Let’s Talk: FE&L #8- Female Role-Models in Literature and Why They’re Relevant




Female Role-Models in Literature and Why They’re Relevant



Hello, everyone. I’m Natalie, from Science, Books and Silly Things and I want to thank Batool for this amazing opportunity.
Every one of us has a role model (or several) in literature, be it because they are a badass character or

because they have a characteristic that makes us identify with them.


Let’s talk about female role models. Some people think some of the female main characters

in, let’s say, YA books are weak because they “can’t do anything without a man” and “their

whole world turns around a guy.” Let’s be honest. Girls fall in love, and they can be badass

while doing it. (Guys fall in love as well, but when they do, and do something about it, they are

considered sensitive and cute. Double standard, much?) Love does not make us weak, in fact, it makes

us stronger. Female characters make tough decisions in the name of love, and what they believe.

Shouldn’t we take that example?


Female empowerment is important. As women, we need to realize that we matter, that we can make

our own choices, no matter what society thinks. Some writers know that, and if they don’t, they should

take an example from these amazing characters, Strong female characters exist, and there are a lot of

them. You just have to know where to look. Don’t hide behind that Mary Sue excuse and say that there’s

no strong female representation in literature. That’s wrong.


Exhibit #1: Rose Hathaway, from the Vampire Academy series

She’s smart, she’s resourceful, and she fights for the people she loves.

She doesn’t let a crush define her life. Okay, there is a time where she has to do certain

things for the man she loves, but mainly she’s just this badass character that loves to fight, and is

amazing at it. She is also definitely not ashamed of her sexuality. That’s tough to find in a main character

these days. This is why she’s one of my favorite female characters.


Exhibit #2: Sydney Sage

There’s an endless list of characters I can name, and some others from

Richelle Mead are on my list, including Sydney Sage, a prodigiously smart Alchemist that once stood up

for her people’s beliefs and then realized they were wrong. She then started fighting for what she

thought was right, against her people, WHILE falling in love.  If you don’t think that’s badass,

I don’t know what is, especially as everyone (including her love interest) depends on her on the

Bloodlines series. *shrugs* She is my #1 literary role model.


Exhibit #3: Lady Katsa

Now, the one that I always like to mention when I talk about female

empowerment: Katsa, from Graceling. Katsa is amazing, at first she’s oppressed by her uncle, but then

she stands up to him, after she realizes that she is powerful enough to make her own decisions. She’s a

great role model, a symbol for women that need to realize how powerful they can be when they

become aware of how their choices, thoughts and feelings matter and shouldn’t be oppressed.


Exhibit #4: Annabeth Chase

This one’s important. Why? Because Rick Riordan created Annabeth. He

created this smart, strong female character that is focused on what she wants in life. She’s Athena’s

daughter. That usually means she should be Percy’s enemy or something. Guess what? She fights it. She

becomes his friend, and eventually they fall in love, but that’s not what I wanted to say. Annabeth is the

type of character that you can’t say is weak. Even when she’s obviously suffering, she keeps on fighting

and doesn’t let go of her hopes and dreams. Annabeth goes against all the stereotypes.

Exhibit #5: Katniss Everdeen

Need I say something else? Didn’t think so.

Katniss is a strong, female character that came from the

bottom of the food chain, that they didn’t see coming. She started a revolution, people. All because of

love. Impressive, right? 🙂


A strong character isn’t defined for insensitivity. It’s defined for his or her

actions, and the reasons behind them. Is that so far from reality? I mean, fighting for what you believe

and who you love is an impressive and important feat. Would doing it for your lover diminish the power

of these actions? I sure hope not. Love is love… and that’s why female characters are so important in

literature. Because they show us that friendship, family and love are essential to live and to be more

sensitive human beings.






Shatter Me Inspired Nail-Art

Here’s an ombré nail-art look inspired by the cover of Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (otherwise known as the first book of one of my favorite series ever)!



White polish

Medium blue polish

Dark blue polish

Clear top coat

Sponge with small pores


Nail polish remover

Step 1: Paint entire nail with two coats of white polish.


Step 2: Using your two shades of blue polish and the same white you used in step one, paint the sponge with three stripes (one of each color), making sure to go from darkest to lightest and to blend between the stripes in order to create the ombré effect.

Step 3: While the sponge is still wet from the polish, begin dabbing the colors onto your nails. Be sure to keep the colors aligned on the nail (as in, not moving the sponge laterally) in order to prevent the colors from overlapping one another.

Step 4: Dip a Q-tip in nail polish remover, and clean the excess polish off your nails.

Step 5: Paint a clear top coat onto your nails.

And that’s it! Be sure to give your nails adequate time to dry as to prevent smudging 🙂

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NoVa Teen Book Festival Recap

Ever since I found out about YALLFest, I’ve been scouring the internet for bookish events in my area. I was going to attend the National Book Festival in DC last summer but… I didn’t (thanks Mom and Dad). Suddenly, at the beginning of this month, a friend on Twitter told me that there would be one in Arlington, VA, which happens to be super close to where I live. Thus, on March 7th I attended the NoVa Teen Book Festival, my very first author event! And of course, I just had to do a recap post 😉


All the awesome authors that were in attendance!


Honestly, for me, one of the coolest things about attending a book-related event was meeting other book-nerds. All around me I could hear various discussions about different books and characters, and I loved it. It was so much fun to get to know other people who love young adult literature as much as I do! Here are some pictures I got with two awesome ladies I met during the author panels:

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And one of the coolest things that ever happened to me happened on that day. STORYTIME!

Okay, so I was in line with Sajda (from upper right photo) waiting to get one of my books signed. All of the sudden, someone taps my shoulder. I turn around, and there’s a teenage boy standing behind me. He asks me if I’m Batool. I say yes. And then, he says the best words I’ve ever heard: “I read your blog”. IT WAS SO COOL. He totally made my week, and I regret that I didn’t ask for his name. Luckily, I had the presence of mind to ask for a picture with him:



Note to the awesome dude: If you’re reading this right now, thanks so much for approaching me and letting me know that you read my blog!

Along with all that awesomeness, I got a few pictures with/of some authors. Some of which were a tad bit blurry, but hey a blurry picture is better than no picture.


Kristen Simmons

I was totally clumsy when I walked up to Kristen. Because my foot bumped into her table, she thought I hurt myself but really I was fine (it was just my pride that hurt). But aside from the humiliation, it was awesome to finally meet Kirsten in person because we’ve interacted before on twitter (she told me she liked this post!) and she’s so sweet. She’s also really funny in person.


Matt De La Peña



Robin Talley



Jasmine Warga



Author Panel

I have a few videos of the author panels. Once I figure out how to get my phone to work long enough for me to transfer them to my computer I’ll be able to share them with you guys (hopefully).

Well, that was my first ever author event. I’d just like to say, if you ever get a chance to go to a similar event, you should take advantage of it. It’s so much fun, and even if you’ve never even read any of those authors’ books (like me) it’s still cool to hear them talk about their experiences as authors. You may end up finding a great book that you’ve never even heard of before!

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Let’s Talk: FE&L #7- Strength in the Softer Parts


Strength in the Softer Parts

by Madhuri Blaylock

I just put the finishing touches on my trilogy, The Sanctum, so when Batool asked me to write a guest post for her blog series on women and empowerment, I hardly thought I would go back to my fantastical world of hybrid demons, warriors, and vampires. I figured I would need some time away from them, to decompress from the drama of their finale. And yet, here I am, talking about the women of The Sanctum

and you know why?

Because they are such freaking badasses, I simply cannot help myself.

It’s quite fitting actually, since the genesis of The Sanctum lies in my own desire to create the girl absent from the pages of my many and varied fantasy and paranormal books. Not the Badass, because she exists, in so many shapes and forms, on the pages of so many novels and screenplays, kicking butt and taking names after her badassery has been explained to her

laid out and examined

expounded upon and studied.

Nope. I didn’t want that girl because although she evolved into something fierce and proud, she began wide-eyed and unaware, beholden to some secret about herself unlocked by a cute boy.

I wanted the Self-Aware Badass. The girl who knows she is the shit, why she is the shit, and exactly how she became the shit.

Hermione Granger, all grown and sexy.

That’s the girl I wanted to meet, the girl I sought, craved really. And when I couldn’t find her, I created her. And while I was doing that, a funny thing happened.

I created a whole crew of similar women – tough as nails, whip smart, deadly, and full of a sense of self and purpose. Women who knew their worth without a man needing to define it, set the parameters, and provide the explanations.

Hermoine Granger, all grown and sexy.

Interestingly enough, now that I look back on these women – Dev, Darby Winthrop, and Jools Clayworth – I realize that for all of their feats of greatness, the moments where they felled the antagonist, slayed the devils, and single-handedly made evil think twice, their true strength lies in their softer side.

Their vulnerabilities

and their willingness to accept those weaknesses, because that’s really what they are, look them in the face, understand they are just as vital as all the indestructibility, the super-human strength, the lightning speed

and do not make them any lesser of a woman.

If anything, they make them so very real and relatable and worthy

of all the accolades and hurrahs

the greatness and power.

It’s the vulnerabilities and the weaknesses that make these women whole and complete

grown and sexy.

For I love watching Dev lay waste to the warriors who come after her, felling them with ease, laughing in their faces as she slides her blade across their throats. I love living through her regeneration, knowing her body rebuilds itself after suffering horrific trauma. I love listening to her explain her creation and her purpose and her meaning – her knowledge of self is exhilarating.

But more beautiful than all of that is learning her fears and her weaknesses, her need to appear strong and unmoved, and watching as she accepts the hand offered her and takes a chance, trusting someone besides herself

sharing herself and her fears and weaknesses with another.

The quiet of that moment, its meaning and significance, stay with me long after her story ends.

Then there is Darby Winthrop, the Southern Belle from Hell, the vampire I love madly. She is brash and sexy, uncouth and deadly. She’ll smile in your face and woo you with her Southern charm, then snap your neck before you knew what hit you. She’ll kiss your throat and run her hand up your thigh, making you all hot and bothered and wild, then she’ll drain you of every drop of blood and leave you for dead.

She is centuries old, smarter than anyone in the room, and stronger than them, too. She is funny and witty and full of life; she is sexy, in touch with her darkest desires, and simply oozes sensuality.

She is power – she wields it, she owns it – and watching her at work, bending men and women to her will and whim is a thing of beauty. But more wondrous than all of that, is learning Darby’s one weakness, for in him, we realize just how truly powerful she is. For in him we witness her capacity to love and forgive and forget, until that is no longer an option and she is forced to do the unthinkable.

And it is beautiful

and painful and extraordinary

and makes us fall for Miss Winthrop harder than we ever thought possible.

Last but not least is Jools Clayworth, younger sister, only daughter, given to fits of jealousy, brat. Superior warrior, killer instinct, natural leader. A roiling mess of insecurities, well hidden but fueling her every immature and petulant antic. Until she can no longer continue acting the child, when her skills on a battlefield are no longer enough, and she is forced to evolve into the strong, determined, powerful leader no one but Jools ever expected her to become.

And still that is not enough to protect her from herself, for she is her own worst enemy. She is her own weakness and when she finally realizes as much, when she comes to grips with all she has witnessed and all she has engendered, and she desperately reaches out to another to save her

it is gut-wrenching and moving

and I, the writer, Jools’ creator, who respected her and her gangsta from day one, but felt little else for the warrior or the woman, am finally able to also love and appreciate her.

Because sometimes

the true strength of the Badass

the beauty

and the wonder

lies in the softer parts.


Author of The Sanctum trilogy / Supporter of #WeNeedDiverseBooks




Pathogen: Patient Zero by Kai Kiriyama (Cover Reveal)

Check out Kai Kiriyama’s new book, Pathogen: Patient Zero!

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Every outbreak starts somewhere…

A young girl, hospitalized with a violent strain of the flu.

The charismatic doctor who promises that she’s going to be okay.

A nightmare virus that threatens to destroy them both.

Reduced to the title of Zero, she is dehumanized by her doctors into little more than a series of charts and procedures. Zero is left to her own devices, telling her story through a haze of drugs, slipping in and out of consciousness, and trying to find some kind of inner peace as the doctors hustle around her to find a cure.

From Kai Kiriyama, author of Blaze Tuesday and the Case of the Knight Surgeon and My life Beyond the Grave: The Untold Story of Vlad Dracula, comes her newest book, this dark, YA medical horror, PATHOGEN: PATIENT ZERO.

From start to end, PATHOGEN takes the reader on a journey through the death of a young woman, struck ill by what seems to be the flu. As she deteriorates, the story follows along from her point of view as she succumbs to more symptoms, and is forced to endure more and more tests while the doctors treating her look for a cure. Heartbreaking and harrowing, PATHOGEN: PATIENT ZERO journeys through the five stages of grief, and explores what it feels like for those suffering from terminal illness.

Here are some awesome teasers from the book:

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PATHOGEN: PATIENT ZERO will be released May 15, 2015, and is available for pre-order on Smashwords.



Kai Kiriyama is a writer of many things, mostly novels, of varying genres. With diplomas in tea leaf reading, palmistry, crystal divination, and crystal healing, it’s no surprise to see novels reflecting the otherworldly with her name on them. Influenced by tales of magic, deception and monsters, Kai takes her genre-hopping seriously.She currently lives in Canada with her pet snake and a looming deadline. She can be reached by email at kai@theraggedyauthor.com

You can find Kai on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/raggedyauthor

On facebook: facebook.com/authorkaikiriyama

On her website: http://www.theraggedyauthor.com

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Let’s Talk: FE&L #6-History of YA



A Discussion on History of Females in YA


Thanks so much to Batool for inviting me to write a guest post detailing the importance of

female empowerment in young adult literature. Her blog is wonderful and I was deeply

touched to be approached to write a piece on a topic that is dear to my heart.

I am an adult who reads young adult fiction. There, I said it.

Why, you might ask? I actually get asked this a lot. The answer is: because I find more

empowering female protagonists who I can actually relate to.

When I was a teenager I had difficulty finding books that had realistically depicted, strong

female characters. That’s not to say there wasn’t any – it was just difficult trying to find

these types of books in my local library (my main source for reading material) or my school


Female empowerment, in young adult novels in particular, really saw a boom in the 1990s.

Prior to that, the majority of contemporary young adult fiction aimed at girls was romance

orientated (Sweet Dreams I’m looking at you!), though there were some great examples of

strong female characters in fantasy literature (Alanna from The Song of the Lioness series by

Tamora Pierce, or Aerin from Robin McKinley’s The Hero and The Crown to name two

examples) but you could argue the contemporary market was somewhat lagging behind.

Let’s go back a bit. The first book to be deemed a ‘young adult’ title was Seventeenth

Summer by Maureen Daly released in 1942. It was a romance (naturally) aimed at girls

about the trials of first love. A prevalent theme in all young adult fiction is coming of age –

regardless of gender.

The term ‘young adult’ was originally devised by the Young Adult Library Services

Association during the 1960s to represent the 12-18 age range. It was really the 1970s that

saw the ‘young adult’ novel really take off though. This era has been called the ‘golden age’

of young adult.

Authors such as Judy Blume and Lois Duncan dominated the shelves (even though both

were seen as somewhat controversial for their often difficult and challenging subject

matters – they can frequently be found on the ‘banned books’ list for example). I read both

of these authors myself (mainly in the early 1990s) and classed them among my favourites. I

liked that they targeted ‘difficult’ subjects such as teenagers having sex (shocker!) and

feminism. Another author who was greatly lauded for this was Norma Klein but I am only

passingly familiar with her works so I cannot really comment.

They had female protagonists who actually read like real people – completely different from

the other young adult series that I consumed at the time (like the aforementioned Sweet

Dreams series or the completely unrealistic Sweet Valley High series – with the most

perfectly beautiful and ‘sweet’ Wakefield sisters – pass me the sick bucket please)!

It is always something of a disappointment for me that when I was growing out of reading

young adult, the market had its second ‘golden age’. This began in the very late 1990s but it

was the 2000s that really saw the biggest impact.

Book series such as J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter paved the way for series such as Stephanie

Meyers Twilight, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Veronica Roth’s Divergent

series. I am not a huge fan of Twilight (Bella is too much of a Mary Sue, damsel in distress

type for me and don’t get me started on Edward Cullen as the romantic lead) but you

cannot deny that the popularity of these particular books has really allowed female-driven

narratives to flourish.

Katniss Everdeen is a great example of a strong, kick-ass protagonist but what makes her the

more relatable for me is that she doesn’t want to be thrust into the role of role-model and

icon – she just wants to survive and protect her loved ones from harm. This is what makes

her such an awesome example of female empowerment for me. She is a warrior but she is

also just a girl that has to overcome some truly horrific circumstances. The final book in the

trilogy Mockingjay is actually my favourite because it deals with the fallout of all the trauma

that Katniss has and continues to experience.

As I mentioned before, it really was unfortunate that the young adult genre really saw a rise

in the types of books I would have loved to have read as a teenager – just as I was heading

out of my teenage years!

I didn’t have a lot of time for reading when I was studying at University and I was beginning

to cut my teeth on more adult-themed books (to be fair though I had always read a mix of

young adult and adult books previously – as much as I loved Sweet Dreams and Point Horror

novels aimed at the teenage market – I also lapped up Stephen King novels and the like).

Young adult seemed a distant memory.

However, the popularity of books such as Twilight encouraged me to start reading young

adult books again and I am incredibly glad that I did. I have cited Katniss as a strong,

empowering female character but she is far from the only one I have read. I love Rose

Hathaway and Sydney Sage from Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series

for example – both approach things in vastly different ways but they are kick-ass characters

that deserve attention.

I would also recommend Kristin Cashore’s Graceling novels which can definitely be

described as feminist and anything by Maggie Stiefvater who always has strong female

characters. As for contemporary novels, Sara Zarr and Rainbow Rowell are definitely worth

checking out.

There are actually a plethora of novels to choose from which just goes to show that the

market has greatly expanded since I myself was a teenager. I am glad that I got the chance

to rediscover young adult – it has been an incredibly enriching experience and I am thankful

that young girls today get to experience such a vast range of powerful, strong and relatable

female characters as role models – I wish there was more of it when I was that age.

Here is some further reading material on the above subject:











Brin (forever young adult at heart)


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My Blog – http://brinsbookblog.com/

Twitter – @BrinGuivera

Tumblr – http://brin-guivera.tumblr.com/


The Hit List by Nikki Urang (Review)


The Hit List by Nikki Urang

Release date: November 11, 2014

Purchased on Kindle

My rating:


The Los Angeles Conservatory for the Arts is supposed to be a new beginning for Sadie Bryant. Moving across the country is exactly what she needs to escape the gossip surrounding her injury, the devastating betrayal of her ex-partner, and to rebuild her career as a solo dancer.

When the school announces that the annual Fall Showcase, a performance that secures a spot studying in London, will now require each dancer to have a partner, Sadie’s fresh start is a nightmare. Now she has to dance with Luke Morrison, the school womanizer with a big ego. Sadie doesn’t know how to trust Luke enough to dance with him after her last partner left her broken, but Luke is determined to change that.

Then, The Hit List comes out. A game of sexual conquest where guys get points for all the girls they hook up with—and it seems like every guy at the school is playing.

The girl worth the most points? Sadie.

I had several issues with this book, so I’m going to start off by breaking down what I didn’t like and then moving on to some of the aspects that I did.

First of all, I had major issues with the main character, Sadie. To me, she just came across as being super whiny, irritating, and indecisive- I really can’t think of a single thing that I liked about her. She has trust issues due to her injury and betrayal by her ex-boyfriend/ex-dance partner (which the author will be sure to remind you about on at least 15 different occasions). She hardly ever speaks up for herself; instead, she relies on surrounding characters to do all the talking for her. Even when guys are borderline sexually harassing her, she either a: says NOTHING or b: waits around for someone else to protect her. At times she seems incredibly immature and really can’t make up her mind about anything important in her life. Lastly, she seems to be very talented at dancing, and she has a deeply rooted passion for it, yet she keeps forgetting that in her effort to organize her thoughts about one guy or another.

As for the other aspects of this book, I found them to be unoriginal and forgettable. The main love interest is the typical sometimes jerky/ sometimes sweet guy with commitment issues, and money and power bestowed upon him by his parents’ status. There are many cliches which made me want to repeatedly hit myself in the head with my kindle. Example:

“You’re a better person than me. You make me want to be a better person.”


Anyways, Sadie and her love interest (which I won’t name because I’m not sure if that qualifies as a spoiler or not) kept having back and forth moments. There was one point, in fact, where Sadie and Love Interest had just finished fighting, and then Sadie storms off only to come back to him a few pages later. Like I said, indecisive.

Now that I’m done ranting, I’ll tell you what I liked about the book. Firstly, I’ve never read a book set in a dance institute, so that was something new for me that I somewhat enjoyed. Secondly, the fact that Sadie and Love Interest were dance partners added a little bit of heat to the story, because they constantly had to be glued to one another. Lastly, I enjoyed reading about Sadie’s love for dance and the way it made her feel stronger.

That’s pretty much it. Unfortunately, as you can probably tell, my gripes about this book far outweighed any redeeming qualities that I saw.

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