The best books with some serious ass-kicking

Who am I?

I am an author who believes stories must first entertain and thrill if they are ever to instill something powerful and unforgettable. While I would love to sit here and compile books that laud the values I believe in, that’s just not how it works. Action is the best way to convey theme – and these examples celebrate the storytelling techniques I stand by. I love ass-kickers, in literature and in life. And I hope one day to be remembered as one of them. 

I wrote...

This Is Not a Love Scene: A Novel

By S.C. Megale,

Book cover of This Is Not a Love Scene: A Novel

What is my book about?

Lights, camera―all Maeve needs is action. But at eighteen, a rare form of muscular dystrophy usually stands in the way of romance. She's got her friends, her humor, and a passion for filmmaking to keep her focus off consistent rejection...and the hot older guy starring in her senior film project.

Tall, bearded, and always swaying, Cole Stone is everything Maeve can't be. And she likes it. Between takes, their chemistry is shockingly electric. Suddenly, Maeve gets a taste of typical teenage dating life, but girls in wheelchairs don’t get the hot guy―right? Cole’s attention challenges everything she once believed about her self-image and hopes for love. But figuring this out, both emotionally and physically, won't be easy for either of them. 

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is readers supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

The Ruins of Gorlan: Book 1

By John Flanagan,

Book cover of The Ruins of Gorlan: Book 1

Why this book?

This book has some major ass-kicking, but its action scenes are dispersed throughout unparalleled humor and wit. It’s a YA fantasy with just a morsel of magic, allowing the reality of the world to mix with motifs today’s teenagers can relate to, while still transporting them to a faraway realm. I especially love how the hero is not bulging with muscles and towering over his foes. He has a special skill—stealth and archery—perfect for the kingdom’s secret service, the Rangers, and he realizes he can make an impact just the way he is.

Still Falling

By Martin Wilsey,

Book cover of Still Falling

Why this book?

Good sweet lawd of mercy, if you want ass-kicking, read Marty Wilsey. Ass-kicking with guns? Yes. Ass-kicking with fists? Yes. Ass-kicking with blades? Yes. Ass-kicking with good writing? You better believe it. This is Wilsey’s debut book, and it opens up his breakneck-paced sci-fi repertoire. High recommended. 

Road Trip

By David Keener,

Book cover of Road Trip

Why this book?

I love how Road Trip hooks you right away with its concept: a road for sale? What kind of road? How much? And what could be on that road? You might not be ready for it. I can assure you there is ample action on this highway, however, that could give new meaning to "road rage." Like all of Keener’s work, this book is original and well-written. You could even say it’s ass-kicking.

Hangfire: An Eddie Holland Novel

By John H. Matthews,

Book cover of Hangfire: An Eddie Holland Novel

Why this book?

What makes Hangire such a great ass-kicking novel is that it’s clear the author knows guns and gunfight strategy. The action is crisp, but aggressively realistic. Tension never ceases—if it’s not shooting up bad guys, it’s with a dash of romance or a smidge of mystery. The writing is confident and action-packed. Even the title, am I right? 

The Ballad of Dani and Eli

By Nicholas Bruner,

Book cover of The Ballad of Dani and Eli

Why this book?

This author has a talent for using just a hint of magic to flirt with the reader in an otherwise rural, modern, realistic environment. Okay, okay, there may not be machine guns of ass-kicking in this novel, but there is an ass-kicking female lead who renders an Oscar-worthy performance of compelling the story forward. If you want a feisty book with a little less guts spilled (maybe…), this is my recommendation. Although I read this book long ago, I’m always drawn back into it the second I reopen to page one, like a tsunami of nostalgia wrapped in a sheet of music. Maybe on a pillow of bear fur. (Seriously, just read it).

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Texas, heroes, and Afghanistan?

5,309 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Texas, heroes, and Afghanistan.

Texas Explore 85 books about Texas
Heroes Explore 41 books about heroes
Afghanistan Explore 46 books about Afghanistan

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Enzo, A Political Education: A Washington Memoir, and The Upland South: The Making of an American Folk Region if you like this list.