Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman | ARC Review

vengeanceroadStats:

Title: Vengeance Road
Author: Erin Bowman
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult – Western
Page Count: 327
My Rating: 4 stars
Where to Purchase: Amazon, The Book Depository, Barnes and Noble

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

When her father is murdered for a journal revealing the location of a hidden gold mine, eighteen-year-old Kate Thompson disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers—and justice. What she finds are untrustworthy strangers, endless dust and heat, and a surprising band of allies, among them a young Apache girl and a pair of stubborn brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, a startling truth becomes clear: some men will stop at nothing to get their hands on gold, and Kate’s quest for revenge may prove fatal.

My Thoughts:

When I picked this up, I wanted a straight-forward Western and it delivered just that. I wanted a spunky girl disguised as a boy. I wanted old Western film tropes. I wanted saloons. I wanted bandits. I got all of that wrapped up in a pretty bow.

The synopsis gives the impression that there might be a love triangle. Never fear, for that is not the case. I will say that I originally thought this was going to be a series (which is completely my fault because nothing should have led me to believe that) so I found the relationship development to be a bit lacking. But once I figured out that it was a standalone, it was fine. I found that the ending did wrap up rather quickly, and was a tad unsatisfying. There were things that happened that felt unresolved.

Vengeance Road will satisfy anyone craving an old John Wayne movie, if John Wayne was a stubborn, teenage girl.

Entwined by Heather Dixon | Review

Stats:

Title: Entwined
Author: Heather Dixon
Publisher: Greenwillow Books, 2011
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy of Manners
Page Count: 472
My Rating: 3 stars
Where to Purchase: Amazon, The Book Depository, Barnes and Noble

Synopsis (from goodreads):

Just when Azalea should feel that everything is before her—beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing—it’s taken away. All of it. And Azalea is trapped. The Keeper understands. He’s trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. So he extends an invitation.

Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest, but there is a cost. The Keeper likes to keep things. Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.

my thoughts:

This book had been sitting on my shelf for years, so I decided to listen to it on audiobook since I couldn’t motivate myself to pick up the physical copy.

As far as the audiobook, I felt that the narrator was perfect for this book. She managed to create different voices for each of the sisters so I could kind of keep track of their ages, which was helpful as we have a lot of sisters to keep track of. Even with the engaging narrator, I still struggled to connect to this book. I felt that it was too long, and dragged on. The first half of the book was especially slow, and left me thinking “so what?” The characters were especially irritating and immature in the first half. Seriously, all they cared about was dancing. I have noticed that Dixon tends to write YA that leans younger (as she did with Illusionarium), and that was true for this book as well.

I felt that the last part of the book picked up some. We finally got to see the big conflict of the book happen, which had been building up all through the first half. We also got to see some maturity from our characters, and more of a focus on the familial relationships, which I enjoyed.

Overall, I’m glad I listened to this on audiobook, because I do not think I ever would have devoted the time to the physical copy. While I ended up enjoying some elements, I thought the book was overall too long, and I wasn’t very attached to the story or characters.

Do you have any fantasy of manners that you enjoy?

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Old Man’s War by John Scalzi | Review

Stats:

Title: Old Man’s War
Author: John Scalzi
Publisher: Tor, 2007
Genre: Adult – Science Fiction
Page Count: 362
My Rating: 4 stars
Where to Purchase: Amazon, The Book Depository, Barnes and Noble

Synopsis (from goodreads):

John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife’s grave. Then he joined the army.

The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce– and alien races willing to fight us for them are common. So: we fight. To defend Earth, and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has been going on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding.

Earth itself is a backwater. The bulk of humanity’s resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defense Force. Everybody knows that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF. They don’t want young people; they want people who carry the knowledge and skills of decades of living. You’ll be taken off Earth and never allowed to return. You’ll serve two years at the front. And if you survive, you’ll be given a generous homestead stake of your own, on one of our hard-won colony planets.

John Perry is taking that deal. He has only the vaguest idea what to expect. Because the actual fight, light-years from home, is far, far harder than he can imagine–and what he will become is far stranger.

my thoughts:

Old Man’s War starts off with an interesting premise: a military that is so mysterious that even it’s enlistees have no idea what they are truly signing up for, even though they are all at retirement age. From it’s start, this book had me intrigued.

I enjoyed the world that Scalzi set up. He creates a science fiction future that seems plausible. The “science” speak doesn’t drone on for too long, and allows readers new to the genre to get a feel for those elements. As this is a multiple book series, there is obviously a lot to still be discovered in this universe, but he provided the groundwork for that in book one and I didn’t feel the universe was lacking. A word of warning to the squeamish, Scalzi does not hold back in his descriptions of gross aliens or death in war. Although I’m not particularly bothered by gore, I did find myself skimming those parts because I just didn’t want to know.

The characters were what really made this story for me. John Perry and the friends he makes once he enlists are all likable, yet flawed. Their camaraderie has the reader feeling for them, even when we don’t know a ton about them. I felt for them; their struggles, their successes, and their losses.

The plot was engaging as well. I did find that I preferred the first half of the book to the second half, pacing wise, as the second half took off and didn’t stop until the end. With that being said, it did set up the future of the series nicely. I plan on continuing with this series.

Have you read any Scalzi? Which of his books is your favorite?

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