lists

Must Read: My Top 10 Books with Strong Female Leads

I don’t know about you, but I love a well-developed, strong female main character. As a woman myself I love the positive representation. Below are my top ten fantasy books with strong female leads.

  1. Selene from The Olympus Bound Series
    by Jordanna Max Brodsky. I’m in love with everything about this series, but I think Selene is definitely what sold me to begin with. Selene in the fallen goddess Artemis. She strong, tough, and a little emotionally distant at times. I kinda want to be her.

2. Zélie from Children of Blood and Bone from Tomi Adeyemi. Zélie is one tough cookie. She has grown up where her people are oppressed, but instead of giving in she fights all the more. Mentally, physically, and magically strong. A role model for us all in a lot of ways.

Art by Megan Ward. Find it here.


3. Jude from The Wicked King by Holly Black. This girl has been fierce her whole life and though she may be scared at times she doesn’t let that stop her. She’s Queen of Shadows and usually a step ahead.

Art by Wictorian_art. Find it here.


4. Alina from The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. Alina, weak and sickly until she allowed herself to use her power. If that isn’t a metaphor for us all I don’t know what is.

Art from Golden Rose. Find it here.


5. Laia from An Ember in the Ash by Sabaa Tahir . She started out scared and a little helpless, but for those she cared about she accomplished some truly daring tasks.

Art by Tpiola. Find it here.


6. Agnieszka from Uprooted by Naomi Novik. Agneiszka might be a bit of a mary sue, but she came from nothing and then she saved her kingdom. It was dark, but she makes it.

Art by Taryn. Find it here.


7. Meg from The Others series by Anne Bishop. Meg is not what I would consider physically strong, but she’s a strong female lead nonetheless. Meg like most of these ladies has been through a lot, but her force will and kindness alone make her a great pick for this list.


8. Wren from Girls of Paper and Fire. She’s the last remaining member of a special warrior family. Physically and mentally strong. She’s a powerhouse.

Art from Laya Rose. Find it here.


9. Fatima from The Bird King. She goes from concubine to runaway to leader. A hard choice in order to save a friend. She doesn’t have a lot of physical strength, but she has a strong will.


10. So many women in How long ‘Til Black Future Month? by N.K. Jemisin. Normally I wouldn’t put such a vague answer here, but there are just so many strong women throughout this anthology that I feel like I would be doing all you readers a disservice by not mentioning them.


What about you? Do you agree with the list? Do you have any other strong female leads you really enjoy?

ARC

ARC Review- The Bird King

Overall enjoyment: 4/5

World building: 4/5

Characterization: 5/5

Diversity: 3/5

Goodreads Summary:

Set in 1491 during the reign of the last sultanate in the Iberian peninsula, The Bird King is the story of Fatima, the only remaining Circassian concubine to the sultan, and her dearest friend Hassan, the palace mapmaker. 

Hassan has a secret–he can draw maps of places he’s never seen and bend the shape of reality. When representatives of the newly formed Spanish monarchy arrive to negotiate the sultan’s surrender, Fatima befriends one of the women, not realizing that she will see Hassan’s gift as sorcery and a threat to Christian Spanish rule. With their freedoms at stake, what will Fatima risk to save Hassan and escape the palace walls?

As Fatima and Hassan traverse Spain with the help of a clever jinn to find safety, The Bird King asks us to consider what love is and the price of freedom at a time when the West and the Muslim world were not yet separate.

Review

I was given a free copy of The Bird King by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I started this novel with some hesitation. The concept sounded interesting, but historical fiction is hit or miss with me. This novel was definitely a hit. I would say until towards the end the novel is fairly slow paced. I enjoyed it, but if you’re looking for some fast-paced crazy action this generally won’t be for you. The amount of love and care that I felt from this book was incredible. Just the amount of historical facts sprinkled within the novel was wonderful and then the fantasy elements just blended seamlessly together.

World building. The detail described throughout the book is wonderful. I read it and definitely could imagine the world. I’m not familiar with that time period in history or that particular area at the time, but it was easy to imagine. As a speculative novel there wasn’t anything to crazy from our normal world when it comes to governments, religion, etc.

Characters. This is what really sells the book to me. Wilson focuses most of her attention on mostly three or four character at a time and its perfect. Fatima is amazing. A concubine who was educated and uses that to power her through a tough journey. Hassan, our devote Muslim who draw fantastical maps. I don’t want to give a ton away, but I feel like you do get to really see into who these characters are and to watch them grow. They’re messy and imperfect, but there’s just something I find so interesting about all the characters we meet in this novel. Maybe it’s the realism, but I fall in love with them.

Diversity. This books diversity is mainly through Hassan I would say. He’s a devote Muslim who also happens to be openly gay. There are other characters in the book who are also Muslim in the first half of the book. Fatima I believe would identify as Muslim if asked, but she’s not very religious.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The ending left me feeling a little unsatisfied, but I think it was a realistic way to end it and it is probably the best way to end it. Fatima has some great quotes about women that I really enjoyed. I would call her a determined feminist. If you have any interest at all in historical or speculative fiction I would highly recommend this book! It will be released on March 12th.