The Final Empire is the first in the Mistborn series, but can be read by itself. It is centred on Vin (female)*, who starts as a street urchin and is revealed to be a Mistborn, and Kelsier (Also a Mistborn), the leader of a group of thieves who plan to topple an oppressive Emperor. The Mistborn can burn some metals ( Iron, Steel, Tin, Pewter, Zinc, Brass, Copper and Bronze)** in their bodies to give themselves magical powers. This is the primary reason I chose this book for the Challenge, the magic in The Final Empire is very different from that in most other books, and is a nice change.
I read this one a fair while ago, so I can't remember all the details, but I remember liking the way Kelsier's background was slowly revealed, which suited his character (Mysterious, always with a plan, and never revealing all of his motives.). Vin was less complicated, but still had an entertaining history.
This is your Challenge: Read it, preferably all the way through this time (I'll forgive you DNFing the last book, it did look kinda long).
*Hey, look! More female protagonists!
** There's actually more than this, but they're the basics. Each metal does something different.