The best books with strong, admirable women

Peter Martuneac Author Of Her Name Was Abby (His Name Was Zach)
By Peter Martuneac

Who am I?

I have an amazing daughter in my life, and I want there to be more books for her to read that feature strong, admirable, and good women in leading roles. That’s one of the things I keep an eye out for in the books I read as well as the books I write.


I wrote...

Her Name Was Abby (His Name Was Zach)

By Peter Martuneac,

Book cover of Her Name Was Abby (His Name Was Zach)

What is my book about?

Weeks after her fifteenth birthday, Abby lost her family, her friends, and her home in one fell night. Now alone in a post-apocalyptic America, she must journey West to find civilization. But a bitter winter is setting in all around her, and violent psychopaths and hordes of the undead stand in her way.

And even if Abby can escape this lawless wild of monsters and madness, the shadows of the past are not so easily abandoned...

The books I picked & why

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The Directorate

By Berthold Gambrel,

Book cover of The Directorate

Why this book?

While The Directorate follows a fairly typical path for sci-fi thrillers, its characters are what stand out. The Earth and human colonies on the moon and Mars have united after years of war and created one military/police force. Lieutenant Theresa Gannon is a loyal, young officer suddenly thrust into stardom as the person who foiled a terrorist attack. But as a broiling rebellion heats up and Gannon is now rubbing shoulders with generals and politicians, she starts questioning where her loyalties truly lie. 


Hard Contact

By Karen Traviss,

Book cover of Hard Contact: Star Wars Legends (Republic Commando)

Why this book?

Growing up watching Star Wars movies, I was used to seeing the Jedi characters effortlessly slice their way through countless enemies and surmount seemingly insurmountable odds. So it was odd yet refreshing to read a Star Wars book where the Jedi character is barely capable of wielding her lightsaber properly. Etain is an aspiring Jedi, stranded on a hostile planet during a mission gone wrong. The Jedi Master accompanying her was killed, and the only reinforcements she is sent are four clone commandos. Instead of a lightsaber and The Force, this Jedi will have to rely on her wit and sheer determination to accomplish the mission, and that makes her a much more endearing character than most Jedis.


The One and Only

By Julia Ash,

Book cover of The One and Only

Why this book?

So often, the ‘strong woman’ character is in fact just a really rude, self-centered person, but not here. In Julia Ash’s The ELI Chronicles series, Ruby is a kind-hearted, brilliant scientist trying to do what’s right for her family and for the world. She’s also a great mother and is in a healthy, wholesome marriage with a supportive husband. That’s wonderfully refreshing amidst the plethora of toxic relationships we see in movies and books.


Death's Merchant

By Justan Henner,

Book cover of Death's Merchant: Common Among Gods - Book One

Why this book?

This one is a long, very long, fantasy epic, so be warned! Despite the length of the work, it ended up being an incredible read. Trin is one of the main characters the story follows. She’s a young woman who ‘accidentally’ unleashed a curse that has doomed the world to a future of death and destruction, and she’s desperately seeking a way to break this curse. In so doing, she gets caught up in an ancient blood feud between gods and full-blown war between mighty empires. 


I Am Malala

By Malala Yousafzai, Christina Lamb,

Book cover of I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

Why this book?

I was a United States Marine preparing to deploy to Afghanistan when the Taliban tried to assassinate the young Malala Yousafzai. Her crime? Daring to go to school as a Muslim girl. I’ve been inspired by her story ever since, and I feel a particular closeness to the things she stands for, like women’s rights in Muslim countries, because of my time spent in the Middle East. After seeing first-hand what life is like for women in Afghanistan, especially with the Taliban’s resurgence in 2021, it’s one of my greatest hopes that Malala’s mission is successful.