Search This Blog

2024 Bookish Books Reading Challenge (Hosted by Yours Truly)

2024 Challenge Sign-Up Post

January Reviews Link-Up

February Reviews Link-Up

March Reviews Link-Up

April Reviews Link-Up

May Reviews Link-Up

June Reviews Link-Up

July Reviews Link-Up

August Reviews Link-Up

September Reviews Link-Up

October Reviews Link-Up

November Reviews Link-Up

December Reviews Link-Up

My Progress:

14 / 30 books. 47% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (1)
- Alaska
- Arizona (1)
- Arkansas
- California (5)
- Colorado (1)
- Connecticut
- Delaware (1)
- Florida
- Georgia (1)
- Hawaii (1)
- Idaho (2)
- Illinois (2)
- Indiana (2)
- Iowa (1)
- Kansas
- Kentucky (1)
- Louisiana (1)
- Maine (1)
- Maryland
- Massachusetts (2)
- Michigan (1)
- Minnesota
- Mississippi
- Missouri
- Montana
- Nebraska (1)
- Nevada (1)
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey (1)
- New Mexico (1)
- New York (5)
- North Carolina (4)
- North Dakota
- Ohio (1)
- Oklahoma (1)
- Oregon (2)
- Pennsylvania (2)
- Rhode Island (1)
- South Carolina (1)
- South Dakota
- Tennessee (1)
- Texas (3)
- Utah (1)
- Vermont (2)
- Virginia (2)
- Washington (2)
- West Virginia (1)
- Wisconsin (1)
- Wyoming
- Washington, D.C.* (1)

- Australia (2)
- Canada (2)
- England (10)
- France (1)
- Indonesia (1)
- Ireland (4)
- Italy (1)
- Scotland (2)
- The Netherlands (1)

My Progress:

38 / 51 states. 75% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

32 / 50 books. 64% done!

2024 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

23 / 50 books. 46% done!

Booklist Queen's 2024 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

50 / 52 books. 96% done!

2024 52 Club Reading Challenge

My Progress:

42 / 52 books. 81% done!

2024 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:

30 / 40 books. 75% done!

2024 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge

16 / 40 books. 40% done!

2024 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

My Progress:

11 / 25 books. 44% done!

2024 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

2024 Mystery Marathon Reading Challenge

My Progress

19 / 26.2 miles (2nd lap). 73% done!

Mount TBR Reading Challenge

My Progress

30 / 100 books. 30% done!

2024 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:

74 / 104 books. 71% done!

Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge

My Progress

50 / 52 books. 96% done!

Disney Animated Movies Reading Challenge

My Progress

87 / 165 books. 53% done!
Thursday, August 13, 2015

A YA Western? Why Not? It's Good!

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Life in 1849 St. Joseph, Missouri, is tolerable for Samantha Young and her father—even if both of them dream of being somewhere else.  Samantha, a 15-year-old violinist, longs to return to New York City with its vibrant, sophisticated culture.  Her father, a Chinese immigrant, wants to see the Pacific Ocean and make his fortune in California.  When the family's dry goods store burns to the ground, killing Mr. Young, it becomes apparent that neither one of them will be getting what they desire.  

Penniless, Samantha has little choice but to take their landlord up on his offer of lodging at a hotel he owns.  When he makes it obvious just what he expects in return, she reacts in self-defense, killing the odious man.  With the help of a slave housekeeper named Annamae, Samantha flees.  Disguised as boys, the two girls join other travelers headed west on The Oregon Trail.  Desperate to get as far away from St. Joe as possible, the pair brave danger of every kind as they become unwitting pioneers.  
When "Sammy" and "Andy" meet up with a trio of young, would-be gold prospectors, they worry their precious secrets will be discovered.  Will the boys find out their new companions are really girls in disguise?  Can Samantha and Annamae keep their real identities under wraps until they reach safety in California?  Does a safe place even exist for two fugitives on the run from some very powerful enemies?  

While historical fiction for teens isn't hard to come by, YA westerns are practically unheard of.  Maybe that's what makes Under a Painted Sky, a debut novel by Stacey Lee, stand out.  Or, maybe it's because of the diverse characters she creates—not only are they sympathetic, but they're also complex and intriguing.  Or, it could be Lee's vivid, engaging prose.  Or the novel's perfect balance between adventure, suspense, romance, and humor.  Or, the warmth the story exudes, despite its treatment of tough subjects.  Take your pick.  All of these elements come together in charming, compelling harmony in Under the Painted Sky.  At its heart, it's a story about friendship, but it's also so very, very much more ... I loved it.  

(Readalikes:  Um, I can't think of anything.  Can you?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (no F-bombs), violence (including an attempted rape scene)/gore, and sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of Under a Painted Sky from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.


  1. This is unique. You don't see many western YAs. The boy dressed as a girl thing had been done but this one still sounds good.

  2. Oh this sounds so original in concept and setting. And you are right about YA historical fiction - I am not sure I have ever read any. Great review!!

  3. Oh, hooray! I've been wanting to read this one. Glad to hear it's good. I've talked to the author a bit and she's a sweetheart.

  4. I love historical fiction, so this would probably be right up my alley. Thanks.


Comments make me feel special, so go crazy! Just keep it clean and civil. Feel free to speak your mind (I always do), but be aware that I will delete any offensive comments.

P.S.: Don't panic if your comment doesn't show up right away. I have to approve each one before it posts to prevent spam. It's annoying, but it works!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin


Homecoming by Kate Morton


The Good Neighbor by Maxwell King

Followin' with Bloglovin'


Followin' with Feedly

follow us in feedly

Grab my Button!

Blog Design by:

Blog Archive