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MY TOP 3 KICK ASS FEMALE LEADS

I'm a huge fan of fantasy novels, horror, and mystery thrillers.  Therefore, I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that strong, likable, kick ass female leads didn't come along very often. Sure, some of the books had strong, awesome female characters (the Wheel of Time series), but it wasn't like they were the main characters. They were either love interests, sages of wisdom, or some bump on the road to greatness for the male lead. So imagine my surprise, and pleasure, at finding a strong, kick ass, female lead in the first set of Urban Fantasy books I was forced to read recommended. I was more than reluctant to start them, since I had no reason to think that a "fantasy" novel by a female author would be any good and, honestly, did not expect to get past 50 pages, let alone a whole book. Since then, I have realized that some of these contemporary female authors are amazing, and there is NO ONE better to write the kind of female leads women everywhere want to read.








These are MY top 3 (I reserve the right to change them as I read more UF/PNR)

#3 Chess Putnam

Chess Putnam, from the wonderful Downside Ghosts books by Stacia Kane. Chess is not your traditional female lead. In any capacity. I was apprehensive when I started these. A drug addict as a heroine? I didn't see how that would work. But page by page, Chess grew on me. I feel so much compassion for this character. The angst, the heartache, the pain, the highs and lows of her drug use, really got to me. I want her to get better, I want her to WANT to be better. A more fucked up lead I've never read, or loved and sympathized with. She has the darkest of pasts. Concrete, legitimate, dark and depressing reasons she is what she is today. She places no worth on herself.  It's sad, it makes your heart contract with sympathy. She is often surprised by Terrible's (Ladies, be prepared for Terrible) favorable opinion of her. She doesn't realize, she IS smart, useful, skilled, WORTH something. You can't help but be charmed by her, feel for her... deeply. You want to hug her, comfort her, sometimes you want to shake her, to talk some sense into her. But always.... always you will want things to work out for her. In love, life, or her unconventional work. You want to help her stop all the self destructive things she does. She IS kick ass, she is so brave, she saves herself, others, Terrible, more often than she gives herself credit for. She is powerful, smart, thoughtful and kind in a world that makes it hard to care about others. And I think she is VERY under appreciated (much like the books).  It isn't often a character makes you feel for her the way Chess does. If you aren't already captivated by Stacia Kane's world of Downside Ghosts, I would strongly recommend giving Chess a chance to worm her way into your heart. Ya dig?

#2 MacKayla Lane :



Ah Mac. Mac whom I connected with almost instantly due to her love for her sister and her need to know what happened to her and to exact revenge. Mac, who I also maybe got a little annoyed by initially... pink Mac. I could picture the world she came from. Unicorns, butterflies, rainbows, sunlight, fluffy white clouds, where everything was gay and shiny and pretty. I bet you the girl probably got upset when she chipped a perfect, pink fingernail.  As for having to stand up for something, against something, ha! Not her thing.

But this is where KMM impressed the hell out of me. Mac matured, grew steel balls, a steel spine, and an iron stomach, and toughened up FAST. All to survive, to not roll over and play victim to fate. All the while retaining something of her fluffy world. Somehow, she got hard core without actually losing herself (even though she did have quite an identity crisis on her hands at one point or another). I love that the city she has come to call home is overrun by Unseelie and she finds time to buy a PINK cake (much to Barrons' chagrin). To make a pink MacHalo. To dance around singing, wearing that ridiculous hot pink MacHalo. To flirt with cute guys. I get that struggle not to lose your "pink" to a world of black and grey. I love her for it.

I love that it wasn't easy and simple for her to become Kick-ass Mac. Like all real things in life, it took hard work, determination, steel. That she matured enough to realize that Barrons was exactly the man (?) for her, and she didn't need those three little words from him to realize what they had was real.  That it mattered. How many women can boast that? If I were ever in the middle of a supernatural apocalypse, I would give a body part to have her on my team (preferably not one I need to fight in said apocalypse). If I ever wanted someone to go get a manicure or new shoes with me, I'd want Mac with me. I would love for her to regale me with stories of V'lane, Barrons, Christian, or any of the very fine men she has come across in Dublin. As a friend and ally, she would be unrelentingly loyal. She would not give up. What more could one want? If all that isn't enough, I would gladly high five the girl who got Barrons to give her a manicure and fall in love with her. Kudos Ms.Lane. I will always be impressed by you. As Barrons so succinctly states :

"You're the wild card, Mac. I've thought that since the beginning. This thing thinks you're epic. So do I."


 

#1 *drum roll please* Merit (yes...just Merit. THAT is how kick ass she is) :



Before my foray into the world of the Chicago vamps, I wasn't eager.  I thought "ugh, ANOTHER vampire series? Should I even bother?" I bothered.  I got hooked.  I went through those books so fast it was insane, and as soon as I was done, I started a reread. And let me tell you, Merit and Ethan are worth it all. But I'm here to talk about Merit. No book can keep me interested if the female lead isn't worth her weight in gold. Merit, she's my girl. I get her. I nod my head along with pretty much everything she says or does. Sure, sometimes she can be wrong, but it's usually because she's hurt, or emotionally compromised. And I get that too. She was born for the role of Sentinel; or should I say reborn?  Merit is strong in the way my favorite female comic book characters are: skilled at fighting with that sexy katana of hers, fiercely, truly, deeply loyal. She is determined to do the right thing, or to die trying.

I love her relationships with almost every character. I can see why everyone, especially Ethan, is so enthralled by her. Her innate grace at handling situations, her adorable obsession with food, her love affair with chocolate (one which I fully understand and appreciate), her willingness to help and be all she can be, her contagious lust for life. It may have taken her a while, but I think she came to terms with the immortality and power thrust upon her, beautifully, with the time she had. I fell in love many times when I read this series. With Chloe Neill, with Merit, with Ethan (multiple times). But Merit is the one who I admired, who I wanted to befriend, who I wanted to hug and console at times, to take out for a great meal, to joke around with and witness that sparkling wit and killer sense of humor. Sentinel of Cadogan house, protector, savior, she is all that and so much more. When she first gets turned against her will, she says to herself, in reassurance, "I'm still me." And goddammit Merit, you are you. You are so much more than even you imagined you could be. And to think you are still growing, still learning, getting stronger, more aware of the sheer awesomeness that is you. I love that about you. Each book makes me love and admire you more and wish you were real so we could be friends. Ethan sums it up beautifully, as always.
"Always remember," he whispered to me, "that you are an uncommon soldier, whatever they say. And you are quite a thing to behold."


Honorable Mention:

Leila from Jeaniene Frost's Once Burned. It's too soon to say for sure whether she is going to be on my list, but I can safely say Leila is my favorite JFrost female character to date. I can not wait to read more of her (and Vlad). The heroine with strange, unexplained powers who has joined the circus, to somehow blend in somewhere, had me from the get go. I loved her. She wasn't whiny, she was brave, her mind worked under pressure, she was willing to take chances, and had love and loyalty for her family and friends. Solid heroine. I love a girl who can embrace and wield all her power, who isn't intimidated by someone else's power, one who makes the best of a less than perfect life. She is interesting, funny, smart and I eagerly await the next installment.

Comments

  1. I loved this post. There isn't much better than a kick ass heroine to keep me interested. I so agree re Sookie Stackhouse and MacKayla Lane. Can't call on Merit as I still haven't read them yet. I love Lily Bard by Charlaine Harris as well. With Lily's fighting skills I would want her on my side in a fight.

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    1. Thanks Angela! You should definitely get around to Merit :D and I have yet to read Lily Bard but you have me convinced!

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    2. Zee, it is definitely on my list. As you can imagine the TBR list is extensive. :)

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  2. It seems like it's been so long since I "visited" Sookie, you reminded me why I love her so much! And you helped to move CLV further up my TBR pile.

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  3. I was surprised Cat from Jeaniene Frost's Cat and Bones series wasn't on your list, but you made fine choices. If I had to choose my favorites, it would be hard to narrow down. I know my favorite, though, would be Claire Fraser from Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. It's great our favorite authors have given us so many fantastic female heroines.

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    1. I must get around to the Outlander series! It is definitely on my TBR list! And I need to meet Claire Fraser!

      Cat really isn't one of my favorites,SORRY! Leila is by far my favorite JF female. I actually can't wait to read more of her!

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  4. I scrolled down here to post a comment and see that Donna beat me to it! Ditto everything she said! I was surprised Cat was missing, yet I love your top three. I would have to put Clare Fraser in my top three, even though she isn’t paranormal.

    Agree with Veronica about Sookie. I am looking forward to rereading a few of those books before the final release in the spring.

    In the meantime, I can’t believe I haven’t read Vlad’s book yet or Downside Ghosts, which I’ve heard wenches raving about for months now. Your comments just make me all the more excited to read them. Thanks!


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    1. You're welcome Kathi!! I really sat down and thought about my top 3,and read some parts from all the books and made my choices. Cat never really appealed to me the way the others did. I guess I just didn't connect as strongly to her as I would have liked. LOVE Bones though :)

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  5. Great post Zee! I love all of your choices! Sookie is possibly one of my favorite book characters of all time. As soon as I read her physical description that was so close to my own, I was intrigued. Heroines are always thin and model worthy. Sookie is so normal, regardless of her "disability". Then, I kept reading and got to know her personality and I was hooked. If it were possible, I'd want Sookie to be my best friend.

    As for the others, I love them too, especially Leila. Chess hasn't grown on me yet, but I've only read the first Downside.

    The thing I love most about Leila is that she recognized her attraction to Vlad and pretty much said ok, let's do this so I can move on from this attraction. She didn't but, that's another story. I adore her.

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    1. Thanks Anne!!

      Yeah,like I said,Sookie is the most real of all the female leads. Someone I can actually imagine exists out there :) and I did love that she wasn't some perfect,model worthy girl. Totally agree with you on that.

      Oh yeah I loved pretty much everything about Leila!

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  6. Great post! I also agree about Sookie and I love, love, love the quote from the book! Makes me want to read them again!
    And Mac, what can I say? I loved her cluelessness in the beginning and huge growth throughout the book. She's one of my favorites, too.

    Merit is definitely kick-ass and I totally get her sense of humor. Another good choice!

    And kudos for the honorable mention of Chess. She's not your typical kick-ass heroine, but she's so strong, especially after all of the shit she had to deal with in her past. That makes her kick-ass in my book.

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    1. Thanks Jaym! Glad you liked it! I love that quote too *sigh*

      And yeah,I thought Chess definitely deserved a mention. She's kick ass despite the odds.

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  7. What a great post Zee! Loved your choices and I agree with everything you said about these amazing kick-ass heroines.

    I don't know Chess yet but I love Leila, I can't wait see more of her!



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    1. Thank you Beta! Leila is on my "must read" list from now on too!

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  8. Yep yep yep, great choices for your top three kick ass female leads. Exactly the same as mine :) Sookie, Mac and Merit FTW!

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  9. Terrific post,love your list,especially Merit,who I feel related to a lot.I love Sookie and Mac but of course Claire Fraser is on top for her me,her strong,independent and compassionate character grew on me quickly.Special place in my heart for Chess,didn't like her at first,it took me some time but now I feel for her...deeply,just like you said Zee.

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    1. Thanks Merit! Lol I really need to get to Claire!

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  10. Great post, Zee!
    You make me remember how much I love Sookie! I Adore Mac and Chess and I think I need to try CLV series again. I don't think I was in the right frame of mind when I tried the first couple and gave up (*cringes* don't hate me, y'all) because of dumb reasons I won't get into :)
    Loved everything you had to say!

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    1. Awww, it's okay Chloe, we don't all love CLV.;-)

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    2. Thanks Chloe!! Sometimes even I forget why I love Sookie (especially after her horrible television counterpart), but when I stopped watching the show and revisited the books, it's just impossible not to love and admire her!

      Lol we don't hate you! But yeah, maybe you should give CLV another shot! Who knows,you might enjoy them this time around!

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  11. Zee, you rocked this post so hard! You reminded me why I loved Sookie and named my dog after her. Mac is truly my favorite heroine for all those reasons you exquisitely described. Chess' honorable mention is wonderful, especially that shout-out to Terrible.

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    1. THANKS AMANDA!! SO glad you liked it :D

      I couldn't NOT mention Terrible you know,hehe. And I love to remind everyone just how amazing Book Sook is! And aw shucks,I'm blushing @ "exquisitely described" <3

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  12. This is an amazing post! My top 3:

    1. Merit: Smart, funny, brave... she loves food! I love her.

    2. Chess: Oh my Chessiebomb! She breaks my heart. I love her. I hate her. But then I want to HUG her and tell her she deserves to be loved. Amazing Churchwitch, intelligent, brave, great problem solving skills.

    3. Sookie: Her journey has been long, but she continues to amaze me with her capacity to adapt, survive and forgive. She is funny, brave and very, very smart. Love how she saves other powerful supes AND she can save herself without help. Book Sookie isn't a damsel in distress.

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    1. Thank you NIMM!!

      Totally agree with you on all counts. And Book Sookie is so not a damsel in distress, in fact, I think she has saved more people than have saved her!

      Chess & Merit are definitely awesome.

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