#BookishBloggersUnite is a weekly hashtag that a group of bookish friends participate in to talk about books. Posts will go up on Friday (or whichever time works best for your time zone!).
This week’s category is Who Runs the World? and I am hosting, so make sure you link your blog post at the end of this post. I can't wait to see your answers :)
For this week I’ve mixed things up with a spotify playlist here.
For each song, I’ve created a prompt to answer (feel free to switch characters up with novels or even authors, there is quite a few author Queens out there!). There are no rules, you don’t have to answer every question, you can change up the questions if you want to interpret the songs differently, it’s completely up to you!
Favourite Queen/Ruler in a novel
Princess Lia from The Remnant Chronicles by Mary E. Pearson. Lia is a runaway princess in the first novel of the series, selfish and not wanting to be tied down. She isn't afraid of hard work however and throughout events occurring in all three novels in the trilogy, she grows into her maturity and into a ruler who is not only able to be strategic and ruthless when she has to be but is always putting the needs of her people before her own. I loved her transformation and how she stands up for what she wants and what certain countries need.
Character battling with demons
I read Monstress Vol. 1: Awakening in Janaury this year and to be honest, I don't know why it took me so long. It was so good. The world is literally filled with these ghost type things rumoured to be ghosts of the gods and one monster in particular has awoken in the main character Maiko Halfwolf. She is one angry women on a quest to figure out her past and learn exactly what this monster is inside of her threatening to devour.
Character who takes no ‘you know what’ from anyone
Alex from The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis. Alex is one of my most favourite characters ever. Her life was devasted by her sister being murdered by a man for no particular reason and instead of being helpless, she decides to get even. She has trained herself to be able to defend herself and others. She may also have taught herself some more unsavoury things. She will not tolerate men being horrible towards women, even a girl who by all means was not her friend. She has a soft spot for animals and throughout the novel, she learns to let her guard down and make a friend and even fall in love.
Character on fire
Tea is a super powerful bone witch, a power which causes her to be feared and shunned. She is taken in by the only other bone witch around and while she tries her hardest to obey, her emotions can get the better of her and when they do, you do not want to be around. While the first book is about Tea learning her powers, you get glimpses at her current self and she is equally terrifying and memorising. I can not wait to see what havoc she is about to unleash in Book 2.
Favourite coming out novel
I only recently discovered one of the queens of YA, Becky Albertalli when I read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Simon is still in the closet and is being blackmailed by one of his classmates. He has to get one of his friends to like this guy or he reveals Simon's sexuality to everyone. It is horrible, it is a form of bullying and it made me so angry reading it. Simon makes a point in the novel that his sexuality is his and he should be able to determine when and where and why and it made me think about unfair it is that someone could be blackmailed in that way. If he had been writing emails to a girl, no one would threaten to reveal that he was straight. Becky Albertalli is able to craft a beautiful story of friendship and family so Simon is able to be supported throughout what happens and the supporting cast around Simon is one of my favourite parts of this novel and I cannot wait until Leah On the Offbeat comes out this year.
Character who becomes free
This one of my favourite themes in a novel and probably one of the reasons why I love Historical Fiction so much, as the best stories always have a heroine breaking free of societal expectations. I could name novels with characters breaking through their mental illness or finding a way to live with it as it never truly goes away. I could include stories where secrets are revealed and the family is finally free as they are also a bit of a kryptonite for me.
However, I am going to go with The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve. It's a smaller, quiet book that focuses on a housewife during fires in the late 1940s. The main character Grace and her husband by all appearances are the perfect married couple. Behind the scenes, Gene, the husband, treats Grace horribly but makes her feel as if it is her fault. Its a nuanced look into a marriage that I imagine so many women took as normal back then and judging by the horrific statistics of domestic violence, I will make the assumption that there are still couples living like this. The fire takes everything they own, but the couple gets separated, and Grace, after saving her children, is free for the first time. She gets a job and finds a house and begins to set up a peaceful life but her husband could come and claim them and ruin it at any time. Seeing Grace's character develop and seeing how strong she becomes made this book super powerful for me.
Book that makes you want to dance (your happy place)
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon makes me want to dance. I was reading it on a plane and I kept wanting to exclaim Aw out loud. Dimple is feisty and independent and figuring out her place in the world and Rishi is a secret comic book artist who is happy to follow his parents' traditions without questioning what he wants for himself. The way this couple starts and the beautiful and thoughtful acts Rishi does, like pay for the whole table because he doesn't want Dimple to worry about it is so cute, maybe not very realistic, but thoughtful and generous.
Favourite profession in a novel
It can be so interesting to see what characters do for a living. Detective novels are self-explanatory, nurses are common in war stories, and with my love for past and present intersecting, there always seems to be a profession that involves examining an ancient manuscript of some type. Reading as much historical fiction as I do, it can also be very interesting to see what career opportunities were actually available and how much those careers have advanced with modern day technology compared to that time setting.
However, my absolute favourite would have to be a good pirate or assassin story. Something so completely crazy that I would never be able to contemplate doing it in my everyday life but to read how someone could actually take a life and the politics and rules around it is strangely fascinating. Of course, this takes place in a fantasy setting, which makes it ok, apparently? (Note sarcasm, it is never ok to take a life, obviously).
Favourite female assassin trilogy at the moment with the first two books released is the Nevernight Chronicles by Jay Kristoff (not a woman author, but he writes female characters so damn well. Mia Corvere is such a complex character and hellbent on revenge.
Favourite fantasy world or character that gets thrown into one
It is not really a fantasy 'world' but the Night Circus is my favourite setting in any book ever. It is so magical and lovely and the way you can almost smell the caramel popcorn and feel the snow on the tip on your nose with your red scarf over your your black and white outfit while your reading is a magical experience in and of it's self.
Favourite sassy character or Best revenge plot
I am going with a sassy character and there is not one wittier and sassy than Jane Austen's Miss Bennett in my humble opinion. I love her sense of humour and her witty remarks, if I could have a whole book of banter between Elizabeth Bennett, Mr Bennett and Mr Darcy I would snap that up in a second. She is strong and stubborn but learns from her mistakes and is not afraid to say she was wrong. Pride and Prejudice is my favourite book of all time and I don't think I have done it justice in these #bookishbloggersunite tags just yet.
Favourite ‘Girl pretending to be a Boy’ story
Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh is retelling of Mulan set in feudal Japan. Mariko is attacked while on her way to be married. She survives but hunts down those that attacked her by dressing as a boy. Mariko is smart and resourceful as she wanted to become an inventor before realising that her life was never hers, it belonged to her father until he sold her to a husband. Mariko learns not to judge a book by its cover and that there may be more to this assassin attempt than she realises. Another book that I am eagerly awaiting number two.
Favourite quote from a novel
I may have chosen this song not just because I love the lyrics but because it so closely resembles my favourite quote from a novel. Yes, I am that predictable. I read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte only last year so I WAS late to hop on the Jane Eyre train but I am now firmly on it and not getting off.
The quote: 'I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.'
Favourite adventuress or quest novel
I couldn't possibly let one #bookishbloggerunite tag go past without mentioning Melina Marchetta now, could I? The Lumatere Chronicles is her YA fantasy series and it is amazing. The character development between book 1 and book 3 is worth reading alone but guess what? It does have a quest! In the first book, Finnikin and a senior advisor from his cursed kingdom are displaced and advocating for land for their people who are unable to enter the kingdom (see reference to curse above). They get word that a nun may know the whereabouts of the prince, the prince that everyone thought had died and one of Finnikin's best friends growing up. However the nun is more difficult then they first anticipated and the quest gets more complicated...
The second and third both have new quests with a new curse and new characters but I promise, no spoilers, you are just going to have to read them and let me know what you think :)
Your favourite book as a Teen
Again, another mention of Melina Marchetta but guys, this WAS my favourite book as a teenager. It helped me get through year 11 and 12, I just kept rereading whenever I was feeling too stressed or too down. This could also fit in the complicated mother/daughter relationship category. Francesca is always in the shadow of her mother, who is the life of the party, the connector in the family. Francesca's biggest fan and biggest annoyance in her life. Until her mum just doesn't get out of bed. Francesca and her family begin to fall apart without their star player. Francesca has started at a new school that used to be all boys because her mother made her attend. She is missing her friends, is made to hang out with the so called rejects that also had to attend this school and there is this boy she likes, but his nonna stole her nonna's biscuit recipe so it would bring on the Italian family wars if she was seen with him.
The family dynamics, the friendships formed, the figuring out who you are when everything is stripped away, just made this book THE BOOK for me. I need to reread this soon.
A complicated mother/daughter relationship book
This is also another topic that I really like reading about (see above Saving Francesca). There was some tough competition for this one and I debated about putting in My Name is Lucy Barton and by addition, Anything is Possible but I thought that might be a bit too much complicated mixed with abusive.
The book I chose for this one is The Break by Katherena Vermette. Katherena identifies as Metis and her novel focuses on an interconnected network of women who are either related or friends with each other while they deal with the after effects of a brutal attack on two young teenage girls. This book delves deep into family, community and the issues facing native Canadians and Metis people to this day. It was a heartbreaking read but I what I really got out of it was this sense of community this family of strong women and their close friends built around themselves to support one another. The relationships are complicated and messy but at the end of the day, they had each others backs. This is my favourite read of 2018 so far.
A couple worth staying together but have to endure hardships to get there
For this category I am going to go with Natasha Lester and both her books, A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald and Her Mother's Secrets. Natasha Lester writes tortured romance so well. Not an angsty teen love, but love that lasts a lifetime but for whatever reason, the couple is prevented being together but never give up on each other. I am a sucker for these books and even though out of the two, a Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald is my favourite, Her Mother's Secrets is also really good. Both books deal with a strong female character who defies society's expectations and becomes a career woman, putting everything on the line for their careers.
A book couple with steam ‘hotter than hell’
I haven't been reading a lot of romances lately but a couple that I just found had that chemistry and I was so excited when they finally got together was from The Alice Network. The two female characters had a weakness for Scottish men with prison sentences and the Scottish man in this is charming and lovely and I can completely get whre the two ladies were coming from. I think this book needed this romance as it deals with heavy subject matter, women spies in WW1 and WWII and atrocities that they had to put up with.
Favourite female friendship
You can tell when I come up with the prompts because they are all themes I love reading about, particularly female friendships. There were some strong contenders for this spot but I couldn't go past what I think is the ultimate book in female friendship, Code Name Verity. This book had me bawling like baby but strength of this friendship is worth reading, even if it will rip your heart out.
Your favourite character who is not afraid of going dark and making ‘bloody moves’
I love a good villain origin story and while I was thinking of the Young Elites Trilogy, I couldn't go past Xifeng from Forest of a Thousand Lanterns that I read earlier this year.
Xifeng battles with the choice of settling down and starting a young family or following her ambition. She tries to do the right thing but after being constantly pushed down by those in power and treated badly she begins to treat others back the way she has been treated. She wants to get the top and she is prepared to rip others hearts out to get there, literally.
Favourite underdog character
I love a good underdog story and I only recently posted my review for this one, so it's still recent in my mind. Sal Leon is street thief that has been left without a home, a nation, a people after they were massacred,caught in the crossfire between two warring countries that had previously pledged their protection. Sal sees the opportunity to enter the competition to become one of the Queen's Left Hand, an assassin (see favourite profession prompt above). Sal is not the most experienced, having actually not killed that often, and is at a disadvantage as Sal has not learnt how to read or write, and is not the most physically intimidating. Sal is an underdog and I wanted them to succeed throughout the novel. Second book coming soon!
Well done, raise a glass, you got to the end!