Book Review: Vengeance Road – Erin Bowman

Title: Vengeance Road
Author: Erin Bowman
Genre: YA – Historical, Western, Romance
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Published Date: September 1, 2015
Audiobook Narrator: Amy Rubinate

Buy Link:

Blurb (from Goodreads:
Revenge is worth its weight in gold.

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 Review:
This book was sort of a break from my norm. It’s not a fairy tale retell, it’s not straight up fiction, or even dystopian/fantasy. This can best be described as a YA-Western, complete with guns, small down salons, horses and Stetsons. Although I’m wondering…were the hats actually called Stetsons back then? Because I’m pretty sure that’s a name brand, right? I could be wrong.

What I Loved: It was just ever so different, yet the same. The setting is one that I’m not used to, and the southerny/western accent too. This was more a book about redemption than anything, but first comes vengeance. I think the thing that I liked most was Kate’s character, she was complicated. She was after the men who killed her father, but at the same time was able to be compassionate and understanding toward the Apache Indians, the race that everyone hated/feared/mistreated. However, even in that area, she was tainted by society norms and while she was trying to maintain a friendship and understanding, she continued to have disregard for their ways and was borderline offensive for a good portion of the book. There were events that helped her to gain more understanding and respect for the Indians as the story went on, and this growth was the most significant throughout the book, in my opinion.

I also enjoyed the relationship between Kate and Jessie. I felt like it was this low simmer sort of thing between them, rather than drama that extended throughout the book. This wasn’t just Kate’s story either, Jessie had his own redemption to find as well.

Not So Much: Despite any kind of redemption she found while on the hunt for her father’s killers, Kate really never did leave the thought of vengeance behind. For a small portion of the book I thought that she was going to find healing elsewhere, and I do feel like she kind of did – however she was still pretty set on her path. I would have liked to have had more of an emotional resolution for both Kate and Jessie. While there was character growth throughout the book, I feel like we stopped just shy of anything remarkable.

The Verdict:  


I enjoyed listening to this book. Again, it is nice to break free from the mold just a bit and read something a little different. I can’t say it was my favorite book of the summer, but I certainly do not regret reading it. This is a YA driven novel, though there is some stronger cussing in it..just so you all know.

ADDED:  So I went and did a little google…Stetsons were created in 1865, and this book took place in 1877…so I guess it works! 😉


Legacy – Cayla Kluver

Legacy by Cayla Kluver
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

GENRE: Young Adult – Fiction
FORM: eBook – Net Galley
SERIES: Legacy Series

While I was granted permission to read this book by a Net Galley affiliate publisher, Harlequin, I have received no compensation for this review other than the joy of reading!

SYNOPSIS: Princess Alera has a responsibility to her empire to marry a man worthy to be the king of Hytanica. The empire is at the brink of war, and her father tires of being king, therefore her decision must be made hastily. However, there is no man who matches the King’s criteria that interests Alera in anyway, and the man that her father believes is the best suitor she can hardly tolerate. Hytanica begins to feel threatened by the Cokyrans, the empire’s worst enemy, and a teenage boy thought to a native of Cokyran, is taken into custody. Alera, curious about their enemy, and even more so about the blue eyed teenager, begins to forge a dangerous relationship with him.

REVIEW: Legacy quickly became one of my favorite books so far this year. My attention was captivated within the first few chapters. Alera was such a wonderful change from the helpless/reckless female leads I’ve been reading about lately. She is a perfect mix of a curious, headstrong teenager, and a young women stepping into her responsibilities. She is opinionated, and fights against a society that views women as lowly by doing whatever she can to make sure her voice is heard. She is also slightly prone to making unwise decisions and getting into trouble. I just love her.

Legacy has a very “Fairy Tale” feel about it, in the way that it is written. It just screams “FUTURE DISNEY PRINCESS” material! The writing is descriptive and beautiful without being overwhelming and boring. I love the characters. Lord Steldor, Alera’s most acceptable suitor, actually reminded me of Beauty and the Beast’s Gaston, many times. I could just see him parading around in his dashing clothes and arrogant grin, causing the ladies to sigh. Narian, the captive, was definitely the strong silent type. He was confident and arrogant as well, but not to an annoying degree. I’m not going mention the messy dirty blonde hair and piercing blue eyes…(my own sigh inserted here.) I love how the king was a perfect mix of a person. He was neither a war hungry male, nor a flippant King. He took his role very seriously, and had just enough joy, smiles and compassion. He was also a very fair parent who, like all parents, eventually reaches the end of his thread. London, who’s name tripped me up more than once – I kept thinking we were talking about the country and getting confused, was one of my favorite characters. He made the perfect role model and great secondary father figure for Alera!

All in all, I cannot wait for the next book, Allegiance which will be released in March of 2012. The title of the third, Sacrifice, leaves me a bit nervous, however, it makes me wonder if author Cayla Kluver is going to pull a “Maggie Stiefvater” with her story.

WHAT I LOVED: I really, really loved this story as a whole! The characters were wonderful, the story was great – as I said, it reminded me of a fairy tale, and I feel that it is worthy to be placed in book next to Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and the like…well assuming it ends well. I have no idea if that was the authors intention when she wrote this ( and trust me, as soon as I’m done with this review, I’m going to go read up more on her), but if it was, she definitely succeeded.

NOT SO MUCH: I really don’t have much to complain about here. I did not care much for Alera’s mother. I felt she was rather flippant and detached, not only as a person, but as a mother. She sort of just blended in with the background, despite her claims of being mischievous and curious, just like Alera, in her youth.

SONG DEDICATION: Riding in the car yesterday, the song “She Will Be Loved” by Maroon 5 came on. The first verse of that song really resonated with me in relation to his book. I think in the end, it really is a great song representation for the story.

Allegiance & Sacrifice  (Covers not yet available)


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Revolution – Jennifer Donnelly

RevolutionRevolution by Jennifer Donnelly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Andi Alpers is having a hard time with life, and living it in general.  Her dad has never really been a part of her life, and ever since her brother, Truman, was killed her mother has checked out as well.  Andi deals by popping antidepressant pills that sometimes cause her to hallucinate, drowning herself in her music or a guy, but every now and then she still finds herself standing at the edge of life looking for a way out.

Things begin to change when Andi’s father gets a letter from her school informing him that she is failing most of her classes and that she is headed toward expulsion. At her house he feels Andi’s mother is behaving clinically depressed and has her committed to a hospital, and whisks Andi off to Paris for her Winder Vacation.  It is in Paras where Andi discovers a diary from the eighteenth century girl by the name of Alexandrine Paradis.   Alexandrine’s story begins to work itself into Andi’s life so much that Andi finds herself unable to focus on much else.

This is one of those books that is very hard for me to actually rate, because on one hand I can’t actually say that the book captivated me in such a way that I couldn’t walk away.  I wasn’t bored, while I was listening to it I was into the story and wanted to know what happened, but I had to stop I didn’t find myself rushing back to it to find out what happens next.  On the other hand, this book had so many interwoven parts and was written so well that it is impossible to say that it wasn’t a great book. 

I loved the music that was interwoven through this whole book.  The music took on it’s own life and became such a great part of story.  I loved it when Andi went through an entire musical history of chord progressions.

I think the problem with this book was the underlying depression in it.  All the way up until the end, there really is not much relief, which makes sense for the type of book that it is.  Andi does her healing through Alexandrine’s life, as well as with help from a friend.  She learns that she is actually afraid of dying and she learns how to move forward and begin living again, but all of this is saved for the very end.  The entire book is melancholy, while mixed with a bit of sarcasm here and there, it does make for a bit of a downer of a book.

It is worth it to read this book though.  The historical aspects are interesting, and the characters are real.  It is very well written.  I feel like despite it’s darkness, the book does show hope and healing, and it also shows how it is important to stand up for what you believe in, even if it might be a lost cause.

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The Thirteenth Tale – Diane Setterfield

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Genre: Adult Fiction

Form: Book

Sometimes, when you open the door to the past, what you confront is your destiny.

Reclusive author Vida Winter, famous for her collection of twelve enchanting stories, has spent the past six decades penning a series of alternate lives for herself. Now old and ailing, she is ready to reveal the truth about her extraordinary existence and the violent and tragic past she has kept secret for so long. Calling on Margaret Lea, a young biographer troubled by her own painful history, Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good. Margaret is mesmerized by the author’s tale of gothic strangeness — featuring the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess, a topiary garden and a devastating fire. Together, Margaret and Vida confront the ghosts that have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves.


The Thirteenth Tale surprised me. I had attempted to read this book once, almost a year ago. I probably got to the 2nd chapter and put the book down. There are so many words, so many descriptions and not enough action. I like dialogue and I like stuff to happen. It felt like story was just words for me. Despite that first start, I decided when an online book group wanted to do this book, that I would give it another shot. Once again I found myself slightly lost in it’s descriptions and felt like the book was moving slowly, since this was sort of like an assignment than reading for pleasure, I pressed on. I’m very glad that I did.

When I attempted to describe to my husband what this book was about I said something like, “Well, let’s put it this way; the author of this book is writing about a semi-biographer/bookstore clerk who is writing a biography of an author who is dictating the story I am reading.” So from the perspective of Diane Setterfield, that is some pretty complex writing to begin with. The Thirteenth Tale is filled with so many surprises, twists and turns that it definitely makes up for the slow pace of the book. In fact, I’m positive that the slow pace of the book was rather intentional. Diane does not reveal the next surprise until it is absolutely necessary, and every single time I caught myself thinking, “Man, didn’t see that one coming!”

My one and only complaint with the book happened at the very end. (I apologize in advance for this spoiler, but I cannot voice my complaint without the spoiler. If you haven’t read the book, you may want to stop now and come back after you read it and continue my review!) The appearance of Margaret’s sister cheapened her entire story for me. For the entire book Margaret is haunted by the twin sister who died at birth. She spends a lot of time mourning over the loss of this person she never actually met in real life. But it’s not exactly the person, but the connection of twins that has her feeling as though she is missing half of herself. There are many instances in which Margaret finds herself looking at her sister, almost communicating with her in away – and every time she is “seeing” her sister, it is actually a reflection of one kind or another of herself. So there is no actual ghost. So to write the entire story in that way, and then at the very end let there actually be a ghost really did nothing for met at all.

In reality, this part of the book was only a very small segement, a side story of the whole. The story of Adeline and Emmeline is the story that had me glued to this book. Okay, “glued” might actually be too strong of the word. Like I have mentioned, there are a lot of descriptions and long paragraphs. This made it very easy for me to put the book down and come back to it. That is not how I usually am, I usually cannot put the book down because I can’t wait to find out what happens next. But, even when I did put the book down, the story and the characters were playing their part in my head, keeping me wrapped up into it’s story.

I highly recommend this book!