Under a Painted Sky

Under a Painted Sky
By: Stacey Lee

Published: 2015

# of pages: 384

Challenge:  Monthly Motif, Full House

Official description: 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.
My opinion: I just loved this book!  It's a young adult and it isn't super realistic, but I absolutely loved the characters.  The author is an amazing writer.  I enjoyed the way she described what the characters were thinking as well as the settings.  I also found it refreshing to read a young adult novel that is also a historical fiction that takes place during a time that is not written about so much.

This met the requirement for January in the Monthly Motif Challenge and the "diversity" category of the Full House Challenge.  The main characters are Chinese and black (escaped slave) young women.

Why I gave this book 5/5 stars: Great characters, unique story, beautiful descriptions.  Not entirely realistic or complex, but that's okay for an uplifting young adult novel.

Other reviews:
The Perpetual Page-Turner

Have you reviewed this? Let me know and I'd be happy to post yours as well.








2017 Monthly Motif Reading Challenge



I'm not very great about reviewing and then linking my posts on challenges, but this looks really fun and I'm hoping it will motivate me to post more on my blog.  

Welcome  to the 2017 Monthly Motif Reading Challenge! For this challenge, each  month is assigned a motif or theme. Your task is to read one book per month that fits in with the assigned motifs…
JANUARY – Diversify Your Reading
Kick the reading year off right and shake things up. Read a book with a character (or written by an author) of a race, religion, or sexual orientation other than your own.
FEBRUARY – Undercover Thriller
Read a book involving spies, detectives, private investigators, or a character in disguise.
MARCH – Time TravelerRead a book set in a different dimension, a book in which time travel is involved or a dystopian or science fiction book where reality looks very different than what we’re used to.
APRIL – Award Winners
Read a book that has won a literary award or a book written by an author who has been recognized in the bookish community.
MAY – Book to Movie or Audio
Read a book that has a movie based off of it. For an extra challenge, see the movie or listen to the audio book as well.
JUNE – Destination UnknownRead a book in which the character(s) take a trip, travel somewhere, go on a quest, or find themselves on a journey toward something.
JULY – Believe the UnbelievableThis month it’s all about fantasy. Epic fantasy, urban fantasy, fairytales, magic, etc.
AUGUST – Seasons, Elements, & WeatherRead a book in which the season, the elements, or the weather plays a role in the story.
SEPTEMBER – Creepy, Chilling, & FrightfulCozy mystery ghost stories, paranormal hauntings, murder mysteries, weird and scary creatures- it’s up to you!
OCTOBER– Games, Challenges, & ContestsRead a book that involves a game of some sort. Video games, war games, psychological mess-with-your-mind games, characters who participate in a contest, or a story in which the character takes on a challenge.
NOVEMBER – Last ChanceRead a book you’ve been meaning to get to all year but haven’t yet or read the last book in a series you started.
DECEMBER – Picking FavoritesRead a book by one of your favorite authors or read a book that Girlxoxo has recommended this year.









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Full House Reading Challenge 2017



Non fiction:
On TBR for 2+ years:
More than 500 pages:
Page turner:
Middle grade book:
2017 published:
Published pre 2000:
UK/European author:
Back list book from favorite author:
Book from a list:
Award winner: 
Book about books:
Size word in title:
Two worded title:
Debut book:
Food on cover or title:
Cozy mystery:
Book from childhood:
Diversity book:
Australian/NZ author:
Western:
USA/Canadian author:
Not really for you:
Attractive cover:
Borrowed:









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What's in a Name? 2017



The challenge is from January to December 2017.  Read one book from each category and don't overlap categories.  I'm super excited!

All of the books I have listed are ones I've found in my existing TBR list that qualify.  I may or may not read them, but I was excited that I found titles for a couple of these categories without searching long!



A number in numbers:  Orphan Number 8  by: Kim van Alkemade

A building:  The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle  by: Janet Fox

A title that has an X somewhere in it:  Oryx & Crake  by: Margaret Atwood

A compass direction:  South of Broad  by: Pat Conroy

An item of cutlery: The Bastards and the Knives  by: Scott Lynch  (which I have heard will be published in March and I've also heard it will never be published....so...)

A title in which at least two words share the same first letter:  Stolen Songbird  by: Danielle L. Jensen










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2016 Review



2016 was a pretty awful year for me, in both my personal and reading lives.  However, I did write a few review posts which was better than the previous year!  I'll do the same thing I did last year and participate in the survey by The Perpetual Page-Turner as well as my general overview.

Challenges in which I particpated:
Full House Reading Challenge 2016  (finished 22 of 25)
Ultimate Reading Challenge 2016
What's in a Name? 2016  (finished 2 of 6)
R.I.P. XI  (finished 4 of 4)

# of books read:
35
(down from 52 in 2015, 58 in 2014, 60 in 2013, 75 in 2012, 39 in 2011.  Up from 30 in 2010 & 28 in 2009.  Down from 48 in 2008 and 81 in 2007.)

Favorites (in order read):
The 100  by: Kass Morgan (young adult, sci-fi, #1 in series)

Illuminae  by: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff  (young adult, sci-fi, series)

Bone Gap  by: Laura Ruby  (young adult, magical realism)

Ready Player One  by: Ernest Cline  (young adult, sci-fi, post apocalyptic)

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry  by: Rachel Joyce  (adult fiction)

Black-Eyed Susans  by: Julia Heaberlin (adult fiction, mystery, suspense)

Crooked Kingdom  by: Leigh Bardugo  (young adult, fantasy, #2 in series)

Gemina  by: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff  (young adult, sci-fi, #2 in series)


Least favorite:
Nothing was awful this year, but my lowest rated were:
The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall  by: Katie Alender
The Zookeeper's Wife  by: Diane Ackerman

# of non-fiction:
4

Repeated authors:
Patrick Rothfuss (2) (The Kingkiller Chronicle)
Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (2) (The Illuminae Files)



Number of books you read: 35
Number of re-reads: 0
Genre you read the most from: Adult fiction, young adult, fantasy

1. Best book you read in 2016: 
Young Adult: Illuminae  by: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Adult: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry  by: Rachel Joyce

2.  Book you were excited about and thought you would love more, but didn't: 
The Wrath & the Dawn  by: Renee Ahdieh

3.  Most surprising (in a good or bad way) book you read:
The Wonder  by: Emma Donoghue - I didn't expect it to be so engrossing.  It sounds like a fairly tame story, but I couldn't put it down.  It was a great book!
4.  Book you "pushed" the most people to read (and they did):
Illuminae  by: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

5.  Best series you started in 2016? Best sequel of 2016? Best series ender of 2016?:
Best I started: The Illuminae Files  by: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Best sequel: Crooked Kingdom by: Leigh Bardugo (this could also be considered the end of the series since Bardugo called this "series" a "duology".

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016:
This is a hard one since I read so many great things by authors I'd never read before.  But the two that were completely new to me (I had never even heard their names before) were Laura Ruby (Bone Gap) and Rachel Joyce (The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry).

7.  Best book from a genre you don't typically read/was out of your comfort zone:
Shadows and Monsters  by: Grace A. Dow - short stories.  Books of short stories don't normally hold my attention so I don't read them very often.  I also tend to read them at the same time I'm reading novels so they are kind of squished between my regular reading.  Grace is a good friend of mine and so I read this for the annual R.I.P. Challenge.  There were a few stories in particular I loved and that have stuck with me, just like novels do.  

8.  Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year:
Illuminae  by: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

9.  Book you read in 2016 that you are most likely to re-read next year:
I don't usually re-read, but if I did re-read one, it would probably be Bone Gap  by: Laura Ruby

10.  Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016:
11.  Most memorable character of 2016:
Harold Fry from The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

12.  Most beautifully written book read in 2016:
The Wonder  by: Emma Donoghue or Bone Gap  by: Laura Ruby

13.  Most thought-provoking/life-changing book of 2016:
Bone Gap

14.  Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read:
Ready Player One  by: Ernest Cline and The Name of the Wind  by: Patrick Rothfuss

15.  Favorite passage/quote:  
"She said, 'Do you love me yet?'
He recoiled from her, from the look of her.  'You don't love me because you can't see me,' she said.  'Look! Look! I am beautiful now. I am beautiful.'"  -Bone Gap  by: Laura Ruby

16.  Shortest & longest books you read:
Shortest: The Bears on Hemlock Mountain  by: Alice Dagliesh (64 pages)
Longest:  The Wise Man's Fear  by: Patrick Rothfuss (994 pages)

17.  Book that shocked you the most:
There was a pretty shocking moment in Gemina  by: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff.

18.  OTP (one true pairing) of the year (you will go down with this ship!):
Nik & Hanna in Gemina

19.  Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year:
Parcival & Aech in Ready Player One  by: Ernest Cline

20.  Favorite book you reading 2016 by an author you've read previously:
Crooked Kingdom  by: Leigh Bardugo

21.  Best book you read in 2016 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from someone else/peer pressure:
Frozen Heat  by: Richard Castle

22.  Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016:
My crushes on Jamie from the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon and Kaz from the Six of Crows series by Leigh Bardugo were just further cemented in the second books I read this year.

23.  Best 2016 debut you read:
I don't think I read any debuts.

24.  Best world building/most vivid setting you read this year:
Ready Player One or Crooked Kingdom

25.  Book that put a smile on your face/was the most FUN to read:
Bone Gap

26.  Book that made you cry or nearly cry:
The Nightingale  by: Kristen Hannah

27.  Hidden gem of the year:
Bone Gap

28.  Book that crushed your soul:
The Nightingale  by: Kristen Hannah

29.  Most unique book you read:
You  by: Caroline Kepnes
30.  Book that made you the most mad (doesn't necessarily mean you didn't like it):
The Nightingale by: Kristen Hannah just because it's about the German occupation of France during WWII and how helpless the whole situation was.

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2016:
none
2.  Favorite review you wrote:
3.  Best discussion/non-review post:
none
4.  Best event you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events. etc):
none
5.  Best moment of booking/blogging life in 2016:
I actually posted 4 reviews!

6.  Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year:
I went through a very hard time personally over the summer and it really stalled my reading for pleasure.  Also, I started (and then gave up) a lot of self-help books that really didn't help at all.
7.  Most popular post this year on your blog (either comments or views):
8.  Post you wished got a little more love:
My Bone Gap review
9.  Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc):
10.  Did you complete any any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of the year?:
I completed one challenge (R.I.P. XI), and didn't finish the others.  I definitely didn't complete my overall goal of reading 60 books!
1.  One book you didn't get to in 2016 that will be your number one priority in 2017:
Nothing in particular.
2.  Book you are most anticipating in 2017 (non-debut):
The third book in the Illuminae Files and The Thorn of Emberlain by: Scott Lynch (#4 in the Gentleman Bastard series)

3.  2017 debut you are most anticipating:
None
4.  Series ending/a sequel you are most anticipating:
I don't know if one of my answers to question 2 will be a series ender.

5.  One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2017:
Read more (my goal is 50 booiks) and blog more than 4 reviews.
6.  A 2017 release you've already read and recommend to everyone:
None










The Winter People

The Winter People
By: Jennifer McMahon
Published: 2014
# of pages: 317
Challenge: R.I.P. XI
Official description:

West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie. Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara's farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea's diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother's bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara's fate, she discovers that she's not the only person who's desperately looking for someone that they've lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.
My opinion:  I was going to read The Night Sister by the same author, but it wasn't available at the library.  The Winter People was, so I checked that out instead.  I'm glad I did because this book was a suspenseful read for the R.I.P. Challenge!  I was hooked the entire time.  I'm not going to lie; I'm not sure I was happy with the ending.  The pace at the end was a little rushed after all of the build up.  I didn't quite follow why Ruthie's story ended the way it did.  She made a decision that I didn't understand.  Overall, this was a fun, suspenseful read that I'd recommend to lovers of suspense, ghost stories, etc.

Why I gave this book 4/5 stars:  Mostly well written, characters I liked and related to, original story

Other reviews:

chrisbookarama

Have you reviewed this? Let me know and I'd be happy to post yours as well.








The Eye of the World

The Eye of the World
By: Robert Jordan

Series: Wheel of Time

Published: 1990

# of pages: 814

Challenge: Ultimate Reading Challenge

Official description:

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

My opinion: With the exception of the flashback within a flashback (within a flashback?) chapters, this was a very well written novel that takes place in an amazingly well thought out fantasy world. It reminded me of Tolkien (Jordan claims he was inspired by Tolkien) and A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin and The Kingkiller Chronicle series by Patrick Rothfuss. 

I enjoyed all of the characters, especially Rand and Perrin (and each of their thoughts about how the other was more comfortable with women!). I'm interested to see what happens with each of the characters in the following books, but especially Rand and Perrin.

And seriously, what about that last paragraph!? I feel like I could be content with waiting a long time to read the next book (which is what I usually do with long series with long individual books like A Song of Ice and Fire and Outlander, etc), but after reading the last paragraph I want to immediately jump into the next book to see what's happening! However, it took me a L.O.N.G. time to get through The Eye of the World. I think it would have been slow going at times even if I was my normal reading obsessed self, but life hasn't treated me so well this summer and it's affected my reading habits. Right now I want to concentrate on my R.I.P. Challenge book choices which are shorter and suspenseful and will maybe pull me out of my reading slump! I was planning to start the next Wheel of Time book next year, but I'm thinking that maybe after October 31 and the R.I.P. Challenge, I'll pick up book #2 to find out what happens next!
 


Why I gave this book 4/5 stars:  Amazing fantasy world, I was interested in the characters, it was a little slow at times, but I kept wanting to continue.


Have you reviewed this? Let me know and I'd be happy to post yours as well.








R.I.P. XI



September 1 - October 31, 2016

Mystery.
Suspense.
Thriller.
Dark Fantasy.
Gothic.
Horror.
Supernatural.

These are the categories for the annual R.I.P. challenge that I've participated in for the past few years.  All year, I keep track of books in these genres to read when Autumn comes around and the R.I.P. challenge begins.  Now I just have to narrow down which ones to attempt to read before Halloween!  I've been in a reading slump the past couple of months due to family problems and I'm hoping R.I.P. can bring me out of my reading slump...and maybe even out of the slumps in other areas of my life. 

 There are several "perils" within the challenge.  I usually participate in Peril the First (read four books).  I love suspense movies, but I always try to save a suspenseful/scary movie for Halloween, and then when that night rolls around my husband and I are usually just exhausted after the chaos of trick-or-treating with kids and don't watch a movie after all.  This year I'm going to try for Peril the First, Peril on the Screen, and Peril of the Short Story.  

Peril the First:
1. The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall  by: Katie Alender

2. Black-Eyed Susans  by: Julia Heaberlin

4. You  by: Caroline Kepnes
Peril of the Short Story:
Shadows and Monsters: Stories for Halloween  by: Grace A. Dow
Peril on the Screen:
"The Gift"

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The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World's Most Precious Manuscripts
By: Joshua Hammer

Published: 2016

# of pages: 280

Challenge: Full HouseWhat's in a Name?

Official description:  To save precious centuries-old Arabic texts from Al Qaeda, a band of librarians in Timbuktu pulls off a brazen heist worthy of Ocean’s Eleven.
In the 1980s, a young adventurer and collector for a government library, Abdel Kader Haidara, journeyed across the Sahara Desert and along the Niger River, tracking down and salvaging tens of thousands of ancient Islamic and secular manuscripts that had fallen into obscurity. The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu tells the incredible story of how Haidara, a mild-mannered archivist and historian from the legendary city of Timbuktu, later became one of the world’s greatest and most brazen smugglers.
In 2012, thousands of Al Qaeda militants from northwest Africa seized control of most of Mali, including Timbuktu. They imposed Sharia law, chopped off the hands of accused thieves, stoned to death unmarried couples, and threatened to destroy the great manuscripts. As the militants tightened their control over Timbuktu, Haidara organized a dangerous operation to sneak all 350,000 volumes out of the city to the safety of southern Mali.
Over the past twenty years, journalist Joshua Hammer visited Timbuktu numerous times and is uniquely qualified to tell the story of Haidara’s heroic and ultimately successful effort to outwit Al Qaeda and preserve Mali’s—and the world’s—literary patrimony. Hammer explores the city’s manuscript heritage and offers never-before-reported details about the militants’ march into northwest Africa. But above all, The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu is an inspiring account of the victory of art and literature over extremism.

My opinion: I wish this book had pictures and more descriptions of the actual librarians who risked their lives to save the manuscripts. The book mainly concentrates on the terrorism in Mali and North Africa, which is necessary to the story of the libraries. The problem for me is that there were more details about the terrorists themselves, including the history of several of the leaders, than about the librarians. The only librarian that is really discussed is Haidara, and he didn't physically transport the books. It was awesome that he organized everything, but I wish the readers could learn more about his nephew TourĂ© and others who were smuggling the books.

Why I gave this book 3/5 stars: Interesting read about a subject I had never heard of before, but most of the book had nothing to do with the title, which leads readers to believe they will be reading about true heroes and not the "bad guys."

Other reviews:
Have you reviewed this? Let me know and I'd be happy to post yours as well.








Bone Gap

Bone Gap
By: Laura Ruby

Published: 2015

# of pages: 373

Challenge: Full House, Ultimate Reading Challenge

Quote: "She said, 'Do you love me yet?'
He recoiled from her, from the look of her.  'You don't love me because you can't see me,' she said.  'Look!  Look!  I am beautiful now.  I am beautiful.'"

Official description:  Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?
Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.
As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap—their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures—acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.

My opinion:  I usually don't enjoy books in the magical realism genre so much, but I loved Bone Gap. It was a well written, original story with a beautiful message.

Why I gave this book 5/5 stars:  Well written, beautiful message, identifiable characters

Other reviews:
things mean a lot

Have you reviewed this? Let me know and I'd be happy to post yours as well.








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