The best books for kickbutt heroines

Who am I?

I grew up in the 1980s when there wasn’t consideration for representation or diversity in literature or media. If I wanted to read about a Girl of Color, inevitably, she was a slave. If I wanted to watch a TV show featuring women (of any color), they were inevitably rescued in the climactic moment by a man. As such, I grew into a reader who loves kickbutt girls of all stripes. Give me a chance to cheer on a female who’s looking for her happy ending and not about to let the world dictate how she finds that happiness (and with whom), and boy, you got me!


I wrote...

The Signs and Wonders of Tuna Rashad

By Natasha Deen,

Book cover of The Signs and Wonders of Tuna Rashad

What is my book about?

No matter what her older brother, Robby, says, aspiring screenwriter Tuna Rashad is not “stupidstitious.” She is, however, cool with her Caribbean heritage, meaning she's always on the lookout for messages from loved ones who have passed on. But ever since Robby became a widower, all he does is hang out at the house, mock Tuna for following in their ancestors’ traditions, and meddle in her life.

Tuna needs to break free from her brother’s loving but over-bearing ways and get him a life (or at least, get him out of hers!). Based on the signs, her ancestors are on board. They also seem to be on board with helping Tuna win over her crush, Tristan Dangerfield. The only hiccup? She has to do it before leaving for college in the fall. 
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Wild Ones

Natasha Deen Why did I love this book?

I love this book so much, I blurbed it! In a world where women are often asked to be quiet, to make themselves small, Nafiza Azad’s unapologetically feminist book is breathtaking. Readers journey with Paheli and her collection of girls—the Wild Ones—helping to save girls from the pain they had to endure. On their journey, they seek Taraana, a boy with stars in his eyes, who once saved Paheli and now needs saving. While The Wild Ones is a fantasy, it is an unflinching look into the #MeToo movement, the tragedies and pain of being female, the saving grace of sisterhood, and the audacious power of resilience and hope.

By Nafiza Azad,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Wild Ones as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

From William C. Morris Finalist Nafiza Azad comes a thrilling, feminist fantasy about a group of teenage girls endowed with special powers who must band together to save the life of the boy whose magic saved them all.

We are the Wild Ones, and we will not be silenced.

We are girls who have tasted the worst this world can offer. Our story begins with Paheli, who was once betrayed by her mother, sold to a man in exchange for a favor. When Paheli escaped, she ran headlong into Taraana-a boy with stars in his eyes, a boy as battered…


Book cover of The Voice in My Head

Natasha Deen Why did I love this book?

This book tackles big topics. Indigo Phillips is grappling with the fallout of her twin sister’s (Violet) terminal illness and Violet’s decision to die on her own terms by medically assisted death. When Indigo hears a voice in her head, urging her to go to the Arizona desert to find a rock formation that will save Violet, Indigo takes the proposition to her sister. And Violet agrees—but only if the entire family comes along. The Voice in My Head gives readers emotional space to explore the complexities of grief, the bigger questions of whether there is something beyond our existence, the chains and wings of family, and the love and hurts that can pull us apart but also have the power to bind us together.

By Dana L. Davis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Voice in My Head as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

She can feel sorry for herself.

Or she can listen…to the voice in her head.

Indigo Phillips has always lived in the shadow of her identical twin, Violet—the perfectly dressed, gentle, popular sister. But when Violet becomes terminally ill and plans to die on her own terms via medically assisted death, Indigo spirals into desperation in her efforts to cope. That’s when she begins to hear a mysterious voice—a voice claiming to be God. The Voice insists that if she takes Violet to a remote rock formation in the Arizona desert, her sister will live.

Incredibly, Violet agrees to go—if…


Book cover of Silencing Rebecca

Natasha Deen Why did I love this book?

Silencing Rebecca hooks the reader from the first page with the disturbing question, what happened to Rebecca? From the first line, “silence has swallowed her whole,” through jumps into the past and present, Rebecca journeys on a twisting, winding path of self-discovery, identity, and heartbreak. At once devastating and heartfelt, with prose that’s plainly spoken yet evocative, silencing Rebecca is a novel that stays with readers, long after the last word has been read.

By Nikki Vogel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Silencing Rebecca as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this genre-bending debut YA novel combining elements of horror, magic realism, and realistic fiction, Rebecca Waldmann’s sheltered life as an Orthodox Jewish teen in Toronto is shattered when her father moves them to Edmonton, where she is plunged into the worldly life of a public high school. Ordinary teenage angst is complicated by Rebecca’s lack of experience with a culture of wearing cool clothes, swearing, talking back to teachers, and other aspects of secular teen life. Things take a darker turn when Rebecca encounters antisemitism and discovers a secret about the long-ago death of her mother that her father…


Book cover of Into the Sublime

Natasha Deen Why did I love this book?

I love books that keep me guessing and leave me unsettled about character motivation and story truth, and Into the Sublime gets the gold on all of those requirements and more! Amelie, a member of a thrill-seeking group, heads out with three other girls—H, Gia, and Devon—to find a lake called “The Sublime,” that’s said to reveal your deepest fears. Much like the underground cave system the girls find themselves in, Into the Sublime takes readers on a twisting tale full of tension and changing alliances, and an ever-tightening noose of dread and unease. What happened in those caves? Why did four girls go in but only three come out—and whose blood is Amelie covered in? This is the kind of book you stay up late to finish...then spend the next few days sleeping with the lights on. Lovers of psychological suspense and horror won't be disappointed.

By Kate A. Boorman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Into the Sublime as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

"Gripping and breathless, Into the Sublime is equal parts terrifying, claustrophobic, psychological, and cunning." ―Wendy Heard, author of She's Too Pretty to Burn and Dead End Girls

A new YA psychological thriller from Kate A. Boorman, author of What We Buried, about four teenage girls who descend into a dangerous underground cave system in search of a lake of local legend, said to reveal your deepest fears.

When the cops arrive, only a few things are clear:
- Four girls entered a dangerous cave.
- Three of them came out alive.
- Two of them were rushed to the hospital.…


Book cover of The Changeling of Fenlen Forest

Natasha Deen Why did I love this book?

A herd of wild unicorns, a gloomy forest, a changeling, and magicThe Changeling of Fenlen Forest is a perfect choice for a cozy day of reading. The book opens with Elizabeth as she searches for her lost unicorn fawn. But her search takes her to a strange land where Elizabeth resembles a missing girl. So much so, that the town’s people think she’s a changeling—and dangerous. Elizabeth, with the help of a handsome shepherd, searches for the answer behind the missing girl. But is she prepared for the secrets her search will uncover? The Changeling of Fenlen Forest is a journey into loss and identity, and it’s the perfect read for days when readers want to inhabit a mysterious new world that’s full of intrigue.

By Katherine Magyarody,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Changeling of Fenlen Forest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Elizabeth thinks she knows the gloomy Fenlen Forest. But when her treasured unicorn fawn, Sida, goes missing, Elizabeth tracks her into a strange land where the people think Elizabeth is a changeling, a malignant being who too-closely resembles a missing girl. If Elizabeth can find her fawn and uncover the fate of her lost double, can she stop the fear from turning into hate? To solve the deepening mystery, Elizabeth befriends a handsome, skeptical young shepherd whose stories hint at a dark secret lurking at the forest’s edge, and tame a herd of wild unicorns with the ability to unlock…


You might also like...

Coma and Near-Death Experience: The Beautiful, Disturbing, and Dangerous World of the Unconscious

By Alan Pearce, Beverley Pearce,

Book cover of Coma and Near-Death Experience: The Beautiful, Disturbing, and Dangerous World of the Unconscious

Alan Pearce Author Of Coma and Near-Death Experience: The Beautiful, Disturbing, and Dangerous World of the Unconscious

New book alert!

Who am I?

As a journalist, I'm driven to find stories that have not been covered before and to make clear the incomprehensible. I like people, and I like asking questions. I've covered wars and disasters, and on any given day, I could expect to see people at their very worst and at their very best. With my book about comas, I've met some of the finest people of my career, doctors, nurses, and other clinicians who are fighting the system, and coma survivors who are simply fighting to get through each and every day. This is the story I am now driven to tell.

Alan's book list on consciousness that demonstrates there is more to life than we know

What is my book about?

What happens when a person is placed into a medically-induced coma?

The brain might be flatlining, but the mind is far from inactive: experiencing alternate lives rich in every detail that spans decades, visiting realms of stunning and majestic beauty, or plummeting to the very depths of Hell while defying all medical and scientific understanding.

Everything you think you know about coma is wrong. Doctors call it 'sleeping' when in reality, many are trapped on a hamster wheel of brain-damaging, nightmarish events that scar those that survive for life. Others are left to question whether they touched levels of existence previously confined to fantasy or whether they teetered on the brink of this life and the next. Coma is not what you think.

Coma and Near-Death Experience: The Beautiful, Disturbing, and Dangerous World of the Unconscious

By Alan Pearce, Beverley Pearce,

What is this book about?

Explores the extraordinary states of expanded consciousness that arise during comas, both positive and negative

Every day around the world, thousands of people are placed in medically-induced comas. For some coma survivors, the experience is an utter blank. Others lay paralyzed, aware of everything around them but unable to move, speak, or even blink. Many experience alternate lives spanning decades, lives they grieve once awakened. Some encounter ultra-vivid nightmares, while others undergo a deep, spiritual oneness with the Universe or say they have glimpsed the Afterlife.

Examining the beautiful and disturbing experiences of those who have survived comas, Alan and…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in heroes, changelings, and caves?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about heroes, changelings, and caves.

Heroes Explore 100 books about heroes
Changelings Explore 17 books about changelings
Caves Explore 12 books about caves