Earnest Ink

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 13 Oct 2019

Member Reviews

I received a digital advanced reader copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This was a captivating story. The plot was fantastic, the characters were well developed, and the pacing was perfect and easy to follow. I really love these dark paranormal fantasies . 

The beginning started a little slow, but quickly picked up and exploded into greatness. The characters were so multifaceted and great. Everyone had such deep inner conflict that made the reading of this novel feel realistic and wonderful.

I was very shocked by the identity of the serial killer. I really hope the author decides to continue with this story. There is also a very strong trans representation that we so desperately need in stories today. 

Thank you to the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for letting me review this book.
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I like magical realism and this was a fun way to do it. I also liked the dystopian setting, although I would have liked more information about what led to it and how things are regulated. There was a war going on, but I wasn't quite sure who New York was fighting against and how the U.S. works. Hemingway was an alright character, kind of moody and sullen at times, but I liked his work and that he cared for his friends. The story moved too slowly and I felt like most of the plot happened in the last third of the book. I was kind of surprised at who the Ripper was and again, would have liked more information about the Ripper's motivations and how the magic worked.
Good plot overall, just needed more meat to it.
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This was a book that, sadly, did not turn out to be for me. I adored Beastly Hall by the same author, but Earnest Ink was a very different book - first person written in present tense, instead of third-person-past, urban fantasy instead of fairytale retelling, a murder mystery mixed up with a kind of post-magic dystopia.

However, it's not at all a bad book. The writing itself is lovely and the worldbuilding unique and interesting, and I deeply appreciated being given a trans lead, when that's still so rare (particularly in spec fic). There are many friends I'll be recommending this book to, but I couldn't make myself finish it, and that's no fault of the book itself.
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I really enjoyed reading this story. I found the plot quite fascinating, and really found the entire story to be captivating.
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A suspenseful and sometimes hair raising read, but all in all a very good book that I highly recommend!!
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My rating: 4.0 stars

Library recommendation: Recommended for public library LGBT2SQ+ urban fantasy collections.

Number of titles I have read by this author: 1

Triggers: Recounting of war and war-related deaths; violence; transphobia (main character is FTM transgender); body hatred; mild description of an eating disorder

Grammar/editing: My ARC had a few typos

Review: Set in a fantastical near future version of Hell's Kitchen, this was a great fantasy mystery novel with a clever twist. I did find, however, that the first half of the novel was a bit slow-going. I think it seemed this way because, although no series is attached to the novel, it felt like a book that was setting the foundations for a series. The nature of the magic in the world is not fully explained in the novel, largely, it seems, because no one in the world has an explanation yet. In addition, while the author provides a fair amount of detail about the war and how the world has become largely insular and disconnected, there was not what I would consider a thorough accounting of the state of the world. Essentially, a lot of what is presented in this novel feels unresolved by the end - not a cliffhanger, mind you; just room for further expansion. If this is truly a standalone novel, it could have done with a prologue to set the scene a bit better. 

All that being said, I found all of the main and supporting characters in the novel to be engaging, interesting, and well developed; and, if further novels were to be written that feature these same characters, I would definitely continue reading the series.

Full disclosure: I received a free advance review copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Please note: this review has been posted to Goodreads. As my book reviewing blogs are exclusively for romance titles, I did not cross-post this review to either of my blogs.
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I received  a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.   Thank you NetGalley. 

Sorry for the delay in my review, life has gotten in the way.    


this was definitely an unique and captivating read.     i'd consider this a page-turner.     the characters were well-developed... the storyline fast-paced an deasy to follow. 

I'll for sure read more books by this author.
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Earnest Ink is a unique paranormal fantasy, and also a bit dark.  It was such an engaging read, and I loved Hemingway's character!
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Earnest Ink by Alex Hall. EBOOK LGBTQIA+
Nine Star Press, 2019. $6. 
Language: R (128 swears, 9 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13
BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL
AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE
In a splintered and chaotic world, Hemingway knows to keep his head down, especially because of the magic talent that makes him famous. But Hemingway can’t sit back when his best friend, Grace, goes missing and it appears that the serial killer at large has her.
I felt that the beginning was slow, but that is forgiven in everything that comes after the set up. The characters, despite occasional magical ability, felt real as I read because there are so many facets to each personality. Everyone is complicated and dealing with the national and personal tragedies the best way they can. Now I’m trying to decide if this book is one that is more satisfying after a second read through. I was shocked by the reveal of the serial killer’s identity, and I wonder if I missed the clues given or if there were no clues to miss. Thinking back over the book, I can’t think of clues pointing me in the right direction, which would be disappointing. I hope that I just missed the clues because I liked reading this book and don’t want to be upset at Hall for denying readers the potential satisfaction in solving the mystery first. The mature content rating is for mentions of orgasm and sex; the violence rating is serial killer violence.
Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen
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This book was great! This is a pretty dark world. NYC appears to be walled off and things aren’t what they once were. There are Closed Circuit cameras everywhere, there’s a curfew and enforcement officers are posted on every corner. In Hall’s world, there are people who have magical skills. Some of them can heal people, some can manipulate energy, Hemingway can bring his tattoo art to life… and the East River Ripper appears to be able to magically drain the life out of his/her victims. Sometimes, people’s magics can be combined.

Hemingway is an interesting character. He’s lived a life that hasn’t been free of trauma. In fact, Hemingway’s face became a household image when he was photographed trying to save a little girl’s life after a bombing. He was injured himself during the event and bears physical and emotional scars. Shortly after his magic came to him, Hemingway began to realize that he would never be seen the same way again.

I loved the idea of Hemingway’s magical tattoos. When Hemingway creates a finishes a tatoo it comes to life. The ink becomes a real image and flutters and lives just off the canvas’ body. He’s comfortable with his ability and has built a comfortable life for himself. He owns the building in which “Earnest Ink” resides and lives there as well.

Thom is Hemingway’s roommate. Thom is a great character. She works in enforcement and has dedicated her life to finding the East River Ripper because he murdered her brother. Her grief is all-consuming but she fits into Hemingway’s life well. As an aside… she is asexual. And let me say, I like that there’s diversity in this story without it being the “basis” of the plot. This story just has great diverse characters … the end! Flighty and personable, Grace is Hemingway’s ex-girlfriend and drags him out to the places he tries to avoid. She is the reason he has a social life. Eric is the steadfast retired military man who protects Hemingway from his fans and helps him to run Earnest INk.

When Hemingway’s best friend, Grace goes missing it quickly becomes clear that she’s been taken by the ripper. Thom and Hemingway team up to try and find her as time runs out. They end up tangling with an underground band of magical-wielding rebels… and it becomes much less clear who they should trust. I’m not going to ruin the plot for you. There are some great reveals!

Overall this is a really enjoyable mystery/suspense novel with a great cast of diverse characters!
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This takes place in post apocalyptic New York. It's a world where only a few have suddenly received magical ability.

Hemingway has the ability to create magical tattoes. He opens a shop in Hells Kitchen called Earnest Ink.

A serial killer is operating in New York and Hemingway is drawn into finding the killer.

This is a well crafted world with an interesting, well developed cast of characters.  It is well worth reading.
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This is an fascinating and addictive read.

Hemingway is an interesting and complex character. Rich and gifted but tortured by the past. Caught in the explosions that changed the United States. Photographed saving a child’s life. Propelled into fame. Then to discover on camera his tattoos now come to life. 
The spotlight, pressure and fame are a heavy burden to carry. Especially for someone so young who’s already experienced so much.

Magic appeared in the world in the aftermath of destruction. Magic users are carefully monitored by the state.

The story builds slowly. This gives us time to settle into the world that’s been created. And the characters. Especially Hemingway. 

New York now has CCTV cameras and grunts on every street. Someone is watching every move . But still despite all the surveillance New York has been living with the threat of a serial killer for five years. The East River Ripper has killed fifteen so far and his MO never changes.

I was so absorbed with Hemingway and this world that I didn’t even look for the killer.  

I’m looking forward to more. Please tell me there’s a second book.

I voluntarily read a review copy kindly provided by NetGalley.
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I found this very interesting, I am used to MTF stories. It was refreshing to have a protagonist that was FTM. I liked the matter of fact way the characters went about their business. Definitely worth a read.
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I really loved the premise of the magical tattoos that come to life.  Hemingway was such a likable character, the storyline drew me in and kept me reading straight through to the end. I'm really hoping that this was not a one-off because I would love to read more about Hemingway and his amazing magic.
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Wow I loved this book i couldnt stop reading its. I loved Hemingway and found the tattoos coming to life with magic so insteresting and enjoyed the mystery of the book so much. Im really hoping there will be 2nd book soon. I received this book from netgallery inexchange for a honest review.
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Earnest Ink was a mostly engaging read. I liked the idea behind the story: tattoos coming to life with magic. Hemingway was a fun character, and I would like to see more from him, and his tattooing, in the future as I think there are more layers to explore there. Where the book fell down a little for me was the pacing. The murder mystery element of the story didn't properly kick off until about a third in. Once it did, the pace picked up and things moved along nicely, but it felt like a long time to get there. This was a 3.5 star read for me. There were a few issues, but I still found the characters and story enjoyable and would read more from this author in the future.
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