#BookishBloggersUnite | Favourite Women Writers Across Multiple Genres
#BookishBloggersUnite is a weekly hashtag that a group of us bookish friends have decided to participate in to talk about all things books. Posts will go up on Friday (or whichever time works best for your time zone!).
This week's post is about Favourite Women Writers Across Multiple Genres in honour of US Women's History Month.
We would love for you to join us, so please let us know about as many favourite women writers as you like and link your post at @DoddyAboutBooks.
There will be a new host each week and a new challenge to participate in.
Favourite Women Writers Across Genres:
The way I am going to do this tag is divide up my favourite genres (as niche as they may be), and include as many favourite female authors that I want to, because I have no will power when it comes to only choosing one favourite author. The way I define favourite is writing that pulls me into the story. The way I question it was if I come across a new (or new to me) book by one of these authors in a bookstore or library, would I pick it up without having to know the synopsis of the story, just based on the author's name alone? Of all of these authors listed, whether I have read only one book of theirs or multiple, I would pick up their books again and again.
Some of these writers I may have only read one book by them or I may have read multiple works. I will put an asterisk (*) next to the authors that I have only read one of their books, just so you know. I read from the library and also buy a lot of books so in the photos if one of their books are missing or I have one in the photo I don't list as having read, that will be why.
Please note that I am very well aware that my list is not as diverse as it should be. This is something I have noticed and I am trying to make to make active steps to read more diversely and add to my favourite women authors list as I go.
Weird Adult Fantasy:
I discovered Anne Bishop's The Black Jewels Trilogy back when I was at University, at a time I was not really reading much and I just devoured them and then read them all again. This series ignited my love for fantasy though fair warning that it deals with a lot of difficult issues. I have only read the original trilogy and the bind up sequel novellas (Dreams made Flesh) but as you can see by the photo below, I have continued to collect the books set in the Black Jewels World and want to reread the original trilogy to see if I still enjoy it now and if I want to continue on. I continued to buy her other series Ephemera and I have heard good things about the Others series she has written.
I picked up Smiler's Fair on a whim while browsing the library back in 2015 I believe and my gosh, this was one of the weirdest and most wonderful fantasy books I have ever read. The world is complex and the characters are too. It has LGBTI+ rep and prophecies and murder and parts of the world that are only given to the reader in bits and pieces, not all at once. Since then I have read the second book, The Hunter's Kind, also from the library and I am eagerly awaiting the third. It was going to be a four book series and I am still hoping that's the case. It was so good that I went back and bought a copy of the first one and will continue to collect the series and check out any other adult fantasy that she writes.
Octavia E. Butler*
While I am not so sure that the one book of Octavia Butler's I read was strictly sci-fi, I enjoyed it immensely. It was extremely hard to read, dealing with heavy subjects such as slavery through time travel and demonstrated how racism still existed, in more subtle ways (and not so subtle ways) in the present day when the character returned back to her current time. I wanted to instantly go and read everything Ms Butler had ever written. This is going to be a new reading goal in the future, I think.
I have mentioned Hannah Kent and her latest release The Good People so many times already on the blog, it was one of my favourites in 2016. Everyone, however, knows Hannah Kent for her first novel, Burial Rites. Both books are based on true events in history, both are well researched, both are extremely atmospheric and I know that I will buy and read anything Hannah Kent writes from now on. It's hard to believe that she has only written two novels.
I borrowed A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald from a friend and I devoured it in one night. It was historical fiction with a strong female, defying societal expectations and her family's wishes to become a female gynaecologist back in the 1920s when women were not supposed to have careers, especially in a male field at the time. While it deals with important issues, it had strong supportive female friendships and one hell of a tortured romance. Having loved this one so much, I picked up Her Mother's Secret when it came out and I absolutely loved that one too though I think A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald has a special place as my favourite by this author. Her new novel The Paris Seamstress is due to come out soon and I was lucky enough to receive an ARC so that's what I will be reading in March.
I read the Alice Network in the Libby app through Overdrive, and oh my gosh, I loved it. Dual timelines and points of view with two very determined, strong females at the core. Who both have a weakness for Scottish men with prison sentences...
I want to read all her other historical fiction books now.
I have read Room and I thought it was excellent, but I have to say my sweet spot for Emma Donoghue is in the historical fiction works of hers. Though I have only read two, The Wonder and Frog Music. I loved the Wonder and it would be a great companion novel to the Good People by Hannah Kent (author above who is also a fave). However, Frog Music took my soul and burrowed into my heart. It is very heavy from the first chapter, with a murder taking place. The main character has to figure out whether she was the intended victim or her roommate. It goes back and forth over the course of the month and it is based on a true story. What I loved in Frog Music is that the character is flawed, she makes mistakes, she loves too hard and too fast and is unapologetic for enjoying sex which you actually don't come across in a lot of historical fiction. The main character battles over what the right thing is to do, she is grieving for the person murdered and she is also grieving for her life which has been thrown upside down, in the claustrophobic heat wave in San Francisco in the late 1800s when women could be arrested for wearing pants and riding bikes and smallpox was rampant. So good! I have the Sealed Letter to read by her and I want to devour the rest of her novels ASAP.
General Fiction with a Bite
This is the author's first adult novel, though correct me if I am wrong. She has written poetry, children's books and a graphic novel. Katherena Vermette is a Canadian writer of Metis descent. She describes her work as being motivated by an activist spirit, particularly on First Nation issues. The Break dived deep into those issues and focused on a family of women, brave and strong and having to face a horrific attack on two young teenage girls. This book was impactful and told in many voices. I loved it so much and want to go back and read her poetry and her graphic novel and anything else this woman writes. Her writing is amazing and examines different sides of the story, and how acts of violence against women can reverberate not only in that woman's life but how it affects her family and her family's family, and the cop involved and how that act feeds into the bigger issues. So many different acts of violence take place, in the past and in the present in this book, and it allows the reader to have an understanding and compassion for all involved, even if you don't forgive or condone the actions of certain characters. I read this book in the month of February 2018 and already it's a favourite. A review will be coming of this :)
This is How it Always Is was a heartwarming novel about a family. A family who has a young boy who wants to be a girl and how the family reacts. It's a sensitive look at a big issue and the family's love for each other shines through. Laurie Frankel is a mum who has a child who was born as a boy and now identifies as a girl, so the issue is explored by an author who has lived in the shoes of her character so to speak. The tone of the parents and their interactions with each other and some of the lines that the dad has just hit me in all the feels. I need to check out Ms Frankel's other novels.
Lisa Genova is a Professor at Harvard and writes about different illnesses. It's more than an illness affecting the main character, it is how their family is influenced and how they all deal with the diagnosis and the hereditary effects if any. I have only read Still Alice and Inside the O'Briens but I have a couple of hers to read that I own (see right photo below) and I would love to read all her novels. The diseases are well researched and I like learning about the diseases through the main character and their family members. I have not managed to get through one of her novels without sobbing hysterically though so I don't think they are novels that you can read back to back.
I am super duper fussy when it comes to a mystery/thriller. I need it to be good writing, with a fairly original idea, with a twist that I didn't see coming or at least one that makes sense. I want it to leave me feeling a bit creeped out at the end and tie off the loose ends. Reading C.J. Tudor's The Chalk Man checked off all the requirements above. It was super creepy, with a great plot, you are never sure who to trust, the narrator is just reliable or unreliable enough to make you doubt what they are saying without it being super obvious, and that extra bit at the end that just made it super creepy guys. I can't wait to see what she writes next - and a little bit terrified if I am being completely honest, but in a good way?
So I found Lisa Jewell and her I Found You on the Modern Mrs Darcy's Summer Reading Guide. My library copy (see photo below) looked like it would be a cute romance and I was doubting the twisty category it was put in. Oh my gosh, does this cover not match the tone of the book AT ALL. It is super twisty with lost memory story at the heart of the novel and events that happened in the past having a lasting impact on the present day. It has a dual timeline perspective, different POV between two different women, a man that has gone missing, a man who can't remember anything at all except the beach he has ended up on and you think it is going to be a stereotypical oh man that is missing is the one who can't remember story BUT NO. Do not assume anything. Lisa Jewell is quite prolific and I haven't read anything else by her or heard of her, to be honest, but I need to change that and read all of her novels because it is rare to find a good thriller author, but once you do, you hold on and follow their career and don't let them go!
So also on the 2017 Modern Mrs Darcy's Summer Reading Guide was I See You, Clare Mackintosh's second novel. Her debut got a heap of buzz but since thrillers aren't my go-to genre, I let it go, get it? Ahh so bad. Anyway I read I See You and it completely freaked me out because I catch public transport, and ladies who catch public transport get stalked in this one and it was terrifying. Great twists and though I wasn't impressed with the extra reveal at the end, it still met my fussy thriller criteria and I was excited to go back and try I Let You Go but I haven't got to it yet! Her new novel Let Me Lie is due out super soon and I have a physical ARC so I am going to get to that really soon.
I do like a detective novel IF the detective pulls me in and DS Manon did. She is a no frills cop about to hit 40 without having a serious relationship or children. She is a serial internet dater and loves them and leaves them without being apologetic for it, which was super refreshing. DS Manon is estranged from her family and is married to the job like so many detectives and her process of solving the case and her friendships with her coworkers are delightful to read. She gets really close to the young boy brother whose older brother was involved in one of her cases and she begins to look out for him, as a surrogate mum. So much happens case wise and then BOOM you get a like a super short summary of what happens in Manon's personal life at the end of the first one and you are like, hold up, WHAT just happened? After being so invested in her character, I was not impressed. So the second one, Persons Unknown, which involves Manon's personal life and work life colliding helped with that gap. However, the second one was an emotional rollercoaster and I don't think I am fully recovered from how a certain boy was treated and I need the next book now, please.
Gothic OR Big Houses Full of Secrets
I have only read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte but I FELL and I FELL HARD for this one. I LOVE books with the big gloomy house as another character and Thornfield Hall is that character, a big house full of secrets to be uncovered. Jane was delightful to read and I loved how she didn't give in and go against her morals. I need to reread and reread this one and then read all the other retellings and reimaginings as soon as possible. I did read Mr Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker after his one and I did enjoy the story from Mr Rochester's perspective but I didn't forgive him!
Daphne Du Maurier*
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier is also the only book I have read by her as well and everyone has read My Cousin Rachel by this stage because of the movie or at least it feels that way so I need to get on to that and all her other books because she wrote quite a few and if Rebecca is anything to go by, I am going to adore her. I loved Manderley as a big house with secrets and the sinister undercurrent running through the novel with the unnamed, unreliable narrator. Rebecca, the character, is so enthralling and you, the reader, like the unnamed narrator, want to uncover more and more., until you don't. You don't want to know more and you wish you had left things alone.
Again, another author that I have only read one of their books, but I can't help it. I loved The Thirteenth Tale. It had bookstores and authors and family secrets hidden in Angelfield House, another big house with secrets. It was dark and crazy and jumped from the past and present and I just didn't want it to end. I do have the review posted here but I don't think I could ever do this book justice or express just how GOOD it was. I need to follow up with her other works as soon as posible as well.
Last in this category is another author I read for the first time this year. Like the above, I have only read one book by her but my gosh what good book that was. Larkswood is a big house with secrets and those secrets are uncovered by Louisa, the granddaughter of Edward, the only sibling left from his generation and the only one who knows the truth, but he isn't talking. Louisa was the strong determined character that I love, defying her parent's expectations (do you see a pattern behind my favourite books and authors yet?) and her relationship that evolves with her grandfather is precious and gorgeous. The story jumps back and forth in time but not as much as you might expect and the secrets that are uncovered are dark but there is a lot of light left at the ending as well which was very cleverly done but also the ending, if anyone HAS read it, I have questions. I need to talk to you.
I cant do a favourite women authors post without including my fave lady, Ms Austen. My favourite book of all time is Pride and Prejudice. Secret: I haven't read the rest! I will though, eventually. When I have caught up with all the other authors on this page maybe?
Creepy as All Get Out
My love for historical fiction and big houses full of secrets combine with Ms Rayne as she always has a house, or mill, or old asylum, or crumbling tower as the site of a horrific event in history that has remained a secret until the present day ancestor begins to look into old secrets and reveals what might happen but at the risk to their lives because there is ALWAYS someone who wants the secrets to remain, well, secret. I discovered Sarah Rayne through Roots of Evil, which includes a film star and WWII and was delightfully creepy to my teenage self. Since then I have read so many of Sarah Rayne's work, even the first book in her antiques/ghost story series starring Nell West and Michael Flint. I still have few left that I haven't read because I don't want her books to end, even though she is still writing more. It just hits all of my gothic, historical fiction, creepy thriller vibes and I don't mind saying that I am a BIG FAN. So much so, I have lent out my copies of Roots of Evil and a Dark Dividing, my favourites, and if I don't ever get them back, I may cry a little. I even have double copies of some because I am not sure what editions I want to own, and I have a few of the fancy new editions on my BookDepository wishlist ) if my husband EVER check there for my birthday...
Graphic Novels / Comics
Marjorie M. Liu and Sana Takeda*
Marjorie M Liu and illustrator Sana Takeda created Monstress which I started reading this year and now I want all the copies! Monstress is beautifully drawn with a great plot, fleshed out characters and storylines that need to be explored. It was so good, and it is now my favourite. What does it say about me that my favourite graphic novels are these dark, twisted stories? I don't know and I don't care, just take ALL my money.
This woman is incredible and I had to keep reading about her life. This novel focuses on her travelling life but you pick up so many fascinating stories of what it was like to be a female journalist, campaigning for change, creating spaces to be able to share stories and express opinions in methods picked up from her travels and it was just so amazing to read and see what she was involved in and what she created and built, her friendships along the way and her messages she shares. This is one I borrowed from the library but I would like to own my copy and reread the hell out of it. I also want to read her other books on feminism after having read this.
I have yet to pick up Wild, but Tiny, Beautiful Things was a beautiful audiobook that I borrowed from the library and listened to at a time in my life when I think I needed it the most. It contains the letters Cheryl received as Dear Sugar, and her insight and responses to the letters are just everything. While the audio had Cheryl herself narrating, I do want to pick up this book as something I can flick through when I need that comforting voice of reason and compassion in my head.
A quick note to say that I LOVE YA FANTASY and there could be so many authors in this section if I didn't make myself cut it down to three. Bonus shout out to Mary E. Pearson and her Remnant Chronicles which became a favourite last year.
I had to choose Renee because I feel like I haven't got many authors on this list who write retellings of fairytales which is also a favourite genre of mine. Renee's books are reimaginings/retellings, The Wrath and the Dawn Series is based on 1001 nights and Flame in the Mist Series is a loose retelling of Mulan. I love her worlds that she creates, her writing is descriptive and her female characters are always strong female characters who don't just wait for a guy to rescue them. They are smart and resourceful. I have only read the first books in both series, because I really want to reread The Wrath and the Dawn before continuing with The Rose and The Dagger and there is only one book out in the Flame in the Mist Series at the moment. Renee Ahdieh is an autobuy author for me though so whatever she writes, I will buy and devour. If not straight away because there are so many books that I want to read.
The Lumatere Chronicles are possibly my most favourite fantasy series ever so I HAD to include them here. I love Melina Marchetta so I am extremely biased but this series has the best character development. From the start of the first book to the end of the third, one character in particular is so different. I love relationships, the dysfunctional families, the curses and prophecies and dark magic and how the first book contained the curse but the second and third throw the kingdom wide open and you learn about an even bigger curse that threatens them all. I cannot recommend this series enough.
Again I have only read Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor, but that is all it took to fall in love with her writing. I love Lazlo's character, his nature, his love for stories, his never ending quest to find the name of Weep and the kingdom of Weep itself with its bittersweet history and the Muse of Nightmares herself. It's magical and beautiful and I went and bought the first book in her other series immediately after I finished. I haven't read it yet, but I will.
I have only read When Dimple Met Rishi but that book is all it took. It was such a delightful coming of age story and falling in first love story. The characters contrasted nicely with one another and had enough in common to make it work and honestly, Rishi was just too pure for this world. He was gorgeous and Dimple was feisty and intelligent and maybe a tiny bit too headstrong. It was a nice message to say even though these two teenagers could go to university and do their own thing, sometimes its ok to admit that you may need help and support from someone else. That doesn't make you weak. It is actually a measure of strength. I will buy anything this woman writes from now on.
So she is my favourite author and appears on this list twice... It's warranted. Her contemporary YA books are definitely not as light-hearted as implied by being in this category, but whether it's due to nostalgia or whether it's because all her characters go through so much and come out the other end having grown, I just really enjoy her books and I read them when I need a pick me up.
Top 5 Women Authors I Would Like to Read:
Lastly I would like to finish off my post with women authors that I have heard amazing things about, authors that I have bought their books, or in some cases, more than one and at this stage, I am embarassed that I ahven't read them yet.
- N.K. Jemisin
- Jesmyn Ward
- Libba Bray
- Traci Harding
- Min Jin Lee