Book Reviews

INKED: A Review of Eric Smith’s Awesomeness

Have you ever gotten a tattoo that ended up defining you?

In Caenum’s world, everyone has. And he’s terrified of what his upcoming Ink will tell him.

INKED by Eric Smith is a young adult fantasy novel about a world where all citizens get Inked on their 18th birthday. When you’re Inked, whatever shows up on your skin tells you what your profession will be for the rest of your life. Did flowers and plants start growing up your arm in beautiful, artful ink? Looks like you’re going to be a florist.

If this sounds restrictive to you, Caenum thought so, too, and immediately wants to run away to avoid being Inked and have a chance at choosing his own path. The only problem is, if you don’t get Inked, you’re considered an Unprinted, which basically translates to “social pariah on the run.” Oh, and Caenum gets involved with someone who does magic on their own WITHOUT any Ink, and this is a problem for all sorts of reasons I loved finding out over the course of their adventure.

I absolutely loved the whole concept of the magic ink in this book. The descriptions of how it moved on your body and even reacted to the world (for instance, if you had flowers, your tattoo would mimic the plants’ death in cold weather). The novel keeps chucking unknown enemies and unlikely friends at you until you’re screaming at your Kindle and trying not to chuck it at the wall, but in a good way. Because yes, this book is only available digitally 🙂

To give you an idea of Eric’s process, I got the chance to do an email interview with him because he’s an awesome person who will talk about books until he’s blue in the face. ❤

What made you want to write INKED?

So a few years ago, I was lucky enough to work at Quirk Books, where I did fun marketing things for books like Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. While working on that though, I knew it was important to read in the genre I wanted to promote. After-all, you can’t be part of a community if you aren’t actually part of that community, you know? So I read a bunch of YA, and just totally fell in love with it. I always wanted to write, but hadn’t found my place. Thanks to all that, I had.

Who’s your favorite character and why?

Kenzi. He probably has the widest arc of all the characters in the story, including when we get to Branded. Villain to good guy to morally ambiguous. He wrestles a lot with his past and what it means for his future, which is something I think a lot of us deal with.

Did anything in your life influence the plot of INKED?

Yes! Two things. One, video games. I always loved the golden age of Square Enix RPGs, like Final Fantasy III, Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana… and one thing that constantly happens in those kind of games, is we see some kind of ruling power doing messed up things with magic, and the people suffer because of it. And, you have a rag-tag bunch of heroes who rise up to fight back against it all. Inked follows a similar path, and was really influenced by those.

Of course, it was also influenced by scores of adult and YA fantasy that I’ve read through my life. I mean, you have to read voraciously to be any kind of writer. But those games had such a huge impact.

The other thing, was a tattoo artist friend back in Philadelphia. He gave me the little quotation marks I have on my wrists. He made an off comment one night, about all his tattoos, and how he’d “always be a tattoo artist” because of them. And it sort of gave me this lightbulb moment, about tattoos forcing you into a way of life. Choosing your destiny.

Now, of course, I know that’s not the case in real life. 🙂 You can have tattoos galore and work anywhere. I mean, I sure do. But it was something I wanted to explore in the story. Brian, if you’re reading this. It’s your fault.

What’s one thing you want readers to take away from the book?

That your destiny isn’t chosen for you. We are who are make ourselves. I feel like a lot of teenagers have to deal with that pressure from family, to maybe study a certain thing, pursue a certain career. That they are trapped. I wanted them to feel like they could break free from all that. That’s what Inked is about. Fighting to be you, as opposed to what someone else thinks you should be.

What are you most excited about regarding its sequel, BRANDED?

For the story to be finished! 🙂 Inked shows you the world, the struggles, and the start of the fight. Branded finishes it. Takes you away from just the few places you see in the first book and into the wider realm. I hope people like the bigger world!


In case you didn’t catch that, INKED is only the first in a duology of the world. BRANDED, the sequel, will be out on May 23rd! BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE. You can go ahead and preorder it on Amazon if you so desire. (I did!)

Book Reviews

Talking As Fast As I Can: Why Lauren Graham Makes Me Inadequate

Amazon Rating: 4.6/5 | Goodreads Rating: 4.08/5 | My rating: 4/5

The literal second I saw that Lauren Graham (AKA Lorelai Gilmore AKA light of my life) wrote a memoir, Talking As Fast As I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between, I had to have it. I bought it for my mom for Christmas and as she unwrapped it, I immediately informed her I’d be borrowing it as soon as she was done.

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Please enjoy this photo of me pretending to be the other (creepy) half of Lauren Graham’s face.

Let me give you some background: I have seen every single episode of the original Gilmore Girls at LEAST seven times. I cheered Rory on as she panicked through high school to get into Harvard (and then went to Yale). I grumbled at the TV every time Luke and Lorelai missed an opportunity to get together. I cursed Emily right along with Lorelai when she messed up their relationship in the fifth season, even though the rest of the time, Emily gives me life. This show got me through middle school. While I was being teased at school, I had Rory and Lorelai at home, who were always there with a quick quip and some coffee. My mom and I sing “Where You Lead (I Will Follow” by Carole King on road trips regularly. I was a freshman in high school when the last season aired, and I actually remember telling my first boyfriend that he was very lucky that I still texted him and held conversations between the hours of 8 and 9 on Thursday nights. It was a problem.

Because of all this, I flipped out when the series did the reboot on Netflix and when I saw Lauren had written this book. But there was one part that will never fail to make me feel as inadequate in my own publishing journey as possible. Lauren talks about how with her first novel, she began writing as a release. When she just mentioned to her acting agent what she was up to, she was immediately set up with a literary agent and was basically signed and published in a heartbeat. (That’s an exaggeration. Writing a book, no matter who you are, is never done in a heartbeat.) Can I have your life, Lauren? I want it to just happen that easily! You make it sound like it was just a blip on your radar when we both know it was probably anything but. Publishing is hard. Writing a book is hard. Thanks for making me feel like the struggle is mine and mine only.

All that said, this book gave me feelings. Lauren describes her experience being a shut-in for a few days to hunker down and rewatch the entire original series with her own memories peppering in as she watches herself and Alexis Bledel as two of the most iconic characters of my lifetime. She gives a play-by-play of her most memorable days as they filmed the reboot for Netflix, and it was amazing to get that inside knowledge. Someday, I’ll read the novel Lauren published a few years ago. My TBR pile is alarming.

Disclaimer: Lauren Graham, you are amazing and I’m insanely proud of you for accomplishing all of your dreams, from making it on BroadWAY to landing the character of your dreams to writing (and publishing!) two books. Keep being you.