Western Reviews

Man of the Family

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Rating: ★★★★☆

The second book in Ralph Moody’s series about his childhood, starting with Little Britches, picks up where the first left off with Ralph now being eleven years old and becoming the “man of the family” in the wake of his father’s death.

While having a lot of the same strong messages and themes that Little Britches had, namely morality, hard work, honesty, and the meaning behind being a respectable man, this book took a much lighter tone even if it had a dark beginning. With the family’s main form of income gone his mother starts up a cookery route, and with the help of all the children they do odd jobs around town to help earn money to get by. Meanwhile Ralph’s mother refuses to let Ralph drop out of school no matter how tight that made things at home, he wanted to be the man of the family and earn money full time at a man’s wage, but instead he had to learn patience and to think of long term consequences to his actions. Good lessons for life.

Little Britches

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Ralph Moody, similar to the style of Laura Ingalls Wilder, wrote a series of books about his life dating back to 1906. His first book, Little Britches, starts when he is eight years old and his family moves from New Hampshire to Colorado to start life on a ranch out west. His father’s health isn’t so great, so fresh air and wide open spaces was what the doctor ordered. They arrive to find things not quite as they were lead to believe. But, through hard work and ingenuity they find a way to make things work, for a little while. Ralph never really knew his father before then, but with Ralph the closest thing to another man to rely on his father started working with him and teaching things he would need to know to grow up and “build a house of character”. Between these lessons, and some others he learns the hard way, Ralph grows and talks about his experiences out west at the turn of the century.

The Texas Ranger’s Twins

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Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Dane Morgan is a Texas Ranger whose only dreams are to head to Mexico and open a para-sailing business. Those dreams are shattered when he gets a letter from his father. A cold, abusive man whom he hasn’t seen in years, Dane’s father gives him an ultimatum. Come home to the ranch for a year or forfeit his inheritance of a million dollars. When he turns up at the family ranch, it’s to find his father gone to France and a live in housekeeper settling in, a “sassy single mother” named Suzy Winterstone. His father wants grandchildren and a big happy family again after years of abuse and aloofness, and manipulation seems to be the only way he knows how to get it. The Texas Ranger suspects a set up. No surprise, it is.

I wanted to give a contemporary romance novel a try. I tried a more contemporary author writing regency romance (in the form of A Spinster’s Luck) and was disappointed. Not one to give up, I picked up The Texas Ranger’s Twins for a more modern romance novel. I shouldn’t have bothered.

Down The Long Hills

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

My second foray into westerns was Down The Long Hills by Louis L’Amour, and while I liked it better than the first novel I read by him a lot of my complaints about the first one transferred on into the second one.

Down The Long Hills is a story about two children being escorted across the west, one a three year old crossing with her parents, and the other a seven year old boy crossing with that family and many others on the way to where his pa had prepared a place for him out in Fort Bridger. The wagon train gets attacked by Indians and the children have to push on alone across Wyoming in fall with winter setting in against increasingly mounting odds with nothing but a sack of food, a knife and a horse.

One thing that was kind of fun about this book was the fact that I had been to several of the places they talked about. So the lack of in depth description wasn’t so bad because I knew the country. I also knew first hand how poorly he described it because he really didn’t come anywhere close.

The Quick and The Dead

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Rating: ★★☆☆☆

You’d think with a title like The Quick and The Dead I wouldn’t be surprised by all the dead. The Quick and The Dead was my very first “real” western, as I’ve been told Little House on the Prairie doesn’t count as a western. It was a nice short book and was supposed to be the proverbial toe in the pool. I came away feeling like someone had come up behind me and shoved me in. And, it wasn’t pleasant.

The Quick and The Dead is a novel about a small family making their first foray into the west, tenderfoots they are called. During all of this they meet up with the main character Con Vallian. Con was a bit like the Mary Sue of fanfiction. Doesn’t have many faults and goes around showing everyone how perfect he is and how dumb the supposedly main characters really are. He is the perfect western man and has nobility and a bit of education to boot. Swoon worthy, I suppose but, while I liked the character, the way he was written got on my nerves rather quickly.