Monday, February 12, 2018

Review: Ink by Alice Broadway

Ink by Alice Broadway
Ink (Skin Books #1)
By Alice Broadway
Publisher:
Scholastic
Format: Print ARC
Source: YALLFest

To Sum It Up: In Saintstone, the marks inked onto a person’s skin tell his or her life story, both the good and the bad. When someone dies, that person’s skin is turned into a book and either deemed worthy of being preserved and remembered or forgotten and burned depending on what kind of life the individual led. Leora Flint has always followed Saintstone’s rules and traditions until her beloved father dies, and questions begin to arise about possible past misdeeds and secrets he might have kept, even from his family.

Lee's Review: Ink is kind of a hard book to describe, even when trying to pinpoint its genre. Because folklore is such an integral part of the novel, Ink sometimes feels like a fantasy. The unquestioning certainty with which the people of Saintstone, the town in which the book is set, must accept these stories as the absolute truth throws some dystopia into the mix.

The life stories of everyone in Saintstone are literally open books because they’re told through the tattoos people acquire—sometimes not voluntarily—throughout their lives. After death, one’s skin is turned into a book, and the books of those judged not worthy of being remembered are burned. It took me a moment to wrap my head around the bit where dead people’s skins become books, but once I got past the initial ewww factor, Ink was an intriguing read. Alice Broadway’s prose is very elegant, even when bringing to life a society ruled by a government that keeps a vigilant watch over its denizens.

Ink is narrated by Leora Flint, who at the book’s open is mourning the loss of her father. In the weeks leading up to the ceremony that will determine whether or not her father deserves to be remembered, Leora becomes increasingly anxious that his book will be thrown into the flames for possibly breaking Saintstone’s laws. Leora herself is not the rebellious type, and it comes across in her narrative voice. That posed a problem for me later in the book, when Leora makes decisions that seem uncharacteristic for her. I felt she needed more development leading up to that point so her actions made more sense for her character.

I also didn’t find the book’s big reveal all that revelatory. Again, I think it’s because Leora’s narration is so steady, it didn’t have the inflection needed to deliver an impact.

While Ink wasn’t quite a page turner for me, I did admire Alice Broadway’s lovely writing and creativity in devising the book’s premise. For me to read the sequel, though, I’d want to see more depth to Leora’s character and the secondary characters as well.

All in All: I really liked the genre mashup here and the prose, but I was looking for a bit more to Leora’s character.

Melissa's Review: In Ink, Alice Broadway crafts an exceptional setting through magnificent world building. She forms a unique culture that propels the plot and her characters successfully throughout the book. Because the society she places her characters within is so complex, the story carries a deeper meaning. The theme of the story becomes one of man (or in this case, woman) against a corrupt government, a theme I find particularly captivating. The theme does, however, cause Leora to be somewhat naïve in the beginning, but the reader does see her make some satisfying progress as the story continues.

Ink is very well written, and Broadway does an excellent job of describing the artistry behind the inking culture, truly showing the reader what these tattoos look like. The pacing of the novel is mostly consistent, keeping the reader interested. Additionally, the characters are likable, but not quite lovable. All of the important aspects of a good book are present, but the characters could not connect with me in a way to take this book to the next level.

The only true problem I had with Ink was that the ending felt slightly rushed. I would have really liked to see Leora develop more as a character while she dealt with the truths she had discovered. I think that growth would have made the resolution feel more complete. I do think the ending scene was quite powerful, but it could have been even better with more insight into Leora’s decisions.

All in All: This was an excellent read, and Broadway’s world building skills are phenomenal. I just wish the main character’s development felt more complete.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Have Been on My TBR the Longest and I Still Haven’t Read

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week's topic is:
Books That Have Been on My TBR the Longest and I Still Haven’t Read

This week’s prompt was waaay too easy for me. There are tons of books I’ve been meaning to get to.

1. The Last Star by Rick Yancey

I love The 5th Wave series, but it is taking me an eternity to get to the third book in the series.

2. The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

I’ve had this book for two years! Lee keeps bugging me to read it . . . .

3. Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

Man, I loved The Wolves of Mercy Falls, and I can’t wait to get to this book.

4. Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs

Again, from a series I really enjoyed, but have not had the chance to finish.

5. Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs

Ditto to the previous one.

6. The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

This one has been sitting in my car for many moons.

7. Where She Went by Gayle Forman

I loved If I Stay, but I’m hesitant to read the sequel.

8. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

This book has probably been on my TBR list the longest of all of these books.

9. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

I have wanted to read this one since I read Jane Eyre in high school.

10. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, & Jack Thorne

I am downright scared to read this one.

What books have been on your TBR the longest?

Monday, February 5, 2018

Review: One for Sorrow by Mary Downing Hahn

One for Sorrow by Mary Downing Hahn
One for Sorrow
By Mary Downing Hahn
Publisher:
Clarion Books
Format: Hardcover
Source: YALLFest

To Sum It Up: The year is 1918, and Annie Browne is twelve years old. Having just moved to a new school, Annie is worried about making new friends. But on her first day, Elsie claims Annie as her best friend. In no time at all, Elsie has Annie isolated from and disliked by all their classmates. Annie struggles to extricate herself from Elsie’s clutches and joins her fellow classmates in alienating Elsie. However, as the Spanish Influenza takes hold of the country, Annie and her new friends must face the consequences of their cruelty.

Review: I love my historical fiction! One for Sorrow not only successfully captures the feeling of the setting, but it supplies the reader with a delightful ghost story. Mary Downing Hahn creates an almost Gothic tone within her story, but she also keeps the book from becoming too far removed from younger readers. It is clear that Hahn is a well-seasoned writer. One for Sorrow is well written without becoming unrelatable. That being said, Hahn is well aware of her audience (younger readers), so while I found this book enjoyable, a younger reader would probably take more away from this story.

I thought the pacing was excellent, making this a very quick read. I did, however, find it somewhat predictable. Taking into consideration the intended audience, this wasn’t really a problem, and I found it did not detract from the overall success of the story or my enjoyment of it.

I found all of the characters to be very realistic. Hahn’s knowledge of her intended audience is clearly shown in the portrayal of her characters. The children in the story truly act their age. Therefore, her characters were relatable, but not always likable. I thought Annie and Elsie were particularly selfish and self-centered, but sometimes kids their age can be. As a reader, I think keeping this in mind helps to prevent you from judging the characters too harshly.

All in all: One for Sorrow was an enjoyable read and I think Hahn is a remarkable writer. However, I do think this book is best suited to readers of similar age to the characters (about twelve years old).

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