I go by Scarlett and my blog is Books Before Bed. I've been blogging since late 2010 and love the interaction with other bloggers and feeding my addiction of finding good books to read (and sharing what I think are good books with others!). I mainly stick to fantasy, sci/fi, some paranormal, mostly in the YA/MG bracket, but sometimes adult, with the odd classic thrown in now and again.
I am always impressed, and wish I could be more like, kick-butt heroines. What really impresses me though, is not when a protagonist goes in guns blazing every single time, but when there's subtlety to what they have to do. The following three books are some of my most favorite and I recommend them highly. Here's why:
The Decoy Princess by Dawn Cook
Princess Contessa of Costenopolie knows everything a royal should about diplomacy, self-defense, politics... and shopping. She ought to. She had every reason to believe that she was groomed to rule. But her next lesson is in betrayal...
The sudden arrival of her betrothed, a prince from the kingdom of Misdev, has forced Tess's parents to come clean: She's no princess. Their real daughter was raised in a nunnery for fear of assassins. Tess is nothing but a beggar's child bought off the streets as an infant and reared as a decoy.
So what's a royal highness to do when she discovers she's a royal target? Ditch the Misdev soldiers occupying the palace, use magical abilities she didn't even know she had, restore the real princess to the throne, and save her own neck. But first, Tess has to deal with the scoundrel who's urging her to run away from it all, and the Misdev captain who's determined to thwart her plans... (summary courtesy of Goodreads)
I am SO glad I didn't let the cover of this one put me off. It's not the worst out there, but it does nothing to portray just how awesome of a character Tess is and what she has to go through. I loved the intrigue that went on in this book, the idea was really unique. Oh, and best selling point? Lots of slow burn romance.
The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell
In the tradition of Gail Carson Levine, Karen Cushman, and Shannon Hale comes a magical debut that weaves favorite fairy tale elements into a fabulous new story starring an irrepressible heroine. Twelve princesses suffer from a puzzling (if silly) curse, and anyone who ends it will win a reward. Reveka, a sharp-witted and irreverent apprentice herbalist, wants that reward. But her investigations lead to deeper mysteries and a daunting choice—will she break the curse at the peril of her own soul? (summary courtesy of Goodreads and Amazon)
This is a more recent release title and I am DESPERATELY hoping that Ms. Haskell writes more. Not that it ends on a cliff hanger, but the protagonist, while being a young girl, is so easily relatable and I want to see how much more she grows and how things develop with....ooh, I can't give it away. But this book isn't just about the princess curse, that only comprises part of it. There are some other fairy tales/myths worked in, but I don't want to give away what happens so I won't say which ones. While definitely MG, it didn't feel like it. I felt more from these characters than I do in a lot of other YA books sometimes.
Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith
Young Countess Meliara swears to her dying father that she and her brother will defend their people from the growing greed of the king. That promise leads them into a war for which they are ill-prepared, which threatens the very people they are trying to protect. But war is simple compared to what follows, in peacetime. Meliara is summoned to live at the royal palace, where friends and enemies look alike, and intrigue fills the dance halls and the drawing rooms. If she is to survive, Meliara must learn a whole new way of fighting-with wits and words and secret alliances.
In war, at least, she knew in whom she could trust. Now she can trust no one. (summary courtesy of Goodreads)
This one is definitely one of my all time favorites. I recommend getting the book with both Crown Duel and Court Duel because you won't want to have to wait to see how things end up. This has a lot of chasing and actual fighting, but transitions into word play and making alliances, etc. This one too has a great love story (I really can't pass those up, can you tell?) and is very satisfying.