#Top5FemaleAuthors – Laurell K.Hamilton @LKHamilton – #WomensHistoryMonth 17/03/2017

So we’ve reached my final favourite author and as they say I’ve saved the best until last…

5 – Laurell K Hamilton

The American author Laurell K Hamilton first began writing her Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series back in 1993 and since then people the world over have become fans of this fictional world. I came to the series much later, when by chance I found a copy of Guilty Pleasures in my local boom store. Already a huge vampire/supernatural genre fan, I was open to the idea of broadening my horizon and I have never looked back.

The female heroine of this series is Anita Blake, a feisty, kick ass woman who will not be stereotyped and who can more than keep up, if not out do her male counter parts. From the first read of one out of 25 novels I knew I loved this story. I fell utterly in love with Hamilton’s style of writing and the characters drew you into their weird and wonderful world.

I wanted my characters to be like those in Anita’s world. Here is a writer who knows what she’s doing in the genre, who has made the Vampire both scary and monstrous. But we are blessed with other creatures of the night and never before has a shape shifter been so appealing. I love the balance between horror and beauty in the Anita Blake series, the way that Hamilton draws you into this bewildering world and you always go back for more.

The one thing that stands out for me as a reader and fan, is the openness to sexuality for our female heroine. Here we have a modern woman who finds herself either ankle deep in violence and/or sex, both of which she embraces. Never one to shy away from difficult situations, I love Hamilton’s head on approach to subject matters and the way our hero Anita handles every obstacle set upon her. With great flair, courage, determination and beauty we become enthralled by Anita Blake and her swarm of beautiful lovers.

It is safe to say Hamilton has spoilt me for any other series, I am utterly in love with Anita and the world created around this character. Hamilton is a very talented writer and an author who I greatly admire. I cannot wait to read more of her work and can only hope one day my writing is half as good as hers.

*M*

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#Top5FemaleAuthors – Anne Rice @AnneRiceAuthor – #WomensHistoryMonth 14/03/2017

Continuing my top 5 favourite female authors now … Here goes

2 – ANNE RICE

Anne Rice was another female author that brought the monsters out into the light. Her very first vampire novel in 1976 had all the elegance and drama of the earlier gothic novels like Dracula and Frankenstein but here the Vampire was our hero. Rice made it acceptable to fall in love with a character that previously wouldn’t have been the subject of affection.

For me, Louis was my first literature vampire. Rice’s first novel grabbed my attention at a young age, a time when I was enthralled by the gothic and embraced the style of that subculture. And what a novel to begin my obsession. Immediately we fall for this character, a lost soul brought into the darkness by his companion Lestat. Not only were these the most elegant of vampires but the undertones of a male/male relationship were always there.

Though I have read many vampire novels, progressing onto the classics like Dracula and Carmilla, for me Interview with the Vampire and Rice will always be a favourite. Reading became on obsession, vampires became an obsession and if it wasn’t for the beauty of Rice’s first novel, I do not believe I would be so strongly drawn to the characters.

Whilst the Vampire character continues to be popular among the masses, my love for them stemmed entirely from this novel and I will cherish Rice’s work spanning the years.

*M*

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#Top5FemaleAuthors – Mary Shelley – #WomensHistoryMonth 13/03/2017

My favourite female authors is a growing list, as with each new addition to my bookshelves more and more authors are strong, talented women.

Narrowing down the list to just 5 is hard but I’ll begin to try.

1 – Mary Shelley

An old favourite of mine is the author of Frankenstein, a woman who came from a time when female authors were few and far between. When literature was a male dominated industry. Shelley was the daughter of a very forward woman, her mother was independent, a philosopher and pioneer for women. It only seems fitting that Shelley became famous in her own right. A friend of the devilish Lord Byron and John Polidori an author who also created a another favourite novel of mine.

Frankenstein was the first novel that I read where I felt the essence of a gothic novel, that highlighted the time of its composure. Shelley cleverly created a story that has had readers riveted for decades, with many adaptations over the years it is the original novel that still hits you.

The story for me highlighted that although the creature is seen as the monster, it is in fact Dr Frankenstein himself who is the monster. He created something, brought the creature to life from the deaths of others. Shelley has stayed with me through the years, the beautifully tragic tale shaping me as both a reader and a writer. The gothic essence is something that I’ve loved from a young age, that I embrace whole heartedly.

Shelley really was unique and so influential to the world of literature. To me.

*M*

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#AuthorFeature – Suzanne Collins – #WomensHistoryMonth 10/03/2017

Welcome to the final day of my features for this week where I talk about just some of the women that I personally feel have helped shaped not only the literary world, but also my tastes as a reader. These are not going to be lengthy essay types – they tend to drivel on. We want our features to be short and sweet!

My final feature this week is Suzanne Collins

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Collins’ career started in writing for children’s television before venturing into children’s fiction. Collins’ first published works were the UNDERLAND CHRONICLES. It was in September 2008 that THE HUNGER GAMES was first published. A series inspired by her father’s career in the Air Force – giving her an insight into the affects of war.

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It will forever be refreshing to read about strong, independent woman who fight for what they believe in. Unfortunately there are too many novels out there where the woman is shown as the victim, they are weak and dependent on men. Katniss Everdeen is up there with some of the greats; Sarah Connor, Buffy Summers and Eileen Ripely to name a few!

Be sure to check in next week when *M* takes the reins!

-S.

#AuthorFeature – J.K. Rowling @jk_rowling – #WomensHistoryMonth 08/03/2017

Welcome to DAY THREE of five features this week where I talk about just some of the women that I personally feel have helped shaped not only the literary world, but also my tastes as a reader. These are not going to be lengthy essay types – they tend to drivel on. We want our features to be short and sweet!

Today is all about this woman here – J.K. Rowling

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It was on a delayed train from Manchester to London in 1990 where Rowling first had the idea for the young wizard Harry Potter. After seven years of writing and battling her own personal issues, she released HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE in 1997.

It’s safe to say that her career rocketed from there – winning multiple literary awards, movie adaptations, merchandise and even theme parks! But what was next?


After the phenomenal success of the Harry Potter series – Rowling ventured into adult fiction and released THE CASUAL VACANCY under her own name, but she was always keen in taking on crime fiction.

Keen to write under a pseudonym – Robert Galbraith was born and THE CUCKOO’S CALLING was released in 2013. The press soon outed Rowling for writing this book and it soon became public knowledge that she was behind the new novel.

I don’t mind this at all! I can see why Rowling would want to change her name to release new material that isn’t all about wizards, witches and Dementors. I can imagine it was difficult releasing THE CASUAL VACANCY under her own name as readers would automatically make a judgement based on her earlier work, despite it being marketed for a completely different demographic. But the comparisons were there and they are hard to shift.

I thoroughly enjoyed her Coromon Strike series and hope to read more. Rowling is a great crime fiction writer!

J.K. Rowling will forever continue to surprise me 🙂

-S.

#Top10Tuesday 07/03/2017 – Favourite Books Written By Women

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#Top10Tuesday is a weekly book tag hosted by the fab team over at The Broke and The Bookish

The rules are simple – following a given prompt (or choose your own) you choose 10 items that fit within that prompt.

Given that we are celebrating Women’s History Month on the blog, I thought it only right and fair that my Top 10 this week focus is on my favourite reads by female authors.

Apologies in advance if you see some duplicates from previous Top 10’s! There are just some books that I feel are that great they need mentioning more than once!

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1. FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell
Published; September 10th, 2013 (Martin Press)

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to

This was one of my first flirtations with YA fiction and I wasn’t disappointed. Rowell has been able to realistically able to capture the essence of a lot of young people.

 

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2. DUMPLIN’ by Julie Murphy
Published; September 15h, 2015 (Balzer & Bray)

Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

A relevant young adult book that projects the message of body confidence no matter your size, shape and quirks…all whilst set to a soundtrack of Dolly Parton and has drag queens? Yep – this book has exactly that and I loved every page?!

I would recommend this book to everyone. We all have our own body hang ups and this book for me is the middle finger to all those who judge based on looks, when there is actually something pretty special going on underneath.

 

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3. TENNISON by Lynda LaPlante
Published; September 24th, 2015 (Simon & Schuster UK)

From the creator of the award-winning ITV series Prime Suspect, starring Helen Mirren, comes the fascinating back story of the iconic DCI Jane Tennison.

In 1973 Jane Tennison, aged 22, leaves the Metropolitan Police Training Academy to be placed on probationary exercise in Hackney where criminality thrives. We witness her struggle to cope in a male-dominated, chauvinistic environment, learning fast to deal with shocking situations with no help or sympathy from her superiors. Then comes her involvement in her first murder case.

Following THE CROW TRAP by Ann Cleaves, I was keen to carry on my streak of reading crime fiction by women authors and picked up TENNISON.

For fans of the Prime Suspect novels/TV series, TENNISON takes us back to the beginning of Jane Tennison’s career as a WPC on probabtion working in the East End of London. It’s 1973, the era of the Kray Twins and where women have been newly integrated into the Metropolitan Police.

This is my first venture into Lynda La Plante and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. If anything, with her style of writing and character development. I wanted more and HIDDEN KILLERS, the second of the prequel series is on my shelf staring at me!

 

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4. THE INFORMANT by Susan Wilkins
Published; November 20th., 2014 (Pan Macmillan UK)

Set in London and Essex, The Informant is a story of ruthless criminals, corrupt cops, obsessive love and the villainy that operates on both sides of the law.

As a drug-fuelled teenage tearaway, Kaz Phelps took the rap for her little brother Joey over a bungled armed robbery and went to jail.

Six years later she’s released on licence. Clean and sober, and driven by a secret passion for her lawyer, Helen, Kaz wants to escape the violence and abuse of her Essex gangster family.

Joey is a charming, calculating and cold psychopath. He worships the ground Kaz walks on and he’s desperate to get her back in the family firm. All Kaz wants is a fresh start and to put the past behind her.

When Joey murders an undercover cop, DS Nicci Armstrong is determined to put him behind bars. What she doesn’t realize is that her efforts are being sabotaged by one of their own and the Met is being challenged at the highest level.

The final test for Kaz comes when her cousin, Sean, gets out of jail. He is a vicious, old-school thug and wants to show Kaz who is boss. Kaz may be tough enough to face down any man, but is she strong enough to turn her back on her family and go straight?

One of my stand out reads in 2016! This book was gifted to my for my birthday and I spent exactly 24 hours devouring every page whilst sat in a park in Manhattan, New York. That’s right – I was in New York at the time and instead of visiting the sites, I had to sit and finish this book!

THE MOURNER is the second installment of this series which continues directly on from events in THE INFORMANT, which follows Kaz up to Scotland – who has to return to London following news about her brother.

Book Three; THE KILLER is due for release in April 2017 and I for one shall be first in the queue!
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5. DEEP DOWN DEAD by Steph Broadribb
Published; October 15th, 2016 (Orenda Books)

Lori Anderson is as tough as they come, managing to keep her career as a fearless Florida bounty hunter separate from her role as single mother to nine-year-old Dakota, who suffers from leukaemia. But when the hospital bills start to rack up, she has no choice but to take her daughter along on a job that will make her a fast buck. And that’s when things start to go wrong. The fugitive she’s assigned to haul back to court is none other than JT, Lori’s former mentor – the man who taught her everything she knows … the man who also knows the secrets of her murky past.

Not only is JT fighting a child exploitation racket operating out of one of Florida’s biggest theme parks, Winter Wonderland, a place where ‘bad things never happen’, but he’s also mixed up with the powerful Miami Mob. With two fearsome foes on their tails, just three days to get JT back to Florida, and her daughter to protect, Lori has her work cut out for her. When they’re ambushed at a gas station, the stakes go from high to stratospheric, and things become personal.

This was hands down for me a FIVE STAR read! I don’t give out my five stars easily, but I truly feel that DEEP DOWN DEAD deserves it. From the character development, to the pace at which the story flows – everything reads and feels right. What is hard to believe is that this is a debut novel! Broadribb writes like she has been doing this for years. She has that special *something* that some authors may spend a lifetime trying to find. Broadribb just has it!

My only concern now is that I’m going to drive myself crazy waiting for the next installment DEEP BLUE TROUBLE to be finished and released. The last chapters of DEEP DOWN DEAD give just enough to anticipate what will happen in the next book, although this can certainly be appreciated as a standalone novel.

 

 

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6. DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth
Published; November 21st, 2013 (Harper Collins Children’s)

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Not very often a book grabs me and I can’t put it down. It took me 48 hours to read this book and I thoroughly enjoyed it! I could completely understand the hype surrounding this book. The movies were adapted well…but as with all adaptations….could be better!

The beauty of this story is that it is relatable on many levels to young people. Making choices, breaking the status quo and defying the expectations of others.

 

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7. THE WIRE IN THE BLOOD by Val McDermid
Published; 1997 (St.Martin’s Press)

Across the country, dozens of teenage girls have vanished. Authorities are convinced they’re runaways with just the bad luck of the draw to connect them. It’s the job of criminal profilers Dr. Tony Hill and Carol Jordan to look for a pattern. They’ve spent years exploring the psyches of madmen. But sane men kill, too. And when they hide in plain sight, they can be difficult to find…

He’s handsome and talented, rich and famous – a notorious charmer with the power to seduce …and the will to destroy. No-one can believe what he’s capable of. No-one can imagine what he’s already done. And no one can fathom what he’s about to do next. Until one of Hill’s students is murdered – the first move in a sick and violent game for three players. Now, of all the killers Hill and Jordan have hunted, none has been so ruthless, so terrifyingly clever, and so brilliantly elusive as the killer who’s hunting them…

I’m just going to leave this here! Surely if you know my reading habits by now – you know why I love this book so much!

 

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8. BARED TO YOU (Crossfire #1) by Sylvia Day
Published; February 4th, 2014 (Penguin)

“Gideon Cross came into my life like lightning in the darkness.”

“He was beautiful and brilliant, jagged and white-hot. I was drawn to him as I’d never been to anything or anyone in my life. I craved his touch like a drug, even knowing it would weaken me. I was flawed and damaged, and he opened those cracks in me so easily.”

“Gideon knew. He had demons of his own. And we would become the mirrors that reflected each others most private wounds and desires.”

“The bonds of his love transformed me, even as I prayed that the torment of our pasts didn’t tear us apart.”

Venturing into the world of erotic fiction – I couldn’t help but pick this book up. It’s raunchy, sexy and filled with emotion. This isn’t just your standard romp-fest – there is a story in there. A dark, twisted story which leaves our readers wanting nothing more than to root for the protagonists and hope for that one thing readers don’t get too often…a happy ever after.

 

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9. FIFTY SHADES OF GREY by E.L.James
Published; May 25th, 2011 (Vintage)

When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.

Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.

Of course, this book divides the masses. But again, without this book – most of the books in this Top 10 would not be here, then it would be a top….one or two?

 

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10. MAYBE SOMEDAY by Colleen Hoover
Published; March 18th, 2014 (Atria Books)

Sydney is living in an idyllic bubble—she’s a dedicated student with a steady job on the side. She lives with her best friend, has a great boyfriend, and the music coming from the balcony opposite hers is fast becoming the soundtrack to her life. But when Sydney finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her, the bubble bursts. The mysterious and attractive man behind the music, Ridge, gives Sydney hope that she can move on and they begin to write songs together. But moving on is harder than she expects, Sydney can only hope….

Maybe someday…

This was my first Colleen Hoover novel and for me it certainly lives up the many recommendations I have had.

I love how the characters we meet are not the typical handsome boy and gorgeous girl (even though they kind of are….) in the “fluffed up” sense. These people are real and are most likely people that we already know in our own lives which made them relatable.

The writing was beautiful. It was intense, romantic, humorous and thankfully wasn’t smutty. You could paint your own picture of certain situations with the words alone.

Until next time…..

-S.