Blog Book Tour | “Brush with Love” by Lisa McKendrick

Posted Sunday, 10 December, 2017 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I have been a blog tour hostess with Cedar Fort for the past three years, wherein I took a brief hiatus from hosting before resuming August 2016. I appreciate the diversity of the stories the Indie publisher is publishing per year, not only for fiction and non-fiction but for healthy eats within their Front Table Books (cookbooks). I appreciate their dedication to writing general market, INSPY reads and LDS focused stories across the genres they publish.

I received a complimentary copy of “Brush with Love” direct from the publisher Bonneville Books (an imprint of Cedar Fort Inc.) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I wanted to read this story:

To be honest, the main reason I wanted to read this novel is because I wanted to give the author a second chance – the first time I read one of her novels, I couldn’t get excited about it as much as I had wanted to be excited about it. Even though I read quite a lot of the previous release, there were key issues I encountered moving through the story which I thankfully was hoping had either been polished in this release or were no longer an issue at all. Writers grow through their stories – you can even see the growth a writer undergoes through their career by how they approach telling their stories, which is why I try to remember to keep an open mind about reading a different story by an author I’ve previously found not to my liking.

Aside from this second chance attempt to read this author, I personally liked the premise behind the story but I was a bit surprised within the premise, it was not entirely highlighting how interesting the back-story was on the story itself. From the humble beginnings of Lana being left at an Eastern European orphanage before being adopted by an American family to the fact, part of the story is a reflection of what happens during memory loss and the pains of watching a loved one go through a degenerative disease which seeks to erase their time on Earth.

There is a lot of depth to this novel but I felt the premise and blurb on the back cover might not be as convincing to readers they should take a chance on this story – thereby, missing its heart.

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Blog Book Tour | “Brush with Love” by Lisa McKendrickBrush with Love
by Lisa McKendrick
Source: Direct from Publisher

Lana, a talented Ivy League artist, is thrilled for a summer internship program where she'll get to study under an acclaimed artist, but she is soon disappointed to find that she'll be going to Bluegill, Idaho, for six weeks to study under the brilliant but aging artist LeVan Hitchpost.

As she spends more time with him, though (and more specifically with LeVan's grandson, Walt), Lana realises she may have to choose between following her dreams or following her heart.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1462121250

Also by this author: Letters to my Future Husband

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Contemporary Romance, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Romance Fiction, Sweet Romance

Published by Bonneville Books

on 10th October, 2017

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 257

Published By: Bonneville Books (@BonnevilleBooks),
an imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc (@CedarFort)

Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook

Stories I’ve read by this author:

Letters to my Future Husband by Lisa McKendrickBrush with Love by Lisa McKendrick

Converse via: #SweetRomance & #Contempoary #Romance

About Lisa McKendrick

Lisa McKendrick lives in Lakeland, Florida where she divides her time between writing, carpools, and occasionally folding laundry. The mother of seven children (all accustomed to wearing unmatched socks), Lisa is author of other books for the LDS market, including On a Whim , and thanks to her husband's support, has earned a master's degree in English from BYU. Lisa enjoys hearing from her readers and can be contacted at (linked below via Website).

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My review of brush with love:

Your heart is touched by how realistic the Prologue visually takes us into a young girl’s memories of her days at an orphanage – at the tender age of three, no less! – where she felt she could not speak (without consequence) and found her freedom in the imaginings of art. She took everything in she observed and re-created a visual palette of objects within her mind’s window of possibilities – sketching not with pencils, crayons or ink but with her fingers casting out the images of her heart into a rhythm only she understood against her palm. She was a survivor and an artist – a combination which gave her the strength to endure a year without parents. By the time she was adopted by an American family who loved openly and freely, she felt unmoored. As if the difference between her former life and her new one were a great chasm of differences she felt would be impossible to cross. This is how we first meet Lana.

By age twenty-one, Lana was still wary of her changed circumstances – she felt more connected to her family’s religion than she did life in her new country. Her faith was her solace and what anchoured her when she felt life was growing a bit out of control from where she had felt it should be taking her – in the midst of this, was her best friend Ingrid. Ingrid was outspoken, boy-crazy but had a heart of gold – she cherished her friendship with Lana but she knew they were living in different spheres of thought. Motivated to keep their friendship in tact as they parted for Lana’s art fellowship – the girls’ renewed their tradition of promises (pinkie promises) which they hoped would keep them on a united front. At the heart of the promises was saving themselves for marriage (even if that was singularly the hardest challenge for Ingrid) and remembering to remain friends without allowing the distances in their lives distract them from the bond they had shared as children, teens and college aged adults.

I had to smile how the author placed the texts between Lana & Ingrid into the context of the story-line – all of a sudden there are a few pages of pop-up bubbles (everyone remember ‘Pop-Up Video’?) wherein your reading their text convo whilst hugged into the main threading of the narrative. This first appears when Lana has the disheartened realisation her fellowship to study art in an intensive six week programme went from being in New England to a small towne in the middle of nowhere in Idaho. Her deflated response was at best trying to wear down her spirits but she refused to see this twist in fate negatively. Even if part of her questioned what she was going to do once she arrived – the whole itinerary was up in the air and made on the ‘fly’.

By the time Lana ‘landed’ in the right place, she found everything she was expecting to find was partially taken away from her – the mentor she was looking forward to meeting was suffering from memory lapses and the loses of time – where parts of his life were ebbing away from him. His grandson, Walt was trying to keep his life normalised – through routine and by having him stay present in the towne where the community understood his needs. He made sure to watch over him as a caregiver – reminders for medicines and meals, whilst looking out for his general well-being.

It was hard to tell who upset whom the most – Lana wanting to paint in his grandfather’s studio or Walt whose causal manner around Lana was almost too foreign for her to get used too. He had an ease about him as he had learned to be adaptive to the changes life would bring – especially since his parents and grandmother had died tragically. His care for his grandfather anchoured him and in many ways, gave himself something to focus on outside of his grief. Walt was a proud young man – who wanted the best for his grandfather but without having to defend his reasons for keeping him at home without seeking out alternative help or housing. Meanwhile, Lana was pushing his buttons because she wanted to mentor under the grandfather whilst keeping a watchful eye on him the six weeks she was given to work in this far off place which had an incredible layered scenery in both daylight and night.

The colours of the natural world added to the dimensional layers you could imagine using as a photographer which is why I knew as a painter, Lana was in her element here. It was a place she never expected to be placed and yet, the timing of it seemed to fit her well. There is a joyful surprise regarding Walt’s grandfather which made my heart warm seeing it written into the story – because it is quite believable, even though it doesn’t oft happen doesn’t make it less realistic. You also fell into sync with Lana’s growth – she was still in her cocooned stage if she were a butterfly, not yet ready to leave and meet the world. She had gathered experiences in her life, her adoptive parents had seen to this – making sure she was well-rounded and not strictly focused on her artwork, as her talent was on a different level than most children. She was a savant in her own right. Yet, what she was missing out on was the truer essence of her spirit and the trust she hadn’t put into her heart to give others what they were always giving her: unconditional love and acceptance.

I am thankful I gave myself a second chance to read a story by this author – something I try to do as much as I can, because just because one novel or story by an author isn’t my cuppa of tea doesn’t mean other stories they write will have the same reaction. This is happily the second time in a year I’ve found a ‘second’ story by an author published by Cedar Fort whose happily surprised me. One reason I was surprised the most though is the way in which the story was composed – there was a fuller fleshing of the characters with this one – it’s hard to put into words, but I truly loved ‘reading it’ due to how it was ‘written’. It had it’s own symmetry and flow of narrative – leaning on the wisdom of an elder teacher and the willingness of a student to emerge out of her own regressed memories of the past.

On the Contemporary New Adult Romance styling of Lisa McKendrick:

I remember being excited about reading her first novel “Letters to my Future Husband” (see also Review) and finding it simply wasn’t my cuppa tea. If I were to cross-compare both novels together, I would say her style of writing has not only improved it’s become more polished. She’s rounded out her characters better and she’s giving more depth of their back-story a bit more thought towards sounding not only realistic but compelling. This isn’t a romantic comedy – it’s more of a romantic drama wrapped inside of a coming-of-age story where one girl finally not only realises her own self-worth but she finds love can surprise you when you are not expecting to find it at all. Which is very true to life – yet, how this fits within the framework of the novel is how authentic it’s heart-centred story-line fits within the New Adult category moreso than a traditional Contemporary INSPY Romance. As this does broach into the lead characters’ religious beliefs and lifestyles (ie: of the Mormon faith) but not overly so.

Being a reader of INSPY novels – across the spectrum of what is currently available – what I appreciate the most is when we get to see the characters’ living their faith without the text turning into a textbook about how to be of a certain faith or religious background. This is where Ms McKendrick struck a good balance within ‘Brush With Love’ because you see the characters coming together – Lana & Ingrid openly discussed their differences in beliefs whilst Walt & Lana hadn’t realised at first they were both Mormon. It was a healthy approach and one that I love to see within INSPY novels because they are written true to life.

A Note about Equality in Lit:

McKendrick has found a way to fuse Lana’s spirituality with her own disciplined mind for art and the kind of lifestyle she wishes to create for herself. Her background is unique in it’s own right as she is the adoptive daughter of empty nesters – of whom found her in an orphanage whilst on a business trip abroad in Eastern Europe. The author touched lightly on the condition of Alzheimer’s in regards to Lana’s unexpected new teacher in Idaho (Mr Hitchpost) – knowing about this condition due to my grandfather, I felt she handled it with humbled kindness.

By approaching the subject of Alzhemer’s in a gentle way – Ms McKendrick made the condition real to her readers – including how family members try to work with their loved ones without giving too much away at first to others. It’s a bit of a dance really, of learning about their good days & their bad, of finding the things they like to do vs the things which can anger them. In this way, what humbled the story-line is how Lana’s new teacher was struggling with his memory but he still had a love of painting to share and to hopefully inspire her on her own walk as an artist.

Note on Copy Editing:

Generally, I overlook slight copy editing errors or even line errors for print runs, as I’ve grown accustomed to reading ARCs which are advanced copies of yet to be finished novels. However, in this particular case – this is the first time I’ve read a finished copy of a Cedar Fort novel which had as many mistakes in it as it had. I’m quite surprised – there was a paragraph completely suspended on the wrong line from where it began; plus there were misses in regards to certain words entirely – or where, if say the writer used one word but meant another, it wasn’t caught during the line edits & proofreading stages. Even a beta reader would have caught these slight errors because they kept re-occurring as the novel progressed. I made the ‘corrections’ as I read but truly felt bad for Ms McKendrick as again, I was surprised there were as many errors as there were within the novel.

I do hope readers overlook this and see the true message of the story – whilst embracing the the journey Lana took to fly as a butterfly fully confident in herself as an artist and as a woman.

Also, instead of the bubble text convos, I thought this might have streamed better if the whole conversation had been in italics? Pulled into the context of a regular conversation but without the spaces – where the convo would flow as if you were reading texts on a screen rather than having the bubble effect? At first, I thought these were cheeky additions but afterwards, I thought maybe there is a better way to have them in-line with the narrative?

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This Blog Tour Stop is courtesy of Cedar Fort, Inc:

Cedar Fort Publishing & MediaFollow the Virtual Road Map

by visiting the blog tour route:

Brush with Love blog tour via Cedar Fort Publishing & MediaI look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary! Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who picked up the same story to read.

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{SOURCES: Book covers of “Letters to my Future Husband” and “Brush with Love”, synopsis for “Brush with Love”, author photo of Lisa McKendrick and her biography, the blog tour banner and Cedar Fort Publishing badge were all provided by Cedar Fort Publishing & Media and used with permission. Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2017

I’m a social reader |  I  tweet as I read

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Sunday, 10 December, 2017 by jorielov in 21st Century, Adoption, Blog Tour Host, Cedar Fort Publishing & Media, College & University Years, Coming-Of Age, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Equality In Literature, Family Drama, Family Life, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Indie Author, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Modern Day, Mormonism, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, New Adult Fiction, Orphans & Guardians, Realistic Fiction, Sisterhood friendships, Sweet Romance

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