Top 5 Female Authors of my Lifetime

I know I’m a little late but in celebration of International Women’s Day I decided to do a list of Top 5 Female Authors of my Lifetime.  I am 30 years old so that means anyone who I love that has published work in the last 30 years.  As with all of my lists they are in no particular order.  

1) Marian Keyes

I love Marian Keyes.  Absolutely love her.  I know a lot of people write her books off as “chick lit” and “forgettable fluff” but these people clearly haven’t read them.  Marian (I feel like I can call her Marian because her books make me feel like I know her.  I also follow her on Twitter and find her tweets hilarious!), has covered a range of topics including alcoholism, depression, domestic violence and rape.  Her Walsh family books are my absolute favourites and I’ve read all of them more than once.  Just because she’s a female Author who writes books mainly about women and for women does not mean they don’t contain worthy messages.  Side note – her recipe book “Saved by Cake” is incredible and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to try their hand at a variety of different dessert based recipes.


2) Kathy Reichs

Regular readers of my blog will know I love Reichs’ Temperance Brennan series of crime fiction books and also her Virals series aimed at young adults.  I started to read Reichs books as I’m a fan of the TV series “Bones”, which is loosely based on the books and that Reichs consults on as well.  They are very different from each other, pretty much the only thing that is the same is the main character is called Temperance Brennan and she is a leading Forensic Anthropologist, but I have come to love the books and the fact that Brennan is a female in quite a male oriented environment and, for the most part, manages to hold her own.


3) J. K. Rowling

I don’t think any list of female Authors would be complete without Rowling.  I came to the Harry Potter series a little late as I just thought they were kids’ books and couldn’t understand why so many older people were getting into them as well.  I decided to give them a try for myself eventually and was hooked right from the start. On the plus side it meant I was able to power through from “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” right up to “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” before I ran out of books and had to wait for the next one to be released.  Whilst I wasn’t as big a fan of “The Casual Vacancy” and haven’t read any of Robert Galbraith’s books, I think the world and characters she created in the Harry Potter series were incredible.  Although she was writing about a magical world, most of the problems the characters faced were extremely relatable.  She also created one of my all-time favourite female characters in Hermione Granger so deserves a mention just for that!


4) Cecelia Ahern

I love the mix of magic and romance in Ahern’s books.  Yes, they aren’t the most highly nuanced works of literature but for me they are the ultimate in escapism.  I tend to blast through each of her books in a single day when they are released as I just don’t want to drag myself away from them once I start.  I have read all of them more than once and love them just as much on repeat readings as I did the first time.  I do, however, take issue with the film versions of her books.  Not only do they not do them justice, they make them barely recognisable from the books.  Not a fan!  I wish she was able to retain greater control of film adaptations, the way Rowling did with the Potter films, so they couldn’t stray so far from the source material.


5) Jodi Picoult

Picoult is another Author who I try to buy as soon as a new release comes out.  Each book does tend to follow a similar pattern, there is always some kind of social issue, usually something quite current, and a Court case.  Through the course of her books she has covered many topics, including school shootings, raising children within a same sex relationship and even Nazi war criminals who have escaped to the United States. Picoult’s books are always well researched and the issues sensitively dealt with.  She manages to remain impartial and give weight to each side of the argument in all the issues that she has covered.  A lot of the main characters are female and I like that her characters are made out to be perfect.  In reality, people have flaws and she depicts these flaws well within her characters.  


Do you agree with my choices or is there someone you think should be on there instead?  Let me know in the comments.

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Missing You – Harlan Coben

As regular readers of my blog will know, I recently read “The Woods” by Harlan Coben (for my review click here) and really enjoyed it.  “The Woods” was the first book of Coben’sthat I had read and it left me wanting to read more of his work.  As there are quite a few to choose from I figured it didn’t really matter which one I read next so I went with “Missing You”, which is a fairly recent one, published in April 2014. 

 

As with “The Woods” there were some twists and turns along the way, several of which I didn’t see coming.  The characterisation was okayI liked that the protagonist, NYPD Detective, Kat Donovan, wasn’t perfect.  It made her more realistic.  I loved her friend and Yoga Instructor, Aqua, and I also loved Brendan Phelps, the young boy who starts Kat off digging into what is going on with the dating website when he approaches her about his missing Mother.  The only thing I would say is there isn’t a lot of background work done on most of the characters, which isn’t a massive problem but it does make some of them a little bit one dimensional.  It’s hard to picture a person’s motivation for the behaviours we see when we don’t know much about what got them to where they are now, if that makes sense.  

 

I liked the way the different plot points converged and on the whole I was happy with the resolutions.  The ending was kind of open ended, normally I like being able to imagine what I think the characters would do next but with little in the way of background information regarding the characters in question it’s difficult to say what they would do.  To be fair to Coben, he delivers a fast paced crime thriller with plenty of twists and turns along the way and if he we were to spend more time building up the background of the characters it would definitely slow the pace of the book somewhat.  It isn’t a deal breaker for me, I enjoy the fast paced nature so wouldn’t want to lose that for the sake of some character development.  

 

Having a break from Coben now to get another book ticked off on my “50 Books to Read Before You Die” list but I will no doubt be returning to him at some point soon.

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50 Shades of Grey – E. L. James

Regular readers of my blog will note that I have mentioned several times that I wouldn’t read “50 Shades of Grey” because I hate reading rubbish books.  Recently it was pointed out to me that I have never before given an opinion on a book I haven’t actually read for myself.  This is true.  I haven’t, as I don’t believe you should give an opinion based solely on someone else’s opinion of something, i.e. from reading other reviews.  So why did I feel it was okay to go against this for “50 Shades of Grey”?  It isn’t okay, so I decided to give EL James the benefit of the doubt and read “50 Shades of Grey” for myself.

Boy am I glad that I did!! Hmm, sarcasm doesn’t really work in written form does it?!  No, I am not glad and my opinion hasn’t really changed from before I read it, I just hate James, the book, the people who love it and are adding to its popularity and myself a whole lot more than I did before.  This book stinks.  Seriously.  I actually had to google how old James is because the writing is so immature I assumed she must be very young.  She isn‘t, she was 51 at the time of writing this if anyone else was wondering.  The writing is repetitive (I didn’t count but Ana must say “oh my” about 1000 times), the sex scenes are badly written and at times use extremely immature language (Ana describes getting a feeling “down there”, if you’re writing erotic fiction please use grown up language!) and the characters have no depth to them at all. I’m seriously concerned about Ana’s mental health with the number of different people she has conversations with in her head!  I’m not entirely blaming James for this.  She is not a professional author.  She is someone who sat at her computer and wrote some “Twilight” fan fiction, just like hundreds of other people have also done.  Nobody expects fan fiction to be perfect.  However, when a publisher decided to turn the fan fiction into actual published books they really should have had them edited first, which they clearly did not.    

 

First things first, let’s get out of the way some of the things that supporters of this book will probably be assuming about me right now.  I am not a prude who was offended by the sex scenes.  I regularly read erotic fiction online and let me tell you I have never been less turned on by a piece of erotic fiction as I was by “50 Shades of Grey”.  I have no problem with people indulging in a BDSM lifestyle, as I know many consenting adults are doing right now.  It’s not a lifestyle that I would personally choose but I think what other people get up to in their sex lives is entirely up to them.  As this was an area I didn’t know much about I did do a little extra reading around this subject.  There are a great many articles out there by people who actually are involved in BDSM who gone into detail as to how James has got their lifestyle wrong and how the 50 shades series has actually done more damage to their reputation than it has raised awareness of it.  

 

Did anyone see what I did there, I did some research into a subject I didn’t know much about so I could gain a little better understanding.  That is something James should probably have done before the books were published. 

 

I have never been in an abusive relationship but I do know people who have and again I have done a little reading into the subject.  The controlling behaviours that Christian Grey exhibits towards Ana are not romantic.  They are the same behaviours that most abusive partners will use to ensure they maintain control of their victim.  That’s right, victim.  I know there is a popular meme circling the internet at the moment that says if Christian Grey lived in a trailer and was on benefits it would be an episode of “Criminal Minds” rather than a piece of romantic fiction and that is exactly how I felt whilst reading this.  Major serial killer vibes from him.  

 

Right near the beginning of the book, before any contract has been even discussed never mind signed, Grey tracks Ana down to her place of employment despite her never having told him where she works.  She then goes on a night out with some friends, gets drunk and calls him, ending the conversation by saying that she doesn’t want to see him and she won’t tell him where she is.  Now, bearing in mind this is a man she’s only met twice at this point, you would think that would be clear enough that he would indeed stay away. No.  Not the wonderful Christian Grey.  He ILLEGALLY tracks her mobile phone to find her.  Considering she’s extremely drunk when he finds her outside the bar she was at with her friends does he take her back inside and advise her female flatmate to take her home?  No.  He takes her back inside and tells her female flatmate that he is taking her back to his hotel.  Don’t even get me started on how much I hate Ana’s friends.  No way in the world would I allow one of my friends to go off with a strange man when she’s as drunk as Ana is supposed to be, that’ s just not what friends do.  Once he has got her back to his hotel, he strips her clothes off and puts her to bed.  Even my own Mother doesn’t remove my clothes when I come home drunk so I certainly wouldn’t expect a strange man to do so.  

 

Now, I could go on and on about how many times Grey is abusive towards Ana but several more qualified reviewers out there already have.  Women who have experienced domestic abuse and been the victim of controlling behaviours like Grey uses on Ana have repeatedly stated that these books should come with a trigger warning due to the descriptions of abuse contained in them.  I know a lot of James’ supporters have taken the stance that the physical “punishment” that Grey doles out to Ana is part of their BDSM sex life and tried to imply that these women are accusing everyone involved in BDSM as being involved in abuse.  That is not what they meant.  Abusive relationships come in many forms but all must contain an element of control.  These people can’t have their partner telling anyone what they are doing to them so they make sure that they won’t.  Grey uses a non-disclosure agreement as part of his control of Ana, meaning she can’t discuss any aspect of their relationship with anyone.  Does that really sound like a healthy relationship?

 

Special mention goes to the tampon scene for being especially disgusting and disturbing.  I’m not going to go into detail, if you’ve read it you’ll know what I mean, if you’ve not then be glad I’m saving you from it!  

 

I am in no way a “book snob”.  I will read anything and everything, from classical literature, like Dickens, to the latest James Patterson book.  My hatred of “50 Shades of Grey” isn’t about me being elitist and wanting everyone to just read the classics.  This is about a book that is so badly written it’s laughable being lauded by some as the best novel to be released in years!  This is about a book that has led many women to proclaim they are now looking for their own Christian Grey.  Don’t worry ladies, he’s out there, but he’s unlikely to be a billionaire executive and he may well make you sorry you ever found him.  Needless to say I wouldn’t recommend this book to even my worst enemy and I won’t be reading the other two or watching the film as, quite frankly, I think I’ve been punished enough.

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The Woods – Harlan Coben

Not long after I bought my Kindle I saw an offer for “The Woods” by Harlan Coben for free for the Kindle. I hadn’t read any of his books before but I had heard good things about him and figured if it’s free if I don’t like it at least I’ve not wasted any money on it.
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Body Double – Tess Gerritsen

I’ve been slowly starting to work my way through Tess Gerritsen’s Rizzoli and Isles series of books and being in need of something else to read on my Kindle I downloaded book 4, “Body Double”.
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Reeva: A Mother’s Story – June Steenkamp

After reading a book about the O. J. Simpson case, my thoughts turned to a similar case that had received a lot of media attention more recently. On 14th February 2013, South African athlete, Oscar Pistorius, shot and killed his girlfriend, model and law graduate, Reeva Steenkamp. “Reeva: A Mother’s Story” is a book written by June Steenkamp, Reeva’s Mother. For me, this, like the O. J. Simpson case, was another case where a prominent athlete was able to use his money and power to obscure the truth in an extremely serious criminal case.
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Top 5 Books I Meant to Read but Haven’t

I haven’t written a Top 5 post for a while and thought this was as good a time as any so here we go.
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