Each of these diverse novels features a gutsy heroine, whether she’s a spunky modern-day private eye, a kickass Cyborg mechanic, or a beloved 19th century Brazilian bandit. Some stories are set long ago, some far into the future. The common thread that runs through all of them? A badass leading lady.
Click here for the complete 2015 Summer Reading Guide.
This second Veronica Mars novel picks up right where the movie left off, with a case that hits uncomfortably close to home for Veronica. A woman is left for dead after a brutal assault at the Neptune Grand, and rather than call in the corrupt and incompetent local sheriff, the Grand’s owners turn to Veronica to prove—or disprove—the woman’s story. This standalone mystery is filled with snarky humor, twists and turns, and cameos by old favorites (even Leo!) and oozes with the spunk and intelligence of the show. This reads just like an episode of the show. So much fun for marshmallows. (Hot tip: the audio version is read by Kristen Bell.)More info →
Each book in the YA fantasy series The Lunar Chronicles puts a new spin on an old fairy tale. In this first installment, Cinderella becomes a kickass mechanic, despised by her mother and stepsisters because she’s a cyborg. Admittedly, it sounds cheesy, but it works. Though it’s clear where the story is headed, spotting the imaginative ways Meyer reinvents the old fairy tale keeps the reader turning the pages. Fresh, fun, surprising, and compulsively readable.More info →
This is Nigerian novelist Adichie’s third novel, but the first I've read. The story centers around a smart, strong-willed Nigerian woman named Ifemelu. After university, she travels to America for postgraduate work, where she endures several years of near-destitution, and a horrific event that upends her world. She finds her way, winning a fellowship at Princeton, and gaining acclaim for her blog, called “Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-American Black." A highlight: Adichie seamlessly weaves blog posts—about race, national identity, class, poverty, and hair—into the narrative. The novel grapples with difficult issues without becoming overwrought. I would not have read this based on the flap copy, but I was hooked from page one. Haunting, moving, incredibly well done. Terrific on audio.More info →
Shorr puts a fictional spin on real-life Brazilian folk heroes Lampião and Maria Bonita in this lyrical debut. After enduring 6 years of a loveless in-name-only marriage to a man she couldn’t stand, Maria Bonita leaves to become the wife of Lampião, Brazil’s beloved bandit, whose vigilante justice is indisputably more fair than the official kind. Soon Maria earns renown as the fiercest woman in Brazil, the queen of a band of merry outlaws. A well-paced novel, if not a page-turner: don’t give up when the going is slow in the first two chapters. It gets better. Evocative and moving.More info →
The first in a YA trilogy, rooted in Russian and Slavic myth, in which each new book is better than the one before. During a terrifying encounter on the magically-created Shadow Fold, quiet and passive Alina discovers her remarkable gift: she is a sun summoner. As she studies with the magical elite, she begins to understand how she has the power to save her kingdom—or ruin it, if her gift falls into the wrong hands. A magical coming-of-age story.More info →