Published by Rita Branches on April 25th 2016
Genres: Artist, College, Enemies to Lovers, New Adult
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Nobody ever said life was easy...
People pleaser, Jane Skylar wants nothing more than to earn her art degree, start her life, and bask in the bliss of living with her boyfriend.
But things don't always go as planned...
Struggling with her creative side, Jane finds herself in turmoil, often confiding in her roommate - another, more talented art student, Keith Hale. Keith just so happens to be her boyfriend's older, brooding brother. After a devastating breakup, Jane turns to Keith for comfort. But when the lines blur between roommate and lover, Jane's life becomes more complicated than ever before.
When Keith's past comes back to haunt him, their lives all get turned upside down, forcing the truth to surface. Now Jane must fight for what she wants--even if it hurts everyone she loves.
Available for pre-order on amazon
Let’s start with first thing you see, the cover. The cover of this book is absolutely magnificent. Even before reading the synopsis, I knew I had to read Painting Sky. It’s breathtaking, and after reading the book I appreciate it so much more. I think I sat for a few minutes and just found small details to ponder while I reflected back upon what I read. There’s few covers that I come across that are truly perfect for the story it holds, but this is one of them.
“He had caught my fake reassurance in the dining room. Keith barely knew me, but, beyond all reason, he’d understood me better than my own brother and boyfriend.”
If you don’t like cliches, this might not be the right book for you. No it wasn’t riddled with them and no they weren’t over the top, but enough to be noticeable. It also seemed like the farther you got in the story, the more there were. Some I could overlook fairly easily and were even a little cute, but there were a couple in particular that I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at.
The writing style seems to be more simplistic than I’m generally used to reading. Shorter, simpler sentences, with not as many are combined to create as much of a punch. This seemed to slow the pacing a bit because of how you generally read the punctuation. A lot of times these sentences could’ve been expanded upon or edited. For sample, taking two or three of them and rewriting into one new, stronger sentence. I also noticed a lot of misplaced and extra commas. I’m generally bad in the first place for using an excess of commas, so maybe I just picked up on this easier since it’s something I have to edit myself for. This could easily be fixed by another round through an editor. After finishing, my first thought was perhaps English is not is author’s first language. Now let me start by saying this: it is not obvious or glaring. There were just a few times I noticed phrases worded slightly differently than how I might say them. Then I remembered a time where I’ve seen this type of phrasing before, and came up with the English as a second language idea. Turns out, that’s correct. BUT! The English is still fantastic and strong, she has an exceptional grasp of the language and I’m sure her vocabulary is even better than mine, there’s just a few small things here and there that I picked up on.
Even if the writing style didn’t completely drag me in, the story line did. You know how sometimes you come across a book that’s like your specific brand of drug? Painting Sky was my drug and I needed hit after hit. This was addictive! I didn’t want to put it down and even when I did, the characters wouldn’t stop running through my mind. Their story, their actions, reactions, nuances, what were the hiding, etc. All of the above was running through my mind on a constant loop until I could pick it up again. Even for days after finishing, I kept thinking about this story. The only reason it took me a few days to finish is because I went out of town and didn’t have time to read. Otherwise this could’ve easily been a read in one day type of book.
“You heal all my scars. […] You are my Sky.”
The climax and lead up to the climax were quite abrupt and a little rushed. There were a few small details throughout that were weaved together nicely, but these I figured out quite quickly. The extent of the climax though I didn’t guess and I will say it was surprising. But, back to the abrupt. It both started and finished in one chapter and the resolution was then quite quick as well. I would’ve liked to see both dragged out a little, get some more emotion and detail in both of these important plot events. Either more detail in the actual climactic moment, a longer scene or more of a lead in and mystery earlier on in the story could’ve helped make this moment more powerful.
“Every moment between us felt like it could be the last, and we both wanted to frame each one in our brains.”
Thank goodness for some character development, because at one point I was about to throw something. The heroine had no backbone and not only could she not stand up for herself, but she didn’t seem to think there was something wrong with how she was being treated. How about demand a little respect? I made a Goodreads status that quite literally said “Screw this! I would’ve dumped the boyfriend, moved out, changed schools and left with my middle finger in the air.” I was so angry that Sky did nothing. But then little by little, Keith showed her how to stand up for herself. How to have opinions and a voice, to believe in yourself and others. This was fantastic and thankfully it happened cause I was losing respect for her big time. She grew a lot by the end.
Keith was a really intriguing character. Without spoiling, the ideals of his character have been done before – it’s not necessarily original but was still really good. He confused me, he hurt me and he fixed it all just to start the cycle over. But then when we got glimpses of what’s in his head, of his past and what haunts him? It all made such perfect sense. He was so broken and lost, with only one person ever being able to see it and fix him. His brokenness broke me, his hurt was heavy on my heart. I felt for him the entire time.
“Why are you drawing us? Why are you here, alone, drawing us?”
“Because it’s the only part of you I can get, okay?”
I relished the concept of freedom and how it was sought after by our characters. Freedom from your past, your present, your family, your choices, all of it. How to live your life to your specifications and no one else’s, how to grasp what you want and never let go no matter what others think. How you can find freedom, not only in yourself and your situation but in another person as well. This might have very well been my favourite thing about the entire story.
I really enjoyed the amount of angst, tension and feels. Without getting too far into it, the other emotions are great as well but it’s best to discover them for yourself. The self hatred and loathing though was tough. I felt for Keith. I wanted to help but while reading I felt almost as lost as he did. It’s absolutely unbearable how some others treated him so I’m glad he could chase his freedom with Sky, he deserved that and so much more.
“You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me and you don’t even realize it,” he mumbled against my back, clinging to my body like a lifeboat.”
Almost every single scene with the majority of the family members angered me. Actually, more than that. Between the two families, Keith’s and Sky’s, and the multiple scenes with them present, I wanted to throw my iPad practically every time. There was so much hatred and judgement, I couldn’t believe it. How could your family treat you that way? There is no occasion where any of this is right and it made me livid. I would’ve liked perhaps more of a conclusion with this issue, but I do understand that you can’t always get what you want. While yes these secondary characters made me angry, you need to keep in mind they made me feel. Being angry is better than being indifferent, so kudos to Ms. Branches for a job well done in the emotional department.
I absolutely adored the art concept and how each of those scenes was portrayed. The imagery was extremely well done and I felt like I could see the painting or sketch come to life before my eyes (especially the mirror picture and the couple picture); I would love the see them in real life. The artwork in and of itself was extremely important to the story and I applaud how it was the focus and binding element of the novel, but it wasn’t done in an aggressive manner. It was subtle and understated but important none the less. This is how Keith and Sky not only found the brokenness of themselves, but then how to heal and help each other grow.
“I turned to him and whispered back. “What secrets do you keep up here?”
He looked at my face, lingering on my lips. The tight feeling in my belly was back.
“My heart,” he whispered.”
After finishing Painting Sky, I both want and need to read more books from Rita. While it wasn’t absolutely perfect in my eyes, it did have some strong suits and I’d definitely be interested in more from this author. I think she had a promising career ahead of her and as long as she can keep up these great concepts, she’s got a fan in me!
*An ARC was provided by the author and Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.