The best books with sassy or determined female leads

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a multi-genre writer who loves hearing the characters’ voices and getting their stories out there in the world. A lot of my characters are shaped by their gifts, whether they have supernatural ones or not. The things that happen to them shape who they are and how they react to future events. I exist on sarcasm, sass, and hot tea, so many of my characters do too.


I wrote...

Money Makes It Deadlier

By Julie C. Gilbert,

Book cover of Money Makes It Deadlier

What is my book about?

From the beautiful state parks of Hawaii to the chilly backwoods of Pennsylvania in winter, Megan knows how to find trouble all on her own.

Money Makes it Deadlier: Agent Luchek steps into high heels and deep danger when she gets assigned to investigate a bank. Revenge Makes it Sweeter: Megan gets a late-night summons to the hospital to speak with a gunshot victim. She knows to expect almost anything, yet he still surprises her. Christmas Makes it Chaos: Agent Luchek goes to Philadelphia for an antiterrorism conference only to face off against real terrorists. Treachery Makes it Tense: Megan gets an unlikely ally in the desperate fight to save Dan’s family from a madman.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Informationist

Julie C. Gilbert Why did I love this book?

It’s been a while since I read this book, but I remember thinking every place described felt real. It hits all the right notes of thriller with a fallible yet strong heroine who gets the job done, sometimes at great personal cost. Michael is as close to a shapeshifter as normal humans can be. She can become anybody. (Content warning – contains strong language)

By Taylor Stevens,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Governments pay her.
Criminals fear her.
Nobody sees her coming.

Vanessa “Michael” Munroe deals in information—expensive information—working for corporations, heads of state, private clients, and anyone else who can pay for her unique brand of expertise. Born to missionary parents in lawless central Africa, Munroe took up with an infamous gunrunner and his mercenary crew when she was just fourteen. As his protégé, she earned the respect of the jungle's most dangerous men, cultivating her own reputation for years until something sent her running. After almost a decade building a new life and lucrative career from her home base in…


Book cover of If She Only Knew

Julie C. Gilbert Why did I love this book?

I heard this one on audiobook first. The first book is amazing.

What drew me to this one was the character of Cal James. She’s got an unenviable gift of being able to see recent ghosts and interact with them. Her personal life’s a hot mess, but she has a heart of gold, and doesn’t mind punching ghosts.

By Alexandria Clarke,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked If She Only Knew as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Red River, the Wild West is alive and well. When Calamity James reluctantly returns to her hometown for a funeral, she wants answers that no one will give her. Soon, the local sheriff blackmails Cal into helping him solve a missing persons case. Though no one knows it, Cal is uniquely qualified to find homicide victims—she can see the dead. Of course, the dead don’t always cooperate. As the mystery unfolds, Cal falls deeper into her troublesome past, navigates burdensome family matters, and digs up new mischief with old rivals, both dead and alive.


Book cover of Crane

Julie C. Gilbert Why did I love this book?

Ireland Crane’s under a curse. If she doesn’t sort it quickly, she’ll be doomed to become the Headless Horseman. 

Ha. Maybe I just have a type. This woman’s personal life is also a bit of a mess. The stakes couldn’t be higher. If she fails, she’s doomed to become a monster.

By Stacey Rourke,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Horseman is unending,
his presence shan’t lessen.
If you break the curse,
you become the legend.

Washington Irving and Rip Van Winkle had no choice but to cover up the deadly truth behind Ichabod Crane’s disappearance. Centuries later, a Crane returns to Sleepy Hollow awakening macabre secrets once believed to be buried deep.

What if the monster that spawned the legend lived within you?

Now, Ireland Crane, reeling from a break-up and seeking a fresh start, must rely on the newly awakened Rip Van Winkle to discover the key to channeling the darkness swirling within her. Bodies are piling…


Book cover of Jasmine

Julie C. Gilbert Why did I love this book?

This story featured a cop just trying to get her job done. She’s not a saint, but she busts her backside to solve the mystery while wading through office politics.

Kate’s not perfect. She makes mistakes, but she’s got an admirable sense of determination to see justice done.

I think there’s a killer fight scene at the end of the book.

Strong language warning on this one too.

By Blair Howard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What would you do if someone murdered your daughter?

Jasmine, a lovely, teenage kid with a bright future was brutally murdered and thrown away like a rag doll.

It was Lt. Kate Gazzara’s first case as lead detective. For eight years she played Dr. Watson to Sergeant Harry Starke’s Sherlock Holmes, and then he was gone. Jasmine changed her life.

Who killed the poor kid? Why did she have to die? What could she have done to deserve such a fate?


It was her parent’s worst nightmare. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare, and it begs the question: What would you…


Book cover of Shattered

Julie C. Gilbert Why did I love this book?

Logan McKenna isn’t even a cop, but she is ready to go to war to defend a friend falsely accused of murder in a tight-knit artist community. 

She’s determined. She will keep digging even when the danger factor rises. 

The mystery keeps you guessing. 

All these factors make for a fun read.

By Valerie Davisson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Logan loses it all. Then her best friend’s charged with murder. Time’s running out and a deranged killer wants her dead.

In the first novel of Davisson’s thrilling, best-selling series, Logan loses her husband, her illusions, the company they built together, her music, and now, probably her job.
But when a young glassblower is brutally killed at the local arts festival and her good friend, Thomas Delgado, a Native American artist, is accused of the crime, Logan drops everything to come to his defense. 

It doesn’t help that Thomas is refusing to defend himself. As Logan struggles to maintain her…


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Empire in the Sand

By Shane Joseph,

Book cover of Empire in the Sand

Shane Joseph Author Of Empire in the Sand

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a writer for more than twenty years and have favored pursuing “truth in fiction” rather than “money in formula.” I also spent over thirty years in the corporate world and was exposed to many situations reminiscent of those described in my fiction and in these recommended books. While I support enterprise, “enlightened capitalism” is preferable to the bare-knuckle type we have today, and which seems to resurface whenever regulation weakens. I also find writing novels closer to my lived experience connects me intimately with readers who are looking for socio-political, realist literature.

Shane's book list on exposing corporate, political, and personal corruption

What is my book about?

Avery Mann, a retired pharmaceuticals executive, is in crisis.

His wife dies of cancer, his son’s marriage is on the rocks, his grandson is having a meltdown, and his good friend is a victim of the robocalls scandal that invades the Canadian federal election. Throw in a reckless fling with a former colleague, a fire that destroys his retirement property, and a rumour emerging that the drug he helped bring to market years ago may have been responsible for the death of his wife, and Avery’s life goes into freefall.

Does an octogenarian beekeeper living on Vancouver Island hold the key to Avery’s recovery, a man holding secrets that put lives in jeopardy? Avery races across the country to find out, with crooked bosses, politicians, and assassins on his tail. Joseph spins a cautionary tale of corporate and political greed that is endemic to our times.

Empire in the Sand

By Shane Joseph,

What is this book about?

Avery Mann, a retired pharmaceuticals executive, is in crisis. His wife dies of cancer, his son’s marriage is on the rocks, his grandson is having a meltdown, and his good friend is a victim of the robocalls scandal that invades the Canadian federal election.

Throw in a reckless fling with a former colleague, a fire that destroys his retirement property, and a rumour emerging that the drug he helped bring to market years ago may have been responsible for the death of his wife, and Avery’s life goes into freefall.

Does an octogenarian bee keeper living on Vancouver Island hold…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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