Ink and Ashes Review 

Synopsis from Lee & Low Books:

Claire Takata has never known much about her father, who passed away ten years ago. But on the anniversary of his death, she finds a letter from her deceased father to her stepfather. Before now, Claire never had a reason to believe they even knew each other.

Struggling to understand why her parents kept this surprising history hidden, Claire combs through anything that might give her information about her father . . . until she discovers that he was a member of the yakuza, a Japanese organized crime syndicate. The discovery opens a door that should have been left closed.

The race to outrun her father’s legacy reveals secrets of his past that cast ominous shadows, threatening Claire, her friends and family, her newfound love, and ultimately her life. Winner of Tu Books’ New Visions Award, Ink and Ashes is a fascinating debut novel packed with romance, intrigue, and heart-stopping action.

About: Ink and Ashes is a young adult mystery written by Valynne E. Maetani. It was published on 5/13/15 by Tu Books, an imprint of Lee & Low Books, hardcover, 386 pages. The genres are mystery, thriller, and young adult fiction. According to the publisher’s website, “Tu Books is an imprint dedicated to publishing middle grade and young adult novels that will spark your imagination, move your spirit, and keep you turning the pages. The word “tu” means “you” in many languages. At Tu Books, we don’t believe that the worlds within books should be any less rich or diverse than the world we live in. Our stories are inspired by many cultures from around the world, to reach the “you” in every reader.” Please see below for more information about the publisher and author.

My Experience: I started reading Ink and Ashes on 6/28/17 and finished it on 7/7/17. This book is an excellent read! I love the Nancy Drew vibe where the main character goes snooping around, breaking into locks to seek for info, and always asking questions. I love the mystery and suspense. I love learning Japanese culture and Asian superstitions in this book. The characters and plot win my attention and keep me turning the pages.

“I’m mad because I feel like everyone thinks I can’t take care of myself. I’m tired of not fitting in because I’m a girl. And I’m tired of not fitting in with girls because I’m always with boys.” p81

In this book, readers will follow the point of view of Claire Takata, an only girl who is never satisfied with the answers she received about her father and intended to dig as much info as she can including picking locks from her family’s drawers. She’s the middle sibling between an older brother Parker and a younger brother Avery. Their best friends are Forrest, Nicholas, and Fed who are neighbors next door and down the block. Nick and Parker are seniors, Forrest and Claire are juniors, and Fed and Avery are sophomores. Claire along with her brothers and guy friends are very close. They carpool together to school, have sleepovers, jujitsu training, and even have a group name for when they need to have a get together to discuss. Their teamwork mostly due to Claire’s theory that something is going on and she needs them to help either to distract her parents or someone so that she can sneak around to complete her tasks. This book started out with celebrating Claire’s father’s death almost a decade ago. The ceremony is very traditional with incense and prayers. Then Claire discovered a letter from her father written to her step Dad before his death. This occurrence started a chain of events where Claire does her detective work to uncover what’s going on. There are a lot involved in the plot, the most exciting is the Yakuza aka Japanese mafia.

“Both of us are suffering because of decisions my father made. We had no choice regarding the consequences of his actions, but we have a choice now. I refuse to believe his poor judgment defines the kind of people we become.” p349

This book is very well written. I love following Claire’s train of thoughts. She’s careful, curious, and determine. I love the friendship. I love the humor. The romance is cute. I love how protective her step dad is and how protective her brothers and friends are to her. I like Claire’s family and how the guys often stayed over for dinner and how her dad helped to review Nicholas’ college applications. I like the self defense trainings. I couldn’t guess the outcome and I’m glad to read a mystery that is less dark and wicked than other books I have read. Overall, this book is a fantastic read and I highly recommend everyone to read it!

Pro: family dynamic, friendship, Nancy Drew vibe, adrenaline rush, fast paced, page turner, Japanese culture, cover, humor,

Con: none

I rate it 5 stars!

Grab yourself a copy here: Lee & Low Books website  or Buy here for free shipping: Book Depository

About the Author:

Valynne Maetani grew up in Utah and obtained a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. In a former life, she was a project manager and developed educational software for children with learning disabilities. Her debut novel, Ink and Ashes, is the winner of the 2013 New Visions Award and a Junior Library Guild 2015 selection. Maetani is a member of the We Need Diverse Books team and is dedicated to promoting diversity in children’s literature because all children should grow up believing their stories deserve to be told. (Photo obtained via Google search and Info obtained from Lee & Low Books website).

More Information about Lee & Low Books:

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***Disclaimer: Many thanks to Lee & Low Books for the opportunity to read and review. Please be assured that my opinions are honest.


10 thoughts on “Ink and Ashes Review 

  1. Sophie @ Blame Chocolate says:

    Like you, I love books that feature Japanese culture in some way! So I’m sure I’ll love this one 🙂 Claire sounds like an awesome character and I’m looking forward to that cute romance ^^ Plus, some mystery and suspense? Count me in!
    Amazing review, Jasmine!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jasmine says:

      Thanks! I hope you will have a chance to read this book. It’s definitely interesting to read about other cultures than your own. I like learning something new in each book I read 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. raistlin0903 says:

    I love the cover for this one, it looks amazing, even though it’s only words. The premise for this one sounds great, I love a good Yakuza story/movie, and this certainly is a very original one. I might try and track this one down ASAP. Sounds like a great read. Terrific review as always 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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