A MelanieM Review: Earnest Ink by Alex Hall

Standard

Rating:: 4.5 stars out of 5

While twenty-year-old FTM Hemingway is making an excellent living as a tattoo artist in a near-future version of Hell’s Kitchen, the rest of the country is splintered and struggling in the wake of a war gone on for too long. Technology has collapsed, borders rise and fall overnight, and magic has awakened without rhyme, reason, or rule, turning average unwitting citizens into wielders of strange and specific strands of magic.

Hemingway’s particular brand of magic has made him a household name. Not only is he a talented artist, but his work comes to life. Literally.

When NYC’s most infamous serial killer—the East River Ripper—abducts Hemingway’s best friend, Grace, he has only days to save her. Hemingway teams up with his stoic cop roommate to hunt for the killer and rescue Grace before she becomes the Ripper’s latest victim. But as the duo chase clues to the serial killer’s identity, Hemingway begins to fear the magic he and the Ripper share might eventually corrupt him too.

I am always enthusiastic about the stories that flow out of the mind of author Alex Hall because I know the tales will be imaginative, with twists and turns, marvelous characters with attention to details in personality and background, and as it demonstrated here, a fabulous ability to deliver a world of magic realism so very believable that i fell into it from the first page.

Earnest Ink by Alex Hall is a story that builds slowly as we get to know the characters and the world they now inhabit, one that changed drastically within their own lifetimes.  Changing their worlds and in some cases themselves fundamentally.  It’s a story revealed in pieces, pulled back in layers, as the current days events take place and our characters rush forward towards mysteries and crises that will have permanent impact on everyone.

The people encountered from the focal person of famous tattoo artist Hemingway are as incredibly complex as Hemingway is.. That extends to the roles they may play in Hemingway’s life, which may change direction or impact in a blink.  Who is trustworthy and who is not is always up for discussion.  Throw in the hunt for a gruesome killer, Jack the  Ripper, along with other mysteries, and you have a gripping thriller with tiny hints of a possible future  romance and an open ended future for all.

And that is the only thing that keeps this book from five stars.  The air of expectation for something more at the end.  A need for continuing on, that so much remains to be done or is left to be finished for everyone here.  I almost felt as though we were at 3/4 th of the story or perhaps that I should be able to sail quickly onto another book.  I was most not ready to leave this world and characters behind.

Love magic realism?  In need of a great new story to read?  I highly recommend Earnest Ink by Alex Hall.  I’m still thinking about the characters and their lives, and hoping that Hall will return to them once more for an update.

Cover art:  Natasha Snow.  A beautiful cover with a major element towards the ending.

Sales Links:    NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published October 14th 2019 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781951057121
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Review: Earnest Ink by Alex Hall

Standard

Rating:: 4.5 stars out of 5

While twenty-year-old FTM Hemingway is making an excellent living as a tattoo artist in a near-future version of Hell’s Kitchen, the rest of the country is splintered and struggling in the wake of a war gone on for too long. Technology has collapsed, borders rise and fall overnight, and magic has awakened without rhyme, reason, or rule, turning average unwitting citizens into wielders of strange and specific strands of magic.

Hemingway’s particular brand of magic has made him a household name. Not only is he a talented artist, but his work comes to life. Literally.

When NYC’s most infamous serial killer—the East River Ripper—abducts Hemingway’s best friend, Grace, he has only days to save her. Hemingway teams up with his stoic cop roommate to hunt for the killer and rescue Grace before she becomes the Ripper’s latest victim. But as the duo chase clues to the serial killer’s identity, Hemingway begins to fear the magic he and the Ripper share might eventually corrupt him too.

I am always enthusiastic about the stories that flow out of the mind of author Alex Hall because I know the tales will be imaginative, with twists and turns, marvelous characters with attention to details in personality and background, and as it demonstrated here, a fabulous ability to deliver a world of magic realism so very believable that i fell into it from the first page.

Earnest Ink by Alex Hall is a story that builds slowly as we get to know the characters and the world they now inhabit, one that changed drastically within their own lifetimes.  Changing their worlds and in some cases themselves fundamentally.  It’s a story revealed in pieces, pulled back in layers, as the current days events take place and our characters rush forward towards mysteries and crises that will have permanent impact on everyone.

The people encountered from the focal person of famous tattoo artist Hemingway are as incredibly complex as Hemingway is.. That extends to the roles they may play in Hemingway’s life, which may change direction or impact in a blink.  Who is trustworthy and who is not is always up for discussion.  Throw in the hunt for a gruesome killer, Jack the  Ripper, along with other mysteries, and you have a gripping thriller with tiny hints of a possible future  romance and an open ended future for all.

And that is the only thing that keeps this book from five stars.  The air of expectation for something more at the end.  A need for continuing on, that so much remains to be done or is left to be finished for everyone here.  I almost felt as though we were at 3/4 th of the story or perhaps that I should be able to sail quickly onto another book.  I was most not ready to leave this world and characters behind.

Love magic realism?  In need of a great new story to read?  I highly recommend Earnest Ink by Alex Hall.  I’m still thinking about the characters and their lives, and hoping that Hall will return to them once more for an update.

Cover art:  Natasha Snow.  A beautiful cover with a major element towards the ending.

Sales Links:    NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published October 14th 2019 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781951057121
Edition Language English

A Free Dreamer Review: Olympia Knife by Alysia Constantine

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Born into a family of flying trapeze artists, Olympia Knife has one small problem: When her emotions rise, she becomes invisible. Everyone in the traveling circus has learned to live with this quirk; they banded together to raise Olympia in a loving environment when her parents vanished midair during their act, never to return. But the same fate befalls Arnold, the world’s shortest man, followed by one act after another, until the show is a crumbling mess of tattered tents and terrified troupers. Into this chaos walks Diamond the Danger Eater. Olympia and Diamond forge a friendship, then fall in love, and, together, resolve to stand the test of time, even as the world around them falls apart.

The first word that comes to my mind when I think about Olympia Knife is strange. Closely followed by sad. And kind of creepy. I’ve never read anything like this and I was a bit unsure whether I liked it or not. But it’s so unusual and memorable, I just had to give it the full five stars.

First things first: This is classified as literary/genre fiction and as such doesn’t have much of a love story and definitely not your run-of-the-mill HEA. The ending is very open and leaves many questions unanswered. I’m not always a fan of open ends, but in this case it fit the tone of the whole book perfectly.

I love circus settings, especially historical ones. They give you so many possibilities. It can be utterly magical and charming or it can be utterly terrifying and creepy. Olympia Knife was definitely more creepy than charming, though it did have a bit of a magical air.

People keep disappearing in the middle of their acts, Olympia keeps turning invisible and there are some other otherworldly things going on, so I guess this would qualify as Fantasy. The circus acts, especially those in the sideshow, are all fakes and don’t have any magical abilities. The correct genre correct is probably magic realism, combining reality with some fantastic elements. It’s an unusual genre and I really enjoyed it.

There isn’t all that much action but I didn’t mind. This was a very slow book and it was all about the atmosphere of the book. I was completely immersed into the world and it sometimes took a while for me to resurface.

At times, this book does get pretty brutal and very intense. It was a hard read and it really took a lot out of me. “Olympia Knife” is such a gritty, intense and heartbreaking read. It’s one of the most extraordinary books I’ve ever read.

If you’re looking for an easy, magical romance, this is definitely not the book for you. I think this is a case of love it or hate it. And I loved it. I’ll have to keep an eye out for future releases by this author. If you’re easily triggered, you might want to check out the content warnings on the publisher’s page.

The cover is utterly gorgeous. It’s the kind of cover that I’d love to have in my physical bookshelf, just to show it off.

Sales Links:  Interlude Press | Amazon

Book details: ebook, 212 pages

Published November 2nd 2017 by Interlude Press