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Pick-a-Shelf: Monthly -Archive > 2011-07 - Western - Post July Reviews Here

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message 1: by Arlene (new)

Arlene | 145 comments Post July Western reviews here


message 2: by Dee (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 2587 comments finished up Chasin' Eight - Lorelei James is one of my comfort read authors and I loved this latest installment of her rough riders series - overall 4 stars...unfortunately, I got to wait until December for the next one :( (and I know that I will never look at a twinkie the same way again after reading this book)


message 3: by Arlene (new)

Arlene | 145 comments I read The Great Taos Bank Robbery and Other Indian Country Affairs. I discovered Tony Hillerman years ago when we went on a road trip to Mesa Verde and on to Albuquerque with good friends. My friend Meta said I really should read him. I have since read over a dozen of his novels and enjoyed every one. This collection of essays was written about Tony Hillerman's New Mexico. The stories are all true and interesting. I especially loved the retelling of the title story about a failed bank robbery and the "Keystone Cops" routine of the locals trying to capture the suspects. Other stories tell about the discovery by a black cowboy of proof that man hunted ancient bison, thus destroying the then current thoughts about when men first came to America and another about the scientist who was tracking the Black Death through the arroyos.


message 4: by Susan (last edited Jul 06, 2011 05:38PM) (new)

Susan | 3451 comments Mod
Cry Dance was labeled a Hillerman "read alike". Searching for something to read on the Western shelf, that sounded just fine to me. I'm glad I discovered him. I gave it 3 stars, and will read his later ones too. My review here .
Arlene, since you like Hillerman, you should try these, too.


message 5: by Arlene (new)

Arlene | 145 comments Thanks, I added it to my TBR list - will keep an eye out for books at my usual inexpensive sources!


message 6: by Lynne (new)

Lynne (lmsindel) I finished The Ox-Bow Incident over vacation. I would give it 3* and would recommend it to anyone who needs an ox book for their ROAR list. My review is below:

This book did not have to be a western. It could have been, with slight modifications, set at anytime in anyplace. It was really a morality tale about mob mentality.

The book begins with a rider galloping into town and announcing that "Kincaid is dead. Shot through the head by rustlers." The townsmen decide, because the sheriff is currently elsewhere, to form a posse/lynch mob and take after the suspected culprits. I will not divulge here, wheter or not they are a mob or a posse, nor will I reveal whether the men they are hunting actually committed the crimes of which they are accused. Suffice to say that the main point of the book is for each of the characters to decide those questions for himself (and in one case, herself) and then deal with the ramifications of that decision.

The book was interesting in the sense of putting your self into the situation and wondering what you would do or which character you would be most like. It was filled with many qoutes that perfectly described many aspects of human nature.

I would really like to see the movie now.


message 7: by Susan (new)

Susan | 3451 comments Mod
I picked The Sea of Grass because of the generations challenge -- it was published in 1936. I liked it fairly well, gave it 3 stars. My review here .


message 8: by Coralie (new)

Coralie | 1606 comments Susan wrote: "I picked The Sea of Grass because of the generations challenge -- it was published in 1936. I liked it fairly well, gave it 3 stars. My review here ."

It certainly looks a lot shorter than Gone With the Wind which I am reading for 1936.


message 9: by Arlene (new)

Arlene | 145 comments One of my friends at the airport had this book, The Tenderness of Wolves.
This was a first novel by screenwriter Stef Penney. She comments in the notes at the end that it is a sequel to a screenplay that she had written, "Nova Scotia". It takes place in the Northern Territories of 1860's Canada and follows a murder of a trader. When the murder is discovered and young man is also discovered to be missing. Another stranger is found going through the dead man's house. Now there are two suspects and soon several people set out to follow the trail left by two people. This book is full of wonderful depictions of the trials of living on the frontier and in the cold Canadian winter. I loved the determination of Mrs. Ross who goes on the trail to find her son. With back stories and two other mysteries this is a rich book to read.


message 10: by Lynne (new)

Lynne (lmsindel) Finished the book Appaloosa at the pool today. Here is my review: 3*

There were several things I liked about this book. I found that the way Parker used the appaloosa stallion as a metaphore for the main character was very clever. I really liked the relationship between the main character, Virgil Cole, and his sidekick, Everett Hitch. The way they talked to and understood each other was very well developed and enjoyable. I will definitely read more in the series because of the two main characters. Finally, the story was interesting once it got going.

What I really did not like about this book was that it seemed to me that Parker was a bit lazy when writing it. I know that he is a very prolific writer but it did seem that although he had an interesting story to tell, he didn't work very hard at telling it. First of all, the chapters were very short, which in and of itself would not bother me, but each chapter started and ended in the middle of a page and the print was pretty large. If printed differently, this was probably more of a novella than a book. The other thing I found lazy and so annoying that I almost gave up on the book was the fact that almost every bit of dialouge, and almost the whole book was dialouge, ended with the word "said". I finally started skipping that word as it was having the same affect on me as nails on a chalkboard. I assume that someone who writes as many books as Mr. Parker does is fairly wealthy, and I suggest that he buy himself a thesarus.


message 11: by Susan (new)

Susan | 3451 comments Mod
Coralie wrote: "It certainly looks a lot shorter than Gone With the Wind which I am reading for 1936."

:)
Yeah, I'm trying to pick all new things for the ROAR, not to reread anything I've already read, even if a long time ago. So that ruled out Gone with the Wind.


message 12: by Susan (new)

Susan | 3451 comments Mod
I really enjoyed The Thirteenth Child, and give it 3.5 stars. It tells the story of the U.S. frontier as it might have been in a world of magic, through the eyes of Eff, a thirteenth child, and therefore supposedly unlucky. My review here .


message 13: by Slayermel (new)

Slayermel | 664 comments I just wanted to say again Arlene what a great shelf pick this was, i'm going through listing people's read & reviewed books on our bookshelf and not one of them has been previously listed under a different shelf, they are all fresh and new, so exciting!

ON a side note, I'm on vacation and the craziness is over and I can't wait to jump back in with a good book :0)


message 14: by KarenF (new)

KarenF (cleocleveland) | 66 comments I read High Country Bride (McKettrick Cowboys, #1). I liked it well enough and gave it 3.5*s. Here's my review:

This is really 3.5 stars for me. I'm not the biggest fan of the western (very much an east coast girl) but I liked this story. I liked the McKettrick family (even if I kept mixing up the younger brothers for a while - I eventually got it straight). And I liked Rafe and Emmeline. What keeps it from a higher rating is the fact there were some cliches in the writing. I thought most of the dialogue was good so when a cliched description or element sneaked in it took me out of the story for a bit. Still, it was an enjoyable read and I'll probably finish up the series to see how the bothers all end up.

I'm still listening to Lonesome Dove - don't know if I'll finish in July. And am also going to try to re-read The Blessing Way because it's been ages since I read Tony Hillerman and I remember enjoying it immensely and I'd like to start at the beginning again. Thanks for the shelf pick giving me the nudge in that direction!


message 15: by Arlene (last edited Jul 15, 2011 07:53PM) (new)

Arlene | 145 comments I read Powder River. It wasn't on anybody's shelves so I put it on the Western shelf myself. It is almost a cliche because of all the Wyoming themes it talks about in the 15 years that it covers.
This book is not about Utah it is about Wyoming, so whoever wrote the blurb on the back of the book must not have read it! I is the story of two sisters, Rebecca and Katie, and the men who love them. Katie is left a widow with a young son. She goes to the Wind River country of Wyoming, near present day Lander, and builds a sheep ranch. Her sister Rebecca has lost a fight in a court in Utah to try to get a divorce from her Mormon husband. She was forced into a polygamous marriage as a teenager but now is married to Devlin Woodson, a gifted surgeon. Rebecca's dream is to go to medical school to become a doctor also.
The period covered is post-civil-war, after the railroad has been built across the country. It touches on all the Wyoming stories of that time: Indians wars, sheep and cattle ranchers, Women's suffrage, blizzards and droughts, Texas longhorns and cattle drives, the Wyoming Cattlemen's Association, the settling of the place and the building of the towns and cities. It also touches on the life in Washington, DC of the time and introduces some of the characters who come there including Ann Eliza Young, the famous 27th wife of Brigham Young. Others introduced were General Grant and the germ theory of Lister.


message 16: by Susan (last edited Jul 16, 2011 08:56AM) (new)

Susan | 3451 comments Mod
The Burning Hills fit my generations challenge (1956), and I figured Louis L'Amour is so beloved by so many that I should try at least one of his books. My prejudices against Westerns still hold -- I give it only 2.5 stars. But that's probably me rather than the book. My review here.


message 17: by Arlene (new)

Arlene | 145 comments A Louis L'Amour book that I had on my shelf is May There Be a Road.
This is a collection of stories that Louis L'Amour wrote over the years. Some of them were previously published and some were never published.
The title story tells of a young Khan in Tibet who leads members of his tribe over a treacherous mountain pass and a swinging bridge over a deep gorge. I has taken 4 years to rebuild the bridge, during which the tribe was isolated on a high plateau. The first trip over the new bridge is to claim his bride. However, when he arrives at his bride's home, they discover that the Han Chinese had moved in. The military leader wants to find the path over their pass that will lead into India.
Several of the other stories tell about fighters and vividly describe the fights that they make. L'Amour was a prize fighter in his younger days and these stories are particularly descriptive. In "Wings Over Brazil" L'Amour tells about a freighter captain who fights against the Nazi's to try to stop them from taking over Brazil during WWII. Several of the stories are classic "Westerns".
All together a very satisfying collection.


message 18: by Dee (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 2587 comments finished up Logan - typical harlequin romance in 300 pages...but a cute read


message 19: by BJ Rose (new)

BJ Rose (bjrose) | 234 comments Read and enjoyed The Man from Stone Creek and gave it 4*. It's about a marshall going undercover as a schoolteacher in a 1903 border town that has your one rich, nasty rancher who also owns the general store that is managed by a young woman. Maddie has a younger brother who is, of course, one of the students who harassed the previous teacher that Sam replaced. I liked the way that Sam & Maddie interacted with everyone else in this small, poor town and the ways they helped them. I wasn't crazy about the way the triangle of one man/two women was resolved. Sam was 'nearly engaged' to a woman he's known for years back home, and she takes it into her head to join him. Her daddy knows that Sam is undercover - he's the one who sent Sam to try to capture or stop the band of rustlers & train robbers before they killed again - and he doesn't stop his daughter from going into harm's way. By this time, Sam is crazy about Maddie, but he's made promises to Abigail. I kept thinking of all the ways this could be resolved, but was stunned at the solution. I would have been angry if one of them had been killed by the bad guys, so maybe stunned isn't so bad.


message 20: by Candiss (new)

Candiss (tantara) I read (and loved) The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt. I gave it 5 stars.
My review is linked here from the book's page.


message 21: by Krait (new)

Krait | 58 comments Dances with Wolves is an interesting read, not only because it's a good book, but because of the famous movie it spawned. One of the great things about it is to see just how close Kevin Costner came to the book, and to see scenes that exactly follow the book.

One of the interesting things about the book compared to the film is that there is hardly any Lakota (Sioux) language in the book. This makes is probably a more accessible read than if you read the screenplay or watched the film.

All in all, a good read that gives a small peep into what was the plains Indian's lifestyle, and hopefully prompting more interest in these people.


message 22: by Crystal (new)

Crystal I read Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls**** because I had recently read her memoir The Glass Castle and enjoyed it. This one was a combination novel and biography. Walls tells the vivid story of her grandmother. She gathered stories from her memory and that of her relatives to tell about this very strong and no-nonsense woman. I loved the voice and the audaciousness of her grandmother.


message 23: by Susan (new)

Susan | 3451 comments Mod
Candiss wrote: "I read (and loved) The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt. I gave it 5 stars.
My review is linked here from the book's page."


Great review, Candiss! Thanks.


message 24: by Arlene (new)

Arlene | 145 comments I finished The Shadow Dancer last night. The blurb on the front says "She's a master." Tony Hillerman. I definitely agree. The difference between their stories is that Margaret Coel's characters are an Arapahoe lawyer and a Jesuit priest and Tony Hillerman's are Navaho cops. The location of this mystery is the Wind River Reservation and Lander, Wyoming. I lived in Wyoming for 6 years and I love having it as a setting for a mystery.
Vicky is asked to have dinner with her ex but they end up having an argument in the restaurant, then the next morning he is found dead in a ditch. Father John is asked to find a missing young man by two of his elderly parishioners from the mission. The story follows their quest to find the murderer (and clear Vicky's name) and the missing man. I want to read more of this series.


message 25: by Mimi (new)

Mimi (moonchan) I finished My Ántonia by Willa Cather. Although it's supposedly a novel, it's actually a collection of distinct pieces with the same narrator. And although the narrator, Jim, is male, it is pretty clear that much of the book is based on Cather's life. Like Cather, Jim moved from Virginia to the Nebraska plains as a child. The first section, about Jim's first year living on the plains, and his friend Antonia, is exquisitely beautiful and takes the reader through one calendar year of observations of their lives in a remote farming community. But the following sections, when Jim describes a later period after his family moved "to town" are somewhat disjointed and only intermittently attain the beauty of the first part. Still, Cather's observations about the lives led by immigrant women like Antonia remain engrossing. Also, I'm not usually very good at following rich physical descriptions of location, but the writing here about the environment is masterful!


message 26: by Krait (new)

Krait | 58 comments Black Hills, which was given to me as a gift, so I didn't know I was going to read it for PAS, was an interesting read. Three stars from me. You can see the full review here.


message 27: by Susan (new)

Susan | 3451 comments Mod
The Ox-Bow Incident has described both as a classic western and as a satire of westerns. I found it powerful and moving, and give it 4 stars. My review here .


message 28: by Susan (new)

Susan | 3451 comments Mod
I finally finished Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, which seemed to go on forever in the audio version. I give it 2.5 stars. My review here .


Lyn (Readinghearts) (lsmeadows) | 2827 comments Mod
True Grit by Charles Portis

When the remake of the movie came out, my husband and I watched the classic with John Wayne, Kim Darby, and Glen Campbell. Then we went to see the remake. Both movies have different approaches to the story, so I decided to read the book to see which one is closer to the original. I was glad that I read the book. It was enjoyable, although the whole book is written in the voice of Mattie Ross, which took some getting used to. I liked the book quite a bit and give it 3 stars.


message 30: by Slayermel (last edited Jul 26, 2011 10:11AM) (new)

Slayermel | 664 comments I just finished reading Cowboys and Aliens by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg and I gave it 2 Stars

My Review here.


message 31: by Susan (new)

Susan | 3451 comments Mod
My last one of the month, I think: I listened to Little House in the Big Woods, the first of Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" Series. It was great to listen to, but if I had early readers around the house, I think it would be better to actually read the book to them myself. I gave it 4 stars, and thought the narration of the one I read was particularly good. My review here .


message 32: by KarenF (new)

KarenF (cleocleveland) | 66 comments I'm glad I got to The Blessing Way by Tony Hillerman this month. I gave it 3.5*s - I know that others later in the series are stronger so like the Olympic skating judges I gave myself some room to rate those higher. Here's the review:

This is closer to 3.5*s but I'm rounding down because there were some parts where I found the action confusing and had to re-read passages a few times to figure out what was going on. That got in the way of the story but not to the point where it really bothered me, just enough to break up the flow. I read some other Hillerman a while ago and I don't remember having that problem so I think it's first book syndrome. I'm glad to start at the beginning of this series again and looking forward to continuing on with it. I think one thing Hillerman does really well is capture the sense of place of the desert plains. You can really see the landscape and feel the dry heat during the day. As I remember the mysteries tighten up in later books and that combination is how Hillerman became known as a master writer of mysteries.


message 33: by D.G. (last edited Aug 01, 2011 06:43AM) (new)

D.G. | 1370 comments I finished Cherish by Catherine Anderson, right on time!

This is one of those books where I really wish we could have half start ratings...it's way better than a 3 but I wasn't enthralled with it so it's not a 4 stars.

Anyhow, this book has a really serious theme ...two outwardly dissimilar people who meet in terrible circumstances, loss of faith, and how to get back on your feet after your world has collapsed. This book is a western so there's a lot of shootings, all intertwined with how different people see God. It's not Christian Fiction but I think it has one of the best treatments of faith I've ever read and how crippling it could be for a real believer to lose it.

It also has one of the most funniest love scenes I've ever read.

Now that I think how the author put all these dissimilar themes together, I'm thinking I'll give the book 4 stars...


message 34: by Tina (last edited Jul 31, 2011 06:47PM) (new)

Tina | 232 comments I went through a lot of back and forth on this shelf--westerns was my dad's favorite genre, with Louis L'Amour being his all time favorite author. As he passed away when I was young, I don't have many memories, but I do remember being curled up with him in his armchair watching Tom and Jerry cartoons while he read his dog eared copy of his western. I can be picky about writing, and had heard a lot about Louis' writing style, so I really really didn't want to read one, instead, I wanted to hold on to the memory of him reading and enjoying a "good" book, without thinking of him reading a "bad" book (I know, shame on me). Coincidentally, this month, I happened to be taking my summer holiday at my sister's house, who just happened to have Dad's old worn out books. . . she convinced me to read Down the Long Hills by Louis L'Amour. While I didn't "love" it, I did cherish sharing the thought of being close once again to my dad as I sat curled up in an arm chair as I read it. That experience made the book worth it. I'd give the book two and a half stars, but the experience was priceless.

Edited to add: I forgot to add. . . Down the Long Hills was about two kids who were on a wagon train headed to join their dad when it was attacked by Indians--everyone was killed (including their mom), but them. The Dad never gave up hope that the kids would make it as they traveled through dangerous countryside/weather/Indian territory/etc to join him. **Spoiler** They were reunited in the end. **

Yeah, the symbolism of the moment of me reading that exact one of Dad's book, curled up in that armchair was not lost on me. Pretty emotional.


message 35: by Candiss (new)

Candiss (tantara) Tina wrote: "I went through a lot of back and forth on this shelf--westerns was my dad's favorite genre, with Louis L'Amour being his all time favorite author. As he passed away when I was young, I don't have ..."

Tina, what a wonderful story! :)


message 36: by Slayermel (new)

Slayermel | 664 comments Geez Tina you actually made me well up :0) My heart is melting right now, thank you for sharing that.


message 37: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 286 comments That was a lovely story Tina.
Unfortunately I didn't finish my book, The Riders of the Purple Sage, this month. I'm about half way through. I'll persevere with it however, it's finally started to catch my interest.


message 38: by Cathy (new)

Cathy | 90 comments Mimi wrote: "I finished My Ántonia by Willa Cather. Although it's supposedly a novel, it's actually a collection of distinct pieces with the same narrator. And although the narrato..."

I finished it too and agree that the observations of the natural environment are quite beautiful. Also think the way the women are observed is quite acute and almost reverential in places.

But it is a bit disjointed.


message 39: by Lynne (new)

Lynne (lmsindel) Tina wrote: "I went through a lot of back and forth on this shelf--westerns was my dad's favorite genre, with Louis L'Amour being his all time favorite author. As he passed away when I was young, I don't have ..."

Geez, what a story. Probably the best I have EVER heard about why this group is so great. How lucky you and your sister are to have your dad's old books! I am ashamed to say that I picked "Riders of the Purple Sage" because it was MY dad's favorite book as a kid (he just turned 81) but I didn't finish it. It just didn't capture me. After your story I guess I will have to give it another try! Thanks for sharing with us.


message 40: by Arlene (last edited Aug 04, 2011 05:59PM) (new)

Arlene | 145 comments I didn't get my books posted but I did read them during the month.
I finished The Shadow Dancer by Margaret Coel on July 19. The blurb on the front says "She's a master." Tony Hillerman. I definitely agree. The difference between their stories is that Margaret Coel's characters are an Arapahoe lawyer and a Jesuit priest and Tony Hillerman's are Navaho cops. The location of this mystery is the Wind River Reservation and Lander, Wyoming. I lived in Wyoming for 6 years and I love having it as a setting for a mystery.
Vicky is asked to have dinner with her ex but they end up having an argument in the restaurant, then the next morning he is found dead in a ditch. Father John is asked to find a missing young man by two of his elderly parishioners from the mission. The story follows their quest to find the murderer (and clear Vicky's name) and the missing man. I want to read more of this series

My girlfriend loaned me these two books. The Lost Bird is an earlier book in the Wind River series with Vicky Holden and Father John O'Malley. Vicky is hired to find the birth parents of a famous actress who thinks she was adopted from the reservation. Vicky knows that "the people" would never let a baby go out of the tribe so is reluctant to follow up on the quest. The actress's agent makes it public and Vicky is forced to continue the search. She discovers that there was a series of baby deaths the year that the actress was born so the mystery continues.

The next book I read was The Shaman Sings It is Colorado based and also involved tribal police. The town of Granite Creek, Colorado is shocked by the death of a promising physics student from the local college. Police Chief Scott Parrish is troubled because he saw the death in his dreams. The trail leads to the nearby Ute reservation where he meets the tribal cop, Charlie Moon. Charlie also introduces Scott to his aunt, Daisy Perika, who is a shaman. Daisy sees that Scott is one who has a gift of sight.

The last Western I read was The Shaman's Bones another of the Charlie Moon series. A young Native American couple stays at a broken down motel in a small Wyoming town near the interstate hiway. When they leave after paying for their room with a bad check, the owners file a complaint. The man assaults a police officer in Granite Creek, Colorado which brings Chief Scott Parris into the investigation. He again teams up with Ute tribal officer Charlie Moon. They discover the murder of the wife. Charlie's aunt Daisy, the shaman is brought in also because the man leaves their small daughter with her. This story follows murder and mayhem through several states. A very satisfying read.


message 41: by Amy (new)

Amy | 2144 comments My two Western reads for the month were Welcome to Hard Times and Doc: A Novel and give both 3*.

Welcome to Hard Times tells the story of a small town that is destroyed by a lone, crazed drifter. In the aftermath, the few remaining townspeople try to pick up the pieces and rebuild. The character development was good and the story, while depressing, was very realistic.

Doc is a novel about the life of Doc Holliday prior to the incident at the O.K. Corral. We learn about how he came to know the Earps, Bat Masterson and his long-time love, Kate. For me, the story was a bit slow which, based upon the majority of the reviews for this novel, puts me in the minority.


message 42: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 286 comments I know it's very late and no longer counts for this month, but I did finally finish my Western Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey. I was interested to read a classic western as it is not a genre I read at all and I thought I'd go back to where it all began.
It took a while for the story to grab me and reading the accents was a bit tricky (sometimes I had to read out loud to work out what the characters were saying). It was quite amusing reading these beautifully descriptive passages about a gunslinger walking through the town, the twitching fingers, the quick draw... It was everything that is now parodied about the genre. But in the end I did enjoy the story and I'm glad I read it. 3 stars from me


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