SIDE NOTE: The origins of knocking on wood; pretty interesting stuff.
Moving on...it is August. Which also means I can now say, sadly and with a frown, "I go back to school next month" (I wish knocking on wood might change THAT fate, but not much can be done in that arena). I guess all good things must come to an end, but hopefully only to make room for more good things. And while I will be ever-so-melancholy to see Summer go, one of the absolute BEST summers I have seen here in the last 20 years, at least my very favorite season of all is just around the corner; though Summer has my gratitude, Fall has my heart. Always has. But I will not say hello to my old friend just yet. We still have a few weeks left before the changing trees signal the return of hot cider, warm sweaters, BOOTS, scarves, PUMPKINS, and the like. And until then, this girl will continue to praise the sunshine and READ as many books as she can.
Speaking of reading, a few months ago I found a super cool blog called Literary Lushes, that specializes in ARC tours. An ARC, also known as an Advanced Readers Copy, is a paperback edition of a yet-to-be-published book that is given out primarily for the purpose of being reviewed by newspapers, magazines, bloggers, et al. Many times these ARCs are not entirely complete, and may also lack final proofreads or official cover designs. Literary Lushes basically sends out these ARCs on tours, where a few of us lucky readers are allowed one week to devour a book we've signed up for on the site, then once we've finished, mail if off to the next reader on the list and so on and so forth. I love it! I've come across a few new books to add to my "to read" list just by perusing the titles. The first ARC tour that I took part in with Literary Lushes was for the book INK by Amanda Sun. So here's my review, and a big THANKS to Literary Lushes for adding me to the tour!
Ink by Amanda Sun.
First off, isn't this cover dreamy? I have to admit, I am one of "those people" that sometimes picks my reads by how much I am drawn to the cover. And let's face it, I'm a pink addict, so this cover in particular speaks to the girly-girl in me. I find it lovely. The premise of the novel I found super intriguing, as well. An American girl who has gone through an extremely trying moment in her life and is sent to live with a relative in Japan until the rest of her family can figure out what to do with her permanently. I had never read any YA books that had been set in this part of the world and it's always been a place I would love to visit someday, so I was excited to dig in to this one.
The story centers around Katie Greene, who, as mentioned above, is living in Japan with her aunt after a family tragedy occurs at home. She is adrift in an unknown sea, in a land where she clearly doesn't fit in. Without giving too much away, she meets a boy (don't they always), and soon finds herself immersed in an ancient battle between good and evil. And this is where the title comes in; the boy, Tomohiro, can do magical and seemingly impossible feats with ink. He can draw pictures that aren't only beautiful, but terrifyingly realistic; did Katie just see one of his drawings move?! Maybe. It's both scary and exciting, at the same time. I really enjoyed the story and found it to be new and original. I loved getting a glimpse into a world that is entirely foreign to me. The author does a nice job with weaving traditional Japanese language into the narrative, as well, and her description of the landscape is awesome. I could truly see the cherry blossom trees swaying in the breeze in my mind.
My only issue with this book, though, was the rest of the writing, the filler stuff in between the descriptions. To me, it just seemed like it was all over the place; smooth in some parts, clunky in others. Some of the language didn't seem to fit with the characters and most of the time I was wondering if the author was just not familiar with how teenagers talk in the western world. I, of course, wouldn't have a clue as to how teenagers relate to one another in Japan, so maybe that's where the disconnect happened for me. But then I had to remind myself that this is indeed a young adult novel, so maybe I was just being a bit too critical. Sometimes I read YA books that are able to be enjoyed by all ages, adults included, and sometimes I read YA books that are clearly meant for only the young (even though I hate to think of myself as old, just older-ish). And while there were a few parts of this novel that really annoyed the heck out of me, and had me rolling my eyes (like I did through the entire Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy) I still find myself thinking about it, which is a good sign that I liked it, even with some of the shortcomings. I would definitely recommend it to others, and I look forward to the second book in the series, where I usually find that the writing gets better as an author gets comfortable with their voice. Mostly I look forward to the next cover!!! More pink, I hope. :)