Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Have you entered the world of female protagonists?

When I was ten, fourteen seemed like the perfect age. I started writing stories whose protagonists were always female, of course, and always fourteen... and most probably always me. When I was fourteen, I decided it really was the perfect age so... when I was fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, I continued writing stories whose protagonists were fourteen-year-old females. I really wanted to stop the clock, but life moved on.

There's a limit, of course, to how many life experiences a fourteen-year-old protagonist can encompass, and I learned, in time, to enjoy being older, and to write about guys, dogs, cats, babies, middle-aged grandparents, or even "old people" (but help, how old do I think I am!) I spread my metaphorical wings to encompass a worlds of many protagonists, and I tried to remind myself, once in a while, they shouldn't all be men.

Huh? How did all my protagonists get to be male? Perhaps it was something to do with the books I read--certainly as a kid I much preferred my brothers' adventure stories to the sweet little ditties of girls' lives, hence writing my own tales of fantastic female fourteen-year-olds I guess. Did I betray my roots. But I digress. My second novel, Infinite Sum, should come out soon, with its (four-to-forty year old) female protagonist. But I've just finished editing the third book in the series, and Andrew, the main character in Subtraction, is definitely a guy.

Anyway, here are reviews of some book I've read recently with female protagonists. Grab a coffee and choose your read to match the brew, or the other way around.

Born to Magic by David Wind is set in a fascinating future America where women have mastery over magic, and men have finally learned to live in relative peace under the tutelage of the dominant king. But recent history was war, and distant history remains a mystery. The female protagonist undertakes a classic heroes journey in this novel, aided by a young man who balances love interest, danger and power very effectively. The author gives just enough hints of his future history to make it fascinating without being overly detailed. And the world kept in balance by the science of women's magic, plus women's logic, is surprisingly appealing. Drink some well-balanced, smooth, full-flavored three-star coffee with this book that beautifully balances male and female protagonists, science and emotion, magic and power.

Essence of Aptitude by Esha Bajaj has twin female protagonists in a dystopian world where teens are analysed and defined by microchips then assigned to their perfect role in society. When one twin becomes the ruler while another falls to the floor, sparks might fly. The story's slow, with detailed society as rigid as its characters. Women clearly hold equal powers with men, except in the case of... well... you'll have to read the next book to find out I guess. Enjoy lots of bold dark coffee while you read this slow dark tale, and watch out for the cliff-hanger.

Coming back to earth, Deadly Traffic by Mickey Hoffman features an intriguing female protagonist. Surprisingly inept at solving mysteries, but great at working with wounded teens, she's taking time out from school to work with dogs instead. But things fall apart, friends might be foes, and the result is a mystery that delves into the underbelly of corruption around illegal immigration, and still offers a fast, pleasing read. Enjoy with some complex four-star coffee.

Getting It Right The Second Time Around by Jennifer Frank features a female protagonist tied down in present day Boston by commitments, good intentions, broken dreams, and low self-esteem. Pithy quotes from a dead (female) relative add enjoyable humor to the tale as Alison struggles to determine just what or who should set the course for her life. It's a low-key Christian romance, with some thought-provoking lessons about following our own paths. And yeah, the protagonist has to be female to make this one work. Drink some lively easy-drinking two-star coffee with this enjoyable, if sometimes wordy, read.

On Trial by Zanna Mackenzie is a short story that takes readers to the Lake District where an intrepid young woman hopes to qualify to protect and serve celebrities. But solving the mystery of the missing celebrity bride, together with her equally intrepid team, becomes more complicated when the boyfriend arrives. Amber has 24 hours to resolve it all or lose everything in a fun, fast read best enjoyed over some bright, lively, easy-drinking two-star coffee.

Olly by Isabella Sinclair is a quintessentially feminine novel, featuring complex details of the protagonist's love life and activities, all bound by an overarching storyline of lust, life and the pursuit of love. There's an intriguing backstory of a failing world to match the failing lives. Seriously explicit, so reader beware, but it's an intriguing tale to enjoy with some strong dark five-star coffee.

Thirty Days of Red by Geraldine Solon features betraying and betrayed loves as well, with some seriously sensual scenes, and some seriously unreliable narrators. It's an interesting, twisted tale with a compelling ending, deserving another strong five-star coffee perhaps.

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