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Earnest Ink

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  58 ratings  ·  42 reviews
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 i ...more
Paperback, 277 pages
Published October 10th 2019 by NineStar Press
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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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Oct 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Joyfully Jay
Nov 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: camille
A Joyfully Jay review.

4.5 stars

Okay, truth be told, I wasn’t really captured by this story at first. My preconceptions about the books I usually review for the blog probably played a big part—that is, I was low-key anticipating a romance and every time a male character appeared on page during the first few chapters, I was looking for signs of attraction/interest. It isn’t until Hemingway’s ex-girlfriend goes missing AND Hemingway himself starts actively looking for her that I started to lose my
Nov 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, 2019
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 l ...more
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We’re in a dystopian near future world and we follow Hemingway a FTM tattoo artist. In this world technology has collapsed and some people have developed magic powers. Hemingway is one of them, he can make tattoos come to life. When the East River Ripper, kidnaps his best friend he tries to find her with the help of his roommate who has been investigating the serial killer since he killed her twin brother. Add to the mix a group of punk teenagers with their own agenda and you get this brilliant ...more
Nov 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
Great dystopian and murder mystery read. Hemingway's an enticing character to read about. ...more
Lillith Lies
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
Book Review

Earnest Ink by Sarah Remy/Alex Hall

A Summary: The world changed forever when on Labor Day several bombs went off taking the lives of many, but a new kind of person was born from the ashes… thaumaturges. The impossible becomes a lot more possible with mystical people performing miracles every day, one of those people is Hemingway (FTM). Hemingway gains notoriety and becomes the hero of the bombings by
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Review

For the full review visit here:

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

From that review: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
Natalie panda eyes
Dec 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mm-recs
Received from Netgalley. A story about a transitioning tattoo artist, a group of punks and a serial killer. I liked the tattoos and how they come to life. Didn’t like Seraphine. Didn’t guess the culprit this time around. Wouldn’t mind a sequel. It was interesting and I enjoyed it.
Chris Durston
Aug 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think others have already said most of what I might have to say about Earnest Ink, so suffice to say that there's a lot to like about it!

The murder mystery that ostensibly drives the plot does keep things going, but I didn't find myself as invested as perhaps I should have been in learning who the killer was; I was just happy to be spending time in an interesting world with interesting characters. Protagonist Hemingway is a really good character, with a lot of depth (and the fact that he's a t
E.M. Hamill
Aug 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow, I really liked this book a lot! It's a dystopian murder mystery infused with a little urban fantasy and it was delightful.

Hemingway is a tattoo artist whose magic comes out through his artwork: the ink he etches into the skin of his clients comes to life; bumblebees buzz and fly, stags charge, tulips bloom. It's netted him a hefty bank account and a booming business in the Manhattan's island of peace in war-torn America. But peace doesn't mean tranquility--there's a serial killer on the loo
Heather Warner
This book is set in a future America that has been fighting a war where technology has collapsed and magic has developed in random people. Hemingway is one who has experienced a rise in magic-he is a tattoo artist whose tattoos come to life. He lives in New York City that is under constant surveillance with the army on the streets controlling the citizens, especially the magic users. But even with all of the military and cameras a serial killer has been hunting & killing for 5 years. The East Ri ...more
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 ...more
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a cool concept! A mix of dystopian, and murder mystery with magical abilities for some, but not all. This was a facinating read that kept the pages turning. I loved the characters and the dangerous and dark world they lived in. I'm looking forward to reading more from this author in the future. ...more
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was primarily fun. Was it the best thing I've ever read, free of problems? No. But The Mummy had plenty of plot holes too and it's still my favorite movie that I will fight people back. If you agree the point of a book is to have fun, then I think you'll like this one.

The magic system is very new and interesting--magic tattoos, not the newest concept, but there are other magical people with other abilities. The dystopia is nice and relevant for today's times, but the protagonist isn't
Feb 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller, adventure, magic
Set in the near-futuristic world of Hell’s Kitchen in New York City “ Earnest Ink” follows talented, wealthy and fabled tattoo artist Earnest Hemingway who’s designs take on a life of their own after being etched on a client’s skin. Reluctantly famous after saving a child’s life during a bomb explosion, Hemingway lives with Thom Castillo a Port Patrol cop who’s on the hunt for the East End Ripper, a killer who snatches men and women, killing and dumping their mutilated corpses in the East River. ...more
Ann Holden
Mar 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is set in a fascinating dystopia where only certain parts of the world are not totally changed after a series of IED’s are exploded all at once. (I think they were supposed to be EMP’s.) Our protagonist is Hemingway, a young man who is a tattoo artist. His tattoos come to life when completed. It is his magic that makes him famous. He is an interesting character as are most of the individuals who populate the book. This story is well written with some interesting twists. Some parts of the bo ...more
Mar 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed the worldbuilding, as well as the plot itself. It's one of those books where I feel like I need to read it again, just so I can get all subtle details as well. It doesn't help that I took a break of reading this for a week or two, which made me forget some details.

Maybe in a year or so I will take a look through my reviews of the past years and actually go reread all books where I've said I wanted to reread.
Jacqueline Lehrer
I devoured this book. Don't let the tags fool you. Yes there is a fantasy element and gender fluidity but those were more plot building. At the core, this was a mystery book in a very interesting futuristic Manhattan. Another thing I enjoyed was the brief French forays as a Montrealer franglais is real. It is a quick read and I am almost curious to know more of this Manhattan. ...more
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mm-fantasy, fav2020
E(a)rnest Hemingway, nicely played! I enjoyed the book a lot. In the beginning it felt a bit slow and heavy, but it gained speed around 40%. Then, towards the end suddenly it almost felt a tad too fast. Nevertheless, I really liked the way it was written and the way the story panned out. I was suspecting two characters of murder and in the end, the character I didn't want it to be, turned out to be the killer. Can't have all. I hope there'll be a sequel. A sequel could be used to explain and dev ...more
Sep 01, 2020 rated it liked it
We live in a truly horrid and lewd world. This dystopian story captures it pretty well. Depicts some substantial and heavy things... Marvelously written
Georgia Bell
Sep 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
an entertaining read
Oct 04, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
I tried to get in to this book, i really did. The premise sounded pretty cool. I read 100 pages, and still have no idea what the point really is. I ended up not finishing it... 🤷
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

This has to be one of the most unique superhero tales I have ever read. It is gritty but also humorous, and even though it focuses on a horrific type of serial killer it doesn’t obsess over the details enough to make this horror- even though it well could have been. I’m really impressed with this self-published debut, but the first half does at times feel a bit scattered. By the second half, once Hemingway is actively looking for his friend, the plot progresses much more smoothly.

Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars rounded up

This was a very character and world heavy book, with the first half or so dedicated to setting the scene of this near-future somewhat post apocalyptic New York City and our MC Hemingway. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the pacing, given my preference is usually for a more plot-forward book, but the way it was done worked really well. I find for any kind of urban apocalypse book like this I have to suspend some disbelief and not ask too many questions (why is te
Oct 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am trying to branch out more. Take on a book to review that maybe I normally wouldn't automatically reach for.

Earnest Ink is not a book I would automatically grab. It is a dystopian serial killer mystery. And I am glad I took a chance. In fact, I want more.

The blurb says Hemingway is a FTM trans tattoo artist. Honestly, except for representation, him being trans has no bearing on the story at all. There are a few passages throughout the book about it, but it isn't an overall theme at all.

Oct 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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, how
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Earnest Ink by Alex Hall is about 20 yr old FTM Hemingway who makes his living as a tattoo artist. Not only is he a talented artist, but his work comes to life. Literally. When NYC’s infamous serial killer, the East River Ripper kidnaps Hemingway’s friend Grace, he teams up with his roommate to hunt the killer and rescue Grace.
I have to say the story drew me in right to the end. I was really surprised who the killer was.
I am really thankful to Goodreads and Sarah for the chance to win this grea
Kathryn Manzella
Earnest Ink by Alex Hall delivers fascinating world building, well written storyline, and fantastic characters. There is an intriguing mystery with a killer on the loose. There is a magical element that added spice to the suspense. The characters are interesting and drew me into their world. I enjoyed every page from start to finish.

I received an advanced reader's copy of the book and I am voluntarily leaving my honest review and recommendation.
Carro Herdegen
Language: R (128 swears, 9 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13
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 re
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Sarah Remy/Alex Hall is a nonbinary, animal-loving, proud gamer Geek. Their work can be found in a variety of cool places, including HarperVoyager, EDGE and NineStar Press.


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