Tag Archives: dreams

Book Chat: Under a Painted Sky

Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

Summary Sammy and Andy are running away from their lives. Sammy has just suffered a terrible loss and Andy is chasing freedom. One is Chinese-American and the other is a black slave. 22501055They leave their frontier town to join the other pioneers going West, but traveling the Oregon Trail alone isn’t easy – especially as a girl and wanted criminal. So they dress up as boys and make their way, but just a few days into their escape, they meet up with three young men who might be willing to take the novice travelers under their wings – for a price. As the small group travels across the Plains, their friendship grows and their relationships with the boys deepen. But, as all Gen Xers (and some Millenials) know, the Oregon Trail is a road full of obstacles – fording the river can kill oxen, dysentery and cholera lurk in every stream and camp, and supplies can be hard to come by. This is an adventure story with two strong, dedicated friends at the center. Favorite Character Andy – she’s honest, caring, and has some of the best one-liners regarding young man behavior! I appreciated her dedication to her family and her determination to hold on to hope for as long as possible.

Favorite Line “She might be right, but it still fails to cheer me. I don’t understand the constant need to prove one’s manhood, as if it is always on the verge of slipping away. We never need to prove our womanhood.” Captures the essence of a lot of relationships in this book! There are a lot of other great quotes that capture Sammy’s background as a Chinese-American and it’s hard to pick just one, but the above captures the girls’ difficulties as they journey.

Fun Author Fact She wrote her first book (in childhood) on a typewriter!

Is this worth a book hangover? I feel like this book is a great summer read – especially for a road trip! It’s a quick, light adventure story with good, strong characters and the addition of Sammy and Andy’s personal backgrounds help make it more than just another Western. Also, take a look at that BEAUTIFUL cover!

Read These Next The Girl of Fire and Thorns is another journey book – with magic. Any of the Tortall books by Tamora Pierce would also be a great choice as they feature awesome ladies journeying and making connections with people they meet.

Post Author: Jess


Jess loves SFF – old and new school –  and is learning to appreciate the more lovey-dovey YA under the careful tutelage of Anisha’s recommendations.


Filed under Adventure, Historical, podcast, Romance

Book Discussion: This Is What Happiness Looks Like

This Is What Happiness Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

Happiness coverSummary

Ellie lives in a small, tourist town in Maine. One day she receives an accidental email and begins an e-flirtationship with the person on the other end. At the same time, a big time movie star of the most recent wizardly-YA adaptation comes to town to film his next movie. While mistaken identities, paparazzi, and family secrets create obstacles, Ellie finds that her own heart is the biggest barrier to love.

happiness table 2


Romance Score: Good Effort

Ellie and Graham have a cute flirtation going on. They also have a real relationship before the summer sparks fly, so the romance felt more real. Still, I wish there were a little more depth to it.

RosieFeminist Score: You’re Trying

I’m conflicted about this.  Ellie’s mom takes charge of her life and encourages Ellie to do so, too. But, I disliked the “don’t trust anyone” (especially men) theme that she also repeated.

diversity people circle iconDiversity Score: Not a Bit

The cast is fairly small and it’s in a small town in Maine. I have family in main, so I know exactly how un-diverse it can be, but I still think there could’ve been more – especially with an LA film crew in town. How cool would it have been if the movie star hottie was a POC?

wow iconAwesome Factor: Good Effort

This book is fun, flirty, and light – just like a good summer romance should be. I’m also enticed to try another Smith book; a definite sign of a good summer love!

Favorite Character

No one really stands out for me. But, I think it might be the pet-sitter taking care of Wilbur, the pig. His (lack of) response to Graham’s increasingly annoying emails actually made me smile.

Favorite Line

“Sunrises over the harbor. Ice cream on a hot day. The sound of the waves down the street. The way my dog curls up next to me on the couch. Evening strolls. Great movies. Thunderstorms. A good cheeseburger. Fridays. Saturdays. Wednesdays, even. Sticking your toes in the water. Pajama pants. Flip flops. Swimming. Poetry. the absence of smiley faces in an email.

What does it look like to you?”

After reading this, I felt like Ellie and I should be best buds. We like a lot of the same things. I wish the story had the same amount of personality that this list did.

Also, I love when I catch the line in a book that corresponds to the title. (Not included here, but on the same page in the book.)

Fun Author Fact

She came up with the premise for the book because her own very common name resulted in some misdirected emails (something I can definitely sympathize with). And, she loves Harry Potter!

Is this worth a book hangover?

It was a quick, fun read. The story wasn’t especially original and it lacked depth, but I still found myself hoping that the two would find a way to make it work. Also, so glad Ellie is following her writing dreams!

Read this next:

Fangirl  by Rainbow Rowell or This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen both have romantic story lines with personality and depth.

Post Author


Jess loves SFF – old and new school –  and is learning to appreciate the more lovey-dovey YA under the careful tutelage of Anisha’s recommendations.

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Filed under Contemporary, High School, Romance