Tag «Western»

DNF Review: Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Gunslinger Girl (from Goodreads):

James Patterson presents a bold new heroine—a cross between Katniss Everdeen and Annie Oakley: Serendipity Jones, the fastest sharpshooter in tomorrow’s West.

Seventeen-year-old Serendipity “Pity” Jones inherited two things from her mother: a pair of six shooters and perfect aim. She’s been offered a life of fame and fortune in Cessation, a glittering city where lawlessness is a way of life. But the price she pays for her freedom may be too great….

In this extraordinary debut from Lyndsay Ely, the West is once again wild after a Second Civil War fractures the U.S. into a broken, dangerous land. Pity’s struggle against the dark and twisted underbelly of a corrupt city will haunt you long after the final bullet is shot.


Author: Lyndsay Ely
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance
Heat Rating: Unsure
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: January 2, 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook


Disclaimer: I stopped reading Gunslinger Girl at 17% (Start of Chapter 7). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Ever since I read (and loved) Vengeance Road, I’ve been eager to read YA Westerns. I had zero luck with Walk on Earth a Stranger but there was something about Gunslinger Girl  that gave me hope it would be the one. I had great luck with Stalking Jack the Ripper, the first “James Patterson Presents” novel so I was optimistic when this one came in from the library.

What I Liked:

–The Premise of the World–

I really loved that this was set in the future but had the throwback to the Western era. I will admit that I was disappointed this wasn’t a true Western at first. But what I love about the Western genre is that we often see the grittiness of human nature. There is a reason they call it the “Wild West” after all. The character’s main drive is to survive and so we see them tested in a way we don’t often do in more modern or fantasy novels.

Add to that the dystopian elements (like breeding programs and colony communities) and I was intrigued…until nothing was really done with them.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Lack of World Building–

Truthfully, if the synopsis didn’t highlight the fact that a Second Civil War had occurred, I would have been really confused. Like I’m not sure if I would have picked that up in the material I read.

Also, the Western aspect is such a small aspect of this story. So they all carry guns and it isn’t safe to leave town to bandits? You can transpose that from any dystopian novel without the Wild West influence. That was very disappointing and it didn’t look like it would get any stronger either as the setting shifts to a carnival aspect that I wasn’t feeling at all.

–Pity is too Blah–

I was very underwhelmed with Pity’s character. I went in thinking she was some already a badass chick but that is far from the case. Even with some of the events that happen to her, she just seemed so tame. I just couldn’t get invested in her character. Perhaps she would have had some good character development later in the novel (honestly, there is a lot you could do with her) but I didn’t want to dedicate the time to find out.

Will I Finish It?

Nope. I read some reviews (both positive and negative) and decided this book wasn’t for me. I just didn’t like the way it was progressing so I’ve decided to leave it there.

My Rating: DNF


As long as you know that this is a dystopian novel and not a Western, I think you might find something to enjoy here.

Read if You Like: dystopian, slower stories
Avoid if You: want a true Western


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Series Review: Gold Seer Trilogy by Rae Carson

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

Gold Seer Trilogy


Synopsis for Walk on Earth a Stranger (from Goodreads):

Gold is in my blood, in my breath, even in the flecks in my eyes.

Lee Westfall has a strong, loving family. She has a home she loves and a loyal steed. She has a best friend—who might want to be something more.

She also has a secret.

Lee can sense gold in the world around her. Veins deep in the earth. Small nuggets in a stream. Even gold dust caught underneath a fingernail. She has kept her family safe and able to buy provisions, even through the harshest winters. But what would someone do to control a girl with that kind of power? A person might murder for it.

When everything Lee holds dear is ripped away, she flees west to California—where gold has just been discovered. Perhaps this will be the one place a magical girl can be herself. If she survives the journey.


Series: Gold Seer Trilogy
Author: Rae Carson
# of Books: 3 (Walk on Earth a Stranger, Like a River Glorious, Into the Bright Unknown)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Into the Bright Unknown, will be published in October 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Adventure, Western, Magic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: September 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook


**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to reflect my conclusion to DNF this series. It will not be further updated.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

After I read Vengeance Road, I was on the look-out for another great Western YA read. I stumbled upon Walk on Earth a Stranger when I was reading Jessi @ Novel Heartbeat’s review of Vengeance Road. I read Carson’s The Girl of Fire and Thorns years ago but never managed to read the rest of the series. That one started slow but I came to really enjoy it by the end, so I was curious to see what another series by her had in store.

It went against some self-imposed rules I had in place (ie, I’m trying not to start new series by authors that I have unfinished series for) but the wait-list was super long for this one. I actually started Walk on Earth a Stranger in November but couldn’t get into it. So I re-added myself to the wait list and patiently waited.

What I Liked:

–The Nitty, Gritty Western–

What I really enjoyed about this book was that it was very realistic. The pilgrimage to the West was a gruesome and often deadly journey for those who decided to try it. Whether it was for gold or a new life of freedom, some people and families found it to be worth the risk and I think that is all beautifully represented here. Carson has done her research about what was in store for these people and it shows throughout her writing. For world-builder fans, you will be more than satisfied with this.

–The Premise–

I liked the supernatural element of Leah’s ability. It really isn’t too much of a focus–I think that’s going to come into play more later in the series–but it puts a unique spin on this story.

What I Didn’t Like:

–It was more Adventure than Action–

That isn’t to say that things don’t happen in this story–because they do and Carson isn’t afraid to throw some hard realities in along the way. What I mean to say is that this story is pretty much documenting Leah’s journey West once she discovers the truth about her uncle. I wanted gun fights and showdowns, not the dark reality of a pilgrimage West. 

I don’t enjoy adventure stories all that much. I need my brain to be stimulated by conniving plot twists or revealing secrets or a romance. Adventure stories don’t provide that for me. They move at a slower pace that just builds and builds yet never seems to go anywhere. I actually contemplated DNFing this book at 60% because there didn’t seem to be anything happening and I knew that I wouldn’t be impressed by the ending or, at the very least, enticed to pick up the sequel when it came out. (For the record: guilt and the fact that it took be almost 9 months to get a copy of this book made me push through).

–The Romance–

Not that I was expecting a lot of it in this novel, but I wish it was established more in the story. It’s a minor side aspect that only gets brushed upon here and there. I wanted it to distract me from the slower pace of this novel but it didn’t.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m hoping that Leah’s ability takes more of a focus in the future books and the possible revenge plot-line emerges. Little inklings of information were given out early on in Walk on Earth a Stranger but nothing was ever expanded upon, leading me to believe they will be in the next book. But, I won’t be sticking around to find out.

My Rating: 2/5

Walk on Earth a Stranger 2/5 | Like a River Glorious N/A | Into the Bright Unknown N/A


If you want a gunslinging story about revenge: pick up Vengeance Road instead. If you want a historical journey through the midwest with a dash of supernatural elements, pick up Walk the Earth a Stranger. This is perfect for fans of adventure stories!

Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, Westerns, realistic historical novels
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance


  • Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
  • Girl of Thorns and Fire by Rae Carson (Fire and Thorns Series #1)



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Series Review: Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:


Synopsis for Vengeance Road (from Goodreads):

When Kate Thompson’s father is killed by the notorious Rose Riders for a mysterious journal that reveals the secret location of a gold mine, the eighteen-year-old disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers and justice. What she finds are devious strangers, dust storms, and a pair of brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, she gets closer to the truth about herself and must decide if there’s room for love in a heart so full of hate.

In the spirit of True Grit, the cutthroat days of the Wild West come to life for a new generation.


SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Read 2015, Favourite Heroine (Vengeance Road)
Series: Vengeance Road
Author: Erin Bowman
# of Books: 2 (Vengeance Road, Retribution Rails)
Book Order: Connected by Chronological Events / Spin-off
Note: The Author calls the sequel a companion novel but to me, a companion novel is the original story told from an alternate POV. As such, I label it as a connected sequel or a spin-off.
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Adventure, Action, Historical, Western, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single; Alternating (Retribution Rails)
Publication Date: September 1, 2015 – November 2017
Source & Format: ARC Paperback — A prize from Lola @ Hit Or Miss Books! Thanks so Much! | Hardcover (RR)


**This post was originally posted as a Single Sunday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I won this book through a contest on Lola’s Hit Or Miss blog and immediately loved the cover. I wasn’t planning on reading it until late August, but the cover kept popping up everywhere and I was eager to try reading a Western novel–something I had never experienced before–so I decided to post-pone some books and bump this one up to the top.

The Concept / The World:

I was speaking like a prospector by the end of this one! From the language used to the descriptions of the setting itself: I really felt like I was in the Wild West. It has all the “stereotypical” aspects of the Wild West but is grounded in a realism that shows Erin Bowman did her research. I was really impressed with how the world-building came together in this story and it easily drew me in!

The Plot:

Normally, I’m not one for adventure stories. I find they drag and if I don’t like the leads, my attention wanes. That isn’t the case with this story! Part of it is because of the heroine (more below) and the other part is that this story never lags. We aren’t left in the Arizonian desert  stewing for the next exciting thing because plot twists are happening every few pages. It builds up the excitement and keeps the pages turning.

I really didn’t know how things were going to end. I had my theories but I was definitely surprised by some of the events that happened, thus the 5/5 because I loved that!

The Characters:

Can Kate be my new BFF? That would be great thanks! She reminds me a lot of Scarlet from A C Gaughin’s Scarlet Trilogy: one kickass, let’s get-er-done heroine who takes no attitude from no one. I loved her by the end of chapter one and rooted for her the entire way. Definitely a new favourite heroine for me!

As for the rest of the cast, they are great! While they fill your typical Western roles, they each have their own unique quirks that made it so enjoyable to read. Overall, a solid cast that does their job perfectly.

The Romance:

This isn’t a straight forward romance as the romance takes a backseat to the revenge-adventure plot. There is enough to satisfy the romantic reader (I’m a huge romance junkie and I was more than happy) and when it is there, it helps keep the plot moving–it doesn’t overshadow it and its great!


–January 21, 2018– Book #2: Retribution Rails

I would say Retribution Rails was one of my most anticipated reads of 2017. Unfortunately, it took me forever to get to it thanks to life and my mom (I let her read it first), but thankfully, I was able to renew my library copy enough times to get to it myself.

It took me a while to get into this one. I’m not sure why because I loved both leads and their stories. I think it just took a little bit to get the plot in motion for me. I wasn’t as into it as its predecessor (which I couldn’t put down) and I’m not sure why. It wasn’t like this book was predictable–it went in directions I didn’t even fathom.

I think it was just the different style this book took. The revenge plot needed to brew instead of being the main drive like it was in the first book. The characters get a little more time to develop and make mistakes. And the romance is very subtle and goes unnoticed.

But the last third of this book was awesome! It had that faster, thrilling pace to it that reminded me of Vengeance Road and I enjoyed that a lot.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Vengeance Road 5/5  |  Retribution Rails 4/5


I loved the Western setting, the AMAZINGLY strong heroines (and later hero) and the plot!

Read if You Like: kickass heroines, revenge stories, Westerns
Avoid if You: want more romance, don’t like action stories



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