I’ve written a lot about Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series and its main character, Alexia Tarabotti so it should come as no surprise to readers that I love this series. I love the strong, unique main character, and I love the author’s wicked, witty voice. As much as I love this series, though, I’m able to admit that the third installment, Blameless, was weaker than the first two books. Alexia Tarabotti is as wonderful as she ever was and that wicked wit which I love so much is there in spades as well as myriad moments of adventure and danger. With all of this, the weakest book in the Parasol Protectorate series is still better than some authors’ best books. It may also cause an intense craving for pesto sauce, which has some surprising benefits. However, the absence throughout the bulk of the story of Lord Akeldama was keenly felt as was the lack of saucy interplay between Lord and Lady Maccon. I am looking forward to reading the next book, Heartless, as it promises to contain much more of both and I cannot wait to find out more about the infant inconvenience.
If you enjoy Blameless, you should definitely read the rest of the series, beginning with Soulless. If, however, you’re looking for something with a similarly strong female protagonist but without the paranormal aspect, I recommend Amy Stewart’s Kopp Sisters series.
AAAARRGGH!! The second book of Gail Carriger’s delightful Parasol Protectorate series had all the qualities that made the first book, Soulless so wonderful – memorable characters, wicked dialogue, danger, mystery, and steamy romance. It might not have been quite as good as that first book. Particularly concerning the pacing of the story and the steaminess of the romance but it was a fun, frolicking read. But the ending ripped my heart out!
After a disappointing 2014 in which I read more than a book a week but didn’t really enjoy any of them, 2015 was a pretty good reading year for me. I revisited an old favorite, finished a wonderful series, started a couple of new ones, and discovered some new authors that I plan on reading more of. You can see the complete list of books I read this past year by clicking the source link at the bottom of the post but I’ll cover a few of the highlights here.
Early in the year, I read the beautiful first book of Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters series.
I will definitely be reading the rest of that series in the near future and anything else Ms. Marillier has written. I read a couple of books written by favorite authors that were disappointing but no one can be brilliant all the time. Right? Then I slogged through Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe.
I don’t recommend it. At the recommendation of my mother and one of my librarian friends, I read Ruth Reichl’s first novel, Delicious. That one I would recommend. It has lovable characters, history, romance, self-discovery and lots of food.
The All Souls trilogy is a magical series filled with romance, history, and magic. My favorite installment of the series was the second, Shadow of Night because of all the historical characters Diana and Matthew encounter. This summer, because I am a massive St. Louis Cardinals fan, I deviated from my usual focus on fiction to read Mike Matheny’s wonderful The Matheny Manifesto.
I continued Jasper Fforde’s Tuesday Nextseries with the second book, Lost in a Good Book, which I enjoyed much more than I had the first book of the series. I also really enjoyed Katherine Reay’s second novel, Lizzy & Jane, which is a touching and humorous story of sisterly love.
And I discovered Gail Carriger and her delightful Parasol Protectorateseries; another new series I plan on reading more of this year.
With so many great reads from 2015, it should be difficult to choose my favorite but only one can be my favorite read of the year. As it turns out, the choice wasn’t that difficult. A couple of years after it was such a big hit with a slightly younger audience, I finally read Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.
I don’t remember the last time I identified so thoroughly with a character. I recognized myself in Cath so I appreciated her journey of self-discovery and growth immensely.
It has been a long time since I’ve read a book this fun! I wasn’t sure I would like Steampunk but really this a good paranormal romance. The dialogue is witty, the characters are wonderful, and the story is suspenseful. It can get a little cheesy at times but that’s fun too. I was surprised by how steamy it got given the Victorian setting. Alexia Tarabotti quickly became one of my favorite characters. She is strong yet insecure – like all women, right? And she is intelligent and brave. I look forward to reading the rest of the Parasol Protectorate series to see what’s next for Alexia and Conall and all their friends.
What makes an unforgettable character? A hero you want to root for? A villain you love to hate? If I knew those answers, I’d probably be a better writer than I am. All I know is that there are some characters that have, for one reason or another, stayed with me since I met them. Some are like friends I visit often for some comfort and a good laugh, some just seem like they’d be fun to hang out with, some become book boyfriendsJ, and some are so wonderfully bad that I love to hate them. Now that I’ve added Soulless’sAlexia Tarabotti to my list of favorite characters – yes, I have a list, doesn’t everyone? – I thought I would introduce you to a few of my other favorites:
Yes, he’s brilliant and solves impossible cases but what I like most about Sherlock is his snark. In the books, he is excellent at insulting people without them realizing it. And, most of the time, he only insults the characters that deserve it. He’s actually pretty nice (by his standards) to the good people in the stories. He just has an awesome bulls**t detector.
Augustus McCrae – Lonesome Dove could be unbearably heavy and dreary without someone to lighten the mood (just read Streets of Laredo and tell me it’s not a bit depressing). But Gus isn’t just a funny guy who likes to enjoy his life. His quips and anecdotes are often full of wisdom and he really is a great leader of men. Unfortunately, he’s also stubborn as hell in the end. I’m still mad at him.
Ramona Quimby – In my younger days, I considered the star of Beverly Cleary’s delightful series one of my best friends. Like me, she is a little sister but she has the spunk I wish I had and the courage to get into all the trouble I wish I had been brave enough to get into.
My favorite Ramona book is Ramona the Pest when she’s in kindergarten. She chases a boy, pulls a classmate’s bouncy curls, draws her Qs into little cats, and gets into all sorts of scrapes at school and home. As a shy quiet child, I wanted to be Ramona.
Atticus Finch – I hope it isn’t a crime these days to say Atticus Finch is one my favorite characters. I haven’t read Go Set a Watchmanyet, so as far as I’m concerned, To Kill a Mockingbird is the only source for the character of Atticus or any of the Finches. He is probably the noblest character in American literature, living by and standing by his values even when it is difficult and potentially dangerous. Most importantly, though, he is the kind of father I would want for my children.
Sydney Carton – The main protagonist of Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Citiesmay seem like the polar opposite of Atticus Finch what with his drinking, laziness, and gloomy view of the world but he is every bit as noble. He finally finds a cause or purpose, whatever you want to call it, and then sacrifices himself (literally!) for it. He dies so that the woman he loves can be happy with the man she loves. And right before he loses his head, he says one of the most beautiful lines in all of literature: “It is a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”
I would’ve loved you, Sydney!
Elizabeth Bennett– If I can’t actually be Pride and Prejudice’senviable heroine, Elizabeth Bennett, I would love to just hang out with her (and Jane, and Charlotte). Elizabeth is feisty, opinionated, intelligent, and has a wicked sense of humor. And she got the dreamy Mr. Darcy just by being her feisty, opinionated, intelligent self. And by learning to see beyond certain prejudices of course.
The mention of Mr. Darcy brings me to the subject of book boyfriends. Mr. Darcy is definitely on that list as are a few other Austen heroes. Mr. Tilney from Northanger Abbey runs a close second to Mr. Darcy thanks to his delightful sense of humor and Persuasion’sCaptain Wentworth is a favorite because of the incredibly romantic declaration of his love for Anne (swoon!). There are some fantastic fictional men not penned by Miss Austen. If you’re looking for a good man, try Levi from Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Colin Byrne from Ain’t She Sweet by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (he has kind of a Sherlock Holmes meets Mr. Darcy thing going on), Hugh of Harrowfield (also known as Red) from Daughter of the Forestby Juliet Marillier, Matthew Clairmont from Deborah Harkness’s All Souls trilogy (or Gallowglass if you prefer your vampires a little rougher around the edges, or everyone’s current favorite Scotsman, Jamie Fraser from the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. There have been so many more literary men in my life; these are just a few of my favorites.
There are so many unforgettable characters out there, whether they are noble heroes, wicked villains, or scene-stealing secondary characters, that I can’t possibly go into detail about them all. Here are a few of my Honorable Mentions:
Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With the Wind(I’m not sure whether she falls under the category of chicks I’d like to hang out with or baddies I love to hate)
Bridget Jones from Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary (I would definitely have fun hanging out with her)
As you’ve probably guessed, I could go on and on but for now, I’ve gone on and on long enough. These are just a few of the memorable characters I’ve encountered in my lifetime of reading. Who are your favorite characters?