ARC Review ~ Under A Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

Series: N/A
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Page Length:  384 Pages
Publication Date: March 17th, 2015
Publisher: Putnam
Source: ARC (Thanks Stacey <33) 

A powerful story of friendship and sacrifice, for fans of Code Name Verity

Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musician—not an easy thing if you’re a girl, and harder still if you’re Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life. With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush. Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn out to be unexpected allies. With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.

This beautifully written debut is an exciting adventure and heart-wrenching survival tale. But above all else, it’s a story about perseverance and trust that will restore your faith in the power of friendship.

I never heard anyone call the sky painted before, but it's the perfect word. Clouds outlined in gold streak across the firmament, casting uneven shadows over the landscape

This beautiful cover that first caught my eye perfectly accompanies the beauty within. This book managed to surpass my insanely high expectations I already had for it. Under A Painted Sky was wholly unique and different from anything I've ever read, and I fell in love with each and every aspect.

We carry around the light of our loved ones who have passed. It is they who light the path for us

I adore how Stacey weaved in her own culture and background into the story. The main character, Sammy, is Chinese and she entwines Chinese culture and beliefs, and it's all very fascinating. Sammy's take on life is so different from other protagonists, and she was so strong and tenacious throughout. I loved the diversity in this book, there's a wide range of characters of different ethnic backgrounds and they each bring a bit of their culture to the story. This book really has a bit of everything.

Stacey's writing is amazing. I was constantly impressed by her beautiful imagery, she has a gift for writing! I had so many quotes I wanted to share, but I restrained myself and shared just a few of my favorites. The pacing was perfect, the characterization was stellar. This book intrigued me from cover to cover. The themes were amazing, I never wanted this book to end.

Maybe what matters is not so much the path as who walks beside you

The relationships in this book, both romantic and otherwise, were perfect. I loved the strong ties to family, identity, and friendship. The camaraderie and the banter, how they all looked out for one another, it was all so perfect and heartwarming. The romance was so cute, I loved watching them fall for each other.

I felt this book's setting and plot were captivating and fresh. It's about the Oregon Trail and the Wild West, how exciting! Stacey did an amazing job with the research of the setting, she captured the time period wonderfully. I was enthusiastically nodding along to the facts she laced into the story. Even if you don't normally read historical fiction, I urge you to give this book a chance. There's something in it for everyone.

Best stories are the ones everyone can see themselves in

The characters were fleshed out and had depth. We explore a bit into each character and their back stories. It was fascinating getting to learn more and more about each of them as they do themselves. Each character has such a distinct personality. They all have their flaws and their endearments. I love them all! Oh and did I mention there are hot cowboys??

The ending was absolute perfection, and I can't wait to read Stacey's next book! Although not everyone is big on historical fiction, I urge readers to read Under A Painted Sky. A book with friendship, hot cowboys, hilarious banter, rich culture, strong characters, swoony romance, a breathtaking setting, and beautiful writing, this one is a definite favorite.


  1. Oh wow, sounds like you really enjoyed reading this novel :) I should read it soon since I have an ARC of it somewhere - I love reading about cowboys so here's to hoping xD Lovely review <3 Benish | Feminist Reflections

  2. Great review! This one has been on my radar for a while. I am so glad you enjoyed it. I can't wait to read it.

  3. YES TO DIVERSITY!! And since I'm starting to explore more historical fiction, this would be perrrrrfect! ^__^ And the quotes! I'm such a sucker for beautiful quotes. NEED.THIS.NOW.

  4. So happy to hear you enjoyed it! I was highly anticipating this book and after reading your review, I'm definitely picking Under a Painted Sky very soon ;)

  5. This book sounds so interesting!I love historical fiction,and from the quotes you've provided,I can see that it's also beautifully written.
    Great review,Rach!You just gave me a new recommendation:)

  6. I haven't read many historical fiction books but it is a genre that I wish to explore. This book's cover is gorgeous and I'm glad to hear the content is even better. I love books that have different cultures in them, it's so interesting and captivating.

  7. So glad you enjoyed it and great review! I can't wait to read it :D

  8. A diverse read and cowboys and the wild West? I'm all for it! Seems like a very unique read done brilliantly!
    Thank you for this wonderful recommendation!

  9. This book was not even on my radar, but thanks to your wonderful review, it is very much on my radar now. It sounds really good, and really unique! Yes, I think this one is going to wind up pretty high up on the TBR!

  10. Oh! I have seen this one around but didn't realize how brilliant it was! I am adding it to my TBR right now!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

  11. Yes so glad to see a great review for this one since that cover deserves to have beauty between it as well great review miss!!

  12. I LOVE historical fiction, and any book that focuses on friendship. I think the setting and characters in this book sound so unique. First of all, we have the Oregon Trail and the Wild West, which doesn't seem to be explored much in YA historical fiction. Second of all, we have a Chinese character on the Oregon Trail/in the Wild West. WHAT?!? SO UNIQUE. I NEED IT NOW!

  13. I am so excited to read this one! I've heard nothing but praise. The setting and diversity and hot cowboys and friendship - yes please! Beautiful review, lady! Thanks for sharing. <3

  14. This was on my to-read list already, but what a GREAT review! I can't wait to read this now. Thanks! :)

  15. I'm glad to hear this was such a strong book for you, Rachel. I've heard my eyes on it ever since I found out it would have an Asian main character. We certainly need more diverse characters in YA!
    I love the sound of the relationship dynamics. I think this is a book I'm going to enjoy!
    Wonderful review, Rachel.

  16. It looks like a diverse book, which we are all looking for now. I also love historical fiction, so I will definetely keep it in mind. Great review :)

  17. Hot cowboys? *raises eyebrows* Now that sounds interesting... ;)

    Honestly, I am so, so excited for this. I adore historical fiction, but the majority of it is all set in either WWII or the during women's suffrage period; so seeing something set in the Wild West is really exciting. And I love the sound of the diversity of the main character and the friendship that occurs between her and Annamae. Definitely going to add this to my list - thanks for getting me so excited for it!

  18. YESSSSSSSSSSSS OH MY GOSH THIS BOOK IS AMAZING. And swoony cowboys indeed >:)))

  19. I absolutely cannot WAIT to read this book! It was supposed to be coming my way, but I fear it has been lost in the mail, so I may just keep my pre order of it. It sounds so amazing, I was hooked from the mention of The Oregon Trail! Lovely review, I am so glad you enjoyed it so much- in fact, I don't think I've read a bad thing about it yet!
    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

  20. This book sounds amazing with its diverse main character and I'm glad it actually explores her culture well! It would definitely be relatable for me, and I love the sound of the Oregon Trial and hot cowboys (yes please). Great review Rachel!

  21. Oooh, I didn't know this had a Chinese character! Finally, a contemporary that's infused with another person's culture and traditions; finally a contemporary we can finally see a person from another walk of life. That enough is making me excited.

    Faye at The Social Potato

  22. YASSSSS <33

    The cover is so amazing. it has gorgeous pastel colors, and now the designs have a whole new meaning after reading the story.

    This one is definitely on my 2015 favorites list. It really does have something for everybody. I just loved the characters, relationships, journey, setting, writing...LITERALLY EVERYTHING. I can't think of anything negative about this story.

    Hahaha, if I included more quotes in my review I would never have stopped. The whole book is just so quote worthy. The ones you chose are just breathtaking though <33 Lee's writing is just beautiful and impactful.

    Lovely review boo <33 So glad you loved this one just as much as me!

  23. ahhhhh yesss this sounds more and more fantastic. I'm really excited to see a Chinese centric novel ish, BUT ALSO TAKING PLACE IN THE WEST. That is so cool. I want this. I'm still torn between waiting for the library or buying it, but I'm slowly leaning towards buying it...

  24. It seems like this one was an amazing book, and I would like to try it! I love the idea of wonderful writing and a lovely story as well. Great review!

  25. Oh yes! I definitely want to read this one Rachel! I am such a lover of beautiful quotes and wow- those are awesome. Your glowing review also sold me on this one. :) I'm so glad you loved this one so much and that you enjoyed so many different elements in it!


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