken down and war and violence are ever closing in on the few civilian territories.

I liked how real and three dimensional people felt and how they just did what needed doing. I also quite enjoyed the mix of post apocalyptic world, fantasy aspects, police procedural, survival, family, trust, betrayal and mystery.

The dystopian story features a lot of societal topics like oppression, racism, abuse of power, … And I thought they were handled rather well!

Black Dawn by K. Gorman

I’d definitely put it into the YA category, though I enjoyed it quite a lot at age 35 as well…

Our main character has a mysterious past, and some powers that might come from that. Or not? There’s some shadowy things taking over people, and those things seem to be bound to what happened to her in her former life, or not?

I liked the quick pace, the banter, the crew interactions and the mystery in here!

Sure, now and then I’d have liked a bit more depth, but this was so engaging and entertaining, it kept me hooked all the way through anyway. I’ll definitely continue the series!

 

Alternative Future

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The Pact by JE Hannaford (⊕ to come)

 I was lucky enough to get a very early ARC version of The Pact, and I’m so glad I did!

I loved revisiting old friends and explore ever more of the world. There’s a whole new layer of mysteries and complications, and our crew has to dash and suffer a lot to deal with all the things life throws at them.

The characters grew and stretched, both individually and into a tighter family than before. There’s a whole new set of them as well, along with a new POV, which made me breeze through the story. I just wish more books had such a strong bond of friends and family!

I especially enjoy the melding of our world and different sorts of mythology, and a bleak future that has magic again and a chance to recoup.
I wouldn’t have thought this mix of alternative future, a world almost destroyed by humankind, some almost lost technology would blend so well with magic and all sorts of creatures, but Hannaford manages to somehow pull this off amazingly well.

The Pact has quite some dark moments, some really gut wrenching, while others had me snort with a dose of nice dark humour. It definitely isn’t a fluffy and easy read. There’s always hope at the core of the story, but there’s dark patches as well as the light

A Psalm for the Wild Build by Becky Chambers

Another tiny story with a giant heart.

Not much is really happening, there’s no actual or big stakes.

Instead there’s a mystery, a new world to explore, characters I instantly fell for, and just so much warmth in it.

I had a horrendous month to say the least, and this was exactly what I needed to calm both my anxiety and help to distract me from grief as well.

Becky Chambers to me, is the ultimate warm hug in word form.

Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron

This was one hell of a lot of fun!

I avoided this for ages, due the series name Heartstrikers, which made me think it’s shifter romance or such.

I got recommendations over and over, so I finally caved, and I’m so glad I did!

While yes, there are dragon shifters, and there is a little bit of romance, it definitely is a fast paced and fun urban fantasy. Or dystopia? Near future with magic being back in the world anyway!

I loved the main characters, and the bit of attraction between them did not feel like drama, whining or pining. There’s no hot loins or similar.

Ain’t nobody got time for that anyway, if you’re busy running from bad guys trying to shoot you. Or avoiding being eaten by the family matriarch. Or Lampreys. Don’t let the giant lamprey get you…

We follow Julius, who is the smallest dragon in his family, and decidedly too nice, from one disaster into the next. He tries to find his own way in a world that wants him to be something he decidedly is not.

Plenty of action, nice twists, new friends, magic, monsters, gangsters, fight scenes and dragons make for an addictive read that I finished in just two days.

 

Regency / Strong Women in Historical Setting

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With this Curse by Amanda DeWees

Another brilliant Amanda DeWees! As my first book of hers I read was the Christmas short story, which takes place after this book, I already knew how this book would end. That didn’t hamper my enjoyment one bit though!

I liked Sybil Ingram as a main character, but I think I love Clara even more. She’s a much more down to earth character, and yet is more than up to fighting for the people dear to her.

This is another story that is a great mix of victorian romance, mystery, suspense, manners and a dash of gothic vibes.

The characters who act like real humans, within their societal borders, were a big draw for me, and I enjoyed both the main and side characters tremendously. No one did stupid things just to further the plot.

I was hooked from the first page on, and while I guessed the big secret, it took me long enough to have me thinking and puzzling along with Clara to more than satisfy me!

I’m absolutely in love with this author’s writing, and now have to forcefully keep myself from binging her stuff right away, so I have some left…

The Werewolf of Whitechapel by Suzannah Rowntree

I loved this a lot! I’d compare it to Gail Carrigers books, so if you like The Parasol Protectorate, take a close look at this series!

The main character is a young woman, who has been wounded by a werewolf. She now has some gifts, like a better sense of smell, and has been trained as lady’s maid as well as a bodyguard.

I loved her matter of fact personality, and how she just deals with whatever fate hands her. There’s snark as well as proper behaviour, and I felt like cheering for her more than once!

There’s hints at a romance to come, but absolutely no wining or pining so far!

I always loved a mature woman telling their story, like Lady Trent in A Natural History Of Dragons. So Liz already hinting at things to come worked perfectly for me.

This was a lot of fun, combined with murder mystery, enjoyable (or despicable) characters and questionable morals.

I loved every page, and can’t wait to read more in the series!

Burning Bright by Melissa McShane

The romance in this one is really minimal, especially compared to what the cover suggests. A bit like in Pride and Prejudice, where it really takes people their sweet time to even acknowledge any attraction at all. As that is one of my favourite books, this is one of the highest compliments! Now imagine Elizabeth being able to throw fireballs…
It is a regency story, about a fine lady who joins the Navy to get out of two unpleasant choices for her life. A woman. In the Navy. The scandal!

“You are a woman,” he continued.
“I realize that. I have been a woman my entire life. Do you think a woman might not feel some desire to defend her country?”

She starts off a bid timid, yet determined to not have her life controlled by her father, or a husband she doesn’t love. She grows quickly with her new challenges, and has to adapt a lot to her new home! I really enjoyed spending time in her company. It’s not all nice and fluffy. Hunting pirates is a bloody affair, and not everyone makes it out  hale and healthy.

Go read this, if a strong heroine in a regency style fantasy sounds like a good thing!

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Scales and Sensibility by Stephanie Burgis (⊕ on Scribd)

Oh this was a delightful read!

A down on her luck heroine who is just way too honest for her own good. Fate, or rather the dragon she steals to rescue it, forces her into pretending to not be the meek, penniless cousin dependent on others welfare, but rather a lady of the highest order!

I loved seeing her come out of her shell and into the light. Her dragon is the cutest side character ever! I absolutely want a pet dragon who will accompany me on my daily chores.

There’s a mystery which was well done, and I did pick up the trail of hints and was so happy to see the big reveal at the end. Always a good feeling to have guessed correctly!

The romance is part of the story, but not the whole story, which is how I prefer it personally.

I can’t wait to get a sequel for this, I need more of these characters, especially the older women please!

Opening Gambit by Tilly Wallace

While I didn’t enjoy this just as much as Manners and Monsters (this is a prequel series), it was still a lot of fun! We have a strong female mage – the first who ever reached the age of 18.

Usually female mage babies are killed, but she is a sort of exception. Our main character has to hold her own in a world run by men, and find a way to keep true to herself as well as compromising enough to get through life.

On top of that there’s a good murder mystery, new found magic to be discovered, friendships to be maintained and a dash of romance, that didn’t feel sappy or annoying.

I definitely enjoyed a nice regency lady having to use her magic to clean out a sewer for example…. That sort of thing is why I like Tilly Wallce, she mixes serious topics, with a bit of weird humour and a lot of sass and strong characters!

The Strange Case of the Alchemists Daughter by Theodora Goss

I had absolutely no idea what I was in for when starting it. I liked the cover, someone recommended it, so I went in with no expectations – and I *loved* it!

It felt like Jane Austen wrote a Sherlock Holmes murder mystery, with plenty of favourite monsters from classic literature as main characters.

It should be an awful mess, but instead it had me hooked early on, and I just couldn’t stop reading!

While the twists were a little predictable, I just couldn’t get enough of the tone and voice of the story and the characters.

I can’t even tell how much I enjoyed spending time with them, and I wish I could visit the Athena Club myself!

 

Gaslamp / Urban / LitRPG

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The Thirteenth Hour by Trudie Skies

I had no idea what to expect when I started it I just went by a friend’s “you should read this”, without even glancing at the blurb.

What I found was a wild mix of murder mystery, heist, revolution, a gang of misfits, cranky gods, aether fuelled technology and a lot of mystery. Really, a whole ton of mystery, as even the main character doesn’t have the slightest idea what she is, after one strange incident.

I loved the world, though at times it felt a bit rough around the edges. It’s such a complex set up, that other pieces felt a bit lacking in contrast. Those weren’t enough to rip me out of the story, just felt a bit too loose here and there.

What really made the book for me was the character! I loved the snark and the sarcasm that just felt right at home in a rather bleak and dark world. This made for a great balance between humourous and fun, and yet full of suspense and gritty. The main character(s? As she has a voice in her head) was easily my favourite, but I also enjoyed all her friends, and some of her enemies as well.

There’s a bit of romance, but written in a way that even I, as a decidedly non romance reader, didn’t mind. Warning for one short and well handled, but still hard to read scene of sexual assault.

The whole book was an “easy” read for me, but it’s really rather dark in places. It has topics like social injustice, work houses, correction facilities, murder, violence, quite some death, some torture. It’s not a fully Grimdark story at all, but it’s also not at all fluffy!

Dreadful Company by Vivian Shaw

Another quick, easy to read and simply entertaining Urban Fantasy. We meet old friends, this time abroad in Paris, and get to know new characters.

There’s also really cute new monster species, and I am so very jealous I can’t have one as a pet…

More depth to the world and myths, characters growing and changing, and plenty of action and medical emergencies make for a great read that I devoured in one go.

Vigor Mothis by Natalie Maher

Vigor Motis has a few LitRPG elements, but mostly felt more like a real fun fantasy. There’s no stats sheets at all, so it was just the way the magic system itself was set up, with different talents and abilities that felt familiar.

I loved the main character, a 16 year old, half starved orphan who suddenly learns she’s a natural necromancer. She’s tiny and everyone thinks she is a kid, which drives her nuts.

I loved her tone, voice and sass, and was very happy to follow along in get adventures! There’s some ruminating in what makes a monster, and what it means to be human. It was nicely balanced to still be a fun romp, but with enough depth to keep me hooked.

Lots of action, monsters, magic, new friends, found family, mysteries and twists combined with humor that gelled perfectly with me turned this into a pure entertaining reading pleasure!

 

Inspired by other Cultures

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A Psalm of Storm and Silence by Roseanne A. Brown

This one has quite a bit more sexual tension than the first, so while it still has a bit of a YA feel to it, I’d definitely put it into the upper YA part.

Compared to the first one, the plot here pretty much meanders. We go from one place to the other, and have one bad thing happening after the other, without any real progression. I didn’t mind that as I was enjoying the hell out of it for the characters, and again my most favourite part:

The mental health representation. I love how well this is not just handled, but simply organically braided into the book. It doesn’t feel like a topic that has been added, but just a natural part of the characters, and therefore the story. As someone suffering from anxiety myself, I really loved seeing characters who are struggling with it, but aren’t defined by it.

While the plot could have used a bit of tightening up, the characters were very well developed, and I felt like I was with them, right there in the story. Their emotions felt real and tangible, and not stilted or forced. This really is the strong point of the series, and had me hooked all the way through.

A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy

I read this with my YA hat on, and then I really enjoyed it.

As an adult book it had a bit too much “read that already” to fully grab me. However, I would have devoured it at age 14!

I loved the different cultural background, and especially the mix of humans, Fae and a sort of chimera.
Different magic types and styles to discover, and plenty of female main characters rounded this more than some other YA I read recently.

It has a love angle, but it’s not the centre of the book, which I also found refreshing. And having the male love interest not being a super strong “alpha douche” was amazing. He’s a good fighter and confident, but he’s also very attuned to emotions, and I loved that he took those seriously.

The rivalry between the sisters fell a bit flat for me, though I think it could get expanded in the second book. So far it’s a bit of a mystery left open when and how they went from loving each other to despising the other. Yes, now they are rivals and only one can live, but they were close as little kids and in the flashbacks we didn’t get to the point of loosing touch.

The relationships with her mother and father felt much better depicted and real, and I found it fascinating.

All in all a really good read that blends some of the old tropes, but also does some things differently.

Falling Through Stars by Staci Olsen

An absolute hidden gem, with just 22 rating on goodreads at the moment!

This was a little too easy at a few points, which is my only complaint. However aside from that I *adored* most of this book!

It’s heavily inspired by Alaskan mythology, and I loved spending time in this community who live completely in harmony with nature. There’s little bits and pieces about surviving the cold, and how you prepare during the warm months. I devoured each little bit of those.

The main character has an accident, and goes from “normal girl” to somehow different from the others. Her visions are pretty much the only fantasy for most of the book, and it’s much more about her, her family and the clan.

I loved seeing how this very different societal structure worked. It both is incredibly close, and yet if you’re supposed to be possessed by evil spirits you might see yourself cast off for the sake of safety. This all was well developed and written, and you could really feel her character change along with how people react to her.

There’s a ton of love between her and her aunt’s family, who took her in after she lost her parents. Having such a strong and stable family bond was a nice surprise! I wish we would see more of these.

Another main draw for me was her connection to her sled dogs, and especially her lead dog. They are a big part of her life. So often I’ve read books where dogs behave way different than any real dog ever would. So I loved this rather accurate depiction of their interactions.

There’s a bit of romance in here, but it’s not sappy or whiny, and I was happy to read it. Coming from me, who despises mist romance, is a big compliment!

The end does solve all the mysteries in a very satisfying way, and yet doesn’t over explain anything

 

Dark but Humorous & Fun

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Nettle &  Bone

I saw the inside cover for this book, not the dust jacket, the print on the actual cover, and I pre-ordered it without a second thought. A beautiful golden skeleton dog, on a green hardcover? Me needs it!  I really, really loved this (dark but also very entertaining) book!

The princess isn’t a typical Princess at all. She’s nice, honest, willing to work, a bit naive and has a hard time with some social situations. She’s not at all the pampered, arrogant sort who needs rescuing all the time. Instead she’s a very normal young woman, doing the best she can with a shitty situation.

And then, on top of that, we get two more main characters I simply adore! One is an old grumpy dust-wife, a sort of wise woman / witch. The other a slightly overwhelmed, nice and friendly fairy godmother, with hidden depths.

I love, love, love having three female main characters, all of them unique and strong, but never really fitting the mold.

The last main character, human that is, is a big, strong man, but a nice one instead of an insensitive brute. While there is a tiny bit of romantic tension, it’s never the focus of the book, and there decidedly is no long winded drama about it.

And then… Of course I need to mention the three non humans, which just took me heart by storm. First of all Bone Dog, who was so very realistically dog like I was constantly sad I couldn’t actually play with him. Add a chicken, possessed by a demon, as you do, and a tiny chick named Finder.

Despite being quirky and weird and fun, it definitely has its dark tones and bits

A Wizard’s Defensive Guide to Baking 

This is again a great mix of surprisingly dark, twisted, fun, and cute!

On the one side it’s a hilarious story, about a 14 year old who can magically alter dough or baked goods. Think dancing gingerbread men, or such. She can also ask the dough to be fluffy, or not burn.

Then we have a murder mystery, when Mona finds a dead girl in the kitchen, and soon is running for her life herself…

Oh we also have political intrigue, and possible traitors in the city!

For me the darker and sad bits definitely rounded this story off, and made it a lot more engaging than if it had been just pure fluff. It’s still light and weird enough to be a definite comfort read for me! You should have some sort of dark(ish) humour though to get the most out of it.

I was certainly very well entertained all the way through

 

YA / Coming of Age

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The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

Good for either YA readers, or adults looking for an easy & quick read with a nice old school feel.

As a rather well read SFF fan it was a quick bite and rather predictable. As a teen I would have adored it though!

The snarky voice of the narrator was so much fun it easily kept me hooked from start to finish, and kept me from ever getting bored. Nice twists, some mysteries and a lot of adventure kept me breezing through the story!

Brambles by Intisar Khanani

This was my trial for Intisar Khanani, as I have seen in her in some panels recently, and was really intrigued to try her stories.

And I’m happy I did, I directly bought the first book in the series Brambles is a prequel novella for!

I really enjoyed the family relationships, and the topic of consequences, even when you do the right thing. The question of what to do when it’s your own fate against your morals in such a short book has me really looking forward to the main series!

Thorn by Intisar Khanani

I really enjoyed Thorn for its main character. She’s not a great fighter, or incredible talented, she’s not a genius, or otherwise special. And she actually isn’t! In so many YA books the “ugly swan” turns into the best human ever.

Not so in Thorn – here it’s a normal young girl, who lived through quite some trauma, and just wants a quiet and peaceful life. And I so feel that! I’ve never been one for big adventures, I enjoy a safe and quiet space. And I can’t say I’ve seen that portrayed in fantasy much! Outside of some old and weary characters wishing for retirement. So it was a joy to see this in a YA book.

I also thought the family struggles and trauma were well handled, and depicted realistically. Nothing just magically goes away, but there’s always room to grow.

 

Short but packing a punch

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Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh

I  bought this on a whim, purely for the beautiful cover.

I usually do not like fairytales, but this one somehow did work well for me!

I liked the mystery that only gets partly resolved throughout the book.

Tobias is a strange main character, and his weirdness was a major hook for me. He’s the Green Man, and even though we never fully learn what that means, I enjoyed his slightly detached, yet involved way of living. He doesn’t fit any basic mold, which kept me intrigued all the way through.

I also liked the other main characters, especially one that got more prominent in the second half.

All in all a story I would never have guessed I’d enjoy this much

When Cereba Fell by Rachel Emma Shaw

This is a really short prequel story to the main series.
I don’t think I’d have enjoyed this, if I hadn’t read Last Memoria before. So I would not recommend it as a teaser for the main series!

If you already read the duology however, and like me can’t get enough of this world, then this little snippet is a very nice bit of extra info!

A glimpse into Cereba, as it was – something I dearly wished for.

It might only be about 17 pages, but these packed quite an emotional punch as well as new insights.

Smuggler’s Fortune by Angela Boord

I quite enjoyed this little story. Little at least compared to the doorstopper of a first book!

I loved meeting Razi, and seeing more of the Gavaro lifestyle.

The “quest” quickly had me hooked, and I was happy to be off to a new adventure!

The one star missing is for how different the “romance”, or lack thereof, was written. Fortune’s Fool has a romance at the heart, but the two are really pragmatic and straight forward about it. It’s one of the very few books that have a central romance, that I really enjoyed.

In this one it almost feels like Kyrra had a brainwash, because she does quite a bit of languishing and pining. She was looking for Arsenault in book one as well, but in a way more active and matter of fact kind of way. This was precisely what made the romance different from all the soul searching, whining, drama sort of romance I usually just can’t click with. I am loyal to a fault, slightly autistic, and could really identify with Kyrra and how she handled love. I feel like I lost that a bit in this story, as Boord tried to show more feelings. I didn’t think they were missing in book one at all. The two characters just are less likely to agonize about them, and more likely to just deal with things, and meet any problems head on. No drama, just honesty and directness. I loved that.

On the other hand I really enjoyed the way we see her struggling with having to hide her true identity, and being lonely. That part was incredibly well done. It made her feel more rounded, and gave depth to get character.

I also especially enjoyed a scene that was very much pro love people for whom they are.

“It might make some kind of difference to you, wouldn’t it?”

His eyebrow twitched upward in amusement, but his fingers didn’t stop. “Logistics, maybe. Not attraction.”

I hadn’t expected that answer. He laughed at me-not just a chuckle and shook his head. “Why is that so hard to believe? Everybody has their own beauty. Men, women… eunuchs.”

Tocustones-Burgis.jpg?fit=200%2C300&ssl= Keepers-Tale.jpg?fit=188%2C300&ssl=1 Blackhorn-Andrews.jpg?fit=201%2C300&ssl=

Touchstones by Stephanie Burgis

Touchstones is one of those rare books, I want to give more than 5 stars. Which means even more, as it’s a story collection, and I usually prefer longer formats.

These stories however felt like they were written especially for me, and I feel like I need to tell everyone and their dog about this wonderful book!

There’s a lot of different tones and styles to be found in here, and not one of them I didn’t like. They all have a touch of romance, but they all have a lot more than that!

“A deeply impractical way to find his missing dance partner.” I shook my head, setting one finger in my book to mark my place. “It certainly fits his appalling reputation, though. Has anyone suggested that he simply look at maidens’ faces as a better way to recognize the girl he loves? Or was her face not actually what he was looking at last night?”

From cosy to funny, from thoughtful to silly, from fluffy to darker and from regency to a campus in our time. Here’s two things though, all these stories have in common:

* A good twist

* Amazing female main characters, who know or learn about, their own strength and goals!

“Then that keeps women and the lower orders safely in their place, doesn’t it? Leaving the magic to the gentlemen who rule the empire.” The other girl snorted. “No wonder they don’t want anyone else sharing their power. They wouldn’t let me into university either, even though I’d taught myself Latin and Greek as well as any Eton student. But do you think I’m going to let them stop me?”

I loved the way this book made me feel when reading, from a small contented sigh, over smirks and snorts, to full on “Yay girl, you got this!” air punch moments, I got it all along the way.

If you’re looking for a book with strong female protagonist forging their own paths, but you also want something that leaves you more resilient and happy than before, instead of angry or depressed, I can’t recommend this enough!

A Keeper’s Tale by JA Andrews

A lovely story inside a story, set in the Keepers world.

I enjoyed both main characters a lot, and especially how the young princess decidedly didn’t want to be saved.

The end was beautiful and left me with a smile in my face.

Couldn’t ask for more!

The Black Horn by JA Andrews

This is another short story in the Keeper world, and while I enjoyed it a tiny bit less than her Ghost in the White Wood, it was still a damn good read!

With The Black Horn the start was a bit rocky for me, and it took me a bit to firmly settle into the world and the characters. That’s my only complaint here, once I got past the very first scene, I was just as hooked as always. As it’s a short story, this didn’t take long at all.

I wonder how she manages to put so much emotion into such a few words, but I was fully attached to the characters, and on the edge of my seat by the end.

It’s full of tension, love and fear for your family and friends. There’s a big tragedy looming right around the corner. But as it’s a book by JA Andrews, there’s also hope. Always that little glimmer of hope.

The post Julia’s Favourite Women in SFF Update #3 appeared first on The Fantasy Hive.

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