Friday, August 31, 2018

Looking for some female protagonists?

Sometimes I feel like a bit-player in my life, as events outside my control rock the boat and threaten to engulf me. Maybe that's why I like to read at least a few novels with powerful female protagonists, just to remind myself I can steer the ship. (In fact, the protagonist in one of these novels is a pirate captain, more surely steering her own vessel!) And maybe it's why, as a child, I despaired of "girl's books" and devoured all my brothers' books instead, all the while telling myself stories where girls had just the same adventures as all those heroic guys. Anyway, here are some reviews of books I've read recently with female protagonists. If nothing else, posting the reviews is something under my control--it will distract me from the many things that aren't.

First is Stranger in Town by Cheryl Bradshaw. Fourth in a mystery series, it reads well as a standalone novel about a private investigator in Utah/Wyoming, chasing after the case of a missing child. Lots of statistics feed the reader's fears in this novel. But the author offers wholesome characters and promises a good outcome, one way or another. Enjoy the balance of fact and fictional mystery with some well-balanced three-star coffee.

Easy Innocence by Libby Fischer Hellmann is another mystery with a female PI lead. This one's set around Chicago's North Shore where a group of young women take fitting in, buying the right clothes, and enjoying their freedom just a little too far. Meanwhile there's society's insistence that those who don't fit in must be dangerous. This novel's dangers are dark and well disguised. Enjoy some dark five-star coffee while you read.

Aaron Paul Lazar's The Asylum will be released in the Love Under Fire collection in November. It stars a feisty female protagonist who's determined to bounce back from losing her job and her boyfriend. Then she's determined to solve the mystery behind her new employment. Meanwhile she hangs out with a wonderfully large Mexican-American family, eats great food, and entices readers to enjoy all the delights of the Maine coast. Enjoy with some well-balanced three-star coffee.

Then there's Cats’ Eyes by Mollie Hunt, in which a fifty-something-year-old female protagonist, with many cats, is beset by trials and tribulations solving the mystery of a diamond theft. The cats are great, as is the voice. Enjoy with some easy-drinking two-star coffee.

Not all female protagonists have to be PIs or solve mysteries of course. As promised, the heroine of Ivory Dawn and Demons and Pearls by P. S. Bartlett is a pirate captain, though she's just a teenager looking after her cousins when we first meet her. The stories have a breathless haste about them, and plenty of action and adventure. Enjoy with some lively easy-drinking two-star coffee.

The star of Amie: African Adventure by Lucinda E Clarke is a rather too everyday English woman, reluctantly persuaded to go with her husband on an African assignment. Well-researched and detailed, the story gives a very clear view of life in Africa, offering readers insight into very different points of view. But there's an overarching threat which turns information into terror as the story progresses. Enjoy with some seriously dark five-star coffee.

In contrast, the heroines of Algorithm of Power by Pedro Barrento (there are several, as the book takes place over different centuries) are well-educated, intelligent women of a future-history world. The author invites readers into his world first, revealing its future history later in a well-timed middle part. Blending clever science fiction with myth and interpretation, adding great characters and intriguing mystery, and tying it all together with cruel coincidence, he creates a fascinating novel of strange possibilities. Enjoy these dark tales with some dark five-star coffee.

Finally, the protagonist of A Reflection of Sophie Beaumont by L. M. Barrett may not really be a hero, but she's a mystery waiting to be understood, after being found dead by her loving husband. It's a truly dark tale, with the promise that control maybe isn't what we should be looking for. Dark five-star coffee is definitely the choice to go with this.

And dark five-star coffee is what I need to brew to keep me awake to the end of the day. Enjoy reading!

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