Cover Image: New Ink on Life

New Ink on Life

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Member Reviews

Sweet tattoo artist Cassie's survived cancer and now wants a real apprenticeship at a great tattoo shop. MJ's former girlfriend is out to ruin MJ's business, and MJ isn't a woman who's good at trust. She's blunt. She's rude. She--doesn't want to step on Cassie's feelings. This opposites-attract title alternates first person points of view between the two lead women, which is less effective than it could be. The plot is there, the conflict is there, the setting is there, the journey is there; the characters don't quite hit the mark.
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*~~*ARC kindly provided from the publisher/author to me for an honest review *~~*

Full review to come

5 stars
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ah, finally a netgalley arc that i really enjoyed!

this book was a lot more different than expected, but somehow found myself getting lost into this book and enjoyed my ride reading this. i'd pick up my kindle and forget to put it down and realize i've read so much.

this was a f/f romance with badass tattooing ladies and one recovering from breast cancer. it was super powerful and never once have i read a book with tattooing or cancer being the main topics. i enjoyed the characters, i really felt myself connect with Cassie. i felt like we had very similar feelings towards other people and hardships we've faced in our lives. i also liked how MJ was a hardass and super mean but put her walls down for Cassie.

i definitely will be picking up the second book to this series come spring 2020, will be trying to get an arc on that bad boy if i can!

i think more people need to hear about this series, so i'll do my best to hype this series up because it gives such a strong message and was a good steamy and cute f/f romance! some parts were kinda corny and cringy, but they weren't too bad that you couldn't focus on the more important aspects to the book. 

✩ 4/5 ✩
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A quick, hot read about two tattoo artists whose passion saves a studio - and each other in the process. A little trope heavy (e.g., "You know what happens when you assume") but enjoyable nonetheless!
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New Ink on Life is an f/f romance that manages to be both sweet and gritty, harrowing and hopeful. Before we go further, please note that if reading about characters in cancer remission will be difficult for you, you may not want to continue with this review (or the book, naturally).

Cassie shows up at MJ's queer tattoo shop one day looking for a place to finish her apprenticeship and they immediately butt heads. MJ is a surly butch woman who has recently been screwed over by her former romantic and business partner. Cassie is more femme and has spent her life being polite and sweet and not standing out. When she finished her breast cancer treatment and went into remission, she decided to follow her passion instead of doing everything she thought she should. (She has an excellent mom who is totally behind this.) Cassie apprentices with the same woman that MJ learned from and when that woman passed away, also from breast cancer, she went to find MJ. Cassie has had a double mastectomy and a hysterectomy and has put her life in something of a holding pattern as she waits for her five-year scan.

The two of them come together when they strike a deal - MJ will teach Cassie to care less about what other people think of her and Cassie will teach MJ to be a better businesswoman. Part of that is what you read in the blurb - marketing and planning - but a lot of it is how to curb her temper and not lash out when she's frustrated. Both women are fully drawn, no caricatures or stereotypes. I was worried about a big family blow-up in a scene where MJ goes home because her father (whom she does not speak to because their relationship soured when she came out) is hurt on site at his construction business, but Davids does something I didn't expect and that made me cry on a public bus headed for NYC.

If you are able to read a book in which cancer plays a pretty heavy role, this is an angsty and sweet (I don't know, go with it) f/f romance that I would happily recommend.




Content Warnings: Cancer, grief, queer-hostile family, friends who died of cancer

Suzanne received an advance review copy from the publisher, then procrastinated and read it on audio.
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(free review copy) f/f romance set in a tattoo shop with a major breast cancer storyline. Scowl-y grumpy shop owner MJ meets tiny meek Cassie, who is MJ’s new apprentice. As a reader of a lot of romance, this is the first time I’ve read this couple-trope in a f/f story, although the alpha + delicate-flower relationship is shown ALL  the time in both m/f and m/m stories and I never thought much of it. This story made me realize how I take attitude and behavior of a character like MJ completely in stride when it’s a male, but it made me think hard when it came from a woman - lots to think about there! I definitely plan to read more in this series.
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NOTE - the cover pic looks NOTHING like MJ and Cassie, which drives me crazy. I’m glad I was reading this on my Kindle so I didn’t have to notice it every time I picked up the book!
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Actually going to re read this because I feel like on my first reading I may have missed something! Great work regardless
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4.5 stars — I haven’t read a lot of F/F (or really many of the other flavours of LGBT besides G), and I’ve been wanting to expand my diversity reading.  So I was so excited when I saw the blurb for this one and it sounded so good!  You could tell it was own voices because it felt authentic.  I never forgot I was reading about two women, but other than that it was just like any other romance: strife, struggle, swoony moments, frustrating moments.

I found it SOOOOO easy to connect with Cassie, b/c I have so many of her personality traits, and not necessarily the best ones.  But it made it really easy for me to understand her reactions to various situations, because it was how I might react.  It was really fulfilling to watch her shed those shackles of trying to get everyone to like her and embrace who she really is deep inside.  I didn’t mind the backsliding, b/c it made sense, and it made her journey that much more believable.

MJ was a bit harder for me to connect with, b/c, well, just like for Cassie, MJ’s my opposite.  But through all that I felt for her struggles, and I understood her defense mechanisms.  I absolutely loved when she got back from her family and got the fairy tattoo, it was so symbolic.  I really felt the way she started to understand how her own reactions were also sabotaging her happiness.  It was fulfilling in its own right.

I loved that MJ and Cassie had so much in common, even as they were so different.  They both felt rejected and discarded and not worth taking a chance on.  They came at it from different directions, but the results were the same.  It made their journey very gratifying, each of them learning to trust and let another person in.

Their chemistry was fantastic, the steamy scenes were like woah!  I loved how they complemented one another, it all fit perfectly with the opposites attract.  They each made me swoon for the other with the little gestures they would make.  And they both frustrated the crap out of me when they fell into typical pitfalls that I saw coming a mile away…which does mean that some of the conflict was a bit cliche and expected, but I found that it played out with a bit more depth than I was expecting, and wasn’t trite.

I expected Cassie’s cancer, and the compassionate tattoos that were mentioned in the blurb, would come into play more, but they were kind of background/secondary.  Which was a bit disappointing, b/c I was so intrigued by that, but I got so much else from their story that I really didn’t miss it.

All this to say that I will DEFINITELY be looking forward to more F/F from this author in the future.  I’m excited to see whose story will be next in this series!
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DNF @ ~15%

I think this book just wasn't for me as I had a difficult time getting into it from the start. 

It was off-putting to have one main character's point of view being so antagonistic--even towards her own employees and customers, aka people who bring in money for her--while the other's was so timid and self-deprecating. Neither worked to keep me in the story.
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Fantastic book. The characters are amazing and the story was very well written. I look forward to reading more from this author.
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I couldn’t be happier with the number of f/f romances hitting mainstream romance. Keep ‘em coming if you please! Especially if they’re as well written as this one.
 
Jennie Davids’ New Ink on Life is the first in what promises to be a wonderful series about a tattoo shop, and this first book follows owner MJ and new apprentice Cassie. I found both characters engaging, and the blossoming romance between them was funny and navigated the mentor-mentee line well. Cassie’s strength and determination to do something that really matters to her was pretty damn inspiring, and I also loved the fact she brought her previous marketing experience to the table and made MJ sit up and take notice of her in a way other than just an apprentice tattoo artists.
 
There’s angst in this book – Cassie is a cancer survivor after all, and MJ’s been crushed by the actions of her previous business partner – but it’s the kind of angst which elevates a book and makes the Happy Ever After ending that much more satisfying. Read for strong women, bossing life, and falling in love..
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I thought I'd step out of my comfort zone and try a F/F love story. I am pleasantly surprised to say that I was thoroughly entertained by New Ink on Life. I really appreciated the respect with which Jennie Davids treated the cancer storyline. The heroines were both layered and engaging, though the shop owner took her time growing into a character I could get behind! It's to Ms Davids' credit that she was able to turn my initial opinion.  She writes with skill and passion and I would read more from her.
I received my copy through NetGalley under no obligation.
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A sweet, quick romance book perfect for fans of Chelsea M. Cameron! It's a very promising debut and I can definitely see adding Davids' future books to my TBR.
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Sarah – ☆☆☆
This is the story of the unexpected connection between a tattoo artist and her new apprentice. It is also the story of two women who are rebuilding their lives and careers after life changing experiences.

So, here’s a big admission. I’m still not sure I actually like either Cassie or MJ. Cassie is too timid for her own good and MJ is a mean girl who seems eager to exploit Cassie’s gentle nature. The women are good for each other in some ways – MJ helps Cassie find her backbone and Cassie smooths a few of MJ’s raw edges – but I found both women frustrating and I’m not sure I’d choose to befriend either of them. I need to love romance leads if I’m going to fully invest in their love story, so it was difficult for me to care about MJ and Cassie’s relationship.

The romance in this book is predictable and pretty slow. The chemistry between these two is complicated because I was never certain about the imbalance of power between MJ and Cassie. There are some sexy scenes but there’s also a whole lot of talk. And angst. And not talking. And assuming… Urgh.

This story wanders at times. The central story is MJ and Cassie’s relationship. But we also get a diversion into MJ’s family life. Another diversion takes us to the relationships between the tattoo artists and MJ’s former business partner. And Cassie’s former girlfriend… Cassie’s cancer and MJ’s business problems are central to the story but there are maybe a few too many plot threads for readers to engage with.
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New Ink on Life is the debut novel of author, Jennie Davids. It is set on Thorn & Thistle tattoo shop with fiercr girlboss owner MJ and her shy apprentice Cassie.

Cassie left her career as an executive assistant to pursue her art, and be a tattoo artist. It was a life change after her survival of breast cancer, which was very brave.

I would really want to like this book, but something about how rude and mean and basically unlikeable MJ is. Seeing her POVs does not help. It's hard to push through reading a promising book because of an unappealing character.

We're all for strong women in books, but strong is different from mean and rude.

I have to admit, I only read this for Cassie and her story. I am opting out of continuing this series. May be a great read for some, but not for me.
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Jennie Davids is a new to me author. I don't read nearly enough FF these days (hard to find great stories that are more than just the sex -- and don't get me wrong...I love that part too lol...but I need more than that). There is more to these characters than is at first seen and Cassie becomes my hero really early on. Both MJ and Cassie will need to release the holds their pasts have on them in order to see the beauty of a  future together. Seeing them both grow and learn was a beautiful thing for me to read and I would definitely read more from this author. She brought not only tattoos and women together but also the struggles of cancer. Cassie's mom is probably one of my favorites as well.
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New Ink on Life by Jennie Davids is about Cassie, a breast cancer survivor who decided to quit her corporate job in order to focus on her art and become a tattoo artist. Now cancer-free, she’s ready to break out of her shell and learn how to live for herself. Still, she won’t let herself truly live until her 5-year post-cancer scans come back.

After her first mentor, Zan, passes away, Cassie seeks out MJ, the shop owner of Thorns and Thistle, to continue her apprenticeship.

MJ doesn’t have time to take on an apprentice. She wouldn’t want to disappoint Zan, but her shop isn’t doing well, she’s stressed out and honestly, she doesn’t think Cassie has what it takes to be a tattoo artist. She’s too quiet and too eager to please everyone.

Reluctantly, MJ agrees to mentor Cassie but realizes the benefices can be mutual. Not only does MJ agree to take her on as her tattooer apprentice (it’s what Zan had wanted), but she also makes a deal with her. She’ll help Cassie grow a backbone, care less about what people think and help her get her confidence back in exchange for Cassie to use her expertise and come up with marketing ideas and solutions to get more paying clients through the door and save her shop.

The Characters
Cassie – I really like her as a character, and I find her easy to relate to. Like myself, not only is Cassie shy and introverted, but she’s extremely self-conscious and is always afraid of what people will think to the point where it’s debilitating. This quest to perfection has led her to make choices to please and gain the respect of others at the expense of her own happiness. I really love her mom!

MJ – I really, really didn’t like her at first, but it’s the kind of character you can’t help but secretly love and that grows on you as the story progresses. She’s impatient, no-nonsense, doesn’t give a crap what people think of her and quite honestly rude at times, but she can also be gentle and soft. She has been betrayed by people she loved and doesn’t trust easily, but slowly she opens up to Cassie and to the possibility of finding love again.

The Good
Everything! I didn’t have any expectation as it’s the author’s debut, and I know sometimes they can be a little shaky, but I’m really impressed! The writing is very good and fluid. It’s written in first person POV and alternates between MJ and Cassie’s perspectives. This can be hit or miss for me, but their voices are very distinct, and so, it’s not confusing. The pacing is good and well balanced. The story flows without excessive drama, and the relationship between Cassie and MJ develops gradually. I really enjoyed how in the beginning, Cassie sees MJ has this unshakable, indestructible, almost cold person, but as they get closer, MJ reveals more of her personality and lets herself be vulnerable. I have a major crush on her.

The Bad
Honestly? Nothing.

The Verdict
I really enjoy my reading experience of New Ink on Life. The prose pulled me in from the start, and I quickly connected and cared for the main characters. Their chemistry is undeniable, and it had me rooting for them. There are some hot scenes, and the passion is always layered with tenderness, and to me, that’s really sexy. I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good, traditional romance. I am happy there will be a second novel in this series; I’m definitely going to read it whenever it comes out!

Themes: tattoo shop/tattoo artist, cancer

Note: Thank you to Carina Press and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.
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Cassie said she was MJ’s tattoo parlor because of Zen, she had been her apprentice. Zen had been a trailblazer and one of the best artists ever. She had been with Zen four years and said she always talked about MJ. Zen had made MJ who she was. When Zen got sick and things looked bad Cassie had promised to come to M J to have her for cassie’s mentor. MJ told cassie she was good enough to go out on hre own but cassie said she wouldn’t be ready until May. Than MJ finds out Cassie had breast cancer just like Zana had. That was why in May she felt ready to tattoo people as it will be five be the five year mark and she will be considered cancer free. She had already had a double mastectomy MJ said she would help get some backbone and than cassie could help MJ with hre business. Come up with ideas, and give her pointers on how she can bring in more money. MJ said first thing if the girls ask her to do something say no. Than MJ told her she would be tattooing the next day and it will just be her and MJ.  MJ and cassie kissed but than MJ said they couldn’t do this. MJ thought to himself hadn’t she learned from last time? But part of her that she didn’t let anyone close wanted to curl up like a pussycat. Marisa stopped at the shop and cassie thought it was nice to see a friendly face . Marissa had brought lunch with her. And they had it in the break room. Marissa had been Cassie’s first and they had been together for a year in a half. But when cassie was diagnosed with cancer and started treatment she broke it off with Marissa and she let her break it off.  Marissa told her that she could get her old job back if she wanted it. Cassie did her first tattoo on Roxie whose mom had survived lung cancer but than got lung cancer and lost her fight. Her friend Sabrina was there with Roxie. The tattoo was a tribute to Roxie’s mom and Casssie did a beautiful job. They all went out for a celebratory drink for the beautiful tattoo. Sabrina was all over MJ and roxie seemed to like Cassie. Cassie got drunk but MJ got her home.
I enjoyed this book and that is saying  a lot. I say this because I am not into M/M or F/F and this was a F/F romance. But I have to admit I bypasses the sex scenes. But I did like MJ and Cassie and they did help to make each other better people. I loved reading about the artistry of tattooing . knowing that there is a mentor to help the up and coming tattoo artists. I loved the way the the author handle the issue of breast cancer showing the emotional scars a woman can carry and the fear of cancer returning but also the pain a person endures who has lost a love one -like a mother - to cancer. So well done. I did like the plot and this was a good read for the most part Just know about the  two who fall in love are women. I loved the characters and the ins and outs of this book and i recommend it.
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This debut focuses on MJ, a tattoo shop owner who is trying to handle a business slump after a bad break up with her business and romantic partner, and Cassie, and apprentice tattoo artist and breast cancer survivor.

I eagerly jumped at a chance to read this because of both the description and the publisher. Carina says it is making more strides at including FF romance, but it is still woefully underrepresented with this publisher. This is an example of the slow but positive change.

The story moves along at a great clip. It kept me interested and reading, which can be a challenge with ebooks. (Product of my age and technology that my mind goes wandering.) I felt that I learned a lot about what goes on with the business of tattooing, which was a great part of the fun for me. I also got to read a romance that was handled life after cancer sensitively. Cassie had a double mastectomy, and through the book, she becomes comfortable with herself and MJ in giving and receiving intimacy. It's a journey that is treated normally, without rush.

There are supposed to be more books coming in the Thorn and Thistle series. I don't really feel I have any insight to the other characters in the shop yet, but I liked the writing style enough with this that I'd definitely give the sequels a chance.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC copy at my request from NetGalley and Carina Press.
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1/5 - yeah when one of the MC’s is so bitchy you feel like she’s judging and yelling at you it’s a no go go me. This may be a lovely romance but I’m not reading 300+ pages of hyper rudeness to find out. 

It’s great to have strong characters but when they put off a reader that when you have problems. It’s disappointing because The Carina Press is really good about publishing steamy romances that you get behind from the beginning. 

*I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for a review*
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