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ARC Review: Far From the Tree by Robin Benway

Summary

A contemporary novel about three adopted siblings who find each other at just the right moment.

Being the middle child has its ups and downs.

But for Grace, an only child who was adopted at birth, discovering that she is a middle child is a different ride altogether. After putting her own baby up for adoption, she goes looking for her biological family, including—

Maya, her loudmouthed younger bio sister, who has a lot to say about their newfound family ties. Having grown up the snarky brunette in a house full of chipper redheads, she’s quick to search for traces of herself among these not-quite-strangers. And when her adopted family’s long-buried problems begin to explode to the surface, Maya can’t help but wonder where exactly it is that she belongs.

And Joaquin, their stoic older bio brother, who has no interest in bonding over their shared biological mother. After seventeen years in the foster care system, he’s learned that there are no heroes, and secrets and fears are best kept close to the vest, where they can’t hurt anyone but him.

Sourced from Goodreads. 

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Review

My rating:

black4.5

Hi there, fellow readers! I’m back with another review, this one being on the book Far From the Tree by Robin Benway! I was pretty excited to read this book since it’s by Robin Benway, author of Emmy and Oliver! I remember how much I loved that book and couldn’t wait to get into this one because of it. While I didn’t read it in one sitting (I never get to these days 😦 ), I did read it fervently, wanting to know more about Grace, Maya, and Joaquin. I read anywhere I could, making sure that these characters had my full attention.

As I said, it was all about the characters for me. Benway has done it again by portraying this lovely complex characters that you’d like to know in real life and just hug them. Each one was going through their own struggles, but together, they took that step to moving forward. I loved this immensely! It was as if they needed each other this whole time without realizing it. I also am a fan of each of their POVs, how they fit and correspond with one another. I’m really glad that she chose to write it that way because I first thought it was only through Maya’s perspective for some reason. It was really gratifying to read and easier to empathize with these amazing characters!

I’m not going to lie: this book had me in tears by the end. These characters got to develop and learn more about themselves in the duration of the novel than in years! My only qualm is that the end was a bit too fast, which made wrap-up a bit short and simple. The ending, while satisfying, was kind of jarring since the pacing didn’t really match up to the rest of the novel…

Well, that’s all I have to say about Far From the Tree by Robin Benway. It was a pleasant surprise to read another book of hers, especially after Emmy and Oliver. I can’t wait to see what she writes next! Full disclosure, though: you might end up needing a Kleenex box or equivalent with you near the end. But for those of you who are still interested after the sniffles warning, the book comes out this Tuesday, on October 3rd, 2017!

Take care, everyone! And keep reading!

–  Sumaya

I received this copy from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

 

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Review: I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin

Summary

Dear Best Friend,
I can already tell that I will hate everyone but you.
Sincerely,
Ava Helmer
(that brunette who won’t leave you alone)

We’re still in the same room, you weirdo.
Stop crying.
G

So begins a series of texts and emails sent between two best friends, Ava and Gen, as they head off to their first semesters of college on opposite sides of the country. From first loves to weird roommates, heartbreak, self-discovery, coming out and mental health, the two best friends will document every moment to each other. But as each changes and grows into her new life, will their friendship be able to survive the distance?

Sourced from Goodreads. 

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Review

My rating: pink4.5

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Hi, everyone! I finally finished I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin and it was amazing! I was excited for this book since I first found out about it in May. Then, when I finally got the chance to read it, I dug in, looking forward to all the little moments where I’d have time to enjoy the text messages and emails between Gen and Ava. You could see the connection they had through just a few words and not being in the same place and time! There was that and the fact that I’m always on the lookout for a good femship that has complex characters as friends but also focuses on them as individual people and not just stock character best friends. I Hate Everyone But You pulled that off by giving voice to So, yeah, I really liked it! 🙂

What really had me with this book was the characters within it. They added more to the story; no, they made the story! Gen’s side of the story was completely dramatic and what you’d expect a soap opera to be like. There were just so many “what?” moments, but it just stopped short of overwhelming and made the book work. Ava’s adventures were a bit different. Though she didn’t have as much going on as Gen, Ava was facing her own troubles, plus her social anxiety. However, she still managed to have a few “what” moments of her own. What I liked most about Ava’s relationship with Gen is that she’s never felt like she had to be a “yes woman” in order to stay friends with her. Ava’s honesty is definitely needed some times, even when it comes off as rude or naive. It helps move the story along, plus later on she does apologize whenever Ava felt like she had overstepped.

Well, that’s all I have to say about I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin. I really enjoyed it and would recommend this to anyone looking for a good femship read! If you have any thoughts or questions, feel free to leave them in the Comments Section below. And for anyone who wants to know, I Hate Everyone But You has already been out since September 19th!

Have a nice day, everyone!

–  Sumaya

 

ARC Review: Top Ten by Katie Cotugno

Summary

Ryan McCullough and Gabby Hart are the unlikeliest of best friends. Prickly, anxious Gabby would rather do literally anything than go to a party. Ultra-popular Ryan is a hockey star who can get any girl he wants—and frequently does. But somehow their relationship just works; from dorky Monopoly nights to rowdy house parties to the top ten lists they make about everything under the sun.

Now, on the night of high school graduation, everything is suddenly changing—in their lives, and in their relationship. As they try to figure out what they mean to each other and where to go from here, they make a final top ten list: this time, counting down the top ten moments of their friendship.

Sourced from Goodreads

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Review

My rating: red3-5

Hi, everyone! I’ve just finished reading Top Ten by Katie Cotugno and I just had to talk about it! It’s pretty enjoyable overall, but there were some parts I just couldn’t get into. It’s funny, but I didn’t expect myself to get as invested so quickly as I did with this book! Now if only the chronology of the story was a bit more linear…

Like i said, I had an issue with the chronology. At first, it was fine, with a flashback explaining the foundation of Gabby and Ryan’s friendship. But then it just got super complicated for me when there was a huge gap in time, only to go back in time again to fill in the blanks. Not only did I know exactly what was going to happen, and basically had the book spoil the book for me, but I felt really confused about why the author was playing with their time line. It seemed as if there were a reason for it, yet I didn’t know why. If someone could explain it to me, now or in the near future, I’d be eternally grateful! 😉 However, once I got past that part, I started to enjoy the book again.

I think Katie Cotugno did a really good job with her main characters, Gabby and Ryan, though. They seemed fully fleshed out on the page to the point where I don’t think I preferred one character over the other, but liked them both, which is rare for me. Usually, I have a favourite character in dual POVs; not this time, though! And that’s nice. To me, it shows that the author didn’t develop one character over the other, or try to make the readers sympathetic to one protagonist. Did I think there were moments where these characters could be a bit much? Yeah, but since both of them were a bit much at times, it didn’t really matter in choosing a favourite character. The only thing I could say that was missing from this book character-wise is more inclusion of the secondary characters. Sometimes, they’d drop off the face of the Earth, only to resurface without any explanation or summary of where they’d been.

Well, that’s all I have to say about Top Ten by Katie Cotugno! I liked it, but not enough to get passed what happened in the second half of the book… If you’re looking for a book with great protagonists though, this would be the one! And for those of you who are wondering, Top Ten comes out on October 3rd, 2017. Any other questions about the book that you might have are welcome in the Comments Section below. Thanks for reading! 🙂

–  Sumaya

I received this copy from the publisher via HarperCollins Canada and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: Not Now, Not Ever by Lily Anderson

Summary

The sequel to The Only Thing Worse than Me Is You, inspired by The Importance of Being Earnest.

Elliot Gabaroche is very clear on what she isn’t going to do this summer.

1. She isn’t going to stay home in Sacramento, where she’d have to sit through her stepmother’s sixth community theater production of The Importance of Being Earnest.
2. She isn’t going to mock trial camp at UCLA.
3. And she certainly isn’t going to the Air Force summer program on her mother’s base in Colorado Springs. As cool as it would be to live-action-role-play Ender’s Game, Ellie’s seen three generations of her family go through USAF boot camp up close, and she knows that it’s much less Luke/Yoda/”feel the force,” and much more one hundred push-ups on three days of no sleep. And that just isn’t appealing, no matter how many Xenomorphs from Alien she’d be able to defeat afterwards.

What she is going to do is pack up her attitude, her favorite Octavia Butler novels, and her Jordans, and go to summer camp. Specifically, a cutthroat academic-decathlon-like competition for a full scholarship to Rayevich College, the only college with a Science Fiction Literature program. And she’s going to start over as Ever Lawrence, on her own terms, without the shadow of all her family’s expectations. Because why do what’s expected of you when you can fight other genius nerds to the death for a shot at the dream you’re sure your family will consider a complete waste of time?

This summer’s going to be great.

Sourced from Goodreads

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Review

My rating: black3

(3.25 stars)

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Hey, everyone! Another day, another book to talk about! And today, I’d like to express my thoughts on Not Now, Not Ever by Lily Anderson. Now, Lily Anderson has already written a retelling of Much Ado About Nothing and Not Now, Not Ever is her second go at another retelling, this time of The Importance of Being Earnest. What really drew me into reading Not Now, Not Ever was the camp aspect of it all. I always love reading about summer camp and thought that this book would be no exception. Except it kind of was…

Now, when I say kind of, I mean that I liked some parts of the book and wasn’t much a fan of other parts. I’d have to encourage myself to read the book instead of wanting to read it on my own at times. There would be moments where nothing would happen, and then wham – the plot thickens. While those latter moments were great to read, it didn’t make up for the fact that I was previously bored and, for a good chunk of the book, wanted to  move onto something else. Then there was that ending, which left me more confused than not. The book’s conclusion just left me with more questions than answers to the point where I wasn’t at all satisfied with it.

Also, I didn’t really like the protagonist as much as I thought I would. In the beginning, I couldn’t really relate to her and the choices she makes, but I did warm up to her nearer to the middle. By the end though, I was back to square one in not understanding her decisions again. I preferred reading about other characters though, like Leigh, Jams, Hunter, Meg, even Trixie and Ben! Sure, Elliot/Ever could be really fun sometimes, but I thought she was way too rash and in the end, I didn’t witness much character development from her.

Well, that’s all I have to say about Not Now, Not Ever by Lily Anderson. I know that a lot of people loved this book, but, for me, it just wasn’t my cup of tea. I would recommend it for people who like retellings as there are a whole bunch of references from the book’s primary source, The Importance of Being Earnest. If you have any thoughts or questions about the book, I’ll be happy to answer them in the Comments Section below. And for those of you who are wondering, Not Now, Not Ever is released on  November 21st, 2017. Thanks for reading, everyone!

–  Sumaya

Review: Dress Codes for Small Towns by Courtney C. Stevens

Summary 

As the tomboy daughter of the town’s preacher, Billie McCaffrey has always struggled with fitting the mold of what everyone says she should be. She’d rather wear sweats, build furniture, and get into trouble with her solid group of friends: Woods, Mash, Davey, Fifty, and Janie Lee.

But when Janie Lee confesses to Billie that she’s in love with Woods, Billie’s filled with a nagging sadness as she realizes that she is also in love with Woods…and maybe with Janie Lee, too.

Always considered “one of the guys,” Billie doesn’t want anyone slapping a label on her sexuality before she can understand it herself. So she keeps her conflicting feelings to herself, for fear of ruining the group dynamic. Except it’s not just about keeping the peace, it’s about understanding love on her terms—this thing that has always been defined as a boy and a girl falling in love and living happily ever after. For Billie—a box-defying dynamo—it’s not that simple.

Readers will be drawn to Billie as she comes to terms with the gray areas of love, gender, and friendship, in this John Hughes-esque exploration of sexual fluidity.

Sourced from Goodreads. 

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Review

My rating:

blue4 copy

Hey, everyone! First review in a long while but I’m ready to get back into writing more of these. 😉 Anyways, I recently read a book that I consumed in one sitting- Dress Codes for Small Towns– and I have to say that it’s pretty amazing!

First of all, Billie is a protagonist I loved reading about. That’s always a good thing because most of the time, the protagonist usually drives my love of a book. Not in terms of whether they’re good or bad, but whether I think they’re good, in terms of being either believable, relatable, or just plain interesting. And Billie is no doubt a great protagonist. Whether it’s with her friends, her dad or herself, you know that Billie has a big heart and will do what she thinks is right in the end. It doesn’t matter that she has a few mishaps on the way. She’s become so endearing to me that I was rooting for her all throughout the book!

I liked reading about the secondary characters and their complexity, too. These characters made the plot super engaging! You couldn’t help but love every single one of them! You can feel the love Billie has for her friends and the love they have for her back. I think what helped was that the story wasn’t in just Billie’s POV, but her friends as well. You not only get a better sense of Billie’s friends, but Billie as well, through their eyes.

Overall, Dress Codes for Small Towns is a nice contemporary novel that challenges views about gender norms within society while keeping a sort of lightness to it. I thought that it was pretty enjoyable read and would definitely recommend it to others. Well, that’s all I have to say about it for now. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave them in the Comments Section below. Dress Codes for Small Towns has been out since August 22rd, so feel free to check it out when you get the chance! Thanks for reading! 🙂

–  Sumaya

I received this copy from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: In Some Other Life by Jessica Brody

Summary

Kennedy Rhodes turns down an acceptance to an elite private school, instead choosing to stay at her high school and jump at the opportunity to date the boy of her dreams. Three years later, Kennedy walks in on that same boyfriend cheating with her best friend—and wishes she had made a different choice. But when Kennedy hits her head and wakes up in the version of her life where she chose to attend the private school, she finds that maybe it’s not as perfect of a world as she once thought.

Sourced from Goodreads

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Review

My rating:

pink4.5.png

Hey, everybody! I just finished reading In Some Other Life by Jessica Brody and couldn’t wait to talk about it! Now more often than not, if I take a while to finish a book, it usually shows my disinterest. That certainly wasn’t the case with this one! Every time I picked it up, I was intensely interested in the story and what was happening to Kennedy. Even when things got really dire and mysterious! My only problem was that I didn’t have enough time in the day to read it quickly enough!

I remember saying in this week’s #ARCstravaganza that I really liked the story’s concept and I stand by that statement. The idea of choices leading you on multiple pathways is not an old one, but one that used a lot in today’s media. But at the end of it all, right or wrong, Kennedy learns that people have to live with their choices and make the most of it.

I also liked how this book explores the other characters in relation to Kennedy. For instance, although Laney isn’t a main character or seen often in this book, In Some Other Life does revolve around Kennedy’s crumbling relationship with her best friend, spurring her into action and the plot of this book. And all the while, Kennedy is given a chance to reexamine her friendship and realize a couple of things about Laney. Other than these two, there are a whole bunch of characters enriching the book and making it so much more enjoyable!

Well, that’s all I have to say about In Some Other Life by Jessica Brody. If you like a lot of contemporary with a bit of scifi, then this is the book for you! Now I really want to read Jessica Brody’s other books, like A Week of Mondays! It sounds right up my alley at the moment! So if In Some Other Life is a book you’re interested in, get ready, because In Some Other Life comes out soon on August 8th! Oh, and all comments and questions are welcome in the section below! Have a restful Sunday, everyone!

–  Sumaya

I received an advance reader’s copy from Raincoast Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Summary

Frozen meets The Bloody Chamber in this feminist fantasy reimagining of the Snow White fairytale

At sixteen, Mina’s mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.

Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.

Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything—unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.

Sourced from Goodreads 

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Review

My rating:

black4

Hi, everyone! I’m back with another review, this one being Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust. I remember a while back when I mentioned how excited I was for this title in an #ARCstravaganza post. Ever since, I’ve been itching to read it. Now that I finally have, I can say without a doubt that Girls Made of Snow and Glass is a unique and well-written story.

I think what I liked most about this book is the way it subverts the Snow White fairytale. At times, you can see a little easter egg of the older fairytale, but there are twists that make it almost unrecognizable. I’m a huge fan of that kind of retelling. Sometimes, I come across the opposite, where the retelling doesn’t really do anything new with fairytale other than setting or different characters, so it becomes predictable. And in some cases, I find that to be really problematic because we’re either given the same flat characters or we’re given messages that do not represent our time or what we are striving towards. Overall, I can honestly say that Girls Made of Snow and Glass isn’t like any other Snow White retelling I’ve read.

At the same time, this retelling is trying to convey a message that women shouldn’t be trapped in a system that doesn’t serve them at all. That women shouldn’t be admired based on an idea, but who they are. Throughout the novel, Lynet and Mina suffer from this as Lynet is never seen for herself but merely an imitation of her mother. Mina has to pretend to be something she’s not in order to keep her place in society. But it’s grating at them both until they finally come to a resolution, no matter how hard-earned it may be.

I also really liked how fleshed out the characters were in this novel. Even the secondary characters, who are sometimes never heard from, have depth to them and makes you want to know more about their thoughts and motives. Plus, the flashbacks were amazingly vivid and had relevance to the story at hand, particularly in Mina’s case. The only character that didn’t have the opportunity to be fleshed out is Gregory, the magician and Mina’s father, although I think that’s on purpose, so I don’t mind it as much…

Well, that’s all I have to say about Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust. Are you excited to read Girls Made of Snow and Glass!  For those of you who are interested, Girls Made of Snow and Glass comes out on September 5th, 2017, so mark your calendars! If you have any other thoughts or questions about this book, feel free to leave a comment in the section below! Have a nice day, everybody!

–  Sumaya

I received an advance reader’s copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review.

 

ARC Review: Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman

Summary 

Kissing Max Holden was a terrible idea…

After his father has a life-altering stroke, Max Holden isn’t himself. As his long-time friend, Jillian Eldridge only wants to help him, but she doesn’t know how. When Max climbs through her window one night, Jill knows that she shouldn’t let him kiss her. But she can’t resist, and when they’re caught in the act by her dad, Jill swears it’ll never happen again. Because kissing Max Holden is a terrible idea.

With a new baby sibling on the way, her parents fighting all the time, and her dream of culinary school up in the air, Jill starts spending more and more time with Max. And even though her father disapproves and Max still has a girlfriend, not kissing Max is easier said than done. Will Jill follow her heart and allow their friendship to blossom into something more, or will she listen to her head and stop kissing Max Holden once and for all?

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Review

My rating:


Hi, everybody! Another day, another review! This time, I’ll be reviewing Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman. Now, I’m going to be honest here. When I first got this book, I wasn’t too eager about the cheaing aspect of it. I was more interested in the characters as individuals rather than a couple. I wanted to see their development and I think that affected how I read this book. It was an okay read but far from my favourite contemporary. 

First of all, I didn’t get into the book until past halfway. It’s just that I couldn’t really relate to Jill until she tried to be a better person. Don’t get me wrong; she was an awful person. I sympathesized with her when it came to familial issues, but as a person, I couldn’t get on board with what she was doing. She was basically helping Max cheat on his girlfriend. That’s how I felt in the beginning. But by the end, I thought that it was admirable that after all that, Jill has a desire to do the right thing. She wanted to be better, and makes an effort to do so. The second part of the book goes more into character development, where I believe that the first part sets the scene.

Anyways, other than that, it was kind of your average Contemporary YA novel with your stock characters like the best friend, the mean girl, the girl next door, etc. In some cases, thus actually stopped characters from becoming fully fleshed. I feel as if Becky, Max’s girlfriend, suffered the most from this. She had no motives or desires other than being Max’s girlfriend, from what I could tell. Even if she was a mean girl, I would have liked to have known more about her and the possible underlying reasons for that. 

But I did really like the dash of baking the book added! In fact, whenever the book got to talking about Jillian’s passion for baking or her confectionary masterpieces, I probably gave it my full attention, at the same time thinking, I must check to see if there’s a recipe for that I could bookmark for later…

Well, that’s all I have to say about Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman. While I didn’t find the beginning to be all that intriguing, by the end, I liked it a bit more. I think this book is your standard contemporary, so if you are looking for that, I’d suggest adding Kissing Max Holden to your reading lists. 😉 And for those of you who are interested, Kissing Max Holden comes out on August 1st, 2017. If you have any comments or questions, please leave them in the section below. Thanks for reading, everybody!

– Sumaya

I received an advance reader’s copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

Summary

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.

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My rating:

black3

Hi, everyone! I’m back with another review, this one being on Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman. First off, I’ll be honest with you; I read this book in the hopes of expanding my reading horizons. For a while now, I’ve been trying to read outside my comfort zone in case I find something I wouldn’t have otherwise, like The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid. I heard a lot of good things about this book from other bloggers, and I’m really sorry that I couldn’t share their enthusiasm for this novel. But after barely finishing this book, I can say that it just wasn’t meant to be.

The thing was that I got interested in the book at first, making me want to read more. But then I fell into this pattern of interested and bored throughout reading the novel. Granted, it could have been the parts without action or character development, but still. I noticed this happening a lot while I was reading and it kind of irked me. I’d rather be fully invested in a book by this point or at least know early on that I’m not going to like the book so I could DNF and move on. But by the time I got disinterested again near the end, I couldn’t just put the book down because I wanted to know what would happen to them. Speaking of the ending, I didn’t like how the story left things. Even though the story is set in the Wild West and there are dire consequences for actions, I felt like the last part of the book didn’t live up to the potential set in the first part. Overall, I liked the idea of the book, especially when reading in the beginning, but by the end, I was ready to move onto the next book.

But it wasn’t completely a loss, though. I basically read for Kate at certain points because I thought she was great! Well… mostly great. I thought she was a pretty round character, focused on her vengeance for her father, but at the same time, it doesn’t turn her into a stock character. In fact, I thought that her emotional struggle with grief was depicted well. I may not have agreed with everything she did or thought, but I could honestly say that I sympathized with her.

Well, that’s all I have to say about Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman. While I don’t think I’ll be reading a Western again, I’m glad I got the chance to read at least one. Have any of you read Vengeance Road? What did you think of it? If you have any thoughts or questions about this book, feel free to leave them in the Comments Section below. Have a lovely day!

– Sumaya

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